PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on television spoiler-free ... good luck with that.

REVIEW ARCHIVES

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What's a Rogue Demon, Season One?

Season One Stats

Dead Humans - 27
Dead Undeads - 62
Dead Flashbacks - 17
Alterna-Dead Humans - 2
Alterna-Dead Undeads - 1
Dead Lawyers - 1
Doyle Has a Vision - 7
Cordelia Has a Vision - 7
(Cordelia Fakes a Vision - 1)
Wesley Prat-Falls - 7
Lawyered Ex Machina - 8
Evil Reveal - 9
Unevil Reveal - 7
Shenanigans Called - 11
Apocalypse Called - 1
Prophecy Called - 3


Additional Stats
Recurring Characters: 18 (The Powers That Be, Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey McDonald, Detective Kate Lockley, Spike, "We Help the Hopeless," Phantom Dennis, Trevor Lockley, Lee Mercer, Buffy Summers, The Oracles, Darla, Angel's "Irish" accent, Lilah Morgan, Faith, David Nabbit, Charles Gunn, Holland Manners)
Future Famous Person: 3 (Josh Holloway, Jeremy Renner, Christina Hendricks)
Already/Past Famous Person: 2 (Bai Ling, Eliza Dushku)
Generally Known TV Face: 30 (Christian Kane, Tracy Middendorf, Vyto Ruginis, Elizabeth Rohm, Jenni Blong, Brent Sexton, Andy Umberger, Beth Grant, Alex Skuby, Steve Schirripa, Kristin Dattilo, Carlos Jacott, Chris Tallman, Lauri Johnson, Lee Arenberg, Sean Gunn, Maury Sterling, Ken Marino, Josh Randall, Jerry Lambert, Julie Benz, J. Kenneth Campbell, Douglas Roberts, Markus Redmond, Scott William Winters, Tyler Christopher, Maurice Compte, David Herman, Sam Anderson, Todd Stashwick)
Buffy Crossover: 15 (Angel, Cordelia Chase, Spike, Oz, Aura, Buffy's headshot, Buffy Summers, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Darla, Faith, Collins, Weatherby, Smith, Deputy Mayor Allan Finch, Willow)
Whedonverse Hat Trick: 25 (Lilli Birdsell, Derek Hughes, Andy Umberger, Alex Skuby, Kevin Will, Carlos Jacott, Anthony Cistaro, Sean Gunn, Alexis Denisof, Maury Sterling, Jeremy Renner, Bob Fimiani, Christina Hendricks, Mark Ginther, John Patrick Clerkin, Markus Redmond, Marc Rose, Eliza Dushku, Jennifer Slimko, Jeff Ricketts, J. August Richards, Sven Holmberg, Jennifer Badger, Scott Berman, Derek Anthony)
Angel’s Alias: 3 (Mr. Jensen, husband of woman with an ocular tumor; Herb Saunders; Angel Jones)
Cordelia’s Alias: 2 (journalist for Journal of Diagnostic Orthoped ... Et Cetera., Jensen International Holdings receptionist)



Angel! In! History!
  • Angel’s been to Missoula during the Depression … his depression … he was depressed there.
  • In the late 1700s, Angelus used to mark his victims with a cross scratched into their faces.
  • Angel as sudden art museum docent: “And this brings us to Monet's incomparable 'La Music Aux Tuileries,' first exhibited in 1863 ... On the left one spies the painter himself. In the middle distance is the French poet and critic Baudelaire, a friend of the artist. Now, Baudelaire -- interesting fellow. In his poem 'Le Vampire' he wrote 'Thou who abruptly as a knife didst come into my heart.' He strongly believed that evil forces surrounded mankind. And some even speculated that the poem was about a real vampire. Oh, and uh Baudelaire was actually a little taller and a lot drunker than he is depicted here.” aka ship Baudelangel is canon.
  • Angel speaks Spanish, Russian, and Italian. Also this wasn’t his first kill. Or his twenty-first.
  • He’s heard Ernest Borgnine is a very skilled lover.
  • He never killed a famous person before.
  • Angel’s father was a merchant—linen and silk. Had a couple servants [“just the one”—Angel] til Angel killed them.


Zelda's Thoughts:

It's a bit of a weird swerve, this Season One, at least in context of the two other shows we've covered. Buffy knew what it was and what it wanted to do from scene one. Not every episode there was a grand slam, but the establishing themes were clear, the metaphors were there, and we got a great hero narrative for Buffy, culminating in "Prophecy Girl," where she saved the world and then partied. Then we have Veronica Mars, also a show that knew what it was and what it wanted to do (at least in its first season). Though VM was never as strong later on, I think we can all agree that the first season was baller.

And now we're on Angel, a show that will try to straddle, narratively, a space between monster of the week and arc-arc-arc plots. And it's definitely a show that will suffer from studio pressure to dial down the arc for fear of losing viewers (to its detriment; does anyone think S5 is the strongest season?). This season, though, the arc stuff is still pretty low key, as they're finding their feet a bit more than our other two shows. They know who Angel and Cordelia and Wesley are, but what do they want the show itself to be? Is the world view the same as in Buffy, a show aimed at teens, or is our moral compass a bit more subject to the winds of the moment? And so we get these explorations of what it means to be a demon, and how that's not an inherent indicator of evil. And, to balance that, we also get a law firm, where the attorneys at least are all human -- and decidedly evil (or in Lindsey's case, sometimes undecidedly so).

It's very much Act Two of Into the Woods (don't @ me, you sat through my gifs when we covered the Buffy episode of the same title).

