Somnambulist has a special place in my heart. Yes, there’s the Kate thing, and I do have a Kate thing*, but I hate ‘Sense and Sensitivity’ (another Kate episode) with such a passion that it’s the lowest of all on my Season 1 ratings scale and I didn’t even mention it in my AtS 1.1-1.10 post (that icky touchy-feely-dorky dialogue! Angel in *that outfit*! Blah!).
So it’s not just Kate-lurv feeding the Somn-lurv. I think what I like is the ‘coming out’ aspect: Angel being forced to reveal to a colleague/acquaintance that he is a vampire, and the fall-out that has on the Angel/Kate relationship. I mean, she was starting to seriously crush out on him by this point, and then he opens this whole scary world to her that she can’t handle. You thought she had issues before this….
*But the vicious rumor that I stalked Elisabeth Rohm at the 2000 Bronze Posting Board Party is just that, a vicious rumor. In point of fact, *she* led me on by grabbing me around the waist when I asked her to pose for a fan pic!
For more thoughts on Somnambulist and other Kate Lockley eps, see my essay, “It’s Not Easy Being Blue: Understanding Kate Lockley”.
“Expecting” marks the first in the almost yearly “why is someone always trying to impregnate Cordelia with their demon spawn?” episodes. The other two are, of course, “Epiphany” in Season 2 and “Apocalypse, Nowish” in Season 4. Cordelia gets a reprieve in Season 3 when it’s Darla who gets knocked up instead.
AtS: a good, old-fashioned show where the men beat up the corpses and the women have the babies.
One of the humorous aspects of season 1 was the constant hard time the writers gave Angel. In almost every episode, there would be a gay/effeminate jab at the Broody One. Angel “the magnificent poof” with the Nancy-boy hair gel, who Cordelia’s friends assume is gay in Expecting, who is the one who should be wearing the push-up bra in The Ring, yada yada. Angel with the clothes and the hair, the almost total lack of a sex-life, the sensitive broody artist who likes ballet and opera and is proud of his good penmanship. Angel can afford the teasing because he kicks A better than anyone.
“Expecting” also raises a vitally important question. You get the impression from this episode that Cordelia was not a virgin before “Expecting”, and yet Xander *was* a virgin when he slept with Faith. So no Cordy/Xander sex. Any speculation on when Cordelia lost her virginity?
One thing that Expecting makes clear is that joining up with Angel was good for Wesley. I mean, yeah, ultimately it introduced him to his dark side and got him killed, but at least in seasons 1 and 2 and part of 3, it gave Wesley a chance to be a fighter and not just a book-man, which increased his confidence and allowed the warrior for good within to come out. OTOH, Wesley got his share of gay/effeminate jokes, too, over the years (including in Expecting).
Almost from the inception of my website, I had Evil on BtVS broken down into discrete categories: Predatory Evil, Evil-as-Chaos, Evil-as-Corruption, and Evil-as-Order. I didn’t categorize Good in the same way for a long time. “She” was one of the episodes that made me realize I *could* sub-divide Good with the same categories. This is the episode where I identified “Good-as-Chaos” (I think “Buffy vs. Dracula” turned me onto “Predatory Good”, and “Good-as-Corruption” came from “Gingerbread”).
The idea popped in my head when the Oden Tal demon calls Jiera “the bringer of chaos”. From his point of view, she is destroying his society. From her point of view, she is fighting for the basic rights of women. It’s that same interesting sympathetic angle you get on revolutionaries and terrorists in Deep Space Nine’s Bajoran/Cardassian conflict.
Another interesting thing about “She” is that that episode was supposed to mark the debut of a new, recurring character on the show, Jhiera. According to a TV guide article that came out at the time, she was supposed to be an occasional, morally ambiguous ally to the gang who also had her own agenda and got in their way from time to time too. Sort of “our pal the feminist terrorist from Oden Tal”. Since she wasn’t that popular with fans, though, they invented a different character to play a similar role on the series, and named him Charles Gunn.
