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Thread: Positives And Negatives Season 3

  1. #41
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    Couplet

    Positive: DB's performance really redeems this episode. He really nails "quietly bitchy" Angel excellently. Wesley gives his speech about how Angel is rare and wonderful like a rare book but then the bookstore owner has three copies of the rare book. In this series, we'll see three souled vampires- Angel. Spike, and I'd argue Darla when she became human in S2.

    Negative: Groo isn't funny; he's annoying. JAR and AA are both such great actors. I bet they could have chemistry in well-written love scenes but the Gunn/Fred love scenes are so sappy and boring. It's ridiculous that Gunn and Fred were trapped in a life-force sucking tree but they had to call Angel in order to SPECIFICALLY request that Groo save them. And like, they had to waste time by asking Angel to put Groo on the phone. It severely undermined Fred/Gunn's intelligence to make a stupid joke and further hammer home that Groo is a social/romantic threat to Angel.

    [/B]Loyalty[/B]:

    Positive: Really excellent. One of my favorites in the series. That's particularly stunning given that this is a transition/exposition episode before the fireworks of Sleep Tight/Forgiving and quite a bit of it is just Wesley *thinking*. The ending scene where Wesley is hysterical with relief after Angel gives a beautiful speech about his love for Connor but then suddenly, every single portend that the Loa predicted happens immediately and then, Angel jokes about snacking on Connor is like, Top 10 for the whole show.

    It's a cool note that Wesley and Lilah are so closely mirrored here just before they become sexually involved. In Loyalty, all of Lilah's scenes are preceded by a Wes-scene. They both go rogue from their company at the same time even though their default has been to be dyed-in-the-wood Company Guy/Girl- Wes with the kidnapping and Lilah with agreeing to help Sahjhan kill Angel even though her company has this "policy." They're both interested in taking Connor from Angel. Wesley meets with Holtz behind Angel's back; Lilah meets with Sahjhan and Angel behind Linwood's back. Linwood and Angel become furious at both of them. Wesley and Lilah glorify their company, WHILE they go rogue from the company by secretly meeting with the enemy.

    "He's not Angelus anymore. He's a good man."
    "There's a girl downstairs, she's got records on everything that ever happened. My company rocks."

    Wesley at the end of Loyalty and Lilah in Sleep Tight have scenes with Angel where they get very existential and "what's it all about" until Angel does something fundamentally characteristic but particularly disturbing to these two characters (is a vampiric threat to baby Connor, makes a stab at preaching to Lilah as a misguided naive girl who hasn't become her game face) which hardens their resolve.

    Negative: The Gunn/Fred "Wesley is keeping us apart!" scenes are stupid and not earned. It feels like Gunn and Fred WANT triangle-drama as a relief from the tedium of their relationship. Also, it's completely inappropriate that Fred tried setting Wesley up with Aubrey, a bereaved mother who just lost her child last week. I think it's a steady pattern through the series that Fred acts bizarrely with Wesley. However, Fred's emotions towards him are so underwritten, despite the importance of their relationship, that it's very hard to figure out why and to what end.

    Sleep Tight

    Positive: Best ep of the season! I think the best payoff is the standoff at the end between Angel, Holtz, Lilah, and Sahjhan. It's an incredibly complex stand-off with different moving parts and motivations but everything's been earned.

    Negative: The singing demons are lame.

    Forgiving

    Positive: So, the end has already been mentioned. I love the White Room. The little girl is brilliantly performed. Replacing her with the cat was a big downgrade. I can't believe that they had a child actress say such vicious lines. Also, Angel willing to snap Lilah's neck mainly as a step to get revenge on Sahjhan.

    Negative: Sahjhan is a weak villain. Like, he's kinda funny and has pizzazz. However he's been inscrutable all season, claiming some big feud with Angel. However, turns out, he doesn't have a feud with Angel but was just trying to avoid Connor killing him, as prophecized. It's a let-down that the season indicated some rich history with Angel but Sajhan just wanted self-preservation from some unseen, unexamined prophecy. IIRC, we never learn why he wanted Connor's blood and what W&H should have been looking for in the blood.