But does it work, this new show? Sometimes. They take their time establishing W&H as our longstanding antagonist, which I appreciate. And they definitely seem to be testing the waters as to which characters to keep around as recurring, between the revolving door of lawyers, eccentric billionaires, Detective Kates, and -- wait, the snitch character doesn't show up til next season, does he? But hey, we also finally get introduced to Gunn as the season speeds toward its finale, and I'm glad that he'll be back as a regular when we see him again. Speaking of regulars, I appreciate that the loss of Doyle isn't trivialized or forgotten. He continues to matter, his loss continues to matter, and he'll be given a final farewell in the hundredth episode. I'm also looking forward to Cordelia's arc, as I think she's been a real star of the first season, and I'm looking forward as well to seeing more colors from Wesley. Angel? Well. You know what I think about Boreanaz's acting range (to paraphrase what Maltin once said unkindly of Patrick Swayze, his expressions run the gamut from A to B).

I'm excited about the Hyperion and Lorne and Darla (oh my!). Let's go Season Two!


Daniel's Thoughts:


Ditto.

Zelda's Coda:

Every. Time. I feel like the Conan to your Paul Rudd.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

That Shoeshine Thing?

Episode 1.22: To Shanshu in L.A. Original Airdate: 5.23.00. 




“A scythe-wielding demon targets Angel’s allies as Wolfram and Hart lawyers attempt to summon a powerful force from beyond.”






Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • Season One finale baby!
  • And Wes is deep into research mode, trying to understand what shanshu means.
  • Cordelia: “Nobody gets my humor.” Angel, completely dry: “I thought it was funny.” “Oh!” that was cute.
  • I like that the finale is opening with the easy camaraderie of our three heroes. We need to see why this group is good before they try to rip it away.
  • Also now our trio knows that Lindsey took the job offer and is no longer on our side.
  • Oh lord David Nabbit showed up … in a shiny purple cape. Oh, it’s from being a D&D DM. Right, back when mentioning D&D meant someone was an irretrievable dweeb. (Daniel and I are playing D&D tomorrow!)
  • Also remember in the 90s where if a character had a cell phone, that was a clue to the audience that they were an asshole?
  • Anyway, David’s here and he’s lonely and he wants to be friends with our trio and it’s kind of sweet but mostly awkward and oooooh look we transitioned to some kind of summoning fire spell. This dude’s cape is less shiny than David’s. We don’t find out his name til halfway through the episode so I’m gonna call him masky capey demon.
  • Masky capey demon was summoned for a meeting with Holland, Lindsey, and Lilah. Our days with the Three L were short.
  • Cordelia, channeling Buffy: “That shoeshine thing?” // Wes: “No, shanshu.”
  • Wes says shanshu means death. The prophecy is about Angel dying. Angel doesn’t seem ruffled. Wes and Cordelia are more shaken than Angel.
  • Oh, Cordy’s having a vision! It’s been a while.
  • “I ever meet those Powers That Be, I’m gonna punch ‘em in the nose! … You think they have a nose?”
  • Hot damn, the scroll Angel swiped from W&H is pivotal to “the raising.” That’s convenient.
  • So in revenge, they’re gonna cut off his connection to the Powers That Be. But … but that’s our Cordelia!
  • Ah Detective Kate. Is this her final episode with us? I don’t remember. [No, we still have her next season. – The Internet] Anyway, she showed up to a call about something demon-y and found Angel. She’s retreated to a pretty cold place at this point. She doesn’t consider Angel a person, her idealism for the job is gone. Her passion for the job is a cold one, taking down any supernatural creatures. It’s a bit of a bummer and definitely does feel like we’re done with her as a character. Or at least, we’re done with her as any kind of friend.
  • Wes is concerned that Angel’s cut off from caring about dying. “Death doesn’t bother him because there is nothing in life he wants. It’s our desires that make us human.” Hey so maybe the detached and cold Kate stuff was a deliberate move, too. First, showing that the cut-off path isn’t healthy, but also showing that at first Angel meets it with indifference. “He’s not a part of the world.”
  • C: “He’s Angel. He’s good, and he helps the helpless and now he’s one of them.” Digging Cordelia this episode. Even if her eye makeup is … a thing. 


