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Discussion of 2.03 "First Impressions" - Aired 10/10/2000 (WB-US)

Flannen

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When Cordelia has a particularly disturbing vision of Gunn in grave danger, she elects herself as his new protector. When she discovers that he may be his own worst enemy, she has to face the fact that she can't save him against his will.

Source: TV.com

Discuss this episode here!
 

Jules

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Black Thorn
I adore Cordy in this episode. She just gets on really well with all the characters. Her and Wes have great scenes together and in this episode she has amazing scenes with Gunn. She's turning into my favorite character in this show.

The Bangel in me doesnt like to dwell to much on the Darla/Angel scenes. I know they spent forever together but the whole time Angel knew her she was evil. I dont understand why Angel would be that happy to be with her.
 
AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
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AnthonyCordova

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Sineya
I adore Cordy in this episode. She just gets on really well with all the characters. Her and Wes have great scenes together and in this episode she has amazing scenes with Gunn. She's turning into my favorite character in this show.

You're right. Before, (early in Angel and on Buffy) she was annoying to me. Funny, very funny sometimes, but annoying. She wore on my patience. Now I'm really starting to enjoy her presence. She's definitely not the one-note shallow type she was in High School anymore.
 

Doppelgang

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Also in agreement about Cordelia in this episode. She creates this really friendly environment where ever she is, and does a big part in bringing the group together of Gunn, Wesley, Angel and herself as fellow demon hunters in Angel Investigations. Almost like the equivalent of the scoobies in Buffy.

It was refreshing to see this episode, a reminder of some of the qualities Cordelia can bring to Angel, that she wasn't able to bring to Buffy. It also to me highlighted how good and determined an actress she must be, as she really takes her opportunity to shine in this episode in every way.
 

Vigeous

I've been thinking about the world...
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What a good Cordy episode! She got to dust a vamp and she saved a couple lives! I agree with the other comments above about her; she's developed very well in Angel. I've never enjoyed Cordy more.

It's almost necessary to mention the motorcycle helmet scene :p Angel + Wesley + Cordy is such a great mix.

Did anyone else get the impression that the writers were trying to see if there would be chemistry between Gunn and Cordy? It felt like they were to me but I personally don't see it.
They don't seem to spark in the same way I thought the Xander/Cordy relationship did.
 

Mr Trick

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I adore Cordy in this episode. She just gets on really well with all the characters. Her and Wes have great scenes together and in this episode she has amazing scenes with Gunn. She's turning into my favorite character in this show.

The Bangel in me doesnt like to dwell to much on the Darla/Angel scenes. I know they spent forever together but the whole time Angel knew her she was evil. I dont understand why Angel would be that happy to be with her.

I really agree. I think this is where Cordelia starts to peak as a character. I love the brother and sister type spark her and Gunn have in this episode and how he respect her more by the end. I think the key to Cordy's change in Angel is that she can now better articulate her straight talking style so that her message carries substance rather than just coming across as rude or shallow. This episode is one of her high points, she does seem to shine in just about every scene she's in.

The Angel-Darla stuff starts to make sense over the next few episodes. But yeah given the history they had to explore the relationship further.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
Cordy is great in this episode, Gunn is rude, Wes nearly gets chocked to death and Angel is raped. I don't really enjoy this episode. The parts of the Darla arc that I like happen after 'Dear Boy'. The buildup to it is quite boring, especially when Darla is pretending to be someone else. A few questions I have regarding this episode:

How do the dreams work? Is Angel truly in them with Darla? Is Darla simultaneously in the dream and outside of it? Who is the coffin Wesley is building for? Darla (who dies)? Or Angel?

