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 best thing about Justine, though, was that she wasn’t a Slayer. She was a normal woman who kicked butt. Like Kate. The thing that always made Slayers just *not quite* the “empowered woman” feminist statement they could have been was that they had more than a normal woman. So the Kates and Justines of the show energized me just by being themselves.

  2. The best thing about Justine, though, was that she wasn’t a Slayer. She was a normal woman who kicked butt. Like Kate. The thing that always made Slayers just *not quite* the “empowered woman” feminist statement they could have been was that they had more than a normal woman. So the Kates and Justines of the show energized me just by being themselves.

  3. Calling the plot developments in post-Lullaby eps a “good idea at the time” is like calling the Hindenburg a “good idea at the time.” Those hydrogen-filled dirigibles are a wonder, I tell ya!
    I find it extremely difficult at this point to separate my original reactions to 3.10-14 from my reaction to the eventual consequences of those episodes. I recall being intrigued by Cordy’s demonization in Birthday, and I thought we’d get some interesting character development with Cordy becoming more like Angel, dealing with the demon inside her. Little did I suspect the coming of St. Cordelia and the full-blown disaster of the Cordelius arc in S4.
    But the twin disasters I did see coming were the C/A and F/G pair ups in Waiting in the Wings. I’m on record with my shriek of despair over that episode, screaming at Joss, “No, no, NO! Left, Joss, turn LEFT!” then banging my head on my desk in despair. I’m on record with my opinion about C/A romantic chemistry (nil) and how Fred and Gunn’s characters suffered from the pairing when it seemed that the ANGEL writing staff had absolutely no idea what to do with them as a couple once they were coupled. The complete lack of back story behind the F/G ‘ship (what did they see in each other?) led to the worst episode of S3, “Double or Nothing.” (DoN would have been the Worst Episode Ever, but “She” is a looooooooooong way down.)
    Fortunately, Wesley’s part of the equation worked. Brilliantly. Loyalty and Sleep Tight couldn’t have worked without his alienation from the squad. But Joss and Greenwalt lost every other character (except Angel) to do it. It was almost worth it. Almost.

  4. Calling the plot developments in post-Lullaby eps a “good idea at the time” is like calling the Hindenburg a “good idea at the time.” Those hydrogen-filled dirigibles are a wonder, I tell ya!

    I find it extremely difficult at this point to separate my original reactions to 3.10-14 from my reaction to the eventual consequences of those episodes. I recall being intrigued by Cordy’s demonization in Birthday, and I thought we’d get some interesting character development with Cordy becoming more like Angel, dealing with the demon inside her. Little did I suspect the coming of St. Cordelia and the full-blown disaster of the Cordelius arc in S4.

    But the twin disasters I did see coming were the C/A and F/G pair ups in Waiting in the Wings. I’m on record with my shriek of despair over that episode, screaming at Joss, “No, no, NO! Left, Joss, turn LEFT!” then banging my head on my desk in despair. I’m on record with my opinion about C/A romantic chemistry (nil) and how Fred and Gunn’s characters suffered from the pairing when it seemed that the ANGEL writing staff had absolutely no idea what to do with them as a couple once they were coupled. The complete lack of back story behind the F/G ‘ship (what did they see in each other?) led to the worst episode of S3, “Double or Nothing.” (DoN would have been the Worst Episode Ever, but “She” is a looooooooooong way down.)

    Fortunately, Wesley’s part of the equation worked. Brilliantly. Loyalty and Sleep Tight couldn’t have worked without his alienation from the squad. But Joss and Greenwalt lost every other character (except Angel) to do it. It was almost worth it. Almost.

  5. You there! Get away from that god-damn abyss!
    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.
    I found that Justine was an important character that emphasized the differences between Holtz and Wesley. You can look at Angel and see readily the monster he can be everytime his face does the vamp-squint, with Wesley the emergence of a dark side is obscured by his slap-stick awkwardness. We literally don’t see how dark he can be coming. Holtz sticks a knife through her hand, and Wesley posits her in a closet with a bucket…both are done to keep her in place instead of allowing her to get over the grief of losing her twin. Holtz would sacrifice anything to his vengeance gig, Wesley would do the same to protect someone he loved or humanity…so what’s the difference between the two?
    Rufus

  6. You there! Get away from that god-damn abyss!

    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.

