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AtS Season 2 Rewatch

Grace

Destructo-Girl
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
1,792
Black Thorn
2x01 Judgment
Teleplay by David Greenwalt
Story by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt
Directed by Michael Lange
Original air date: September 26, 2000

Overall thoughts: Hey, an episode about Angel being a champion! That's not gonna come up again later, is it? ;)

Y'know, I remembered being kind of lukewarm about Judgment. I think I thought the Tribunal was kinda over-the-top. But I really enjoyed the episode on this rewatch. I think part of it is that the last time I watched it I hadn't seen the whole series yet, so now I appreciate this Angel/Wesley/Cordelia time so much more when I understand how truly fleeting it is. They really are my BroT3 of champions (heh). In this episode, I think I might like them even more than Buffy/Willow/Xander, which is incredible to me and nothing I ever thought I'd say. Though there clearly is a bit of Giles/Jennying going on here, where they get to be extra sweet at the start of Season 2 just so it hurts that much more when things start to fall apart.

The exchange between Angel and Cordelia about the light at the end of the tunnel is such a classic and amazing moment between them. I love it so much. And the way Wes drops the "one soul at a time" reminder right before Faith shows up onscreen is perfect. And Faith herself, and Angel's conversation with her, are also perfect. GAH.

And I didn't even mention Angel singing!

Gunn = the Buffy of AtS? They do the alley subversion thing, flipping the racist stereotype of the black guy about to carjack someone into the guy who saves them. Plus, the "prio mojo." And he's good at making Wesley and Cordelia look pretty ridiculous.

Buffy would be proud. No wonder Gunn is my second-favorite AtS character after Angel. ;)

Miscellaneous notes:

I really like how Buffy vs. Dracula ends on the WTF moment of Dawn's first appearance, and Judgment opens with its own little WTF moment of Lorne's introduction. Clearly not on the same level, but there's just that "WHAT?!" moment when he starts singing. And it's so fun on rewatch to know we have these two amazing characters to look forward to over the coming season.

Justina Machado is such a great guest star, omg. She's so instantly likable and believable in this role to me. ("But you know how you're not really good at anything?" ... Love it!) Plus, thanks to this great fic by fluffernutter8, I have the head canon that her baby-to-be is Elena from One Day at a Time. :D

Oh, man, the Donald joke makes me cringe. (Not the show's fault, obvs.)

The moment when Angel lights a candle for Kamal is especially touching, though.
 

Grace

Destructo-Girl
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
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1,792
Black Thorn
2x02 Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?
Directed by David Semel
Written by Tim Minear
Original air date: October 3, 2000

Overall thoughts: I know this episode is a pretty universal favorite. But it makes me uncomfortable enough that I can't count it among my own. Certainly the look and feel of the episode is pretty amazing. They obviously took a lot of extra care with it and it has a deeply foreboding sensibility. I also enjoy that on AtS, even buildings need redemption! ;)

I struggle with the handling of the character of Judy, though. I know part of the problem here is that when you have a white dude as your protagonist, it can be tricky to tackle some of these issues. But I just don't like the way they use the passing metaphor with Angel very much. Especially because our sympathy for Judy and the more real-world type of situation she's in is undercut by having her betray Angel. So her employers fired her because they thought being of mixed race made her untrustworthy and now she proves (under the influence of the demon) to be untrustworthy? I don't know, it just feels awkward to me to use this real-life issue to make Angel's plight seem deeper metaphorically but then also kind of play into the stereotype? I'm probably not articulating this well. I also dislike getting too close to the implication that vampire = racial minority.

The ending also feels discordant to me. Setting aside how completely unbelievable it is that Judy is still living in a hotel that has been abandoned for more than 20 years, I didn't like how it was only about Angel forgiving Judy, after the episode showed that Angel also regretted his actions. Given that the demon's influence was a factor (and Angel actually knew that at the time), it felt like there should be more give and take, though I guess Judy never knew what Angel did.

I also get annoyed by the end credits, where we see that Tim Minear (or someone else involved in the production) decided to call one of the unnamed characters "Over the Hill Whore." The other unnamed (male) characters are Salesman, Older Man and Blacklisted Writer. Yes, the implication in the episode is that she's a prostitute, but it just bugs me to see that next to the actress' name.

Random thoughts:

Denver throwing Angel the bible is just a great touch. I really like his character.

"Don't you dare use alliteration with me, you hack!" LOL.

Paranoid Wes is hilarious.

It's kind of a parallel to I Only Have Eyes for You that Angel survives something that would have killed him if he were human and that allows him to forgive the person responsible (standing in for Grace in IOHEFY and acting as himself in AYNOHYEB. Interesting that they are both 1950s-themed.)

I do like the foreshadowing of Angel's decision with the Wolfram & Hart lawyers later in the season. Angel in the 1950s had no faith in people. Angel of 2000 does, but he's about to lose it again.
 
Last edited:
Mylie
Mylie
I think this is the first time I disagree with you when it comes to the buffyverse, but I'm really glad to have read your thoughts on it.
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
2x02 Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?

I think this is by far the best episode to deal explicitly with race. Making a white guy the protagonist of the story of a woman's struggle with racial prosecution is problematic, but this episode feels a lot more nuanced and empathetic than The Thin Dead Line and The Old Gang of Mine. The amount of white saviours beside a strangely ineffectual in The Thin Dead Line is ridiculous, and the crime statistics Kate reads out makes me wonder if zombie cops were such a bad idea after all. The Old Gang of Mine with its ham-fisted black-people-are-racist-too message is just a disgrace from start to finish.

