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Angel S 1 first time viewing and for anyone who wants to rewatch the season

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  • Angel S 1 first time viewing and for anyone who wants to rewatch the season

    OK, I'm opening this thread as a spoiler free section for watching Angel the Series for the first time (which I'm doing), and for posting thoughts on it or generally engaging with it & discussing the episodes chronologically. flow is watching for the first time too, so this should be fun. The thread is totally open to anyone who wants to join/ do a rewatch or is also watching for the first time. Can't wait to delve deep!
    buffylover made this stunning banner

  • #2
    I'll be interested to hear your thoughts


    • #3
      This is great SpuffyGlitz I'm really looking forward to hearing your impressions as you go through the show. Do you have a planned schedule in mind?


      • #4
        I'll probably officially start in two weeks' time after returning back home (or even by next week). But I may post brief thoughts/ questions before that at first -- just because it's easier - like in the Positives Negatives thread. It can always be expanded on in discussion of course. And then more regularly (I hope).

        Oh! And just to add: flow can definitely feel free to start posting her thoughts on the episodes - I'm up to Lonely Hearts, but for the episodes after that, she can post her thoughts in spoilers brackets if she likes (and if it isn't too much trouble).
        Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 03-06-19, 09:31 PM.
        buffylover made this stunning banner


        • #5
          Is there a way to watch it online for free? It's not on Netflix anymore.

          I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”


          • #6
            Originally posted by GoSpuffy View Post
            Is there a way to watch it online for free? It's not on Netflix anymore.
            Wasn't it on Facebook? Not sure if it was free or not


            • #7
              Originally posted by Priceless View Post
              Wasn't it on Facebook? Not sure if it was free or not
              The technically challenged leading the more technically challenged

              Didn't it turn out only Americans see it?

              I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”


              • #8
                Originally posted by GoSpuffy View Post
                Is there a way to watch it online for free? It's not on Netflix anymore.
                It's on Amazon Prime


                • #9
                  Is there an HD version of Angel?
                  buffylover made this stunning banner


                  • #10
                    Nope there's no HD version (although apparently S5 was meant to be HD which... errr) so it's just the regular version.

                    I'll definitely be happy to read your thoughts as you go through the series and will hopefully be able to contribute some of my own. I have a pretty newfound appreciation for Season 1 and would be happy to discuss it.

                    I'll be very interested to read both of your thoughts about the series as you make your way through!
                    - "The earth is doomed" -


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GoSpuffy View Post
                      Is there a way to watch it online for free? It's not on Netflix anymore.
                      There's here of course...


                      That where I've been re watching it. It says the season 5 files are in HD, but I'm not sure about that, but It does open up to a pretty large image.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
                        Is there an HD version of Angel?
                        It says S5 is HD on Amazon prime and you even have the option of buying it in SD or HD for non members


                        • #13
                          City Of

                          Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
                          Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
                          Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows

                          Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light
                          Or just another lost angel?

                          ——— LA Woman, The Doors

                          First off, this is a dazzling premiere. This episode establishes its locale and it's difference from Buffy immediately, and it's interesting to see the contrasts. Instead of the sunshine of small town Sunnydale and the metaphor of the blonde girl who slays creatures of the night, here it's darkness and city lights; a lonely vampire seeking redemption who saves the "blonde girl" (in this scenario nameless and plural), but comes at it from the perspective of the "monster" he once was. It's also an inversion of the first opening scene of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At least in this opening episode, blondness seems to be characterised as unproblematically "good". This is in contrast to Buffy ("Welcome to the Hellmouth".) Buffy showed different versions and facets of female blondness: devious, sexy, evil, knowing (Darla), generic, vapid, stupid (Harmony), vulnerable yet strong/ definition-defying (Buffy.) The title is interesting in how it relates to Angel's vampirism. "City of" suggests the empty space Angel inhabits, his vampiric non-reflection, the deliberate omission of presence suggested by the lack of even any ellipsis, his 'nothing-ness' as well the implied suspense of what is to unfold.

                          The scene where Angel kills both vamps with double stakes immediately establishes him as the hero. What's even more interesting is the choice to show that he still feels drawn to feed as he takes in the bleeding girl thanking him: a brilliant hint at his conflicted identity and it encapsulates so much of his history. Angel's vamp face looks really cool in this scene (much cooler than it ever looked on Buffy, I thought.) There's something different about it but I can't put my finger on what. Anyway, it builds the romantic image of him as this tormented creature of the night. The fact that he averts his face from the women reminds me of "WML 2" and how he still feels self conscious and ashamed of his "vamp" face.

                          Part 1


                          Angel's monologue

                          I loved the opening with Angel drunk, talking about Buffy's hotness. I so rarely get to see the "pining" side of Angel on BtVS (we always got to see and hear Buffy talk about Angel in those terms), so it's really great to get this side of him, it makes him seem much more human. And then I realised, Angel was play acting (and I was almost a little let down.) I'm unsure exactly where the play-acting stopped or started, but much of the 'act' is obviously drawn from his very real feelings for Buffy. I assume he's using the guise of the drunken ex-lover to fool people into thinking he's harmless and unobtrusively observe the scene looking out for vamps and predators. Was Angel's character always good at acting? It was seamless how he switched from sloshed/ woozy to alert and menacing.