  • The thing is, Angel’s apathy right now isn’t out of nowhere. Buffy had been his beacon for the mission, but then he left her. Doyle’s big thing was getting Angel to invest in the world, and then Doyle went dead. We saw just last episode that Angel is increasingly frustrated by a system which seems designed to render all his efforts and achievements impotent, under the rule of law. He had a small ray of hope, when Lindsey came to them for help, but Lindsey’s back on Team Evil. What’s odd, for me I guess, is I’m not seeing in DB’s performance a demoralized Angel. I’m seeing an indifferent Angel. And I had to do a lot more mental legwork to justify indifferent over demoralized. Anyway. The writers are setting up a Problem to Be Solved.
  • Wes wants Angel to consult the Oracles. Mostly I think to remind us the Oracles are a thing. Before they’re no longer a thing.
  • Oops masky capey demon is visiting the Oracles. Oh, there’s that scythe the imdb summary told us about. Aaaaaaaaaand RIP Oracles.
  • Ah, the rare outdoor daylight location shot, as Cordy browses an outdoor market … why?
  • I still don’t know why. Except I guess they wanted masky capey scythey demon to come for Cordy in the daylight, where Angel can’t protect her.
  • Though he doesn’t attack, just touches her briefly. But that launches a vision.
  • And another vision. And then just a continuous stream of painful visions.
  • It’s brutal, watching her scream and writhe on the ground.
  • Welp, and now demon dude’s got the scroll while Angel’s running to the hospital.
  • Charisma is knocking this episode out of the park and it’s heartbreaking.
  • Motherfucker. I forgot they blew up Angel’s office. That’s just. This episode is really upsetting.
  • Is Wes inside? Oh, that’s why he stepped away from the cabinet the way he did, when he was looking for the scroll. He saw the bomb.
  • Cordelia’s in the hospital with a “psychotic” episode, tortured and broken. Wes is in an ambulance to get treated for damage from the explosion.
  • And Kate is somehow mad at Angel for this. But unlike last time, he has no patience left for the chip on her shoulder. “Now, I’m sorry about your father, but I didn’t kill your father. And I’m sick and tired of you blaming me for everything you can’t handle! You wanna be enemies? Try me.”
  • This is just me trying to take a step back from how upset I am right now, but it’s a rather weird and convenient coincidence that the scroll Angel stole that talks about his shoeshine is also the one the demon needs for “the raising.”
  • I guess in a longform way, the resurrection of Darla is key for the Angel plan? I guess? Since we need her coupling with Angel to bring us Connor, and then we have a prophecy about Connor and Angel, even if that was planted by what’s his face. But the Beast thingy that makes the sky rain fire and destroys all of spoiler is also part of that? I think? Still … a kind of complicated plan to take out one pouty vampire.
  • Kinda helpful that the female Oracle’s ghost stuck around to explain the evil plan to Angel.
  • Heyo it’s our man Gunn! He’s bantery and fun and I guess he’s worked through his grief about his sister?
  • Oooh we’re at The Raising now. I remember this set! Fun set. Bloodbath set.
  • Ah they’re still calling her The Beast. Okay, sure. Whatever. I thought the Beast was that dumbass thing that smashes up LA while Connor lives out his Oedipal fantasies (y’all I’m not looking forward to Season Four)
  • A W&H caravan heads off to The Raising. And Angel joins the parade.
  • We really shoulda made a stat about Angel breaking through doors and windows. Angel Enters Dramatically.
  • So while Angel battles capey masky scythey dude, Lindsey grabs the scroll and continues the ceremony. I guess it’s fitting for a lawyer to read the Latin.
  • Ceremony done, “beast” summoned, lawyers retreat, Angel still fights the scythe demon. Cuz he doesn’t care about W&H right now and whatever their plan is – he’ll thwart that later. But this douchebag, he hurt Angel’s family. Angelsmash.
  • Oh, Lindsey’s still here, blown back and knocked out by the ceremony.
  • Oh joy that mask was hiding maggot face. Yuck.
  • Now Angel has a scythe.
  • Bye bye Lindsey hand.


  • “Don’t believe everything you’re foretold.” Angel, you really need to put on sunglasses after saying lines like that.
  • Wesley, burnt and weak, reads the scroll by Cordelia’s bed, undoes the curse on her. And she’s released.
  • And we have Angel’s first smile of the episode.
  • “I saw them all, and they’re in so much pain. We have to help them.” // “We will.”
  • Cordelia’s arc this season, so much more compelling than Angel’s.
  • Glad not all of Wes’s books were destroyed in the explosion.
  • Wes: “Uh, oops. I may have made a tiny mistake.” He thinks shanshu means Angel’s going to live now. Snort. “It’s saying you get to live until you die. It’s saying – It’s saying you become human.”
  • Sweet move, giving us (and Angel) this promise of true rescue and redemption, a chance at life, but no set date for when it’ll happen. I’m … okay, I’m a little confused though because Angel was human, earlier this season. He already did that. Sure, the day was undone but like … what if that was the shanshu and he done fucked it up? Why is he happy about being human again? He’ll just try to undo it again, like it’s a bear.
  • Anyway, time for the cliffhanger shot of DARLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA in a box, confused, possibly feral, and ready to make season two interesting.

Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • Season finale time!
  • Wesley is in deep research mode.  He’s trying to find references to Shanshu.
  • Wesley’s frustrated because he can’t find anything and he’s sure it’s important to Angel’s future.
  • Cordelia also wants to know about her future.  No, she really doesn’t… [Too soon. - literally all of us]
  • The gang finds out that Lindsey has been promoted, which Wesley calls ‘selling his soul.’
  • Angel senses a visitor with his bat-sense, I guess.
  • It’s David Nabbit, eccentric millionaire!  Billionaire?
  • He talks about Dungeons & Dragons because that’s what nerds do.  (FYI, I started my very first dungeons & dragons game last week due to the boredom of quarantine.  I’m a half-elf bard!)




