Discussion, critique and fannish obsession over the works of Joss Whedon and his band of merry geniuses

On "Destiny"

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 @ 10:20

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