Episode Reviews (34)
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In the Dark
"In the Dark," one of several cross-over episodes with parent show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the first in a series of episodes that carry significant elements and characters from one show to another with the central purpose of helping the new and emerging spin-off show get on its feet. I guess we know we're in Whedonland when it's just this good.
Picking up where BtVS, "The Harsh Light of Day" left off, this episode of AtS follows Spike and Oz as they depart Sunnydale for . Oz has come to the city for a gig with his band, but stops by the offices of Angel Investigations with a special package from Buffy: the Ring of Amarra. A ring that constitutes the Holy Grail for vampires which, when worn by one, renders them invincible against stakes, crosses, holy water and even sunlight. Spike, the greedy and mindless entropy fan he is, has followed Oz, having unearthed the ring in a plot to kill Buffy not days earlier in the fictional universe's time line. This is the set-up.
It's just a testament to the show's writers that these two worlds mesh so well; only two episodes in up to this point, and AtS already has a distinctly different tone, yet nothing feels out of place. Maybe it's just that writer Douglas Petrie really does write Spike better than the rest. Some rock solid proof appears right away in the teaser scene before the credits, where Spike gut-bustingly mocks Angel as he watches his former ally save a young girl in an alley.
There's a subtle layer beneath Spike's self-appreciated jibes too, as he is ever more intuitive than anyone around him guesses throughout his entire time in the Whedonverse. Even back in S2 of Buffy, his practicality and common sense stuck out and made him more than just the blind-fighting killer he appeared to be, and during his time with the Scoobies he could see their tight bonds falling apart while no one else could. In S5 of Angel, he's the only one, and right from the start, who doesn't delude himself with the company line about how Wolfram and Hart was changing because of Angel's new regime. He truthfully observed: "a place like this doesn't change, it changes
Here, his snarky comments about Angel scratch a delicate surface, and the sarcasm of the "fluffy puppy" line nails it: Angel is who he is, soul or not, and a large part of this season has him dealing with that and how it ties in to his history with Buffy. In fact, how he deals is a big part of this episode, along with the main theme of the entire series: Redemption. More specifically here: earning it.
The B plot involving the aforementioned girl named Rachel whom Angel saved in the alley doesn't do a whole lot, but serves as a fair parallel for the A plot. It also continues to lay a solid foundation for Angel's true mission of saving souls. When her abusive boyfriend has been released from jail, Rachel calls Angel in desperation, pleading to him to save her from herself; she always goes back to this man like an addict. Angel gives her his console, and tells her she can choose to go with another quick fix and wait and bleed through the consequences again, or take the longer, more painful road that ultimately has a better place for her at the end. This is just a shadow of what's to come as Angel is soon to face the same choice.
Oz shows up in . with the ring, and I'd like to point out how much I love this little guy and how wonderful he is no matter how little he talks; we always get what he's about and his brief exchanges with the team are enjoyable. Shame there isn't more of him. After a brief confrontation, Angel tracks down Spike and is subsequently captured, and it is here that the real meat of the episode kicks in.
Spike has hired a vampire who specializes in torture to get the location of the ring out of Angel, smugly explaining that this man, Marcus, invented some of the torture Despite the painful nature of it, the torture isn't all that gruesome, but pain seems to get the job done. Angel resists as boldly as he can all the while Marcus repeatedly asks him, 'what do you want, Angel?' trying to crack him by exposing deepest desires. The self-important, philosophical psychotic has been done to death so I was put off by this concept at first, but some good acting from all three 'vampires' and the strength of the writing made me enjoy the sequence as a whole.
In stark contrast to later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike really does feel threatening throughout this episode too. I felt genuine concern for Doyle and Cordelia's safety when he confronted them in the office. And, as is his style, his determination for a goal is tough to break; we watch him egg Marcus on, periodically becoming delighted, bored and angry by the length and method of the torture and Angel's lack of response. But, is it really lacking? Even a vampire can only take so much and when Angel gives in to Marcus it's like a beautiful release; both chilling and pure. He tells his captor that he wants forgiveness, and Marcus is pleased with this truth. He knows that Angel often takes the high road too, and that he wishes to earn his redemption. This is where the Ring of Amarra ties in.
