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Thread: Positives and Negatives - Season 4

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    Default Positives and Negatives - Season 4

    Copying Stoney's excellent Buffy thread. Taking one episode a day, try to choose one thing about the episode that you think is positive and one thing that is negative. They don't have to be big things about the story, plots, characters (although they can be). This isn't intended to be an overview of what you think about the episode/season critically as a whole, so more superficial observations are also very welcome and may bring up some variety.

    Feel free to comment/discuss any thoughts posted too (and also to join in ad hoc or play catch up too if you miss a day or so and want to).

    1. Deep Down
    2. Ground State
    3. The House Always Wins
    4. Slouching Towards Bethlehem
    5. Supersymmetry
    6. Spin The Bottle
    7. Apocalypse, Nowish
    8. Habeas Corpses
    9. Long Day's Journey
    10. Awakening
    11. Soulless
    12. Calvary
    13. Salvage
    14. Release
    15. Orpheus
    16. Players
    17. Inside Out
    18. Shiny Happy People
    19. The Magic Bullet
    20. Sacrifice
    21. Peace Out
    22. Home

    - - - Updated - - -

    Deep Down

    Positive: Just a great opening scene of Angel's dreams of a happy family around the dinner table, then fades into his reality. I love all his dreams and memories. Fred has matured so much from last season, and that's a definite positive.

    Negative: Very good episode with few negatives, but I would have liked Angel to stay underwater for another episode so we could see more of his dreams and the rest of the gang struggling without him.

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    Sorry, Priceless, I had some RL issues and just got so behind in the rewatch that I just couldn't keep up with last season, but I'm here for Season Four and will do my best to post on each episode.

    Deep Down:

    Positive: Agree that Angel's dreams are the best part of the episode. Linwood losing his head is also pretty wild. Linwood: “This is outrageous! Are you actually telling me that you went over my head?” Lilah: “Just under it, actually.”

    Negative: Too much exposition. Talk, talk, talk between Fred, Gunn and Connor talking about what might have happened. With much tazing in-between.

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    Deep Down

    Positives Lilah cutting off Linwood's head was brilliant. I also liked Angel's first dream and how it comes full circle at the end of the season (Home) with Angel passing on his own dreams for a family dinner onto Connor and his fake family which is both heartbreaking and disturbing.

    Negatives The final shot of Cordy in the 'heavenly' dimension is just really corny. Also, they take some real liberties with the vampire abilities in this episode when Marissa "crawls" up the wall like Spider-Man. Since when could vampires do that?
    "You've got ... a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself."

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    Ground State

    Positive: Liked Angel, Gunn and Fred. They felt like the old team from earlier seasons. Fred is a mixed bag, but her 'chin up' scene with Gunn actually made me think she might be a grown up.

    Negative: Wesley being so aloof with Angel. I don't like his attitude. He has no right to have hurt feelings. Have no interest in Gwen at all and not sure why we got so much backstory, and what a great top to be hanging upside down in. Her kiss with Angel seemed completely unnecessary. Was Gwen meant to become a regular, or a sort of early-Nina-type love interest?

    - - - Updated - - -

    The House Always Wins

    Positive: Like Angel watching out for Connor, and that the opening scene was reminiscent of the Spike on the rooftop scene from In The Dark.

    Negative: Filler episode, with enough time for two songs, so you can tell it had nothing to say. Wesley and Lilah's phone sex just makes my cringe. Lorne appears gay to me, so it's surprising they'd write him 'diddling' a show girl. Just a very messy episode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    Ground State

    Positive: Liked Angel, Gunn and Fred. They felt like the old team from earlier seasons. Fred is a mixed bag, but her 'chin up' scene with Gunn actually made me think she might be a grown up.

    Negative: Wesley being so aloof with Angel. I don't like his attitude. He has no right to have hurt feelings. Have no interest in Gwen at all and not sure why we got so much backstory, and what a great top to be hanging upside down in. Her kiss with Angel seemed completely unnecessary. Was Gwen meant to become a regular, or a sort of early-Nina-type love interest?

    - - - Updated - - -

    The House Always Wins

    Positive: Like Angel watching out for Connor, and that the opening scene was reminiscent of the Spike on the rooftop scene from In The Dark.

    Negative: Filler episode, with enough time for two songs, so you can tell it had nothing to say. Wesley and Lilah's phone sex just makes my cringe. Lorne appears gay to me, so it's surprising they'd write him 'diddling' a show girl. Just a very messy episode.
    I thought Lorne was implied to be bisexual or pansexual, or at least that's what his friends' impression was...I was watching a YT reaction to one of the S3 episodes, and at some point, when it was mentioned he spent the night with a demon,Wesley replied referring to the 'demon' as "he, she or it".

