Discussion, critique and fannish obsession over the works of Joss Whedon and his band of merry geniuses
Density......I mean, Destiny
Well, talk about polar opposites. My reaction to DESTINY was quite the reverse of Brian's.
Having not seen the trailer to last night's episode, I walked into it wondering what I was going to see. As usual, the episode started in a very matter-of-fact way. Spike gets a package (?) and BOOM! He's corporeal. Whoa. I have to apologize, because many of the wonderful morsels of dialogue featured in this episode were blown out by the surprise ending, but more on that later.
Blood from the eyes, and everyone acting irrational was, to me, totally expected. It has become an unwritten law in the M.E. universe that nothing good happens without something bad having to happen as a result. So, there we go. I did think it was nifty, but I do have to agree that locking down the building is getting to be old hat. It just doesn't mean that much anymore. Why does it seem like the place was that much harder to get into BEFORE the good folks at Angel Investigations took over?
I don't believe that it should have been a surprise to anyone that the fight between the two heroes was the least heroic thing they could have done. I am mildly disappointed that it didn't occur to either of the combatants. However, the fight was cool in and of itself, and set a precedent. Usually in comic-dom, or genre fare, when twp titanic characters such as these duke it out, the outcome is usually left unresolved. We never find out if the JLA could beat the Avengers, or if Batman could beat Captain America. Something always gets in the way, or there is always some cop out like "he wasn't himself. His mind was controlled, so it wasn't fair." This time, the writers took the bold move of answering the question, plain and simple. Spike beat Angel in a fair fight. Case closed.
Past that, I enjoyed the historical interludes, simply because they did show us something we had never seen before. What was Spike and Angelus' relationship like back in the day. Yes, we knew that they had a falling out over a girl, but what about before that? They were friends? No. But they were pals. And that was something new again. Kudos again go to the writing staff, however, for not copping out at the end and having Spike and Angel put their differences behind them.
Finally, to the finale. Lindsey. My freakin' god, it's Lindsey. The moment I saw him I was left speechless. I couldn't make a sound. You have to understand, watching Eve undress and hearing her talk to someone, I quickly shot down the list of potential bads she could have been talking to. At no point did his name cross my mind. It was totally unexpected and totally awesome. This was one of those surprises that you pray for, and was delivered right on cue. I can't believe this. I mean, Angel and Lindsey were never the best of friends or anything but they left on quasi-decent terms. His exit was made as the kind of person who is leaving the show, never to come back. I just found it amazing, and can't wait to hear all about where he's been, what he's been up to and all that stuff. Damned cool to me.
As for Eve being evil. Again, this is the "d'uh" factor that we experienced earlier in the season. In an earlier episode (and we all remember when it was) we were re-introduced to Spike, who spent the entire episode in moral ambiguity, but claiming he was one of the good guys. We watched him play his game, and despite a moment of perceived evil, at the end we were shown that he was indeed a good guy (for now, at least.) If we had listened to him from the start, we wouldn't have had a problem. That story was told. End of story. To tell it again, with Eve, would have been repetitive. Instead, we are introduced to the other side of that coin. Someone who is professing their innocence but who is, in fact, guilty. And perhaps the lessons "learned" from the Spike incident will be their undoing in this new situation.
Overall, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable ride. I loved every minute of it, including the ten minutes of speechlessness that I was left with when the show was over. GOD how I loved that!!!
posted by J @
I, too, have read the online reports that a sixth season of Angel is already a go. To which I say, w00t! (I'd be more demonstrative, but I'm tired this morning.) And all I will say about "Lineage" is how disappointed I was that it turned out not to be Wesley's father after all. It just seemed... wussy. Had it really been his father, that climactic moment would have been the most delightfully hardcore character moment on this show in quite some time. But now we've got everybody saying "He thought he killed his own father" (you can almost hear the italics) and it softens the blow. I don't want my blows softened, dammit! Don't go for the easy way out, people, give me hard choices and consequences!
