AngelAngel Season Five Premiere - Review
By Kathie Huddleston
Wednesday 1 October 2003
Running the L.A. branch of an evil law firm adds a whole new level of complication to helping the helpless. Angel Season Five Premiere
"Conviction" and "Just Rewards"
Starring David Boreanaz, Alexis Denisof, J. August Richards, Amy Acker, Andy Hallett and James Marsters
Created by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt
Written and directed by Joss Whedon
Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 1 and 8, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
A beautiful young woman walks into an unfamiliar area confused and scared. Suddenly, a vampire attacks her. Hearing the screams, Angel (Boreanaz) rushes over rooftops to aid the terrified woman, jumping in to stop the vampire just in time. As the vampire turns to dust, the woman looks on with admiration as her hero walks away without even giving her his name.
Or not. Just before he can make his grand exit, the forces of Wolfram & Hart descend en masse, and they are not at all thrilled that their CEO has performed a rescue scenario without letting them secure the scene first. And then there’s the matter that the vamp Angel dusted works for a client. The befuddled Angel can only look on as a publicity photo is taken, the girl signs papers regarding the rescue, and an eager employee offers to bring his car around. So much for helping the helpless.
Three weeks have passed since the senior partners turned over the LA branch of Wolfram & Hart to Angel and the gang, and they are all a bit shell-shocked and out of place. That is, except for Lorne (Andy Hallett), whose biggest issue appears to be that his interior decorator can’t find the right carpeting for his office.
Despite the three weeks, there are plenty of surprises, as Angel meets his new secretary and old enemy, Harmony (Mercedes McNab), and the gang gets an introduction to Eve (Sarah Thompson), their liaison with the senior partners. The "catch," as Eve tells them, is that while they can do whatever they want to with the L.A. branch of Wolfram & Hart, they still have to keep the business running or evil will find other outlets-and ones they might not then have the resources to deal with.
They begin to understand how complicated their lives have gotten when one of their very evil human clients orders them to win his case-or else. Unfortunately for the gang, the "or else" may well mean bye-bye Los Angeles. As they race to find a solution, Gunn faces a decision that will change him forever, and another old friend/enemy pops into Angel’s life.
Things will never be the same
Now in its fifth season, Angel can finally step out of the shadows of Joss Whedon’s other shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and take its rightful place as a terrific series that has come into its own. And it’s about time. Angel has been producing not just great episodes but great seasons for years now. The two-part season premiere "Conviction" and "Just Rewards," which was written and directed by Whedon, offers the clever dialogue, humor and drama that make his shows so rich and rewarding.
Like a lot of returning genre series this year, Angel has a new direction. This direction takes Angel and the gang into the belly of the beast (that being Wolfram & Hart) and lets them explore brand-new territory, which has to do more with the shades of gray in the levels of evil that exist rather than the black and white, good vs. evil they have faced in the past. It’s a move which will shake the characters up, spin them around and change them forever.
"Conviction" and "Just Rewards" may be billed as a two-part season premiere, but both episodes are standalone for the most part. Of special note, we’ll learn what happened to Cordelia, the one big loose end from last year, and Spike returns in a very clever way. However, don’t look for much of Spike until the second episode. The episodes are filled with very funny dialogue and situations that remind us how good a writer and director Whedon is. Arguably he is the best producer and writer of genre material on television, and having his attention focused on Angel, now that it’s his only series on the air, can only help the show in the long run.
Coming off of a couple of arcy seasons, this year looks very different. Anyone can sit down and enjoy these episodes whether they’ve ever seen Angel before or not. The strategy is to give the series a chance to thrive with the audience from new lead-in Smallville. Whether the plan works or not, Angel hasn’t been this accessible to new viewers since the first season.
When it’s all said and done, Angel will take its place next to Buffy as not only one of the best fantasy shows ever made, but one of the best television series. To my mind, it’s already there. How Angel does after Smallville may well be the make-or-break point as to whether this series has a future on The WB. I hope so. I’m not ready to tune in to a television season that doesn’t have a Joss Whedon series. So start watching, boys and girls. This is one show we don’t want to lose. - Kathie