As for Judy not being morally pure with the stealing and the back-stabbing... I think it is pretty easy to sympathise with her, because her situation is so difficult. I read quite a few books by black writers this year - Nella Larsson's Passing being a favourite - and one thing that is refreshing about black writers tackling issues of race is that black writers do not tend to make their black characters into saints. If you want to explore racism as a mechanism in society, you need to really look at how deeply it affects people. Passing is a pretty extreme practice, and the fact that many people would take the trouble and the risk to do that is pretty significant and says a lot about how dire the situation can be for people of colour. Angel isn't all that heroic himself. In fact, James Dean Angel is quite unlikable and not much like James Dean or Angel at all.

A hotel full of prostitutes, communists, gay celebrities, vampires and white passing black women is a pretty interesting setting, and I wish we could have explored it more. Sulky Angel may be the least interesting character there. I like to think that the person we know as Angel comes into being during the first three seasons of Buffy (and continues to grow on his show). I think this episode supports that idea. The character we see here isn't the Angel we know.

I think a different way you could deal with the issue passing would be to have Gunn reconcile with some estranged cousin who broke with the rest of the family and became successful somehow. Then you could have a completely separate story with Angel running parallel and mirroring the story involving Gunn.

If you look at the episode solely as an Angel episode and not as a statement on race, then there is very little to criticise about it. I often don't enjoy mystery episodes, because I feel the mystery is just stalling before getting to the crux of things. This episode is enjoyable throughout. It probably has one of the better-looking demons on the show.
 

Grace

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1,792
Black Thorn
As for Judy not being morally pure with the stealing and the back-stabbing... I think it is pretty easy to sympathise with her, because her situation is so difficult. I read quite a few books by black writers this year - Nella Larsson's Passing being a favourite - and one thing that is refreshing about black writers tackling issues of race is that black writers do not tend to make their black characters into saints. If you want to explore racism as a mechanism in society, you need to really look at how deeply it affects people. Passing is a pretty extreme practice, and the fact that many people would take the trouble and the risk to do that is pretty significant and says a lot about how dire the situation can be for people of colour. Angel isn't all that heroic himself. In fact, James Dean Angel is quite unlikable and not much like James Dean or Angel at all.
I wasn't arguing that Judy had to be morally "pure." Judy has stolen money and is on the run, but the moment she turns on Angel is shocking because we're on her side even with her less-than-saint-like behavior. It's very hard for me to believe in that moment, the audience's sympathy isn't largely with Angel instead of Judy. And, c'mon, we get one portrayal (that I remember) of a lynch mob in the Buffyverse and it's a white guy lynched because a mixed-race woman lied?

Your point about black writers doesn't really enter into it to me because this isn't Judy's story told from Judy's POV or the POV of someone close to her. It's Angel's story told largely from Angel's POV. You're right that Angel is not portrayed as heroic, but we get to see how he has grown and changed since then. Judy just becomes a demon entree for 50 years, then begs Angel's forgiveness and dies.

Sorry, I know my thoughts on this episode are not popular or widely shared (or maybe not shared at all). :)
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
Sorry, I know my thoughts on this episode are not popular or widely shared (or maybe not shared at all). :)
No, I do agree with everything you said, I just still really like the episode. My attitude is that I would rather be offended than bored. I find the other two episodes I mentioned much more problematic, but worse than that, they're just really bad and have very little to say, I find.
 

Grace

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Black Thorn
No, I do agree with everything you said, I just still really like the episode. My attitude is that I would rather be offended than bored. I find the other two episodes I mentioned much more problematic, but worse than that, they're just really bad and have very little to say, I find.
Yeah, actually, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been is kind of fascinating for me as a time capsule of the '90s views on the '50s. And it's a good reminder that no matter how much more enlightened we feel than a previous era, we still have our own blind spots.
 

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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Black Thorn
Judgment:

Every time I watch this episode, I love it more and more. Right off the bat I love the coloring of s2. I think it's very similar to BtVS s5. There is alot of blue for sure (which makes coloring gifs and videos hard) but there is a vibrancy in colors amidst a darker filter and I'm a fan. The blues are very blue. The reds are very red. I dig the look.

One thing I never noticed before, was Angel's little speech about the gym. He is already thinking about his life as a human. Cordelia says "you're eternal" and Angel says "I may not always be." It's a small little touch, to show the viewer how Angel's already thinking about his human days, in the gym, walking out in the sun, with his CLADDAGH ring pointed in.

Cut to ... Darla. If Angel is daydreaming about his human days, forgiven/redeemed, at 24-hour fitness, Darla will be his sharp reminder that it ain't that easy.

Gosh, it makes my heart SO happy to see Caritas and Lorne!

Has anyone else noticed that the demon that walks into Caritas ahead of the AI gang is the demon from Earshot? Which is funny because he can't talk, it's telepathic. lol.

Have I mentioned how happy I am we are in s2.... and GUNN IS HERE?????

I guess I should go ahead and tell you that Angel with his ripped shirt, bloody on a horse, jousting his way through the streets of LA is a scene that was probably written precisely for me. So thank you Joss and David. Thank you oh so very much.

My heart still melts when Angel goes to visit Faith. I love every moment of their conversation. How their two paths seem to be so similar at this point. Both making the decision to stay on the road to redemption. Both serving their time and waiting for the day when their sentence will be over. Both wondering if they can stay on that righteous path. Both of them actively make a choice to do what they do every day. To not give up, to keep fighting, to keep walking down that tunnel even if the light at the end seems very far. "Our time is never up Faith." Sigh.

In this episode, I think I might like them even more than Buffy/Willow/Xander, which is incredible to me and nothing I ever thought I'd say.
yes... muahaha... join us! (I know you just said this episode...)

Justina Machado is such a great guest star, omg. She's so instantly likable and believable in this role to me
I agree. I love her in Jane the Virgin. And she is a delight in this episode. Her and DB have a nice little banter chemistry situation going. I really dig it.

Favorite quotes:

"Love the coat. It's all about the coat."

"Three things I don't do. Tan. Date. And sing in public." (LIAR....)

