1.1: City of..
Summary: Angel is saving people in LA, but he lacks a purpose or real mission. Enter Doyle, a demon/human hybrid who receives visions of people in trouble. Angel attempts and fails to save a girl from a vampire called Russell. His next victim will be Cordelia and Angel manages to save her from him. The next day Angel visits Russell at the law firm where he works and kicks him out the window. The law firm is called Wolfram & Hart and Angel has just become their number one enemy.
Best Scenes: When Angel is pouring his soul out to the dude sitting next to him was well funny. Doyle going through Angels past and his choice expressions to describe Buffy. Angel at the Hollywood party. Cordelia meeting Angel. When Angel kicks Russell out the window was cool. Good special effects too.
Worst Scenes: I didn't like the way Tina found the note with her name on it. Very lazy way to make her run off. Thats about it really. Practically no bad scenes.
Best Character: Angel was great and very funny. But Doyle made me laugh and I warmed to him instantly, so he gets the nod.
Most Underused Character: Doyle was in a few scenes and performed great in them all. But he also got the least to do after he set Angel on his path.
Funniest Scene: Angel at the Hollywood party. Everybody he bumped into resulted in a laughout loud scene.
Laugh Line Of The Week: "You are a beautiful, beautiful man" - Oliver being frank with Angel having known hin for 10 seconds.
Quality Of The Villain: Russell was just a vampire, but he seemed a lot more menacing because of his personality. There was always a threatening presence when he was on screen and was probably not a nice person before he even got vamp'd. The real villain isn't even a person but a corporation. Wolfram and Hart will be major players in Angel's world.
Things That Make You Ponder: Angel's office and car and basement and...you get the picture. Where is all this money coming from? And how did he manage to get into the Wolfram and Hart building, let alone the office? Where do all these sewers connect to? Surely if they have access to that many places, people would be walking through them to get to work or go shopping. Great way to avoid the crowds.
Final Verdict: Very strong opening episode. Angel was given a mission, Doyle is great as a sidekick and Cordelia may finally get a chance to shine now that she's out from Buffys shadow. In a word, Brilliant. 5/5
1.2: Lonely Hearts
Summary: A Demon is killing people by sleeping with
them, then swapping bodies by burrowing into their back. It seems to be
hanging round a certain nightclub called D'Oblique, so Angel and the
A-team check it out. An undercover cop called kate suspects Angel is the
killer but after he saves her she comes to trust him. Angel & Kate
finally catch up with the Demon and kill it by setting it on fire.
1.3: In The Dark
This is the first official crossover after the phone call to Buffy in 1.1 and the debut of someone guest starring from the parent surprisingly doesn't actually go to the Buf', but instead falls to Oz. I can't really remember that many scenes Oz had with Angel over the years, the only one standing out in my memory right now being Dopplegangland (3.16). But Oz is cool and even though you could interchange him with pretty much any of the scoobies (except obviously Buffy), he definitely adds to the show.
Of course you could argue that the very first appearance on screen from a Buffy regular is Spike, but he vanished for a year, so in my mind Oz still gets the nod. But how funny was Spikes observations about Angel ("No, not the hair, never the hair!")?! Great stuff, but even at the end of his comedy monologue, you know that he's got something painful lined up for his old mentor.
As this was a crossover, there is a certain sense of being out of the loop if you didn't see the opening part in Buffy (The Harsh Light of Day (4.3)), but Oz soon brings the uninformed up to speed. Spikes after a ring that grants the wearer invulnerable if said wearer is a vampire. And Spike wants it. See? People who complain about the crossovers being hard to follow are talking bollocks frankly. The important parts of the previous episode were summed up in a nicely played scene where Oz gives Angel the ring.
Angels next move is sensible enough (certainly when compared to the end of the episode, but more on that later); hide the ring before someone else gets it. But more than that, being effectively immortal and invulnerable is a pretty big step. Sounds like a good deal, but then so did living forever, before you read the small print about losing your soul.
Spike proceeds to capture Angel and torture the whereabouts of the ring out of him with the aid of a sadist called Marcus. He actually looks no more threatening than a dentist, but he carries a certain creepiness about him and just looks slightly unhinged in a quietly intense way. Plus, his fascination for children is equally icky and makes him one of the best villains I've seen for a while.
The torture scene is quite brutal with hot pokers being forced into Angels hanging body, and the music playing in the background is suitably classical, reminiscent of a Hannibal Lector type serial killers taste in tunes.
Th episode sags a bit here, as Spike forces Doyle & Cordy to find the ring and give it to him. They have some good banter between the three of them, but there wasn't a whole lot for them to do. I'm still not convinced their plan of throwing the ring on the floor as a distraction and having Oz bash down the door was sensible. Or to be more specific, the plan is good, but why not use a trinket? Or one of Cordys rings? If Spike did find the ring quickly who is he going to go after first? He's not likely to just hail a cab and leave (mind you, with Spike you never know.)
Of course, Marcus snaffles it and escapes, posing a genuine threat for the first time and showing quite how dangerous he is. His walk down the pier and eyeing up children was rather chilling.
You've got to love Angel's plan though for getting the ring back and stopping Marcus. Jump out of the Van in broad daylight and tackle him. Fool hardy undeniably and if it had gone wrong, it would have to be one of the most embarrassing deaths ever. But it looked cool as hell and they fell under the pier into shadow. The 'darkness' they were fighting in was suspicious to say the least. It seems to me that Angel should have been smoking the light was so pervasive, even under the planks of wood. He gets the ring of Marcus and shoves him into the light, disposing of a nasty piece of work forever. It also shows up how flawed the ring is. It's all well and good being unkillable and immortal, but if you can't defend yourself well, anyone could whip it off you and it's goodnight Vienna.
And as the final scene draws to a close, Angel decides to destroy the ring. Realistically from a plot point of view, he had no choice. He could hardly be superman for the rest of the series as nothing could kill him. And he couldn't throw it away or hide it for fear of anyone finding it. Spikes bad, but imagine a 100, a 1000 vampires chasing after you for it. So he destroys it. Now we know he did it, and Doyle knows, but no one else does. So what's to stop numerous vamps knocking on his door to grab it off him? They would just have to accept his word, and that's not very likely. Maybe there's a Vampire newsletter he notified. And Spike doesn't know either about the rings status. He's put a lot of effort into finding this and then just skulks away. But to be fair, he knows Angel well and he probably already guessed what Angel would do.
We get a nice final shot of Angel and Doyle sitting on the roof watching the sunset over LA. Good special effects make the scene light up beautifully (though again the sunlight threshold for Vamps without a ring is dubious as he seems to take it off too quickly for my likening but that's just nit picking) and give us a good ending.
