I wouldn't include the Girl in Question in any advocacy for Angel season five and motw episodes as IMO the only parts that aren't hot garbage are the ones part of the arc i.e the Ilyria/Wes b plot.Agreed. Look back at the earlier episodes and you have the group investigating in stand alone episodes that idea dried up in later years. My disapointment of season 7 stems from the belief that going into the last year I think it was suggested it was SMG's last year. Certainly halfway into the season it must have been confirmed that it was SMG's last year so the show was either going to change dramatically as in replace it's lead character or finish. While there is a need to wrap up all the story arcs I believe there is also a great sense of freedom as then one can do what one wants. The show is sold on 22 episodes which you must produce and because its the last year you don't need to pander to the network or ratings. The writers could have thrown any concept or idea on the screen but I never not in a million years get the feeling that the writers did that.
Compare Buffy season 7 to Angel season 5 (a season that was never meant to be its last but was) and the difference is staggering! For Angel's last year we are treated a brand new setting (Wolfram & Hart), a new character (Spike joins), a submarine episode, nods to the show's past (Lindsay uses the name Doyle, Cordelia returns and inspires Angel), an episode set in Italy, a major death of a character before the end of the season (Fred dying), a bonkers episode like the puppet episode and an even spread of character developement across the cast. Compare that to Buffy season 7 and the arc of the show gets in the way. Too many episodes are just filler with crumbs of knowledge given to the audience, too many episodes feature the First taunting the group but not doing anything and too many feature Buffy giving a speech.