Angel, Season 3 eps 15-18

15 Jul


This review contains 95% less obnoxious Angel+Baby Connor squeeing than the last. I promise. But I just have to start the post by noting their relationship, because of course the episodes “Loyalty” and “Sleep Tight” mark the tragic turn of Season 3, when Angel loses his child in Holtz’s devastating act of eye-for-an-eye vengeance.

So, ahem:


Loyalty

“He just makes me so happy.” — Angel

Season 3 Angel was so enthusiastic about being a father, so clearly in love with his son. Waxing poetic about how he couldn’t wait to see Connor grow up, to experience all the milestones in his life with him. I should have known something was going to happen. Well, it’s not like I didn’t know something was going to happen. A vampire pregnancy is all well and good, as is Angel being all goo-goo about his baby, but it’s a well-known maxim of television that children rarely grow up on screen. They get shoved into the background of the story, forgotten, speed-aged over night, or they die.

But I was unspoiled.

So of course I didn’t see the horrid foreshadowing of the coming of Steven Holtz. Aubrey, one of Holtz’s soldiers, poses as a client coming to Angel Investigations, telling them the (no doubt true) story of her own son. As she does, we see Angel rocking Connor’s cradle. Aubrey relates how she lost her son at the pier. How she looked for him. How she finally went home and waited. How he returned to her, changed, vicious, cursing her name. She talks about how she wishes she’d let the boy into the house rather than letting him burn in the morning sun.

God. Is that the story of teen Connor in a nutshell? And then Gunn says,

Gunn: “No. What came to your door that wasn’t your son. It looked like your son, but it wasn’t him.”

Aubrey: “Maybe I could have found a way to turn him back.”

Angel: “When somebody becomes a vampire there is no turning back. No matter how much you want to believe there is some part of him you can save, all that’s left is an evil thing.”

*Shudder*

Note: you know, Angel fans don’t talk a lot about Angel’s “I have a soul” superiority complex. He’s always brooding, seeking redemption, being insecure, but the truth is he *does* think he’s better than unsouled demons, and both Gunn and Cordelia have called him on that attitude from time to time when it was appropriate. Mostly when he does something *really* morally ambiguous like letting Darla and Drusilla kill all the lawyers.

Anyway, Aubrey returns to Holtz’s soldiers and tells them all about Angel’s team, and you get the impression that Holtz is preparing for a war. Which is something of a mislead, because in the end, his vengeance was very personal, very specific. Taking Angel’s son away from Angel was his plan from the moment he laid eyes on Connor in that rainy alleyway. So why all the soldiers? Is Angel really all that hard to kill? Well, no–Holtz could have easily dusted Angel in the alley the night of Connor’s birth, for example. But Holtz doesn’t want Angel dead.

“I want to keep Angelus alive…but not well.” –Holtz

And that takes manpower. (Plus Holtz is “the Captain” and he’s used to having “men” to order around).

Speaking of which, another side note: I love Justine. She’s tough, bitter, fucked up, and though she’s not a Slayer, she can still kick your ass. My only question is–how can she fight in pants that tight? She can barely stand when she falls over, which she does, a lot.

Meanwhile, Sahjhan has wised up and realized that he won’t get what he wants from Holtz–Angel and Connor’s quick death. So Sahjhan goes to Lilah, who tells him she is going to help him “contrary to Wolfram and Hart’s official policy.” Together, they cook up a scheme to get Angel to kill Connor. First, they get a hold of some of Connor’s blood, which they slip into Angel’s pig’s blood. Angel drinks it, and, since it’s been a while since he had yummy human blood, he gets a taste for it and wants more. Then, Sahjhan “flits” back in time (in a manly way) with his handy-dandy dimensional portals and rewrites the Nyazian scrolls so that the true prophecy that vexed him in the first place is no longer there:

“The one sired by the vampire with a soul will grow to manhood and kill Sahjhan.”

He replaces it with a “prophecy” that “predicts” what he hopes Angel will soon do: “The father will kill the son.”

At this point, it becomes unclear exactly what events are manipulated by Sahjhan and/or Lilah and what are not. But you have to wonder. Wesley finds the fake prophecy and starts trying to prove it false. I doubt Sahjhan actually thought Wesley would find that “prophecy”, and he certainly didn’t want Wesley trying to prevent it from coming true. On the other hand, Lilah probably did; she wanted to get her hands on the baby so Wolfram and Hart could study and dissect it.

