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Angel Episode 4.7 Rain of Fire
AirDate: 17th Nov 02

"Hey, Connor. How was your weekend?"

"Same old, man. Fought Satan. Banged Cordelia. Bought some Chocodiles."

"You watch the Kings game?"

"Missed it."

Yep. Just another day in the city of angels for The Destroyer and his severely dysfunctional family. Oooh, that's right – he is The Destroyer, isn't he? Miraculously borne of two vampires (By the way: Darla / Julie Benz? Hottest vampire EVER. I keep forgetting to mention that), raised in a hell dimension, able to leap (off) tall buildings and mack on the apple of Dad's eye in a single bound. I wonder if such a unique birth could have any darker ramifications than were originally considered. Would it possibly attract the attention of oh, say (switch to Church Lady impression), SATAN?!? People from all over are writing me to run through theories they have, relating to The Beast rising from the exact spot where Connor was born, almost exactly one year later.

But enough about the new heavy in town. Let's address some other pressing issues before we, as they say, give the devil his due.

I'm pretty forgiving of the little people that Joss Whedon has put in my television set, when they change in ways that I'm not entirely in favour of. After Dawn and her whining drove me batty for two seasons, I was prepared to give her a chance to redeem herself this year, and she's off to a great start. I've gone 'round and 'round with people over whether or not the way Wesley's character has developed is believable, and furthermore if his renegade behaviour this season is justified (I'm with you, Wes – Grrr! Arrrgh!). I hear from people all the time who hate a particular character, whether it be Xander, Dawn, Anya, Fred, Clem (I'm just kidding – NO ONE hates Clem!), or, more often than not these days, Cordelia.

Hey Joss. Was the point of episode 4.6, 'Spin the Bottle', to remind us of how funny, clever and dynamic Cordy USED to be? 'Cause you're preaching to the converted, my man. I'd say a good 75% of us have grown weary of the whole Mother Superior routine. Queen Cordy only wants to do what's best for everyone, as she coos sympathetically and hugs the whole world to her ample bosom (that last part I appreciate – Should Charisma's cleavage receive separate billing in the opening credits?)

Another writer (and I WISH I could give credit, but I can't remember where I read it) recently held up M*A*S*H as an example of a show where, over the years, the characters got so sweet and loveable and watered down that it became nearly impossible to show them in an unflattering light or to ever have them in conflict with each other. Their dark sides were gradually washed away as they became beloved American icons. Now Cordy has come so far in her journey toward the spiritual high ground that there's almost nothing left to make her interesting. Skip led her up to the sparkly place for some undisclosed mission, but she went from not knowing why she was going to not knowing why she's back, with not a whole lot in between. She loves Angel, but being with him just wouldn't be right. Is there any trace remaining of the selfish mall girl she once was, or has she completely evolved beyond earthly concerns & flaws? Even in 'Rain of Fire' (which was listed as 'Apocalypse Now-ish' until M.E. changed the title at the 11th hour), they somehow managed to spin her classless bedding of Connor into some kind of saintly act of selflessness. "Oh, Connor. The Beast is going to destroy Los Angeles, and even though Angel and the others are probably out there trying to stop him, I know you've had a hard life and now is a perfect time for me to make it better. Why don't you put on that Barry White record and let me show you the REAL reason they call me a champion?"

Don't tell me I was the only one in front of my television, going, "NOW?!?"

Angel clearly wasn't too pleased about this development either, but there I go bouncing around again. Before we talk any further about this bizarre love triangle, let's take a look at the latest shifts in the train wreck that is Wesley, Lilah, Gunn & Fred.

For the latter two, it's playing out just as we expected. Committing a murder and having to keep it a secret can be a real strain on a relationship (doesn't ANYONE read the advice columns anymore?), but outside of the cause, it's amazing how familiar the symptoms ended up being. When Gunn & Fred returned from their run-in with the biggest rat problem in the city (I assume and bloody well HOPE it was!), their brief exchange on the stairs about the size of the bathtub could have happened to any two people whose relationship is falling apart. But that's one of the many things that Joss & his team(s) do so well. The subject matter may be vampires and demons and robots and time travel, but the personalities and the relationships are as real to us as any show on television, and there are always personal problems that we can relate to our own lives. The whole situation with the offed Prof and the effect it's had on our lovebirds has been excellently crafted and very believable. I would say they're pretty much doomed (as a couple, not in the way that everyone on the show appears to be doomed), so how will they be able to work together after this? I'm thinking if anyone's going to die this season, it might be Fred or Gunn, since it doesn't look like there'll be much room for friendly interaction should things fall apart between them. Unless of course Fred takes up with Wesley and moves over to the Pryce Club, and if that happens, a certain headstrong lawyer will have a few things to say about it.

How funny was Lilah's little attempt at roleplaying for Wesley? We've known all along that she has a sharp sense of humour, but this latest move was downright screwball. It was one of the lighter moments in the episode (before all the torrid bodice-ripping, at least), but the underlying point was that Lilah has a bee in her bonnet about Fred, and her track record shows that she takes competition pretty seriously. Just ask Linwood. Oh wait – you can't, because she CUT OFF HIS HEAD! I'd rehearse that "Let's just be friends" speech if I were you, Freddie – the life you save may be your own.

Then there's the bitter and competitive nature of Wes & Gunn's relationship. I'd say that one's a toss-up in terms of who had better watch out for who. Gunn may have home court advantage, but 'Supersymmetry' indicated that Wesley & Fred are better matched in terms of their superior intellects, and Fred seems to be gravitating back toward Wesley's counsel. With Gunn, it's obvious that she's afraid she doesn't know him anymore, and that's a rude shock for a couple as in love as they are. Were. Are (?!?).

