The Bachelor Party
Written by: Tracey Stern
Directed by: David Straiton
Air Date: Nov. 16, 1999

107

One of the things I love the most about this season of “Angel” is that it features episodes like this one, character-centered and completely focused. As stated previously, upcoming seasons of this show are complete narrative arcs, with a few self-contained stories sprinkled throughout to break up the pacing and give viewers time to breathe a bit. But, here, we have an episode that is all Dolye, and the first real episode to be heavily dedicating to fleshing out his character. We get bits and pieces here and there but we never see him for who he truly is until this episode. And, to help, the episode kicks a ton of ass and is really damn fun.

The Doyle-based narrative begins by showing how his life is, now, before we get to compare it to how it used to be. He is down-on-his-luck, dopey, and kind of depressed (and self-oppressed). He can’t get anyone to go out on the town with him, can’t get Cordelia to even think twice about his feelings, and when prompted by Angel as to why he won’t simply go demon-face and help out in a fist fight, he shrugs and sighs and says he doesn’t wanna, basically. That was a situation in which he knew Angel would win, he knew he would live. It wasn’t dire. Even when a vampire follows him home and attempts to kill Cordelia, Doyle bravely saves the day, but never once unleashes his strength and speed by morphing into ol’ spine-face. He doesn’t like being viewed as half-demon. And in this episode we learn why, exactly.

4604807_l2

The introduction of Doyle’s wife, Harry, and her soon-to-be demon husband Richard (played by Whedon every-man Carlos Jacott (who played the bad guy in the S3 premiere of “BtVS”, “Anne”)) brings to light disturbing truths about his life, as well as some comical and interesting tidbits about the man he used to be (a third grade teacher, for one). The major theme in this series is redemption, but Doyle’s primary area he seeks it for is both over his deceit and his shame. He tried to hide who he was from not only the world, but his now ex-wife, and he continues to keep it under wraps, all out of fear. Either of a world that is too large or, in the present sense, from Cordelia, a woman he has feelings for, and one whom might not return them in his lifetime should she come to know the truth. Its sad stuff, really, because we’ve only really been shown Doyle as a kind, caring guy. To know and understand a bit more of his past, it creates sorrow.

While this is all dark and moody, the fact that everything that happens at the bachelor party, particularly anything that has to do with Richard, is hilarious and wonderful. Can I just say, right out, that the reveal of them eating Doyle’s brains as some kind of ancient demon tradition is handled so well, I didn’t even laugh because it wasn’t necessarily funny, as much as it seemed so commonplace. “BtVS” and “Angel” have no problems playing cute, sometimes circus-y music when a funny, clever moment happens. But during the entire discussion Richard, his family, and Doyle have while the latter is trapped and drugged is played straight, with no music, and with so much honesty. You don’t believe for a second these people are joking around, but you also don’t feel immediate and overpowering levels of threat because of how casual the whole thing is, and continues to be when Harry busts in to stop the whole thing. Its real. It just happens to be about demons eating brains so they can get married.

Angel107_472

Doyle is a few steps closer to understanding himself and revealing himself to those around him by the end (even though Cordelia doesn’t recognize him in demon face and bashes his skull in a bit) because he finally attempts to fight back, transforming into his demon-self and helping Angel kick the shit out of a family of red-faced demons. Its actually a pretty stellar fight and goes on just long enough and Angel gets to get back at the demon clan for the really brutal beating he’d taken earlier in the evening. Overall, Doyle is becoming more of a man by accepting the parts of him that aren’t even human and its this growth that defines a Whedon-run show; it showcases actual changes to characters that are believable and real.

All of the side stuff with Cordelia at the bachelorette party is comical (pornographic Pictionary, anyone) but she also gets to experience some growth in this episode, in the form of some “I used to date Xander Harris”-style admissions of feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Its sad that it takes someone being a hero to get her interested (this is what happened with Xander and will continue to happen for her as the series progresses) but its nice to see her character continue to change. She is seen dating some snooty rich trader and that doesn’t go very well. Now she is developing feelings for another dork and, while she isn’t initially that thrilled about it, her relationship is noticeably different, now, and will continue to shift.

Also, Doyle sees Buffy in a vision. OH SNAP!

Episode Rating: 90

Additional Notes:
-The family member that is all “well no one is going to eat his brains, if that’s what you mean” is played for full comedy and delivers
-Harry is a stupid name for a female character. I don’t care that the lead on the show is named Angel. It is stupid
-Doyle asks if Buffy likes Irish men? Angel knows the answer to that all too well
-The stupid magic-show box they trap Doyle in is just that: stupid
-Carlos Jacott is a gem. Even on “Firefly” for one episode he is a show-stealer every time he is on camera. Glad to see him, again
-I’m over halfway through that Buffy game on Game Boy Color and I found out it actually takes place after the next episode, so I get to watch that, next!
-Also… that Buffy game on Game Boy Color… nothing can prepare you for my review of THAT thing…

Advertisements