    But then, what am I talking about - everyone knows bisexuality doesn't exist in the Buffyverse.
    You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTravellingBunny View Post
    I thought Lorne was implied to be bisexual or pansexual, or at least that's what his friends' impression was...I was watching a YT reaction to one of the S3 episodes, and at some point, when it was mentioned he spent the night with a demon,Wesley replied referring to the 'demon' as "he, she or it".

    But then, what am I talking about - everyone knows bisexuality doesn't exist in the Buffyverse.
    It's difficult to say with Lorne, because he never self-identifies and is never explicit about who/what he is attracted to. So yes, he could very well be pan-sexual or he could have very specific likes, we just don't know.

    Bi-sexuality is never discussed in the Buffyverse, but then neither is any form of sexuality really, except perhaps with Willow and Kennedy who both staunchly identify as gay. Does Tara specifically say she is gay? But that's good in a way, because we can decide who these characters would and would not like

    - - - Updated - - -

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem

    Positives: Enjoyed seeing Cordy getting to now who she is, and her interactions with Angel and the gang. It was fun to see Lilah play Wesley.

    Negatives: It's not a bad episode, but it's just so depressing because you know what's happening and what's going to happen. Hate seeing Cordy with Connor, and her manipulation of him. Poor Connor, poor Angel and poor Cordy.

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    Cordy isn't actually manipulating Connor in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It isn't until the spell in Spin the Bottle that they "wake [Jasmine] up." Right now Cordy is genuinely suffering from amnesia and has no idea who she is. Which makes the creepy sexual vibes (the hand on her breast) even grosser, to be honest.

    Lorne also expresses in Waiting in the Wings that he's attracted to Cordy and would make a move if he thought she'd be interested in him. So I would definitely say he isn't gay.

    To catch up. I like Season 4 overall but these 3 episodes are a pretty big slog for me....

    Ground State:

    Positives I like the flashback scene to Gwen's childhood (it's *very* X-Men) and I think the actress has a lot of charisma overall

    Negatives I agree with Priceless that the Angel/Gwen kiss is pretty unnecessary and cringeworthy. It doesn't even make sense. Why would Gwen jolting Angel's heart make him want to kiss her of all things


    The House Always Wins:

    Positives Honestly, I'm not a fan of giving Angel too much backstory during his ensouled pre-Buffy days as I think it lessens his self-imposed exile during that time but I do like hearing him talk about his history with the Rat Pack. I also like Angel knocking down the angel gargoyle when watching Connor spar with the vampire

    Negatives Mm I'm not a fan of this one. The Vegas backstory doesn't really work for me and I find the story pretty dull overall.


    Slouching Towards Bethlehem:

    Positives I love Cordy reading her Sunnydale High year book and the references to the Mayor's ascension.

    Negatives Ok, so having Connor's hand cup Cordy's breast is so gross and unnecessary. I also don't buy for one moment that Cordy a) became such a formidable fighter in such a short period of time and b) that she was such a formidable fighter that she supposedly knows how to battle on pure instinct. Nuh-uh. There's no evidence of this in Season 3 at all.
    "You've got ... a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself."

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    Supersymmetry

    Positive: A very well written, well paced episode, showing the changes within all the main relationships within the show, how some are moving closer and others further apart. It certainly asks some serious questions.

    Negative: I dislike this episode. The couples might be moving and changing, but nothing to the good. Everyone is pretty selfish, cruel and desperate to get what they want, not caring who they hurt in the process. Fred is mentally ill, at least suffering from PTSD, she needs real help and all they can do is help her enact revenge. Wesley wants her so much he's willing to do anything. It's gross. I find them gross.

    Cordy/Connor are the gross version of Cordy/Angel. Wesley/Lilah are like watching two rattle snakes mating. I just hate all these relationships.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Spin The Bottle

    Positive: So much to love in this episode (written and directed by Whedon of course) Love the opening, and the conceit of Lorne telling a story from a stage. Loved the Cangel of it all. The dialogue is so funny, and I'm so glad Angel didn't revert to his terrible Irish accent.

    These lines alone crack me up every time:

    GUNN - Don't be giving me orders. I run my own crew.
    WESLEY - I'm sure your seafaring adventures are very interesting, but I have experience of things you couldn't imagine. I'm not head boy for nothing.

    Connor and Angel discussing their terrible fathers is fun.

