Random meandering thoughts. Much of them of the swoony variety.
How much do I *love and adore* Season 2 of AtS?? The Dargel(us), the Lindsgel, and the Dindsey.
And of course, these were still the days of the little Angel/Cordy/Wes family. Angel playing daddy to his two bickering children, except the only reason he was the daddy was ’cause he was the oldest. He was certainly no less screwed up. More so, actually.
On Cordelia: When I heard Cordelia was going over to the new Angel spin-off, I thought that was the most bizarre thing I’d ever heard. I mean, how much interaction did Cordelia and Angel have on BtVS, other than a little drool escaping Cordelia’s lips from time to time? Never were there two characters more different from each other, other than a shared taste for new clothes.
Which I guess was sort of the point. Angel was a sensitivebutdeep butt-kicking brooder, Cordelia was a tactless and shallow (yet insightful) cheerleader with an aversion to breaking her nails. The way she and Angel clashed like stripes and plaids gave him the metaphorical kick him in the butt he needed, and gave them such interesting chemistry in the first few seasons (and I means as friends. FRIENDS).
And it took an Angel to get Cordelia over her “girlsdon’tfightunlessthey’refreaks” thing and make her pick up an ax. I guess the show was trying to be progressive&all, it being the redheaded stepchild of BtVS, but it would have been *nice* if they’d TRAINED Cordelia first before throwing her into battle. Cordy didn’t learn how to use a sword until Season 3 and how disappointed am I that *that* story line got derailed.
No, Cordelia got invited to all the good brawls when all she was really good for was getting in the way and becoming a potential hostage so the manlymen had to bail her out (First Impressions, Dear Boy).
On Gunn: Is this really the first episode where Gunn finds out Angel is the way he is because he has a soul? Every vampire Gunn’s ever met, including his own sister, had been a vicious predator, but he’s been hanging with the gang for months now, side-kicking for Angel on all his little Darla/W&H sojourns, and he doesn’t know *why* the ‘good guy vampire’ is good? That makes it hard to believe that Gunn *ever* accepted Angel in the first place, no matter how he acted. But of course later (s. 3) we discover Gunn never did entirely accept Angel. He always had his doubts about him in the back of his mind (see thoughts below on Shroud of Rahmon).
On Angel/Angelus: How much do I *adore* Angelus? The first time I ever got lured into writing fanfic, it was to have the opportunity to write Angelus. He’s Angel but he’s not. His head is full of a thousand artistic machinations, and with Darla by his side, even more than that. This is the kind of psycho-sociopathic-head I wanted to wander through, psychoanalytically speaking. To understand Angel completely you need to understand Angelus: Liam’s dark side given free reign.
It’s like that meme we did a long time ago – what kind of Jossverse vampire would you be? What would *you* be like if you lost your soul?
Dear Boy is definitely one of my favorite episodes of Season 2. In one of the most chilling flashbacks of the entire show, they fill in the details of Angel’s confession to Buffy in “Lie to Me”. Drusilla and the convent. It’s where Darla really finally learns that her ignorant boy of “The Prodigal” has become the Grande Artiste of Evil, seeing torment and torture and death as a canvas for him to act out those artistic urges he should have kept to drawings and graphite.
I don’t think Dear Boy is my favoritefavorite of Season 2, having to compete against eps like “Reunion” and “Darla” and “Reprise”, but damn, it’s beautiful. The conversation in the water tank between Angel and Darla about happiness and their 150 years together and Buffy is pulled straight from a conversation between ANY ex-husband and a wife jilted for a younger woman – full of the same angry bitterness and blame.
This was the first episode where I finally realized that M.E. was trying to use these two characters to talk about marriage, to explore all the facets of a relationship between two lover-companions. More on this when I get to “Darla”.
One final thought before I leave Dear Boy. Watching a season in retrospect is a much different experience than watching it in first run. People have been commenting about this with their Angel Season 4 DVDs, especially in relation to the whole “Who is Cordelia?” question, because during Season 4’s run, even before “Calvary”, volumes of pixels were spilled trying to figure out what was going on with Cordelia.
