Angel: The Ring
(S01E16) And now, ladies and gentlemen, the gratuitous illegal fight episode. You know, the one that's usually featured in every science fiction or fantasy show ever made. The one where the hero, in this case our pal Angel, is kidnapped to partake in fight-to-the-death matches against other people, who in this case would be demons. It's the episode where the hero of the show, once again our friend Angel, tries to get the other fighters to join him in an escape attempt. Come on, you've seen it all before!
Well, so have I. But it was still enjoyable.
At first I thought it was going to be another type of episode, since a client walks into the offices of Angel Investigations claiming that his brother was kidnapped. I actually thought the ring mentioned in the title was some kind artifact that gave the wearer supernatural powers. Heh. Little did I know that the kidnap claim was actually a ruse to lure our hero, our amigo Angel, into an illegal fight club where demons fight it out in order to earn their freedom. Silly me, what was I thinking?
This was a nicely well-rounded episode that had strong performances from all three main characters. While Angel didn't speak much this time around, his presence was very strong. Particularly while he was a slave in the fight ring. His stature, his glare, his confidence that he would survive, showed him as the hero he really is. No whining about past girlfriends, or remembering family approvals that were never spoken. This was stoic Angel; the vampire with a soul who wanted his freedom, no matter who tried to stop him.
With Wesley and Cordelia the strength came from the two of them really becoming a team that worked well together. This would be something that would last until Cordelia's character left the show at the end of the fourth season. While still a bit of a klutz, Wesley showed continued bravery and skill with weapons. Cordelia also continued to show growing maturity in her multi-purpose role at the investigation firm.
The biggest thing this episode was a fairly large introduction to the law firm Wolfram & Hart and associate Lilah Morgan. This was the first Wolfram & Hart employee that would have a recurring spot on Angel until the end of the 4th season (when something happened to her, but that would be spoiling my Retro Squad review of Angel for 2009). In the brief encounter that Angel had with her this episode you could see the tension that would be the basis of their relationship for most of the series. From this point on, Wolfram & Hart would become a bigger thorn in Angel's side.
The best part of the episode was the ending. Of course Angel, after getting the crap beaten out of him during a match, somehow manages to rally the fight club demons to revolt. As the demons escaped out of the club, as Angel was being dragged into the evening by Cordelia and Wesley, our hero managed to say . . .
Angel: You both did great. And I think we did a good thing here tonight.
Wesley: Yes. We set the captives free.
Cordy: Well, actually, didn't we set a bunch of demons free?
Wesley: Oh. Well. Technically, yes.
Whoops! Fade to black.