Script Notes:

Cut funny line:

CORDELIA
My landlady keeps saying, "you
better not be running a business
up there, I hear a lot of noise"
and I keep telling her, "no
business, just wild orgies . . ."
ANGEL
I'll get us a new office, I just
haven't had the --​

This script note is interesting and something I never considered. The implication is that Darla wasn't just dead, she was in hell. Not sure how that makes sense. Was her soul in hell? Maybe I shouldn't read too much into this:

LILAH
Hello Darla, how are you doing today?
DARLA turns. She looks a lot better then when we last saw her in the box, but she's pretty jumpy and wigged, what with being brought back from hell and all.
I thought this script note was funny. People give DB so much sh*t for breathing hard when he acts but this is literally in his script and HE ISN'T SUPPOSE TO BREATHE! LOL

Angel leans against the wall, breathing hard.
This whole scene is cut after Angel wins the Trial and before they go back to Cordy's it's just a little trip back to Lorne's that didn't make the episode:

HOST (O.S.)
Well that about wraps it up . . .!
INT. KARAOKE BAR - NIGHT

The Host is on stage, mic in hand. It's closing time.

HOST
Boy, we've really been over the
rainbow tonight - God bless you,
Judy - and I think we've learned
a little something to boot. I know
I did when Ingmar of Sumatra told
us all to stop in the name of
love. So drive safely, everyone,
and keep your chins up, cause
there's always something new
around the next corner. It might
be a pus-beast lookin' to strangle
you with your own intestines - or
it just might be a rainbow. See you soon.​

APPLAUSE. SPOTLIGHT GOES DARK.

EXT. L.A. - STOCK SHOTS - NIGHT TO DAY TRANSITION
The Host's singing continues over.
 

Grace

Destructo-Girl
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
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Black Thorn
First Impressions

I don't have a lot to say about this episode. The Angel and Darla dream scenes are pretty much knockouts, so creepy and atmospheric (though that first one in Caritas is so '90s-esque I die), but Gunn and Cordelia is not a matchup I enjoy very much, I have to say. Sorry, @Mrs Gordo. :p I just think they don't have much sparkiness (even of the friendship kind), and CC and JAR bring out the rougher sides of each others' acting (or maybe it's just the writing, I dunno).

Angel and Wes are the very best part of the episode, though. I can totally understand why people ship them. "Hop on board, gorgeous," indeed. Someone rec me some hot fics, please! ;)

I also appreciate the commitment to the theme of the episode, with all the first impressions that are contradicted (or confirmed) throughout.
 
NeonSlayer
NeonSlayer
Xander & Doyle were the only ones I think Cordelia had any sort of chemistry with.

Grace

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Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
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Black Thorn
Untouched

Like Out of My Mind, another mixed bag!

Pros:
  • Cordelia, Wes and Angel bickering. They are adorable. I like both that Angel is assertive with Cordelia and thinks she's funny when she sasses back. (I get annoyed when people are too deferential to Cordelia but I like when they appreciate her.)
  • Detective Angel and his cop show schtick
  • The actress who plays Bethany is memorable
  • Fake Domestic Lilah (with scrunchie!) is a true gift
  • The callback to Lovers Walk
Cons:
  • Pretty much everything about Cordelia and Wesley's interactions with Bethany
Notes:
  • It's interesting and disturbing that Angel wants to sleep more instead of avoiding sleep.
  • The long, strange journey of Cordelia's hair seems to begin here...
  • "I like my men less broody and more spendy" ... hmm...so, late Season 2 (spendy) and Season 3 (less broody)?
  • Great point made by a commenter on another site: "I think it’s very telling here that Angel says he has no family in LA, when in Season 1, he says that he is Cordelia and Wesley’s family. This shows that Darla is already getting to him."
 

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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Black Thorn
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been

Right off the bat I am so happy to finally be at the Hyperion. It is my favorite all time set in the Buffyverse. It has so much unique character and it reflects Angel's personality well. It's old, it has charm, it's alone and has been sitting empty, it needs a family to make it feel at home. Cordy describes it as "seventy years of violence, mayhem and paranoia. Bad vibes." and Wes talks about how "for the better part of the last century, this place has been host not only to a, malevolent demonic presence, but the very worst faces of humanity." Both of these descriptions could describe Angel, b.b. (before Buffy). But Angel knows he has changed, and so he believes that the hotel can have a new story too. I read somewhere once that the Hyperion is like one of the characters of the show - and I could not agree more. I'm glad we are finally here.

I love the family vibe between the three Angel/Cordy/Wes but tend to agree with @Grace that the reason it seems amplified is because we know they are going to pull the carpet out from under us when he fires them. Still, it seems to have been carried effortlessly from To Shanshu into Judgment and here. That being said, there is still a vibe at this point that Angel is very much the boss and Wes and Cordy are the employee/side kicks. Angel tells Wes and Cordy what to research but holds his cards close to his chest, not revealing much. And as we see throughout the first part of s2, it leaves Wes and Cordy in the dark about what Angel is really thinking.

When we kick things off in the 1950's just the feel of this episode is so different from anything we have seen in the Buffyverse it really looks beautiful.

I also like the Shinning type feel that the hotel sequence seems to call back to and to realize that the thing the bellhop is so scared of is - Angel. It really strikes me that the bellhop says: "You ever look into his eyes? There's nothing there." (See script notes below which are kinda interesting). Of course we know that Angel, by this point has a soul but what the audience doesn't know is what, if anything, Angel has done with that soul. And what I love about episodes like this is it shows that a soul is not enough. A person still has a choice to make as to whether they will make a difference in other people's lives. So maybe Angel has a soul, but it really hasn't been of much use to him. The reasons for this will unfold throughout this episode. But what is evident to me is that Angel carries the weight not just of the evil he committed with no soul, but also the weight of his in actions for the time he was ensouled and hadn't taken up the cause.

