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  • #46
    Hey, I've moved on an ep!!

    A New World

    Positive: As a big Connor fan this episode is a treat for me. This first glimpse of who Connor might be now is really rich and with hindsight gives plenty of signs of what comes later. Particularly, as Dipstick observed, seen in the response that he has to the comfort and affection Sunny offers and knowing how such signs of affection, especially from women, will influence him in the stories to come. These first hints and ideas of how deeply affected he has been from his childhood is such an important part of understanding him. The weight of the past in influencing the present has featured so heavily in AtS/BtVS this season and this is such a core part of Connor's story. There is also a heavy leaning in the two concurrent episodes (Villains over in BtVS) on morals and judgments. Connor's failing to integrate easily into this new world he has just fallen into is so greatly bound to his past because he comes with such deeply established beliefs that govern a lot of his behaviour/choices. But he also has different boundaries on what is acceptable behaviour from where he was raised and how he has been raised. He has been brainwshed as Pricey says and ultimately was raised as a tool for and of vengeance.

    Negative: The drug dealing/pimp is a bit of a clichéd bad guy Connor quickly happens upon to give the open illustration of coming from a bad past and struggling with a rough life through Sunny. This aspect just fails a bit for me because it's written with high intensity (inc a police search and shootout), but it's an isolated situation that develops from a chance encounter but ties so neatly to the wider character issues it just feels a bit too forced.

    Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
    Negative: Angel/Gunn/Fred running around the city gets boring on rewatch. Also, this ep hammered home how S3 Cordelia increasingly didn't do anything other than apply her deux ex machina superpowers. There was a little plot of her learning to fight in Billy but after Birthday, she doesn't fight at all other than a bit in Double or Nothing. More to the point, she doesn't research even though research used to be a big part of what she brought to the table in BtVS and AtS S1-2. Here in A New World, Angel/Gunn/Fred are hitting the streets looking for Connor. Lorne is actually the biggest hero of the day because he SOLVED the whole damn portal issue by finding an outside contractor. Groo was in battle-position to take anything that came out of the portal. Meanwhile, Cordelia was just sitting there pondering her love triangle while the portal to hell crackles above her head. The writers couldn't have placed Cordelia with some portal-closing book to try to research how to close the portal on her own? We were told so often that Cordelia was awesome, that she no longer has to actually act awesome.
    I do understand this and feel it too to some degree but I think in writing terms it is all the gradual change in Cordelia that leads into her believing in her ascension to come. Putting aside her own wants/other possible future to keep the visions and becoming part demon has to some degree fundamentally altered her. The increasing belief in 'champions like us', that she just has a great take on everyone despite misreading Fred's affections and Gunn's stress goes with accepting she is being singled out as she does. Although I think we can somewhat link it with the character's original hubris, the change in herself that occurred seems to have been a significant point. So whilst I think there are character ties, it's also true that she isn't the Cordelia she used to be and that shows somewhat in how she's responding at differing points for how she has changed and this works with what is to come.

    I'll be very interested to see how I respond to this storyline this time around as I thought it worked well when I first watched it but I've become more invested in Cordelia as a character on this watch and I think how she is pulled down by the direction her story takes may bother me more now.
    Last edited by Stoney; 18-09-19, 02:41 PM.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
      I'm finally watching AtS for the first time *ever* - I'd previously only watched eps from S5 (and not all the eps at that). Hope it's OK if I jump in with positives and negatives from episode 1. I'm just beginning AtS S1, I know I should probably start with the first season, but I've somehow not managed to do this chronologically yet. I'm visiting Angel S3 for a fanfic I'm writing so that's why I'm here first instead of S1.
      Anyway, here goes..

      Hearthrob

      Positives: I *love* the subway scene. I think it was a great choice to dramatise and explicate his grief in this setting because Angel (as he comes across to me) is so much about stillness - there's a stillness to his physical presence, even in his acting that, combined with the opacity of his silence for most of the episode about Buffy, feels like he's stuck in a heavy cloud of inertia (which is underscored by how Cordelia - on a Doylist level in this ep - has been assigned the task of bringing up the elephant in the room, Buffy's death.) So for it to be addressed in a moving subway train - in the middle of a fight - is cathartic, powerful and affecting. I love how he blurts out "the woman I love is dead", a stunningly romantic moment. The discussion about whether being able to continue - to go on living - to not crumble and fall apart - represents real love or invalidates that love was interesting. The implication that the choice to continue is braver than to just crumble, was authentic and moving. I love how gently protective Angel is towards Fred and Cordelia and I love the little comic touches studded through the ep- "I want to talk to you but I can't come in unless you invite me" as Fred's shutting the door on him, then again later telling her it's safe to come out and hang, and we hear a blood curdling scream from Cordy and his deadpan delivery of "Hold the thought." Hilarious. I love David Boreanaz's comic timing - he's genius at it, even in Buffy. I loved Fred's acting too - she really seems kind of manic with the trauma she's been through and it shows how versatile she is as an actress.

      Negatives:

