Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Beginning of Angel Season Four

So, tyranist told me I could choose what we watched on this visit. We could check out CONAN THE DESTROYER (which we both had bought for the occasion), we could watch more "Twin Peaks," we could start "Angel" Season Four, or we could continue with "Buffy."

After finally finishing the "Angel" recaps, I felt like it was time to check it out. So, we began "Angel" Season Four with "Deep Down," written by Steven S. DeKnight (in the interm, I saw an episode of "Smallville" written by DeKnight, and am happy to see he'll be a writer on "Dollhouse" as well).

Months have passed since the season finale, and everybody is sitting around the dinner table, having what looks like Thanksgiving dinner. Angel is at the head of the table, with Cordelia on one side and Connor on the other, and Lorne, Fred, Gunn (complete with a new beard), and even Wesley is there, though sitting in the shadows. Everyone is happy, passing the food, but Angel gets none. Turns out, he's still at the bottom of the ocean, dreaming while going mad from hunger and boredom, and really struggling with not going to the bathroom all this time.

We catch up with the others, who believe that Cordelia and Angel were both kidnapped (or killed), as they disappeared on the same night, three months ago. Fred and Gunn find out about a vampire named Marissa who lives near where Angel disappeared, and may have seen what happened. Connor is also part of the group, but is headstrong and difficult to work with. He's told them nothing about what he did to his father, and has been living in the hotel as one of the Angel Investigation team all this time.*

Angel continues to hallucinate, or dream, or imagine things, while he lies underwater. One of his visions is Cordelia meeting him on the beach like she was supposed to, although he imagines that he bites her and drinks her blood afterward. He later has a similar dream in which he kills Connor.

Gunn and Fred are trying hard to keep the business going, but without Angel or Cordelia or Wesley, they're really struggling. They're also acting as defacto parents to Connor, but the fact htat he's a wildman with the ability to turn into a CGI creation whenever he wishes makes it even more difficult.

We catch up with Wesley, who is still in cahoots with and having sex with evillawyerwoman Lilah Morgan (though I insisted to tyranist that she looked different somehow). They don't fully trust each other, it seems, as she presses him to tell her if he knows what happened to Angel, so her bosses at Wolfram & Hart will get off her back. He says he knows nothing, but as soon as she's gone, he goes to his closet, where he's got Justine the Vampire Hunter locked up. Apparently, every night, he takes her out on a boat and they look for Angel.

Justine has gotten heavier, but she's just as nasty, asking Wesley how he hopes to keep Angel from killing him if he does manage to find him. I'm not sure I like Justine all that much.

Fred, Gunn, and Connor go after Marissa, the vampire chick (hot) who knows what happened to Angel. Connor is as devious as his daddy, getting Marissa alone, staking her, and then cutting himself to explain that she was attacking him and he had to do it.

Nevertheless, they discover something metal in the water and find the coffin Angel is entombed in. Wesley hoists it up and gets it open. Immediately, Angel attacks him, but then collapses back into the coffin. Justine gets a lot of glee from this, but Wesley proceeds to feed Angel some blood and nurse him back to health.

Angel hallucinates Lorne and Connor there, and tells "Connor" off when it's really Wesley. Justine, glee, again. The blood Wesley gave him was from an animal, but it's not enough to revive him, so Wesley opens up his arm and gives Angel his own blood, which the vampire laps up.

You know, I don't know if this was always the writers' intentions, or if they looked six years into the future, read my blog, and decided to make sure they redeemed both Angel and Wesley in the best way possible, because they really did a thorough job with all of this. If there's anyone left who still thinks Wesley did wrong, I would think at this point, even the kid Alexis Denisof kicked in the nuts in gym class could forgive him.

We also get more office machinations with Lilah and Gavin and Linwood, but those don't really interest me. None of them hold a candle to Holland Manners and the one-handed guy. Regardless, Linwood isn't pleased with Lilah's progress, or with her current bedmate, so Lilah has him beheaded and takes over his job. Man, I really miss L.A..

Fred goes to Connor's room and offers him a sandwich. She then tasers him and asks if that's what it felt when he zapped his father. Wesley has called and told her what happened in the season finale, and Fred is pretty damned disappointed in her foster son.**

Gunn ties Connor up and they yell at him, but Connor gives not a damn about it (see first footnote), reminding them that Angel is a thing and not his father. Wesley arrives, carrying Angel into the hotel lobby, then sets him down and leaves again.

Connor breaks free, kicking Gunn and zapping Fred with her own taser. He starts to make a run for it, but Angel bars his exit. He tells the boy to sit and explains that he had nothing to do with Holtz's death. A nice moment was when Angel tells Connor that three months under the sea wasn't so bad, since his girlfriend once sent him to Hell for a hundred years.

But the kid gloves will be off if Connor had anything to do with Cordelia's disappearance. Connor promises that he didn't, that he doesn't know what happened to her, and Angel believes him. He gives a pretty impressive speech about why people become champions--basically to make a really cruel world a better place to live--and that he loves him, then he tells Connor to get out.