  • David wants to ‘hang’.  He thinks their lives are exciting!
  • "You fight demons! At any moment one could walk right through that very door!“ Everyone looks over at the door and it’s kinda hilarious.
  • Meanwhile the lawyers of Wolfram & Hart do a ceremony outside their offices to summon a demon.  Long journey. Could this have not been done on zoom?
  • Poor Nabbit awkwardly leaves.  This is the last we see of him this episode.  He has absolutely no part of this plot.  I wonder if this was a test to see how he meshes with the rest of the gang to possibly bring him on as a full time cast member.
  • “That shoeshine thing?” “Shanshu.”
  • Wesley thinks the Shanshu prophecy has something to do with Angel’s death. Angel isn’t concerned.
  • And Cordelia has her first vision in weeks! (It won’t be her last!)
  • Meanwhile the demon is pissed about Angel stealing the scroll from last week. He's also wearing a mask: unusual for a demon, I think.
  • Hey, it’s Detective Kate!  Some of the officers joke under their breaths about Lockley responding to weird calls on the police scanners. The Angel universe is pretty inconsistent about how well the supernatural world is known in LA.  If this were today, we’d all have cell phone cameras catching vampires and demons in the act.
  • Angel has already saved the day off screen. Kate is still being kind of a dick.  Despite Angel saving lives, she still considers him an evil thing like one of the things who killed her dick dad.
  • Wesley waxes philosophical about why Angel doesn’t fear death: because he has nothing to look forward to.  Yikes, a not so subtle metaphor of what it’s like to have depression.
  • “He’s Angel. He’s good.  He helps the helpless.  And now he’s one of them.”
  • Now Cordelia’s desperate to prove Angel wants things.  Puppy? Is one of her suggestions.  Just don’t invite Dawn over, with all those crossbows lying around.
  • Oh, the damn oracles.  We think it’s Angel they’re berating but it’s the demon…with a weapon, oh no!
  • Cordy decides to go to a flea market to buy Angel…pastels.  I mean, he does like to draw.
  • Uh oh, that Demon is everywhere…. He brushes Cordelia’s hand….and she has another vision.  And another. And another.  As if she’s feeling every single person’s pain in the world.  Looks like freaking agony.
  • Aww, Angel is Cordelia’s emergency contact!
  • The demon takes this opportunity to break in and steal the scroll.
  • “Are you family?” “YES”  - awww.
  • Cordelia is in incredible pain and her screams are heartbreaking.
  • Oh no!  Explosion!! Angel’s place is in smithereens! Where’s Wesley??
  • WHERE WILL THEY SET UP THEIR OFFICES NOW.
  • Damn, two of Angel’s friends (and 2/3s of the cast) are now in the hospital.
  • Love this exchange between Angel & Kate.  She goes off another tirade and Angel has had it.  Two of his friends are dying and he has no more fucks to give with Kate.
"No. More. Fucks. To. Give"


  • There’s not a lot of point to Kate here, except again like David, possibly to test if she should join the cast full time.
  • Cordelia’s at a point where she’s no longer screaming and writhing in pain - it seems like she’s in shock, now.
  • And Angel sees a symbol on Cordelia’s hand which brings him to the oracles.
  • But oops, the oracles are dead.  But the female oracle is a ghost, now!  She tells Angel who killed her.  That’s convenient.  He finds out that the demon’s name is Vocah.
  • Angel comes to Gunn for another favor.  He wants Gunn to protect Wesley & Cordelia while he hunts down Vocah.  Except we don’t see Gunn for the rest of the episode…so one last test. Who will be our new cast member, Kate, David, or Gunn?  Stay tuned to season two! [Maybe it'll be Lindsey's chopped off hand? Too soon? - Z] [Like Thing! - D]
  • Vocah is performing a ceremony summoning something called “The Beast”.  Ooh, I wonder who that is…
  • There also seems to be vampires in chains… sacrifices, I assume.
  • Holland Manners: “You never want to be on time for a ritual.”
  • “Remember when Robert Price let down the senior partners and they made him eat his liver?  I wonder what made me think of that.”  -Lilah having fun at Lindsey’s expense.
  • Angel breaks in all Angel-like.  Vocah is busy fighting Angel, so Lindsey continues the ritual.
  • The vampires in chains are dusted.  The ritual finished.  The cage removed.
  • During the fight, Angel removes the demons mask and it is seriously gross under there.
Awful kind of him to cover this up


  • It’s now down to Angel & Lindsey.
  • I remember being totally shocked when I first saw this.  Lindsey goes to burn the scroll & Angel chops off his hand!  
  • Wesley and Angel watch over Cordelia.  Wesley’s reading the scroll which helps Cordelia recover.  If there was ever an event that changes Cordelia, it’s this.  She’s seen so much pain.
  • A few days later, Cordelia is making lunch for Wesley and blood for Angel.
  • “Don’t be embarrassed.  We’re family.”
  • Wesley: “Oops.”  So Shanshu doesn’t mean Angel will die.  It means he’ll live.  He thinks it means he’ll become human.
  • But there’s one more surprise.  Lilah, Lindsey (now with one hand!), and Holland visit the cage/box. IT’S DARLA.  DUN DUN DUN.




Favorite Lines:
Zelda: Cordelia: “I know what’s out there now. We have a lot of evil to fight, a lot of people to help. I just hope skin-and-bones here can figure out what those lawyers raised sometime before the prophecy kicks in and you croak … That was the old me, wasn’t it?” // Angel: “I like them both.”

Daniel: Angel, giving no more fucks, to Kate: "This isn't about the law, this is about a little thing - called life. Now I'm sorry about your father. But I didn't kill your father. And I'm sick and tired of you blaming me - for everything you can't handle! You want to be enemies? Try me.” 

Arc/Continuity:
Recurring: Detective Kate Lockley, Charles Gunn, Lindsey McDonald, Lilah Morgan, Holland Manners, the Oracles, David Nabbit, Darla
Generally Known TV Face: Todd Stashwick


Stats:
Cordelia’s Hair – loose curls, parted down the middle; half-up, straight
Dead Humans – 0
Dead Undeads – 9
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 3 (the third one was a stream of visions)
Wesley Prat-falls – 0
Lawyered Ex Machina – 0
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 1

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Willow Says "Hey."



Episode 1.21: Blind Date. Original Airdate: 5.16.20.



“A renegade attorney from Wolfram and Hart joins forces with Angel to stop a blind assassin from killing three children who threaten the firm.”





Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • The streets of LA.
  • A blind woman walks down the street dressed in Plain Jane clothes.  
  • People get out of her way.  That’s... that’s it. That's the scene.
  • Then we cut to Angel fighting vamps.  He kills two.  One in an amazingly physics-defying way.
That's some physics problem solving right there to get him right in the heart.

