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Recap / Angel S01 E09 "Hero"

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

It's nighttime in L.A., and Cordelia is describing her ideas for an Angel Investigations promotional video as we see the events as she imagines. Then we're back in Angel's office, where he dismisses the idea of being The Dark Avenger. Cordelia thinks that Buffy's visit earlier on will leave Angel so broody that their business will suffer. Doyle points out that their video might not be as successful as she wants it to be, since Angel's inability to go out in sunlight might seem suspicious, and they don't even have a license. Cordelia decides that Doyle would be a better star for the ad, since he's "ordinary." She forces him to sit for a test run, despite the fact that he's about as thrilled as Angel was. He awkwardly goes through a script she's put together, accidentally announcing that their rats, not their rates, are low. She tells him that she's seeing him as a "weasel" rather than a regular guy and doesn't think that customers will go for that. Instead of trying again, Cordelia says that she's worried about Angel, who shouldn't be so heartbroken when he doesn't have a beating heart to begin with. Doyle says that he'll talk to Angel, and Cordelia non-sequiturs that getting Angel a costume might make the ad better. She seems to favor tights and a cape.


Doyle approaches Angel while he's working out and Angel tells him that he needs some time to work through what happened with Buffy. Doyle thinks that Buffy was only there for a few minutes, but Angel tells him that she was there for a whole day and night. He asks about the Oracles, who, because of the time-swallowing, Doyle doesn't remember taking him to. Angel explains how he was turned human and experienced happiness with Buffy, only to give it up to save her life with no-one remembering what happened but him. Doyle can't believe what he's heard and wonders why Angel would give back his mortality. Angel thinks he might have made the wrong decision, but Doyle says that his actions prove Cordelia's theory that he's a hero. Doyle thinks that, in Angel's position, he would have chosen the "pleasures of the flesh" over duty and honor, but Angel believes no one can know what they'll do until the choice is upon them. He adds that the Oracles mentioned something about the end of days, and he thinks Angel Investigations might have to play a role in it. Doyle doesn't think it's fair that Angel not only helps out helpless people, but now has to help fight the apocalypse. Angel doesn't see a distinction—it's all fighting "the good fight." Doyle replies that Angel can fight and he'll keep score. Out in the lobby, Doyle recaps Angel's version of Buffy's visit for Cordelia, who thinks that Angel should have taken advantage of the temporal fold to buy some stocks and lottery tickets. She's not so happy that he kept what happened a secret from them. They talk about Harrie, and Doyle mentions that if he wants to have a successful relationship, he needs to "put some cards on the table." Before he can finally tell Cordelia that he's part demon, he has a vision of people huddled together near a brick building. "Whatever you saw just now? Did they look like they could afford to pay?" Cordelia asks.


A demon girl runs down a street at night, pursued by people wearing heavy boots and marching in quick-time. A demon boy of her own species grabs her and they hide together as the boot-wearers run by. Angel and Doyle head to the brick building from Doyle's vision and note how run-down it is. They find a table with still-warm food on it, realizing that the people there must have had to run off with little warning. Angel finds a trapdoor under the carpet and finds a bunch of demons hiding there. Later, the demons, Listers, explain that they were promised help to escape but got ripped off. They were headed for an island near Ecuador, where others of their kind had been able to hide out. The two kids run in, announcing that they were almost caught and lost half of their supplies. The senior Lister tells the boy, Rieff, that The Promised One has arrived, and indicates Angel. Apparently, there's a prophecy that the Promised One would appear at the end of the century to save the demons from the Scourge. Rieff is skeptical that Angel, who has never heard of the Scourge, can save them. In fact, he thinks that Angel will get them all killed. Doyle is familiar with the Scourge and tells Angel that they're "death." He tells Angel a story as we see it in a flashback. Doyle met a guy named Lucas who was one of his kind, a Brachen demon. Some of the Brachens escaped the Scourge, which is now coming after them again. Lucas explains that the Scourge is an army of pure-blood demons who hate all demons of mixed blood. In the present, Doyle tells Angel that the Scourge are willing to die for their beliefs. When Angel says it's hard to fight fanatics, Doyle says, "Impossible."

Back in the past, Lucas asks Doyle to help the Brachens hide out until they can leave town. Doyle refuses to help, since it's not something he's used to doing. Lucas argues that Doyle is one of them, but Doyle says that he isn't, since he was raised human. He says that he'd be taking a big risk by helping the Brachens out. Lucas notes that they have a common enemy, but Doyle is still unwilling to lend a hand. Later, there's a knock at Doyle's door, and when he opens it, he has a vision of Lucas and the other Brachens being killed. He tells Angel that he wasn't sure if the vision was real or not, since it was his first, so he went to find out and discovered the bodies of the Brachens. He tells Angel that these demons need more than just one hero against the Scourge. Angel says that they won't have to, since they'll help the demons escape before it comes to that. Later, Cordelia drives a truck over to the building. Inside, she encounters the senior Lister and tells him that the breath spray she's holding is really demon repellent. She sprays it and the Lister calmly notes, "Wintergreen." Doyle arrives and assures Cordelia that she's safe there and confirms that she brought the truck. She pulls him aside and reminds him that Angel Investigations is about fighting evil, not helping demons. Doyle tells her that the demons are half human and that they need to get to a freighter called the Quintessa. He sends Cordelia ahead to get everything in order, but she wants to know who's paying for this non-Carnival "cruise." He tells her that something bad is coming and she heads off to do her job.

