"Darla" is, and I doubt there would be much disagreement among the fans, one of the top best episodes ever of "Angel". How can it not be?. Any time the show, or "Buffy", gives us some flashbacks, it's always good. But when they do a major episode steeped in history, well, it's just a treat. The history in both shows is so incredibly deep and richly layered, that there is a never ending well of material they could drain from. Tim Minear wrote and directed this episode, and by this time, it was becoming very obvious that he was the best and most important writer/director on the show whose last name didn't end in Whedon or Greenwalt. The guy is as good a writer as anybody, and he has got his stuff down pat. Earlier in this season, he dazzled us with "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?", and his promise keeps getting proved with every episode he does. I am not sure if he has topped this one, but he sure outdid himself with it. This episode jumps from a varied and distinguished timeline to all sorts of places and dates in the long and blood soaked history of Darla and Angel. It's done so beautifully and spectacularly, that one cannot be in awe of the work and the detail in every single frame of this brilliant episode. So, what exactly happened in this episode and how good was it?. Well, if you've been reading so far, then you know that it was very, very good.
Told through brilliant flashbacks, we get to see how Darla became the vampire we know. How she died as a human, when The Master came to her, and her long and interesting relationship with a certain vampire. It's all intercut with Darla today, back from the dead, and her relationship continuing with Angel, her once upon a time killer now with a soul.
"Darla" was the second part of the Buffy season 5 episode, "Fool For Love", and were shown back to back. What a history lesson!. What's so interesting about this is that both episode comes from totally seperate angles with a whole other point of view. Even certain scenes we saw in "Fool For Love" we see again here, but they come with a whole other feeling because we are seeing them in a whole other context. It's done brilliantly. Whereas the history lesson in the "Buffy" episode was about Spike and how he came to kill two slayers in his lifetime, this one is about, well, read the title. What's also so wonderful in the planning and writing is that neither one is dependent on the other. You don't need to see "Fool For Love" to watch "Darla", or the other way around. They may seem somewhat connected at first, but they are not, and you can watch each one seperatley and not miss out on anything. Again, this is credit to the genius of Tim Minear's wonderful script. And the modern day scenes work so incredible as well. The human Darla is a tragic creature. Go back and watch this episode and see the work Julie Benz had to do in this episode. The evil Darla who changes when she realizes Angel has a soul, to the Darla of today. Human, confused, hurting. This actress had a heck of a lot of layers to convey here, and she did a brilliant job. And what about human Darla?. She was a vampire for so long, she doesn't know what it's like to be anything else. She can't take the beating of her heart in her chest any longer. To her, it's like a cancer. Angel says he will help her, but it becomes clear that there is only one thing that Darla wants him to do to save her. Turn her back. Angel refuses. He is going to save her. Not turn her back to the forces of evil.
The Lindsey element is quite interesting as well. It doesn't take long to realize that Lindsey is beginning to have some serious feelings about Darla. This doesn't seem to be lost on Holland Manners either. He sabotages the project when he feels that Lindsey's closeness to Darla will not be for the greater good of the project. He is going to terminate the project, and by "terminate", he means kill Darla. Lindsey actually intends to call Angel(who comes to Lindsey)and the hero vamp saves Darla from being murdered. Lindsey definitley loves Darla. So much so that he would go to his enemy for help. Even after their own history. Christian Kane continues to grow and evolve as Lindsey. Sam Anderson as Holland Manners was the best boss Wolfram And Hart ever had. Anderson has the right look and total slimey evilness as Manners. I was upset when he died. I always knew him as the principal for years on "Growing Pains" and Mr. Gorpley on "Perfect Strangers". He's great.
So, who was Darla?. She was a prostitute dying of Syphilis in the Virginia Colony in 1609. The Master comes to save her. In the present day, she is being saved by Angel. There is so much more here in the history of the past that is being represented today in present times. Angel chastises to The Master that he lives in the sewers, and here Angel moves around in the sewers. Darla would not have anything to do with Angelus when he got his soul from the Gypsy, and now here she is with a soul. The best part of the episode is when Darla wants Angel to turn her back, and she told him to return the favor. This was a grand moment. This stops Angel cold. He tells her that what she gave him was not a favor at all. He might be doing good now, but he knows what lurks within him and the things he has done in his very long life. She didn't do him no favors, and he isn't going to do the same to her. It was wonderful and chilling all at the same time. The flashbacks to the present day work and go together so seamlessly. A lot of props must go to every person behind the scnes who made the episode so beautiful and moving. The scenery is exquisite, and the costumes for the different eras they are in are wonderfully done. Tim Minear is definitley the man.
What more is there to say?. "Darla" is a masterful and mesmerizing piece of work. So solidly written and beautifully acted, this episode is one for the ages. On it's own it's just magic. Paired with "Fool For Love", and it's an evening's worth of unbeatable television.