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Angel Episode 4.12 'Calvary'
Air Date: 12Feb03

Okay, I made a big decision recently in regards to these reviews, and this decision was to cut my losses and move on. As it presently stands, I technically owe you beautiful people reviews for Buffy 7.15 and 7.16, and Angel 4.10, 4.11, 4.12, and as of tonight I’ll have 4.13 on my plate. If all I had going on in my life was these reviews, that’d be no problem. If all I had was my day job and these reviews, it would still be feasible. But I have enough activities and pursuits on the go that I just can’t find enough time to do proper justice to all of them. I have commitments almost every night of the week, and there are some freelance writing projects that people are paying me to do that I’m having trouble getting through. So there’s no way I can allow myself to get buried any deeper under my stuff for Slayage.

You know what the problem really is? The episodes in question are too old. No one’s going to be passionately discussing ‘Cavalry’ anymore once this new episode of Angel airs. When ‘Storyteller’ aired last week, I wanted nothing more than to fire up the computer and start writing about it, but I couldn’t because my first priority had to be writing about ‘Get it Done’, an episode that I didn’t even particularly like. When an episode is fresh on my mind, I’m positively buzzing to write about it, and I can often rattle off a review in a couple of hours. But when it’s an episode as old as ‘Awakening’ is now, it takes me days of picking away at it and struggling to find my rhythm. I rewatch the episode, I end up reading other reviews, and I try to block out everything that happened AFTER the episode in question so I can remember how I felt at the time.

And you know what? It’s no fun. As the consistently excellent Bec, as well as a number of regular readers have been reminding me, this is only worth doing if I’m enjoying it. There are enough things to worry and stress about in life, and Buffy and Angel are supposed to fall under the category of fun and rewarding. Since we now know for a fact that there won’t be a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer after this season, it’s very important to me that I maximize my enjoyment of the handful of episodes we have left. So for the sake of my good time, I’m going to have to skip the episodes I missed to focus on the newest installments of each show. Trust me when I say I’m sorry for letting a lot of you down, but you have no idea how good it feels to be coming back to this with an almost-clean slate.

So let’s rejoin the action in L.A. Cordy convinced Angel that they needed Angelus to defeat the Beast (of COURSE she did!), and a dark mystic named Wo-Pang filled his head with such a beautiful dream full of true happiness that he once again lost his soul. This time, fortunately, they were able to store it in a jar, with the jar securely locked up in a safe. Nothing could go wrong now, right?

Well, nothing more than Angelus wreaking MAJOR havoc among his staff by, as was said at the time, “lying with the truth.” His time in the cage was the ATS version of ‘Once More With Feeling’, as it meant all the dirty little secrets came out and our heroes were left having to deal with them, forever changed. Once Cordy convinced him to tell what he knew about the Beast, they decided to give him back his soul. Then the plot thickened like your mom’s gravy, as they returned to the safe and discovered that (gasp!) the soul was gone. Who stole the soul?

Apparently not Wo-Pang (now we’re into episode 4.12, folks), as Connor, Cordy & Wesley fought their way back into his sanctum to see if he knew what was up or how to fix it (“Must acquire better guards.”). I really like Wo-Pang, and he’s another example of the kind of non-traditional bit player I was referring to in my last Angel review. He’s all mystical and eerie, but he still summed up the situation for his visitors as “You’re screwed.”

And screwed they were. No soul and no leads meant a mess in the basement and no plan for cleaning it up, and to make matters worse, the permanent state of darkness had left L.A. a shattered feeding ground for vamps. Fires, looting, cars abandoned in the street, cats and dogs living in sin, brown shoes with black socks – your basic apocalypse.

And who’s likely to show up when the world’s ending? Why, Lilah Morgan, of course. So it was great to see her return to the series, but the surprise proved to be bittersweet, as it was for the last time. Oh Lilah. Charming, beautiful, evil-as-all-get-out Lilah. She was such a fantastic, complex character, and the show was so much better for her role in things. I’m going to miss Wolfram & Hart’s sexiest attorney spinning her web of treachery and manipulation every week, and I’m sad to see that we’ll never get to find out how her character could have developed in the wake of W&H’s demise. Damn it, Joss! WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE KILLED FRED INSTEAD?!?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Angel and Lilah have always had great adversarial chemistry, and it was particularly spicy throughout her first meeting with the great Angelus. I laughed out loud at the snappy way he called her “Counsellor”, and she did as well as anyone at holding her own when pitted against his razor-sharp wit.

