The Cavemen Win

No wonder Wes was in love

No wonder Wes was in love

“A Hole in the World” ranks fifth amongst Buffyverse death episodes, but failing to place is no shame when you’re up against “The Gift” “The Body” “Seeing Red” and “Passion” so I admit to being a bit surprised by one of the comments a few weeks ago accusing this episode of melodrama.  It is, at certain points, but the emotions here are earned, for the most part, most particularly the team’s rising desperation as it becomes clearer and clearer that they’re not going to save the day this time. Continue reading

Self Esteem is for Everybody

You're a wee little puppet

You’re a wee little puppet man

“Smile Time” is one of those rare episodes that I love more each time I see it.  That’s somewhat easier to account for this time around as I now have a daughter and am more familiar with children’s programming.  There was always something hilarious in demonic puppets but, having now recently re-experienced the mind numbing wholesomeness, the satire feels far more poignant.  And it’s not just the evil of Polo and his crew, this episode deserves big props for twisting the tropes of children’s programming and Angels world together at every opportunity.  This may well be the best bit of genre bending we’ve ever seen from the Whedonverse and that’s really saying something. Continue reading

I declare myself conductor of this meeting as I have the bribe sheet

He's checkin' it twice

He’s checkin’ it twice

And just when I said that Deadwood couldn’t be cheery.  Maybe “No Other Sons or Daughters” doesn’t quite fit that description, but the humour here is superb and is almost enough to make us forget what a terrible place Deadwood can be.  Or perhaps not.  While most of the camp, particularly Al, is putting its best foot forward (new frock coats anyone?), Cy remains monstrous; all the more so for the contrast.  It’s interesting that a man introduced as a more “civilized” version of Al has emerged a less human one.  While civilization brings out the best in the town’s citizens, its representation makes us wonder just what the residents are working toward. Continue reading

I Was Rasputin’s Lover!

It makes complete sense that he's in this episode

It makes complete sense that he’s in this episode

Season five has dealt almost exclusively with the consequences of Angel’s decision to take over Wolfram & Hart.  It’s been fine fruit for storytelling but it tends to obscure the fact that Angel’s poor decision making extends a lot farther back than last year.  Angel has always been defined by his baggage and so it’s nice to see some of it getting pushed to the forefront again.  That said, “Why We Fight” doesn’t really have enough to say about Angel’s character, the flashbacks being more concerned with having some fun than with exploring anything profound.  That’d be fine, except I get the impression that it thinks a bit more highly of itself. Continue reading

I wouldn’t trust a man who wouldn’t try to steal a little

Take it easy, Veronica

Take it easy, Veronica

Well, that was depressing.  Deadwood could never be described as a cheery series but some episodes are a lot bleaker than others.  It’s somewhat ironic that the darkness moves in just as Alma learns what her claim’s actually worth but, as I said last week, the Garrett mine’s more important as a structural element than as a subplot, an excuse to tie the characters together and generate a sense of momentum for the season.  It’s irrelevance gets underscored here as all the gold in the world can’t change life for Trixie.  The world, or at least her world, is fixed and the impossibility of living in it is trumped only by the impossibility of changing it. Continue reading

I’m Angel. I Beat the Bad Guys

No need to CGI this group shot

No need to CGI this group shot

“You’re Welcome” is another one of those problematic episodes that manages to get so much right and so much wrong at the same time.  On the one hand it’s an excellent way to mark the series’ one hundredth episode; a celebration of its past, an underscore for its themes, a salve for fans who were (rightly) upset with the way Cordelia exited, and a pretty good case of the week to boot.  On the other hand it’s completely counter productive for the season arc, providing a payoff that’s merely “pretty good” after buildup that’s been largely excellent and leaving little momentum to take us into the second half of the season.  I certainly like this episode, but the price as too high. Continue reading

They’re nice here. And Mr. Swearengen’s funny as all hell.

Rough trip?

Rough trip?

“Bullock Returns to Camp” is, unsurprisingly, about Bullock returning to camp.  The episode title isn’t indicated within this or any other episode of Deadwood, but it’s hard not to let it impact my impression.  It’s mundane enough to suggest that nothing of particular import happens here, that this is a mere housekeeping chapter; Bullock’s a good character, but his absence from the camp hasn’t exactly been felt nor was his return ever really in doubt for the single episode that he was away.  But mundane events can have momentous consequences and Bullock, by his mere presence, changes the dynamic in Deadwood. Continue reading

Check the View Screen Uhura

Dark enough for ya?

Dark enough for ya?

“Damage” is yet another stellar outing for season five, one that somehow delivers a continuity-laden monster-of-the-week story.  The episode succeeds because, much as it delves into this universe’s mythology, it never really leans on it.  Seeing some of the repercussions from Buffy’s finale is pretty great, but the story works even if you’d never seen BtVS.  It does this, as always, by keeping the focus on the characters.  For all of season five’s alleged episodic nature, stories like this one drill home the fact that these people are still on a journey.

Continue reading

Treat the hoople-head free, that’s cheap good will

We have notes

We have notes

Last week I made mention of Al’s capacity as a community leader and this week sees that in full force.  Its one of Deadwood’s most a fascinating elements that a man so evil could be a force for good.  To be certain, Al’s still entirely motivated by self interest, that interest just happens to be entirely in line with that of the camp.  A bad man who happens to do good isn’t such an unusual thing in fiction, but Al doesn’t save the camp despite his villainy, he does so because of it.  Only a man such as Al could’ve risen to such a position of power in a place like Deadwood and only someone in such a position could accomplish what he does. Continue reading

But… It’s MY Destiny

Rapture cake is the tastiest cake

Far right, nice photo bomb

I really like “Soul Purpose.” As gimmick episodes go, it’s not Angel‘s strongest outing and nowhere near the heights of Buffy; Angel’s dream sequences are devoid of any subtlety and the happenings in the real world aren’t much better.  But it’s this propensity to tell rather than show that makes this episode compelling.  We’ve glimpsed the pain behind his brooding many times before but the naked insecurity on display here is something quite different.  Angel’s in the midst of a full blown identity crisis, one that doesn’t just crack his cultured stoicism, but strips it away altogether. Continue reading