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


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:

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.” 

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)

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

1 comment:

  1. I would say I hated the Doctor Who episodes without the main characters because Love and Monsters was terrible but then Blink was so good and kept me very engaged. I think this one would have worked like that too with Angel just turning up at the end and focusing more on Gunn the rest of the time. Would have been cool.