Angel - Lonely Hearts

Summary

Doyle is clearly keen on Cordelia, who has just had business cards printed. Angel thinks the design is a butterfly, Doyle an owl, but it's actually an angel. Doyle has a vision of a local bar. He doesn't know what is happening there, but he knows someone is in trouble. The three of them go there and try to determine who is in trouble. Cordelia hands out the cards to people saying if they are in trouble they should call Angel. Angel strikes up a conversation with a woman called Kate, who seems attracted to him. Doyle gets in a fight with a character who tries to pick up Cordelia and treats her as a hooker. Angel gets involved and after the fight he starts talking to another woman, with Kate looking on disapprovingly.

But they've missed the boat. A young woman, Sharon, is picked up by a man, Kevin, at the bar, and later we see that the man is dead and the woman is leaving his apartment. Cordelia tries to search for information on the bar, D'Oblique, on the Internet, but she has really bad typing skills. Doyle takes over and they find two murders committed on people who had been to the bar just before dying. They surmise others have died but the press haven't made the connection yet. Back at the bar, Angel tries to stop Kate from going in, but he only succeeds in annoying her. Meanwhile, Sharon is in there picking up a guy. A friend of Kevin comes looking for him at the bar, he didn't go to work. Angel asks a lot of questions and discovers Kevin left with Sharon. He gets Sharon's last name, she's already left the bar, and looks up her address in the phone book. Kate watches him. Meanwhile, Doyle and Cordelia are researching eviscerating demons and Cordelia makes it clear she finds demons disgusting. Doyle hasn't told her he is one.

Angel goes to Sharon's apartment to find her dead and the demon moving into the body of the guy she picked up. The demon says it moves from body to body until it finds one it can stay in. It already knows this isn't the body. They fight and the demon proves to be really strong and manages to escape. Kate dashes in, she's a cop and she thinks Angel is the serial killer she has been tracking. He escapes by jumping out the window. She sees him running away although he fell several stories and she shot at him.

Angel meets Cordelia and Doyle at her place, which is a pigsty. He tells them about the demon and Kate. He has them research the weaknesses of the demon while he goes back to the bar. We see the demon in the bar coming on to a woman. We see Kate breaking into Angel's place and searching it. The demon takes over the woman's body. That morning Angel returns to Cordelia's and she and Doyle tell him that the demon is a Tahlmer and it is afraid of fire. Also, when it leaves a host body, that body falls apart quickly. Angel calls Kate and asks her to meet him at the bar that night.

At the bar, Kate tells the bartender she is a cop and looking for Angel. A guy tries to pick her up. The bartender tells her Angel is out back. She goes with him and he hits her from behind. He's the demon now. Angel arrives and saves Kate. he fights with the demon, who's looking very bad now, and he and Kate are knocked downstairs. Angel pulls out what looks like the kind of gizmo Batman used and tries to grapple a beam and get them out the window, but the beam breaks. Kate shoots the lock on the door and they go out that way. Meanwhile, the demon tries to pick up a girl but he's looking so bad he scares them off. He grabs a woman in the street and pulls her into an alley where some winos are warming themselves over a burning barrel. Angel fights with him and eventually tosses him into the fire. As the burning demon comes at Angel, Kate shoots and stops him.

Kate assumes the bartender was the killer all along. She tells Angel she broke into his place. He gives her his card in case she needs him in the future. Angel offers to go out with Doyle and Cordelia, but they realize he'd rather sit alone in the dark and they just go home.

Analysis

I have to admit to real disappointment this week. For the most part, this episode was sloppy and just failed to execute.

On the sloppiness front, there were at least four points that were annoying even if explainable. First, Angel bursts into the apartment just as the demon is completing its entry into its new host. Yes, his ability to walk in uninvited is explained in a later scene (that the barrier to coming in only exists if the inhabitant is still alive), but it was still disconcerting to see this happen. I probably wouldn't have been bothered by that so much, or at all, if in a later scene Angel didn't seem to be walking through the streets in daylight to meet Cordelia and Doyle. When he does arrive, he even mentions it is morning. It certainly looked light out to me and he wasn't even smoking.

These are relatively minor compared to two other plot points. The movement of the demon is never clearly tracked to the bartender. In fact, there seems to be at least one victim missing and that victim had to happen very quickly. Since the demon seemed to take no more than one body a night, this just didn't work for me. Also, they said the demon needs some kind of sexual contact with the victim before being able to transfer. Yet, the demon seems to be ready to take over Kate immediately, and there is no indication of any kind of contact between her and the bartender. The demon doesn't seem to be following the rules they have laid down for it. And Angel's arrival to save Kate is just dumb luck. Worse, Kate doesn't seem to be following normal police procedure. When Angel escapes, she apparently does nothing to try to capture him. Why does she break into his home (thereby tainting anything she might find and possibly destroying any case) rather than get a warrant - which would be pretty easy given that he was found at the scene of a crime and fled when confronted by the police. Why didn't the police stake out the bar and grab Angel when he entered the final time. For that matter, why is Kate acting without any backup. I can understand why she has to be alone in the bar, but surely when she followed Angel there should have been someone with her going into the apartment and presumably police at the exits from the building. Any halfway decent police procedural would cover off those points.

On the failure to execute part, I have to say the demon was pretty dull and no real attempt was made to make it interesting. We never learn what it is looking for in a host or why it believes it can find a permanent host. There was the possibility for something interesting to happen in the initial conversation between Angel and the demon, but it really didn't go anywhere.

Tension is produced by having every conversation between a couple appear menacing, maybe the subtext is that everyone looking to meet somebody in a bar is a potential killer. This was very obvious in the scene where Kate has the guy sit down with her and try to pick her up. This seemed to happen merely to draw our attention to him so we wouldn't suspect the bartender. Of course, we weren't suspecting the bartender because we didn't know the demon had switched bodies again so quickly.

On the plus side, the jokes about the angel on the card and about Cordelia's lack of housekeeping skills were funny. And I enjoyed the way Cordelia went around the bar asking people so bluntly if they were in trouble. It reminded me of how in Earshot she so bluntly asked the teacher if he was planning on killing anybody. Her quick assessment of the people in the bar was also good. I guess, basically, I like Cordelia.

I have to admit that I began to see a lot of similarities between this show and Brimstone. Both deal with a character who is damned and given a divine mission to save the world from demons and maybe win his happiness. In both cases, the lead is in love with a woman who is lost to him. And in both cases, the lead develops a relationship with a beautiful blonde detective in LA who at times thinks he might be a criminal. If the detective turns out to be a demon, I'll expect the producers of Brimstone to sue for plagiarism.

All in all, a rather disappointing second episode in which only minor scenes and a few funny lines really worked.

Line of the week:

"What is this, a lobster?" - Kate with the final comment on Cordelia's artistic skills.

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