Derek’s Review -1.09 “Hero”
While the ending is obviously the strongest part of this episode, the beginning does a good job of transitioning the focus from Angel to Doyle. After “I Will Remember You” it is necessary to deal with the fallout and Angel being a funk makes perfect sense. It is however quite seamless how the central character of the episode switches from Angel to Doyle. They have a lot to do in this episode, mainly wrapping up all of Doyle’s storylines in one episode so they can kill him off. It’s obviously rushed but besides the acceleration of Cordelia and Doyle’s relationship it doesn’t really feel that way. All of the emotional beats of Doyle’s story work well, leading to that ultimate sacrifice.
The shock and emotional gravitas of killing off one of your main characters, even a supporting one, can’t be denied. Doyle’s death is something you are totally not excepting. I can’t get so emotionally tied to Doyle’s death scene but I don’t think that’s a fault of the episode or show. I don’t know Doyle that well as a character and his death happens so quickly, I think it’s meant to be more shocking than tragic. The very final scene brings home the grief in a superb way but as for the sacrifice itself, it happens to abruptly and out of nowhere that Doyle’s face is melting right around the same time you’ve absorbed what’s going down.
The unfortunate thing is though that the thing or demons that kill Doyle are not particularly. There is a reason why they have been the antagonists in about a billion video games, people hate Nazis. People also aren’t too wild on demons, so jamming together should be the most instantly hateable villain of all time. Unless the writers throw every Nazi cliché in the book at you and really drive home their “metaphor”. A “metaphor” which is about as transparent as Cordelia’s thought process. The Scourge are just lazy and uninspired. It’s a cool idea (kind of) and I like how it fits back in with Doyle’s past. The fact that The Scourge force Doyle to confront his past and demon heritage is a benefit to including Nazi demons. At the same time though they are Nazi demons, dressed in Nazi uniforms, goose-stepping, “heil”-ing and having Nazi speeches. It is just really uninspired and lazy writing. The disappointment of The Scourge leads to Doyle’s death being more shocking but it’s mostly because you can’t believe these idiots are the ones who kill him.
The Listers aren’t much better. The only one we get to spend any real time with is Rief who fits the petulant teenager role to a tee. I don’t dislike the Lister demons or want the Nazis to win. Well who does want the Nazis to win? But I’m not overly connected to them, they are really just a stand-in for Doyle’s previous failure when facing The Scourge. That’s fine but The Listers have no real character of their own.
All that being said it doesn’t take away from the incredible power in Angel and Cordelia’s silent grief as they watch the commercial with Doyle. There is just something about that silence and their faces as we hear Doyle’s voice and see him through the fuzziness of the TV. It’s the strongest single scene of the series thus far. It is so easy to not only understand Angel and Cordelia’s grief but feel it as audience absorbing that Doyle really has died and that he’s “done”.
The Bottom Line:
The Scourge are the most monster-of-the-week monsters the show has ever had so far. They aren’t quite as forgettable as Ronald from “I Fall to Pieces” but no one is going to remember them. Doyle is the main attraction here and his sacrifice and Glen Quinn’s performance manage to pull a mediocre episode to a comfortably good quality.
62 out of 100