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|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Tim Minear|
|Written by||Tim Minear|
|Original air date||November 14, 2000|
"Darla" is episode 7 of season 2 in the television show Angel. Written and directed by Tim Minear, it was originally broadcast on November 14, 2000 on the WB television network. In this episode, Angel tries to rescue Darla from the clutches of Wolfram & Hart and Lindsey's affections, as she suffers guilt of her demonic past. Flashbacks show Darla as a syphilis-stricken prostitute being transformed into a vampire by the demonic Master, her retaliation when the Gypsies cursed Angelus with a soul, and the Boxer Rebellion in China. Many of the flashback scenes echo the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fool for Love", which was originally broadcast earlier the same night.
Angel sits alone drawing pictures of Darla, when Wesley appears in the doorway and expresses his concern that Angel has become obsessed. Angel brushes him off. Meanwhile, Lindsey comes into a room to find Darla curled in a corner, bleeding, haunted by memories of her past.
In 1609, Virginia Colony, the human prostitute Darla lies in her deathbed, covered in sores from the syphilis that is killing her. She receives a visit from the Master, who takes her life and makes her a vampire.
Back in the present, Angel is trying to locate Darla, over the objections of the group, who suggest Wolfram and Hart may just be trying to keep him distracted. Gunn suggests that they probably have connections to the place where she's staying, and Angel gives criteria for the kind of place she would want to live. They go off to check into it.
In 1760 Darla brings Angelus before the Master, bragging about her wonderful new creation. Angelus is less impressed, and his disrespect gets him beaten up. Nevertheless, Darla chooses Angelus over the Master, and goes with him. In 1880, while strolling the streets of London, Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla bump into a man named William, later known as Spike. In need of companionship, Drusilla makes him into a vampire.
The team at Angel investigations has found a likely location for Darla's new home, and Cordelia confirms it by playing a sob story for a clerk. Angel starts to rush off, but Wesley stops him, saying that he and Gunn will look into the situation and they'll make any decisions later as a group. Angel starts to object until Cordelia points out that it's one in the afternoon, and the area doesn't have good sun cover. Meanwhile, Darla receives another visit from Lindsey. She is visibly upset, shaken by her memories and disturbed by the experience of having a soul and being human again. She expresses confusion about who she is now, then asks Lindsey why he hasn't kissed her - he obviously wants to. He said he didn't know what she wanted, and she asks why he should care; she never considered anyone else.
In 1898 Darla threatens a Gypsy, wanting him to revoke the curse on Angelus in exchange for not killing his family. Unfortunately before he can answer Spike emerges from the caravan, having already slaughtered his wife and daughter. Frustrated, Darla snaps the man's neck.
Angel looks at pictures of the room where Darla was staying. All the reflective surfaces are smashed, but there is no sign of forced entry - or wasn't until Gunn and Wesley broke in. Angel says she is feeling the weight of her soul. Cordelia points out that Angel doesn't run around smashing mirrors, and he answers that he doesn't have to face himself in them. He insists they have to help her, brushing off Cordelia when she tries to hand him the phone until she tells him it's Darla on the other end. Darla asks him to help, and tells Lindsey that Angel is the only one who can do anything for her. When a security guard tries to stop her from leaving, a shot is heard, and he falls. A later discussion between Lindsay and Holland indicates the guard is dead, and that Darla has been caught. Lindsey is told he is off the project. Angel leaves to go find Darla and help her. Wesley tries to warn him to be careful, telling him he should know what Darla was. Angel corrects him, saying it was what they both were - and that having been through it, he might be able to help her. When Wesley reminds him that he went over a century without seeking redemption, Angel replies that he sought Darla instead.
During the Boxer Rebellion in China, Angel tracks down Darla, and - despite being cursed with a soul - asks her for a second chance to rule at her side.
Angel attacks Lindsey in a parking garage. Lindsey tells him Darla is in trouble, that they plan to kill her. Angel promises to come back and kill him if he's lying.
Angel, back in the Boxer Rebellion, comes upon a terrified family of missionaries and distracts his companions from them. Drusilla tells them that Spike has killed his first Slayer. Angel tries to act excited, but drops the act when Drusilla fixates on the alley where he left the family and instead tries to convince the others to leave. Angel returns to Darla after going out to feed on animals. She tells him she noticed that he only killed the guilty in the riots, and demands he prove he's truly evil. She says she went back and killed the family in the alleyway, but kept their baby, which she wants him to kill.
Darla sits up suddenly, staring in fear at three people in white with guns as Angel's car appears behind her. She is thrown aside, and after defeating the three men, Angel runs to her. In the lobby of Wolfram and Hart, Lindsey sees the supposedly murdered guard very much alive. He talks to Holland, accusing him of playing him. Holland says they had to make the crisis real. Lindsey speaks derisively of the idea that Angel would achieve his moment of perfect happiness with Darla under the circumstances, but Holland tells him he doesn't understand the plan - that they expect Angel to save her soul.
Darla wakes up, and whispers "Angelus" when she sees Angel. Cordelia corrects her. She says she's lucky to have someone who understands - something Angel never had. She wants him to turn her back, saying she can't bear to feel her own heartbeat. Angel tells her it's a gift to be human, but she disagrees, and demands he "return the favour" for turning him into a vampire. Angel backs away, stunned that she still considers what she did to him a gift. When she instead tries to convince him to turn her as revenge, he refuses.
Looking down at the baby, Angel confesses he can't pretend to be who he's not. She says she's disgusted with him. He takes the baby and jumps through a window.
Darla runs out of the office, telling Angel not to look for her again, mirroring the words of a century ago.
Composer Robert J. Kral says this is his favorite episode to have scored, as he was able to write several different themes for the character of Darla. He was asked by director Tim Minear to write music that was "epochy. Something with horns...something Wagnerish." Kral and Buffy composer Thomas Wanker deliberately choose not to collaborate, so that the cross-over scenes would "maintain a different perspective," Kral says.
Production designer Stuart Blatt says the Boxer Rebellion flashback scenes in this episode and "Fool for Love" were filmed at a movie ranch with a standing set for a Mexican village. "Through our research," Blatt says, "we realized that a lot of Chinese towns looked very similar to small Mexican villages...clay adobe structures with either thatched or tower roofs." Gaffer Dan Kerns explains that to simulate the burning streets, his crew set up numerous 'flicker boxes' that "pulse like a flame", in addition to simulated moonlight from "cherry picker"-like machines.
Actress Julie Benz says the flashback scenes are "the high points" of playing Darla; her favorite scene is the Boxer Rebellion. Gaffer Dan Kerns' girlfriend Heidi Strickler appears in that scene, playing the frightened mother in the alley whom Angel attempts to shelter.
This episode was writer Tim Minear's directorial debut. He says he felt it was time to explore Darla's history, which "should really be her story with Angel throughout the 150 years that they were together." When Joss Whedon pointed out that they were already doing a Spike origin story on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Minear suggested they do both.
Although this episode shows Angel and Darla's romantic history, Minear cautions, "at no time was I trying to play this as being Angel's true love. It's more like the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; this troubled, old married couple with secrets. I wasn't trying to take Buffy's place in his heart by any stretch of the imagination. But here's a guy who's been around for a couple of hundred years before he ever met Buffy and certainly he was shaped in some way." He explains that despite cries of retconning from fans — who saw in the Buffy episode "Becoming, Part One" that Angel was living on the streets of New York in the early 1990s — he doesn't believe Angel was "thrown out of that room in Romania by Darla in 1898 and has been on the street ever since."
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This episode won "Best Period Hair Styling in a Series" at the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards. Joss Whedon stated this episode as his all-time favorite episode, during an "Attack of the Show" interview.
- Interview with Robert J. Kral: Favourite Score, BBC, retrieved 2007-10-01
- Review of Episode 7, Season 2: "Darla", archived from the original on 2008-01-31, retrieved 2007-10-08
- Interview with Stuart Blatt: A holiday in Pylea, BBC, retrieved 2007-09-20
- Bratton, Kristy, Lights, Camera, Act- Lights? LIGHTS! An Exclusive Interview with Dan Kerns, archived from the original on 2008-03-06, retrieved 2007-10-16
- Interview with Julie Benz: All-time High, BBC, retrieved 2007-09-18
- Kerns, Dan (2004), "Angel by the Numbers", Five Seasons of Angel, BenBella, p. 28, ISBN 1-932100-33-4
- Gross, Edward (November 13, 2000), Writer-producer Tim Minear on directing 'Darla', archived from the original on September 25, 2007, retrieved 2007-09-17
- Francis, Rob, News - 19th February, BBC
- Tiernam, Jill (March 19, 2001), Crowning glory - Hair and makeup awards: Where everyone looks pretty, Variety
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