Angel gets up after sleeping for most of three days. Cordelia tells him they are broke. She has a vision of a demon growing out of a wall. She says its disciples are fighting over how to worship it. Angel says that's why he rarely goes to church. No one laughs at his joke, but Darla says she liked it. She's sitting on his lap. He wakes as she kisses him. Wesley and Cordelia are trying to identify the place in her vision. Angel identifies it as an exconvent. He tells them to call Gunn. They find the demon and the disciples and after quite a fight destroy it. Angel keeps on beating one of the disciples, even after the demon is destroyed. The others have to stop him. He gives his car keys to them and goes for a walk. He spots Darla and follows her. We flashback to when Darla first showed Angel Drusilla. In the present, Angel loses Darla.
At the hotel, a man says his wife has been abducted by aliens many times. But now he suspects she may be using the abductions as a coverup for an affair. Angel returns and is rude to the man whom Wesley quickly ushers out. Angel starts touching Cordelia's hair. He confesses he has been dreaming about Darla and saw her. Wesley says it's impossible. Darla is talking to Lindsey. She asks if Angel is responsible for his artificial hand. She says she doesn't regret his betrayal, but the missed opportunities. She says he got a soul and it sickened her. Lindsey says their goal is to turn Angel dark.
A friend of Kate's shows up at her office (she has been demoted) with an envelope he gives her. It has a picture of Angel's new address. The cheating wife is in a hotel meeting her lover. Cordelia is disguised as a waitress, Angel is taping the conversation, Wesley is taking pictures. Angel is disgusted at what he is doing and confronts the woman, showing her the evidence. She leaves. He sees Darla and grabs her. She denies being Darla and claims her husband is waiting for her outside. The hotel staff try to restrain Angel. Darla runs out into the sunlight to a waiting man.
At the hotel, Angel insists it was Darla. He wants them to run a search on the name she gave and try to find her address. He says he recognized her scent and to prove his ability smells Wesley and says he had sex with a bleached blonde the night before. Cordelia is surprised Wesley had sex. Angel goes to the club and sings. But the psychic demon won't help him, he says pursuing Darla is not the path Angel should follow. Angel calls Cordelia and she gives him the address. Wesley gets a tranquilizer gun, in case Angel has gone bad. They decide that may not be enough and call Gunn.
Angel is spying on Darla and the man she claims is her husband. In the house, we see she is in radio contact with Lindsey and the husband is an actor. There is also another man in the house. Gunn is at the hotel and they explain Angel can become Angelus. He asks how bad he can get and we flash back to Angel having killed Drusilla's family and the inhabitants of the convent where she is. He and Darla are having sex in front of Drusilla and Angel says he will turn her into a vampire, making her mad for eternity.
Darla calls 911 and pretends Angel is breaking into the house. She has the other man, who is a vampire, hit her and kill the actor. Angel bursts in when he hears her screaming. He sees a crying Darla accusing him of murdering her husband. The police rush in. Angel flees. Kate shows up to do the investigation and Darla tells her the fake story she has concocted. When Kate walks away, Angel grabs Darla. Kate and a squad of cops burst into the hotel looking for Angel. They tell the gang that Angel killed a man and kidnapped his wife. Kate wants to know who Darla is, since Darla told her a crazy Angel accused her of being this woman. The gang, including Gunn, are not ready to abandon Angel.
Angel has taken Darla away and now talks to her. He realizes she is working for Wolfram & Hart and they resurrected her in To Shanshu in LA as human. She still pretends she isn't Darla until he turns into vampire form and bites and kisses her. She kisses him back. At the hotel, Kate has Gunn's rap sheet and it's a long one. She tells them that Angel has gone bad. That he stalked a woman and broke into her house. Gunn asks how a vampire can break into a house. This stops Kate. Wesley finds a picture of Darla and it is the woman they have seen. Angel tells Darla that now that she is human and has a soul, what she has done will start bothering her. She says he can escape from all that by letting her make him happy. He says in all the time they were together, she never made him happy. Darla is irate. She says Buffy was just something new and that in their early years Angel thought she was the definition of bliss. He tells her he could never feel that way with her because he didn't have a soul then. Now he has a second chance and so does she. She says the evil he was couldn't be learned, it was innate. She says the evil Angel still wants to get out.
Kate is leaving the hotel, but she still feels Angel is guilty - of something at least. She doesn't trust him and she thinks he doesn't care about the innocent people who die in the crossfire while he fights the big battle between good and evil. It's morning and Angel tells Darla if she kills again, he'll kill her. She taunts him and he grabs her neck. She pulls out a cross and presses it against him, burning him. She tells him God doesn't want him but she does. She flees into the sunlight.
At the hotel, Cordelia and Wesley come to see how Angel is. Cordelia is hiding the tranquilizer gun. He tells them he isn't evil. Wesley says there is going to be trouble and Angel says bring it on.
