Angel, Season 3 eps 10-14

So I was about to start a recap post of Season 3 AtS that I’m supposed to write for a Season 4 marathon I have coming up, when it occurred to me that I already *have* a Season 3 review obligation and who can do justice to Season 3 in one post anyway? So this is as good an excuse as any to finish my Season 3 AtS reviews.


General thoughts: the baby Connor episodes

Well, most of them. I’m leaving Loyalty and Sleep Tight for another review because those stand on their own as the major turning point of Season 3. In between the turning point that is Darla’s pregnancy/the birth of her and Angel’s child, and the loss of that child, there lies a murky middle ground known as “the baby Connor episodes.”

These are not the strong point of the season, but in my view, they didn’t all suck, either, as some maintain. I have a soft spot for them, in fact, because these are the episodes that turned me into a devoted Connor fan and Angel+Connor ‘shipper–long before Vincent Kartheiser came along. And for a number of reasons which I’ll get into below. But primarily because they hit close to home for me. Anyone who reads my LJ with regularity knows I don’t have kids, and will probably never have kids, and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I don’t have the temperament for momhood; so I don’t regret the choice I made not having kids. On the other hand, I still have all those maternal urges nature imbues you with. And I find that at my age–when I should have a few young’ns running around–I am very family oriented. The relationships I respond to in television, film, and books are parent-child relationships. And I enjoy the vicarious experience of parenthood through my brother’s child.

And then there’s Angel. Since the Season 1 BtVS episode “Angel”, he has been my POV character–awkward, brooding, lonely, neurotic, butt-kicking fallible hero guy. The kind of guy that stumbled into relationships, screwed them up, and seemed destined to do so the rest of his unlife. A guy who was by DEFINITION cut off from the cycle of life by his vampire existence, so you knew a normal family life was not in the cards for him (maybe if he shanshued, but that’s no guarantee he’d start getting things right in his life–just being human).

Then along comes pregnant Darla carrying his child. A human child. The one thing he could never have in his unnaturally long life even if he lived forever. Talk about your vicarious experiences of parenthood. Angel loved that baby. You could see it in his face and in his every action. He loved parenthood. Maybe it was David Boreanaz’ acting that put this across. I think his wife was either pregnant or already had given birth around this time so DB didn’t even need the Method acting approach. He already knew how Angel felt. There could be a drinking game for every moment Angel hovered over that crib smiling, or lifted the child in his arms and enjoyed baby-gurgles.

And it’s also true that Angel’s connection and love for this baby was necessary for plot purposes. Season 3 is, in the broad scope, a tragedy of vengeance; an eye for an eye. Your child for mine. The adoration Angel had for that child is what created the depth of the tragedy that was teenaged Connor, and it made the Connor+Angel relationship in Season 4 all the more difficult to bear, but that’s a post for another day.

Dad

It’s official. The triplets who played baby Connor were the most adorable babies, ever. Then my nephew was born. But ahem. Erm. Anyway…. “Dad” is an often-maligned episode, and I just don’t get that. I mean, what’s not to love? Baby. Angel. Baby. Angel. Angel’s baby. Angel-baby. Momma bear vibe. Daddy. Teddy Bears. Making silly faces and singing Smokey Robinson. And did you know that one of the triplets playing the-baby-to-be-named-Connor was himself named Connor? Isn’t that just *the cutest thing*??

Other moments I love: the thing Steven Holtz would later abhor is the one thing that calms him as a baby. Angel’s game face.

O.K., that’s not the only highlight of this episode. Two words:

Laurel.Holloman.

Snarky Justine fighting a vampire in a graveyard while the British Holtz instructs her. On BtVS’ spin-off show, that’s an archetypal moment, one designed to pluck (not-so-) subtly at our memory strings so that we will be cued in that these villains are to be sympathized with even as they attack our heroes.

At the end of the previous episode, Holtz finally became aware that Darla was pregnant with Angel’s child. Now Darla is dead; now it’s just Angel and the child. And Holtz forms a complex plan for vengeance that parts significantly from Sahjhan’s. Sahjhan is concerned with prophecies and saving his own ass from the child who will one day grow up to be Connor. Holtz is concerned with the Art of Revenge. It’s like Spike and Angel debating fighting philosophies: Sahjhan wants to kill and be done with it. Holtz wants to put on a three-hour opera complete with sets and costumes and resonant metaphors.

Justine is one of the bitter human warriors with a history of tragedy that Holtz is molding and shaping to “die for his cause.” The cause of vengeance against a vampire.

