Written by: Tim Minear
by: Tim Minear
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!"
later when she asks Angel for the first time to make her a Vampire again she
stresses the physical infirmities of humanity:
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."
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
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?"
Darla: "Oh no. Much worse. Now we're soul mates."
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."
only response that evoked from Angelus was contempt:
Angelus: "Why'd you want to do that?"
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?."
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.
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."
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?
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:
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
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."
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."
"Anything we like."
view, the whirlwind, the freedom to do anything they like there are all
references to what Spike referred to in the following terms:
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
"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
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."
"I'm so lucky to have someone who understands,
who knows. It's something you never had, is it?"
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.
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.
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."
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?"
"Because I don't have to look at *myself* in them."
Angel was wrong. The real reason for her destructiveness was that she was distressed by the reminder that she was no
longer a Vampire.
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:
never did anything for me."
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:
can’t seem to be what I’m not.”
in LA2000 he goes further and acknowledges why despite its attendant weaknesses
he considers humanity to be a blessing:
gift. To feel that heart beat; to know, really and for once, that you're
alive - you're human again.”
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.
of Angel’s dilemma
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
Lindsey: "You played me. You played her."
Holland: "We had to make you believe it Lindsey."
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?"
"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.
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.”
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.
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.
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..."
"This situation has gotten too far out of control. I'm terminating
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
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
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."
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."
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.
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.
(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