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Positives And Negatives - Season 2

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  • #31
    I just assumed that she thought Angel was an enemy. So from her point of view she was watching her protector protecting her. Angel tells her he is not a threat himself when he first arrives but the Prio demon then attacks him so she might believe that her bodyguard knows better and is doing his job. So it would have been strange if she was yelling to Angel to not hurt the demon when she thinks it is fighting to keep her safe against him I think.
    Yes, I think you are right, she must think Angel is there to hurt her. But I still find it worrying that she says nothing. It plays into the damselling that AtS does a lot in its early episodes, where the woman need rescuing and says or does little to help herself.

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    • #32
      I'm back! I had already provided a positive/negative for AYNOHYEB so wasn't going to again as I went through this season rewatch but I can't help myself and I have to say that I *loved* it just as much as ever. I did still find the idea Judy was still in the hotel problematic (although yes, I'm still loving the tie through on offering forgiveness as a freeing act). And it's not that the Thesulac had her fearing leaving and had been increasing and feeding from her guilt, but it's that she'd managed to survive fifty years in isolation there alone. I mean what did she eat? I didn't actually feel Gunn was shoehorned in so much this time, which was the only other negative I offered before. But then I'm enjoying Gunn's inclusion generally this time around a little more than I have before and I really enjoyed the exchange between him and Wes when they arrived at the hotel (and Wes' worry about being accused of being especially paranoid, ha, just perfect). I mean seriously, I just love that episode. It's easily one of my favourites of the whole series. It's just top drawer. Anyway, I'm supposed to be moving on.

      First Impressions

      Positive - I love the multiple ties to the episode title. Perceptions of others/selves are so often a feature in the shows and here it ties well to the sister episode The Replacement where Xander is learning about himself too. In AtS we're focussing greatly on Gunn's perception of himself, Cordy, Wes and Angel and theirs of themselves as a group, and with plenty of additional snippets of such considerations throughout. From David Nabbit's self conscious appearance but established/proficient financial knowhow, to Angel worrying about wearing the pink helmet that it turns out Wes is going to mock him for, through to the important main reveal that what Angel is experiencing isn't just all a dream as it initially seems but Darla is actually visiting him as he sleeps.

      Negative - It made no sense that Deevak was hiding who he was other than to give the wrong 'first impression'. It didn't fit to the character for any logical reason I could parse out for why he had bothered doing that. Also, I have to say although I enjoyed Cordy's determination and the emphasis it gave to her focus on the mission and wanting to help, and I liked her/Gunn's banter and interactions generally, I found her a bit pious at the end when telling him her visions were telling him about the danger he was being to himself. It came across as quite patronising and leaning to sanctimonious. Perhaps that is supposed to fit the idea of him as being a 'kid' as they kept saying when he was first introduced. But it just doesn't work visually to try to pass off Gunn as so much younger than Cordy.

      --
      I agree with Aurora that Gunn's aggression doesn't come off well, but I don't find it as problematic. But then I didn't find Kate disjointed in S1 either. As I said earlier, I'm warming a bit to Gunn (although I'll be surprised if I enjoy Gunn/Fred any more this time around too). I think as someone who's social situation plays such a key aspect of his arc his bristling at his own leaning towards this new group and discomfort in what it might say about him and his possible desire to leave behind those that he's grown up with, where he has grown up, is interesting. It conflicts to his very real loyalty and deeply felt connections and makes his choices layered. I think I just enjoyed this episode more than I have on previous viewings this time.

      Originally posted by American Aurora 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
      This I agree with though. A little like the issue with Deevak it was the theme of the episode being forced in excessively at times. And I can see vampmogs' point that writer diversity may have helped the episode too. But then I think there is an ongoing issue with how they portray Gunn's roots, so this probably ties to that consistent problem.

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      • #33
        And I continue to steadily rewatch week by week, and so now I'm at...