    Negative: Fred and Wesley's lingering looks and shared secrets, and Gunn out in the cold. Wes pulling a weapon on Gunn, Wesley's deeply annoying self pity 'I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me' . . . you kidnapped a child Wesley. Take some responsibility for what you did man, and how it affected others.

    When is Lorne telling this story? Could this be set in S5?

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    Apocalypse, Nowish

    Positive: The Beast is great, I love his show of power and how he beats down Angel. Lilah dressed as Fred, lot of complex things going on there, between them and Fred/Gunn -I've put it as a positive because I know it's interesting story telling, but I don't actually like it. I do like that it's Gunn who solves the 'puzzle', showing how off his game Wesley really is (also shown by his use of guns)

    Negative: Wes/Lilah Fred/Gunn Connor/Cordy (the only good couple were Lorne/Angel) I find it all so despairing and depressing. I am guessing that people who hate Spuffy actually feel like this during BtVS S6 , that terrible slog through the hopelessness and just praying it'll be over soon. I used to enjoy S4 but each time I see it, I dislike it more.

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    Habeas Corpses

    Positive: Great claustrophobic setting; everyone wondering around in the dark at W&H, with the the dead becoming zombies. Love Angel's snark. Poor Connor, he's not emotionally equipped to deal with any of this and doesn't understand his part in it, but love his 'like you' lines.

    Negative: Wes/Fred/Gunn love triangle was only a minimal irritation, but the way Wes touches her when he says 'we need to get you to safety' makes me roll my eyes. Bit of a cop out that the little girl saves them all

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    Yak! This thread has moved so fast!

    Okay, here's mine up to Habeas Corpses:

    Ground State:

    Positive: Agree with Priceless that it's great to see the old gang working together again for a good cause - to find out what happened to Cordelia.

    Negative: Gwen is interesting, but she's only developed halfway towards a genuine character. It feels like a tryout for a possible "new" character that didn't quite work. I'm also not a big fan of the campy "Cordy in the Sky" scenes. Too silly for me.


    The House Always Wins:

    Positive: I know the episode is a total throwaway, but it's always fun to see location shooting outside of Los Angeles and I always love Lorne. It's too bad the storyline wasn't better.

    Negative: It feels like the sister episode to Beer Bad or Wrecked - Alcohol, drug addiction and gambling are BAAAAAD for you!!! See how it ruins your life!

    As to Lorne's sexuality, I think that demons are more openly pansexual because they don't necessarily share the same genetic structure as human beings in terms of determining a specific sexual orientation or gender. They also don't have the same religious/cultural prohibitions. Like Angel and Spike, I'm sure that Lorne has had sex with men - and probably sex with women as well. But I'm not sure the character ever self-identifies as anything in particular.

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem:

    Positive: I love how Lilah's phone call is all a ruse and Wesley falls for it. And I love how she tells Wesley that she could have murdered Lorne - but spared him for Wesley's sake.

    Negative: There's something off-putting for me when Angel allows a Cordelia who can't even remember who she is to live with Connor when it's clear that he's emotionally unstable. And what's up with that drooling Sugar-Sugar guy? Why is Lorne trying to help him?


    Supersymmetry:

    Positive: : Silly dialogue that still made me laugh: "Like, yeah, you're Angel, right? There are whole forums on you in chat rooms, man! Who knew you actually, like, existed?"

    Negative: Not a big fan of Gunn and Angel warning Fred that she'll go to Hell if she kills her professor - I would think they'd have better moral reasoning than "You'll burn in Hell, booga, booga!" And does this mean that Gunn is now headed for Hell to save Fred? It's too reductionist for me and I hate that it breaks up Gunn and Fred when it was borderline self-defense since the Prof was trying to suck them through the portal.


    Spin the Bottle:

    Positive: This is Angel's Tabula Rasa and it's truly delightful. Angel freaking out in the bathroom makes the whole episode worthwhile for me.

    It's very "Monsters on Maple Street" Twilight Zone with everyone afraid that the other is a monster.

    Negative: Connor again for me - the writers just don't seem to know what to do with him except have him attack Angel at every turn and try to block his father from seeing Cordelia. I actually like the character and wish that the writers had given him a more interesting part to play than just act as a foil to Angel and a tool to Jasmine.


    Apocalypse Nowish:

    Positive: Great super villain - the Beast is very convincing! There's some amusing dialogue in this episode: Lilah mocking Wes's crush on Fred: LILAH: (in Southern accent) "Oh, forget about that evil witch. Let's talk about me. I'm good and pure and science turns me on, and-and one day (puts hands together in prayer) if I pray hard enough and eat all my vegetables, I just might just have hips."

