Thursday, August 21, 2008

Angel Wednesday (August 20)

So, we actually got together and watched some Whedonverse this Wednes--Whedonverse Wednesday, I like the sound of that.

First up was "Angel" episode "Long Day's Journey." Heck, they're all "Angel" episodes. This one was written by Mere Smith, and before the show started, tyranist and I talked about what happened in the last episode. Basically, we couldn't really remember where we stood, story-wise. I shouldn't have an excuse, since I just blogged about them not too long ago, but it had just been too long in between episodes.

When we felt caught up, we started things going. Basically, the last time we met our intrepid heroes, there was a Black Beast roaming around, and Angel revealed that he knew Cordelia bumped uglies with Connor. This one takes place not long after, with Angel cooped up in his room, growling at Lorne when he tries to talk to him about it.

Electric Gwen, the slutty thief from "Ground State," who has a shocking touch shows up again. She's being hired by a man who needs her to steal protective amulets. Well, he REALLY needs these amulets, 'cause the Black Beast shows up and rips the man open, taking something from his chest amid a lot of white light.

Wesley has done some research and tells us that the little girl at Wolfram & Hart's was their only way of communicating with the "Senior Partners," so they're effectively nullified as a threat. Also, the little girl was one of five totems called the Ra-Tet.

Lorne finds out another of the totems was just killed, and Gwen shows up to tell them what she knows. Cordelia comes over too, but things are strained between her and Angel. Gwen's guy was another Ra-Tetter, so they join forces.

They find out where one more of them is, and go to the cave where he hangs out. Too late, the Beast has been there too. Luckily for us bloggers, the fifth Ra-tet guy shows up in the cave and explains everything for us: the Black Beast wants to use the five of them to blacken out the sun, so vampires and monsters and Billy Corgan can hang out and party all day long. This guy, Manny, has the last piece necessary for the Beast to accomplish this, and asks for their help.

Instead of going to the hotel, they go to Gwen's hideout, which is an awesome apartment hidden inside a rundown empty building. The apartment has a ultra-secure room to use in a panic or emergency, like that Jodie Foster movie I forget the name of, and they stick Manny in there.

Everybody pairs off for guard duty. Gwen is sorry for killing (then unkilling) Gunn, and Cordelia and Angel bicker a bit, each drinking something, then fall asleep. Obviously they were drugged, 'cause when everybody realises it, Manny has been turned into beef chuck.

They argue for a minute about whose fault it was, then play the security video footage . . . which has been erased.

Turns out the Black Beast has to complete a ritual using the pieces he claimed from each of the dead totems, so there's still chance to save our sunlight. Fred comes up with the idea to open up a portal to get rid of the Beast, and she and Wesley work together to plan for this.

Cordelia has a vision in which the Beast is talking to someone, standing around corpses dressed like it's centuries ago. She feels she knows the person the Beast was chatting with, so pretty much everyone is now convinced that Connor is no good.

Tyranist's been saying that for a hell of a long time, but I do try to block it out.

Well, as if backing up the theory, the Black Beast shows up at Connor's warehouse, and smashes him to the ground. Angel and company arrive, and run upstairs to prevent it from doing its ritual. Fred and Wesley open the portal while Angel and Gunn push the Beast through. It disappears, but dammit, like two seconds later it shows up again, and finishes what it started.

Outside, the sun goes all eclipsey, and Edgar Winter can finally enjoy a nice afternoon on the town.

The Beast turns to Angel and asks him to join it. Angel refuses and the Beast leaves them alone. Cordelia realises that the person in her vision was Angelus.

Angel has no memory of the experience with the Beast, and I don't really get that, since part of his curse was to remember fully what he did when he was Angelus.

Of course, that's actually about a thousand years ago, Angel-wise, and he's lost and gained his soul a couple times since then, so I'm willing to accept it . . . barely.

Wesley realises that the Black Beast probably has some kind of power over Angel, and it was him who killed Manny and got the last totem piece and canceled "Firefly," without remembering that he did it. He suggests that Angelus might know about the Beast's history and weaknesses, so it's not Angel that they need, but his dark, evil self. The end.

This was yet another unsatisfying episode, but the show has become very very serialised by this point, so we're not gonna get much satisfaction for a while. That's fine, since I was happy to watch another episode or two immediately after.

Next up was "Awakening," written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight.

People are going crazy in light of--or rather, in dark of--the blackening of the sun. Vampires are diggin' it, though,

Both Wesley and Gwen have taken off, and Angel sings to Lorne to see why he can't remember what Angelus did.

