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Recap / Angel S01 E09 "Hero"

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"You never know your strength until you're tested."

Angel Investigations help a clan of half-breed demons (a mongrel race resulting from the breeding of demons and humans) hiding from a fanatical Naziesque group known as the Scourge.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Anyone Can Die: Doyle is killed.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Cordy is angry that Doyle has been hiding his demon nature from her.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Doyle's video ad for Angel Investigations. After his death, it's played later on in the first and then the fifth season, turning into a Tear Jerker.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Cordy and Doyle's first, which also transfers the power of the visions to her.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Angel pretends to be one to convince the human-hating Scourge to let him sign up.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Commander Trask: You lied to us, half-breed.
    Angel: You catch on quick, football-head.
  • The Chosen One: Turns out Doyle, not Angel, is the Promised One of Lister prophecies.
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  • Continuity Snarl: The Buffyverse established on Buffy that pure-blood demons are enormous beings like the one the Mayor was Ascended into in "Graduation Day"). The Scourge are likely just engaging in racist posturing—in one comic (albeit a non-canon one), the Scourge get involved with one of Illyria's former pets named Baticus, who is also an Old One. Baticus incinerates the Scourge but the same attack doesn't scratch Illyria.
  • Cowardly Lion: Doyle.
    Doyle: Well, if it's a fight they want—can't someone else give it to them?
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Lister Demons are a peaceful race.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The uniforms. Hatred of inferior races. Use of World War II era bikes and trucks. The demon army are pretty much a carbon copy of Nazi supervillain Red Skull.
  • The Dragon: Whereas Tiernan is the leader of the Scourge, it is Trask the one who leads the attacks.
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  • Dying as Yourself: Doyle embraces his half-demon identity before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Doyle finds a pair of children's shoes in the room where the demon family was massacred.
  • Emo Teen: Rieff behaves like a petulant teen, despite not being human.
  • Fake Defector: Angel earns himself a spiffy S.S. uniform by pretending to murder Doyle, thus allowing him to join the ranks of the Scourge.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Scourge are pure-blood demons on a fanatical mission to kill all Half-Human Hybrids.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: The demon teen talks about how humiliating it was that the only time he could walk among humans was on Halloween, referencing the fact established in Buffy the Vampire Slayer that vampires and demons avoid Halloween because it's crass.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Angel threatening the Harbourmaster.
    Angel: Certify that the ship is carrying an inspected cargo of medical waste. No one looks inside that ship or stops it from leaving harbor. If they do, I'm going to feel that it's your fault. Then look for me to get a little bit peckish.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Angel after the events of the previous episode; apparently he's become even more broody, if that's possible.
  • The Hero: Turns out to be Doyle, not Angel.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Cause that's what heroes do. Anyway, it was a Scourge motorbike, so that's OK.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Angel convinces the Scourge leader that he's so full of self-hatred he wants to join their cause.
  • I Resemble That Remark!
    Cordy: What do you think I am, superficial? So you're half demon. That's so far down the list, way under "short" and "poor!"
  • Killed Off for Real:
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: The episode opens on Cordy and Doyle recording one for Angel Investigations.
  • Last Kiss: Doyle kissing Cordelia before his death.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The opening scene of the episode.
    Cordy: [voice over] Okay, we fade up on an aerial shot, downtown, skyscrapers, lights, yada, yada, yada. We hear a narrator, preferably famous—maybe that bald Star Trek guy or one of the cheaper Baldwins, and he says: "It's a big, bad city out there." Cut to a woman walking down a dark, spooky street—alone. We'll cast some beautiful, young actress, maybe an up-and-coming starlet whose career is on the verge of taking off. [we see Cordy walking down a dark street] Anyway, she's all nervous, right? Mucho vulnerable. The voice guy says: "danger lurks around every corner." Boom! She's attacked by a big, ugly goon, with a knife. She screams: "Help! Is there no one to help me?" Well now there is someone to answer your call. [We see a dark figure in a long trench coat] He'll protect you, [dark guy beats up big, ugly goon] catch you when you fall! You can count on it.
    [camera pulls in on Angel's face and he turns to face it]
    Angel: And you can count on me, because I'm the Dark Avenger.
