Home Season 1 Season 2


Are You Now...
First Impressions
Dear Boy
Guise Will Be Guise
The Shroud of Rahmon
The Trial
Blood Money
Happy Anniversary
Thin Dead Line
Dead End
Over the Rainbow
Through the Looking Glass
No Place Like Plrtz Glrb




Written by:  Tim Minear

Directed by: Tim Minear

The Developing Arc

ANGEL, as a series, eschewed the story arc throughout its first season.  It is therefore all the more remarkable that for the very first attempt the writers make at this form of storytelling they should choose something which is both in structure and in concept so ambitious and involved.  The writers’ “strategic view” for the arc can be encapsulated simply enough.  Wolfram and Hart intend to use the return of Darla to win Angel over to “the dark side”.  This provides us with a general frame of reference that we can use to follow the events we see.  But, instead of revealing the nature of the plan intended to achieve this objective at the outset, the writers have deliberately left it obscure.  With each new episode they have drip fed us with fresh information which changes our view of where we think the plot is going and perhaps even more importantly causes us to reassess what we have already seen.  This keeps the dynamic of the story in a state of continual flux and instead of having some overview denied to the protagonists (Angel in particular) we are left peering into a future that is, for us, as obscure as it is for them.  This is what creates the feeling of suspense that compels our continued interest.  And just as important is the fact that the changes we see don’t appear to be as a result of the writers altering their minds or starting to move in a completely different direction.  Rather we get the sense of things moving along a path preordained by Wolfram and Hart but we are now only gradually peeling away the layers to reveal its depth and complexity.

And in tandem with the changing plot the writers have fashioned a series of character related themes which quite naturally link into the developments in the storyline but also lead easily into one another in a way that gives us the sense of  getting deeper and deeper into the character of Angel. 

In “First Impressions”. “Untouched” and “Dear Boy”, it seemed that Wolfram and Hart simply intend to try to reawaken the demon within Angel by so weakening his self-control and his self-belief that he could not restrain the nastier impulses within him.  This is a perfectly orthodox line of reasoning and will make sense to any viewer familiar with the accepted internal struggle Angel must fight.  “Dear Boy”, however, changes this by introducing two important new elements into the equation.  First Darla is human.  Secondly she has no faith in the Wolfram and Hart plan and instead seems to have an agenda of her own.  She is convinced that Angel’s human soul is not the essence of who he is but is merely a hobble preventing him from fulfilling his potential.   The significance of these developments can only be appreciated in the light of subsequent events.  The fact that Darla had her own agenda dispelled the idea of any common plan between her and Wolfram and Hart and prepared the way for this episode to reveal that that latter were, in fact, playing her.  Her humanity enabled us to see the very different perceptions of each other that now lay between the former lovers.  To Angel, a person's humanity meant having a soul and, among other things, feeling remorse for past misdeeds.  To Darla being a vampire meant power.  And here the writers set up the idea of the attractiveness of life as a Vampire in contrast to the moral burdens of being human.  Indeed you can perhaps see some foreshadowing of this idea in  “First Impressions” and “Untouched”.  In the former, Angel is weighed down by responsibility and retreats from it into a simpler world where he is the center of everything.  In the latter we see the power of the urgent, violent sexuality that seems a hallmark of the Vampire and its ability to evoke a response in Angel even now.  The idea was taken up and developed in “Guise will be Guise” where the writers address explicitly the idea that Angel hides behind a carefully constructed persona but that this isn’t the real Angel.  They also make it clear that the real source of Angel’s obsession with Darla is not some mythic love affair but a confusion about who he really is and what he really wants.  This is the territory that “Darla” concentrates on while at the same time revealing that, far from operating on the basis of the “trite” plan Darla affected to despise Wolfram and Hart were, in fact, way ahead of the game.


