“Angel” 5×02 – Just Rewards

There’s a lot of fun to be had with Angel and Spike’s dynamic, especially with their shared evil history and common love interest, and Just Rewards is crammed with some hilarious banter between these two. David Boreanaz and James Marsters are both up to the comedic task, infusing their respective characters with just the right amount of depth and humor.

Sadly, the rest of the hour was a hit and miss. While the Angel/Spike scenes were mostly amusing, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s just extremely contrived to have Spike on this show. I get that he was a fan favorite on Buffy, but from a writing standpoint does it make sense to keep telling his story? Wasn’t it (sort of) better to end his arc with his sacrifice? It certainly seemed like a great deal of character development so to have him revert back to being a bit obnoxious and jealous is disappointing.

Then there’s Hainsley, a one-dimensional terrible weekly villain. His ability to transform demon souls into human bodies was too twisted, even for this show, and I was bored to death whenever he took up screen time. Please no more standalone cases!


Bits

– Loved seeing Buffy in the flashback. Sure, it’s the same footage from the series finale, but it still warmed my heart to see SMG on screen again!

– Angel tells Spike that Buffy is in Europe. I NEED TO KNOW MORE, WRITERS!

– Incredible choreography as Angel does a complete split in mid-air while fighting a beast at the law firm. Wow.

– Hilarious bit with Harmony telling Angel that the beast he just killed was actually his 3 o’clock meeting.

– How breathtaking is Angel’s new apartment?

– So, if Spike is a ghost (sort of), how can he sit in Angel’s car or put his feet up on a desk? This was a very distracting oversight for me.

– Do I sense a possible Spike/Fred ‘ship coming soon?

Quotes

Spike: I must be in hell.
Lorne: Uh, no. L.A., but a lot of people make that mistake.

Lorne: Honey of a story.
Fred: Story?
Lorne: Yeah, the vampire slayer both men loved, both men lost. Oh, I could sell that to any studio in a heartbeat. I see Depp and Bloom. But then I see them a lot.

Angel (to Spike): I know you can’t help me, but could you maybe not root for the other team?

Spike: That’s how you’re gonna fight the forces of evil now, call the I.R.S.?

Rating
C+

“Dollhouse” 1×02 – The Target

What an incredible follow-up to an underwhelming pilot.

After watching both Ghost and Echo, I was worried the show wouldn’t become serialized until much later into its run, but The Target packed a whole lot of momentum into its 50-minute run (yes, 50!).

I love that Echo is becoming more aware (it’s the one twist Ghost seemed to gloss over, for some illogical reason), and I can’t say I didn’t get goosebumps as Echo does the “shoulder to the wheel” in the episode’s final shot. Even seeing bits and pieces of her previous personalities, asking Boyd to trust her instead of the other way around, and developing skills that she shouldn’t have as Jenny were all fantastic breadcrumbs, and they were all masterfully executed. Unlike Buffy and AngelDollhouse seems like a much bigger show with its production values (although it’s certainly less recognized) and fight sequences. Jenny and Richard’s entire adventures in the woods, for example, were surprisingly gripping, especially for a standalone case that probably won’t have long lasting effects on the show’s mythology.

The flashbacks were mostly random and dull at first, but their significance was necessary as they revealed how Echo was programmed to trust Boyd, an emotional investment that we need in order to care about these characters. Plus, seeing the damage that Alpha had done to Dollhouse was haunting, and that’s quite a memorable way to make us fear for him as a Big Bad. I wouldn’t mind him staying faceless and nameless for quite a while.

Finally, Ballard’s investigations into Dollhouse don’t go much this week because the show decided to use most of the footage from the unaired pilot (the naked guy sending him pictures of Echo), but Paul is likable enough to make you want to root for him. I can’t wait to see his first encounter with Adelle or any of the Actives.


Bits

– My only complaint is that Richard seemed a bit too cartoonish as a weekly villain. Why did he want to kill Echo? And why show us that very long sex scene?

