Angel - Hero

Summary

Cordelia tells Angel her idea for a commercial for his business billing him as the Dark Avenger. Angel isn't interested. She then decides to cast Doyle in the commerical since he is the kind of person she thinks Joe couch potato can easily relate to. She makes a terrible video with him. He goes to talk to Angel and learns what really happened when Buffy visited in I Will Remember You. Doyle tells Cordelia who says they shouldn't keep secrets from one another. He's about to tell her he's a demon when he has one of his visions.

We cut to a scene of two demon kids hiding from some jackbooted troopers. Then we cut to Angel and Doyle in a dingy building, finding a group of demons hiding. They learn the demons are being pursued by a group called the Scourge. We get a flashback to Doyle being contacted by another demon like himself (we learn they are Brachen demons) who is being pursued by the Scourge. He does nothing to help him and later he and all those with him are killed. This is the guilt Doyle has to atone for. It is at that time that he has the first vision. He tells Angel that the Scourge are pure blooded demons intent on wiping out half breed demons. They are quite ready to die for their cause.

Cordelia arrives with a truck to move the demons. Doyle sends her to the docks to make a deal with a captain who owes Angel money to take the demons to an island off Ecuador where they will be safe. Angel is getting papers to ensure the boat won't be stopped or inspected. Meanwhile, Rieff, the boy demon, has run away because he doesn't believe in the Promised One. Doyle finds him, but when they return the Scourge are there. Doyle leads them away from the boy. Angel is there and he grabs Doyle. He pretends to kill him and asks to join the Scourge. Although vampires are halfbreeds, they accept him.

The other demons are on the ship waiting for Doyle and Rieff. Cordelia discovers from them that Doyle is half demon. The Scourge leader gives a speech to his troops, rallying them. He reveals that the first mate of the ship has revealed where the demons they are pursuing are. He then unveils their weapon, the beacon. This is a kind of lantern whose light can destroy any human or part human. They demonstrate on the first mate who is incinerated by it.

Angel takes a motorcycle and heads to the ship to warn them. Doyle and Rieff arrive at the ship. Cordelia slaps Doyle and asks why he never told her he was half demon. He says he was scared. Just as he's about to ask her out, Angel arrives to warn them. The Scourge are right behind him. Angel tries to fight them off while the others escape. He falls into the hold where they are with the Scourge leader. The beacon is lowered in and the doors locked from outside. He kills the leader and realizes he has to pull the cables on the beacon, but that will be suicide. Doyle knocks Angel down. He then kisses Cordelia and shows her his demon face. He leaps to the beacon and disarms it, dying.

Later, Cordelia and Angel silently watch the video she made of Doyle.

Analysis

I'm often accused of stretching the facts to make connections, but is anyone out there going to argue that the Scourge aren't meant to be the Nazis and their racial purity propaganda? The credits even listed actors as storm troopers. And I'm willing to bet the moral of this story is racism is bad.

Okay, maybe there is something a little deeper here. Maybe this is an episode about heroism and our image of the hero. It opens with Cordelia's imagined ad for Angel Investigations - starring Angel as dark avenger, righting wrongs and helping the defenseless. She decides the average person couldn't empathize with Angel - who is an archetype of heroism - and tries Doyle for the role. Doyle, she reasons, is ordinary. No one would be impressed by him or mistake him for a hero. So the average Joe can empathize with him and not be intimidated.

But there's more to Doyle than meets the eye. Cordelia realizes this first when she discovers Doyle's half demon side and again when she watches him sacrifice himself to save the others. Actually, Doyle doesn't sacrifice himself for the others, since Angel was ready to make that sacrifice. He sacrifices himself to save Angel. So he becomes a hero's hero. Realizing that the world needs Angel to act as a warrior against the coming darkness, he dies in his place.

Doyle's sacrifice is significant because it did not have to be made. Angel would have saved them and no one would have condemned Doyle for not taking his place. And it gains greater significance because Doyle has just achieved a little happiness. Cordelia has accepted him for what he is and is willing to take a stab at a relationship with him. This is what he has wanted since he first met Cordelia. Just as Angel gave up a life with Buffy (in I Will Remember You) for the greater good, so Doyle gives up his chance of a life with Cordelia. And, in the truest sense of the word, both of them gave up life.

In City of, Doyle told Angel that he, too, had something to atone for. In this episode, we learn that his failure to provide help to his brethren and their eventual murder was the sin that weighed on his conscience. By sacrificing himself in battle against the Scourge and their beliefs, he finally atones for that sin. It's interesting that his sin was one of omission. He didn't do anything terrible (unlike Angel who did some pretty awful things), he just failed to do something good. And he makes up for this not by any great heroic act - it's not as if he defeats the Scourge in battle - but by taking on a suicide mission.

I liked the fact that this episode ended with the tape of Doyle making the ad for Cordelia. He's still the not terribly handsome, not very imposing, and decidedly unheroic Doyle. But his sacrifice makes us look at him in a different way. The demons Doyle and Angel sought to protect had a legend of the promised one who would save them. They thought that was Angel because he looked the part. But it was really Doyle. And the Doyle who became a hero was the same Doyle who made the video. As Doyle and Angel both point out, heroism is doing the right thing when the moment comes. It's not the way you look or a lifetime of playing the part. It's stepping up to the occasion when you have to. And Doyle did that.

Some final thoughts. Will the Scourge be hunting Angel now? Given their organization, that's got to make life difficult. Where did the beacon technology come from. A few of those could do a lot of damage in any city. If the demons have these, why aren't they using them more indiscriminately. In Graduation Part I, Anya said that all the demons that walk the Earth are human/demon hybrids. So wouldn't even the Scourge members have enough humanity to be killed by the beacon?

Lines of the week:

"I don't know what we need evil for when we've got you right here." - Doyle on Cordelia's ideas for drumming up evil.

"I thought all Brachen demons had a good sense of direction.
Yeah, we're all pretty good at basketball, too." - Rieff and Doyle on stereotypes.

"What do you think I am, superficial?" - Cordelia shocked that Doyle would be afraid to tell her he's half demon.

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