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Recap / Angel S 02 E 07 Darla

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1609, Virginia colony. A blonde pale woman is on her death bed with syphilis. A doctor is bleeding her with leeches, and it's not helping. A priest cloaked in heavy monk's clothes walks into the room. The patient, a prostitute of some repute, tells the priest to get lost. The "priest" uncovers his hood, and the face of the Master greets her. He had visited her the night before, when she had mistaken him as Death. The Master then offers to be her savior; he plunges his vamp face into her neck, and Darla is born.

1760, London. Darla is introducing her new beau (Angelus) to The Master in his underground lair. Angelus displays a notable lack of awe, looking down on the Master for living in a rat-infested stink hole and having a funny bat-nose. The Master eventually grows tired of Angelus's disrespect and beats him to a pulp. Angelus asks whether Darla would rather look at his own or The Master's face for all eternity. Darla looks lovingly at Angelus, then helps him up, and they leave the sewers together. One of the Master's flunkies tries to stop them, but the Master waves him off. "It won't last. I give it a century, tops."

Romania, 1898: Darla and co. pays a visit to the gypsy family who cursed Angelus with a soul. As Drusilla slaughters the gypsies in the camp, Darla promises she will spare the man's wife and children, who are in a wagon, if he agrees to fix Angel. Spike stumbles out of the man's wagon with blood on his mouth and belches. Darla glares at him, realizing that Spike already ate the family. D'oh.

Speak of the devil — Darla dials Angel's number, calling from Lindsey's office in a state of despair. Lindsey enters and demands to know who Darla's talking to. Angel, on the other line, hears a struggle, followed by a gunshot. Later, Holland is reviewing the tape from inside Lindsey's office showing a security guard getting shot in the struggle. Luckily, Darla only made it a few blocks before getting re-captured. The guard's death has been handled Wolfram & Hart style, so Lindsey won't have to worry about it. Holland thinks Lindsey is too emotional when it comes to Darla and takes Lindsey off the project, which is henceforth "terminated." Lindsey registers what this means.

China, 1900. It's the Boxer Rebellion. Angel, dressed in old dirty clothes and exhausted from travel, sneaks up from behind Darla. She unsheathes a knife, asking whether Angel is too cowardly to kill himself and expected her to do it for him. Angel wants things to be as they were before. In 2000, Lindsey is walking to his car when Angel surprises him with a rope around his neck. With this in mind, Lindsey is happy to be of assistance: Darla's been taken to an abandoned bank at Figarro and Ninth. There's a place where the firm takes care of such things. Angel arrives in the Angelmobile just in time to save Darla from Wolfram & Hart's hitmen.

More cross-cutting between China and the present day. Back in 1900, Angel wanders amongst the rioters and finds a missionary family huddled in an alleyway. He hears Darla calling him, and quickly back-pedals out of the alley and greets her before she spots the family, saying there's nothing but bodies down there. Later, Angel returns to Darla's house to find her waiting for him. Darla, fuming, unveils the missionary family's infant child in a basket (Darla went back and killed the parents). She takes a step back from the basket, waiting for Angel to prove himself.

Darla lies on the sofa in the Hotel, while Angel asks his team for a minute of privacy. Darla asks Angel to return her 'favor' by taking away her pain, and presents her neck to him. Whoa, whoa! Angel, taken aback, tells Darla that she damned him by turning him into a vampire, not helped him. Darla switches tactics, offering Angel to take his "vengeance" then. Angel says that he can't. Back in China, Angel cannot bring himself to feed off of the baby. Darla is disgusted with him. Angel grabs the basket and leaps out the window, his destiny fulfilled.

