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Thread: Positives And Negatives - Season 2

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    Guise Will be Guise

    Positive: This ep really has a tight but complex theme about how certain masculine presentations are so heady and ingrained that the presentation ends up creating the reality. The Swami spells it out with Angel. Wesley gets the A-plot on the gulf between how he functions as Wesley, Uptight British Dork versus how he functions when he's viewed as Angel, Sexy Dark Avenger. However, Magnus Bryce ties it all together. On first watch, I didn't predict that he was the MOTW even though the clues were all there. He's an incredibly wealthy businessman who trades in magic i.e. altering reality for profit. What's more, his business competitors operate like criminal gangs out to gain a business advantage by murdering his innocent daughter from the start of the ep which gives an indication as to his choice of business. He obtained Wesley's help by holding Cordelia at gun-point. Virginia complained in the middle of the ep that her father is by turns coldly distant but also so possessive that she can't move out or have a job. However, people really respond to the commanding, "cold captain of the industry-type" (Tony Soprano) with an Achilles heel soft spot for his daughter to the point that this soft spot can render such a man trustworthy. Ivanka Trump has been tarnished by becoming a Special Adviser to the President in the last two years but IMO, she played a huge role in getting Trump elected because people are pretty primed to ignore or excuse a man's cruelty or callowness or horrible treatment of other women if he has a good relationship with his daughter.

    Relative perception of the masculine image also creates the reality. Magnus Bryce plays the whole "Tough guy on the outside but teddy bear doting daddy on the inside" role but he's really the most teddy-bear doting daddy on the outside as his feigned act to keep Virginia compliant but he's hard and cold as nails to his daughter on the inside. He keeps playing that role through the end of the ep when he plays fatherly disapproval at Virginia having sex but by then, we all know that it's really just frustration from thwarted greed because Magnus wanted his innocent, virginal Virginia dead five minutes ago while he was powered up from Yeska's mystical power. It ties in with Wesley. Wesley unconvincingly plays the rogue-demon hunter bit at the start of the ep to a prospective client to hammer home a surface perception that Wesley plays a rogue demon hunter badass on the outside to cover up a bumbling effeminate weakling on the inside. However the end of the ep encourages another perception- that Wesley's rogue demon hunter badassedness actually is his authentic core while the silly effeminate weakling is merely a persona brought on by how he's not good at playing the outer persona like say, Angel.

    Negative: I really like this ep even though I agree that Wesley's plot hinges on the dubious contrivance that he'd pass as "Angel" for a whole night...after getting to chase off one set of assassins with mere verbal threats and another set of assassins through a fight scene where there's a convenient spell uttered to weaken his supposed vamp strength so Virginia isn't suspicious that he didn't fight amazingly....after having sex with Virginia. Just from the get-go, I don't think vampires need glasses because their predator senses supernaturally enhanced once they're turned so they can even see in the dark perfectly. Dalton wore glasses- but I read that as an aesthetic choice because his whole profession was being a research nerd and Dalton was going for a specific look. "Angel", per his reputation as a professional fighter, would not wear glasses because he wouldn't need them to see so they're just a hindrance in a fight. It's much more realistic in Doppelgangland when Willow is exposed as an impostor playing Vamp Willow in like, five minutes. The Swami, on the other hand, was a realistic impostor.
    Last edited by Dipstick; 04-01-19 at 04:59 PM.

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    Dipstick that 'My Sexuality' clip is absolutely brilliant, so funny.

    Christmas has passed, I've caught up in the rewatch and I've now remembered I forgot to post on Darla and I've just watched Shroud so....

    Darla

    Positives - It's great getting Darla's history and seeing someone who appears very cynical and lived a troubled life plausibly accounts for her less dramatic shifts between what we see of her souled now against who she was soulless. I love that the show gives character depth which delivers logic as to why individuals respond differently to the same situations when considering their experiences and personalities. It also puts weight to this through understanding more of how Angel responded at first to being souled against Darla's current transition to being a souled human again. Seeing how he struggled with his identity, even trying to return to living with his vampiric family and selectively killing gives depth to his past as well as what Darla is going through and additional factors that can play into who she is now, even without a demon still in her internal mix. All this culminating in her wish to return to what she knew, what she knows more clearly than the uncertainty and insecurity she currently feels by asking Angel to sire her and his refusal and outright statement that it isn't a gift. So excellent and complex.

    Negatives - I'm with Priceless, the whole notion of having forgotten her own name is hard to take, even after 400 years. I know it is there to emphasise how lost she feels, but I find it too contrived and an unnecessary addition.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Aurora View Post
    It's my favorite episode of Angel. The ways in which it plays with the past and contradicts Fool for Love is sensational. The acting is top-rate, the dialogue is pointed, the direction is smart. From Angel trying in vain to remember the past by drawing Darla over and over again in various configurations to the terrific flashbacks that give more insight into Angel's character than a dozen other episodes to human Darla unable to even remember her name and then begging Angel to sire her, this episode gives again and gives upon repeated viewings. One of Tim Minear's very best episodes.
    Do you really think 400 years is long enough to forget?

    I agree with you all that the mix with FFL and the various flashbacks were fantastic.


    Shroud of Rahmon

    Positives - I'm behind Angel's impatience with Kate. I don't think he should have threatened her over getting between him/Darla, although I understand we're supposed to be seeing the darkness within coming more to the surface, but showing less consideration for her now I think is something that she has earned and so simply knocking the cross out of her hand after she'd broken in to emphasise how easily he could overpower her I think was justified and understandable (although he did take it too far in manhandling her, although that is for plot reasons of course).

    Negatives - This could well be the weakest episode of S2. There are so many plot holes to it that it is hard to know which to pick. The inconsistency in how people were responding to the influence (am I supposed to assume Wes and Cordelia have no real badness within them because that's ridiculous), that the heist gang were affected before it was even released properly but it had been in the museum and caused no issues so far, the ease with which the crate broke, and above all these (and this still isn't an exhaustive list) the idea that Angel's brief moments of lucidity just so happened to come exactly when he needed them most so that he didn't kill Kate and he destroyed the shroud.

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    Darn it, I forgot to keep doing these. Did you stop your rewatch Dipstick? Here's my catch up...


    The Trial

    Positive - I love the twist of the final scene. Angel promises to be there by Darla's side for every moment she has left and this cues Lindsey's entrance and Drusilla appearing to end her life immediately. Dru is at her best in this group of episodes and the way she glides into the room is just such a brilliant moment. Then we have her line of "I could be your mummy" that we saw in the flashback in Darla coming true. So fantastic!

    Negative - The trials frustrate me. The first is tough and I like that his ingenuity and strength see him through. And I can kind of accept that noone else has ever gone past that stage, if they were all human before maybe. But I then want more from the second stage. It's tough. I can see it and how it takes strength of mind, but it's still a bit disappointing. And I like the single-minded determination of the psychological battle of the third and can see the weight of needing to be willing to die for an individual. But all in all it feels really quick and so a bit easy. This dislike actually is solidified by and feeds into my biggest dislike of the next ep too.

    In somewhat of a contrast to Aurora I think the trials Spike goes through come across as far more intense and gruelling, so are more exciting to watch for me. Sure they could have played more openly with the psychology of Buffy in those, but it's in there just through his reasoning for being there, called to mind by the taunts from Lloyd and evidenced in his determination to see it through. But it is also important too that his focus is really on what he wants as there is that selfish drive to become more acceptable to Buffy because of his own wish to be with her rather than anything to do with her wishes. But I still find his trials more gripping. Angel's trials feel too rapidly overcome and won in comparison, even though the psychological elements of it all are more heavily played. A great deal I think is because Spike's benefited by being able to be drawn out over more than one episode as it was an 'also happening' story, so it automatically became more epic.


    Reunion

    Positive - Again Dru is fab. I don't enjoy her character on BtVS as much as how she is used in AtS. Her troubled mind and struggle between what she sees literally and presciently are used so brilliantly in these episodes. Nothing beats the wallop though of Angel repeating that line back at Holland, shutting the doors and locking them in. It doesn't matter that the repeat is predictable, it's fantastic and one of the best moments in the season.

    I have to agree with Pricey that Angel's struggle over dusting Darla that we see him go through is a real highlight too.

    Negative - DB just can't act suffering from physical weakness. He couldn't pull off the return from hell in BtVS S3 with his tremorous breaths and physical shaking, and he doesn't pull off being barely coherent and physically drained here either. How he was overcome by the tasers and held back because he was already weakened as Dru sired Darla last episode was hard to accept when he didn't seem that weakened by the trials (I mean he was able to go postal smashing up the room afterwards). So the level of residual babbling and loss of physical strength that they want me to believe in at the start of the episode now just ends up looking really phoney when it is so poorly portrayed. DB's acting has definitely come on huge amounts since he started on BtVS, but he's still not selling these moments.


    Redefinition

    Positive - The responses of the team to being fired are great. I also really like the way Dru's insight is just spoken freely regardless of audience or situation and exposes how Darla is struggling with what happened to her the same as Angel is. This also links through to Lindsey's constant resentful focus on Angel for pushing the connection between moments/events and how they can greatly affect future choices.