        Dear Boy

        Positive - I agree with the comments about Angel's scene with Lorne and the Dru flashbacks. I find Dru a character I can enjoy and appreciate more after seeing how horrific and terrifying her experience was. I also appreciate seeing some validation to how deliberate and malicious Angel was as a vamp. Anyway, to name something different and because I'm looking to appreciate him more on this rewatch, I'm going to say Gunn. His logical deduction proving that those already in the house weren't genuine owners or Angel wouldn't have been able to enter is great and emphasises how emotionally driven Kate is behaving. His wariness on hearing Angel can go dark is balanced by his stance on the side of the team he's working alongside until proven to be necessary to change it. I feel there's also an undercurrent of him siding with those that aren't reducing him in the way Kate does as she is trying to keep the situation simplified to sustain her blind anger at Angel and so Gunn's dislike of being reduced to his rap sheet I think plays into where he keeps his loyalty and I think it's layered and works well to character.

        Negative - Like vampmogs I also find the scene with Angel/Darla at the end a bit muddled. There are aspects that I like and I really like the last line from Darla too, but I find the idea that he dragged her out to this secluded location to argue with her strange, especially where he's going to get trapped by the daylight. I also feel some frustration with both the expectation that eventually Darla's guilt will start to kick in but just hasn't yet (a set up for what is to come rather than something that just might not be true for her as I'll go on to mention) and the way his dismissal of having been happy with her when unsouled was presented, rather than his measure of what it means having very significantly changed or the possible depth. Happiness is attributed to having his soul in a simplification and one that apparently she just wouldn't understand. It just feels shallow when he's also readily trying to tell her what being souled will and should bring her regarding feeling guilt.

        Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
        The scene where Angelus first spots Drusilla is a retcon from Becoming I but I don't even mind. You can easily fanwank both of them so it makes sense
        Do you just reason that the original meeting given in Becoming happens later, after having already been shown Dru by Darla as we see here? I can see how it can work if Angel was incidentally in the church and just hadn't expecting Dru to turn up for confession but just took advantage of the situation. Or do you fanwank it to work the other way around and his delight in Darla is in part because he met Dru earlier?

        Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
        But it's still a great scene with some superb lines - Darla's just so deliciously wicked even as a human. "You're hurting me. I like it."
        Yes and at this point it is presented as just being the way she is human/souled, even though Angel implies he expects her attitude could and should change. Obviously it wouldn't necessarily. Some humans are shown to not change much through being vamped and she could be such a one. In fact when we learn more about where she came from as a human in Darla and why she may have such a low belief in human goodness that needs building, she becomes more nuanced than characters such as Harmony, Kralik and the Gorch brothers are presented (as the other main examples off the top of my head).
        Last edited by Stoney; 15-12-18, 03:20 PM.

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        • #34
          Guise Will Be Guise

          Positive - I have to agree with everything that's been said about the Swami scenes. The conversation between him and Angel is so great and in a lovely reflection to Family I especially like the point that he raises to Angel that the people around him give him a reflection. Obviously a lot of the ties between the two shows fall to the abusive fathers, but the family we choose for ourselves and the group you belong in are fundamental aspects to both too. How they perceive him, how he presents himself to them, it's a common theme in both shows but here it's just so relevant for where his story is going to go this season and how he pushes them away and why. I enjoyed the episode more beyond this aspect than when I've watched it before, but overall I still think it's one of the weakest AtS produced.

          Negative - The point of revisiting and establishing the question mark over the misconception that it is just sex that breaks the curse (something it was always clearly more than when it happened before to be honest) sets up for Angel's failed attempt to lose his soul of course but the scene between Wes/Virginia is made all the more awkward by the debating of the curse and makes them both look foolish because of the sudden desperation they grab at each other with despite the theoretical (especially from Virginia's pov) risk. I find the whole romance oddly immature (even though I get their draw to each other as both suffering under abusive fathers). Just not a relationship I'm keen on and the 'in Virginia' gag I just don't find funny, it's a bit childish too.

          Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
          Positives: Lorne. Always love him - always will. I've known guys like him all my life - especially here in New York.
          Yeah it was a good scene between Angel and Lorne and I loved the whole relief everyone felt that Angel didn't have to sing.

          Agree with everyone on the implausibility of Wes managing to convince people that he was Angel.

          Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
          ...it always bugged me that a regular guy is able to give Angel - the vampire - such a run for his money during their sparring sessions.
          I thought the point in that scene was that Angel was holding back and wasn't fighting without restraint. Sure it's overplayed but you can just put it down to his concern he'd hurt the guy and that then feeds into the Swami saying this is still his demon side dictating his choices.
          Last edited by Stoney; 20-12-18, 02:42 PM.

