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Blind Date

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  • Blind Date

    Blind Date
    Angel Season One, Episode 21
    Written by Jeannine Renshaw
    Written by Thomas J. Wright

    The penultimate episode of Angel's first season is one of the strongest episode of that first year. It also sets up the Shanshu prophecy which will loom large over the next few years.

    Renshaw's not usually mentioned when discussing the great Angel writers, but the scripts credited to her including Blind Date and I Will Remember You are very strong. Her previous episodes had co-writers -- Davids Greenwalt and Fury. And even this one feels so central to Angel's narrative, it's hard to believe that there wasn't some uncredited tinkering by the Powers that Be. And yet, it's also hard to imagine her being involved with four strong Angel episodes if she didn't consistently bring a lot to the table.

    This episode explores the parallels between Angel and Lindsey -- both seeking their place in the world. And while most of the episode is centered around Lindsey's moral dilema if he should continue working for "Evil Inc.", Angel also has a crisis of conscience. That's to say he finds himself longing for a time when he didn't have a conscience.

    ANGEL: It's still their world, Wesley. Structured for power - not truth. It's their system, and it's one that works. It works because there is no guilt. There is no torment, no consequences. It's pure. I remember what that was like. Sometimes I miss that clarity.
    As for Lindsey's crisis of conscience --- well, it reminds me of the classic cartoon trope of the angel and devil on one's shoulder. On the side of the angels, there's --- well, the clue's in the name, isn't it? As for the little cartoon devil whispering in Lindsey's ear, we have Sam Anderson making an impressive debut as Holland Manners.

    Anderson strikes exactly the right tone. He's not a shouty supervillain. Nor is he the aw-shucks, 1950s sitcom type of The Mayor. He's calmed, measured, self-assured, smooth-talking. The absolute perfect salesman. Holland Manners seems more of a mentor than a con artist. I've seen a lot of coporate types talk about belonging, fitting in -- often misappropriating words from cultures not their own to give it a certain mystique. None have pitched it as well as this.

    Angel himself has flirted with fatalism and stoicism. Holland has some of that too, but from the most selfish perspective.

    And we have another flashfoward to what Angel would become in the following seasons when J. August Richards's Gunn helps with Angel's caper/heist routine. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is imfamous for its lack of characters of colour The addition of Black characters can sometimes be accused of tokenism. Here, the episode "lampshades" that as Gunn provides the distraction by revelling in certain filmic stereotypes.

    The dialogue and Richards' delivery of it are hilarious:

    GUNN: Whoo-whoo! My god! They told me it was true, but I didn't believe them. Damn, here it is! Evil white folks really do have a Mecca. (Holds up a hand to the security guards stepping out from behind their desk) Now, now, girls, don't get all riled up.
    Quick cut to Angel in the sewers - Lindsey up in the security office.
    Gunn: OW! Did you just step on my foot? (The nearest guard is still at least 8 feet away from him) Is that my foot you just stepped on? Are you assaulting me - up in this haven of justice?
    Angel checks his watch.
    Gunn: Somebody get me a lawyer - because my civil rights have seriously been violated. - Oh, I get it, I get it. You all can cater to the demon, cater to the dead man, but what about the Black man?
    Various episodes of Angel will reveal that Gunn -- like some inhabitants of Sunnydale that we know -- is a comic book geek. I have to wonder if his distraction routine is in part calling back to one of the most-reprinted, most famous and sometimes most mocked comic book pages of all time.

    Green Lantern #76 from 1970 revamped the adventures of the interstellar policeman Green Lantern. Writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams added Green Arrow as a co-star, and brought Green Lantern down from the stars to explore the social issues of the late 1960s and 1970s. His first dose of reality is when Green Lantern supports law and order by defending a rich white businessman. The superhero discovers this man was a slum lord, causing problems for his Black tenants. One of those tenants points out that the superheroes spend more time helping space aliens than certain Earth neighbourhoods.

    Watching it again, I'm amazed by how many scenes have stuck with me after 20 years -- Gunn's routine, Angel's discovery of the prophecy, the first courtroom scene (when Angel proves Vanessa's blindness is not proof of innocence) and the temptation of Lindsey.

    Oh, and I should mention I like just how capable Cordelia is. She is able to find Vanessa Brewer by searching police records. It suggests she'd have skills to work in an office that would probably pay much better than Angel. And it feels like things have come full circle when Willow gives her some telephone tech support to hack encrypted files. Back in Buffy's second episode, Willow tricked Cordy into deleting her class computer project. Now, they're working together.

