Angel - Rm W/A Vu

Summary

Cordelia is driven from her apartment by roaches and moves in with Angel. Doyle is driven from his apartment by a debt collecting demon and goes to Angel for help. They strike a deal: Doyle helps Cordelia an apartment and gets her out of Angel's place and Angel helps Doyle with the demon.

At first, all goes well. Doyle finds Cordelia a fantastic apartment at a great rent. And Angel convinces the demon not to kill Doyle, but to settle for cash. Then Cordelia discovers the apartment has a very nasty ghost and Doyle doesn't have any money. Doyle and Angel discover the ghost is a woman who owned the building and was found dead in the apartment. Her son disappeared and he was suspected but the death was ruled natural, due to a heart attack.

Angel and Doyle plan to lay the ghost. The ghost takes a stab at killing Cordelia. When Angel and Doyle show up, they are followed by the demon debt collector with a couple of friends. Between the angry ghost, who seems set to kill everyone, and Angel and Doyle, the demons are killed. Cordelia gets herself together again and faces down the ghost. Then she suddenly seems possessed and breaks down a wall where there is a skeleton. It's the remains of the woman's son. He didn't kill her. She walled him up and killed him and then died of a heart attack. His ghost drives her out. Cordelia gets to keep the apartment.

The episode ends with Cordelia on the phone to her friend Aura talking about her great apartment and bossing around the ghostly Dennis who she sees as an acceptable roommate. Meanwhile, Angel tries to get Doyle to open up about his problems.

Analysis

The bitch is back and I'm glad to see her. Ever since she first showed up in City of , it has been clear Cordelia is not herself. The loss of her money and the fact that for the first time in her life she did not immediately succeed, took a heavy toll on her. It cost her her self confidence. I thought she hit rock bottom in that first episode when she seemed ready to go along with the play for pay she assumed Russell wanted. But this week she sank a little lower, actually being reduced to tears and coming pretty close to suicide.

Material possessions mean a lot to Cordelia. Angel talks of her old gang as consisting of the richest girls in town with her being the leader because she was the richest of all. But all of her possessions were always given to her by others. Her parents gave her things and the tax people took them away. Her prom dress was actually a gift from Xander (yes she worked for some of it but she failed to earn enough and Xander bailed her out). Doyle gets her the great new apartment. Cordelia hasn't done anything to make her feel in control of her life. It isn't until she rebels against the ghost and seizes control of her apartment that she takes final responsibility.

Her battle with the ghost reminded me of the traditional Hollywood fight between the bad guy and the good guy. The bad guy always starts out winning. He seems to have sure victory. Then he says or does something that really angers the good guy. The good guy digs down deep and finds the strength he needs to win. We saw exactly this sequence in the Buffy episode The Harsh Light of Day when Buffy fought Spike. It may be a stretch to call Cordelia a good guy, but that's pretty much what happened here. Only without any real fighting.

If each Angel episode is about Angel helping somebody, I guess in this episode he helped Cordelia and Doyle. He helped Cordelia regain her self respect. When she faces down the ghost, we see a return to the old Cordy we know and love. That's the Cordelia who scared off a vampire in the Buffy episode Homecoming. And in her final scene, we see her back to the Cordelia of old discussing her great life with Aura and pushing around poor ghostly Dennis. He's the ideal roommate for Cordelia, invisible and easily intimidated. His mother may have been right about her.

Angel thinks he sees a parallel between his life and Cordelia's when she talks of having to atone for whatever evil she did. She sees herself as being punished by having everything taken away and even suggests the nasty things she said and did are why she lost everything. When she says she's like Angel, he thinks she means they are both working for redemption. But she's merely referring to the mansion he once lived in and has lost and the beautiful home she lost. At least, that's what she says. But Cordelia is often deeper than she's given credit for. The mere fact that she can conceive of being punished for what she said indicates she actually does have a conscience and does realize how nasty she has been. And her tears when confronted by the evil ghost suggest she's a far more sensitive person than we give her credit for. For Cordelia, material things are a symbol of spiritual superiority. I think Cordelia really is trying to redeem herself, but she's not the kind of person who can easily admit to such a thing. For Cordelia, that would be an admission of weakness and maybe of a higher power than herself. And she's not ready for that. I really think Angel was speaking truer than he thought when, in City of, he said "It's nice that she's grown as a person".

Angel helps Doyle by saving his life, but more importantly by moving him a step closer to his own redemption. In City of, Doyle admitted he, too, was working toward his redemption. In this episode, Angel tries to push him further in that direction. He tries to get Doyle to talk about what he did and why he seems incapable of moving forward. While he preserves Doyle's life, he questions the way he lives it and his seeming lack of concern for himself. Doyle seems a lot like the post curse preWhistler Angel - no longer evil but simply stumbling around in a haze and without any positive direction in life. He was given direction when introduced to Buffy. When he parted from Buffy, he was given direction again by Doyle and the promise of an ultimate reward. But Doyle has no direction. He reacts to the moment without any plan for the future.

One of the reasons Buffy and Angel work, while shows like Harsh Realm meet an early death, is the humour every episode contains no matter how bleak. On the surface, this was a pretty bleak episode. It dealt with Cordelia near suicide, Doyle practically killed, and a mother who kills her own son. Not fun stuff. But to stop us from getting to depressed, it tossed in the great scene where Cordelia comes to stay at Angel's and delivers a gushing oration (complete with orders to pick up her bags, a strong suggestion she should get the bed, and a quick appropriation of the shower) without giving him a chance to get a word in. It has an even funnier sequence of apartment hunting scenes - scenes which anyone who has searched for an apartment in a town where vacancy rates are expressed in tenths of a percent knows well. And there's even a funny scene without Cordelia, the one in which Angel tells Doyle all he knows about Cordelia, which includes one of my nominees for line of the week.

I don't think Angel has yet had an episode to compare with the best of Buffy (or X-Files, Brimstone, Babylon 5, Homicide, NYPD Blue or a dozen other shows). But it is consistently fun and this episode shows that even when there isn't much substance to an episode, it's still worth watching.

One final word. Angel is standing right in front of an undraped window during the day. This wouldn't be nearly so annoying if Doyle hadn't made reference to the need to draw the drapes later in the same episode. Are the producers pulling some kind of joke on viewers, including at least one unvampirish activity every week just to bug us?

Lines of the week:

"I know she can't type or file. Until today, I had some hope regarding the phone." - Angel giving Doyle the lowdown on Cordelia.

"Do you have mousse? Of course you do." - Cordelia with a very accurate assessment of Angel's hair styling.

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