For Angel, it represents the same choice Rachel had to make: The quick fix versus the righteous path. Invulnerability and an enhanced bonus on top of his immortality would make Angel feel akin to a God, and this type of power easily corrupts. More importantly, as Marcus said, Angel feels he has to earn his 'freedom' from his past and it's through the pain he suffers that he realizes the cost of this, and learns to face it. And when Angel faces Marcus, then stepping into the sunlight with the ring on his hand, he takes a long look and truly sees what he's giving up, and still does it.
I really liked seeing him watch one last sunset before destroying the ring and thematically, it was moving. But, it does bother me a little. Now, from a storytelling standpoint it makes sense; you can't have an invincible hero because it would become impossibly boring, but much the same way Buffy stored the Troll God's hammer from an earlier episode for use against Glory in BtVS "The Gift" Angel could've stored this very powerful weapon away for the one most crucial moment. Just a necessity of the writing, I guess, however disappointing. Although, I have seen it pointed out that having such an item could bring Angel too close to true happiness, and the thought of Angelus with the Ring of Amarra is downright terrifying.
One last item of note is that Doyle and Cordelia get something important to do at last. They start to bond while hiding out at Doyle's place, and show their true colours in a crisis. Spike uses Angel's life as a bartering chip to scare them in to handing over the ring, but right away they know it's not an option. This seems a small thing, but it's important, as it starts to define the difference between Angel Investigations and the Scooby Gang.
From a metaphorical standpoint, they're more grown up; S1 of Angel focuses on the metaphor of life in one's early twenties, while Buffy S4 is about the college life. The only winning option for them is to cheat Spike out of the ring while rescuing Angel, as opposed to say, what Buffy and Co. did for Willow in BtVS "Choices" handing over the Box of Gavrock to the Mayor without a second thought when Willow's life was at stake. They're willing to give up even Angel to do what's right; another high road.
In the end, this is a really good episode that suffers from only a few minor nitpick items. Marcus himself was a good treat, making for an interesting play on the 'quiet psycho' archetype. And the exceptional blend of action, character development and thematic relevance, as well as the very entertaining presence of Spike make it memorable and fun; his mockery of Angel is one of the funniest moments in the Whedonverse.moreless
In the dark
Spike mocking Angel is excellent, lovely to see Oz and a great rescue and final battle at the pier. Nice end coda too. The Cordy/Oz/Angel scenes are hysterical, as Willow observes both she and Buffy know the love of 2 taciturn men.
Very little, strong ep. Boy Spike is dumb but funnily so. Everyone at the pier seems to take the 2 guys jumping off the end on fire very calmly.
Doyle (to Angel); Long time between sunsets huh?
Jeez, how did they get away with that?
Well, Angel get's tortured to nearly death for the majority of the episode. Spike also hints that Marcus has an interest in the kids beyond just eating them. Reputedly this is the ep that got the Angel season 1 dvd boxset an 18 rating in the UK. I don't disagree but what makes this worse than 'Hellbound' which only got a 15 rating?
Damsel in distress; yep, that makes 2
Inverting the Hollywood cliche; rather than play the unbreakable tough guy Angel admits that with a little more torture he'd have told Marcus everything. Cordy notes the Gem isn't in the freezer or toilet tank as it would be in the movies.
In disguise; no
DB get's his shirt off; no but we get some torso action, Marcus commenting he has 'little external damage'.
Fang Gang in bondage: yep, Angel for virtually the whole ep
Fang gang knocked out:
Cordy: none this ep. 3 vamps, a demon from her time in Sunnydale
Angel: Another vamp for Angel. So that gives Angel 8 vamps, 2 demons, 1 human.
Fang Gang go evil:
Alternate Fang Gang:
Characters killed: only Marcus
Total number of Angel Investigations:
3, Angel, Doyle and Cordy
Angel Investigations shot: no
Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:
Spike refers to Buffy as 'slutty the vampire slayer' and teases Angel over Buffy's affair with Parker.
