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From Brainerddispatch.com


Angel goes out on top

By John Hansen

Saturday 15 May 2004, by Webmaster

Joss Whedon’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" are both great shows, but it’s a heckuva lot easier to explain "Buffy’s" greatness. High school hell. Girl power. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Season 3 hair. The appeal of "Angel" is harder to quantify. Sure, you can watch any of the first 109 episodes and come up with a healthy list of attributes: the awesome fight scenes; the noir cinematography; the biting humor; the stylish period flashbacks; David Boreanaz’s deliciously evil turns as Angel’s evil half, Angelus.

But the demon-plagued Los Angeles of "Angel" is the anti-Sunnydale; it seems to be as gloomy during the day as it is at night, and hope is harder to come by. This is Whedon’s pessimistic vision of the world, one where "nothing we do matters," as Angel said in Season 2’s "Epiphany." But the entirety of Angel’s quote is comforting: "If nothing we do matters, then the only thing that matters is what we do."

If you watch What: "Angel" series finale

Starring: David Boreanaz (left), James Marsters (right), J. August Richards, Amy Acker, Mercedes McNab, Andy Hallett, Alexis Denisof

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Network: The WB

Season 5 grade: A

Angel’s centuries of brooding haven’t been for naught; the vampire, just shy of his 250th birthday, has a pretty well defined world view. And in Season 5, the writing team — great at comedy, great at drama, but sometimes struggling to find the proper balance — has developed a consistent world view of "Angel," which is why the series sendoff (8 p.m. Wednesday on The WB) will be the first season finale that’s not a mild letdown.

This season, Team Angel has taken over the headquarters of Wolfram & Hart, which allows them to fight evil with all the resources of the interdimensional law firm. The spacious W&H headquarters is a breath of fresh air — I don’t miss the dank hotel of the past three seasons one bit — but it’s the writing that has really opened up. This is the best Buffyverse season since "Buffy’s" third year, which was also the last time before this season that Whedon had only one show to focus on.

The serial storytelling of Seasons 2-4 wasn’t without merit (you can’t go wrong with Darla, Drusilla, Faith, Dark Wesley and Angelus), but the writers also made memorable wrong turns (Connor, Evil Cordelia).

The bevy of standalone episodes this season has been refreshing, and, ironically, it has allowed for a more multi-layered season arc, much like "Buffy’s" third season. Among the highlights: "Lineage," which introduced Wesley’s (Alexis Denisof) dad; "Harm’s Way," which showcased vampire Harmony (Mercedes McNab), who is so bad at being bad; "Damage," which brought us up to date with "Buffy’s" Andrew (Tom Lenk); and "Smile Time," where Angel is transformed into a cute little puppet.

The series’ two most beautifully tragic episodes have been delivered this year. David Fury’s "You’re Welcome" is a thank you letter to Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia for seven years on "Buffy" and "Angel." "A Hole in the World," written and directed by Whedon, is "Angel’s" answer to "The Body," where Buffy finds her mom dead on her couch. Here we see innocent Fred (Amy Acker) die horribly before our eyes, and feel Wesley’s pain. As a morbid denouement, Fred’s corpse is taken over by ancient demon Illyria, a role that allows Acker to show a darker side (and wear leather). On the plus side, we get to see rival vampires-with-souls Angel and Spike (James Marsters) work together for the first time since both were evil.

"Angel," which has been cruelly canceled by The WB in the middle of its epic story, likely will end on a cliff-hanger that may never be resolved (TV movies have been rumored, but I’ll believe it when I see it). That’s fine with me. I wouldn’t want to see a rushed ending that turns Angel human and reunites him with Buffy, although, given the time it deserved, that’s how the show would have ended.

Last year, "Buffy" signed off with sunlight and a smile. "Angel," I’m guessing, will bow out with a starry sky and a Boreanaz smirk, and I suspect it will feel just about right.

10 Forum messages

  • > Angel goes out on top

    15 May 2004 23:18, by Bana

    Wow.. so well-written, except the Connor/Cordelia part. I thought it was brilliant when we saw Cordelia evil. (I mean, if you hadn’t read spoilers!) Also, bringing Connor brought these incredibly touching emotions, because nobody had ever seen their own flesh and blood hate them that much.

    I agree with the other parts, though. I almost cried where he talked about "A Hole in The World."