One interesting tidbit I hadn't picked up on previous re-watches is the name of the episode is mentioned on the TV as they are showing the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party." Now, granted I didn't live through that time in history, but my perception is that there was a fair amount of paranoia during that time. People were hunted out, singled out, and tried for being "not american enough" or having ideals that were tied to those communist ideals. I'm fairly out of my element here but I know that many in hollywood were targeted as well. So we can imagine that from the get-go this opening scene sets up the perfect environment of distrust and fear. And this so called, "culture of fear" can drive people, en masse to some drastic measures (I'll let you come to your own conclusions about some of the present situations we may find ourselves in as a result of this incitement of fear and distrust of anything that is "other" or "non-american").

I have always loved how AtS embraces the concept of "otherness." I will wholeheartedly admit that it never quite gets it right. (As I would argue neither does BtVS with regards to issues of race/racism and other concepts). But I appreciate that it sheds a light on such conversations. Angel represents "that which is other." He is both "other" in the demon world and in the human world. Never quite wholly fitting in to either place. This episode, I think makes a valiant effort to see how it is that Angel may have tried for the first time to fit into the human world but how our society (perhaps given the sociological climate of the 1950s) may not have been ready to accept him and as such they fear him, and reject him.

Now, I will be the first to say that to tell this story through the lens of Angel, a white man, is clumsy and one could even argue irresponsible storytelling. Honestly, that is a valid point and one which needs to be recognized and acknowledged. But I appreciate that the concept of the story, and I suppose I have always related to Angel's nature as straddling two different worlds and never quite finding the ability to fit in perfectly in either. And Judy's being half white and African-american and this concept of "passing" is also representative of this straddling of two different cultures in a time when being African-american was, unfortunately, very dangerous. One thing I notice is that Judy comments on the fact that her blood is "tainted" this harkens back to the one-drop rule of the Dr. Plecker days. What I find interesting is that to Angel - all human blood is human blood. And yet in the 1950s some people still subscribed to ridiculous faux science to justify vitriol racism. Ugh those were some f*cked up times.

Regardless, what we see is that Angel wants to shut out the world initially. He doesn't even want to try to fit in, he doesn't even want to interact with anyone. It's always a bit of a shock to see Angel manhandle Judy the way he does. Or to talk to her like such a dick. And then the clincher is when he hears a gunshot and doesn't even flinch. But when he and Judy talk about her racial identity - a line I find so incredibly heartbreaking for Judy:

Judy "I'm not one thing or the other, I'm nothing."
Angel "I know what that's like."


I think he finally sees that there is someone he can relate to. Someone else who is scared, lost, someone who feels they don't belong. And this drives him to make a connection and he wants to help. (He will later find similar common ground with Buffy, she too straddles two different worlds). We see a glimpse of the Angel we will see in the future. And honestly, throughout this whole episode, I feel like Angel constantly struggles because he want's to shut himself off but he has an intrinsic need to want to be a part of the human world, to help others. You can see little moments where he observes the salesman talking to himself, or when he first decides to hide Judy, or when he looks back at the observatory pondering after Judy's invitation. And so we know that drive to help is there inside. He needs a spark. (cough buffy cough).

DENVER A vampire wanting to slay a demon in order to help some grubby humans... I just don't get it --
ANGEL To be honest, not so sure I do either.

(Sometimes I do feel like there is a bit too much jam packed in this episode - like Death of a Salesmen allusion, in the play the Salesmen was talking to himself and then proceeds to kill himself.)

I'm trying to refrain from constantly stopping to fangirl over how beautiful Angel looks in this episode. But I can't help but make a comment that Angel looks to die for at the Griffith Observatory.

LOL at Angel thinking that Gunn and Wes are bickering because of the demon but really they are just being big babies. I love when Wes turns to Angel after Gunn throws the orb and is basically like "Daaaad?" LMAO. I love these guys.

This remains one of my favorite episodes of AtS.

I didn't like how it was only about Angel forgiving Judy, after the episode showed that Angel also regretted his actions. Given that the demon's influence was a factor (and Angel actually knew that at the time), it felt like there should be more give and take, though I guess Judy never knew what Angel did.
I have taken issue with this on previous re-watches. I think the bottom line is Angel knows that Judy has lived with this guilt on her shoulders for all of these years. He seems to recognize that she is dying, so I think the point of this is to give her forgiveness so she can go in peace. His guilt, is his alone, and his to bear. He may not even think he is worthy of forgiveness for what he did. But either way, it's not something he wants to burden her with. I'm not sure if that is right or wrong. But maybe he is giving her what he would like to have before he dies. Forgiveness.

The moment between Judy and Angel at the end destroys me. My heart breaks for Judy. She has lived literally trapped by fear and guilt. It's a terrifying thought. And the part that I love is:

JUDY You look... the same.
ANGEL I'm not.


So her employers fired her because they thought being of mixed race made her untrustworthy and now she proves (under the influence of the demon) to be untrustworthy? I don't know, it just feels awkward to me to use this real-life issue to make Angel's plight seem deeper metaphorically but then also kind of play into the stereotype?
I honestly never thought of it this way and you are right in that it's not a good look. I have so much sympathy for Judy's character throughout the episode that I never stopped to consider that what she did was anything other than an act of pure desperation. But looking at it from this point of view, it's not a good look.

Script Notes:

This is an interesting script note re how we are to perceive Angel in the opening shot.
as the door to room 217 opens. A hand reaches down and picks up the tray. We follow it up to a face --
ANGEL
No light in that face. He's 1950's I-don't-get-involved-guy Angel. And frankly, he is kinda creepy. And as he slams the door into frame, shutting out us and the world --
This whole sequence was cut:

INT. CORDELIA'S APARTMENT - DAY

CORDELIA
So what horrible thing do you suppose he did?