                          His monologue was great as an opener:

                          Los Angeles. You see it at night and it shines. Like a beacon. People are drawn to it. People and other things. They come for all sorts of reasons. My reason? No surprise there. It started with a girl. She was a really, really pretty girl. No she, she was a hottie girl. She, she had - I mean - her hair was... You know? - -You kind of remind me of her. Because, because – you know – the hair. I mean – the hair.
                          Clearly, both Angel and Spike have a fixation on Buffy's hair Seriously, this was hilarious - especially when you see the guy Angel is talking to

                          Not only is Angel uber cool, but this seems framed in the classic tradition of the "private eye monologue", a staple feature of noir films where the protagonist's entire story is introduced/ summarised in racy opening lines, but then ends up semi-parodying it by making Angel pretend-drunk. Frank Miller (best known for Batman: Year One and Sin City) "combined film noir with manga influences into his comics and graphic novels" and I already know that Angel has expressly been compared to Batman because I've seen the monologue from Spike in the future episode "In the Dark" (which I haven't seen in its entirety) where Angel's car is referred to as the "Angelmobile". The opening monologue is interesting from another perspective too: aside from all the Batman comparisons, it's a precursor to Doyle's monologue which exposits on his murderous past and his history with "the girl" (Buffy).

                          Doyle: "Yeah, well, it’s a fairly dull tale. It needs a little sex, is my feeling. So sure enough: enter the girl. (Flash to scenes of Buffy) Pretty little blonde thing, (whistles) Vampire Slayer by trade. And our vampire falls madly in love with her. (Flash to Angel and Buffy kissing) Eventually the two of them, - well, they get fleshy with one another. Well, I guess the technical term is perfect happiness. But when our boy gets there, (Flash to dream sequence form Amends) he goes bad again. He kills again. It’s ugly. So when he gets his soul back for the second time, he figures hey, he can’t be any where near Miss young puppy eyes without endangering them both. So what does he do? He takes off. (Flash to Angel walking away in G2) Goes to LA. (Doyle picks up a knife) To fight evil - and atone for his crimes. He’s a shadow, - a faceless champion of the hapless human race. – Say you wouldn’t have a beer of any kind in here, would you?"
                          Can Doyle really see Buffy? Can he see Angel's past history? Or is he just narrating something he instinctually knows but can't see himself? (He whistles when describing Buffy which seems to suggest he can "see" people in Angel's past, just like he can "see" Tina [since he comments that she's nice looking.]) His monologue reminds me of Double Indemnity which has probably one of my favourite noir film opening monologues:

                          NEFF Dear Keyes: I suppose you'll call this a confession when you hear it. I don't like the word confession. [...]Want to know who killed Dietrichson? Hold tight to that cheap cigar of yours, Keyes. I killed Dietrichson. Me, Walter Neff, insurance agent, 35 years old, unmarried, no visible scars -- Until a little while ago, that is. Yes, I killed him.

                          I killed him for money -- and a woman -- and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it? It began last May. [...] It was mid-afternoon, and it's funny, I can still remember the smell of honeysuckle all along that block. I felt like a million. There was no way in all this world I could have known that murder sometimes can smell like honeysuckle...

                          —— Double Indemnity (1944)
                          It's also similar to the blockbuster format for superhero monologues :

                          (Opening Narration) Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody told you it was a happy tale, if somebody said I was just your average guy, not a care in the world... somebody lied. But let me assure you, this, like any other story worth telling, is all about a girl.

                          —— Spiderman (2002)
                          Angel descends to his apartment in a darkly lit building and it's interesting how this segment intersects with one particular theme from BtVS S1's seventh episode Angel. Darla notices and comments to Angel that he's living above ground. Her implication is clear: a vampire's place isn't anywhere but underground. Here we see Angel descend to a basement apartment. I like how they've carefully omitted any colour (I get that he needs to avoid sunlight but they've really gone to pains in ensuring there is zero colour in his apartment with the light-dark chiaroscuro, grids, shadows, expressionistic asymmetry and high contrasts.) The whole segment screams film noir.

                          Part 2



                          I love the introduction to the character of Doyle who is an agent of The Powers that Be. I think it's fitting because he reminds me a little of Whistler, and Whistler always lent a film noir feel to his Buffy scenes with his New York accent. Doyle is evidently Irish, but seems to be modelled on Whistler (except that he's handsomer, which I don't think Whistler ever was.) I have to say though: Doyle's sudden metamorphosis into his demon face (or whatever he's meant to be - he has these porcupine-like spikes jutting from his face) really grossed me out momentarily - eww! - I was not prepared for that!

                          Onto LA's protector: Angel has a very distinctive star appeal and I was interested in his acting choices here: his mouth stays parted slightly open and his voice is soft and cool, his answers monosyllabic, almost Oz-like. That's a bit of a contrast in these early scenes to the hard masculinity of the tight lipped, cynical anti-protagonist of the noir film, exemplified by Bogart, which DB adopts for the latter half of this episode. In Andrew Spicer's Historical Dictionary of Film Noir, Bogart is defined as having attained iconic status, epitomising noir's "hard-bitten, laconic and world weary masculinity", his figure "hunched in a crumpled, belted trench coat". Other descriptors focus on his "minimalist acting style, a stiff, tight lipped wariness, in which the eyes, knowing and sad, gave depth to tough guys." (2010: 23) Angel does play into these elements but in the early scenes of "City of" he seems to downplay the cynicism and play up the vulnerability.

                          Doyle talking to Angel about the "craving for blood" intrigues me: on the one hand, it's linked to the constant tension of Angel's darker past and the draw that still holds for him despite his guilt

                          " day soon one of those helpless victims that you don’t really care about is going to look way too appetizing to turn down. And you’ll figure hey! what’s one against all I’ve saved? Might as well eat them. I’m still ahead by the numbers!"
                          But it also seems to be framed in relation to feeding from the opposite sex: Angel lingers on the blood of the blonde girl, the last time he "fed" was with Buffy and Doyle warns him he's going to crave it again, he shouldn't continue to be lonely etc...and the future scenes with Tina (who is blonde) are framed romantically.