Wesley goes to the Hamburger Loa who tells him to “look for the signs–earthquake, fire, blood” because these will signal when the “vampire will ‘devour’ his child.” Then the earthquake actually happens, and we see Lilah sitting at her desk unperturbed as if she were expecting it. And it’s exactly this earthquake that convinces Wesley that the prophecy must be true and that rather than spend his energies disproving it, he’d better spend them protecting Connor.

Methinks Lilah was behind that Loa’s ambiguously misleading words *and*, probably, Wesley managing to find copies of the commentaries on the Nyzian scrolls in the first place.

Sleep Tight

But what was Wesley’s deal? We can assume that he didn’t tell Angel about the prophecy at first simply because he wanted to prove it was false. Not only didn’t he want to accuse his friend of murder-before-the-fact, Angel wasn’t likely *to* murder his child. He was the sappiest, dotingest father. Ever.

Then the “signs” came in quick succession and Wesley panicked: the Loa’s confirmation that the “vampire would devour his child”; the earthquake, fire, and blood; Angel’s erratic behavior. So Wesley shifts gears from proving the prophecy false to trying to prevent it from happening. It’s at this point we really have to ask, “why didn’t Wesley talk to somebody?

Well, he did talk to “somebody.” He talked to Holtz. Initially, Wesley goes to Holtz to give him a firm-jawed, “I know what you’re up to and leave Angel alone, he has a soul, yada yada.” The second time he goes to Holtz, it’s ostensibly to stop the war on Angel before it starts. But Holtz tells Wesley that if he doesn’t do something about Angel before Connor is harmed, Holtz will. Holtz doesn’t know about the prophecy; he just assumes Angel is a danger to the child, because, hey, *vampire*, but Holtz’s reactions only fuel Wesley’s fears.

O.K., forget Holtz. The real question is, “Why didn’t Wesley tell a member of the Fang Gang about the prophecy?” Why did he run off with Angel’s child instead?

Because it’s classic Wesley. This is the man who, from the moment we meet him in “Bad Girls” until the moment he dies in NFA, mistakes “the hard choice” for the right choice. Yes, sometimes in life, we are forced to make hard choices–choices we’d rather not make–because they’re the right thing to do under the circumstances. But how many times has Wesley made “the hard choice” when there were alternatives he hadn’t fully considered? (e.g., Choices, TNPLPG, Habeas Corpses, Lineage, etc.) Wesley needs to be the rogue demon hunter, the man who takes responsibility off others and puts it on himself and makes the decisions “no one else can/should have to make” to spare them that burden. *

‘Cause that’s what it means to be a man.

Or something.

Wesley never much liked his father. But he internalized his father, and the whole ruthless Watcher credo.

So Wesley goes to the hotel and takes Connor away. Unluckily for him, Holtz has decided not to “wait a day” to make his own move to “save” Connor, and he attacks the hotel right after the gang has discovered that Wesley has run off with the baby. The attack is a diversion so Justine can steal Connor from Wesley.

And then Holtz carries out his real plan–to take Connor away from Angel the way Angel took his son. But rather than kill him, Holtz intends to raise Connor himself. Only he realizes he can’t do that without Angel tracking him down relentlessly wherever he goes. After all, Angel does that in “Sleep Tight”–he tracks down Holtz to the bridge overpass. Then the other players arrive–Lilah, Sahjhan. Time for the big show down.

At first, Holtz’s only alternative seems to be to kill the child. Which Sahjhan is all for; that’s what he’s wanted from the beginning. But Angel wants the child alive, as does the double-crossing Lilah. And Angel would rather see Connor with Holtz than with Wolfram and Hart or dead. So Sahjhan plays the only card he’s got left, his ability to open portals. He opens a portal to Quoroth, “the darkest of the dark worlds”. Unless Holtz kills the child, he’ll open it wider and it will engulf them all.

Holtz doesn’t care; he wants his vengeance above all else. So he jumps into Quortoth with Angel’s child.

At this point, Sahjhan assumes he’s won–Connor is as good as dead. He smugly says, “Have a good summer” and disappears and sure enough, we had a HUGE break between Sleep Tight and Forgiving. Weeks. Maybe over a month? It was pretty awful.

‘Cause I held out hope. Say all the grumbly things you want about the baby Connor story line, I LIKED Angel and his baby son, I liked his joy, I liked him having someone he could be with at the end of the day, even if it was an infant wiggling in his crib. I didn’t want anything happening to that baby, and I was worried they were going to kill it off, just because…Joss does that. Up the angst quotient.

