FEATURE: Angel - Lonely Heart
Previously on Angel: The vamp with a soul has taken up residence in LA and is now working with a half-demon called Doyle who has premonitions and Cordelia Chase who gave herself a job after finding out what Angel is up to. They're now an investigation agency designed to take on those people in need of help from the forces of darkness.
Whilst trying to get Angel to put in a good word for him with Cordelia, Doyle has a vision of one of those 'terminally stuck in the 80s' places and the gang race off to see what might be happening there. Angel meets Kate Lockley over the course of his not-so-subtle attempts to investigate the place in an awkward meet-cute in which he states that he's a vetinarian. After a dead body turns up, the gang realise they're dealing with some kind of symbiotic demon, jumping from host to host and killing people in the process. A coincidence at a crime scene reveals Kate to be a police detective who immediately jumps to the conclusion that Angel is the serial killer.
The episode mines a lot of its humour from the fish out of water stuff that Angel, Cordelia and Doyle suffer from respectively. Angel in particular once again demonstrates that talking to people really isn't his thing and his conversation with Kate is a little too earnest to register high on the laugh scale. In fact, too earnest is a good way to describe the episode as a whole in its treatment of loneliness. Rather than subtly underlaying the theme within the story, it's hammered home again and again that these people are lonely and it gives serial killers/demons the chance to prey on those people.
Given that this is a major theme of City Of too, not to mention Buffy's alienation in her own series at the moment, it all feels a bit repetitive (especially when watching them in close proximity). I also spent a lot of this episode thinking of the terrible Torchwood episode where they did something similar with an alien and Gwen got all hyper-sexed and made out with everyone. At least Lonely Heart is better than that. For one thing, the actual demon is a pretty grim spectacle and suitably penetrative for its sex-based shenanigans, giving the episode a nasty body horror element that works well. I do find it amusing that the demon loses all game after he gets the crap kicked out of him.
Lonely Heart also pushes more towards the noir end of the genre spectrum as the investigative side of Angel comes to the fore with the use of Doyle's vision as the kick-off point. There a couple of genre calling cards in there; the loneliness of the big city, Kate as the dame in the bar, Angel as the lone wolf investigator. You also get the twist at the end where Kate think it's the barman that has done it all along, a neat non-supernatural wrap-up for her.
But again, the whole episode feels like it's trying too hard at all times and as a result, it never quite sparks into life. It brings us the Kate and Angel relationship which will be an important one as the series progresses though she doesn't know he's a vampire as of yet. However, Lonely Heart doesn't really advance us much further than reminding us everyone gets lonely in the big city and we all kinda knew that anyway. It seems somewhat fitting that the episode ends as it began.
Quote of the Week:
Angel: I know you guys have been working hard, couped up inside a lot and to show my appreciation, I was thinking; the night being young and all, that the three of us could... or should.. you know, maybe... go out? You know... for fun.
Cordelia: Or we can go home.
Doyle: And you can sit in the dark alone.
Angel: ... God yes. Thank you.
Let's Get Trivial: Originally, this episode was a whole lot darker and you can check out the full details (including prostitutes and drug addiction) right here - Thank you to Jonathan Cardwell (@Jonny_C85) for sharing this morbid alternate Angel reality with us!
You can read Becky's look at City Of here.