    Plus this bizarre dialogue: LORNE: "Snakes? Uh-huh. And they came out of your what? OK, OK, well, did they get up there themselves or is this part of a - you know - a thing. No, I'm not judging."

    Negative: Connor and Cordy having sex at the end. Sigh.


    Habeas Corpses:

    Positive: I really like the intensity of the Beastly Apocalypse - I think this is one of the strongest episodes of Season Four. When the W&H lawyers lurch all over the place, I crack up every time. Also, the lever hidden in the toilet paper - poor Gavin never had a chance.

    Negative: The ending was a total cop-out - they're just magically taken out of the building and away from the Beast instead of finding a more clever way out. And I miss Cordelia - she's no longer a part of the gang.
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    Long Days Journey

    Positive: Angel goes through all the emotions and I'm here for him. I especially love his rousing speech to the troops and his efforts to make Cordy jealous. I really enjoy this story, credited to Mere Smith. I like Manny and the Beast, and love all the twists and misdirects - it is a locked room mystery and who doesn't love those. Even Gwen seems to have purpose and works well within the team.

    Negative: There aren't many negatives here at all, especially if you pretend you don't know Cordy isn't really Cordy, which is the only thing that spoils it, because we know it's all just manipulation. I think it's also really stupid of Wes to suggest bringing forward Angelus, and I'm sorry, but Angel's face at the very end is just comical.

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    Ok, now I can try to catch up with the group.

    Deep Down:

    Positive: Angel's dreams and Lilah decapitating Linwood have already been mentioned. This is a really strong ep. I liked it all. Wesley rescuing Angel is fascinatingly played. Justine's imprisonment is one of the most borderline, grey ethical choices made in the 'verse. Angel telling Dream!Connor that "I should have killed you when I had a chance" and Wesley assuming that Angel was saying it to him because, well, Angel TRIED to kill him really says it all about Angel's rapidly depreciating moral stance. Wesley feeding Angel directly from his arm after Angel made the homicidal statement really gets at how IMO Wesley has a deathwish following the events of S3 but is just trying not to blatantly take the coward's way out. I have trouble articulating WHY but Wesley leaving Gunn/Fred trying to start a fight with "He'll need more blood. I'm fresh out" thrills me to no end.

    Negative: I agree with American Aurora. The exposition is OTT. I also wish that we got more information on Justine's living conditions to better parse the situation.

    Ground State

    Positive: As opposed to Priceless, the Wesley/Angel scene is my favorite. I loved Wesley's "aloofness". Angel tried to kill Wesley and as far as Wesley knows, Angel said he wanted him dead last episode. I really don't see clear to another way Wesley can behave. Besides, I think Wes actually called it entirely correct on what Angel wanted out of this conversation. Angel was inspired to see Wes because of his search for Cordelia. While I believe there's truth in Angel's "We're OK" comment, I do think at this point, Angel was just "OK' with Wesley for the purposes of working together. So yeah, skip the chit-chat and hand over the folder. It was actually very good and trusting of Wesley to hand over his summer's work to find Cordelia to Angel so that Angel can finish it off and make the final call. This is generally a dull episode. The only other good scene is Lilah and her "evil errands." Even the Weslah scene is just exposition with heavy breathing between.

    Negative: Yeah as I said, I don't care for this episode. I agree again with American Aurora that Gwen was an interesting concept but she feels like half-a-character because she was never developed. The heist is boring. I feel like there are no tricks or intrigue beyond Angel and Gwen applying their superpowers. The Angel/Gwen kiss is stupid.

    Could be a positive or a negative, but the Fred/Gunn scene grates. She yells at him just after he came back from the hospital after a near-death experience....because he nearly died. Yet, Fred is yelling because she's cracking under the pressure of what had been very difficult and sad months and Gunn responds by cracking, "I don't know what kind of alien female thing" (Ats Sexism Watch hits again!). I don't care that they end the scene in a hug. The scene is a negative, only turn positive as foreshadowing for them breaking up.

    The House Always Wins

    Positive: Actually, it's the Weslah phone sex conversation. "I'm not waiting at the door with a scowl and a burnt pot roast." Without the references to the supernatural and good/evil, that's how kinky yuppies plan their hook-ups. ;-) This series was increasingly missing that verisimilitude. I like the *concept* that Lorne fits in as a headliner in Vegas. I just wish better stuff was done with it.