So, you'd have to say that this was a good episode. The crossover was kind of gimmicky in having Oz starring as well as Spike, but the shared universe thing is always good fun. Thoroughly enjoyable. - 4/5
1.4: I Fall to Pieces
This episode is generally slated as one of the worst that AtS has produced. I don't think that's necessarily true, but it's not great by any means. A brief synopsis:
A neurosurgeon called Meltzer has become obsessed with a woman he dated once called Melissa. But the catch is that instead of just being a normal stalker, he can psychically detach parts of his body and make them float around. She holes up at Angels and he finds her. But she confronts him and tells him how weak he is really and while this sinks in Angel decapitates him with a baseball bat. You know, having just re-read that, it really doesn't that good. But there were moments.
The conversations between Doyle & Cordy were great fun and they seem to have a good chemistry together. Likewise, Angel and Kate are also good on screen and compliment each other well. The thorny subject of asking for money owed is a tricky one, but Angel has to realise that because of his lack of funds, he needs to be more business like, without losing the mission. It's not like he's going to become a loan shark or anything, just collect what is owed to him.
Now for the bad parts. The bad guy was just too comical to really be taken as a threat. Hands roaming into bedrooms, eyeballs floating in doorways…It just required too big a suspension of disbelief, a Golden Gate Bridge sized suspension at least. I wondered what else could detach and wander off by itself? His nose? A buttock cheek? The thing is, Clive Barker wrote a short story in his "Books of Blood" series very similar to this. I think it was called "The Body Politic" or something, but that story was about a man whose hands suddenly became 'aware' and manage to chop one hand off the arm to run away and start a revolution of mobile Hands! It sounds silly and possibly downright awful, but it was excellently written and highly recommended. (It was actually combined with a Stephen King story called "Chattery Teeth" (maybe) and made into a TV film with Christopher Lloyd doing the framing plot. Quicksilver Highway or something I think it was called. Awful film.) It's all in the execution and this episode just didn't have it. The scene where his teeth come flying out his mouth and attach themselves to Angels arm was laugh out loud stuff, truly so bad it's funny.
The other dodgy scene (though I'm not that bothered by it really) was Angel being poisoned. How the hell did it slow his heart if it's not beating in the first place? Though you could also ask how can vamps smoke if they don't breath, etc. I suspect the answers 'accept it and stop being a pedant', but It would have been cool if Angel faked it, then suckered the Doctor.
Overall, this wasn't the greatest hour of TV, but certainly not the worst. Fun stuff between Cordy & Doyle save it, but the execution of the idea for the bad guy is poor at best. - 2/5
1.5: Rm W/A Vu
This was good stuff, a welcome slice of quality after last weeks rather poor outing. Short synopsis time: Cordy is looking for an apartment and after searching through various awful places, manages to find the perfect one with the help of Doyle. Unfortunately, it's haunted, with what the A-team believe to be a son who murdered his mother. Doyles past catches up with him as well as loan shark demons come after money, then his head. It all ends with the demons being defeated by the gang in Cordys apartment and the ghost being expelled by Cordys strength of mind. The twist is though, that the ghost is Maude the mom and she walled up her son in the apartment so he couldn't run off with a girl.
I really liked this episode a lot. It was the first real outing Cordys got as the episode revolved around her. The fights with the ghost were well done and good acting was required to deliver the scenes of Cordy breaking down, then finding her inner bitch, if you will. You could question how easily Cordy seemed to snap and give up and how quickly she came back, but we've only got 45 minutes folks so you can't have a French Connection 2 length tour de force on fighting inner demons.
When she first moves in with Angel was probably the funniest stuff in the episode, with her gradual driving him up the wall with her bad habits. The search for the apartments was fun as well, with the rooms in the basement separated by a shower curtain belonging to a cult being the real laugh out loud moment (Cordy: "And my urination just hasn't been public enough lately").
The B-plot involving Doyle being chased by gangster demons was entertaining enough, but never really came to anything (though I did like the Pulp Fiction moment with the guns near the end), but really, what did we discover about Doyles past that we didn't already suspect? That he's shady and hangs around with unsavoury characters sometimes? It's all too vague and we really need to get some backstory to this character.
Angel wasn't used much this episode, but he had some scenes with Kate which indicated that she might be a possible love interest. I also liked him walking into the apartment after Cordy vaguely invited him in and her shock at the rules getting screwed up. You do wonder if Angel hadn't interpreted it that way, would he have been barred? He didn't seem surprised at all being let in because he expected it. Perhaps a different vampire that didn't pick up on Cordys statement correctly would be forbidden to enter. Ah, it's good fun to try and solve it anyway.
The finale was well done, involving some excellent special effects and the twist was actually very good. I never imagined the son was still in the wall, yet you can see the fore planning with Cordy wanting the wall down as soon as she moves in. In the scene though with various items flying around them as they attempt the exorcising spell, I burst out laughing when Angel was hit on the back of the head by a rogue book. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not (I suspect not), but it was funny anyway.
And the final shot of Phantom Dennis moving objects around and Cordy being perfectly fine with it was very cool indeed. This was a strong episode centred on Cordy (and how many did she get that on BtVS? Exactly. And people say that it was a bad move for the character to leave. Feh.) that had good effects and story. I just wish the Doyle story had come to something. Good stuff though. - 4/5
1.6: Sense and Sensitivity
A fun episode that showcases Kate and her relationship with her father and Angel, plus more goings on from Wolfram & Hart.
I really did enjoy this episode and thought it was laugh out loud at parts, but that doesn't stop it being fluff. The main story was of how insensitive Angel can be to the A-Team and how hard Kate was as well. But all she really wanted some recognition from her father of how precious she was to him. When Kate made her tearful speech in the Pub, I thought that her dad would open up to her and inwardly I kind of groaned. But the final shot of him telling her how embarrassed he was with her was a genuine shock. At first, I came away thinking that he was a dick. But the more I thought about the more I realised that he was simply being honest. He's not a bad man, just someone who lived by different social codes, where you keep love and despair bottled up.
The scenes with Angel under the spell were hilarious, if slightly over the top, but I suppose that was the point for Cordelia really, that Grumpy Angel is better to have a round than sappy Angel. I also loved seeing Angel in the Hawaiian shirt & tourist hat. Who says this guy can't act? (Also noticed a cameo from that fat guy from The Sopranos, but I can't remember his name at the moment.)
The episode was played for laughs really as all the scenes with the police officers getting in touch with their emotions showed. The ending with Little Tony was a bit violent, but nothing to really take you out of the mood. Good to see W & H lawyers back in the series (I liked the Lawyer getting the transcripts to record every disparaging sound Kate made).
A surprisingly downbeat ending gave the episode more substance than it would have had otherwise, this is still fun stuff. - 3/5
1.7: The Bachelor Party
We finally get some background on Doyle, as his wife's new husband to be wants to eat his brains.
Well, it somehow seems a bit pointless giving us this episode since everyone knows Doyle is getting bumped off in a couple of episodes (and I'm sorry if that's a spoiler, but these were screened 3 years ago!). It was interesting to learn of his past as a teacher and generally an upstanding citizen of the community. But when his demon side erupted at 21 then he went on a downward spiral.
