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April 22 2004

Angel season 5 review. Daniel Erenberg at shares his thoughts on the first seventeen episodes of this season.

Which begs the question, what's your favourite episode of the season so far and why?

I pretty much agree with everything this writer said. My favorite episodes keep piling up, with every episode that airs becoming my favorite.

I am so in love with the Illyria character I can hardly stand it. I adore the private philosophical moments between her and Wesley. I am quite intrigued by the path this season has taken. It had a shaky start but it finally found it's footing.

I just can't believe the WB is putting a stop to this brilliant brand of storytelling. It's insane troll logic!
I agree with him. Mostly. I think Unleashed was absouletly horrendous and I adored TCTONC. It was a beautiful story about Angel himself and where he was going.

Lineage has the best Wesley this year and it rised quite a few eyebrows about the new council and it's intentions. Altough Drew disappointed me with Spike's jokes about "head boy" (ughh),I loved the episode.

Harm's Way was just a filler with a bad timing. I think it's a waste of time personally but wasn't bad. Just ordinary apart from the opening scene with W&H video. Excellent work there.

Starting with Destiny the season just got better and better. That's why I hate losing AtS.
I agree with this season review so far. It has got much better after a very weak start. Although I still miss Cordy in the mix. I think her old sarky self would have fitted in well here. Surely a memory wipe could have fixed her emotional baggage as well!
brob1 I agree. It was great to see Cordy in Your Welcome. It was the Cordy that I loved and missed for two years.

My favourite episode this season is 'Damage', closely followed by 'A Hole In The World'/'Shells', 'Soul Purpose', 'Lineage'(despite that awful joke) and TCTONC. Sorry, I just cannot pick one.
My fave epsiode is You're Welcome. Also excellent episodes are: Lineage, Disharmony, Damage, Smile Time, A Hole in the World/Shells.
electricspacegirl - I'm completely in agreement. Illyria is my new favorite character for the reason you stated. After last night, do you get the feeling that she's like the physical embodiment of Wesley's self-doubt, that nagging little voice in the back of your end that asks all the impossible questions about "why?". She's a morally dangerous character and I love it.
I also am intrigued by the character of Illyria and I think Amy Acker is doing a wonderful job of playing her character. I see nothing of Fred left in her at all and still am having a hard time realizing it is the same actress. My only disappointment is that there will be no next season to explore her character more!

As for Dan's assesment, I agreed with most of it. I also wasn't that impressed with Unleashed and I also liked TCTONC. Most of the episodes this season have been great and the ones that weren't were still great compared to other shows.

And, I was not a fan of the Angel/Cordy storyline but the end of "You're Welcome" also left me teary eyed and sad. I thought it was an excellent episode and I was thrilled that Cordelia wasn't just left in a coma forever. It was a great tribute and last night's episode was a great way to wrap up Connor's story too.
Hi All,

I liked this review of the season and mostly agreed with it.

My favorite episodes: Life of the Party - I laughed so much!
Destiny, Soul Purpose, of course You're Welcome (the shining best episode of the season so far), Hole in the World and Shell (I kinda see them as one episode) are amazing works, everytime I watch Shell again I see something I missed!

Wholly disagree with this review. I hate to be Captain Crankypants, but this has been a really down season for Joss, full of impotent, half-cocked storylines that play like thinly-veiled metaphors for his Rage Against the Networks. The Wolfram & Hart scenario had so much potential, and barely a lick of it has been breached beyond the obvious. There was a twinkling moment of real hope in Soul Purpose (which was an otherwise blah episode) during Wes and Gunn's confrontation with Spike, but the feel there was never touched again and we've been left with some basic progress that gets more and more obvious with each episode, except for the curveball, outta nowhere, deus ex moronica that was Seven of Smurf.

There's been some solid individual episodes, but the season as a whole has completely failed to stand up on larger inspection. Easily the worst AtS season thus far.
Gosh, TheJoyofZeppo, tell us how you really feel. That's an interesting take, but one I can't agree with. I tend to work more on the "How much does it make me want to find out what's happening next" scale, and s5 has it all over anything with Connor the MultiDimensional Demon Slayer. Not that I dislike Vincent of the unspellable without reference materials last name, just I thought they didn't do very much intersting with him (He's a conflicted teen - which is a metaphor for, um, conflicted teenagehood, or something).
"Seven of Smurf"?
There's been several comments that the character of Illyria is very similar to Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. The thought had crossed my mind when I watched 'Shells'.