Wesley is using Cordy's dining room table to lay out a flow chart/time line of the incidents at the hotel from the 1930s to the present day. He's got archival material wherever possible: news clippings, photos, etc. He adds a clipping to 1935: "Hothouse Killer Claims Fifth Victim."

WESLEY Other than using the heads of his victims as decorative planters?

CORDELIA What? No, not psycho slasher 1935. Angel. I mean, he woulda had a soul back then, right? So he probably wasn't eating people. So what's with the big guilt? He forget to tip the doorman?

WESLEY You must keep in mind that this was during a period in Angel's life when he wasn't Angel. At least not the Angel we know.

CORDELIA You mean before Buffy. Before all his trying to atone.

WESLEY Precisely. She ponders for a moment, then --

CORDELIA So what kind of plants you gonna keep in a human head?

WESLEY Well, ferns, one assumes.

CORDELIA (musing) I bet it was a woman.

Wesley carefully finishes the 1935 slot...

WESLEY Just because the killer had a green thumb? I hardly think so. A man can enjoy botany as much as any woman. It certainly doesn't mean he's gay, and you weren't talking about that, were you?

CORDELIA The thing Angel's trying to snag some retroactive atonement for -- I'll bet it was a woman.
 

Taake

That's right, I'm watching you...
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Black Thorn
I watched some Angel last night, trying to catch up with y'all, but still couldn't bring myself to watch the first episode of season 2. It just remember thinking it was so cringey. I see @Mrs Gordo s points made and feel like maybe I should give it another chance...

Are you now or have you ever been

One of my favorite episodes. Though flashbacks are best used sparingly, this did kind of make me want more of these kinds of episodes. I understand why they made Why We Fight later on, though, in terms of tone, content and overall message, it isn't nearly as good as this episode. I mean it's not even in the same ballpark. I still think the plotting of this episode is excellent and the exploration of Angel's past is very interesting. Done right, they definitely could've made more episodes of this kind, considering how old the character is supposed to be.

I really love the feeling during the mob scene when Angel gets 'killed', it's very discomfiting and I love how the crowd just kind of awkwardly disperses afterwards.

When I first watched this I remember being so surprised that Judy was still alive, this moment did and still, gets to me

The moment between Judy and Angel at the end destroys me. My heart breaks for Judy. She has lived literally trapped by fear and guilt. It's a terrifying thought. And the part that I love is:

JUDY You look... the same.
ANGEL I'm not.
First impressions
Pink helmet. Darla dreams. Need I say more?
I love the Darla and Angel interactions, and I also love that Angel's like "yup, definitely want to sleep some more. Guys, don't disturb!"
Not only do I love their interactions, but I also love that episodes like these - exploring Angel's feelings for or attachment to Darla - really emphasizes the sacrifice he made for Buffy in season 1. I mean, we know that they were a thing, but it is very different seeing it. It always makes me want more of the fanged four in general, because they have such interesting dynamics. Had this been a different age maybe the Fanged Four would've been made into a The Originals, who knows.

Also, I really love Gunn and Cordy together. I do think they spark. I probably prefer Fred and Gunn, but I wouldn't have minded if they had used this as a starting point for Cunn (nooo, that doesn't sound like a good ship name, not at all) Gurdy?

Untouched
The only good thing about this episode is Lilah. I think Lilah is great as the creepy W&H manipulator of Bethany, I think she's great in her interactions with Angel ("Yeah, we have someone in mind"), but that's about it for anything good I have to say about this episode. I kind of hate everything in terms of how they portray Bethany and how, especially, Wesley and Cordy are around her. But even taking them out of the count... there's just something so hammy and awkward about this episode.

  • Great point made by a commenter on another site: "I think it’s very telling here that Angel says he has no family in LA, when in Season 1, he says that he is Cordelia and Wesley’s family. This shows that Darla is already getting to him."
Oh, I didn't think about that at all. That's a great point.
 

Grace

Destructo-Girl
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
1,792
Black Thorn
Dear Boy

Well, to quote this episode, it "blew the top off my head." :) I remember on first watch, I was so uncomfortable with it. I didn't like grouchy Angel; I didn't like the way he responded to Darla. But now I love it. Loooove it. I will always give Marti Noxon the biggest props for the water tank scene between Angel and Darla. It's my favorite scene of the two of them, mostly because the later wonderful Darla scenes have "nice" Darla, and I love the rawness of this one. "No matter how good a boy you are, God doesn't want you! ... But I still do" is one of my favorite lines of the Buffyverse. I love how well it fits the themes of this arc and just how powerful it is. Angel can't win, can't be fully redeemed, so it would be so much easier to give in.

I like the way Lorne sets the Darla arc up as a diversion from Angel's path. As in Judgment, Angel shrugs off Lorne's advice. I bet that will end well again!

Kate's eagerness to believe the worst about Angel becomes annoying here, if it wasn't already. Also, the part where the AI team essentially proves that Darla isn't DeEtta Kramer and then Kate turns around asks, "Why did Angel kidnap that woman?" and no one can answer makes no sense. At least not to me. I'm just like..."Because she's Darla?" I mean, they at least made it clear she's up to no good, so...

In general, the Drusilla flashbacks are good, but I always cringe at the "snake in the woodshed" thing. Like, a little too on the nose there, thanks.

Angel's "bring it on" is more chilling on rewatch! Also, I love Gunn so much in this episode.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
Dear Boy

Darla in this episode is a perfect example of what I want to call the sympathetic evil person trope, which I hope there is a better name for, but I don't know it. It is different from the typical tragic villain, because Darla is unambiguously and unrepentingly evil. There are many stories in which the villains conveys his or her pain more effectively than the good guy and manages to make us doubt whether being good is all that "good." David does an amazing job. I love the way his mannerisms come close to Angelus from BtVS S2. Angel is one of the best episodes of BtVS S1 by far, but it fails to give any weight to Angel's killing of Darla (I mean, Darla saying Angel's name before she dies is effective, but there is no build up).

