Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Hero" (Angel 1.9): Alas, poor Doyle

We're here already? As I wrote to my intrepid co-watcher Jenn, I knew Doyle was going to exit stage left early in the season, but I honestly thought he made it to at least the halfway mark. There are many competing theories surrounding Glenn Quinn's departure, and we all know how much Joss loves to execute a big character when you're least expecting it. In any case, let's take a look at the Angel guide to defining a hero (and killing off one of your regulars).

DON'T assume the hero is the one who looks the part.
This episode is neatly, and poignantly, framed by a video ad for Angel Investigations that Cordy is filming. Thinking that Angel looks too big and broody to appeal to the everyman, she taps meeker and more human-sized Doyle.
In my experience, most men don't look like this either, but whatever.

Little does Cordelia know, though we have from the beginning, Doyle is a self-loathing half-demon himself. Coming to terms with his supernatural heritage is thematically rhymed in this episode with Doyle's self-discovery of what is most human about him--his bravery, kindness, and selflessness.

DO remember you can't be a hero unless you're honest.
Doyle has been lying to Cordelia from the beginning, thinking she wouldn't be able to love him if she knew about his other face. In addition to vastly underestimating Cordy, she's from Sunnydale, after all, his demon blind spot goes deeper than wanting to date the hottie. We learn in this episode that because he refused to help some of his kinsmen, they were slaughtered by a quasi-fascist group of demon hunters knows as "The Scourge." So Angel isn't the only one who needs to atone . . .
This was actually quite a brutal scene.

DON'T think I would go through this whole post without an Angel pic.
Angel finally completes a successful undercover mission! He pretends to be Angelus in order to join the Scourge and help another group of demons trying to escape annihilation at the hands of the group.
They hit the Nazi thing pretty hard.
Have I mentioned how much I love it when good Angel pretends to be bad Angelus? Yes, yes I have. 

DON'T underestimate the power of a grand, self-sacrificial gesture.
Due to some double-dealing, the Scourge are able to get their big bad half-demon killing beam onto the ship where the endangered demons are hiding. Since it kills anything with human blood, Doyle and Cordy are also in danger. Angel is gearing himself up to take one for the team when Doyle does this:
Hard to tell from this screencap, but he just totally cold-cocked Angel.

And then this:

And then this:

Remind you of anything?

Maybe a little.

For what it's worth, I suspect the timing of exit was a bit of a challenge for the writers. I don't doubt that Doyle's character might have been intended to be temporary to make room for a certain rogue demon hunter who's about to make his appearance, but I wouldn't be surprised if no one thought it would be this early. The episode feels a little rushed--we get the backstory AND the reveal of Doyle's demonness to Cordy AND his death all in 42 minutes? Not to mention the introduction of the Scourge, which I don't think we see again. It seems more Whedonesque to let CorDoyle have some happy time together . . .  just so it would devastate us more completely when he did die.

BUT, I do think the character's exit is handled well. The replay of Doyle's video at the conclusion is heartbreaking, and his last words on the series "Is that it? Am I done?" suggest that maybe there would have been a place for him later, if Quinn had been able to tame some of his own inner demons. Quite sad all around.
Rest in peace.

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