      I found the premise that Angel goes to a Sri Lankan monastery to process his grief kind of cliched (like I wonder what Edward Said would say.) It just comes close to reminding me of this bitingly satirical portrait of a pretentious money-grubbing scumbag in one of Woody Allen's films (I love buddhism, the point I'm making is that it's a tired orientalist cliche that east=spiritual cleansing):
      Spoiler:
      Did you study art at school?
      No, I didn't. I often think I should have. I studied literature.Then inevitably wound up as a stockbroker. Then I dropped out, went to Japan, became a Buddhist, blah, blah, blah. And then, yeah, I did teach art at Amherst for a bit. And then the vineyard.
      It might have worked really well for bringing up the depth of his sorrow and the lengths he'd go to to try and work out his grief, but then his immediate return feels underwhelming. I mean, it's been hammered home that this is NOT a "vacation". But then his buying holiday gifts for them all cheapens the premise of his trip. And Cordy's atrocious lines don't help: "It really brings out my breasts! Hey, you were all thinking it!" She doesn't say it with irony, either. I don't think Cordy's *ever* been given lines this crass and it does a disservice to her character - yes, Cordy is vain and snarky and elitist - but there's a huge difference between being vain and being someone who'd say "it really brings out my breasts!" - which really does feel like it was written by a man. And...I just realised this episode was penned by David Greenwalt, on whose conscience lies the florid script of Teacher's Pet. But while I can rationalise Xander's cheesy lines in that episode on account of his being a horny teenage guy, here it's especially tone deaf in light of how Cordy *knows* Angel's back from a trip where he went to process Buffy's loss. Coupled with her otherwise apparent emotional perceptiveness in this episode (which, let's face, is really just a way to have one character do all the emotional heavy lifting of addressing Buffy's death, reminding the audience that "yeah, we haven't forgotten Buffy's dead, neither has Angel" in every other scene) it just sits oddly here and makes her character sound kind of schizophrenic. I also don't love that she has to do so much talking - she seems to function like a mouthpiece for broadcasting Angel's emotional state.
      You could jump right to E7 from 1 and you wouldn't miss anything regards the main plot but you do need to see E9 Lullaby though

      - - - Updated - - -

      Originally posted by Stoney View Post
      Hey, I've moved on an ep!!

      A New World

      Positive: As a big Connor fan this episode is a treat for me. This first glimpse of who Connor might be now is really rich and with hindsight gives plenty of signs of what comes later. Particularly, as Dipstick observed, seen in the response that he has to the comfort and affection Sunny offers and knowing how such signs of affection, especially from women, will influence him in the stories to come. These first hints and ideas of how deeply affected he has been from his childhood is such an important part of understanding him. The weight of the past in influencing the present has featured so heavily in AtS/BtVS this season and this is such a core part of Connor's story. There is also a heavy leaning in the two concurrent episodes (Villains over in BtVS) on morals and judgments. Connor's failing to integrate easily into this new world he has just fallen into is so greatly bound to his past because he comes with such deeply established beliefs that govern a lot of his behaviour/choices. But he also has different boundaries on what is acceptable behaviour from where he was raised and how he has been raised. He has been brainwshed as Pricey says and ultimately was raised as a tool for and of vengeance.

      Negative: The drug dealing/pimp is a bit of a clichéd bad guy Connor quickly happens upon to give the open illustration of coming from a bad past and struggling with a rough life through Sunny. This aspect just fails a bit for me because it's written with high intensity (inc a police search and shootout), but it's an isolated situation that develops from a chance encounter but ties so neatly to the wider character issues it just feels a bit too forced.



      I do understand this and feel it too to some degree but I think in writing terms it is all the gradual change in Cordelia that leads into her believing in her ascension to come. Putting aside her own wants/other possible future to keep the visions and becoming part demon has to some degree fundamentally altered her. The increasing belief in 'champions like us', that she just has a great take on everyone despite misreading Fred's affections and Gunn's stress goes with accepting she is being singled out as she does. Although I think we can somewhat link it with the character's original hubris, the change in herself that occurred seems to have been a significant point. So whilst I think there are character ties, it's also true that she isn't the Cordelia she used to be and that shows somewhat in how she's responding at differing points for how she has changed and this works with what is to come.

      I'll be very interested to see how I respond to this storyline this time around as I thought it worked well when I first watched it but I've become more invested in Cordelia as a character on this watch and I think how she is pulled down by the direction her story takes may bother me more now.
      This is interesting, you used to defend the characterisation, what made you change you mind ?
      Why do you think she isnt your Cordy anymore ?

      Comment


      • #48
        I found the premise that Angel goes to a Sri Lankan monastery to process his grief kind of cliched (like I wonder what Edward Said would say.) It just comes close to reminding me of this bitingly satirical portrait of a pretentious money-grubbing scumbag in one of Woody Allen's films (I love buddhism, the point I'm making is that it's a tired orientalist cliche that east=spiritual cleansing):
        I'm guessing Said would have rolled his eyes; muttered "orientalism" and switched off. BtVS is seriously flawed when it comes to the East/West binary. Someone needs to point out Istanbul has Starbucks and McDonalds on BOTH sides of the Bosporus.
        sigpic

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        • #49
          Originally posted by BtVS fan View Post
          You could jump right to E7 from 1 and you wouldn't miss anything regards the main plot but you do need to see E9 Lullaby though
          Never miss anything because you are always missing something. I'm always going to champion chronological viewing.

          This is interesting, you used to defend the characterisation, what made you change you mind? Why do you think she isnt your Cordy anymore ?
          I'm not sure exactly what you mean. I was responding to what Dipstick had said about how Cordelia had changed in her responses to situations from the earlier seasons and how the writing had her leaning to her powers and not being a person of action anymore. I do think Cordelia is different in the early seasons to the later ones when she has powers, but I was saying that I think it is coherent to her changing and gaining those powers and leads towards where she goes in believing in her ascension and all the badness that leads to. I feel there are characterisation ties through it all and I'm not saying that has changed. I'm saying that as I've become more invested in Cordelia's journey I may find the negative way that it develops, that her hubris led to her being taken over by Jasmine, more of a disappointing draw to her story. That's where I think I might have changed. But I could find that I still think it works, or perhaps just find it more depressing than I have before.

          Comment


          • #50
            Benediction

            Positive: I really like this episode. I especially like how the too ready belief in the positivity of what is happening to Cordelia plays alongside their assumption that ridding Connor of the negativity within him could be that easy. The metaphor of how much can be unseen beneath the surface is key to the episode and all the years of growing up with Holtz has affected him more than just the exterior stuff the geiger counter can pick up on and Cordelia can 'glow' away. And of course Holtz has lived there too and that has added in to his ongoing hate and thirst for vengeance. So his seeming blessing is all surface level and the true vindictive layers underneath are where the truth of his intentions lie. The cruelty of it towards all those around him is immense.

