Angel: the Series

22 May

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.

8 Responses to “Angel: the Series”

  1. kita0610 May 22, 2004 at 9:37 pm #

    If Angel doesn’t die in that alleway (which, since Joss and Dave both swear the season was going to end the exact same way if they had not been cancelled, seems likey, despite the gravest of odds), you know he and Connor have many more meetings. And I don’t know about mentor, since the gift he truly wanted to give to Connor was normalcy, and therefore I can’t see him willingly teaching Connor about killing things, but I am absolutely certain that they became the best of friends. Complete with snark, horrible fights, wrestling matches and probably a lot of beer.

  2. dlgood May 22, 2004 at 9:48 pm #

    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.
    I’d have liked that too. But then – I would have liked to see Buffy et al back among the people they were supposed to be helping, and a season that examined where they would go, and I never got that. For all his various skills and so on, I don’t think Whedon is nearly as invested in exploring “heroes” as part of society as he is the heroes as loners and outcasts.
    except for the bit where Angel becomes an on-going mentor in his son’s life
    With the exception of Hockey and hair care, I’m not sure what Angel would want to mentor Connor in… I don’t think he’s as well built for that as he was for mentoring Faith.

  3. neshaffer May 22, 2004 at 10:19 pm #

    I’d have liked that too. But then – I would have liked to see Buffy et al back among the people they were supposed to be helping, and a season that examined where they would go, and I never got that. For all his various skills and so on, I don’t think Whedon is nearly as invested in exploring “heroes” as part of society as he is the heroes as loners and outcasts.
    No, but we can in the Season 6 fic. The idea that what Angel and his friends have done in 5.22 caused chaos to descend on society speaks directly to their responsibility to society, and not just the save-on-individual-at-a-time loner-hero thing that was Angel’s raison detre for so many years.

  4. neshaffer May 22, 2004 at 10:25 pm #

    Connor will never have normalcy, not completely. He has these powers, he has a little bit o’ demon in him, and I don’t honestly see him standing by and not helping if he saw someone being hurt and thought his abilities might help them. He will be dragged into the “super hero” bit from time to time, maybe not as a vocation, but inevitably, and I think that’s what “Origin” and “Not Fade Away” were trying to say about him.
    As for the mentoring thing, well, that’s a for-instance. All I really wanted is for Angel and Connor was for them to have an on-going relationship of some kind–angsty, fighting, teasing, laughing, whatever–perhaps not “best friends” (’cause as if!), but family, with all the complexity that implies.

  5. kita0610 May 22, 2004 at 10:27 pm #

    I can see them being best buds, cause they’re exactly alike but now no longer have to live with one another.
    I can also see a story, which I’m writing. No porn. Father/son bonding and it’s entirely your fault. I hate you.

  6. neshaffer May 22, 2004 at 10:32 pm #

    I can see them being best buds, cause they’re exactly alike but now no longer have to live with one another.
    Scary, isn’t it? Connor looks like his mother (thank God), but acts like his father. And that’s usually what puts a father and son at odds with each other.
    I can also see a story, which I’m writing. No porn. Father/son bonding and it’s entirely your fault. I hate you.
    My work is done.

  7. angels_nibblet May 23, 2004 at 12:38 am #

    Connor looks like his mother (thank God)
    That’s one of the things that really freaked me out about VK first time I saw him, how incredibly like Darla he looks. Brilliant bit of casting that.

  8. neshaffer May 23, 2004 at 8:13 am #

    That’s one of the things that really freaked me out about VK first time I saw him, how incredibly like Darla he looks. Brilliant bit of casting that.
    That was my reaction, too. It wasn’t just the facial features and the hair, but also his small stature and a certain feminine quality to him.
    That fascinated me–how he could seem kind of dainty and waifish and yet so convincingly kick butt. Sort of a boyBuffy.

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