                          Doyle: "When was the last time you drank blood?"
                          Angel whispers: "Buffy."
                          Doyle: "Left you with a bit of a craving, didn’t it?
                          I'm unsure about how much this is a metaphor for Angel dealing with singledom, as it is about literal feeding, but I'd be interested to hear other's takes. Is craving blood, amongst other things, a metaphor for sex? (It wouldn't be the first time: the Spike-Willow scene from The Initiative made that explicit. Although, I guess that scene hasn't taken place yet.) Or is it about feeding one's dark impulses? Doyle hands him a slip of paper about a girl he calls "nice looking" whose name is Tina and says the rest is up to Angel to find out. She's in danger and in need of his help. Angel hesitates and Doyle responds:

                          "You're supposed to get into her life, remember, get involved. Look high school's over, boy, you gotta make with the grown up talk now."
                          Why does Doyle say this to Angel of all people? It seems an odd thing to say to a 242 year old vampire (or whatever Angel's age is at this point) whose depiction on Buffy was that of an experienced "older guy" with a dark past. So I can't help but feel this line is a direct address to the audience (as in...this isn't high school anymore, don't confuse this show with Buffy!) This is the only part of Doyle's monologue that feels a little heavy handed. (Sidenote: What's funny is that Buffy isn't about high school anymore either, since "The Freshman" is all about Buffy adjusting to college.) Angel tells him he's "not good with people" and Doyle gives him a little pep talk. He encourages him to work on his social skills, get involved in people's lives.

                          Now, I'm not saying Angel wouldn't be rusty in his social skills. But his isolation to me seems more likely to be out of choice, not owing to a lack of finesse with talking to women / people. Is this really the same Angel who was so incredibly smooth when he talked to Buffy for the first time in WttH, S1 Buffy?

                          I feel like there's a link being drawn between Angel's loneliness and the metaphor of singledom - it's almost like the two are being conflated. I find it hard to accept a version of Angel where he's presented as this reticent wallflower who's got to be prodded by someone like Doyle (who comes across as less experienced/ worldly than Whistler) to lean on for support as he works up the courage to talk to women or mingle with people...maybe it's just me. I'm also trying to figure out how Doyle has so quickly assumed this position in relation to Angel (or what his role is meant to be - but I guess I'll figure that out in due course.) He seems to have some "atoning" of his own to do. Is he going to serve the role Whistler served to Buffy? Or is he mainly there to be Angel's buddy/ guy friend?

                          On Buffy, Whistler could believably serve as a world-weary harbinger of apocalyptic forewarning, an agent of the Powers That Be with crucial wisdom to impart. But Angel has a long past history, both as Angelus and as souled Angel (I'm unsure exactly how many years its been since Angel was originally re-souled by the gypsies' curse), but Doyle to me doesn't seem the most appropriate person to assume the role of his mentor...but I could be wrong. He tells Angel, in what becomes a refrain, "That’s the whole point of this little exercise, isn’t it? Are you game?"

                          Angel and Tina

                          We cut to Angel at the coffee shop, who has followed "Tina"* and is watching her at work as she waitresses. I actually really like Tina. Considering she's playing a damsel in distress, she injects a lot of pathos and star appeal into her role. She's coolly elegant and reminds me a little of the actress Claire Forlani (but a blonde version.) Angel attempts to strike up a conversation over a cute dog in front of him but she walks past wordlessly, and he slumps. He tries again and gets her attention when he rescues a coffee cup from smashing to the floor. She praises his reflexes and he now attempts conversation again, surprising her with his directness.

                          Sidenote*: As I caught up with this episode again, I realised I'd mixed up the names in the positives and negatives thread. It was Tina I was thinking of, not Kate, when I said I loved the chemistry between Angel and Kate. It was this scene I was referring to, not the bar scene. Duh!

                          Angel: "So, you’re, are you – happy?"
                          Tina looks up from clearing the table: "What?"
                          I love the chemistry between them - I was wondering if this would develop into something (I assume Tina's being blonde is an homage to Buffy so it doesn't feel distasteful to introduce a romantic interest so soon?) She chides him: "You don’t hit on girls very often, do you?" Angel doesn't deny it and says that he's new in town.

                          Can I just say: I love hesitant!Angel. He's a thousand times more charismatic when he's allowed to emote like this or display a shy awkwardness (it just adds more layers to his persona.) Angel has an understated but million-dollar smile in the rare occasions he's allowed to smile. Anyway, I loved this scene and their dialogue. Angel's "awkwardness" with people actually works to his advantage because he asks a direct question that immediately lends depth to their interaction and cuts through Tina's internal reverie: "Are you happy?" Tina is obviously surprised at Angel's unusualness - both in the sincerity of the question, his initial hesitant awkwardness, and then his razor sharp reflexes in preventing the coffee cup from spilling. I do think she's genuinely intrigued by him here and not being duplicitous.

                          Noir themes

                          She appears later after work in evening dress, ready for the "fabulous hollywood party" she's about to attend when she sees Angel waiting for her by the side of his convertible. Angel barely has seconds to make small talk before she points a mace at him, accusing him of working for Russell Winters.

                          My reasoning for this is: .At the coffee shop Tina probably thought to herself - OK, this guy just asked me out (she thinks) maybe it's okay to just talk to him over coffee or something...Then, her mind whirs into overdrive when she assesses the dangerous possibilities of what it could mean. The likelihood of his connections to Russell strike her. By the time she's off work she's feverishly suspicious and paranoid. So she pulls a bottle of mace out of her purse and aims it at Angel’s face and tells him: "I know who you are and what you’re doing here. Stay the hell away from me. And you tell Russell to leave me alone." When Angel tells her he doesn't know anyone named Russell, she's instantly contrite and sincerely apologises. Once again, something about Angel's sincerity convinces her, she realises that he's not out to get her and so she relaxes.