Parallel lives

Of course, initially at least, the focus of this episode appears to be on Darla and how she responds to being human.  But the real significance of her struggles lie in what they tell us about Angel.   After all, in the first place this is the story of his descent into darkness.  And in any event it is in Angel that the real conflict lies.  For Darla the situation is simple.  She wants back to being a Vampire but, for the moment at least, she cannot get what she wants.  There is no real conflict there and where the conflict lies, there is usually the story.

And it is in this context that I first want to turn to “Fool For Love”, the BUFFY part of this “crossover event”.  Generally speaking “crossover” has been a term that has been abused in advertising BUFFY/ANGEL episodes.  Certainly characters occasionally cross over from one series to the other.  But each individual episode in the crossover has essentially stood on its own.  The BUFFY episode, for example, has never been integral to the understanding of the following ANGEL episode or vice versa – until now.  In this “crossover event” the story of Spike revealed for the first time in “Fool for Love” is central to our understanding of what we see in “Darla”.

In London 1880 the human Spike is bookish, foppish and ineffectual.  His preoccupation is romantic love.  He writes poetry in the name of love and his words are an expression of what he feels for a woman called Cecily.  His feelings and the “spirit and imagination” they engendered in him were the things he valued most but he was shamed and humiliated because of them.  The poetry he writes is bad; he knows it and he is mocked by his peers and even patronized by servants on account of it.  Worst of all he is roundly rejected by the woman he loves because he is beneath her.  He was in short a loser.

How very different was his experience of being a Vampire.  He was turned because Drusilla saw the spirit and imagination in him.  This was the recognition he had vainly sought in human society.  And once made he could ignore that society’s values and its opinion of him.  He could live by his own values and make his own rules to suit them.  Of course being a Vampire those values and rules were not the same as those of his human self.  Instead of a romantic love for an unobtainable woman he became obsessed with the girl who, in each generation, was the mortal foe of Vampires – the Slayer.  But to him the important point about this obsession was that, because he has the strength and power of a Vampire, he could “dance” with the slayer and possess her.  Never again would he be humiliated and rejected, or at least that was what he thought until he had that chip put in his head.

So, here we see how becoming a Vampire was, on a personal level, actually a fulfilling experience: it got you what you always wanted but could not have.  And this is the theme that “Darla” takes up and expands upon.

In this episode there is a continuous counterpoint between the liberating experience of being a Vampire and the burden of having a human soul.  Yes, immortality was part of the advantage of being a Vampire.  After all when we see Darla in Virginia Colony she is dying and the Master saves her.  And when she returns as a human at the end of the twentieth century she is conscious of her mortality:

“I can feel this body dying, Lindsey.  I can feel it decaying moment by moment.  It's being eaten away by this thing inside of it.  It's a cancer, this soul!"

And later when she asks Angel for the first time to make her a Vampire again she stresses the physical infirmities of humanity:

“It means pain and suffering and disease and death.  Look, I released you from this world once, I gave you eternal life.  Now it's time for you to return the favor."

But these infirmities do not represent the real difference between being human and being a Vampire.  That difference is all about the freedom to get what you want.  And this theme was first glance at when Lindsey found Darla in a distressed condition and she said to him:

Darla:  "You can be with someone for 150 years; think you know them.  Still,  doesn't work out.  Angelus - why, you should have seen us together."

Lindsey:  "He was a different person then."

Darla:  "And so was I. Now do you know what we've become?"

Lindsey:  "Enemies."

Darla:  "Oh no. Much worse. Now we're soul mates."

Angel, much like Spike, had had a deeply unfulfilling life as a human.  Dominated by his father,  his first thought upon rising was to prove himself the superior being.  Now as a vampire both he and Darla were concerned only with living the good life, enjoying the best of everything and taking what they wanted.  The contrast to the master’s quasi-religious crusade is, I think, instructive. He described his own purpose in the following terms:

"We live below, giving tribute to the old ones.  Awaiting that promised day when we will arise.  Arise and lay *waste* to the world above us."

The only response that evoked from Angelus was contempt:

Angelus:  "Why'd you want to do that?"