    I found that Justine was an important character that emphasized the differences between Holtz and Wesley. You can look at Angel and see readily the monster he can be everytime his face does the vamp-squint, with Wesley the emergence of a dark side is obscured by his slap-stick awkwardness. We literally don’t see how dark he can be coming. Holtz sticks a knife through her hand, and Wesley posits her in a closet with a bucket…both are done to keep her in place instead of allowing her to get over the grief of losing her twin. Holtz would sacrifice anything to his vengeance gig, Wesley would do the same to protect someone he loved or humanity…so what’s the difference between the two?

    Rufus

  7. I agree — and that goes for some of the women on Firefly, too, who have no special superpowers; they have a lot of training, willpower, and experience, and the total grace and assurance that comes with it. They kick ass in a totally human non-superpower way that I just love.

  8. I agree — and that goes for some of the women on Firefly, too, who have no special superpowers; they have a lot of training, willpower, and experience, and the total grace and assurance that comes with it. They kick ass in a totally human non-superpower way that I just love.

  9. 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.
    Well, yeah. I think the “hubris” interpretation is a fan interpretation, not a Mutant Enemy interpretation. Because when they bring Cordelia back in Season 5, she’s still as loyal to the PTB’s as she *ever* was. I would have written her as at least a bit angry and questioning her faith. She still could have encouraged Angel to question himself and his place at W&H, and since Angel had given up his own faith in the PTBs in season 4, it wouldn’t have altered that aspect for Angel.
    Then I would have written Cordelia off the show not by killing her but by having her walk away from Angel and that life that nearly killed her. I think *that* would have had an impact on Angel.

  10. 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.

    Well, yeah. I think the “hubris” interpretation is a fan interpretation, not a Mutant Enemy interpretation. Because when they bring Cordelia back in Season 5, she’s still as loyal to the PTB’s as she *ever* was. I would have written her as at least a bit angry and questioning her faith. She still could have encouraged Angel to question himself and his place at W&H, and since Angel had given up his own faith in the PTBs in season 4, it wouldn’t have altered that aspect for Angel.

    Then I would have written Cordelia off the show not by killing her but by having her walk away from Angel and that life that nearly killed her. I think *that* would have had an impact on Angel.

  11. Small distinction, but I thought “slash” only referred to canonically heterosexual characters paired in homoerotic fanfic. (For instance, you can’t “slash” Tara and Willow.) Once Spike admitted to “that one time,” the Spike/Angel relationship crossed over from “slash” to canon. But I do not claim to be any big expert on slash. YMMV.

  12. Small distinction, but I thought “slash” only referred to canonically heterosexual characters paired in homoerotic fanfic. (For instance, you can’t “slash” Tara and Willow.) Once Spike admitted to “that one time,” the Spike/Angel relationship crossed over from “slash” to canon. But I do not claim to be any big expert on slash. YMMV.

  13. I have things to say about Fred and Gunn that I refrained from adding to this episode and will outline in my Double or Nothing review. Suffice it to say I liked them well enough despite what occurred on screen.

  14. I have things to say about Fred and Gunn that I refrained from adding to this episode and will outline in my Double or Nothing review. Suffice it to say I liked them well enough despite what occurred on screen.

  15. Re: You there! Get away from that god-damn abyss!
    Well, yes, that is story short-hand for “going to the dark side.”
    Hey, let’s torture a girl!
    Erm…but she’s a red-head. Does that count?

  16. Re: You there! Get away from that god-damn abyss!

    Well, yes, that is story short-hand for “going to the dark side.”

    Hey, let’s torture a girl!

    Erm…but she’s a red-head. Does that count?