  • It’s the blind lady!  She’s fighting Angel!
  • But she’s not blind blind.  She kinda sees like Daredevil.
  • Wes & Cordelia do some research on the blind woman/demon.  They assume she’s a demon, anyway.
  • Cordelia finds her identity like totally fast when realizing she might have been arrested.  Which one of these stealthy hackers figured out how to do that?
  • She finds out that this Vanessa Brewer is actually on bail/trial.
  • Cut to Lindsey defending her in a courtroom.
  • Angel tricks her in this very very sun-lit courtroom by throwing a pair of sunglasses at her.
  • At Wolfram & Hart, Lee Mercer seems healed from when Faith smashed his face into a desk.
  • He leers at Vanessa like the gross frat boy lawyer he is.
  • She seemingly hears him with her super senses.
  • Oh, and we finally meet Holland Manners who has an amazing name.  He’s one of the higher-ups not to be confused with a senior partner.  AKA Lindsey’s boss.
  • Holland giving Lindsey a pep talk here is important because it’s measuring the evilness of Wolfram & Hart, but more importantly the individual morality of its employees, judged both by his bosses and us, the audience.
  • Back to business: Holland informs Lindsey that they need Vanessa to assassinate some….children.  So that's fun.
  • Despite Angel’s theatrics in court, the jury acquitted Vanessa.  And Angel is pissed.  “Life isn’t fair, the system doesn’t work,” blah blah.  We know this, Angel.  We know.  
  • And then Lindsey shows up.  He wants to go to the light side!
  • But Angel is skeptical. Lindsey has cool hair, though, so we should trust him.
  • A plan is formed!  Angel comes to Gunn!  He’s forming a crew! Like Ocean’s 11!  Lindsey’s the inside man.  Gunn’s the weapons man!  Angel is the muscle!  Wesley is the brains!  Cordy is the...sass!
  • Breaking into a safe! Tension! Demons!  Gunn is also the distraction!
  • Vampire in the lobby!
  • A security guard stakes a vampire.  He knows what’s up.  I wonder how many minds they need to erase now?  Man, vamps and demons are a much bigger open-secret in LA than they were in Sunnydale...where the hellmouth is.
  • Angel defeats with some powder and then pushing him over. And thanks Wesley which is nice.
Boop

  • Oh no! Alarms! Angel touched the wrong thing.
  • Oh no, it’s the mind-readers!  Lindsey’s in trouble!
  • But he’s not!  It’s Lee who gets mind-read.  And….terminated. Oh, puns.  Poor Lee. I guess.  But Lindsey is found out too.  Why hasn’t he been terminated?  It’s interesting that Holland treats Lindsey differently than he treated Lee.  Lee’s only “crime” was that he wanted to leave the firm for another firm and I guess taking some clients with him.  
  • Does this mean there's another evil firm like Wolfram & Hart called Klein & Gabler that defends demons and evil too?  (Or is this just a commentary that all law firms are evil?) [No comment - Z, who worked at a law firm]
  • Aww, Cordelia is chatting with Willow!  They’ve been talking for an hour and 45 minutes.  This feels mature…of Willow to offer so much help to Cordelia and be patient enough to be on the phone with her for so long.
  • “Sorry I’m late.  I hope I didn’t worry anyone.” “We just figured you were dead.”
  • Ooh, Vanessa can’t see someone when they’re standing perfectly still - and since Angel doesn’t breathe, it’s easier for him.
  • The parchment that Angel stole:  There’s a whole passage about him, not by name - but about a vampire with a soul.
  • For some reason, Holland is impressed with Lindsey and offers him his job.  Holland is apparently going upstairs.  Is he a senior partner now?
  • It’s now a choice for Lindsey.  Does he take the red pill or the blue pill?  He gets up, closes the door & sits down at his new desk.  I guess he chose the red pill.  Or the blue one.  I don’t know, I barely remember that movie.


Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • From Mysterious Blind Woman walking down the street to Angel fighting some vamps. Good morning.
  • Oh look they coincide! Time for Mysterious Blind Woman to fighty fight Angel. And then Mysteriously disappear.
  • Ah they think she’s a demon. She’s human though I think? I think I remember she’s human.
  • Ah, Wes is with me now. And Cordy found her criminal record! Vanessa Brewer.
  • Wow, she’s currently on trial for murder and is off murdering while on bail. That’s bold.
  • Hey it’s our man Lindsey defending her! I mean. Not our man. He’s a bad rude lawyerman.
  • And Angel, also rude, threw something at her head so she could catch it in air and undermine Lindsey’s argument. Remember when Julia Louis-Dreyfus pretended to be blind on Arrested Development? That was certainly a thing that happened.
  • Wow, even with the catch she still got off the murder charge. Hey look it’s Holland Manners! Whut up.
  • So we know they took the case pro bono, which probably means a quid pro quo situation. Law talk means Latin talk.
  • Holland Manners thinks Lindsey’s not happy, though he wants him to succeed at the law firm of evil. “You’re not gonna be happy until you find your place in the scheme of things.” Meanwhile, Lindsey’s being asked to create a tragic backstory and alibi for our blind assassin. And we see at last Lindsey’s hesitation, when he finds out the new target is some children. Welp.
  • Angel’s really upset that a guilty person was acquitted of murder, and wow is that a big fucking mood right now.
  • He’s also concerned about his place in this world, when he can’t testify and can’t lawyer ex machina. Where the evil he fights gets acquitted. I think we have a theme for the episode.
  • “It’s still their world, Wesley. Structured for power, not truth. It’s their system and it’s one that works. It works because there’s no guilt, there’s no torment, no consequences. It’s pure. I remember what that was like. Sometimes I miss that clarity.”
  • Ah the juxtaposition! Angel: “Nothing ever changes.” // Lindsey: *walks in* “I need your help … I want out.”
  • Lindsey gives us his sob story of growing up in abject poverty, two siblings dead from flu, and Angel’s not interested because as he points out “You always have a choice.”
  • Lindsey’s choice: tell Angel the intended target for the assassin is kids. And he has Angel’s attention.
  • Also fun tidbit about W&H: they have mindreaders to catch anyone thinking of turning not-evil.
  • Lindsey warns us they have shamans who can tell when a vamp crosses the threshold, but Angel has a solve: Gunn! HELL YES GUNN. Gunn’s gonna be his diversion, a vamp in tow. “Gimme one good reason.” // “It’ll be extremely dangerous.” // “Okay.”
  • I see they souped up the W&H lobby.
  • Hey, it’s Lilah! Why’s she in the basement?
  • The law firm I worked in didn’t have any shady basements full of storage … that I know about. Our file room was on the same floor as everything else.
  • Hahahahah time for Gunn’s scene. “Evil white folks really do have a Mecca.” He’s … kinda doing a Will Smith imitation. And look, he brought a vampire. A pretty feral lookin’ vampire.
  • But at W&F the security guards come armed with stakes … and it kinda looks like they stake him in the tummy but I guess that counts if you’re not Angel with his itty bitty heart.
  • Hah, thanks to Wes’s research, Angel knocks out the demon guard without a big fight. Cute little undercut of expectations.
The poof before the boop