Holtz and Sahjhan are not the only folks interested in the human “miracle child” of two vampires. Wolfram and Hart are as well, as are a whole collection of ghoulish creeps and cultist vampire weirdoes. Lorne’s demon hearing picks up the bugs Wolfram and Hart has infiltrated the hotel with, and the crux of the episode is the gang hatching a plan to dupe their enemies into thinking Angel has run away from the Hyperion with the baby. They chase Angel down, he gets them all in one place and blows them up. Boom.

And they all seem to magically go away at that point, except for Wolfram and Hart and Holtz.

And who can’t say the scene where Angel walks right into the board room at Wolfram and Hart, cuts Linwood and threatens tit for tat to him isn’t Way Cool vintage Angel?? The one thing that won’t change for Angel and Connor through the seasons is the lengths Angel will go to as father/protector.

Another moment of note is the final really true Gunn-Wesley bonding scene. Gunn and Wes compare Tough Guy Movie fantasies during the big demon show-down. Alas, they were being set up for the big split over FRED, and things just were never the same again.

Birthday

I know I’ll get flamed for this, but Birthday isn’t one of the super-sucky episodes of Season 3, either. In retrospect, yeah, it’s the beginning of a long, slow, painful character death, but I remember at the time it aired thinking to myself in the last few minutes of the episode, “They turned Cordelia into a demon? THAT’S my show! Always taking risks!”

It’s just…sometimes risks don’t pay off. That’s why they’re called “risks.” But after pulling off a stunning pregnant!Darla, I trusted ME with demon!Cordelia.

The action of this episode starts with Cordelia falling into a coma. Her visions have been slowly destroying her brain, and she’s been covering it up with strong medication. Once Cordelia is in the coma, the demon Skip pays her a visit, acting as a guide to help her find her “true path” in life. This episode was thus meant as a pivotal one for her character, providing closure to her Hollywood star dream of Seasons 1 and 2 and pushing forth her evolution into a Champion. Or so we thought. And so (at least some of) Mutant Enemy apparently thought, too, at the time.

Skip was originally written as a good guy, a warrior demon of the Powers that Be, not just a “merc” who’d work for anyone willing to pay his price (“Inside Out”). So the manipulation of Cordelia in this episode was meant in the most benevolent way–show Cordelia what the world would have been like if she’d become an actress, and give her a chance to formally choose to be a Champion helping Angel (I thought the alterno-world was kind of interesting myself. The hints of a bitter, toughened Wesley, for example.) Cordelia can choose to not have the visions anymore and lead a normal life, or be turned part-demon in order to bear them. And in classic Powers-that-Be fashion, she is forced to make this choice without *all* the available information, because otherwise her choice would be muddied–she needs to see only the good of her actress life, not the good of her Champion life when she makes her decision. She has to be willing to step in whatever dangers that Champion life will bring.

Cordelia of course chooses the later. At the time, the possibilities of a demon!Cordelia were compellingly morally ambiguous. Demons are supposed to have a bit of a violent nature, or be physically unattractive. Where was ME going with THIS? So it was a bit disappointing when Cordelia turns her back on normalcy and popularity only to slowly evolve over the remainder of the season into “Saint Cordelia”, all blonde and pure-of-heart and Angel-defending and super-power-glowy.

At least, that’s one way of looking at what happened.

I prefer a different, retconned interpretation, one in which Cordelia’s AtS journey is a study in the moral ambiguity of the sacrificial saint (with due credit to londonkds who introduced me to this interpretation). Her flaw as a character has always been hubris, an over-estimation of her own value, and this was no less true on AtS than it was on BtVS. On AtS, she embraced the visions and didn’t tell anyone about their destructive effect because the visions made her important. She was the link between God’s warrior and God.

“Birthday” is simply the episode where she formally chooses to turn her back on “selfish” popularity to pursue the “noble” Lord’s work, believing fully in the righteousness of those actions. And the ironic tragedy is that later, a morally ambiguous PTB will take advantage of her faith and hubris and violate her for Its own purposes.

Of course, I realize that I’m reading a moral ambiguity into the text of Season 3 that just wasn’t there that season. Saint Cordelia was annoying to fans precisely because she was presented as saintly without a hint of irony. Her decision to go to the higher dimensions with Skip in “Tomorrow” was supposed to be the right thing.

I’m told that the Cordelia we actually see in Season 3 and the Cordelia we can retcon due to the events of Season 4 reflect a difference of opinion between David Greenwalt and Joss about where they were going with Cordelia, and this is why Greenwalt left at the end of Season 3.

