Angel, Season 3 eps 1-6

1 Nov

Warning: some actual whining, rants, and complaints in here. But then, I’m tired and it is my beloved season 3 we’re talkin’ ’bout here. They’re my own personal issues, and most of them are sooo of-the-past. Take them with a grain of salt.


General Season 3 whine

Recently, atpotch said that I did some of “the least biassed, most clear reviews of Angel around”. I can only assume he means the episode analyses on my website, because lord knows these reviews I’ve been doing here in LJ are full of my personal likes and dislikes and opinions, which I tried not to let influence me when I was working on the aforementioned website.

So let me feel free to whine here.

Specifically, about the fan reaction to “Heartthrob”, and to season 3 of Angel in general. Let’s start with the latter. I was absolutely engrossed by seasons 2 and 3 of Angel. I’d jumped ship from BtVS being my favorite show to AtS being my favorite show back after the original airing of “City Of…” (in other words, from the start of AtS), but I was fully on board with the BtVS-love in seasons 4 and 5 of that show.

Season 6 of BtVS was a little different. I started losing interest. I still watched it, I still did analyses of the episodes on my site, but it just wasn’t giving me the “Wow!” moments I was having over on Angel. The pregnant Darla story line, the Angel+Baby Connor relationship, Wesley’s betrayal and the loss of the baby, the return of teen Connor. The sympathetic villainy of Holtz.

But, *alas*, seasons 5/2 and 6/3 were the days when the ATPo board was swamped with BtVS fans, especially fans of a certain character, and nobody would talk about AtS at all, even though seasons 2 and 3 were the strongest seasons the show had, IMO. Every Wednesday or Thursday morning as the case might be, I would come to the board, flushed with excitement over the latest episode of Angel, and there would be ten new posts about BtVS, and every other one of them would be about that character. I have nothing against that character, truly. But it was MY board and nobody wanted to talk about what *I* wanted to talk about (*pout*) and the constant drip, drip, drip of posts about stuff I had little interest in discussing was like Chinese Water Torture.

I really truly thought of leaving the board. Until I realized it was my home and why did *I* have to be the one to leave?

Anyway, those days are gone, and it only bugs me when I dwell on it, so on to my whine about the fan reaction to “Heartthrob”.

Heartthrob
The whine-rant continues.

At the end of Season 5 of BtVS, Buffy dies. Angel hears about it right after he returns from Pylea, but we don’t get to see his reaction until “Heartthrob”. For all we know, Angel broke down then and there in the Hyperion lobby crying his little vampire eyes out. Or, more likely, he went up to his room and did it in private. But we don’t get to see that. We get to see Angel three (four, five?) months later. He’s spent the summer in a Tibetan monastery, which I think is supposed to *seem* severe, but since the guy normally leads the celibate, semi-contemplative life of a warrior-monk, it may not have impressed some fans greatly.

But back to the point–Angel’s had time to go through the early stages of grief. To cry, to think, to hit stuff if he needed to. To heal.

So when he comes home seeming pretty together, we should take that into consideration. But no. Angel’s ability to deal with Buffy’s death spawned great volumes of posts at ATPo about how “he never loved her in the first place”, and about how “Spike loved her more”, about how “he ‘obviously isn’t a fool for love’, as if that’s an ideal to strive for.

I don’t want to start any ‘shipper battles here, but hello, everybody grieves differently. Angel grieves one way, Spike another, and the vampire James yet another. It doesn’t make it any less grief.

That’s not to say all ways of dealing with grief are equally healthy. “Heartthrob” begged a comparison between Angel’s quiet brooding mourning and ultimate ability to go on with his (un)life and James’s outrageously suicidal Byronian Romanticism. I believe, at the very least, that we were supposed to walk away from “Heartthrob” with the message (and Cordelia makes this point) that James’ dangerously over-the-top way of (un)life and of dealing with his grief over Elisabeth was unhealthy in comparison to Angel.

But because James argued vociferously throughout the episode that Angel could NOT possibly have loved Buffy the way James loved Elisabeth (because he didn’t want to “die”, and die in the most melodramatic way possible) a number of little you-know-who fans flocked to the ATPo board the next day to say “See!??!1!”.

It made me completely mental.

And this despite the fact that I wasn’t a Buffy/Angel ‘shipper anymore, really. My reaction was more about defending a character and his (re)actions than a particular relationship. And I should note that this is NOT a Spike-bash. I have many Spike fan friends. Nice, rational Spike fan friends. And they didn’t react this way. But there’s a few loud-and-squeely’s in every crowd, and they used the most exclamation points in their subject lines.

Drip, drip, drip. Chinese water torture, people, like a bad leak in my own living room. Kind of hard to avoid.

