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Angel Season 5 Rewatch - #22 Not Fade Away

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  • Angel Season 5 Rewatch - #22 Not Fade Away

    Greeting rewatchers! I hope you enjoyed viewing our very last episode, the legendary Not Fade Away

    A prompt to get us started:
    • What are your general impressions of this episode?
    • What did you like/dislike about it?
    • What did they get right and what could have been done better?
    Optional talking points:
    • Was this a fitting ending to Angel’s story?

    “Let’s go to work.”

    Many words come to mind when describing this finale – stunning, brilliant, powerful –
    so the praise I’m about to heap on this episode, I believe, is highly warranted.

    “Regrettably, there’s something stronger than loyalty: hope.”

    Finally we reach the fork in the road in Angel’s pursuit of the Shanshu prophecy… and what a way for it to go. That Angel would sacrifice his one shot at humanity to try to take down the power elite of the Apocalypse speaks volumes about were we started with Angel and where he is now. Helping the helpless was a goal in itself, but it soon became attached to the possibility of becoming human again, so to sign away the future he had always wanted to protect humanity without reward is a stunning turn of events, and it shouldn’t go unacknowledged. After all, he may have been trying to make amends, but if there was something in it for him, is he truly making up for the sins of his past? Now that he will remain a vampire, forever protecting others (should he survive the battle ahead), he really has finally achieved true redemption. I think it’s bloody brilliant.

    “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said. For, like, years back.”

    As well as being a dynamite finale, ‘Not Fade Away’ was also a fitting tribute to the series, in the smallest but most significant ways. Lindsey being introduced to the group, albeit for a short stint, really cemented his importance in the series. I also found his ignorant loyalty to Angel in the end rather tragic. Gunn and the double-stakes was a nice touch, Wesley’s loyalty to Angel in question again (albeit by the Circle) a brilliant idea, and Angel vamping one last time, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

    “Good night, folks.”

    We say goodbye to a few characters in this finale, but none hit me more than Lorne’s. That Angel would even suggest that he, of all demons, take out an enemy in Lindsey, was one of the most stunning moments, not only of the episode, but of the series as a whole. Lorne has always been a source of humour and light in this show, so sacrificing Lorne’s innocence left a bitter taste in my mouth, but in the best way possible. After all, his despondency after losing Fred really lended itself to his agreeing to complete this horrific task. Andy Hallett’s performance in this episode (alongside his performance all season) is really quite remarkable, and I’m grateful he got an opportunity to really display his talents on a platform like AtS before his untimely passing

    “Would you like me to lie to you now?”

    Illyria and Wesley reaching something inevitable (to me) is perfectly timed, but so well paced and presented. Not only does Wesley return to helping Illyria since the pretending-to-be-Fred incident, but she also gives him the ultimate gift in a moment with the love of his life… and it’s something to behold. It’s a convincing goodbye, but I also felt like it was Illyria telling Wesley how she really felt about him. She’s spent her time on the season obsessed with the world, humanity, and Wesley, so the kiss and words she gives him felt like it had more meaning than just a lie. It slays me every time.

    “Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn’t have said?”

    Angel taking on Hamilton was a real highlight for me. And the reveal that Angel had already killed Sebassis was fantastic. But the moment he vamps out and drinks from Hamilton really took the cake. What an ingenious way to win a fight, and what a brilliant way to kill off a major bad of the season. It was so satisfying, I needed a cigarette.

    “What if I told you it doesn’t help? What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it’s all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive, and they will never let it get better down here? What would you do?”

    And that’s where it ends, in the back alley of the Hyperion, in the pounding rain (boy, there were some brilliant visuals in this episode), Gunn fading fast, with a couple of vampires and an Old One taking on a colossal task – could you ask for a more powerful and appropriate ending? The story of Angel, and his search for redemption, taking up arms with his loyal allies, probably for the last time, to attempt to end the reign of a society hell-bent on bringing about the Apocalypse, seems like such a fitting end to all of this. It may seem impulsive to others, but I believe that Anne said it all, to Gunn: we fight, even if it only gives relief in the face of unstoppable evil, instead of resolution. Because the battle always goes on… but, in a world of Slayers, Watchers, and vampires with souls, there will always be a hero to fight it.

