Angel is an American television series, a spin-off from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series was created by Buffy’s creator, Joss Whedon, in collaboration with David Greenwalt, and first aired on October 5, 1999. Like Buffy, it was produced by Whedon’s production company, Mutant Enemy.
The show details the ongoing trials of Angel, a vampire whose human soul was restored to him by gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. After more than a century of murder and the torture of innocents, Angel’s restored soul torments him with guilt and remorse. During the first four seasons of the show, he works as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and a variety of associates work to “help the helpless” and to restore the faith and save the souls of those who have lost their way. Typically, this involves doing battle with evil demons or demonically allied humans, primarily related to Wolfram & Hart, a demonic law firm. He also has to battle his own demonic nature.
At the start of the series, Angel has just moved to Los Angeles. He is soon visited by Doyle, a messenger sent to him on behalf of The Powers That Be. Doyle receives visions that can guide Angel on his mission as a champion of humankind. Angel also encounters Cordelia Chase, who is trying to launch an acting career. The three group together to form Angel Investigations, a detective agency that hopes to “help the helpless.” When Doyle dies in the episode “Hero”, he passes on his ‘visions’ to Cordelia with a kiss. Shortly thereafter, the ex-Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, joins the group. Meanwhile, the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart pay increasing attention to Angel. They tempt him toward darkness when they resurrect Darla, Angel’s ex-lover and sire — killed by Angel in the first season of Buffy in the episode “Angel”.
Charles Gunn, who was introduced toward the end of the first season in the episode “War Zone”, is a street-tough leader of a gang of vampire hunters. He is initially determined to kill Angel, but slowly comes to accept him and join his cause. Wolfram & Hart’s star lawyer Lindsey McDonald primes Darla as its weapon to bring down Angel. However, Darla is brought back as a human, not a vampire. But as a human, she suffers from a terminal case of syphilis — which she had contracted in her original life before being sired. Lindsey brings in Drusilla, a vampire originally sired by Angelus, to restore Darla to the cause of evil. Enraged by this, Angel begins to grow darker. He cuts himself off from his staff and attempts to go after the pair himself. In despair, Angel sleeps with Darla (cf. “Reprise”), but the next morning, he has an epiphany; seeing the error of his ways, he banishes Darla and reunites with his group. When Cordelia vanishes, Lorne, the flamboyant demon owner of Caritas, reluctantly takes Angel and his crew to his home dimension, Pylea, to rescue her. They return with Winifred “Fred” Burkle, a former physics student who has been trapped in the dimension for five long years.
To get over news of the death of his ex-girlfriend, Buffy, Angel spends three months in a monastery, where he encounters some demon monks and goes home frustrated. He returns to Los Angeles, as does Darla — now bearing his child, and an old enemy, Daniel Holtz, of both Angel and Darla is resurrected by a demon to take revenge on the vampires that killed his family. The group is puzzled over what might be the first vampire birth. Darla sacrifices her life to save the life of her child, Connor. The gang is eager to care for the infant, but Wesley soon learns of a (false) frightening prophecy that suggests that Angel will murder his son. Feeling disconnected from the group, Wesley does not share this information, and quietly kidnaps Connor. This backfires as he is attacked and the child is seized by Holtz and his protégée Justine. Wanting Angel to suffer the loss of a child as he did, Holtz escapes through a rip in the fabric of space to the dimension of Quor’Toth, and raises the boy as his own. Angel feels that his son is lost forever, and tries to murder Wesley. Though he survives, Wesley is banished from the group. Weeks later, Connor returns, but because time moves faster in Quor’Toth, he is now a teenage boy, having been raised by Holtz. Tricking Angel into believing he needs to be the one to take Connor in, Holtz gives Angel a letter letting Connor know that he will be leaving and to trust Angel. Holtz gets Justine to kill him, but ends up making it look like a vampire attack so Connor will assume the worst. Connor imprisons his birth father, Angel, in a casket and drops it to the bottom of the ocean. Cordelia’s visions have been progressively getting worse, and she becomes part demon to make them easier on herself. Her old lover, the Groosalugg, comes back from Pylea to be with her, but leaves her when he discovers that she instead loves Angel.
