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Angel: Season Two Essay

Season Two: Fun Was Had

Swami: "You're deeply ambivalent."
Angel: "Yeah, well, I am, and I'm not."

Season two, kicked off on September 26, 2000, was significantly and consistently better than season one. The supporting cast coming together was part of it, and the plotlines played out even better than I could have hoped. The Darla/Drusilla arc in particular was fabulous fun; it was wise of the Angel Powers That Be to bring back our favorite lady vamps. But the main reason why season two was so good, in my opinion, was David Boreanaz. He was brooding, gorgeous, funny, sexy – he's everything I ever wanted in a vampire.

We had the absolute best crossover, "Fool for Love" and "Darla," with yummy flashbacks, great location shots, and fabulous costumes. The issue of romantic entanglements for our hero was also resolved in season two; Angel could now have gratuitous sex and not lose his soul. Think of the possibilities! Kate, Anne, Lilah, Drusilla, Lindsey, Wes, Gunn...okay, I'm getting carried away, but it did really open things up for his character.

Season two brought us flashbacks to Angel in the 1950s, ("Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been"), where we were introduced to the creepy and gorgeous Hyperion Hotel in the Heart of Hollywood, future home of Angel Investigations. We met future regulars Lorne and Fred, were entertained with vampire moonbathing, Cordelia in a bikini, an elevator to Hell complete with Musak; the dancing skills of Numfar the demon, vampire motivational training, and a visit from Harmony. Yes, season two had some wonderful moments.

So there we were, happily involved in episodes about Darla and Drusilla and Lindsey and Lilah and will Angel go bad or won't he and Angel having sex (at last), and then we took an unexpected sharp left turn into Pylea. What happened? I mean, I really did enjoy the Pylea episodes; they were funny, clever, and different, but they kind of left me going, "Huh?"

Darla and Drusilla and Angel – oh my

Drusilla: "Oh, it's beautiful! Dank and dark. It reeks of death."
Darla: "That's motor oil, Dru."

The Darla/Drusilla story arc with its sexual hijinks and climactic rampage was Angel at its best. I have a soft spot for our original Buffy vampire family – Angel, Darla, Drusilla, and Spike – and season two gave us some of their finest moments. (Well, except for Spike, who spent only about five minutes in season two and didn't return again until season five.) (But it was worth the wait, wasn't it?)

The plot twists were classic: discovering Darla had been brought back as a human; having Drusilla arrive and turn her; seeing Angel and Darla in flashbacks going all the way back to their beginning. Season two of Angel may have been Drusilla's finest hour. (At least so far.) She and Darla made a striking and frightening duo as they did some serious shopping and laid waste to a lot of evil lawyers.

Angel as character got a full workout in season two. (His shirt came off a lot, too.) We saw him in the 1950s, post-soul but pre-hero, closed in and introverted. We saw his early relationship with Darla, and how it changed when he got back that pesky soul. Angel has always reminded me of the vampires in Anne Rice's chronicles, and a lot of the elements I really liked about Rice's books – the link between sex and death, the references to God, the attachment vamps form for each other, and so on – started creeping into Angel in season two.

My favorite scene in the entire season was probably the episode where Angel and Darla had a brutal sexual encounter, with the action and dialogue paralleling his experience with Buffy. That encounter brought Angel back from the brink and restored him to the fold of Angel Investigations. I didn't care much for Angel going into brood mode, but David Boreanaz pulls off funny and brooding equally well. I loved his humble attempts to get back into the good graces of his staff near the end of the season.

The staff of Angel Investigations

Wesley: "Well, our discussions tend to go about three minutes, then it's strictly name-calling and hair-pulling."

Angel's crack (or crank) investigation team began coming together in season two, with Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn developing as characters and doing a lot of bonding.

Cordelia, feeling the weight of her Gift, became a bit more serious, and was understandably the most hurt by Angel's rejection. It was karmic somehow that she topped off the season by becoming Pylea royalty ("Off with their heads! Kidding..."). She finally got to be a real princess and found it wasn't what she really wanted. She also had a chance to pass on the visions, and chose not to. Cordelia, a hero in the making. Who would have thought?

Wesley managed to get cuter in season two – I don't quite know how he did it. He also became easier to take seriously, and he even became the boss and made Angel get coffee for him. He acquired a sex life, as well.

