Season 1, Episode 7 - “Angel”
Original airdate: April 14, 1997
Project 310 re-watch date: Dec. 28, 2008
Part of the fun in doing something like this is seeing if certain episodes are really as good as you remember. I always considered “Angel” one of the better episodes of the early seasons.
Rewatching it, there’s no doubt the episode holds up through the years. It’s incredibly well-written (thanks for that goes to David Greenwalt, who would end up becoming the head writer on “Angel”), and everything ties together. There’s really nothing to dislike about the episode.
The episode serves as the set-up to years of Buffy-Angel relationship drama, Xander vampire hatred (and specifically Angel hatred) and is chock full of those great little details that make “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” so good. For example, when Buffy and Angel are fleeing from The Three, Buffy says a quick “get in” to Angel, serving as the invite he needs (even though she doesn’t know it at the time).
Even though she’s dusted in this episode, this is far from the last we’ll see of Darla. Also, she’s much closer to the Darla we’ll come to know than she was in the first two episodes. This is mainly because the creators of the show had intended Darla to die in “The Harvest” but decided to make her a bigger part of Angel’s backstory, which explains the huge disparity in the character during this season.
Some people complain about Angel’s assertion that he never fed on a human after he was cursed by the gypsies -- since we see in later episodes of “Angel” that it’s far from the truth. I’ve got no problem with it. The way I see it, Angel was using hyperbole to simplify the situation. It probably wouldn’t have been as comforting to Buffy if Angel had said, “and I’ve kind of never fed on humans, except for those years when I killed rapists and murderers to fit in with my vampire friends, and that time I turned the guy on the submarine because he was dying, and that time I drank the blood of the hold-up victim who was already dead.” Do you see how not comforting that body count is?
The way Darla taunts Angel when he’s waiting for Buffy to come and kill him is VERY similar to how The First taunts him before he intends to immolate himself in “Amends”. In fact, once I get around to “Amends” in this whole thing, I’ll have to go back and do a side-by-side comparison of the scenes.
One last thing. I really like that immediately after dusting Darla, Angel shares that look with Buffy, then walks away. It completely fits the m.o. we’d come to expect from Angel over the years. He wasn’t exactly one for the big emotional show, at least not frequently. He then follows that up by showing up at the Bronze. If there was one thing we could count on from Angel more than the dramatic walk away, it was the dramatic “better late than never” come back.
God, I love this show.