Other thoughts on this episode:

Cordelia started out so promisingly, didn’t she? She wasn’t going to go home and knit while Angel chased down the bad guy. She wanted to fight and train. About time, is all I could think. It was one of the many Missed Opportunities regarding her character–promissory notes given and then taken away. Warrior Cordelia. What could have been.

Darla’s pregnancy: In “Heartthrob”, that bulging belly was nothing but a Giant Headache. A metaphysical headache, to be sure: what is it; how the heck did it happen (the latter question which they didn’t answer until “Shiny Happy People” in season 4!). But also a WTF?! headache. It’s weird to think about in retrospect, but I was no different than a lot of fans. When I first laid eyes on a pregnant vampire, I thought, “O.M.G. the show has jumped the shark. They are OFFICIALLY out of good ideas.”

Oh me, of little faith.

That Vision Thing

I miss the feel of Season 3. The way the hotel felt, like a home, in a way it didn’t in season 2 or 4. The way Wolfram and Hart felt, like you were really there in the office, walking the halls with them. It all felt warm, lived-in. Real. I can’t say exactly why.

Anyway. “That Vision Thing”. ‘TVT’ is all about The Women.

I was complaining in my Pylea ep review about how the promise of Fred got quickly soured. I don’t mean her trouble adjusting to life back on Earth in the early episodes of season 3, necessarily. It was a little tedious, having her hiding out in her room, afraid to emerge without her “big fat hero” to coax her out, but I understand that trauma takes time to deal with. It was more the fact that after she got over that, she remained more or less the damsel in distress to be wooed and fought over. But I’ll bitch about that later.

Let’s move on to more interesting chicks. Like Lilah.

I love Lilah in Season 3. LOVE HER. She was just as incompetent in season 3 as she was in Seasons 1 and 2, but she just looked hotter doing it ’cause she was coming up with and carrying out her own plans and didn’t have Lindsey giving flat tires to her stylishly unaffordable pumps. Of course, they gave her someone new to banter against, but Gavin Park didn’t stand a chance against her. I love Daniel Dae Kim, but Gavin Park the attorney? I’ll always remember him crouching in a closet with toilet paper in his hand right before he was munched by the Beast.

The featured chick of Episode 2, however, was Cordelia, and this episode reveals another facet of Missed Opportunities. In “Heartthrob”, we see hints of Cordelia-the-warrior. In this episode, we see hints of Cordelia-the-religious-martyr.

The premise of the episode is that Cordelia is being physically injured by her visions. Now we know, having already seen the season (in particular, “Birthday”), that she is suffering brain damage as a result of the visions, brain damage she already *knows* about in “TVT” but isn’t telling the gang. The damage in this episode is to her body and face and so therefore a little harder to hide. And it’s coming from Lilah, who is trying to send Angel on a little mission to save a bad guy. But the gang doesn’t know this yet, and during the period of time that Cordelia believes that the Powers are doing this to her, she has a sort of “religious crisis”. In fact, M.E. has her using several lines of dialogue that grated on me at the time because they just didn’t sound like things that Cordelia would say:

“‘gross’, ‘yuck’ and ‘unclean‘,”
“with the Powers doing the whole ‘Book of Job’ thing”.

Which sort of makes me think M.E. was setting her up for a quasi-religious story arc vis-à-vis the PTBs that they later dropped, or disagreed on and ended up mangling into Saint Cordy. I think it would have been fascinating if they had done a (well-done) arc exploring the issue of religious faith–and what people will and won’t voluntarily and with eyes wide open do for God–using Cordelia and the PTBs. londonkds has a whole treatise on this topic–the history of sainthood and martyrdom and stigmata and faith as it was understood in Catholicism and how it relates to Cordelia Chase.

It would have been brave. It could have been interesting. But it probably was too much for American television.

And finally, the last featured chick is Darla, the unexpected (but expecting) anti-Madonna. “What is this thing inside me?” We were rather set up to expect a monster (and I suppose the jury’s still out on whether in fact that’s what it was *g*).

That Old Gang of Mine

I miss Caritas. Why the hell did they have to mess that joint up not once not twice but THREE times and then get rid of Lorney’s livelihood? No wonder he blew Angel off in NFA:

“You turned me into a murderer and you Destroyed My Club!!! I am sooo out of here, Angel-Breath!”

But Gunn is the focus of this episode, specifically, this was ME’s attempt to patch up that old hole in Gunn’s motivations–his reason for staying with the Fang Gang after Angel left in season 2.

But they did it at the expense of the previously established nobility (or at least, earnestness) of his old gang.