"Destiny" struck me as being, in essence a few good ideas housed in an hour of relative mediocrity, all designed merely to provide an hour of TV to have our Astounding Revelation at the end of (because, as everyone knows, you can't have Astounding Revelations at the beginnings of hours, now can you?).
Perhaps I'm being overly cynical — I can't deny I've been getting pretty burned-out on a number of my favorite entertainments of late, so it wouldn't surprise me that Angel would be one of them. Or maybe not, maybe "Destiny" really was as underwhelming as it seemed to me on first viewing.
By "mediocrity," I pretty much mean that "Destiny" was clearly meant to be a Major Episode, but somehow at the end of it all (even including the aforementioned Astounding Revelation) it didn't feel Major. I remember seeing Major Episodes of Angel and Buffy that were incredible stories in and of themselves, and also pushed larger stories forward in concrete ways that were so good they just made me tingle. There was no tingle here. Spike and Angel beat each other up for a good fifteen minutes, and the "bleeding from the eyes and being uncharacteristically aggressive and violent" subplot left me unaffected. It just seemed to me that much of the episode was filler. They had two basic premises — Spike becomes corporeal just in time to challenge Angel for the Shanshu, and as a side effect weirdly horrible things are happening in the office — and had to stretch them out to fill an hour when in fact there wasn't enough actual story movement in them to make it. So we had Toner Guy, and then Harmony, and by the time we got to Gunn going all Paranoid Misogynist on Eve I had gotten the point and was ready for the next part of the story... which never came. (It occurs to me that the umpteenth "Lock down the building, no one gets in or out" of this season may have undermined the effectiveness of the subplot through its sheer inherent repetitiveness.)
At the time, I did particularly like when Eve told Angel, "I'm not the bad guy." It immediately made me think, "Well, then, who is?" The realization that, eight episodes into the season, they had so far managed to keep me generally entertained without a mustache-twirling Bad Guy was in my mind a Good Thing. Not because I don't want there to be a bad guy per se, but because I saw the growing atmosphere of general paranoia and uncertainty to be an unexpected and potentially fascinating central idea for the story being told by Angel this season. And for all I know, they're still working that angle, but the Astounding Revelation threatened to undermine all that for me. Oh, it's an old Bad Guy, working behind the scenes to destroy Angel and all his loved ones. Been there, done that (the First, Darla & Drusilla). They're gonna have to work extra hard to make this different enough to be interesting. And I was disappointed to find that Eve is, in fact, the Bad Guy (or at least a bad guy). Considering how no one liked or trusted her to begin with, it wasn't exactly a terribly interesting development. It would have been much more interesting to me if this distrusted employee of the distrusted law firm turned out to be trustworthy after all (especially if, ironically, no one trusted her when trusting her was the only thing that would save them from horribleness). See my comments above about softened blows and easy ways out.
And I wonder if it was an unintentional or deliberate irony that Angel and Spike duking it out over who was more heroic was possibly the least heroic thing either has done in ages?
The historical scenes weren't all that involving, honestly. They didn't tell us anything that veteran viewers haven't known since Buffy season 2, or that new viewers would be interested in (we already knew that Angel and Spike had been at odds over a girl from their repeated references to Buffy and how Spike saved the world, what purpose does introducing Drusilla to the mix serve?). I suspect it's just that Guest Stars from the Past and "Evil Angelus in the Nineteenth Century" scenes have become de rigeur for Major Episodes during sweeps month.
I guess it's just all feeling relatively obligatory at this point, a story waiting to spring its Point on us without giving us genuine development in the meantime. I keep waiting for something of significance to somebody to happen, and all we get was an Astounding Revelation that provided a momentary surprise, but not enough real intrigue to keep me on tenterhooks until the next episode... as yet unscheduled. We shall see what we shall see...
posted by Brian @
Well, that was a bit much, wasn't it? Pretty deep stuff. Let me just say, flat out, that I really loved the episode. It had some great moments all around (comedy, drama, etc.) and set the stage for some great stuff in the future.
