Cultural Catchup Project: The Function of Mystery and the Mystery of Function (Angel)

The Function of Mystery and the Mystery of Function

July 24rd, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

The second season of Angel isn’t really that different from the first.

Certainly, the show is introducing new elements (The Host and his Karaoke Bar), new characters (bringing Gunn further into the fold), and new villains (the newly resurrected Darla). However, the way each episode is structured is more or less the same as it was before, so the show hasn’t gone through some sort of radical invention or anything – in fact, the premiere was very much designed to ground the series in Angel’s day-to-day investigations rather than the overarching prophecy.

However, the following episodes of the second season indicate where the differences between the two seasons lie. The first season, as a result of the character swap with Doyle and Wesley at the mid-way point, was always building an aesthetic foundation or building a character foundation, rarely feeling as if they were taking things to that next level. The episodes which start Season Two are not that fundamentally different than those which came before, but there is (to varying degrees) a mystery and an uncertainty about their function: while there are still Wesley episodes and Gunn episodes which aspire to clear patterns, there is that added level of complexity both with the overt serialized arc as well as the sense of possibility which comes with it.

It doesn’t truly change the show, but it ratchets things up a notch in a subtle and effective fashion.

We can boil down most of these episodes into their basic function, in some level: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been” introduces Angel Investigations’ new base of operations, “First Impressions” gives Gunn another origin episode for his re-introduction, “Untouched” offers another chapter in the Angel vs. Wolfram & Hart battle, while “Guise will be Guise” works to further reconcile Wesley’s bumbling personality with his current role battling demons with Angel. The show isn’t abandoning these pretty traditional episode structures, so it’s still possible to separate out each episode into what role it plays in setting up the rest of the season.

However, in some cases the functions of these episodes aren’t entirely clear when they begin, and it is never quite certain what direction they will go in. “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been” purposefully keeps us in the dark about its motives, just as Angel keeps Wesley and Cordelia in the dark, and it contributes to the dream-like qualities of the episode (which are nicely balanced with the historical connection with the McCarthy witch hunts, which has the other guests in a particularly paranoid state). There was a poetry to the way the story unfolded, and while the massive standing set was a dead give-away that this would be the new base of operations it was still interesting to see how they would get to that point, and to watch Angel’s relationship with the building unfold. There’s a pretty substantial gap to be found between Angel being cursed and Whistler giving a washed up Angel a new direction in life, and filling in that gap was a good way to start the season and provide Angel with his own history as opposed to using his time on Buffy as his most substantial motivating factor.

“First Impressions” and “Guise will be Guise” are unquestionably Gunn and Wesley episodes, respectively, but the former manages to be a Cordelia episode at the same time, working her new motivation for her work into her desire to help Gunn. Shawn Ryan did what he could to make Gunn’s situation realistically gritty, but I care less about Gunn and his plight and more about how his relationship with Cordelia adds an interesting element to things. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what sorts of problems that Gunn faces in his neighbourhood, but rather what he faces within himself: as Cordelia notes, he’s fighting himself more than he’s fighting anyone else, refusing to stop raging against his surroundings because of what happened to his sister (his original back story) and what nearly happens to the young woman in this episode. Cordelia is more self-aware this season, and the attention she pays to Gunn makes for a strong pairing of personalities which clash on one level but ultimately complement one another.

As for “Guise will be Guise,” Jane Espenson does a nice job of having fun with Wesley while simultaneously demonstrating the ways in which he is more than a bumbling fool: there’s plenty of wonderful slapstick with Wesley realizing he wasn’t invited in, or realizing there’s a mirror, or realizing his hand is on a cross, but there’s also enough legitimate heroic behaviour that we realize Wesley will never be Angel but nonetheless represents someone who can help someone in trouble, in this case also grabbing himself a love interest at the same time. The episode is smart in that way, managing to take what seemed like a standalone Angel digression (his trip to the Swami) and working it back into Wesley’s storyline to bring everyone together at the end with Wesley’s role still central to the episode even with Angel back in the fold. Throw in some comedy about the coat and some solid bit of “Yoda Crap” to look at Angel’s current state of mind, and you’ve got a satisfying hour of television.

