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Hero (Angel)

"Hero" is episode 9 of season 1 in the television show Angel. Written by Tim Minear and Howard Gordon and directed by Tucker Gates, it was originally broadcast on November 30, 1999 on the WB television network. In "Hero", Angel joins Doyle’s crusade to save a group of part-human Lister demons from The Scourge, an army of supremacist stormtrooper demons who claim "pure" blood and consequently persecute those of "mixed" blood. While Doyle goes after a strayed Lister teen and Cordelia handles details of the escape plan, Angel infiltrates the enemy and discovers their secret weapon, a bomb-like device called the Beacon that combusts all demons with any taint of human blood. Events lead to a climactic showdown aboard a tramp freighter, where Doyle finally confesses his half-demon heritage—and his love for her—to Cordelia, and proves that he, like Angel, is a Champion in his own right.

Plot

It’s nighttime in L.A., and Cordelia is describing her ideas for an Angel Investigations promotional video as we see the events as she imagines. Then we’re back in Angel’s office, where he dismisses the idea of being The Dark Avenger. Cordelia thinks that Buffy’s visit earlier on will leave Angel so broody that their business will suffer. Doyle points out that their video might not be as successful as she wants it to be, since Angel’s inability to go out in sunlight might seem suspicious, and they don’t even have a license. Cordelia decides that Doyle would be a better star for the ad, since he’s "ordinary." She forces him to sit for a test run, despite the fact that he’s about as thrilled as Angel was. He awkwardly goes through a script she’s put together, accidentally announcing that their rats, not their rates, are low. She tells him that she’s seeing him as a "weasel" rather than a regular guy and doesn’t think that customers will go for that. Instead of trying again, Cordelia says that she’s worried about Angel, who shouldn’t be so heartbroken when he doesn’t have a beating heart to begin with. Doyle says that he’ll talk to Angel, and Cordelia non-sequiturs that getting Angel a costume might make the ad better. She seems to favor tights and a cape.

Doyle approaches Angel while he’s working out and Angel tells him that he needs some time to work through what happened with Buffy. Doyle thinks that Buffy was only there for a few minutes, but Angel tells him that she was there for a whole day and night. He asks about the Oracles, who, because of the time-swallowing, Doyle doesn’t remember taking him to. Angel explains the events of the previous episode and Doyle wonders why Angel would give back his mortality. Angel thinks he might have made the wrong decision, but Doyle says that his actions prove Cordelia’s theory that he’s a hero. Doyle thinks that, in Angel’s position, he would have chosen the "pleasures of the flesh" over duty and honor, but Angel believes no one can know what they'll do until the choice is upon them. He adds that the Oracles mentioned something about the end of days, and he thinks Angel Investigations might have to play a role in it. Doyle doesn’t think it’s fair that Angel not only helps out helpless people, but now has to help fight the apocalypse. Angel doesn’t see a distinction—it’s all fighting "the good fight." Doyle replies that Angel can fight and he’ll keep score. Out in the lobby, Doyle recaps Angel's version of Buffy's visit for Cordelia, who thinks that Angel should have taken advantage of the temporal fold to buy some stocks and lottery tickets. She’s not so happy that he kept what happened a secret from them. They talk about Harrie, and Doyle mentions that if he wants to have a successful relationship, he needs to "put some cards on the table." Before he can finally tell Cordelia that he’s part demon, he has a vision of people huddled together near a brick building. "Whatever you saw just now? Did they look like they could afford to pay?" Cordelia asks.

A demon girl runs down a street at night, pursued by people wearing heavy boots and marching in quick-time. A demon boy of her own species grabs her and they hide together as the boot-wearers run by. Angel and Doyle head to the brick building from Doyle’s vision and note how run-down it is. They find a table with still-warm food on it, realizing that the people there must have had to run off with little warning. Angel finds a trapdoor under the carpet and finds a bunch of demons hiding there. Later, the demons, Listers, explain that they were promised help to escape but got ripped off. They were headed for an island near Ecuador, where others of their kind had been able to hide out. The two kids run in, announcing that they were almost caught and lost half of their supplies. The senior Lister tells the boy, Rieff, that The Promised One has arrived, and indicates Angel. Apparently, there’s a prophecy that the Promised One would appear at the end of the century to save the demons from the Scourge. Rieff is skeptical that Angel, who has never heard of the Scourge, can save them. In fact, he thinks that Angel will get them all killed. Doyle is familiar with the Scourge and tells Angel that they're "death." He tells Angel a story as we see it in a flashback. Doyle met a guy named Lucas who was one of his kind, a Brachen demon. Some of the Brachens escaped the Scourge, which is now coming after them again. Lucas explains that the Scourge is an army of pure-blood demons who hate all demons of mixed blood. In the present, Doyle tells Angel that the Scourge are willing to die for their beliefs. When Angel says it's hard to fight fanatics, Doyle says, "Impossible."