The smurf reference is in regards to what Wes called Illyria in last week's episode.
Caught the Smurf reference but it was the "Seven of..." that was stumping me. Thanks Simon.
I see the superficial similarities between Seven and Illyria but I like Illyria a lot better.
JoyofZeppo- Im taking thats a BtVs season 3 ep reference, if it, thats my fave! if not, what a coinkydink. But I gotta whole heartidly disagree with you. I dont think this season has been obvious at all. And please, if im wrong, let me know, but it seems like one of your main problems with this year is the whole lack of arc it has had. That you are right about. No matter what anyone has said, and Ive heard alot say they disliked, but until this season season four was my fave. I am a hardcore AtS season four devotee and think it was just brilliant. out of any of Buffys or Angel's I think that was the best. And I think that might be the problem.

There was an arc from the beginning of se. 4 to the end that was amazing. It was so intriguing and every episode past I think it was "Apocalypse Nowish" when the Arc really came into place, seemed to be a "to be continued" I look at se.4 as being one looong story that took 6 months to explain. And I loved every minute! Obviously when you have such a huge arc like that, it's gonna be hard for "newbies" to jump on board without going "did I miss something?"

to me, se 4 was like another one of my faves(nowhere near AtS or the Buff, but a fave)-24. you miss one episode, you're screwed. Since the "staking" of my favorite show, it seems like the suits at WB like to point fingers; no matter how much insane troll logic the cuticles of those fingers seem to posess. I think the WB had a BIG problem with the "one big story" vibe of last year, and probably blamed that on a reason why Angel's ratings were not "up to par" with the suits, which by the way, were better ratings than season 3. Every season has increased in viewership, so go figure(conspiracy anyone?)

And anyone, please correct me if Im wrong, but I also remember reading about on many sites that the WB pretty much did everything but demand that this season have alot more stand-alones, which it has. I think I remember hearing that one of the agreements that had with Joss was that they do more monster of the week stuff to try to attract newbiescoobies or the show probably wouldnt come back if it did the same big arc thing again.

So Im guessing that Joss, and evryone else as Mutant Enemy that has helped made this show my All time favorite in history(including Buffy), probably felt alot of pressure to do so. I think all the writers and everyone responsible dont like the whole stand alone idea very much. I mean season 1 of BtVs was just like that and alot of season two was , too. Ever since the whole Buff/Angel, gypsy curse, halfway through that season, it was primarily Monster of the week. And then they didnt look back. Season 1 of AtS was stand alone mostly, too, of course, cuz it was the beginning, they had to find their nitch.

So I really doubt the whole lack of an arc this season is to blame on ME. They have been very arc driven since the early days and they knew that worked for them, I doubt they would go back to that old formula now without having some sorta pressure.

With that said, I think this season is excellent. I think they managed to balance that line of making the suits happy with stand alones(obviously not happy enough) and tried to work out some sorta continuity, which ironically, the very thing WB asked for, might very well be what nailed the coffin for this stellar show.

But you are right, Zeppo, I would have liked to of seen this season play out a little differently. I love the season long arcs ME have done for Buff and AtS and it wouldve probably been better if they were allowed to do that since the very beginning, but like I said, I dont think they had a choice
I haven't seen the end, of course, but I think this season of Angel is Joss Whedon's magnum opus.
TheJoyofZeppo is not entirely alone. I don't hate this season, but I do feel it's been, well, shallow. Many ideas were toyed with but never really explored - and some major questions have been either been given silly, illogical answers or blown off entirely. The show has maintained it's high standard for bright and witty dialogue, but a lot of the stories themselves only work if you turn your brain off for the duration.
That being said, the good still outweighs the bad and I will miss the show very much when it's gone.
"except for the curveball, outta nowhere, deus ex moronica that was Seven of Smurf."