(for more of my thoughts on Cordelia as sacrificial saint, see http://infinitedoorways.com/2004/11/01/angel-season-3-eps-1-6/)

Provider

And now, kiddies, it’s time for the Worst.Episode.Of.Angel.EVER.

I love the arcy episodes of Season 3. That’s why it’s my favorite season. The villain was complex and sympathetic. The arcs of characters like Wesley and Lilah and Angel were compelling. Love and loss reached its peak in this season because it was felt in the deepest personal ways, whether it was Darla/Angel/Connor, or the Fang Gang family, or Holtz and his gang.

The stand-alone episodes, on the other hand…they sort of sucked.

You know, there’s nothing wrong with stand-alones in theory. It’s just that the lulls between arcy episodes in Season 3 were more…lully. Like Mutant Enemy was marking time until they could get back to the main arc again. Filling space by auditioning new writers after the network shake-up of the year before. Writers who didn’t quite get the characters, or writing fantasy television, or that ME’s strength is subversion of viewer expectations. Provider is a glaring example of this.

Plot: Angel goes a little loopy trying to earn money for his baby boy. In the gang’s eagerness for profit, Fred almost gets her head cut off. And to prove how much Cordy’s changed, she gives back money to save her friends. They beat the bad guys and save the collective day and everyone learns an important lesson: money isn’t everything (so of course we’ll be all responsible and stuff with the 50,000 we stole after we kilt those demons ded).

“Provider” was just…cheesy. The demons were cheesy, the idea of beheading Fred to give that head to a prince was REALLY WTF? cheesy, and Cordelia making goo-goo talk to baby Connor really kinda weirds me out in retrospect, you know? (which, admittedly, is not this episode’s fault)

Strangely enough, the closing shot of Cordelia, Connor, and Angel together in a bed *doesn’t* weird me out. I suppose because it speaks of things that could have been. Family happiness and creature comfort. It’s one of those squooshy moments to make you feel all warm and fuzzy and that makes the knife-turn of the coming tragedy just that much more gut-wrenching.

Because it contrasts sharply with the moment between Holtz and Justine that chillingly foreshadows how Holtz probably treated Steven in Quortoth. He believes in physical discipline, he does not believe in what he would see as coddling. He demands loyalty above all.

Waiting in the Wings

This is another episode that gets unfairly maligned, IMO. Probably because “Joss has been known to do better.” WTF??? This is a gazillion times better than most crap on TV, and falls squarely above some of the true dogs of the season. I’d say, in fact, it’s a beautiful, classic example of what a stand-alone can be. You bring in a one-time character, create a fascinating, deeply human supernatural dilemma for them, and then have the gang stumble upon them somehow and save the day. The ballerina torn between her love of a man and her love of ballet. She can’t have both because of the evil Count Kurskov, but she hesitates just a little too long in making her choice and becomes trapped in his castle like in a fairy tale, where her beloved ballet becomes an endless nightmare for her.

It isn’t just the same ballet.
It’s the same performance.
I don’t dance.
I echo.

I actually thought Summer Glau was a real ballet dancer they hired to play the part. She just had the poise and the accent and the swan-like neck.

The arcy significance of “Waiting in the Wings” is its contribution to what I have called “the Making of Wesley.” As in The Thin Dead Line or Billy, Mutant Enemy throws s*** at Wesley and he is forced to deal with it. And he deals with it in classic Wesley fashion by cutting himself off, hardening himself. Putting aside the parts of himself and his relationships that he (mistakenly) sees as frivolous.

In this case, the s*** is a romantic rejection. Romances on action-adventure-fantasy shows like BtVS and AtS are always tricky ground. There are fans who think they’re gratuitous. There are fans who think they’re the whole point. Both attitudes rather miss the point, IMO. I think romances give an action-adventure show heart, and if they can do that while contributing to the plot at the same time (without being awkward manipulations), all the better.

In several previous episodes of Season 3, we’ve seen Wesley’s interest in Fred, something Cordelia picked up on immediately but Fred did not because Wesley never *showed* that interest around Fred. We’ve also seen Gunn display an interest in Fred, something Fred has already picked up on because Gunn has been fairly open about it (without actually coming right out and saying the words). So it’s no big surprise that fancy clothes and a romantic night out with dancing and danger get the sparks flying–for Fred and Gunn. And poor Wesley, who has been too timid to make a move, not only loses his chance with Fred, but experiences the loss while he is under the influence of the angry, jealous spirit of Count Kurskov.

I really understood Wesley’s withdrawal from the gang at this point. To have Fred and Gunn paraded around in front of him because they had no clue how he felt not only hurt, it was a constant reminder of his timidity, which he no doubt loathed. Then, on top of that, you have the pairing off of Cordelia and Groo, and the already existent love affair of Angel and Connor, and Wesley really becomes the seventh wheel, paired off with nothing but his responsibilities as book-man and “boss.”