I liked the set-up with everyone expecting the new husband Richard to be an evil demon and the constant misunderstandings led me to believe he was genuinely a nice guy. Of course then the whole 'I want to eat your brains' thing got in the way. But I didn't really think the demon clan were a threat and pretty much everything was played for laughs.
It was enjoyable enough and it had no real flesh on the bones when all's said and done, but it was nice to have Doyle get at least one episode about him. Of course, this was all nearly overshadowed by his vision at the end with Buffy fighting monsters, setting up the first official Buffy/Angel crossover featuring the main stars. Angel visited Sunnydale first in Pangs (4.8), but they never even seen one another, so the big event will be on Angel next episode. As for this one though, it wasn't bad, but if it hadn't revolved around Doyle I'd probably mark it down. - 3/5
1.8: I Will Remember You
Ah, the big one. Buffy and Angel enjoy happiness after he turns human, but she remembers none of it after he gets the day reversed so he can better fight evil with vamp powers.
This is a great episode, though it seems to have divided a lot of people. I'll deal with the good bits first, then talk about the possible negative qualities. I think the best thing about it is simply the chemistry between Buffy & Angel. Whoever had the final say on casting these 2 together must have been on fire. They work beautiful together and the fact Angel now has his own show has evened up any possible claims that Angel was so good only when he was with Buffy. They are now both powerful characters in their own right.
I liked the idea that Cordy & the audience thought they would instantly have mad sex, but instead are having tea and looking very uncomfortable. Of course the shagging soon starts as well as playing with food and the sheer fun they are both having is infectious.
I think the best scene though is the final one, where Angel tells Buffy they only have seconds left before she forgets everything that happened. Strong performances from the pair of them made their words dripping with emotion and was very heart rending.
Now, the bits that have caused arguments in various newsgroups; The 'Angel turning human' being the biggest. Although I don't have a problem with him becoming mortal, the way it was done opened up a whole can o' worms. If the Mohra Demons blood can turn Vampires human, then this is HUGE in terms of Angels way of thinking. Now, it's indicated that this is rare, a miracle was the word used, but surely it deserves a bit of investigation? Find out if the circumstances can be repeated and store the blood in the fridge. Then once his grand quest is completed (in, oh, 5-7 years depending on ratings ;-)), drink that badboy faster than a drunk with his first shot of the day.
Angel's decision to turn back is sound enough, but it still seems a bit rash. After all, the Scoobies have got by with out powers up until now (well, Xander, Giles & Anya anyway). He could have at least thought about it over a couple of days. But inevitably he had to turn back somehow (otherwise this was going to be a really short season), so it's as good a reason as any.
The final argument (and I'm sure there's other ones but I'm not going into them - these are the only ones I kind of agree with) is that the whole episode reads like fan fiction. If you read it on a website you'd skim it at most and move on. I agree that the idea is maybe suspect, but it's all in the execution and that's when it really works. Plus the leads totally sell me on the premise, so I've bought it and thrown away the receipt I'm so convinced by it.
A really good episode and the first since the pilot to get full marks. Can't say more than that. - 5/5
Doyle gives his life to save everyone from a bunch of nazi demons and becomes a hero in the process.
Well, this was Doyles swansong and I must say that I really liked it. I'm still not sure whether this was all pre planned, or disagreements happened behind the scenes or what exactly, but it was a great poignant send off regardless.
For such a dark episode, the start was surprisngly funny as we watch an internal advert in Cordys head for Angel. I also like that Angel confided in Doyle about what happened at the end of last week's episode.
The only bad things (other than his death obviously) was the rather unsubtle demons as stormtroopers riff. I think most folk would have got the idea, but the uniforms and jackboots were a bit much. I must say how great the makeup was on the pure demons. It was very impressive in how truly gruesome they looked, reminiscent of Hellraiser. I don't know how the hell this episode could ever get shown before 9.00 pm.
The macguffin that caused Doyles death, The Beacon, was unfortunately rather lame actually. The idea was good, a light (with unspecified boundaries) that purifies (i.e. kills) any human of halfbloods in it's immediate vicinity. Unfortunately it looked a bit tacky and the controls seemed to have been lifted from a 50's sci-fi film. You'd also have to say what happened to the rest of the Scourge? Surely they could have just barged in and plugged it back in? (Though to be fair the indications were that if imploded when Doyle deactivated it)
And Doyle. Poor Doyle. His big secret wasn't as bad as I'd thought actually (though the images of him walking through dead bodies, his kin no less, was brutal and stark in it's imagery.) But his final scenes were very good, with the kiss to Cordy (about time), his heroic jump and finally his face as he deactivated the Beacon/Bomb. Yeah, it was a good send off, even though I wish he hadn't been killed off anyway. But I guess that's sort off the point. The final image of Doyle on video camera, asking "Is that it? Am I done?" is emotional stuff. Angel and Cordys faces say it all.
Adios Doyle, my man. - 5/5
1.10: Parting Gifts
With possibly the smallest cast in recent history on TV land (barring the X-files), it was no surprise that they would draft in someone fairly sharpish to replace Doyle. And that someone is Wesley. Hmm…That was my first thought when I heard this, but he fits in very well indeed, keeping character continuity from Buffy Season 3 (3.14 - 3.22) by being a bit pompous and incompetent, but showing surprising depths as well. I still think he could have came in and complimented Doyle and the rest of the A-team, but I was rather pleased with how he fit in rather effortlessly.
The main plot was of Cordelia and the 'gift' that Doyle passed on to her. I'm still not convinced it was intentional, as it seems he didn't have much control over it, but it was a nice way of continuing his legacy if you will. Barney the demon was a bit of a red herring with Cordys statements that he reminded her of Doyle. It looked as if he was going to be a new member and I saw visions of an annoying Neelix from Voyager character ruining future episodes. But he turned out to be evil after all. The story of the auction didn't do much for me to be honest and I found it rather unengaging, though the Wolfram & Hart mention was nice. I would rather have had more fallout regarding Doyle and more on Wes.
Angel took a backseat again this episode and while it's good to give other cast members a stint in the spotlight, it shouldn't be to the detriment of the main character. But I'm sure we'll see more of Angels past in the future.
I did like the idea of taking the picture of the 'grey, blobby thing' that Cordy drew and framing it. It's a nice reminder of Doyle and hopefully we can see it in the background every now and again in future episodes.
Other moments that stood out for me: Angels rant about vampires and misconceptions was good; Cordy kissing everyone to try and get rid of the 'gift' was funny stuff too, especially Wes's reactions; Wes really was quite hilarious anytime he was in Rogue Demon Hunter mode.
All in all, this was a good episode, but from a personal point of view I would have preferred the changing of the cast to be dealt with differently, rather than a simple Cordy in peril story. - 3/5
A student that Angelus took under his wing is back in LA and giving his Sire some new worries.
I always like these stories of a former pupil disappearing and coming back after many years to challenge the old master. It's also good to remind us what an evil bastard Angelus really was. It's easy to forget after a few episodes where Angel is really just comic relief that he did some truly despicable acts. Getting Penn to kill his sister, then the rest of his family was brutal stuff.
