Thursday, June 10, 2010

Buffy 1x07 - "Angel"

It's often said that Buffy doesn't really hit its stride until the middle of season two, but new fans take a look of "Angel" for a preview of what it's going to be like when it does. more after the jump.

"Whoa, well, let's stop this crazy whirligig of fun! I'm dizzy!"


In some ways, "Angel" feels like part three of the series premiere, because after watching it you get the sense that only now have all of the pieces been properly set up. The world of Buffy has been chugging along and we've had a good idea of where everyone fits in, except for this mysterious stranger, Angel. I suppose there was a time when the fact that Angel is a vampire would have been a surprise, but I'm pretty sure that almost anyone watching this now will already be aware of the fact, so it loses some of its impact. Even so, now that the characters know, the show is altered, and it makes for an incredibly enjoyable episode.

Darla is the best villain the show has seen so far. She's been around since the premiere, but like Angel we haven't gotten to know her. She's devious and clever, managing to be menacing physically as well as psychologically. Her use of guns breaks the viewer's comfort zone in terms of what the show ought to be. Her death at the end of the episode is satisfying, although those who like her character should take heart. We certainly haven't seen the last of her.

While watching this episode, I realized that since the pilot David Boreanaz's performance has improved quite a bit from the wooden portrayal I complained about last week. This is a few steps closer to the Angel I'm familiar with from having recently come off of watching the entire run of his own show. It's quite impressive how quickly he improved. Sarah Michelle Gellar is great here as well, giving us a vulnerable, confused and betrayed Buffy.

I said in my preliminary thoughts on the series that I think the core of the show is Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles, but here I am talking about the Buffy/Angel dynamic like it's the most important thing on the show. And at the moment, it is (and the other characters aren't given much to do in this episode). Still, I stand by what I said there, based on a broad view of the series as a whole.

Even so, this episode, just by properly setting up the character of Angel, brings Buffy up to a new level. Making Buffy personally invested in a vampire really brings something new to the table. Unfortunately, we needn't get comfortable there, because the full ramifications of Angel as a character won't be felt until next season.


  1. I really should watch season 1 again. I don't even remember Darla!

  2. I'll say it now, and then keep my peace about it: I don't care for Angel that much, and I really don't care for the Angel/Buffy romance. I think it makes complete dramatic sense, but it's simply not a story arc I enjoyed, and I will be happy when it ends--which I won't reveal here, for fear of spoilers.

    That being said, I'm glad that you agree that it's the 3 friends + Giles that are the heart of the show--Angel is an addition that is only marginally noticed when he's removed.

  3. @Sara
    She's the vampire that sired Angel. She later appeared in a few flashbacks throughout Buffy, and then a bunch of times in Angel (particularly seasons two and three).

  4. @Erik
    I wasn't the hugest fan of Angel while he was on Buffy, but I thought he really came into his own once he was the hero of his own show. Obviously, though, your mileage may vary.

  5. @Tom I think you're right--Angel on his own show was much more tolerable and even entertaining, though I don't think "Angel" ever matched "BTVS" for overall quality--but we can discuss that much later.