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April 18, 2003
by Daniel Erenberg
Best Of The Best, Part Two
After receiving monstrous amounts of e-mail about what list I should write this week, I decided to write the second most requested list: my top ten episodes of Angel.
The most requested list, surprisingly, was the top ten Buffy quotes. After trying to compile such a list, I've come to the conclusion that I cannot do this. I can't do this because I know that I'll come up with a list that I'm really happy with, and then, during every single episode, I'll think of one I like better. A Buffy quote list is an impossibility for me. Do you have a favourite quote?
However, after having much success with my Buffy top ten list, I've compiled an Angel top ten. I went back into my archives Sunday night. I pulled "The Hound Of Baskerville" and the wall turned around and I stepped down two hundred steps into my library of all things Joss.
Making this list, I discovered that it's much harder to do this with Angel than it is to do with Buffy. You pretty much know when a good episode of Buffy airs: the Joss episodes, the events, the deaths, and the finales. However, over the past three years of Angel, there have been little-to-no monster-of-the-week episodes. It's all been told in huge streams of story. I've tried to single out standout episodes in these streams of story. I hope I did well enough.
My Top 10 Episodes of Angel
10. "Awakening", written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight
Some fans hated this episode. I thought it was the weirdest and coolest thing to hit television since "Restless".
I completely believed everything that was going on in Angel's "perfect day" dream and I was cursing the screen at Angel and Cordelia's stupidity for giving in to their desires towards the end.
Then came that bone-chilling ending with David Boreanaz slipping so easily back into his Angelus person. When Angelus starts laughing with glee as the screen blacks out, it's almost as though he was laughing at the viewer for believing that everything could be resolved so easily.
9. The Pylea Arc, written by Shawn Ryan ("Belonging"), Mere Smith ("Over The Rainbow"), Tim Minear ("Through The Looking Glass"), and David Greenwalt ("There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb")
This four-episode arc is here because it's so damn epic.
Joss Whedon and company came up with the Pylea arc, in which Angel, Gunn, Wesley, and Cordelia visit Lorne's home world, after they finished the big Darla/Drusilla arc a few episodes shy of the season finale.
In this arc, we meet the impossibly beautiful Amy Acker (Winifred Burkle), Cordelia actually becomes Queen C, something that appeared on her license plate in Buffy, Angel faces up to his inner demons, we find out how far Wolfram and Hart's power really extends, Lorne's head gets chopped off, and Joss Whedon himself makes his acting debut as Numfar, doing the Dance Of Joy.
8. "Hero", written by Howard Gordon and Tim Minear
"Hero" was the late Glenn Quinn's final hour. It is one of the major highlights of season one and of the series as a whole.
It had out triumvirate of Angel, Cordelia, and Doyle fighting against a Nazi-like organization of demons.
This episode was amazing. We got to see Angel infiltrating the Nazi-demons, the Cordelia/Doyle relationship come to a head, the set-up for Cordelia getting Doyle's visions, and, finally, the glorious and heroic scene of Doyle sacrificing himself.
The last scene of Angel and Cordelia watching a videotape of Doyle in happier times makes me cry on every viewing.
7. "Tomorrow", written by David Greenwalt
The season finales of Angel never seem as IMPORTANT as the season finales on Buffy. I think "Tomorrow" was the exception. I actually liked it better than "Grave", Buffy's season finale of the same year.
"Tomorrow" was fast-paced and interesting, having the courage to make Angel's son Conner a true villain. It really brought every last plot thread of Angel's wonderful third season to a bursting point.
The scene that had the biggest effect on me was the last: Angel floating down into the deep, dark bleakness of the ocean, staring up at the surface high above. This image stuck with me all summer long and, in a way, still hasn't left my mind.
6. "Apocalypse, Nowish", written by Steven S. DeKnight
Steven S. DeKnight, a writer on Buffy that I loved, was moved over to Angel this year and has been doing the best work of his career. He even got to direct an episode.
"Apocalypse, Nowish" was the first time we really met The Beast and had the best fight scene ever put together on the show. That scene, with Angel, Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne confidently going up against the Beast (Wesley's guns a-blazin'), only to be completely beaten up, was to-the-point and incredible.
Then, we had the disgusting end that is only now beginning to make sense, but give it this: the sequence was beautifully filmed and entirely affecting.
5. "Waiting In The Wings", written by Joss Whedon
Joss came in like the prodigal son in January of season three and worked his magic on the forgotten child: Angel.
"Waiting In The Wings" used a demon as almost an afterthought and concentrated on the character relationships. It dealt with Angel and Cordelia's blossoming relationship and, brilliantly, dealt with the emerging love triangle between Wesley, Gunn, and Fred. The scene where they both reach for Fred's hand is fantastic.
Finally, in the end, Wesley is left in the dust and, surprisingly, so is Angel, setting up the status quo for the remainder of the third season.
4. "Sleep Tight/Forgiving", written by David Greenwalt/Jeffrey Bell
I don't have loads to say about this one. It was a two-episode arc involving Holtz taking Conner to a demon dimension, Wesley's betrayal of Angel, and Angel's reactions to both.
These episodes were heartbreaking and brilliant; certainly the best of season three. My two favorite scenes are the last of both: Angel laying on the ground mourning the loss of his baby son, and, later, attempting to kill his friend Wesley who lays helpless in a hospital bed.
3. "Reunion", written by Tim Minear and Shawn Ryan
"Reunion" is the most fast-paced episode of Angel ever. Ever! It involves Angel trying to chase down Darla and Drusilla before Darla can be turned into a vampire.
I loved "Reunion" because Angel failed. In the end, Darla and Drusilla were together again, instantly turning Angel dark. Angel goes on to fire his entire staff.
"Reunion" was the turning point of the fantastic second season.
2. "Five By Five/Sanctuary", written by Jim Kouf/Tim Minear and Joss Whedon
The "Five By Five/Sanctuary" arc was the sequel to the "This Year's Girl/Who Are You" arc from Buffy, and Angel's Faith story was better than Buffy's.
You know what? I already discussed these episodes in my Faith essay, "Hungry and Horny". If you're desperate for my thoughts, check it out.
1. "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been", written by Tim Minear
Tim Minear is the Marti Noxon of Angel. He's a writer that started out as a normal staffer and really emerged as something more.
This, the sophomore episode of Angel's sophomore season, was his best work. It's a character study, offering insight into Angel's past. It introduces the now-legendary Hyperion Hotel through flashbacks of an already "re-ensouled" Angel staying there in 1952.
The episode uses film noir as an influence and is so compelling in how it sees a period of Angel's life that few fans have contemplated too heavily.
After seeing "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been", you'll never look at Angel in the same light.
Okay, loyal readers. Here's the deal for next week. I need you on this one, or else it won't work. It's going to be an article called "FAQ". I'm going to answer all of your questions. Ask me stuff: my opinions on Buffy, my favorites, personal things, anything. I'm going to do my best to publicly answer any question that I get asked this week. E-mail me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday nights. You can contact Daniel on email@example.com.