Category Archives: Season 3

Final Thoughts: Angel Season 3

For the third season in a row I’m struck by the fact Angel would’ve been better served by a cable-length run.  Not that there weren’t more than 12 to 13 good episodes this year, but there were probably only 12 to 13 essential ones.  Angel just never seemed to be as good as Buffy at transitioning between the episodic and the serialize and the season-arc suffered anytime attention strayed away from.  That said, the non-essential episodes of this season were still (for the most part) very entertaining and I’ll certainly say this this was Angel’s best season so far. Continue reading

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Maybe You’re Growing as a Person

No safe word?

No safe word?

Is it any wonder that so many people hated Connor?  Not that Angel’s son isn’t entertaining here, far from it, but he was around for just two episodes before becoming the antagonist.  “Tomorrow” wisely goes all in with the choice.  Yes, Connor’s been manipulated to evil ends but we’re given only one glimpse at the wreck Holtz has made of him before the opening credits.  After that he becomes the manipulator, winning the trust of the entire AI team before delivering the most devastating revenge possible.  However misguided his motivations, he’s still the heel of this story and there’s no room left for sympathy. Continue reading

If that is Vengeance, I Find I Have No Taste for It

From Hell's heart...

From Hell’s heart…

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that Holtz had won?  Well, “Benediction” demonstrates that victory wasn’t enough for him.  Having stripped Angel of his moral high ground, Holtz now assumes it by doing what Angel never can, returning the son he took.  It’s a powerful moment for the series, with the virtues of love and forgiveness being what give Angel a happy ending even as they underscore the fact that he may not actually deserve one.  It’s a completely satisfying conclusion to the Holtz storyline, and then, in typical Whedon fashion, they pull the rug out from under us. Continue reading

Tell Me We Don’t Live in a Soap Opera

Pretend I look like a badass

Pretend I look like a badass

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I didn’t really follow Angel when it was on the air. I’d drift in and out, basically pulled by the gravitational force of the Whedonverse, but I was never really able to commit to the show.  Episodes like “A New World” had a lot to do with that.  I’d seen enough of season three to know that Darla had a baby (though not enough to know how good that story was) and I happened to catch a commercial for Connor’s return.  It did not entice me to tune in.  To an outside observer, the sudden appearance of Angel’s teenage son smacks of ill-conceived twists and hasty retooling.  I know now that’s not the case, but you really need to be invested in Angel’s world in order to accept Connor.  His aged reappearance is one of those plot twists that asks the audience to make a leap of faith.  “Yes, this is a bit preposterous, but stay with us and it’ll be worthwhile.”  No one but a committed viewer would make such a bargain. Continue reading

A Hue More Worthy of a Champion

Moisturize

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

Hail to you, potential client

angel318

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

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

Let Him Suffer

90% of all kidnappings...

90% of all kidnappings…

“Sleep Tight” is one of those episodes that requires a leap.  It’s not inconceivable that Wes would work with Holtz, but his reasons for doing so don’t effectively make it onto the screen.  But then, that development’s not really the point and we need to simply accept it if we’re to enjoy the meat of the episode.  And what delicious meat it is.  I’ve always said that it’s alright for fiction to ask us to make a logical leap so long as we land somewhere worthwhile.  This one lands us in a world of escalating dread that culminates in a huge degree of pain for our protagonist.  In other words, one great episode of Angel. Continue reading

You Twenty First Century Types are so Jaded

Do not anger the Loa!

Do not anger the Loa!

“Loyalty” and the episodes that follow loom large in my memory of season three.  Much of what’s come before has been good, even great, but this final stretch of episodes is so excellent that I often found myself wishing that the series would cut to the case.  Knowing what’s about to unfold certainly contributes to my enjoyment of this episode but, even looked at in isolation, this is a pretty terrific hour of television.  The cracks that have been forming in Angel Investigations are starting to split wide open just as those villains who’ve seemed cool but ineffectual thus far finally make their move.  It all makes for an exciting promise of things to come. Continue reading

It’s Your Mission That Animates Us

Peas in a pod

Peas in a pod

Poor Angel.  As I’ve said before, one of the great strengths of this series is its willingness to knock the stuffing out of its protagonist from time to time.  He is, deep down, a fundamentally self-centred character, one whose own tortured soul is his primary preoccupation, and the thing that makes that bearable to watch is that it isn’t taken too seriously.  There’s a lot of that going on in “Couplet” but, funny as the gags at Angel’s expense are, it’s not the jokes that make this episode great, it’s the fact that Angel actually starts to take his humiliations to heart.  Much as we might enjoy our Champion being reminded that he isn’t all that, we don’t want him to actually stop being all that.  Angel’s strong, and noble, and self-sacrificing; a hero, and any threat to that has the makings of great drama. Continue reading