    And I like that Wesley just trusts Angel's instincts that he took the scroll for a reason.

    So, what did you think of it?
    Last edited by PuckRobin; 05-03-22, 01:15 PM.

  • #2
    Yes , J. August Richards was fantastic in Angel. And a necessary addition to the team as someone who lent the show a race and class critique that was sorely needed. I've always loved this exchange when Angel comes to him and asks for help breaking into the vault:

    Gunn: Yeah, I can get a hold of one. But why would I want to?
    Angel: In the interest of justice - and maybe doing the right thing?
    Gunn: Not really interested in some rich guy's heartbreak...
    Gunn: Give me one good reason.
    Angel: It'll be extremely dangerous.
    Gunn: Okay. (Blind Date)
    Charles Gunn acts as an obvious foil to Lindsey McDonald - who is trying to maintain a difficult balancing act between licking the boot of his corporate Hell master and listening to his own conscience. Charles has been through so much in his short life and doesn't trust anyone - he's not in it for the prestige or the glory. He's so uninterested in personal glory that he's even willing at one point to sell his own soul.

    But what he represents by dedicating his life to protecting his community is more of a Robin Hood ethos - he's hyper aware of class and racial conflict and rejects the false optimism of middle class morality because he comes from an area of LA where the police are either absent or an active participant in the oppression of the people who live there.

    So Charles takes the law into his own hands, staking vampires and monsters and other bad guys who are roaming 'his' streets. In some ways, the inhabitants of middle-class/rich LA treat the inner-city streets of racial strife and poverty in LA much like how the inhabitants of Sunnydale treat the Hellmouth and those who are drawn there - no one really sees them because they don't want to.

    It's a really interesting parallel that positions the middle class Angel (dad was a merchant in Galway) Wesley (dad was a Watcher) and Cordelia (Parents were fairly rich) against the newest member of their team who is far more clear eyed than they are in many regards.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 05-03-22, 07:53 AM.


    • #3
      I really enjoy Blind Date and Lindsey's character is one whose presence in the series is a favourite for me. I love seeing his struggle in this episode as something comes up in working for W&H that makes him question himself and where his limits are in turning a 'blind eye' to his actions. The potential murder of the children had been enough to make him break away and go to seek help from Angel & Co. We hear of how his own background was disadvantaged and so come to understand why succeeding and taking the benefits of working for the evil law firm had drawn him. And, in an episode with a monster of the week that purposely chose to blind herself for the advantage that it gave, we see Lindsey's eventual return to W&H. The plans to have Vanessa kill the children thwarted, Lindsey finds the advantages that working at W&H can offer him far more palatable again and he chooses to stay.

      Considering this now from reading your posts and thinking about Gunn's recent introduction, it is interesting that we do see an eventual struggle from him that is somewhat similar to Lindsey's. Not that Gunn comes to question his involvement in his gang and the work that they do, but there is definitely an air of working with AI and finally escaping the life on the streets appealing to him and drawing him. And eventually in That Old Gang of Mine, we do have a further break with Gunn as he comes to question some of what his old gang are doing. So, as well as exploring both Angel's and Lindsey's consideration of their place in the world, it's an interesting second episode for Gunn who will very much come to do the same from his involvement in the work of Angel Investigations.

      Also, as a complete aside, the scene with Angel avoiding Vanessa and using his understanding of how she 'sees' always reminds me of Pitch Black.


      • PuckRobin
        PuckRobin commented
        Editing a comment
        I haven't seen Pitch Black but I was going to say it reminds me a bit of them dealing with Weeping Angels on Doctor Who.

    • #4
      I really enjoy Pitch Black. But scifi/horror films are a genre I tend to enjoy. The scene I'm talking about between Vin Diesel and the monsters is excellent and very much mirrors the one with Angel/Vanessa. Although Pitch Black came out a handful of months before Blind Date, I've no idea if the production schedule would have any space for it to have been influenced by PB, which is intriguing if they both came to such a similar scene independently.

      I can't see the connection with the weeping angels so much. What is it about Blind Date that calls that to mind? Oooo, is it the idea in the visual of being directly in front of each other but not actually fighting, not 'seeing' the enemy?

      Which has made me think that this connects to Lindsey in how he spends the episode pushing back against W&H, wanting to pull away from them as if he's come to realise how awful they are when really his biggest enemy, the one that he's missing and defeats him by the end of the episode, is himself.