Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by David Greenwalt
We whoosh through L.A. and end up at the Hyperion, where Angel flops down onto a couch in the lobby, at which point he feels like he’s moved enough for the day. He and Cordelia both get his age wrong again. Yes, he’s been a vampire for 247 years, but including his 26 years as a human, he is 273. Also, A.I. is broke again, particularly because of the mortgage on the Hyperion (and now they have to replace the windows on every single room in the 5th floor). Wesley and Cordelia start squabbling again.
Then Cordy has a vision, which is enough to send Angel leaping off the couch to catch her. She sees a really gross demon in some kind of large cavern with pillars. The demon has human disciples. Angel makes a joke that both Cordy and Wes ignore. (It’s okay, Angel, I thought it was funny too.) And then he starts daydreaming about Darla in an 1860s outfit. She starts sort of nuzzling him. Then does one of those hypnic jerk things, snapping out of it. They figure out that the location in Cordy’s vision is a weird water tank thing underground. The spot used to be a convent, but because it was built on cursed ground, there were lots of murders there, and then burned down! Fun. The state bought it and built a water tank there. Angel knows all of this without having to do research because he’s kind of obsessive about convents. Wesley invites Gunn to the party.
When they make it down there, the two factions of the demon’s worshippers are already battling to the death. Unfortunately for the A.I. team, the demon notices them and sics both factions on them. Angel gets so side-tracked punching the crap out of one dude that Gunn has to fend for himself. Cordy and Wes work together, and then Gunn buries his hubcap axe into the squishy demon itself. Angel is still punching the one dude. Wesley pulls him off, and everyone leaves, including the demon’s disciples, who are all back to normal now. Gunn is very unhappy with Angel’s behavior, and all Wes can say to defend him is that he hasn’t been sleeping well. Gunn takes this stuff very seriously.
Angel walks through a busy part of town and sees Darla walking nearby. He doesn’t know what to make of it.
Flashback! Angelus is walking through London sometime in the late 1850s. Possibly 1860. He finds Darla in the mouth of an alley. She just finished draining a nobleman who’d been haggling prices with a prostitute. She killed the prostitute too. Angelus seems pretty happy to follow her lead. He likes her surprises. This time, the surprise is a girl walking with her family. She turns around—it’s Drusilla! She sees Darla and Angelus and is horrified. So it looks like Darla was the one who first brought her to Angelus’s attention, and then she sat back and enjoyed the view while he drove her insane.
Back in the present, Angel tries to catch up with Darla on the promenade, but she vanishes in the crowd.
The next day, a man has come to hire Angel. Who is once again sleeping. Cordelia and Wesley get some information from him. He’s concerned because his wife keeps getting abducted by aliens. At least, that’s what she’s been telling him. He found a hotel receipt that would suggest otherwise, so he wants them to investigate. Angel comes in and pretty much blows it with this client in the first two seconds because he’s more interested in figuring out how Darla could have been walking around in L.A. even though he staked her three and a half years ago. Wesley covers by claiming Angel is an eccentric, and he guides the man away.
Cordelia sits down at the computer to show Angel this client’s promising finances and scold Angel for being so curt with the man, but then Angel starts sniffing her hair in a really weird way. It takes her a moment to notice, and then she gets the heck away from him. Wesley’s back and Cordelia tattles on Angel. He tells them he saw “her” in town last night. Cordelia assumes he means Buffy, but he means Darla. He admits he’s been dreaming about her pretty constantly. He thought he was going crazy, but if she’s actually walking around, then something else is going on. Wes and Cordy don’t think it’s possible, and they’d prefer for Angel to try clearing his head by working their current case. Angel won’t drop it.
At W&H, Darla is confident that Angel is unraveling. Lindsey is pleased with her work. She’s also filled in a lot of their blanks regarding Angel. They want Angel to go dark, and they’re using Darla to awaken his nastier urges. Darla is fascinated by Lindsey’s prosthetic hand. They have a rather sexually intense moment, but then they start talking about Angel again. There’s this great shot where Darla is twiddling the scales held by a statue of Lady Justice. She finds Lindsey amusing, because unlike the rest of W&H, he’d be happy to see Angel dead.
A detective brings Kate a file. Things are frosty between them. He used to be her friend, until she got transferred out of downtown L.A. The file is about Angel’s new headquarters.
Cordelia attempts to pose as a maid at the hotel where the client’s wife is likely to be staying while “abducted by aliens.” I’m not sure anyone will fall for it, though, because she’s wearing a hideous ruffly mustard yellow top with a black leather miniskirt.
Sure enough, the client’s wife is there, and she is most definitely having an affair, not getting abducted. Angel is listening in using a bugged stack of napkins (Uh, why not just use vamp hearing? Unless they’re recording her conversation with her lover, I suppose.) and Wesley is taking photos while pretending to read the newspaper. Angel doesn’t want to waste any more of his time on this case. He blows their cover and tells the lady her husband knows about the affair. Wes and Cordy are not happy. Angel sees Darla again. He confronts her. Wes and Cordy are shocked, but Darla claims to be a woman named DeEtta Kramer, who doesn’t so much as recognize Angel. She gets help from a security guard, who Angel hurls aside. “DeEtta” flees into the arms of Stephen Kramer, who is standing in the sunlight. Angel doesn’t understand what’s happening.
