FEATURE: Angel - Blind Date
Previously on Angel: Angel's been causing problems for some shadier-than-normal lawyers from Wolfram & Hart whose previous efforts to stop him have been thwarted. Angel's also made an unlikely ally in the form of homeless street fighter, Charles Gunn.
Angel's on a routine patrol when he witnesses a blind woman, Vanessa Brewer, assassinate a man in front of him. He finds out that she's on trial and attempts to demonstrate her abilities by throwing her sunglasses back to her, which she catches without seemingly ever knowing they're coming. Of course, she's represented by Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey specifically, and she is acquitted of all charges. It turns out Lindsey's a bit of a rising star in the firm and as a result of this victory, he's offered another case when he's told that Vanessa will be employed to kill three children for undisclosed reasons. It's a step too far for the lawyer and he turns to Angel for help.
One of the main reasons I like this episode so much is that it gives me a chance to talk about Lindsey. Lindsey is one of the more fascinating characters of Angel's world, simply because he never quite operates within the same boundaries as everyone else. He can move freely between being good and evil as his situation dictates, but in the end, he will always be a slave to his ambition. Take this episode for instance; standing by whilst kids are killed is not something his rather dubious morality can tolerate, so he switches sides. However, in doing so, he witnesses the real power over life and death that his bosses wield and when they offer him a second chance, he takes it, returning to the darker side of the fence because it's tactically advantageous to do so.
It makes him unpredictable as the show continues because his boundaries are never quite clear to anyone but himself. He knows what he does is wrong, but he also knows what standing by looks like as this episode illustrates. He's a child of poverty and misfortune, someone who has had to claw their way out of a hole in order to have the kind of freedom denied to him. He's the dark, twisted embodiment of the American Dream, one of the few examples of this that the show offers us.
Blind Date is a more sombre affair than we've seen recently, but it has a couple of really cool set pieces at its heart. The big one is of course the Wolfram & Hart heist that we see Angel and Lindsey pull off with the help of the returning Gunn. It's an elegant mix of comedy (mainly from Gunn's angry black man routine) and the kind of suave burglary you'd expect from Angel. Rather than beat up the demon guarding the vault, he simply blows a Wesley-concocted powder at it and tips it over. It's a nice comic beat in the heart of an otherwise dark episode, but one which will also prove to be a defining one.
Yes, as he goes to exit the vault, Angel notices an old scroll and picks it up for no other reason than he thinks he should. As Wesley reveals at the end of the episode, it contains writings on a vampire with a soul and possibly more information about Angel's place in the world. It's something that he's been struggling to find, particularly since his return from Hell, and this could point him in the way. Earlier in the episode, he finds himself frustrated by the powerlessness he feels in the face of a human world that Wolfram & Hart have got rigged. His vampirism hampers him from doing the best he can, but it also allows him to operate outside that system.
Somewhat helpfully, it's the first episode in a while where all successful parts of Angel have been firing at the same time (it certainly gives me far more to talk about than War Zone did). Though we don't see much of Cordy and Wes, they're both settled into their respective roles and work their way through the exposition with ease. But it's in the dark morality at the heart of the episode that the show really finds its feet. Angel chooses to fight his fight because he can and because it can offer him the redemption he seeks. Lindsey fights only when he has to. Their different views clash spectacularly here, but the two final scenes, where Lindsey accepts his new job and Angel watches over his city, is a perfect encapsulation of both.
Quote of the Week:
Lindsey: I get myself killed, that'll convince you I've changed?
Angel: It'll be a start.
Inventive Kill: Angel suspends a vampire by the neck with a chain and then uses the pulley system to stake the vampire on a slat sticking out of a pile of pallets. Mad skillz.
LA Who's Who: Jennifer Badger, who plays Vanessa Brewer, was a stunt double for both Charisma Carpenter and Eliza Dushku across both series.
The Sunnydale Connection: When Cordelia comes up against encrypted files, she naturally calls in the wiz, Willow. The half-heard conversation is lovely; "Willow says hey!"
You can check out Becky's look at previous episode, War Zone, here.