    Negative - The voiceover from Angel to give us his inner thoughts about his struggle and the distance he's built between himself and the team is pretty corny and it really jars against the tone of the scenes between the team. I appreciate it leans into emphasising the difference of their support of each other and resulting determination to fight on against his moody isolation, but the overall contrast just underlines how melodramatic his scenes feel in a way that makes the character look foolish instead of dark and threatening like he ended the last ep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    How do Dru and Darla survive when we've seen other vamps turn to dust from one little spark. I also disliked Darla suggesting Angel now had a third persona when it's all the same man.
    Perhaps they checked thoroughly for highly fire retardant materials whilst on their shopping trip. I agree the plot requirement of how long they manage to burn but not dust stands out as hard to believe. I don't think by the way that Darla is saying Angel has now literally gained a third persona. The souled/unsouled versions of him have a strong distinction as well as continuity and I think this just acknowledges that he is not acting one way or the other this time. So he's behaving in a less predictable way for her because he's allowing a mix/blend she doesn't recognise and so finds unsettling.

    Very much agree with Aurora's negatives that Wes/Virginia lack sparks and that Darla's commanding moment at the gang gathering just seems cliché.


    Blood Money

    Positive - I like the continuity of bringing Anne back into it and finding out what she did with her life. That she ended up passionately fighting for disadvantaged kids works well.

    I agree the Wes/Gunn aspects were cute.

    Negative - I think they are wanting to emphasise how shut down Angel is getting in his determined fixation to affect W&H and their plans, but using Anne as he does and putting up humiliating videos of his old team members just serves to make him look childish and petty. Lindsey's shutting off and very cold outlook, which I think is a deliberate compare, often just serves to emphasise Angel looking like he is acting out and being over the top as he makes these grand plans and dramatic gestures. I know it is all building up to him losing control but in this episode the deliberate game playing aspect and the video really just makes it look a bit too silly in a way that actually undermines what he's going through a little for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    I really like seeing Anne and it's one of the strengths of the show that they bring back characters. But how did she get that job? Do the authorities not check out the people who work with kids? She seems like a totally different person, and where has her tat gone?
    I don't find it unbelievable that she could have got enough ID to have built up her new life and working with charitable/voluntary organisations has managed to avoid deeper identity checks. I think she just seems an older, grown up version of who she had been, but I can see that it is quite a big jump from where we left her. I have to confess, I didn't remember about the tattoo at all.


    Happy Anniversary

    Positive - This is one of my least favourite eps of the season but I also like the parallels that are brought in for Angel's depression by Gene's loss of a sense of future and wanting to stop time. The disconnection Angel feels and having pushed away the group who are continuing to try to fight without him really is a loss of ability too see and have hope towards the future. Gene's plan is to freeze himself in a moment that he knows is in reality shallow and trap someone he knows doesn't want to be there with him. It's awful and a sick violation. Rather than capturing this perfect moment it is a prison he builds that punishes them both. In pushing the others away Angel has made things worse for all of them. It's not as monstrous as what Gene was doing to be honest, but the disconnection from time, which his connection to the humans he surrounds himself gives, is an interesting tie between the two.

    Negative - If the Lubber demons know the equation and want to wipe out the pestilence of humans off the earth why don't they just do it? If they couldn't build the equipment for whatever reason they could surely have stolen it.
    Last edited by Stoney; 15-02-19 at 02:59 PM.

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    The Thin Dead Line

    Positive - The moment when Kate realises that this could mean her dad has been taken from his grave is excellently portrayed by Elisabeth Röhm. The emotional vulnerability and Angel's quiet understanding and reassurance are great. Being there with her for something so significant that is introduced suddenly in a moment by the circumstances really emphasises how he is keeping himself distanced from human connections, yet by staying involved in these problems that arise they keep pushing against his barriers. It leads well into his need to see Wes at the hospital but inability to step forward later.

    I've got to mention Wes and Gunn's friendship too. I'd forgotten how much I'd enjoyed the camaraderie they had shared in the earlier seasons/pre-Fred.

    Negative - For a group wanting to shut down having drawn attention to themselves, having been seen, the option of arriving en masse in their police cars and physically swarming the building and breaking in is, erm... an interesting one.


    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    Is Anne meant to be the pretty blonde replacement for Kate or a mirror of her, the version of herself she wishes she were? There's also something racist-adjacent about the pretty blonde girl (who's about 20 years old with no qualifications) helping to rescue all these black teens, which undermines what the episode is partly trying to do by looking at institutionalised racism . . . but we've still got to have Jackson to even out the blame. I really don't think a lot in this episode could fly today.
    There has always been a very hefty dose of stereotyping around Gunn's background and I don't think this episode is worse for that. I think Anne is supposed to just be someone who's caring attitude breaks down barriers. In that sense she is there to be an extreme contrast to Angel perhaps.

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    Oops, I forgot to do Reprise it seems so I'll do that/Epiphany together...

    Reprise

    Positive - I love how much of an epic quest Angel's attempt to go to the home office was. Finding out about it, the ring to get there, the glove needed to get it. Heck, even getting driven through with the sword (which stops Denver saying things will go better this time). It's so great against the grand gesture that Angel's trying to work towards and so into how thrown he is by the futility of it all.

    It is interesting too when considered against all that is needed in the illusion for him to lose his soul in S4, that still the grand heroic quest is deeply within him as something that he'd want. He might get the epiphany to come but this desire for a greater purpose/destiny is still there and that hubris feeds so well into S5 and the negativity of the kamikaze actions for a 'moment' of glory then too. It's such a great character insight and the fact that it isn't forever eradicated just from one moment of realisation is totally believable.

    Negative - My biggest negative I'm going to use for the next episode because 'more' of it is in that, so I'll choose another now. Although, like Pricey, I also wasn't interested in Wes/Virginia as a couple, I thought the two actors played the break up well and I liked Wes' solitude at the end. There is some real camaraderie between the remaining members of AI but there are still hints that they hold back some and are lonely too that is interesting. Anyway, I'm still going to go with the break up though because as much as I found the reason of their different levels of acceptance of the risk Wes puts himself in by doing what he does an interesting/valid reason, I found it hard to go along with the idea that Virginia felt like that about it suddenly just because of a gunshot wound and considering how they met.


    Epiphany

    Positive - Well I have to list the conversation between Kate and Angel when he says if nothing you do matters then all that matters is what you do and the following comment about the smallest acts of kindness. The scripting in what he says in this scene is one of my favourite pieces of writing across both shows, I adore it.

    But it is predictable to choose that so I'm going to go with Lindsay's own epiphany and blow out. I really like Lindsay's character and the calm emotionless facade he's been presenting goes soaring out the window when faced with Darla's infidelity. His wish to hear everything from both her/Angel is very human and fraught and totally self-destructive. His spiral here works well towards his exit I think and I can only assume he's lucky that Darla is so thrown by everything with Angel that she's numb and doesn't just kill him out of irritation.

    Oh and I just have to give a nod to the moment when Wes and Angel kill the demons in Wes' apartment together. The almost smile they share is delightful and the conversation in the car following is great.

    Ugh, that this is one of my favourite episodes is clear as I've totally cheated and given three!

    Negative - I wish they hadn't tried to fake that Angel was losing his soul. I know this started at the end of Reprise but trying to play the idea of the soul loss being just about sex never worked for me. I can accept Angel trying it in his despair, that's not the issue, the issue is them thinking I'd believe it. The whole exploration of this as Angel's rock bottom was devalued slightly by them trying to play the audience too. I didn't believe it at all the first time I saw it and it annoys me more each rewatch that they dragged through so much of the visual repeats to Surprise as if we would. I mean what was causing the gasping and crawling into the rain once it's confirmed it isn't soul loss? Leg cramp? It's idiotic and makes them look daft and the rest of the scene is then really disjointed from the tone of Angel's actions at the start. One of the most ridiculous fake outs attempted imo.

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    Disharmony

    Positive - I personally like that there's consistently in both shows that there's a limitation on soulless vampires. They just can't be totally reliable as they lack morality and will eventually show that and/or betray for self-interest. So Harmony appears and shows restraint and control when she wants to lean on Cordelia at first (and shows character consistency remains from the original human too). But then she readily switches when her interest is drawn elsewhere and what is offered suits her more. I like how this sits against Angel's recent active choice to make questionable decisions souled because we all can walk dubious paths and get it wrong. But despite him having specifically stated to the gang that he was a vampire when he was stealing the text from them in Epiphany, he knows in himself the difference in capacity for understanding and his regret in the episode for the loss of the friendship with Cordelia as a consequence sits against Harmony's disregard as a pretty casual abandonment. This all works really well alongside the sister episode Forever where Spike is helping Dawn's attempt to resurrect Joyce with limited thought to the consequences too.

