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October 4, 2015

Angel: I've Got You Under My Skin

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 17th 2006 7:06AM

A young boy posessed on Angel(S01E14) Wesley: You've heard of Lizzie Borden? she killed her parents with an ax.

Cordelia: I remember the children's rhyme. And how come they're all full of death and cradles falling and mice getting tails cut off? Anyway, the whole thing needs a ratings system, don't you think?

Getting a supernatural or science fiction based show on the air is a tricky concept. If the show isn't fresh week after week, if it begins to get into a rut, it has a pretty good chance of having a short run or losing its audience. Star Trek:The Next Generation is a good example of a show getting into a rut. Towards the end of the series run you could pretty much predict what was going to happen: Data would say something foolish, Deanna would sense nothing from the aliens, and it would all be solved through some technical mumbo jumbo.

This did not happen to Angel during the first season. Sure, most episodes dealt with one supernatural being or another, but it remained fresh throughout. The episode 'I've Got You Under My Skin' is no exception. In fact, this villain isn't even a supernatural being this time around.

It's a little boy.

Cordelia gets a vision of a troubled family. As Angel and Wesley investigate they see the family's young son walking into the middle of the street without a care in the world. As a vehicle bares down on the boy Angel saves him, to the relief of his parents. His mother practically gushes with praise over Angel, while his father is very defensive about the whole situation. Angel thinks something is definitely wrong, especially with the father. Wesley confirms that there is something wrong with a sample of demon excrement from the family's back yard. Can anyone say possession?

Returning to the house the next evening (at the request of the boy's mother, who asked him to dinner), Angel concocts a way to see if anyone in the home is possessed. At first he thinks it is definitely the father, but it actually turns out to be the son who is possessed by a Ethros demon. Angel and his team quickly go into action to try and save the child. The Ethros demon tries to manipulate the team, and the boy's own family, into coming closer to his grasp so he can kill them. No luck, though, as Angel is able to exorcise the demon from the boy. It looks like all is safe . . . or so we think.

Angel and Wesley confront the demon as it tries to recover from its removal from the child. They realize that all this time the Ethros demon was trying to escape from the boy. Why? Well, this is what he said:

Do you know what the most frightening thing in the world is? Nothing! That's what I found in the boy. no conscience, no fear, no humanity, just a black void. I couldn't control him. I couldn't get out. I never even manifested until you brought me forth. I just sat there and watched as he destroyed everything around him. Not from a belief in evil, not for any reason at all.

For years the family had gone from town to town to try and restart their lives after their son did something horrendous to something or someone. Now, it turned out, that it wasn't the demon who caused all of this. It was a boy who felt nothing, who lit his sister's room on fire because there wasn't a barrier to stop him. His soul was replaced by a black void. And, that's even worse than being possessed.

That twist made this a stand-out episode for the first season of Angel.

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This is one of my favorite first season episodes of Angel and one of the best playing with expectations of the Buffy-verse. I love how the story plays up the conventional assumptions--it must be the demon that is doing these horrific things. But then we get the twist that the demon is frightened of the kid....and the kid is the true evil.

And just like that it hits you again--Joss Whedon is a genius.

I also loved how the manipulated everyone was by things that haunt them. The Doyle channeling was perfect for Angel.

August 17 2006 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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