And yet, I think “Untouched” and “Dear Boy,” the one episode that has an unquestionably serial function, are the two episodes which really stand out here. “Untouched” doesn’t necessarily tie into any past storylines beyond the presence of Lilah Morgan and an emphasis on Wolfram & Hart, but I love the idea of a tug of war between Angel (who seeks to help people with powers control their abilities) and the firm (which seeks to turn people with powers into assassins and use them for evil) for the young girl. It’s an extension of the trend in S1 where Angel and Wolfam & Hart rarely fight directly, and it’s a nice bit of extension of those earlier struggles into a different realm. Seeing Wolfram & Hart in action at times feels a bit too evil, but learning that Lilah speaks in high schools to try to recruit these kids, and that she brings them into her trust and then places them in danger to force their powers to emerge, is a really intriguing bit of development into how the firm operates. Much as we got to see more of Lindsey in “Blind Date,” this episode really sheds some light in Lilah, and continues to develop Wolfram & Hart into a much more intriguing, and proactive, entity than the pilot would have suggested.

“Dear Boy,” though, is obviously the most important piece of the puzzle, bringing to a head the ongoing drama surrounding Darla. There were few signs in “Judgment” about what role Darla would play in the subsequent episodes, but immediately we see that her plan is as nefarious as one might expect: she haunts his dreams, trying to awake the demon within and turn Angel from a heroic foe to a horrific friend to Wolfram & Hart. The show is very smart to have this play only a minor role in the episodes leading up to “Dear Boy,” incapacitating Angel only in that he tends to sleep in late, and doesn’t have the same power he used to. Sure, it’s a bit awkward for the show to be filling in backstory which was already briefly touched upon in”Becoming,” but the images of Angel and Darla stalking Drusilla are key to realizing the complexity of their relationship. While the bond between a vampire and their sire can be defined by ownership, it’s clear from those scenes that Angel followed his own path in attacking Drusilla as he did, and so any expectations that he would be completely disarmed by Darla’s arrival is pushed to the side once he realizes what has happened and confronts her directly.

That confrontation is a wonderful piece of work, managing to capture the sexual energy between them while still speaking to the psychological complexity of their relationship. While Angel’s demon side (his impulses and desires) are unquestionably awakened when around Darla, the way he turns the tables on Darla is by reminding her that she is connecting with a side of her personality which no longer has a demon side to connect with: she is now human, a fact which we hadn’t learned until this episode, and which “changes everything.” While Angel is a demon with a soul, Darla is a human who acts as if she doesn’t have one, and Angel knows the pain she is going to feel when the memories of her past begin to come into conflict with that soul, and when any efforts to become the vampire she once was run into some serious problems. Darla has been given that which Angel most desires, and rather than attacking Darla physically Angel wakes her up to her psychological reality. It complete turns the season on its head, taking Darla from a potential Big Bad to another wayward soul who is trapped between Angel (who might be willing to help her) and Wolfram & Hart (who wants to use her for their own bidding).

It’s the sort of moment which makes you entirely reconsider Darla’s behaviour earlier in the season: was she communicating through dreams less because it’s more effective and more because she wanted to be able to (like Angel) experience how she used to be and how she won’t be again unless she willfully turns over her soul to become a vampire? She was brought back for the sole purpose of getting into Angel’s head, but when she starts to analyze herself will she not want more from this second chance at life? Will she not, like Angel, want to do something more than petty vengeance, connecting with people or with herself on a level she was never able to in the past? There’s a lot to like about how Darla’s reality sets up for the season to follow, and it’s something that Greenwalt and Whedon spend some time developing: we’re six episodes into the season, and rather than providing more clarity as to the season’s direction the show has taken what seemed like the start of a “Big Bad” story arc and turned it into something less concerned with function and more concerned with key themes that will likely be with the series for the entirety of its run.

We’ll see where things go from here, but the series continues to successfully blend its basic procedural elements with an expansion of its serialized storylines, and the subtle fashion in which it’s being done is at the moment sitting in the sweet spot.

