One of the driving themes of early season two was Darla trying to come to terms with her new found humanity, and experiencing feelings that she hadn't felt for hundreds of years. That sense of emotion and soulfulness eventually crippled her sanity, so desperate to become a vampire again that she ended up trawling bars for an easy siring. A similar thing happens here, but it's played in such a haunting way that it's infinitely more moving. This is Darla's finest hour, an episode that explores her psychology and allows Julie Benz to play varying different tones as her character experiences a deep personal crisis.
The episode opens with the aftermath of Angelus and Darla's attack on Holtz's family, an event which left his daughter a vampire that he is soon forced to kill. It's a horrifying act of sadistic torment, designed to inflict as much pain as possible. The story is paralleled beautifully with Darla's own torment in the present day, as she acknowledges her unborn child's soul is changing her. Like any expectant mother, she is troubled with paranoia over her pregnancy, but in a Whedonverse twist we see her worrying about becoming evil again after she delivers, returning to the same monster she used to be and endangering her child in the process.
In the end she recognizes what she has to do, not only to deliver the child but also to protect him. She tells Angel that their baby is the one good thing they ever did together, and stakes herself in order to save her child's life. It's a gorgeous finale, full of biblical undertones and epic intensity; and Julie Benz is spectacular. A+
Guest stars Julie Benz (Darla); John Rubinstein (Linwood Morrow); Andy Hallett (Lorne); Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Parks); Jack Conley (Sahjhan); Jim Ortlieb (Translator); Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz)
Writer Tim Minear Director Tim Minear