Eternity
Written by: Tracey Stern
Directed by: Regis Kimble
Air Date: April, 4, 2000

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“Angel”, as a show, enters its first season’s home stretch on a great first step. In an episode all about truth and honesty (as well as when it is appropriate to rely on such things), “Eternity” is an episode that introduces Angel having a celebrity crush, Cordelia having the same celebrity crush, and the return – albeit very brief – of Angelus, and his first modern day appearance on the show. Always a treat to have him around, but we’ll get to him in a bit more detail later on.

See, the theme of “TRUTH” comes straight at us from the start, with Wesley and Angel having to sit through an awful performance Cordelia has a part in, and subsequently having to lie about it to her face. This thread runs through the episode and brings up the question of if and when it is OK to tell someone the truth if it could ever possibly hurt them. This is made the most concrete in the character of Rebecca – an aging actress with a sinking career whom Angel just happens to save in the nick of time. She learns he is a vampire and it is Angel’s heart and boner that keep him from using his brain and denying it or staying away. He wants to get close and it is almost his downfall and the death of his friends by his own hands.

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But nothing is as it seems. Rebecca was never in any real danger: her manager set up the violent stalker to drum up press and word-of-mouth so that she would land a new job. And Rebecca never wanted to be friends with Cordelia, she just needed information out of her to use on Angel, who I believe she didn’t care about either. Likely he was just a means to an end. I mean, she drugs him to turn him evil (unintentionally, though) and then not only tries to lie to him about it, but after narrowly escaping her own demise, she proceeds to keep the truth from Wesley and Cordelia for too long, resulting in a dark, poorly lit but expertly written and verbally brutal showdown at the episode’s climax, where Angelus tells Cordelia and Wes how he really feels about them. Even Cordelia lies, earlier in the episode – faking a vision of Rebecca in danger – just to get what she wants.

While these truths, big and small, have different levels of impact on the story, the characters, and the overall arc of the episode, when put together it brings about an interesting moral quandary I’d not really examined on prior viewings of this episode. All of our main characters are lying at all times, sometimes to themselves. Cordelia is an actress – or wannabe actress, anyhow – a professional liar. But she is also lying to herself about her abilities. Wesley is lying to himself when he thinks he can’t handle things or isn’t tough enough. And Angel has to lie daily about being human. These things define our characters from the start and breaking away from them is what drives them from here on out.

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There is a lot of talk on the web about how stupid it is, though, that all it takes is some drugs in a drink to bring Angelus out, and this is a fair criticism of the episode as a whole. It works within the context of this 45-minutes, but outside of that, in the larger Buffyverse, it juts doesn’t smell right. Wesley tries to over-explain it away, saying its not even real, just a side-effect of the situation, but it was real all right, at least during the last 15 minutes of the episode when Angelus was totally going to murder this friends. It just seems like an easy, cop out answer to “how to we make Angel evil for one episode?” and I don’t like it one bit. Also, despite the fact that the actress playing Rebecca does a solid job, this episode suffers in that she never feels fully developed or realized, like her character motivations and the change they go through are so sudden and non-believable. Oh well.

“Eternity” ends on such a high note, though, as the truths come out: Angel is not free from his vampire self, Wesley can be a hardened badass, and Cordelia can act her ass off when she needs to, if only to create a distraction. Angel is saved, Rebecca vanishes between scenes, never to be heard from again. And the main Angel Investigations team is running smoother and stronger than ever before. Some rough stuff comes up pretty fast in the back half of the season, so it is nice to have a win, here. So nice.

Episode Rating: 89

Additional Notes:
-Rebecca’s agent is the guy from the very first episode, he gives Angel his card at a party
-Rebecca’s eyebrows godddamn
-Can vampires get drunk?
-Buffy and sex? Happiness. But Wes thinks that is a singular experience. This series explores this a few times
-Angel pulls his Batman stunt a few times this episode, to great effect
-I love that Rebecca is just gone after all is said and done. The selfish, stupid skank

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