I wish that I could write more about this episode, but there are two other things that I feel the need to address more.
One, should be a relief to anyone who has read my ramblings. I am finally going to put to rest my feelings of paranoia, regarding the end of this ANGEL. According to E! ONLINE, Angel has been picked up for another season already. Not bad. Also, having watched last night's episode (preceded by Smallville) I was beseiged by commercials from THE WB touting all the trade magazines/newspapers/critics that LOOOOOOOOVE Angel. So, again, how could I possibly be right?
Of course, this does leave me with my only complaint about last night, but I can't imagine that it could matter anymore. Still trying to watch the show as an objective newbie (although we all know I am not,) I found last night's episode steeped in more canon than most of the other episodes this season. Mention of Connor is the foremost on my mind, because of the whole episode, it was the one that my father brought up. He has only seen the first two seasons of ANGEL (which we have on DVD) and then started watching this season. He found it to be inconceivable that Angel could have a son, and wanted to know all about it and how it was possible. This, to me, seemed like what most of the new audience would have felt. Then to be bogged down with references to the Watcher's council, it just seemed a bit steeped in continuity. Not much to bother me as a fan, but enough to get the Spidey-sense tingling for the newbies. Besides. Next week we have Drusilla, and boy is that steeped in continuity.
Second, is again I couldn't believe how far this show has come from its original feel. Even from the original feel of BUFFY. I believe that there has been a very stark shift in direction since the Buffyverse came into existence. This was evident in the days of BUFFY as well, but seemed to be highlighted even more last night. It is OK for characters to change, but could we all reflect for a moment on how much, for example, Angel has changed as a character since we first met him?
Still Brooding? Yes. Still dark? Yes. But just look at what he has to deal with on a daily basis now, versus what he did then. He reminds me of myself. Ten years ago I never would have envisioned myself doing what I do today. A few months ago, I had to marvel at the fact that I was actually IN A MEETING. When did that happen? When did I become old enough, or responsible enough to attend meetings? Well, Angel is kinda the same way. Almost ten years ago, he was running around with his girlfriend, saving the world, and master of his own destiny. Now, he too is attending meetings and has all this responsibility thrust upon him. From the Shanshu prophecies to the day to day managing of Wolfram & Hart, he has grown to be a man, from the adolescent we met so long ago.
Maybe it was Brian's last posting that has made me more introspective lately, but this was just something that stood out to me. I don't believe that I have articulated most of my feelings on this matter. Last night, though, it also occurred to me that back in BUFFY Season 1, I may have found it hard to believe that the characters would be chasing down a bunch of killer androids, and that a law firm would be the central point of the show.
posted by J @
Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?
First and foremost, KUDOS to Brian for tackling a subject as fundamentally introspective and defining as this. Second, KUDOS again to Brian for putting me in the position of focusing my critical lens on myself. To that end, I have had to structurally look for what I glean from these and other stories. What I have come back with is probably a bit less spectacular than your explanation, but seems to serve me well. All I can ask from Brian is that he extend me the same courtesy of language and vocabulary understanding.
Before I begin, a little backstory:
As a child (isn't this neat? kinda like flashback in italics!!!!) I was very fond of role-playing. I don't mean role-playing in the sense of "Dungeons & Dragons" or CCGs, but in the simple sense of play-acting. As a kid, I was able to surround myself with people who either shared my passions for this, or who simply placated me out of some childish sense of allegiance. Either way, I am grateful. Usually my role-playing fell into one of three categories, none of which should surprise readers of this blog. They were either "Star Trek," "Superheroes" or "Doctor Who." Bum Bum Buuuuuuuum.
