No, why would Buffy be here? We wouldn’t want to mess with such an awesome episode.
Well, here we are, the last crappy episode of Angel. I tend to Google episodes before writing about them (it’s a good way to gain perspective) and I was shocked to discover that “The Girl in Question” has its defenders. I just don’t get how anyone could like this episode. Having a comedic departure at a time when the series should be building momentum was ill advised to begin with but, if you’re going to do it, don’t forget the “comedic” part. Even if we put aside the bafflingly placement in the season and the equally baffling bait and switch of not getting to see Buffy, we’re still left with an episode where the overwhelming majority of the jokes don’t land. The quality of the Angel & Spike’s bogus journey hovers somewhere around the series’ first season, and that’s just inexcusable at this juncture. Continue reading
OMG, we have so little to do these days!
“Underneath” makes for an interesting follow up to “Shells.” Fred’s death was certainly a direct consequence of the team deciding to work for Wolfram & Hart, but the event’s such a heavy emotional gut punch that it feels isolated from the rest of the series. “Underneath” is a somewhat jarring reminder that there’s a wider story going on; Lindsey and Eve and Senior Partners, oh my! That’s not enough to kill my enjoyment of this trip to demonic suburbia and I actually appreciated Lindsay expositing on the series’ larger themes, but the need for such housekeeping highlights the structural problems this season suffers from. Continue reading
I’m not crazy, you’re crazy!
One of the disadvantages of this season’s intensely serialised storytelling is that the show has lost much of its variety. The few forrays outside the realm of apocalyptic epic (e.g. the Gunn and Sparky caper) have felt more distracting than refreshing. “Shiny Happy People” proves that Angel can still colour outside the lines, even ones it drew itself. I won’t say that I’d become desensitised to all the doom and gloom, the series has done a good job preventing that, but the time was still right to change gears. Rather than trying to top the Apocalypse thus far, Jasmine takes us in the opposite direction and the effect is satisfyingly creepy. All the peace and happiness makes for a new kind of dread and Fred is an inspired choice to serve as the audience’s surrogate. Continue reading
Are we boring you Angel?
“Supersymmetry” is almost a great episode. Unfortunately, the stakes are so high and the character turns so drastic that it needed to be great in order to work. From a raw narrative perspective, “sweet, innocent” Fred seeking revenge on the man who sent her to Pylea has all sorts of juice, particularly in the various reactions of her friends, but this is the first time it’s ever been suggested that her interdimensional odyssey was anything but an accident. Its also the first time in a long time that we’ve seen her exhibit any sort of trauma from the experience. Such an out of nowhere story needed to be nigh-perfect in order to justify the stakes it’s aiming for, and being “merely” good makes this episode feel half baked. Continue reading
I can also make the ground hate women
For an episode focused on misogyny, “Billy” sure doesn’t have a lot to say about it. The titular villain runs amok in LA, turning any man he touches into a female hating psychopath and… and nothing. There’s certainly a lot of misogyny on display here but the question of where it comes from, whether Billy’s imparting it on his victims or merely drawing it forth is raised without being explored. But, despite the serious thematic shortcomings, the B-story with Wesley stalking Fred through the Hyperion is more than enough to save the episode. Alexis Denisof had been a stellar supporting player since he first appeared on Angel, but this episode casts a welcome spotlight on his dramatic abilities and offers a tantalizing promise of things to come. Continue reading
Not helping with the “bug eyed” comment, Amy
It’s tempting to call “Fredless” a failure in its efforts to integrate Fred into the AI fold, but that doesn’t really seem fair. It’s still unclear at the episode’s conclusion exactly how Fred fits in on the investigative team or the dramatic ensemble, but I’m not certain that the sites were really set that high. This episode wasn’t so much about describing what Fred brings to the party as it was about affirming the fact that we want her there. It’s the less ambitious route, though probably the more realistic one as it denies the possibility of any quick fixes; Fred’s grown and been accepted by the story’s conclusion, but this is much more about putting her past behind her than defining who she’ll be. Continue reading
Yes, we’re all confused
So… what was the point of that? At it’s best, Angel delivers stories in which its characters learn something about themselves which can be applied to all of us. Or it may give us some innovative narrative or original piece of genre bending. Or it might be thrilling, convincing us that the stakes are real and that a price may need to be paid. Or it could just be some laugh out loud comedy. At it’s very best, it delivers all of these. At it’s worst, as in “Carpe Noctem,” it delivers none. There aren’t any real stakes in this monster of the week as we never doubt that Angel will end up back in his body without any permanent damage done. Nor is there much made of the body-swapping conceit. Nor does anybody do any significant learning and growing. I guess that leaves hollow comedy, but this episode isn’t that funny. I really am curious as to what they were trying to achieve. Continue reading