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"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."
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June 01 2004

Whedon confrms Hamilton represents network suits. A report on the Nashville Academic Buffy meeting: 'Slayage Conference'.

By 'yourlibrarian', a Whedonesque poster.

On the panel was David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily News who mentioned several things he learned from interviewing Joss by phone prior to the finale. One of these things was the fact that Angel's 'Hamilton' represents TV Network executives.

And apparently we haven't seen the last of Puppet Angel.
I coulda told them Dark Shadows was gonna suck. You get what you pay for. Cheaper ain't better. It's just cheaper.

I agree with "The Girl In Question." While it was entertaining, it wasn't up to par with what I expect from Mutant Enemy.

When Spike called DeadFred "blue" ..that was sweet. Amy Acker took what I thought was an impossible writing choice and made it the perfect acting choice. She's more amazing a talent than I had previously given her credit.

I think Lilah should have been Eve and Gunn should have been Hamilton. Had the season been written to make that happen, the final episode would have held more emotional weight.

I still don't get the Lorne thing. Lorne was introduced to us as the guy who couldn't get weighed down. He listened to people's futures in their songs, and he saw bad stuff and he saw darkness in Angel and yet never let any of it phase him, but when he saw Fred die it just ripped something inside that leaked all the good out of him. Sad. Strange. Not sure if that means he's now been dragged down unredeemably or not. If his spirit is broken, then his is another loss, y'know? Amy, Cordy and Doyle died under Angel's watch, and hey any champion's gonna lose the occasional soldier, but in some ways losing good demon Lorne to hopelessness and despair that's like a worse thing.

Anyway. Just my thoughts in response to the thoughts from the link, take it or leave it.
Joss wanted to do more with Illyria, and Bianculli thought that a Spike/Illyria spinoff would be a great idea.

Yes! I want a Spike/Illyria spinoff! Please??

Bianculli noted that the rest of Angel’s group accepted that Illyria was here to stay when Spike nicknamed her.

Little Shiva!

An audience member brought up that Wesley’s role as a watcher came full circle with Illyria at the end, something which the panel had not considered and were taken with.

I did notice that Wesley was taking on the role of Illyria's watcher and their dynamic was fascinating, which is why I thought a Wesley/Illyria spin-off would be perfect. Sigh.

An audience member talked about how one of the show’s writers said that the loss of the female characters on “Angel” was about the hole it left in men’s lives along with a loss of hope. That “Angel” was never about the empowerment of women but rather about the fragmented images of masculinity

Excellent observation and it helps me make peace with the pain that I've been feeling since Cordelia and Fred died. A hole in the world, most definitely.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2004-06-01 09:00 ]
I think Lilah should have been Eve and Gunn should have been Hamilton. Had the season been written to make that happen, the final episode would have held more emotional weight.

ZachsMind, I completely agree with this. It never occured to me for them to use Gunn in that way. Good god, can you imagine if Gunn had been laying in bed with Harmony, evily conspiring to bring Angel down? That would have been scary.
Gunn may have been evil, but I think the darker thing about seeing him in a position like that is that we would have understood him every step on the way down. In a way, he would've very much become Lindsey's mirror.

I argued in a review I wrote for Soul Purpose in my LiveJournal that the most interesting thing about that episode was the scene in Spike's apartment where Wes and Gunn were both shot very ominously - as if they had already become evil. And in many ways, they had. It took the rise of Illyria to remind a good chunk of the Fang Gang the cost of their choices. Wesley's grief was also outrage at himself for having let things spiral this out of hand, and he reacted violently.
(2) It was suggested that Angel HAD shansu’ed – through Connor.

(4) An audience member brought up that Wesley’s role as a watcher came full circle with Illyria at the end, something which the panel had not considered and were taken with.

Those two observartions really struck home with when reading the piece. Excellent report. Thanks.

Oh and more puppet Angel brings a smile to my heart.