  17. Every time somebody says that, my only response is, “So let’s see them doing the deed already.”
    I spent a lot of time in Missouri, the show-me state. Seeing is believing.

  18. Every time somebody says that, my only response is, “So let’s see them doing the deed already.”

    I spent a lot of time in Missouri, the show-me state. Seeing is believing.

  19. I think the “hubris” interpretation is a fan interpretation, not a Mutant Enemy interpretation.
    True. It’s just that this interpretation seems to be a better fit. Plus it’s dramatically challenging and interesting, which ME’s interpretation wasn’t. I’m not sure why they chose this – perhaps content was some aspect of the negotiations to get Charisma to appear on the show.

  20. I think the “hubris” interpretation is a fan interpretation, not a Mutant Enemy interpretation.

    True. It’s just that this interpretation seems to be a better fit. Plus it’s dramatically challenging and interesting, which ME’s interpretation wasn’t. I’m not sure why they chose this – perhaps content was some aspect of the negotiations to get Charisma to appear on the show.

  21. I do think some backstory was missing with the Fred/Gunn relationship. But I never found hooking them up to be particularly offensive. They’re secondary characters, and the stakes aren’t as high with them. Plus, I think darker shows sometimes need these sorts of relationships as counterpoint.

  22. I do think some backstory was missing with the Fred/Gunn relationship. But I never found hooking them up to be particularly offensive. They’re secondary characters, and the stakes aren’t as high with them. Plus, I think darker shows sometimes need these sorts of relationships as counterpoint.

  23. I still think–and someone with more behind-the-scenes knowledge can correct me on this–that even Mutant Enemy wasn’t of a single mind when it came to Cordelia in Season 3. We get this one-dimensional Saint Cordelia stuff, but I think that was David Greenwalt. I think Joss and Minear wanted to do something different, and eventually did in Season 4, it just got mangled by Charisma’s pregnancy and their inability to write around that very well.

  24. I still think–and someone with more behind-the-scenes knowledge can correct me on this–that even Mutant Enemy wasn’t of a single mind when it came to Cordelia in Season 3. We get this one-dimensional Saint Cordelia stuff, but I think that was David Greenwalt. I think Joss and Minear wanted to do something different, and eventually did in Season 4, it just got mangled by Charisma’s pregnancy and their inability to write around that very well.

  25. I didn’t ever feel the need for any back story. Attraction is attraction; it just is; and as you say, they were secondary characters. Their relationship was there almost solely as a plot device to turn Wesley around the bend, both in season 3 and then again in season 4. Plus the mere fact of it added some depth, some “heart” as I called it above. I never needed it to be more than that.

  26. And there’s some value in having them as a couple, come the end of S3, because presumably… at least some semblance of what Connor views an adult male-female relationship could or should be like is probably patterned off of watching them.

  27. Yes, there are a lot of holes in Connor’s history. A LOT of holes. One of which was, what was that summer like, just him, Gunn, and Fred?

    Maybe I’m reading into things, but I think both characters were both capable of being role models. It’s just the kid was a sieve.

  28. Maybe some people make that distinction, but I don’t, especially as there are grey areas (like in your Tara/Willow example, would putting them in a fictional threesome with one of the other female characters suddenly make it definable as ‘slash’?)

  29. Wow, that’s a lot. Where to start…how about w/an ep you haven’t reviewed yet?

    “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.”