    Negative - Although I actually like that they showed that despite how she has matured and changed Cordelia also has evidence of character consistency as I said before. I agree with Pricey that this is a strength of the episode, that she is connected to who she had been as Harmony still is. But I dislike that one of the ways they go about this is to show at the end that she is won over by Angel buying her a boat load of clothes. Not because of what it says about Cordelia, that character element, but the use of it in relation to fixing the issue with Angel. I can understand it as the wish to return to previous times that felt easier maybe and in this way it feels very much again related to Harmony's return and the reminiscing that they enjoyed together at first. But as an approach Angel takes and for it to work I just feel belittles the genuine, fair and reasonable disquiet that was being presented in response to his recent behaviour. This has been a main story element of the season and he has only just returned to the group. It just felt pushed, too soon.
    Last edited by Stoney; 14-03-19 at 09:53 PM.

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    There's parts of "Disharmony" that have aged really poorly, IMO. Cordy's panic at Harmony supposedly hitting on her and Cordy being relieved that Harmony is a soulless, murderous vampire as opposed to just a "great big lesbo" is just blatantly homophobic. I also thought that Cordy came across really unpleasantly when she reassures Harmony that "she doesn't care about that" but then gossips behind her back about how freaked out she is and calls her a slur. Even her "- Oh, yeah? Really? - Well, that's great! Good for you" (after Willow obviously comes out to her over the phone) comes across as really fake and condescending and almost as if she's weirded and/or grossed out. Charisma plays it with a nastier edge than I think even the writer originally would've intended.

    I also have problems with her stupid Cordy behaves in regards to Harmony. I don't buy that she'd be so trusting of her or so willing to give her a chance and especially considering that she's now put two-and-two together and realised that Harmony was actually creeping into her room to *kill her*. I mean, regardless of how remorseful Harmony claims to be, that fact alone should prove to Cordy that Harmony is dangerous and untrustworthy. I know that their intention was to show that Angel's behaviour in Season 2 - with a soul - had shaken Cordy's faith in him and she was now having trouble giving much weight to the 'supposed' importance of a soul. But, if anything, I would have thought that Angel's actions in Season 2 would have caused Cordy to just become even more distrustful of vampires, soul or no soul, than ever before. I don't see any logic in it making her decide to give a soulless vampire a chance.

    They did the same thing with her in "Offspring" when she just totally forgets that Darla is a dangerous, murderous vampire (who she even hated and didn't trust when Darla was a human) because Darla is pregnant. She goes completely overboard and, again, pays the price when Darla attacks her. It makes her look moronic and it didn't feel organic to me then, either.

    There are things I really enjoyed about "Disharmony", though. I'll always love a surprise crossover so Willow's cameo (homophobia aside) was great fun. It would have probably been overkill to do that too often but I wished we'd got more of it. I also love the moment Harmony casually tears the paper out of Wesley's book and he shrieks in horror. Alexis Denisof is so funny in that scene and if you look in the background you can actually see David Boreanaz break character and laugh at him which normally would take me out of the moment but it just makes me smile

    I also loved the dynamic between Cordy/Harmony before Cordy learnt that Harmony was a vampire. It felt very realistic to me how neither Cordy or Harmony brought up how Harmony bullied and ostracised Cordy in "The Wish" and instead let bygones be bygones. High School grudges really can fade away like that and especially with people you have a lot of fond childhood memories with as well. And it made a lot of sense given how lonely and naturally nostalgic both characters would be feeling for a time when they were "on top" of the world. At the same time, I loved how insecure Cordy was about her job and even her hair and how Harmony put on a performance about "getting out of a smothering relationship" (when in reality we knew Spike treated her like dirt and dumped her mercilessly) as they sized each other up and compared where they were at. There's always that element of insecurity and competition between classmates you haven't seen in a long time to compare where you're at in life, how successful you both are, and if you did with your life what you intended or expected to do.
    - "The earth is doomed" -


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    Dead End

    Positive - I honestly didn't remember just how much I absolutely love this episode. Goodness knows where I've ranked it if I ever gave an order to the S2 episodes overall at any point, but I adore it. There are just so many aspects that I could pick as my positive from the humour to the main character plots of the ep. I really like how the unpredictability of people against expectations of them sits against Intervention and the consideration given to the weight and cost of a heroic path within both too. I'm really enjoying watching the two shows alongside each other again. And there was Christian Kane's outstanding Caritas performance as a cherry on top too. But I'm going to stop trying to tip my hat to several aspects because I'd look like a nodding dog before I ever got around to choosing my 'single' positive like I'm supposed to. So I'm going to choose a Lindsey related one as he's a character that I really enjoy in the series. I thought CK and DB played against each other really well and was sad to see him leave. So, finally, my positive... I adore the scene in the boardroom and think CK plays the humour along with an unpredictable manic edge absolutely brilliantly. The whole thing from when he stops Lilah's destructive course of action in the face of being the one to be passed over, to venting his anger at the 'gift' of his evil hand and the brutal/cruel way he responds to all those gathered there before he turns and walks out is perfect. I could watch that scene over and over it is so well acted/timed.

    Negative - I honestly struggle to find something I could really class as a negative. Angel's childish response to Lindsey at the end I find a little silly but it fits the at times ridiculous aspect of their rivalry and was almost a last hurrah to that so I can't really not like it. I suppose I can criticise that Bradley Scott, the original owner of the hand, was euthanised so readily. I appreciate he felt suicidal but if he had only had his hand removed then his trauma at that and being kidnapped and trapped as he was hardly had him looking at things with a balanced perspective. I'm not convinced he wasn't saveable really (although I appreciate we were led to see that it was a mercy, but I'm trying to find a negative here!).

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    Negative: Felt like poor Cordy's having women's problems, having feelings and the men in the office just don't know how to handle them. The visions as PMS. They can't even talk to her like she's part of the team, an equal, they behave like she's being over emotional and is somehow separate from them. They actually appear really pathetic. It should be sweet when Angel turns up with the food, but really, it's like buying her clothes last episode, it's separating her, making her different. Cordy is the most important resource they have, but they don't treat her like that, and she doesn't know how important she is.
    Oh it's really interesting that you feel like that about it as that really isn't the impression that I got at all. I think that the others are very worried about her and feel uncertain how to balance their concern for her and what the visions are doing to her against their need for her to function and provide the information. It's a struggle between responding to how important she is to them as a person against how important her role is within the group. They benefit from the vision but the cost of them on Cordelia is steadily becoming more concerning. They want to support her but have little clue how and Angel's response to that to not keep asking her a question she doesn't feel able to address but just present her with an array of options and let her choose what she needs, what is best for her in that moment, I think is really considerate.
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    Belonging

    Positive - It's all in the title on this one. There are some really affecting moments for all four of our main characters as we repeatedly get a sense of where/how they do and don't belong, their strengths and weaknesses. What they hope and wish for is often a complicating factor and whilst we see what makes them feel weaker outside the group, away from the validation from within it, they are also plagued by insecurities within too. All of which leads well to the development in Pylea of course. So this is a very introspective episode and I love seeing the emotional beats for them and how it sets up for the season's final arc. Kudos especially to Alexis and Charisma for how excellently they show their reactive emotions when being callously cut down, stand out moments.

    Negative - Whilst I don't think the writing is generally problematic in suggesting Wes/Gunn/Angel don't know what to do for the female of the group as I do see them caring and wanting to help, alongside the objectifying role Cordelia films having them all pause to consider her advertising the bikini is a disappointing point used for humour. It does feels like it devalues her in a sexist way which I don't think is reflective of how they view her in the group but how CC's attractiveness is something that is used for odd jokes on and off in ways that jars and feels outdated.


    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    I've never watched AtS through Cordy's eyes before, making her the central character, and it really opens the show up and makes me think about it in ways I never have before. So I guess my only real negative is that I really don't care about Wesley's daddy issues or that Gunn is growing apart from his crew.
    That's a shame as I really do think what it offers for all of the characters is the best thing about the ep.

    I have to say that I'm enjoying watching Cordelia's story a lot more this time through. She's definitely a character that I've come to appreciate more with each rewatch. I'll be fascinated to see if my opinion of what happens to her in S3 & 4 changes especially as I go on this time.

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    Over the Rainbow

    Positive - This is a pretty solid follow on from Belonging for showing some of the influences of their strengths and weaknesses on each character's sense of self and that's definitely my favourite part and how rich it is for each of them. As Wes' journey in AtS is a favourite for me I especially enjoy seeing his contrasting uncertainty and confidence. He can blame himself when things go wrong and struggle when he feels unsure and his fears of failure plague him. But we see examples of his competence and ability to find solutions and that he can explain and judge risks without shutting everyone out entirely too. A practical, strategic mind can be invaluable in the middle of conflict and danger but he can also misjudge minor successes in his relief of not instantly falling. But then he's able to positively use authority when Gunn is gearing to get himself beaten further and help him draw back, reassessing even though he isn't as confident during the action as he is when he can retreat to his comfort zone of research. As disjointed as this final arc feels in the season I really enjoy the way the new setting they find themselves in really presses on reality against fantasy and gives points of self development and awareness for them all that continues the themes and character points of the season.

