AngelAwakening : A Bucket of Ice Water
By Josh Buckman
Friday 31 January 2003, by Webmaster
"What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream? Or what’s worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?"
Woody Allen, "Without Feathers"
I have a theory concerning this episode. When the writers took the old "it was all a dream" technique (used most often by soap operas and horror flicks) and turned it on its head, the viewers were forced into one of two camps: those who saw it coming and those who didn’t. Was it brilliant or obvious? Innovative or cliché? Which camp did you belong to?
As for me, they should have passed out bibs and spoons ’cause I just ate it up.
Then, just as I was about to call out for seconds, things started to get a bit too sweet. Angel and Cordelia were looking like they were going to do the deed. No, no, that’s too much, I thought. I’m full, please end it now. We don’t need Angelus coming around and spoiling the feast.
Then BAM! The food poisoning kicks in. As it turns out, the events that I savored never really happened. And that meal I just enjoyed? Yeah, well, it’s all coming up now.
Yes, there were little clues that should have tipped us off that something was wrong. Wesley was being all weird with the apologizing and the not caring that his hand was just impaled. Cordelia actually had a useful vision. Connor’s attitude did a complete 180 in a matter of hours. The Beast conveniently showed up for no reason. Even the previews from last week showed Angelus giggling on the table.
However, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was so blinded by the way things were finally turning around for the Fang Gang that I was unable to let myself understand what was really going on.
You see, for the most part, all the stuff that made Angel happy enough to turn into Angelus is exactly what I’ve been hoping would happen this entire season. Gunn and Wesley made up. The father/son/higher-being triangle was resolved. Connor pulled the pole out of his bum. Best of all, it looked like the team was finally ready to start working together again.
I should have known that getting what I wanted would never be that easy.
Oh sure, initially I was wary that at any moment the rug would be yanked out from under me. However, my suspicions rested in the idea that the shaman had actually completed the ritual and Angel was now Angelus pretending to be Angel. Once it become clear that was not the case, I settled into the idea that gang was actually getting somewhere on their quest to stop the Beast. How foolish of me!
I must admit, it was frustrating to have my dream of the team returning to their roots as helpers of the helpless dashed to pieces (not to mention the irritation of having to go through all of my meticulous notes concerning character development and mark FAKE next to them). However, I must also admit that was incredibly satisfying to experience a fantastic twist that left me gasping in disbelief. It was truly worth the sacrifice of the fantasy. Let’s hope that this marks a new era for the show in which riveting storytelling and classic suspense replaces the overabundance of soap opera angst.
He Ain’t Got No Soul
At last, the question concerning the parameters of Angel’s newly reinstated soul was answered once and for all. When Willow did her magic to give Angel his soul back, the perfect happiness clause came with it. Instead of simply snatching Angel’s soul away, the shaman worked within the confines of the curse to get Angel to give it up. This brings ups several interesting points to ponder.
First, the Shaman used Angel’s own thoughts and desires to create the moment of perfect happiness that would change Angel into Angelus. Notice how Angel’s dreams of happiness included Cordelia instead of Buffy? Is this because he’s truly over the Slayer or simply because thy’re on different networks?
Second, it appears that at least in Angel’s mind, sex is the key to happiness. The first time he lost his soul, it was while he was basking in the afterglow. This time, it was smack dab in the middle of the act. Was it because there was a difference between the two situations (or the two women) or simply because time was running out in the episode?
Third, Angel, in effect, is trapped in the glowing little orb thing. The dichotomy between Angel and Angelus has always been pretty extreme. Angelus is smarter, more cunning and 100 times more evil than Angel is. When they speak about Angelus, they speak of him as if he was a completely separate person. So how come Spike doesn’t seem to suffer from the same split personality syndrome?
Sweet, supportive Cordelia, could it be there is something behind all of her seemingly infinite amount of understanding? It certainly looked like that was a wedge she was driving when told Angel that the others just don’t get it when it comes to Angelus. Perhaps it was the same make and model she used when sleeping with his teenage son.
Notice how after insisting that Angelus not return, she oh-so conveniently pointed out how smart and useful he could be to capturing the beast. Oh and hey, the beast might just control you anyway, so what’s the diff? It’s possible that she’s using a super-power some women possess that allows them to make it seem they feel one way when they really want something else. When the power is in effect, it looks like the man is coming up with the ideas when the woman is really the one in control.
So, if she is evil, what are her real intentions? Does she have a big master plan? Come to think of it, Lorne near keeled over after reading Cordelia. Is it possible that he got a glimpse of some of the hidden evil she’s involved in?
Hmm. Something stinks here, and I don’t think it’s Fred’s bong.
However, isn’t the fact that Wesley is so gung-ho about bringing Angelus back just a little suspicious? Maybe he’s just being the rash, impulsive Wesley. If that’s the case, he needs to remember that indulging in plans before consulting with the group is what got him in so much trouble last time.
Gunn continues to fire off accusations left and right. He’s willing to throw just about any of his teammates into the fire. First Wesley, then Connor and now Angel. Will he ever get around to pointing the finger at the potentially duplicitous human/demon hybrid?
The revelation of evil hiding in the group is sure to shake its already weak foundations. Will they be able to patch something together if they must endure something as violating as that? It is one of those questions that would not have been answered if the beast had truly been defeated (along with: Where did the Beast came from? and What’s the significance of his appearance?).
It’s also one of those questions that will keep us hanging on each week. So until next time, get out your crosses and eat your garlic - Angelus is back, baby.
The gang tries to get Angelus to give them some answers about the Beast. The sad thing is, he doesn’t want to help them out. Surprise! Things get worse when the gang realizes somebody stole Angel’s soul while they were playing Silence of the Lambs. My money is on Dawn - you know she such a klepto.