The plot thickens as we examine that in each of those "games," respectively, I was always Captain Kirk, Superman, and The Doctor. Certainly the lead characters, but also the ones for whom I always wanted to be like. This caused quite a bit of chagrin with my friends, as that they never got a turn to be these characters (except in he last case when my friend and I were almost always BOTH the Doctor in what seemed a never-ending series of cataclysmic events that necessitated the meetings of more than one Doctor.)
It's a little embarassing to admit it, but these games stayed with me into Junior High School, where we finally matured to the point where playing around was just not done anymore.
Back to the present day. It occurs to me that my enjoyment of these shows is partially about finding the character that you identify with, but MORE importantly, I enjoy the worlds that I want to be a part of, in one way or another. In the case of SUPERMAN, hell, I would want to BE Superman. In the Buffyverse, I'm not so sure that I would necessarily want to be any of the characters as much as I think I would want to know them.
And how does Canon fit into this? Well, quite simply. Immersing yourself in these universes allows you to share the experiences with those who live there. Therefore, as cool as it is to reminisce with your friends about experiences that you shared in the past, it's just as cool to reminisce these canonical moments with the characters. This coolness factor is elevated when you can share it with your friends because, fortunately, they can answer back.
But these canonical moments are also like the touch of God. God (for our purposes Joss Whedon who, by the way, I do not look at as God, but who is arguably the God of the Buffyverse) has allowed something to happen, which he expects that we will recognize and appreciate. He sets it up like a game. He does it, not only to further a story, but to test to see if we are paying attention. If we recognize it, we passed. And we are all happy. God and ourselves.
Now, is it really as religious and thought out as that? No. That would be the height of hubris, among other problems. However, it is that same kind of feeling.
Do I look for truth in these stories? Certainly. Some of the more fundamental truths can be found in many things that I watch. Allow me a quote. I have edited out certain bits to keep it from being too obvious until we get to the end. By then, I'm sure you will have figured it out:
"There are many questions to be asked,
and it is time for you to do so.
Here [EDIT] we shall try to find the answers together.
How does a good man live? What is virtue?
When does a man's obligation to those around him
exceed his obligation to himself?
Your powers will far exceed mortal men,
it is forbidden for you to interfere with human history,
rather let your leadership stir others to.
It is now time for you to rejoin your new world,
and to serve it's collective humanity.
Live as one of them [EDIT] to discover where your strength and your power are needed.
But always hold in your heart, the pride of your special heritage.
They can be a great people [EDIT] if the wish to be.
The only lack the light to show the way.
For this reason, above all, their capacity for good.
I have sent them you. My only son."
That was all part of a larger monologue that was spoken by Jor-El (Marlon Brando) to his son Kal-El, in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. I memorized it long ago, not because I am a geek (although, admittedly I am,) but because it held a bit of resonance to me. I won't get into which parts and why, necessarily, because it would just take a while. It is moments like that from which I carry my depth and what you call TRUTH.
Admittedly, those moments are few and far between. Maybe for me, they have to hit me in the head, but that is just that way these things are with me.
Again, going back to my point on living in the worlds of these characters, anyone who has watched these shows with me knows how much that can affect me. Happy moments make me happy, sad moments make be sad (even having shed tears on occasion.) All this, most importantly because I can sympathize with what is happening, one way or another.
As a child, seeing Spock die in STAR TREK II was very painful to me. At the tender age of 5, I felt that loss, and it was for the first time in my life. I had been watching STAR TREK almost since I was born. On a very visceral level, I was met with the death of a friend. Someone who I had known all my life, and whose experiences I had shared. He was as much a friend to me back then as anyone I had known, such was the imagination of a 5-year-old. To this day, I carry a small part of that empathic ability with me. Hence, while I didn't really like Anya, I was saddened by her death, because it hurt Xander, who I like. Funny thing that.
I suppose that on the whole, my appreciation of these things is more emotional than intellectual, and that makes it more primal ana a lot less deep.