            Negative: This is really a negative for this and the next episode. After having planned things so well there's an illogical element to Holtz's plan. If Angel had really killed Holtz but had taken the letter he had written to Connor saying he was going to leave in an attempt to just convince Connor Holtz had simply left already and thus get away with murdering him for vengeance... why would he dump the body somewhere so close to where Holtz was staying and where Connor could so easily find it or news of the murder appear in the local news? He'd have dumped the body far away surely.


            Tomorrow

            Positive: This is a strong season end for the Connor/Angel aspects and a great one for seeing a little of how Wes is still isolated and reacting in the wake of finding out Connor is back. We'll get to the Cordelia part in a moment. I also have to give a tip of the hat to Groo. I think Mark Lutz really pulls off Groo's growing awareness, and the mix of bitterness and dejected acceptance that Cordelia cares more for Angel.

            But the best aspect of the episode for me has to reside with Connor's planned revenge. From manipulating Angel to teach him how he fights through to the horror he chooses to inflict on Angel. Such damage has been done to him and what Holtz chose to do in framing Angel was just further abuse and malicious in his certainty that Connor would be the tool he wanted and exact vengeance for him. The fact Lorne leaves in part because he appreciates Connor is such a wild card really underlines the danger he poses. Again it's back to all that is under the surface and the fact that they tie that theme to him condemning Angel as he does is fab. Such a complex and interesting character.

            Negative: I do feel that Cordelia's story sadly turns into a tragic one. I think she had a great deal of positive development up to the point when she became part demon and started to believe in the specialness of who she was. Having that element of hubris that is more reminiscent of her Queen C years play such a big part in what happens feels like she really takes a step backwards. Obviously she is being used and was being set up to 'ascend', but having come to appreciate how far she had developed before she was drawn into being a pawn for what is to come, seeing her buy into this is disappointing. But a lot of that is about her overall path, so I'll choose something episode specific. I think the visually twee/sweet elements of Cordelia's glow and ascension is all quite deliberate in trying to make it seem angelic and saintly, but it is pretty corny. The worst part in the episode had to be her conversation with herself about loving Angel. The way she just beams and believes in it all when it all looks so cheesy just makes her belief in her specialness that is being generated worse somehow. It feels part of it all in a 'you should have realised it wasn't real' way, but that doesn't change that it still looks so terrible an effect when it happens.


            Originally posted by Priceless View Post
            Negative: Really enjoyable episode, but Holtz's death to frame Angel was a bit extreme
            Do you mean in the way they shot it or that he went so far to get revenge on Angel? I think the probable additional corruption of Quor'toth on top of his already very single-minded desire to hurt Angel as much as possible makes it very believable of him.

            I agree Angel talking to Cordy about Connor and being so pleased about connecting with him is lovely. It's there in Tomorrow too and makes what happens between them all really very sad.

            Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
            Holtz having Justine kill him and framing Angel for his murder after he just had a long ponderous conversation to reassure Angel that he was done with vengeance is a master-stroke of villainy. It's also CLASSIC Holtz in the sense that he never technically lies to Connor in his letter. However, his whole staged murder is nothing but a huge lie and abusive mind f*ck to Connor. I think it's a great example of the bullshit that Holtz mouths and tries to believe. That Holtz doesn't do evil but instead executes justice even though his actions are evil. We could picture him going to his staged death, telling himself that he never lied to his son Steven.
            I think this is really interesting, to consider how much Holtz might be trying to convince himself of what he says and does against how much he just doesn't care about the damage he does. Is there part of him that really cares for Steven or has he always been somewhat affected by the knowledge of who his parents were and that he clearly isn't just human. He even says to him "God help me, I don't know what you are" and for someone that operates on such black and white levels it is hard to know how he truly feels. He doesn't hesitate to use, hurt and manipulate him so it's pretty hard to believe at all in the love he claims to have found.

            Really interesting point about Gunn's views on what is happening being unclear here and how it sits against what will eventually break him/Fred. I think perhaps the seeming inconsistencies and uncertainty is just a realistic aspect in that every circumstance has its own context. I'd agree that in this situation he doesn't want to challenge Angel and whether or not Angel would do what he would envisage he would, he isn't going to challenge him over his choice but feels the circumstances give Angel the right to decide for himself. But when it is Fred that is the one who might commit murder and he doesn't like the idea of how that might change her, then he wants to intercede.

            I completely agree that Wes' cutting line to Lilah is one of the best moments in Tomorrow. Such a small moment but the dispassionate and callous way he treats her is such an interesting flash of what all of this has done to him. It also gives some character tie to Billy that works well for Wes' genuine fear of what cruelty could be within him.

            Emmie wrote a great post on the Angel rewatch threads that there's a S3-4 Prophet/Seer contest between Cordelia and Lorne and it turns out, Lorne was the better prophet but he was the one who Angel didn't listen to. Cordelia predicts, "Connor's gonna LOVE you because you have the BIGGEST, BEST HEART!!1!" Lorne tells Angel to watch out. I think it's obvious who was right.
            Such a great point.

            Negative: Even with S4 proving that Cordelia was conned by Skip instead of the S3 read that ONLY CORDELIA IS TOO GOOD FOR HUMANITY, those scenes are still nauseating on rewatch.
            I agree with you that hindsight of where it goes and how it works as a manipulation (even though I hadn't clocked/remembered that the vision of herself was lifted from what would come later) is there, but yes, yes, yes to the fact that it is still a poorly acted and emotionally empty scene. It's corny and flat.

            Also, I don't know why it was important that Cordelia be on her way to confess her love to Angel in order to convince her to Ascend. Couldn't Skip have done it another time?
            I think perhaps it was the idea that she would have to accept that she was giving up Angel/the chance of their relationship as this final test which proved that she was right to ascend.

            Originally posted by Priceless View Post
            Like the image of her rising and him sinking.
            Despite the cheesy aspect of the visual with Cordelia, I do agree that the seeming contrast between the two fates as a season finale worked well.