Charles Gunn joined Angel Investigations, and spent way too long not getting paid for it. The writers made him three-dimensional: driven, self-destructive, and lacking warmth at first – at least until Wesley took a bullet for him. Gunn demonstrated over and over that he was the best actual detective in their detective agency, too.

Characters developing away

Lorne to Angel: "You don't have to sing. A break for you, a break for me, and a break for Mr. Manilow."

In season two, we got about a minute and a half of Faith, which wasn't enough to hold us until season four.

We got a good bit of Kate the cop, who became very Muldery – less makeup, messy hair, nondescript clothes, exiled to the basement. Even though her character worked better as an obsessed member of the opposition, and the way Angel saved her from suicide was touching, Kate as a character never quite resonated for me and I wasn't sorry to see her go.

The Angel Powers That Be may have attempted to introduce another possible blonde love interest for Angel in season two -- Anne, Miss Teenage Homeless Shelter, a character who has shown up multiple times in the Buffyverse with several different names.

Merle the snitch was a lot of fun. ("Godzilla, Darsilla, whatever.")

The best character in season two, though, was Lorne, a.k.a. Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, karaoke demon host extraordinaire. He functioned as both a psychotherapist and a stand-up comic, and he looked like he belonged in that makeup and wardrobe. From his debut in the very first scene right through the end of the season, I loved every scene Lorne was in and every word he spoke. He made me laugh out loud constantly, and I particularly loved the way he interacted with Angel – calling him "sweetie," "angel-face," and "a hunk of hero sandwich," and asking him out to Elton John concerts.

Wolfram & Hart at its best

Lilah: "What's wrong, Lindsey? You bitter because your girlfriend didn't slit my throat?"
Lindsey: "That might be overstating it. More like bummed."

Emotional, conflicted, lonely, in desperate need of mousse, Lindsey shone as our favorite Wolfram & Hart lawyer in season two. With a Krycek-like prosthetic hand and a serious crush on Darla, Lindsey rampaged through the season with the help of the amusingly despicable Lilah Morgan. I absolutely adored the catty, vicious way Stephanie Romanov and Christian Kane played off of each other. I particularly enjoyed watching Lindsey throw the division to Lilah in his swan song episode, "Dead End." That was actually nice of him and probably saved her life.

I hated to see Lindsey go. Lindsey and Angel had such a weird, wild, and wonderful relationship. Angel had such a short fuse with Lindsey, and they would go all schoolyard on each other at the least provocation. Lindsey jumped from one side of the fence to the other more than once; he was morally ambiguous and unpredictable. And cute. Did I say cute? Let me say it again – he was way cute.

And of course, I hated seeing Holland Manners go, as well: he was a favorite of mine, and deserved better than to go out as Drusilla's lunch. The elevator scene with the late Holland and the demonic Musak was one of my favorite scenes in the season.

And then there was... Pylea

Lorne: "They need the hotspot because they're going to Pylea, my home dimension."
Aggie: "And you're not going with them?"
Lorne: "Hey, I'd rather have a hydrochloric acid facial. I'd rather invite a hive of wasps to nest in my throat. I'd rather sit through a junior high school production of 'Cats.' You see where I'm going with this?"

Pylea was a great place to be and I enjoyed it; it was wonderful and strange, sort of like horror slapstick. (I mean, what can you say about Cordelia creeping around with Lorne's head, and Wes and Gunn helping a bunch of renegade cows storm the castle?) It was a lot of fun to meet Lorne's family ("We ate the wrong son") and it was a wonderful introduction to our new cast member, the brilliant Fred Burkle, in rags and living in a cave. I was particularly touched by Angel and Fred's "handsome man saved me from the monsters" scene.

But it also felt odd, as if the whole three-episode story was tacked on at the last minute. In truth, I would have loved it if the final episode of season two involved Darla, Drusilla, and Lindsey. Ah, well.

Set-ups for later seasons

Season two ended with Fred and Cordelia rescued, and everyone returning safely to the ranch where, unfortunately, Angel got some seriously bad news about the love of his life. No real cliffhanger there, though. No hints as to what was coming in season three.

Angel didn't turn into Angelus in season two, when we kept getting hints that he might. We had to wait until season four for Angelus.

Holtz the vampire hunter was mentioned in season two; he became a major character in season three.

Season two was the last time we saw Buffy and Angel together, on the same network, at the same night. Essentially, our favorite couple got a network divorce.

On to season three,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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