                          It must be agonising to keep switching from suspicion and doubt in the way she does here - it really makes me feel for her character even though we barely know her. Tina strikes me as someone very much on the verge of a nervous breakdown, completely unsure of whom to trust - all classic signs of being gaslighted. She plays the overwrought state really convincingly. She tells Angel she has "relationship issues". So our first inkling of the villain - Russell Winters - is that he preys on women by gaslighting them in romantic relationships. Angel tells her he'd like to help and she replies:

                          Tina: "The only help I need is a ticket home. - And that wasn’t me asking for money."
                          It's a tragic line that she will later repeat in the scene with Russell. Angel asks her where "home" is and she tells him Missoula, Montana, which makes Angel smile.

                          Tina: You’ve been to Missoula?"
                          Angel: "During the depression. - Ah, my depression. I-I was depressed there. - It’s pretty country though."
                          Tina: "Lots of open land, lots of nothing else. I came here to become a movie star. But they weren’t hiring.
                          Angel's delivery of his line is brilliantly deadpan, and I notice the reference to the Depression era is deftly woven in. It's a nice self-reflexive nod to the show's form and style. Film noir closely engages with the crisis of masculinity and the upheavals associated with the Depression era. Eddie Muller, an historian of film noir whom James Ellroy called the "czar of noir", cites the Great Depression as the "thematic lynchpin around which film noir grew." He argues that "the Depression was a greater influence on film noir than World War II," citing the influence of writers on the development of this genre: "The writers that influenced the more adult content and attitude of film noir created their essential work in the thirties: Hammer, Cain, Chandler, Woolrich, Ben Hech's big city style, all those Black Mask authors." (Hare, William. Pulp Fiction to Film Noir: The Great Depression and the Development of Genre, 2012:7)

                          “A bundle of unfinished business lingered from the Depression — nagging questions about ingrained venality, mean human nature, and the way unchecked urban growth threw society dangerously out of whack. Writers and directors responded by delivering gritty, bitter dramas that slapped our romantic illusions in the face and put the boot to the throat of the smug bourgeoisie. Still, plenty of us took it — and liked it.”

                          ― Eddie Muller, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir
                          Robert Altman's neo-noir Thieves Like Us (1974) was a bleak look at the Depression era, Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) was an attempt to see '30s Depression era via the countercultural lens of the late '60s, St. John Legh Clowes' No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) was an example of British noir based on the infamous book by Hadley Chase, Black Angel (1948) was an American noir crime drama based on Woolrich's book. Joel Dinerstein’s article theorises a “new periodization” for film noir through a prewar category and looks at films released between the years 1940 and 1942 for how they functioned as “failure narratives” which resonated with American audiences for validating the suffering left behind by the Depression. These are films like The Maltese Falcon (1941), Citizen Kane (1941), High Sierra (1941), This Gun for Hire (1942) Dinerstein argued they helped create “new ideals of individuality and masculinity” and led to the creation of new icons like Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake. "All three were “embodiments of “cool”, a concept herein theorised as a public mask of stoicism.” (Source:

                          Angel gallantly offers to drive Tina to the party and when they arrive, a Hollywood agent approaches Angel calling him a "beautiful, beautiful man", which apparently rattles Angel a little. He hands him his business card, tells Angel his name is Oliver, that he's a '"fierce animal" and declares himself his agent - I wonder if this is meant to be an inside-joke about how DB in real life met his agent when he was walking his dog.


                          Angel spots Cordelia at the party, who is talking to someone else, and his face immediately lights up when he sees her.

                          Angel: "Cordelia?"
                          Cordelia: "Oh, my god. Angel?"
                          Angel: "Nice to see a familiar face."

                          Is it my imagination or does he actually check her out as he's catching up with her?

                          Angel: "You’re acting?"
                          Cordelia: "Can you believe it? I mean I just started it to make some quick cash, and then boom, it was like my life! - So are you still (holds up her hands like claws and makes a face) – grrr?"

                          Angel: "Yeah, there’s not actually - a cure for that."
                          (Except...there is, right? There's a Shanshu prophecy that will come up at some point on AtS, I know that.)

                          Cordelia: "Oh, good. Well, it was nice seeing you, but I've got to get mingly. I really should be talking to people that *are* somebody."

                          Classic Cordy

                          I adore this exchange between them. I love the vibrant energy Cordelia brings to the show and I love how she stands out as a brunette in the sea of blondes. I think they have amazing chemistry in this scene. I'm trying to recall Angel-Cordy scenes back from Buffy... From what I remember, Angel would occasionally use Cordelia's presence to make Buffy jealous (when he was stung over Buffy's dance with Xander in "WSWB"), and Cordelia was periodically bitchy to Buffy when trying to compete over Angel. But putting that aside, Angel seems to have a genuine fondness/ affection for Cordelia and she seemed to admire him back in seasons 1-3 and somewhat envy Buffy for holding his attention. So it's interesting to see them interact in this new setting and to hopefully see Cordelia's story develop. I actually think there's a really cool vibe/rapport between them (and a lot of chemistry too! ) She seems to be putting up a brave front here when she tells him she has a condo in Malibu. It seems unlikely she's doing well when the last glimpse we got of her situation was in Sunnydale, where it was revealed that her family had gone bankrupt and she was essentially without a home.