            Wesley's dive into depression, his poor me attitude, his staring into the middle distance, just make me want to slap him. He reminds me of Angel season 2 and that just version of Angel annoyed me too. Wesley lived through that, so you'd think he'd know better.
            I find Wes' despondency mixed with deep pondering very believable in the circumstances. As Lilah keeps taunting him, he's still been abandoned by the group despite them coming to some understanding of why he did what he did. But more than that, he has seen that Connor has returned and has to deal with a whole heap of emotional responses to that too. He's probably relieved he is alive but also aware that his childhood has been lost and the fact that his return isn't something that anyone has come to tell him about is a further rejection. But he is the way he is and as again Lilah keeps underlining, he is a resource for his brain/knowledge and no doubt is automatically thinking through what Connor's return could mean. Wes did plenty wrong in getting to the situation he is in at this point, but he wasn't acting in intentional malice and can't just turn off his emotions or his brain to disengage himself from the situation/group. Even whilst he is being kept out.

            Special mention to Gunn 'you finished the jumbo tub . . . I love this woman'. I hate the way Fred and her relationship to food is written.
            Yes it has an unpleasant note to it, like it is saying that a woman who eats readily and without a care is admirable. But when that character is so incredibly skinny it seems to also be suggesting that's only so if it doesn't affect their figure. It's just one of the aspects of their relationship that grates for me. I don't enjoy them as a couple and much prefer the two characters outside of the romance.
            Last edited by Stoney; 02-10-19, 02:58 PM.

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            • #51
              Do you mean in the way they shot it or that he went so far to get revenge on Angel? I think the probable additional corruption of Quor'toth on top of his already very single-minded desire to hurt Angel as much as possible makes it very believable of him. I agree Angel talking to Cordy about Connor and being so pleased about connecting with him is lovely. It's there in Tomorrow too and makes what happens between them all really very sad.
              I'm not sure what I meant I think it was a little too melodramatic. Doesn't Holtz get Justine to stab him twice in the neck, to look like a vampire bite? It just seems too ridiculous, although I understand how his mind is working and how much he hates Angel. It was quite cruel on Justine too. They could have hired a vampire to bite him, Holtz didn't have to force Justine to do it.

              Despite the cheesy aspect of the visual with Cordelia, I do agree that the seeming contrast between the two fates as a season finale worked well.
              It is cheesy, but I really like it. They've been separated so completely, they couldn't be farther apart. I think it's a great cliffhanger to end the season on. It's just a shame that Season 4 didn't like up to this ending, though it opened with one of the shows best episodes.

              I find Wes' despondency mixed with deep pondering very believable in the circumstances. As Lilah keeps taunting him, he's still been abandoned by the group despite them coming to some understanding of why he did what he did. But more than that, he has seen that Connor has returned and has to deal with a whole heap of emotional responses to that too. He's probably relieved he is alive but also aware that his childhood has been lost and the fact that his return isn't something that anyone has come to tell him about is a further rejection. But he is the way he is and as again Lilah keeps underlining, he is a resource for his brain/knowledge and no doubt is automatically thinking through what Connor's return could mean. Wes did plenty wrong in getting to the situation he is in at this point, but he wasn't acting in intentional malice and can't just turn off his emotions or his brain to disengage himself from the situation/group. Even whilst he is being kept out.
              I don't remember Wesley at the end of the season, though he's obviously suffering. I am not a fan of the character and find him difficult to like. You talk of Cordy's hubris, but it was Wesley's hubris that made him kidnap Connor, and to me that's far worse. He get's to redeem himself, but Cordy never does.

              Yes it has an unpleasant note to it, like it is saying that a woman who eats readily and without a care is admirable, but when she is so incredibly skinny it seems to also be suggesting that's only so if it doesn't affect their figure. It's just one of the aspects of their relationship that grates for me. I don't enjoy them as a couple and much prefer the two characters outside of the romance.
              I think nowadays it's accepted as an anti-feminist trope, that the skinny girl can eat all she likes and never get fat. Overall I like Gunn and Fred as a couple. I hate Wesley's treatment of their relationship, his jealousy and his undermining of them as a couple. Wesley seems to think he has a right to Fred and is written so the audience pity him and agree with him, but it doesn't work for me. I find his behaviour questionable at best.

              Good episode though and a nice way to end the season.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by Priceless View Post
                It was quite cruel on Justine too. They could have hired a vampire to bite him, Holtz didn't have to force Justine to do it.
                Yes Holtz really didn't care who he hurt to get what he wanted. After he is dead when Justine hears that she never featured in the stories Holtz told Connor of the plan to live on a ranch in Utah I think she possibly sadly accepts herself as just a tool to him.

                It is cheesy, but I really like it. They've been separated so completely, they couldn't be farther apart. I think it's a great cliffhanger to end the season on. It's just a shame that Season 4 didn't like up to this ending, though it opened with one of the shows best episodes.
                I am really looking forward to watching S4 again as it was my favourite the first time I watched AtS but I absolutely loved S3 even more this time so it's going to be hard to beat.

                You talk of Cordy's hubris, but it was Wesley's hubris that made him kidnap Connor, and to me that's far worse. He get's to redeem himself, but Cordy never does.
                Oh I've talked of Wes' faults many times too. His response to his insecurities and fears of meeting expectations and being capable etc, not making the same mistakes he had in the past, all contributed to him sadly doing a great deal again by closing himself off to others. His jealousy over Fred and Gunn really hit a high at a terrible time and his inability to move past it kept him isolated at a time when he needed to seek help. Wes is highly flawed and I've no problems with that, it's a great part of why I find him so interesting. I'd also agree that Wes has something to redeem himself for in a way that Cordy doesn't. She's flawed and it plays its part in why they are able to manipulate her, but she also didn't mean to harm anyone and was in great part motivated by good intentions. Wes' actions hurt many people and had some awful consequences, but he was trying to protect people too. Yet there was more scope for him seeking help and the truth being realised than Cordy faced. But, as you say, his story continues afterwards and the effects on him are explored whereas Cordy isn't really herself anymore as I remember it.