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          • #35
            Ok- I'm gonna be writing about S2 alongside Stoney. Yay!

            Judgement:

            Positive: This ep's strength is the little moments, especially as mentioned Angel/Faith and the cute team-building. I also like the Lilah/Lindsay/Darla scene as well. This is one of my favorite Lilah-lines- "Of course if you don't sign, I'll sue your ass off and kill your children.....Just kidding, Donald! Nobody wants a lawsuit."

            S1 indicated that W&H associates compete with each other but S2 takes it to a whole new level in how a main plot of the season is Lilah and Linday's To!The!Death! competition. I think the scene is a bit of a microcosm of the future dynamics we will see in S2. Lilah is laser focused on the work-place competition as she strides in making hilarious bitchy comments about Lindsay's missing hand as he struggles with the CDs. "You're not handicapped. You're HAND-icapable." IMO, Lindsay through the whole show has an attitude that he doesn't have to openly hustle like ordinary yuppie Lilah if he's just Special and he can mark his Special-ness by getting to sit at the Table with the Superpowered Special Cool Kidz. So, Lindsay's laser focus in this scene is pleasing Darla and presuming that they're tight and understand each other as Lilah can't.

            Negative: I agree that the pregnant women story is dull. (But I agree that the woman was logically too shell-shocked to yell when Angel was killing her demon protector and that doesn't make her stupid.) The Tribunal and jousting was hokey. Also, this may be one of the most unpopular opinions that I hold but I don't think Angel's fixation on Barry Manilow is funny.
            Last edited by Dipstick; 20-12-18, 10:14 PM.

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            • #36
              Aces!

              You are wrong about the Manilow thing though.

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              • #37
                Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been

                Positive: Such a favorite ep! Disclaimer: I'm a white woman but I think this is the best Buffyverse ep to deal with race. Quite the contrast to how the next ep, First Impressions, does a crappy job dealing with racial issues. (I was just thinking about this because my boyfriend and I were discussing how annoying Brad Pitt's White Savior character was in 12 Years a Slave last night.) It finesses how Angel and Judy are connected and feel simpatico because they're Other without equating demons with gay people or black people. Angel and Judy are connected because they're both "passing" as mainstream, they're caught between their Other family and the society that they're passing in, they committed crimes which are eating them up with guilt, etc. However, the script is entirely clear-eyed on the tremendous gap in resources and passing-ability and crime-history between Angel and Judy. Angel felt empathy for Judy in the '50s but he's absolutely not the White Savior character. In fact, the help that Angel gave Judy in the '50s becomes merely a tool for the Thesulac to torture her even more for 50 years because Angel didn't do the work to save her back in the '50s.

                Thesulac: ....And you thought you'd made a friend. News flash! You *had*! That's what made her the *yummiest* morsel of all. You reached her, buddy! Restored her faith in people. Without you she would have been just another appetizer. But you plumped her up good! Now, she's a meal that's gonna last me a lifetime!

                This isn't an episode about fluffing up Angel's character so that Judy's plight looks less dire. Judy's situation WAS that dire.

                Negative: I really love the scene where Angel finds Old!Judy at the hotel and they come to a peaceful finish but the weight of how Judy spent the last 50 years in hell sinks in as she dies. However, as said before, it requires a lot of fanwanking to explain how she survived all of these years trapped in the hotel.

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                • #38
                  First Impressions

                  Postive: There's two incredibly relatable moments in this ep. First, Gunn getting righteously pissy that he's done whatever favor Angel's asked for and how Angel overslept the first time Gunn came around looking for Angel's help. LOL, I've been on both sides of the "How dare you oversleep when you agreed to do me a favor" spat. Second, when Cordelia/Angel/Wesley are tired and a little sore/immobilized from the fight and they just get distracted talking about Denzel Washington while they sit and recover. I haven't fought demons but I've been there in the "Can't get up- too tired. Let's jawbone about pop culture." In fact, I'm kind of doing that right now...