Still, the whole “We meet at last” thing shines a light on something that I haven’t been totally comfortable with throughout these last few episodes. They’ve really been pushing the extreme duality of Angel / Angelus lately, and I don’t believe it’s consistent with the way he was presented in the past. I’ve been watching the reruns on Space (as usual), and they’re just a few episodes into season three now, so season two is fresh in my mind. One of the things that was particularly effective about having Angel as the bad guy was that he was still Angel, but evil. We were seeing the same guy we’d come to care about, only with the complete absence of goodness and honour. Remember when he explained his new hatred for Buffy to Spike? “She made me feel human.” Not “She made”, um, “Angelus…” Oh, forget it. It’s really different now, and the emphasis seems to be on Angel being a totally separate person when he’s evil. Back in season two, all the time he was running around snapping necks and drawing pictures of Buffy sleeping, he never once referred to Angel like a hated roommate. He was Angel either way, and it was up to you to decide which one was his natural state – good and guilt-ridden with a soul, or evil and carefree without. I feel like Joss and the writers are letting the character off the hook a bit by beefing up the two personalities as separate entities. Even the explanation with why Angelus remembered meeting the Beast but Angel didn’t (all records and memories of the Beast were removed from our plane, but that didn’t affect Angelus because he wasn’t “here” when the tabula got rasa’d) seems a bit dodgy to me. It used to just be about the soul, but now the two have separate minds, as well?

One of the key victories in Angelus’ cerebral war was this episode’s breakup of Fred & Gunn. Sure, it was coming for a while thanks to the scar tissue resulting from killing the professor, but Angelus definitely pushed the last few pieces in place with the way he set Fred, Gunn & Wes on edge. Divide and conquer, and a pro like he is doesn’t even need to be let out of the cage to do that. It appears that Fred & Wesley are now free to be together, but I’m not expecting Chuck to deal too well with it. Both these guys have been known to keep tight grips on their grudges, which should make for some entertaining fireworks in the weeks to come. AND, just to make things even more uncomfortable, Angelus made a point of revealing to Fred that Wesley’s been sleeping with Lilah. Go, Angelus, Go!

It was exciting to discover that the Beast has a boss. True to Whedonverse tradition, what seemed like the Big Bad was really just the warmup, and there’s something much scarier calling the shots. Judging by the shocking last scene of this episode, that thing is Cordelia, or at least something that looks like Cordelia. Or something that’s controlling Cordelia.

The revelation that Cordy’s playing for the bad guys is joyous, because it partially explains her bizarre behaviour this season. If you look back, a lot of the decisions she made and the things she talked people into doing make more sense if you consider that her motivation was dastardly. At the time she convinced Connor that, in the hour of what seemed like the apocalypse, they should have sex instead of going out to help fight the Beast, many of us were throwing our hands up and wanting to hunt down the writers. But now we see that it was all part of the plan. Trust in Joss. Trust in Joss.

Where exactly did Connor and Gunn go to dig up that Soul-Eater? A park? It seemed like they just ducked out, killed it, and they were back with its skull within the hour, so I don’t think they drove up to Big Sur. Were they up in the Hollywood hills? Regardless, that’s nothing to nitpick over, and I appreciated the mention of the Chumash tribe. Watch out for the funny syphilis, boys.

So with the skull in their possession, it was time to whip up Cordy’s spell to restore Angel’s soul (nudge-nudge). David Boreanaz is clearly having the time of his life wearing the evil hat, and each situation they put him in is more entertaining than the one before. In this case, it was great to see Angelus trying to play it cool but obviously panicking as the gang conspired to shove him back down into Angel’s belly where he can’t hurt anyone. I’ll admit that I was fooled right up until he started addressing the troops as a faux good guy. To David B’s credit, he still had that smug, wicked look in his eye the whole time he was sounding all sincere and apologetic. It was very subtle, but it was there.

What I’m wondering, and I don’t know if this will ever be fully explained, is why Cordy wouldn’t reveal her true nature to Angelus after working the phony mojo and letting him out of the cage. During their conversation, they were both pretending to be their goody-goody selves, but she obviously knew he was still evil, because that’s why she needed to fool Lorne, and as she said to Lilah at the end, “Why do you think I let him out?” So if SHE’S evil, she knew HE was still evil, and she WANTED him out of the cage, why wouldn’t she say, “Okay, buddy – you’re free. Go up there and slaughter those losers and then we’ll REALLY party.” For some reason, it’s still part of her plan to conceal her identity even from him. I don’t get it, but I like it. Seriously – it just makes things that much more intriguing.

The only thing better than Boreanaz playing Angelus is Boreanaz playing Angelus playing ANGEL. Weren’t you just giggling with glee as he warmed up to Fred and asked her for a hug? And his, “I have to go save the world”, is going to go down as one of the most deliciously uttered lines of the season.

Once he took off, I was surprised to see the degree of ruin to which L.A. has fallen. Wow! Even the little kids are vampires! They’re way ahead of Sunnydale in the apocalypse department, and it’s become enough of a disaster that I’m going to be a bit disappointed if things appear to just go back to normal once the Big Bad is defeated. Don’t you get the feeling that many thousands of people have fallen victim to this plague of vampires? And has it still not made the national news?

But Angelus was too crafty for the Wesley-led hunting party, and in no time flat he had doubled back to the Hyperion for a tasty little snack of Cordy & Lilah (at least he THOUGHT he was going back for Cordy). Once the two lovelies got separated, his pursuit of Lilah through the halls of the hotel was eerily reminiscent of the night he hunted down Jenny Calendar in Sunnydale High (the end of that chase was one of the heaviest and most shocking scenes in Buffy history). And in the same way Joss first pitched Buffy’s concept as taking the traditional monster-chasing-girl scene and having the girl instead kick the monster’s ass, this time it was the spin of having one of the hunted surprise us all by turning on the other. Suddenly the hunter didn’t seem so scary.