Master:  "Huh?"

Angelus:  "Well, I mean, have you been above lately?  It's quite nice.  Me, I could never live in a rat infested stink hole  like this, if you'll pardon me for saying so.  I got to have meself a proper bed or I'm a terror. Isn't that right love?"

Darla: "He's young."

Angelus:  "And this one, down in the goose feathers, and the finest silks and linens and a view she's always got to have the view; don't you, my lamb?."

Neither he nor Darla were about to give up these pleasures for the Master’s more aesthetic notions of Vampirism.  That is why Angelus defied him, even though he was physically stronger and why Darla followed him even though it meant deserting her sire.

But the possession of a soul was always problematic for this want, take, have attitude.  That is what Darla means when she called herself and Angel soul mates.  She thought of both of them as free spirits brought down to earth by this thing called a soul.  Even someone as self-centered as Lindsey could not live with the same freedom as a vampire. 

Darla:  "Why haven't you kissed me? You've been dying for it, haven't you?"

 Lindsey:  "I didn't know if you wanted me to."

Darla:  "Why should that matter? Do you think I ever hesitated when I wanted something? Life's too short.  Believe me, I know. 400 years and still too short."

 Lindsey kisses her.

Darla:  "Mmm, that's how humans get what *they* want.  I remember that much."

Life with a human soul involves compromise.  As Darla suggests here, it means paying attention to what the other person wants and needs.  It means not being able to think only of what you want and need but also of what is right.  And it is here that we find the focal point of the episode – the difference between being human and being a Vampire and the nature of the choice that Angel (who is both) faces because of the duality within him.

And here we see the importance of the scene in the gypsy encampment.  We first get a glimpse of a disorientated and anguished Angel staggering off into the night, followed by the confrontation between an angry and determined Darla and the gypsy elder.  In this scene we are not only reminded forcefully of the fact that Angel’s soul has been restored.  The writers also reinforce the purpose and effect of that restoration:

Darla:  "You took him from me.  You stole him away. You gave him a soul."

Gypsy:  "He must suffer, as all of his victims have suffered."

Darla:  "That is no justice.  Whatever pain he caused to your daughter was momentary - over in an instant - or an hour.  But what you've done to him will force him to suffer for the rest of eternity! Remove that filthy soul so my boy might return to me."

What the Vampire did so freely and without remorse now causes the human soul pain and suffering and it does so because of the difference between that soul and the demon.  Human soul, or at least the one that has been restored to Angel, cannot simply exist for their own pleasure.  Concepts such as “right” and “wrong” do mean something.  Angel, therefore, had to confront the fact that for almost 150 years his personal pleasure meant death and destruction on a mass scale.  How would he respond?


The Conflict within Angel

Previously Angel’s reaction to becoming a human had seemed a fairly straightforward matter.  In the BUFFY episode “Angel”, Angel himself talks about the restoration in the following terms:

“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. You have no idea what it's like to have done the things I've done... and to care. I haven't fed on a living human being since that day.”

And in “Five by Five” it appeared that after the abortive attempt to bite the woman passer-by he realized he could no longer live like a Vampire.  But the picture we get here is much more complex and much more interesting.  The writers show us way that Angel was torn.  They never downplay the moral imperatives of the soul or how Angel’s conscience continues to plague him.  But at the same time they show us that the mere possession of a soul or its human conscience did not lessen the attraction of a lifestyle based on pure selfish indulgence.  This was the significance of the fact that Angel followed Darla to China:

Darla:  "What do you want?"

Angel:  "A second chance."

Darla:  "What?"

Angel:  "I want things to be like they were. You and me – together.  Darla, I miss the view."

Darla:  "That's impossible."

Angel:  "It's not impossible."

Darla: "You still have a soul."

Angel:  "I'm still a vampire."

Darla:  "You're not. Look at you.  I don't know what you are anymore."

Angel:  "You know what I am.  You *made* me.  Darla.  I'm Angelus."

