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.

As for the good, it really was great to see Cordy again.  Much as I enjoyed season four and much as I appreciate the fact that it wasn’t actually Cordy we were seeing, being hijacked by the Big Bad and then slipping into a coma for the big finale was a crappy sendoff for the show’s leading lady.  The series does right with her return, letting her come back to save the day and, more particularly, save Angel one more time.  Cordelia was originally intended to be the light in Angel’s dark world and while others (Lorne and occasionally Fred) assumed that role over time, it was nice to see her slip back into it for her return.  There are plenty of other implied and explicit references to the show’s past here, but this is the one that really matters.

Cordelia’s back to remind Angel of who he really is.  That’s a great story, in itself, the problem is that it wasn’t time for Angel to find himself yet.  The season arc up to this point has done a very enjoyable job tearing Angel down and this conclusion isn’t particular satisfying.  I can buy that Cordy would remind Angel of the purity of simply doing the right thing, but the task before him has none of the alleged moral complication that undermined his confidence to begin with, it’s a straightforward beat the bad guy scenario.  Worse, said bad guy ends up looking like a chump by the end.  Lindsey had an elaborate plan to make Angel doubt himself in order to …. What, exactly?  Months of planning seemed to culminate in “Screw it, I’ll just unleash a big monster.” Yes, that’s his fallback  after being discovered, but it’s one we’ve seen countless times before and one that does nothing to justify all the intrigue leading up to it.

This episode leans heavily on the exposition to tie itself to what’s come before and salvage something for what comes next.  Lindsey apparently still covets the firms power and this, coupled with his hatred of Angel, has motivated his return.  He’s particularly focused on the hypocrisy of Angel running the firm after years of opposing it.  This is the alleged truth behind all the lies about Spike being the new champion and the one that Angel still doesn’t have any real answer for.  Finding the answer may yield some future story potential but I’m still not able to care as much about the arc leaving this episode as I did going into it.  That’s not a good place to be at mid season.

Final Thoughts

The Doyle video was a very nice touch, moreso given Glenn Quinn’s death.

Great as it is to the see the old Angel/Cordy dynamic back in action this week, the rest of the cast has almost nothing to do.  She has a decent scene with Wes, but it would’ve been nice to see the old group dynamic back in play.

Eve’s presence is even more of a sore thumb amongst all the nostalgia.  “Should’ve been Lilah” ran through my mind every time she was on screen.

For those who would complain about Cordelia’s excessive cleavage, I’ll point out that Angel also doesn’t believe in the first four buttons on his shirt.  Clearly this was a considered fashion choice.

4 responses to “I’m Angel. I Beat the Bad Guys

  1. I’m conflicted on this episode. On one hand like you said it is a much better send off for Cordy, but Lindsay and his motivations for this season confused me and this episode didn’t do much to clear my confusions up. When he left LA he seemed to be fine with not being associated with the firm or Angel so to have him come back with a vendetta seems weird. Maybe I’m missing something that you could clarify about his role this season?

    That aside I thought this was overall a good episode. I have to bring up the elephant in the room and ask how you would have felt if Buffy made a return for the 100th episode like they originally planned?

    • Agreed that Lindsey’s motivations were rather muddled this season. I believe that his actions make sense, but the audience needs to fill in too many blanks. I’ll have more to say on that when I review “Not Fade Away” but for now, nt the risk of egotism, I’ll cite my own write up on “Dead End” to explain why Lindsey came back:

      http://criticalviewing.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/you-know-you-gave-me-an-evil-hand-right/

      Lindsey didn’t leave because of some moral breakthrough, he left because he didn’t like the terms of his contract. No he discovers that the man he hated most has gotten his dream job. That has to be galling. Again, more on this in a couple months.
      Given that Buffy was the one who originally inspired Angel to become a hero, it would’ve made some sense for her to do so again. Except that she’s not his motivation anymore. I hated “I Will Remember You” because it reduced Angel to being Buffy’s boyfriend and using her here would’ve run the same risk. Cordy inspires Angel to fight for who he is, not for who she is. Also, the 100th episode needed to be about Angel and Buffy’s return not only would’ve removed that spotlight, it would’ve had to focus on the Buffy/Angel/Spike triangle and we need only look at “The Girl in Question” to know how bad that could be.

  2. “Pretty good” is a rather harsh assessment, but your criticism was certainly well justified, even if I personally find this episode to be among my favorites this season (better than the melodramatic “A Hole In The World” for sure). But you’re right that Cordy should have interacted more with Gunn and Fred and the only good thing about Eve was seeing her kicked out of Wolfram & Hart.

    Surprised you didn’t mention the Angel/Lindsay duel, though. While not as awesome as Angel vs Spike from “Destiny”, it was still well-choreographed with witty banter and shirtless Lindsey. My favorite part is when the Senior Partners suck Lindsey into hell. They could have gone for a cliché “NOOOO” or “You’ll rue this day, Angel”, but instead Lindsey just looks terrified and slightly annoyed, especially with the nervous “You don’t think they’re mad, do you?” question.

    Speaking of A Hole In The World, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on that eventually. I think the follow-up, “Shells”, was a much more powerful episode, and “Hole” doesn’t come even close to being what “The Body” was.

    • You’re right that the Angel/Lindsey duel deserved a mention, very superheroic. I’m actually fond of Hole in the World, though I’d agree that its a bit overwrought. But saying “its no The Body” is unfair. How many episodes on any series come close to that level?

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