    Negative: The rest of the ep sucks. I flat-out don't buy that destinies could be stolen and then, bought/sold like that to perfect strangers. It's just nonsense-mythology wise. For a series that made "If nothing we do matters, than all that matters is what we do" into a mantra, the writers sure like to DESTROY that by presenting this idea of immutable destinies that can't be altered or revoked no matter what personality holds that "destiny-chip." I hate the Rat Pack/Bugsy stories. I'm a HUGE Frank Sintra/Dean Martin fan. (Just looked it up- I could listen to my Frank Sinatra playlist for 9 hours and 20 minutes straight.) But Angel's comment wasn't funny or interesting about the group. It was pure name-dropping. And ugh, so not long after Angel was so isolated and paralyzed with guilt and inaction and hurt that left Judy and the other hotel denizens to be food for the Thesulac, he had the social skills and bonhomie to rub shoulders with the *Rat Pack*. It only works as part of an effort to get the audience to see Angel as a bad guy. Which, I even think is part of late S3-S5 but I don't think the history needs to do that when Angel's S3-5 descent is largely how he badly reacts to present-day tragedies and stress. I actually like all of Angel's post-soul history except for this (because of the character assassination) and Why We Fight (because it's boring and messes with the mythology for no apparent reason.)

    Slouching Toward Bethlehem

    Positive: Look, I wouldn't say that I *enjoy* Amnesia!Cordelia but she's actually kind of the best version of Cordelia between S3 and Jasminified!Cordelia. I don't believe Cordelia's "Tact just isn't saying true stuff" applies to how she bullied her way through SHS but I actually do believe that early!Cordelia (admirably) wanted people to tell her the truth instead of just rushing to agree with her. It's why she felt so lonely in Out of Mind, Out of Sight. it's why she fell for Xander and Doyle. It's refreshing that the re-set version of Cordelia, without Angel's influence, reaches for that honesty again.

    The opening where Connor rescues that family but then, they run away from him as a "freak" is heart-breaking.

    Negative: The episode was very dull. And yeah, what was with Lorne's client?

    Supersymmetry

    Positive: Finally, a good episode! S4 is my favorite but I agree that the 3 eps before were dull. It's skillful writing to give Gunn, Fred, and Wesley their own roles in killing Seidel even if they're coming from entirely different places. AA excellently played back-sliding into her cave girl persona after the portal opened above her head on stage.

    Negative: Gunn could be written as dim, even though he's intelligent but uneducated. One example is when it takes him way too long to figure out why Angel would turn the Hyperion lobby into an auditorium the day after Fred was sucked into a portal in an auditorium.
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    Awakening

    Positive: I really enjoy the conceit of it, with the audience believing this is all really happening. It's so believable, even though it plays into Angel's dreams of what true happiness is. So many other tv shows have done this, the easy answers, everything works out okay in the end, but real life (and the buffyverse) aren't like that and there are no easy answers and very few happy endings. Such an interesting (if not particularly likeable) episode.

    Negative: The way Angel and Angelus are discussed at two individual people is annoying. Is this all Angel's dream, so he see's Wesley bossing Gunn about 'Gunn put another lock on the door' 'Gunn see if he's got anything on him'. Is this how Angel sees Wes and Gunn's relationship? Is this how he sees Connor and Cordy? Fred gets to glance at Wes once or twice - is this something Angel realises is happening or is it in in his subconscious? Or is this how Wo Pang sees them all? Who designed the illusion, is it all Angel?

    I feel sorry for Cangel fans, who thought this was it, their ship was going to happen for reals.

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    Spin the Bottle

    Positive: This is my second favorite comedy ep in the 'verse after Doppelgangland. It's sublime. All of the "teenagers" are played very well, including Actual Teenager Connor. The non-enspelled dramatic scenes are generally excellent too. At first I thought Lorne's narration was weird but after Local_Max said that it could be Lorne describing how the team fell apart after Lorne left AI after the events of NFA, I've come to LOVE Lorne's narration. Because yeah, this spell that woke up Jasmine was a crucial part of when the wheels came off the AI wagon and Lorne was the one who proposed the spell hoping to fix everything. Very sad.

    To pick something small, Wesley's collapsible swords do SO MUCH in the story. They're a very cool weapon in Wesley's apartment. Then, they're a symbol of Wesley's severe PTSD and belief that he has to be armed to the teeth when going to the Hyperion. They're a heady armed threat to Gunn's effort at muscular intimidation/fight. Then between teen!Wes and teen!Gunn, they're both a division point giving teen!Gunn a reason to be mistrustful and aggressive but also a homoerotic buddy cop bonding point as they're the only two ones who'd know the utility of a hidden wooden stake because they were the only teens who knew about the supernatural. They're an example of teenage gawkiness and klutziness. They're an example of Wes's uncontrollable lust for Fred, whether as a teen or an adult. Just...these are some hard- working swords is all.

