I really feel like people do not appreciate Angel enough. I am the first to admit that before I watched it, I thought it was bogus. Let’s face it, while some of Buffy was amazing, some of it was just plain corny. I thought a SPIN-OFF of Buffy must be 100% corny. Not so. In fact, I think it is overall a better show. Season 1 was a little episodic, but most series’ first season isn’t their best. Season 4 was definitely strange, but a totally necessary element to get the characters to Season 5, which was by far the best. I have to admit, Angel is one of my favorite shows, if not THE favorite.
So here it is, the Top 10 Angel Episodes, as chosen by yours truly.
10. Carpe Noctem
Season 3, Episode 4
Written by Scott Murphy and Directed by James A. Contner
While investigating the mysterious deaths of several young men, Angel’s body gets switched with that of an old man, Marcus. Marcus is thrilled to discover that the constant parties and orgies will not kill his new undead host, and does not want to give up Angel’s body. Angel’s friends soon grow wise to the imposter and rescue the real Angel from his nursing home, dooming Marcus back to his old whithered body and final heart attack.
Season 3, Episode 22
Written and Directed by David Greenwalt
Angel’s son Connor is led to believe that Angel killed Holtz, the only father that Connor had ever known until now. Lorne is about to leave town for Vegas, and decides to take the opportunity to tell Angel that Cordelia loves him. With the Groosalugg gone, now is the perfect time for the two to finally meet and begin their relationship. Before they can do so, Cordelia’s demon guide Skip kidnaps her from Earth to a higher plane of existance. Angel, anxiously awaiting her arrival, is surprised by a vengeful Connor, who seals him in a metal coffin and drops him in the ocean to live forever in black silence.
8. The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco
Season 5, Episode 6
Written and Directed by Jeffrey Bell
Years after a luchador’s four brothers were killed by a demon who snatches the hearts out of heroes, the beast returns. Angel must team up with Numero Cinco (whom he just had thrown out on his arse) to battle the demon and restore his honor. This of course leads ultimately to the death of Cinco, who is escorted into the afterlife by his brothers.
Season 5, Episode 11
Written by Steven S. DeKnight & Drew Goddard and Directed by Jefferson Kibbee
The gang finds out that Buffy and friends have “activated” every potential Vampire Slayer. Unfortunately, this includes a very unstable Dana, who was kidnapped and tortured as a child. She has already broken out of her psychiatric facility and killed several people. Spike is the first to find Dana, who injects him with a sedative and cuts off his hands. We come to learn that Dana mistakenly thinks Spike is the one who tortured her and killed her family. Angel comes to the rescue and is forced to deliver the sick girl to Buffy’s goons.
6. Why We Fight
Season 5, Episode 13
Written by Steven S. DeKnight & Drew Goddard and Directed by Terrence O’Hara
In the present, Angel’s friends are kidnapped and bound by a mysterious man. Flashback to 1943: Angel gets recruited by the military to board a trapped submarine, as no human could withstand the cold and pressure at the bottom of the ocean. The man in charge on the submarine is Lawson, the same man who has kidnapped the gang in the present. Angel soon discovers that he is not alone on the submarine… evil Spike is there as well, as are two other vampires known as Nostroyev and the Prince of Lies (who is hilarious). The vampires want to kill the humans, but Angel convinces them not to, or else they would ALL be stuck at the bottom of the ocean. Meanwhile Lawson, the only man capable of getting them home, gets stabbed, and is dying. Angel must turn him into a vampire in order to save the rest of the crew. He lets Lawson go, but warns him that if he ever sees him again, he will kill him. Back to the present, Lawson and Angel fight (surprise?) and Angel eventually stakes him, with the assumption that Lawson’s purpose in coming back was just that.
5. Life of the Party
Season 5, Episode 5
Written by Ben Edlund and Directed by Bill Norton
Lorne throws a Halloween party for the gang and their new Wolfram & Hart clients. During the party, things take a strange turn when all of Lorne’s advice is being taken too literally. Fred and Wesley are stumbling around like drunks after Lorne tells them to loosen up. Gunn is just peeing on damn near everything trying to “stake out his territory”. After these and other crazy antics, Lorne’s empathic subconscious manifests itself as a large and violent demon. Lorne learns that these events are a result of his sleep deprivation. Eventually Lorne’s sleep is restored and the demon is neutralized.
Season 2, Episode 7
Written and Directed by Tim Minear
*The flashback scenes in this episode echo those of the Buffy episode “Fool for Love”, and it is especially interesting and enjoyable if watched sequentially.*
In 1609, we see Darla as a prostitute dying of syphilis. She is visited by the Master, who makes her a vampire. In 1760, Darla brings Angelus to the Master to show him off, but Angelus is disrespectful and the Master forces her to choose between them. Darla chooses Angelus. In 1880, Angelus, Darla and Drusilla find William. Drusilla finds him fascinating and decides to make him into a vampire (Spike!). In 1989, Darla begs a Gypsy to remove the curse on Angelus… the one that gave him a soul. Spike has already killed the Gypsy’s family, so her request goes ungranted. The next year during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Angel tracks down Darla and asks to be at ther side once more, despite his soul, but Darla turns him away when he refuses to feed from a baby. In the present, a newly-revived human Darla begs Angel to make her a vampire again, but he of course refuses.