    Negative - I don't have any major dislikes so I think I'll sit along with Pricey's and go with the one-time appearance of Aggie who is able to find the hot spot for the portal. Not that it is unusual for them to go and speak to someone as a resource when needed, but that with the combination of her pushing Lorne to face his past as well, she's perhaps being over used as a tool for moving things forward conveniently. Even though I do enjoy the conversation between her and Lorne. Really she is just being used as Lorne has been for the other characters, providing a psychic shove in the right direction. But I'm trying to pick a negative so her one time convenience when the character who normally provides the triggers is now the one needing a motivational shove along (with a helpful plot moving tip on top) is getting my vote. But then I also like the idea that Lorne would meet and connect with similarly skilled people over the years, that seems realistic to me. So I'm somewhat undermining my point now down to her only being a one-time character. But the fact that they couldn't repeatedly use her whenever Lorne had difficulties/uncertainties really does underline how convenient she is on this occasion.

    Perhaps I should have gone for the creature that chases Cordelia at the start taking soooo long to catch up with her, that's more straightforward.
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    Through the Looking Glass

    Positive - I love the exploration of how other people's perceptions and responses to you affect how you see yourself that we get here. It's a little over egged at points but as with so much in this final arc it's great to see the developments across the ensemble. I particularly love the moment when Cordelia sees the reflection of her current 'regal' outfit to the one she wore for the commercial and realises that she's allowed her interpretation and understanding, her acceptance of why she'd been treated as she was being to miss that she was yet again being treated as a lump of meat to be used. The fantasy/reality curtain and all that.

    Negative - DB's acting has come on so much from early BtVS and I really enjoy his comedy in this arc but they also included the need for him to act his emotional trauma physically, to show his struggle/suffering, and he's still awful at it. Truly awful. Just terrible.

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    There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb

    Positive - I love the consideration the characters get to facing your fears in this final episode of the season. In particular, how Angel's more visually, outwardly demonic side feels more dangerous and out of control to him, but it is still just the same side of himself that is always there and he's still able to stop himself. It underscores in quite a harsh way really that he is still responsible for his actions, even at what he could visualise as his darkest and most base and out of control, because in truth he can still come back from it. It doesn't overcome the fear but really emphasises that it comes from knowledge of responsibility in the choices made. Lorne sees that in finding out he was right in how he had felt about returning, that he didn't have to come back, that it gives him a sense of surety rather than having opportunistically fled where he came from and seeing it as simply having not been able to return. There's a greater sense of ownership to the choice. Wes is given a different view of himself as a leader, finds more certainty in himself when he is able to use his analytical mind in the field to command with an eye to the wider picture, rather than his confidence coming from being buried in a book. It's interesting to consider though with both Angel and Wes how these experiences can perhaps have helped to pave the way to them taking decisions alone in the future when they should have turned to others around them for support.

    Negative - Cordelia's declaration of loving Groo is just ridiculous. As much as I really enjoy the comedy of the scene around it from Angel's reaction, it just underlines that this is being declared as romantic love. There's nothing wrong with healthy lust that has a greater layer of interest in the person on top strongly drawing people to each other. It can be more than just physical attraction, without it being raised up to the level of instantly loving someone they barely know anything about and have spent minimal time with. It just irritates me.


    Now I have completed most of S3's positive and negatives already as I've been simultaneously rewatching that season alongside the rewatch that I've been using to post these S2 ones. Now that this rewatch is catching up with that one I will no doubt continue posting in the S3 thread soon, one way or another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    There's parts of "Disharmony" that have aged really poorly, IMO. Cordy's panic at Harmony supposedly hitting on her and Cordy being relieved that Harmony is a soulless, murderous vampire as opposed to just a "great big lesbo" is just blatantly homophobic. I also thought that Cordy came across really unpleasantly when she reassures Harmony that "she doesn't care about that" but then gossips behind her back about how freaked out she is and calls her a slur. Even her "- Oh, yeah? Really? - Well, that's great! Good for you" (after Willow obviously comes out to her over the phone) comes across as really fake and condescending and almost as if she's weirded and/or grossed out. Charisma plays it with a nastier edge than I think even the writer originally would've intended.
    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    I also loved the dynamic between Cordy/Harmony before Cordy learnt that Harmony was a vampire. It felt very realistic to me how neither Cordy or Harmony brought up how Harmony bullied and ostracised Cordy in "The Wish" and instead let bygones be bygones. High School grudges really can fade away like that and especially with people you have a lot of fond childhood memories with as well. And it made a lot of sense given how lonely and naturally nostalgic both characters would be feeling for a time when they were "on top" of the world. At the same time, I loved how insecure Cordy was about her job and even her hair and how Harmony put on a performance about "getting out of a smothering relationship" (when in reality we knew Spike treated her like dirt and dumped her mercilessly) as they sized each other up and compared where they were at. There's always that element of insecurity and competition between classmates you haven't seen in a long time to compare where you're at in life, how successful you both are, and if you did with your life what you intended or expected to do.
    I totally agree with both these points!

    I love "Disharmony." The depiction of Harmony and Cordelia reuniting and the uneasy love they have is soooo good. Things did not turn out how either of them expected, and they are so hesitant to admit this. All grudges are forgotten and there is just love and awkwardness. I think most of us have been in situations like this when we meet very old friends, but we're not really sure if there is that same level of trust as there used to be.

    But while Cordelia's homophobia could be argued to be in character, it just feels nasty and unnecessary. Cordelia once clocked someone as a "self-absorbed closet dyke with a big the-world-owes-me chip on her shoulder." If only Cordelia had the opportunity to grow from this. Couldn't they at least have had her be genuinely ashamed of herself when Willow tells her that she herself is gay? Sadly, this is the last time Cordelia ever interacts with an explicitly gay character, so her tombstone epitaph will always be: "Hated vampires less than lesbians."
    Last edited by Willow from Buffy; 25-04-19 at 12:24 AM. Reason: Changed "new friends" to "very old friends" :p

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    “Judgement”

    Positive: Lorne! It surprised me how happy I was to see him (I forgot the episode opened on him singing, haha) and I love the Caritas set (don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion or not, but I actually prefer it over The Bronze). I feel like the writers really brainstormed during the off-season on ways to liven the series up visually because starting with this episode, this series starts to feel much more alive (ironic to say, I know) in its tone and setting. Throughout my Season 1 notes, I complained about the dryness that was present in many episodes. But I think Season 2 is the best of all five at mixing noir and vibrant fantasy and definitely presents a visual upgrade for Angel. The introduction of Lorne, Caritas, and the Hyperion Hotel all help to give the series its own distinctive flair. I mean, what other TV show can you think of that would feature an effeminate green demon with his own karaoke bar as one of the main characters?

    Negative: It’s a shame the writers skipped over showing how Angel and Cordy interacted as roommates in-between S1 and S2. It would have been a great parallel to “Rm w/a Vu” since this time, Angel is *her* houseguest.

    “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?”

    Positive: This is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series, definitely in my personal Top 5. As a black man, I agree with Dipstick that this is definitely the best Buffyverse episode to address race and I love her analysis on how the ep neatly subverts the 'white savior' trope with Angel here and plays the opposite. I find a lot of the demon = minority races/cultures metaphors in Buffy/Angel to be very hit and miss (mostly miss). It rarely feels right to me when the writers draw parallels between real-life human minorities and a species that includes soul-sucking monsters that the protagonists battle every episode, but I really did like the connection between Angel and Judy in this episode and how their experiences were paralleled.

    JUDY: ‘I’m not one thing or the other. I’m nothing.’
    ANGEL: ‘I know what that’s it like.’

    It’s just so incredibly simple. I mean, it’s not subtle at all. The writers explicitly lay the parallel out there in the dialogue, but it doesn’t feel cheesy or heavy-handed. It draws the parallel between Angel and Judy through a simple two-second exchange and that’s that. The episode leaves that to sink in for the audience and then the scene moves on to the rest of the plot. And despite her being a tragic mulatto figure, Judy's character/connection to Angel is about more than her race and ties into the larger themes of the episode/season, so she never feels like a token. It’s a million times better than “Hero”, with its stupid demon Nazis and Holocaust visuals that felt hammered in nearly every other scene.

    Also: I liked Cordy putting cinnamon in Angel’s blood to help with the texture. Haha, I’m sure Spike would have appreciated it.

    Negative: Um… Cordy, Wes, and Gunn don’t have enough to do, I guess. Which doesn’t really bother me, I’m just grasping for a negative here in this otherwise spectacular episode. I think their scenes in this episode are a clear case of quality >>> quantity.

    “First Impressions”

    Positive: Angel’s dreams with Darla strike a wonderful balance between erotic and creepy.

    Negative: I agree with vampmogs that episodes like this is why diversity in the writers’ room is such an important thing. Saint Cordelia also rears her ugly head for the first time in this episode and I don’t like it. While Cordy’s concern for and determination to help Gunn in this episode makes sense to me in light of her increasingly compassionate character, I have trouble believing that a person like her – with very limited life experiences – would have a great amount of insight into Gunn. Let alone enough to give him guidance on how to live his life as this episode tries to have her do at the end. And *especially* when you take into account all of the classist shit that Cordy often says. Honestly, conflict between characters like her and Gunn seems like it could have written itself and it could have been amazing if it had been a real case of both of their character flaws causing them to clash. But instead, it’s mostly just Gunn being depicted as the angry black man and Cordy as his white savior.