Angel, of course, also has a certain awkward timidity when it comes to women, but for different reasons, reasons less internal (“I lack confidence”) and more external (the happiness clause of the curse). But when Cordelia can’t see Angel’s interest and goes running to Groo, Angel already has a relationship to find solace in. The one with his son.

Random thoughts on WITW:

– You know, now when I watch this, I can’t help but think teen Connor when I hear the name “Connor”, so lines like, “That little Connor burps like a champ” just make me spit diet coke all over my keyboard.

– WiTW is the only time I can ever think of where Angel makes the slightest comment about all of Lorne’s terms of endearment for/relentless flirting with him. He doesn’t even blink in Couplet when Lorne calls him “Miss Garbo.” It’s not an issue for him at all. He’s utterly secure in his masculinity, even if he’s not secure in anything else.

Couplet

I have to say, I was never much of an Angel/Cordelia ‘shipper. I liked them as friends, not lovers. I think they were good for each other. Cordelia didn’t put up with Angel’s broody nonsense, and Angel’s intent, often single-minded sense of purpose gave Cordelia a new perspective on the value of the good fight. The idea that two opposite-sex characters (or same-sex characters, for that matter) who are close friends *must* end up in the sack together really always annoyed the hell out of me. Because it disses non-sexual relationships as being somehow inherently secondary, less valuable. And reinforces the idea that men and women can’t relate to each other any other way.

So I wasn’t too upset when Groo showed up and threw a wrench in the budding Cordgel romance. The problem was, Groo was never meant to be anything more than a hurdle on the road to Cordgel. That much was *really* obvious. Angel’s forced to help Groo and Cordelia do the com-shuk by finding a “supernatural prophylatic” for them? Cordelia gives Groo a make-over to look like Angel? (which, by the way, I *hated*. Groo looked better in long hair and that gladiator outfit). Plus, Groo? Was really sort of a cartoon from the beginning. I liked him, I did, and they did tone him down later. But he never completely stopped being Mr. Earnest Over-the-top Medieval Melodrama, and so was a little hard to take seriously.

The point of bringing in Groo, though, was not just to throw a wrench in the Cordgel, but to make Angel doubt himself and what he contributed to the group, at least for the span of one episode. In earlier seasons, this was never questioned. Angel was the boss, it was his mission, and everyone else was just helping. Then he wandered off into his own world in Season 2, Wesley took over the reigns, Cordelia had the visions, then Groo comes along saving the literal day(light).

Every once in a while Angel needs a kick in the pants. After seeing the show through Season 5, I wonder if that will ever cease to be true.

Getting a bit lost in the turgid supernatural soap-opera of couplings and jealousy is Wesley. Fred has “made her choice” and so what then does Wesley have? He’s thrown himself into translating the Nyazian prophecies with a special interest in what they say about Connor.

I became invested in the character of Connor during the “baby Connor episodes”, not just because Angel had a child of his own, but because Connor was intriguing in his own right. “His birth was foretold.” “He has a role to play.” The child of two vampires–imagine the possibilities. Between that and Sahjhan’s “The kid had a big future” in “Forgiving”, I was imaging a lot of very mythic possibilities. Just the idea of Connor–supernaturally-gifted child of a Hero, subject of ancient prophecies–lends itself to this. Connor as Moses, Oedipus, Mordred, Telemachus, Luke Skywalker.

But that was for the future, and mostly for the fan-fic. Connor was really never much more than a tragic figure on AtS itself, and the episodes to come played out that tragedy.

In one of those interestingly convenient behind-the-scenes circumstances, Charisma Carpenter had a movie to film and the inutitive busy-body Cordelia was sent off on vacation with Groo for a few episodes. Episodes in which Wesley cut himself off from Angel and the others with his Greek commentaries on the Nyazian prophecies, which he translates.

The father will kill the son.

112 thoughts on “Angel, Season 3 eps 10-14

  1. The stinkers of Season 3, IMO, are Fredless, Provider, and Double or Nothing. Provider was just the one that made me squirm the most.

  2. The stinkers of Season 3, IMO, are Fredless, Provider, and Double or Nothing. Provider was just the one that made me squirm the most.

  3. But “Fredless” had That Scene in the begining. πŸ™‚
    And I actually kinda liked the episode itself, too. But then I have crappy parents.

  4. But “Fredless” had That Scene in the begining. πŸ™‚

    And I actually kinda liked the episode itself, too. But then I have crappy parents.

