Thursday, August 16, 2007

Buffy/Angel Wednesday (15 August 2007)

We've got four episodes to talk about this week, which ties the old record (and without steroids, as far as I know). I don't really have the sitting-around time to do a great blog this time. I will try, however, to say something about each episode.

Jeff's son lent me the first series of the new "Doctor Who" and I spent much of yesterday watching them. Good, good stuff.

The first "Angel" episode was called "Sense and Sensitivity" and it dealt with the character of Kate Lockley, policewomanofficer, being forced to attend sensitivity training. These classes have a sinister bent, however, and everyone in the department begins to get really touchy-feelie.

Kate and Angel work together to take down a mob boss with ties to the evil law firm we've seen since the first episode. Kate's father, also a cop, is retiring, and Kate takes Angel along as her date (though it's not really a date, I certainly would've called it a date, and irritatingly blogged about it already). Under the influence of a magic stick, Kate becomes embarrassingly emotional at the neglect she received from her father. It continues throughout the precinct, with the cops letting the prisoners out of their cells (whereupon the convicts attack them).

Angel confronts the instructor of the classes, and when he touches the stick, he gets all sensitive too. He hugs Cordelia and Doyle, and after saving Kate from the escaped Little Tony, hugs her too. Awww.

This episode was written by "Firefly" co-creator Tim Minear, and it was very funny. It also achieved the impressive feat of making me like Kate Lockley. I did wonder at the time what it would take to make me truly like Angel.

The next "Angel" episode we watched was called "Bachelor Party," and was a Doyle-centric show. In it, he bravely saves Cordelia from a vampiric foe when her handsome, rich, well-coiffed date flees in terror. For the first time, she is impressed with Doyle and, for the first time, considers maybe giving him a chance to woo her.

Unfortunately, Doyle's estranged wife Harry (or would it be Harrie?) shows up, wanting him to sign divorce papers, as she has fallen in love with a new man and they want to get married. The new man in her life, Richard, is a demon, played by longtime Whedon actor Carlos Jacott, and Harrie is a . . . what was it . . . an ethnodemonologist, having been intrigued when Doyle's demon side manifested itself when he was in his twenties.

We also find out in this episode that Doyle's full name is Allen Francis Doyle, that he never knew his father (I do hope that this pays off in the future), and that he has superhuman strength only when he transforms to his demon self. I don't believe this is the case with Angel, but I'm sure somebody knows for sure.

Richard is a nauseatingly nice guy, from a demon family, and he invites Doyle to come to his bachelor party, practically insisting that Doyle give him his blessing. It is revealed, though, that part of their demon traditions involve eating the brains of the first husband. Somehow, Richard still comes across as a nice guy.

Doyle takes Angel to the bachelor party, and Cordelia gets to go to Harrie's bachelorette party. Harrie brags Doyle up, and somehow Cordelia misses the part about how he's a demon. Angel overhears some of Richard's family's language and, suspicious, calls up Harrie for a translation. Before he can get it, he's jumped by some demonic partiers and tossed out on the street.*

Richard convinces Doyle to give his consent, which everyone takes as consent to participate in the brain-eating ritual. They put Doyle in a big old Captain Pike box, with only his head sticking out, and prepare to slice open his skull. Meanwhile, Harrie and Cordelia discover what the boys are planning and head over to stop it. Angel busts back in and there's a big fight. Doyle is freed. When the girls arrive, Richard explains that his family won't condone of him marrying a--gasp!--divorced woman unless he completes the ritual. Cordelia bashes Doyle over the head, thinking he's just another demon, and Harrie gives Richard his ring back.

Back at Angel Investigations, Doyle is feeling sorry for himself, but before Cordelia can cheer him up, he has another one of his patented visions . . . this time of a certain blonde back in Sunnydale who Angel needs to rescue.

Another good one. I guess, at this point, I should stop mentioning when it's a good "Angel" episode and just get used to the fact that it's not a bad show. Grumble.

Before we started on "Buffy" season four and "Angel" season one, tyranist consulted with the oracles and was told that the best way to go about it was to alternate between them, one episode at a time. It has already paid off greatly, but really, what more logical way to watch them is there than in the order they aired?