Imagine, if you will that we are in the episode "BEER BAD." Brian is the intellectual who knows the whys and wherefores of what he likes, and can examine the depth of each moment. Put some "beers" in him, however, and he becomes me. A simple creature of stimulus, who can still say what he likes and why, but not give quite the intellectual response.
posted by J @
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader
(Apologies in advance, J, if any part of this sounds insulting or condescending to you. I don't intend it as such — you are a dear friend and I have naught but respect for you in every way — but I fear my command of the English language is not enough for me to avoid that tone.)
So I have a theory.
It started when I read a few movie review essays on the personal webpage of an eloquent English gentleman by the name of Andrew Rilstone.
His review of The Matrix Reloaded
His review of The Phantom Menace, or more correctly a tangent in the process of that review
His open letter to BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey regarding the proposed new Doctor Who TV series
In these essays he makes a number of points, most of which I actually agree with. But the one that really stuck in my mind and got me thinking, the one which I want to deal with in this post, is the theme that runs through all three. To wit: Sometimes stories are supposed to be short and simple, and extending their length by way of exploring their "universe" or "back story," more often than not, ruins them.
I thought about this, and thought about it, and thought about it, and eventually my thoughts led me to a conclusion about a question I'd had in my mind for quite some time: What is the difference between the way J and I consume stories?
For a long time I'd suspected a fundamental difference. J, much like I did when I was younger (and still do to a smaller extent), seems to find his "payoff" — the joy, the point of consuming the story in the first place — in details like continuity points (such as, for instance, the unexpected reappearance of a character from the past) and major world shifts (like the Doctor's regeneration). I differ from that in that I have come to find greater enjoyment in what I call Truth — the ways in which the emotional or causal aspects of a story reflect the world I live in and illuminate ideas I did not understand or was not aware of. For that very reason J is more able than me to enjoy long-running serial stories like, for instance, the Superman comics. I would feel that nothing worthwhile to me can be illuminated through a character that is seventy years old and whose point, more often than not, has been "Can he beat up this bad guy?" J, on the other hand, can reference a current villain to his last appearance, for instance as Kal-El's childhood friend on an alternate Krypton or some such, and take enjoyment or a lack thereof from that linkage.
To boil it down, I think the fundamental difference is the ability (or lack thereof) to enjoy stories that relate meaningfully to no world other than their own fictional world. The difference is how much we can care about the fictional world for its own sake, instead of as an adjunct to reality.
And I understand this now. Herein lies my theory. J, tell me if I'm wrong: Such little details are the reward. As fanboys (and I include myself in this), we devote an inordinate amount of time and attention to the appreciation and enjoyment of what are to the rest of the world mere stories. If there was nothing to be gained from them other than simple literary aspects like theme and character, we'd be sad obsessives wasting our time. But when some bit of "canon" or "continuity" comes along, something that has no real relation to the "real world" but that jazzes the world of the story intricately, we fanboys are justified. We've been vindicated. Because here, now, is this point that no one can properly understand except those who've put in the requisite time and attention. "They" might think we're obsessive, but "they" can't possibly understand this event the way we do, and that understanding (and sense of "getting" something others don't) is the most oh-so-satisfying feeling in the world, innit? And we can then discuss and argue about "canon," the new twist's effect on it or even arcane standards of inclusion in "canon" until we're blue in the face, loving every minute of it because we understand it to that extent and no one who hasn't could possibly appreciate this story the way it was meant to be appreciated. We just know that we have satisfied the intentions of the story's creator (who we invariably regard as idols or even gods in a certain secular way), and we just know that if we ever met that creator, he'd be proud of us for getting it more than the simple masses.