    A little? Sleep Tight aired recently in reruns on TNT. When Wes comes to the Hyperion to get Connor, he runs into Lorne 1st; after the humming & the reading & the chasing & the hitting, the whole rest of the gang comes in & they talk for quite a while, but nobody mentions, “Hey, we found out W&H was spiking the blood Angel was drinking w/Connor’s blood, & that’s why he’s been acting weird. But we’re onto them now, so that won’t be happening anymore, & BTW, now that we know the kind of crap they’re pulling, maybe it’s not a good time to take Connor off the premises.” You’d think that’d be the 1st thing they’d mention, but nah–no need to keep Wes up to speed on this major new development. No, ’cause then Wes might start questioning the decision he made in large part based on Angel’s behavior under the influence of ingesting his son’s blood. They might start comparing notes, & then how would ME have justified the plot? Not to mention that before Lorne comes down the stairs, Wes comes in to find the months-old miracle child all their enemies are after alone in his bassinet in the hotel lobby! And of course we have the classic vague statements in the prophecy & from the burger loa. But to me, the worst is Lorne’s selective reading: he knows Wes has been to see Holtz & that he plans to take Connor & not bring him back, but has no clue as to his motivations. Gee, hasn’t it always been the feelings that Lorne occasionally senses even w/out the singing? But this time they’re the only part he doesn’t pick up on. Contrived? Majorly.

    As for where Wes would’ve taken Connor, I actually have less of a problem w/that. Wes has plenty of the kind of connections & knowledge (incl. magic) that would allow him to disappear, although it doesn’t look like he’s done a lot of advance planning. In this case, the fact that he hasn’t told anyone would mean there’s nobody who could tell the rest of the Gang where he’d gone. Angel could tear through every one of Holtz’s crew–& he would–& not find a clue.

  30. In what episode did he talk to Mr. Hamburger? I can’t recall. I think that before that he was a wreck and considering talking to Angel. But after W&H started with the blood and Angel acted all weird, I think Wes was really afraid of what he’d do. He was weirded out and confused.

    He could have talked to Angel. But can you imagine that conversation? Angel is falling more and more in love and Wes say, “oh by the way you’re prophesized to kill him.” It just doesn’t seem like a useful conversation could ensue. Plus Angel was acting all weird because of the blood. Talking to Angel would have rejoined Wes into the group and spared him the isolation when they cut him off. But that’s more of a hindsight thing.

    But as for going that extreme and stealing the baby, well that is another story. He was alone, cut off from Fred and Gunn, worried that Angel might go evil or something, and Cordy gone. He was really, really freaked out and pretty much a wreck. But also, and this is just a forced interpretation but I think it’s not a bad one, I think the father/son thing drove him over the edge. Here’s a baby who is rescuable, who needs rescuing from a father. Wes cannot be rescued–neither from his father in the past nor from this horrible situation he’s in presently, all alone with this information and dilemma. But he can rescue that baby.

    Also, and this is secondary if not made up entirely, Wes would have to raise the baby himself. He was never really that into the baby but perhaps that was because everyone else was, and he hung back as they were obviously better at it than he and more into it. But if he were forced to be the father (a role he probably wouldn’t assume unless there were no choice) then he wouldn’t be alone.

  31. If we’re thinking about which writers were responsible for Cordelia, it’s very interesting to my mind that Tim Minear’s new show The Inside, from what I gather from reading other people’s reactions to it, involves a female Perfect Victim type who is ambiguously empowered by her past and present suffering.

  32. I don’t have problems with the Fred/Gunn relationship, because I see them as characters who both missed out on the stereotypical teenage romance – Fred because of the sort of obsessiveness and parental pushing that tends to come with academic prodigy status and Gunn because of being tossed on the streets at an early age – and now start having one.

  33. Holtz and Justine in a graveyard – those scenes contain specific shot, dialogue and costume references to scenes between Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland as Buffy and Merrick in the BtVS film. Which strengthens the idea of Holtz and Justine as a parodic Watcher/Slayer relationship.

  34. Good point

    I think there’s something to be said for the unspoken element–Wesley’s relationship with his own father. Didn’t he used to lock Wesley in the closet or the basement or something? Cold and judgmental and emasculating. Plus the sort of man Wesley could apparently shoot dead in a heartbeat to save Fred (Lineage).

  35. My reaction to Fred and Gunn’s relationship was always more about what it *could* have been based on their personalities and strengths as characters than what was actually shown on screen. I thought the relationship had a lot of potential, especially in episodes like “Deep Down” where they have put the cutesy stuff aside for the most part.

    Sort of like my reaction to Connor–I’m a fan not so much because of what happened on screen as what could have happened given the character’s potential.