So that leads us to "Buffy"'s Thanksgiving episode, "Pangs," which originally aired the next week. In it, we get a guest appearance from Angel, as well as Anya, Spike, and Harmony (though I suppose Spike is no longer a guest and I should just get used to him being there).

At a groundbreaking on campus, Xander literally breaks some ground and falls into the ruins of an old mission, where he releases a vengeful Indian spirit (I originally said Native American, but I changed it for no good reason I'm willing to give). Xander gets very sick, and a couple of prominent authority figures around the site are murdered, their ears taken as trophies.

As her mother is out of town, Buffy has decided to gather everyone together for Thanksgiving dinner, despite Willow's aversion to the whole practice. Anya decides she will take care of Xander, and he accidentally calls her his girlfriend.

And Angel is around too, but staying out of sight, hoping to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with Buffy. Or hoping not to cause her pain by showing his face. Or just hoping not to bother her as she's trying to get on with her life. Pretty much everyone finds out about Angel and agrees to keep it a secret from Buffy.

Oh, and Spike is also roaming around town, in a horrible state, as he is unable to eat anything due to what the Initiative did to him or find rest due to the Initiative searching for him. He goes back to his old lair and finds Harmony unwilling to give him any sympathy or another chance.

The Indian spirit is getting revenge for what was done to his people by the original settlers of the area, killing the leaders and giving Xander the diseases his people caught from the white man, such as syphilis. When Buffy fights the spirit (and handily thrashes him), he calls forth more Indian spirits to attack their Thanksgiving dinner at Giles's.

Spike also goes there, hoping for some kind of mercy from the gang of good guys. They agree to take him in when he offers to tell them what he knows about the Initiative, and tie him to a chair. There is much argument over what to do about the Indian spirits, and whether it's politically and morally correct to kill them again. When the gang is attacked, pretty much everybody except for Spike fights, and Buffy realises that the spirits are susceptible to their Indian weapons. Angel helps out from the sidelines and the threat is quickly dealt with.

Angel skulks away, having not been discovered, and everyone sits down to a fine traditional feast. Oh, and during dinner, Xander accidentally mentions that Angel was there all along. The end.

Tyranist proclaimed this the best episode of the season, and I want to disagree with him, I really do. But I've got to say that it was probably the funniest show of the season so far. When Xander slaps Anya on the back and proclaims that his syphilis is clearing right up, I laughed hard enough to consider asking tyr to just start the episode over again from the beginning.

But we had one more show to watch. Back in 1999, the "Angel" episode "I Will Remember You" immediately followed this "Buffy," and we were lucky to have enough time to check it out as well.

Angel has returned to Los Angeles, and when he's telling Cordelia and Doyle about his trip, Cordie chews him out** about watching over Buffy without letting her know he was there. This sentiment is echoed by Buffy herself, who walks in the door, lowering the temperature at least ten degrees.

Buffy is understandably upset at Angel for not trusting her or treating her like an adult or respecting her enough to let her know what he was doing, and for the first time since "Amends" (and even more than in that episode), we're seeing Angel's point-of-view rather than Buffy's, understanding his motivations and feelings more than hers. In the middle of their argument, a green-skinned Samurai-looking demon with a red jewel in its forehead bursts through the window. Buffy and Angel fight it, and it retreats.

They give chase, following its glowing green blood into the sewers. Angel gets a little on him and it makes him feel strange. Buffy and Angel talk about their history and the unfinished business between them until they're forced to split up, with Buffy going to the sunlit surface and Angel staying in the shady sewers.

Angel runs into the potential assassin, a Morah Demon, and gets his hand sliced by the demon's sword. Angel vampires up and kills the demon with its own sword, getting some of that glowing blood on the cut in his hand. Suddenly, Angel's heart begins to beat . . . he has become a human once more.

Back at his office, Angel tells Doyldelia about his condition, and begins to eat everything in sight. He admires his reflection in a window and wants to know why this has happened to him (at this point, tyranist cynically mentioned that it was so the writers could get Buffy and Angel in bed together without him turning evil again, and I had to agree). Doyle tells him about the Oracles that represent The Powers That Be, the ethereal forces for Good in the Angelverse. Yikes, I just said Angelverse. Me, who swore never to use the term "Buffyverse."

