Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Hue More Worthy of a Champion


Moisturize, please

While I wouldn’t quite call “The Price” a great episode, it is a very good one.  It’s also elevated by the inevitable comparison to last week’s “Double or Nothing.”  I say inevitable because these are both episodes that try to orient us in Angel’s new status quo.  The difference is that this one works because it takes the time to orient us in Angel’s story as well as his world.  I’ve got nothing against the standalone episode (some are among the best the series has to offer), but the bar is set much higher when a compelling season arc isn’t drawn upon.  “The Price” effectively splits the difference, giving us a tense and creepy monster story that can stand on its own while also weaving in the character threads that have been developing recently.  It’s one solid piece of work. Continue reading


Ain’t Love Grand

How big is that bathroom

How big is that bathroom

Is this the best episode of season six?  “Once More, With Feeling” gets all the attention, deservedly so given its ambitious premise, but it falls far short of the dramatic heft of “Seeing Red.”  Shocking, brutal, and unflinching, Joss Whedon famously described this episode as putting the needs to the story ahead of the desires of the audience and I can think of no better way to phrase it.  What happens here is difficult to watch and far from anything we might have thought possible, let alone wanted to see.  But, looking back, I must acknowledge that this is what needed to happen.  With nowhere new left for the relationship to go, it had to end.  And ending it in the most horrific fashion possible is by no means disservice.  Quite the opposite, by leveraging the high emotional stakes we had in these characters, Whedon & co. paid them the highest honour any storyteller could.  In case you haven’t guessed by this point, I’m not referring to Tara’s death.  I’m talking about the rape scene. Continue reading

Hail to you, potential client


Before I begin trashing this episode, let me say that I think that Gunn’s a good character.  He’s come a long way from the non-credible street thug we were first introduced to and I think that he tangibly improves the group dynamic at Angel Investigations.  Gunn’s a cool character… who’s seldom given anything cool to do.  It’ll be a little over a season before he finally finds his groove, and I just can’t understand why that is.  Here’s a guy who comes from a world wildly different than the one we’re familiar with at the agency, but one that neatly blends with Angel’s great demonic sub-culture universe.  The collision between these worlds has been mined to success before and “Double or Nothing” would seem poised to do the same except that it never really finds its footing.  This could’ve been another solid episode about Gunn’s past coming back to haunt him, instead its an unfocused look at his present in which he doesn’t even get to save himself. Continue reading

It’s not you, it’s me



The fallout from Xander and Anya’s breakup is, fortunately, far more interesting than the breakup itself.  Gone are the demonic hinjix, farcical delays, and toothless predictions.  Instead, “Entropy” puts its focus squarely on what Anya’s going through and gives her emotions room to breathe.  What elevates this story is that it’s all about Anya’s need to have somebody, anybody, validate those emotions.  “Revenge is wrong” is a rather tired lesson to trot out and this episode wisely complicates the issue by never questioning Anya’s right to hate Xander or her legitimate desire for others to share this feeling. Continue reading

You Took My Son!

Thank God he's the king of empty threats

So much more fun than forgiveness

Holtz won.  There are more episodes to the season, of course, but if you just consider “Forgiving” in itself then Holtz got what he was after.  Whether you call it justice or vengeance, Daniel wanted Angel to pay for what he’d done to him.  Make no mistake, much as Holtz loved his family, his quest was all about redressing what its loss did to him and the only way to do that was to take away everything Angel loved.  The results speak for themselves as Angel’s become a man with a singular obsession that will justify anything; torture, murder, betrayal, dark alliances, black magic to rend space and time, does this sound like anyone else we know?  Holtz won by making Angel into a reflection of himself. Continue reading

That’s Figurative, Doofus

Where's your power now?

Where’s your power now?

Let me make clear from the outset that I am not one of those who subscribe to the idea that “Normal Again” presents “the truth” about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The simple fact that there are events in this world that occur outside the awareness of main character is sufficient proof that it isn’t all a product of her delusional mind.  That said, this episode is still a fascinating exploration of the boundaries of fictional reality, presenting two alternative worlds without any definitive evidence as to which one is “real.”  Despite this, Buffy still makes a definitive choice between them, and her reasons for doing so underscore just how much truth’s to be found in the world of vampires, magic, and heroes. Continue reading