Cultural Observations

  • What exactly happened to the money which Angel found in the basement of the hotel? My presumption was that he was going to use the money in order to purchase the hotel, but we never saw that confirmation. I’ll look past the logical issues of why the woman was able to stay in the hotel all that time due to the supernatural “feeding off her” explanation, but I can’t help but follow the money – Lester Freamon would be mad if I didn’t.
  • I hope that Gunn dropped his girlfriend of sorts off at Sacred Heart during the early days of Scrubs, and not the mid-series wacky years.
  • Enjoying the continued presence of The Host, and the karaoke bar in general: it’s a smart little way to bring people together, and adds a distinct element of fun which Buffy never quite offered.
  • Just as I was thinking “We haven’t seen Kate in a while,” she pops up in “Dear Boy.” Can’t say I really missed her: not sure how, precisely, a cop so marginalized gets access to a SWAT team to do an unwarranted search, and her crusade against Angel continues to operate based on paranoia rather than evidence, which makes her out to be a pretty terrible cop on top of being a marginalized one.
  • Speaking of, just a couple of mentions of Buffy in the episode, with Cordelia presuming Angel was losing sleep over her and then the fake Swami inadvertantly prescribing Buffy as a way to get over Darla – not bad to get a few reminders in there, but allowing Angel to stand on his own is nice as well.
  • Hadn’t put together that I’d be getting a dose of Shawn Ryan after all – The Shield, for those who haven’t gone back to the beginning, was one of the other options for the Cultural Catchup Project, so it’s nice to see some of Ryan’s earlier work as well. I do plan on getting to The Shield at some point, but it will likely have to wait until next summer.
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45 Comments

Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

45 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: The Function of Mystery and the Mystery of Function (Angel)

  1. Mimi

    Angel is using the money to lease the hotel – it comes up later in the season, but is never a particularly important plot point. Many fans have conjectured that Angel’s just really bad with money/doesn’t remember that inflation happens so probably isn’t as broke as he always pretends to be.

    • Eldritch

      “Angel is using the money to lease the hotel…”

      That’s interesting. I guess I’d forgotten that detail. In the episode’s commentary, the writer said he sort of thought Angel had returned the money to the bank. Obviously, however, they never really worked that point out for this episode.

      • Mimi

        *SPOILERS*

        There’s the whole thing where Gavin’s trying to buy the lease out from under them right before they’re leaving for Pylea which is, I’m pretty sure, the only time it ever comes up again.

    • Denita

      Actually, it’s not mentioned again, period. Angel leashed the hotel for six months with an option to buy but how he paid for it was never made clear.

  2. I don’t have much to add this time other than I completely agree with Myles’ assessment of “Dear Boy.” I always felt that episode was a little bit underrated — it’s a favorite of mine. On the other hand, I was never too wild with “First Impressions” as it always rubbed off on me as a bit forced in its execution.

    The whole paranoia comment about Wesley in “Are You Now” is something you definitely want to keep in the back of your mind for later though. 😉

    • Susan

      So glad I’m not first again. Was beginning to worry that people would think I didn’t have a life!

      I agree with mikejer and Myles about “Dear Boy.” It’s a wonderful, important episode. (A little nit: the crucial scene between Darla and Angel in the reservoir-thingy has maybe the worst vamp morphs in the ‘verse.)

      And while “First Impressions” does some good work developing rapport between Cordy and Gunn (and that great fight moment with the pink helmet–all the great stuff with the pink helmet, actually), it does feel forced to me.

      I know I should refrain from hyping too much, but . . . heh heh. Holy crap, Myles. You’re on the cusp here. I hope you plan to spend the rest of the weekend in front of the TV.

      PS: In other news, is anyone else being totally tortured by all the Comic Con stuff coming through their twitter feed? All the stuff I could have been doing/seeing/hearing first hand. Sigh.

  3. Karen

    Another excellent review Myles. I worried when you first said you would review several episodes at once but you’re very skillful in pulling together a review that analyzes the key elements, trends, etc. Bravo.

    And I heartily second Susan’s “holy crap hehe.”

  4. Mel

    You may as well dump the idea of the seasonal big bad for Angel. Its sort of relevant for seasons 3 and 4, but the real big bad for every season of Angel is Wolfram and Hart and, more specifically, the W&H Senior Partners.

  5. diane

    With the exception of First Impressions, I really enjoy this arc all the way through. Bringing Darla back in this way was a stroke of genius, and they’re not done twisting that tale.

