Angel: In the Dark
(S01E03) Oz (Seth Green) about Angel: He's very pale. Paler than most people.
If there was any doubt that Angel was still part of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe it was smothered quickly with this episode as not one, but two members of the Buffy cast appeared. Actually, when the show first aired back in October of 1999, it was the second part of a story that began on Buffy, which appeared on the same network as Angel back in the olden days.
In the Buffy episode vampire Spike (James Masters) searches for the Gem of Ammara: a ring that makes vampires impervious to death and allows them to go out into the sunlight without bursting into flame. Buffy manages to find the ring and asks Oz (Seth Green) to deliver it to Angel (David Borenanz) in Los Angeles. Spike also travels to L.A. to meet up with his old blood-sucking friend and torture him to death. Ah, friendship.
From a historical perspective this was an interesting episode to watch, as it showed three members of the Buffy cast before their personality transformations. For Spike and Oz this was a period where things in the Buffy-verse were still status quo from the high school years. It was before Oz let the more wolfish side come out (he was a werewolf), causing him to leave both Buffy's Scooby Gang and his girlfriend Willow. The Spike in this episode was the tormentor who had been bothering Buffy and (when he lived in Sunnydale) Angel for several seasons. It was not the reformed Spike who realized he was in love with the vampire slayer, or the hero Spike that appeared as a regular on Angel during the fifth season.
I mentioned three members of the Buffy cast, didn't I? Well, there's also Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). Before she joined with Angel and Doyle (Glenn Quinn) to form Angel Investigations, Cordelia spent her high school days in Sunnydale as a part of Buffy's crowd. During the first three episodes of Angel she was pretty much the same person she was back in high school: a smart, yet sometimes vapid, cheerleader who wanted to be a Hollywood star. However, since joining up with Angel, she was showing growing signs of maturity. And, by the time she left the series in season 4, she was not the same Cordelia Chase we had watched for the last seven years.
Despite the crossover element, this episode of Angel held its own: there was no need to watch Buffy to know what was going on. And, while the first two episodes of the season were rather chatty, this episode was chock full of action from beginning to end. There was a minor subplot with Angel trying to save a woman from his physically abusive boyfriend but it was overshadowed by the battle between Angel and Spike. In addition, both Doyle and Cordelia has much meatier roles (and snappier dialog) this episode as it was on them to try and find Spike and then try and find the Gem of Ammara: Angel had hid the ring in the sewers. Doyle and Cordelia needed to find the ring so they could stop Angel from being tortured by a particularly nasty vampire named Marcus.
There were a number of good scenes this time around. Spike dubbing a conversation between Angel and a damsel in distress while he watched from a rooftop was very amusing. The scene where Angel puts the ring of Ammara on and walks out into the sunshine was actually poignant, since he hadn't walked outside during the day for near two centuries. Doyle and Angel had a very nice scene at the end when our hero, who had watched his first sunset in a several decades, explained that he had done too much evil to walk around during the day. Besides, he mused, who would help those who needed assistance in the evening hours. Even the scenes where Angel were being tortured were interesting to watch because, even though he was being stuck with hot pokers, you could still see the determination in Angel's eyes and face.
Next week: killer disembodied body parts. Woo-Hoo!