                  I also like that Angel just matter-of-factly has Wesley and Cordelia come along to take care of Deevak and then, Cordelia just takes it upon herself to follow Gunn as his protector. A great thing about early S2 is that IMO it's the most egalitarian form of the gang when it comes to fighting. In S1, Angel typically went off and left Doyle/Cordelia/Wesley back at the office so that he could do the dark avenger thing and his supporting cast was drawn in later on once the plot developed as the climax approached. In S3-4, we get this infamous dynamic of the (masculine presenting) men going off to fight while Cordelia/Fred/Lorne were more likely to stay back and if Cordelia/Fred did enter the fray, there was a lot of melodramatic "Guurrrl Power" back-patting. In S5, we're back to Angel as the lone dark avenger while his crew stays at the office but it's more likely that Spike is in Angel's zone. Early S2 does a particularly good job incorporating every member of AI into more fight scenes long before the climax.

                  Negative: This is more of a complaint on later episodes but Gunn's issues as presented in this ep are never really dealt with. At this point, Gunn's issues are that he's wound too tight and is too angry as he struggles with the demands of leading his gang and that he's traumatized at losing his only family in Alonna. The show "addresses" these issues by having Gunn just move from a leader of his own gang to a follower at AI and to write future eps like Alonna never even existed. On rewatch, it makes this episode frustrating because I never get to see Gunn actually deal with the challenges presented in this ep but instead, these challenges just become a rationale for Gunn to subvert his own story to Angel's. Although, I think you can read the later seasons to say that this was a tragedy in itself.

                  For this ep, I agree with Stoney that Cordelia's big speech at the end was sanctimonious. Cordelia's never been in Gunn's position, as a leader of a vamp-fighting gang, as someone who grew up poor, or as someone who lost someone like a sister. She hasn't been a friend of Gunn because she just met him several eps ago. She doesn't even know Gunn well enough to know that he trains with his gang by having mock-fights or what his gang looks like so that she doesn't ram her Ladysmith Axe into some unlucky dude's head. She hasn't fought one day with Gunn and his gang. She never even met Alonna. So, I feel like she has little basis to declare that he's living his life all wrong but she'll show him how to better exist. It's a shame because like Stoney, I did enjoy Cordelia/Gunn's other interactions in the ep especially when it was played for comedy. However once the ep got to the dramatic key interaction, it poisoned the earlier stuff for me. This ep would have been considerably better if the last scene was written so that Gunn came to his own realization that he needs to accept help and Cordelia came to some realization that she's been pushy and presumptive on his life.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Untouched

                    Positive: Bethany is subtly connected to Angel. W&H uses dreams and different machinations in order to use their abusive parental figures (Bethany's father, Angel's sort of "mother" in Darla) to corrupt them and turn their special superpowers into tools for W&H. Even though W&H uses the same tactics on Bethany/Angel and even though Angel is closely involved in Bethany's cause to the point that he rescues her from concrete danger but also from herself but still, Angel never connects the dots on his similarities to Bethany. IMO, usually in this kind of a story the protagonist would be able to recognize his mirror in his own project-damsel and the protagonist would actually learn something about himself at the end of the episode. Angel does not. He sees Bethany's issues as entirely her own as he continue to fall into Darla's/W&H's trap. However, we can see that Lilah identifies the similarities between what W&H tried to do to Bethany and what they're currently doing to Angel when she says "Sweet dreams" to Angel after he victoriously takes Bethany from Lilah's apartment.

                    Negative: Cordelia bugs me a lot in the "Don't bone my boss" conversation. It's so unnecessary and mean. Why does Cordelia need to take it upon herself to pull aside their traumatized-by-childhood-sexual-abuse client who they're supposed to be helping to crudely scold her to not have sex with Angel? If Cordelia must warn someone not to have sex and experience perfect happiness, she should be warning Angel instead of Bethany. Angel is the one responsible for his detachable curse, not Bethany. Angel is the big strong hero, who should be able to take tough embarrassing conversations. Cordelia and Angel know each other very well; Bethany is still a stranger to Cordelia. I mean, it's disturbing that Cordelia thinks such a conversation is even necessary. Does she really think that Angel would find perfect happiness sleeping with their traumatized, disturbed, helpless client or even that he would sleep with her? I have a dark view of Angel and I don't think so low of him.