The way Angel worked out the pattern of murders was based on Penns family was also clever, as was the misdirection of Penn going after kids. Really good twists. I'm not too sure about the dreams at the start though, and Angels way of dealing with it. I don't recall it being mentioned before that a vamp would be mentally connected with someone he sired. And just because another murder was commited with the same MO doesn't mean Angels in the clear. He could have been working with someone or using a form of mind control. Unlikely I know, but the point is that Cordy & Wes were too quick to take the chains of. But it's only a 45 minute show, so it's understandable.
The fight scenes between Penn & Angel were excellently done, very reminiscent of the Matrix I felt. One thing I wasn' t convinced about though was Kate impaling 2 vampires with barely a run up. But it was a cool effect and showed that she could have killed him if she wanted.
Other moments of note: Good to see Wes using his brain and doing some research, whilst still keeping his comedic sidekick status (though how long that can go on for I don't know); Cordy suddenly turning on Angel after steadfastly defending him was a bit sudden for me. I know it was played up for comedy value but still; it's good that Kate knows Angel is a vampire now, but if she starts to totally turn against him after researching the whole Gypsy thing and seeing he has changed…well, it could grow old fast; I liked Cordys final statement that she would stake Angel in a second if he turned. You see the look on her face and really tend to believe that she would, she's not just saying it.
A really good episode then focusing on the Master/Pupil relationship Angelus had. Makes you wonder if there's more apt pupils out there? - 4/5
This episode surprised me actually. I thought it was going to be awful and I still think the idea is; namely, that Cordy gets impregnated with Demon spawn. Now, I think this is the sort of story that has to be played just right or it risks falling into the offensive category. And it wasn't totally bad the way it was handled. But it's still a lame idea.
There were however a few scenes which went a long way to redeeming this episode for me. Number one was the quiet scenes with Angel and Cordy after she gets pregnant. DB shows a lot of depth in his acting with these moments and we realise just how much he cares for this girl. I also liked his conversation with the barman, who was an excellent character in his own right once Angel realised he wasn't some shmuck. Excellent line for Angel as well when he tells the barman about his relationship with Cordy: 'I'm family'.
The start with Wesley was fun stuff as well, especially when the two girls came in and started chatting up the pair of them and it was good fun when they thought Angel & Wes were a couple.
But the final scene with the Hacksall demon wasn't good. It seemed to be played solely for laughs and when you had this huge demon actually bantering with Wes, well it kind of robbed the scene of any dramatic power. Not to mention the fact that it changed size more than a few times. The way of beating it seemed rather odd as well. If fire and beheading don't kill it, what makes Angel think Nitrogen would? And where'd the canister come from anyway?
I did like Cordy saying at the end how much she valued and loved the pair of them, but she still seemed too chipper for someone who had been impregnated, was about to give birth and then lost the demon spawn. I'm not female and never been pregnant, but this seems to me like it could be pretty traumatic.
Other moments of note: I liked Angel's face of disgust when Cordy drinks his glass of blood; the opening teaser with Angel & Wes breaking into the wrong house and the fight with the demon from the vision was great fun.
Overall then, the quiet moments rescued this episode for me, but I simply don't like the premise or the way it was dealt with. - 2/5
Help my boab, this is another below par episode, saved only by the usual sterling performances from the A-team and some humorous moments.
My main problem with this Ep. is the story and Jheira. On the one hand, I see what the writers were trying to do with a good sci-fi premise (portals, princesses & other dimensions - you can't go wrong! Well you can actually, but anyway…) and possible parallels with some real life female submissive issues. But it just comes across as confused and, dare I say it, rather boring to me. The scene at the end in the mansion with the women on ice was rather strange in that it just didn't generate interest in me (whose house was it anyway? Who was the gay guy? How did she meet him?) and just fell flat for me.
However this might be because of Jheira. I really didn't like the actress playing her. She was good at looking menacing and fighting, but she left me totally cold when I should have been feeling hot. Her scenes with Angel were more baffling than arousing since I didn't feel any arousal at all. Now fair enough, this is just personal taste, but with the make up and tattoo I didn't feel she was that attractive or sensual, a big problem if she's meant to be driving men's hormones.
It wasn't all bad though. The opening scenes with the A-team were excellent and I liked that Wes was finally offered a job. I didn't like his over the top grovelling which I know was a joke but it went too far. I loved the dancing sequences with Angel & Wes (and kudos to whoever tacked on the extra bits over the end credits).
Other moments of note: Excellent scene when Angel starts talking about the painting in the exhibition. Very funny, especially the implied knowledge he was actually there when it was done; Phantom Dennis getting Angel a beer and the fact it's so ordinary - it's cool; Wes and his horrific pulling skills (I cringed and I've had my fair share of disasters); The whole cell phone sequence which again maybe went a bit to far, but was fun none the less; Also got to mention the directing - really nice work by Dave Greenwalt.
All in all, I'd have to say this is probably the worst episode of Angel I've seen yet. I loved the moments with the A-team and the dancing, but anything relating to the main plot bored me and that can't be good. If this episode had centred solely on Jheira I'd give this 1. Thankfully it didn't and I can only chalk up this episode from two of the better writers in the Jossverse (David Greenwalt and Marti Noxon) as being a misfire. Unlucky 13 I guess. - 2/5
1.14: I've Got You Under My Skin
After a couple of lacklustre episodes I was hoping it wasn't going to be a case of bad things coming in threes. Thankfully, this ended the admittedly short run of poor stories with a homage to The Exorcist.
There were a few things that I was impressed with after the first viewing. The twists and red herrings I think are the most obvious source of enjoyment first of all. Not knowing who the demon was raised various possibilities. The obvious one was the father with his aggressive attitude and rather shifty mannerisms. But the daughter also looked rather suspicious at the window. Of course, we find out the boy is in fact possessed. But then, in a twist of twists, we find out it was the demon who wanted out of the body because the boy is in fact inherently soulless and by default prone to evil actions. I certainly never saw it coming and it really is a good idea.
The demon itself when it was confronted in the caves had a strange nobility to it, despite its obvious malicious tendencies. The fact it didn't fear death, but only the boy gave it a certain personality. After all, what scares monsters? That is surely the ultimate evil.
It's only on re-watching that you start to question things. If the demon wanted out, why did the boy tease and taunt Wesley and Angel. In fact, he tried to kill Wes. You could argue that the boy was 'using' the demons powers and submerging the actual demon. But that would indicate the boy was actually evil and not the empty inanimate vessel we thought he was. In a way it would actually be quite cool if it was the demon. That even though he wanted out, he couldn't help but follow his baser instincts and try to kill anyone within reach. The scorpion and the frog (or fox depending on the story you've heard).
