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From Atnzone.com


Billie’s Review of Angel 5.1 "Conviction"

Friday 3 October 2003

Angel : "And there’s something else you should know about me. I have no problem spanking men."

How do you fight evil when you’re a part of it ?

It certainly won’t be easy for Angel, whose own employees are monitoring his every move, following up and getting releases from the people he saves, and even trying to kill him.

Houser, head of the wet work unit, spelled out the chief difficulty — that evil people have the strength of their convictions (hence the title), but Angel’s people are going to be constantly conflicted. It’s certainly frustrating that Angel and the L.A. Scoobs can’t get rid of turkeys like Corbin Fries above board any more ; they have to find a devious way to do it. But at the same time, it adds an interesting layer of complexity to the series.

Gunn’s surprising new arena is the law, making him a major player and possibly this season’s biggest question mark. The character he used to be would have been lost in this new situation. Instead, the Senior Partners have chosen him, bribed him with a mystical law education in that freaky, dark, and painful looking office, and transformed him into a legal shark in a three-piece suit who knows Gilbert and Sullivan. Gunn "spoke with the conduit himself." What exactly happened with the big cat in the white room ? (That sounds like a children’s book.)

Fred the Head is finding management stressful ("Now focus, people ! Work the damn problem !"). Her lab was the only individual space in W&H we saw this week, other than Angel’s office. And all of her scenes in the lab were with Knox, the wonderful actor from "Conversations with Dead People." He’s a great character for Fred to interact with. But "Knoxie ?" Uh, no.

Lorne is doing the agent thing and seems to be adapting well, but he adapts well to everything. I really liked him feeling out the evilest employees, and sitting in the courtroom incognito.

Wesley seems to be Angel’s vice president as well as head of research and magic. He picked Harmony out of the steno pool, and she’s a good choice. Her office skills are probably deplorable, but she’s a known quantity — she doesn’t have the smarts to spy effectively on them. And she’s a character we all love, anyway, as well as being a sort of anti-Fred.

Frankly, as far as liaisons to the Senior Partners go, I vastly prefer Lilah to Eve... but it’s early yet for me to start making judgments. Eve is hard to read ; we have no idea where she’s coming from or what her motivations are, and that isn’t true of Lilah. Eve hinted that she is not what she appears to be. She tossed Angel an apple, and he ate it. And then there was, "And what would you like passing through my lips ?" She came on to Angel — twice.

The new sets are cool. And vampires in daylight are shiny and new. I bet the actors are thrilled to be able to film during the day. It’s interesting, though, how dark Angel’s new office is, even in the daytime.

Dan and I both expected Spike to return at the end of the episode, so it wasn’t a surprise. (Wesley : "Spike ?" Angel : "Spike." Harmony : "Blondie bear ?") It certainly looks like Spike has been returned courtesy of his Elizabeth Taylor pendant, at the moment of his death on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

The address on the envelope that contained Spike was : "Angel, c/o Wolfram & Hart, 1127 Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90008." Spike’s ashes and his fabulous accessory were in the Hellmouth under the ruins of Sunnydale last May. Who sent Spike to Angel ? And how ?

Bits and pieces :

- The cast credits have changed. James Marsters has second billing, while Charisma Carpenter and Vincent Kartheiser have departed.

- The initial scene was a parody of the first scene of the series, four years ago. Was it the same alley ? I bet it was.

- There’s a little Joss-y clue about the bad guy at the beginning school scene, where the kid Matt says that his dad won’t let him read "Punisher," and the other kid says, "He kills everyone."

- Wesley : "Actually, in this place, feng shui will probably have enormous significance. I’ll align my furniture the wrong way and suddenly catch fire or turn into a pudding."

- "You have reached ritual sacrifice ! For goats, press one, or just say ’goats.’ To sacrifice a loved one or pet, press the pound key."

- Cordelia is mentioned briefly ; she is still in a coma. Eve also mentioned Connor briefly and managed to piss off Angel.

- The form Lorne was using to "sound out" the Wolfram & Hart employees had five columns : Okay, On the Bubble, Evil, To Be Fired, and Yikes !

- Fred put up a Dixie Chicks poster in her office. Very cool, and I’m speaking politically here.

- Lorne : "But lunch with Mary-Kate ! She was going to tell me about Ashley’s new piercing."

- Loved the scene with Angel and the cars. ("Oh god, they’re so beautiful !") And a helicopter ? How cool. FYI, in the street scene right after the garage scene, you can see the Hollywood sign on the hills in the background if you look for it.