                          Angel spots a dark haired man harassing Tina and they attempt to leave, but he, along with two other accomplices, ambush Tina and stall Angel in the elevator. A car chase scene follows in the parking lot, where Angel hops into the wrong car at first and then the two cars almost collide. The dark haired guy driving the car with Tina captive in it, swerves and slams into a different car. What exactly was Angel's plan here? Isn't this kind of dangerous because Tina could have died anyway? I feel like this scene was done for the purpose of providing Angel with an action-sequence in which he comes off all action-hero-y. I enjoyed it but I didn't particularly see the point of this scene beyond that. Angel tells Tina to get in his car, points a gun at Stacy who doesn't believe he'll pull the trigger (he seems to scent Angel's heroism), Angel slugs him, superhero style, drops the gun and gets in his own car.

                          Back at Cordelia's apartment, we see that she's struggling, there are plaster patches on the yellow walls, and she seems to have only one dress. She has an agent named Joe from an agency who's unable to provide her with work and all she has to eat are the sandwiches she smuggled from the party.

                          Angel has taken Tina back to his apartment and is making tea as she tearfully relates more about herself. It's a brief exploration of Angel in a more domestic environment, but the text promptly severs any such links:

                          Angel in the kitchen: "I’ve made some tea."
                          Tina: "Thanks."
                          Angel: "Do you take milk and sugar?"
                          Tina: "Yeah."
                          Angel: "Because I don’t have those things. - I don’t get a lot of visitors."
                          This prompts Tina to point to the weapons on the walls.

                          Tina: "At least not ones you like."
                          Angel: "I have relationship issues, too."
                          And once again there's a conflation of Angel's chosen path/ his loneliness and the metaphor of singledom. His statement sets Tina off, who assumes Angel wants favours in return. Angel quickly reassures her "No, this is the part where you have a safe place to stay while we figure things out." This once again sets Tina off into a fit of tears, because it's impossible for her to believe that there are still people who wouldn't take advantage of her.

                          At this point it's genuinely making me wary that Angel is just going to be a hero who conveniently saves all the blonde damsels of Los Angeles. (I'm really glad for Cordelia's presence, whose spunk thankfully offsets this vibe.) Angel tries to ask whether Winters ever murdered anybody and Tina is unsure - she cryptically responds:

                          Tina: "I don’t know. Maybe nobody. He likes - he likes pain. I mean he really does. He talks about it like it was a friend. And you don’t leave him, he tells you when he’s had enough. I knew this girl, Denise, she tried to get away. She disappeared of the face of the earth. He finds you."
                          Angel protectively pulls a blanket over the now asleep Tina. A little conveniently, an address book just peeps out of her purse which just happens to fall open on a page that lists Denise Perkins, the girl Tina mentioned. Detective!Angel is next at the library researching online, and discovers a commonality amongst all the murdered young women: a rose tattoo. I was really hoping this wouldn't mean that the show is going to be patterned on a "blonde of the week" format with Angel saving a multitude of tormented women but never really forming a relationship with any of them, whilst Buffy remains the "Irene Adler" to his Sherlock.

                          Anyway, when Angel returns home to find Tina convulsing and sobbing in her sleep, he comforts her and tells her in effect that she's not crazy, there were other victims who were gaslighted just like her and they were murdered. (Not in so many words, but that's the gist.) Their intense intimacy at this point feels a little unearned. She clutches on to him for dear life and it's just a tiny bit cloying.

                          Tina spots the slip of paper with her name on it and freaks out. She accuses Angel of having worked for Russell all along and doesn't believe him when he denies it.

                          Tina: "Yeah, I’m sure. Big complicated game that Russell’s playing with my head. How much is he paying you?"
                          Angel: "He’s not."
                          Tina: "You’re just like him. You stay away from me."
                          This is the point where what she says is interesting: "You're just like him." I feel like you have to be a viewer of both BtVS and AtS to appreciate the context of that line and for it to fully register. But it does elevate what I was otherwise worried was going to dissolve into a cloying melodramatic trope to something far more interesting and sophisticated: the darker parallel between Angel's dark past and Russell's villainy. As Angel runs to stop Tina, his arm catches fire where the light hits and he goes into full vamp face. Tina is horrified at the sight. Honestly, one can’t blame her - this time his vamp face genuinely does look terrifying. The AtS costume department seems to have made vamp faces way scarier. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that there’s eyeliner involved.

                          Part 3

                          Russell Winters

                          We cut to Tina’s apartment and finally come to, what is for me, a really powerful and heartbreaking scene. Tina is packing but senses something, picks up a revolver and spins around aiming it at the man standing right behind her. We finally meet Russell Winters.

                          Russell: "I’ve been looking everywhere for you. And here you are right under my nose. Oh, I own the building, most of the block. (smiles at her) Are you going to point that gun at me all day?"

                          Russell is a fantastic villain and I was actually almost hoping he'd be the Big Bad for the season because his evil is so palpable and seems to warrant the importance. He's despicable, menacing, insidious, and aligned with power structures that he uses to emotionally violate vulnerable women before killing them. I'm curious what vampirism ideologically represents on AtS. Is it a distinct shift from the allegory of Buffy or just an alternate version? Are vampires aligned with corruption, power, wealth or moral decline?

                          Tina demands to know the truth of what happened to her friend Denise.

                          Russell: "She wanted to go home, I bought her a ticket to Pensacola."
                          Tina: "She’s dead."
                          Russell: "What do you mean? She called me yesterday. She said she’s going back to school, she wanted me to pull some strings."
                          Russell: "Look, we both know that I live outside of the box, but I don’t go around killing my friends! - If this about LA. If you need rent. You know I only want to help you. Just tell me what you want."
                          Tina looks down, crying: "I want to go home." It's the same thing she said to Angel. She's broken now, unable to distinguish between her own gut feeling amidst the self doubt he's steadily implanted in her. Russell smiles, knowing he's succeeded. She wavers, switching to believing him again.