As soon as he's gone, Angel stumbles, showing how weak he still is. Waaaaaay up in the sky, the angelic visage of Cordelia watches all this, upset at how boring her life has become. The end.

Good stuff, as I usually say, but this was good stuff. Oddly, the show no longer says "Executive Producers Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt," and by the next episode, Greenwalt's production company logo was gone. That seems unusual to me.

Next up was the episode "Ground State," written by Mere Smith. I'll be frank and admit I don't know what the title means, unless it's something to do with electricity.

We start with a flashback to 1985, where a couple of cold-seeming parents drop their little girl off at a private school and head for the hills. The little girl is bundled up like a certain X-men character because anyone she touches is electrocuted. We find this out when a little boy befriends her and has his lights shorted out in return. The girl's name is Gwen.

Cut back to the present (2002), where Fred and Gunn have packed up Cordelia's apartment--much to Dennis the Poltergeist's dismay--because they can't afford to keep paying her rent, and she's obviously not coming back. I gotta wonder just what was going on with Charisma Carpenter during this time period, because TV shows don't work like this, and it appears all her scenes for the first three episodes were shot on the same day.

Across town, we find that Wesley has his own team of monster-fighters (which is really cool, actually), and they are battling demons. Angel shows up (how he found him we're not supposed to care, although it wouldn't surprise me if Wyndham-Pryce Investigations has a very reliable secretary or communications system) and tells Wesley that, after what happened last episode, he considers things square between them. Wesley gives him a nod, but no eager words of "please take me back to the hotel and my friends." If I were Wesley, I'd only have one thing to say about my backstabbing friends, and it would end with "...and the horse you rode in on."

But I have issues.***

Wesley has been keeping a file on his investigation into Cordelia's disappearance, and he gives it to Angel, fairly sure that Cordy has gone to another dimension. This leads Angel to seek an artifact called the Axis of Pythia, which is held in a very secure auction house.

We catch up with Electric Gwen, now a shapely cleavage vendor, who has also been tasked with obtaining The Axis for some wealthy businessman. She goes to the building where it's being held the same night that Angel, Fred, and Gunn go. She is able to simply touch an electrical wall-panel and tell it what to do. She gets inside the vault before Angel does and gets the Axis. Pursued by Angel, she gets out of the building and runs into Gunn, who she promptly fries. Fred and Angel are aghast that Gunn is dead, but Gwen, feeling remorse for killing him, uses her powers to jumpstart his heart again, bringing him back to life. Unfortunately, his fillings now constantly pick up the nearest Mexican Ranchero station.

Not forgetting our bastard child subplot, we see that Connor is hanging with Los Angeles's homeless population ("We have the most eloquent bums in America!" I believe the billboards read), but Angel is aware of it and watching from a distance. Also watching is Evillawyerchick Lilah Morgan, who Angel catches and coerces into telling him who might be the buyer of the Axis of Pythia.

We also get a scene where Fred can't handle the pressure of keeping the company going, the search for Angel, the fight against evil, the care of Connor, and now nearly losing her boyfriend. The poor girl hasn't had time for a single meal since last season, and she cries. I like Fred.

Angel goes to where Electric Gwen is meeting her buyer and they do battle. She puts her hand on Angel's chest and does her thing, not realising that he's a vampire. Amazingly, his heart starts to beat. I don't know what that would mean for a vampire, but it causes him to look at her differently.

Suddenly, they find themselves trapped. The buyer was disappointed in the way she carried out the theft (I guess a lot of attention was attracted), so he has decided to kill her. This is also something typical of Los Angeles, though not advertised on billboards.

With Angel's help, she manages not only to survive, but to escape. She is tempted to kill the buyer, but Angel convinces her not to. She ultimately decides to give him the Axis of Pythia, since she knows its to contact someone he cares for, and Angel takes it back to the hotel.

We don't get to see how it is used (not sure why, really), but apparently, he got the impression that she is when she's supposed to be, and content there. In actuality, Cordelia is in her higher dimension, furious that he got that impression, and desperately wants to be returned to earth. The end.

I didn't particularly care for this episode, though it wasn't awful or anything. Gwen was a semi-interesting character, and I almost got the feeling we were setting up a second spin-off show here. It sure seemed like she'd be showing up again (no idea if she does or not), and I don't know how I feel about that.

Rish "Too Lazy To Finish His Blog This Week" Outfield

*And you know, that really says a lot about the kind of person this kid is, deep inside, don't it?

**I originally typed "pretty disappointed in the little shit," but I thought it was possible I might learn to like Connor after another dozen episodes or so (heck, it worked with his father), so I toned it down a bit.

***And don't I ever? I wonder if, in my own sick fantasy world, I fancy myself a noble Englishman like Wesley, proper, honourable, quick to contemplation and slow to wrath. A rogue demon fighter with an unhealthy paunch and a penchance for flatulence.

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