    Double or Nothing

    Positive: The best scene is easily Fred going to see Wesley in the hospital. I disagree with Priceless about well, most everything on AtS. But I agree that this is the best scene Fred had so far and she really comes alive here. I believe very pro-Wesley/anti-Angel people AND very anti-Wesley/pro-Angel people and all in between would love this scene because it's cathartic to hear everything that Fred is saying whether it's criticizing Angel for attempted murder or yelling at Wesley for kidnapping alone.

    This isn't a positive or a negative but on rewatch I was thinking that this could have been a Cordelia-scene exactly as scripted. That would have paid more respect to Cordelia's longer history with Wesley and her present status as Leading Lady. In addition, we had plenty of other scenes showing that Fred feels conflicted between anger and sympathy with Wesley. Cordelia doesn't have any other scenes showing such a conflict. Making it a Cordelia-scene would have been good for Cordelia but it certainly seems like part of a move to a new era of the series where Fred is the Leading Lady while real!Cordelia is not long for this series. Plus if I were the writers, I'd rather give a meaty dramatic scene to Amy Acker than Charisma Carpenter.

    Negative: I don't like this ep but IMO, this episode could have been sorta decent with just one little change. Have Gunn sell his *life* instead of his *soul* for the truck. I'm absolutely here for an ep that indicated that Gunn lived incredibly dangerously when he was in charge of protecting everyone in his neighborhood without any resources to speak of. I'm absolutely here for the S5 foreshadowing of Gunn entering reckless contracts with usurious, corrupting entities of evil who want to prey on him. However, it's too damaging for the mythology for Gunn to be able to sell his soul or that falling in love is the equivalent of giving a soul away. Especially with Angel's story about the intersection between his soul and love.

    I mean, it still would have been imperfect. I feel like Alonna gets forgotten in the later eps even though she was fundamental to Gunn's origin. You wouldn't imagine that the gun of War Zone would sell his soul OR his life if there was Alonna.

    This isn't really a positive or negative. Well, it's more a negative. Gun going OTT with making the Perfect! Day! for Fred but then, lashing out at her for her body when she expresses concern was bizarre. It's odd to hyper-sell this saccharine Pancake!Kisses! romance of Gunn trying to make the perfect last day with Fred before his soul is stripped but then, Gunn flips out over mere concern from Fred. However, it is very in-character with Gunn's temper and it was nice that Fred was tipped off that Gunn must be in trouble by the way he spoke to her.

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  3. #42
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    The Price

    Positive: Wesley banning Gunn from coming to his apartment ever again. It works for me on a number of levels. Frankly, I don't see how Wes could act any differently without being a doormat. If Wesley is banned from the hotel under threat of murder from Angel and that threat of murder is condoned by the human members of Angel's team, Wesley simply can't have an open door policy to his own domicile. Gunn made it crystal clear where his feelings and loyalties lie- Gunn would not extend a scintilla of kindness or human-to-human concern after Wesley almost died because of Gunn's deeper loyalties to and sympathies to Angel. Gunn indicated that this hostility would be ongoing and continuing with his "I don't want to be here" as he was asking for a favor.

    And yet, *I* think just based on the scene itself, it's by no means conclusive that Wesley only helped because Fred was in danger. Wesley was angry at Gunn asking for help and then, insulting him practically within the same breath. When Gunn put a person to his request for help, Wesley helped. So happens, that person was Fred. However, given S4, I think it's pretty impossible to make the argument that Wesley only helped because it was Fred when Wesley spent his summer trying to rescue Cordelia and Angel.

    So, I say that Gunn is mainly full of shit when he bans Fred from asking Wesley for help closing the portal or refuses to call Wesley for help finding Angel/Cordelia. He should have been able to suss out that Wesley would help in those instances. However, I do think that Wesley banning Gunn for ever coming to the apartment again gave Gunn pretense to convince himself that Wesley wouldn't help so Gunn could lie to himself that he wasn't letting grudges and jealousy interfere with leaving no stone unturned in dire circumstances.

    Negative: AtS S3 Cordelia is actually helpful for this challenge because even in a good episode, she's around to be a negative point! ;-) So, Cordelia. It's really something how her hideous clothes and hair go along way to destroying her character. Usually, clothes aren't a huge deal to me when assessing character. I mean, my favorite character in the 'verse is Willow Rosenberg. (Although, Willow pretty much always looks lovely from the neck up even if her outfits frequently suck.) But with Cordelia, it really feels like a dereliction of her raison d'etre- to be this sunny, funny, personification of youth in LA. Her ass-pull save-the-day of getting glowy on the Sluths is annoying on first watch, but actually reasonably cool foreshadowing as interference from Jasmine to keep everyone alive until she got there.

