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I caught an intriguing line in this episode that came within inches of foreshadowing 'Birthday'.
It's in the final scene in Cordelia's apartment, a suggestion Wes offers in his studies to figure out what Wolfram & Hart raised (which was Darla): Wesley: "Here is something."
Angel: "What is it?"
Wesley: "The beast of Amalfi, a razor toothed six-eyed harbinger of death. No, wait, that's due to arise in 2003 in Reseda."
In 2003, Cordelia pursues a vision of, albeit in a different and no doubt fabricated timeline, a teenage girl named Cynthia York who lives in Reseda being attacked by a no-eyed, three-mouthed killer demon she'd inadvertently summoned with a spell gone wrong.
Wrong demon but right time frame and right location.
It's also kind of ironic that Cordelia refers to Reseda as "like the ninth circle of hell" like it's some kind of demon hot spot (which I feel could have been a subconscious overwritten memory, like Wes's comment here).
This is probably the first time I've heard Cordy admitting that her being ditzy sometimes is a form of humor, not because she's actually tactless. 😆 But goddammit, Charisma Carpenter scared the shit outta me with her too-real performance. I didn't know whether to praise her acting or go wrap myself in a wet blanket. LOL
David is so cute. I'm so glad he's returned just to 'hang' with the gang. I relate to him in so many ways, in that I get bored from my mundane vapid life sometimes too... except that I can't earn a cool million just from 'spinning a pager.' And I don't have a pager anymore.
I know I already expected Kate to drift apart from Angel the moment her father was killed by another vampire, and initially when she started getting on Angel's ass again this episode, I thought I would find her bigotry annoying. But then I put myself in her position, and I feel like something as traumatic as having your father murdered, it's easy to slip into that "your kind vs. my kind" mentality, even if it's blatantly wrong. There's just very little room for logical thinking in the face of trauma. Buuuut everything I've written here in this paragraph? This was before Kate showed up again after Angel HQ blows up and gives Angel a hard time AGAIN, so I take it back. Oh my god, woman. Is she the ONLY cop around L.A.? I didn't mind the first time she showed up just to give Angel shit, but this is getting tiring.
Last episode, TPN made an interesting observation that Angel was acting more out of character than usual, but not in the "bad writing Sanctuary" way. Rather, this felt intentional, Angel getting on Lindsey's case even though he made a big deal about helping those seeking redemption when arguing with Buffy. And he murdered the blind seer too even though she's not a demon, just a super-powered human. Sure, she's a child-killer, but Angel's probably done a lot worse (see Drusilla). And the interesting observation TPN made was that... Angel has began to fall into the fatalism mentality, something I discussed in last episode's discussion thread when I brought up Lindsey choosing against the moral high ground, whereas Angel accepted his fate of redeeming for his past crimes. This episode brought that realization to the surface when Wesley observes that Angel is just going through the motion, no longer having any 'want' in the world. He seeks redemption, yes, but it feels more like he accepts that his redemption as his fate, not his choice. And if he should die during this journey, then so be it. It's pretty depressing, but certainly not unrelatable, going through the motions of your ill-fated life 'till the point where you're suicidal. From how Wesley's character ultimately turns out, becoming more jaded in season 3, I'm guessing he will go through a similar phase of life too.
Something I noticed watching Angel is that, unlike Buffy, which is more about figuring how you're going to deal with the hardships of whatever comes next in life as you grow up, Angel feels more like it's about figuring out how to make through the next day of your depressing adult life without breaking down. The 'help the helpless' is just the surface characteristic, part of Angel's surface-level desire to redeem himself. When I probe deeper into the episodes that are clearly not experimental one-offs unconnected to Angel's overarching themes, there's a more morbid worldview present where the characters try to get through each day, struggling through the lives haunted by their past. Unlike Sunnydale, L.A. in AtS is not welcomed each episode with another bright sunrise. There's a painful and depressing struggle where everyday is a battle.
But all this makes sense. At the start of my viewing, I brought up that TPN has observed that while BtVS is about teenhood, AtS is about adulthood. And in adulthood, the struggle isn't about choosing the person you'll grow up to be; it's about struggling through the stagnation of our lives, an issue I've struggled with even until today (also something Xander's writers played with in season 4). I guess it's why I feel a closer connection with AtS than I ever did with BtVS. I've moved on from teenhood. Her issues are not mine. Angel's are.
This episode also raises the stakes of AtS in a more intense way than ever, befitting of a season finale. Overall, it feels more like a 'cleaning up' episode that's preparing itself for season 2, but I like it. It establishes the potential main themes to come, gives Angel a new goal to look forward to, gives Cordy and Wesley a clear outlook on what Angel Investigations is supposed to do from now on, firmly establishes Lindsey in the other side of the playing field, and last but not least, most important of all... Darla, the Moriarty I've been searching for. YES, YES, YES. All the yes. FINALLY, the personal-stake antagonist I've been waiting for.
Bring on season 2!
But alas, it's time for me to take a break from Angel and Buffy. See you guys in four to six weeks.
The first year of Angel draws to a brilliant close with an episode that wraps up everything we've seen so far, whilst laying a great foundation for Season Two. Angel really feels like he's come full circle by this point; he started off the series alone and cut-off, but over the course of the season we've seen him connect and reach out again, so when he has something to lose here, the stakes just feel raised. Vocah is a really awesome villain, and the fight scene in the crypt is one of the best scenes in the episode. Charisma Carpenter is also putting everything into her performance; her screams sound chillingly real.
As I said in my 'Five by Five' post, I feel that the way they set up Lindsey as Angel's 'arch foe' is kind of unwarranted considering how little he's actually in Season One until the last five episodes, so his confrontation with Angel in the crypt feels like it sort of comes out of nowhere, almost. It's when Angel cuts off his hand that the rivalry between them is really cemented, and Season Two will only expand on it. Apart from that, this episode, like the last one, is one of the standouts of Season One, and one of the best finales in the series.