But The Beast has arisen, so the time has come to put aside personal differences and make with the violence. Wesley's back on the team, at least temporarily, and even Lilah did her part by offering up the mess of code and hieroglyphics (following an excellently funny scene where Gavin apparently spilled the beans before Angel could torture him) that her people have been puzzling over. Speaking of which, I GUESS I can accept that "legions" of psychics and other experts at Wolfram & Hart have been unable to make sense of what got sucked out of Lorne's head, but Chuckie Gunn & Angel the rocket scientist sorted it all out in no time flat. "Look fellas! It make a pitcher!" Mystery solved, so LET'S GET READY TO RRRRUMBLE!!!!!

In this corner, we have a ragtag assortment of misfits who can barely stand each other, armed to the teeth and loaded for bear, but completely unprepared for the challenge that awaits them.

And in THIS corner, hailing from the bowels of Hell and weighing in at 400 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal (I realize he's hideous, but it rhymes), THE BEAST.

And from then on we had a wild collage of Conan The Barbarian, John Woo, and Ghostbusters. Swords and axes and arrows met a seemingly impenetrable hide, and when cold steel failed, it was time for Gadgets Guy to bring out the hot lead. That slow motion shot of Wesley strafing the Beast with a pistol in each hand will go down as one of the best moments of the season, and it was full-on Hong Kong blood opera beauty when he followed that up by producing a shotgun and continuing the assault. Too bad it was all for naught, as clearly this is an enemy that isn't going to be taken out with bullets. He's also obviously either lightning quick or able to slow time, as we saw when crossbow bolts were deflected out of the air and into Angel. It was awe-inspiring as he batted the boys around like little rag dolls, just as he'd done earlier with Connor & Cordelia. The other moment in this battle that deserves a place on the all-time Angel highlight reel came when the Beast sent Angel flying through the air, only to have our boy land on his feet on a ledge, vamp out, and launch himself back into the fray.

Unfortunately the cool factor of these stand-up-and-cheer acrobatics was lost on their foe, as The Beast absentmindedly continued his thorough beatdown of the Fang Gang, drove a stake through Angel's throat, and delivered the news that Connor and Cordy are already on his radar ("Do you really think she's safe… with him?"). With the last of the fight knocked out of the good guys, he followed through on what seemed to be the point of arranging all those bodies on the rooftop patio, igniting his little creation into a massive flaming hurricane that caused fire to rain down on all of Los Angeles. Cut to an ominous montage of the various characters looking nervous at the site of this biblical display.

As we've learned numerous times in the past, it takes more than one spike to kill Angel. So with his gaping throat wound on the quick mend, he made for the rooftops to rush over to Connor's loft. Certainly the two people who mean most to him in the whole world (B/A Shippers, you stay the hell back with your death threats and emailed viruses) would need his help. Surely they must be in danger! Surely they must be…


Good old Cordy. You can always count on her in a crisis. Something wrong, Angel?

Before I go, I want to take a minute to address something that's been the subject of many of the emails you guys have sent me in the past week or so. It's obvious that big things are transpiring on both Buffy & Angel. The Scoobs' situation is still basically contained within their own little world (well, unless you consider that Spike now realizes that he's been murdering the local citizenry), but people like Willow and D'Hoffryn have made it abundantly clear that what's coming is MASSIVE. Out in L.A., things got a pretty substantial push this week to where it's clear to the whole city that the end is nigh. And while we're on the subject, I hope to see this reflected on Angel when the series picks up again in January. If fire rains from the sky and birds commit mass suicide and there's a flaming spire hundreds of feet high in the heart of the city, I want to see riots, newscasts, evacuations, and I want to see religious fanatics having a FIELD DAY. There should be widespread panic, because it's not like the Big Bad is Drusilla. If it's going to be the apocalypse, treat it like the apocalypse. What's it going to take -- The Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man?!?

This brings us back to what I wanted to say. We all understand that Buffy & Angel are on rival networks who haven't been willing to allow stories to intersect and contracted actors to do guest spots, but if this law remains unbreakable, it's going to seriously undermine the credibility of both shows. You can't have the end of the world happening in two cities so close together, involving characters with this much history, and expect us to accept that they'll remain oblivious to each other's plights. Back when Doyle was the one with the visions, he managed to have one about Buffy because she was in trouble. So now we have Cordy's visions, Lorne's readings, Willow's inherent sense that everything is connected, Giles' information channels, not to mention that if it's evil and related to doomsday, Wolfram & Hart know about it, and despite the hardline stance of the network brass, there MUST be a crossover. It doesn't make any sense to continually reference the other show with high school yearbooks and injokes, only to pretend it doesn't exist when the party really gets started. It's not like it's impossible, either. It's just a question of Joss convincing the powers-that-be that it would be a nearly unprecedented television event, leading to a big ratings boost and higher advertising revenue for all concerned. It makes even more sense if Buffy is, in fact, going to end this season, because the WB's concern about sharing their audience with Buffy will be moot after the finale.

This rant might be unnecessary, as hopefully Joss is thinking along the same lines and he's arranged just the sort of miracle we're hoping for. Knowing that's the eventual payoff might almost make this long wait for the next episode a little more bearable.

Take care, everybody.

About Ron : Email Ron
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Darla? Hottest vampire ever?

Need I remind you of Vamp Willow?

Posted by: Paul on March 3, 2004 05:24 PM
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