The big mystery of season 2 was trying to figure out what Wolfram and Hart was up to. They’d spent good time and money in Season 1 trying to kill Angel, and now they apparently had changed their minds. Now they didn’t want him dead, they wanted him… dark? distracted (and out of their hair)? It wasn’t quite clear for the longest time, but sicing Darla on him was part of The Plan. And M.E. made it murkier by having some characters claim W&H wanted Angelus back, and other characters claim they just wanted souled Angel dark.
Guise Will Be Guise
This is one of those episodes that in retrospect we look to for The Making of Wesley. But at the time it aired, it seemed not only a filler episode, but a comedy episode as well. Oooh, we *all* know Wesley wants to be Angel deep down, or not-so deep down. He played Rogue Demon Hunter in Season 1 all dressed up in big brother’s clothes. And now he’s trying again.
Certainly we all knew at the time that M.E. was trying to develop Wesley more, toughen him up as it were. But Wesley already had a niche (bookman) unique from Angel’s, and it seemed they were just trying to make him more like Angel.
I don’t know where M.E. was trying to take Wesley at the time, but they certainly did not turn him into Angel in the long run. What they eventually succeeded in doing was turning him into Wesley, a character not so much like Angel at all, but more like the Wesley we already knew, only dark and hardened.
The Wesley of seasons 4 and 5 – THAT would have been hard to imagine when GWBG first aired.
And yet in retrospect, it seems such a natural progression.
I suppose at the time they were just beefing Wesley up for the whole Noir Angel arc, when they put Wesley in de facto charge of the Gang. Being forced to play Angel in GWBG and succeeding was a boost to Wesley’s self-esteem.
I have to admit that in the main, Wesley didn’t interest me much in Season 1 or 2. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about him (especially with all the distractions — Hey! Darla and Angel(us), ooh, shiny!)
So. Question. What would you say are the *key* episodes in making Wesley into the Wesley we knew
and worshipped in seasons 4 and 5?
Yo. Check it out:
Season four will always be known as the season of the “turgid supernatural soap-opera”, but let’s face it, once M.E. got into the arc-groove with AtS (starting mostly in Season 2), it got soapy. Angel is obsessed with Darla, Lindsey is obsessed with Darla, Darla wants Angel, but really she wants Angelus, *and* she wants to be a vampire again, ’cause that’s all she’s known for 400 years. Meanwhile, Angel and Lindsey have some weird love-to-hate-you-baby thing going on that doesn’t exactly help them with their mutual goal of helping Darla. And Cordelia and Wesley and Gunn and us are the unwitting audience to all this drama.
I love it, but then I love soap opera.
So the episode starts out with Darla finally feeling the weight of her soul. Took her seven episodes, but that’s the nature of Post Traumatic Stress, and 22-episode story lines. It takes time for the wackiness to kick in.
Darla’s crisis has both a moral angle and a metaphysical one. I’m a big time sucker for identity crises (“Who am I?”), which goes a long way to explaining why I adore the Family!Angel (Angel(us), Darla, Connor)–they never know whothefuck they are from one day to the next.
Darla wants to answer both the moral and metaphysical problems she’s facing with a nice vamping. A vampire doesn’t have to deal with the moral issues (“OMG I spent 400 years murdering, pillaging, and torturing!!1!”), and being a vampire is the most familiar, safe identity she’s ever had.
And somehow she imagines Angel’s going to help her with that. That he’s going to understand the torment of a soul (well of course he will) so well that he’ll plainly see the answer is to turn her back into a vicious killer (huh?).
The source of all Darla’s confusion and longing is explained in a series of flashbacks, starting with her first human life as a prostitute, disdained by her society and equally disdaining of them. Then we see her as the rebellious daughter of the Master, running off with the guy Daddy doesn’t approve of.
In the gypsy camp memory, Darla is the abandoned mother. Well, she dumped Angel(us), it’s true, but she did it because she felt she had to — he wasn’t “the man she married” anymore. But that left her as the harried divorced mother with the unruly kids, wanting to have her old love back, but unable to get him back as he was.
Darla is one hundred shining archetypal facets, reflecting so many of the passages of a woman’s life.
And then there’s China.