    Thank you all so much for taking part in this rewatch

    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." ~ Anais Nin

  • #2
    I really like the end and the episode. It's perfect and there is nothing I would change. I've really enjoyed this rewatch thread. Thank you Involvere for organizing it. I've often wished the Buffy rewatch had been set up the same way with one thread per episode. The format for the rewatch really worked for me and I enjoyed the Villain polls too.

    My highlights are Lindsey shock at who killed him, harmony going out in perfect character, Spike's poetry slam, angel finding his peace with Connor and the alley scene and let's go to work line.

    "I like who I am when I'm with him. I like who we are together."


    • Involvere
      Involvere commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you, lovely! It's been a pleasure

  • #3
    Sorry I've not been able to keep up with the timing at all right at the end. I will be watching the final episode and voting in the final poll this week.


    • #4
      Today is the 19th anniversary of Not Fade Away.

      There’s a lot to love in this episode. It ends on an “And the adventure continues…” beat — which may be a last stand, or just a typical day at the office (when your office is a demonic law firm). I liked Spike having some validation with his poetry. I like Angel’s fatalism around the Shanshu prophecy. Oh, and the return of Connor.

      And it does feel like the Fang Gang had crossed so many more lines, I feel for Lorne quitting after his assassinates Lindsay.


      • #5
        Ah, NFA. I have a real love/hate relationship with this episode and still haven't gotten to finishing the rewatch of this season by watching and posting on it. It hasn't slipped out of my to dos though and I will get around to it.

        The final shot is one of my favourite bits. I like the feeling that fight is just going on. I was glad both BtVS and AtS finished with a lot of the characters still standing and a feeling that the story was continuing without you.


        • #6
          One of the most fascinating things about NFA is that it's a Whedon episode. Not only did he have trouble writing good Ats episodes and mentioned how he never got Angel as a character, but the message and ideas about morality and heroes, is completely different from his other work in the 'verse. I can see somebody like Minear deciding that Angel's story should end with him shedding the role of a classic hero and be at peace with it, but Whedon has always held on to a pretty black & white view about the good guys. Only a year prior he wrote Chosen, which is filled to the brim with bombastic hero tropes. And season 5 was about how a drop of black muddles the white paint forever.

          And then there is Not Fade Away, suddenly out of nowhere. Where Chosen was about the triumph of pure good vs pure evil, about everybody becoming a force of good/a hero and the Scoobies surviving the episode. Not Fade Away is about the characters facing an unbeatable evil and in order to slow it down they have to get their hands dirty. A sacrifice that will cost them their lives, but also their status of a hero. Angel even signs away the one thing he always considered his redemption, his reward after enough atonement. The alley fight is the final stand, but it's also the aftermath. The team had already their "victory" in the pocket by then. They won humanity some time. When the sun comes up, they will be dead most likely. And despite that, it's written as something positive. Angel's "I kinda want to kill the dragon" smirk isn't less triumphant than Buffy's smile at the end of Chosen.

          Whedon broke away from his own status quo in his final Buffyverse episode and promptly delivered his best episode in years. And all that under huge time pressure. It's a cool way to go, nearly as cool as slaying a dragon.


          • #7
            Originally posted by PuckRobin View Post
            Today is the 19th anniversary of Not Fade Away.
            I was so pissed when I first saw the episode when it first aired wayyyyyy back in 2004(I was 16 at the time. I feel old). The fight in the alley starts, and the screen went to black, and I was just stunned. I'm pretty sure that my mouth was wide open in shock. I wanted to know what happened. Did they survive? I barely slept that night. I woke up the next day for school still thinking about that ending. Over time I grew to love it, but I still wanted to know what happened next.

            Words can't describe how happy I was when we got Angel After the Fall. Joss had more story to tell with these characters, and I'm glad that we got it in comic book form.

            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            One of the most fascinating things about NFA is that it's a Whedon episode. )
            Don't forget that the episode was co-written/directed by Jeffrey Bell.
            Last edited by Lostsoul666; 19-05-23, 07:32 PM.

            ​​​​They/Them/She pronouns please.


            • #8
              “Not Fade Away” is easily AtS’ best finale. The show weirdly always struggled with season finals with, IMO, most of them being pretty weak and lacklustre, but this is the rare exception where things feel appropriately epic and high-stakes. Of course it was also a series finale so they made free reign to kill off main characters and “bring the house down” but it just blows the other finals out of the water.

