FEATURE: Angel - Dear Boy
Previously on Angel: Darla's been invading Angel's dreams and seducing him so much that he's practically sleeping all the time. It's all part of Wolfram & Hart's plan.
This is your traditional Irish-accented Angel warning for this episode. More 'oh boy' than 'dear boy' as ever. And the Angel singing warning. Lots of warnings.
Angel's dreams about Darla are starting to affect his day-to-day existence to the point where he's dreaming about her during the day and even spotting her walking along the promenade. Cordy and Wes are sceptical, but of course, it is actually Darla; only Angel believes that at first as Lindsey and Darla manipulate everyone into thinking he's going mad. Cordy and Wes start to get worried about him after he attacks Darla (who's pretending to be someone else) and warn Gunn that Angelus might make a return. Weaved in amongst this is Darla and Angelus' history together and particularly the beginning of his torture of Drusilla.
There's a big scale to this episode, established early on when Angel and the gang find themselves in the middle of a religious gang war, complete with giant, slimy head-demon growing out of a wall. Naturally. The location of the fight is an underground water facility, formerly a convent, that's all giant white pillars and seemingly endless room. It's a gorgeous setting for a fight sequence and the episode utilises it well later when Angel confronts Darla and forces her into revealing her true identity. And you know, making out.
Dear Boy is a great showcase for Julie Benz too. It's easy to forget that Darla only really appeared in a few episodes of Buffy before appearing in the vampiric spin-off. She casts such a long shadow over the proceedings and shines here, whether it's as the frightened DeEtta Kramer, her human alter ego, or as Darla herself, in all her torturing evil glory. Seeing her spar with David Boreanaz again is a joy and he's clearly having fun playing Angelus again, even in the moments where he's still Angel, but Darla is tempting him closer to succumbing again.
Perhaps the only duff note of the episode is Kate, once again. Poor Elizabeth Rohm is stuck with Angry Kate at the moment, still furious with Angel for the death of her father. In an episode where there are lots of big personalities - like Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla - vying for attention, Rohm's caricature-esque performance looks even sillier. She also doesn't really serve much function in the episode, beyond preventing Gunn, Cordy, and Wes from tracking down Angel or solving the mystery of Darla's dead 'husband' any faster.
It's a mostly very serious episode, one which is determined to mine into Angel's psyche and how he reacts to someone who represents the darkest moments of his past. It's also a pretty good one that gives us an insight into his relationship with Darla and also Drusilla, both of whom will figure in a big way as the season continues.
Quote of the Week:
Wesley: [About Darla] Vampires don't come back from the dead.
Angel: I did and I saw her. I'm not crazy!
Angel: Right between the clowns and the big talking hot dog.
Inventive Kill: All Gunn needs is an axe and a giant, slimy head-demon to plunge it into.
Let's Get Trivial: The Ambassador Hotel which functions as the set for the Hyperion was used for the practice of the kind of SWAT exercises seen when Kate brings in the raid.
You can read Becky's look at previous episode, Untouched, here.