Derek’s Review – 1.10 ” Parting Gifts”
I thought this episode was lot of fun while also managing to respect the death of Doyle. It was undoubtedly more of a “funny” episode with Cordelia playing tonsil hockey and the introduction of Wesley but I think the death of Doyle hovered over the episode. These characters are ones that don’t deal well with deeper real emotions so I think it would have been disingenuous for them to be coping with his death outright. The change of tone was also appreciated given the last two episodes have been such bummers. It was nice to have an episode where a character didn’t die or all of my hopes and dreams didn’t die. (Bangel furevah!)
I think the episode kept Doyle in mind without openly grieving him all the time. As I said by having Cordelia deal with the passing of the visions the specter of Doyle hovered over the episode. I normally don’t like when characters emotions are explained through exposition but I like they handled it with Barney. I liked Barney in general, I think there was missed opportunity glossing over his interactions with Angel but I thought he fit really well in the episode. Having Cordelia and Angel go up against an Empath Demon after suffering a loss and not really dealing with it makes perfect sense to me. While Angel and Wesley interactions were decidedly comic I think Cordelia and Barney balanced the grief of Doyle’s death. It also didn’t hurt that Barney looks like an evil version of Doyle.
Speaking of Wesley he obviously was the star of the episode. He was a lot of fun and already brought a different unique energy to the group than Doyle, though he also does a foreign accent and a romantic history with Cordelia. Unless it’s Lucille Ball or it’s 1998 and I’m six again; physical comedy rarely works for me. With Wesley though is all-encompassing loser of a personality makes him really endearing to me as well funny. I don’t remember Wesley much from Buffy but he already feels more of a fully formed character than Doyle did in nine episodes.
While I think of the most part this episode balanced the lighter tone with the death of Doyle, I think it was a mistake of Cordelia to be the only one with Barney. It’s true that Cordelia expresses her surface emotions quite often and loudly; so we would a need an empath demon to dig out her real feelings. However Angel is the stonewall when it comes to any emotion more complex than guilt or extreme sport brooding. If the series is about Angel making more connections and going out in the world; this episode should have dealt with Angel’s feelings more. The scene with the Oracles was great and so was him snapping at Wesley about losing someone but I wanted more. I begrudge them focusing on Wesley but I would have liked more time dealing with Angel’s grief.
It’s clear from a behind the scenes TV perspective Welsey fills Doyle’s role of the supporting character. Yet it would bother me if next episode he’s 100% in the group. Angel seems to offer him the eggs at the end more out of pity than a certified stamp of approval. If Wesley is helping out Angel Investigations from now I openly welcome that but if he talks over Doyle’s role of giving Angel pep talks in the basement that will feel like a disrespect to Doyle’s memory. They need to build that relationship the same way they built the Doyle and Angel relationship.
A good start is Angel snapping at Welsey for offering to help because he won’t lose anyone else. It’s the first time since the opening we will really get a grip on Angel’s emotions over Doyle. The audience obviously links Doyle and Wesley but Angel refusal to acknowledge it at the beginning suggests this will a relationship that is going to develop and grow.
Some might feel this episode moves on too quickly from Doyle’s death but the change of tone was refreshing for me. It’s true that Doyle’s death isn’t dealt with directly but that makes sense for the characters and I don’t think they completely forget about Doyle.
67 out of 100