A tiny rant about Angel/Darla:

I don't like how the writers established Angel and Darla's relationship without any explanation. The next episodes don't really clear this up. I loved the Darla arc but the more I think about it and rewatch it, the less sense it makes. The writers obviously wanted to write a memorable love story (Tim Minear said so), but weren't very concerned about Darla and Angel's lack of an actual relationship. In 'First Impressions', Angel acts like he missed Darla, but Angel and Darla have barely crossed paths in a 100 years, and Darla herself chose not to be with Angel (yet says he misses him and acts like not being with him wasn't her choice). If Angel truly cared about Darla:

1. In the Boxer Rebellion Angel would have gone to Darla out of love (like it's implied by Angel), and not because he didn't know how to live with a soul (like we are shown).
2. Angel would have looked sadder when killing her in BtVS S1.
3. Angelus would have avenged Darla in S2.
4. Angel wouldn't have set Darla on fire or kicked her out after sex. If Angel loved Darla, he wouldn't have been so cruel to her, he would have staked her out of mercy.
5. Angel would have been more concerned with Darla when she was pregnant.
6. Angel would have been more hurt upon seeing Darla stake herself.
7. Angelus would have hated Connor for 'killing' Darla.

Darla knows the difference between Angelus and Angel (not in a deep way, but she understands it), but for the sake of convenience Darla is acting like Angel and Angelus are the same and as if she loves both (she loved neither). Angel and Darla looking in love works on a superficial level (and it's melodramatic and moving), but isn't the actual reality. Imo, when Darla lost Angel to Buffy she created this love story in her head about Angelus and her and decided to fool herself into believing Angel and Angelus were the same. Also, Darla (with a soul) rapes Angel in his sleep for weeks and it's never acknowledged.

Still, I do understand that in his dreams Darla is giving Angel what he wants: a normal life with a girlfriend whom he can dance with, moonbathe with, have sex with, etc. And Angel does have Angelus's memories, so perhaps in his sleep he simply acts out of habit and falls back into old patterns. I believe this makes sense in 'Dear Boy' as well. Angel both kisses Darla and fights her. I mean, I get the sexual attraction but he knows she's evil so the random kissing doesn't make much sense (although the pinning her to the wall is a throwback to 'Angel'), unless Angel is acting out of reflex (remembering his past as Angelus) and responding to her as Angel would too (acting as if she is insignificant to him).
 

Mr Trick

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I do enjoy this one more than some. Think the Cordy and Gunn stuff is really enjoyable. I like their friendship.
 

Give Us A Kiss

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Sineya
Why am I not surprised that Angel sings in the shower ???

Darla :eek:

Angel, Darla always finds a way to come back...

Lorne, put them in a room please...

Cordy, dusting sucks, but it must be done...

Gunn, Angel doesn't use a stupid coffin :mad:

That rich nerd again :rolleyes:

At least he can give financial advice...

Tell him where to find Deevak...

Gunn, we don't punch the poor boy:mad:

Lots of piles of dust later, they (barely) survive :)

Angel, is it Darla ???

How does Dennis feel about Cordy's visions ??? o_O

Angel in shorts :D

Seems like Angel is a heavy sleeper :p

Cordy, wrong guy :p

Angel is sleepwalking :eek:

Cordy, you ruined Joey's reputation...

Cordy, Gunn, stop fighting :mad:

Angel,wear the pink helmet :)

Cordy, spray him with mace, or not...

He knows Deevak :eek:

And Deevak's ugly...

Cordy, blending will be a little hard...

Cordy,it did sound stuck up :rolleyes:

Cordy, stop bragging about your boyfriend...

LA could sure use a vampire slayer...

Cordy's aiding the wounded, she wouldn't have done that when she first came to LA :)

Gunn feels guilty, he needs to grieve...

That girl needs some medical attention, from Angel, and it involves a stake.

Deevak :eek:

He's Deevak :eek:

Pink helmet=weapon ???o_O

The axe got him in the end...

Gunn, you need more that a bit of saving...

Darla, you are ruining Angel's life...

Darla takes care of Angel, Angel takes care of the rest :p

Darla, don't you dare :mad:

She's raping him :mad::eek:

Next time:Telekinesis.
 

