Derek’s Review – 3.01 “Heartthrob”

The Good

If you’ve been following this rewatch with any regularity you should know one thing about me. All I need to be happy when it comes to Angel, is Angel and Cordelia together doing things. This episode gave me that and for that I’m grateful. I enjoyed this episode. It was quite simplistic and dealt with Buffy a character that has no place on this show (I’ll explain more in a bit. I really did enjoy this as season premiere. It did deal with Buffy’s death but I liked this for what it told us about Angel, completely separate from his relationship with Buffy.

Angel’s response to Buffy’s death is a demonstration of how the character has grown and changed in two seasons. Angel in season one would’ve been destroyed by Buffy’s death. Buffy was very much the center of his world. She was his only human connection. Now he has a support system around him (Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn) and people who rely on him (Fred). Initially Angel was a character who shunned all human contact, now I do think his greatest fear is to be alone. Still he’s comfortable enough in his own skin now that losing the love of his life doesn’t destroy him.

The Bad

I didn’t much care for James personally. I don’t think there was anything wrong with him per say. He was such an obvious Spike clone that I couldn’t care much about him. The concept of him charging after Angel and Cordelia was engaging visual but he was a one-note nothing character.

Welsey and Gunn were barely used again. It’s forgivable because this is a premiere they wanted to tell one singular story. Angel and how he relates to women in his life, now and then was that story. Wesley and Gunn don’t factor in. I’m sure I wouldn’t have any problem with this if I was watching this in real time. If this was the first Angel I’d seen in months, it’d be fine, I’m just getting off an arc where Wesley and Gunn (especially he latter) were severely underutilized.

The Unknown:

Buffy is one of my favorite characters of all time. Angel needed to address her death. However she has no place in this show’s universe. Buffy feels like such a foreign element on Angel. Buffy was always a character with a strong sense of self. Buffy knew who she was and what she was supposed to do. No one on Angel knows who they are or what they are supposed to do. I can’t get really invested in Buffy’s death just watching Angel because that character doesn’t belong in this show. Angel divorced us from Buffy in “Sanctuary” his angry words to her remain true. “You don’t belong here. Go home.” I do think this needed to be addressed and this episode handles it with a lot of grace. Angel and Cordelia’s reaction show how much they cared and more importantly understood Buffy. I’m also glad that we can move on now and deal with more important stuff like a very pregnant murderous Darla.

Favorite Moment:

It’s obviously Angel telling Cordelia that he has already accepted Buffy’s death and confessing his guilt to that acceptance. It’s so much of why I loved this episode that I don’t need to talk more about it. I’m just recognizing it has the best/favorite moment, a honor it fully deserves.

Bottom Line:

I enjoyed this a lot but it’s not a fantastic episode of Angel. It only deals with two characters and even though they are my favorites, the rest of the cast is too under used. This episode does have more to say about Angel than how he felt about Buffy, but it does revolve around this singular idea and almost nothing else. As such I can’t give a really high score as much I enjoyed it.

64 out of 100

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