So that's my theory: The different sources of pleasure derived from story, and that J's greater adherence to the latter source (the "fanboy source," if you will) than me is the fundamental difference in our viewpoints as reflected in this blog. I don't think I made my points as clearly or as powerfully as I might have intended, but I think I got them out there. And now we can discuss them. In and around arguing about canon, of course. ^_~
posted by Brian @
"The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"
THis was definitely a crazy episode, but it wasn't really as out there as it might have appeared. Quite the contrary, I found this rather melancholy little tale to be as moving, and as satisfying, as any episode of Angel recently.
I mean, yes, masked Mexican wrestlers. But you know, I think I found that less offputting than many would simply because I'm a longtime fan of professional wrestling (yes, I know it's fake, so's this show we're reviewing) and Mexican lucha libre wrestling is possibly my favorite variety. Much like Angel can be, it's breathtakingly silly and over the top but damned enjoyable for all that. Likewise, the concept of masked Mexican wrestlers fighting evil didn't bother me overmuch. Like most of Angel's stories, it's rooted in a folk legend tradition — in this case the specific reference is to El Santo, a luchadore in a silver mask who, in a series of popular movies back in the 1950s and '60s, faced off against werewolves and vampires and mummies and other supernatural ne'er-do-wells. (I know this because one such movie, El Santo contra las mujeres vampiros, was brought to America in dubbed form as Samson vs. the Vampire Women — with the intrepid El Santo renamed as "Samson, the Silver Maskman" — and subsequently turned into a highly enjoyable episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.)
All this is by way of explaining the this episode's central conceit, Numero Cinco and Los Hermanos Numeros, was not the unacceptably silly barrier to involvement that I suspect it may have been for some viewers. And the story at the core of it, a story of regret and faith and what being a hero really is, was rock solid and thus quite enjoyable. Danny Mora did a fine job as Numero Cinco, despite being behind a mask the entire time, and Spike's gleeful little game of Telephone was one of the funniest bits on Angel all season. Likewise the incorporation of the Shanshu prophecy, Angel's loss of faith in it, and the subsequent delightful little moment in which Wesley fails to remember those most traumatic events of the recent past, were top-notch Angel by any measure I can think of.
So yeah, I dug "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" mightily. This episode strongly reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, a short speech given by Amber the beadmaker in Robin Hobb's fantasy masterpiece The Liveship Traders: "Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die. True courage is facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, and the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right."
posted by Brian @
The Life of the Party
Before I dive headlong into this week’s tasty Angel morsel, let me take a brief moment to address last week’s offering. To be honest, I walked away from it satisfied with a job well done. While Brian did point out that it did make use of most of the conventions/clichés that we’ve come to expect from any sort of horror story, again I believe that it is the execution, above all else, that separates this one from some of the dreck that is out there.
As usual, the acting was top-notch, and the writing (while derivative in plot-points) was still spot-on for dialogue and timing. I do have to disagree with Brian’s assessment of the addition of Eve to the story. Perhaps, though, it was simply because I missed her .
And now, before I tackle last night’s episode, let me say that I actually did feel a disturbance in the force. It happened at the exact moment that Brian was swayed (not converted, mind you) but swayed over to the dark side. And so my pessimism is rubbing off. I wonder if this does indeed bode sour for our friends over at Angel Investi--, I mean Wolfram & Hart.
One final note. From now until the end of the season, I will be keeping the majority of my reviews on topic. With regards to how each episode will affect the future of the show, I may give the occasional update. However, for now, it may be safe to assume that unless stated expressly in the review to the contrary, each episode, while being good, does not seem to be helping attract new viewers or helping the show stay on the air for another season (and I’ll address whether or not that is a good thing, much further into the season.)
As for Life of the Party, I had a great time. This was what I was talking about before, about one of those episodes intended to lighten the mood. It was pure fun, with the usual suspense added in. It was full of gems that were dramatic/comic gold, but did have an unfortunate moment in it, that was more a problem of timing than anything else.