                    I feel like this conversation could have been less obnoxious and more tied in to Cordelia's and Angel's characterization if it occurred later in the Darla-saga when it would make more sense for Cordelia to take such a dim view of Angel's character and also to feel like she can't talk to Angel so she'll talk to the "damsel." However, that's not the case because this conversation takes place before Cordelia even knows there's a Darla-saga in an ep where Cordelia gives "You can't fire me. I'm Vision Girl" sass indicating a strong level of comfort with Angel which he doesn't really ruin until later in the season. So, I feel like Cordelia just enjoys blaming other women for a sexual dynamic with Angel that threatens Angel's responsibilities instead of blaming Angel for possibly neglecting his own responsibilities. She'll attack Bethany for risking Angel's soul even though maintenance of his soul is Angel's responsibility much like she attacked Buffy in IWRY for distracting Angel from his "help the helpless" mission with their love affair even though it's Angel's responsibility to guard his own mission/business.

                    I wouldn't place this as a Negative if I thought Cordelia was indicating flaws central to her character arc. For instance, I think Wesley should have told Angel and Cordelia about his plans to discover Bethany's trigger by taunting her about her abuse- but I wouldn't place it as a Negative because acting unilaterally is pretty central to Wes's characterization and fall. That's good writing. (I also appreciated the motive to discover what was triggering Bethany. That was necessary to treat her. Scolding Bethany for possible sex with Angel did not feel necessary at all.) However, Cordelia frustrates me. A small part of me think that this obnoxious behavior is part of her own arc but most of me thinks that we're just supposed to applaud Cordelia for being protective of Angel and "telling it like it is" with Bethany and I just disagree on every level.

                    Cordelia further bugs when she starts by criticizing Bethany for not floating away her potential rapists instead of squashing them. Bethany tries defending herself by saying that Cordelia doesn't understand that she was in fear for life. Cordelia then takes away Bethany's private ownership of her feelings by saying that Cordelia felt everything that Bethany felt when Cordelia had her vision. At this point, Cordelia decides not to continue fighting Bethany's right to self-defense when Bethany was in mortal terror by conceding that the attempted rapists may be better off squashed but doesn't give up an inch of the self-righteous ground by stressing that Bethany better not hurt her and her friends. Thus, Cordelia unfairly suggests Bethany's out to hurt innocent people just because she defended herself with lethal force against alley-attackers. Ugh.
                    Last edited by Dipstick; 27-12-18, 08:23 PM.

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                    • #40
                      Dear Boy

                      Positive: I really like Darla's "G-d, I could eat his eyeballs." It carries vicious imagery but also doting, loving imagery as well. Eyeballs are creepy and eating them is horrifying. However, mothers do carry on about how they could eat their children up as in they find them adorable and yummy. Mothers use that phrasing- "I could eat you up." I think both sentiments are there in how Darla describes her fierce disappointment in Do Gooder!Angel. Generally, the Darla/Lindsay scene is very good. I enjoy the subtle filth here:

                      Darla reaches out and strokes his fake hand.
                      Darla: It's very smooth. - You don't feel anything.
                      Lindsey: Not in my hand....

                      But LOL, Lindsay feels like he can gain professional advantages with Darla by acting on his very real sexual attraction. But he's basically Jenna Maroney in 30 Rock.



                      Lindsay doesn't even know that he's trying to whore himself out to a whore because his sexual attraction to Darla is just as real as his desire to use her to get ahead at W&H. He doesn't have the self-awareness to distinguish between the two. Darla, on the other hand, spent time reflecting on what it is to be a whore and how she's a whore and how she can use that- long after she acquired superpowers putting her above petty pecuniary needs. In all senses, Darla knows what's up with Lindsay.

                      Negative: It's odd that the LAPD backed off Angel. Police officers saw a classic crime scene of Angel standing next to a murder victim, after breaking into someone else's home. Kate got a whole SWAT team to go search the Hyperion. The train publicly left the station and many LAPD officers were on Angel's case as opposed to just Kate. Now, Kate is clued into the supernatural so she may be convinced that Angel couldn't have broken into the house as occupied by its owners. However, I don't know how Kate convinced the rest of the officers on the case to back off when Angel looked as guilty as sin when the only deductive reasoning sort-of-convincing her of Angel's relative innocence was vampire-lore.

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                      • #41
                        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, 04:59 PM.

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                        • #42
                          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.

                          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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                          • #43
                            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.

                            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.

                            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, 02:59 PM.

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                            • #44
                              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.


                              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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                              • #45
                                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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