    I mean, we get a few cringeworthy moments where Cordy sticks out like a sore thumb and makes a fool of herself in Gunn’s neighborhood. But those moments play more as attempts at lame humor rather than being a meaningful exploration of the way that Cordy’s privilege/upbringing can cause her to clash with different types of people and how that could cause her difficulty and lead to her being in over her head in her new life mission of helping people. It definitely would have been much better if the episode had portrayed Gunn and Cordy’s experience resulting in them both learning from each other rather than some sappy shit about Cordy being his protector and watching over him, which ends up going absolutely nowhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    I've thought about this and I think my issue is with Cordy's character in this episode. They try to show her being mature and responsible and caring. She fought demons, she saved that girls life without panicking, she spoke to Gunn normally, though perhaps treating him as a disruptive child, but even so. Beyond that, this is still Cordelia Chase, the biggest bitch in Sunnydale history, and yet, with this combination of traits at play, she goes to a house party and becomes someone totally different, she starts rambling like an early seasons Willow might, and seems to suggest there is a connection between black women and prostitution . . . Cordy may have come from whiter than white Sunnydale, but she's in LA now, she's an actor, she's protecting Gunn and they're working together, I just don't see her falling apart like this when faced with a room full of black people. And it wasn't even funny
    Word.

    “Untouched”

    Positive: The incestuous nature of the relationship between Bethany and her father and the traumatizing effect it has had on her – in her wanting to break free, but still being very much controlled by her experiences with him – was paralleled nicely to the incestuous (in tone, at least) relationship between Angel and Darla (who is/was very much his mother figure), with regard to the effect that relationship has had on him, which we see at play throughout nearly the whole season. Angel knows that W&H is just using Darla to play mind games with him and he wants to let go of his past with her, but she still has an undeniable influence on him that causes him to lose himself and engage in reckless behavior throughout the season. It’s not unlike Bethany’s experiences with her father damaging her emotionally and causing her to lose control of herself and her power.

    In most Monster-of-the-Week episodes, one-off characters are used as parallel with the main character(s), usually with both one-off character and main character receiving catharsis and emotional development from their experiences in said-MOTW episode. But this one is unique in that the one-off character (Bethany) receives catharsis and development by the end of the episode, while the main character that she is used as parallel to (Angel) doesn’t. Bethany starts to break free from her trauma and reclaim her power back from her father at the end of the episode, however, it takes Angel until nearly the end of the season to get over his Darla issues. This is highlighted in the moment with Lilah towards the end:

    ANGEL: 'Look like you’re gonna have to find someone else’s brain to play with.'
    LILAH: 'Yeah, we have someone in mind…'

    Bethany may be free, but Angel still isn’t.

    Negative: Once again, I agree with vampmogs about Wesley’s extreme recklessness in pressing Bethany about her father. The man has no people skills. I also think the same thing is in effect with Cordelia and her scene with Bethany, as Dipstick pointed out. While it does come off as Cordy victim-blaming Bethany, I think her intent was just getting Bethany to excise more control over her power to prevent from hurting innocent people around her. It’s quite rational for Cordy to believe that Bethany’s lack of emotional and psychic control could end up with Cordelia herself or Angel or Wesley getting hurt (in fact, all three of them did get hurt at several different points in the episode). But Cordy just expressed it the wrong way with the ‘Don’t bone my boss’ talk. She could have articulated herself a hundred times better, I think.

    On another note, Cordy’s literal empathy – in terms of emotion, memory, and even smell – with the victims in her visions has always been interesting to me and I wish it had been expanded on more.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 13-08-19 at 06:56 PM.

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    “Dear Boy”

    Positive - Julie Benz as Darla. Despite her ‘bubble-gummy’ persona, I think Darla did work really well in Season 1 of BtVS considering the series’ tone and what they were going for back in those early episodes. In a campy horror series about a witty, SoCal teenage girl fighting monsters, I don’t think Darla’s ditzy, jealous schoolgirl characterization was all that out of place. Me thinks she worked well as a foil to Buffy back then.

    But in order for Darla’s character and her edgier, more ‘adult’ relationship with Angel to work in this show, they definitely needed to revamp (haha, no pun intended) her character a little more in order to fit in with the show’s tone. And I think they do that wonderfully here. Julie Benz imbues her character with a lot more elegance and sophistication – which was necessary for her character to work as well as she does in this series – while still keeping her consistent with her portrayal in the early Buffy episodes. She’s not a completely different character, just a much more improved one.

    Negative - Cordy and Wes refusing to believe Angel when he tells them he saw Darla. Despite his erratic behavior, he is a vampire and he spent over a century with the woman. If he says it’s Darla, then it’s most definitely Darla. Their gaslighting of him got on my nerves. It annoyed me when Giles would do it to Buffy (in episodes like “The Pack”) and it annoys me when they do it to Angel here.

    “Guise Will Be Guise”

    Positive - Angel’s scenes with the fake Tish Magev were really amazing. They remind me of Buffy’s scenes with Holden Webster. It’s always nice to see protagonists go to therapy – even if their therapists are evil.

    Negative - I really like the portrayal of Wes/Virginia in this episode, but I do think Wesley should have been honest with Virginia and told her that he wasn’t Angel instead of sleeping with her under false pretenses.

    “Darla”

    Positive - This is the best crossover episode of either show. The perspective shift during the Boxer Rebellion scene was magnificent and it really informs the way that I analyze both Buffy and Angel. Despite the fact that “Darla” ties into “Fool for Love”, it isn’t just an extension of the latter episode. It ties into the episode, but is still devoted to telling a completely different story/perspective, which I take as a metaphor for the relationship between the two series in general.

    This is also why I tend to let a lot of the contradictions between the two series slide. Regardless of what many episodes of its first season would have you believe, Angel the series is not just an extension of Buffy. Even though they take place in the same universe and have much overlap in terms of plot/characters, they are two separate series that aim to portray completely different tones and perspectives. “Darla” shows this better than any other episode and I mark it as the exact moment where this series broke out of Buffy’s shadow and started focusing on doing its own thing entirely, despite paying homage to it occasionally.

    Negative - I hate to criticize her as I actually think she’s one of the best actors to ever appear on this show and her performance in this episode is mostly terrific, but I think Julie Benz overdoes it a little bit in some of the present-day scenes.

    “The Shroud of Rahmon”

    Positive - He’s never been one of my favorite characters, but Gunn’s presence rounds out the AI gang quite well and I’ve been appreciating him a lot more on this rewatch. He brings diversity and I’m not talking in terms of race, but in personality. Gunn is a natural leader type, which means he is able to challenge/clash with Angel in a way that Wes and Cordy don’t. I like how this episode explores this, even though I think it’s pretty dull overall.

    The S2 team of Angel, Cordy, Wes, and Gunn is my favorite line-up of Angel Investigations. I think the gang actually loses a lot of its closeness shortly after Fred joins the group in S3 and while the Angel/Cordy/Wes S1 line-up was great, having only three main cast members felt really claustrophobic. I think four is a good amount to have. Each member of the team has a lot of importance in the group, gets equal amount of focus throughout the season, and Angel holds them all in high (or low, depending on how moody he is) regard. He doesn’t really consider any one of them to be above another, instead of the blatant favoritism he would show towards his employees in S3-S5 based on who he was falling in love or feuding with.

    Negative - In the scene between Wes and Cordy (before they go to the party), you can see Charisma – possibly her trying to remember her own lines which come right after his – mouthing Alexis’ lines. When Wes says ‘Right now’, it cuts to Cordy and you can see CC mouthing the line as he says it. It takes me out of the episode every time I watch it and I wish the director/editor had used another shot.

    “The Trial”

    Positive - This is an amazing episode. The plot twists of the episode (Darla dying of syphilis; the trials not working; Dru’s appearance at the end) aren’t just great plot twists in themselves, but there is a karmic element to them and they could easily be read as Angel and Darla experiencing the repercussions of their previous actions. Darla’s cheating death the first time around by becoming a vampire is something that she’s forced to grapple with throughout this episode as the syphilis that was killing her in her original human life is now present in her second human life. Same thing with her second life being denied at the trials on account of ‘she’s already living it’.

    Angel is also forced to watch as Drusilla shows up out of absolutely nowhere and destroys Darla’s life in the same way that Angel and Darla destroyed hers. Compare the scene of Angel and Darla shagging while a mad and distraught Dru is forced to watch to the final scene here. Great storytelling.

    Also: Lorne’s extremely vague and cryptic warnings to Angel really annoyed me while watching, but honestly that could *also* be taken as karma. I mean, after all, Angel is the ORIGINAL Cryptic Warning Guy.

    Negative - Wes and Cordy spend too much time on the sidelines in these episodes.

    “Reunion”

    Positive - For the longest time, I thought AYNOHYEB was my favorite episode of Angel, but after watching this episode… wow, I don’t even know anymore. To single out one positive: Drusilla. Juliet Landau plays the hell out of her character here and she’s so *active* in this episode, which is refreshing to see because she was always so passive in her Buffy S2 appearances.