– The woods scenes reminded me of Eliza Dushku’s 2003 slasher/thriller Wrong Turn (which I also loved).

– How weird was that scene between Paul and his obsessive neighbor?

– It was very sad seeing Echo telling Boyd how she can’t stop thinking about some guy in one of the flashbacks, especially with the devastating look on Boyd’s face, knowing that she’ll never remember/see him again.

– Interesting how Echo always wakes up from personality removal to the same line: “did I fall asleep?”.

– Loved the final twist with the officer actually being killed by a blade. Oh, Dr. Saunders, Alpha is very much still alive!

Quotes

Boyd: How about clearing up my signal, professor? My displays are crap.
Topher: You’re in the middle of ‘Why Would Anyone Want to be There’. What did you expect, HBO?

Boyd: What happened to her last handler?
Dr. Saunders: You’re standing in him.

Topher: So, what do you think of your new girl?
Boyd: She’s not a girl, she’s not even a person. She’s an empty hat. Until you stuff a rabbit into it.

Boyd: Do you trust me?
Echo: With my life.

Boyd: You know how to use this [gun]?
Echo/Jenny: Four brothers. None of them Democrats.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 5×01 – Conviction

I didn’t expect Angel to revert back to standalone cases so soon after having one of the most serialized seasons on television, but that’s exactly what Conviction was: a somewhat forgettable standalone hour.

First, the good stuff. I appreciate what the writers have done here by shuffling the status quo a bit and separating the Angel Investigations team. It’s clear just how distant they’re all becoming with each member out doing their own thing, often without consulting the others. Even better is how they’re all slowly becoming slightly evil (much like Wolfram & Hart wanted): Angel alone kills a whole team of special ops in a harrowing and relentless shooting sequence, and it’s unlike anything even Angelus has ever done. So at least that’s fascinating.

The case, on the other hand, bored me to tears. I didn’t care about Mr. Fries’ ridiculously awful personality, his son or the legal aspect of the show. The fact that they had Gunn, the character I often detest the most on this show, enhance his mind so they could win a case was such a contrived twist that I did not care for.

Another thing that absolutely rubs me the wrong way is the way this show has dealt with Cordelia. Not only is Charisma Carpenter no longer listed as a cast member, but Cordy is STILL in a coma after all this time. This is seriously character assassination, and if we truly never see her on this show again I will be pissed.

Finally, I love that they brought back Harmony as Angel’s new assistant as this is a subplot that is full of comedic potential. Spike’s return in the premiere’s final moments, however, was underwhelming because James Marsters was already listed as a regular in the credits so no surprises there. Let’s hope the show has better and more original twists up its sleeves in its final season.


Bits

– The teaser highlights just how much things are changing for Angel this season: after saving a woman from a vampire, they are swarmed with reporters and lawyers from W&H.

– The special ops agents calling the vampire “a hostile” felt like a nice nod to Buffy‘s fourth season and its Initiative arc.

– I was surprised that an episode written (and directed) by Joss Whedon doesn’t have a sharp script to at least save it from being completely boring. Where did all the witty dialogue go?

– Seriously, the puns were horrible. Eve and the apple? Angel biting into the apple? Then later saying he has no problem spanking men? Good lord, make it stop.

– Also, Fries repeatedly telling Angel “to get him off”: really, writers? How did this make it on the air?

– Gunn is bald now, and Angel’s hair is longer and pulled back. I find it funny how older shows never try being subtle about the actual real-life time jump between filming seasons.

– Already don’t like Eve and really miss Lilah.

– Hilarious scene as Angel geeks out over all the cars he can drive.

– I find Knox surprisingly likable. I even like him as Fred’s possible love interest. #SorryWes

– Hilarious final shot as Harmony peeks her head into the office and cries out “blondie bear?” after Spike returns from the dead (or undead?).