Darla:  "Not anymore."

Angel:  "I can be again.  Just give me a chance to prove it to you."

Darla:  "You almost made me believe you."

Angel:  "Believe it.  We can have the whirlwind back."

 Darla:  "We can do this."

Angel:  "Yes, we can."

Darla:  "We can do anything."

Angel:  "Anything we like."

The view, the whirlwind, the freedom to do anything they like there are all references to what Spike referred to in the following terms:

“Becoming a vampire is a profound and powerful experience. I could feel this new strength coursing through me. Getting killed made me feel alive for the very first time. I was through living by society's rules. Decided to make a few of my own.”

For Angel the attraction of this was still very real.  The problem now, however, was that unlike before he did have a soul.  In this context the important scene is the one that takes place during the rioting, just after Spike has killed his first slayer.

Angel seems lost and when he encounters the Missionary family he backs away from them, almost as if he is afraid of what he might do.  When he meets the others he is stony faced.  He finds no pleasure in the death and destruction all around and just looks for an excuse to leave.  The contrast with the other Vampires is stark.  Darla exults in the “whirlwind”.  Drusilla too is intoxicated.  But the greatest contrast of all is with Spike who, with his victory just behind him, leaps high into the air reveling in his freedom and power just as Angel stalks away in a grim mood.

Here we see what the writers have done.  They have created a powerful dilemma, a crisis of the human conscience.  Angel is both attracted by the pleasures of the Vampire lifestyle but repelled by its moral implications.  And this dilemma is not just intended to be a purely historical one.  Their clear message is that it persists to the present day.  And they convey this idea through the obsession that Angel feels for Darla, an obsession given very tangible form by the teaser where Angel, almost unconsciously repeatedly draws sketches of Darla only to discard them and yet seems quite unaware of what he is doing. The writers clearly and explicitly rejected in “Dear Boy”  the notion that Angel is in any sense in love with Darla.  Rather the importance of this obsession lies in the fact that as soon as Angel realized that Darla was human he projected onto her precisely the same dilemmas that he has had to face.  As he said to her in that episode:

Darla:  "But I'm still me.  And I remember everything, Angel.  Everything we did.  Everything we can do.”

Angel:  "Yeah.  But the bitch is you have a soul now.  Pretty soon those memories are gonna start eating away at you. No matter how hard you try you won't be able to escape the truth of what you were.  Believe me, I know."

And this sense of identification is reinforced after he saves her in “Darla”:

Darla:  "I thought I was dead."

Angel:  "You're not dead."

Darla:  "I'm not sure how I feel about that."

Angel:  "I know what you mean."

Darla:  "I'm so lucky to have someone who understands,  who knows.  It's something you never had, is it?"

But if Angel was merely drawing parallels between Darla’s present experiences and his own historical ones that would hardly account for the strength of his reaction to seeing her again.  It seems to me that the very depth of the obsession suggests that Angel’s early experience of being lost and helpless, of wandering without seeking redemption still finds echoes in the present day.  Even now he still feels the pull of the Vampire past, not just the evil instincts of the demon but the simplicity of the lifestyle.

The reason why Angel turned his back on that lifestyle was not that he didn’t find it attractive but rather because fundamentally he regards himself as being different to a Vampire.  And this is the point that is stunningly made by the juxtaposition of the two confrontations between Angel and Darla – the one in China 1900, the other in LA 2000.

Angel identified with Darla because he thought she was suffering from the same internal conflict he himself experienced.  Hence his interpretation of her destruction of her own room:

Angel:  "She smashed all the mirrors."

Cordelia:  "Why?"

Angel:  "Isn't it obvious?"

Wesley:  "Angel, I don't think anything is obvious."

 Angel:  "The weight of her soul, she's feeling it."

Wesley:  "We don't know that for certain."

Angel:  "It makes sense.  She was a vampire, now she has a soul."

Cordelia:  "That makes sense?  So why don't you go around smashing mirrors?"