How much do I ADORE the Fanged Four?
Each of these actors was hired on their own individual merits, so who could know there’d be so much A/Da chemistry, Dr/S chemistry, A/S chemistry, Da/Dr chemistry, and A/Dr chemistry (and probably Da/S chemistry if they’d been given any scenes together). The four of them rocked like a rocking thing.
Souled Angel returns to Darla because, like Darla longing to be a vampire again, Darla is all Angel knows.
During the China scenes, Angel and Darla keep referring to “the whirlwind”. One imagines this is a euphemism for murder and mayhem, but it’s also the term they use for their relationship, their companionship, their shared passion. They don’t dare call it “love”. Not because it *isn’t* love. These two were not sentimental people when they were human, they were cynics, and they’re not going to change now.
Then we get Angel and Darla in the present. Darla cracking up, and therefore becoming useless to Wolfram and Hart as a tool to manipulate Angel. So they plan to kill her. Lindsey wants to help Darla, but Darla runs to Angel. But Angel won’t give her what she wants. And so as Angel once ran out on Darla in 1900, Darla runs out on Angel in 2000. An echo of one hundred years. We see the epicness of these two. EPICNESS, people, EPICNESS.
One final note – This is one of those episodes where the gang is clueless and Gunn cuts right through the crap with common sense. How anyone, especially Gunn, thought he was just the muscle puzzles the hell out of me.
The Shroud of Rahmon
OK, this episode brings up what is probably the single most important issue of Season 2 – Cordelia’s hair.
Honestly, for — How Many Episodes — ? CC used hair extensions to hide her hair cut, which was shorter, but still attractive and yeah! still dark. Then she started lightening it. *shudders* You know, despite what you’ve heard, L.A. is not full of blondes, and CC is probably one of the most gorgeous brunettes on television. So *what* was HER DEAL??!!
The Hair definitely foreshadowed the downfall of Cordy.
On Gunn: This episodes helps reveal the basic distrust Gunn has of Angel. He tries not to show it most days, but it’s under there, and I don’t think I realized that when I watched this season the first time through. Gunn seemed so buddy-buddy with Angel most of the time.
So I found it confusing that Gunn and Angel were sniping at each other in this episode long before they came under the influence of the Evil Cloth. Yeah, some of that has to do with Angel being a paternalistic jerk, and Gunn, who has taken care of himself his whole life, not going for being patronized. But he doesn’t trust Angel-the-vampire, either, and that doesn’t get revealed until the Cloth kicks in.
On Angel: Angel as Jay-Don. You know, one of my pet peeves is when a television or film character gets it into their heads that they’re going to try acting and then does a good job. *Of course* they do a good job, ’cause it’s not the character doing the acting, it’s the ACTOR!
I believe that David Boreanaz could pull off playing a character like Jay-Don, ’cause he did. But I don’t believe Angel could. Or maybe it’s just that we’re so used to the morose, serious Angel that we forget he has other facets to him
Angelus that he can draw on when he needs to.
And no one can dispute that Angel’s a great big dork.
My other pet peeve in this episode? They have Angel drink human blood and then hint that this might have ~reprecussions~ (ooooh). But does it really? His Noir period really wasn’t about fighting the blood-thirst within. So maybe that oooooh! was just there to make Wesley and Cordelia more cautious about him, to make them more likely to think he was having trouble (as if they weren’t before).
On Kate: O.K., I can see why people didn’t like Kate. She was cranky, a LOT (which, frankly, turns me on, but that’s just me) and she didn’t give Angel the benefit of the doubt as we do. But she just had her own issues, see? And they didn’t all have to do with her father. She was a cop and that was in her blood, and she was in love with keeping the peace and with justice and the law and due process and official channels. Kate was a gal of the System, and Angel was a (sometimes pretty arrogant) ousider to the System.
And then she discovers that there’s this whole side to crime in L.A. that no other cop is paying attention to. Of course she’s going to become obsessed with it. That that obsession becomes her downfall, the thing that ousts her from the only world she’s ever known, her family in Blue, is a resonance with the similar fates of Angel(us) and Darla and the larger story of Season 2.