So, Masq, who had sworn off spoilers since Season 3 of BtVS, went and read a David Greenwalt article. The article said, “the baby isn’t coming back. The baby is gone.” I didn’t read that as “The baby is gone, but Connor isn’t.” I pretty much read that as, “Connor is gone.” And I was devastated, right along side Angel.

* Thanks goes to dlgood for pointing out this interpretation of Wesley.

Forgiving

Forgiving starts out in a daze, the numbed and desperate hunt for answers. Fred searches for a reason why Wesley would simply run off with Angel’s child without a word. Justine struggles with the realization that Holtz has simply abandoned her. And Angel tries to find a way into Quortoth so he can save Connor the way he once saved Cordelia from Pylea (speaking of which, it might have *helped* if they’d had her visions guiding them, but now it’s Angel keeping people out of the loop “for their own good”).

Everyone feels betrayed.

The hunt for answers is soon abandoned in favor of action. Justine leads Holtz’s group on an attack against Angel as if everything’s proceeding according to plan. Angel abandons book research in favor of wringing information out of Lynwood. And Fred and Gunn run out to find Wesley before Angel decides to switch from rescuing the child to “punishing those responsible.”

Lorne warns Angel that getting into Quortoth requires “dark, dark magicks”, but Angel’s back in touch with his dark side again. It’s amazing how easily he shifts into Angelus-mode. You often hear people remark that Angel and Angelus are “so different” while souled and unsouled Spike are not. Bull-oney. Angelus just is Liam’s dark side, and we see him slip into it like a dark coat when circumstances push him far enough. The lawyers in the basement; the kidnapping of Connor. Am I wrong to be fascinated by that transition?

Lynwood sends Angel to Lilah, who takes him to Wolfram and Hart’s font of information–the Conduit to the Senior Partners. This is our first visit to the White Room. Mesektet, the Conduit, announces blithely that “the baby’s gone, you want Sahjhan”. She wants Angel to shift to the revenge portion of our program, but Angel hasn’t given up yet. He goes after Sahjhan hoping Sahjhan will help him open a portal. A few dark magicks, and *poof*, Sahjhan is corporealized. But of course, the demon neither wants nor can open another portal to Quortoth.

And so we find all our players impotent. Gunn and Fred can’t find Wesley. Justine can’t kill Angel. And Angel is left with nothing but grief. And revenge.

Fred and Gunn return to Wesley’s place and discover the prophecy that lead to Wesley’s actions. And Fred, desperate to believe no ill of Wesley, defends Wesley’s choice as “the only thing he could do under the circumstances.” Angel is considerably less forgiving. Earlier in the episode, he was in a dark place, and yet, when Wesley is finally found and Angel goes after him, it is such a human act. After my nephew was born, I realized I could fully imagine my intellectual geek pacificist conscientious objector brother killing someone who harmed his son. How much more capable is Angel? Season 3 sucks in places. I know that. But when Season 3 is good, it’s GOOD. The end of “Forgiving”? ChristAlmightyFuck.

A couple other notes on “Forgiving”. Sahjhan, the time-shifting demon who has seen both the future and the past says, “I had to put your boy down. Pity. Kid had a big future. I mean big.”

– “Big,” to me, means more than just fathering, defending, and then killing Jasmine (after she was already deposed from power). It means more than slaying Sahjhan. It means more than writing resumes for internships. It means Connor has a real future as a hero. Which is one reason I finally broke down and started committing fanfic. I wanted to see that future.

– I love seeing Sahjhan mouth off in “Forgiving” knowing that he’ll get his. The very fate he tried to avoid he created. Killed by the Destroyer of Quortoth. Ahhh….

Double or Nothing

Cordelia finally returns. With the worst.hair.ever. You thought her season 2 hair was bad? Oh.my.gawd. The one thing to make Saint Cordelia as bad as bad could get was Teh Hare!!

Anyway, she returns to find Angel in mourning. Say what you want about the suckiness of “Double or Nothing”. DB’s performance of Angel’s grief is palpable. Staring into that damned charred, empty crib. God.

And Alexis Denisof. The things he can say with silence. In attempting to save/spare his family, Wesley loses his family. And Fred, despite her repeated naïve insistence that they ought to reach out to Wesley (at best, it’s *way* too soon) is the one to drive this point home to him. She tells him he should have told them about the prophecy instead of going to Holtz behind their backs. She warns him that Angel will kill him if he returns to the hotel. And she informs him that the prophecy that tormented him was false. Wesley’s failure is complete. He has nothing.