    As for ComicCon, I have no interest in that. I admire the actors for what they can do, but it doesn’t in any way intrigue me about who they are or what they think about anything outside of their shows. With these shows being long over….

  6. Witness.Aria

    “Darla has been given that which Angel most desires, and rather than attacking Darla physically Angel wakes her up to her psychological reality. It complete turns the season on its head, taking Darla from a potential Big Bad to another wayward soul who is trapped between Angel (who might be willing to help her) and Wolfram & Hart (who wants to use her for their own bidding).”

    I love that shift, and it’s not really a spoiler to say it leads to brilliant things ahead. When I watched “Angel” the first time and got to the end of season 1, I was like, Darla? Why? Of all the things to have in the box. Then season 2 made me realize how crucial it was to have her there instead of some horrific, impersonal monster. Just like with Buffy and the Scoobies, Angel’s battles are most interesting when there’s a personal investment in the cause or the effect of the problems he faces.

    Oh, and: “I’m not a eunuch!”

  7. Tom

    The second season of Angel isn’t really that different from the first.

    It is.

    • Eldritch

      “The second season of Angel isn’t really that different from the first.”

      I think he’s talking more about the structure of the episodes rather than the content of the episodes that he hasn’t seen yet. In the early part of season two, generally most of the episodes are fairly stand alone. There’s a case, a monster, a solution. Though serialization elements link episodes, they don’t dominate the A plots.

      • Tyler

        I find it interesting when Myles, as he has a few times previously, remarks that there is no sudden shift in terms of how a show like Angel (or Buffy before it) tells its stories. As though he’s expecting major demarcations and sudden shifts in narrative form, probably because he’s heard things about later seasons that he doesn’t see immediately in a first season, or in the first few episodes of a new season.

        While there are a few episodes that stand out for various reasons (like Surprise/Innocence), I’d say that the changes are slow and steady… but boy, do they add up. It’s not a spoiler to say that by the end of Buffy S7, it no longer really looks like the show we started with in “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” And that’s the genius. No particular leaps, no sudden changes of direction, just logical, inexorable progression from the starting premises. Looking back, you can chart the character changes, sometimes from episode to episode, and it’s all utterly organic.

        No, you can’t necessarily tell much between the ending of Angel S1 and the beginning of Angel S2, but by the end of Angel S2 it should be clear that the seasons were distinct entities. And even though Angel is arguably less distinct, season to season, than Buffy is… I can still tell the difference between the five.

        • Susan

          I totally agree with you, Tyler. There are shocks, and there are obvious game-changers (like “Surprise/Innocence”), but the ones that hit you over the head (I don’t mean that as a pejorative–sometimes a narrative knock on the noggin is nifty) are the exceptions, not the rule. Whedon’s real genius is character, and each and every main character in the ‘verse evolves in this beautiful, organic way. Even Angel, who does get a bit stymied now and then.

          In the case of Buffy, were one to watch “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and the series finale back to back, one would be hardly recognize–even visually–the characters. But after watching these people move through a 7-year odyssey, we *know* them–as they are *and* as they were.

          There are game-changers in both series–lots of twists and turns. Those game changers are usually, though, recognizable as such only in retrospect. In the same way that one cannot know the full depth and beauty of “Restless” if one has not yet seen seasons 5-7, shifts often occur that in the moment seem subtle or even insignificant but end up changing everything.

          Even moments that do seem immediately significant might turn out to have changed absolutely everything in ways one would never imagine just yet. Then we look back and think: Whoa. Cool.

          Or, in some cases: WTF? Depends on your perspective. 😉

          • skittledog

            Yes – I think the reason that people really dwell on Surprise/Innocence as a ‘game-changer’ is because a) it really is and b) it’s pretty much the only one in the whole Buffyverse that can sustain that kind of title. After that, shifting situations become subtler (don’t mind me, I’m just trying to rival Susan’s ‘nifty knocks on the noggin’ for excellent pseudo-alliteration). Angel’s seasons are definitely distinct, but it usually takes several episodes before one starts to feel the new direction and understand how the show has just become something rather different. Sometimes there are keys to clue you in on the new theme or focus – I’m thinking of the toast in the first scene of 4.01, for example – but mostly you just pick it up from how the stories that are being told are subtly different from the ones that were being told before.

