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


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Walking While Black

 Episode 2.14: The Thin Dead Line. Original Airdate: 2.13.01
“Angel, Gunn and Wesley battle zombie police officers who have been stalking street kids.”

Zelda’s Thoughts:
  • Ugh. Time for another I-hate-how-this-is-still-relevant-twenty-years-later episode.
  • Angel’s shoving stuff off the counter like a cat and pouting … is this right after he stopped time from stopping?
  • Anyway, the other three are at their new office and hoping for a new mission (except for Gunn, who’s enjoying his newspaper).
  • And hey, a new mission walks in the door, another referral from Wes’s girlfriend Virginia, who still exists.
  • Yucko, little girl’s got a giant demon eye growing out of the back of her head.
  • Anyway, onto our A plot, we’ve got two kids running away from a slow walking predator of some sort.
  • And Anne! It’s Anne. She also still exists. Hi Anne and Anne’s shelter. The two kids are begging to be let in, even though they’re past curfew. They’re scared enough that even though there aren’t any more beds, Anne lets them inside.
  • And the predator? He’s still in shadow but he’s wearing a cop hat.
  • I wonder if we were supposed to wonder if the cop was a good guy and the kids had done something really awful and that’s why he’s after them. I remember the episode so I know the truth, but like. That’s not something most people watching this show would buy, at this point.
  • Angel’s so lonely he goes to visit Merl, who’s packing and planning to fly the coop.
  • Oh right, Angel’s still using him to get the skinny on whatever W&H is up to.
  • “Best of luck. Hope you bust that evil law firm wiiiiiiide open.”
  • Merl’s rightly upset. Everyone shows up, beats him up, doesn’t pay, and leaves.
  • Back at the shelter, the next morning, and Anne wants to know what scared the two kids the night before. “Cops. They’ve been hassling everybody lately. Which, hey, what else is new, right? But these guys … this cop comes up out of nowhere and just wham. Hit me so hard I thought my teeth were coming out.”
  • Anne says she thinks she knows someone who can help, and we think it’ll be Angel, but it turns out she knows Gunn! He calls her Annie, and I love this. They’re both about protecting the youth in the neighborhood. Of course they’d be friends and allies.
  • But when Anne hears they’re calling themselves Angel Investigations, she clocks it and tells them Angel tried to help her a few episodes ago. The gang gets their hopes up that he’s back on mission, but when they hear it’s about W&H, they let out their collective breath and get back to work.
  • Angel’s in full stalker mode, following Gunn and Anne from the agency back to the shelter.
  • Here’s where we know the writers room is full of white people, with Gunn assuming the kids were provoking the cops and that’s why they’re being violent, as opposed to the crime of, as Jackie put it on Veronica Mars, “standing while Black.”
  • Although the next scene is a cop going after the fairly pallid Angel, so we know race isn’t the only determining factor in the Cop Attacks.
  • Aaaaaaaaaaand Angel kicks the cop’s head clean off. The head quickly deteriorates into a corpse mottled green and the head tries to keep reading him his Miranda rights.
  • Two of Gunn’s old associates already know about the Cop Attacks and Gunn’s mad he didn’t. They’re mad at him for no longer working the streets with the crew, but being part of Angel Investigations. Also one of them is totally Alex’s best friend Ray from Alex Mack