Angel:  "Because I don't have to look at *myself* in them."

But Angel was wrong.  The real reason for her destructiveness  was that she was distressed by the reminder that she was no longer a Vampire.

In the scene with the Master in Virginia colony in 1609 we were given a fairly clear idea of the sort of person Darla was as a human.  Even on her deathbed she was unconcerned with concepts such as good and evil.  She cared neither for God not the Devil.  He biggest complaint was:

"God never did anything for me."

This goes a long way towards explaining not only her complete remorse for what she had done as a Vampire and her willingness as a human to see the poor actor killed but also her attitude towards Angel.  Just as he had misunderstood her, so she had misunderstood him.  As I pointed out in my review of “Dear Boy” for Darla a soul simply represents shackles on Angel’s true self.  But for Angel  the soul is fundamentally who a person is.  And this is at the heart of both confrontations between them.  In China 1900 she expresses her disgust and contempt that someone so powerful should be reduced to grubbing for rats instead of fulfilling his true destiny.  In LA 2000 she herself wants release from the burdens of humanity.  On the other hand in China 2000 Angel acknowledges that with a soul he is now fundamentally different from the creature he had been:

“I can’t seem to be what I’m not.”

And in LA2000 he goes further and acknowledges why despite its attendant weaknesses he considers humanity to be a blessing:

"It's gift.  To feel that heart beat; to know, really and for once, that you're alive - you're human again.”

In other words, Angel does fundamentally identify himself as human.  That is why when asked to make the ultimate choice either in killing innocents in China 1900 or turning Darla into something that would in LA2000  there is for him really no choice at all.


The significance of Angel’s dilemma

Here we get a complete and I think entirely convincing picture of the dilemmas and the pressures facing Angel as we move towards the crisis of the Darla arc.  Angel clearly identifies himself in terms of both his moral outlook and his aspiration as a human being.  However he continues to feel the attraction of the simplicities of the Vampire lifestyle.  That of course does not mean that he is seriously tempted to go out and start killing innocents again for pleasure.  He had after all turned his back against that 100 years ago and since then he has discovered a path to redemption and possible humanity.  That path consists of helping people to overcome their personal demons, people in fact just like Darla.  At first sight this would seem to leave Wolfram and Hart with nowhere to go.  It always looked unlikely that there was anything that Wolfram and Hart could do to reawaken the soulless killer in Angel and if anything this episode seemed to confirm that.  But far from running the Darla arc into the sand this episode gave us the first clue that for them things were indeed going according to plan.  In particular, after Lindsey has been tricked into getting Angel to save Darla’s life, Holland explains the reason for the deception in the following terms:

Lindsey:  "You played me.  You played her."

Holland:  "We had to make you believe it Lindsey."

Lindsey:  "Why?"

Holland:  "Because she has to believe it, because Angel has to.  The Crisis needed to be real."

Lindsey:  "You think now that you've driven her back to him she's gonna give him that perfect moment of happiness?  He's gonna come on our side?  Won't happen.  He's noble.  He'll never take advantage of her - not in this state, not now.

Holland:  "Lindsey, you don't understand our friend at all.  We know there is no prospect for physical intimacy here. So you needn't torture yourself."

Lindsey:  "Then what do you expect him to do?"

Holland:  "What he will do.  What he must do.  Save her soul."

In effect what he is saying is that somehow Angel’s very rejection of his Vampire legacy – the thing that featured so heavily in the last act of this episode - is part of the Wolfram and Hart plan.  Put another way we see a direct parallel between the gradual unveiling of the Wolfram and Hart plan and the sense that we are exploring just what makes Angel tick deep down.   And it is this parallel that gives the Darla arc its power.  The implication in this parallel is that Wolfram and Hart understand Angel and how he will react in any given situation.  They know there is a way he can be influenced towards the dark side and have designed their plan accordingly.   We do not yet know what the plan is let alone how it will achieve this goal.  The writers are still being very cryptic here.  But what lends credibility to the belief that things are progressing as Wolfram and Hart want is what we ourselves are now learning about our hero and his past and finding out that all is not as simple as it had appeared.


Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn

A very important part of this episode is the relationship between Angel on the one hand and Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn on the other.  It is, I think, safe to say that none of the human members of Angel Investigations had any enthusiasm for Angel’s obsessive hunt for Darla.  We first see Wesley in his usual diffident fashion loitering around Angel’s room, hoping to draw him out.  But Cordelia, not unexpectedly, is more direct.  When Angel finally admits a desire to find Darla Cordelia expresses her distrust of the former Vampire:

Angel:  "All we gonna do is find her."

 Cordelia:  "And this would be the same woman you didn't notice was in your bedroom every night for like three weeks straight?"

Angel:  "That was different."

Cordelia:  "Different in the sitting right on top of you sense, yeah."

Here she seems to be speaking for Wesley and Gunn as well.  Notwithstanding these reservations, however, the “family” bond that has developed between them means that they all swallow their doubts and loyally support Angel.  And in this each contributes to the task, thus making things a real team effort.  Gunn suggests that Darla’s hiding place might be traceable through the Wolfram and hart property portfolio.  Cordelia not only tracks down a possible candidate but personally checks it out by impersonating Darla’s sister and then Wesley and Gunn carry out a more detailed investigation.  This is fine teamwork.  But at this point we see repeated a disturbing trend we previously saw in “Dear Boy”.  Angel’s instincts are not those of a team player.  He is willing to leave background investigation work to others but when something important comes up he must do it himself and he is blind to warnings and to reason:

Gunn:  "You want me to come with you?"

Angel:  "No.  This is something I have to do on my own.”

Wesley:  "Angel..."

Angel:  "I know, Wesley, I could be walking into a trap. I get that."

Wesley:  "I'm not convinced you do."

This is yet more evidence of his willingness to set aside the views of others when they do not suit his view of what needs to be done.  It is yet more evidence of the growing rift between the formerly close knit group and Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn continue to feel excluded from Angel’s decisions and marginalized by the way he chooses to proceed.  It is too obvious and too serious part of the story to be there by accident.  We will have to see where this leads.


The Plot

As with quite a number of Angel episodes the thing I like most about the plot is that it is only near the end that the viewer realizes he wasn’t watching the story that he thought he was.  From the beginning of “Darla” Angel’s purpose is to find Darla.  At the beginning it isn’t very clear what he intends to do once he has found her, except that he dearly wants to continue the conversation with her that was so rudely interrupted at the end of “Dear Boy”.  At the same time we know where Darla is – the Wolfram and Hart offices – and here the situation seems to be taking a turn for the worse (well worse that is, depending that is upon your own point of view).  Darla is cracking up.  She is confused, frightened and angry, ready to lash out in any direction.  Not only does she eventually do so (seemingly killing a guard in the process) but her actions seem to convince Wolfram and Hart of her unreliability and they decide to terminate the project.

This is a classic piece of misdirection.  The great thing about it is that as an action it makes a great deal of sense.  Up to this point all we know about “the project” is that Darla was intended to bring Angel over to the dark side.  It seemed almost self-evident that the key to this process was her understanding of Angel and for this to be any use she had to be a reasoning, rational being.  She was obviously in no fit state to be of any use for this purpose.  And then there was the fact that Holland told Lindsey in terms what they were going to do: 

Holland: You're off this project, Lindsey."

Lindsey:  "I can find her!"

Holland:  "You don't have to find her.  We picked her up two blocks from here."

Lindsey:  "She's safe?"

Holland:  "We won't discuss it any further."

Lindsey gets up:  "If you're thinking about handing this project..."

Holland:  "This situation has gotten too far out of control.  I'm terminating the project."

