Before I talk about the storyline of the episode itself, I just want to mention what a great performance Julie Benz gave in this episode. She had to play so many emotions and she did them all so well, easily outshining her co-stars in this episode.
With so many things happening in this episode it is difficult to know where to start, so I’ll start at the beginning. As Darla’s mind and body start to disintegrate she starts to call out for Angel but for the time being only Lindsey hears her cries. The sexual tension in this first scene is played subtly here and works really well with the contrast to Darla’s obviously unstable state of mind. Darla’s last lines of the teaser “We’re soul mates” leaves a chilling feeling behind. This term is mostly used as a good thing but as the episode shows this may not be a good thing for Darla.
The flashbacks then kick-off with one of my favourite scenes. The scene between Darla and the Master as she lays dying works so well and finally gives fans the background on who ultimately made Angel and therefore the show. The next flashback is equally good as Angel shows that he doesn’t take orders from anybody. I loved his taunting of the Master, its what Angelus does best and his lack of obedience here can help to explain events later in the season with the rest of the team.
The flashbacks then start to co-incide with those on Buffy’s episode “Fool for Love.” With this being the only real crossover episode from Buffy this season, it works wonderfully even though there are only two flashbacks that directly coincide. The first being Darla, Dru and Angelus meeting Spike. While the flashback itself isn’t hugely interesting or relevant to the rest of the episode, it does show the two sides to the story of Spike getting sired. The second crossover flashback is a whole lot more interesting. Angel/us has just returned to the fold and we see him struggling with being a vampire again. As Spike crows from killing a Slayer as we saw on Buffy, Angel congratulates him rather moodily. When I first watched Buffy Fool for Love I thought this moodiness was because of jealousy but this is wonderfully revealed not to be the case.
As the episode progresses we see some nice power play between Lindsey and Holland Manners. Holland is obviously aware of Lindsey’s attraction to Darla and uses that to his evil advantage. Although it is never fully explained in this episode, Holland makes it plain that W&H were expecting Darla’s humanity to eventually kill her and therein lies the reason they brought her back. Holland’s duping of Lindsey here explains events later in the season as we see Lindsey change from hating Angel wholly to go back to the grey area which Lindsey so often inhabits.
Lindsey and Darla’s relationship is hugely interesting here. The actors have a great chemistry and work well together. Again Darla’s insanity offsets their sexual tension; more overt this time as Darla offers herself to Lindsey although she stops him before he can take advantage of her. This obviously does not stop Lindsey from caring from her and he proceeds to help her going so far as to turn to the one person he hates most of all- Angel.
Angel’s desperation to help Darla is really intriguing. As he says at the end of the episode, she “damned him” so why is he so eager to help? His life would be a lot easier if she disappeared and while she may be a ‘case’ for him to save her delicate mental state and lack of willing means this might not be possible. These questions are explored in the rest of the season and it an extent the series.
The final scene is very strongly put together. Intertwined with flashbacks of Angelus coming to terms with being Angel and probably the last time they see each other before Sunnydale, Darla makes a desperate plea to her lover, which he rejects, and she disappears in to the sun.
Such a strong episode, which I could review for pages. An outstandingly written episode from Tim Minear, one of the best of the show.