                My increased appreciation for Cordy has made me feel that I'm going to find her story being so abruptly derailed for the Jasmine story more unsatisfactory than I did when I first watched it. I think there are connections there because of her flaws that work coherently for the character but she doesn't get that story the other side of it. Looking at her overall path, it's a very positive personal progression up to mid S3 and even where/how it goes off track in hindsight in late S3 was because of the manipulations of others. Sure she was maybe an easier target than some but that is both because of her hubris and also because of her humanity. It's bleak for a Cordy fan I think as it makes her story a tragedy. I was comfortable with that before because I didn't care about her as a character as much and the positive path that she had carved being left like that. But then I really disliked You're Welcome when I first saw that, so maybe I'll view that differently now and that might change my feeling on her as a tragic character.

                I think nowadays it's accepted as an anti-feminist trope, that the skinny girl can eat all she likes and never get fat. Overall I like Gunn and Fred as a couple. I hate Wesley's treatment of their relationship, his jealousy and his undermining of them as a couple. Wesley seems to think he has a right to Fred and is written so the audience pity him and agree with him, but it doesn't work for me. I find his behaviour questionable at best.
                I really don't think Wes thought he had a right to Fred. He just genuinely believed there was a connection between them, was encouraged to believe in it (not maliciously) by Cordelia and then he had to face that she hadn't felt the same at a time when he was under severe stress. Feeling less than he wanted to be perceived hits personal buttons for him and he doesn't handle it well at every point. But Gunn and Fred behave like irresponsible kids at points that must make him feel frustrated and irritated in ways I think are fair. Gunn especially is childishly defensive and aggressive unnecessarily at points. Neither of them smell of roses on that one.

                Good episode though and a nice way to end the season.
                Yes and although I think Benediction is a stronger episode for its entirety, the Connor/Angel aspect of Tomorrow is fantastic and is such a great season ending. Very excited to watch 4.01 again next week.
                Last edited by Stoney; 02-10-19, 09:28 PM.

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                • #53
                  I am really looking forward to watching S4 again as it was my favourite the first time I watched AtS but I absolutely loved S3 even more this time so it's going to be hard to beat.
                  I'm looking forward to hearing your views on Season 4. There are some cracking episodes, and I personally love The Beast, he's one of my favourite baddies. I also imagine, in the AtS writers room, they were told that it doesn't matter what you do for the first 40 minutes of an episode, but the last 2 have to be fantastic, because AtS has some amazing endings to episodes.

                  I have little time or patience for Wesley and find it difficult to excuse him. I know I'm in a minority there and most people find him interesting, and therefore forgivable. Personally I love Cordy and find her far more interesting and deserving of redemption. They both make the ultimate sacrifice in the end, but for me Cordy's death is the tragedy at the heart of AtS.

                  I really don't think Wes thought he had a right to Fred. He just genuinely believed there was a connection between them, was encouraged to believe in it (not maliciously) by Cordelia and then he had to face that she hadn't felt the same at a time when he was under severe stress. Feeling less than he wanted to be perceived hits personal buttons for him and he doesn't handle it well at every point. But Gunn and Fred behave like irresponsible kids at points that must make him feel frustrated and irritated in ways I think are fair. Gunn especially is childishly defensive and aggressive unnecessarily at points. Neither of them smell of roses on that one.
                  I think Wesley did think he had a right to Fred, and others, including Cordy, encouraged him in thinking this. Some of the conversations he has with Gunn are all about him staking his claim and telling Gunn he's simply not good enough for Fred. The writers want us to pity him because he didn't get the girl, and at the time of watching I probably did feel sorry for him, but the more I watch, the more I think he's actually a bit of a creep and that threesome story line hasn't aged well.

                  The Season 4 opener is one of my very favourite episodes.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Yeah Wes is one of my favourite characters. I really am appreciating Cordy more too though. At the moment I'm feeling her sacrifice for the greater good, her developed side that put humanity above what she could have herself as she grew through the series outweighs any aspect of her own wants/arrogance that do play a part in her choices. But it just makes it all the more tragic.

                    I don't like the Wes/Fred/Gunn triangle. I actually find both Wes and Gunn falling for Fred when she behaved like a traumatised child after she returns from Pylea a bit creepy. I'm not sure if it falls to tropes (I'm not very knowledgeable about those) or if it is just supposed to be the want/need to protect her, but I don't like it. All three characters are better outside of the romance storyline I think. I really loved the dynamic between Gunn and Wes before Fred came. Sadly it probably works as an example of when romance spoils a friendship.

                    I remember absolutely loving Deep Down with a passion so I'm really looking forward to watching it again.
                    Last edited by Stoney; 03-10-19, 02:26 PM.

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                    • #55
                      “Heartthrob”

                      Positive: The final scene between Angel and Cordy pretty much makes the episode for me. I love Charisma Carpenter’s delivery of the line - ‘I’m Cordelia. I don’t think. I know. Okay?’ It was a perfect mixture of confidence and self-deprecation, which kept Cordy from coming off as the annoyingly wise, saintly figure she starts to become later this season.

                      Negative: The episode is extremely boring and my least favorite opener. James and Elizabeth are an off-brand Spike and Drusilla. Angel going to a monastery for three months to grieve is incredibly pretentious. It makes him look bad when I think about the Scoobies, who were busting their asses and barely getting by in the meantime. It’s also strange how no one has a problem with Angel abandoning them for months to mope over his dead ex-girlfriend when the whole conflict between the gang during the previous season was a result of… Angel abandoning them for months to mope over his dead ex-girlfriend.

                      And for some reason, the same Gunn who had to dust his baby sister and shoulder on protecting his own crew by the next day is feeling sorry for Angel, who’s been away for months grieving his ex who he hasn’t been with in two years. Likewise, Cordy can spend the whole episode coddling Angel and trying to get him to open up about Buffy but she refuses to show any sympathy for PTSD-victim Fred. It’s just not good writing.

