Buffy re-watch: 1.07 Angel

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a “stand-out” review for this ep since it’s not really outstanding quality wise, however Angel is a pretty important character in the Buffyverse and this is the first Angel-centric episode plus the first time we’re introduced to his back story. Buffy finds out he’s a vampire, but with a soul.

I guess here is where we get to the re- in re-watch because I’m able to say something I never would have said a few years back. This just isn’t very good. In the sense of being bad. And I don’t mean bad on a BtVS scale where it’s still much better than most other TV. I don’t even mean bad in that other BtVS sense where the central story isn’t great but there are compensations in the form of funny lines and character moments. I mean it’s just bad. OK it’s not awful. I’d still rather watch it than say a makeover show or sport, but it’s not good.

And this is because it’s lacking those extra touches, that Joss polish, that seemed to define the early seasons for me. Also there’s some plot holes and logic issues (and we know how I feel about those right?) My main one is, exactly what is it that causes Angel to vamp-out when kissing Buffy? We know from later on that he more or less has control over that so I guess it must be some semi-conscious desire to reveal himself.

Also, if he’s on the side of good, how come he doesn’t just kill Darla when she visits him at home? Or at least fight? And we’re never really shown enough to suggest he’s suicidal – because in the Bronze he tells Buffy that she should just kill him before he explains about the curse.

I can live with the couple of not-quite-settled ideas which turn into discontinuities – i.e. the fact he’s living off human blood bags and not animal blood, and the fact he says he hasn’t fed off a human being since he re-gained his soul. The Angel episode Orpheus tells us otherwise.

Angel is noteworthy because it introduces the idea of the curse and therefore clarifies the mythology regarding what a vampire is:

Giles: A vampire isn’t a person at all. It may have the movements, the, the memories, even the personality of the person that it took over, but i-it’s still a demon at the core, there is no halfway.

and

Angel: When you become a vampire the demon takes your body, but it doesn’t get your soul. That’s gone! No conscience, no remorse… It’s an easy way to live.

and whilst Angel is in a sense Giles’ non-existent halfway, he exists because of the curse, a loophole in the rule much less an exception that proves it. So for now everything is back and white, vampire=no soul=bad=ok to kill them. I happen to think the show gets a whole lot more interesting when they start to bend that rule. Because when it comes to “halfways” there is, as Yoda said, another. But we’ll get to that (eventually!)

So worth seeing if you either really bored, a completist, want all the details of Buffyverse vampire lore or just like seeing David Boreanaz with his shirt off (or Julie Benz in catholic schoolgirl uniform I suppose)

4/10

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