AngelHorrorbrain.com Top Ten Angel Episodes Part 3
Saturday 8 October 2005, by Webmaster
The writers of Angel were sure a cruel bunch during that first season; they start off by giving us ‘I Will Remember You’ one week and then follow it up the next week with ‘Hero.’ Talk about a double dose of sorrow. ‘Hero’ marked the last appearance of Doyle. Joss Whedon talked about how during the first season of Buffy he wanted to make it seem like Xander’s best friend was going to be a regular, but then kill him off in the first episode to fool everyone. Whedon realized his wicked plan in Angel instead, where he gave us this fun character, made us love him by making him this ordinary guy, and then they ripped him away at just the worst possible moment. The episode features a group of Nazi like demons who are bent on using this mystical bomb to eradicate everything. Angel tries to save the day, but is unable to do so. Doyle takes his life in his hands and sacrifices himself protecting all of those that he cares about. It is a powerful episode about self-sacrifice. The saddest moment of it all is after Doyle has just died, when they go back to the agency, they find the commercial they were taping with Doyle. It is a gut-wrenching scene. The loss of Doyle is such a powerful moment in the run of Angel that it was brought up again in the final season with even the commercial getting a play again. A villain was using the disguise of Doyle at the time, and you could tell that it was such an insult to Angel and that he still hadn’t fully gotten over the loss of Doyle some four years later.
It is hard to talk about this episode without mentioning how stupid it was for the WB to drop this show, but I will try. I hate that stupid WB network and all their stupid decisions. Okay, I have it out of my system now. ‘Not Fade Away’ marked the culminating battle that had been brewing all season long. This wasn’t an episode about Angel diverting an apocalypse...this was Angel diverting THE apocalypse. Everyone in this episode had something to do: Angel took on the big dog, Illyria took on a devil, Gunn killed some vampires, Spike saved a baby, and Lorne even got some killing out of his system. This episode sucked though, not because of the episode itself, but because fans knew this was it and because the beloved Wesley died. The scene to end all scenes is one of the most wrenching of the series - Wesley tells Illyria to lie to him, to become Fred for him, and she obliges and speaks to him about how she will see him soon. It is such a well-designed scene - from the emotions and writing to the effects - that you can’t help but appreciate it. As a credit to the show, Angel left on a VERY high note, and to this day people still are clambering for some resolution and to find out what happened next. On a typical show you wouldn’t face down a dragon in a finale and not give a resolution, but then again, Angel never was a typical show, and showed that sense of style and quality until the very last frame. Angel showed in that last episode that it isn’t so much about the final destination, but rather it is more about the actual journey getting there.
Can you tell me what other prime time show would focus a story on a bunch of evil puppets and even make the hero a puppet in the process? I’ll tell you how many shows: ONE - and that show was Angel. Who didn’t want an Angel puppet after seeing this episode? The episode was hilarious for the sheer absurdity of having the hero turn into a walking pile of foam. Do you want puppet Angel to be accosted by a werewolf and then follow that up with a Pinocchio reference? You got it. Do you want to see Spike wrestle and fight with the diminutive Angel? You got that too. ‘Smile Time’ also marked the first time that Wesley and Fred FINALLY got together on the show. Who doesn’t remember the silly ‘self esteem’ song being played in the background to their kiss and thinking to yourself that no other song would do for the two of them? Ah, yes, the fans of Angel got to see the two finally come together and stay a couple for many episodes to come. Oh, wait, what is that you say...
NOOOO! Damn you writers of Angel! You screwed us over once before by giving the two heartbreaks ‘I Will Remember You’ and then ‘Hero’ back to back, and then this time you give us the sheer creativity of ‘Smile Time’ followed by one of the most cry inducing mourn fests I’ve ever seen. Maybe the brilliance of the episode hinges on whether you loved the character of Fred or not, but for me, a BIG time Fred fan, you couldn’t ask for a better and yet worse episode. ‘A Hole In The World’ marked the death of Fred and the emergence of Illyria. Sure, Illyria was a great character as well, and she was still played by Amy Acker, but she still wasn’t Fred. The writers knew the loss of Fred was so devastating, because they brought her back through Illyria on two different occasions to heartfelt moments of longing and sadness. Why is this episode great? Because of the pure greatness of the story that came from Joss Whedon’s mind. Some people have claimed that the episode has some cheesy moments in it, like Angel rounding the troops together to save Fred and then finishing it off by saying her name, but to me the moment is brilliant. When Angel says Fred’s name, you know this is going to be serious and not your ordinary walk in the park. The viewer knew at that moment that there was a good chance that Fred would be lost to them. Why else is this episode great? Acting. Amy Acker does a terrific job and if it weren’t for her the scenes she inhabits wouldn’t be filled with so much raw emotion. Equal praise must also go out to Dennisof who plays the desperate lover wanting to cling onto her to perfection. I was never a big fan of Lorne, but he has one of the best moments of the episode. He cold clocks Eve without a second thought and tells her he will kill her if she has had anything to do with Fred’s illness. It is a defining moment for Lorne and one the viewer knows wouldn’t happen if it was anyone else but Fred in the position she was in. ‘A Hole In The World’ is THE greatest episode of Angel. Period.