Derek’s Review – 1.12 “Expecting”
The best thing that could be said for this episode is it follows a basic TV episode structure where there is a beginning middle and end. They’re aren’t any major plot holes, it flows, it even balances some jokes and serious moments. I even really like the whole Angel being Cordelia’s family sub-plot. The issue is:
Literally everything else. The best word to describe this episode is upsetting and although Tim Minear described this episode as being about “body horror”, that’s not what why it upsets me. It is not the first time that an Angel episode has involved Angel saving a helpless woman. It is not even the first time that helpless woman has been Cordelia. The problem this is the first time that the woman has had no agency in what is happening to her. Sure there have been women who were certainly more helpless than others but the episode at least makes an attempt for them to have some kind of strength. Besides Cordelia smashing the frozen demon, she plays almost no part in her salvation. The curse that Cordelia and the other woman are under is the most upsetting thing in the episode because it completely turns the woman into objects. It is even worse that Wesley makes a joke about hormones at the doctor because the connection is drawn by the episode that hormones make those crazy women a danger to themselves and everyone around them.
While the curse is the worst thing about the episode it is not the only thing that makes it a total failure. The very concept of using the trope of the mystical pregnancy just dooms this episode right off the bat. When Cordelia wakes up and discovers she’s pregnant, she is immediately and rightfully distraught. Extracting the demon fatal side of the pregnancy, Cordelia is a young adult barely able to support herself, a real non-demonic pregnancy would be a distressing event. But why does the first time a character has sex on the show do they need to be pregnant? And why do you need spend every scene before the pregnancy talking about how the character is irresponsible? And why does yet another episode focus on a woman being victimized by a man and then saved by a manpire?
There is no reason.
Speaking of questions, what are we supposed to feel about Wesley? If this is the episode that is supposed to fully integrate him into the group that would be a horrible mistake because he is the most unlikable he has ever been. In “Parting Gifts” he was blundering idiot who was becoming self-aware. In “Somnambulist” he suspected with good reason that Angel might be killing but still was a bit antagonistic. In this episode every scene he doesn’t have with Cordelia he spends talking badly about her. Yet by episode’s end he is one of the two people to whom she trusts her life. I’m sorry, no. While it being firmly established that Angel and Cordelia are family is one of the nice things about this episode and very earned. Wesley in way deserves such praise and adoration from Cordelia for being a patriarchal dillweed the whole episode.
While I enjoy that Cordelia’s idea of torture involves Madonna, Angel’s scene with the bartender is the clear winner and only great scene in the episode. Angel identifying himself as Cordelia’s family is a big moment for him and it is one that they have been building since the first episode. He called Doyle his friend in “Parting Gifts” but this is closest he’’s been to any human that’s name doesn’t start with “B” and end in “uffy”.
The Bottom Line:
By making this a mystical pregnancy episode it is pretty failed from the start. They could subvert in some way or at have Cordelia play a more active role but they don’t. The episode does succeed in what it is trying to do but what it is trying to do is just offensive and upsetting.
39 out of 100