Darla runs from a pursuing Angel, and gets to the front doors of the Hotel. Darla tells Angel not to look for her again, before running out into the morning sun. Angel powerlessly watches her leave again.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Anachronism Stew/Artistic License – History: A flashback to the pre-vampire life of Darla occurs, according to the caption, in the Virginia Colony in 1609. As anyone who's attended Virginia public schools knows, in 1609 the colony consisted solely of the struggling Jamestown settlement, which, in 1609-1610, went through what's known as the Starving Time and was almost abandoned. Yes, by 1609 the colony included a few women, but it certainly wouldn't have had an Olde English style inn to shelter Darla while on her deathbed waiting for a vampire master to drop in and turn her. All the writers had to do, to make the chronology plausible, would have been to add a couple of decades and set the flashback in, say, 1629.
  • Bad Habits: The Master approaches a then-human Darla while dressed in priest clothes.
  • Batman Gambit: Back in the present, Angel puzzles over why Wolfram & Hart brought her back from the dead. Why like this? Why human? Wesley hypothesizes that W&H decided that they could control human-Darla a lot better than vampire-Darla. He also worries that Darla is a distraction, to keep Angel channeling all of his resources in the wrong direction. Resignedly, Angel acknowledges that their plan is working.
    • Lindsey realizes he's been had. It was all a setup to drive Darla back to Angel. Holland explains that the crisis had to seem real, and Lindsey was left out of loop because he's too emotionally attached. Lindsey scoffs at the idea that Angel will take advantage of Darla and experience his 'moment of happiness', but Holland insists that won't happen. Holland expects Angel to do the only thing that he can do: Save her soul.
  • Bridal Carry: An exuberant Spike carries Dru in his arms during the Team Power Walk scene.
  • Call-Forward: When Angel accosts Darla in the China flashbacks, she's wearing a red kimono. The last time Angel crossed paths with Darla on Buffy, he asked, "What’s with the Catholic schoolgirl look? Last time I saw you it was kimonos."
    • The flashback to Romania, in 1898, reveals more of the events surrounding the return of Angel's soul. This event takes place soon after the flashback from "Five by Five", where Darla kicks out Angel when she realizes he has a soul. The murder of the Gypsy girl is also shown in "Five by Five", and the return of his soul is shown in the Buffy episode "Becoming, Part One".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The baby of the missionaries becomes Darla's test for Angelus.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Angel tries to offer excuses, but Darla points out that "while Spike — Spike! — was out killing a Slayer, you were saving missionaries!" She sounds genuinely hurts as she intones, "From me." The way she says it, it does sound pretty horrible.
  • Continuity Nod: Darla explains to Angel over the receiver that she doesn't remember anything after he staked her in the back, so there might not be a Hell. Angel confirms that there are several hells, citing his incarceration in one.
    • Spike not knowing about Angel's curse fits with their meeting in "School Hard", in which Angel pretends he's still Angelus.
  • Crossover: This episode aired immediately after the Buffy Season Five episode "Fool For Love", which included some of the same flashbacks — albeit from Spike's viewpoint. These include Spike's Crash-Into Hello with his future sire, Drusilla, as well the prelude and aftermath of his battle with Xin Rong, the first Slayer he killed.
  • Defensive "What?": Spike on Darla learning that he fed on the gypsy mystic's family, ruining her plans to coerce him into removing Angel's soul.
  • Defiant to the End: The woman who becomes Darla, on her deathbed; she refuses God's forgiveness and doesn't even flinch when the "priest" removes his hood to reveal his demon features. No wonder the Master was taken with her.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "Where have you been?" Darla acts like a woman whose lover has been cheating on her.
    • Darla introducing her handsome, rebel-without-a-cause boyfriend to her disapproving vampire dad.
  • Double Entendre: The Master tells the dying prostitute that if she'd called for a priest earlier it might have changed her life. She replies, "And if you had visited me before today, I could have made your life more interesting."
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Angel insists that since they run a detective agency, finding Darla should be easy; Cordy chimes in that they run a lousy detective agency, making things more difficult. Unless there's a website called Gunn, who's been quiet all this time, notes Wolfram & Hart must have a spot to stash their out-of-towners. Wesley, chuckling at the newbie's naiveté, points out that Darla wasn't exactly flown in from Miami. "They still got to put her up, don't they?" replies Gunn. "That's an expense." He also guesses that W&H are law-friendly enough to know how to write it off as a deductible.
  • Enemy Mine: Lindsey teams with Angel to save Darla from W&H's hitmen. Just as Holland expected.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Darla threatening to kill the Kalderash Elder's family unless they remove Angel's soul. Suddenly Spike stumbles out of his caravan with a belch.
  • Flat "What": The Master makes a grand speech about the second coming of the vampire species and laying waste to the human world.
    Angelus: [almost bored] What would you want to do that for?
    The Master: Huh?