The hole is initially patched as – “Gunn ran off from his friends because of what he allowed to happen to Alanna”. He was afraid he couldn’t keep the rest of his friends safe, that he was a danger to them. So he hangs out with a good-guy vampire and *takes* orders rather than giving them. But this was never quite a comfortable situation for Gunn. His old friends were still out there, fighting for their lives and the lives of their neighbors. And Gunn had not only turned his back on that particular mission, but essentially become friends with a demon.

Of course, one of the basic premises of Angel: the Series is that Not All Demons Are Bad. Gunn knows this; and yet, demons are still The Other. Not Human. Things You Must Sometimes Kill, like rabid dogs. And the issue of kill vs. live-and-let-live is often murky. Lorne–well, “he’s O.K.” Merle on the other hand?–dodgy. Keep an eye on him just in case.

When Gunn discovers that his friends might not be making that distinction, and are (among other things) gunning for Angel, he is forced to make a conscious choice about what team he will follow. However, the choice isn’t a real choice. His old friends are clearly painted as in the wrong here. They don’t “have the mission, bro”, and Gunn’s conversation with Rondell in Caritas proves they will continue NOT to “have the mission”. They’re not making distinctions, they’re just killing, and they’re doing it for fun. Taking what used to be a righteous atttempt to protect themselves and turning it into slaughter-for-entertainment.

So from two options, Gunn’s reduced to one (or from three to two–he could say, “a curse on both your houses”, I suppose). Gunn chooses sides and chooses Angel, big surprise (like I said, the choice is really rather forced). The true dilemma, the true agony, is being forced to abandon people he called “good friends” because what they’re doing is wrong. That’s the origin of his reluctant loyalty as he debates whether to tell Wesley that the culprits he’s looking for are Gunn’s old team.

Brief Fred note: Not completely the damsel. When she holds that guy at bay with a cross-bow, she shows her mettle. There’s the girl I met in Pylea!

Carpe Noctem

I do have to say that, as much as I adore season 3, it’s the arcy episodes that are the source of my love. Season 3 has some of the stinker-iest stand-alones of all the seasons. Case in point, Carpe Noctem.

There are actually some good things about this episode, though. No, really. It gave DB a chance to stretch his acting muscles a bit, have some fun. I mean, what would *you* do if you found yourself in the body of a good-looking nearly invincible vampire for a day, huh? I’d probably put the bite on Lilah while getting horizontal with her on my desk, speaking personally. Marcus of course chooses to kill people in addition to that, but then Marcus has no problem killing people. He really is a scuzball, and yet at the end, when the gang walks out on him while he’s having a heart attack (?)–that seemed a little over the top.

I complained in my review of “Happy Anniversary” about M.E. writers spending too much time developing one-shot characters, but a little more time spent developing Marcus’ character wouldn’t have hurt this ep a bit. For example, in the actual M.E. shooting script, there was an (eventually) unaired scene where Marcus gets a visit from his daughter. In this scene, we learn that Marcus the traveling salesman neglected his family to have affairs with other women and traveled the world searching for magicks to keep himself young.

In other words, he was pretty much *always* a sociopathic scuzball who was finally realizing his psychopathic dream, so don’t be moved by him just ’cause he’s old and vulnerable.

I guess M.E. had to cut things down for time, but they cut out the *wrong* things. It wasn’t just that the ending made Angel and the gang look bad (walking out on an old man having a heart attack). When Angel and the gang give Marcus that high-and-mighty speech just before that about how Marcus doesn’t have any friends, it doesn’t make any sense. We’ve *seen* Marcus have a friend–the man with the new granddaughter. We don’t get enough of his background to know that he is essentially a greedy self-centered loner and always has been (not that that justified how he is treated in the end by the gang). [/end rant]

Other things worth noting –

* It’s been a while since we had a good “poke fun at Angel’s manhood” episode. Because of course Angel making out with a woman on his desk is a sure sign he’s totally flipped.

* And here’s an interesting foreshadowing moment. Marcus-in-Angel’s-body goes to the retirement home to pick on Angel-in-Marcus’-body. He’s waiting in the lobby and when he sees Angel-in-Marcus’-body approaching, he says, “Hi, Dad.”

* Although metaphysically convoluted, this episode does not contradict the standard way vampires and souls work in the Buffyverse. Angelus is *not* the demon, he’s part of Liam’s personality. So of course if “Angel” gets transferred to another body, “Angelus” goes with him. All that’s left behind for Marcus to play with is that mindless blood-sucking Pylean beast.

Fredless

Ah, the famous Cordy-Wes mocking Buffy-Angel thing. What mad genius brought that into the world? Something was needed to perk up this episode, because, and I may be alone on this, I’m not a big fan of “Fredless”.

