Angel: the Series

When the cancellation of Angel was announced in February, I wasn’t happy. Well, none of us were, of course, but I had my own reasons for being unhappy. “Their story’s not over!” I wrote in post cards and emails to all those “Saving Angel” targets. Angel and the others were slowly being digested in the Belly of the Beast, corrupted and crazy. They had to redeem themselves, and it didn’t seem like this was the trajectory of Season 5.

And there were things I wanted to see before Angel ended, things I needed if the end was going to be satisfying to me. I wanted to see a final showdown with Wolfram and Hart–they had been Angel’s nemesis since “City Of…”, and unlike the typical BtVS season, on the more morally ambiguous, unpredictable “AtS”, Angel didn’t defeat this “Big Bad” at the end of Season 1.

I would never accept, however, an ending that obliterated the evil W&H represent for all time. Season 2 made it clear that the real evil Angel was fighting was the corruption of humankind, and this kind of evil doesn’t just go away. Humans will always be caught up in the struggle between good and evil, symbolically represented on the show by the Powers that Be and the Senior Partners.

Another thing I wanted to see was Connor kill Sahjhan and a resolution to the memory wipe. There are all sorts of loose ends on the show, but these two really got under my craw. Connor was supposed to have this “big future”–at least according to Sahjhan in season 3 (not to mention Tim Minear!)–a future that seemed unlikely if the memory wipe/reality altering spell at the end of Season 4 turned Connor into an ordinary boy with an ordinary life.

The other thing I wanted to see before Angel ended was a resolution of the Shanshu prophecy. The literary promise of “To Shanshu in L.A.” was that Angel would walk off into the sunset in the last scene of the series, a real boy. Then Angel rejected the Shanshu in “Epiphany” for what I thought were very good reasons–he doesn’t fight for a reward, but because he doesn’t want to see people suffer. And Angel’s on-going day-to-day struggle to end suffering, the way Angelus once inflicted it, WAS Angel’s redemption, in my view. Not some “reward” at the end of the day. And yet the prophecy remained.

So now my show has come to an end, killed well before its time, and I am stunned to discover that I got everything I wanted (well, you know, except for the bit where Angel becomes an on-going mentor in his son’s life).

How the hell did Joss do that?

I wish they could have had one more season, a season post-Wolfram and Hart, a season that put Angel and the others back among the people they’ve been trying to help, a season that explored where their lives would go from there. A season to reinforce the themes of redemption and the good fight.

And I’m not happy that this end means the death of Cordelia, Fred and Wesley, and the likely deaths of Gunn, Angel and Spike. It’s hard to watch previous seasons of the show, to invest yourselves in the lives of the characters, knowing your characters don’t have much a future.

But the way they went out, like heroes, fighting the good fight that was the singular message of the show, makes the sting a little less.