Angel - The Bachelor Party

Summary

Doyle tries to get Angel to go out to a bar. Cordelia's date, a wealthy commodities trader, shows up and Angel does a fatherly grilling. Doyle is depressed that Cordelia is not interested in him. He looks at Angel's book and finds a picture of Buffy stuck between the pages. He has a vision of a guy being attacked by vampires and he and Angel go to the rescue. Cordelia is bored stiff by her date he keeps talking about hog and soy bean futures. Angel and Doyle defeat the vampires, but Doyle is followed back to the office by one. Cordelia has her date drop her at the office, to get her car. She's decided he's too boring. The vampire attacks her and the date runs away. Doyle saves her.

The next morning, Cordelia decides Doyle has substance and decides to buy him a coffee and see where things lead. She finds Doyle acting out his adventure of last night. Before she has a chance to ask him out, a woman shows up. It's Harry, Doyle's wife. She has come with her fiancé, Richard. She wants Doyle to sign the divorce papers so she can remarry. Cordelia is shocked to learn Doyle was married. Harry gives him the papers which he says he'll have his people look at. Later he tells Angel he didn't know he was a demon until after marriage. That's what destroyed his marriage. He thinks Angel should investigate Richard and Angel agrees.

Angel follows Richard to his restaurant late that night where he meets Harry. He transforms into a demon and Angel attacks him. Only Harry knows he's a demon. He's Ano-Movic, a peaceful clan assimilated into mainstream culture. She's an ethnodemonologist. She tells Angel she didn't leave Doyle because he was a demon, but because he couldn't come to grips with being a demon. Doyle is shocked to learn Richard is a demon and realizes Harry was telling the truth when she said his being a demon didn't bother her. He signs the divorce papers.

Richard invites Doyle to his bachelor party. Harry invites Cordelia to her shower. At Richard's house, we discover he is planning to ritually eat Doyle's brains at his bachelor party. Doyle brings Angel to the bachelor party. At the shower, Harry tells Cordelia how Doyle was a take charge kind of guy. She tells her he was a third grade teacher who volunteered at a food bank. At the bachelor party, Richard asks for and receives Doyle's blessing. When the stripper arrives, Angel follows one of the family members to another room where he intones a ritual in demon language over a knife. He calls Cordelia and gets Harry on the phone, asking her to translate what he heard. When he hangs up, the family members gang up on him and throw him out, knocking him out.

Next, they trap Doyle in a box. They explain Richard is going to eat his brains. Harry asks the women at the shower about the bachelor party and they let slip that they will be eating Doyle's brains. Angel awakens, transforms, and comes to Doyle's rescue. There is a fight and Doyle transforms into a demon, breaks free, and joins in. Harry rushes in and breaks it up. Cordelia follows her in and is irate at what is happening. She grabs a chair and starts smashing away at the demon Doyle with it not realizing who he is. Angel stops her and Doyle changes back without Cordelia seeing. Harry confronts Richard. When he tells her his family won't consent to the marriage without the brain eating ritual, she dumps him.

Doyle is depressed. Cordelia tries to cheer him up. She tells him he can't be loser, pining guy because they already have one in the office. She says it works for Angel because he's tall and clothes hang well on him. She tells Doyle he can't live in the past and has to move on. She tells him nice guys don't always finish last and he's cheered to realize she thinks of him as a nice guy. Then he has one of his visions, this time of Buffy in danger.

Analysis

Accept what you are. That's the moral of this week's tale and it's one Doyle really has to learn. A corollary to that is that others often see you quite differently from the way you see yourself.

Doyle convinced himself that his wife left him because he was a demon. But clearly she's not the least bit turned off by relationships with demons. Her problem was with his inability to accept his half demonic heritage. He also believes Cordelia could only be interested in someone with money. But her rich date actually bores her and the only serious relationship she ever had was with Xander. And although she calls Xander and Doyle fixer uppers, she does recognize that both of them have substance. And that she wants substance in a man. Doyle has tried since first meeting Cordelia to impress her. He finally does, but not by destroying the vampire who attacked her. Rather she's impressed that despite being beat up himself, his first thought was for how she felt. She wants someone capable of being interested in others and not absorbed in himself. That's something Mr. Armani draped commodities trader could not give her.

When Harry tells Cordelia that Doyle was a grade school teacher and volunteered in a food bank, she's impressed. These are not attributes of the rich and famous. But they speak to Doyle's essential humanity. He may be half demon, but he's human where it counts. He cares for others and wants to help others. Cordelia is not too shallow to realize that and recognize the value of such virtue.

Doyle makes his breakthrough when he realizes Harry didn't leave him because he was a demon, but because he had become miserable to live with. His need to deny his demon heritage had made him miserable and ruined his marriage. At the start of this episode he was still in denial. When he and Angel fight the vampires, he refuses to maintain his demon form even though that makes him stronger. But in the final fight with Richard's family, he stays in demon form. Of course, when Cordelia beats him up, thinking he's an evil demon, he doesn't tell her that it's him. He hasn't quite come all the way out of the demon closet, but he has made progress. He is beginning to realize that strength comes not from being a demon or denying his demon heritage, but from integrating the two halves of himself into a powerful whole.

Cordelia also makes progress. Although she still sees her relationship with Xander and a possible relationship with Doyle as mistakes, since neither can give her the material things she wants, when she acts instinctively she is drawn to them. This is clear when she is touched by Doyle's caring and bravery when he fights off the vampire and even more so when she is concerned for him when he is about to have his brains eaten. And she genuinely wants to make him feel better in the final scene.

When she admits Doyle is a nice guy, and also admits that she always speaks from the heart having no real duplicity in her (something we learnt in the Buffy episode Earshot), she's speaking not just to Doyle but to herself. Doyle began the episode believing Harry left him because he was a demon and finished realizing she left him because his unhappiness with himself made her too unhappy to live with him. Cordelia began the episode believing her commodities trader could make her happy, by giving her material things, and finished the episode realizing she wants the substance of a nice guy. They haven't exactly made contact with one another, and maybe they never will, but they have taken some giant strides in the right direction.

The idea of good or at least neutral demons just seems wrong. Shouldn't demons be demonic by nature? But I guess if Angel and Anya and Whistler are good (or at least acceptable) then an entire clan of good demons isn't totally out of the question. I loved the way Richard was more worried about Harry finding out about the stripper than about the brains eating.

Lines of the week:

"Their ways are not our ways" - Harry to Cordelia just before they begin playing pornographic pictionary at the shower.

"Who wants a wife whose knees only bend the one way" - Uncle John consoling Richard when Harry leaves him.

"I think it, I say it. That's my way." - Cordelia assuring Doyle she really meant it when she said he was a nice guy.

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