Angel: To Shanshu in L.A. (season finale)
(S01E22) Don't believe everything you're foretold. -- Angel
Finally! After 21episodes, the death of Doyle, the introduction of Wolfram & Hart, Cordelia's visions, Wesley's partnership with Angel Investigations, and the appearances of Spike, Faith and Buffy (twice), we come to end of season one of Angel. During this first season we watched Angel become the undead hero of Los Angeles. In that time he became the enemy of Wolfram & Hart, a partner with Charles Gunn and his rag-tag team of vamp hunters, and the object of hate by Detective Kate Lockley (whom Angel pretty much tells off this episode. Good for him!). So, in this 22nd episode you would think that Angel and his crew would rest on their laurels and take a well-needed break.
Nope. In fact, totally the opposite. As they say on television, after this episode nothing is the same. So, read on to find out why.
As you recall from last episode, Angel picked up an ancient scroll while 'borrowing' some needed files from Wolfram & Hart. Well, it seems that the scroll contained a prophecy; one that Angel was mentioned in several times. However, not in a good way, because connected to the mention of Angel was the word 'shanshu' which, according to translation, meant our vampire with a soul was going to die. This wasn't good news, since the series was renewed for a second season by this time.
Meanwhile, over at Wolfram & Hart, a plan was being hatched to separate Angel from the Powers That Be. Summoning the demon known as Vocah, the systematic destruction of all that Angel knew began. First, the Oracles were slain. Then, the demon brushed by Cordelia, giving her painful, non-stop visions that put her in the psychiatric ward. Next, he stole the ancient scroll from Angel's apartment, replacing it with a bomb that severely injured Wesley. Finally, after destroying the place he lived and injuring his friends, Vocah keyed Angel's car and put sugar in his gas tank.
Okay, I made that last part up.
Needless to say, Angel wasn't very happy with these circumstances. Speaking with the spirit of one of the dead Oracles, Angel learned where the demon could be found, which was at the cemetery. On behalf of Wolfram & Hart, the demon was conducting a 'raising' ceremony that would bring about something that would destroy Angel once and for all. Of course, our non-breathing friend intervened and had a ferocious duel with Vocah. While this was going on Lindsey McDonald, new junior partner at the law firm and a man who apparently speaks fluent Latin, completed the ritual and tried to escape with the scroll. Angel wasn't having any of that. After defeating the demon (who, it turns out, had a face made of worms or maggots. Ew!), he was able to recover the scroll by separating Lindsey's hand from the rest of his body. He then used the ancient parchment to stop Cordelia's never-ending visions.
In the end, there's good news and bad news for Angel. The good news is that 'shanshu' does not mean death, but actually life. According to the prophecy, Angel will become human once he fulfills his destiny. This, according to Wesley, involves the need 'to survive the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and some, uh, several (not that many) fiends that will be unleashed.' All in a days work for Angel. The bad news? Well, the 'raising' that the ritual was intended for brought back someone very important from Angel's past . . . Darla. How will she affect Angel and his friends? Well, you'll just have to watch the second season DVDs, won't you?
Truly an excellent episode all around. Even though a lot of damage was done to Angel and his friends, it brought them all closer together in their pursuit of evil. Cordelia, after being awash in constant visions, was the most affected. Her transformation from brash, spoiled little girl to mature, evil hunter was finally complete with this episode. Angel was strongly affected as well, as he realized that he was no longer alone in his battles. And, in what would be a setup for future seasons, you began to see the closeness that Angel had with Cordelia. Something that would blossom as the show progressed.
Before I go I want to thank everyone for sticking with me for this portion of Retro Squad. While a bit tiring to watch an entire season's worth of shows in a few months, I enjoyed reviewing them for you. If you are interested in seeing season two reviewed next summer let us know. Finally, a thanks to tv.com for the quotes, and Trevis Thomas' website for all of the great Angel images.