Quotes

Wesley (to Fred): Your run-on sentences have got a lot less pointless.

Angel: You’ve been working here?
Harmony: Yeah-huh.
Angel: Why?
Harmony: Well, duh! I’m a single undead gal trying to make it in the big city—I have to start somewhere. And they’re evil here, they don’t judge. They’ve got the necrotempered glass—
(dances in front of the window) no burning up—a great medical plan, and who needs dental more than us?

Spanky: You know what I’m doing now? I’m applying pressure to your windpipe. You’ll pass out, and then I’ll let Mr. Fries decide if he wants you to wake up again.
Angel: Do you know what I’m doing now? Not using my windpipe.

Rating
C

“Dollhouse” Unaired Pilot – Echo

I can’t believe this ended up being an unaired pilot. Unlike Ghost, the show’s “official” first episode, Echo is a gripping, emotional and mind-bending opener. I’m in shock.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give Echo is that it’s literally everything Ghost is not. First off, it’s worth noting the lack of a standalone case here because instead of wasting our time on a dull and uninspired personality (Miss Penn), we’re treated to more of Echo and it makes us truly emotionally invested in this character’s journey. I take back (almost) everything I said about Eliza Dushku’s performance before because she somehow manages to convey a whole range of emotions in Echo whether it was in her badass entrance, her intense confrontation with Paul Ballard or finally that heartbreaking realization at the end. Echo uttering the word “Caroline” as the Dollhouse beds start closing in on the Actives is a truly haunting and terrific way to bookend this near-perfect pilot.

From a structural standpoint, it’s definitely interesting how much plot is crammed into this hour-long premiere. We immediately get the Paul/Echo confrontation, Boyd questioning the morality behind this facility and even Echo becoming a little more aware, all of which feel like story arcs that should be spread out. While the show probably ended up leaving these twists for later on into its two-season run, none of it feels rushed here somehow. The execution is strangely impressive, the script much wittier and the overall tone a lot more consistent.

Damn you, FOX. Judging from this unaired pilot alone, this really could have eventually turned out to be one of television’s greatest shows.


Bits

– I loved the shocking twist with Paul’s friend Keene being another Active from Dollhouse! The name they use on him there is Victor.

– Sierra is underutilized here and maybe that’s a good thing? She shouldn’t be taking over the spotlight for Echo.

– While they might be exposition-heavy, the several montages of Echo’s different personalities and clients while Adelle (Olivia Williams) talks about Dollhouse is quite effective in setting the pieces of the pilot in motion.

– Loved seeing Echo, Sierra and Victor having lunch together, which made Topher go mad.

– I smiled at Topher’s “emoticon” reference. Who remembers those pre-emoji smiley faces?

– What/Who is Alpha?

– Badass moment as Echo twists Paul’s arm, steals his gun and points it at his face. This is the heroine we deserved to see!

– Even better is how this pilot gives us a much clearer look at what Dollhouse really is. Did we even know that these Actives voluntarily signed up for five years of personality removal from Ghost? I think not.

Quotes

Echo: There’s a lot worse to be than a waitress, and you’re already most of them.

Adelle: You are a man who can have everything he wants. If what you want is to have someone dress up as a cheerleader telling you how big you are, you can hire a thousand women to do that quite convincingly for the price of one day with an Active.

Adelle: This is not about what you want. This is about what you need. An Active doesn’t judge. This will be the purest, most genuine human encounter of your life. And hers. It is a treasure. One I guarantee you will never, never forget.

Paul: We split the atom, we make a bomb. We come up with anything new, the first thing we do is destroy. Manipulate. Control. It’s human nature.

Topher: These folks elected to give us five years of their lives, after which they will be blissfully ignorant and very wealthy.
Boyd: What about during? What about the things you program them to do? Even if they did sign up, they didn’t know what they were signing up for.

Topher: They fall in love. Real love. With unreserved passion.
Boyd: There’s nothing real about it. They’re programmed.