And in a very subtle twist nothing here was said about Darla’ fate because nothing had to be said.  No-one was in any doubt what “terminating the project” meant. Indeed from everything we knew of Wolfram and Hart ruthlessness of the sort now contemplated was entirely expected.  And something that also made a great deal of sense was the way in which Angel was led to where Darla was to be terminated.  Lindsey’s attraction to Darla had already been hinted at and just in case we missed it the sexual tension between then leading up to Lindsey kissing her was quite palpable.  Given Lindsey’s willingness to pursue an agenda of his own even at some risk to himself his actions in warning Angel were entirely in character.

So the two lines of action were running along parallel lines as Angel’s attempts to find Darla were given urgency by her impending fate.  We were simply waiting for the two storylines to intersect in the final confrontation.

And, as ANGEL as a series had shown a willingness to kill off characters, it was by no means certain that Angel would arrive in time to rescue Darla.  Up to that point the tension was building in quite a satisfactory way.  Of course the rescue itself was really rather disappointing.  There was a very sharp little fight but that was all there was too it.  Three human heavies with guns were never going to be a match for Angel.  But then that was in itself a clue that all was not as it seemed.  Another still more important clue had already been seen in the following exchange between Lindsey and Holland:

Holland:  "She's cracking up."

Lindsey:  "No.  I wouldn't say that."

Holland:  "She is way ahead of schedule."

Lindsey:  "What?

Holland:  "We'll have to accelerate matters. But, I think we're ready. Lindsey, you did the right thing.  Good work.   Don't let her leave the building.   Oh, and letter openers, staple guns, even ball point pens, anything with a sharp edge, you may want to remove so sorts of items from your office.  Just in case."

This was, or should have been, an overwhelming hint that Darla cracking up, far from being inimical to the Wolfram and Hart plan was a necessary and expected part of it.  I thought that  this was neatly done.  The writers were playing fair with us in that they were giving us a clue that not was all it seemed but we didn’t have enough information to understand its true significance and so we weren’t able to pick up on the clue.

Of course, as soon as the seeming crisis was resolved and Darla rescued it became clear that Angel had simply played into Wolfram and Hart’s hands after all by behaving in exactly the way they had anticipated.  And so, as I have already said, the plot of “Darla” in a very neat and economical way served to unveil just that little bit more about the developing Wolfram and Hart plan while at the same time solidly advancing knowledge about Angel which promised to be crucial to that plan.



A (9/10):  In many ways this episode represents a turning point in the Darla arc.  In it the writers have turned decisively away from the idea that we might be heading towards some sort of “Angelus returns” scenario.  Instead the concentration is on the dilemma experienced by Angel’s human soul.  And through these dilemmas we have a richer, more rounded and ultimately more interesting characterization of our hero.  This is a man who can feel tempted by the idea of selfish personal fulfillment and the simplicities of life as a Vampire.  But here is also a man with the necessary moral sense ultimately to reject that lifestyle.  But, while showing Angel reaffirming his rejection of Vampirism the writers at the same time hint at solid advancement of the Wolfram and Hart plan to turn Angel dark.  This elegantly structured parallel between the character exposition on the one hand and the arc development on the other, therefore, sets us up for the arc to begin to move in a new and as yet unexplored direction, suggesting that it is in fact Angel’s very affirmation of his humanity that will prove his downfall.  So while there are no decisive developments in the arc at this stage  “Darla” does set up a compelling piece of drama which leaves the viewer wanting to know more.  And at the same time this episode presents us with an interesting and believable plot showing Angel’s attempts to find Darla.  This plot serves a number of different purposes.  As well as helping to establish the fact that Wolfram and Hart are thinking ahead of us this plot helps further to widen the gap that is now appreciable growing between Angel and the other members of the Fang Gang.  And it does one other thing as well.   While we follow developments in Angel’s search for Darla in an attempt to head off what looks like an attempt to kill her the real significance of the story – the temptation and choices Angel faces - unfolds partly in the form of in the form scenes in the narrative in LA2000 and partly in the form of thematically related flashbacks.  In terms of structure this was both beautifully conceived and very effective.