    Negative: Angel walking into the hotel room where Cordelia's showering so that he could see her just wrapped in a towel. I think that scene was trying to retcon that Cordelia and Angel were so in love that Cordelia no longer had her self-proclaimed "Personal Bubble!" from S2. However throughout S3, I never got the impression that their bodies were so intimate that Angel didn't have to knock when Cordelia was showering. He didn't see her naked in S1-3. Cordelia always maintained her own apartment. Even if they were that close, I'd still think Angel was inappropriate to go into a bedroom where Cordelia is showering because Cordelia has amnesia and wouldn't have the same comfort level. However, that does work for a story that BOTH Connor and Angel are trying to take sexual liberties with amnesia!Cordelia.

    Apocalypse, Nowish

    Positive: Pretty much every Angel/Lilah scene rocks and they were particularly good in S4."Vindict on your own time." LOL. I enjoyed the detail that the W&H psychics' heads exploded when they tried to interpret Lorne's reading of Cordelia. On a first time watch, it's an awesomely gruesome creepy detail. On second watch, it makes even greater sense that Jasmine wanted to keep her arrival under wraps and also righteously smite the evil W&H staff to bring world peace. I liked how S4 made clear that the humans who work at W&H actually aren't excited to see the apocalypse on their doorstep. They're like a metaphor for oil and gas executives from the 1960s on re: climate change- ushering in apocalyptic conditions (with the help of all of the humanity's instincts to be selfish) but of course, they don't want the earth's temperature raised to the breaking point while they're alive. They ideally want to live comfortably in a functioning world right now for the price of future generations' world ending.

    Negative: The Cordelia scenes are dull. I think that they should have had Cordelia return with her S1-2 charm and hilarity like being a Higher Power refreshed her ala You're Welcome. Give her pretty clothes and long, dark hair extensions and a big smile and very funny lines- while she's still playing Connor and Angel against each other and orchestrating Jasmine's plans.

    That said, it's a positive when you consider Connor's side of it. Cordelia's side of their relationship has little interest other than the twist at the end. However, Connor's side is just *heart-breaking.* It makes complete sense why she would come across as the love of Connor's life. He's sexually naive but teenage horny and she offers sex. She comes with this authority of having been a Higher Power who sees that Connor is Good, even though he doubts it. She was also part of AI but is alienated from Angel and actually chose to live with Connor instead of with Angel.

    Habeas Corpses

    Positive The Wesley/Lilah rescue is my favorite by some margin. Her "You gotta be kidding me" when Wesley throws a grenade at the Beast like ONCE AGAIN Wesley is caught up with his toys and gadgets cracks me up. I love the twistiness that Lilah only told Wesley that Connor was in the building because she loves Wes and he awoke some buried spark of decency in her.....but she didn't tell Wesley that Connor was in the building for the entire rescue because she's an evil bitch who only cared about getting her own ass out alive and in fact, was ready to start murdering Connor to experiment on him only two minutes before the Beast got in the building so of course, would use the last exit out of W&H on herself.

    On another note, I love Amy Acker's face when Angel barks at Fred to get a move on right after melodramatically telling Cordelia that he can't risk losing her.

    Negative: I agree that the White Room was too easy a fix to get the gang out of W&H. (Although I LOVE the images around that. The Little Girl being drained. The Beast approaching the gang in a completely white room. Lorne looking confusedly at his drink when the gang suddenly materialized in the lobby.) The staging is odd in the Wesley/Fred/Gunn part of the zombie fight. It's not clear why Gunn couldn't stay with Wesley/Fred to run to the room without the zombies or how Gunn was able to take so many zombies alone.

    Long Day's Journey

    Positive: I enjoy the Ra-Tet mythology. I wish we had more time with it. Magic and the supernatural had become so baked into everything in the 'verse that it's an interesting concept that these totems of both good and evil uphold purely natural elements crucial to human survival like the sun. I mean, it's very hard to reconcile how the epic apocalyptic events in S4 conveniently never make it to Sunnydale in S7. However taking out the sun really leads to the NOTHING IS SACRED mythos that makes S4 my favorite season of AtS.

    Negative: I'm trying not to place "good guy" characters behaving poorly (but in-character and interestingly) as a negative. However, at some point, the behaving badly becomes tedious and we start to wonder whether there's a plot in AtS early S4 that's NOT about a love triangle. Gunn really reached that point when he objected to throwing the Beast out of this dimension with a portal because well, portal-y stuff gives Gunn the sads after the events of Supersymmetry hurt his romance with Fred. What does one thing have to do with the other?