Lorne thinks it's a memory Angelus has somehow buried (which makes not a lick of sense to me, but ah well), and Angel severely doesn't want Angelus to return. Connor is happy to have a new reason to hate Angel, and yells at everyone else for thinking the Beast was his fault. Tyranist pauses the DVD to call Connor something called a schmear.

Wesley tracks down a shaman and forces him to help him take Angel's soul away. He takes the shaman to the hotel, and tries to convince Angel that this is the way to go. Angel refuses, reminding him that Wesley has never faced Angelus before, and that Angelus is actually smarter than he is, since he'll think of things--and actually do them--that Angel would never even imagine.

Cordelia goes in to talk to Angel, mentioning that soon the plants will all die (I don't know why I remembered that detail, but I just had to share it). She tells him she agrees with him, having been the only one of the group who has actually met Angelus, and tells him they'll find another way to bring back the sun and stop the Beast.

Well, I don't know if that was her intention, but somehow, this convinces Angel to go ahead with the ritual. He has the guys build him a big steel cage in the basement, and gets in it. There's a red line drawn on the ground around the bars, and no one is to cross that safety zone.

Before the ritual is performed, he speaks to Connor alone. He tells the boy that no matter what he says or does as Angelus, that that is not his father. He is, and he loves him. Connor pauses, seemingly touched by this statement, then tells Angel he'll be the first to kill Angelus if he steps out of line.

Tyranist again pauses the DVD. Any idea what a "fucktard" is?

The shaman has a glass bottle Angel's soul will go into, and gets in the cage with him. He then begins the ritual.* A second later, he stops, pulls out a knife, and tries to kill him. Angel stops the shaman, who proclaims that he is a servant of The Beast and would never help them. In fact, he uses his knife to kill himself, ha ha.

Wesley apologises for bringing the shaman there, and Angel comments that that's the first time he's ever heard Wesley apologise. I don't know if that's the case, but they seem closer because of it.

They discover the shaman has writing all over his body (tattooed?) that gives them information about The Beast, and a weapon that can destroy it. Cordelia gets a vision about it--a sword--and knows where it's being kept. Turns out there's a cave underneath Los Angeles that can lead them to the weapon (it's not quite as lame as it sounds--the cave is heavily booby-trapped, and the sword isn't actually hidden there, but is accessible via a mystic doorway). Angel, Cordelia, Wesley, and Connor go there, and manage to make it through the Indy Jonesy traps and puzzles, but only by working together.

Angel reaches his destination and reaches into something called a hub to remove the sword. That too is booby trapped, and Cordelia is nearly killed in the process. Angel rescues her and they have a tender moment where they hug and she apologises for boning Connor and he says he doesn't care what they've done in the past and they proclaim their love for one another and swap spit. And nobody in Vegas or Atlantic City would take odds on Connor standing there to witness this . . . it was that much of a foregone conclusion.

Well, Connor takes off in a huff and Angel goes after him, and the boy is nearly killed by traps, but still pauses to fight with his father, before making it out alive.

When Angel and company get back to the hotel, Fred tells them her research has shown that the Black Beast can be killed by the sword, and that will release the energies it's using to cloud the sun. It's dangerous, but Angel calls it a plan, and before he and Cordy can kiss again, the Beast shows up there, eager for a fight.

The Beast is really tough, and manages to grab the sword and break it in two. When it moves to kill Angel, Connor shows up and also starts fighting it. Distracted, the Beast turns on the boy, giving Angel the opening he needs to take the broken sword and stab the Beast right through the noggin with it. The Beast dies, rather spectacularly, and the sun comes out again.

Connor admits that Cordelia loves his father instead of him, and grudgingly congratulates Angel on his victory. Everybody but him go outside to enjoy the returned sunlight. The Cordelia comes back, and Barry White must be playing somewhere, because talk turns to kissing and kissing turns to all sorts of doin' it.

Tyranist and I are wondering what Angel may have forgotten here, but it's already too late. He gets a happy face, and then he begins to shudder in pain and confusion, as his soul goes off to join those of anyone involved in a reality show.

Suddenly, we're back in the cage under Angel Investigations. The shaman still stands over Angel, and a glowing red light has filled the bottle he provided. Everything we've just seen was all in Angel's head, a roundabout way of naturally losing his soul. Angelus has returned. The end.