It was that one moment when Lorne’s subconscious was talking to him. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have a problem with the sight of one Lorne talking to the other, but for the fact that F/X is currently showing season 7 of BUFFY, and I had just come from two hours of watching one Spike talk to the other (granted that was The First, and all, but I think I just overloaded on the idea.) That, was probably nothing to be ultimately held against the episode, just my own little problem.
The pairings off were great. I was glad to have the Fred/Wesley issue addressed more outright. I just can’t help but feel sorry for poor Wesley. I don’t know how many people out there have been where he is (not the whole “former rogue demon hunter, in charge of the mystical division of an evil law firm, trying to destroy it from within” thing, but in his relationship with Fred,) but I know I’ve been there, and that’s just painful.
I couldn’t figure out, at first, why Gunn was peeing everywhere, but that was absolutely hysterical when it was explained. It’s one of those jokes that really funny as it’s being told, and then the punch line cinches it. Very nice.
Angel and Eve was just damned funny, but a bit out of left field. Did Lorne see something that I didn’t? (could be, since he’s an empath.) I have never seen much in the way of sexual tension between the two of them, so where did that come from? But let’s hear it for Eve’s dismissal at the end of the ep.
So, with a minor exception or two, I had a great time. Woo hoo! Now, all I have to know is, is DC Comics aware that Bane is going to be in the next episode of Angel?
posted by J @
So I think I'm gonna have to give up on reviewing "Just Rewards" and "Unleashed" as lost causes for now. Perhaps at some point (like rerun season) I'll go back and give it a try, but for now the memory of them is fading and I haven't the time to re-watch them.
So. "Hellbound," then. And a memo to writer/director Steve DeKnight: Having your characters notice and comment on the horror movie clichés doesn't make them any less cliché, and the self-referential horror thing has been done too many times (including by your own Mutant Enemy) to be cool on its own anymore. So what else have we got here? Well, um... a confusing mish-mosh, really.
Re: Pavane feeding the other departed spirits of Wolfram & Hart to hell so he didn't have to go there himself. Um... how does that work, exactly? I mean, I'm pretty sure that all the souls Pavane was feeding hell would have gone there anyway, so by my calculation there's no cosmic register being balanced out. Hell is still one soul short — Pavane's. If he was feeding heaven-bound souls to hell, that would make sense, but not this way.
And I'm still largely unclear on one of the major points of the episode, to wit: Was it Pavane causing Spike's involuntary disappearances (and, by Spike's account, trips to hell) all along, or is that an independent phenomenon that Pavane was merely taking advantage of? We still don't know what Spike actually is (not a ghost?) and what he's doing at Wolfram & Hart, but now that we've gotten that last scene between Fred and Spike of companionable resignation, where do the questions go from here?
What was good about the episode: Spike and Angel sniping at each other like 5-year-olds in Angel's office. Gunn (whose role at Wolfram & Hart is getting cooler every week).
More bad, though: I thought the bit with Wesley and the South African volcano was pushing it a bit — an obvious joke that was beneath the ME standards. Eve was wasted. Sure, she's like the zeitgeist of W&H, and so the deal with Pavane precipitated her being there I suppose, but her actual presence seemed more designed to remind us that she exists (for purposes of the future) than 'cause she had anything concrete to contribute to this story. The astounding amount of technobabble (which, to my somewhat-educated ears, sounded like 75% BS) made much of the episode a little too Star Trek-y for my tastes.
And finally, I may be starting to come around to Jason's way of thinking less-than-optimistically about the show. See, to my mind the show should, in the larger general sense, be about Angel's quest for redemption via saving souls in L.A., and while all the other characters should have inner lives and interesting stories of their own, it should all play into that central theme in the end. And I can't see how this season's increasing focus on Spike and Fred does that, so I'm starting to get a little worried. Especially in light of the preview for next week's episode, which I honestly couldn't make heads or tails of.
Hm. The weather's gray today, and maybe that's what's making me so cranky. Or maybe it really is just Angel...
posted by Brian @