FEATURE: Angel - First Impressions
Previously on Angel: Angel has discovered the useful sanctuary of The Host, where people go to sing in order for him to "read" them. He's also made an ally with Charles Gunn, who had to stake his recently turned sister, and the office has moved into the Hyperion hotel. Elsewhere, Wolfram & Hart have resurrected Darla in order to get to Angel.
Gunn arrives at the hotel for an appointment with Angel to go after a snitch for information on a demon named Deevak, but Angel has been asleep all day, dreaming of a date with Darla. Eventually, they make it to the meet, but are attacked by vampires; they take them out, but Angel struggles in the fight. Later, Cordelia has a vision of Gunn in danger. Unable to reach Angel who is asleep and dreaming again, Cordelia heads out to help Gunn and the pair have to team up, but Deevak is lying in wait for them.
Whereas last week, the focus was very much on Angel himself, First Impressions is a chance for us all to get to know Gunn a little better as well as spending time getting to know the new, improved and more selfless Cordelia. As odd couple pairings go, he of the poverty-stricken minority and she of the white privilege, it's one that's not perhaps mined for as much as its potential would suggest, but it functions enough for the character explorations needed. Gunn's still smarting from losing his sister and his continuing spiral into self-destruction just isn't acceptable now he's part of the team. Cordelia's little pep talk to him at the end of the episode is one of her best moments, a big sign of her willingness to change and put herself out there for other people.
The other great moment of the episode, though not especially important to the plot, is the ongoing development of the friendship between Angel and Wes (which we all know is going to real rocky soon). I don't have much else to say about it, but it's a scene so good that I'm going to print it here:
Wesley: Come on. What are you waiting for?
Angel: [holds up a pink motorcycle helmet] I-I-I really don't think it's gonna fit.
Wesley: Oh, of course it will. Put it on.
Angel: You know, I-I don't need a helmet for protection.
Wesley: Angel. It's the law in California. Do you want us to get pulled over?
Wesley: Then what's the problem?
Angel: Well, it-it's just, you know... the whole... visibility issue, not to mention the whole hat-head thing and, you know, when you really think about it, how come I have to wear the ladies helmet?
Wesley: Stop being such a wanker and put it on!
[Angel puts the pink helmet on]
Wesley: Looks good. Hop on board gorgeous.
Angel: You'll pay for this.
The other element of the episode and one that plays more into the season's ongoing storyline is the Darla dreams that Angel has been having. Dreams are a funny thing in the Buffyverse, often prophetic, but nearly always dangerous in some way. The episode has some sly fun with Angel's dreams, allowing The Host to crop back up and reference Angel's eclectic music taste as well as showing Angel and Darla moon-bathing, completely with sunglasses and beach loungers.
I like that Darla's tactic is to tempt Angel away from his path, shortly after his resolve to continue down it and help people for little or no reward. It's especially key after we see his more apathetic state towards humanity in Are You Now or Have You Ever Been, demonstrating that Angel is perhaps a little more corruptible than he likes to think if his resentment is high enough. Having Julie Benz back in full devious Darla mode is always a joy because she's one of the few characters to have made a massive impression with just a little runtime. Exploring her relationship with Angel further, as well as allowing Benz to be all sly, offers a good undercurrent for the rest of the episode.
Quote of the Week:
Cordelia: Maybe *we* can help.
Gunn: You two? I find Deevak, I'm gonna need more than C-3PO and Stick-Figure Barbie backing me up, no offense.
Wesley: Very little taken.
Let's Get Trivial: It's a truth universally acknowledged that a Jane Austen reference is a fine thing to get into a fantasy series about vampires. The episode title is a nod to Pride and Prejudice's original title and the plot carries the familiar hallmarks of two very different people coming together after initially not getting along very well. Not much romance between Cordy and Gunn though.
You can read Becky's look at previous episode, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been, here.