Expecting
Written by: Howard Gordon
Directed by: David Semel
Air Date: Jan 25, 2000

1x12_expecting_cordelia

This isn’t a very strong episode, particularly when coming off “Somnambulist”. “Expecting” just doesn’t really do it for me, though it has a lot going for it. I guess its just the obvious, over-the-head metaphor for “life on your own” and the dangers of unprotected sex that don’t really gel with me? I dunno. “BtVS” does constant metaphors with their monster-of-the-week episodes, mostly back in the first three seasons with its “high school is hell” motto. “Angel” works best, I think, in later seasons when its not so much about the day-to-day fight but about the bigger picture, the larger goal.

Here, Cordelia goes out on her third date with Wilson, played by NOW-veteran comedy actor Ken Marino. He’s some rich dude with a butt chin. She lets him sleep with her after a pretty comical sequence in which Phantom Dennis, the ghost from “Rm w/a Vu” tries to protect her and be a big brother to her. In previous viewings of this show I used to take his actions as jealousy, but when you compare them to the way Angel and Wesley attempt to defend her, the similarities are all present. Anyhow, she winds up REALLY PREGGERS and the Angel Investigations team are needed to stop the noise from killing her.

Wilson

In my previous review for “Lonely Hearts” I’d mentioned that I liked the fact that the monster never directly targeted one of the core cast until it was defending itself. Here, I understand that having it be Cordelia opens it up for something greater than simply a reason to fight a monster: character development. The aforementioned relationship Angel is developing (and Wesley is starting to, as well) with Cordelia is not one that makes you feel like they are going to want each other in a sexual way any time soon (no, that’s a few seasons for now, huh Angel?). It gives the characters a reason to fight but it also gives them bonding space, room to grow as people, and to be there for one another. On “BtVS” the writers do such a damned fine job of making a family out of those characters, and here on “Angel” they’re getting better at it, too.

Oh, the monster-of-the week. Right. I will give props to the team trying to think outside the box a bit and showcase a giant creature that Angel and friends could no way go one-on-one with. The Haxil beast, though, looks stupid as hell and I hated looking at it. The costume looked like a knock-off Black Lagoon creature. And to top it off, the climax of the episode was really stupid because not only did they defeat it in the dumbest possible way (Wesley talks to it until Angel thrown a canister of liquid nitrogen he happens to find at it, then Wesley shoots the canister, it freezes. Duh) but because the aftermath of it dying is stupid. Cordelia still had seven almost fully grown baby versions of the monster in her womb. It looks painful when they die, though we don’t know if they vanish or ooze on out. But it doesn’t matter, because she can just walk out of there like nothing happened. Its dumb and I hated it.

haxil

On top of the dilemma of a bad monster, the fact remains that the metaphor for unwanted pregnancy is weak and underutilized. I understand that they only had one episode to cover it, but my god. Why not go over some of the other issues aside from fear? At the start of the episode Cordelia is excited about going out to party with her friends. How much of that will there be while she’s pregnant? Or maybe showcase that she can’t work? Be a productive member of the team? The downfalls of unplanned pregnancy are never mentioned, never showcased, and leave the whole episode feeling more gimmicky than anything else. And the staff that writes these things does such a good job everywhere else that its sad to see them falter a bit, here.

Overall, though, the episode doesn’t suck. It just doesn’t really stand out in any way during S1. Far from the worst episode but ten times as far from the best, “Expecting” kinda comes and goes and you don’t really care too much about it when all is said and done. You forget the name of the demon, you don’t think about the fact that the douche bag surrogates mostly get punched a bunch and then get away with it. And you don’t care about Wesley swinging his axe about the place. That works in its favor, though, as the stuff you WILL remember are the moments of development going forward.

Episode Rating: 80

Additional Notes:
-The women folk enjoy a good Hugh Grant impression, huh?
-Angel hates getting shot
-Angel and Wes go off to fight demons and end up in the wrong house. Funny that those demons were ALSO babies
-Wes does put up his dukes in a comical display of pathetic male showmanship
-It is weird seeing Ken Marino play someone who is not used for comic effect
-Cordy chugging blood
-The bartender asks if Angel is Cordy’s boyfriend. “No,” he says. “Family.”

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