That little flash of evil Drusilla when Angel and Darla are grinding in her lap is haunting.

Best line? I can't chose between, "No matter how good I boy you are, God doesn't want you!" and, "Darla, why did you kill the street walker?"
 

spikenbuffy

"Why can't I stay"
Staff member
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ATS 2X02 - Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been :

What I like :
- Hyperion Hotel set is amazing:cool:
- Love the investigation scenes with Cordy & Wesley all along the episode, it is well executed with Angel scenes in Hyperion in the dark alone looking and remembering his memories at what happened many years ago. I find it compelling. :)
- Love the Angel scenes with Judy
- Angel's lines "It's just blood" about mix blood is memorable for me :)
- The first scene with Bellhop is creepy and the way he stares after the elevator has stopped to the stage (floor) wanted is scary.
- Angel does wear a red outfit :D. It looks cute.
- Wesley is paranoid :D
- Wesley "You don't find me especially paranoid, don't you" Angel "No, not especially". I've always loved that moment.:p
- The last scene of Judy's death is just great, her guiltiness is painfull and the look of Angel to her is incredible :(. I love the dialogues.
- Bellhop who cheered playfully at Angel being killed is creepy & scary
- The scene with Judy accusing that it's Angel, Angel being hit & killed by the crowd and Angel letting people in the Hotel to the demon has always been memorable, after many years I've never forgotten those moments in this episode. This is why that episode is one of the best in ATS.
- Gunn & Wesley scene with the orb of ramjerin is hilarious.:D

What I don't like -
- Well, Angel lets people get haunted by the Thesulac demon, it's not good and harsh.

Interesting stuff :
- Angel lets people to the demon like he will let Darla & Dru kill the lawyers in W&H in reunion.
- Angel will later see again Denver in reprise and Angel let him know some stuff at what happened in this episode.
- Wesley & Gunn fight verbally but will become friends later in The Thin Dead Line
- This episode is when the Fang Gang will settle in Hyperion Hotel for 3 seasons S2 - S4
 

spikenbuffy

"Why can't I stay"
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ATS 2X03 : First Impressions

What I like :
- It is the beginning of the Darla and Angel arc, with the obsession and weird Angel sleeping long hours.
- Darla & Angel dancing in Caritas is amazing and sexy, it reminds me of a Bangel dance scene in BATB in S3 ;)(but the 2 scenes are different of course).
- Lorne singing
- Gunn to Cordy "stick figure Barbie", he also thinks vampires like Angel sleep in coffins :D.
- Gunn and Angel banter which reminds me 2X08 ATS.
- The Fang Gang fight
- The movie references and even a Dionne Warwick
- The Fang Gang love Denzel Washington, Angel make me smile "Who doesn't love Denzel" ;).
- Wesley sees Angel naked :oops:
- Wesley to Angel "So, where is your car? " in the same time as Gunn & Cordy.
- Gunn & Cordy scenes are sweet, Cordy saves his life, wants to protect him and give him some advice, I love the last moment and the look in their eyes. I love their friendship, the first time I saw that moment between them I was amazed.
- Wesley & Angel scene with the pink helmet motorcycle is great and hilarious, "Hop on board gorgeous" love to see Angel's embarrased face :p. Angel arrives to fight with his pink helmet and a vampire kind of mocks him lol :p it's funny.
- Gunn feeling guilty for Alonna and his friend is sad :(.

What I don't like :
- Darla's violation of Angel, Angel doesn't know that she is touching his body and more, it's creepy and not good.
- Gunn is a little rude, he doesn't say hello, in Judgement he was more kind and funny. :confused:
- David Nabbit is a little annoying but at least a little less than in S1 ATS. :rolleyes:
 

spikenbuffy

"Why can't I stay"
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
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France
ATS 2X04 : Untouched (I'm nostalgic, I love that episode, I don't know why some don't)

What I like :
- Darla being so beautiful in her first scene with Lilah and the powder that she keeps Angel to sleep, she's intriguing
- Cordelia being kind in wanting badly to offer a pay to Gunn for his help
- Cordy sticking her tongue out at Angel :p. And saying that Angel is "her hero"
- I love Bethany, I would have liked to see her more in maybe future episodes or seasons :(
- Gunn will get paid
- I love Bethany & Angel interactions
- The whole sequence of Bethany VS her father, it's just great. Bethany's line "Goodbye" make me cheer :cool:, Angel saying to Bethany to control her power, to not let bad people win and to not let be touched by them is just great. I love it. :)
- The last scene : Bethany leaving Lilah 's apartment, Angel's "Good night" to Lilah after her evil plot with Bethany failed BURNNN BITCH :D
- Bethany has finally the power and can control it. Good job.

What I don't like :
- Lilah manipulating and lying to Bethany in pretendng to be her friend :mad:
- Wesley provocking Bethany
- Bethany's father :mad:
- Angel's violation by Darla & being in Angel 's bedroom again :eek:
- Cordy talking to Bethany about Angel

Interesting stuff :
- Cordy saying to Angel that he can't fire her "she's the vision girl". If she knew what will happen in reunion lol :D
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
Darla

You guys know candid photos of celebrities, right? Where they have no make up and their dressed in like slacks and a hoodie or robe or something? Maybe they're in rehab. There's no make up on their face and the weave is pulled out. Or maybe they're just chilling at home by the pool they can no longer afford to get someone to clean daily, because their last movie or album flopped. I like celebrities. My gran died this summer, and I was devastated, but on the flip side, I got to take from her house the book of golden age Hollywood actors with their dogs that I bought her one time. None of those photos are candid ... if they look candid, they are just made to look that way. There aren't really that many photos of actors of that time of them just chilling out by themselves without the glitter. The thing is, when you see a true candid photo of a celebrity, even if you don't really know who they are, they always still have some of that magic on them. It is almost surreal. They look out of place.