  5. Fredless just wasn’t executed right, IMO. It was awkward and lame. The premise itself–nothing wrong with that. But it gets rated above Provider and D or N because of the clever meta mocking of B/A scene.

  6. Fredless just wasn’t executed right, IMO. It was awkward and lame. The premise itself–nothing wrong with that. But it gets rated above Provider and D or N because of the clever meta mocking of B/A scene.

  7. The arcy significance of “Waiting in the Wings” is its contribution to what I have called “the Making of Wesley.”… I really understood Wesley’s withdrawal from the gang at this point. To have Fred and Gunn paraded around in front of him because they had no clue how he felt not only hurt, it was a constant reminder of his timidity, which he no doubt loathed.
    sigh. I never really remember how well they did that character transition until I rewatch season 3, or am reminded of specifics from it. I also totally understand why Wes withdrew from the group. I understand why he decided to take all the Connor matters into his own hands and not tell anyone. If Cordy had been around, maybe he would have talked to her. But she was gone, Fred and Gunn were into each other and he didn’t want to deal with either of them, and he didn’t think he could tell Angel because maybe he couldn’t trust him.
    So he ended up with “fuck everyone but Connor” and stole him. It was heartbreaking to watch. I think twice in his attempts to find solutions he tried to bargain away his life–pretty much asked people to kill him. Then, of course, in the end everyone hated him for it because he betrayed the group. It was some of the most amazing, compelling writing on the show. still kills me. I have to rewatch season 3 sometime now.

  8. The arcy significance of “Waiting in the Wings” is its contribution to what I have called “the Making of Wesley.”… I really understood Wesley’s withdrawal from the gang at this point. To have Fred and Gunn paraded around in front of him because they had no clue how he felt not only hurt, it was a constant reminder of his timidity, which he no doubt loathed.

    sigh. I never really remember how well they did that character transition until I rewatch season 3, or am reminded of specifics from it. I also totally understand why Wes withdrew from the group. I understand why he decided to take all the Connor matters into his own hands and not tell anyone. If Cordy had been around, maybe he would have talked to her. But she was gone, Fred and Gunn were into each other and he didn’t want to deal with either of them, and he didn’t think he could tell Angel because maybe he couldn’t trust him.

    So he ended up with “fuck everyone but Connor” and stole him. It was heartbreaking to watch. I think twice in his attempts to find solutions he tried to bargain away his life–pretty much asked people to kill him. Then, of course, in the end everyone hated him for it because he betrayed the group. It was some of the most amazing, compelling writing on the show. still kills me. I have to rewatch season 3 sometime now.

  9. If Cordy had been around, maybe he would have talked to her.
    If Cordy had been around, she would have *forced* him to talk to her, whether he wanted to or not.
    What I still don’t get, totally, was why Wesley didn’t talk to Angel. At first I thought Wesley just wanted to be SURE about the prophecy before basically accusing Angel of murder-before-the-fact. There’s a whole series of events one after the other, starting with the devastating impact of the events in “Billy” and how they made Wesley doubt himself, continuing on to Gunn stepping in and making the moves with Fred, Cordelia going on vacation, Angel acting under the influence of the spiked blood, the vague prophecy-of-doom by the talking hamburger, Holtz’s rhetoric to Wesley, etc, etc.
    But to take the child and never come back? Seems pretty drastic.
    In retrospect, though, it was the turning point in the Making of Wesley. The gang gets angry at him, he withdraws all the more, Lilah swoops in, and before you know it, Wesley’s all about the guns and the beard stubble.
    But I’ve always felt the circumstances leading up to the kidnapping of Connor were a *little* contrived/manipulated. I’ll probably say more about that in my 315/316 reviews.

  10. If Cordy had been around, maybe he would have talked to her.

    If Cordy had been around, she would have *forced* him to talk to her, whether he wanted to or not.

    What I still don’t get, totally, was why Wesley didn’t talk to Angel. At first I thought Wesley just wanted to be SURE about the prophecy before basically accusing Angel of murder-before-the-fact. There’s a whole series of events one after the other, starting with the devastating impact of the events in “Billy” and how they made Wesley doubt himself, continuing on to Gunn stepping in and making the moves with Fred, Cordelia going on vacation, Angel acting under the influence of the spiked blood, the vague prophecy-of-doom by the talking hamburger, Holtz’s rhetoric to Wesley, etc, etc.

    But to take the child and never come back? Seems pretty drastic.

    In retrospect, though, it was the turning point in the Making of Wesley. The gang gets angry at him, he withdraws all the more, Lilah swoops in, and before you know it, Wesley’s all about the guns and the beard stubble.