Topher: This is an awesome gig. This is cutting edge science in a house full of hot chicks. Morality is programming too.

Topher: Now we have our own little conspiracy, man-friend.
Boyd: Don’t call me that.
Topher: We’re not friends?
Boyd: We’re not men.

Claire: Love is a selfish emotion.
Topher: And altruism isn’t? Break it down: helping others makes us feel good about ourselves.
Claire: It’s not that simple.
Topher: I program them so that it feels good.

Rating
A

“Dollhouse” 1×01 – Ghost

This is my second time trying to watch Dollhouse. A little over two years ago, I watched the first three or four episodes before I lost interest, but after recently watching Eliza Dushku kick ass on Buffy and Angel, I thought I’d give this show another shot.

As far as pilots go, Ghost isn’t quite memorable. There’s an off-putting standalone case, less-than-stellar performances and quite a creepy vibe that, ahem, echoes throughout the first hour. I thought I was going to be immersed by Dushku’s performance at least, but even that I found to be underwhelming. I do think she’s a great actress, and she’s got two seasons of the short-lived yet underrated Tru Calling to prove that, but perhaps she’s better off in a more badass role.

The good thing about Ghost is that it introduces a couple of intriguing ideas. The notion that there’s a secret facility that erases people’s personalities is very thought-provoking (currently watching Westworld is another reason I decided to check this out), and I can already tell I’m going to love Sierra. Dichen Lachman is perfectly cast in this role, revealing a truly badass Active who barely speaks in this episode but still manages to take down the kidnappers by hour’s end (something Echo, our supposedly badass lead, failed to do). Even Olivia Williams is stunning and quite devilish in her role, and I can’t wait to see how she unleashes trouble in the future.

What I do find missing from this Joss Whedon production is the witty dialogue I’d gotten used to. Whereas Buffy also had a somewhat weak opening, its script was nothing short of entertaining, and its characters were immediately fully realized. In Dollhouse, I feel like even the show doesn’t know much about its characters. Let’s hope that changes soon.


Bits

– Of course, Eliza Dushku’s first scene is a motorcycle chase sequence where she ends up dancing in a very, very short dress. But I’m more annoyed with why she took off her helmet during the chase.

– The little girl getting knocked unconscious and zipped into a bag was a very well-made sequence. I should have seen it coming, but I was still shocked by the horrific sight.

– How cool are those opening credits? The music with the bells at the end are particularly unsettling.

– Look, it’s Amy Acker! And she’s got mysterious scars all over her face. Hmmm.

– I wish we could’ve seen more of The Dollhouse because it is visually breathtaking with its zen-like space and vivid colors. Also loved seeing the Actives all showering together then proceeding to their haunting underground beds.

– I already hate Topher. Of course all shows need a tech-savy character to easily and convolutedly do things to move the plot forward, but this guy is very annoying. And he doesn’t even see anything wrong with where he works – unlike Boyd, who is infinitely more likable.

– Agent Ballard is also an interesting character, someone who is going to investigate Dollhouse. Tahmoh Penikett is quite good in the few scenes he has, especially as we cut from his interrogation to him fighting in the ringer. Very effective.

– Ah, look at those flip-phone cameras. I do not miss those.

– Very ominous ending with some naked guy watching videotapes of Echo and killing a random couple (Echo’s real parents maybe?).

– Despite that weird and mysterious cliffhanger, I couldn’t have asked for a better and more chilling final line: Echo saying in her videos that she wants to do everything, and it’s intercut with our heroine going to her Dollhouse bed. Damn.

Quotes

Chief: I can hire anybody for anything. And I’m gonna go to an illegal organization and have them build me, program me, what, the perfect date? Confessor, assassin, dominatrix, omelet chef?

Topher: That’s the person they needed, so that’s who Echo is. The expert.
Boyd: Who’s nearsighted.
Topher: She also has asthma.

