Category Archives: Season 2

Final Thoughts: Angel Season Two

Far stronger than season one, Angel’s sophomore outing suffered only from the fact that the good times didn’t last.  The 3/4 season arc ranged from very good to superb, pushing our hero to surprisingly dark places before bringing him… not “back” but to a new place.  Angel may have found itself at the end of season one, but this was the one that truly capitalized on that sense of purpose. Continue reading

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Every Family’s got it’s Problems

My thoughts exactly

My thoughts exactly

“There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” only adds to the heap of issues that keep Pylea from being an enjoyable diversion for Angel.  It feels a bit like I’ve already written the same review three to four times so, instead, I’ll focus on what I believe to be the big flaw at the heart of Pylea: there’s nothing tying it together.  The host of little things that don’t add up about this setting can’t add up about it because there’s nothing to connect them.  A spine isn’t necessary for a fantasy setting to work but it certainly helps, particularly in cases where there isn’t a lot of time to flesh out the reasons things are the way they are. Continue reading

Numfar, Do the Dance of Joy

I guess it's not all bad

I guess it’s not all bad

I continue trying to find the good in the Pylea storyline but it’s growing progressively harder.  There are some solid laughs here, but they aren’t really enough to carry an episode that’s not meant to be a comedy.  The tension allegedly escalates as Angel finds that this world’s “simple rules” aren’t as great as he originally assumed.  It’d be a good turn for his character if it had come a year ago, but this season has been all about blurring the line between man and beast and the hard split just feels like a step backward. Continue reading

Home Sweet Hell

I guess this works

Pylea is stupid.  Not as world-breakingly hella-stupid as the Knights of Byzantium, but still too stupid to be a welcome expansion to Angel’s universe.  I’m trying to keep an open mind but I still find myself unable to get into this story, seizing upon a lot of admittedly minor flaws as they come up because I know they’re going to get bigger.  This series, and Buffy before it, have long established the existence of other dimensions, having plenty of baddies cross over into ours, so it’s not such a stretch that our heroes might make the journey into theirs.  The problem is not the idea of Pylea, it’s that, in execution, this doesn’t feel like a place that’s lived in. Continue reading

I Disrespected the Haaklar’s Culture by Killing it

Too hideous to view

First, a disclaimer:  I didn’t like the Pylea mini-arc on my first Angel watch-through.  I didn’t like on my second watch-through.  I think I’ve skipped it each successive watch-through.  I’ll try to keep an open mind for the next four weeks, for my own sake as much as yours but, even as I made a conscious effort not to, I still found myself anticipating the lameness as I watched “Belonging.”  It’s difficult to distinguish how much of this is genuine and how much mere confirmation bias.  This episode isn’t without its strong points, but I still found myself unable to invest in them, knowing where they lead. Continue reading

You Know You Gave Me an Evil Hand, Right?

Ever given yourself a stranger?

Of all the post “Epiphany” episodes, “Dead End” is the only one I’d call necessary for season two.  Not that I think anyone needed closure for Lindsey’s character, but it’s nice see it acknowledged that Angel wasn’t the only one at odds with Wolfram & Hart this year and this episode makes for a solid denouement to the season-arc.  What’s really great about this is that Lindsey’s story doesn’t end on the same note that Angel’s did.  There’s no sudden recognition of the alternative to the Wolfram & Hart’s outlook.  Lindsey departs the series with much the same attitude he’s always had, he’s simply decided to stop using it in service of the firm. Continue reading

Man, Atonement’s a Bitch

Caritas never gets old

I said last week that the one flaw in “Epiphany” is that it effectively ended Angel’s second season.  “Disharmony” illustrates the point in its focus on new beginnings. This would be just fine in a season premiere but I just couldn’t shake the awareness that there are only five episodes left in the season and so anything they tried to build would, of necessity, be on a small scale.  Harmony’s appearance in L.A. is certainly fit for purpose as she’s always good for a laugh, but the episode suffers from a serious lack of tension.  Angel’s efforts to rebuild his relationship with his crew can’t be in real jeopardy because they need to be resolved promptly.  That doesn’t make the this a bad episode, but it does keep it from being a necessary one. Continue reading

All That Matters is What We Do

Listen, I’ve got an early meeting…

I’ll admit to some personal bias in my love for “Epiphany.”  Angel’s response to Holland’s philosophy is nearly a one-to-one match with my own moral outlook.  Wolfram & Hart’s denial of any greater moral framework for the world is hard to dispute, particularly in the context of all the pain and suffering we experience, but their answer, to work within this amoral framework, isn’t the only one.  We can accept that the world is an immoral place without accepting that we ourselves should be immoral.  Quite the opposite; if there’s no moral order to the universe, then it’s even more important for us to create one for ourselves. Continue reading

Why Fight?

Pretty smug for a corpse

“Reprise” and “Epiphany” form one of my favourite Angel stories as I find them as definitive for the series as season one’s powerhouse two-parter in “Five by Five”/”Sanctuary.”  It’s a near thing, but I’ll call this season’s outing superior if only because it’s able to build on what came before.  Where “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” crystallized Angel’s character, “Reprise” and “Epiphany” do the same for his opponents.  The genius of this story is in acknowledging embracing the futility of Angel’s mission while still finding the hope within it.  These two episodes form such a complete package that I thought it would be difficult to limit my review to just the first; instead, I find myself almost entirely focused on one scene.  There’s plenty to love about this hour, and I’ll get to it in the Final Thoughts, but, for now, I want to talk about Holland Manners. Continue reading

I Never had to Look so Hard to Find Trouble Before

My father died, remember?

“The Thin Dead Line” does a far better job of exploring Angel’s doubts about his downward spiral than “Happy Anniversary” did, mainly by tying it’s case of the week back to Angel’s core themes.  Angel’s not being drawn back into being a champion because that’s what the writers need him to do, but because it’s what his friends need.  Firing his support network was always his real mistake and it’s fitting that they be the ones to bring out the best in him.  It’s also fitting that their rejection (via Cordy) is what pushes him back out into the cold. Continue reading