    But I’ve always felt the circumstances leading up to the kidnapping of Connor were a *little* contrived/manipulated. I’ll probably say more about that in my 315/316 reviews.

  11. O.K., that’s not the only highlight of this episode. Two words:
    Laurel.Holloman.

    Absolutely. I love this entire run of episodes (even “Provider”) for her alone. Every time she comes on screen she energizes a scene and galvanizes the other actors. It’s just amazing. Plus, who doesn’t love the girl who played Randy Dean, only in a kick leather jacket and with slaying skills?

  12. O.K., that’s not the only highlight of this episode. Two words:

    Laurel.Holloman.

    Absolutely. I love this entire run of episodes (even “Provider”) for her alone. Every time she comes on screen she energizes a scene and galvanizes the other actors. It’s just amazing. Plus, who doesn’t love the girl who played Randy Dean, only in a kick leather jacket and with slaying skills?

  13. – WiTW is the only time I can ever think of where Angel makes the slightest comment about all of Lorne’s terms of endearment for/relentless flirting with him. He doesn’t even blink in Couplet when Lorne calls him “Miss Garbo.” It’s not an issue for him at all. He’s utterly secure in his masculinity, even if he’s not secure in anything else.
    That’s a really good point. I’ve always loved Lorne’s Angel-flirting, but I’ve always thought about it from the POV of “ok now, why can’t they get Lorne a boyfriend if he’s acting so dishy already?” rather than from the POV of what it said about Angel.

  14. – WiTW is the only time I can ever think of where Angel makes the slightest comment about all of Lorne’s terms of endearment for/relentless flirting with him. He doesn’t even blink in Couplet when Lorne calls him “Miss Garbo.” It’s not an issue for him at all. He’s utterly secure in his masculinity, even if he’s not secure in anything else.

    That’s a really good point. I’ve always loved Lorne’s Angel-flirting, but I’ve always thought about it from the POV of “ok now, why can’t they get Lorne a boyfriend if he’s acting so dishy already?” rather than from the POV of what it said about Angel.

  15. Tina should be so awesome.
    I like Justine, just for that hot butt-kicking fucked-upedness.
    Big Randy fan too!

  16. Tina should be so awesome.

    I like Justine, just for that hot butt-kicking fucked-upedness.

    Big Randy fan too!

  17. I remember when Justine first came on screen, it drove me crazy trying to figure out where I remembered her. Because she’d put on ten years and grown her hair out. When I finally figured it out, I was like, “Randy Dean! Whoa!”

  18. I remember when Justine first came on screen, it drove me crazy trying to figure out where I remembered her. Because she’d put on ten years and grown her hair out. When I finally figured it out, I was like, “Randy Dean! Whoa!”

  19. The gay/effeminacy jokes made at Angel (and Wesley’s) expense were pretty rampant, especially in the first few seasons. Neither of them reacted much to those jokes, and I always sat on the fence of being annoyed by the references–like why did the writers insist on doing this all the time (Cordelia was especially bad)–and being somewhat impressed that the characters never really had that knee-jerk macho reaction to them.
    There are fans who refer to AtS as the “dead gay show” and I can only assume they are referring to these kind of references/allusions between some of the primary male characters.

  20. The gay/effeminacy jokes made at Angel (and Wesley’s) expense were pretty rampant, especially in the first few seasons. Neither of them reacted much to those jokes, and I always sat on the fence of being annoyed by the references–like why did the writers insist on doing this all the time (Cordelia was especially bad)–and being somewhat impressed that the characters never really had that knee-jerk macho reaction to them.

    There are fans who refer to AtS as the “dead gay show” and I can only assume they are referring to these kind of references/allusions between some of the primary male characters.

  21. Tina gets on my nerves a little still. She still has some growing up and independence to learn. She’s come part of the way this season, though.

  22. Tina gets on my nerves a little still. She still has some growing up and independence to learn. She’s come part of the way this season, though.

  23. I had the good fortune of watching every episode of Angel and BtVS when it first aired, from Welcome to the Hellmouth to Not Fade Away. Sometimes that was “good fortune”, and sometimes that drove me around the bend. Like waiting five months between seasons or two months between new episodes in a season.
    And being the spoiler-phobe that I was, *never* knowing where they would go with something new.
    I rather liked that tight-rope walking.

  24. I had the good fortune of watching every episode of Angel and BtVS when it first aired, from Welcome to the Hellmouth to Not Fade Away. Sometimes that was “good fortune”, and sometimes that drove me around the bend. Like waiting five months between seasons or two months between new episodes in a season.