This was quite an interesting episode, and while I didn't hate it with the fiery, raisin-smelling passion that tyranist did, I do have to admit that a lot of this show was a pretty big cheat. No, the Beast isn't defeated and no, the sun didn't come back, and no, Connor and his father didn't make nice, and no, Wesley didn't apologize. But dude, I'm so happy to have Angelus back, that I'm not in a complaining mood.

And up next is our SILENCE OF THE LAMBS episode, which I know tyranist didn't like much better, but would absolutely be the show I would want to write if I were on the "Angel" writing staff. And it were five years ago.

That show was called "Soulless," and was written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft. Hmmm. Also, it was directed by Samwise Gamgee. Hmmm2.

Angelus sits in his cage alone, and upstairs, the group (led by Wesley) puts the globe holding Angel's soul in the Hyperion safe. They exchange warnings, then Wesley goes down to the basement to talk to the vampire.

I really ought to go into detail, 'cause I frickin loved this episode, but I'm too lazy and too far behind. Basically, Angelus knows everything Angel knows about Wesley, and uses it against him, trying to intimidate him, trying to humiliate him.

He mentions what a disappointment Wesley is to his father, and how he must feel knowing that he loves Fred, while she prefers the company of brown, bald men. There are cameras trained on Angelus to monitor him constantly, but it only serves to open up everybody's secrets to those who watch the feed.

Cordelia also speaks with Angelus, and he takes the opportunity to reveal to everyone that not only did she have sex with Connor, but that she was also the closest thing he had to a mother. Angelus also mocks Angel, who had this happy fantasy where everyone worked together and the whole family was reunited, before he achieved that whole happiness thing.

Fred and Gunn go down to feed the vampire, making sure they don't cross the red line, but Fred is unwise enough to push a cart over the line, which Angelus kicks into her, then grabs her when she falls. He could easily have killed her then, but Wesley shoots him with a tranquiliser and he goes down.

In a scene I still don't understand, Fred thanks Wesley for saving her, and they end up kissing. Then Gunn walks in and decides to beat up Wesley (again). They start fighting, and Fred steps between them to stop the fight, and ends up getting one of Gunn's elbows in the face. Believe me, that stops the fight, but you can chalk that little triumph up to Angelus, who grins happily from his cage.

Connor fights vampires outside where they pretty much have free reign now, but when he returns, people look at him funny and I believe the term "mother fucker" is used. Could be wrong, though. He goes in to see Angelus, and I don't know what he expected, but the vampire is happy to see him, proclaiming himself his real father. He rubs it in how Connor's fake father killed himself rather than live with him, and how he killed his real mother coming out, and predictably, Connor lunges toward him to fight him.

But Cordelia stops him and sends him away (to his room with no dinner and no Nintendo). She turns off the camera and tells Angelus she'll give herself to him if he'll help them take down the Beast. Somehow she convinces him she's telling the truth, and she goes upstairs to let them know the vampire is ready to talk.

When Wesley goes down, Angelus tells him that centuries prior, the Black Beast came to him for help, because a trio of sorceresses were after it. Angelus didn't join with the Beast, and it was banished by the three women.

Turns out these women--or was it their descendants?--still live in the area, and Wesley takes Cordelia and Connor to visit them. Unfortunately, they've already been murdered by the Beast, along with their families. Connor takes this hard . . . and I believe tyranist called him a scrotal cyst when he did. Not sure his reasoning there, but hey, he just doesn't like Connor.

Everybody comes back to the hotel, and Cordelia tells Angelus that with the Beast still out there, the deal is off, and she'll turn him back into Angel. He shrugs and tells her he's pretty sure he'll still get to see the end of the world. And it's not just a bluff, either, because when the safe is opened to retrieve Angel's soul, they find it empty. The end.

I really dug this episode. Sure, it was very Hannibal Lecteresque, with the good guys having to visit the bad guy in his cell to ask for advice in stopping another bad guy, and the delight Angelus took in messing with heads. Come to think of it, maybe it was a little too much like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.


Even though we weren't remotely close (it seems) to resolving the Black Beast story arc, I am quite enjoying it. Tyranist seems to feel the opposite, but I am happy to see Angelus continue for another episode (or more). As I may have mentioned it before, after Wesley, he's my favourite character on the show.

But I'm twisted that way.

Rish "The Cannibal" Outfield

*I had to wonder how smart it was to get inside the cage with Angel, knowing what he was about to unleash. But I can barely finish my story about horny teenage bees, let alone write a TV show.

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