  • Oh right, this is where Angel finds the shanshu prophecy. Oops, but that’s also how he sets off the alarm. But he Harrison Fords his way under the falling grate and escapes.
  • But before Lindsey can also make his exit, security guards are locking down the floor to do a mindreading sweep.
  • Oops.
  • Oh right, this is why we don’t have any more episodes with Lee Mercer.
  • Lindsey, sure he’s about to die, still looks Holland Manners in the eye.
  • Snort. Lee’s getting taken out because he’s been in talks with another firm. But here, that’s enough for a holy shit execution.
  • But also he’s not letting Lindsey, who has blood splattered all over his face from Lee’s execution, leave.
  • Wes opens the scroll Angel walked out with. It’s in Aramaic. And Angel doesn’t know why he took it, except that he felt compelled to do so.
  • Oops the W&F files are encrypted. I mean of course they are, duh, dumdums, but oops.
  • It’s interesting, this game Holland Manners is playing. He knows about Lindsey’s betrayal, much worse than Lee’s, but he chose to dispose of Lee and to try to talk to Lindsey. He calls this a crisis of faith. He’s still talking about finding your place in the world. He doesn’t want to execute Lindsey but to give him a chance to come back to their side. “I believe in you.”
  • Aw, Cordy called Willow for help decrypting the files. And adorably, she says Willow’s been doing the same over in Sunnydale. Oh right, the Initiative.
  • “Willow says hey.”
  • Wow, Vanessa’s been blind only since she was 21 … and she blinded herself after some mystical training in her special special skillz.
  • So the target is three also-blind children who are seers whose power is enhanced by their proximity. OH MY GOD IT’S THE PRECOGS FROM MINORITY REPORT.
Meet Agatha, Arthur, and Dash.

  • Oops, Vanessa found them. It’s okay, Angel and Lindsey found Vanessa.
  • It’s a special kind of fucked up that she uses her white cane as a weapon.
  • And Angel clocks that she can’t see him when he holds completely still. It’s the movement and it’s trajectory she sees.
  • Oh. Angel just killed a human. Has he … done that before? I mean while being not-evil?
  • Wes says the seer children have an important role to play. Too bad we’ll literally never hear of them again.
  • But he says they’re foretold in the prophecy scroll Angel grabbed. As is Angel: a vampire with a soul.
  • “There is a design, Angel. Hidden in the chaos as it may be, but it’s there. And you have your place in it.”
  • Lindsey goes back to the office, returns the files. He doesn’t want to be at war with the firm and kept copies of some files as protection. And Holland still doesn’t want to have him killed. He’s admiring him for having the confidence to walk back in, to call Holland by his first name. Interestingly, Holland says he thinks the world’s better for what W&H does.
  • And Holland offers him a big fat promotion, because Holland himself is going “upstairs.”
  • And Lindsey … takes the job.


  • Which is what we really need to know about him, I think. He’s definitely an interesting character, and I love Christian Kane’s performance, but this is a man on whom we can never ultimately count to do the right thing. Sure, he may have a sticking point, just like the Pirates of Penzance don’t attack fellow orphans, but he’s not on our side. Which is why spoiler spoiler spoiler season five.

Favorite Lines:

Daniel: Lindsey: Sorry I’m late, I hope I didn’t worry anyone. // Cordy: We just figured you were dead.
Zelda:



Arc/Continuity:

First Appearance: Holland Manners
Recurring: Charles Gunn, Lindsey McDonald, Lee Mercer, Lilah Morgan,
Generally Known TV Face: Sam Anderson
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Jennifer Badger is primarily a stunt performer and coordinator, and has done stunt work on both Buffy and Angel (for Cordelia and Faith, per the internet). Scott Berman (Vendor on Angel, Mover #2 on Buffy), Derek Anthony (first of two roles on Angel, Imposing Demon on Buffy)
Buffy Crossover: Willow (on the phone)


Angel! In! History!

Angel’s father was a merchant—linen and silk. Had a couple servants [“just the one”—Angel] til Angel killed them.