3. Not Fade Away
Season 5, Episode 22 (Series Finale)
Written by Joss Whedon & Jeffrey Bell and Directed by Jeffrey Bell
Angel has joined the evil Circle of the Black Thorn. They doubt his loyalties, so he fatally wounds his friend Drogyn and relinquishes the reward of the Shanshu Prophecy: humanity. Hamilton, the Senior Partners’ liason, has taken Drogyn from Illyria and beaten her badly. Angel asks his old enemy Lindsey for help in bringing down the Black Thorn. He then tells his friends to live this day as if it were their last, because it “probably is”. Angel visits his son Connor, and they have a very fulfilling conversation about their past and why Angel wiped his memory. Lorne is in a dark mood, and goes to sing at a karaoke bar. Lindsey spends the day with Eve, and expresses suspicion about Angel. Gunn visits his friend Anne, who runs a homeless shelter. Spike goes to open mic and bravely recites a poem that got him teased on the night he was sired. The crowd loves it. A distraught Wesley tends to Illyria’s wounds, and to comfort him, she offers to assume the form of Fred. He refuses. That night, each of them goes about their task, which is to assasinate a member of the Black Thorn. Lorne, however, has a different job. He tells Angel that after this, they will never see him again. Lorne kills Lindsey, and walks away, disgusted with himself. The gang all fight the best they can, but not everyone gets away clean. When they meet at the Hyperion Hotel, the immortals seem to be successful, but Gunn is fatally wounded. Wesley is dead. The full fury of the Senior Partners comes down upon them. Thousands of demons, giants, and a dragon. Angel claims the dragon, and says, “Let’s go to work.”
2. Smile Time
Season 5, Episode 14
Written by Joss Whedon & Ben Edlund and Directed by Ben Edlund
A little boy watches a program called “Smile Time”. One of the puppets tells the boy to put his hands on the television, and when he does, his energy is drained and he is left immobile with a creepy joker’s smile stuck on his face. The gang discovers that this is not the first case of such a strange condition, and investigate further. Angel breaks into the “Smile Time” studio and ignoring the “DON’T” sign on the door, enters a hidden room. A man with a towel sits under a large egg. The egg opens, and a blast of energy tosses Angel across the room and out of sight. When Angel picks himself up off of the floor he is a PUPPET. Puppet Angel returns to Wolfram & Hart. Hilarity ensues when Spikes calls Angel a “wee little puppet man”, and the two get into an epic physical fight. Angel gets accidentally roughed up by his werewolf girlfriend Nina, who apparently has a taste for felt. Meanwhile, Gunn’s newly acquired law knowledge is seemingly faded overnight, and he makes a deal with a Wolfram & Hart doctor to bring it back, unknowingly starting the chain of events that leads to Fred’s demise. The gang then head over to “Smile Time” and Wesley destroys the mysterious egg while Puppet Angel puts on his “vamp face” and he and rest kick some puppet ass. Back at the office, Fred confesses her feelings for Wesley, and grabs and kisses him.
1. Are You Now or Have You Ever Been
Season 2, Episode 2
Written by Tim Minear and Directed by David Semel
Angel asks Wesley and Cordelia to look into the history of the Hyperion Hotel. Flashback to the 1950s, the manager sends the bellhop to give the guest in 217 his weekly bill. He makes his delivery quickly and runs away as Angel, from 217, opens the door. In the lobby, Angel observes the manager turning away a black family from the hotel. When he makes it back to his room, he finds a woman in there, claiming to be hiding from her boyfriend. In the present, Cordelia discovers a photograph of Angel in the hotel’s lobby, dated 1952. They realize that Angel has a personal connection to the hotel. Back in 1952, a man in the room next to Angel’s listens to a record, talks to himself, and shoots himself in the head. When the manager and bellhop discover the body, they start hearing demonic voices that convince them to hide the body. The guests speculate about the suicide. Judy, the woman from Angel’s room, confesses that the man searching for her was not her boyfriend, but a PI sent by the bank she robbed. She stole the money in anger when the fired her upon finding out she was part black. Angel tells her that “fear makes people do stupid things”, referring to her former employers. Angel helps Judy stash the bag of money, and starts hearing the demonic voices himself. Angel goes to a bookstore to discover the way to corporealize and slay the demon. Meanwhile, the PI reveals Judy’s secret, and the guests turn on her. In a panic, she tells everyone about the blood she found in Angel’s room. She cries as the mob attacks Angel. They drag him into a hallway, tie a noose, and push him from the railing to hang. The crowd seems boastful at first, and then they begin to realize what they’ve done. After they scatter, Angel opens his eyes, and frees himself. The demon appears, gloating about Judy’s “delicious” betrayal. The demon says, “There’s an entire hotel here just full of tortured souls that could use your help.” Angel tells the demon, “Take them all.” In the present, the gang perform the spell to corporealize the demon, and Angel kills it. He heads upstairs to find Judy, now an old woman, still in her room. She tells him that the voices are gone, and the she needs to rest. Just before she passes away, she apologizes for killing Angel, and he forgives her. He heads downstairs and tells the team that they are moving into the hotel, their home for the next three seasons.