  • Gunn finally remembers urban reality, saying he’ll be a good target because he’ll be the one “walking while Black.”
  • Oh Kate still exists too. Lots of recurring folk this ep.
  • She and Angel are slightly more civil, but it’s hard to tell because they’re both so … stoic. Not even fun stoic. Their line deliveries are monotone, their faces barely move. It’s very … non-entity.
  • Anyway, the cop Angel beheaded died six months ago.
  • AT LAST AT LAST THE LINE ABOUT ANGEL BEING BAD AT PLANNING GOD BLESS US EVERYONE. Wes: “That can’t be his plan, can it? I mean it’s … really a dumb plan.” // Cordy: “Hey, Gunn graduated with a major in dumb planning from Angel University. He sat at the feet of the master and learned well how to plan dumbly.” The only issue I have with this is no one is as bad at planning as Angel, and there’s no call to throw our Gunn under the Bad Planning Bus.
  • Wes and Cordy are off to back up Gunn, deciding the rich kid with the third eye isn’t going anywhere soon.
  • Aw, we’re at a cemetery. #Buffynostalgia. Angel can tell that a number of cop graves have been disturbed recently, and thinks someone’s zombielording them around the city. Kate panics, but Angel confirms her dad’s safely underground.
  • At least their faces are moving this scene.
  • *snort* Cordelia shows up at the shelter and recognizes her shirt that Angel donated. Nice continuity.
  • Aaaaaand a threatening fellow shows up, pushes his way into the shelter and is apparently coming after one of the kids. Cool so this is gonna go well. “You don’t think I’m gonna kill you or something, do you? … I’d never kill you here.”
  • Gunn: “Someone having an apocalypse and forget to invite us?” // Me: *checks the stats* “Naw, you’re good.”
  • A cop shows up, demanding they put their hands on the wall. Gunn’s calm and asking what law they broke and basically doing all the things they tell you to do, but which somehow still often end with Black people being assaulted or killed.
  • Wes shows up, trying to be the white witness and advocate, “This man is a friend of mine.” But. The cop turns and shoots him in the gut. Ray from Alex Mack gets his gun and shoots him before he can pull his back-up piece and kill the rest of them.
  • Before he can finish freaking out, though, the cop sits back up, because undead and whatnot.
  • Not-Dead Cop gets on the walkie and says “We have a situation … We have witnesses. I need back up.”
  • Cool cool cool. Nothing topical here, nothing to see.
  • Wes isn’t dead yet but he’s definitely going into shock, so they call for an ambulance.
  • Gunn rides in the ambulance with Wes, holding his leg, and I’m having some friendship feelings. But before we can feel like we’re safely away, the ambulance is cornered by cop cars and they start shooting. Cops assaulting at health care providers trying to save victims of cop violence. Also not at all topical.
  • Just. Fuck, y’all.
  • And it looks like the zombie cop brigade intend to take down the entire shelter, with all the kids inside it.
  • Wes, sweating and pale: “He had no right.” Gunn, having known this for his whole life: “I know, man.”
  • Turns out Gunn knows Jackson, the threatening fellow, but they aren’t friends.
  • Cordy insists they take Wes to the hospital, but she opens the door to see the cop cars closing in. Let the siege begin.
  • Angel strolls into the chief’s office, all, “I need to talk to you … about some of your more dead cops.”
  • And chief just shoots him three times in the chest like wtf. That’s just full on no-code villainy, not even trying to justify that he thinks he’s keeping the neighborhood safe or whatever other shit I’m waiting for them to shovel at us.
  • “These are good cops. They put their life on the line,” the chief says as the cops rip metal grates off the windows, shatter the glass, and drag literal children out to be slaughtered.
  • The cops are getting in everywhere, overwhelming the few adults we have fighting to protect the kids … just as Angel finds the idol for the zombie god and smashes it. Suddenly all the cops collapse and revert to rotting corpse form. But our friends don’t have time to question it, because they need to get Wes to a hospital.
  • I don’t hate this episode for being shitty like the last two, it’s just … it’s so fucking sucky how much this is barely a metaphor. I hate this episode from 2001 for still being infuriating, immediately relevant.
  • Angel saved his friends and the kids in the shelter by smashing the idol, but they don’t know that. All they know is that Wes nearly died and Angel wasn’t there with them, helping them protect the hopeless. So when he comes to the hospital and Cordelia catches him watching Wesley through the window, she sends him away. “Wesley doesn’t need you right now. We don’t need you. You walked away. Do us a favor and stay away.” It’s a good line but he doesn’t seem to mind being sent away. He’s still fighting that war, remember? That war that involves making Merl do all his research for him? And then glowering and knocking things off of counters in dimly lit lobbies? That war.
  • He’s still beige Angel.
Daniel’s Thoughts:
  • Angel comes back to a fully lit hotel and you know how this bothers me so I’ll move on.
  • Sad music plays so you know he’s sad.  He shoves books off the countertop, so you know he’s a prick too.
  • Meanwhile, the rest of the crew seem bored at their new office which is tiled like a bathroom.
  • “We can’t expect evil to just walk through the floor.” Cue the door opening.
  • A woman who reminds me of CJ Cregg comes in with her daughter.
Basically the same person