  36. agree

    On BtVS, the very fact that it was Xander who always remained normal, human, non-superpowered guy pointed up the contrasting fact that the women all did need to have some kind of supernatural boost to be empowered. Xander had to–or got to–find his strength within his humanness.

  37. I always find the “worst Buffy” or “worst Angel” episode bit amusing, because even the worst Joss is better than the overwhelming vast majority of the crap on TV. I don’t remember a single episode that I didn’t find enjoyable in some way. Maybe I’m not very demanding, but, on the other hand, I hardly watch any TV (well, none since even the Buffy/Angel episodes I watch are on DVD).

    I think your comments about ME’s intentions for Cordelia with respect to hubris must be correct or else “You’re Welcome” would make no sense.

    Contrary to other opinions, I do see that there is some chemistry between Angel (DB) and Cordelia (CC). Otherwise the whole friendship between the two of them would not have worked. Or, are people thinking of “chemistry” as specifically a “romantic” thing?

  38. They had great friendship chemistry. I became very fond of the two of them as friends because it seemed so damned unlikely when they both left BtVS.

    I think your comments about ME’s intentions for Cordelia with respect to hubris must be correct or else “You’re Welcome” would make no sense.

    In what way?

    I agree that there’s something to be found in every episode of BtVS and AtS. Even when I thought, “God, this was a stinker”, I’d do my episode analysis and find hidden depths in it. Every time.

  39. In what way?

    In “You’re Welcome”, Cordelia is “working” with the PTB. She’s not angry with them. She’s providing Angel with a connection to the PTB and setting him back on his path. She has to leave Angel to a “different road”. She claims that she can’t stay because “this isn’t me”. All of these things would indicate that the events in “Tomorrow” were legitimate and that S4 events were Jasmine exploiting the situation.

  40. That’s not my theory, though. My theory is that it was Jasmine exploiting her the whole time. After all, in Season 4 we find out that Skip is a “merc” working for Jasmine. And it was Skip who was Cordelia’s guide to her “true path” in Birthday, and Skip who told Cordelia she needed to go to the higher dimensions in Tomorrow.

    I’ll got into this in more depth when I get to the final episodes of Season 3, but basically, Cordelia’s glowy thing I think is a mislead to make her believe she’s changing and becoming a “purer being”. Either that, or Jasmine is actually preparing her physically to enter the higher dimensions where the actual posession of Cordelia by Jasmine takes place.

    So basically, Jasmine has become a rogue PTB who wants to return to Earth to “make things better” which goes against the PTB’s “hands off, humans have free will” policy. She manipulates various events starting with “The Trial” and through Season 3 in order to create the circumstances where she can be born, including Cordelia’s half-demon thing.

    Now what Jasmine did *not* do was give Cordelia the visions in the first place. That was probably an accident from kissing Doyle, or it was arranged by the other PTBs. They wanted Angel to have a guide in his mission. There intentions were benevolent.

    Cordelia knows the difference between Jasmine and the other PTBs, and she is awoken in YW by the other PTBs to give Angel encouragement in his dark time at Wolfram and Hart. Cordelia never gives up her faith in the PTBs, despite being used so savagely by Jasmine.

  41. That’s more or less what I’ve held, but prior comments on the thread have got me thinking….why, at the end of YW did the other PTB accept that Cordelia’s path was in another dimenion. If “Tomorrow” was a sham by Jasmine/Skip, why do the PTB seem to accept the results?

  42. Cordelia dies at the end of YW, she doesn’t go to another dimension.

    Unless, of course you count the ‘heavenly dimension’.

  43. Your explanation of the “different road” is what?

    CORDELIA: I can’t stay. This isn’t me anymore. You can say good-bye to the gang for me, explain everything once you understand.

    ANGEL: That’s gonna be never. I need you here.

    CORDELIA: Don’t make it hard, Angel. I’m just on a different road… and this is my off-ramp. The Powers That Be owed me one, and I didn’t waste it.

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