Despite his exile from his old friends, Wesley locates and frees Angel. A hellish Beast emerges and blocks out the sun over L.A. He then proceeds to kill the staff at Wolfram & Hart. Although the city survives, the sunlight seems to be blotted out permanently. The team resorts to releasing Angel’s soul, believing Angelus knows helpful information about the beast. Although the team takes safety precautions, Angelus is released from his cell by Cordelia, who is at the time under the influence of the soon to be born Jasmine. Luckily they manage to restore Angel’s soul, thanks to help from Faith and Willow. Their efforts, however, do not prevent the coming of Jasmine, who was indirectly responsible for the work of the Beast. Jasmine, it turns out, was formerly one of the Powers That Be and plans to solve all the world’s problems by giving humanity total happiness through spiritual enslavement to her. She arrives in our world through manipulation of Cordelia and Connor, using them as a conduit into our world, eventually forcing Cordelia to fall into a coma. Fred is accidentally inoculated against Jasmine’s spell by contact with her blood and frees the rest of the gang though they remain hopelessly outnumbered by thousands already entranced by Jasmine. Angel travels through a magic portal into a world previously visited by Jasmine to find a way of breaking her power over L.A.’s populace. By revealing her true name, they are able to break Jasmine’s spell over everyone. Jasmine confronts Angel, but is then killed by Connor. Connor is revealed never to have been under Jasmine’s influence, but he went along for the sake of having a semblance of family and happiness. In the season finale, they are met by Lilah Morgan, the resurrected Head of Wolfram & Hart’s Special Project Division, who congratulates them on preventing world peace, and says that as a token of their appreciation, Wolfram & Hart would like to give them the Los Angeles branch. To help save Cordelia and Connor, who has gone mad with confusion over losing everything, Angel reluctantly agrees.
The gang begins to settle into their new lives at Wolfram & Hart. Gunn undergoes a special cognitive procedure that transforms him into a brilliant lawyer. The group receives an amulet that resurrects a past companion of Angelus, the en-souled vampire Spike, initially as a ghost-like presence but later regains corporeal status due to the machinations of Lindsey McDonald in a surprise return. Cordelia, who has been in a coma, has The Powers That Be grant her one last request, in which she helps Angel get “back on track”, then dies. Angel is briefly reunited with his son Connor, now in a new identity thanks to the agreement between Angel and Wolfram & Hart at the end of Season Four. Connor later reveals that he remembers his previous life as Angel’s son. Fred finally declares her affections to Wesley, but shortly after is possessed by an ancient and powerful demon called Illyria. Wesley is devastated by the loss of Fred, but agrees to help Illyria adjust to her new form and the unfamiliar world she’s in. Angel, after getting one last vision from Cordelia before her death, infiltrates the Circle of the Black Thorn, a secret society responsible for engineering the Apocalypse, and plans to take them all out in a simultaneous, hard-hitting strike. Because this is probably a suicide mission, he tells each of his friends to spend the day as if it were their last. That night, the team launches its attack on the Circle, dividing up their targets. When Wesley is fatally stabbed, Illyria, concerned for his safety, arrives at his side after killing her targets, but is unable to save him. Illyria asks Wesley if he’d like her to assume the form of Fred, and Wesley agrees, allowing him to say goodbye to the woman he loved. Lorne leaves and disappears into the night, his innocence destroyed, after fulfilling Angel’s last order to kill Lindsey, the former Wolfram & Hart lawyer who had turned his back on the firm. Angel confronts Senior Partners’ new liaison Marcus Hamilton, and defeats him with help from Connor.
Once the Circle has been dismantled, Angel and the surviving members of his gang rendezvous in the alley behind the Hyperion Hotel. Illyria arrives with news of Wesley’s death and feels the need to lash out her anger/grief. Gunn emerges, staggering from a serious stomach wound. The survivors wait as the Senior Partners’ army of warriors, giants, and a dragon approaches. Angel and his crew prepare for the upcoming battle, with Angel saying, “Personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon”. The series then ends with Angel saying, “Let’s go to work”, after which he and his team attack the army head on.
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