    A New World

    Positive: I think I got this idea elswhere (maybe the Rewatch thread) but it really works to explain Connor's character that Sunny was a morally grey character who OD'd on her own drugs but Connor can't conceive of that and instead, clings to blaming the drug dealers. Connor can't understand shades of grey and if someone (usually a woman but Holtz too) gives him even the tiniest taste of the domesticity and comfort that he craves, than this someone simply can't do anyone wrong and EVERYTHING has to be the fault of the (usually men but sometimes Fred too) who challenge the special someone. It's a microcosm of what goes wrong later. I also love the vividness of how Sunny ended up meaning a lot to Connor in a short period of time. VK's faaaace when he has sugar for the first time!

    Favorite Groo moment- When Cordelia rejects Fred's plan to call Wesley and instead just sit around while a portal to hell is crackling above their heads because calling Wesley would hurt Angel's FEEWINGS, earnest Groo learns sarcasm for the first time. "Yes, we must always consider Angel. Angel is our leader." I think Groo was mainly talking from his romantic angst but still...hilarious.

    I get down on Angel a lot, especially for how he dealt with Connor. But it's actually a very nice moment when Angel says that he did everything to rescue Connor but he couldn't find a way into Quor-Toth and then, Connor rejoins that he found a way out, Angel reacts with very sincere guilt that he didn't try harder instead of defensiveness or not considering Connor's point.

    Negative: Angel/Gunn/Fred running around the city gets boring on rewatch. Also, this ep hammered home how S3 Cordelia increasingly didn't do anything other than apply her deux ex machina superpowers. There was a little plot of her learning to fight in Billy but after Birthday, she doesn't fight at all other than a bit in Double or Nothing. More to the point, she doesn't research even though research used to be a big part of what she brought to the table in BtVS and AtS S1-2. Here in A New World, Angel/Gunn/Fred are hitting the streets looking for Connor. Lorne is actually the biggest hero of the day because he SOLVED the whole damn portal issue by finding an outside contractor. Groo was in battle-position to take anything that came out of the portal. Meanwhile, Cordelia was just sitting there pondering her love triangle while the portal to hell crackles above her head. The writers couldn't have placed Cordelia with some portal-closing book to try to research how to close the portal on her own? We were told so often that Cordelia was awesome, that she no longer has to actually act awesome.

    Benediction

    Positive: Holtz having Justine kill him and framing Angel for his murder after he just had a long ponderous conversation to reassure Angel that he was done with vengeance is a master-stroke of villainy. It's also CLASSIC Holtz in the sense that he never technically lies to Connor in his letter. However, his whole staged murder is nothing but a huge lie and abusive mind f*ck to Connor. I think it's a great example of the bullshit that Holtz mouths and tries to believe. That Holtz doesn't do evil but instead executes justice even though his actions are evil. We could picture him going to his staged death, telling himself that he never lied to his son Steven.

    Negative: Gunn's views on murder are oddly opaque. Here, it's evident that Angel sent Gunn/Fred away to distract Connor while Angel goes to "see" Holtz. It's naturally and widely predicted and intuitive that Angel intended to kill Holtz out of vengeance. That's certainly the content of the conversation with Angel and Cordelia.

    Cordy: Angel, please think about this. In fact, don't go there at all.
    Angel: I have to.
    Cordy: I know. But don't.
    Angel: I'm not gonna kill him even though he deserves it.
    Cordy: Oh, I don't care if you kill him. He stole Connor's childhood, so kill him. But don't lie to your son. He's been here like a day. Way to build the trust.
    Angel: I'm not lying to him.
    Cordy: No, you're just sending him off to be distracted while you go confront the man he thinks of as his father.

    So, I know that Cordelia is cool with vengeance-murder except where it can create unhappiness for her little family with Angel and Connor. But then, Gunn and Fred also discuss what Angel will do to Holtz.