The Oracles are a male and a female with gold skin who remind me of Greek gods. They tell Angel that he is indeed human now and that he no longer has to do their bidding, referring (I guess) to the visions they've been sending Doyle since "Angel" began. Angel finds Buffy at the Santa Monica Pier, where she responds to his walking around in daylight with some passionate snogging. This continues to Angel's bedroom, where they make a day--and presumably a night--of it. Buffy expresses how happy she is in that moment, with everything perfect, and if life has taught me anything, it's that that can only portend disaster.

Sure enough, Doyle gets a vision of the Morah demon regenerating and tells Angel about it. Angel, for some reason, decides to leave Buffy out of it,*** and he and Doyle head off to the demon's lair to kill it again. For the second time, Buffy awakens to find Angel gone from her bed (and I had to wonder how scared that made her), and gets it out of Cordelia where Angel has gone.

The Morah demon is more than a match for Doyle and newly-human Angel, and you've got to think that it gets a visceral thrill from pummelling Angel. Buffy shows up just in time and fights it, ignoring its promises of the End of Days and a deluge of demons on the way. Following Angel's tip to smash the jewel in the demon's forehead, Buffy beats it easily. When she does, it disappears in a barrage of red light, this time permanently dead.

Angel goes back to the Oracles, asking them about the prophecies the demon made. They tell him that yes, the Slayer will die, but it's no longer any of his concern. Angel asks them to turn him back into a vampire, so that he can help stop this apocalypse, but more importantly, so the woman he loves won't be killed. The Oracles reluctantly agree, and proclaim that the entire day will restart, and only Angel will know what happened the first time.

He goes back to Buffy and tells her of his decision. At first, she is pissed, but as she sees the time running out, she weeps at the love that will be lost between them. Angel too cries as he holds her and kisses her and says his goodbyes. She tells him she'll remember but the scene resets to the day before, when she was in his office and reading him the riot act**** for his treatment of her back in Sunnydale. In the middle of the argument, the green-skinned Morah demon bursts through the window, and Angel immediately shatters the crystal in its forehead, killing it before Buffy can even react.

Buffy and Angel share a couple more words about needing to go their separate ways, and though it pains him to do so, Angel lets her walk away. The end.

Holy cow, folks, this was a good one. I doubt this will be the last time Buffy and Angel cross paths, but if it is, what a great way for their relationship to end. It was amusing, romantic, and desperately sad, and Angel was just so understandable and noble that, yes, it happened, I really liked him. "Angel" co-creator David Greenwalt and someone named Jeannine Renshaw wrote this episode, David Grossman directed it, and bully for them, really.

I think I actually liked this episode of "Angel" more than tyranist did, since I proclaimed it better than any first season "Buffy" and maybe better than being fondled by a strange man in the corner of a mall video arcade. Wait, was that an overshare? I apologise and will not mention that experience again.

Well, I've been sitting here for what seemed like hours, and when I looked at the clock, I found it had been hours. Thank Kali I don't have anything better to do with my time, huh?

Rish "Buf-gelverse" Outfield

*I do admit I secretly thrill every time somebody attempts to beat up or kill Angel, not realising he's a vampire (I think the first time it happened was with Faith's evil Watcher, and I haven't yet gotten tired of it).

**I grew up in the Eighties, and this was a phrase we often used. It would be nice if you would use it too, just to pretend I'm not getting old.

***I thought about this for a while, wondering why Angel would do this (besides the obvious reason of "because that's how it was written"), and came up with this No Prize-seeking explanation: Angel comes from a different time, when women were not equel to men, and men didn't bother their families about what they considered their troubles and responsibilities. He doesn't disrespect Buffy, he just wants to shield her from the weight of the world, the way a man is supposed to protect a woman.
And maybe he wanted some time alone with Doyle to tell him how the sex went.

****A phrase they used before the Eighties, but you can start saying this again too, if you like.

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