            For example, in this run of episodes you have a strong focus on Angel trying to help individual people who have their own problems. Not counting First Impressions because I can barely remember it (never rewatched; felt like a clumsy re-introduction of Gunn and the start of that thing where they sometimes feel the need to draw attention to how they don’t know how to write him – I don’t know why they did that), but Untouched and Dear Boy have a ‘monster’ who is human and who Angel tries to save while W&H try to corrupt. Other than with Faith, we haven’t seen that before (Blind Date is debatable, but then also debatable is whether Angel really tries to save Lindsey…), and although it’s not going to become the main episodic storyline or anything, I find it interesting that it’s here twice in close succession. Possibly three times if one looks at AYNOHYEB as saving people from their own paranoia and fear (amplified by a demon).

            What amuses me most, of course, is that Angel pretty much fails in all three cases. Or at least doesn’t exactly 100%succeed. Heh.

            Anyway. I’d struggle to put the focus of s2 into words – and I’d still have to exclude a few episodes as being part of a completely different little arc – but it’s taking shape here, and retrospectively that’s fairly clear to see. It’s nice to see Myles’ stance on it shift slightly with each few more episodes he watches. 🙂

  8. Denita

    The second season of Angel isn’t really that different from the first.

    It really is.

  9. skittledog

    A couple of little things – you’re kinder to a couple of episodes than I would be here, as I find the quality rather inconsistent and can’t find much to love in either First Impressions or Guise Will Be Guise. A few nice moments, but a lot of pointlessness too. Then again, my favourite of this run is AYNOHYEB, just because I love the completely different atmosphere created and also the darkness of the storyline (note Tim Minear wrote this one. Always a good sign things are not going to be puppies and sunshine). Dear Boy is good, but on first watching it took me a long time to really feel the Darla storyline properly. You seem to be getting there a lot more quickly than me, Myles, which is good – it took me until easily midseason to not find Darla rather boring and pointless. Then I started understanding her importance in Angel’s story, and suddenly it all got a whole lot better…

    I’m amused that you say it’s a bit awkward for the show to be filling in backstory which was already briefly touched upon in”Becoming”, because this is the season where I feel the Fanged Four are really fleshed out properly – so to me, the bit of backstory in Becoming now feels more like a prologue to what we get here. (Or more particularly in Fool For Love/Darla.)

    • diane

      Part of the problem with First Impressions is that the writers really don’t know how to handle Gunn’s past. Every time it comes back into the story, it feels like an intrusion, and none of the “street gang” aspects feel authentic or really three-dimensional. (Or maybe that’s just my intrinsic whiteness speaking out.) Some of these intrusions almost work, but others are just really painful on multiple levels.

      • skittledog

        Yes – my own intrinsic whiteness makes it hard to judge, but other than in War Zone I am really never convinced by Gunn’s ‘street gang’ backstory. Sigh. (And it’s not a general inability to write backstory; I’m white, I’m British and I went to a private school with a Head Girl and Head Boy. Apart from the very very rare accent slip, Wesley’s backstory = not a problem for me at all…)

        • I always wonder about Wesley’s accent. My parents are English (I’m first-generation Texan since I was 6 months old), and I’ve always thought it was awfully good. The few moments I notice seem like they’re almost intentional. He loses the “ah” in “can’t” sometimes, but to me that seems like the kind of pronunciation an English person might use after having been in California for a few years.

          My mother said she could tell he wasn’t British immediately, but then, she’s kind of a snob.

          • Mimi

            To me hearing Alexis Denisof speak with his American accent is what sounds fake. It’s so bizarre, but he always sounds *so* weird and fake to me in the interviews and such, even though I do know that that’s actually his real accent.

          • lyvvie

            Alexis’ accent is excellent to this English person’s ears. I remember reading that Glenn was asked to re-read some of his lines and be softer on his Irish accent so that he could be understood so I wonder if they did that with Alexis?

            James’ accent isn’t as good, not awful or cringe-worthy but a lot more fluctuation and some stand-out errors. But then again that’s more easy to explain with his character.

            David’s Irish accent…. well, we all know about that.

          • Agreed, it’s actually difficult to watch Alexis with an American accent, although I’m slightly more used to it after HIMYM and Dollhouse.

