Greatest Flashbacks

5 Angel

“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?”

Type of flashback: Parallel story in the past
Flashback to: 1952, when Angel used to live in the Hyperion hotel

“Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been” has one distinct advantage over other flashbacks featuring Angel – we don’t have to put up with David Boreanaz’s dodgy Irish accent or his even dodgier shaggy wig. Instead, Boreanaz is much more at home as a BrylCreemed ’50s vampire, mooching around in the grandiose art deco hotel which will one day become the base of Angel Investigations.

This is a very elegant flashback episode with more than a touch of Stephen King about it, as the supernatural storyline is a peg on which to explore racism and McCarthyism, with the ghosts of evils past stretching into the present. The camerawork is part film noir part Kubrick, with slow panning shots down corridors reminiscent of The Shining. The hotel is populated with intriguing, shady characters. The sense of impending doom – just waiting to be ignited with the merest spark – is almost cloying. In a way, it almost serves as a pilot for phase two of the show.