- I could see Joss Whedon’s fine hand in that hilarious scene with Angel and Spanky, the free-lance mystic.

- Lorne called Angel, "Angel Toes."

- Dan really loved the wooden knives and the holy water canteen.

- Poster on the wall at the school, at the end of the episode : "Respect : Learn it. Know it. Show it."

- In this week’s hair report, Gunn’s has moved from his chin to his head, while Angel’s big black pompadour may be a sign that he’s starting to channel Elvis.

Very interesting and complex episode, a Joss Whedon tour-de-force. Five out of five stakes,

From Buffy Review Yahoo Group By Michael Hickerson


Written and directed by Joss Whedon Original Airdate : October 1, 2003

Plot : As Angel and company take over the day to day running of L.A.’s Wolfram and Hart offices, they discover there are some strings attached to the deal. One is dealing with the new liason with the powers that be, Eve. Another is that the gang must keep the business up and running in order to have access to Wolfram and Hart’s resources. This leads to Angel and company having to ensure a guilty client will not be convicted-or else he’ll destroy L.A….

Warning : If your "Conviction" is to avoid SPOILERS for the fifth season premiere of Angel, then I strongly suggest you turn back now. There are major SPOILERS for it just ahead…

In short : New season, new start, same strengths.

Having the courage of your convictions can be a difficult thing to do.

At least that’s what the group at Angel Investigations is rapidly finding out.

Last season, they turned down the chance for universal peace and understanding to return the world to a state of pain and despair because they didn’t like the price tag that came along with the peace (Jasmine’s lining up followers for the all you can eat buffet). Now, Angel and company are presented with a chance to rid themselves of their chief nemesis-Wolfram and Hart. In doing so, they will get things they’ve only dreamed of in terms of resources and opportunities.

But, there’s a price.

And it’s a pretty steep and interesting one.

In order to have the resources, perks and amenities that Wolfram and Hart offer, they must become Wolfram and Hart. They must keep evil on the street, they must let the bad guy occasionally win the day and they must let Harmony bring Angel coffee. OK, so the third one isn’t really that bad in the grand scheme of things-but can you imagine having Harmony as your office assistant ? ! ?

Suddenly, the idea that "we’ve defeated the bad guys" has become "we’ve become the bad guys." Angel and company will have to work very hard to not succumb to the same temptations that led Wolfram and Hart astray and also with the public image they now must assume.

We saw evidence of the public image going awry in the teaser. Angel saves innocent blond girl from vampire and then attempts to do his brooding, walk-away thing. Instead, a team of commandos shows up, has the intended victim sign release forms and pose for photographs. The look of horror on the victim’s face when she finds out that Angel might be a lawyer is a classic moment and it sets up things that are coming later-namely that Angel has no idea what he’s really gotten himself and the rest of the gang into.

Next thing you know, he’s got Harmony for a secretary (in one of the most intriguing moves of the show) and he’s facing an even greater moral dilemma. It seems that one of their clients expects Wolfram and Hart to ensure that he doesn’t get convicted-even though he’s obviously guilty as hell and the jury is pretty much going to send him up the river. But he is a client, he pays and he expects service. Oh yeah-if his demands aren’t met, he’ll kill everyone in L.A.

It’s an interesting moral question for Angel-does he let one evil man go to save the rest of the world ? Does he risk rocking the boat ?

Of course, what we see over the course of the rest of the hour is Angel struggling to find a way to solve the problem in the way he’s always done it-relying on the Angel Investigations crew to find a solution and put right the wrong. However, the stakes are upped a lot more when we discover that the device holding a deadly virus in check is inside a seemingly innocent school boy who has no more idea that he’s the carrier of death than what is coming in the next issue of the Punisher. (And did anyone else catch the irony that his dead, a hardened criminal won’t let his son read the Punisher comics ? I love those little Joss tidbits).

It’s also interesting to see that of the Angel Investigations team, the one least likely to come up with a solution to this problem is the one who does-Gunn. Gunn undergoes a procedure to download the entire knowledge of law into him and then proceeds to use it in order to get the trial declared a mistrial. Seeing Gunn use every slimy lawyer trick in the book was great and I have to admit that the use of Gunn here in this one episode is the most solid use of the character we’ve had since season three’s "That Old Gang of Mine." Also, I like the fact that Gunn believes that nothing more was done to him simply because the powers that be told him they wouldn’t do more. I have a strong feeling he was lied to and that Gunn is on a path to the dark side. If so, and if J. August Richards can continue to get good material and make good on it as he did here, I’m all for it. Certainly if there was a character who got neglected last year, it was Gunn and it’s nice to see the character living up to his potential here.