The interaction between the A-team was good as well, especially Angel accidentally calling Wes Doyle. It's nice that he hasn't simply been swept under the carpet and never name checked again. That may explain why Angel was so willing to go through the pain of grasping the crucifix and expel the demon, so Wes wouldn't be in danger again. Wes and the implications that his father possibly abused him were interesting, if slightly out of the blue. It feels like it was quickly shoehorned in to give the demon something to taunt Wes with and make him lose his head (though he's got quite a large list of mistakes in his time as watcher to draw on). If it's mentioned or developed then fair enough, but I suspect it might never be mentioned again.
Other moments of note: Cordy cooking Brownies was another neat touch; I liked the tie-in to The Exorcist by mentioning a priest who died dealing with the demon before when it took control of a small girl; Nice to see Kate getting a small part in the episode and the fact she seemed to be on okay, if very frosty, terms with Angel.
Overall then, a good episode that has brilliant misdirection and some nice continuity going on. The only reason it's not getting 4/5 is that once you know the twists, it's not quite as great when you re-watch it. But still good stuff. - 3/5
1.15: The Prodigal
Well, it looks like Kate and Angel will never be close again after her father (Trevor) is killed by vampires. The scene where Angel struggles to enter the apartment was incredibly frustrating to watch, but in a good way! We could feel Angels very unusual sense of helplessness as he watched Kate's father be murdered. I wondered if they might turn him into a vamp as well, but it wasn't really practical given the time constraints. The big demon boss guy was rather unimpressive, reminding me of a wrestler that had walked on set. I did however like Angels battle with the rest of the vampires, especially the 'tossing the axe' bit. Very cool looking.
Running parallel to this story was one of Angel in the past and what he did once he was vamped. It's an interesting storytelling method, as we see Angel strive for acceptance from his father and never get it. Even when he kills him and his family he still doesn't really feel he's won. Kate is in exactly the same boat, wanting desperately to bond with her Pop but being unable to. Yet when she does get close, it's Angels name that does it, though for different reasons than she thinks. It's possible that Angel feels Kate's need for some sort of scrap of love from her parent is similar to what he went through and that's why he tries so hard. Of course, the irony is that Trevor was doing the dirty dealing to help his daughter, but ultimately paid the price.
Cordy trying to get the alarm to work was good fun, especially the bit about her birthday. Wes was sidelined slightly in this episode and Cordy as well to a certain degree, but it's better to do that than simply have them be exposition mouthpieces around Angel.
Quick thoughts: Good opening with the first of many flashbacks and Angels fight in the subway; the final moment with Angel viewing Kate at her fathers grave was reminiscent of Sense & Sensitivity when he spy's her grief that Trevor's coldness gave her; I liked the early scenes from BtVS mixed in with the other flashbacks.
All in all, a great episode with some interesting back story to Angel. - 4/5
1.16: The Ring
Not the deepest episode you're ever going to see, but good fun all the same. I've always been partial to these Gladiator style stories, where the hero is thrown into a must fight to survive environment. Although Angel is a complex individual, there is something undeniably cool seeing just how tough he really is and watching other fighter's reaction to him as they realise he's not easy meat.
Angel fought in two battles. The first was against a rather wiry looking demon who you suspect Angel could have taken out in a second, but for the fact that he didn't want to kill. It's only once a knife is introduced that he starts to properly engage in combat and even then it's more his natural vamp instincts that leads to the kill.
The second fight is a lot harder and Angel isn't simply standing his ground and stalling for time; he's actively trying to stay alive in there. The demon is called Trepkos and looks to have been born to fight with his leather skin and a head more armoured than an armadillo. This fight is a lot more even until two spears are thrown into the mix. Angel takes a nasty stab in his stomach, but manages to turn it around and knock Trepkos on his ass. It's clear to all that the fight is over; all that is required is the splintered spear to be put in the demons throat. Angel refuses of course and trusts that Trepkos has morals that were simply smothered by the brutality of the fights. Although it looks like Trepkos is simply going to kill him by constantly pounding him, but just as he is about to deliver the killer blow, he hesitates. It's interesting that he doesn't really stop and think about Angel's offer until he's in a position where he can win the fight. It's hard to say whether he would have been so generous if Angel hadn't spared him, but I suspect he would have came to this conclusion regardless. He decides not to give the baying crowds what they want and walks away from Angel to receive his punishment, almost certain death. And this is when all hell breaks loose.
But lets back up a bit. Where was Wes & Cordy in all this excitement? It would have been easy to have them sit on the sidelines this episode and not be very much involved in the plot. It's to the writers credit then (Howard Gordon), that not only are they crucial in the outcome of the final act, but they actually have a lot of memorable scenes. Wes follows in Angel's footsteps and establishes himself as being a rather cool English man in LA. His calm exchange with Ernie the bookie was very nicely done, as was the crossbow and gun moves. He is also the one that works out how to break the cuffs that prevent any slave from escaping (by causing instant disintegration) and devises a tool for opening them. Although he's careless by allowing another demon to steal it, his 'key' is what causes the revolt amongst the prisoners and ultimately saves Angel & Trepkos.
But it's not a one man act. Cordelia has a huge part to play. She is instrumental in getting them inside the club by acting (!) as an undercover cop. She also manages to procure the bracelet for Wes and eventually suggests the solution to opening them by giving Wes a horsehair. She was strong throughout as was Wes and the episode really made clear the bond between them all.
The bad guys were interesting in that they are unusually human and are not doing evil deeds to end the world; they are simply after a fast buck. The brother who supposedly went missing (who also bore an uncanny resemblance to Mickey Rourke) was unfortunately something of a cipher. He had his hair in a ponytail so as soon as he was witnessed in the flesh we knew he was a bad guy. The twist was effective however, mainly on the strength of the brother, Darin, who came to Angel for 'help'. He is truly believable as a sibling that has had to adopt the parent role and is fed up of it. Then when we find out his real intentions he is equally credible as a cold hearted murderer, who will literally kill his brother if money is at stake. He came across as a very blinkered businessman who didn't care about anybody or thing beyond the payday. He could easily find work at Wolfram & Hart.
Which leads me to only bad scene in the whole episode, namely when Lilah (from W & H) gives Angel his freedom if he will side with them. Angel, being all noble, turns her down and demands to be taken back to the prison. Now this is just stupid. Although Angel needed to be seen to be brought back freely so the other demons could see that, yes, he really was a champion of good and he really did mean what he said about banding together to overcome the guards, it was still unbelievable. Angel didn't have his bracelet on right up to the moment he crossed the boundary line. But the amount of opportunities he had to double cross Lilah and the guards escorting him, not to mention contacting the A-team or simply going back after he escaped to free the prisoners…it boggles the mind and was a stretch too far for me.
Other moments that caught my eye: The way Wes kept on referring to Angel as his employer gave him a quaint Victorian feel, reminiscent of a butler or coachman who is faithful to the master of the house; The whole scene was good where Wes & Cordy talk the two rich mugs out of their tickets; same scene, but Wesley's line about the man was priceless; The A-teams faces when they realise that they have let loose a bunch of demons and are probably going to end up hunting them down in the future; liked Angels Yeah, I could have taken you, line to Trepkos at the end; There was a lot of demons in this episode but I really must applaud how different and varied they looked - the frog based one was very well done (sorry, can't remember his name); Lilah is a welcome addition to the (every growing) secondary cast and comes across as being devious, yet with a touch of humour at the same time.