    Negative - I like Kate, but she feels superfluous to the show at this point. She is absent for many, many episodes at a time and then, when she does appear, her scenes feel so disconnected from the rest of the episode/story that it’s very jarring to see her. I wish they had tried a little harder to integrate her into the main plot this season. I know Elisabeth Rohm eventually had to leave the show, but I always thought there would have been potential in Kate joining AI full-time after being fired as a cop. Or at least coming back in S5. I would have loved to have seen Kate react to seeing the same guy who gave her the 'If nothing we do matters' speech end up running Wolfram & Hart.

    “Redefinition”

    Positive - Lilah and Lindsey are great here. Yes, even Lindsey. The two of them being in competition with one another was very entertaining to watch. Lindsey’s disappointment at finding out Lilah was the other survivor and Lilah’s failed attempt to seduce him made me LOL. The two of them turning on each other due to insecurity about their job and constantly questioning their next move was a great parallel to Cordy, Wes and Gunn, who spend the episode doing the same.

    Negative - While still entertaining, Darla and Dru aren’t as great here as they were in the previous episode. Their motivations are hard to discern and it doesn’t help that they albeit disappear from the season after this episode. Angel’s voice-overs are also extremely cheesy. “Reunion” was a fantastic episode – so fantastic that my umpteenth rewatch of it still leaves me contemplating if it might be my favorite episode of the whole series – but this episode (and the ones after it) is so underwhelming in comparison. Honestly, it’s indicative of one of my biggest beefs with Angel the series as a whole. There would be times where the writers would deliver a string of really great episodes (“Dear Boy” – “Reunion”; “Waiting in the Wings” – “Forgiving”) that would really impress me and push the series in a bold new direction (Angel locking the lawyers in; Connor getting kidnapped), only to follow up with a string of mediocre/forgettable episodes (“Redefinition” – “The Thin Dead Line”; “Double or Nothing” – “Tomorrow”) that would then cause me to lose interest. It makes me wonder if this show would have been better with a shorter, 13-episode season format because the writers seemed incapable of sustaining momentum for a full 22.

    “Blood Money”

    Positive - Gunn, Wes, and Cordy arguing over who should be the boss of the new Angel Investigations. It makes me wonder why/how Wesley ended up being the leader because all three of them were quite qualified, IMO. While I assume Wes’ having the most knowledge/expertise on demons was what won him the leadership title, Gunn was actually leading his own gang fighting evil for years and has more experience than both of them. However, Cordy is a founding member of Angel Investigations (which the other two can’t say) and it is implied that she was pretty much the main one setting up/running the office and business side of things. Hmm… maybe they flipped a coin.

    Negative - Angel being a condescending, hypocritical douchebag and trying to guilt Anne into not taking Wolfram & Hart’s money. He’s talking about how deceitful and untrustworthy they are when he’s not that much better. He doesn’t give a damn about Anne, her shelter or her cause. But luckily, Anne calls him out on this and I respect her for keeping the blood money and doing what she had to do to help her kids.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 27-08-19 at 08:43 AM.

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    “Happy Anniversary”

    Positive: Lorne is really fun, I guess.

    Negative: I’ve always found this episode to be extremely dull and, to be honest, I quit rewatching it after the first 7 minutes. Life is too short.

    “The Thin Dead Line”

    Positive: This episode does a good job showing the growing camaraderie between Wes, Gunn, and Cordy, particularly shown through Gunn and Cordy’s reactions to Wes’ gunshot wound. I also like seeing Gunn navigate between his two groups, from Wes and Cordy to Anne and his old friends.

    Negative: Where’s Darla and Dru?

    “Reprise”

    Positive: Cordy and Wesley’s phone call. It’s incredibly understated in its misery and in its realism, particularly Wes’ response to Cordy saying she has no friends. ‘That’s not true,’ he assures her only for her to respond: ‘You don’t count’. Ha, I think Cordy really does care for Wesley and considers him a friend, but she takes him for granted in a way that some people often do when they’re feeling guarded and emotionally distant.

    The scene does a good job showing the toll that fighting the supernatural has taken on their personal lives. Cordy has lost her social life (which used to be very active as we saw in S1) and Wes has lost his girlfriend. They both feel isolated but this loneliness provokes opposite reactions within them. It causes Wes to cling closer to his coworkers and it causes Cordy to withdraw. Season 3 will show this even more with Wes falling in love with Fred and trying to court her, while Cordy falls in love with Angel but holds herself back from the prospect of dating him.

    Also: Wesley’s assurance to her that things will get better is heartbreaking when you consider the entire series as things do not get better for either one of these two.

    Negative: Gunn is underused.

    “Epiphany”

    Positive: Angel and Kate’s goodbye is pretty heartwarming and, while I still don’t think the show got as much mileage as it could have gotten out of Kate’s character, it is a good note for her character to end on.

    Negative: Angel’s post-coital reaction at the beginning of the episode is overdramatic when you know he isn’t going to lose his soul.

    “Disharmony”

    Positive: I like the way this episode uses Harmony and her friendship with Cordelia to show the ways in which Cordy has changed from her old high school self. I’ve always thought Harmony was more important than fans give her credit for. I think Harmony represents what it means to be a vampire better than any other vampire character (yes, even Angel and Spike). People call her character one-note, but I feel like those people forget that is the whole point. Remember Angel and Spike’s exchange in “School Hard”:

    ANGEL: “Things change.”
    SPIKE: “Not us! Not demons!”

    Of course, Angel and Spike change and develop over time but that is due to external factors (soul; chip) as the whole point of being a vampire is to be stuck in time. Not only in look, but in mentality. That’s why vampires are the perfect antagonists for a show that is about growing up and developing. Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia progress from teens to adults. Their characters grow and develop over time and Harmony is a great mirror to each of them because she doesn’t get to do any of that. There’s no change or development in her character because the mythology won’t allow it. She is stuck being the exact same person in “Not Fade Away” that she was in “The Harvest”. This episode does a really good job showing that. While capable of great humanity (I think there was *some* genuine affection for Cordy mixed in there), Harmony is still a soulless demon incapable of real change. She betrays Cordelia just like she did back in high school.

    Also: I love Gunn checking out Harmony and his flirtatious smile turning into a disgusted grimace upon finding out she’s a vampire.

    Negative: I enjoy seeing Cordy and Willow interact again, but it felt odd to bring Willow into the episode just to poke fun at her sexuality.

    “Dead End”

    Positive: Cordy's vision story is so-so to me, but I do like Wes contemplating the effects that they have on her as a human and the possibility of them driving her mad. It could work as foreshadowing to Cordy's (original) S4 arc and it also makes think of Drusilla. If Dru had been used more in this series, I think they could have drawn some interesting parallels between her and Cordy.

    Negative: I’m not a fan of the mushiness of Angel and Cordy’s interactions here. Angel was a huge jerk to Cordy for most of the season, but it seems like she – and the narrative – has completely forgotten about that.

    “Belonging”

    Positive: I like the shot in the teaser scene where the gang is at the restaurant and everyone is reflected in the mirror but Angel. In addition to foreshadowing the return of his reflection in the Pylea arc, it was a great throwback to the shot of Buffy and a reflectionless Angel on her bed in “What’s My Line?” Another one of those reminders that as much as Angel embraces his humanity, he can never fully blend into that world.

    Negative: Humans are enslaved and treated as inferior species in Pylea, but Lorne’s cousin Landok shows no animosity towards Cordy or Wes and no shock at seeing a world overrun with cows.

    “Over the Rainbow”

    Positive: To me, Pylea is to Season 2 what “Restless” was to Buffy Season 4: a surreal, fantasy-like coda that foreshadows what is to come. I like it more than most fans. Just like the Scoobies in “Restless”, Angel, Wesley and Cordy have experiences in this episode that relate to their broader arcs. Angel struggles with his inner demon, Wesley with his leadership and 'ends justify the means' mentality, and Cordy with her ego and view of heroism. Lorne’s issues with his family were fun as well and his character becomes more interesting when learning where he comes from. Up until this episode, Lorne has just been the empath demon Host who guides the protagonists, but this episode reveals that he is just as much of an outsider/underdog as the rest of them are.

    Negative: While I like the Pylea arc, it did look very low budget at times.

    “Through the Looking Glass”

    Positive: While I think the writers ultimately failed to capitalize on her character’s potential in S3-S5, Fred automatically wins a place in my heart in these episodes. Brilliant played by Amy Acker, she is both tragic and endearing and I like the role she plays towards Angel here. I also feel like this is the only episode in the Pylea arc that really attempts to be artsy and highlight the surreality of the setting and the premise. That shot of Fred holding the blood and attracting Demon!Angel is one of my favorites in the series.

    Negative: Can the writers on this show think of anything better to do with Cordy’s character than constantly throw her into plots where she is forced to f*ck demons? Seriously. Aside from a few funny line deliveries, her Princess subplot falls flat for me but it is conceptually sound. Cordy’s love of her princess title, along the illusion of heroism and glamour that comes with it, distracts her from the seriousness of her situation and the fact that she is just being used as a tool by the covenant. Honestly, it’s a metaphor for her entire character arc (which I don’t like).