Once you get past the arcy stuff, “Double or Nothing” seems to be little more than a filler episode that gives us some background on Gunn. But though the execution of this episode is poor, I think it tries to do something deeper than that (which it probably ultimately failed at), and we can still recognize it if we look hard enough.

The trick is to ignore every use of the word “soul” and substitute the word “future“. Both words are used in this episode–interchangeably, alas (which causes trouble later on because of the meaning of the word “soul” in the Buffyverse)–but just go with me here. The episode was written by some temp writer who had a decent understanding of metaphor but a sucky grasp of Buffyverse metaphysics. Forget about souls.

The episode takes us back to a time when Gunn was still living on the streets, fighting a seemingly insurmountable daily struggle against the demons that preyed on his neighborhood. He didn’t think much about the future, because what future was there? He was a high-school drop-out; there were dead-end jobs if he was lucky, death from demons if he wasn’t, or perhaps crime if he was inclined. He wasn’t. He was a “defender of the young and innocent”, a hero at heart.

He goes to Jenoff, a crime boss who deals in “needs, not wants”–things “you just can’t live without.” And Gunn sells his future for a weapon, a tank–his familiar tricked-out truck–because he figured, quite reasonably, that he had no future, that he’d die before he was asked to cash in.

But you never know what the future is going to bring. Years later, Gunn was forced to kill his vampire sister and he left the neighborhood. He started working for Angel. And his fortunes changed. Life was no longer a daily struggle against death. He met Fred and fell in love. But the minute she reciprocated and they became “an item”–the minute he started thinking about having a future with her–Jenoff, who held the ticket on Gunn’s future, called in the marker. Gunn’s future belonged to Jenoff, to take when he pleased.

Now cut back to Angel mourning his lost son, Cordelia at his side:

ANGEL: You think you know something about living, cause you have this really long past. And that’s really all you have, in my case anyway. Then one day you wake up and you have something else…

CORDELIA: A future.

ANGEL: I had a son….

Angel never thought much about his future before Connor came along, because he was immortal. He could live forever, he could be dust tomorrow. The future was a big blank nothing. Then his fortunes changed. He became father to a human child. And suddenly, he made plans. He was going to be there for every milestone of Connor’s childhood, see Connor become a father himself, and watch him grow old. We talk about how “children are the future” and it’s cliche, but it’s true. Suddenly, Angel was part of the cycle of life.

And then Connor was taken away from him. Gone.

Angel and Cordelia’s exchange adds significance to the much-maligned gamble Angel makes later in the episode. Angel bets both his future and Gunn’s (which is already forfeit) on the turn of a card. If Angel gets high card, they both go free. If Angel gets low card, they both have to give up their futures–their lives–to Jenoff. The reason Angel is willing to make that gamble is that he is suddenly in Gunn’s position from years ago, a man who doesn’t think he has a future anymore. Angel is saying to Jenoff, the dealer in needs, “I NEED something valuable. I need Gunn. And I’m willing to gamble both our futures to get him.” (or at least, risk the fists-and-fangs fight against insurmountable odds that’s going to ensue if I lose). And yeah, it’s reckless and short-sighted, just like trading your future for a truck.

The irony is that, just like Gunn, who had a future in store he couldn’t imagine as a teenager, Angel has a future in store with his son. You never know what the future is going to bring.

So Angel gets the low card, tries to kill Jenoff, it doesn’t work, he sics Jenoff’s miserable debtors on him and runs out with his family. ‘Cause they’re all he has now and he’s not going to lose any more of them. Then he goes home and finally dismantles Connor’s scorched crib. And just in time for….

48 Responses to “Angel, Season 3 eps 15-18”

  1. chicken_cem July 15, 2005 at 3:33 pm #

    It’s amazing how easily he shifts into Angelus-mode. You often hear people remark that Angel and Angelus are “so different” while souled and unsouled Spike are not. Bull-oney. Angelus just is Liam’s dark side, and we see him slip into it like a dark coat when circumstances push him far enough. The lawyers in the basement; the kidnapping of Connor. Am I wrong to be fascinated by that transition?

    That is always a fascinating transition. Even in Eternity, which had some problems.

  2. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 4:47 pm #

    “Eternity” isn’t hard to figure out if you understand that “Angelus” is just Liam’s nasty side. We all have a dark, nasty side that we try not to let out. But often times it does, for example, when we’ve drunk too much, or are under incredible stress and pain.