The demons were lame and the acting seemed a little over the top to me. That Fred has trauma from five years in a hell dimension–that part I get, at least on an intellectual level. She was afraid of facing her parents, because their absolute familiarity and normality and love and the absence of it for five years somehow broke open the crazy womb of denial she’d lived in in order to cope. It made Pylea real, and she didn’t want to think about that.

However, the episode tries to play on Fred’s fears and denial by creating an aura of doubt around Fred’s parents, and *that* just didn’t work for me. We were supposed to believe that her parents were morally ambiguous in some way (like most Jossian parents *are*), but I wasn’t fooled for a second. I mean, c’mon, they’re the salt of the Earth, and they broadcasted that just by standing there in the first scene they show up in. So the suspense around the notion that they might be abusive somehow or whatever…. Meh.

Plus, who ever wrote them and acted them never lived in Texas.

Also over the top? Lorne. I get that he’s bitter about the destruction of his business, which symbolized his own freedom from Pylea, BTW, because he *should* be. But should it have made him give such bizarre advice to Fred re: her fears?

Lorne: “Yeah, you are in a bad place, aren’t you doll? You thought you could outrun them, and maybe you were free. But those old monsters hunted you down. I know why you’re running away, Fred. You know what your problem is?”
Fred: “I’m not strong enough to stay and face my fear.” [*Well, er, yes*]
Lorne: “No. You haven’t run far enough.”

Other stuff that annoys:

* Fred’s speech giving the roles of everyone in the group, which somehow solidified ME’s identification of Gunn as the “muscle” even though he had the most practical brain of anyone in that room.

* Fred, who was training for years to be a physicist, suddenly deciding that being one of a gang of monster-fighting superheroes is “her true path in life.” Huh? She justifies it as, “I’m not normal anymore. I belong here”. Still doesn’t make any sense to me, and continued not to, until they finally put her in charge of the W&H Practical Science Department.

* But the most annoying thing of all? Somehow Fred’s home-spun super-intuitive parents “already know that” she belongs with Angel and the gang, even though they haven’t seen her for five years and have gotten a limited picture of what the gang does for their living.

On the plus side?

“Fredless” ended Fred’s crush on Angel. She grows up from dependence on the guy who saved her to independence as a single gal in L.A.

Billy

OK, “Billy” is (so people tell me) a “brilliant” episode, but I have a lot of trouble actually watching it. It’s just… disturbing in a way that cuts straight to my hot-button issues. I know there is rampant sexism and misogyny in the world from which every moment of the dialogue and action in this episode is derived, but do I have to watch it during my evening’s entertainment? I’d rather have my teeth drilled.

There was some important character stuff here, though, of course, particularly related to Wesley, Cordelia, and Lilah.

Wesley: If the brand of misogyny brought out in every man by Billy’s blood was unique to that man, a reflection of his own personal upbringing (and I’m assuming that was part of the point), then Wesley has good reason to feel shame at the end of this episode. It certainly wasn’t his fault he behaved the way he did, but it’s still a harshly-cut psychoanalysis of who he *could be* if he were irrational enough to believe the worst drivel of his childhood.

So you don’t want people seeing that, or worse, judging you by that behavior. But there’s a wicked method to M.E.’s madness here. As the episode opens, they establish that Wesley is attracted to Fred, an attraction this awkward intellectual has a hard time acting on regardless, and his subsequent (unintentional) behavior in this episode just shuts him down all the more. Which is, of course, setting him up to be the closed book who will bring tragedy down on the gang later in the season.

Cordelia is one of the highlights of this episode as well. Not only is she being trained to fight, finally, she also gets back in touch with her trademark “vicious bitch”, and it’s for a good cause. She’s no longer the vapid predator of “BtVS” Season 1 or the thoughtless “hermetically insensitive” Scooby of seasons 2 and 3. M.E. were empowering Cordelia, and it’s sad, really, to know this ended up with her being body-jacked and victimized. I’ve never been a big fan of Cordelia; when it comes to identifying with particular characters, I always I found her an alien being, but she had potential to be finally actually interesting to me in early season three, and… *sigh*.

Because I was utterly convinced by her confrontation with Lilah. It truly took someone like Cordelia to bridge the gap Angel could never bridge and find something in Lilah that would make the dyed-in-the-wool company-gal betray the firm. And because Lilah *does* kill her own client, she *also* becomes interesting to me (only in a new way) in this episode–it’s the first of several episodes, continuing into season 4, where we get to see her truly vulnerable and sympathetic in her vulnerability without her losing the sense of her power.