    Cordy’s role as princess also represents the elevated position she starts to take on within the series, particularly in S3 (Angel’s kyerumption partner; higher being). Meanwhile, Fred’s introduction represents her replacing Cordy in terms of being of the heart of the show, although mainly through means of being the damsel in distress and an object in love triangles. *I consider this the point where the writers truly start to lose focus on solidly writing their female characters.

    “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb”

    Positive: The mood of victory and excitement as the gang returns to the hotel being completely broken upon their discovery of Willow. As soon as you see her heartbroken face, you instantly know what it’s about.

    Negative: Cordy and Groo completely lack chemistry and their scenes together are a chore to watch.

    Overall, rewatching Season 2 has only cemented it as my favorite season of Angel. It’s probably the only season that I really enjoy front to back. The worst part of the season is the middle section (between “Redefinition” and “Reprise”) and even those episodes are still more enjoyable than the worst episodes of the other seasons.

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    I agree that "Happy Anniversary" is a pretty dull episode but it does contain one of my favourite moments of Season 2, which is Angel's outburst to Lorne;

    ANGEL
    You want to know what my problem is? I'm screwed. That's my problem. I can't win. I'm trying to atone for a hundred years of unthinkable evil. News flash! I never can! Never going to be enough. Now I got Wolfram and Hart dogging me, it's too much! Two hundred highly intelligent law-school graduates working fulltime driving me crazy. Why the hell is everyone so surprised that it's working? But no, it's 'Angel, why you're so cranky?' 'Angel, you should lighten up. You should smile. You should wear a nice plaid.'


    I mean... he has a point. Why are people surprised that W&H's endless mind games finally got to him? They've been hounding him day and night, even infiltrated his dreams, they resurrected Darla and then sired her etc. It makes sense that he finally cracked. And I particularly love that he rants about the things people say to him (obviously Cordy and Wes) and lecture him on why he should lighten up or smile more because it's clear that those comments actually really effect and upset him deep down. Angel can be an absolute jerk to his friends sometimes but they actually do relentlessly criticise him and it's constantly downplayed as them just being funny or "doing it for his own good" etc.

    Angel does some messed up things in Season 2 but in this moment - in this moment I'm 100% on his side. It's awesome to hear him say it so bluntly. I always think it's unfortunate that it gets buried and forgotten about because it's in the middle of a really average episode.
    - "The earth is doomed" -


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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Oops, I forgot to do Reprise it seems so I'll do that/Epiphany together...

    Reprise

    Positive - I love how much of an epic quest Angel's attempt to go to the home office was. Finding out about it, the ring to get there, the glove needed to get it. Heck, even getting driven through with the sword (which stops Denver saying things will go better this time). It's so great against the grand gesture that Angel's trying to work towards and so into how thrown he is by the futility of it all.

    It is interesting too when considered against all that is needed in the illusion for him to lose his soul in S4, that still the grand heroic quest is deeply within him as something that he'd want. He might get the epiphany to come but this desire for a greater purpose/destiny is still there and that hubris feeds so well into S5 and the negativity of the kamikaze actions for a 'moment' of glory then too. It's such a great character insight and the fact that it isn't forever eradicated just from one moment of realisation is totally believable.

    Negative - My biggest negative I'm going to use for the next episode because 'more' of it is in that, so I'll choose another now. Although, like Pricey, I also wasn't interested in Wes/Virginia as a couple, I thought the two actors played the break up well and I liked Wes' solitude at the end. There is some real camaraderie between the remaining members of AI but there are still hints that they hold back some and are lonely too that is interesting. Anyway, I'm still going to go with the break up though because as much as I found the reason of their different levels of acceptance of the risk Wes puts himself in by doing what he does an interesting/valid reason, I found it hard to go along with the idea that Virginia felt like that about it suddenly just because of a gunshot wound and considering how they met.


    Epiphany

    Positive - Well I have to list the conversation between Kate and Angel when he says if nothing you do matters then all that matters is what you do and the following comment about the smallest acts of kindness. The scripting in what he says in this scene is one of my favourite pieces of writing across both shows, I adore it.

    But it is predictable to choose that so I'm going to go with Lindsay's own epiphany and blow out. I really like Lindsay's character and the calm emotionless facade he's been presenting goes soaring out the window when faced with Darla's infidelity. His wish to hear everything from both her/Angel is very human and fraught and totally self-destructive. His spiral here works well towards his exit I think and I can only assume he's lucky that Darla is so thrown by everything with Angel that she's numb and doesn't just kill him out of irritation.

    Oh and I just have to give a nod to the moment when Wes and Angel kill the demons in Wes' apartment together. The almost smile they share is delightful and the conversation in the car following is great.

    Ugh, that this is one of my favourite episodes is clear as I've totally cheated and given three!

    Negative - I wish they hadn't tried to fake that Angel was losing his soul. I know this started at the end of Reprise but trying to play the idea of the soul loss being just about sex never worked for me. I can accept Angel trying it in his despair, that's not the issue, the issue is them thinking I'd believe it. The whole exploration of this as Angel's rock bottom was devalued slightly by them trying to play the audience too. I didn't believe it at all the first time I saw it and it annoys me more each rewatch that they dragged through so much of the visual repeats to Surprise as if we would. I mean what was causing the gasping and crawling into the rain once it's confirmed it isn't soul loss? Leg cramp? It's idiotic and makes them look daft and the rest of the scene is then really disjointed from the tone of Angel's actions at the start. One of the most ridiculous fake outs attempted imo.
    What did you think of Lornes The Laywers were going to die anyway line ? . Did it feel to you like the writers were coping out of Angel's role in that a bit ?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    “Dear Boy”

    Positive - Julie Benz as Darla. Despite her ‘bubble-gummy’ persona, I think Darla did work really well in Season 1 of BtVS considering the series’ tone and what they were going for back in those early episodes. In a campy horror series about a witty, SoCal teenage girl fighting monsters, I don’t think Darla’s ditzy, jealous schoolgirl characterization was all that out of place. Me thinks she worked well as a foil to Buffy back then.

    But in order for Darla’s character and her edgier, more ‘adult’ relationship with Angel to work in this show, they definitely needed to revamp (haha, no pun intended) her character a little more in order to fit in with the show’s tone. And I think they do that wonderfully here. Julie Benz imbues her character with a lot more elegance and sophistication – which was necessary for her character to work as well as she does in this series – while still keeping her consistent with her portrayal in the early Buffy episodes. She’s not a completely different character, just a much more improved one.

    Negative - Cordy and Wes refusing to believe Angel when he tells them he saw Darla. Despite his erratic behavior, he is a vampire and he spent over a century with the woman. If he says it’s Darla, then it’s most definitely Darla. Their gaslighting of him got on my nerves. It annoyed me when Giles would do it to Buffy (in episodes like “The Pack”) and it annoys me when they do it to Angel here.

    “Guise Will Be Guise”

    Positive - Angel’s scenes with the fake Tish Magev were really amazing. They remind me of Buffy’s scenes with Holden Webster. It’s always nice to see protagonists go to therapy – even if their therapists are evil.

    Negative - I really like the portrayal of Wes/Virginia in this episode, but I do think Wesley should have been honest with Virginia and told her that he wasn’t Angel instead of sleeping with her under false pretenses.

    “Darla”

    Positive - This is the best crossover episode of either show. The perspective shift during the Boxer Rebellion scene was magnificent and it really informs the way that I analyze both Buffy and Angel. Despite the fact that “Darla” ties into “Fool for Love”, it isn’t just an extension of the latter episode. It ties into the episode, but is still devoted to telling a completely different story/perspective, which I take as a metaphor for the relationship between the two series in general.

    This is also why I tend to let a lot of the contradictions between the two series slide. Regardless of what many episodes of its first season would have you believe, Angel the series is not just an extension of Buffy. Even though they take place in the same universe and have much overlap in terms of plot/characters, they are two separate series that aim to portray completely different tones and perspectives. “Darla” shows this better than any other episode and I mark it as the exact moment where this series broke out of Buffy’s shadow and started focusing on doing its own thing entirely, despite paying homage to it occasionally.

    Negative - I hate to criticize her as I actually think she’s one of the best actors to ever appear on this show and her performance in this episode is mostly terrific, but I think Julie Benz overdoes it a little bit in some of the present-day scenes.

    “The Shroud of Rahmon”

    Positive - He’s never been one of my favorite characters, but Gunn’s presence rounds out the AI gang quite well and I’ve been appreciating him a lot more on this rewatch. He brings diversity and I’m not talking in terms of race, but in personality. Gunn is a natural leader type, which means he is able to challenge/clash with Angel in a way that Wes and Cordy don’t. I like how this episode explores this, even though I think it’s pretty dull overall.

    The S2 team of Angel, Cordy, Wes, and Gunn is my favorite line-up of Angel Investigations. I think the gang actually loses a lot of its closeness shortly after Fred joins the group in S3 and while the Angel/Cordy/Wes S1 line-up was great, having only three main cast members felt really claustrophobic. I think four is a good amount to have. Each member of the team has a lot of importance in the group, gets equal amount of focus throughout the season, and Angel holds them all in high (or low, depending on how moody he is) regard. He doesn’t really consider any one of them to be above another, instead of the blatant favoritism he would show towards his employees in S3-S5 based on who he was falling in love or feuding with.