Stats:

Cordelia’s Hair – messy bun
Dead Humans – 4
Dead Undeads – 3
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 1
Cordelia Has a Vision – 0
Wesley Prat-falls – 0
Lawyered Ex Machina – 2 (Lindsey got Vanessa acquitted; Holland decided not to kill Lindsey)
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 1 (Prophecies of Aberjian)

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Some Middle Class White Dude That’s Dead

Episode 1.20: War Zone. Original Airdate: 5.09.00  





“As Angel helps a nerdy billionaire retrieve some compromising photos, he encounters a group of street kids defending against an invasion of vampires.”






A Note from Zelda and Daniel:
As readers of this blog know, we typically post on a Tuesday. Last week, that coincided with #BlackoutTuesday, a day when white content creators were encouraged to stay silent unless they were amplifying the voices of black artists and activists. Last week also coincided with global protests on behalf of Black Lives Matter: protests against centuries of systemic racism and policy brutality, spurred by the recent murders (and lack of justice sought for their murders) of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. Those protests and that fight still rage on this week, even as police come to these protests in riot gear, ready to attack unarmed protesters, medics, press, and legal observers with sometimes lethal force. We support the protests happening worldwide, and we categorically condemn police brutality and the systemic racism endemic in U.S. law enforcement. We're back this week with a rather timely episode: the introduction of Charles Gunn to the world of Angel. But when we're not blogging, we are lending our voices to the cry for justice. We know that we all have a lot to learn to continue to grow as individuals, and we are continuing to listen and educate ourselves on how to be better allies. We encourage you to do the work with us, and check out the following resources:

#BlackLivesMatter
American Civil Liberties Union
A list of funds for supporting black people, especially those in the queer community. This document also includes bail funds and tips for staying safe while protesting.
A working document on how to be a better anti-racism ally (reading resources and action plans).


Zelda’s Thoughts:
  • The timeliness of watching this episode is not lost on us. A group of young people, many  bipoc, taking to the street to protect themselves from monsters, when they know no one else will. It is, as they say, fucking topical, and before you ask #BlackLivesMatter
  • And so we start with a schmuckbait, a girl alone being followed by three men. Only this time she’s a black girl. The three men? Vampires.
  • But she led them into a trap, and the hero shot pans up, not on Angel, but on Charles Fuckin’ Gunn and his crew, armed and ready. “You expectin’ somebody else?”
  • But our next scene? A fancy party, hosted by none other than Michael Bolton from Office Space. AKA nerdy tech mogul David who’s hosting the party, hiding alone on the couch.
  • Wow, Cordy conned him into throwing a party for their meeting. Which is about blackmail. Involving D&D. Hey, a coworker of ours is offering to host a D&D campaign for our team. The times, they have a-change-ed.
  • Heh, David mentions a club and Wes immediately knows: “You went to Madame Dorian’s … It’s a demon brothel … The Watchers Council is rife with stories about it.”
  • Wow, a lot more vampires running away from the big brawl than the three that were originally stalking Alonna.
  • Gunn’s a good leader. One of his people tells him there are some new people  in their hideout but he told them they don’t take squatters. Gunn: “Everybody eats.”
  • Oooh I love Lina’s pink porcupine quill hair. Even though the line where her wig cap hits her forehead isn’t particularly masked.


  • Alonna worries that Gunn is getting reckless and it’s killing people on their crew.
  • Meanwhile, Angel confronts David’s blackmailer and this is so much lower stakes than the Gunn plot. Oh but luckily it’s about to dovetail with Gunn, because Gunn sees Angel vamp out as he threatens a human. Whoops.
  • I wonder, you know. If this had been done like a Doctor Who episode, we would have spent most of the episode with Gunn, and Angel would have been a minor character, like in “Blink” or “Love & Monsters.” I think I might have preferred that, but U.S. TV rarely pulls stunts like that.
  • Oh look the blackmailer has some demon friends.
  • The fight choreography really is more fun on this show. I like Angel’s pole dancer spin on the sign post.
  • Oops Angel got staked. Luckily he has the smallest vampire heart ever so he’s fine … ish. Still, time to run.
  • It’s rough, Angel usually doesn’t have to fight humans who know what he is. He’s battling off stakes and other weapons but has to make sure he doesn’t kill anyone going after him.
  • At least we have the move of Angel preventing a booby-trapped arrow from killing Alonna. It’s enough to make Gunn not immediately dust him. Gunn, thinking, stopping, observing, before opening lethal fire. Fancy that.
  • Angel, about Gunn’s crew: “a couple of them couldn’t have been more than sixteen.” Hey, that’s how old the Scoobies in Sunnydale were when they started. [And one I dated - Angel] He thinks they’re in over their heads and to the degree that they seem to lack resources like food and a warm place to sleep, he’s right. But did he see their tricked out truck? All their booby traps? Like … they’re fierce.
  • Oh, time for a villain speech from this random vampire nest. Wake me up when it’s over. Or at least when we get to the crux which is “take out the heart.”
  • How did Gunn know an attack was incoming? I missed the cue, but he got it, sends everyone out of the warehouse. Except that was the trap all along, and the vamps have Alonna. No one else from the crew: this was a targeting kidnapping, and fuck, we see three of them biting her all over. It’s brutal and awful, and Gunn is thrown from the van before he can save her.
  • “I don’t need advice from some middle class white dude that’s dead.”
  • Oof this is so rough. Gunn goes into the lair and finds Alonna … but she’s a vampire now. And she’s not his sister anymore.
  • “I was never gonna let anything happen to you. I was gonna protect you. You were my sister.”
  • She sounds like his sister. She has her memories. “Don’t you want to stop falling? I am gonna fix it.”
  • “Say goodbye to everything you ever knew.” A whisper: “Goodbye.” And he stakes the monster living in his sister’s body.
  • I don’t really get the truce Angel’s asking for here. He’s letting the vamps go? Why? Sure, we have some grey area with demons these days, but vamps? With like one exception? Evil, yes? Can we agree on that? About not compromising on evil? Do I need to scream this louder?
  • And does he expect Gunn’s crew to go back to pretending there aren’t monsters out there?
  • “They’re gonna keep coming and we’re gonna keep fighting.”
  • At least he’s not patronizing Gunn, I guess? Small mercies.
  • “How come you do it? How come you’re out here?” “What else are we gonna do?”
  • “I’ll be around.” “I don’t need no help.” “I might.”
  • That lonely shot of Gunn in an empty building, looking out at a city that holds nothing for him. That doesn’t see him.