Spike's speech on Angel is full of ***phobia. He also asks if Angel and Marcus would like to be alone when running his hands over Angel's naked torso. Spike comments that Buffy is 'cute when she's hurting', you wonder did he always have a thing for her? Such a shame we never get to meet Doyle's wonderfully named friend 'Frankie Tripod'.
Buffy characters appearing in Angel; (unless someone can correct me no original Angel character ever appears on Buffy?)
4; Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike
Questions and observations;
Why does Angel grab his neck when Marcus puts the chain around it? Surely he doesn't breathe? Marcus wears glasses which presumably like Dalton in Buffy are for sentimental reasons. Doyle has read Angela's Ashes and it reduces him to tears (the novel focuses on the shiftless father so it may appeal to Doyle who never knew his). Angel once again beats his way to what he wants, without Buffy's influence he tends to be a lot more brutal. It's a great performance from Kevin West who is a very familar face on TV (although I thought he was in Scrubs and Ally McBeal but he isn't, that's Robert Clendenin another actor with a similar look). Marcus wears a Bond style Nehru jacket. Angel knows Doyle's mother. This is Angel investigations first walk-in client and her problem for once is just a very human jerk ex-boyfriend rather than anything supernatural. Ok so the ring makes vamps unkillable, even if you cut their heads' off?
Marks out of 5; 3/5
A Ring of Endless Anti-Sunlight
The second part of a storyline started in the Buffy episode The Harsh Light of Day, In the Dark begins with Spike crashing into LA searching for the mystical Gem of Amarra, a ring which renders the vampire wearer invincible and able to walk in sunlight. Spike previously got hold of the ring but Buffy managed to retrieve it, asking Oz, who was heading to LA for a gig, to give it to Angel.
As with the two episodes before it, In the Dark is another mix of comedy and gruesome horror. The opening scene, in which Spike narrates what Angel and his latest damsel in distress Rachel are saying is absolutely hilarious. His various quips, "off to the Angelmobile, away!" "I'm almost out of that nancy-boy hair gel I love so much" are so funny.
Oz and Spike fit into the LA setting well and it only takes another 4 years for the latter to become a regular.
Marcus is also a very creepy villain. A silent torturer with a thing for children, he eventually gets hold of the Gem and goes to a beach, planning to prey on little kids.
There are also some hilarious scenes where Oz tells Angel how pale he is when he's in the sunlight and one where Spike's hair accidentally catches on fire.
All the cast give brilliant performances and the final scene, in which Angel smashes the Gem, is heartbreaking. A stand-out episode and a real Angel classic.
Director: Bruce Seth Green
Writer: Douglas Petrie
Hullo, Spoike. :)
Episodes like this intrigue me.
They make me ask questions like "How much did who know and when?"
In the entire course of the episode, no one introduced Doyle to Spike as "Doyle."
Fast forward to S5, when Lindsey is presenting himself to Spike as a connection to the PTB, he calls himself "Doyle" and of course Spike has no reference on the name.
Is it even possible that in the third episode of "Angel," Joss actually had S5 storylines in mind?
Or was Spike never catching Doyle's name just a strange coincidence?
These are questions one asks oneself in a review of a mighty fine episode.
I'd not remembered this one being this good. I enjoyed, as did everyone, Spike's rooftop color commentary on Angel and Rachel. And with everything going on in this episode, it's amazing they had the time they did to follow up with her, to talk about her addiction to the abusive relationship.
"Addiction. Everyone's got one," Spike said to Angel as part of a strangely introspective episode, which raised the very good question: "You're a detective?" I loved that exchange. "What's next? Vampire cowboy? Vampire dentist? Vampire ballerina?"
Which was blocked very badly because Angel saying he liked working with his legs too broadly telegraphed his next move in the fight. But beyond that one crappy lapse, most of the fight scenes were pretty intense. Certainly the torture scene was. And how contextually Angel was played on his way into that trap -- the "slip of the tongue" by one of Doyle's contacts, and then from there.