    People get confused because they think the “demon” is Angelus; it’s not. The demon is just the dumb blood-thirsty animal we met in Pylea. If Angel were to Shanshu and become human, Angelus would still be there, deep down. It’s just Liam is more likely to show his bad side when his soul (conscience) is gone, and if he were human, he’d be unlikely to lose his soul.

  3. chicken_cem July 15, 2005 at 5:42 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand all that. When I said “Eternity” had “problems” I meant that I found the actress (Rebecca) to be really, really annoying. I liked Cordy and Wes in this episode a lot, though. The way Angel and Wes were forced to endure Cordy’s bad acting was funny, and so was the bondage at the end.

  4. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 5:54 pm #

    Yeah, Rebecca was annoying. I tried to look past that to just go with her fascination with Angel and vampires. I thought it was a cool episode.

    Has anyone ever counted how many times Angel has been in chains? I’m sure somebody has.

  5. chicken_cem July 15, 2005 at 5:57 pm #

    I don’t know, but I think someone on my friends list pretty much capped all of them, because she has a bondage icon, an animated one, that shows Angel and Spike both in various states of bondage, together and alone. Very slashy.

    Me, I like my Xander/Andrew one.

  6. starryniteshade July 15, 2005 at 6:27 pm #

    Angelus just is Liam’s dark side, and we see him slip into it like a dark coat when circumstances push him far enough.

    ME certainly made it very clear that the vampire “inherited” his or her personality from the human personality. Any amount of depth psychological work shows just how much our surface personality / personal is a veneer. But to be fair be bury not just the bad but very often the good in our psyche.

    Wesley needs to be the rogue demon hunter, the man who takes responsibility off others and puts it on himself and makes the decisions “no one else can/should have to make” to spare them that burden

    Pretty much the fatal flaw in Wes’s personality. The harder the choice the “better” the choice. There’s a substantial element of self-hatred in Wes – not surprising given his father’s brainwashing of Wes – not to mention locking him under that stairs. Is this under the stairs bit a British thing? Because it’s used in Harry Potter too.

    I didn’t mind “Double or Nothing” and took pretty much what you mentioned from it. I guess I’m not very discriminating.

  7. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 6:38 pm #

    Me, I like my Faith one.

  8. chicken_cem July 15, 2005 at 6:46 pm #

    Oh, I love that one — the sheer attitude she projects.

    I also like the scene in S7 when she and Spike are flirting near the chains in the basement, and Buffy comes down the stairs — the whole thing was rife with threesome tension. Of course Buffy/Faith would be better than Buffy/Faith/Spike, but it was still a hot subtexty scene for canon.

  9. dlgood July 15, 2005 at 6:56 pm #

    For me, the non-arcy parts of Double or Nothing were mostly low-quality (but not truly hideous) filler. The most annoying thing for me was the use of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” as the musical bit in the ‘Gunn goes to the casino’ flashback because it was just a really cliched choice by the production staff. That was lamer than the actual plot…

  10. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 7:03 pm #

    “Double or Nothing” gets put up next to “She” as the most hated-AtS episodes. Neither are at the top of my list, but I don’t mind “She”, and actually have a better appreciation for “DorN” after this review than I did after my ATPo analysis of it. Both seem better than the hideous “Provider” to me.

    One reason AtS is such a good show with depths to explore is that the fatal flaws of each of the characters are so complex. Angel’s sadism, Wesley’s ruthlessness, Cordelia’s hubris, they can be benefits as well as flaws depending on the circumstances.

  11. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 7:06 pm #

    I don’t think I’d heard “Gangster’s Paradise” except one or two times when I first saw DorN, so I thought it was kind of cool. Cliched to be played over Gunn, mind you, but I was admiring the song itself and wasn’t paying much attention to what it was juxtaposed to on-screen.

  12. starryniteshade July 15, 2005 at 7:12 pm #

    most hated-AtS episodes

    Do people really have “most hated episode” lists? Huh? While there will inevitably those episodes to which one responds less than othere, there isn’t a single Buffy or Angle episode I hated. Although I admit that the last half of Btvs S6 was like watching a train wreck in slow motion – interesting but still a train wreck.

  13. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 7:13 pm #

    Buffy/Faith!

  14. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 7:30 pm #

    Well I don’t know if fans have “hated” lists or can even be said to “hate” them, but scan through the comments sometime to my other episode reviews and read scathing reviews of episodes like “She” or “Double or Nothing.” Whedon fans expect a certain level of quality and feel especially justified in tearing through some of the lower-quality episodes.