                          Russell: "Poor thing. Who’s been spinning your head like this?"
                          Tina: "I don’t know. I thought you hired him. He turned into something. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen."
                          And Russell moves in for the kill. He seems to be a stand-in for the psychologically abusive, predatory male aligned with power who preys on women for what he wants whilst pretending to give them what they want. Tina's death is harrowing and genuinely heartbreaking I didn't think I could really identify with any character on the Angel show (I don't identify with Angel and so far didn't feel connected in particular to any character, other than maybe Cordy), but this scene really does reel me feel in. It's a sensitive, visceral depiction of gas-lighting - brilliantly acted by both - particularly because it's such a pervasive form of oppression for any woman who enters into a relationship with an older man who uses both age and power to overwhelm their partner in psychological mind-games.

                          A Nietzschean Robin Hood

                          Angel arrives at Tina's apartment too late, as soon as he sees her dead body his mouth forms an 'o' of horror. Angel jumps from the terrace of his building in a dark rage. It's here that we see a transformation from the early scenes Angel to the tight lipped figure of noir, face half in shadow, an avenging angel, bent on revenge, working for the sake of justice. I feel like this is the show's "mission statement" image of Angel.

                          He informs Doyle the man who accosted Tina at the party - Stacy - is their only lead on Russell Winters and tells Doyle tersely to start looking for him.
                          At this point it's obvious to Doyle that Angel is devastated at the loss of Tina and his inability to prevent it from happening. He's seething both at Tina's murder and at himself, and at the villainous Russell who seems to have gotten away with it. Doyle attempts to reassure Angel that it wasn't his fault, but Angel shuts him up.

                          Angel: "Forget it. Let’s get to work."
                          Doyle: "You can’t cut yourself off from…"
                          Angel: "Doyle, I don’t want to share my feelings, I don’t want to open up. I want to find Russell and I want to look him in the eye."
                          Doyle: "Then what?"
                          Angel: "Then I’m going to share my feelings."
                          This exchange with Doyle is interesting since it seems to really lay out a model for Angel’s brand of masculinity, and it’s not unusual to find that noir often engages with crises of masculinity. “Let’s get to work”/ “I don’t want to share my feelings” and “I don’t want to open up” seems to be an establishing template for Angel’s persona.

                          In the section titled ‘Violence-as-(re)masculinisation’ in Peter Deakin's “Masculine Identity in Crisis in Hollywood Fin De Millennium Cinema”, 2012) Deakin writes about Tyler Durden of Fight Club fame: “It has been well documented and almost always with a tone of censure in the scholarly and popular presses, that Tyler Durden, the “Nietzschean Robin Hood,” sanctions the use of violence to restore a kind of masculine dignity to the supposed benighted American male. The virtual panic of the narrator’ ornamental anxiety, “what kind of dining set defines me as a person” which is distinctly proposed as a feminine anxiety) is obliterated by the more pertinent and visceral realisation of destruction and pain. (The article quoted is “Fistful of Darkness” Newsweek. October 18: Ansen, D. A., 1999.

                          Barry Grant unveils some existing tensions in portrayals of masculinity: "Repeatedly through the decades [...] Hollywood has demanded that we admire and imitate males who dominate others, leaders whom the weak are expected to follow. The ideal man of our films is a violent one. To be sexual, he has had to be not only tall and strong but frequently brutal, promising to overwhelm a woman by physical force that was at once firm and tender” (3). Whether it was Clark Gable, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart or Clint Eastwood, the archetype is familiar. Yet at the same time that movies have insistently presented this image, they have consistently questioned masculinity and the specific incarnations within popular culture of that masculine American psyche that D.H. Lawrence once famously called “hard, stoic, isolate, and a killer” (68). (Source:

                          Russell sets his sights on his next victim - Cordelia - whom he's spying on at the offices of the law firm Wolfram and Hart. Meanwhile Angel crashes into "Stacy's Gym Supplies" and pushes him onto a weight bench.

                          Angel: "Where does he live, how much security does he have?"
                          Stacy: "Listen Hot-Shot. What ever she was to you, you better forget it. You have no idea who you’re dealing with here."
                          Angel: "Russell? Let me guess. Not big on the daylight and the mirrors? Drinks a lot of V-8?"
                          Stacy: "You get in his way, he’ll kill you. He’ll kill everyone you care about."
                          Sounds familiar. Sounds like Angelus, actually. It's moments like these that make me wonder if someone who was just watching Angel without any pre-existing knowledge of Buffy would understand the context of that line. Angel responds with: "There is nobody left that I care about." And, to cue us in, the camera switches back to Cordy, whom Angel obviously does still care for (though doesn't he care about Doyle as well? And what about Buffy? She's not in his life anymore, so I guess these are moments where the show is establishing it's a departure from Buffy, that it's its own show.)

                          Several things stand out in relation to the quote from Deakin: for one thing, Angel's identity seems encased in a masculine aesthetics of stoicism and silence, where violence and action are prioritised for the sake of justice. Cordelia, on the other hand, is interestingly encased in both feminine and masculine preoccupations: I feel like Cordelia's "femininity" is used subversively in that while she displays the "ornamental anxiety" referred to by Deakin (she freaks out over cockroaches, she's fixated on mirrors, she's vain, she wants to improve the look of Angel's apartment/ office and get a new sign-painter and she provides a feminising or "humanizing" influence), at the same time, she is the mercenary voice of finance, of secular considerations. She's the "Anya" who cares about money, and isn't afraid to voice it.