  • Foe Romance Subtext: As Lindsey and Darla joust words in his office, Darla dares him to kiss her. Lindsey obliges, then asks Darla how she likes it. "It's nice," she taunts, "but it's not me you want to screw, it's him. (Angel)"
  • Foreshadowing: "I could be your mummy," says Dru to Darla. Drusilla might be yammering on in her usual cryptic way, but remember that she's a seer; this line foreshadows the events of "The Trial".
    • Darla claims that she can feel her (human) body decaying, being eaten away by the "cancer" that is her soul. She's actually literally dying of syphilis.
  • Hero Ball: Angel acknowledges that he's probably walking into a trap, but he doesn't care.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The woman who will become Darla is implied to be one. She's "a whore" (in her words) but also "a woman of some property" according to the Master, and has some servants whom she dismisses from her deathbed when the Master shows up.
  • House of Broken Mirrors: Angel examines the photos of Darla's last-known location (sans mirrors) and determines she is finally feeling "the weight" of her soul. Puzzled, Cordy points out that when Angel was re-ensouled, he didn't go around smashing mirrors. He replies, "That's because I don't have to look myself in them."
  • I Have Your Wife: Unfortunately Darla didn't let Spike in on the plan.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Darla challenges Angel to eat a baby and prove he's still a bad guy. Angel can't do it.
  • Improvised Weapon: Darla's phone receiver. "Hey, Lindsey, I think it's for you." THWACK.
  • In the Hood: The Master in his introductory scene.
  • Insistent Terminology: Cordelia is not happy about Darla referring to Angel as Angelus. Angel himself doesn't even seem to notice.
  • Irony: The flashbacks show that Angelus disapproved of the Order of Aurelius' Evil Plan to destroy the world by summoning the Old Ones, pointing out that by doing so, the modern world would be destroyed and vampires would access to their food, entertainment & creature comforts. A century-and-change later, Angelus would become so "traumatized" from experiencing human emotion with Buffy thanks to possession-by-ghost that he'd try to awaken the demon Acathla to suck the entire world into Hell, and Spike would actually side with Buffy to prevent Angelus' plan on the same logic that Angelus once used to reject the Master's Omnicidal Maniac ambitions.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: "I can't" used for Angel telling human Darla he won't turn her into a vampire, and Angelus telling vampire Darla he won't kill the baby.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique/Nothing Good Ever Happens In A Parking Garage: As Lindsey approaches his car in a parking garage, Angel wraps a cord around his throat and proceeds to throttle him. We can see that Lindsey has a cross hanging on a chain around his neck. (A fat lot of good that did, eh?) Angel allows a little slack into the cord so that Lindsey can croak out Darla's location (which he probably would have done without the torture, but hey, Lindsey's the kind of guy who deserves to get choked in a parking garage).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Darla abandons her sire for the younger and better-looking Angelus. A hundred years later Darla gets dumped by the vampire she sired for some sixteen-year old cheerleader from Sunnydale.
  • Last-Second Chance: Angelus asks another chance to show Darla he can be evil.
  • Laughing Mad: During the Cold Open, Darla blearily says to Lindsey that her reality has changed; not just herself, but Angel is not Angelus anymore and their relationship is not the same. Lindsey agrees; now they are enemies. Darla grins and corrects him, "Oh no, much worse! Now we're soulmates." Darla starts to giggle maniacally as Lindsey blankly stares.
  • Meaningful Echo: Much is made over Darla's affinity for windows with a view. While he's being pummeled by dear ol' dad (the Master), Angelus promises, "I can give you that view you crave, Darla." Flash forward 120 years later, when an ensouled Angel shows up at Darla's doorstep in China. He intones, "I miss the view."
  • Must Be Invited: Seeing what she thinks is a priest (actually the Master In the Hood) Darla demands to know who invited him in. The Master replies, "You did my dear, last night in your delirium." Of course, at the time Darla assumed he was The Grim Reaper, come to put her out of her misery.
  • Nay-Theist: The prostitute who would become Darla.
  • Neck Snap: Once she realizes there's no returning Angel's soul, Darla gives up and snaps the gypsy's neck, while Dru sings, "They cry out for mercy." Darla thinks for a second, and growls, "Show none."
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Master loses his temper when Angelus won't stop making fun of him and beats the shit out of him. Angelus gets the last laugh by convincing Darla to run away with him despite being beaten so badly he can barely stand.
  • No Name Given: Darla's original self. Looking up the name "Darla", meaning "dear one", Angel realizes that the Master must have given it to her, because it didn't come into common usage until well after she was alive. The whole 140 years they were together, he never knew her real name. Later, Darla tells Lindsey that it's been so long that she doesn't even remember her original name.
  • The Nose Knows: Cordelia suggests Angel locate Darla by driving around in his convertible with the top down and sniffing for her.
  • Once More, with Clarity: This episode offers a very different perspective on the scene in China from Spike's Origins Episode on Buffy.