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    Soulless

    Positive: DB's performance is just great. He's dropping those truth bombs all over the place and he was so much fun and you can tell he's enjoying himself.

    Negative: Fred and Wesley are unbearable. They should have just been honest with Gunn, instead of being so cruel.

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    Awakening

    Positive: This is really exquisite. I find it completely believable as the dream Angel would have in order to achieve perfect happiness. On rewatch, the Connor stuff particularly stands out for how much Angel bends and twists Connor into his conception of a Good Son. By the end reconciliation scene, Connor doesn't even act like a person/normal son let alone anywhere near himself.

    CONNOR: Like I'd let you take all the credit for saving the world? You're right. It is harsh. And cruel. [Cordelia] was the only thing that made it hurt less.
    ANGEL: Connor...
    CONNOR: But it's not me. I could feel it in her touch, in her eyes. (looks down) She loves you. It's always been you.
    ANGEL: I'm sorry.
    CONNOR: (smirks) She was too old for me anyway. Is this what it feels like, being a champion?
    ANGEL: (smiles) Pretty much.

    I was looking for a GIF of Willow in Into the Woods saying, "I don't say that! No one says that. No one talks that way. to Anya. Really, how many guys respond to romantic rejection by telling the favored guy that he could feel that he wasn't wanted all along in the lady's eyes, in her touch? I doubt I can count them on both hands. Why initiate such detailed humiliation-porn? Well-adjusted teenagers that love their parents may praise their parents as a "hero" or an "amazing person." But generally, 18-year olds aren't looking for their parents to define the very feeling of being a Champion. They tend to want to define their good moments on their own.

    Also, points to Connor for saying that Angel *is* Angelus at the start of the episode before the dream starts. That key part of the mythology takes a beating in this Angelus arc culminating the dreadful split in Orpheus between Angel v. Angelus. It was entirely fair for Connor to say that everyone was quick to accuse him of working for the Beast but ALL OF A SUDDEN, distinctions are made when the Beat ups and accuses Angel. But Angel acts like Connor is the ******* for pointing out such truth.

    Negative: I hate romance!Cangel. I think my record is pretty clear on that. It still bothers me that Angel calls out "Buffy" when he climaxes. It feels too much like writers stirring the pot of our little online debates. "Oooh, did Angel call for Buffy because Buffy is his twu wub or because Angel was reliving the last time he lost his soul through sex?" Our little online debates don't need shit-stirring. We do that fine on our own! Mind you, I wouldn't be averse to an Awakening where SMG guest-stars and Angel's dream features Buffy saying, "Oh, Angel. I heard you saved the world! I LOOOOOOOVE you. Let's have sex" and then, Angel loses his soul with sex with Buffy while Cordelia is shunted aside as just a platonic friend. Because that's a clear story but this...isn't.

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    Calvary

    Positive: Another great ep for DB, I just love this Angelus, he's a nasty little man, manipulating everyone around him. Lorne has some great lines. Like the reveal that The Beast is actually working for someone even more powerful, it's good storytelling and I like the way it ups the stakes. The shock ending is great, I'd love to know what people thought had happened to Cordy and what it meant.

    Negative: I hate Fred and Wesley. Wesley's mealy mouthed 'oh, not because of what I did?' just irritates, followed by 'I think this is the part where I try to say I'm sorry' is just unbearable. I just don't understand Fred's upset at the thought of Wes/Lilah, her jealousy is ridiculous.

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    Soulless

    Positive: Angelus is definitely the star here. Angelus isn't "smarter" than Angel or any of that nonsense. Instead, Angel is confined by his conscience, his own urges, and even more, the expectations of others to stay in specific lanes. On BtVS, Angel saw Buffy and doing good things as the only routes to claw himself out of his depression and misery so souled!Angel willfully turned off his powerful sense of observation to anything else. On AtS, Angel gets more "lanes" in the sense of leadership and family and friends but he still consciously turns a laser-focus only on the "lanes" that will alleviate his pain at present. Those lanes constantly evolve depending on the state of Angel's life. There's a lot of examples but I don't think any are as poignant in how Angel had a laser-focus on being a dad in S3 when he thought it would make him happy but then, neglected Connor in S4 when Connor brings him pain. The thing about Angelus is that he isn't in any pain. He doesn't have to confine himself to one set of interests to protect his feelings or advance in his redemptive goals. He can use his keen observational strengths and social skills with whomever, all depending on who's around and there to torment. S2 BtVS richly shows that in how Angelus bounces with ease between playing a destructive role in the Spike/Dru dynamic and then, tormenting Buffy/the Scoobies while souled Angel in early S2 could only interact with Buffy. AtS S4 Angelus becomes extremely disappointing but this is definitely his best episode and it's an *excellent* one in how he bounces around tormenting every member of his group (but Lorne who didn't come down to the basement).