It's funny how some reviews for excellent episodes are really short and others that are good, but aren't groundbreaking seem to go on forever (I know says the tired reader rubbing their eyes ;-)). This was fun and like I said at the start, I'm partial to these sort of Fight Club episodes, but it's really the quieter character moments away from the fighting that make it most enjoyable. Good stuff - 3/5
You know it's going to be a great episode when Angelus is back and not just an act either. This is the bad boy we all loved to hate in Season 2 returning for an all to brief guest spot.
The main story was one which hasn't been addressed since Lie to Me (2.7). Basically, that the appeal of being a Vampire is actually strong in a lot of folk. If you don't know the downsides, who wouldn't want to be young and immortal? Rebecca, a fading TV starlet whose good looks are fading and the fact she's typecast as 'Raven', clearly wants to remain young forever. It's not entirely clear what her plans would be even if she did become a vamp and keep her soul. She barely knows Angel, so it's a bit premature to say she'd spend eternity with him. And having a TV career would be a bit tricky is you could never be filmed in daylight again (unless there's a show about a Vampire helping people - hey, wait a minute…), plus the fact that there's no reflection would be a tad noticeable. And let's not forget that she wasn't getting parts due to the way she looked now. It's my understanding that she would effectively be frozen as her current age, which truly would be hell for her. Just that tad too old, by only a couple of years, but she's stuck like that forever.
Which brings us to her subtly trying to get Angel to turn her. She knows that something's not quite honest and good about it because she never even once asks him out in the open about the option. No, it's straight in with the drugs and goodbye reflection. But of course, what she doesn't realise is that Angel will feel blissful, and by default smother his soul for a while.
You can tell DB really enjoys playing Angelus. He seemed much more over the top this time, almost like a comedian really. But his Vamp face made clear his feelings. It's a shame we never see him just looking normal and being evil, That led to some very creepy scenes in Buffy Season 2 (Passion (2.17) springs to mind). You don't have to have the morphed face on all the time for Angelus to be 'bad'. But it does make it easier to make a definite distinction between Angel/Angelus.
If anything though, he was darker just before the drugs really kicked in. The scene where he drags Rebecca to the fridge and forces her to drink blood, spraying her with it, was quite gross. He was really just funny after that, but turned sinister up the stairs when he's analysing Wes & Cordy. Telling Wes to grow a pair and being brutally honest with Cordy regarding her acting wasn't the most evil thing he's ever done, but because they had all grown so close it was more cutting.
The thing that really fascinated me was the way Angelus appeared. We know now that if he takes this drug (and presumably any substitute that is similar) then he will turn evil, yet still keep his soul. This is a great idea that will probably never be followed up on, but should be. Theoretically, if Angelus were to take lots of the drug on a regular basis, he would be always 'high' and always be evil. Of course, you could argue that because he was tripping, he wasn't quite the same Angelus from Season 2, but he could still be effective in 'being bad'. Angelus could get someone to spike various blood with it and you could have Angel accidentally ingesting some. (Actually, I've just had a thought of a stoned Angelus sitting in a basement with his vamp face, playing a computer game and smoking pot. Perhaps it wouldn't work after all ;-))
Wes & Cordy were rather shunted on to a side line since Rebecca & Angel hogged so much screen time. But Cordy was good with her rather believable speech about the holy water and she was generally funny every time she was around Rebecca. Wes had rather less to do, though did get in some good lines and ultimately helped save the day by barrelling Angelus down the lift shaft.
What was up with that anyway? At first I thought she had deliberately paused the lift before the even cleared the basement to fool Angelus. But she seemed to just overshoot her mark. I didn't know the lift could even go any higher than the ground floor. Does it go all the way to the top of the building? I don't think it's obvious that it will be important in defeating Angelus, so I don't have a problem with it.
With all the Angelus stuff going on, it's easy to forget that the episode started very differently. Seeing life from the point of view of a famous actor on a hit TV show was very interesting in paralleling real life, especially her comments about fans thinking she is 'Raven'. It sounds suspiciously like comments to fans of a certain popular show about Slayers & Vampires. Perhaps it's just advice to the diehards to cool it slightly and get some perspective (or a life as William Shatner would say - not that they're referring to people who have set up *cough* Review Websites *cough* of course ;-)).
A really nice finale with Wes & Cordy watching over a chained Angel made for a perfect ending really. Angels comments to Wes about the good moves that put him down were well played, as was Cordy saying how she wanted more honesty from Angel (though steady on, eh. You've got to have some white lies.) Walking away and leaving a chained up Angel was a rather good way to finish.
Other moments of note: I liked Wesley's comments about TV actresses - again a nice injoke referring to real life; The opening teaser was very funny with it's comedic misdirection; Angelus mage me laugh a lot with his comments, especially the off hand remarks about saving the world a couple of times, but also nearly getting it sucked into hell; Good to see a bit of continuity with Oliver from 1.1 (on another note, he looks more like Robert Englund(?) every time I see him - anyone else think the same?); It was quite cool seeing Angel as a bodyguard (I half expected to hear Whitney Houston's I will always love you wafting though the speakers); Cordys red leather trousers - nice, very nice.
A great episode, devoid of any connections to the Wolfram & Hart storyarc, but all the better for it. Angelus is cool. Case closed. - 4/5
1.18 & 1.19: Five by Five & Sanctuary
I found it slightly strange that Faiths story should be tied up in AtS instead of BtVS. She was such a large part of Buffy season 3 (3.3 - 3.22) that it seems more sensible to give the character a send off in that series. But then I remembered Angels attempt to bring her into the light and Wesley's misguided attempts to discipline her. And so did the writers, as Angel & Wes both talk about it. In fact, the more you think about it, the more it does make sense to have the character finally find absolution in AtS as the one person who really made a connection with her (beyond the Mayor) was, of course, Angel.
This is actually parts 3 & 4 of Faiths story. The first 2 were in BtVS, namely This Years Girl (4.15) & Who Are You? (4.16). They dealt mainly with Faith taking over Buffy life and the possible steps of her turning good. They don't have a huge impact on these episodes, apart from Buffys anger. But more on that later.
The main character in this 2 parter is Faith. She doesn't seem to have changed much when we first see her. Still taking what she wants (all be it from a scumbag) and causing chaos. The fight in the nightclub was very good. I usually find these things quite cringe worthy to watch when a character is asked to dance 'sensual'. They usually end up as poor mans lap dancers. But Faith is actually very erotic looking and the fact that the music isn't rubbish makes for a good scene. The story really kicks into gear when she's asked to kill Angel by W & H, which she agrees to in a second. It's mainly foreplay for her as she confronts Angel a couple of times, trying to kill or maim him, but nothing really serious. You get the impression that she would be disappointed if he was to be dusted so soon.