  • > Angel goes out on top

    15 May 2004 23:24, by JohnnyB
    articles like this make me feel a lot better about the end of angel. Kudos to the author :)
  • > Angel goes out on top

    16 May 2004 05:40, by dela

    oh my gosh - AtS would never have ended with Angel human and getting back together with Buffy. I mean, not unless Joss Whedon died and forgot to put it in his will that this should never happen to his characters. You know, just in case anyone couldn’t already tell that Buffy was saying goodbye to Angel (and Spike, for that matter) at the end of her series, and Angel was on his way to having an adult relationship as well at the end of his (and not with Buffy).

    Joss characters ultimately go forward, not back to High School crushes. The women don’t go back to controlling daddy-figures they worshipped more than loved, and men don’t go back to the need to be so controlling and adored.

    It would just ruin both shows, the messages of both shows, for Buffy & Angel to get back together. Hokey, wrong, wrong, wrong - and most definitely would not have happened in a million years

  • > Angel goes out on top

    16 May 2004 10:29, by Wolverine68

    I to am glad to see Angel go out on top.

    I would prefer it going another year, but at least it doesn’t go past it’s prime like Buffy did.

    Be honest now, did Buffy really have any stories that NEEDED to be told after season 5? No, she had over come every obsticle.

    She had faced the basic vampires, and legendary vampires (from The Master to Dracula), she faced off against a giant worm, a frankenstein like robot compilation of many types of demons, had to deal with lossing her mom, and sending her own boyfriend to hell for the sake of the world.

    On top of all that, she had one final test ahead of her; that was the face a GOD and win. She faced this challenge head on, and gave her life to win.

    That was the, most defining moment, and nothing else could top that. Sure, there were great moments, and the fans were glad for 2 more years.

    But it didn’t need to continue, it had gone everywhere it needed to. Buffy was alot like a video game, where you fight through legions of enemies. Each season is like a level, the monster get tougher, and the bosses more challenging.

    Again, what challenge was greater then a god?

    It is also important to note, that chossing to continue Buffy has screwed Angel. The only reason UPN did not pick up Angel after The WB cancillation, is because Buffy was not that profitable. Had they not known that lose, we would have Angel season 6.

    But on top of that, no gripping, Am glad the show never had the chance to go under. It over came it’s 4th season drop in plot & ratings, and pushed one of their greatests seasons.

    I shutter to think of watching Angel season 6, if it were to be like Buffy’s.

    (Well done Mutant Enemy.)

  • > Angel goes out on top

    16 May 2004 19:00, by Slayer

    "goes out on top"? Please, this has been a painfully terrible season!

    Angel’s high point remains season 2’s "Dear Boy" - and Darla MADE that episode so good, nothing else.

    I mean, how many times exactly do they have to do the whole "Is he Angel or Angelus?" thing? It’s pathetic....I’m glad this show has been cancelled, and really hope that NBC don’t pick it up for a sixth season. That rumour sounds like a crock of bull anyway.

  • > Angel goes out on top

    17 May 2004 00:50, by Anonymous
    Here’s what really gets my goat. The WB was going to push for an updated "Dark Shadows" series. Now, they’re not even going to do it. Not even in the fall lineup. Kick out a show for crappy reality TV (which will soon die a thousand deaths, mark my words) and not even follow through. I MIGHT watch ’Smallville’ next season, but like I said before: A one-two punch isn’t a one-two punch without the two.
  • > Angel goes out on top

    17 May 2004 06:52, by Anonymous
    its true that upn didnt pick up Angel because of the lost profits from Buffy - but if Buffy hadn’t reached past Season 5, how far would Angel have gotten?
  • > Angel goes out on top

    17 May 2004 16:01, by Anonymous
    I have to disagree with ’Slayer’ here, thi sseason was the best so far. Great acting, superb storyline, and a willingness to do the hard things to characters. "Painfully terrible" is way off-base. Still, that is just my opinion. Then again, "Citizen Kane" was treated like a crap-fest in 1940. Now it’s considered one of the best film ever. Sometimes opinions are opinions, and sometimes opinions are wrong.
  • > Angel goes out on top

    17 May 2004 19:07, by Lostsoul
    Its been a great 5 yrs with Angel. We have watched throught it all but some how knowing that the end will never come makes me feel a little better for we spend our lives on one path trying to reach a goal. Then some how we get distracted and there is a new goal. Let us remember Angel as we should, a vampire, a hero, and a man who carries burdens that we could not. Let us just be thankful that Mr Whedon share his dreams with us for 5yrs of Angel and 7 years of Buffy.
  • > Angel goes out on top

    18 May 2004 14:02, by brenna

    It is such a shame.

    Season 6 was the best BtVS season; I’m guessing it might have been the best AtS Season as well.

    One more Season at least, and AtS truly would have gone out on top - and with a cherry on top.