|The second season of Angel saw the cult vampire show finally stand on its own from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, assembling all the members of the show's core cast, transferring the action to a fashionably run-down L.A. hotel, and bringing in a few Buffy characters from Angel's history to further establish the moody vampire's own mythology. Moving their Angel Investigations to posher digs, Angel (David Boreanaz), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), and Wesley (Alexis Denisof) were soon joined by street fighter (J. August Richards)-and by street fighter, of course we mean demon street fighter. But just as this group was solidifying, up popped Angel's old love, Darla (the fantastic Julie Benz), freshly arrived in L.A. from a hell dimension
just in time to be turned into a vampire again by her old cohort, Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and lure Angel into abandoning his newly formed team.
It was the best and worst of times for Angel in its second year, for while the basis was being set for the show's stellar third and fourth seasons, dramatic tension was diluted by Angel's going solo and the necessary (but plot-debilitating) flashbacks to various points in Angel's history. However, just when it seemed everything was about to fly out the window, Angel's creative team threw its characters for a loop--literally--by transporting them to the demon dimension of Pylea, a medieval-style fantasyland populated by monsters and humans alike. It shouldn't have worked, as hokey as it was... but it did, thanks to crack storytelling, sharp dialogue, and the sheer joy the actors unleashed, especially the gifted and fiendishly funny Carpenter. The second half of the season also saw the addition of two of Angel's best characters: the horned Lorne (Andy Hallett), a green demon with a penchant for karaoke, and Fred (Amy Acker), a physicist trapped in Pylea who helped the gang engineer their escape. With these two in tow, Angel began to soar. --Mark Englehart