  • Origins Episode: Producer/writer Tim Minear felt it was time to explore Darla's history, which "should really be her story with Angel throughout the 150 years that they were together." When Joss Whedon pointed out that they were already doing a Spike origin story on Buffy, Minear suggested they do both.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: It hasn't escaped Darla's attention that Angelus only kills murderers, rapists and other "evil-doers".
  • The Power of Acting: Back at Angel HQ, Cordelia gives the 411 on Darla's last-known location. Cordy sweet-talked the property manager by posing as a Darla's (much, much, much) younger sister. Also, their parents are in a coma.
  • Pet the Dog: Angel is far from being a hero in the flashbacks but he does lie to Darla in an attempt to prevent her from slaughtering an innocent family.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Darla has clearly not told Spike and Drusilla about the curse, presumably either because she's worried they'll turn on Angelus or because it's too shameful (in fact, we know that Spike won't learn this until "School Hard"). Meaning that Spike kills the family of the gypsy who could have removed Angel's soul once more, unwittingly taking away Darla's bargaining chip.
  • Punched Across the Room: The Master exhibits his strength by walloping Angelus across his throne room.
  • Retcon: The Master spoke very highly of Angelus on Buffy, and even confessed that he genuinely misses him. This would seem to contradict their meeting in 1760; Angelus has no interest in joining the Order of Aurelius, and is open in his lack of regard for the Master. Then again, by this time Angelus is just a cocky young vampire, he hasn't yet become the single most feared vampire ever.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Angel is sitting alone, sketching a portrait of Darla on a sketchpad. Wesley, hesitantly, enters the room, and stands behind Angel. Angel asks what Wesley wants, and Wesley claims that he's just making sure everything's all right. Without looking up, Angel tells him to buzz off. Wesley asks if something's on Angel's mind, or if there's anything he wants to share? Angel flatly says no. Wesley doesn't seem convinced, and the camera pans to reveal Angel's suite. The floor is littered with sketch paper, all failed attempts by Angel to capture Darla's essence. Oh dear.
  • Spider-Sense: As Angel quietly hustles Darla away from the huddled missionaries, Drusilla glares in the direction of the alley and hisses, "I smell fear."
  • Super Window Jump: Angel grabbing the baby in his arms and leaping through Darla's window. (Sorry for ruining your "view," kitten.)
  • Suicide as Comedy: Holland cheerfully tells Lindsey that did the right thing to bring Darla back, but advises him to empty his office of any "letter-openers, staple guns, even ball-point pens."
  • Tap on the Head: During the tussle with Wolfram & Hart's goons, Darla hits her noggin on a door frame.
  • Team Power Walk: Angelus and his "family" walking amongst the chaos of the Boxer Rebellion. This shot was recycled from the Buffy episode "Fool For Love." The only difference is the focus on Angelus and Darla instead of Spike.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Lindsey fetches Darla some sandwiches from a vending machine, but she's unused to human food. Or perhaps the little matter of the suicidal depression has caused her to lose her appetite.
    • After Gunn and Wesley return from their surveillance of Darla's safe house, Gunn is shown munching on a sandwich.
  • This Is My Chair: As the Master is championing his plan to destroy humanity, Angelus shows his boredom by lounging on the Master's throne.
  • Twerp Sweating / Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Darla introducing her new beau (Angelus) to meet the Master in his underground lair. Darla tries impressing him with her boyfriend's killing record. Angelus, unimpressed with the surroundings, makes fun of the Master's cult and their silly plans for world annihilation. The Master displays statesmanlike patience, but eventually grows tired of Angelus's lack of respect and clobbers him.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Inverted; As things get hot and heavy between her and Lindsey, Darla suddenly curls around his neck and sinks her teeth into it. Lindsey practically leaps ten feet in the air; somehow, the fact that she bit him with blunt, human teeth disturbs him even more.
  • Vampire Detective Series: Subverted:
    Angel: "Come on guys. We are a detective agency. We investigate things. That's what we're good at."
    Cordy: "That's what we suck at. Let's face it, unless there's a website called, we're pretty much out of luck."
  • What Have I Become?: An inversion - Darla was a vampire for so long that being human is literally killing her.
    Darla: What am I?!?
    Lindsey: Darla -
    Darla: Is that it? Am I Darla?
    Lindsey: Yes.
    Darla: Careful. Darla would snap you in half. Is that who I am?
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Much of the episode is taken up with Darla's relationship with Angelus.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Angel tortures Lindsey for information on Darla's location before realising that Lindsey was already trying to call him to tell him where she was.
    Angel: You get one breath to tell me where she is.
    Cordy over Lindsey's phone: Angel Investigations, we help the helpless, how can we help you? ... Hello?
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Lindsey escorts Darla to his office at Wolfram & Hart. Holland Manners enters and says howdy, then asks to talk to Lindsey privately. Out in the hall, Holland points out that it isn't "prudent" to keep Darla in their building now that she's made contact with Angel. Doors might get kicked in. Lindsey explains that he's worried Darla might hurt herself. Holland is happy to learn she is cracking up, then departs, telling Lindsey that he did the right thing.