  • Meaningful Background Event: As Angel fights the demon fanatics on the freighter, you can see the Beacon being lowered into the hold behind them.
  • Meaningful Echo: The words Doyle says at the end of the cheesy commercial Cordelia films become painful when the commercial is replayed at the end after he dies. "Is that it? Am I done?"
  • More Hero Than Thou: Doyle sucker punches Angel in order to make the Heroic Sacrifice himself. Doyle himself seems to consider it a case of More Expendable Than You at the time, but the Powers That Be declared that it was too noble an action to warrant turning back time to avert it; to do so would dishonor the heroic spirit of his sacrifice. And besides Doyle had his own Dark and Troubled Past to make up for.
  • Mr. Exposition: Angel tells Doyle the events of the previous episode, including meeting the Oracles. Doyle doesn't believe him at first since the day was rewound and only Angel remembers.
  • My Greatest Failure: Refusing to lend aid to a group of pacifist Brachen demons who were trying to escape The Scourge. Later that night, Doyle experienced his very first vision—that of the entire Brachen clan being slaughtered.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Scourge are demons whose ideas about racial purity drive them to destroy all creatures that are part demon and part human, a description that fits two of the show's heroes at that point, Angel and Doyle. The Scourge wear well-fitted grey uniforms of a cut fashionable in 1940's Europe, and drive trucks and motorcycles from the same era. Ironically it had already been established in Buffy the Vampire Slayer that pure-blood demons were actually giant monster creatures, so the Scourge would have been half-breed demons themselves.
  • Neck Snap: Not Quite Dead Doyle survives Angel breaking his neck because he's in Game Face. Angel later kills the Scourge leader this way.
  • The Nose Knows:
    Angel: I smell something.
    Doyle: [tasting the food] Still warm. They left in a hurry.
    Angel: Not food. [throws a carpet aside revealing a trap door] Fear.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Just before Doyle sacrifices himself. "'You never know your strength until you're tested.' I get that now".
  • Percussive Prevention: Doyle knocks Angel off a platform so that Angel wouldn't have to sacrifice himself to disarm The Scourge's weapon.
  • Percussive Therapy: Angel is pounding a punching bag.
    Doyle: Hey. Is this a private catharsis or can anyone watch?
  • Phlebotinum Bomb: The Beacon can destroy any creature with human DNA.
  • Prophecy Twist: The half-demon clan tell of a prophecy which foretold a "Chosen One" who would save them from The Scourge. The obvious assumption is it's Angel. At the episode's conclusion, though, it's Doyle who sacrifices his life to save them all.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Doyle sacrifices himself to stop the Scourge's weapon and atone for his past failure.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Angel Investigations is prepared to help a clan of Lister demons escape L.A. on a barge to save them from the Scourge. The ship's first mate, however, sells the Listers out to the Scourge... who reward him by using him to demonstrate the effects of the Beacon, a super-weapon designed to gruesomely vaporize any being with a trace of human DNA.
  • Rousing Speech: The Scourge's leader, Tiernan, does his Hitler rap.
    Trask: Incredible, isn't it? He makes it all so clear.
  • Run for the Border: The Lister demons charter a cargo ship (the captain owes Angel money) to take them to an island off Ecuador, where others of their kind are living peacefully.
  • Self-Defenseless:
    Cordelia: While this may look like a popular brand of breath freshener, it's really a cunningly disguised demon repellent!
  • Superheroes Wear Tights:
    Cordy: Well, the guy is a bona fide hero; would it kill him to put on some tights and a cape and garner us some free publicity?
    Doyle: I don't see Angel putting on some tights... [takes a deep breath and shakes his head] Ah, now I do, and it's really disturbing.
  • Tested on Humans: The First Mate is killed to demonstrate the Beacon.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Angel kills Doyle to get in with the Scourge. He gets better.
  • Weakened by the Light: The "Beacon" is a weapon which emits a light deadly to humans and demi-humans alike. The Scourge intend to use it to annihilate every half-breed demon within a quarter-mile radius.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: In part due to Actor Existence Failure—Joss had always wanted to have a Sacrificial Lion, though Real Life Writes the Plot was also in play due to Glenn Quinn's heroin addiction. Whedon wanted to bring him back later, but Quinn died of a drug overdose in 2002.
  • We Have Reserves: Doyle describes the Scourge as such; people fight back against them all the time, but their members fully believe in their cause and are willing to die for it.
    Angel: Hard to fight fanatics.
    Doyle: More like impossible.
  • We Need a Distraction: Cordy pretending Doyle is playing charades to cover his having a vision in public.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race:
    Rieff: I thought all Brachen demons had a good sense of direction.
    Doyle: Yeah, we're all pretty good at basketball, too.
  • You Are What You Hate: Angel pretends to be a self-loathing vampire to infiltrate the Scourge.
  • Zeerust: The Beacon has lots of 1930's era switches and dials.

"Is that it? Am I done?"

Example of: