Angel's Secrets

Episode Reviews   

"Damage," January 28, 2004

by Anne

Episode Summary

Dana, an emotionally unstable young woman with superhuman strength escapes from a mental institution, and Angel gets involved after learning that she may be demon-possessed. Searching the scene of her escape for clues, Angel finds a videotape of one of her sessions with the doctor. Hearing her speak in Romanian, Angel realizes that she isn't possessed - she's a vampire slayer. Spike also goes in search for her, and comes very close to getting staked. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Angel learns that Giles has been contacted and has sent his "top man," who is, surprisingly, Andrew. Andrew is elated to see that Spike is alive. Pulling himself together, Andrew explains how Willow's magic changed every potential slayer into an actual slayer. Dana is a special case: her family was murdered in front of her, and the murderer took her captive, torturing her for months. Wes notes that her mental instability is making her Slayer dreams seem real. Spike leaves to find Dana, and Andrew follows, filling Spike in on what everyone's been doing. Andrew realizes that Buffy, now living in Rome, doesn't know that Spike is alive, and Spike charges him to not tell her. Lorne and Angel take a psychic to Dana's childhood home, and the psychic picks up a memory of Dana being taken to a dark, sweet-smelling basement. In real life, Dana returns to that basement; scenes of her torture flash through her mind, until she sees the face of her tormentor: Spike! She leaves to find him, and she gets him to chase her to the basement. He speaks calmly to her, but she suddenly attacks, stabbing him with a syringe of something that instantly renders him weak. He passes out; when he wakes, he finds that Dana has cut off his hands! She says he can't touch her anymore, and he says that he never touched her. He realizes her memories are mixed up, and she's confusing him with someone else. In her mind, his form morphs into that of her actual captor. Regardless, she moves to cut off Spike's head, but Angel stops her. They fight until Wesley is able to tranquilize Dana. Fred rushes Spike off to surgery, but as Angel's team moves Dana toward an ambulance, Andrew appears with twelve Slayers. He says that they'll be taking Dana with them. Angel is defiant, saying that he'll clear it with Buffy. Andrew retorts, "Where do you think my orders came from?" Andrew tells Angel that no one in their camp trusts him and that they are no longer on the same side. Andrew and the Slayers leave with Dana.

Episode Review

If I were to list the top ten things found in any given episode of Angel, "damage" would be very near the top of the list. In addition to the destruction that the gang encounters as they fight the good fight, there’s always the evil past that Angel just can’t get away from. For example, Dana’s situation was so similar to what Angelus did to Drusilla, it’s almost as if TPTB were trying to throw his earlier misdeeds in his face.

Similarly, it wasn’t really a surprise to see in Dana’s flashback that Spike was her tormentor. Spike’s done some terrible things; even his name was earned by his favorite way to torture victims. As with Angel, even though Spike has changed, his past crimes were many. Dana wasn’t one of them, but Spike didn’t complain about suffering for a crime he didn’t commit. Obviously, even though he told Angel to "let go" of the feeling that he has to pay for his past, Spike also feels deep down that he should be punished.

Dana seems to be the reverse case: she suffered a terrible injustice, but in her quest for vengeance, she was hurting those who didn’t deserve it. She was crossing the line from victim to villain, and to complicate matters further, she was a vampire slayer. Normally, slayers are unquestionably good - it‘s their nature. However, just as there are "good" vampires, there could also be "bad" slayers. Dana’s past may be too much for her to overcome. The episode’s end echoed this with Spike’s ominous prediction that she was already a monster.

In all the hurt that was depicted, arguably the most painful was Andrew’s assertion that Buffy no longer trusts Angel. After all they’ve been through and all she’s seen him do, she apparently thinks that working for Wolfram & Hart proves that he’s evil. I find that hard to believe, but what a blow it must have been for Angel to hear. Ouch.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

* I wonder if the nurse that switched the meds at the start of the ep was paid to do so.

* If an injection of "yellow" almost instantly rendered Spike unable to move, imagine the effect it had on Dana when she was young.

* Fred's "no cadavers" remark as she rushed Spike off to surgery was a clear reference to the Wolfram & Hart medical practices that returned Lindsey's hand a few seasons ago.

* Why was Angel so reluctant to let Andrew take Dana? Maybe he thought Dana needed to be guarded, but she really does belong with the Slayers.

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