                      “That Vision-Thing”

                      Positive: This is the best Cordy-centric episode of the season. I hate the OTT pain and suffering that she is constantly put through on this show, but this is one of the few episodes where her pain is used to explore her flaws and insecurities as a character instead of her pain just being a plot device to hype up what an amazing and flawless Champion she is (see “Birthday”). Charisma also does some really great acting here, from her portrayal of Cordy’s bed-ridden breakdown to the subtle nuances (her hilarious reactions to Fred, how offended she looks at the beginning when Angel tells her she’s ‘no longer needed here’ after her first vision).

                      Negative: I agree with Stoney and Priceless upthread that it is very weird how Wes and Gunn are so attracted to Fred when she’s so childlike.

                      “That Old Gang of Mine”

                      Positive: The Cordy-Fred scenes make the episode for me. I like how Cordy doesn’t immediately fall in love with Fred like everyone else and how the two of them have to bond a little more in order to ‘click’. IMO, Fred reminds Cordy a little too much of early-seasons-Willow, who Cordy used to completely walk all over, so I think it makes sense for Cordy to struggle a bit in establishing a camaraderie with her when Fred is the exact kind of girl that she used to look down upon in her high school days.

                      Negative: Gunn’s prejudice towards Angel for being a vampire makes sense, considering Gunn has spent nearly all of his life being terrorized by them and lost his sister to one. It was even a big part of their butting heads throughout S2. But it is never consistently explored and is pretty much dropped after this episode.

                      Also: Wes threatening to fire Gunn for withholding information and putting the entire group in danger is deeply, deeply ironic considering the later events of the season.

                      “Carpe Noctem”

                      Positive: This is not a great episode, but I enjoy it more than most fans. It’s very fun and it has a lot of thematic value for the season. I’ve never really been fond of the way that David Boreanaz plays Angel’s happier, dorkier persona. While he has great comedic timing, his Angel comes across as borderline manic at times in these episodes. However, that quality works well in his portrayal of Marcus here. Marcus’ crude jokes and overtly sexual attitude also draw attention to the sexual frustration that’s plaguing pretty much everyone at Team Angel due to the lifestyles that they lead. As much as the intergroup romance this season will bug me, it makes sense. Wes and Gunn are so desperate for action that they are fighting over who gets to interview hookers (have some standards, guys ). Fred is lusting after Angel, who still has the curse. And IMO, Cordy’s extreme concern over the Angel/Fred situation isn’t about protecting Fred so much as it is about her own developing attraction to Angel and conflicted feelings about that.

                      Negative: I agree with Stoney about the Lilah/Angel thing. I could see her trying to seduce *him* but not the other way around. It was OOC and there's no way Lilah would go for that.

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                      • #56
                        “Fredless”

                        Positive: Fred’s breakdown at the end. Everything about the scene is great -- Amy Acker’s tears, her parents comforting her -- but what gets me most are the reaction-shots from the gang. I actually get chills every time I watch the scene. Right when you see them, you can instantly tell that none of them had ever experienced such a loving interaction with their parents before and it is quite heartbreaking. Same with Cordy whispering to Fred that she was a little jealous and Wes’ mini-tirade about his father. I also like this exchange:

                        ANGEL: "I’m gonna miss her. She was just this nice, quiet kind of crazy. I found that… soothing."
                        CORDY: "And what? I’m not soothing? I can be soothing. I could soothe your ass off, pal.”

                        The 'soothe your ass off' part, along with the look on Angel’s face when she says it, is quite funny. If there had been more scenes like that between them, I probably would have shipped Cangel.

                        Negative: The red herrings about the Burkles -- the weird “Is it time?” / “Not yet” exchange -- were unexplained, not to mention unnecessary.

                        “Billy”

                        Positive: This is one of the best episodes of the season. I'm gonna cheat and list multiple + and - points as I have a surprising amount of stuff to say about this one. "Billy" has great characterization for everyone except Angel (see the negative). Cordy’s proactiveness was great to see and she has somewhat of an edge to her in this episode that you don’t see very often from her character, at least not at this point. You can tell that her pursuit of Billy isn’t just motivated by a sense of responsibility, but also raw anger and a desire to prove herself a little bit. I think she was taking her sweet time in killing him near the end because she really wanted to savor the moment. The only other episode in which Cordy has anywhere near the level of badassery she does in this one is “You’re Welcome”.

                        “You were right about me liking dark places to hide in. But you forgot I also like to build things.” ~ Fred

                        My favorite part of the episode (hands down!) are the Wesley/Fred scenes. Alexis Denisof is absolutely brilliant here. His scenes with Fred take me back to the Xander/Willow scenes in “The Pack”, from him verbally tearing her to shreds to chasing her around the hotel like Hyena!Xander chased Willow around Sunnydale High. If forced to choose between the two scenarios, I’d say the Wes/Fred scenes are better due to Wesley’s maniacal ranting and I like how Fred is allowed to have a bit more agency than Willow was. Whereas Willow was mostly just holding her own until Buffy arrived to save her, Fred actually manages to take Wesley out completely on her own. When he gets knocked out by the fire-extinguisher, it’s such a fist-pumping moment. And even though Gunn doesn’t do much in this episode, I liked his briefly trying to help Fred and keep control of himself before succumbing to Billy’s influence.

                        To compare everything to “The Pack” again, I did love the final scene between Wes and Fred and the stark contrast when you compare it to the scene of the Scoobies at the end of “The Pack”. It just says so much about the different characters and how they process things. Xander represses everything about his hyena experience and goes back to quipping and making jokes because that’s his character and the way that he deals with things. Meanwhile, Wes completely hides himself and is haunted by overwhelming guilt (despite it not being his fault) because that’s his character and the way that he deals with things.

