"Epiphany" is episode 16 of season 2 in the television show Angel. Written by Tim Minear and directed by Thomas J. Wright, it was originally broadcast on February 27, 2001 on the WB network. After spending an evening of empty passion with Darla, despite knowing that any moment of true happiness will make him lose his soul, Angel wakes up with his soul intact and realizes that being evil to combat evil is not all it’s cracked up to be. Now, Angel needs to regain the trust of Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn who have been taken hostage by a group of murderous, revenge-seeking Skilosh demons who are looking for human hosts to spread their kin. Meanwhile, a jealous Lindsey learns that Darla has had sex with Angel, and goes looking to kill Angel himself. Also, Kate recovers and sees a new light to her life after Angel saves her from a suicide attempt.
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Thomas J. Wright|
|Written by||Tim Minear|
|Original air date||February 27, 2001|
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Angel pulls on some clothes and struggles to the balcony, falling to his knees in pain as Darla looks on, waiting for him to become Angelus. Angel apologizes for not being able to save her, revealing that he never lost his soul: instead of experiencing the "perfect happiness" that would release it, he realizes his surrender to her was instead an act of perfect despair. Darla can't accept that she failed in ridding him of his soul, but the sex has reawakened the good in Angel, making him realize his recent mistakes. Darla is devastated that she wasn't able to reawaken Angelus, and her words remind him of Kate's phone message. Angel throws Darla out telling her he'll be forced to kill her if he sees her again, and then rushes over to Kate's place and revives her from her drug and alcohol induced unconsciousness.
Lindsey returns to his apartment to find Darla, who tells him of her night with Angel. Angel shows up at the bar after hours and wakes the Host for advice. He's confused about his future and the Host warns him that his friends are in danger. Cordelia arrives at the Sharp home, finding all of the family dead. She receives a vision about a demon attacking her, only to have it occur moments later.
Cordelia realizes that the demons have an eye on the back of their heads and they want her friends destroyed in retaliation for destroying their spawn in Stephanie Sharp. Wesley hears noises in his apartment and just before one of the Skilosh demons attacks, Angel arrives. The two manage to destroy the demons and both share a brief moment of camaraderie before the walls go up again. Angel tries to explain his return to helping his friends. Wesley tells everything he knows about the demons, their reproduction through human hosts, and the destruction of the demon in Stephanie.
The Skilosh demons, upset about losing two more of their kind, use Cordelia as bait to bring new hosts. Arriving at Angel Investigations, Angel and Wesley are dismayed to find Cordelia missing. Angel suggests Cordelia has gone out partying, but Wesley tells Angel harshly that Cordelia is not the same woman she was, the visions have turned her into a solitary person, a far cry from the carefree girl she used to be, and that while Angel was more than happy to turn his back on the visions, that's not a luxury Cordelia has. Angel is left feeling ashamed, and this deepens his resolve to her save her, something Wesley does agree with. Hearing a noise outside, the two arm themselves, but find it only to be Gunn checking out why the lights are on. Angel notes the strong bond that's developed between Wesley and Gunn. Setting off for the Sharp residence, Angel volunteers to take care of some Skilosh demons waiting for them telling the others that Cordelia is the only thing that matters. As Angel's about to start fighting with the demons they suddenly flee. Angel is confused, until Lindsey drives a truck full-speed down the street, repeatedly running Angel down.
Lindsey beats Angel with a sledgehammer, demanding to know what happened with Darla. Angel turns the tables on Lindsey, and starts to beat him all the while apologizing that Darla will never love him and that he didn't try harder to save Lindsey when he came to him for help. In the end he smashes Lindsey's prosthetic hand with the sledgehammer and steals Lindsey's truck, telling the lawyer that he could have smashed the other hand if it wasn't for the epiphany. Gunn and Wesley try to sneak into the Sharp home but are caught. Angel crashes Lindsey's truck through the Sharp house, rescuing his friends, but he's hurt emotionally when they aren't willing to accept him back into the fold. After finding his damaged truck returned by Angel, Lindsey discovers that Darla has moved out of his apartment and has left L.A..
Angel talks with Kate about his new look on life; how he's realized that he should help people for the sake of helping them instead of for his own redemption and that if there is no bigger meaning then the small acts of kindness are the greatest things in the world. Kate says a higher power must be watching over them, because she never invited him into her home but he was able to enter regardless and save her life.
Angel appears at the Angel Investigations office and apologizes to his friends. Wesley tells Angel that the three of them have talked and have decided they're not ready to return to working for him, however Angel responds that he doesn't want them to work for him - he wants to work for them, and accepts that he will have to work hard to regain their trust. A vision from Cordelia puts their doubts on the back burner and the reunited team head out to help the helpless.
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- Darla's reaction to Angel still having his soul echoes that of Buffy's when Angel lost his soul. In "Innocence", Buffy reacts to Angelus. While in this episode, Darla reacts to an unchanged Angel.
Buffy: "I, I don't understand. Was it m-me? (meekly) Was I not good?"
Darla: "You're not evil. I-I don't understand. Was I... Was it... not good?"
- Angel rejoins Cordelia, Gunn and Wesley, albeit as their employee rather than as their employer.
- Angel and Darla's night of passion has far-reaching consequences, as will be seen later in the series.
- "Epiphany" marks Kate Lockley's final appearance in the series until Angel: After The Fall, issue 7.
- It's a Wonderful Life: Lorne's mention of Zuzu's Petals is a reference to this film.
- Blade Runner: Angel's line "I've done questionable things" is a direct quote from Blade Runner, where the main villain, Roy, attempts to confess his sins to his creator, Dr. Tyrell, immediately before killing him.
- The Daily Show: On the February 12th 2014 Episode of The Daily Show the line "If nothing we do matters then all that matters is what we do" is quoted by a Russian women in regards to the Russian anti-gay laws.
In an essay examining the use of cinematic effects of time on Angel, Tammy Kinsey points out this episode is set up so that at first, the viewer suspects Angel has lost his soul - the structure of the opening scene strongly references the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Innocence" in which Angelus first emerges. However, as it becomes clear that Angel's soul is intact, he rushes to save Kate in a blur of quickly cut scenes. Kinsey says that, when viewed in slow motion, the last image in the transition is Angel smiling widely. Kinsey argues that "the subliminal image of David Boreanaz grinning" causes the viewer to emotionally move from "fear and concern about Angel to a sense of comfort and trust."
- Kinsey, Tammy A. (2005), "Transitions and Time: the Cinematic Language of Angel", in Stacey Abbott (ed.), Reading Angel: The TV Spin-off With a Soul, I.B.Tauris, p. 50
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