In the last few episodes, Angel has been spending more and more time in his dreams. He has been dragged away from the waking world. In this episode, Darla moves fully into the waking world. It starts when he is sitting waiting for Cordelia and Wesley to identify the demon in her vision. He dozes off, even though he has been sleeping for days, and immediately Darla is with him. He wakes as she kisses him. The next thing he does is identify the convent where the demon is. It was in a convent that Angel drove Drusilla mad - perhaps the worst thing he did in association with Darla. When he tells them he has a thing for convents, he's really giving them a brief insight into his thoughts and the obsession that is driving him these days.
Immediately after defeating the demon, Angel leaves and in his wanderings spots Darla - clearly an intentional thing. When he returns home, he finally tells Wesley and Cordelia about his dreams and about seeing her. Now Darla has completed her intrusion into his life. She is in both his waking and sleeping world. The new client leads him to the hotel where he sights Darla again and where he becomes entangled in her plot. Things become very complicated for Angel at this point. His relationship with Cordelia and Wesley has been keeping him just on the right side of sanity. Now Darla is attacking that relationship. By making him appear irrational, she hopes to undermine their faith in him, abandoning him when he needs them most.
At first, this works. Neither Wesley nor Cordelia believe Angel really saw Darla. The psychic demon won't help him. Angel is becoming increasingly isolated. Even Gunn is worried once he learns what can happen to Angel. When he does get to the house Darla's scheme succeeds in drawing in Kate and bringing her unwittingly onside with Wolfram & Hart. But Wolfram & Hart underestimate Angel and his allies. Gunn, remembering how Angel couldn't enter the rapist's apartment in Untouched realizes he couldn't have broken into the house. Kate has to accept this logic. And Wesley has continued researching Darla, finding the picture that reveals the woman they have seen is her. Kate doesn't forgive Angel, she clearly still blames him for her father's death Prodigal. But she intends to find out what happened to the real owners of the house.
Angel is seduced by the dreams Darla sends him and he is obsessed with her. He goes against the advice of his friends and the psychic demon in seeking her out. But ultimately, he proves immune to her charms and breaks the spell she had over him. Interestingly, he does this when they are alone together - without help. It's left for his friends to delay the conspiracy against him while he tackles the main opponent. When he tells Darla he never felt happiness with her, he hurts her. He knows Darla loved and loves him. And that's why she is so driven to hurt him. But he is trying to save her and that hurts Darla more than anything. She has to realize that the pain she feels from learning that the soulless Angel could never find happiness with her is the result of having a soul herself. And that has to demonstrate to her that what Angel says about her conscience is true. She will suffer for her humanity. Angel has reduced her from his evil nemesis to a suffering human he would like to redeem, not unlike Faith.
Last season, Angel dealt with and helped two women: Cordelia and Faith. He found and saved Cordelia in City of. In that episode, he jokes about her growth as a person. But by To Shanshu in LA, she really has grown having seen the pain and suffering in the world and wanting to do something about it. And in First Impressions, she takes on the task of saving Gunn. Faith came to LA without purpose, was recruited by Wolfram & Hart, and tried to kill Angel. She, too, has grown as a person. She confesses her guilt and is ready to serve her time - as shown in Sanctuary and Judgement. This season, he has Kate and Darla to work with. Kate is traumatized by the death of her father in Prodigal and cannot bring herself to forgive Angel for what he was in the past or to believe that he truly can be good. Her obsession has hurt her both emotionally and professionally and she has become a tool used by Wolfram & Hart. Darla, like Faith, is trapped in a life of evil and cannot see a way out. Both these women perceive strong constraints on their choices in life. Both have had a relationship with Angel and both feel betrayed by him. And both have become pawns of Wolfram & Hart in their battle against Angel. If Angel is to survive this challenge, he has to help these women come to grips with the tragedy in their lives and accept what is happening.
I have to say a few words about Darla's use of the cross and her statement that God doesn't want Angel. This is the cruelest statement Darla can think of. Angel has spent years seeking redemption and salvation. He believes he can ultimately achieve it. Darla attacks this faith. She points out that no progress has been made - that Angel is still a vampire. And she offers him not salvation but acceptance. And this acceptance would happen immediately. Darla makes it clear that as badly as Angel's words have hurt her, she still loves him and wants him back. And in his final words to Cordelia and Wesley, Angel makes it clear that his faith has been strengthened, not weakened, by this assault. That he sees through Darla's schemes and instead of going to her and damning himself intends to bring her to him and save her.
Some quick final thoughts. Was the cuckolded husband a genuine client or merely a way of getting Angel to the hotel so he could see Darla? How does Angel get back to the hotel and have the officers left by Kate been called off?
Lines of the week:
"I've got a thing for convents." - Angel with a revealing offhand statement.
"God doesn't want you. But I still do." - Darla saying the cruelest and kindest thing she can imagine.
"There's going to be a lot of trouble and I say bring it on." - Angel letting us know he's ready for action.
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