            James’ modern accent is doesn’t bother me, because of the reasonable character explanation. Although his 1800’s accent is *almost* as bad as David’s.

            Ah well, we can’t have everything 🙂

            The bit about Glenn is correct, and I suppose it’s understandable. In fact, I wish they’d done something similar with Hagrid in the HP movies… yes, his character would say can’ instead of can’t, but it’s awfully misleading!

          • skittledog

            Yeah, Alexis’ accent is more perfect than one has any right to expect over a 6 year stretch of television. To begin with it stands out because of being too RP – much like Giles at the start – but that’s not a bad accent, that’s just the “nobody in England under 50 actually talks like that, unless maybe they’re related to a Royal” factor. But apart from that, there are only a very very few tiny slips – I remember one weird pronunciation of ‘pants,’ but that can be explained away on both a character and actor level by the fact that he’s adopted an American term (he’s not talking about his underwear).

            Compared to James’, which really does wander all over the damn place at times (not always wrong but highly inconsistent), I’d count it as perfect and probably better than what any of the many Brit imported actors to the US manage in return.

          • lawrence

            My bigger problem than the accents is the writing of characters who aren’t native speakers of American English. The lines are essentially written for an American but spoken with an accent. (Spike should not be using the word ‘gotten’, for example.)

            I think the worst instance of that is in Waiting in the Wings in Angel S3, where a character speaks with a ‘Russian’ accent, but the phrasing sounds exactly like what a native English speaker would say.

          • diane

            I remember a comment by Olivia Williams that Joss wrote all of her dialog, because he was the only writer who could write for an English character without sounding like they had the flag up their backside. (or something to that effect)

            Anyway, this American thought Adelle’s dialog was excellent.

  10. lyvvie

    And here we finally have it, my favourite set in all of television. I love the Hyperion. I want to live there. Should I ever become a crazy-rich billionaire I’ll build a replica as my mansion.

    Oh, um, show…yes. I think this was a strong run of episodes and you did them justice Myles.

    ‘First Impressions’ is the weakest of the group but isn’t completely terrible (the dreams of Darla, the pink helmet, ‘now, about the naked thing’, heroic Cordy, insight into Gunn), AYNOHYEB is probably my favourite for the period feel (and my aformentioned love of the hotel, plus some other stuff I won’t mention at the moment). GWBG is just outright hilarious. I think my favourite bit may be Wesley tipping the blood into the vase only to realise that it’s clear glass.

    ‘Untouched’ is rather interesting, I think it’s the only episode that Joss directs but didn’t write (unless its one of the episodes he extensively re-wrote like Buffy’s ‘Lovers Walk’ without taking a writing credit). The sexual stuff with Bethany and Angel rather interesting (and of course disturbing), the scene with her coming on to him in his bedroom in particular.

    ‘Dear Boy’ is the most interesting of the episodes and you’ve pretty much nailed why Myles. I like how they build up Darla’s arc but also keep is in the background, Angel having dreams, oversleeping, becoming more irritable and weaker in fights.

    • The Hyperion is lovely, agreed, but I’d want to do some rather extensive renovations in the parts I’d be living in…

      100% agree that GWBG is one of the most hilarious episodes of TV, ever, as well as being very sweet. For a Wesleyphile such as myself, the funny in GWBG is probably topped only by 4.6.

      Best moment: “Were you in Virginia?” “…That’s not the point.”

      • greg

        Yeah, but… HOW did Angel get in the house at the end when he was never invited?

        And keep in mind that Yeska is not a goddess, because later someone refers to her as such, proving that the writers aren’t as infallible as we’d all like them to be.

        • Ooh! New theory!

          Maybe it’s the intent of the person doing the inviting that controls. That way, because the lackey *thought* he was inviting Angel in, Angel was actually invited. After all, Cordy was able to say, “when I get my new place, you’re totally invited.”

          That said, it is NOT the most tightly plotted of episodes. I mean, even B-list goons don’t think that shooting an employee is going to magically make the boss suddenly present in the office.

          (“You know, this whole curse thing has been widely misinterpreted…”)

    • Oh, and, “Untouched” compared with “She”? Thank you, Mere Smith, for giving us a GOOD story about sexual abuse. (Um. That sounds wrong. Sorry.) Also, I think that actress did a great job.