Rating
C+

“Angel” 4×22 – Home

This was probably my favorite episode of Angel so far.

I don’t know what to think of season four as a whole because while the back half of the season proved to be an exhilarating, thought-provoking adventure with Faith and Jasmine’s epic multi-episode arcs, this was also the year I stopped caring about Cordelia – and it’s all the writers’ fault. She was either in a coma for half of the season or being terribly evil the other half, and it was neither fun nor entertaining, especially after there seemed to be high hopes for this incredible character after last season’s finale. It pains me to admit that I might not even care if she never comes back to this show next season.

Now back to Home, which felt completely different than any Angel episode ever produced. Lilah’s shocking return from the dead in the penultimate episode’s cliffhanger proved to be an enormously fun twist as she offers the Angel Investigations team the entire Wolfram & Hart firm. It’s a brilliant creative decision filled with endless possibilities, especially after seeing how this finale already introduced next year’s character-centric arcs (I’m particularly intrigued about Wesley and Fred now). I don’t mind that this show has opted for a full-on reboot because, to be honest, it kind of needs it after a season that was crammed with twists at every turn. This could be the breath of fresh air Angel didn’t even know it needed – and I’m so excited to see where it goes.

Even writing out Connor in the end, which was undoubtedly jaw-dropping especially after hearing Fred’s “who’s Connor?” remark, is a great decision. Unfortunately, this character never really clicked with the show’s universe and only seemed to drag it down from achieving true greatness. Plus, he finally ends up getting everything he ever truly wanted: a happy, loving family. And that’s a heartwarming way to bookend this strange yet uplifting hour.


Bits

– Stephanie Romanov (Lilah)’s delivery of the line “lifetime” at the very end of the opening teaser, after the intense music has already started, is priceless!

– There’s an entire minute of complete silence after the opening credits where every single character is just confused and unsure how to react after hearing Lilah’s proposition off-screen. It was strangely mesmerizing.

– How twisted is it that Wolfram & Hart wanted the Angel Investigations team to take over the firm because they “ended world peace”?

– Hilarious scene as they all end up going to the limo even after saying they wouldn’t.

– There’s a stunning wide shot of the new and modern Wolfram & Hart when everyone walks in. Wow.

– How badass is Wesley when he uses his wrist blades and flies off, Spiderman style?

– Oh, so that’s how Angel gets the amulet which he then gives Buffy for the final fight. Hmm.

– Nifty editing with Angel jumping off the rails and we cut to Wesley jumping from the ceiling and punching a man.

– Wesley trying to burn Lilah’s contract so she can finally have some peace – very moving.

– Angel and Connor’s fight scene at the sporting goods store was actually intense!

– Wait, they still don’t know where Cordelia is?

– This finale also contained a whole bunch of unexpected witty dialogue!

Quotes

Lilah: Angel, what’s the matter, ace? Didn’t think you were the only one that ever got to come back from hell around here, did ya?

Wesley: It’s a lie.
Lilah: Lah! It’s a Lilah!

Angel: Wolfram & Hart. The contract she signed with them extends beyond her death.
Lilah: Standard perpetuity clause, I’m afraid. Always read the fine print.

Angel: [Jasmine] was eating people.
Lilah: They knew what they were getting into.
Lorne: Her stomach?!

Fred: We ended a nefarious global domination scheme, not world peace. (Pause) Right?

Lilah: Just because we’ve tried to kill or corrupt each and every one of you at one time or another doesn’t mean we can’t be trusted.

Lilah (to Angel): Just you and me, boss. Come on, Charlie. Let me show you around the chocolate factory.

Fred: You’re like the MacGyver of Wolfram & Hart.
Knox: You’re not wrong. I can make practically anything out of a— a fully equipped, multi-million dollar lab.

Sirk: How did you know?
Wesley: Something about Watchers and–(punches him, knocking him out) libraries.

Lilah (closes the shades, to Angel): Goodbye, Mr. Sunshine. Hello, gloomy avenger.