  15. londonkds July 15, 2005 at 7:32 pm #

    It is stereotypical British evil-parent stuff.

  16. londonkds July 15, 2005 at 7:34 pm #

    Yeah, that must be the most embarassing musical choice I’ve ever seen on a TV series. Especially given that it’s pretty well considered as being to gangster rap what the Osmonds were to hard rock. Maybe there was some vague ironic intent that didn’t come off?

  17. dlgood July 15, 2005 at 8:49 pm #

    Ahh.

    I think Gangster’s Paradise is okay enough… it was just one of those songs that had been really, really played out by the time ME got to it. (They used it in the promos for a “Michelle Pfeiffer is tough chick who goes to teach at the Bad Inner City school” movie…) And it came out in 1995, so it did fit the time period they were placing Gunn in.

    But, the drawbacks again – were that it was a cliched (oh, they’re using GP again…) fit to the story, and also one of these tunes that – in selecting it – conveys the impression that it was probably the only rap song the out-of-touch/un-hip writers had heard of. General rule of thumb is that if Weird Al Yankovic has parodied the song (which he did) you probably shouldn’t use the original, unless you’re going for irony.

  18. dlgood July 15, 2005 at 8:50 pm #

    I don’t know.

    Coolio was more of a party rap guy, but he had bonifide cred, and that song was very well respected when it first came out. But man, by the time ME got to it, stale doesn’t begin to describe how it made them look…

  19. cjlasky July 15, 2005 at 8:52 pm #

    The Fred/Gunn parts of DoN drove me nuts. They were like 12 year-olds.

  20. dlgood July 15, 2005 at 8:53 pm #

    The Weird Al Parody being “Amish Paradise”, which would likely amuse you greatly, at least the first time.

  21. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 8:57 pm #

    Well, I’m only vaguely ashamed to have to throw myself in with M.E. as the musically-ignorant over-aged white folk. Because, alas, it’s true.

  22. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 8:57 pm #

    Oh, I’ve heard it. It was amusing.

  23. starryniteshade July 15, 2005 at 10:35 pm #

    Does the stereotype have a root in a story or fairy tale or something like that?

  24. starryniteshade July 15, 2005 at 10:48 pm #

    Whedon fans expect a certain level of quality and feel especially justified in tearing through some of the lower-quality episodes

    Oh, I understand that it’s done. I’m just not in that space. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned how much more criticism says about the writer than the object of the criticism.

    Examples:

    1) The theatre critic for the city newspaper complaining a production (in which I was an actor) didn’t put on the 3rd act of a play of which she was already familiar. We did put on that act. She had inexplicably left in the 2nd intermission.

    2) A painting of an old woman in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam thought at one time to be by Rembrandt. It was the favorite by far until it was discovered not to be by Rembrandt but by a pupil of his. Now the painting, still just as wonderful, is largely ignored.

    3) This quote from the catalogue published by the Maurtishaus in The Hague for their “Bouquets of the Golden Age” of fabulous Dutch flower paintings from 1600 to 1800. “During the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, when appreciation of Northern Netherlandish was based on the varnish-darkened pictures of Rembrandt and his pupils, flower pieces were considered garish because of their ‘crass’ display of colour. In 1905 the future professor W. Vogelsang wrote, ‘nowadays we would not dare entrust De Heem, Van Huysum, or even the female hand of Rachel Ruysch with the making of a table decoration.’ ” Of course, Vogelsang’s descendents would have done very well if he had purchased one or two of these crass paintings.

    4) From the liner notes of Gorecki’s 3rd symphony…chastises music critics who seem unable to appreciate this great work with these words, “For the unprejudiced listener of any kind, and also for the specialist whose musicality can still get the better of his or her prejudices…”

    Perhaps we do need some prejudicial information to better appreciate the arts, but never should we forget that we should not let this prejudice get the better of our enjoyment.

  25. ninerva July 15, 2005 at 11:34 pm #

    I think it has more to do with most British houses not having cellars, therefore the only place scary enough was the cupboard under the stairs, it’s a cellar-lite alternative. But really it’s the place where you keep the hoover. 🙂

  26. ninerva July 15, 2005 at 11:50 pm #

    I think I remember Giles or Buffy saying that when someone becomes a vampire whatever they were no longer exists, Angel started to contradict them but then stopped. It is a fine line, Angel/Angelus, is it the man? the vampire? It always bothered me in Buffy that there was this whole ‘humans-good, demons-bad’ thing, but then Angel muddied those waters to my satisfaction. I like complexity and all the developed vampire characters on both shows illustrated that very complexity. In a way they were truer representations of what it is to be human than your streotypical ‘hero’ on most shows where it’s considered bad form to show them being morally ambiguous without very extenuous circumstances. Of course they could get away with it with the whole ‘vampire-bad’ clause, but look underneath that and it’s not so simple. Angel’s reaction to Wes in the hospital, totally understandable from a human perspective. It’s like the whole feminist principle applies though, where women have to be twice as good as a man to be considered successful, Angel has to be twice as good as the average human to be considered safe.

