Hero
Written by: Tim Minear and Howard Gordon
Directed by: Tucker Gates
Air Date: Nov. 30, 1999
hero

As noted in my most recent comic review for “Earthly Possessions”, Doyle dies in this episode. And it is sad and it is heartbreaking and depressing, but it seems so monumentally uneventful, mostly because of the over-the-top Nazi-esque demons in “The Scourge”, a group of pure-blooded demons that want to eradicate all half-breeds. This entire story is so stupid and unnecessary, down to their stupid uniforms and the fact that the subtitles describe their marching as “Jackboots Marching” – I hated this whole thing. And the biggest thing about it is that the acting and the sacrifice Doyle makes feels legit. But when surrounded by pure garbage, who cares? Sorry you died, Doyle. Won’t miss you, though, because your final episode was a waste of time.

Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, here. Lets back this whole thing up, shall we? Doyle laments not being able to get with Cordelia because he’s nervous that, should she find out that he’s half-demon, he’ll be rejected (to which she comically states, later, that she’s rejected him for so many other reasons thus far, what difference does one more really make?). Just when he’s about to tell her the truth and get past his issues, he has a vision of a bunch of ugly ass fucks (half-demons, don’t remember their real names… Wikipedia tells me they are half-Lister demons. Woop) and Angel and Doyle check into the whole thing, only to find the oppressed Jew— I mean demons living under the floorboards, hiding from the Scourge, those Nazi-like dudes.

Scourge

This leads to a bunch of… talking and walking. And walking and talking. Its boring. Its drawn out. And its uninteresting. The Listers think Angel is a “promised one” and this stupid kid, Rieff, is like “fuckin’ no he isn’t” and runs off while Angel secures them passage on a freighter out of there. Doyle has to track down the kid, avoid shadows of bad guys, and get him to the boat before they all ship off. Meanwhile, Angel pretends to be a Nazi. Its all very charming, really. And by “charming” I mean I hate it and I think its stupid. To top it all off, the Nazi bad guys have a weapon that incinerates the half-breeds, like… I dunno, burning them in a furnace? I don’t mind the symbolism and the utilization of historical atrocities for building blocks, but when its this blatant, I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

There are some additional bits of development for Doyle, here, like showing the worst-of-the-worst from his past (he’d let other half-demons like himself die because he didn’t want to get involved) and he comes to understand Rieff because he can elect to look human while the Listers can’t transform out of their gross faces. And he uses this development, as well as Angel telling him that you don’t know your strength until you’re tested, to develop courage, not just to try to help and not just to sacrifice himself to save his friends, but also to ask Cordelia out on a date. Of course, when he never had to work the courage up himself and she does the asking out for him, it eliminates the idea of what “courage” is, a bit, but its OK. Because he gets to kiss her and show him his spine-covered face, which she clearly doesn’t look that interested in.

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I may be a bit critical of this episode, but I don’t know. Even the first time I saw it, so many years ago, I hated the Nazi allusions, I felt that the death of a main character was overplayed within itself, and I didn’t think the characters were really true to themselves. I don’t think Doyle had earned his heroic moment just because he talked to a kid and saw Angel get mopey about Buffy. I don’t think Cordelia was really ready to make-out with him because he chased after a kid and then “admitted” to some secrets. And I don’t feel like Angel’s involvement with the Scourge lead to anything, really. I mean, if he’d spent less time dinking around with them and more time helping Doyle find Reiff, you could maybe have seen a different ending, where everyone gets to the boat on time and no one has to die.

There are some solid things in this episode, like dealing with the fallout of Angel seeing Buffy back in “I Will Remember You” and the stupid and cheesy commercial Cordy was trying to film. And the opening, narrated commercial was pretty damn great, too, as was the “Dark Avenger” aspect. But the rest of the episode lags, drags, and meanders about the place, treading water like it doesn’t want to kill Doyle yet, so it better stretch everything out another 30 minutes. I don’t mean to say I hate this episode, but I don’t really like it, either. It serves to get Doyle out of there and, I guess, in reading some info on why they elected to kill him, turns out Whedon and co. didn’t like writing him and didn’t feel he meshed well. Well, to you Doyle! You didn’t mesh well so they wrote a mediocre episode and got you off TV.

Woop.

Episode Rating: 74

Additional Notes:
-It does look nasty, the way Doyle dies. The way they cut to reaction shots and then back to Doyle, in a different stage of burning into nothingness, was handles well
-The boatman being a traitor was obvious and stupid. I hated it
-The Scourge are the same demons from “Anne” but in Nazi clothes
-Rats are low
-That Reiff kid a fuck
-This does leave a hole for Wesley to fill, though. And thank god for that
-There is a split second shot of blue light moving from Doyle to Cordelia. Get ready for season after season of Cordy getting vision

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