                        Overall, Billy is one of my favorite MoTWs in Angel. The writing for him wasn’t anything special but the actor was really charismatic. He plays the character as a creepy dude but with a good amount of charm that you can tell he uses to worm his way out of bad situations. It makes me wonder about his backstory. Why does he hate women so much? Is it mommy issues? Is he an incel?

                        Billy >>> Caleb

                        Negative: While I love this episode on its own, when you consider the whole series it does not hold up at all. The main message of the episode is that misogyny and brutalizing women is wrong and should not be tolerated. But it comes off as a case of “Good Message, Bad Messenger” considering the writers of the show are regularly guilty of misogyny and brutalizing women in many of its storylines (see Cordelia’s entire character arc). I mean, the fact that every example of a strong female character in this episode -- Cordy, Fred, Lilah -- ends up dying an ugly, agency-robbing death reflects really badly on ME and makes them look like a bunch of hypocrites for creating this episode.

                        I also agree with everyone else that Angel being evolved past misogyny is total bullshit. Especially considering all of the sexist shit that Angel says and does on a daily basis. Like at the very beginning of the episode when he’s reluctant to teach Cordy how to engage in combat. He essentially says that he would rather have Cordy not be able to fight because it makes him feel better to be able to rescue her. That is so f*cked up. I get that he’s a product of his time period (hence thinking it's acceptable to court a 16-year-old), but Angel really needs to get over himself. It also bugs me at the end when he interrupts Cordy in her righteous confrontation and takes away her agency at the end. A better climax would have been for Angel to have been affected by Billy’s touch and turned against Cordy, lashing out at her for not ‘staying in a woman's place’ or whatever and letting him deal with the action. Then Cordy could have subdued him just in time for Lilah to shoot Billy and undo his mojo.
                        Last edited by Andrew S.; 04-01-20, 09:26 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Andrew S. View Post
                          “Fredless”

                          Positive: Fred’s breakdown at the end. Everything about the scene is great -- Amy Acker’s tears, her parents comforting her -- but what gets me most are the reaction-shots from the gang. I actually get chills every time I watch the scene. Right when you see them, you can instantly tell that none of them had ever experienced such a loving interaction with their parents before and it is quite heartbreaking. Same with Cordy whispering to Fred that she was a little jealous and Wes’ mini-tirade about his father. I also like this exchange:

                          ANGEL: "I’m gonna miss her. She was just this nice, quiet kind of crazy. I found that… soothing."
                          CORDY: "And what? I’m not soothing? I can be soothing. I could soothe your ass off, pal.”

                          The 'soothe your ass off' part, along with the look on Angel’s face when she says it, is quite funny. If there had been more scenes like that between them, I probably would have shipped Cangel.

                          Negative: The red herrings about the Burkles -- the weird “Is it time?” / “Not yet” exchange -- were unexplained, not to mention unnecessary.

                          “Billy”

                          Positive: This is one of the best episodes of the season. I'm gonna cheat and list multiple + and - points as I have a surprising amount of stuff to say about this one. "Billy" has great characterization for everyone except Angel (see the negative). Cordy’s proactiveness was great to see and she has somewhat of an edge to her in this episode that you don’t see very often from her character, at least not at this point. You can tell that her pursuit of Billy isn’t just motivated by a sense of responsibility, but also raw anger and a desire to prove herself a little bit. I think she was taking her sweet time in killing him near the end because she really wanted to savor the moment. The only other episode in which Cordy has anywhere near the level of badassery she does in this one is “You’re Welcome”.

                          “You were right about me liking dark places to hide in. But you forgot I also like to build things.” ~ Fred

                          My favorite part of the episode (hands down!) are the Wesley/Fred scenes. Alexis Denisof is absolutely brilliant here. His scenes with Fred take me back to the Xander/Willow scenes in “The Pack”, from him verbally tearing her to shreds to chasing her around the hotel like Hyena!Xander chased Willow around Sunnydale High. If forced to choose between the two scenarios, I’d say the Wes/Fred scenes are better due to Wesley’s maniacal ranting and I like how Fred is allowed to have a bit more agency than Willow was. Whereas Willow was mostly just holding her own until Buffy arrived to save her, Fred actually manages to take Wesley out completely on her own. When he gets knocked out by the fire-extinguisher, it’s such a fist-pumping moment. And even though Gunn doesn’t do much in this episode, I liked his briefly trying to help Fred and keep control of himself before succumbing to Billy’s influence.

                          To compare everything to “The Pack” again, I did love the final scene between Wes and Fred and the stark contrast when you compare it to the scene of the Scoobies at the end of “The Pack”. It just says so much about the different characters and how they process things. Xander represses everything about his hyena experience and goes back to quipping and making jokes because that’s his character and the way that he deals with things. Meanwhile, Wes completely hides himself and is haunted by overwhelming guilt (despite it not being his fault) because that’s his character and the way that he deals with things.

                          Overall, Billy is one of my favorite MoTWs in Angel. The writing for him wasn’t anything special but the actor was really charismatic. He plays the character as a creepy dude but with a good amount of charm that you can tell he uses to worm his way out of bad situations. It makes me wonder about his backstory. Why does he hate women so much? Is it mommy issues? Is he an incel?

                          Billy >>> Caleb

                          Negative: While I love this episode on its own, when you consider the whole series it does not hold up at all. The main message of the episode is that misogyny and brutalizing women is wrong and should not be tolerated. But it comes off as a case of “Good Message, Bad Messenger” considering the writers of the show are regularly guilty of misogyny and brutalizing women in many of its storylines (see Cordelia’s entire character arc). I mean, the fact that every example of a strong female character in this episode -- Cordy, Fred, Lilah -- ends up dying an ugly, agency-robbing death reflects really badly on ME and makes them look like a bunch of hypocrites for creating this episode.