The highlight of “She” on DVD, of course, are the outtakes of Wesley and Angel dancing at Cordelia’s party. Check out the closing credits and dance like a dork!
I don’t have a whole lot to say about “IGYUMS”. I liked the concept of looking at demon possession from a religious point of view, and of course the twist with the sociopathic child was chillingly clever. I sort of wish they’d explored Angel’s connection to the Christian religion more in the series as a whole, and his relationship to Catholicism in particular. But that’s one place Joss rarely goes, as it opens up a can of worms he doesn’t like to chew on (he’d rather face the hordes of angry viewers complaining about Willow being a lesbian after “New Moon Rising” than explore *actual* religions and the religious beliefs of his characters, like Willow being Jewish. Hence the need to invent the PTBs). At any rate, the only reason Angel even blinks at the nun in this episode (“nuns are my thing!”) is because she’s nobody’s victim. Tough-ass nun.
Angel(us) and Darla
It’s hard to believe that “The Prodigal” is only the first in what will be a series of flashback episodes that flesh out the Angel(us)/Darla relationship. That relationship is so ingrained in my psyche now that it feels like it’s been there longer.
Maybe it has. That short sequence in “Becoming” made Darla intriguing in a way that season 1 BtVS didn’t, but up until The Prodigal, all we had of Darla was season 1 of BtVS and Angel’s siring in Becoming, and that didn’t tell us much. Watching that sequence in the episode “Angel” where Darla tells Buffy that she and Angel were a thing for “several generations” just made you want to go, “Yeah, sure, sounds epic. *yawn* What kept you together? Crazy glue?,” the time it first aired.
So The Prodigal was just more back story at the time. But it was hella back story, harbinger of things to come. Yes, I am a frothing-at-the-mouth Darla/Angel(us) shipper.
Angel(us) and fathers
Trevor Lockley: “You got any kids, Angel?”
Trevor Lockley: “Right. Then don’t think you know how a father feels, or why he does the things he does.”
What interests me in this episode, re: Kate is not her relationship with her father, but Angel’s relationship with the relationship between Kate and her father.
Retired police officer Trevor Lockley is making some money on the side protecting guys he thinks are trafficking illegal auto parts. Or that he *hopes* are trafficking illegal auto parts. They’re not, they’re big teh_ev0l!!1! demon thugs.
At any rate, Angel wants to protect Kate from being hurt by her father. He’s seen Trevor Lockley in action before, after all–the way Trevor threw Kate’s magic-induced confrontation of him in Sense and Sensitivity back in her face. So in classic paternalistic fashion, Angel sets out to confront Trevor and save Trevor on his own without telling Kate about Trevor’s misdeeds *or* his investigation of them, and without giving Kate a chance to be involved in any way.
So it makes sense that Kate would blame Angel for her father’s death even though Angel didn’t *do* the actual killing.
Kate’s relationship with her dad is contrasted with Liam’s relationship with his own father. Liam wants to blame all his misbehavior on the impossibility of *ever* pleasing his father or meeting his father’s impossible standards for behavior. His father wants to blame all Liam’s misbehavior on his son’s inability to understand that a father just wants the best for/from his son. Liam finally has enough and leaves home and heads right into the arms of the predatory blonde who will become the major influence on his new unlife the way his father was the major influence on his human life.
Darla’s loving amusement at VampLiam’s insistence upon slaughtering his whole family to “get the last word” is now a legendary scene among Buffyverse fans:
Darla: Your victory over him took but moments. But his defeat of you will last lifetimes.
VampLiam: What are you talking about? He can’t defeat me now.
Darla: Nor can he ever approve of you… in this world, or any other. What we once were informs all that we have become. The same love will infect our hearts, even if they no longer beat. Simple death won’t change that.
VampLiam: Is this the work of love?
One of the masterpieces of the season.
Note to self: gotta revisit this one. It will be essential background later in season 6.