              It’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I think it absolutely suffers from the unexpected cancellation and the sudden need to introduce the Circle of the Blackthorn so the characters had something to fight. I think they did pretty well under the circumstances and it was a neat idea bringing back all the one off characters that had appeared throughout the season. However, I wonder if the Senior Partners would have been better adversaries and more emotionally satisfying. They’d been a part of the series since the beginning and other then one appearing in “Reprise” we’d never met them before. I also find the episode very depressing with Angel signing away the Shanshu, Wesley dying, Lorne a broken shell of his former self, Gunn on the brink of death and Angel having done some very questionable things (the brainwashing of the poor senator, ordering the hit on Lindsey and sacrificing Drogyn). It’s also quite sad that none of the characters really feel like friends anymore by this point. The gang openly no longer trust Angel, the goodbyes between each of them are poignant but also noticeably rather cold, and everyone spends their final day apart. It’s brave storytelling and conceptually and objectively I admire it but I can’t say I necessarily enjoy it. It’s hard to rewatch S1 knowing where all these characters will end up

              With that said, there’s so much I love about it. I love the reappearance of Anne, the action sequences are superb, the differing scenes of each character’s final day are very well done, Wesley’s death makes me blubber like a baby and I don’t even like Wesley at this point, I absolutely adore the Angel/Harmony scene and the final alleyway sequence is pretty much perfect. I think it is without a doubt a well-written and directed episode.

              I also find it an interesting episode because reactions to it are so polarising. The cutaway ending itself appears to be a very marmite ending with fans either loving it or finding it very unsatisfying. However, there’s also such a stark contrast in opinions between how fans react to the gang’s plan and wildly different interpretations about what it stands for. Some fans find it inspiring and completely buy into Angel’s speech in “Power Play” and see this as a heroes exit. Others seem to think it was pointless, irresponsible and bleak. I fall somewhere in the middle as I believe in what Angel is saying but I also am troubled about what he had to do to get there. I honestly don’t know how the writers felt or what they ‘intended’ because when you listen to them discuss the final line (“Let’s go to work”) they very much come across as believing this is a heroic ending, however, the script also calls out Angel’s troublesome actions (“any more tips for the viewers at home about how to be a hero?”). I really don’t know.

              ~ Banner by Nina ~


              • #9
                Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                I honestly don’t know how the writers felt or what they ‘intended’ because when you listen to them discuss the final line (“Let’s go to work”) they very much come across as believing this is a heroic ending, however, the script also calls out Angel’s troublesome actions (“any more tips for the viewers at home about how to be a hero?”). I really don’t know.
                Gunn, Angel & Spike had a reason to fight for humanity (Anne/helping the helpless; Connor/the future; art/all that is beautiful in the world), they believed that they did something worth the high price. So they are the ones in that final scene (together with Illyria, who just found a reason to fight after feeling sadness when Wesley died). The way they spend their final days alligns with their motivation. Hanging out together would mean spending your last hours watching people who will die with you. Instead they sought out something they wish to protect.

                Wesley is the one who stayed at home. He had no reason to fight anymore, which is a bad omen in Ats. Faith in 5x5, Angel in Reprise and Connor in Home were all suicidal after they figured out they had nothing to fight for anymore. Not only did Wes die before the others, he also needed a lie to die in peace. Lorne might still have reasons to fight for, but he had trouble making peace with the sacrifice asked of him. Neither is in that final scene, Lorne and Wes don't feel that triumph of protecting something vulnerable despite the high cost.

                And I guess that is the intention of the writers. They present us the idea that not the people fighting, but the fight itself is the most important thing. And they show how hard it is to fight the fight.


                • #10
                  I really dislike the kamikaze plan and feel it is a very desperately bleak note to finish on, so I was absolutely pleased that the story went on in the AtF comics. There isn't much to see as a positive in what they do at the end for me, their choices don't feel inspiring and what happened to get them there were terrible options to go for at several turns. But yes, I do like it being left with them still fighting, but that is because I can imagine them going on to change the mess they'd gotten into through the whole season. Well, most of them could at least.

                  I do think it is an interesting season and that element of the past being something Angel doesn't ever really feel able to move beyond, works well for where he is at the end of the season. But I do think it is a shame that his series ends with him having lost sight of where he started, so he finishes with a big gesture rather than a small act of kindness. The stories are interesting and the character paths and choices too, but I'm just glad I don't feel like that was the final act.