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Angel.

I watched the final episode of Angel the other night.

I never had much of a thing for the series, just as I never had one for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, the second and third season of Buffy was fun, but the rest was pretty average--and at times downright shit--while the much insisted literacy intelligence that was supposedly in the whole thing was, simply, not there for me. I spend my days in a world where people assign new meanings and interpretations to works of fiction like there's nothing better to do with your time, and my personal theory on the subject, is that they are right when they say that the discourse around a piece of work need not actually be something that the author wrote. New meanings, new times, new social standings... whatever, basically. Just make it interesting. So it's not like I'm against it, but with Buffy, there was just an empty hole of meaning outside a few episodes. That, of course, doesn't make something bad, and doesn't stop it from being good, but it's just my way of saying, yeah, yeah, whatever, when it came to that side of the world around it.

Angel was, from the chunks I saw, uselessly limping along for the first three seasons.

I never made it to the end of season one, caught only the second half of season two, and the middle and end of season three. It depended on the night, how I was sleeping, and in the case of season one, a girlfriend.

And then season four began.

Season four was, essentially, a twenty something hour long film about an apocalypse, held together, as far as I was concerned, by Alexis Denisof and his dark, brooding, my-friends-slit-my-throat-and-now-I've-a-shotgun-and-pistols Wes, with a little assistance from David Boreanaz's mad vampire, Angelus. It was, at times, a little stupid, over the top, but fun and cool in that dark fun and cool way. Unlike previous seasons, I didn't miss an episode.

Season five, having finished here in Australia last week, was a stronger beast, the series finally finding its own legs to support a season with mostly self contained episodes. It finally tossed out Charisma Carpenter's shallow by wholesome Cordelia, and bought in a replacement shallow character (for there must, always, be a shallow, beautiful woman in Whedon's Buffy franchise) in the form of Mercedes McNab as the shallow vampire Harmony, and made her the title characters secretary, as the cast took over the evil law firm, giving the show an entire new look.

Once there, the first thing they did was bring in James Marsters' Spike, back from the dead (the only character worth breathing life into from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I thought worked well) to give Boreanaz's Angel someone to have some of that character conflict stuff with, and to use sharp, witty dialogue that the two appeared to be enjoying from day one. They then, finally, gave J. August Richards something to do with his character by making him want something (in this case, to be more than simple muscle), and would, in the middle of the season, show that Amy Acker could act, and produce one of the best characters for the show, I think. Through it all, Denisof's Wes went from brooding, to well adjusted, to stabbing his friends and sitting on the edge of insanity, but providing, still, I believe, the fabric that held the show together.

There were two big faults in the season as a whole: the first was bringing in the fully irritating presence of Andrew for a pair of episodes. Whatever you think, I just can't stand him, and he was out of place in the darker Angel series. The second, more regrettable error, was the criminal misuse of Andy Hallett's Lorne for the majority of the season.

There were other issues: a few episodes were soggy and unnecessary, and, naturally, they got cancelled, which forced an ending that, even though they put one nicely there, did feel a bit rushed.

But.

Despite this, it was cool, and the reason is with the end:

Angel ended like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with the characters stepping out from an alley and into an ocean of foes that they could not, will not, should not, survive against. They're dead. They know it, and yet, with that full realisation, Angel (Boreanaz) says the series' final lines, "I don't know about you, but I've come to kill the dragon."

That's just cool.

I hear, vaguely, that there might be tv movies, something extra, but I hope not. Really. I liked the last two seasons--I like the characters, the actors, the whole thing about the final season, but this is an ending, in the way that most endings are not. I'll be entirely happy should it stay that way.

Comments

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ashamel
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC)
As I'm sure has already been established, we disagree on this one. I don't think the first 3 seasons ever came together particularly coherently, but I think they had stuff in them that was much better than the last two.

But I will agree about the criminal underuse of Lorne. His arc sort of lead to something, but not a great deal. I also thought they underused Harmony because she just didn't do anything apart from 1 episode. (Whether or not it would have been enjoyable is probably another thing.) And the whole Eve thing was a bit odd too.

But I thought Angel's relationship with Kate, most of the Darla plotlines, the epiphany episodes of S2, and the Justine/Hotlz partnership (all from S1-3) had more drama in them than the apocalypse. Not that there weren't cool things in S4, but they seemed lopsided to me.

Anyway, I guess I'm just trying to stay there is good stuff I think you've missed, for what that is worth.
benpeek
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:47 am (UTC)
yeah, we're definately in the agree to disagree camp :)

the darla baby plotline wasn't my thing, and in fact, the baby lines (in 3 and 4) annoyed me, though i think i'm one of the few people who liked conner when he arrived and what they did with him. the holtz line just gave me the shits, i'm afraid. (i don't remember much about kate.) i did, however, like the darker angel of season two, but i missed the beginning of that bit... but taste is taste in the end.

with harmony... i don't know. i think the cast would've had to shrink for more from her. i did like that one episode with her in it, and yeah, maybe a bit more... but i would've rather had lorne. lorne was just untapped potential, that got mildly tapped at the end of the season.

ashamel
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC)
It's true about taste. I know a couple of people who really like S5. I'm just not sure why :-)

Fortunately my book only covers to the end of S4, so I didn't have to take any of that into account (not that I wouldn't have, though the whole subject of my book -- noir detective and police investigation tropes -- became somewhat redundant during S4 anyway)
benpeek
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:58 am (UTC)
heh. did they ever really use that outside a few episodes during any of the seasons of angel? the detective angle always felt a bit secondary to me.
ashamel
Jul. 17th, 2004 03:15 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah. Not just solving cases (of which a fair amount was done, sometimes in a roundabout way), but the whole noir thing of uncertain identities and hidden truths is the entire point of the show, I would suggest. Also, they ran through quite a few police/crime genres, including serial killer, Agatha Cristie and gangster stories (all in that very twisted Angel way). Even S4 is centred around a murder mystery (who killed Manny?)
benpeek
Jul. 17th, 2004 10:35 pm (UTC)
yeah, i realised, this morning, that there were a fair few uses of it through the series. all the traditional big city noir narratives, really.
switchknitter
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)
I liked it too. I'd say something witty and insightful about it, but I need more caffeine first.
benpeek
Jul. 17th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC)
i will wait then.

my meds are kicking in and i'm going to go grab some sleep, so i'll see them some time tomorrow.
bodhichitta0
Jul. 17th, 2004 07:28 am (UTC)
A ton of my friends liked Buffy and Angel but I never Got It and hence never watched either one. The whole mythology built around Buffy seems a little strange to me--I thought people just liked it because well, vampires are kind of cool and killing them is even cooler? That ending sounds neat and well-written though, a rarity on U.S. network TV.
benpeek
Jul. 17th, 2004 10:37 pm (UTC)
yeah, i think a lot of the attraction is: vampires are cool and so is killing them, or having cool, tormented vampires. check out the popularity of james marsters' spike, for example. and the coolness is okay--there's certainly nothing wrong with that, but the hype was misplaced, i think.

they did, however, do a musical episode of buffy which i think is fantastic. probably the best one they ever did.
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