So you complain about the obvious, and when there is something not obvious you complain too. And could everyone stop using the 'Deus ex Machina' term when it doesn't apply? Every time these days on the net, whenever people don't like a plot or a twist they yell 'Deus ex Machina'. Illyria's appearance has nothing to do with a Deus ex Machina. Why she is a moron is also not very clear to me. Criticism doesn't just consist of creative namecalling.

And frankly Seven of Nine was hardly the first of that type of character either. I have SF novels and comics of decades old with those types of characters. Archetypes are everywhere. What matters is what's done with them and how it affects the other characters and the plot.

Easily one of the best seasons of Angel so far for me.

The setup of 'us bunch of investigators' had run it's course a bit for me. The whole Connor thing was a great way to open up many new plotlines but the character was just so annoying that it ruined good chunks of both S3 and S4 for me. The W&H factor this season has been an amazing reboot.

"just I thought they didn't do very much intersting with him (He's a conflicted teen - which is a metaphor for, um, conflicted teenagehood, or something)."

Where is it written that every word and gesture on Joss' shows has to be a metaphor for something? I mainly saw an ep where they wrapped up the loose end of Angel's relationship with his son. This way it was ended amicably with as close as a 'blessing' from Connor to Angel's S4 decision as he can get. After all the complaining and pouting of Connor for the past season or so, it was a refreshing, if subdued, ending.

As for Season Arcs, it's clear that's what Joss loves best and nearing the end of this season it's also clear that that's what we're doing again. Could have been that way earlier, but the WB had to force them into 'stand alone' mode, which is extra aggravating when it becomes more and more clear they never really intended for a Season 6.

As for this article, I agree on some points, not on others, which is to be expected. I find it amazing that he puts the early Werewolf ep above the early Spike centered ones. The werewolf girl one was complete and utter filler for me. At least.

Overall their were some eps that felt like filler, bit so were there in the other Angel seasons. Or Buffy seasons for that matter. The main troubles I've seen is restrictions from the network. The stand alone mode just doesn't suit these shows and it made the ongoing story feel a bit more staccato than usual.

Haven't really seen any silly answers to major questions really.
"just I thought they didn't do very much intersting with him (He's a conflicted teen - which is a metaphor for, um, conflicted teenagehood, or something)."

Where is it written that every word and gesture on Joss' shows has to be a metaphor for something?

I think giles(yes, it's my real name)--and he complains about Kartheiser!--was just makin' a funny. I completely agree with you on the "deus ex machina" though.
Lack of arc was one of my main problems when the season got started, but I got over it, mostly. If it's a season without arc, then I'll try to judge it as such.

But the problem is, it's not a season without arc. It's a season with a huge arc, possibly the largest ever. But instead of taking it to a dark, dark place, like the Wolfram and Hart storyline would basically demand, it keeps on teasing us. Oooh, we're dark... no, wait, don't go! These are still the characters you love! Look, puppets (which, by the way, is still my favorite ep of the season)!

There's several issues at hand here. First of all - Spike. If he's going to be on the show, he should be on the damn show. He's a fascinating character, filled with contradictions and nuance, and they've played him for gags, if they play him at all. The Spike/Angel banter has been brilliant, but the utilization of the character has been very shoddy and pretty uncreative.

Then there's Wesley. This is a similarly nuanced, contradictory character who honestly deserves his own program. But you wouldn't know that from S5, where Lilah's a tossed-off morbid joke, he's lost the memory of the very event that's defined him since mid-Season Three (something they really should have dealt with better), and he goes from unfettered psychopath to blithe man-with-the-books, depending on the vicinity of Fred to the situation.

Oh, and Fred... Dear, sweet Canon Sue Fred. Suddenly, she's the answer to everything. She's an expert at multiple different kinds of science! She's a tough taskmaster, but with such a warm heart and an endearing smile that sparkles! Everybody loves her! Spike flirts with her! She is the sweet, innocent light that Wesley MUST pine for! Angel broods over her twice as much as he would for Cordelia! Lorne binge drinks for her! The world's not worth living in without wonderful, lovely, untainted Fred!