One final note on this episode. What I remember about it when it originally aired: The *debates* over the notion of “primordial misogyny”. The debates arose because the term denotes a congenital attitude in men–the idea that women-hating is a natural-born impulse. I *think*, however, that ME’s use of the term was meant to imply that misogynistic attitudes are simply deeply-rooted from early childhood learning. They are hence something that thoughtful man can strive to avoid.

29 Responses to “Angel, Season 3 eps 1-6”

  1. cactuswatcher November 1, 2004 at 8:13 pm #

    So let me feel free to whine here..

    Be my guest.

    I have to admit in those days after season 5 Buffy when I started to post at ATPo there was so much to read on the board, that I didn’t bother with anything that was pro-this-character and anti-that-one. Depending on whose posts you’d read you’d get a completely different opinion of how much of that was going on in the board. Wish I’d known you wanted more Angel posts early in season 3. I might have tried to say more. In the middle of season 3 I was pretty bored with Angel, but unlike season 4 I did watch them all. I can’t deny that I liked Buffy better, but there were plenty of interesting things to talk about in season three if we’d have ever got it going.

  2. neshaffer November 1, 2004 at 9:01 pm #

    And I must admit to not starting a lot of Angel threads then, but I was so afraid of the *crickets chirping* response I often didn’t post them.

    I must also admit, being close to finished watching season 3, that it really lagged a LOT. While the arcy stuff was riveting to me, the non-arcy stuff was less than thrilling. I bunched together the first six episodes here, for example, because I wanted to put them aside to concentrate on the next three. Then in after Connor is born and before he is kidnapped there’s another lull of semi-dull episodes.

    Season 3 is either shiny or dull without a lot of in between, but the shiny parts had me glued to the screen.

    I love BtVS, but I lost a lot of my interest in it in seasons 6 and 7.

  3. londonkds November 1, 2004 at 11:45 pm #

    What makes the Spuffy response to Heartthrob so amusing in retrospect is the way that, in hindsight, Cordelia’s final speech provided a capsule summary of everything ME intended to do with that relationship.

  4. neshaffer November 2, 2004 at 6:30 am #

    Well, we can say that now, but there’s still a group of them that don’t see it that way. I think the response to “The Girl in Question” bears that out.

  5. atpotch November 2, 2004 at 6:36 am #

    You know full well I meant both sets of reviews! And just because you explain your situation at the time and why people’s obsessive Spikeishness annoyed you rankled doesn’t make you biassed.

    Fascinating thoughts as ever. I have to agree that for me the weak non-arcy episodes are Season Three’s Achilles Heel. It’s what makes Season Two pip it to the post, in my opinion.

    TCH

  6. hjcallipygian November 2, 2004 at 7:34 am #

    reviews

    Hee! I love how you write “certain character” in italics. So funny.

    I liked season three, and I agree with you that post high school, AtS became the better show. However, season four was my favorite — it’s the only time in any season of either show that I really got a feeling of desperation (except Angel’s reaction when Darla is vamped by Drusilla, which only lasted an episode). There’s just a helplessness to the characters and situation, yet they continue to hope… I really liked that, and I think that’s what the show and characters were all about.

  7. neshaffer November 2, 2004 at 8:50 am #

    Re: reviews

    I also liked season 4, but for me it was more about individual episodes than the seaosonal arc. For season 3, it was about the arc, and not the individual episodes. I was really moved by Angel becoming a father. I thought giving Angel a nemesis who had a personal grudge with him, and Holtz getting pay-back in such an eye-for-an-eye way was really brilliant (I’ll wax poetic about that in my next review). And of course season 3 is where I first fell in love with the character of Connor.

    I got really uncomfortable with season 4 right around the time Cordelia was revealed as “the Beast’s master”. The whole way they had her acting was so incredibly cheesy and over the top. I didn’t like Cordelia being a puppet for a Power, I didn’t like puppet!Cordelia manipulating Connor, and I had post-traumatic stress for five months after “Home”.

    So as much as I enjoyed season 4, it doesn’t quite rank as high as 2 and 3 for me.

  8. neshaffer November 2, 2004 at 9:08 am #

    I like to think I have some interesting things to say in these LJ reviews, but I won’t claim they’re unbiased, because then I wouldn’t feel the freedom to bitca about my fellow fans or gush embarassingly over my favorite characters and story lines.

    Season 2 was riveting for me (despite some lag during the Noir Angel eps) until Pylea. Pylea kind of brought it all down a notch for me. I wanted closure, I wanted a season all wrapped up in a bow with the build-up and the mounting tension and the climax (double entendre fully intended here).