Angel: Buffy can handle herself.
Lilah: But isn’t it more fun when you handle her?

Rating
A+

“Angel” 4×18 – Shiny Happy People

What a riveting hour.

Gina Torres is one of the few actresses that I can never get tired of seeing on TV because of her amazing on-screen presence, so I was just as fascinated by the unnamed Higher Being as the rest of the Angel Investigations gang. And then the show drops another twist: what if Jasmine was actually the real Big Bad this season?

There’s so much to love about Shiny Happy People, but my favorite thing is that it really allows you to see both sides of this mystery and leaves the judgment up to the viewers’ imagination. Having Fred, the one person who was stuck in another dimension alone for five years with evil and hatred all around her, be the only one to question Jasmine’s true motives is a stroke of genius. Because what if Jasmine really can just bring peace and get rid of all evil? What if Fred is just used to living in hatred and refuses to see the good in people? It’s a head-scratching, thought-provoking theme that this show has never truly delved into before, and while the next few episodes might immediately answer all of these questions (I’m leaning towards Jasmine as the Big Bad), this is still quite an impressive feat.

Finally, the cliffhanger with Jasmine (a name she probably ended up choosing herself after the flower) appearing on a TV talk show in order to cast her spell (or not, however you may look at it) to a wider audience is a chilling twist to bookend this near-perfect hour. Fred, the only one clearly unaffected by this Higher Being’s powers, walks out of the diner defeated, a fascinating juxtaposition to the uplifting, positive tone the episode had previously kicked off with. Wow.


– Angel was wearing bright colors during this episode! And after Fred shoots him with a crossbow, he changes into a gray shirt. What a nice little detail.

– The way everyone falls down to their knees in front of Jasmine is quite intriguing, right?

– As atmospheric the bowling fight scene was with Fred and Jasmine having a nice conversation while everyone around them is in full attack mode, I wish the editing was smoother here.

– I wanted Cordelia to wake up while Fred was crying by her bedside, just to tell everyone to stop acting like idiots. I miss badass, sassy high-school Cordy.

– Eerie montage with Jasmine delivering an uplifting speech about fighting evil once and for all with scenes of the entire gang killing vampires while Fred is simply struggling to get the stain off Jasmine’s clothes.

– How twisted was Jasmine telling Wesley and Gunn that loving the same woman should bring them closer together? I had to make sure I wasn’t mesmerized by Gina Torres as well because that kind of made sense to me. Oops?

– If anyone needed more reason to hate Connor, look no further: he twirls with a stake in his hand while attempting to kill a vampire Buffy-style, but ends up twisting its neck.

– Who else got the chills when Wesley whispered to EVERYONE what Fred had told him earlier about Jasmine? Dear God, I actually thought they were all going to kill her.

– I think Angel’s “we have to kill her” was a bit exaggerated, especially in an episode that’s supposed to have us question which side is truly right.

Quotes

Lorne: My God!
Jasmine: People keep saying that.

Jasmine: No one born to this earth can choose their own name. They’re named by those who love them.

Lorne: Well, I’m tickled as, uh, someone so tickled they’re out of similes.

Lorne: I should’ve let her cut my head off. My species–decapitation loophole.

Rating
A

“Angel” 4×15 – Orpheus

This is how one horrible subplot can stop an episode from being a true masterpiece.

First, it was absolutely a hoot seeing Willow over with the Angel gang. Her dynamics with Fred, Wesley and Faith are all very fully realized. It’s a testament to how well crafted all these characters are (thanks, Joss Whedon) that Willow (someone who doesn’t belong on this show) can still feel very authentic and exactly like the Willow we’d all grown to love at Buffy. I just wish she’d stayed a bit longer – and not taken Faith with her!

