Monthly Archives: September 2012

No, no. The begging, that comes later

We’ll change the world, but only a little

“Blood Money” is one of those unfortunately bipolar episodes that gets so many things right while getting a few things critically wrong.  It does fascinating job exploring just how far Angel has gone and will continue to go but falls short of giving the new Darker Avenger a story of consequence.  It was probably wise to not try to top killing a cellar full of lawyers and incinerating your ex, but the ripping off of a charity gala just feels trivial for all concerned. The story could best be described as a fun trip to a disappointing destination. Continue reading

Oooh! There’s a Delegation A-Comin’!

What’s not to trust?

We really needed this episode.  For almost 10 weeks now the stories have all either been kinda dark or kinda crappy.  Whedon’s normally adept at blending the horrific and the humorous, but that only works when the jokes land (“Triangle” is merely the worst example).  “Checkpoint” isn’t really a comedy episode, but it does lighten the mood significantly by giving our Slayer an overdue win.  So far this season, Buffy’s come up against an opponent who far outclasses her, come up helpless against her mother’s brain tumor, and had yet another boy leave town because it’s just not working out.  This episode sees her remembering the fact that she’s a freaking super hero and, more importantly, she’s Buffy. Continue reading

You Were His Little Monkey

Joe Tobin seems to have shifted gears into outright villainy this week, which I’ve got mixed feelings about.  Thus far he’s been a rather singular television character, delivering an arc we’ve never really seen before.  While that’s certainly interesting, it does leave the audience wondering exactly what to feel about him and has caused me some ambivalence anytime he’s on the screen.  It’s unfortunate that the series only solved this problem by becoming more generic, but at least Joe’s now assumed the proper villain’s role of someone we want to see fail.  His constant talk about protecting the family, the hit on Tessa, and strong-arming Zedick all have some serious mob undertones.  Combine this with his vindictiveness in turning on Lenny and you’ve got a character you can love to hate. Continue reading

I’ll Fight the War

The top four buttons are for good girls

While nothing could top last week’s climactic destruction of Angel’s status quo, “Redefinition” does a damn fine job of introducing us to the new one.  This is no longer a show in which Angel sits in a darkened room, brooding until he’s ready to go out and save the day.  It’s now a show in which Angel works out in a darkened room, brooding until he’s ready to kick some ass.  I kid, as the change in tone here is actually quite substantial and makes for an exciting turn in the series, but it does illustrate the fact that Angel was never that far from here to begin with. Continue reading

Ha ha ha! Puny Receptacle!

Olaf, we hardly knew ye

“Triangle” is awful, plain and simple.  I can understand the decision to deliver some comedy after dealing with Riley’s darkness, but this episode’s silliness delivers a plot that makes little sense, sees the Scoobies acting like caricatures of themselves and never translates into more than a few chuckles.  This really does represent the worst of Buffy. It’s not that there aren’t episodes that suck more, it’s that this episode just can’t seem to make any of it component parts work. Continue reading

All That Crap About Your Family

I’ve got to say that I’m impressed with the way that the Patty/Ellen/Tom falling out is shaping up.  I was expecting some towering rage from Patty when she discovered how she’d been undermined; instead, we saw some genuine vulnerability followed by the possibility of some personal growth.   Of course, the full scope of Ellen and Tom’s betrayal has yet to occur and I’m sure we’ll get the towering inferno when it does.  It’s another fine example of Damages playing with our expectations as it delivers some of the best acted drama on television. Continue reading

And Yet I Just Can’t Bring Myself to Care

The face of apathy

One of (if not the) best elements of Angel as a super hero is that he’s a failure.  Any super hero worth following has failed at some point in their career, and these stories are normally among the best as they learn from their mistakes and grown stronger.  But Angel, uniquely, doesn’t just experience failure, he’s defined by it.  His origin story is of a moral failing in a back alley that leads to a century bloodshed and, eventually, a curse designed solely to punish him for his said moral failings.  His first (known) attempt to be a hero ends with him feeding a hotel full of humans to a demon.  The most important relationship of his life involved him becoming an abusive stalker, going to hell, attempting suicide, and then deciding he needed a fresh start.  That fresh start began with him failing to save the first person The Powers sent him to help… I could go on.  Where other hero myths (Buffy’s for example) are about triumphing over evil, Angel’s is about fighting it, and failing. Continue reading

You’re Emotionally Scarred and will End Up Badly

Would you love me if I was fangy?

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating, it’s amazing how stories can change for you over time.  When I first saw “Into the Woods” I thought it was the best ending possible for a relationship that wasn’t that interesting to begin with.  I felt a little bad for Buffy, but was ultimately glad that the series could now move on to more compelling fare.  Now I can watch it as the culmination of Riley’s arc and the viewpoint gives the episode a lot more emotional weight as I’m able to sympathize with him and, strangely, sympathize more with Buffy.  Seeing Riley’s side is what makes this breakup a story, rather than just an excuse to make Buffy single again. Continue reading

Tell Me I’m Not Racist

Did we really need more Parsons family drama?  Ellen’s sister’s been proving a minor distraction as the season has otherwise gained momentum and I fail to see why we should have any interest in “the woman in the photo.”  Family’s certainly shaping up to be a major theme of the season as various characters ask where their loyalties lie and who they should trust, but introducing a new element at this stage feels really counter-productive, especially considering that Ellen’s already got two mother figures.  I guess we’ll see how it goes; if nothing else, it has the effect of getting Ellen out of town while shit goes down. Continue reading

You’re a Big Hunk of Hero Sandwich

Don’t worry, this episode’s almost over

Well, “The Trial” certainly got the season back on the serialized track.  Sadly, it fails to tell a compelling story in doing so.  The hero’s gauntlet is an old trope and, entertaining spectral-butlers aside, this episode doesn’t do a lot to freshen it up.  Angel’s test are all pretty straightforward as he needs to fight, endure some pain, and then sacrifice himself; all stuff we were already well aware he was capable of.  Of course, the point of these tests isn’t to tell a good story, but rather to get Darla to turn away from the dark side.  The climactic payoff is almost enough to redeem this strictly functional storytelling, but I can’t help but think that it would’ve been better served by being preceded by a decent story. Continue reading