I know Spike is the only one who knows where they've got Angel. But that needed to be said out loud once. There were too many good opportunities for someone to stake Spike and no one did.
I hate that I got all the way to this paragraph before mentioning Oz, but thus has it shaken out. I loved Oz in this eppy. I think if they'd sent the ring with just about anyone else, Cordy and [whoever else] would have more to say to each other. But that was a good awkward point of illustration saying "Hey -- living some independent lives here on independent shows."
That and Oz got to burst in and save the day. And then Angel, still in daylight, still recovering from soul-searing torture, saves the children from Marcus.
Spike was very well written in this episode. His writing was much better than his makeup, which reminded me of the Insane Clown Posse. But y'know what? Damn' decent performance all the same. His itchiness with Marcus and his break-in at Angel's were some very cool scenes.
No bothersome visions to overanalyze -- Rachel was a walk-in -- and Doyle's suggestion that they're not always going to be paid for the help they provide is an interesting point. But it's cool that they've tracked down enough of a small business loan for Cordy to have a computer on her desk and a printer. Go Cordy -- get that office set up with yo' bad self.
I wish Angel hadn't smashed the ring. There's situations where it would've come in handy. But then, when your main character is entirely invulnerable, that can get boring to write and really boring to watch. All the same, which his rationalization was reasonably good storywise, I'm afraid the fact remains that Angel had a powerful weapon in his arsenal and he destroyed it.
But then, that went in the direction of who he was, who he was going to be. He wasn't going to be Superman. He was going to earn his redemption the hard way. And part of that "forgiveness" he said he wanted, part of that redemption, was living the guilt and pain and experiencing the limitations of vampire existence as well as the benefits. Like I said -- nice bit of introspection.
All in all, for all of my kvetching, I truly enjoyed this episode. Lots going on, good writing, nice ties to Sunnydale and good to see Spike and Oz on the soundstage.
Well done, everyone. :)moreless
'I don't know about you, but I had a nice day. You know, except for the bulk of it, where I was nearly tortured to death. '
‘In The Dark’ continues the gem storyline that began in ‘The Harsh Light Of Day’, the episode is certainly not as good as the past two but is still better than the Buffy version.
The intro was extremely fun to watch, a girl named Rachel is being chased by her abusive boyfriend but saved by Angel. While he and Rachel talk, Spike is watching them and imitates to be them. ‘Up, to the Angel mobile. Away!’
Meanwhile Oz comes to visit LA. If Spike were smart, he’d attack Oz but he really isn’t. Anyway, Oz sees Cordy again and it’s so fun to see them together. He also meets Doyle and they make such a good team, too bad Oz never joined the cast because they would have been so much fun. But anyway, Oz gives Angel the ring but Angel reacts a bit strange. He stays alone behind and hides the ring in the sewers.
After Angel gets a call from Rachel, he decides to save her but then gets a visit from his buddy Spike. They fight along and Spike meets Angel’s followers. But then Spike leaves after he realise he doesn’t stand a chance, while Angel goes to talk to Rachel, Doyle Takes Cordy over to his place. He asks Cordy if Spike is really someone to sweat over and she says that he really is.
While Angel goes to clubs to find Spike, when he finally does someone captures Angel from behind. His name is Marcus, a torturer who loves children. He plays some bloody Mozart and bores Angel to death while he’s not poking him with hot pokers.
Spike is tired of it and goes to find his ring, there he sees Doyle and Cordy. He tells them to give him the ring or he will kill Angel, they find it because of Doyle turning into the demon and Cordy says she could hug him, but he’s not lucky enough to be hugged.
But what we learn about Angel and why he wants it the hard way, is that he really wants to atone for his crimes in the past, he wants forgiveness but not the hard way. Then he tries to kill Marcus and promises it but Spike comes along and saves Marcus, then they work together and torturing Angel.