It was also of interest to see how Eve seduced Gunn into the accepting the position he has. Early on, we hear Gunn comment that as the brawn of the group, he’s not sure what his place his here-both Fred and Wes have their brains in their own fields that are useful. And Angel is the boss, holding it together. Then, we see Eve manipulate him-remind him of where he could be should his place not be clearly defined. And then we see Gunn take steps to define his place and prove his worth to the team. Yes, he was an asset this time, but at what point will there be a price to pay for the work done to him ? And since this is a Joss show, you know that there will be a price.

There’s a price for everything.

Another interesting thing about Conviction is that it’s the first Mutant Enemy season premiere to not take place three months after the season finale. And that’s a good thing here. Seeing Angel and company settle into the new digs at Wolfram and Hart is a nice touch (I especially enjoyed how everyone couldn’t figure out which side of the elevator to get out on). Also, seeing the immediate impact on the character’s live is nice. I think we’d feel a bit left out if we joined the story three months later and didn’t get to see the growing pains taking place.

Also, I’ve got to throw this out there-poor Wes. The man just can’t get a break with Fred. She breaks up with Gunn and now it looks like an opening might be coming, when suddenly he meets new competition with her lab assistant. The banter between them was extremely well done and Alexis Denisof was great when he asked how long Knox had been evil. That was truly one of the great moments in the show.

And, of course, I’d be remiss in not pointing out that another consequence of being at Wolfram and Hart is somehow brining Spike back. Now, I had predicted all summer that Spike wouldn’t show up until the end of episode one and I was happy to be proven correct. And I’m intrigued to see how and why he’s back. And that cliffhanger was a doozy-I am definitely ready to see the next episode. (And if you know details do NOT tell me…I am trying to be as SPOILER free as humanly possible). The only negative part of this plotline was that I found the envelope sent to Angel to be far too obviously the way that Spike would return.

It’s always interesting to see Angel start off a new season. I’ve noticed a pattern to the stories-a season finale presents Angel with some kind of new challenge or promise of a reward and the season premiere shows that it’s not exactly as easy or as simple as the gang initially thought things would be. In season one, we saw that Angel would eventually become human and then in season two, we saw the consequences of it and how it affected the journey Angel is on. Last year, we got the gang getting to take over Wolfram and Hart and now here we see that it’s not all exactly what we thought it would be. And it should be interesting to see how this all plays out over the course of the fifth season.

So, I guess that’s about it for now, except for a few small things..

-I’m still undecided on Eve. I like the fact that she’s a wild card in the equation and it appears she’s taking the divide and conquer tactic. I hope we see a bit more of her background as the season goes along and she doesn’t just become the Maddie to Angel’s David. That would be pretty much a huge waste of potential.

-Fred’s hanging up a Dixie Chicks poster-foreshadowing ? The Dixie Chicks were in the news for standing up for their convictions and then being ostracized for it. Same with Fred and the lab guys-they don’t understand why she’s so upset that they can’t find the cure and then turn on her when she states the deserve to die should the virus get out. I could be thinking too much here, though.

-I loved seeing Fred’s discomfort with answering her phone calls.

-Absolutely the best laugh out loud moment was the voice mail system with Angel trying to find someone and getting the rituals and sacrifices voice mail. "If goats press one or say goat." Oh my goodness that was absolutely hilarious.

-I loved Angel’s having a helicopter to get to the school on time and save the kids. The final act really pushed the tension up and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

-So, has Angel seen the last of the commando squad ? Or are they going to be a bit ticked off at their new boss ? Angel should remember that you never piss off the guys with the big guns.

-When you saw the commandos, did you think-dear heavens, please not the Initiative ? I know I did.

So, that’s about it for now. Overall, this is probably the strongest season opener that Angel has had. Part of that is the genius that is Joss is behind it, but I think part of it is that it’s just a solid, entertaining episode that is exploring the premise for the show and has left me wanting more. All in all, that’s a good day at the office for Angel, no pun intended…

My rating : 9.0 (out of 10.0)

Next up : Spike’s back ! To say this should be interesting is, I think, an understatement.

"For goats press one…or say `Goats’"

-The new voice mail system.