[ edited by NOLA64 on 2004-06-01 10:50 ]
I can relate Hamilton to the network suits, all powerful, untouchable and can kill you with a gesture.
So, what to we make of the way Angel defeated Hamilton? By drinking his blood and absorbing some of his power? Does this mean Joss intends to become a network suit?
*Imagines Joss in grey flannel*

Naaah.
Gunn may have been evil, but I think the darker thing about seeing him in a position like that is that we would have understood him every step on the way down.

Good point, JoZ. I was thinking something along that line but didn't say it. Tired.

I argued in a review I wrote for Soul Purpose in my LiveJournal that the most interesting thing about that episode was the scene in Spike's apartment where Wes and Gunn were both shot very ominously - as if they had already become evil. And in many ways, they had. It took the rise of Illyria to remind a good chunk of the Fang Gang the cost of their choices. Wesley's grief was also outrage at himself for having let things spiral this out of hand, and he reacted violently.

That makes so much sense. I'm finding that there was so much about season 5 that I was unable to see while it was being aired, and now in retrospection, along with the help of online discussion with other fans, I am finally able to come to terms with it.

The more I analyze season 5, the more I see it as being truly one of the best seasons. But it still felt like a build up to an even greater season. God damn the WB! Cancelling this show in it's prime just makes no sense at all. *cries*
"David Bianculli"

I know I'm not the only one who thought of Bunnicula when they read that.
Prufock: Guess we'd better put a guard on our veggies!
"It was suggested that Angel HAD shansu’ed – through Connor."

Connor was concerned that the Senior Partners would destroy Angel, and his response: "As long as you're okay, they can't."

That exchange happened so quickly, and there was so much else going on that it didn't register immediately. But I think that is exactly what it means--that Angel had indeed Shanshu'ed through Connor.

I liked the notion that what everybody did to try to save Angel despite the utter futility of the effort is analagous to the closing scene...gives me a sense of serenity that I hadn't had about it (both situations, actually) before.
I don't really understand how Angel could have Shanshu'd through Connor. Someone will have to spell out that theory to me a little more specifically, because it's not making any sense in my brain. I did like the idea that Wesley had come full circle by being Illyria's Watcher, I had never thought of it that way before.

And am I the only one who absolutely adored 'The Girl In Question'? One of the best eps of the season.
Great article - enjoyed all the points that people made and am enjoying the discussion on this site regarding it. Zachsmind - excellent point that it would've had even more of an impact if it had been Gunn in the role as Hamilton. Kind of like Dark Willow fighting Buffy but with no one to save Gunn in the end like Xander did for Willow. I don't feel that Wesley had become so dark there was no return and he had to be the one who died. I also had liked the idea of a Wesely and Illyria spin-off or a Spike & Illyria spin-off (and the last few episodes seemed to be suggesting that could be the spin-off idea considering how much time they had Illyria and Spike spending together).

I also felt when watching it that the message was that Angel had Shanshued just because Connor exists. Why do people have children in the first place? Partly because they know part of themselves will live on when they are gone and therefore, with each generation, they are still alive. Angel made sure his son was happy and for all parents that is the most important thing that you'd want for your kids.

And more Puppet Angel?!!? Does that mean the new spin-off could be them all as muppets?!!
Mindpeices - I really liked TGiQ, too. My sense of it is that some fans felt that the episode was simply too upbeat for so close to The End, and some fans were not happy that a Buffy resolution (of *their* choice, of course!)was not reached.
And I guess the "Angel shanshu'd through Connor" theory is that we get to live on through our children. Not what I'd envisioned it meant, but it's all over now, and if that thought gives certain fans comfort and closure, it's okay with me. :-)
I enjoyed The Girl In Question and if you recall, the majority of posts on this site were in favor of the episode with just a few who didn't like it. But one fault I could find with it that may have made others who didn't like it, like it more, would be that it could've been shown a few episodes earlier. I think some people felt it was a filler episode and with it being so close to the end of the series they would've preferred something more substantial. Just my guess though.
You're not the only one, MindPieces. Myself and several others posters here & at All Things Philosophical loved the episode. It seems destined to be one of those Mutant Enemy episodes that people either fiercely love or hate with a fiery passion.