  27. neshaffer July 15, 2005 at 11:54 pm #

    Angel has to be twice as good as the average human to be considered safe.

    That’s an astute observation.

  28. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 12:02 am #

    it’s the place where you keep the hoover

    Now, that IS scary!!!

  29. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 12:04 am #

    I think I remember Giles or Buffy saying that when someone becomes a vampire whatever they were no longer exists, Angel started to contradict them but then stopped.

    Interesting how many of the vampWillow’s character traits eventually showed up in Willow.

  30. ninerva July 16, 2005 at 12:13 am #

    On second viewing that was such a set-up it was embarrassing. Sometimes subtlety was not ME’s strong point, sometimes they are so subtle I wonder if I’m just fan-w**king. Not that I care, someone see’s a few blobs of paint, someone else sees a masterpiece, who’s to say who’s wrong?

  31. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 12:26 am #

    I don’t think a single viewer could have been left in any doubt about Willow’s potential sexual preferences at the end of that episode. It was way beyond set-up. I was thinking more about the sadism and potential to be a “big bad”. That wasn’t so obvious – at least the first time – that Willow had THAT in her.

  32. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 1:05 am #

    Sure, if you’re a cat.

  33. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 1:09 am #

    Tsk, tsk, *both* of you. Giles and Buffy pay lip-service to the old Watcher’s myth that the vampire is a different person, as does Wesley as late as Season 2 of AtS. But EVERY action of the actual vampires on the show makes it quite clear that the soul is nothing more than the conscience, so the only thing that actually vacates the body from the human is their conscience. Everything else of them remains. The “vampire demon” is an dumb blood-thirsty animal without intelligence.

    Vampires are all the same person as the human who was bit.

  34. dlgood July 16, 2005 at 1:41 am #

    Vampires are all the same person as the human who was bit.

    The same person, plus an extra heaping of bloodlust. Because, biological imperatives are going to leave some psychological traces…

  35. dlgood July 16, 2005 at 1:44 am #

    I could see how that was. And I’m hardly the most whimsical guy out there, but it didn’t really bug me all that much. Gunn and Fred were likeable enough characters that the pairing was something I found benignly inoffensive. There was a bit much schmoop given the timing, it being after Connor gets kidnapped, but I guess I was able to gloss over the pancake kissing whereas a lot of other people couldn’t…

  36. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 5:45 am #

    Well, did I mention the “vampire demon” who is a dumb blood-thirsty animal?

    Oh yeah, I did.

    They encourage the unsouled individual to deeper levels of badness, certainly.

  37. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 5:47 am #

    The schmoopiness of them never bothered me because I always thought “they were just written that way”. There was nothing inherent in their characters that meant their relationship had to be that way. They had the potential to be a complex and hot couple. It’s just…the writers had other things to do.

  38. cjlasky July 16, 2005 at 5:28 pm #

    Regarding F&G in DoN

    It’s not that Fred and Gunn were written in the most saccharine way possible (although I hated that). It’s not that Fred and Gunn in Lurve were far less interesting than Fred and Gunn as individuals (although I hated that too).

    It’s that we just finished watching the Fang Gang shut Wesley out of their lives because he kept the secret of the fake Nyazian Prophecy too long, didn’t tell his friends about the crisis, then went rogue….and in the same episode, Gunn keeps a secret way too long, doesn’t tell his friends or the woman he loves about the crisis, then takes independent action that’s guaranteed to make the situation worse. And no, I don’t think the writers were conscious of the parallel or were doing it as ironic counterpoint.

    The perfect day with Fred and then the breakup just made Gunn look selfish. And stupid. And immature. And hypocritical. And we all know he’s usually none of those things.

    So, summing up: hated Angel’s “solution” to the Jenoff problem (yes, devil’s bargains are a little tougher to break than that, Broody Boy), hated Cordy’s hair, hated the waste of quality guest actors, hated the pancake schmoopiness…

    Strangely enough, I was OK with “Gangster’s Paradise,” and Gunn selling his soul for a truck. Those two things worked. The empty crib was a simple chilling image. But everything else? Oy

  39. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 6:11 pm #

    LJ lost my first reply, so here’s another version.