    And being the spoiler-phobe that I was, *never* knowing where they would go with something new.

    I rather liked that tight-rope walking.

  25. The main reason people call it their ‘dead gay show’ is because of all the homoeroticism between Spike and Angel in Season Five, I think. Also, there’s a good deal of gay subtext in the Lindsey/Angel relationship, and in the Wes/Angel relationship, not to mention Lorne just being so very gay. Also, Andrew’s crush on Spike in Season Five. Mmmm. Spandrew, my favorite.

  26. The main reason people call it their ‘dead gay show’ is because of all the homoeroticism between Spike and Angel in Season Five, I think. Also, there’s a good deal of gay subtext in the Lindsey/Angel relationship, and in the Wes/Angel relationship, not to mention Lorne just being so very gay. Also, Andrew’s crush on Spike in Season Five. Mmmm. Spandrew, my favorite.

  27. That moniker always puzzled me. I guess because I’m used to calling something “gay” if there are *actual* gay characters doing gay things, not straight characters stepping into each other’s personal space and speaking all low and ominous.

  28. That moniker always puzzled me. I guess because I’m used to calling something “gay” if there are *actual* gay characters doing gay things, not straight characters stepping into each other’s personal space and speaking all low and ominous.

  29. But once again the show went places even subtextually that most network shows wouldn’t go. I’m sure if Joss ever got the chance, he’d do an HBO show just so he could be textual instead of subtextual. It was tough enough to get the Willow/Tara stuff on-air (and even the het Spuffy), network TV just wouldn’t tolerate the level of openly gay stuff that a lot of the writers were thinking about (Greenberg, Fury, Espenson, to name three).
    Being a Showtime subscriber, it’s sometimes hard to forget how annoying and backwards network TV is, but there you go.

  30. But once again the show went places even subtextually that most network shows wouldn’t go. I’m sure if Joss ever got the chance, he’d do an HBO show just so he could be textual instead of subtextual. It was tough enough to get the Willow/Tara stuff on-air (and even the het Spuffy), network TV just wouldn’t tolerate the level of openly gay stuff that a lot of the writers were thinking about (Greenberg, Fury, Espenson, to name three).

    Being a Showtime subscriber, it’s sometimes hard to forget how annoying and backwards network TV is, but there you go.

  31. I suppose so, but a lot of fans prefer the subtext to the text. At least, that’s the impression I get when they poo-poo my complaints stating I’d prefer text to subtext. Subtext is somehow more “artistic” or something.
    And then of course there’s the folks who think the subtext isn’t subtext at all but “blatantly obvious text.” I have nothing to say to that remark. Everytime there was innuendo among my acquaintances that some “must be gay” because of how they acted, they always turned out to be disappointingly straight.
    Which I’m sure informs my grumbly attitude towards subtext and slash fic.

  32. I suppose so, but a lot of fans prefer the subtext to the text. At least, that’s the impression I get when they poo-poo my complaints stating I’d prefer text to subtext. Subtext is somehow more “artistic” or something.

    And then of course there’s the folks who think the subtext isn’t subtext at all but “blatantly obvious text.” I have nothing to say to that remark. Everytime there was innuendo among my acquaintances that some “must be gay” because of how they acted, they always turned out to be disappointingly straight.

    Which I’m sure informs my grumbly attitude towards subtext and slash fic.

  33. Of course text is much more satisfying than subtext. But having both at once is also very good. Tasty, even.
    Some subtext really is pretty blatantly obvious text, like Andrew. I mean, come ON. He’s gayer than a handbag, and I love him. But on the other hand (to use one example from someone I defriended for this very reason because they just couldn’t get off their high horse about it) folks who think the Wesley/Angel stuff is blatantly obvious are just not rooted in reality. So I both agree and disagree with you — I think it has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
    As for real life? Everyone I thought “must be gay” based on my own gaydar (what you say is “how they acted”, but I call that and more subtle body language cues to be ‘gaydar’) really did turn out to be gay. Every time. One time it took the guy twelve years to come out of the closet, but eventually he did.
    Of course, the annoying “bisexual in name only, but really straight” girls in college just really pissed me off. So, yeah. Again, agree and disagree.

  34. Of course text is much more satisfying than subtext. But having both at once is also very good. Tasty, even.

    Some subtext really is pretty blatantly obvious text, like Andrew. I mean, come ON. He’s gayer than a handbag, and I love him. But on the other hand (to use one example from someone I defriended for this very reason because they just couldn’t get off their high horse about it) folks who think the Wesley/Angel stuff is blatantly obvious are just not rooted in reality. So I both agree and disagree with you — I think it has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

    As for real life? Everyone I thought “must be gay” based on my own gaydar (what you say is “how they acted”, but I call that and more subtle body language cues to be ‘gaydar’) really did turn out to be gay. Every time. One time it took the guy twelve years to come out of the closet, but eventually he did.