Once Angel finds out he and Wes have it out as they both have bad memories of her; Angel with his near death experience and his failure to reach her. Wesley was her watcher and failed miserably in that regard. Cordy doesn't feel anything towards her beyond the fact she's a psycho and wants nothing to do with her. Interspersed in this episode are flashbacks to Angelus and the moments where he ravages the Gypsy girl and the aftermath of the curse. Darla is far from pleased and throws him out after first trying to kill him (unfortunately the scratches she leaves on his face look very fake indeed). Angel finds himself still going by his old instincts and trying to kill a woman. But he can't. He has a soul now and that makes a world of difference.
Meanwhile, Cordy is greeted by Faiths elbow in the face as the Rogue Slayer kidnaps Wesley and starts to torture him. No real violence is seen on screen but it's very much implied, firing your imagination to think up worse things than anything Faith has actually done. Dropping the shard of glass, with blood dripping of it, out the window was particularly chilling.
While this is going on, Angel is breaking into W & H to find out what is happening. He doesn't really accomplish that much, but he and Lindsay have a good scene, played low key, no hysterics and all the better for it. I've also gotta comment on a very funny moment with a lawyer mistaking Angel for someone else. I don't usually do this, but I really was crying with laughter, so here's the scene (all copyright aspects regarding this excerpt of the script apply):
ANGEL MOVES PAST THE SECURITY DESK. The SECURITY OFFICER, who is in the midst of conversation with a DELIVERY MAN, pays no attention.
Then suddenly Angel sees Bret Folger heading right towards him, staring hard at his face.
BRET: You…(tense beat)…were in the Gruber meeting.
BRET: What the hell is going on with those people?
ANGEL: I know, it's, uh…
BRET: I mean is this a negotiation or a cotillion?
ANGEL: That's exactly what I was saying to, uh, Frank --
BRET: Who's Frank?
ANGEL: Works with Louisa in contracts.
BRET: The problem is not contracts!
ANGEL: Which I tried to tell Frank, but --
Bret's cell phone rings. He holds up his hand to silence Angel, takes the call.
BRET: (into phone) Go… yes, yes, no… Thursday. (clicks off; to Angel)
We have to close Gruber now before the soft offer becomes hard and
ANGEL: Through the ceil --
BRET: In the toilet.
BRET: Keep me in the loop, I want to know the instant they fold -- they are folding…?
Angel makes a "fuhhh" sound -- of course they're folding.
BRET: Right. Gotta jump. E-mail me. Good to see you.
ANGEL (to Bret's departing back) You, too.
Ah Christ! What a scene! Probably one of the funniest I've ever seen in the Buffyverse. Which is just as well as the finale of the first part is very dark indeed. Angel & Faith have it out in a dramatic fight that ends up in an alleyway with the rain lashing down. That's where we find out that Faith really just wants to die. She can't carry on, knowing that the things she has done, the acts she has committed, ultimately her soul is telling her that the life she has been living is wrong and she wants to be killed. Angel can relate and instead of ending her life, simply holds her and we see that Faith is possibly on the first steps to recovery.
The second part doesn't live up to the first, and ends up being an action episode. But it's certainly not bad. Faith is pretty much a shell for much of the episode, with Angel giving her comfort, support and discipline when she needs it. There are some very nice scenes between the two of them as Faith is constantly on the edge of breaking down and turning back to the dark.
Of course W & H aren't happy that Faith hasn't killed Angel and send another assassin to kill him & Faith. (This also leads to another of the funniest pieces of dialogue by a W & H lawyer I've heard: This is getting ridiculous. The first assassin kills the second assassin, sent to kill the first assassin, who didn't assassinate anyone until we hired the second assassin to assassinate her! ) It's easily disposed with but Faith returning to violence isn't good and Angel comforts her again. Which is when Buffy walks in.
To be honest, the scenes with Buffy are a bit disappointing. It's understandable why she came to LA, and she needs to get closure with Faith as well, but she didn't really add anything to the story beyond some tension with Angel. And the friction between them seemed to be more manufactured than anything else. She's emotional and not thinking straight, but I don't think she really would have thought Angel would have slept with Faith. And being so angry and vocal as well as hitting Angel wasn't great moves. Chalk it up to her loathing for Faith overcoming her common sense.
Where was Cordy & Wes during this? Rather sensibly, Cordy has taken a powder and gone AWOL. A good move by the writers since there are too many characters in this episode as it is. Wesley isn't to happy either with Angel coddling Faith (especially after his unwilling participation in torture 101) and it's no surprise he gets approached by the Council members who offer to take her off his hands. He undoubtedly thinks about it, but after betraying Angel once, he's learned his lesson.
Unfortunately they're nutters and violence ensues as they take the offensive anyway in the finale as Buffy and Faith hide from a gun totting helicopter, while Wes & Angel hide from a gun toting maniac. Needless to say, the bad guys are beaten, Faith escapes and Angel ends up being arrested thanks to W & H. However Faith has turned herself in and wants to make a confession. The final scene of Faith sitting in a cell, with a peaceful face instead of the usual snarling one indicates Faith has finally stopped falling.
Buffy was out of order again with her comments to Angel. There was no need to be so brutal when she talked about Riley. Again, you could argue Angel prompted it but it was over the top. The fight felt forced, not natural and it just seems off slightly.
Which doesn't mean the scenes were bad. They were very good indeed and seeing Buffy & Angel on screen, even if they're just squabbling, is still very good television. But this was all about Faith. She has finally come to terms with her actions and is willing to pay the price for it. She's not running anymore and is finally, after many false starts, on the road to redemption.
First episode gets 5/5 definitely. The second is slightly disappointing, a shame that the Buffy/Angel stuff was all angst but it's still great and deserves 4/5. Which combined gives us 4.5 out of 5. But, as mentioned before, I don't use decimals and always round up, so for the combined score, it's a well earned 5/5.
1.20: War Zone
And here is the 'origin' episode of the new A-Team member Charles Gunn. While 3 is the magic number, I don't think it hurts to have an extra body in the main cast. Plus, he is the first member to be coloured which makes sense considering the gang are in LA and it would be slightly offensive for all the A-team to be white in a multi-cultural city like the one they are based in.
But was it any good? Yes it was. The focus was mainly on Gunn and his extremely protective relationship with his sister Alonna. She is the main reason he is gathering troops to fight the Vampires that have infested their neighbourhood. He's unorthodox and has a zero tolerance policy on vamps. But he is also slightly reckless and doesn't take advice or caution readily.
What brings him into contact with Angel is the case the A-team are on; a computer software multimillionaire, *cough* Bill Gates *cough*, has been visiting a demon brothel and someone has pictures of him. This opening scene is a classic AtS humour one with the gang visiting this rich party and feeling more comfortable in it than the host is. The idea of a demon brothel is quite interesting and makes perfect sense really when you consider there's demon bouncers. hitmen, bookies, etc. I do wonder how these things are advertised though. It seems that everybody in LA has had some sort of contact with demons.
