Angel: I Fall to Pieces
(S01E04) When you come right down to it, Angel is really not a show about vampires and demons and evil law firms (well, more evil than normal) and one man's journey of redemption to prove that the soul returned to him was justified. In reality, Angel is a very good mystery. And, that was given
prudence credence with this week's show.
There were no vampires, no demons, no evil law firms (although Wolfram & Hart was mentioned). Heck, even Angel (David Boreanaz) didn't go vamp this episode. Other than the fact that the perpetrator was able to physically separate his body parts and rejoin them at will, this could have been an episode of Law and Order: SVU. Come to think of it, this could be an episode of SVU for the future. I can see it now: Detectives Benson and Stabler get attacked by disembodied hands and are hospitalized, leaving Munch and Tutuola to solve the case and become the darlings of the SVU unit. I smell Emmy!
This episode had all of the elements to make this a very good crime mystery. There was Melissa, the damsel in distress who wanted protection from her stalker; Dr. Ronald Meltzer (Andy Umberger, who appeared in all three of Joss Whedon's series), the stalker who had the uncanny ability to know where Melissa was and what she was doing at any given time; Angel, the private investigator who seemed to think that there was more to Dr. Meltzer than meets the eye; Detective Kate Lockley (Elisabeth Rohm), the police contact who had a flirtatious relationship with Angel; and Cordelia Chase and Doyle (Charisma Carpenter and Glenn Quinn), who assisted Angel in grabbing all the dirt they could find and, in Doyle's case, having a vision that told our hero who he would be saving this time.
This may have been the first episode where the entire team of Angel Investigations worked together to help solve a crime and save the customer. It was also one of the first episodes where you got a feel for what future versions of show would be like: light dialogue with dark subject undertones. All three of the central characters had their moment this time around, particularly
Quinn Doyle and Cordelia, and you could see the advancement of all three characters. This is especially the case with Angel, who finally worked up enough courage to ask for fees in exchange for his services. You could also see Doyle becoming more daring in his attempts to woo Cordelia.
Where the previous three episodes where heavy in vampires and demons (in other words, a lot of makeup and special effects) this show was very light in the supernatural aspect of things. This time around the villain was a normal man who had learned psychic surgery that would allow him to detach/reattach his body parts at will. So, he could see Melissa getting undressed in her bedroom with a disembodied eye, or have a touchy-feely on Melissa's body with hands that weren't attached to his body. The best, and creepiest, scenes of the show took place when Dr. Meltzer's hands tried to get into Angel's apartment (where Melissa was staying). Watching Quinn and Cordelia looking and listening for the disembodied appendages skittle around the floor was a bit chilling.
So, while this episode focused more on story than on gore factor, it was one of the best of the season so far. There was nice back and forth between the characters as they attempted to solve the crime. Dr. Meltzer had the right amount of caring and craziness to make him frightening even when his eye was removed from his head.
Next week: The spotlight is on Cordelia.