    Of course, the annoying “bisexual in name only, but really straight” girls in college just really pissed me off. So, yeah. Again, agree and disagree.

  35. Wesley doesn’t talk to Lorne either. Why the writers don’t do anything with that, I don’t know – at that point, Wes and Lorne didn’t have any “issues” between them. So they could have – eventually I just reconcile what seemed like logic gaps into a Grand Theory because it’s what I do.
    The big mystery for me will always be – how much thought had Wes put into (1) where he would take that child and how he could actually raise him and (2) how he would prevent Angel from running over everything in his path to get to him. I just can’t imagine Wes ever really had a plan, because, wow. Daunting.

  36. Wesley doesn’t talk to Lorne either. Why the writers don’t do anything with that, I don’t know – at that point, Wes and Lorne didn’t have any “issues” between them. So they could have – eventually I just reconcile what seemed like logic gaps into a Grand Theory because it’s what I do.

    The big mystery for me will always be – how much thought had Wes put into (1) where he would take that child and how he could actually raise him and (2) how he would prevent Angel from running over everything in his path to get to him. I just can’t imagine Wes ever really had a plan, because, wow. Daunting.

  37. Comments re:Wesley’s self-loathing about his timidity ring very spot-on to me. It’s interesting to see him try to shear off those parts of him that he thinks are frivolous, and yet notice more and more that those are the parts of him he might well need the most.
    The idea that two opposite-sex characters (or same-sex characters, for that matter) who are close friends *must* end up in the sack together really always annoyed the hell out of me.
    Ditto. Beyond which, without either Cordy, Angel, or the script paying heed to the issues surrounding the curse – it just seemed worse. As if the writing had forgotten the Cordy-Wes scene in “Fredless” mocking Angel’s romantic past with Buffy. If we’re going with a grittier world, a gritty/ironic look would have helped. But it wasn’t there.
    It was interesting to see the varying interpretations over what was up with Cordy’s character in S3, and then to see the way ME eventually would try to work a subversive re-interpretation onto Cordy’s character after discovering how flat it had fallen for many in S3. For me, it was only moderately successful as – if we go with the hubris angle – it’s something Cordy never gets to face or try to grow from.

  38. Comments re:Wesley’s self-loathing about his timidity ring very spot-on to me. It’s interesting to see him try to shear off those parts of him that he thinks are frivolous, and yet notice more and more that those are the parts of him he might well need the most.

    The idea that two opposite-sex characters (or same-sex characters, for that matter) who are close friends *must* end up in the sack together really always annoyed the hell out of me.

    Ditto. Beyond which, without either Cordy, Angel, or the script paying heed to the issues surrounding the curse – it just seemed worse. As if the writing had forgotten the Cordy-Wes scene in “Fredless” mocking Angel’s romantic past with Buffy. If we’re going with a grittier world, a gritty/ironic look would have helped. But it wasn’t there.

    It was interesting to see the varying interpretations over what was up with Cordy’s character in S3, and then to see the way ME eventually would try to work a subversive re-interpretation onto Cordy’s character after discovering how flat it had fallen for many in S3. For me, it was only moderately successful as – if we go with the hubris angle – it’s something Cordy never gets to face or try to grow from.

  39. You know, the reason Holtz took Connor to Quortoth and not Utah was because Holtz knew Angel would stop at nothing to track him down. So how come Wesley didn’t factor that in?
    I try to be sympathetic with the writers because now that I’m helming two episodic “television shows” myself I know how difficult it can be to get an episode to hang together, much less an entire story arc written by multiple people.
    But we fans have the luxury of pick, pick, picking. At the time I first saw it, I was riveted and heart-broken. It was all about the experience, and not the details.
    But, I think picking is a learning experience for a writer.

  40. You know, the reason Holtz took Connor to Quortoth and not Utah was because Holtz knew Angel would stop at nothing to track him down. So how come Wesley didn’t factor that in?

    I try to be sympathetic with the writers because now that I’m helming two episodic “television shows” myself I know how difficult it can be to get an episode to hang together, much less an entire story arc written by multiple people.

    But we fans have the luxury of pick, pick, picking. At the time I first saw it, I was riveted and heart-broken. It was all about the experience, and not the details.

    But, I think picking is a learning experience for a writer.

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