Angel broods! Every episode, he's back with, "We should have never done this! It was wrong! Why did we do this?" And every other episode, he resolves to get over it and work towards a better future, but you know he'll be right back to the brooding next week. He doesn't even change the tune of his brooding. It's just the same monotonous depression. Cordy doesn't even really raise him out of it, even though that was the point of the freakin' episode. The character hasn't moved more than an inch on the development scale since Home.

This has been a bad, bad season, but there was hope. The hope was that this had all the markings of a transition, that in Season Six, we'd be back with a stronger storyline, having wrapped up some old storylines and given the AI crew some time in the wading pool to sulk and get some perspective. But, now The WB has rubbished the concept that S5 has been worth even that waiting.

I keep watching, and I keep hoping... It's entertaining, but entertainment has never been what I've asked for when I watch a Whedon program. I ask for my head to be toyed with, I ask for the conventions I've relied on to be twisted, inverted. I ask for my world to change for having Joss Whedon in it, and for the four season previous to this (and seven on Buffy), he's more or less delivered. Now? Meh.

[ edited by TheJoyofZeppo on 2004-04-23 02:02 ]
EdDantes - I want set-up from Joss. I want some indication, however terrible oblique it is, that something like Illyria is coming. He has almost always delivered this. I'm not asking to be sat with and read to like the rest of the season's "developments". It's not hard to see where the characters are going.

Joss has been particularly good about bringing in lots of diverse little bits and pieces of foreshadowing that you never notice until they come up and smack you in the face. I've not seen that this season. I've just seen broad writing and the gutting of characters who should be way more complex than they're being written.

This is my problem.
Well, I have to say I agree with EdDantes. For me this has been one of the best seasons of Angel. Yes, it has it's weak moments but every season of both Buffy and Angel (and every other show on TV) has them. But of course everyone doesn't see things the same way so not everyone likes this season even though it seems like the majority of people do.

One thing I also feel is that it is truly hard to judge an entire season until it's over, especially with all these long breaks in between episodes. I so much enjoy getting the dvd sets just for this reason because you can really get more of a feel of where the writers were going because you aren't getting the constant distractions from commercials, pop ups and 6 week breaks between episodes.
Zeppo, I pretty much agree with some of your latest comments.

I love this season, but it should have been more arc driven; that is what Joss and CO do best, but again, I sincerely feel that after se. 4 the WB really pressured them into more stand alones. It's a shame , because I just know that if all the brilliant ME minds were given the opportunity to execute this season how they felt, from episode one, it wouldve been much more compelling.

And ditto on Spike. He has been a bit of the comic relief. it hasnt really gotten to me that much, though for a couple reasons

The first is that this is not his show. I like The Bloody as much as anyone does, but he's basically the freshman all over again, in my opinion, just like he was in season four of Buffy.

And speaking of that... Season Four of Buffy. It was somewhat of a transitional year, leaving High School and going to the real world. In a lot of ways that season was just there to plant seeds that would later blossom in season five and six(personal fave) and some in seven. And that's what is sad about this season.

We all know Joss and ME have the big picture always in mind, and I'm sure they had that in mind going into this season. I'm sure Spike would've taken more of a front seat in season six, I'm sure we would have seen some big big changes in Gunn, cuz like the season, I think he's in a transition;one I find fascinating, hell, I can even have seem them doing something completrly 180(degrees) with Lorney Toons. It wouldve been cool to see how far down the cliff Fred's death wouldve taken him. I can see him getting more and more miserable and relying more and more on his infamous sea-breezes to get through the days. That wouldve rocked.

These are just examples, but I really think they had ideas like this is mind, being quite optimistic that they would be back next year. So basically, the feel I get now that Im thinking is that this entire season five is not a stand alone; it's big arc wouldve came next year. God that really pisses me off. They comply with WB and ditch their formula that has worked so well and whadda they do?...

I really have hope, though. I honestly think the TV movies look promising. I know youre all laughing, but I really do. Gawd, I hope so, Im already feeling the withdrawls
TheJoyofZeppo, when you see things coming, you complain you saw them coming. When something surprises you, you complain that you didn't see it coming. Pick a complaint, any complaint....;-)

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