Back in the past, Lucas asks Doyle to help the Brachens hide out until they can leave town. Doyle refuses to help, since it’s not something he’s used to doing. Lucas argues that Doyle is one of them, but Doyle says that he isn’t, since he was raised human. He says that he’d be taking a big risk by helping the Brachens out. Lucas notes that they have a common enemy, but Doyle is still unwilling to lend a hand. Later, there’s a knock at Doyle’s door, and when he opens it, he has a vision of Lucas and the other Brachens being killed. He tells Angel that he wasn’t sure if the vision was real or not, since it was his first, so he went to find out and discovered the bodies of the Brachens. He tells Angel that these demons need more than just one hero against the Scourge. Angel says that they won’t have to, since they’ll help the demons escape before it comes to that. Later, Cordelia drives a truck over to the building. Inside, she encounters the senior Lister and tells him that the breath spray she’s holding is really demon repellant. She sprays it and the Lister calmly notes, "Wintergreen." Doyle arrives and assures Cordelia that she’s safe there and confirms that she brought the truck. She pulls him aside and reminds him that Angel Investigations is about fighting evil, not helping demons. Doyle tells her that the demons are half human and that they need to get to a freighter called the Quintessa. He sends Cordelia ahead to get everything in order, but she wants to know who’s paying for this non-Carnival "cruise." He tells her that something bad is coming and she heads off to do her job.

Angel talks with the harbormaster, arranging for documents about the freighter to say that it’s carrying medical waste. If anyone inspects the cargo or tries to hinder its trip, Angel will do some biting. Back at the building, Rieff disappears and the girl demon reports that he doesn’t believe there’s a Promised One and ran off so he wouldn’t be killed along with everyone else. Doyle gives the senior Lister his phone and tells him that when Cordelia calls to confirm that everything’s ready, they should head to the ship. Doyle goes after Rieff, finding him on the street. Rieff tells Doyle that he’s not going to the ship because anywhere he goes, he’ll be hated. Doyle tells him that he belongs among his family, but Rieff still thinks that they won’t be alive much longer. Doyle tries to convince him that Angel will be able to help, but Rieff just sarcastically comments, "My hero." Doyle tells him that his family has to put their faith in something because otherwise they’ll just give up. At the freighter, Cordelia figures out some last-minute details and prepares to make the confirmation call. On their way to meet up with the other demons, Doyle and Rieff hear the Scourge approaching and take off. They hide inside a building as the Scourge starts destroying things, heading towards Doyle and Rieff’s hiding place. Doyle puts on his demon face and heads outside, leading the Scourge away from Rieff. Angel grabs him from behind a building and is grimly pleased to hear that the Scourge is headed his way.

The Scourge arrives at the brick building, which the demons have already abandoned. Angel arrives, pretending to have taken Doyle hostage. Angel tells the Scourge that he hates his humanity. When Doyle pretends to plead for his life, Angel snaps his neck. Angel asks the Scourge if he can join up with them and they take him along with them. Rieff finds Doyle’s "body," impressed that while in demon form, he can have his neck broken and not die. The Listers board the freighter and the captain tells Cordelia that they have to leave right away. He agrees to wait a little longer if Cordelia can get Angel to further discount the debt the captain owes him. One of the demons thanks Cordelia for her, Doyle, and Angel’s help, saying that Doyle understands the demons’ suffering, since he himself is half demon. This, of course, is news to Cordelia. Angel listens to a member of the Scourge rant about half-breed demons. A couple of Scourge members bring in a huge crystal-shaped light and turn it on. The commander explains that, when the light touches the half-breed demons, they’ll all die. Then he crisps the turn-coat first mate from the Quintessa. When fully charged, the light from this weapon, the Beacon, will be able to reach up to a quarter mile away. The commander sends the platoon to the ship to destroy the betrayed Listers. Angel intercepts a stormtrooper, knocks it out, and steals its motorcycle.

Doyle and Rieff arrive at the freighter and Cordelia notes that Doyle looks happy. She tells him that she was worried, then slaps him for not telling her he was half demon, especially after they agreed that they shouldn’t keep secrets from each other. He admits that he was afraid that she would reject him, but she points out that she’d already rejected him. She adds that she works for a vampire and isn’t superficial about his lineage. "Would you ask me out to dinner already?" she says. Doyle is happy to hear this, but before he can officially ask her, Angel arrives and announces that the freighter needs to leave. Before the ship can leave, the Scourge shows up. The freighter heads off and the Scourge blasts Angel for lying. There’s some fighting and some falling in the cargo hold and some Scourge-killing as the Beacon gets moved into position. Doyle asks Angel what the light is for and Angel explains that it’ll kill anything or anyone with human blood. Angel thinks that he can turn it off if he pulls the cable, but Doyle and Cordelia know this will be suicide. Angel says that he’ll do it anyway and Doyle says, "The good fight, yeah? You never know until you’ve been tested. I get that now." Then he hauls back and hits Angel, knocking him down into the cargo hold. Doyle grabs Cordelia and they kiss, a blue light passing between their lips. He morphs into his demon face and says, "Too bad we’ll never know if this is a face you could learn to love." Shouting Doyle's name, Angel starts to climb out of the cargo hold, but Doyle grabs the frame of the light and smiles at Cordelia and Angel. He finds the power coupling and struggles with it, enduring the weapon's successive effects, first decreasing his strength and forcing him back to human form, then burning his skin away from his musculature. Just before his muscles are burned from his bones, Doyle pulls the plug, and the last flash of the dying light disintegrates him. After the light fades away, Cordelia and Angel share a grief-stricken hug.

Back at the office, the two of them watch Doyle’s videotaped advertisement again, now in a much different light. The episode finishes with Doyle saying to the camera, "'Come on over to our offices and you’ll see that there’s still heroes in this world.' ...Is that it? Am I done?"

Acting

Main cast

Guest stars

Co-stars

  • James Henriksen as Elder Lister Demon
  • David Bickford as Cargo Inspector
  • Christopher Comes as Storm Trooper #2
  • Paul O'Brien as Captain
  • Ashley Taylor as First Mate

Production details

Special Effects Supervisor Loni Peristere explains David Greenwalt described his vision of Doyle's death as "I want him to melt to death...I want his flesh to melt off and muscle and then bones." Peristere was concerned that that effect would be too graphic for television. He shot Doyle in his demon form, and Doyle with half-burned make-up then used mat elements to digitally "chew through his skin", including an element of acetone poured on Styrofoam.

Writing

  • Doyle's search for atonement, his growing love for Cordy and her honesty, and his rocky road to self-acceptance come together in this episode in one immolating flash of apotheosis. The darkest, most shameful secret of Doyle's past has come back to haunt him, but he's no longer the half-demon he was, and he brings off his second chance with humor, grace and courage. Angel, to his abiding admiration and sorrow, thus learns Doyle's tale in its entirety.
  • This is the episode in which Doyle passes his Powers-given-gift of vision to Cordelia. This gives her character a new dimension and enhances her protagonism from now on.
  • Angel's next run-in with prophecy is not so quickly or definitively resolved. Inexplicably retrieving the scroll of Aberjian in "Blind Date" a few months hence, Angel soon becomes aware that his participation in recent and coming events has been foretold—more or less—in the Shanshu Prophecy. To further complicate matters, the Lister and Aberjian sacred texts are not the only prophecies to affect Angel's life as the seasons progress.

Continuity

  • The videotaped commercial Doyle makes with Cordelia is seen again in the season five episode, "You're Welcome".
  • The murderous Drill Sergeant demon who tries to break Buffy's spirit in the first episode of Buffy season three ("Anne") appears identical to the "football head" pure-blooded soldiers in this company of The Scourge.
  • Although the Scourge never reappear in the series, they are mentioned as one of the groups who may pose a threat to Connor's existence in "Dad", shortly after his birth
  • Sean Gunn also appears as Mars in "She (Angel episode)".

Cultural references

  • Patrick Stewart: Cordy wants to hire a well-known actor to narrate her commercial and her first choice is "that bald Star Trek guy," although she would settle for "one of the cheaper Baldwins."
  • Braveheart: After Angel goes back downstairs without saying a word, Cordelia changes her mind and decides not to cast him as The Dark Avenger in her commercial, theorizing that his "larger-than-life character" would project an image that would be "way too Braveheart for Joe-couch-potato to relate to."
  • Mask: When Doyle is stricken by a vision in the foyer, Cordelia pretends to be playing charades with him for the benefit of passersby. Her next fake guess is The Man with Two Brains.
  • Brion: The Senior Lister tells Angel they are heading for a refuge established on a small island off the coast of Ecuador. That area of the world is known for its many unique species.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines: Until she softens up a bit, Cordelia is horrified to be sending a group of refugees on an all-AI-expense-paid cruise. Her only consolation is that it won't be with Carnival.
  • The Love Boat: When Cordelia inspects the tramp freighter on which they've booked passage for the Listers, she bluntly tells its captain, "Well, it's not the Love Boat, but it'll have to do."

Music

Translations

  • German title: "Helden wie wir" ("Heroes like us")
  • Italian title: "Morte di un eroe" ("Death of a hero")
  • Spanish title: "Heroe" ("Hero")
  • French title: "Sacrifice héroïque" ("Heroic sacrifice")

Reception and reviews

This episode was rated as one of the series' top five episodes in a poll done by Angel Magazine. It also appeared eight on Slayage.com's list of the top 10 episodes of Angel.

References

External links

See also

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