    What makes me all sentimental about season 3 despite its obvious weak links is that the arc was so emotionally compelling to me. I got the Angel-Darla closure I was looking for in season 2. I was very drawn into the Angel-as-father story line, to a great degree because he was my point of view character and I was facing my own personal issues of being childless and on the verge of middle age.

    I thought Wesley’s journey in this season was edge-of-the-seat compelling, and that Holtz was the most brilliant villian of all five seasons (I’ll gush about this in my next review),

    And this season in particular did come to a satisfying climax, bringing closure to the Angel-Holtz conflict in a tragic and emotionally riveting way, and did it with the slam-bang introduction (or re-introduction) of my favorite androgynous sylph.

    So there you have it.

  9. hjcallipygian November 2, 2004 at 9:16 am #

    Re: reviews

    I got uncomfortable with season four at the point that Cordy walks down the stairs and reveals that she’s pregnant. I think that Charisma Carpenter’s real-life pregnancy forced them to go in a direction that wasn’t quite right for the show, but up until then, I really loved just about everything that was going on.

    I definitely agree, though, that the lines and stuff they gave Cordy were just horrible — made doubly so by the fact that they weren’t even necessary. Silence would’ve served far better than any words possibly could (especially in the scene where a certain someone is killed). Especially since Charisma Carpenter has such a good, “I’m gonna fucking kill you dead!” face.

    The main reason that I have for liking season four so much is that — and I realize that this might not hold true for others — it’s the only time in the entire series that I really get the impression the gang believes they won’t prevail, but continues to fight. In NFA, they believe they will die, but they believe they will prevail and then die. When the Beast is around, everyone seems so lost — Connor believes he is the problem and is alone, Angel feels lost and unable to protect his friends, Gunn is losing Fred and has no idea what to do to stop the Beast, Wes is completely fucked up and yet might be the most optimistic of them all. It’s just a wreck — as I feel a potential apocalypse should be. There’s true desperation there, in all of their actions.

    I wish they could’ve kept that going the entire season.

  10. neshaffer November 2, 2004 at 9:36 am #

    Re: reviews

    The early season build-up with the Beast and all that–that was truly awesome. But they lost the thread of it all, and I think due in large part to CC’s pregnancy and having to shift stuff midstream (like needing to invent Jasmine because CC couldn’t go all the way to the end as the big bad).

    And of course Connor was written into a corner to fit the story rather than explored as a character in his own right, which is what I had been looking forward to.

    Sheesh, sometimes you just have to do it yourself! ; )

  11. hjcallipygian November 2, 2004 at 10:44 am #

    Re: reviews

    And of course Connor was written into a corner to fit the story rather than explored as a character in his own right, which is what I had been looking forward to.

    Yes, but Vincent Kartheiser is such a talented actor that you hardly notice. He still manages to give Connor such depth — just the way he subtly voice-acts the character all season, the way he shifts facial expressions all the time… Connor still comes out as this fascinating character, desperate to trust and be trusted but still not trusting those emotions. I liked that Cordy manipulated him, if not how, simply because he was so ripe for manipulation, and VK does a tremendous job portraying this.

    I didn’t like the Gunn/Fred/Wes triangle at all. I never saw anything up until then that would make me think Gunn was possessive. I can see Wesley’s behavior as an effect of his not-a-relationship with Lilah, but Gunn struck me as more of the type to push her away there instead of trying to hold on to her as he does.

  12. neshaffer November 2, 2004 at 10:52 am #

    Re: reviews

    Gunn wasn’t possessive. The triangle wasn’t ultimately about Fred, but both men’s self-esteem. Gunn worried that Fred wanted Wesley more because she and Wesley had more in common–they were “the brains”, he was “just the muscle”. Of course he WASN’T “just the muscle”, but he worried deep down that he was, and that expressed itself in jealousy over Fred. But it was all about Gunn

    Wesley had a problem seeing Fred as a real person and not a flower on a pedestal. After debasing himself by “sleeping with the enemy” during his lowest point, he saw winning Fred as a sign he was a worthy person–that someone “such as her” would want him. Again, Fred is just a symbol of something else. It’s really all about Wesley.

    As for Connor, of course I loved VK’s acting, but I was also an Angel+Connor ‘shipper and I wanted to see that relationship explored in a way that would shed more light on who Angel was as a person, the way the exploration of Buffy+Dawn helped deepen Buffy as a character. I wasn’t asking for happiness and light, I love family angst story lines, but that’s not really what we got. Connor was estranged from Angel the entire season. They rarely interacted at all, much less as father and son. And that was to serve the story line of getting Cordelia pregnant so Jasmine could be born.

    Missed opportunities that still make me mad just writing about them.

    Hence my fanfic therapy.