                          Margo calls Cordy and tells her to expect a limo sent by Russell to pick her up at 8. We cut to Cordelia following a butler through Russell’s enormous white mansion, and they enter one of the rooms where Russell gets up to greet her:

                          "I’m Russell. Thank you so much for coming. That’ll be all Franklin. We’d like to be alone."
                          Russell's delivery of “we’d like to be alone” shows that he's used to speaking on behalf of the nameless women he preys on. He moves in for the kill, aiming to get Cordelia vulnerable and emotional, so that she's the perfect prey, and tries his signature "Tell me what you want" line.
                          (But he's no match for Cordelia )

                          Cordelia: "I’ve tried really hard, you know. Usually when I set out to achieve something I succeed at it, right away. - but I… I don’t know anybody, and I don’t really have any friends here."
                          Russell: "Now you know me. You don’t have to worry anymore."
                          Cordelia looks down then back up at him: "What do you want me to do?"
                          Russell steps closer: "Just tell me what you want."

                          What's so fascinating here is that Cordelia's vanity is what partially protects her. Russell's attempts to get Cordelia to cry -- to lose control so she's in a state of emotional surrender -- backfire. Because Cordy doesn't want to look bad crying - she prides herself on her appearance and wants to glimpse herself in the mirror.

                          Cordelia: "Oh, god. I’m sorry! I’m getting all weepy in front of you. I probably look really scary. (gets up and looks around the room) I finally get invited to a nice place – with no mirrors, - and lots of curtains… hey, you’re a vampire!"
                          And amazingly, she turns the tables on him. It's a brief but really interesting reversal from the perspective of gaze theory. And Russell momentarily squirms.

                          Russell: "What? No, I’m not."
                          Cordelia: "Are too!"
                          Russell: "I don’t know what you’re talking about."
                          Cordelia: "Hey, I’m from Sunnydale. We had our own Hellmouth! I think I know a vampire when I’m - alone with him… - in his fortress-like home. And you know, I think I’m just feeling a little light headed from hunger. I’m just wacky. And kidding! Ha, ha."

                          She attempts to escape but Russell has morphed into his hideous vamp face (his vamp face is the ugliest so far, more so than Angel's when Tina is horrified). He chases her and is now about to kill her when...

                          ...Angel arrives to the rescue, framed in darkness at the doorway of the landing.

                          Angel: "I have a message for you – from Tina."
                          There's a similarity here to the way Angelus was framed in darkness in the library scene in "Innocence" S2 of Buffy when he attacks Willow and announces he has a "message for Buffy". I wonder if this was done deliberately to allude to his past as Angelus. It's possible, because Cordelia directly references the intertext:

                          Russell: "You made a very big mistake coming here."
                          Cordelia: "You don’t know who he is, do you? Oh, boy! You are about to get your ass kicked!"
                          Of course, here he's using his history of violence for good. I'm skimming through the rescue sequence because it involves a predictable fight between Russell and Angel with Russell's bodyguards attacking as well: Angel gets shot a bunch of times as he manages to Cordelia out of there safely. Doyle, nervously waiting below, gets them out of there in the car. Back at Angel's place, they know the danger isn't over.

                          We cut to Russell Winters' office in a large corporate building. He is sitting at the head of the table while a lawyer updates him that they're still on the lookout for the "intruder" who broke into Russell's house. Angel enters, quietly resolute. A controlled anger marks his demeanor.

                          Russell doesn't seem particularly perturbed, and grins at him smugly from his chair. The lawyer addresses Angel:

                          "I’m with Wolfram&Hart. (hands him a business card) Mr. Winters has never been accused and shall never be convicted of any crime – ever. Should you continue to harass our client, we will be forced to bring you into the light of day. (Angel walks past him looking at Winters) a place, I’m told, that isn’t all that healthy for you."

                          Russell: "Angel. - We do things a certain way here in LA."
                          Angel: "Well, I’m new here."

                          Russell: "But you’re a civilized man. We don’t have to go around attacking each other. Look at me: I pay my taxes. I keep my name out of the paper, and I don’t make waves. And in return I can so anything I want!"

                          Angel puts one foot on the chair between Russell’s legs and leans forward:
                          "Really. Hmm. Can you fly?"

                          He pushes the chair backwards into the wall of windows behind him and Russell crashes through the window. He falls down screaming, catches fire and turns to dust, leaving behind only his chair.
                          Angel: "Hmm. I guess not."

                          Angel walks out, placing the business card back into the lawyer's front pocket. This is the most badass I've ever seen Angel. The lawyer speaks into his cell:
                          "Seems we have a new player in town. - No, no, there is any need to disturb the senior partners with this. Not yet."
                          I'm sure we'll learn about the "Senior Partners" in due course, I know they come up a lot in the future, right up to S5.

                          Buffy and Angel

                          We cut to Angel sitting in his apartment. He picks up the phone and dials a number, and Buffy’s voice answers: "Hello? Hello?"

                          It's amazing that I never actually wondered who that call was from when I watched "The Freshman", but it makes sense now. Angel hangs up. I love the contrast in the shots between the shows -- Angel is surrounded in the darkness of his apartment while Buffy answers the phone in the brightness of her kitchen. It would probably have cheered her up to know that the call was from Angel, but it might possibly have churned her up too.

                          Doyle enters and asks what happened to Russell and Angel says: "He went into the light." It's an interesting statement that again, helps me understand the difference in the way vampirism is explored allegorically on this show. Whereas with Buffy, the "tongue" was "as pointed as the stake", here, "slaying" is depicted through spatial and light metaphors: Russell is brought "into the light" instead of being staked, which works with the metaphor of exposing corruption.

                          Doyle notices that Angel is in his usual gloomy/ broody mood and tells him to cheer up because he's made Cordelia happy when they hear her scream.
                          They run to check out what's happened and find Cordy freaking out over a cockroach.