As for the Connor/Shanshu thingy, I think it represents the concept that we live on, become human through our children. That they are the most improtant part of us. Angel will live on thanks to Connor and Connor's children and so on. It's a lovely sentiment. Whedon's recent fatherhood is certainly a reason to think this could be a possible enterpretation of the sequences with Connor in the final episodes.

I always thought that part of the Connor storyline in S3 &4 was a representation of parental fear. That this is every nightmare of a potential parent, that you will fail your child this spectecuarly. Now, that Whedon has child perhaps he is not as concerned hence the Connor of the last episodes.
I always thought that part of the Connor storyline in S3 &4 was a representation of parental fear. That this is every nightmare of a potential parent, that you will fail your child this spectecuarly.

Wow, Unitas, I never saw it that way. That makes complete sense to me, and validates that whole plot arc entirely (although I was never bothered by the Connor arc like most people).
Speaking of network suits, I feel compelled to voice my wish for a new category on Whedonesque: the WB watch or Countdown to Armageddon at WB. Why? So we can post fun links like Second tier network which speaks to how low the WB has fallen.

But anyway, back to the original post, GREAT recap. I loved the points being made.
As Mike's LJ mentioned, we just returned from the conference yesterday night and after 3 days discussing Buffy from 8-6, it's all a bit of a jumble. However I'll try to add a few points to address some questions above.

RE: the Shansu, yes, the discussion suggested that since Angel, as a vampire, should not have been able to reproduce in the first place, the fact that he did have a human son meant that he was going to be able to live on as a human, just as humans do, through their offspring. blwessls and Unitas already picked up on this but I would just add that if the ending turns out as it should (there were discussions about the Butch & Sundance/Wild Bunch ending at the panel too), then Angel does both die and live on in L.A. One funny note to add about that, Bianculli mentioned that having previewed the finale it's always difficult to review a season ender (in particular) without saying so much you spoil the impact of the show. So all he can generally write about is how 'satisfying' a show is or isn't. After his review was printed he immediately started receiving mail criticizing him for being so dense as to not see the Butch & Sundance parallels in the ending. So he snarked about how just because he couldn't write about it didn't mean the various aspects of the show had passed him by.

As for the "Girl in Question", I agree, it's one of those shows people feel strongly about one way or another. Some of the discussion about it at the panel focused on how if Buffy could not appear in the show it seemed rather lame to have the show deal with her at all. Having read other links here I know the writers claim SMG was never considered for that episode, and personally I don't see why the story had to have her in it to deal with the Buffy issue, but that's clearly not a universal feeling.
I do understand the sentiment of "we live on through our children" but still don't buy it as being part of the Shanshu prophecy for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that Connor wasn't exactly human, was he? I know it was never fully explained, but he did react to that anti-demon violence spell in the hotel in season 4, and he does have superhuman strength. I always wished they'd explored both Connor and Cordelia's "demon sides" some more, but we were left with a lot of unanswered questions in that department.