    Fred: I wish Angel was here.
    Gunn: Yeah. His kid seeing the ocean for the first time, too bad he had to miss it.
    Fred: That's not what I meant. I just - feel sort of creepy, keeping him busy and distracted while Angel...
    Gunn: Confronts the kidnapper?
    Fred: Well, if you're gonna put it like that. - What do you think he'll do?
    Gunn: I don't know. I know what I'd do. But Angel will deal with Holtz in his own way.

    Like, what would Gunn do? What does Gunn consider Angel's "own way"? What's the meaning behind the euphemism "confront of the kidnappers." Gunn and Fred are having this conversation of moral import, which will ultimately foreshadow how they break up but it's impossible to tell how Gunn feels about anything. It's frustrating to me. In another negative point, the conversation seems to only exist so that Gunn and Fred can idiotically tip off Connor that Angel went to deal with Holtz even though their WHOLE JOB HERE was to distract Connor from that. YOU HAD ONE JOB! (Also silly since Fred made the same mistake before when she told Darla how she was just bluffing with carving up the Miracle Child but the vamp cult worshippers heard Fred's whole stage whisper because vamps have great hearing.)

    My instinct tells me that Gunn just doesn't want to challenge Angel if Angel chooses to kill Holtz. He's thrown in his whole lot with Angel and will just do whatever. He doesn't outright support murdering Holtz but he won't speak out against it either. The lie here is that I don't think Gunn knows what he'd do. IMO, you have to be in the situation to know what you'd do. I do believe that everyone behaves terribly in Supersymmetry. However, Gunn's moral position in that ep is REALLY hurt by how he'd apparently support Angel murdering Holtz (just pure unadulterated vengeance) and he went along with Gwen electrocuting Morimoto to steal LISA (murder in order to commit robbery) but he opposes Fred murdering Seidel (pure vengeance but also self-defense because Seidel was opening portals all over the place to send Fred back to Pylea).

    However, this is all just instinct. Noise comes out of Gunn's mouth here but it's very hard to figure out what any of it means. Which is why it's a "Negative" because I'm trying to file "bad writing" under my negatives instead of just characters behaving badly. This is why I didn't file Cordelia's support of murdering Holtz here.

    Tomorrow

    Positive: "I'm not one of the doe-eyed girls from Angel Investigations. Don't be thinking about me when I'm gone." "I wasn't thinking about you when you were here."

    OK, that was obvious from me. I like that Lorne recently released an album of songs. It adds to the veracity that he could headline a show in Vegas. I also like that Lorne warned Angel to watch out for Connor. Emmie wrote a great post on the Angel rewatch threads that there's a S3-4 Prophet/Seer contest between Cordelia and Lorne and it turns out, Lorne was the better prophet but he was the one who Angel didn't listen to. Cordelia predicts, "Connor's gonna LOVE you because you have the BIGGEST, BEST HEART!!1!" Lorne tells Angel to watch out. I think it's obvious who was right.

    Negative: Even with S4 proving that Cordelia was conned by Skip instead of the S3 read that ONLY CORDELIA IS TOO GOOD FOR HUMANITY, those scenes are still nauseating on rewatch.

    However, this is kind of a positive. On first watch, I wasn't sure why Cordelia saw Future!Mirage!Cordelia while she was reflecting on whether she was in love with Cordelia. It just seemed hopelessly corny and like one of the worst performances in the 'verse. On rewatch, it's evident that Jasmine spliced these clips of Cordelia and Skip's conversation where Cordelia agreed to be a higher being and actually abandon Angel into an apparent epiphany where Cordelia had realized she was in love with Angel in order to manipulate Cordelia to head out on her fateful drive where she leaves the earthly plane. When Cordelia says "I'm in love! With Angel!" to Skip, it's part of her resistance to ascend just now. However when that clip is projected to Cordelia in her apartment earlier that night, it reads to Apartment!Cordelia like it's an epiphany as a foundation of future romantic bliss.

    But it's a positive for being tricky and slick if you rely on S4. It's still poorly acted and emotional empty. Moreover, it's unclear mythology-wise how Jasmine has these clips of Cordelia saying word-for-word what she'd say to Skip before Cordelia's made her decision to confess love to Angel yet. Also, I don't know why it was important that Cordelia be on her way to confess her love to Angel in order to convince her to Ascend. Couldn't Skip have done it another time?
    Last edited by Dipstick; 20-10-18 at 07:11 PM.

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