                          Here's the part of the episode that I find a little convenient/ problematic.

                          Cordelia to Angel: "Okay, first thing. We need to call an exterminator – and a sign painter. We should have a name on the door!"
                          Angel: "Okay. I’m confused."
                          Cordelia: "Doyle filled me in on your little mission.
                          Doyle grins guiltily at Angel, abashed. He seems pole axed by Cordelia. I'm not sure if it'll be mutual, but it's cute he has a crush on her. I'm still a bit confused as to what Doyle's actual role will be, though.

                          So I was just saying, if we’re going to help people, maybe a small charge. You know, something to help pay the rent, and my salary. You need somebody to organize things, and you’re not exactly rolling in it Mr. I-was-alive-for-200-years-and-never-developed-an-investment-portfolio."
                          OK, so Cordy points out that Angel's not in great financial shape. But Angel looks at her as if she's speaking a foreign language. And that's obviously to establish that he's too "noble"/heroic to think of mercenary things like money.

                          Angel: "You want to charge people?"
                          Cordelia: "Well, not everybody. But sooner or later we are going to have to help some rich people, right? Right?"

                          Doyle agrees, but then he'd agree with just about anything she says because he's clearly got a crush on her.

                          Cordelia: "So I think that we should charge based on a case-by-case analysis, but with me working for a flat fee. – I mean, um…that is, - if you think that you can use me?"

                          She looks vulnerable for a moment, and you can see Doyle is desperately eager for Angel to agree. Angel finally "relents", but more as if it's a magnanimous gesture for her sake than for him.

                          He hands her the box she asked for with a smile.

                          Cordy is ecstatic.

                          Cordelia: "Of course this is just temporary - until my inevitable stardom takes affect." She takes the box from him and walks away with a smile.
                          Doyle's eyes follow her as she leaves, besotted.
                          Doyle: "You’ve made a good choice. She’ll provide a connection to the world. She’s got a very – humanizing influence."

                          Angel with a half smile: "You think she’s a hottie."
                          Doyle: "Yeah, she’s a stiffener alright, I can’t lie about that. But, you know, she could use a hand."
                          Angel: "True."
                          Doyle: "You know there’s a lot of people in this city that need helping."
                          So, here's where I have a problem. I hate that it concludes with it being presented that it's Angel lending a helping hand to Cordelia. Um, no - actually, Cordy is helping them. Both from a Watsonian and a Doylist perspective, she's providing an easy way out for Angel to have his cake and eat it too: he preserves his heroism by having Cordy be the mercenary one. He's merely "humouring" her money-focus because she's in need of "help". It just feels a little hypocritical to me. As if it's been done to ideologically disassociate Angel from the "crass" issue of demanding money for heroic acts. But I don't really understand - in S6 of BtVS this is clearly rejected by Buffy when Anya suggests it, without even a moment's hesitation, despite the fact that she's in dire financial straits. So I have to ask - was there any tension between the two shows? Because I can't understand how they wouldn't see the glaring contrast in this.

                          We come to the close of the episode, which, yes, is cheesy in parts but I think it's a fitting end to a fabulous season opener.

                          Angel looks over the sweep of the city.

                          Doyle: "You game?"
                          Angel: "I’m game."

                          Some general questions:
                          Has Angel/ Angelus/ Liam always been rich? I know Liam was supposed to have been an aristocrat if memory serves correctly ("Amends"), but why is he an exception in that he's a wealthy vampire? What does that mean, ideologically/ allegorically? He's supposed to be struggling financially here at the start of S1 of AtS but he's not struggling like Cordelia, evidently. Where does he get his money from if he's not worked before? I'm genuinely confused (sorry if the answer is obvious.)

                          I loved this episode. My responses to the rest of S1's episodes will probably be much shorter, probably just in the form of questions or general observations...but once I started writing about the premiere it ended up becoming a pretty long tribute, lol. I was honestly not sure I'd like AtS because I feel like I might always connect with Buffy more, but I genuinely loved this premiere and am really looking forward to the whole season. If anyone wants to comment on future episodes or respond to thoughts, please do! If there's lots of stuff related to future episodes, that's no problem you can start the discussion in spoilers and I'll try and catch up soon.
                          Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 03-08-19, 10:40 PM.
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                          • #14
                            Great review. I hope you dont get bored and carry them on.
                            It was a great Premiere but you can also see the struggle in finding out what type of show Angel was. You have the Detective noir theme and the Vampirism/Alcohol metaphor. With Angel meant to be the recovering Alcoholic.

                            Couple of side notes. You mentioned Doyle's similarity to Whistler. That's because he was Whistler. They just couldn't get the Actor back so switched him to Doyle. He does become his own character though as the episodes go along.
                            The Vamp makeup was deliberately changed but they would end up changing it back.
                            On the DVD commentary Joss acknowledges how Angel saving the girl is an inversion of what he was trying to do woth Buffy (should be noted that despite his dislike of it he does it anyway)
                            When Angel originally finds Tina's body, he actually tastes her blood ie the Alcoholic going back to the drink but the Network cut it as to Dark.

                            How dark the show could go was an issue in the early stages with the Network at odds with the writers. Its particularly evident in the next episode. The original script is called Corrupt and is really dark in what the characters do. The Network made them change it to what you will see when you review Lonely Hearts. Anyway keep them coming


                            • #15
                              Aaah, that makes a lot of sense. So the whole "craving blood" thing was primarily a metaphor for the recovering alcoholic/ addict. I get it now. Thanks! And wow, some of those differences are super dark. I didn't know the episode was titled Corrupt in the original script. I wouldn't have minded if they'd gone that dark but I guess they didn't want to rock the boat for a new show.
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