That is how I see Darla just hanging around Lindsay's apartment or the WRH offices. She looks like a plucked bird without her Mary Antoinette get-up. There is something wrong about her whole presentation, like an uncanny lack .... a perceptible absence. It feels appropriate that she would cut herself, because that is what beautiful celebrities do, isn't it? When the loneliness of isolation becomes too much to bear?

Another woman cuts herself this year in the 'verse. Dawn. Despite her fancy origin, Dawn is probably the ordinariest and realest character in the 'verse. She is not an actress descended from Darla's pantomime world of fancy dresses and bloody feasts. Still, they each face a deep existential crisis. They feel out of place in both their surroundings and their bodies ... for different reason, but the feeling is the same. When you cut yourself, you either do it to create distance ... you are not the flesh that you cut ... or the opposite, the cuts hurt, so you are bringing the blade into yourself. (This is probably a coincidence, but later this episode, Darla goes "back before Dawn" and picks up a baby)

Darla's moral crisis comes in the next episode. This episode is about dealing with who and what she is. She feels like a composite of two different creatures - the unnamed woman who died in Virgina and Darla. The human was able to earn property and some independence by being shrewd, fearless and by prostituting her body. V!Darla walked as an immortal among men. However, the resurrected Darla has no agency at all. She is a pawn within a large and unknowable bureaucracy of organised evil. So, she tempts Lindsay with the power and entitlements of a vampires, before biting him and declaring that she would "rip [him] in half" if she was still her old self.

What is it Lindsay wants? Does he want Darla? Does he want to one-up Angel by taking his girl? Does he want to be Angel? Does he want Angel? Does he want to die? On my current rewatch, I got to rediscover what an enthralling character Lindsay is. Seriously, Lilah who? Are there any good theories on Lindsay's Darla attraction? I am not sure I even wanna know. I like the mystery and the working out of the different possibilities.

The veiled nurses are creepy. The leeches are clever and also creepy. I would not put something so disgusting on me to save my life. Speaking of... The Master works surprisingly well outside of S1. Mostly, though, this scene gives us a nice sense of who Darla was before she was turned. Proud and defiant sum it up, methinks.

"Aye there, matey!" I love Angel's coat and tie in the sewers. The Irish accent is a bit of a problem, not just because DB is not that great at doing it, but also because it is not really that scary. It is the hurdy gurdy tones of the Swedish Chef. Then again, it makes Angelus a bit more fun, and in this scene, it works. The scene is very similar to when Spike kills the Master's baby Christ. It shows that Angel and Darla where somewhat young and brash themselves before they started wagging their fingers at James, Liz, Dru and Spike. Btw. Darla has one of the world's best thirst-faces and her breasts are like pushed up to her chin almost.

Which word fits Spike the best: wise, brave, knight, drooling or idiot? I think they all fit quite well. Have I mentioned how much I love Dru? Yes? "They cry out for mercy! They cry out for mercy!" I think Dru is probably the most efficient killer of them all. If Darla sets her loose on you, then you know you're done for.

Are anyone into evil Darla and Angel? This is the only episode that I kinda am and Angel is only kinda evil for the last part. I think the China flashback is important, because there is so little overlap between the evil and the good Angel. The idea of Angelus trying to force himself into remaining the monster he was is very interesting. Remain is not the word, because he has to learn it again. People can be desensitised. They do it to torturers-in-training and child soldiers. If Darla had been smart, she would not have gone straight to baby. You start with the rapists, then the looters and then you slowly work your way up to baby. Baby is the finish line. Once you've gone past baby, you can take off the training wheels.

It is interesting that when Angel does go "evil" or "dark" later in S2, he does not become anything resembling the old Angelus or his evil self from BtVS. He doesn't laugh manically after he locks Holland in the basement. He is stoic, ruthless and feels hollowed out ... sorta.

I've always thought of China as Spike and Dru's marriage. In the old days, marriages were consummated with blood, right? It is interesting to see the meeting of the young and old couples. When Spike gives Drusilla permission to share the happy news, it feels very similar to how two young lovers would tell you of their engagement or first pregnancy. Then you have the old couple, who are trying to get that magic back, but it just isn't there anymore ... and they look at the young ones with a mix of jealousy and patronising disgust.

Then it is righyrightyrighty wellwellwell down the street. I think of The Fanged Four as rockstars. A band that disbands and reforms. Like The Mamas and the Papas or Fleetwood Mac, but not Abba or Ace of Base.

If this episode has a flaw, it is that the structure is a little loose. Most episodes sets up its premise early in the first act. Here, the conflict is somewhat foggy and the plot is unpredictable. The episode is basically several amazing scenes with quite a bit of air that brings us from one place to the next. The Trial is very different in this regard. The upside is that when the good scenes come, they take you off-guard ... and there are so many of them.

When Darla arrives at the Hyperion, you assume the episode is over. Darla is with Angel. She is safe. It feels like a good place to wrap up. Wrong! We now get the best scene in the episode. Darla did not reach out to Angel to find herself. Just like Angelus in China, she seeks to loose herself again. People say weird stuff and one weird thing people say is that Angel is not happy to have his soul. He is. He suffers with the soul, but life is about accepting suffering (this is btw my thesis for my MA dissertation that I am presenting a draft of tomorrow), and when Angel comes to Sunnydale, he chooses to accept the pain of life over the comfortable numbness of soulless evil. Emotions ... like anything else ... are defined through contrast. He suffered and through suffering, he learned to also be happy. Eternal insensible evil is meaningless. It is not an attractive escape for someone who has experienced a moment of true happiness or the meaning that comes from working to help others.
 