                          I also agree with everyone else that Angel being evolved past misogyny is total bullshit. Especially considering all of the sexist shit that Angel says and does on a daily basis. Like at the very beginning of the episode when he’s reluctant to teach Cordy how to engage in combat. He essentially says that he would rather have Cordy not be able to fight because it makes him feel better to be able to rescue her. That is so f*cked up. I get that he’s a product of his time period (hence thinking it's acceptable to court a 16-year-old), but Angel really needs to get over himself. It also bugs me at the end when he interrupts Cordy in her righteous confrontation and takes away her agency at the end. A better climax would have been for Angel to have been affected by Billy’s touch and turned against Cordy, lashing out at her for not ‘staying in a woman's place’ or whatever and letting him deal with the action. Then Cordy could have subdued him just in time for Lilah to shoot Billy and undo his mojo.
                          When it comes to misogyny I think your right in the hypocrisy. Tim Minear on the DVD overview (S2 or 3 I can't remember which) says he wanted Angel to stake Darla after he slept with her in Epiphany with the Line "Was it good for you too" I'm glad they didn't do that as that was very misogynistic imo particularly after the violence he used throwing Darla through a door etc. Then in S3 Angel is hitting a pregnant woman which doesn't come across very well either.

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                          • #58
                            Yeah, the idea that Angel had "evolved" past misogyny was really silly. Or the idea that he'd let go of hate along time ago. Angelus is, like, violently misogynistic, and Angel is still guilty of a lot of casual sexism too. It's a shame because that ending always takes me out of an otherwise really good episode. They literally could've just said that Billy's powers only work on humans and not vampires/demons and simply left it at that.
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                            • #59
                              Really interesting comparing/contrasting Billy to The Pack Andrew S and the different coping mechanisms we see from the characters. I'd never really thought about the brutalising deaths the women shown to be strong in the episode eventually suffer against the message of the episode. The negative fates of the female characters was something I hadn't really questioned when I was first watching the series through but have seen raised many times since. I have to say that my feelings towards Cordelia's S4 are certainly being affected by this as I feel more invested in her overall arc.

                              Definitely agree it is better to think that Billy's powers simply didn't work on vampires.

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                                Definitely agree it is better to think that Billy's powers simply didn't work on vampires.
                                I actually would have preferred for it to work on Angel and to have gotten a brief Angel-Cordy fight, mostly because I feel like the episode was sort of building up to it. Particularly Cordy's "What if turned out *you* were the guy I had to fight?" comment.

                                “Offspring”

                                Positive: This interaction made me LOL:

                                FRED: “Who's Darla?”
                                GUNN: “Angel's old flame from way back.”
                                FRED: “Not the one that died?”
                                GUNN: “Yeah. No, not that one. The other one that died and came back to life. She's a vampire.”
                                FRED: “Y'all have a chart or something?”
                                GUNN: “In the files. I'll get it for you later.”



                                Negative: Fred’s “Kyerumption” mumbo-jumbo. And Cangel. *sigh* Okay, time for me to rant.

                                The storyline of Angel and Cordelia falling in love with each other makes perfect sense in theory. You can tell the writers had been playing with the idea since the first season (their kiss in “Parting Gifts”), the two actors have chemistry with one another, and there is an attraction between them that goes all the way back to the early Buffy episodes.

                                There are small moments across the series where you can clearly see Angel checking her out and Cordy has commented on Angel’s attractiveness before in various episodes (“He’s tall. And look at the way clothes hang on him!”). They have built up an emotional bond with each other over the past two years. Cordy brings out Angel’s funnier, more human side and Angel is the only person whom Cordy lets her guard down around and allows to see how deeply insecure she is. There is an increase in their sexual tension across these early S3 episodes (the reveal of how much thought Cordy has put into Angel as a romantic prospect in 3.04; the flirtatious “soothe your ass off” comment; their moving in synchronicity at the end of the previous ep). My point is, the romance could have worked.

                                Unfortunately, it does NOT work because the writers fumble so much with the execution. They never let Cangel develop naturally and realistically. Instead of having Angel and Cordy go on dates and interact like a real couple would - (before having their union undercut and destroyed, as what happens with 90% of the couples on these shows) - the writers spend S3-S4 dragging the relationship out and turning it into a melodramatic, soap-opera-y ‘will-they-won’t-they?’ romance that only exists to cause Angel angst and hype up what flawless Champions the two of them are. The foundation of Angel-Cordy (that’s a deliberate Angel-Cordy, not Angel/Cordy) was that the two of them were total opposites who balanced each other out and brought the other back down to earth. That was a relatable, fun and entertaining dynamic throughout S1-S2. But the foundation of Angel/Cordy is that the two of them are these super special heroes who are above everyone else and ‘destined’ to be together. And that results in a different dynamic that is cliched, forced, and boring throughout S3-S4.

                                Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                                Cordy in her hurt forgets what Darla is and is woobifying her just because she is pregnant when she wasn't weak in the scenario, it makes her look daft. I don't know, it might just be me, I don't think it bothered me as much when I first saw it (aside from Cordy treating Darla like she is currently harmless), it just feels somewhat sexist.
                                It’s definitely not just you. I agree completely that Cordy is incredibly dumb in her infantalization of Darla here. When Cordy asks her if she has seen a doctor, Darla gives her the most hilarious facial reaction, like, No, you stupid idiot. Even she, the person that Cordy is coddling, recognizes how dumb Cordy is being!

                                It’s ironic that David Greenwalt, who wrote this episode, was the writer who loved Cordelia the most because I think her characterization is often at its weakest in his episodes. I didn’t like the way she was written throughout much of “Heartthrob”, which he also wrote, but I enjoyed her from episodes 2 to 6. However, this episode - with the introduction of Cangel - is where the derailment of her character officially starts to begin. Even her hair is different and less flattering than it was in the first six episodes.

                                “Quickening”

                                Positive: There are some funny moments with pregnant Darla.

                                Negative: This is one of those arc-y, plot-moving episodes that is suspenseful on first-watch when you don’t know what will happen. But on rewatch, it’s incredibly boring.
                                Last edited by Andrew S.; 05-01-20, 11:55 PM.

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