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