Antho

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Good episode but I confess that I am a little lost. Is it centered on Cordelia, on Gunn, or on both ? Depending on the answer to this question, I perceive the episode differently. If it is centered on Cordelia, then the episode is perfect because she shines literally, the character enjoys a fabulous treatment. If it's centered on Gunn, then I have problems since I think there is no very detailed work on this character. Finally if it is on both, then there is good and bad things.

It's a good idea to reunite Cordelia and Gunn. The duo works well mainly because it is unlikely. Who would have thought that these two would make such an interesting team ? At the very beginning of the collaboration each one has many prejudices on the other, it must be said that they come from opposite environment. Cordelia came from a bourgeois family, she was also very shallow at Sunnydale and when we have seen how she behaved with the Scooby-Gang, one can easily imagine what she would have thought of a street guy. Conversely, Gunn grew up in poverty, he always fought to survive, and he musn't have a good opinion of the people who come from the upper class. From the start each one finds the other heavy and do not like what they represent but the more they coexist, the more they get to know each other, the more they appreciate and their opinion on the other evolves. Even if Cordelia is not comfortable in Gunn's world because she does not feel in her place, and we have the example when she feels embarrassed in a party that takes place in a totally different ambiance from what she has known, she still takes her mission very much to heart, she really wants to help him as if she considered him as her friend or someone like her and not like a girl from a better-of environment who wants to help the poor guy from Los Angeles. The more the intrigue goes on, the more she takes place in this universe, the more she asserts herself, and the consecration happens when she saves Gunn's life and call herself his guardian angel. As for Gunn, he did not take her seriously, he acted as if she were under his orders, and in the end he had much more respect for her, more esteem. The episode glorifies Cordelia, whose evolution I applaud, on the other hand, apart from the end where he shows himself more sensitive and less arrogant, Gunn remains as we know him ! I don't think we see Gunn in a different way. Maybe he is more nice but I never saw him like a mean guy, so this isn't really an improvment for me. And I'm skeptical about the "moral" of the episode: "Gunn you play too much with fire". This is basically the same moral as the episode in season 1 where he loses his sister because he played too much with danger. Doesn' he learned his lesson ? I think the character stagnates a little !


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The Angel / Darla part is awesome. It's fascinating to see how much she can disconnect him from reality, she has a tremendous influence on him. It's even almost frightening since his fantasy gradually takes precedence over his existence and that's seen perfectly at the moment when Wesley awakens Angel suddenly and Angel strangles him just because the unconscious takes over the conscious and Angel doesn't make the difference between the two, between dreams and reality. It also disrupts his sleep and therefore his physical strength since he dreams all the time, he does not recover enough, and it explains that he is more and more tired, less efficient, and that he sleeps more. Darla has a bewitching beauty and in addition to that Julie Benz has a very soft, very sensual voice, each of her appearances raises the temperature, whether it is the torrid and romantic slow at the caritas, the spirited passion when she drag an ice cube on his torso, and perverse seduction in the image of the final twist that reveals that Darla is actually present in his bed with him, it is real ! Thanks to her, we know better Angel, we explore his desires, weaknesses, hidden secrets (he sings in the shower lol) because she plays on this for better manipulate him. It makes it possible to get closer to him because for once it is the human side that is explored. Angel is an atypical hero because even if he does not openly admit it he would like to be thanked from time to time by the people he saves, and for me it is totally human, when we do something good we expect a bit of recognition, if only a thank you ! It is also understandable that he let Darla take care of him in his dreams, he helps others but he also needs help, sometimes the protector also needs to feel protected !
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EarthLogic
EarthLogic
This scene lost a teensy bit of its spark for me when I realised Angel isn't in fact naked - you can see David's wearing boxers in the edge of the shot. Damn widescreen!

Oromous

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The thing about Gunn I was concerned about even back in season 1 is his racial association. The "angry black man" stereotype can become problematic and should be handled with care. Fortunately, Gunn's portrayal, his anger and fear about living in a rough neighborhood, feels realistic and relatable, as is his self-destructiveness.