Back at the Hyperion, Cordy and Wes are still very unhappy with Angel, but Wesley feels pretty confident that “DeEtta” isn’t actually Darla, since she’s clearly human. Angel is still convinced that she’s Darla, based on her scent. Wesley is skeptical, but Angel proves his sense of smell is keen enough by taking a whiff and telling him he slept with a bleach blonde the previous night. (So...was this a woman Wes picked up in a bar, or does he actually sleep with prostitutes? Ew.) DeEtta Kramer isn’t in the phone book. Angel has Cordelia check titled deeds for Stephen and DeEtta Kramer.
Meanwhile, Angel himself goes to Caritas and sings. Noooo my ears. Not only can he not sing, but he picks a song that isn’t even good on its own. Eventually he turns the machine off, apologizes, and then asks Lorne for his reading. Lorne advises him to drop the whole Darla thing right now. She isn’t on his path. Angel starts getting a little threaten-y, but it doesn’t work. Lorne trusts he won’t start anything and leaves him to his angst.
Angel calls Cordy, who also wants Angel to drop this, but he orders her to give him the address. She does. He hangs up and heads to that house. Wesley gives Cordelia crap for not actually being firm with Angel, since she mocked him for being a weenie about it earlier. Wesley’s impression of Cordy is fantastic. He puts together a tranquilizer gun to use on Angel if he really goes nuts.
Angel shows up at the Kramer house, where “DeEtta” and Stephen sit down to have dinner. Stephen, it turns out, is an actor, and an extremely annoying person. There are W&H goons inside too. Darla has an earpiece in. Stephen gets so annoying that Darla grabs him very tightly on a sensitive part of his anatomy and threatens to kill him while smiling sweetly. He shuts up. She lets go. Her earpiece connects her to Lindsey, and their codeword for Angel is “linguini.” It’s hard to tell how much of this Angel can hear. It sort of looks like he can hear all of it.
At the Hyperion, Cordy casually mentions to Gunn that sometimes Angel turns evil. Wesley clarifies things. They’re trying to figure out how Darla could have come back. They compare the evil duo of Darla and Angelus to Bonnie and Clyde.
Flashback! Angelus is looking over the carnage in a convent when Darla joins him. Drusilla is sitting nearby. She’s insane now, and crying. Angelus and Darla start making out, and he tells her about his plan to turn her. Darla doesn’t think that’ll be as much fun as Angelus does. They resume making out right on top of Drusilla, who laughs, then sobs.
In the present, Darla is waiting impatiently for Lindsey’s cue, because the charade of having a pleasant dinner with her husband Stephen is very irritating. He gives the cue, and she calls 911. She gives a very convincing performance for the operator of a woman whose house is being broken into by a violent man. The W&H goon in the house is a vampire! He punches Darla and kills Stephen. Angel comes running in, and Darla acts all distraught, like Angel’s the vampire who just killed Stephen.
Police arrive and find Angel standing there while Darla sobs over Stephen’s body. Angel flees, getting shot a few times. He gets out through the attic.
Outside, Kate is getting a statement from Darla, who is still pretending to be DeEtta. She talks like Angel has been stalking her for weeks. Kate is beyond primed to believe that pack of lies. Kate promises her that she’s not crazy and that she’ll find Angel. When she turns around, Angel snatches Darla up into a tree.
Gunn is still reeling from the revelation that Angel can go evil. He won’t hesitate to kill Angelus if he meets him. A whole SWAT team plus Kate storms the hotel. Angel isn’t there, though. Wesley wants to see a warrant, but Kate feels murder constitutes probable cause. She’d like their help finding him (but she’s not asking nicely). Wes and Cordy both fold their arms and clam up at the same moment. It’s great. It’s less great when Kate decides to run a background check on Gunn.
Angel drags Darla down to that water tank from the fight against the squishy demon. He has deduced that she’s what W&H brought back in the box at the end of S1. He thinks it’s pretty funny that W&H would assume he wouldn’t kill her if she came back as a human. He gets her to drop the DeEtta act by treating her like he would if he were Angelus, culminating in biting her neck. She likes that a lot, and they start snogging. Um. Angel?
Kate’s background check has turned up a nice rap sheet for Gunn, but most of it makes sense if he spends his life fighting monsters the authorities don’t believe are real. Kate doesn’t want to waste time with the A.I. team if they want to protect Angel, even though he broke into DeEtta Kramer’s house and killed her husband. Gunn spots the problem with that story before anyone else. Angel couldn’t have entered the house without an invitation. Wesley shows Kate a daguerreotype of Darla from over a century ago. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to convince her of anything. The SWAT team moves out to watch the perimeter, and Kate tries to lecture them about how innocent people get caught in the crossfire. And she blames Angel for that. Ugh, seriously? Can someone smack her? She leaves.