  11. Austin

    I was actually expecting more attention to be paid to AYNOHYEB since, if you look at these first four stand alones (you included dear boy, which makes since if you are going to do Fool for Love/Darla, but it really doesn’t fit with the others since it starts the main serial story) AYNOHYEB is clearly the most unique and gripping story of the set. Personally I always enjoy Untouched, mostly because I’m always a big fan of TK (“Telekinesis: the power to move things with ones mind. That’s – that’s all I know really” :))

  12. greg

    Hey! Lorena quoted ‘Buffy’ on ‘True Blood’ tonight! (you know, the “wear your ribcage for a hat” line from ‘Becoming.’ No “hello to the imagery” comeback, though. more’s the pity.)

    I know Alan Ball has gone on record saying he’s never watched ‘Buffy’, but that was a while ago and surely he must have gotten around to it by now, no?

    • diane

      More likely one or more of the staff writers has watched Buffy.

    • mothergunn

      Oh, man, I totally missed that. But that may be because I hate Lorena and try to block anything she says from my memory. It’s not even because she’s competition for Sookie (which I honestly don’t care about), it’s because she’s just so pathetic. You already lost, Lorena. Deal.

      End threadjack.

  13. Bob Kat

    So even BBC commentators don’t talk like Wesley anymore? (Or are they all over 50 :-)?) I know Topping likes all 3, Marsters, Landau, Denisof, some folks differ, I’m no judge and I haven’t really heard them doing anything else except Alexis as Sandy Rivers, which isn’t his real voice either. Plus there’s the recurrign question, what’s “accent” as taught by the voice and what’s “characterization,” like Juliet keeping her tongue in the roof of her mouth when speakign as Drusilla.

    One great “sub-thing” re “AYNOHEB?” is that it makes clear that Angel hasn’t been in one place continuously between the scenes in “Becoming” of him right after the curse hit and his ogling Buffy at Hemery High. Which makes sense; given a shock like his re-ensoulment, most likely he would try one change in his lifestyle, then when that didn’t work another, etcetera. That comes ’round again in a few episodes.

    • skittledog

      Yeah, I always forget that until this point there’s no indication Angel didn’t just sit in an alley eating rats for 100 years…

      Heh, BBC continuity announcers… well, some are better than others. They’re definitely still RP but not quite as extreme as Wes, I’d say. Unless you’re on radio 4 at certain times of day. Then maybe yes.

      Sidenote: The best international ambassador for a truly posh English accent that just comes from being brought up that way, though, has to be the current Mayor of London. Along with being a wonderful advertisement for why you never want to rely on us being sensible when you put a ballot box in front of us. Dear lord. (Disclaimer: am not a Londoner. It’s not my fault.) But that’s not the kind of accent AD was going for; it’s actually fairly unclear what kind of background Wesley’s is meant to be, class/money-wise. Upper middle class, maybe? Well off but always trying to prove something? I could see that.

      [/waaaaay off topic]

      • Anna

        That’s not actually true. In City of… Angel mentioned that he was in Missoula, Montana during the Depression, so they have at least already indicated that he didn’t just stay in New York eating rats. But AYNOHYEB is certainly the first time it’s explicit.

  14. Pingback: Cultural Catchup Project: One Past, Two Perspectives (Buffy and Angel) « Cultural Learnings

  15. Becker

    I think Are You Now is the best episode of Angel. It’s just so well done on every level. And, Tim wrote it so quickly and the version on film is very close to the first draft, possibly the closest of any episode that wasn’t being written as it was being filmed. (at least once per series) Also, Tim says in the commentary that he thinks the money got returned. Angel makes silly decisions regarding money.

    I actually am not a fan of Untouched for various reasons. I just didn’t like it.

    Dear boy was excellent as well, but not quite as good as AYNOHYEB.

    Although the Shield (which I’m 1/2 through the final special feature on S2 – well, in the order I’m watching those) is absolutely brilliant and has the best series finale I’ve seen, you’d never know he worked on Angel form watching it. Though in one of the commentaries he credits Joss and Greenwalt for driving home the story is key mantra. If you get around to the Shield I want to read that.

    I need to sleep. One more review left to read!

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