Take care, everybody.


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Latest Comments

hey ron i jsut was watching my dvd of buffy season 2 and i was watch the conclusion where willow restores angels soul and actully if u watch he goes on to tell her how he feels like he hasnt seen her in weeks yada yada yawn but when i watched this i thought about ur reveiw, it seems to me that while angelus can see everything while he is inside angel, it doesnt work the other way. Maybe this is because angelus is the true form of what he should be after being sired, so maybe angel is really jsut the curse itself i dunno the whole thing jsut confuses me, shed some light my way, lift the fog for me man!

Posted by: Christos on March 16, 2003 02:54 PM

I think a major theme this season is the dissociation and denial Angel has been experiencing ever since his trip to Pylea. (found out he could beat the demon, so now good is Angel, evil is Demon and Angel isn't responsible for Demon crap. Angel is also seriously repressing his feelings about Buffy, thus the Buffygasm)That is why Angel and Angelus see each other as separate entities. Angel's last words to Connor were about how Angelus wasn't his real father. It would make sense for both of them to have this perception. Evil Cordy is the only one of the Fang Gang who is fostering this idea. Evil wants this to be the perception. Why? How will that factor into this season? Just have to tune and and find out.

Posted by: lunasea on March 10, 2003 11:31 AM

I won't address the big questions of Life, the Buffyverse and Everything, but just the issue of Angelus and Cordy. True, the security camera was on when Cordy let Angelus out, but earlier there was a scene in which Cordy turned the camera off and was alone with Angelus, and she still didn't tell him she was evil. And I assume she was evil by that time, especially if she was the one who, much earlier, erased all records of the Beast in this dimension.

So, even though Angelus seemed curious to find out who the Beast's master was, Cordy doesn't seem willing to come forth. Could it be that Angelus would blow her cover and tell everyone that she's evil, the way he's been revealing everyone's secrets? Knowing that Angelus refused to team up with the Beast (at the risk of losing his life, no less), and that he would play anyone against each other, including evil Cordy, we have no reason to believe that he would have teamed up with an evil Cordy after she set him free. If she wants to keep her secret from everyone else (why?), then keeping it from Angelus makes sense. He would never be loyal to her the way the Beast was when he presented her with that special dagger, giving her the means to destroy him as a gesture of absolute obedience (I'm guessing).

Posted by: chloe on March 8, 2003 11:54 PM

Ayeee Dominic... I just read your post about Kennedy TVS and I cringed because that is so plausible... I hate Kennedy... She is ignorant and basks in that ignorance... however another parallel is that Buffy is quick to jump to conclusions and get all self righteous and I can see that same propensity in Ken... Say it aint so.

Although I read an interview with Joss and he seems tired... he might just take a break and raise his kid... I would love to see a movie in a year or so as well. Perhaps a TV mini series

Oh and Ron, again I have to compliment you in your review.. it seems that so many reviewers are beingall pompous and judgemental.. One chick didn't like "Storyteller" on Buffy I was like 'Dude, do you like anything? Why do you like a show you can't stand???" TWOP are overly judgemeental as wll but at least their funny too. I like a person who obviouly likes the show as do I and gives a well rounded and oft times funny review. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: JadziaDragonRider on March 8, 2003 10:49 AM

You make a good point, Dino7405. Angelus is more of a pronounced separate entity because Angel has become more human over the years, so he (Angelus) is pushing harder in the other direction. I like it.

And Misterd, you get the other cigar, because I hadn't really considered that Cordy was running the risk of revealing herself to everyone if she acted visibly evil down in the basement, because of the security cam. Thanks.

Dominic, I'm trying not to think too much about the spinoff at this point. I was excited when Faith the Vampire Slayer was still a possibility, but nothing else really appeals to me too much. I'm also concerned that some of the Scoob actors will sign on for a spinoff when their hearts aren't really in it. People seem to be saying that Alyson wants to move on, so if it turns out that Willow is a key figure in a new show, will that be a good thing?

Personally, I'm not so sure a spinoff is even the right thing to do. I'm afraid that it's just going to water down the mythology and defeat BTVS' purpose of quitting while they're ahead. What I'd like to see is no spinoff, another great season or two of Angel (with lots of guest appearances by Buffy castmembers), and then give Joss a 150 million dollar budget and a year or so to write an incredible, epic Buffy screenplay, which I'm confident all the actors would want to return for.

But at the same time, I don't doubt for a second that Joss has a concept up his sleeve for another series that's totally going to surprise and delight me. I'm even open to the idea of Kennedy being the new Slayer, because if you can forget about the insufferable direction M.E. took her in in 'Bring it On' (which they seem to have dialled back now), I think she's a cool character with a lot of potential. Look at the way all of the characters have developed over the years. You can't really write off any new people, because they can grow and develop in ways we'd never imagine.

Posted by: Ron on March 8, 2003 09:52 AM
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