    Your comments “the soul is nothing more than the conscience” and “Vampires are all the same person as the human who was bit” somewhat understates the role that conscience (or whatever equivalent in each psychological theory) plays in the make of who we are.

    Remove a part of my brain or psyche and, in terms of personality, I am no longer the same. That was clear with my mother who suffered Alzheimer’s; there was definitely a change in her personality and she was no longer the “same person”. I think you minimise the siginficance that conscience plays in our psychological development. It guides us not just towards “good” as a princple, but in concrete ways to be good children, good studends, good workers, good citizens, good partners, good friends, etc. Without it we are reduced to an instinctual creature satisfying our every urge, desire or want without regard to consequences on others. Conscience gives us the capacity for real empathy for others for whom we have no personal attachment.

    “Nothing more than a conscience” is like saying I’m a worm with nothing more than a bigger brain.

  40. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 6:14 pm #

    All I’m saying is that the body is not vacated by the person we knew and completely taken over by an intelligent something else, as was held in traditional Watcher lore.

  41. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 6:20 pm #

    And…all I was saying about Willow is that it was interesting how many of her deep urges, etc. that came out in her vampire form later became expressed by the still human, still soulled Willow. Everything she feared in herself in vampire form came to pass, which is an interesting thing to do with a character.

    I for one am glad that this hasn’t happened to me – and hopefully never will. Otherwise, in the worst case there might be one or two people dead.

  42. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 7:13 pm #

    I had a post a while back about “What would you be like if you were a Jossverse vampire?”

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/masqthephlsphr/46665.html

    The idea is to imagine that you were in the Buffyverse and you got bit and lost your soul, that is, your conscience. How would you behave? Assuming everything else that makes you who you are, your weaknesses, strengths, memories, preferences, etc, are all still in tact, how would the loss of a soul twist, weaken, and amplify that?

    It’s a deeply personal question, I found, because we all hide sides of ourselves we don’t want others to see, but that might not concern a vampire without a soul. They might let it all hang out. I, for example, realized I’d be very spiteful, and had a HUGE streak of reverse snobbery. Because those are aspects of who I am now I try to keep in check.

  43. starryniteshade July 16, 2005 at 8:40 pm #

    It’s pretty clear to me that I would be a lot like Angelus. I’m not into Spike’s mayhem. Just snatch and eat to survive like the average vampire would NOT be enough to keep me interested. I’d always be looking for new and interesting ways to keep myself entertained. I’d love the luxury – so no living in rat holes for me. And, the torture – oh gawd, the torture – and revenge bit by bit. Oh, oops. This was a fantasy, wasn’t it? Sorry….conscience is back in command.

  44. neshaffer July 16, 2005 at 8:48 pm #

    I don’t think I’d be into torture. I think I’d dispatch my old adversaries pretty quickly, after telling them why they’re going. No muss, no fuss. No eating, probably, either. You are what you eat. Save the eating for the pretty, dumb strangers.

  45. ladyhelix July 17, 2005 at 4:09 pm #

    This is wonderful Masq!

    Now all I have to do is figure out how to bribe someone to do my share of the S4 reviews. because I so CLEARLY cannot play in this league!

  46. neshaffer July 20, 2005 at 4:31 am #

    Re: This is wonderful Masq!

    This are not the style of reviews I plan to do for our Season 4 marathon!

    These are special reviews I’ve been doing of the whole show just for my LJ, and I plan to come back sometime later on and do similar reviews for Season 4, but not during our marathon.

    In fact, I’m considering friends-locking any reviews I do for our marathon, so that mostly just marathon folks (you, me, Ninerva, SNS, and Ann) can read them so they stay intimate and friendly.

  47. ladyhelix July 20, 2005 at 10:40 pm #

    Re: This is wonderful Masq!

    OOps – then ignore my suggestion to use the board! I guess we can all post in our own journals, can’t we?

  48. neshaffer July 20, 2005 at 10:51 pm #

    Re: This is wonderful Masq!

    I think that’s what we decided in your post asking what the format/schedule/venue would be.

    And you guys don’t have to lock your posts. It’s just my flist is so big I didn’t want random folks wandering into our conversation. The more intimate and friendly, the less pressure to say anything profound, and just enjoy ourselves.

    ; )

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