Cordelia and Doyle think Angel is going to kill himself, upset over having seen Buffy. But he tells them he's fine. He says he never talked to her. Cordelia says showing up and never letting Buffy know he was there would upset her. Buffy walks in. She says she's visiting her father. She's upset. Angel tries to explain his decision not to talk to her. Cordelia and Doyle leave. Buffy says they should stick to the plan of staying apart until a lot of time has passed and they can forget.
A demon bursts in. They fight it and Angel stabs it. The demon flees. They follow it into the sewers. Angel can smell its blood. They have one of their heartbreaking talks admitting their feelings and the fact that they can't do anything about them. Buffy decides to go onto the street, thinking the demon may have escaped that way. Angel tells her about The Lone Bar, where demons sometimes go to get patched up. He continues in the sewer alone and encounters and kills the demon. But he gets cut and some of the demon blood gets into his cut. It turns him human.
Doyle and Cordelia come back to find a live Angel. He's hungry and starts eating like mad. He sends Cordelia to find Buffy and tell her he's killed the demon. He and Doyle do some research. They discover it was a Mohra demon, dedicated to destroying those who fight for good. It needs salt to live. Their blood has regenerative powers. Angel wants to know if this change is permanent. He walks to talk to the higher powers. Doyle says he has to go through channels. He agrees to take Angel to see the oracles. The entrance to the oracles is under the post office. They ask Angel for his offering, he didn't bring one so he gives them his watch. The female oracle says she likes time: there is so much and so little of it. They tell him he is free now. He no longer has to serve the higher powers. They send him back and he tells Doyle. He goes out an finds Buffy, kissing her in the daylight.
They go back to his place and have tea. Pretty soon, they are having sex. Then they are having chocolate and peanut butter. Doyle and Cordelia are in a bar. Cordelia is worried about her future. She doesn't have a job now that Angel is human. Doyle is happy his visions will gone. Then he has one of the demon killing Angel. Buffy tells Angel how much she enjoys being with him like normal people.
That night, Doyle tells Angel about his vision. Angel says he'll kill the demon again. He refuses to wake and bring Buffy. They go to the saline plant based on Doyle's vision. They find a pile of dead bodies at the plant. Doyle says the demon can be destroyed by bringing darkness to 1000 eyes. They aren't sure what that means and the demon, now bigger and stronger, attacks.
Cordelia is going through Angel's stuff, planning a sale to make some money for herself. Buffy wants to know where Angel is. He's asked Cordelia not to tell, but she lets it slip that he's out looking for the demon. Meanwhile, Angel is not doing well against the demon. It tells him the end of days has begun. Buffy arrives and begins to fight it. Angel realizes the gem in its forehead is the 1000 eyes and tells Buffy to destroy it. She does and the demon is vanquished.
Angel goes to see the oracles again. He asks if the demon was telling the truth about the end of days. They say yes. They also say the slayer will be killed. He asks them to take his life back, so he can protect her. He ways the Mohra demon succeeded in taking a warrior from their cause and they can fix that. The male oracle doesn't want to, he says they are not there to indulge the whims of lower beings. But the female oracle says that his willingness to forsake all happiness proves he is not a lower being. She says they will reverse time, taking him back to the moment the demon attacked. Only he will remember the day that followed.
Angel tells Buffy his decision. She is very upset. Time is reset and he quickly destroys the demon. Buffy leaves.
This staying apart until we forget concept was a good idea. Too bad they didn't stick with it. Angel's skulking in this week's Buffy (Pangs) worked, largely because Angel was already a well incorporated character in that show. But Buffy's appearance in this week's Angel led to what I'd call the worst show of the season to date. Angel's appearance on Buffy did nothing to change the dynamics of that show. As the characters said, it was pretty much like old times. We got solid interaction from all the main characters as well as Anya and Spike. But when Buffy showed up on Angel, Cordelia and Doyle just faded into the background. And Kate, whose appearance would have made the show interesting (after all Angel did get a glimpse of the evil Riley) never even got a mention. Just by walking in the door, Buffy overwhelmed everything else on the show and made the normal development of Angel pretty much an impossibility.
In In The Dark, Angel turned down virtual immortality when it was given him by Buffy. In this episode, he turns down mortality because he thinks accepting it will doom Buffy. I get the point, but did it have to be delivered in so obvious a fashion. As soon as Angel became human and kissed Buffy, I knew that this would either turn out to be a dream or he would give it all up and set everything back the way it was. Frankly, I think I might have preferred the dream. At least that wouldn't have introduced the previously unseen oracles as major characters and deus ex machina.
This is the kind of episode best left to fan fic. When the nature of Angel's curse was first explained, I thought it was a brilliant piece of writing. The hopeless love between Angel and Buffy is the dramatic engine which drives both those characters. It kept Buffy moving for better than a season and was the whole raison d'etre behind the Angel series. Almost every series which uses the perfect but impossible love as its dramatic device (from Moonlighting to X-Files) has fans clamoring for that love to become real. And the temptation to give in, to have Mulder and Scully really kiss, is great. Whedon was clever enough to create an impossible barrier to that. It couldn't happen because of the curse. What makes Angel loveable is what makes him untouchable. That was brilliant.
Now, the idea of Angel giving up a chance to break the curse and become truly human is interesting. And three seasons from now, with the oracles and the greater powers, and Angel's place in that hierarchy firmly understood and well defined; this episode might work. But eight weeks into the first season, it's a failure. Instead of dedicated and self sacrificing, Angel comes across as petulant and rather stupid.
In my comments on Pangs, I write about the moral decisions that have to be made. Angel's decision to become a vampire again might have been a triumph of morality over pleasure. It isn't because he is motivated by the weakness of his human form and the fear of losing Buffy. The oracles tell him Buffy will die. He wants to prevent that. The male oracle is right, this is a matter of love not self sacrifice. Had Angel opted to give up his humanity for the sake of humanity, that might have been something. But he's working at a much smaller and less interesting scale.
Lines of the week:
"I was really jonesing for another heartbreaking sewer talk." - Buffy reminding us that Angel first told her he was leaving when they were stalking a vampire in the sewer in The Prom.
"You can't have Angel and save the world." - Cordelia with a moment of real insight.
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