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Conductin' Things

Angel Episode 4.2 Ground State
AirDate: 13th Oct 02

In this young season of Angel, 'Ground State' continues a period that occupies an Empire Strikes Back place in the continuing stoooory of Angel Investigations. Things are blown to hell, the good guys are scrambling to keep it together, and the bad guys are sitting pretty. Doesn't that make for better stories? Who wants to see the Fang Gang in perfect working order, sweeping up the vamps and lawyers into neat little bags each week? If I may continue to work the Empire analogy, instead of suave anti-hero Lando Calrissian, we were blessed this week with the introduction of another smooth criminal, Ms. Gwen Raiden (love the last name. Anyone ever play Mortal Kombat?).

I expect she isn't just a flash (get it?) in the pan, as episode 4.2 opened by showing us that baby got backstory. Clearly we're meant to feel some sympathy for Gwen and see that she's a complex figure and not just some two-dimensional wrench in Angel's plans. Sent off by her parents to a school where the kids called her a freak, it's no wonder she grew up on the wrong side of the law. But if she's a troubled kid who could use some directions to the path of redemption, she'll find good company with this lot. If there's anyone who knows about making the best of what fate has handed you, it's the Fang Gang. Not that I expect her to show up for dinner any time soon.

Cut to the present, and we see Angel, Fred & Gunn finally clearing out Cordy's apartment. It's been three months with no sign of her, and Phantom Dennis, much to his obvious displeasure, is going to have to get a new roommate. It might have required a second viewing, but that was some snickerworthy foreshadowing when Gunn got shocked as he disconnected Cordy's television. You like the appetizer, Chuck? Hold on, then, cause the main course is coming up.

And what of Wesley, and his ongoing role as the resident ass-kicking mack daddy of the LA vamp-hunting scene? Seems he's assembled some new avengers, henceforth known in this column as The Pryce Club. Listen to our guy! Ordering those bruisers around, telling them to "report to base. Have Diana close out the file." Man! He's even got a Diana working for him. Let's see her! Like Spike over on Buffy, these days any screen time Wesley gets only leaves us wanting more. Not only is he solely responsible for rescuing Angel from Davey Jones' locker, he's managed to make more headway into the Case of the Disappearing Chase than anyone, while still finding time to kill demons AND bang Lilah on the side (and the back, and the front, and… where were we?).

Of all the evil businessmen in Los Angeles, I think it's hilarious that Gwen ended up being hired by the dad from My So-Called Life. "Gee, honey, I'm sorry you're having a difficult time with Jordan Catalano, but daddy needs to go meet with the mutant thief who's going to steal the 33 million dollar mystical artifact for him." SEXY mutant thief, that is. Holy cobras, is she cute or what?!?

Angel's talents for sketching made for some good laughs, largely based on Fred's pouting reactions and poor caught-in-the-middle Chuckie Gunn.

The whole cat burglar stuff was great fun. I've always loved a good high-tech heist movie (and there have been a few in the couple of years), so it was cool to see Angel & company, not to mention Gwen, in full-on infiltration mode. It's a venerable film convention to have the opposing forces come face to face inside the illegally-entered facility, trading barbs knowing that they're both running out of time. Makes for exciting stuff, doesn't it? Gets the heart racing. Get out of there!! But in the midst of all that stuff we got to hear Angel profess his love for Cordy, and we were even treated to the shocking (ouch) death of a regular cast member. Since I'm 100% spoiler free these days, I honestly had no idea if Joss was actually set to spin my head around by having this episode's writer, Mere Smith, kill Gunn off for real! Wouldn't that have been something? It definitely would have added to the intrigue of Gwen Raiden if she was responsible for killing him, but in some ways we got to see both sides of Miss Sparky as she snuffed him AND brought him back.

As much as I like Lilah and enjoy her wicked ways, it was equally satisfying to see Angel shut her up with both his threat about killing her if she goes near Connor again, and his knowledge of her relationship with Wesley. What must he be thinking of Wes now, knowing that his former ally is sleeping with the enemy? The plot clearly thickens…

I'm not sure how I feel about Gwen kickstarting Angel's heart toward the episode's end. I guess it was a bit of a surprise, but when you think about it, this guy's blood doesn't flow but he's still able to get an erection and procreate, so should we question the validity of any of his bodily functions anymore? I choose not to. But it's funny that he immediately locked lips with his attacker, like there's some direct correlation between a beating heart and the need to get it on. My first thought was that he was going to pull back and be in full-on Angelus mode. Beating heart, kissing that fine, fine Gwen Raiden – you'd have to think the experience would be pretty blissful. But no dice. Our boy wasn't evil, just momentarily horny.

Apply any expression you want to Gwen & Angel's shakey alliance in Elliot's office. 'My enemy's enemy is my friend', or 'any port in a storm', but with Elliot just about killing both of them and Angel saving her life, it was a juicy taste of what may be in store to see them getting along as she finally gave in and let him have the Axis. I really hope we see more of her soon, and if I may make a prediction, I can see Gwen & Connor becoming fast friends as two young superpowered hotheads who don't trust anyone. The addition of Gwen means there's now a new player on the board in this nasty chess game, and the possibilities are limitless. Will she come on board at Angel Investigations? Will Lilah make her an offer she can't refuse? Will she & Connor become a modern day Bonnie & Clyde? Will she become the newest ass-whupper for the Pryce Club? Or will she remain a lone wolf, aiding and abetting as it suits her? STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT SPINE-TINGLING CHAPTER, BOYS & GIRLS!

Oh, and Cordy's still complaining in the sparkly dimension. Hopefully they'll either bring her back soon or actually give us a bigger glimpse into what she's doing up there, because the One Line a Week thing will get tiresome. Skip seemed so adamant that she was destined for bigger & better things when he led her up there, so what exactly is her new job all about? TUNE IN NEXT… oh, I did that one already.

Take care, everybody.


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