Sense and Sensitivity
Written by: Tim Minear
Directed by: James A Contner
Air Date: Nov. 9, 1999

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In my previous revu (get it?) I mentioned that I’d forgotten how episodic this show was in its first season. That continues to be the case, here, as well, with another mostly fun, played-for-laughs episode, but one that ends on a much darker note. I like “BtVS” and “Angel” when the jokes or the gimmicks are used to bring out truths for the characters or us as viewers. And the darkness of Kate’s life, as featured here for the first time, is just that: dark. Its the first episode where we really start to get any further depth into her persona and its a welcome addition to the show, but it just continues to make me sad that they never go anywhere with these two, even if it is only on a professional level. I understand what happens between them in the coming episodes, but this one in particular reminds me of all the setup and how little payoff there really is.

In a pretty fun twist, Angel is asked – for the first time – to really stick to to a human being for once. Kate asks him to help locate “Little” Tony, a local stereotype. He is clearly a criminal and Angel uses his skills to track him down when the police either can’t, or won’t. This leads to a confusing but funny sequence in which Angel attempts to board a cruise line at midnight while Tony and some goons wait for their ship to take them out of the city. The confusing part is, when did Angel have time to change, and where did he learn to act this way? The funny part is that he changed and acts this way. Its comical, it plays to the strengths of David Boreanaz who usually has to play somber and brooding, but this episode provides him with the first real chance to act outside that range. And it is, for the most part, a treat.

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The episode mechanic used is a “talking stick” used by a sorcerer in the employ of Wolfram & Hart, the evil law firm we hear about, but haven’t really seen much of (this will change starting now). It causes everyone that holds it to express their true feelings, even to great extremes that they release prisoners, make fools of themselves in public, and much more. Angel tracks the guy down after being Kate’s date to her father’s retirement party where she makes the aforementioned fool of herself. But he touches the magic stick and transforms into emotional Angel, a guy that hugs, smiles, laughs, and gets hurt. Well, his feelings do. It, again, allows Boreanaz to be a goof, something he is actually good at. The rest of the cast that is effected, such as Kate, plays it well, too, giving some laughs along the way.

There is some actual terror in this episode, though, on two fronts. The first is when “Little” Tony breaks free, arms himself with a shotgun, and actually blows holes in the chests of police officers on his mad hunt to blow Kate’s face through the back of her head. This is actually scary, a bit, because you don’t know how Kate will deal with it. She laughs one minute and is crying aloud the next. Who knows what will happen? But when Angel gets there (after suggesting they leave a note for the broken window they made to get in) you know that, despite the fact that he’s all touchy-feely, he’s still gonna kick ass. And then Kate fucking blows a thug away with a handgun, so you know that they’re angry. Of course, they tell you aloud they are. Feelings!

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The other terror, though, is a bit more human than what I’ve already mentioned; Kate’s father is a stone cold, emotionless bastard. If anyone in this episode needs sensitivity training, its this guy. He says he doesn’t really care what Kate does as long as its the right thing, he chews her ass open for making a fool of him (despite how right she’d been at his party), and doesn’t seem to give a damn. Its heartbreaking and, as stated, gives a new window into one of the new characters featured on “Angel”. And it gives Angel a new “hopeless” person to help. And the fact that he sees the final conversation between father and daughter means he’s acutely aware.

But the gimmick kinda sucks in this episode because while sometimes it makes sense, other times the way people act, particularly the no-name police officer, defy logic. And the plot device also sets up some issues with pacing, as sometimes you’re watching a comedy and then suddenly, one split second later, you’re watching drama unfold. It wrecks up a good thing and it also makes the episode slightly less interesting, which is the biggest offense. But the episode does provide the series a chance to do something is parent show does so well: develop peripheral characters. It will continue to do this as the series ages, so its cool too see pieces laid down to build upon in the future. Even if I feel like the show wastes the character of Kate by the end.

Episode Rating: 88

Additional Notes:
-I love that Wolfram & Hart just drop “Little” Tony completely for his stupid-as-fuck blasting-up of the police station
-Whenever Angel plays a more “human” character, I’m reminded of the “Kill Bill” explanation for Superman
-Cordelia’s utterance of “We’re dead” when Angel is trying to talk the bad guys down is comical
-Kate states that Doyle has a crush on Cordelia and Cordy is so sickened by the whole thing
-Angel is blind to those around him, Cordelia? Turn around
-First possible mention of anything related to “Hyperion”
-That police officer wrote a poem to the big fat dude!

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