Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Judgement" (Angel 2.1): Angel sings "Mandy"--that's all you need to know

Both mine and my intrepid co-watcher Jenn's favorite quote of the season 2 opener comes from our favorite vampire with soul identifying the "Three things I don't do: tan, date, and sing in public." You and me both, bro. But by the time "Judgement" is through, one of those taboos will be broken.

Spoiler alert: It's this one.

On the way to this glorious performance, we take several strides away from the series's noir roots, and several more toward further solidifying family as the show's central concern. This strong episode serves as the Angel guide to making up for a pretty epic "my bad."

DO acknowledge extenuating circumstances. Still at this point officially a trio, Angel Investigations is working out of Cordy's haunted apartment due to the old offices being a little bit exploded in last season's finale. A PTB-vision sends Angel off in search of a particularly nasty demon, and only after he dispatches said target in a sewer while a pregnant woman sobs does he learn that the demon was actually protecting the expectant mother, and intending to serve as her "champion" in some sort of mystical medievally tinged trial by battle.

Oops. Vampire on road to redemption foul.

Now Angel always has his bags packed for a guilt trip, and he spends most of the episode tied in knots about his mistake. However, allow me to take up for the King of Pain. Cordy only lets him know after the fact that she didn't feel fear when seeing the demon, and crucially, preggo in the corner did an excellent job saying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as Angel battled and executed her champion. I know it's shocking and scary, but not one "Stop!" or "Please don't" or "Perhaps this is merely a case of a misinterpreted psychic vision from the Powers That Be"??? Especially once it became obvious that Angel wasn't attacking her, as the later would-be assassins do? But whatever. Plot has to come from somewhere.

DO accept assists from Angelettes current and future. Gunn's Scoobification continues in this episode, as he guides Angel to the good demon's lair and meets Wes and Cordelia when they're actually conscious. We also get our first appearance from Lorne, everyone's favorite precog karaoke bar owner. Hey, honey. Welcome to the party.

Somebody get this demon a Sea Breeze!

Lorne can read a person's soul when they sing, and though Angel is initially resistant--see quote above--he ultimately acquiesces, leading us to . . .

DON'T let your big brooding ego get in the way of fulfilling your mission.

Admittedly not as splendid as the dancing sequence from "She", but I do enjoy the unadulterated terror in his furtively darting eyes.

DO establish a home base, both literal and figurative. As Jenn notes, with the elements of the pregnant woman trying to protect her daughter, which Angel manages to help her do through some pretty comical looking jousting,

Since there were no vampires in Medieval Times, there are no vampires . . . oh, never mind.
Darla's reappearance, Cordy's not (yet) creepy declaration of loyalty, and the excellent prison visit to Faith where the two recovering killers compare notes on the hard road to redemption, the centrality of family to Angel's ontology is undeniable.

She talks about a girl with a shiv, he talks about "Mandy." It's sweet.

So it also makes a nice thematic rhyme that he discovers an old abandoned hotel in this episode. Next week, we'll learn how important this space was and will be to the Angelverse. Season 2 is looking pretty good, kids!

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