William’s Review – 1.03 “In the Dark”
In the Dark more so than the pilot was able to really establish why you should care about Angel. It both showed him as very heroic with how self-sacrificing he was and very human by his desire to have a normal life.
The opening with Spike was brilliant. I loved getting to again subvert the noir/superhero genre by poking fun at our hero. It was also great at establishing Spike: Charismatic, funny, and evil. Spike’s addition to the episode was a welcome change as we got a very interesting villain. His constant quipping (“What’s next? Vampire Cowboy”) and be thoroughly entertained. He would have come across as all bark and no bite if it weren’t for the scene between Spike, Doyle, and Cordillia. James Marster’s was able strip away all the funny with just the line “You’ll be dead before it leaves the bow.” Spike definitely appeared as a valid threat and was a joy to watch.
We didn’t just get one interesting villain, but two. Marcus the torture vampire was a nice contrast to Spike with his very quiet creepiness. I liked that we got our hero in a position where the stakes were raised by him being caught and tortured. Marcus’s “What do you want?” while poking him with hot pokers was effective on many levels. The main one being that we are getting more insight on Angel as a person. The inclusion of all the torture scenes let us get a clear indication on Angel’s true motivations. To be forgiven. I also enjoyed the fight between Marcus and Angel under the pier. It was well staged and was an interesting location that we don’t normally get.
The last scene is what really put this episode together to me. On first watch I was really down on this scene as I couldn’t get over the fact that if you are force for good you would probably want the “armor” the ring provided. But on rewatch none of that bothered me. One the ring would obviously pose a huge risk in keeping, but more importantly it led to Angel’s ending speech. Angel’s speech about the consequences of keeping the ring exemplified why he is our hero in this story. It was a very self-sacrificing moment him destroying the ring and reiterated the shows mission statement that Angel on his road of redemption is going to protect all the “weak ones lost in the night.”
There was a lot going on here. I liked the fact that we finally got not only one interesting villain but two. However this inclusion plus the additional story line of Rachel and her abusive boyfriend made the episode stuffed. It lost a little bit of focus throughout and I would have liked to see more from either the Spike or Marcus’s storyline. Rachel’s storyline was the most clumsily handled. Her character was left only to show the parallels in Angel’s story about taking the easy out or taking the difficult path.
Other than that there were many small logic issues that continued to build up. Why does Doyle have ring smelling powers? Why is no one calling the police when a Van busts on to the pier? Why is no one calling the police when Angel bursts into flames? This could be seen as nitpicking and honestly it didn’t affect my enjoyment that much it just took me out of some of the moments.
Seriously though, does Doyle have other powers being half demon? I’m assuming not and they just wanted to keep a steady pace in the episode.
Score: 69 out of 100