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From Scoopme.com & Peterdavid.net


Angel 4x22 Home - Review

By Josh Buckman

Sunday 11 May 2003, by Webmaster

"Don’t talk to me about contracts, Wonka, I use them myself. They’re strictly for suckers."
 Sam Beauregarde, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

The Fang Gang defeated Jasmine and stopped her nefarious world-domination scheme. As a reward, they’ve been given resources beyond their wildest dreams to use in their fight against evil.


Over the few years that they have been together, the team at Angel Investigations has done a lot of good. They’ve killed vampires, stopped demons and even saved the world. Not once have they ever been rewarded. They weren’t doing it to get something, they were doing it to help people.

This time, however, they are given a reward. Not for stopping the bad guy, but for preventing global happiness and world peace. Sure, they restored everyone’s free will, but the world, as a whole, would have been a happier place if Jasmine has won.

So in a sense, the Fang Gang has been rewarded for making things worse. Not by the Powers that Be or some other "benevolent" entity, but by a company that has spent all of its energy trying to prove to Angel how completely and totally evil it is from day one.

Let’s review. Remember when Wolfram & Hart:

Hired a blind woman to assassinate children? Tortured Cordelia until Angel unleashed a misogynistic psycho that turned men into women beaters? Raised a woman from the dead and then transformed her into a vampire? Stole money from a teen shelter? The situation is similar to a person who has made his fortune selling drugs to kids offering to give you a million dollars. Sure, there is a lot of good that you could do with the money, but would you conscience allow you to accept it?

In Angel’s case, it did.

Same goes for Gunn and possibly Lorne. Wesley and Fred could have gone either way.

How is that possible? How did the good guys accept such a proposal knowing full well that motive behind the senior partners’ benevolence was most likely just as evil as it’s always been? How did they allow themselves to be maneuvered into a position where they were no longer in control, especially after just recovering for Jasmine’s supposed years of manipulation?

Simple. Wolfram & Hart used the three essential tools of temptation, misdirection, and pacification.

Temptation - Angel was given a chance to help Buffy and then Connor. Wesley was offered vast amounts of knowledge. Lorne got the bright lights, big stars routine. Fred was given the opportunity of limitless research. Gunn, I’m guessing, was offered power.

Misdirection - The Fang Gang was offered their fondest desires and told that their new gifts could be used to help other people. Lilah goaded them into believing that accepting such offers wouldn’t mean they were greedy, but noble.

Pacification - "We promise, there are no strings attached! All of this can be yours for the low price of nothing!"

Sure. One of the biggest collective evils in all of the Earth is just going to let the forces of good have such a great prize all for free. Riiiiight.

Angel and his companions know that it cannot be that easy. Deep in their hearts, they feel that accepting such a gift will somehow put them in debt to one of the most malevolent forces in the world. At the very least they will be part of some larger plan that the senior partners must be cooking up.

Saint Cordelia would definitely not approve.

I find it hard to approve, as well. Yes, Angel made the deal in order to give his son a better life. He wanted Connor to have a chance for happiness and a normal life, so he had Wolfram & Hart somehow pull a Dawn on him and his new family. That’s really nice of him. But in order to save his son, he had to make a deal with the devil. He has saved Connor, but at what price?

Perhaps there is no catch. Perhaps the gang will operate out of their new headquarters without any consequences. Perhaps Lorne’s cryptic comments about balance are supposed to indicate that giving in to evil is okay as long as some good comes from it.

If that’s the case, then why did they not just let Jasmine bring love and happiness to the whole world? If a little bad is okay as long as it brings in a lot of good, why bother with ethics at all?

"You want to give us your evil lawfirm? We’re not lawyers."

"Or evil! Currently."

The key word is "currently." How long with it stay that way? If power corrupts, then power given by the forces of evil has got to have some kind of double whammy on it.

Angel and the gang are fallible. They fight, they spend time in the shades of gray, and they make mistakes. But that’s just in, they’re mistakes. What happens when they willingly spend time in the gray area? What about when they willingly dabble with the black? Does that make them champions, or merely agents?

There is a reason why the stories of good versus of evil have survived the centuries. We all want something to believe in. Sure, they flawed hero makes him easier to identify with. However, in the end, he makes the right choices. He gives us hope that there is a noble purpose. There is a just cause. There is a reason to stay strong.