  • Something bit the daughter and now she has an eye in the back of her head.
  • In downtown LA, something is stalking two teens.
  • Oh hey, Anne is back. Her shelter is full of teens.  The two teens who were being stalked knock on the shelter door but Anne says they’re full up.  They plead and because Anne is nice and we like Anne and they seem scared, she lets them in.
  • The thing stalking them in the shadows?  A cop.
  • This is going to be a fun episode.
  • After the credits, we see Merl leaving town because everyone beats him up for information. Good reason, I guess.
  •  “You don’t care about anyone about yourself," -Merl, unexpected voice of reason.
  • The next day, Anne questions Teen #1 (Kenny?) about what happened the previous night. 
  • He tells the tale of renegade cops.
  • Anne goes to see the Angel-less crew. Apparently Gunn knows Anne.
  • Cordelia reveals the name of their former boss & Anne reveals that she knows Angel.  
  • Cordelia is hopeful when she hears that Angel helped Anne out but when Anne says that Angel just wanted to fuck over a law firm, Cordelia is deflated.
  • Ooh, and Angel is stalking the team.  I guess he was properly shamed by Merl. From the rooftop, he sees Anne leaving with Gunn.  
  • I wonder if they were considering adding Anne to the cast.
  • Meanwhile, in a “This is how teens talk” written by 30 year old writers scene, the ‘teens’ tell Gunn what’s going on.
  • Angel listens in.  He hears enough and leaves – but meanwhile gets attacked by an ‘officer’.
  • Big fight.  The cop acts more robotic than zombie-like – like he’s been programmed to say what he's saying.  Angel knocks his head off….and his body morphs into a zombie-like skin etc.  It still talks, but winds down like a robot powering off.
  • Gunn has called some of his ex-crew who are kinda pissed that he’s abandoned them and I don’t blame them, tbh.
  • Meanwhile Angel goes to see Kate. They play nice & awkward. (Name of their sex tape.)
  • Angel finds out from Kate that the officer he ‘killed’ already died 6 months before.
  • Cordelia tells Wesley of Gunn’s plan – basically to get the beating on tape.
  • "Gunn graduated with a major in dumb planning from Angel University. He sat at the feet of the master and learned well how to plan dumbly."  HAHAHA.  To be fair, I don't know if I would have noticed how dumb Angel's plans were if it wasn't for Zelda who's pointed it out many times.  This is gold, though.
  • Cordy & Wes decide to put off the third eye case and go help Gunn.
  • Angel visits the gravesite that he can tell was disturbed.  He recognizes other graves that might be disturbed.  
  • Angel explains zombies.  But they're definitely not George Romero Zombies.  They're not 28 Days Later Zombies.  They actually kinda act more like Golems. This won’t be the last time this show deals with unusual zombies.
  • Kate rushes over to another grave – it’s her dad.  Angel assures her that his grave hasn’t been disturbed.  She has a huge vulnerable moment and it’s nice that they remembered this and added this short but important moment to the episode.
  • Another cute moment of continuity – Cordelia recognizes one of her blouses on one of the homeless teens.  This is from when Angel collected some of the clothes at the hotel to donate to Anne when he wanted to get an in with Anne.
  • Ok in yet another storyline?  Some older guy pushes his way into the shelter to harass one of the teens. 
  • Meanwhile Gunn and his two friends set up their spy cam in time for another zombie officer.
  • Meanwhile, Wesley tries to be all white-savior ‘explaining’ to the cops that this black man is a friend of his. And the reality of that scene stings.
  • Zombie officer, however, shoots Wesley.
  • One of Gunn’s friends ends up shooting the officer.  But oops, he comes back.  Because Zombie cop.
  • Zombie cop gets on his radio to get back-up, as zombie cops are wont to do.
  • Kate & Angel go investigate the precinct where the Zombie cops come from.  They don’t get much help, as expected.
  • Oh, there it is.
  • UH oh.  The ambulance is stopped by two cop cars who just open fire.  One of the EMTs gets shot.  Gunn takes over and gets the ambulance out of there.
  • He takes Wesley to the shelter along with the remaining EMT who looks after him.
  • So the guy who came to the shelter – Jackson – also knows Gunn. (GUNN IS POPULAR) 
  • Gunn…in a really weird bad writing moment badgers Jackson for contributing to the violence.  It's like - there was really no reason to introduce this character except to shame the black community. He never comes back; he's only there  to intimidate a teenager and have Gunn yell at him.  It's a real "there's bad people on both sides" moment and it's awful and I hate it.
  • The Zombie Cops arrive at the shelter.
  • Angel is finally able to find the Captain of the precinct who is in charge of resurrecting the zombies.   The Captain guy shoots Angel but oops, Angel is a vampire.  
  • The Captain reveals that the cops he’s brought back are cops who were killed on the streets as if this is a great excuse to raise unpredictable zombies who can just go around killing innocent people. 
  • Ooh, there’s a backroom with shrines to the cops as well as other mysterious objects.
  • Angel finally finds the thing that’s controlling the zombies and smashes it.  At the shelter all the zombies re-die…
  • Kate tries to excuse the Zombie cops by saying in the past couple of months, crime has gone down in that area.  So ok- I- [SHE ONLY MEANS CRIMES NOT PERPETRATED BY COPS BEATING CIVILIANS JESUS FUCK I HATE THIS - Z]
  • Hospital: Gunn waits byWes’s bedside and it’s very sweet.

  • And Angel watches from afar, as usual.  This time, Cordelia catches up.  She tells him that they don’t need him.  She’s angry and rightfully so. 
  • It’s a weird arc that I hope will end soon.  And it seems Angel has a little bit of remorse, so we may be seeing the beginning of the end.
  • Oh they never cured the eye girl. I'm told by Zelda that those two characters will return.  Okay.

Favorite Lines:
Zelda & Daniel: “Hey, Gunn graduated with a major in dumb planning from Angel University. He sat at the feet of the master and learned well how to plan dumbly.” – Cordelia
First Appearance: Rondell, George, Francine Sharp, Stephanie Sharp
Recurring: Detective Kate Lockley, Anne Steele, Merl
Generally Known TV Face: Cory Hardrict, Kyle Davis, Darris Love, Leah Pipes
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Jarrod Crawford (Rondell on Angel, Lead Hydra Agent on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Darris Love (George on Angel, Hallmate on Buffy)
Cordelia’s Hair – chip bob, straight, blonde highlights throughout
Dead Humans – 1
Dead Undeads – 1 (we’re not counting the hoard at the end, who were deactivated, not re-killed)
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

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