Angel talks with the harbormaster, arranging for documents about the freighter to say that it's carrying medical waste. If anyone inspects the cargo or tries to hinder its trip, Angel will do some biting. Back at the building, Rieff disappears and the girl demon reports that he doesn't believe there's a Promised One and ran off so he wouldn't be killed along with everyone else. Doyle gives the senior Lister his phone and tells him that when Cordelia calls to confirm that everything's ready, they should head to the ship. Doyle goes after Rieff, finding him on the street. Rieff tells Doyle that he's not going to the ship because anywhere he goes, he'll be hated. Doyle tells him that he belongs among his family, but Rieff still thinks that they won't be alive much longer. Doyle tries to convince him that Angel will be able to help, but Rieff just sarcastically comments, "My hero." Doyle tells him that his family has to put their faith in something because otherwise they'll just give up. At the freighter, Cordelia figures out some last-minute details and prepares to make the confirmation call. On their way to meet up with the other demons, Doyle and Rieff hear the Scourge approaching and take off. They hide inside a building as the Scourge starts destroying things, heading towards Doyle and Rieff's hiding place. Doyle puts on his demon face and head outside, leading the Scourge away from Rieff. Angel grabs him from behind a building and is grimly pleased to hear that the Scourge is headed his way.

The Scourge arrives at the brick building, which the demons have already abandoned. Angel arrives, pretending to have taken Doyle hostage. Angel tells the Scourge that he hates his humanity. When Doyle pretends to plead for his life, Angel snaps his neck. Angel asks the Scourge if he can join up with them and they take him along with them. Rieff finds Doyle's "body," impressed that while in demon form, he can have his neck broken and not die. The Listers board the freighter and the captain tells Cordelia that they have to leave right away. He agrees to wait a little longer if Cordelia can get Angel to further discount the debt the captain owes him. One of the demons thanks Cordelia for her, Doyle, and Angel's help, saying that Doyle understands the demons' suffering, since he himself is half demon. This, of course, is news to Cordelia. Angel listens to a member of the Scourge rant about half-breed demons. A couple of Scourge members bring in a huge crystal-shaped light and turn it on. The commander explains that, when the light touches the half-breed demons, they'll all die. Then he crisps the turn-coat first mate from the Quintessa. When fully charged, the light from this weapon, the Beacon, will be able to reach up to a quarter mile away. The commander sends the platoon to the ship to destroy the betrayed Listers. Angel intercepts a stormtrooper, knocks it out, and steals its motorcycle.

Doyle and Rieff arrive at the freighter and Cordelia notes that Doyle looks happy. She tells him that she was worried, then slaps him for not telling her he was half demon, especially after they agreed that they shouldn't keep secrets from each other. He admits that he was afraid that she would reject him, but she points out that she'd already rejected him. She adds that she works for a vampire and isn't superficial about his lineage. "Would you ask me out to dinner already?" she says. Doyle is happy to hear this, but before he can officially ask her, Angel arrives and announces that the freighter needs to leave. Before the ship can leave, the Scourge shows up. The freighter heads off and the Scourge blasts Angel for lying. There's some fighting and some falling in the cargo hold and some Scourge-killing as the Beacon gets moved into position. Doyle asks Angel what the light is for and Angel explains that it'll kill anything or anyone with human blood. Angel thinks that he can turn it off if he pulls the cable, but Doyle and Cordelia know this will be suicide. Angel says that he'll do it anyway and Doyle says, "The good fight, yeah? You never know until you've been tested. I get that now." Then he hauls back and hits Angel, knocking him down into the cargo hold. Doyle grabs Cordelia and they kiss, a blue light passing between their lips. He morphs into his demon face and says, "Too bad we'll never know if this is a face you could learn to love." Shouting Doyle's name, Angel starts to climb out of the cargo hold, but Doyle grabs the frame of the light and smiles at Cordelia and Angel. He finds the power coupling and struggles with it, enduring the weapon's successive effects, first decreasing his strength and forcing him back to human form, then burning his skin away from his musculature. Just before his muscles are burned from his bones, Doyle pulls the plug, and the last flash of the dying light disintegrates him. After the light fades away, Cordelia and Angel share a grief-stricken hug.

Back at the office, the two of them watch Doyle's videotaped advertisement again. The episode finishes with Doyle saying to the camera, "'Come on over to our offices and you'll see that there's still heroes in this world.' ...Is that it? Am I done?"

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crime: The Scourge arrive in LA and start killing "abominations": any demon who is even slightly human or half human, like one of the main characters, Doyle, or any vampire at all. According to the previous Buffy finale, they weren't purebloods themselves, either. The Nazi analogy isn't all that subtle, is it? This is the Angel theme. Some monsters aren't so bad!
  • 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?"

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