Cordelia gets a significant character development here that feels nuanced from her usual desire for redemption. Ever since the trauma she went through in the season 1 finale, feeling the torment of millions of souls all at once, she has taken on a more active role in helping people like Gunn in her own spiritual and therapeutic way (not to mention her medical skills).

I love Cordy's reaction to David's geek talk on finance, and it's a shame that this will be the last we see of David Nabbit. I like his quirky D&D nerd gimmick. It's cute in an innocent and boyish kind of way, especially when paired with the juxtaposition of his business-savvy intellect.

I like the acknowledgement of Denzel Washington and his great acting chops. I've seen Malcolm X just a month ago, and it's a shame he never got an Oscar for that role. Dumb Academy. I agree with Angel and Cordelia about Denzel's consistently good performances because I don't think I've ever seen a film (or at least many films) where he phones it in.

And finally, Dangel. In spite of knowing that this is probably the start of Angel losing his way from the path of redemption and righteousness, I can't help but kinda dig the Dangel moments here, especially with how great Julie Benz is. She definitely has a flair for the kind of charismatic and sensual character Darla is that's so distinct from her performance in Dexter as the dutiful wife. Great stuff.

Overall, a nice character-centric episode that does well in exploring Gunn and his frustration with watching people around him die. I would say he's a bit too hard on himself and it's not technically his fault all the time, but it's understandable why he would feel such insecurity growing up the way he did, always having to watch his back.

7.5/10
 

RDHWesley

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A good episode on the whole, if a little bit scattered in places. The scenes between Cordy and Gunn are obviously great, but Deevak is a pretty generic villain, and the shock reveal that he was also disguised as the stool pigeon from earlier in the episode is just pulled out of thin air; it doesn't actually have any significance. The start of the Angel/Darla stuff is done really well, though, this season plays around with Angel's inner darkness superbly, and the foundation for that is laid here in an interesting way. The highlight of the whole episode, is of course, the motorbike helmet.

It's a decent episode; not one of the best of the season, but it's perfectly entertaining all the same.
 

Stake fodder

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"First Impressions" was the original title of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," and I think the title of this episode is not coincidental. In "P&P", two characters who start off with a mutual dislike come to understand each other better. So do Cordelia and Gunn. There seem to be other parallels here to "P&P," but I won't belabor the point, except to say that I think Cordelia is Darcy, and Gunn is Elizabeth Bennet. I really liked their scenes here, and because of the "P&P" connection, I am wondering if a relationship was planned. For now, they come to respect each other, and it was a great episode for both, especially Cordy.

There are musical allusions as well. Lorne tells Angel that "you've come to a bend in your personal uphill road." The song "Mandy," which Angel sang in karaoke, has the lyrics, "I've walked away when love was mine, caught up in a world of uphill climbing." The songs Angel has just sung in this dream, "Tears of a Clown" and "Send in the Clowns" are both about losing love. Apparently, he's singing better, and dancing better, too, in his dreams, at least.

Angel's fantasies are far more romantic than I ever saw his actual relationship with Darla being. Darla is clearly directing the dreaming, but perhaps she doesn't control the shape of them? It seems more like what he wanted with Buffy, or just what he wants in a perfect partner, bleeding into these dreams.

Wes and Angel have some funny scenes. Wes notes that Angel is naked, and then refuses the offer of a hand up. I think Wes suspects that Angel's been doing something else with that hand....😳 I have to wonder why Wes has a woman's helmet for his motorcycle, but Angel's reactions are great. You'd think a 240-yo man would not feel so insecure!

Now, the financial news: why does Angel have to buy the hotel? It doesn't seem like the owners would notice, as the place is derelict and they haven't been able to sell it. And why don't Cordy and Wes live there, too? 68 rooms, 68 vacancies!

A fun episode, bringing Gunn more into the group, and I am fascinated to learn what Darla's endgame is.
 
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