That’s not what is happening in L.A. We’ve had more than our fair share of gray recently. Cordelia, one of the good guys, was evil. The big bad guy really had a loving agenda. Another bad guy was really just a kid with serious emotional problems. And the good guys? They’ve chosen to accept help from ultimate evil.

Maybe that makes them more realistic. Maybe it just means they’re willing to take risks to help those around them. Maybe they truly are champions.

One thing is for sure; finales don’t get more ambiguous than this one.

That’s just the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with a show that may or may not be renewed for the next season. As a season finale, it marks a whole new direction for Team Angel and their mission. As a series finale, we can let our imaginations run wild and hope that the gang continues to fight the good fight better than ever with all the resources at their disposal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting on our guys to keep on fighting the good fight.

Despite all of the temptations and dangers that come with flirting with evil, despite all of their questionable activities and despite their acceptance of a deal with the devil, I won’t give up on the gang. Wesley’s noble attempt to free Lilah; Fred’s protest; Angel’s risky display of love: these all give me hope that our heroes will remain heroes - even in the face of moral uncertainty.

Perhaps it will all turn out for the best.

"Willy Wonka: And Charlie: don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he’d ever wished for.

Charlie Bucket: What happened?

Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after."

Bat Gang Bites

Did Angel really give Connor a better life or did he simply create another lie for Connor to live? Does it make a difference? Speaking of Connor, was it not heartbreaking that he did not want the love of the one person who truly wanted to give it to him? Angel is the king of making sacrifices that no one will remember to appreciate. One cannot help but wonder that if the growing love (and yes, I do believe they felt a love for each other) between Wesley and Lilah were not cut short by her death, would she have found a way to redeem herself? Wesley punched out a former watcher? Of course, the British accent and love of books was a dead giveaway. Both Gunn and Wesley’s tour guides’ behavior suggested that there was something sinister behind the "gift." Lilah said "skoche!" Well, gang, this is it. Our last episode review of Angel together here at ScoopMe. Can you believe it? I needed my chocolate bar and teddy bear to get me through it.

However, I’m going to save my tearful goodbye (I’m really going to miss you guys!) for the season wrap-up next week. Be sure to come back for a look back at the entire season. Until then, let’s ponder of the significance of events in the episode and enjoy our intelligent conversation while it lasts.

See you next week, my friends!

From Peterdavid.net :

(Sorry about the posting delay: We had lightning storms hereabouts last night, and I shut down the computer to avoid mishaps.)

Unusual episode: A series creating a pilot for itself as what would be, effectively, a new series. If "Angel" continues, possibilities galore. If it doesn’t, it’s not an unreasonable last episode (although the lost potential will sting.) Spoilers follow:

"Who’s Conner?"

Seems unfair that everyone else in the series, with the exception of "Angel," is spared having to remember a character who—except for brief flashes here and there—was the single most irritating and unsympathetic character in the Whedon-verse. I mean, let’s face it, you cared more about the villains who were trying to kill Buffy in any given season than you did about our hero’s son. Both Conner and Holtz came across as characters who were better in concept than execution. But the latter’s dead and the former has the happy ending his father likely will never get. Indeed, some of the most relaxed, natural acting we saw from Conner was at the end of this episode, as if a weight had been lifted from him. It’s possible he didn’t like the character any more than anyone else.

That aside, the episode worked very well for me. "We give up, you win" says the chick with the slashed throat. And it was great to see the innovative displays of the show’s humor, such as the dead silence for the entire first act until Tim Minear’s credit went past, at which point they started talking. You have to respect a show that literally forces you to read the opening credits because there’s nothing else going on.

This is a series that began life as a noir, helpless person of the week show, but through slow evolution (and not without growing pains) has developed into something very different. Now we see our heroes literally seduced into a situation that could literally take them global. They’d no longer be limited to small cases on the dark streets of LA. They could go anywhere, be involved with anything. It’s an intriguing notion. They could literally be the IMF of the supernatural. It works for me. I’d like to see it. Particularly because, unlike the IMF where you didn’t have to worry that the Secretary was going to sell out Mr. Phelps for personal gain, we’ll always be wondering if another shoe is going to drop on Angel and Company.

Only question: What the heck was up with Gunn and the whole cat thing? But even that didn’t bother me. If they’d played ultra-weird with everyone, it would have been annoying. But since it was just Gunn, I’m willing to chalk it up to an open mystery that will be addressed next season.

Presuming, of course, the WB realizes the potential for what they’ve got on their hands.