Daniel’s Thoughts:


  • We’ve got Gunn!
  • But to start out, a woman (later to be named Alonna) walking down an abandoned alley being followed by three hooligans.  That’s right. I said hooligans.
  • Oh noes! They are vampires!  What will this poor girl do?
  • It’s Gunn!  And he’s dressed like Angel, sort of. "Expectin' someone else?"  See, the joke is...
  • While the credits roll, I would like to wish J. August Richards AKA Charles Gunn a happy pride month.  He just came out in 2020 y’all.  No judgments.  None, whatsoever.  2020.  ...  Happy Pride!
  • #PrideStartedAsARiot #BlackLivesMatter #HappyPride
  • Meanwhile Angel, Cordelia & Wes go to a party.
  • Guest star David Herman as weird billionaire David Nabbit.
  • He’s a sweet nerdy billionaire.  You know, the 1% of the 1%.
  • “Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons?” “I’ve seen a few.” “He means the game.”
  • Wesley is aware of a demon brothel…Madame Dorian’s.  And then gets immediately uncomfortable as only Wesley can.  He claims he knows about it because of the watcher’s council.  Sure, Jan.
  • Back to Gunn & his sister fighting some vampires with some neat artillery.
  • What else is neat?  The juxtaposition between seeing the rich billionaires in LA partying it up while the poor are fighting for their lives.  But this is a make believe show, right?
  • Gunn’s a good ruler, awww.  “Everybody eats.”
  • All the demon hookers.  None of them are slimy.  You’d think they’d be at least one slimy one.  Also no male hookers.  #Happypride
  • Most of the make-up on the demons are minimal but nonetheless well done.  Lina, however has some amazing make-up, good hair, nice tail.  But she does have a speaking part, after all.
  • It’s revealed the woman Alonna is Gunn’s sister.
  • It’s not like Angel has never resorted to intimidation before, but the way Angel does it this time - it’s like it was purposefully there to make it seem like he was a bad guy in front of Gunn.
  • Aww, David. He really is a sweet, good soul. 
  • I guess it’s the next night because Angel is back getting the photographs from the bad guy but bad guy already has a demon of his own.  Angel defeats him but oh no! It’s Gunn’s crew!  
  • Angel fights.  He gets two stakes through him but not near the heart.
  • What’s cool is Angel proves he’s different - not by his words, but by his actions.  1) he could have killed the human who was fighting him, but he didn’t.  He dropped the stake and ran.  2) his quick thinking saved Alonna’s life from friendly fire.
  • Gunn’s not too impressed but he gives Angel a temporary pass.
  • The stakes can’t kill Angel since it didn’t enter his heart, but they do need to be healed. Which also gives us an opportunity to see shirtless David Boreanaz.  #HappyPride


  • Ha, the check is so large even Angel is intrigued.
  • Ugh, I really hate that trope: Evil leader kills one of his own to make an example.  It…just feels so useless.  Why?  To make everyone else work harder?  That never works.  And it’s so cliche.
  • Everything here seems so post-apocalyptic. 
  • Oh no! It’s a trap!  They kidnapped Alonna!
  • So they used the money to get a convertible?  Or did they have this already?
  • And we can tell by the way Alonna’s acting that she’s a vampire now.  It seemed to happen quicker than usual but we don’t really know how long it’s been.
  • “I was supposed to protect you.  You were my sister.”  It’s so heartbreaking.
  • “Look, I’m the boss here, I say when we use the cell phones. People are gonna die and …I have to go.”  Old man Angel is the funniest Angel.
  • So the plan is for Alonna to turn Gunn.
  • “Say good bye to everything you ever knew.”  “Good bye.”  It really is very heartbreaking.
  • “Name’s Angelus”.  Oh, so he’s Angelus when he’s being a badass.  You’d think he’d never want to use that name again. I never really understood why he went by Angel.  Is this just another way to punish himself? You'd think he'd have changed his name back to Liam to put the past in the past.  Be a different person; a better person.
  • “I was just thinking about those kids.” - Cordelia representing white guilt America - as she thinks about other people for two minutes then awkwardly segues to marrying rich while Wesley drinks a fancy coffee drink.




Favorite Lines:
Zelda: Gunn: “How come you do it? How come you’re out here?” // Angel: “What else are we gonna do?”
Daniel:  Alonna: “Say good bye to everything you ever knew.”  Gunn: “Good bye.” 

Arc/Continuity:
First Appearance: David Nabbit, Charles Gunn
Generally Known TV Face: Maurice Compte, David Herman
Whedonverse Hat Trick: J. August Richards (Charles Gunn on Angel, Mike Peterson/Deathlok on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Sven Holmberg (first of two roles on Angel)

Stats:
Cordelia’s Hair – pin straight and down for the party; Grace Kelly style, pulled back under a scarf for a convertible ride; messy updo
Dead Humans – 3
Dead Undeads – 7
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 0
Wesley Prat-falls – 0
Lawyered Ex Machina – 0
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 0