  13. starryniteshade November 3, 2004 at 9:59 am #

    I completely agree with the comments of with respect to your ATPO reviews of both Btvs and Ats. There are a remarkable achievement in terms of objectivity and fairness in presenting a variety of viewpoints.

    I can sympathise with your whining – although I was not a viewer until this last April. I’m sorry I wasn’t around to dicuss Ats, which is my favorite since Angel is also my point-of-view character. It’s also been a few years (alas) since many of the Btvs issues were issues for me – not so for Ats. Working for the evil empire sticks with you until retirement.

    I’ve watched all of the available episode on DVD in a condensed timeframe, which has the benefit of not noticing lagging episodes so much. If there’s a weak episode I’d end up watching an additional episode that night (i.e. 3 instead of 2….well, okay…4 instead of 3).

    When it comes to fans getting or not getting the message in episode’s like Heartthrob…it’s just that some people are not ready to hear it. Certainly, there’s a lot of people in our culture who are in love with “being in love” – oh, the luck recipient of their “true love”! Too bad when the intensity of their Bryonian passion burns low…it must be loved one’s fault, mustn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done about that.

    Yeah, it’s too bad about warrior Cordelia. There are among the best scenes between Angel and Cordelia.

    I miss Caritas too! At least it was a place the gang could go to get away from the office. The set designer must have been pulling his hair out…”you’re going to destroy WHICH set?….AGAIN?”

    I’ve been enjoying these reviews just as much and maybe even more than the Atpo one’s. Those are just what’s needed for that website – for getting that objective view. These here are precious…they’re from the heart. Keep it up.

  14. neshaffer November 3, 2004 at 10:45 am #

    Thanks for reading, and commenting.

    Objectivity was very important to me, both in doing my ATPo analyses, and in being moderator of the board. But objectivity and the civility it requires becomes a prison after a while. I’ll admit to posting under other names once or twice on the board just so I could rant about something. I didn’t do it more than a few times, and I certainly didn’t do it after I appointed a co-moderator who could log in and see it was me! ; )

    Having an LJ allows me to show another side of myself away from the board, which I enjoy, because it is more freeing and it deepens friendships.

  15. starryniteshade November 3, 2004 at 11:52 am #

    The discipline of objectivity and civility is useful and ultimately adds to our subjective work, but it is when we break out of that prison that we can really fly. But I should talk; I’ve thrown objectivity to the winds….and I’m a scientist for crying out out.

    Great idea ranting under another name…I’ve never done that and I’ve got the scars to show for my foolishness.

    LJ is freeing and it can deepen friendships. Although I’m not sure it’s necessarily worked out that way for me….more like shattering potential friendships? A little tooooooo much speaking from the heart on my part, I guess. At least I’ve come to know how truly respectful you are as a person. I’ve noted the graceful way you acknowledge everyone who’s wandered (or is that wondered *grin*) into your posts.

  16. neshaffer November 3, 2004 at 12:19 pm #

    Great idea ranting under another name…I’ve never done that and I’ve got the scars to show for my foolishness.

    Actually, this behavior is discouraged on the board, as a matter of official policy. People use it to be uncivilized as much, if not more, than they use it just to express feelings they’re afraid to express under their given board name. ; )

    t least I’ve come to know how truly respectful you are as a person. I’ve noted the graceful way you acknowledge everyone who’s wandered (or is that wondered *grin*) into your posts.

    Thanks. I’m learning to do on the internet what is often difficult for me to do in regular life. Not that I say rude things, I just mostly forget the social graces and saying nice things. And OK, I’m also rude in that I’m shy in regular life and often don’t acknowledge people.

  17. starryniteshade November 3, 2004 at 1:29 pm #

    Actually, this behavior is discouraged on the board, as a matter of official policy. People use it to be uncivilized as much, if not more, than they use it just to express feelings they’re afraid to express under their given board name. ; )

    It should be discouraged….it’s cowardly for one and unnecessary to be uncivilised for another. It was just joking…I’d feel the pain even if it was another name. I’d still know it was me. Darn! No matter where you go – there you are.

    I’m learning to do on the internet what is often difficult for me to do in regular life.

    I couldn’t comment on that, but internet / email discourse is an interesting phenomenon…communication without the visuals. There’s both an upside and a downside to it, isn’t there? Words can be interpreted in so many ways, but a physical presence can also lead to prejudiced attitudes. Life is so much easier as an animal…a few sniffs, a little fight and it’s all settled.

  18. neshaffer November 3, 2004 at 1:41 pm #

    Words can be interpreted in so many ways, but a physical presence can also lead to prejudiced attitudes.

    We’ve seen quite a few examples of the first phenom on the board over the years. Perhaps not as many as other forums, but it’s a limitation of the medium that has to be expected from time to time.

