: Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Angel The Series News
Buffy and Angel Reviews
« William The Buddy | Main | You Can Kind of Go Home Again »

Everyone! Out of the Water!

Angel Epsiode 4.1 Deep Down
AirDate: 6th Oct 02

Welcome to my first attempt at writing about Angel - The Series. Allow me to start by saying that 90% of you know this show much better than I do, so I'd advise against writing me asking for explanations of its mythology. When Bec first offered to start posting my Buffy reviews on Slayage, she asked if I might also be interested in writing similar pieces on Angel. I initially ducked, as I'm admittedly a latecomer to Buffy so I only started following Angel last season. I've managed to see the history of Buffy in its entirety, but I'm still trying to play catch-up with the first two seasons of Angel (let's have those DVDs soon, Joss!). So despite the fact that I've quickly grown to love this second cast of characters, not to mention the decidedly different tone and language, I'll still be depending on all of you to correct my inaccuracies and answer the odd question for me. At least until I get caught up with what went on before I started watching. Onward…

The "previously" montage perfectly encapsulated what a rock solid third season Mutant Enemy blessed us with. Last year's Buffy had its share of grade A high points, but I know I'm not the only one that thinks Angel was much more consistent and cohesive, with a tighter arc and better pacing throughout (here come the emails from those of you who disagree).

Look! It's the opening credits from Roseanne! Oh, sorry – It's just Angel and company enjoying Thanksgiving dinner as one big happy family. Nice to see all of that unpleasant business with the slit throat and the burial at sea is firmly behind them. Here's to a season filled with nothing but hugs and sweet potatoes. Oh, Connor! Your dinner table antics always leave us in stitches, you little scamp. Pass the ham, Wes.

Scratch that. It seems that this season premiere sees Angel three months and counting into his undersea vacation, and he's got some trippy delusions to keep him company. Hopefully when he gets out, he and Spike can both find their way to group therapy for nutty vamps with souls.
I remember the eerie feeling at the end of last season as it dawned on me that with Angel underwater, Cordy on the stairway to Heaven, Lorne Vegasbound, and Wesley in the sack with Lilah, Angel Investigations was suddenly comprised solely of Gunn & Fred (with a footnote for L'enfant Terrible). Our first glimpse of how they've been coping called to mind the way the Scoobie Gang struggled to keep Sunnydale's population down while Buffy hid out in L.A. at the beginning of her third season. But the big difference is that Xander (Or should we call him "Nighthawk"?) and company were a stumbling, stake-dropping comedy of errors, while Fred & Gunn kicked ass like a well-oiled ass kicking machine (patent pending). This series has some first-rate action sequences, and I like how they never just depend on the central character – the whole crew gets to make with the damage, and even Fred is really coming in to her own as a capable vamp-duster, armed with that sneaky little pop-out wrist stake. Yes, Connor, the thing with the axe was cool, but at this point I still don't find you much more endearing than a sixth season Dawn summers with super strength. Somebody needs to see a few ABC After School Specials (Do they still make those, or am I dating myself?).

Aside from the beautiful music Fred and Gunn make with stake and crossbow, I love the verbal interplay between these two. There's great romantic chemistry, and both Amy Acker and J. August Richards nailed the episode's jokes with sparkly comedic timing. They're a big part of why this is easily my favourite series about a Los Angeles detective agency since Moonlighting.

Speaking of snappy banter and sharp writing, kudos to Steven DeKnight for constructing a story that seamlessly blended reality and dream sequences. We got plenty of actual developments and meaty plot points to feed on, with the added bonus of a pile of "What If" moments like Angel biting Cordy (his bloody-chinned "apology" was absolutely chilling) and snapping Connor's neck, to scratch all of our Twilight Zone itches. I've always loved a good dream episode.

If Spike is the most complex and conflicted figure in the Buffyverse, I hereby nominate Mr. Wesley Wyndham-Price for the 2-spot. Talk about drastic character development. Is this scruffy renegade who had Lilah in his bed and Justine gagged in his closet really the same stuffed-shirt who used to drop his journals every time Cordy would burst into the library at Sunnydale High? It's a fascinating deal, because Wesley feels as betrayed by the gang as they do by him, and both perspectives are perfectly understandable. He's going to great lengths to help them, but the wound on his throat is the only one that HAS healed, and he seems to want as little to do with his former staff as possible. But don't think for a second that it isn't tearing him apart. The roller coaster journey that Wes is on is almost enough on its own to keep this series exciting and deliciously watchable, but it's a good thing there's so much additional turmoil in the mix. And now, thanks to Wesley and his slave girl, Angel is safely back on dry land and ready to set some heads rolling.

Which brings us to the biggest gasp of the night, the sudden but definite power shift at Wolfram & Hart. Lilah should write a diet book, as she just helped Linwood lose ten pounds of ugly fat in record time. Yikes! If I was Wesley, I'd be wary of angering this barracuda, as she's proven once again that she's full of nasty surprises.

Hands up everyone who initially thought when Fred zapped Connor with the Taser that we were seeing another of Angel's hallucinations. Again, it's a credit to the quality of the script that we were kept guessing what was what throughout.

But Fred's rage was the real deal, and after a thoroughly (and literally) drained Wesley delivered the catch of the day, it was time for Angel to hoist himself up and once again prove his indestructible love for his son. This is a group of people in shambles and scarred by betrayal, but 'Deep Down' they're bound by their common need to do what's right. If I may quote Giles from 'Lessons', "In the end we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed." And just before the credits rolled, sweet Cordelia put another spin on this, as she traversed untold dimensions but still managed to shrug it off like that same bratty cheerleader being dragged into another research party back in the day.

So another season gets off to a great start. If I consider how quickly Firefly is growing on me, I'd say Mutant Enemy is off to a mighty three-for-three so far this year.

Take care, everybody, and we'll talk soon.

PS – Does ANYONE know what Lorne meant when he said, "make sure Fluffy's getting enough love"?

About Ron : Email Ron
Back to the main review page»
Privacy Policy | Copyright © 1999-2004 All rights reserved.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" TM and © (or copyright) Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication or distribution of these materials in any form is expressly prohibited. This web site, its operators and any content on this site relating to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" are not authorized by Fox.
Home | Reviews | Articles | Buffy Episode List | Angel Episode List | Trailers/Promos | Spoilers | Official Buffy Site | Videos, DVD's | Advertise on | Buffy Merchandise | Search | Join Slayage The Mailing List | Contact is free to use, but not free to run. All donations are appreciated.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
Show your to or if you buy this stuff through the site it helps out with running costs:

anything from blackstar, including:
NEW DESIGNS! t-shirts, mugs, mousepads. Got a suggestion?
Syndicate articles (XML)
Syndicate reviews (XML)
anything from amazon, including:
NS, DS, KM, VL, CF, ES, SR, AF, SJ, CB, AA, JH, RG, LH, GF, DK, EC, LM, SH, CK, AE, EB, XW, DB, MC, MR in other languages
Italiano, Deutsch, Espanol, Francais, Português