After Doyle and Cordelia go to save Angel, they make Spike fetch the ring and Oz comes in his van to save Angel, they escape but when spike goes to find his ring, it’s gone. Marcus took it to some kids. In the van, Angel tells Oz to turn back because he knows that Marcus likes little children. They go back and Angel jumps out of the car and becomes a vampire torch, he pushes Marcus into the water. They fight and then Angel puts Marcus on a stake, then takes off his ring and Marcus dusts.
At the end of the day, Doyle and Angel are talking when the sun goes down. Angel says he doesn’t want the ring because he wants to save people at night, when it’s dark. And the ring just seems like it helps but it doesn’t, it’s too easy. Angel then destroys the ring.
‘In The Dark’ was a good episode, we learn a lot more about Angel’s feelings and it was a blast to see Oz in L.A. I wasn’t crazy about Spike however, but I did enjoy watching his hair on fire.
Spike makes his first appearance on the show after losing the Ring of Amorra he chases after it, the episode starts off with some fantastic voice over from Spike after Angel saves some random girl (I notice they're always beautiful women, what about the ugly ones?)
After a fight scene between Spike and Angel, Angel is captured and is being tortured until Spike gets the ring back, ultimately Spike loses the ring, his prisoner and his torturer and decides to leave. Angel gets the ring off of the other vampire and wears it and see's daylight for the first time in a long time. He watches the sun set and decides that the ring is just a fabrication of what he is fighting for and destroys it.
I think it's one of the best episodes in the series mainly because of the fact that Spike and Angel collide.moreless
I love this episode for one main reason I love the character Spike he is great in both Angel and Buffy.
I love this episode my favourite part of it is when Spike is making fun of Angel at the start I just couldn't stop laughing it still does everytime I watch it. I am also very happy that Oz was in this episode. I thought that they could of had him in it for a bit longer though. :)
Spike hunt for the Gem of Amarra leads him to LA and to his nemesis Angel!
I really enjoyed this episode. Spike (James Marsters) makes a successful debut in the show which he would later become a part of.
There are some great moments in the episode. The funniest has to be the opening scene when Spike is making fun of Angel. This is Spike at his best and I laughed out loud so many times during this scene!
I really enjoyed the fight scenes which followed with Spike and Angel. They have great chemistry together and fight was so much fun to watch especially when Angel finally vamps out.
Another of my favourite moments was at the end when Angel and Doyle are talking about the ring. The writing is so sweet here and you really get the sense of where Angel is coming from when he makes his final decision to destroy the ring.
This episode is the second of Angel that I have ever watched and I really enjoyed the way in which the show flows. The storyline of the blond girl that Angel saved, is nicely intertwined with Angel's personal story. The interaction between Doyle and Cordy is also well scripted and plotted.
Despite how good the supporting and guest cast are, David Boreanaz, really shines in the lead role of Angel. His performance in this epsidoe is brilliant and he plays brooding so well. He was wonderful in the torture scene
but the best scene was undoubtedly when he is wearing the ring for the first time and steps in to the daylight. The look on his face completely portrays how much this means to him, to step into the light for the first time in 200+ years. The sheer joy and disbelief really comes across in this one small scene.
Overall, a brilliant and very enjoyable episode. The crossover with Buffy really works and gives all the actors some great material with which to shine!
An average episode made above average by the presence of yet another Buffy character, Spike.
Spike shows up to get his ring back. Spike makes fun of Angel. Marsters has his character down. I'm not sure half the time if it's the way Angel is written or Boreanaz' acting ability, but he just seems dull. I thought the ring was an interesting item, giving a vampire invulnerability to sunlight etc. It's only point was to allow Angel and the other vamp to roll around in the waves, until one gets deep fried. Then, instead of Angel keeping the ring because it's abilities are tempting to him...he crushes it...yep that's it...ok, he keeps it to have a teary sunrise scene, but then he destroys it without thinking twice...ok, I guess that's one way to resolve it.
Rating: 10 - Angel is sooooo dreamy!
-1 - Angel is a chunkhead.
-1 - Cordelia
-1 - Doyle has a vision.
+1 - Spike.
+1 - Spike makes fun of Angel.
Final Rating: 9moreless