“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.
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.