Angel's confrontation with the blackmailer was a bad spot for me though. Why would the man bring the actual photos if he was intending on backing out of his deal with Angel anyway? It doesn't make sense that he'd hire a burly Demon to take care of Angel (presumably kill him) and bring the originals as well. And what about negatives, copies, pictures of other clients? We'll never know.
When Angel finally meets Gunn, he's being chased down by him and has to run an impressive gauntlet of booby traps and flying darts. Very Indiana Jones and very coolly done.
The final scene revolves round Gunn & his sister who has been kidnapped and turned into a vampire. Their conversation plays out for a good long while, but it doesn't bore. It's a relief to see a long drawn out emotional scene instead of the expected ho-hum action finale (see various episodes of Voyager). Of course he has to ultimately end up staking her and is emotionally scarred undoubtedly as a result.
The badguy vamps were all pretty much ciphers apart from the leader, an obvious nazi skinhead type (though not as obvious as the Scourge in Hero) but he was disposed of quickly and humorously by Angel.
Excellent directing in the final shot as Angel talks to Gunn looking out over the city and manages to establish a contact with him using some great dialogue.
Other moments of note: Cordy had some cracking oneliners in this episode and was generally very humorous throughout; though having said that, the scene where she discusses prostituting herself to David Nabbit fell rather flat for me - it seemed funny but something was of, perhaps the editing as the scene just seemed to fade away with out really saying anything we didn't already know; Very cool fight scene where Gunn & his gang are dusting vamps flying mid air; Wes looking at the pictures was laugh out loud stuff; As was his & Cordys look at the cheque; Great bit where Angel is freed from a meat locker and feels embarrassed he forgot to use his phone.
So a good introduction episode for the new boy Gunn. Good special effects and some nice humour make this a great episode. - 4/5
1.21: Blind Date
This is a very cool episode indeed. The pacing, the mission impossible stuff, Lindseys talks with Holland, all very good stuff.
There were 2 stand out plots for me. The break in to W & H was very well orchestrated, with Gunn being the distraction (quite a funny turn too) and Angel cutting his way in below. It was rather similar to various Mission Impossible episodes but it totally worked for me.
The other plot was Lindsey and the fact he was swaying between good and evil. It was a really tense scene where they are all being mind read and you know he's about to be caught. And the fact is he could very well be killed - it's that sort of show where you just don't know. He survives (but it was nice to see Lee being killed, since he's been around since the early episodes and that sort of continuity is always appreciated) but surprisingly Holland knows he's betrayed them, but lets him go anyway. He's that confident he will come back into the fold and be even more ruthless than before.
The main plot about the blind assassin had it's moments, but was probably the least important for me. Angel throwing the glasses at her in court was excellent, very unusual and unexpected. His speech about being powerless was also very good and we see here the early seeds of his spiral into darkness and depression being sown here for Season 2.
The final fight wasn't quite as good as I hoped. The Predator vision thing was all rather pointless and I was left scratching my head as to how this made her a better fighter. It seems to me that it is in fact a hindrance rather than any sort of aid. Plus Angel always seemed to find himself freezing in unexpected positions that kept on making me laugh, therefore destroying any dramatic tension it might otherwise have had.
The end scene with Lindsey choosing to stay at W & H was a bit of a turnaround since I expected him to be surely killed. But the beauty part is so did Lindsey and the reasons Holland gives for not killing him make sense. That's the important thing and that's why it works so well.
Other moments of note: Good exchange between Angel & Gunn establishing there friendship further; I liked the incredibly easy way that Angel dealt with the demon watching the vault; I mentioned it earlier, but the pacing was very unusual to me. Having the Blind Assassin fight Angel so early and be in court was refreshing to say the least; nice scene where Cordys on the phone to Willow and that they too are decrypting files; stealing the scroll was all a bit vague, but presumably will be important - the PTB helping him or just some instinct? Or did he just want a cool looking thing to hang above the sink? We shall see
I really did enjoy this episode and apart from the disappointing final fight, this was near enough flawless. - 5/5
1.22: To Shanshu in LA
We're finally here - the Season Finale. And thank God because I can't feel my fingers anymore.
This was very good. The main plot centred on Angel as everything he holds dear is taken away from him all thanks to one demon.
Cordy being driven mad by her vision power which has been ramped up to Death Star power; Wesley unconscious in intensive care after being caught in an explosion; Said explosion being Angels home and workplace; The oracles being slaughtered; Angel destined to die; And W & H bring something back from a dimension in a box.
There's a hell of a lot going on in this episode! First of all though, I'm really glad Angel finally confronted Kate. This storyline was seriously starting to bore me and I didn't like the fact Kate had become so unlikeable - yes she has good reasons and she has become a joke in her job all because of her connection to Angel. But it's not his fault and his tirade at her was a long time coming.
We can see in this episode just how much Angel values Cordy & Wes and how he considers then to be family. It's always good to see Angel be furious with someone and you know he's going to whup ass! It was a nice touch to see him enlist Gunn to watch over his fallen friends. I must also say that CC gave a great performance as Cordy started to be driven mad by the visions she was having. Truly heart rending stuff.
It's also sad to see the Oracles gone, but I liked the fact that the female one stayed behind. She always seemed to like Angel more than her companion and I like to think she stayed behind simply to help him.
The Demon, Vocah, is very cool looking, almost reminiscent of a super villain actually with his distinctive facemask. His calm and purposeful dismantling of Angel's life is gripping viewing, even if ultimately it just made Angel even more driven.
The final battle with the demon is suitably frenetic and the decaying face filled with maggots was rather icky. More interesting though was Lindsey totally on the side of evil now and the very cool way Angel chops of his hand. It's such a brutal and sudden move, that I was more shocked than Lindsey (well, maybe not).
The episode has 2 endings and both work well. The first is Angel, Wes & Cordy, all now restored and working in Cordys apartment. It's a really touching moment when Cordy casually calls Angel family and tells him to drink his blood. And Wesley finds out that he read the translation wrong. Angels not going to die - he's going to be made human. His reaction is much more revealing than his stone like visage at the start of the ep. He lets the others know exactly how he feels about this with his smile. Meanwhile, over at W & H, the thing in the box is awake and restless. And it's Darla! All those flashbacks must have been to remind viewers exactly who she is and what she is like. I can't believe that it wasn't all pre planned. She is going to have a huge part to play in Angel's life next Season and is sure to cause trouble.
Other moments of note: The first scene with Dave Nabbit was humorous, yet very strange. It kind of fell flat for me, but it was good to see him again. Perhaps he will eventually bankroll Angels operation; Excellent scene where Angel walks to see Wes, then goes up the stairs to see Cordy. Good acting by DB; It's childish I know, but how cool was that big f--king explosion! It did indeed rock.
When I first watched this finale, I liked it a lot, but not as much as the previous episode. But having rewatched it, I appreciate just how much is going on here and the real dramatic repercussions of events featured here. It finishes of this Season nicely, but it's also a template for Season 2. Excellent really. - 5/5