RachM

I'm busy. I'm brooding.
Joined
Nov 8, 2017
Messages
1,502
Location
Australia
Just started rewatching this season but like @Taake , I couldn't stomach watching Judgment. I find it really boring, especially for a season opener, and the only highlights are Angel singing Mandy and his visit to Faith at the end of the episode. But I'll jot down some thoughts on the other eps:

2x02 Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been
  • I love the Hyperion. It's my favourite AtS set, I like how it's reflective of Angel himself and I love the design of the set, it's so beautiful and works so well for filming.
  • Flashback 50s Angel is so interesting because, while he's not evil, there's some left over bit of Angelus in him which he's channeling which gives people in the Hotel the Heebie Jeebies. This Angel is so apathetic and un-engaged, not depressed but definitely not a part of the world or actively finding any deeper reason for existing.
  • His connection with Judy is sweet. I like seeing Angel connect with different people at the different stages of his life and the effects they had on him. We tend to think that Angel's life started when he met Buffy but as his own series shows, he made other connections before her which had lasting effects on him.
  • I always loved the portrayal of what fear and mob mentality can do to people and the scene where the residents of the Hotel hang Angel is frightening in its realism and they way it portrays how fear feeds and spreads and infects. The paranoia demon is a nice commentary on this.
  • Wes and Gunn bickering will never not be funny.
  • I love the final scene between Angel and Judy. Not only did Angel give Judy peace of mind and forgiveness (which she needed in order to "move on") I love the poignancy of Angel seeing someone whom he remembers as young as old, as it underlines Angel's immortality and the harsh reality that he will have to watch everyone he loves age and die while he lives on.
2x03 First Impressions
  • I love this episode more and more every time I watch it. I used to not really appreciate it but these days I find it a great character study of Gunn plus I like the dynamic between him and Cordy.
  • More Angel/Darla dreams is always a good thing in my books. I love that pairing so much, there's so much complexity and twistedness to the dynamic. Every time I watch AtS I wonder if I really do ship Dangel more than Bangel.
  • David Nabbit!!! I love David, I wish they'd used him more, he's adorable and genuinely wants friends and somewhere to belong. Love Cordy getting all hot over his financial-speak "Is anyone else getting warm?"
  • The gang agreeing that Denzel is a great actor is funny in a nice understated way.
  • Cordy charging in to save gun with her axe is so Cordy and I love how determined she is to see her vision through and save Gunn.
  • I like seeing how Gunn is still carrying around guilt over Alonna's death. I feel like this part of Gunn's past often gets overlooked (well, Gunn is general tends to get overlooked) so I liked that the episode touched on her death.
  • Cordy helping the woman who got bitten at the part is so touching, especially as she tries to reassure her and keep her calm.
  • Pink helmet! "Hope on, gorgeous!". Love it.
  • The reveal that the danger to Gunn is himself is a nice callback to Alonna's similar observation and is definitely an aspect to Gunn I wish the show had explored a bit more as it's so interesting and kind of heartbreaking.
2x04 Untouched
  • I have big issues with this episode.
  • Bethany is an interesting character but, as with many instances involving sexual assault/abuse in the Whedonverse, her story is woefully mishandled.
  • Wesley triggering her is gross and makes me want to smack him senseless.
  • Lilah sending two thugs to rape her in order to activate her telekinesis is disgusting but very in-keeping with Lilah's character and reminds us that while Lilah might be an entertaining character, she is a truly evil person.
  • Bethany trying to initiate sex with Angel is the one part of the episode I like because I feel that it's the only time it portrays Bethany's trauma well - hypersexuality as a result of sexual abuse is not often talked about in general, but the Buffyverse has gone there before with Faith, so seeing it repeated with Bethany shows that the writers understand that this is a real and genuine side-effect of sexual abuse which many abuse victims suffer from.
  • Cordelia's gross speech to Bethany pisses me off every time I hear it. Way to victim-blame, Cordy.
  • Bethany's confrontation with her father is powerful but it feels unearned. We didn't see enough of her working through her issues or gaining control of her power to warrant this showdown and it feels rushed and inorganic.
  • I do like the scene where she walks way from Lilah. That felt much more earned and empowering.
2x05 Dear Boy
  • Darla goodness? Yes please!
  • I love Darla in this episode because even as she torments Angel, you can see glimpses of the soul coming through. When Lindsay asks her how it is seeing Angel after all this time, her abrupt "Strange" makes me think that she's experiencing feelings she's not used to, due to the presence of her soul.
  • Angel's deterioration in this episode is interesting - Darla really can get to him like no one else can. There's a bond there and unresolved issues and feelings, and the complexity of their relationship starts to come through clearer.
  • The Hotel Operation is hilarious, between Angel just flatly telling the woman that her husband knows she's cheating and Cordy's lines about having to run from the hotel staff "And the nifty outfit which seemed to tell so many conventioneers 'Pet me, I'm a whore'".
  • I love Gunn in this episode. Even though he doesn't get a lot of screentime, he provides a clarity which the others don't, pointing out the hard facts that, as a vampire, Angel couldn't have entered the house, and thus blowing Kate's self-righteousness.
  • Speaking of Kate, I like Kate's character more than most, but even I have to admit she's definitely letting her personal feelings get in the way here. That being said, I do love this quote: "While you're fighting your big battles of good and evil, the innocents are the ones who get caught in the crossfire." I think it nicely sums up one of the big isses Kate has with Angel's world.
  • Angel and Darla's confrontation at the end of the episode is brilliant. I love their dynamic and their history and the different facets of their relationship. Darla's soul and her humanity really start to come through in this scene, shown with her reaction to Angel saying that she wasn't true happiness. Vampire Darla wouldn't have cared less about that. As a human, though, it hurts.
  • Love Darla deliberately burning Angel with the cross, it's a nice parallel to Buffy accidentally burning Angel with her cross in Season 1 of BtVS, tying into the idea that Dangel is a dark mirror of Bangel.
 
Grace
Grace
Great stuff! Glad to have you weighing in!
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