Angel and Darla are still making out. Then Angel backs away. He takes a moment to collect himself and switch his face back to human. I think the special effects department forgot that human faces tend to have eyebrows, though.
Darla would love to have her Angelus back. Angel points out that she has a soul. All the memories of the things they did together won’t be so fun anymore before long. Maybe, but what she has in mind is that they’ll sleep together, taking care of his soul, and then he can turn her again. Angel finds her confidence that she can give him perfect happiness amusing. She’s very offended. How could Buffy be better than her? Angel finds that attitude amusing too. The reason Darla couldn’t make him happy was that he was soulless. He doesn’t want her to waste her soul, her second chance. She tells him that a soul isn’t enough to cover up the kind of darkness he has—that he’s always had, according to her. I’m not so sure, but whatever. The sun comes up, and they’re still down there. He won’t let her hurt anyone else. He grabs her by the throat. She whips out a cross and slaps it on him. This, she feels, constitutes proof that God doesn’t want Angel. She does, though. She runs back outside.
Angel is in his room in the hotel. Wes and Cordy knock. Cordy has the tranquilizer behind her back, but she gives it to Wes to try and make it look less like she suspected Angel of badness. Wes wants Angel to tread carefully, now that they know Darla and W&H are working together and targeting him. Angel intends to pay them back for whatever trouble they bring him. It’s getting real.
“Dear Boy” is probably the first episode where Angel really starts stepping into shady territory. This is both terrifying and fascinating. It’s one of the things I love most about S2. The writers’ decision to bring Darla back was genius. The DeEtta Kramer ruse seems like a really convoluted move on W&H’s part at first glance, but it’s actually pretty clever. If Darla had just shown up, then the entire Angel Investigations team would have been united against her and W&H. Instead, her false identity and her acting drove a wedge between Angel and the rest of the team. Now, even though they all agree Darla is a problem, Angel will be less likely to rely on them because they didn’t have his back before. And the wedge works both ways. Cordy, Wes, and Gunn are all a little upset with Angel for how he’s been acting lately, for good reason. Everything seems to be going according to W&H’s plan so far. The flashbacks are also interesting. This is the second time an Angel flashback has added to or possibly modified what we learned from the Buffy S2 flashbacks. Angelus didn’t merely stumble across Drusilla in a confessional; Darla pointed her out to him. Just like how Angelus didn’t find that gypsy girl on his own; Darla brought her to him as a present. The writers probably did that to emphasize Darla’s role in Angel’s past. An effective strategy. So by the end of this episode, we’re left with a major struggle between Angel and Darla that will drive much of the season. Angel wants Darla to embrace her human soul, but Darla wants Angelus back. Who will win? Only time will tell. Once again, the thing I liked least about the episode was Kate. Freaking Kate. Can she please get over herself already? How can she possibly justify blaming Angel for the deaths of Stephen Kramer and the former owners of that house? I think she’s in this episode mainly as a device to keep the A.I. team from splintering too much. They don’t like what Angel’s doing, but they wouldn’t go so far as to turn him over to the police.
Wolfram & Hart certainly chose well when they decided to use Darla against Angel. His obsession with her rivals anything we’ve ever seen from him. Which would be incredibly creepy, except that she’s deliberately been stoking that obsession with all those dreams and by pretending to be a regular modern human. In the end, Darla fails to seduce Angel. So even though Angel is getting shadier, he’s still very sympathetic.
Cordelia seems to be slipping a little bit back into her old tendencies towards obsessing over money. Sure, the man whose wife is getting “abducted by aliens” can pay, but this is basically the same kind of case as the divorce case she wanted to take in “Five By Five.” There’s not actually anything supernatural going on, and it isn’t a case based on a vision. It seems strange to me that she wouldn’t give Angel much benefit of the doubt when he starts talking about Darla. They’re family. Even if he’s been acting weird lately, doesn’t she trust him?
Even though Wesley very much likes and respects Angel, he’s the one who comes up with the idea to use a tranquilizer gun on him if he becomes too unreasonable. Much like with Cordelia, I wish he’d give Angel more benefit of the doubt, but it’s still nice that Angel isn’t surrounded by yes-men who’ll leap into the fray with him even when he’s starting to get more questionable.
Gunn continues to become more closely involved with the A.I. team. He interacts more with Wesley than he has before, but I still wouldn’t consider them friends yet. He passes the milestone of learning about Angel’s dark past, but still sticks with them. And I like the distinction that while he might have a sense of humor and a lighthearted attitude much of the time, that’s not the same as treating the fight against evil supernatural forces like a joke. He means business, and he likes the people he works with to be equally invested.
“I saw her! I’m not crazy!”
“Right between the clowns and the big, talking hot dog.”
“Let her go, bro. That way lies badness.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.