    Negative - In the scene between Wes and Cordy (before they go to the party), you can see Charisma – possibly her trying to remember her own lines which come right after his – mouthing Alexis’ lines. When Wes says ‘Right now’, it cuts to Cordy and you can see CC mouthing the line as he says it. It takes me out of the episode every time I watch it and I wish the director/editor had used another shot.

    “The Trial”

    Positive - This is an amazing episode. The plot twists of the episode (Darla dying of syphilis; the trials not working; Dru’s appearance at the end) aren’t just great plot twists in themselves, but there is a karmic element to them and they could easily be read as Angel and Darla experiencing the repercussions of their previous actions. Darla’s cheating death the first time around by becoming a vampire is something that she’s forced to grapple with throughout this episode as the syphilis that was killing her in her original human life is now present in her second human life. Same thing with her second life being denied at the trials on account of ‘she’s already living it’.

    Angel is also forced to watch as Drusilla shows up out of absolutely nowhere and destroys Darla’s life in the same way that Angel and Darla destroyed hers. Compare the scene of Angel and Darla shagging while a mad and distraught Dru is forced to watch to the final scene here. Great storytelling.

    Also: Lorne’s extremely vague and cryptic warnings to Angel really annoyed me while watching, but honestly that could *also* be taken as karma. I mean, after all, Angel is the ORIGINAL Cryptic Warning Guy.

    Negative - Wes and Cordy spend too much time on the sidelines in these episodes.

    “Reunion”

    Positive - For the longest time, I thought AYNOHYEB was my favorite episode of Angel, but after watching this episode… wow, I don’t even know anymore. To single out one positive: Drusilla. Juliet Landau plays the hell out of her character here and she’s so *active* in this episode, which is refreshing to see because she was always so passive in her Buffy S2 appearances.

    Negative - I like Kate, but she feels superfluous to the show at this point. She is absent for many, many episodes at a time and then, when she does appear, her scenes feel so disconnected from the rest of the episode/story that it’s very jarring to see her. I wish they had tried a little harder to integrate her into the main plot this season. I know Elisabeth Rohm eventually had to leave the show, but I always thought there would have been potential in Kate joining AI full-time after being fired as a cop. Or at least coming back in S5. I would have loved to have seen Kate react to seeing the same guy who gave her the 'If nothing we do matters' speech end up running Wolfram & Hart.

    “Redefinition”

    Positive - Lilah and Lindsey are great here. Yes, even Lindsey. The two of them being in competition with one another was very entertaining to watch. Lindsey’s disappointment at finding out Lilah was the other survivor and Lilah’s failed attempt to seduce him made me LOL. The two of them turning on each other due to insecurity about their job and constantly questioning their next move was a great parallel to Cordy, Wes and Gunn, who spend the episode doing the same.

    Negative - While still entertaining, Darla and Dru aren’t as great here as they were in the previous episode. Their motivations are hard to discern and it doesn’t help that they albeit disappear from the season after this episode. Angel’s voice-overs are also extremely cheesy. “Reunion” was a fantastic episode – so fantastic that my umpteenth rewatch of it still leaves me contemplating if it might be my favorite episode of the whole series – but this episode (and the ones after it) is so underwhelming in comparison. Honestly, it’s indicative of one of my biggest beefs with Angel the series as a whole. There would be times where the writers would deliver a string of really great episodes (“Dear Boy” – “Reunion”; “Waiting in the Wings” – “Forgiving”) that would really impress me and push the series in a bold new direction (Angel locking the lawyers in; Connor getting kidnapped), only to follow up with a string of mediocre/forgettable episodes (“Redefinition” – “The Thin Dead Line”; “Double or Nothing” – “Tomorrow”) that would then cause me to lose interest. It makes me wonder if this show would have been better with a shorter, 13-episode season format because the writers seemed incapable of sustaining momentum for a full 22.

    “Blood Money”

    Positive - Gunn, Wes, and Cordy arguing over who should be the boss of the new Angel Investigations. It makes me wonder why/how Wesley ended up being the leader because all three of them were quite qualified, IMO. While I assume Wes’ having the most knowledge/expertise on demons was what won him the leadership title, Gunn was actually leading his own gang fighting evil for years and has more experience than both of them. However, Cordy is a founding member of Angel Investigations (which the other two can’t say) and it is implied that she was pretty much the main one setting up/running the office and business side of things. Hmm… maybe they flipped a coin.

    Negative - Angel being a condescending, hypocritical douchebag and trying to guilt Anne into not taking Wolfram & Hart’s money. He’s talking about how deceitful and untrustworthy they are when he’s not that much better. He doesn’t give a damn about Anne, her shelter or her cause. But luckily, Anne calls him out on this and I respect her for keeping the blood money and doing what she had to do to help her kids.
    I completely agree with you about Angel having a string of great episodes then having a string of bad ones. It was very inconsistent

    - - - Updated - - -

    Judgment: Positive The Faith scene at the end, I wish we had more Eliza
    Negative: Jousting in LA really doesn't work ..

    Are you now or have you ever been
    Positive : Everything it's a perfect episode for me
    Negative: urmm can't think of anything I suppose Judy didn't need to be there at the end but I'm reaching

    First Impressions Positive: The Angel/Darla dream sequences and J A Richards performance.
    Negative : The Cordy House party scene is cringing and not in a good way.

    Untouched: Positive: Some great dialogue, "do you know how hard it is to think we a rebar through your torso ?" "Actually I do, benefits of a Sunnydale education" the cop scene/ mocking of cop shows by Joss at the start is hilarious.
    Negative: How the abuse subject is handled is very poor, don't bone my boss urghh and the cheesy drop scene with Bethany dad are not good.

    Dear Boy : Positive: the Thrall demon is hilarious and Juliet Landau shines over DB and JB in the convent scene
    Negative : Kate shows up and acts dumb and it all feels very disjointed while the Angel/Darla scene at the end feels a bit flat despite some good dialogue. Maybe it's how its directed

    Guise Will Be Guise Positive: Alexis Denisof performance is great
    Negative: The slut shaming is bad and apparently you're impure if you've had sex !!!

    Darla: Positive Everything a perfect episode for me and arguably the best Buffy crossover the show did
    Negative: Really don't have any

    Shroud of Ramon : Positive B having fun pretending to be Jay Don
    Negative: The plot, it really makes no sense

    The Trial Positive: End scene its really great and so powerful
    Negative: The Trials themselves, No tension whatsoever I mean common did anyone think Angel was in any danger !

    Reunion Positive: Greatest episode of the show for me
    :we are all that stand between you and real darkness" "I know, your all fired"
    Negative : It was so good the writers didn't know what to do next and so went to Pylea instead

    Redefinition Positives: Dru was fun
    Negatives: Those Angel voice overs were cheesy and added nothing to the episode

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    Quote Originally Posted by BtVS fan View Post
    What did you think of Lornes The Laywers were going to die anyway line ? . Did it feel to you like the writers were coping out of Angel's role in that a bit ?
    I don’t think you directed this question at me, but I’ll take a stab at answering it anyway. I don’t feel the writers were copping out of Angel’s role in that at all. In fact, they were doing the opposite and emphasizing his role in it.

    LORNE: "You didn't kill those lawyers, Angel. That was slated to happen with or without you. The Powers were just trying to work it so it'd be without you, that's all. You just... well. You weren't much help in that department, were ya, sparky?"

    Lorne says that the lawyers were meant to die with or without Angel, which I take as meaning that the lawyers were doomed to meet a horrible fate no matter what simply due to the nature of the business that they were in. Even Lilah and Lindsey – the only lawyers who ended up surviving “Reunion” – meet terrible fates toward the end. Ghost!Lilah explicitly says to Wesley in “Home” that she knew what she was signing up for when she started working for W&H. But the lawyers being karmically destined to die brutal deaths does not take away from the fact that Angel allowed himself to be complicit in said deaths. It’s a similar thing with the whole Shanshu Prophecy. The apocalypse is going to happen no matter what, but what exact role that Angel plays in it – causing it or stopping it – is up to him.

    Quote Originally Posted by BtVS fan
    Guise Will Be Guise Positive: Alexis Denisof performance is great
    Negative: The slut shaming is bad and apparently you're impure if you've had sex !!!
    I’ll definitely admit that Angel is a very sexist show, but I didn’t take the ‘impure’ thing to be the narrative itself slut-shaming Virginia. I thought it was a funny line/twist that highlighted the ridiculousness of the entire ritual – from Virginia’s dad’s creepy investment in her sex life ending up being completely in vain to the irony of Virginia being called ‘impure’ by a goddess who is trying to devour human sacrifices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BtVS fan View Post
    What did you think of Lornes The Laywers were going to die anyway line ? . Did it feel to you like the writers were coping out of Angel's role in that a bit ?
    Sorry I missed this question. I think I had always taken it to mean that Darla and Dru weren't letting anyone leave that they didn't choose to whether Angel shut the door or not. Of course he could have fought to save them so he was complicit in their deaths happening, but them being killed that evening didn't happen because of his actions,. I like Andrew S's suggestion that it was true in a wider sense anyway for becoming a W&H employee.

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