Second, it doesn't really fit in with the whole "vampire with a soul will become human" thing. Becoming human and producing a human are quite different. Then again, those prophecies are often misinterpreted, so who knows.
HA! I knew it!
I don't think Connor actually fulfilled Angel's Shanshu. He was just an acceptable replacement for it.
Just to add to the comment electricspacegirl made earlier regarding Angel S5, I also felt that this season was very uneven. Mike and I felt the same about Buffy S7 which was disappointing in the opportunities missed for character development (especially given that the season's villain was character rather than plot-oriented). At the conference, Sunday's keynote was given by James South, author of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale and was about the philosophical consistency of S7. He made some interesting points about how there was more consistency than was at first apparent, as each of the characters had to overcome their own desire-based illusions before they were able to successfully unite to defeat the First. He also pointed out that seeing the season all at once instead of spaced out not only made the humor in the season more apparent but made the flaws less noticeable -- something I think others have mentioned about S4, a season previously held in disregard. So perhaps as time goes by Angel S5 will indeed be considered more for its strengths than weaknesses.
He made some interesting points about how there was more consistency than was at first apparent, as each of the characters had to overcome their own desire-based illusions before they were able to successfully unite to defeat the First. He also pointed out that seeing the season all at once instead of spaced out not only made the humor in the season more apparent but made the flaws less noticeable -- something I think others have mentioned about S4, a season previously held in disregard. So perhaps as time goes by Angel S5 will indeed be considered more for its strengths than weaknesses.

I completely agree. I recently rewatched Buffy season 7 on my computer in a 3 day span and I honestly think that thematically and suspensefully, it was one of the most powerful and charged seasons. I think I even felt when I first watched it as it aired, that it gave a feeling of desperation and an increasing momentum that frightened me more than any other season. Where in previous seasons I always knew the Scoobies were going to come out of the apocolypses victorious, this time I wondered if anyone would make it out alive.

People are very hard on season 7 but I just think you really need to see the episodes all at once to make a good judgement. I feel blessed that I began watching both Buffy and Angel this way, having come into the series at the tail end of Buffy season 7. I even watch the seasons over, after taking a break, and each time I catch more nuance and see more layers than before.

The DVDs offer the full experience of the story, along with extra features and interviews/commentary that let you in on the creator's storytelling process.

I'm not ready to make a final judgement on this season until I am able to spend a lot of time with the DVDs. I'm happy enough right now to say that even if the season started out uneven, I do trust in what the writers had to say, and I know there will be more layers to uncover later.

Ok, now I'm done. Whew! Long-winded much?
A really minor point but I wanted to say that I think the Butch & Sundance comparison is being a little over blown. Personally, The Wild Bunch seems the far more apt comparison, not only because Whedon has mentioned it specifically in refrence to the finale & not only because there are many Whedon character named after character from that film (chiefly, Angel, Pike & the Gorsch Borthers) but also for thematic reasons, notably that the Bunch expects (& accepts) their deaths in the final battle, something Butch & Sundance do not do.

The comparison seems made chiefly on the ambiguity of the final shot which seems to me to born out of a budgetary necessity & a desire to allow for a possibility to come back to these characters at a later date.

Or maybe it's just that I think Butch & Sundance is a pretty shallow movie while The Wild Bunch is a great one.
I too feel that S7 is genrally underappreciated in the fan base. I do think it is the weakest season since S1 (when Whedon was really finding his storytelling feet) but that it is nowhere near as bad as some say. It's a season where I think you can begin to see some creative exhaustion on the writer's behalf (notably in the sloppiness of some plotting) but to be honest, I can't believe it took them this long to finally start to run out of steam. I mean how many shows maintain the quality level of Buffy for so long. To be honest, I can't think of a one so for the show to finally start to dip in it's final season is hardly surprising, especially when you consider the problems with the Firefly start up and the Executive Producer change over at Angel. Truly, how many long running shows finish with their strongest year. If there are any, it's probably not a very long list.

Additionally, expectations were enormous for that season especailly with the whole Buffy Year One premise which was meant to assuage viewer fears about the darkness of season 6. It's a flawed season certainly but much like season 4 (which was beat up pretty bad at the time) I hope people will be able to re-evaulate it when it comes out on DVD.

I am in a posting frenzy today.
MindPieces, I too enjoyed TGiQ. I do agree it seemed like an interruption in the storytelling because at the end of the previous episode Angel decides he is going to help the Senior Partners, and then suddenly he's taking a break to run around in Italy with Spike. Although that episode was so hilarious (and deliciously slashy), in the back of my mind I was wondering why they would have Angel do something out of character and then drop the potential plot twist.