Speaking of our second favorite Slayer, Faith and Angelus share a number of head-scratching yet delightful scenes via flashbacks where they watch Angel doing some good deeds, all while the show pokes fun at some of this subplot’s meta structure. This strange format could have easily faltered under the hands of lesser performers, but David Boreanaz and Eliza Dushku are terrifically committed, especially the former in both Angel and Angelus roles.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the Cordelia/Connor subplot has gone from bad to worse. After living through a terrifying three-episode Angelus arc, the fact that bringing back Angel’s soul doesn’t get a climactic resolution is outrageous. It makes no sense for the writers to reveal Cordy’s pregnant belly to the rest of the characters by hour’s end (even if I’d been eager to move this subplot along already) because Angel’s soul should have been given much more weight than a simple, throwaway line. This is beyond unacceptable and I’m sorry to see one of my newly favorite actresses be dragged into a truly horrible storyline. She deserved much better than this!


Bits

– Angel rescuing a puppy in one of the flashbacks and Angelus getting furious about it: priceless.

– Loved seeing Willow and Fred share the screen together. Their yammering was also kind of fun.

– Oh dear lord I wanted to fast-forward the scene where Cordelia grabbed a knife under the covers when Willow was in her room. Soap opera much, guys? Seriously, how did Charisma Carpenter even agree to shoot this scene?

– Heartwarming moment between Willow and Wesley discussing how much they’ve gone over to the dark side.

– Hilarious: Wesley asking Willow if anything else major has changed in her life and her saying not much.

– It’s human nature for me to watch closely whenever a character on TV has to fight another character played by the same actor (I’m just picky that way). The Angel/Angelus fight was sadly very clumsily edited. And look at those stunt doubles! Made me miss Buffy just a tad more.

– Faith punching Connor: SO freakin’ satisfying. Can he please fall off the face of the earth and die?

– Shouldn’t Angel have been a little more upset over how he’d been terrorizing his friends over the past few days? Why did he seem so calm and happy?

Quotes

Faith: You know what the definition of insanity is, baby? Performing the same task over and over and expecting different results. Learned that in murder rehab.
Angelus: All right, Miss Blow-It-All. This is my flashback. Why are you in it?

Willow: How’ve you been?
Cordelia: Higher power. You?
Willow: Ultimate evil. But I got better.

Angel: I’ll get you to a hospital. You’re—you’re gonna be OK. All right? It’s—everything’s gonna be…
Injured Cashier: It hurts!
Angel: Yeah, I know.
Angelus (mockingly): Doc, I think we’re losing him! God, I love this episode!

Wesley: I think my sense of humor’s trapped in a jar somewhere.

Wesley: I’ve changed. I’ve seen a darkness in myself. I’m not sure you’d even begin to understand—
Willow: I flayed a guy alive and tried to destroy the world.
Wesley: Oh. So…
Willow: Darkness. Been there.
Wesley: Yeah. Well, I never flayed. I had a woman chained in a closet.
Willow: Heeyy!
Wesley: That doesn’t compare.
Willow: No, dark. That’s dark. You’ve been to a place.

Faith: You kiss your mama with that mouth?
Angelus: No, but I ate her with it.

Fred (about Connor and Cordelia): Do you ever think their relationship is maybe a little bit…icky?
(Cut to Cordelia and Connor holding hands)
Cordelia: You have to kill your father.

Willow: Oh, um, next time you guys resurrect Angelus, call me first, okay?

Rating
A

“Angel” 4×14 – Release

Another near-perfect hour.

I can’t stress this enough: Faith and Angelus’ presence on this show have turned this season around, making it one of the most entertaining seasons. Their final fight sequence was long, brutal, terrifying and absolutely glorious all in one. I can’t wait to rewatch that because it’s definitely worth it.

The one thing I must still complain about is Cordelia. At this point, I see no reason why the writers keep dragging out this mystery. What is she, exactly? Why is she doing this and what is her purpose? How can she communicate with Angelus and why in the world is she pregnant with Connor’s baby?

