Angel: Soulless

Fred: "Remember, we can't believe anything Angelus says."
Gunn: "How 'bout the stuff that's true? Can we believe that?"

Angel has been simply outrageous this season. They've been taking big chances, setting characters against each other and creating some fascinating conflict, and now they've brought back the ultimate Mr. Hyde, Angelus himself, free once more to be master manipulator and button-pusher. How long did it take Angelus to goad Wesley and Gunn into a fistfight? Fifteen minutes?

Angelus zeroed right in on each person's weaknesses with perfect aim. Wesley fended off the first few forays (Fred, Faith, his father, his former nerdy self), but was pushed into making an unexpected pass at Fred anyway. Othello and Desdemona, a.k.a. Gunn and Fred, were hit hard. Angelus went right for Gunn's insecurities and jealousy issues with Wesley, and Fred's uncharacteristically uninhibited sexuality. I was blown away when Wesley made that unexpected move on Fred. Wow.

Daddy Darkest had Connor all freaked in record time, too, zeroing in on his vulnerabilities – Cordelia, Darla, Holtz. I loved the reference to Oedipus: "Doing your mom and trying to kill your dad? There should be a play." Connor believed, or said he believed, that Angelus was his real father and that Angel was something that Angelus was forced to wear, like a bad outfit. But I wondered if perhaps Connor was protesting too much and missing Angel, after all.

The one person who seemed best able to deal with Angelus was Cordelia, who has seen him before. What on earth could she be thinking, though? Was she really thinking Angelus would want to either screw her or kill her (probably both) so much that he would tell her the truth about the Beast?

The writers didn't pull any punches whatsoever, and David Boreanaz delivered his lines with vicious glee. One thing I noticed this time is that Angelus' comments, particularly those about women, could be taken as being about either sex or death; it was like they were the same thing to him. (Like when he was discussing Fred, and talking about her being a little too bony for him; what exactly did Angelus want to do with her?) Angelus, interestingly enough, doesn't understand Angel. He was curious about Angel's perfect day Raiders of the Lost Ark fantasy. And even though Angelus was pretty free with the references to Shakespeare, Sophocles and Spielberg, I'm pretty certain that Angel is the reader, not Angelus or Liam.

Los Angeles was trapped in darkness and overrun by vampire tourists, so many that Connor couldn't make a dent in them. And the Beast had already killed the Svear priestesses who supposedly banished him before. But wait... I thought the Beast wanted Angelus to kill the priestesses in 1789 because the Beast himself couldn't – "some kind of mojo." If the Beast couldn't kill the priestesses, who did? And were they just red herrings in the first place?

Okay, show of hands. How many of you knew that the safe would be empty at the end of the episode? All of you? I'm just wondering how long it will be until he's out of the box and running amuck. There would have to be some amuck before Angel got his soul back.

Bits and pieces:

— Lorne called Fred "Sugarplum," Gunn "Kiwi," and Cordelia "Sweet Potato" and "Honeybuns." Not to be outdone, Angelus referred to the Beast as "Big Beastie," "Lava Boy" and "Horny Giant."

— Having Connor wearing Angel's shirt was just a tad too transparently symbolic. But I must admit that Connor looks good in black.

— Angelus sang a simple song when he was alone; it went, "If you go into the woods tonight, you won't believe your eyes." I keep seeing Sunnydale parallels. Spike was singing a similar song when he was under the control of the First.

— This episode was directed by Sean Astin, of Lord of the Rings fame.

Quotes:

Angelus: "Hey, open book. Anything you want to know. How sweet that virgin gypsy tasted, the special smell of a newborn's neck. My first nun... now that's a great story."

Angelus: "Let's talk about Cordy, shall we? Huh? Now there's a rack to write home about. Too bad about the personality, though. Yap, yap, yap, yap. 'Oh, god, Angel. Oh, Angel, we can't. I love you but you were so bad. You ate babies.' Chicks."

Lorne: "Oh, for the love of Mike Tyson."

Angelus: "Is that my shirt?"
Connor: "Not anymore."
Angelus: "Looks good on you... son."
Connor: "So did Cordy."
Angelus: "She looks good on everybody."

Angelus: "And now my boy's in love, all hearts and flowers. But doesn't it freak you out that she used to change your diapers? I mean, when you think about it, the first woman you boned is the closest thing you've ever had to a mother. Doing your mom and trying to kill your dad... hmm, there should be a play."

Four out of four stakes, of course.

Billie
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Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

2 comments:

XandraGrl said...

I don't really get the whole soul-in-a-bottle thing. Angel lost and regained his soul before and never needed a bottle for it. So why is the bottle necessary? I also didn't realized that a soul was supposed to be a substantial thing that could be entrapped.

BahiaPortfolio said...

I always enjoy David B as Angelus. It really shows his range as an actor, and he's such a fun evil character. Though the plot is a little convoluted this season with SO MUCH stuff happening, I like that the writers found a way to bring Angelus back.