TGiQ just seemed like they slipped in an episode they meant to film earlier. Although the Frillyria/Wes interaction wouldn't have worked if it had been an earlier episode. That plot was on theme with the rest of it, but the ep just felt a little out of place.

Of course I can always overlook that fact. That's something I'm very good at in the Jossverse. I'm pretty accepting of ME's mistakes, or alleged mistakes. I think I even deserve a medal for tolerance. I'm a Dawn and Connor sympathizer, afterall.
A few things -- I thought that the consensus was that this season of Angel was its best, so if the opinion goes up over time, that would be amazing.

As for Gunn as Hamilton. Yes, it would have been creepy and resonant, but it would have meant that not only had Gunn had a hand in Fred's death, but that afterwards, he made it even more meaningless by selling out AGAIN. That would have been disgusting, and as a fan of the only brother on the show, I would have been disappointed.
brother grady - I agree on both points, especially the Gunn-as-Hamilton point. The season is dark enough without one of our heroes going irrevocably bad.

I also wholeheartedly agree with whomever at the confrence said the Gunn's relationship with Fred was about his consistent search for identity. That point was really driven home for me when I read the script for Waiting in the Wings a couple of years ago and Gunn makes a point about how much Fred reminds him of his sister (the line was cut by broadcast, maybe to avoid creepy incest overtones).
Yes, good points brother_grady. Maybe if he wasn't the one directly involved with what happened to Fred but more because of losing her to Wesley it could've made more sense but the way it played out was perfect. Gunn was the one who, unknowingly, allowed, Illyria to possess Fred's body but he took responsibility for it and took Lindsey's place in Hell out of his guilt over it. It could've been more interesting to play it up that Angel knew someone for sure was going to betray him and that he suspected it was Gunn (they could've let the audience think this too by not letting us see him turn Hamilton down).
Gunna as Hamilton- I love it. seeing Gunn's despair this whole season( and others" of how he wanted to be much more than "just muscle" and the fear and anger in his eyes when he said to the doc (whats his name?)

"Im not going back to what I was!" really made me feel for Charlie boy- and a little upset of how underappreciated(in his eyes) the others had taken him. for him to continue to go "to the dark side" IMO, wouldve been much better than a character we only saw for 6 eps, and personally, didnt have time to care for.

Lilah as Eve- ITA. who knows what went on behind scenes, but I was a lil miffed as to why Lilah was just gone after 4 seasons.
ok, she died, but she was still a liason. I wouldve loved to have seen the undead Lilah's reaction to Wes' death.

which makes me think? what happened to Wes' sould(or whatever"
(arguably) we know Fred's was destroyed, but did they ALL sign something when they took over? is there a chance Wes is in the same sorta Wolfram and Hart purgatory that Lilah is ? That Spike was when he was a ghost.
Hmmmm, maybe Dead Wes and Lilah are together. awwwwwwww.

one more thing- I LOVED SEASON SEVEN!
I do agree, that some characters' roles shrunk a lil. the end of 6,and the first teaser of 7, it looked like Dawn was gonna get to grow up and experience more. But she didnt. She remained whiny. And to me, Xander kinda took a backseat. there wasnt enough Xand-man for me as there has been in previous'
also, (dont know the name, one of the early ones) the ep where Anya killed all the frat boys and Buffy had to kill her...her death in "Chosen" was kinda a breeze and a lil rude to dispose of a 4 year regular that way. anyways, that ep where Buffy needed to kill her, she shouldve stayed dead there, much more powerful.
But I dont think they "ran outta ideas" in the last season;
I try to look at it this way- they had 6 great years of character development, emotion, growth, etc. Everyone knew this was the last year. there was a big story to tell, so perhaps they decided to just try and go MORE FULL on action

PuppetCancer out

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