    I think that also adds resonance to Connor's scene with Angel where Connor says that "Angel" is just a persona that "Angelus" is forced to wear. Morally speaking, I wouldn't entirely agree. With the big important exception of Reprise, ensouled Angel chooses to maintain his soul every day and I believe that the people around him accurately guess that Angel would want his soul back when it's stripped from him in BtVS S2 and AtS S4. However from a personality/desire perspective, Connor hits the nail on the head. The Hannibal Lector-like brain that Angelus demonstrates is absolutely Angel's brain as well. It's just that Angel is forced to distance/silence his darkest thoughts. The soul is incredibly constraining, especially for 250+ year demon with all of these concordant expectations from TPTB, W&H, friends, souled lovers, etc. In key senses, the soul is a straight-jacket.

    Negative: See, I'd never put Wesley's choice to kiss Fred as Negative. Yes, he was very, very wrong. However, his motivations were very clearly and effectively written, he was in character, and it was interesting from his end. That's all I ask for. (I also find it sympathetic but wrong. I pretty much agree with Wesley's anger with Gunn. Apocalyptic conditions heighten the need for physical intimacy, which was intentional further heightened by Angelus engineering a situation where he seemed to almost kill Fred but for Wesley's rescue. Plus, Fred indicated interest. Wesley was completely wrong on every level to Gunn, Fred, and the team and world at large but like, I *get it*.)

    HERE'S MY NEGATIVE. Fred's motivations are hopelessly opaque. She really is reduced to just being an object to be fought over. First, I have no idea why she lingers over the drink cart by Angelus's cell for an interminable length of time until she can predictably get taken as a hostage. I really have empathy for Buffyverse character making tactical errors during the heat of battle. I know my klutzy ass would screw up a lot if I was quaking in their stylish but affordable boots. BUT THIS ISN'T THE HEAT OF BATTLE. Fred had one easy job. Deliver the drink cart as quickly as possible and immediately take it back once Angel took the blood and moved to the back of the cage. Why wait gazing at Angel after Angel took the blood off the cart so that Angel can move to the cart and capture her?

    And then in a second rendition of DON'T POKE THE BEAR, I don't know how Fred ever thought it was a good idea to tell Wesley that she thinks his crush is "very sweet" and there's "nothing wrong with it." It's just such a bizarre thing to do from a woman who supposedly doesn't have feelings for Wesley and wants to remain Gunn's girlfriend. There's an element of disloyalty to Gunn in supporting Wes's crush by saying there's nothing wrong with it and it's very sweet. It's also a bizarre thing to do from a woman who supposedly wants to be Wesley's friend. It rubs salt in the wound to condescendingly tell Wesley that there's nothing wrong with him holding a going-nowhere-crush in perpetuity. But then, Fred also never acts like a woman who wants to leave Gunn for Wesley or has decided that she prefers Wesley. She argues to try to keep her relationship with Gunn in this season, and she doesn't get with Wesley other than a whole season later.*

    The most likely explanation is the most cynical one. Fred wasn't as love with Gunn or Wesley as they both were with her but she found both of them attractive and she liked being Gunn's girlfriend while also having the ego boost of Wes pining for her in perpetuity. However, I don't want to tag Fred with such a cynical read when the writing doesn't explain anything. I'm left saying that there's no real way to contemplate Fred OTHER than as an object with no real motivations of any kind, be they cynical or romantic, until we get to The Magic Bullet.

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    Salvage

    Positive: I really enjoy Connor wanting to kill Angel, his negativity makes me laugh, he's such a teenage boy. Faith's return is really well done and it's good to see her and I like how she takes control. Angel is still fun and I liked him ringing Buffy.

    Negative: One emotional obstacle to Wes and Fred being together is removed, now if only Gunn would go away. I wish Lilah has survived so she could constantly barrack Wes/Fred as Wes did to Gunn/Fred. Wesley having the deep dark midnight of the soul and Lilah being used like this is very much in the style of AtS - the woman is sacrificed so the man can learn and grow and change. Wesley 'testing' Faith is so arrogant, so 'old style watcher', when she's already proved herself by breaking out of prison.

    It makes little sense for Angel to destroy The Beast and return daylight. Even if he thinks Angel was lying about that happening, he must have at least suspected it, he's not such a fool.

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