It must have been so disorienting at the time to see Wesley suddenly join the cast, with Doyle casually dismissed and killed off only last week. Even more so because Wesley's characterization here is exactly the same as it was on Buffy. He's bumbling, sort of moronic and a major pain in the butt to most people around him. It almost stinks of a one-joke character who'll be quickly run into the ground. Obviously, that doesn't turn out to be the case at all, but if I had no knowledge of what was to come, I could imagine being majorly irritated.
There's a lot to like about this episode, starting with the Cordelia character work. If there's one positive thing to come from Doyle's death, it's that Cordelia automatically became a stronger character with a more logical tie to Angel Investigations. Through her new-found visions, she serves a greater purpose, and it's already making her a more responsible and thoughtful character. I liked her early attempts at appearing helpful (even if her descriptions of the vision-y images were decidedly weak), while her behavior at the auction was a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, we're still seeing little pockets of demons around L.A., and I loved the concept of a demon auction for various artifacts and magical hoodoo. There was also Wolfram & Hart's involvement, which was another neat little tease.
As an episode which sets up a 'new' Angel, this worked well. Wesley is problematic (he works far better as a Giles-like knowledge-machine than as an annoying comedy ass), but there's already chemistry between the leads, which is admirable. I still miss Doyle's presence, but the show itself is clearly getting stronger as it goes on. B+
Guest stars Maury Sterling (Barney); Carey Cannon (Female Oracle); Randall Slavin (Male Oracle); Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce)
Writers David Fury, Jeannine Renshaw Director James A. Contner