So many frustrating questions and I’m binge-watching this show, so I can’t imagine how this must have felt for viewers who had to watch weekly and be disappointed by the lack of answers here. Please fix this soon, writers! This is the only subplot keeping this season from being truly perfect.


Bits

– That opening scene has to be one of my all-time favorite opening teasers, of any show. The haunting score, the nifty editing as Faith undresses herself and walks into the shower, the shots of her smashing her fists through the bathroom wall and screaming, the blood… Absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish. Wow.

– Loved hearing Faith saying “five by five”, her signature phrase from the early Buffy days. Ah, the continuity in the Buffyverse will always impress me.

– Hilarious scene at the demon bar as Faith and Wesley torment a demon to get information on Angelus.

– Hmm, why did I actually like Gunn and Fred kissing this time? But don’t get me started on Gunn’s horrendous goat patch. Ew.

– Nifty touch with Faith using knives again. I miss Buffy season three!

– Wes telling Faith he still remembers how she tortured him was another brilliant callback.

– The only things I didn’t like about Angelus and Faith’s final fight were the sound effects used whenever either of them jumped or got kicked. And the slow-mo got a bit redundant by hour’s end.

Quotes

Lorne: Did I mention that the only shots I’m good at involve Tequila?

Faith: Sorry about your bathroom. Come on, let’s do it.
Wesley: I’m not worried about the bathroom. Although I’m fairly sure my security deposit’s a complete loss.

Angelus (with a smirk on his face): Uh-oh, vampire with a gun!

Faith: Screw you.
Angelus: Maybe after. I like my girls to lie still. (calls over to Wes) Hey, buddy, how’s it goin’ in there? Good old Wes. Always count on him to tackle a bad situation and make it worse. I mean, hey, look how you turned out. But then again, I guess he really didn’t have much to work with now.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 4×13 – Salvage

Faith makes a very welcome return in an impressive and twisty Salvage.

Eliza Dushku is absolutely incredible as Faith, the other vampire slayer, and her dynamic with Angelus is surprisingly amusing. Their fight sequence was brief, yes, but so badass and quite intense. And I can’t believe Angelus actually killed the Beast! What a plot twist.

Sadly, I still have no idea why the writers are destroying Cordelia’s character. Not only did she mysteriously kill Lilah for absolutely no logical reason, but also her relationship with Connor continues to be icky, gross and unacceptable. The final baby bump twist made me cringe so bad. Where the hell are they going with this?!

Still, it’s very refreshing to watch a show that’s very dependent on both its own history and the one Buffy created for it. The serialized aspect of Angel never ceases to impress and surprise me, and this season is proving to be stronger with every passing episode.


Bits

– Faith and Wesley’s prison break was stunning. I can’t believe the show has stunt doubles that are that badass but CGI that is increasingly hard to stomach.

– Wesley’s Lilah hallucinations in the basement were very heartbreaking. I still can’t believe they killed her off after I finally started to love her this season. I’m actually going to miss you, L.

– Faith swinging the chains over to Angelus’ side so that they’d break the window and allow sunlight to come in and burn him was very clever and, dare I say again, badass?

– David Boreanaz looks like he’s having so much fun in the soulless role, right?

– “Faith the vampire slayer” comes up more than once in this episode. Cute pun but a little soon for someone who’s still depressed over finishing Buffy.

Quotes

Faith: A kid. Angel’s got a kid.
Wesley: Connor.
Faith: A teenage kid born last year.
Wesley: I told you he grew up in a hell dimension.
Faith: Right. And what, Cordelia spent her last summer as–
Wesley: A divine being.
Faith: Uh-huh. Can I just ask…what the  hell are you people doing?

Connor: So, vampire slayers. I was told about them. How come you’re always girls?
Faith: I dunno. Better at it, I guess.

Angelus: Aw, crap! You mean killing the Beast really does bring back the sun? I thought that was Angel’s retarded fantasy.

Rating
A-