    As forthe latter phenom, I am constantly amazed by this. I wouldn’t think I was the sort of person who would judge people based on how they look, but’s struck me several times after I’ve met an online friend in real life that I might have dismissed that person as a potential friend out of hand simply by the way they looked (i.e., “That person? Doesn’t look like someone I’d have anything in common with”).

    I bless the internet everyday for giving a handicap that gets me over a stupid prejudice and allows me to get to know so many great, great people.

  19. neshaffer November 3, 2004 at 9:26 pm #

    Happy Birthday, btw.!!

  20. starryniteshade November 4, 2004 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks….and thanks for the celebratory icon.

  21. natgel November 13, 2004 at 12:29 pm #

    Re: Fredless

    About Kermit’s advice to Fred. If I’m not mistaken, and I’m probably am since I haven’t watched the episode in months, he hasn’t exactly read her singing, he just picked up her aura since she was so overly emotional, right? So in that case, taking in the fact that Lorne’s relationship with his mother hasn’t been, er, healthy, and that Fred was probably broadcasting “Yikes! Parental units!” all over the place, I can see how telling her to run away made sense. Sort of.

  22. neshaffer November 13, 2004 at 2:03 pm #

    Re: Fredless

    Yeah, it does make sense if you see it as projection of his own mommy-issues.

    ; )

  23. starryniteshade August 9, 2005 at 10:55 pm #

    Too bad that there’s so much going on (e.g. Ats S4 group reviews). It’d be nice to comment on the Btvs/Ats joint marathon.

    Anyway, in response to your rant I went back over the Atpo archives from Btvs S6 / Ats S3 season openers…and I got this gem.

    The people were discussing a “what if” JM had been cast as Angel and DB as Spike. They seemed to suggest that Spike wouldn’t have lasted more than a season and that….(?) that Angel would have stuck around Buffy, I guess. That’s hilarious considering that the character of Angel wasn’t intended to last beyond S2 initially. Just goes to show ya the “you know who fan mentality of the time”.

    With regards to views of love, well…who the heck knows what the experience of the person making the comments. There’s a lot of hoopla about passionate love in North American pop culture that is just that hoopla. But it has created a myth about love that seems to be more or less the James (and Spike / Lover’s Walk) view. Seems daft to me, but what do I know since I only have a 18 year relationship in which I love the other person more than when I first fell in love.

  24. neshaffer August 9, 2005 at 11:06 pm #

    Well, I have a certain obsession with that little minority of loud-mouthed, emotionally immature, idiotic Spike fans. Because they filled up my board on a daily basis, and they used the most exclamation marks, and they generally, in fandom, did things that made them impossible to avoid, and made them seem like Legion.

    And I couldn’t just go away somewhere where I didn’t have to see them. It was MY FRIGGIN’ BOARD!!

    Ahem. Like I said, of the past.

  25. starryniteshade August 13, 2005 at 8:27 pm #

    Wes’ dad

    Somewhere you giving a list of eps that had reference’s to the relationship between Wes and his father. I’ve just finished Fredless in my marathon; and there was this one:

    Wes: ” They loved her. – Supported her. – Didn’t grind her down into a – tiny self-conscious nub with their constant berating. Their never ending tirade of debasement, and scorn and…”

    You probably got it, but I can’t find where you listed the references.

    This has to be the most articulate description of how Wes felt about his father.

  26. neshaffer August 13, 2005 at 8:29 pm #

    Re: Wes’ dad

    Are you saying I have this list on my ATPo website, or somewhere else?

    • Ever December 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      I think that The Prom was my first episode. My bohrter sat me down and made me watch the episode, mostly for the cold open, which I think is one of the best cold opens of the series. At the time the rest of the episode had no meaning. I had no connection the Buffy and Angel and why his leaving was important. This is the episode that came to mind when you requested a Top 10 List.I haven’t had a chance to play along at home with this yet but hopefully when our company leaves after their visit. Reply

  27. starryniteshade August 13, 2005 at 9:35 pm #

    Somewhere else – probably an LJ thread

    Don’t mind me. I’m SO all over the place with TD, TD reviews, Btvs / Ats marathon and Ats S4 group reviews.

    It was just some thread in which you responded to someone complaining that there wasn’t enough development of Wes and his Dad’s relationship and you gave….here’s the long history through all the references.

    Damned if I can remember now. I know we were discussing Wes in the Ats S4, but that wasn’t it. Though that quote is worth remembering.

  28. neshaffer August 13, 2005 at 9:43 pm #

    Re: Somewhere else – probably an LJ thread

    It’s one of the most meaty ones for giving us details.

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