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"I'm so evil, and skanky. And I think I'm kind of gay."
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September 21 2004

Angel season four DVD review. "Saying that season four was possibly the worst season Angel is like saying that milk chocolate is the worst form of chocolate-it's still better than most of what the competition has to offer."

Same as we've been saying all along. Even at their worse, AtS & BtVS still were the best shows on TV. Judging from DVD sales of both series, I say many people out there agree.
The only thing I hate about this review is that they gave all of season 4 a b+ at the very least it deserved a A. If it wasnt for this season i wouldn't have been addicted as much to Angel. before Apocolypse nowish i was just a casual watcher who if i saw a episode good but if i missed a episode meh... but now if i even see the word Angel in the TV guide im there watching it. so in my opinion this season deserves an A++++++ like every other season of Angel truely deserved.
Everyone has a opinon on a season, I think season one was super, especially all the episodes with Doyal, Cordy and Angel, those 3 had a great chemistry, Angel has evolved so much, you got people liking different parts of it, I haven't seen all of season four, so I can't comment or read the review, I stil got season four and five to watch.
I thought a lot of this review was pretty on, actually.
I've said a few times season 4 was one of my least favorites. Now, having just finished rewatching every ep on DVD, I've revised that somewhat. I enjoyed the season MUCH more watching it continuously. But I'd agree with this reviewer that it has some of both the best and worst of what Angel has to offer. It's highs are some of the best of any season. But when it fails – well, it goes all out too.
So, since i just finished watching "Home" last night, here are a few of things I thought were the season's best and worst. The high points:
– the series of eps in which Angel loses/regains his soul, involving both Faith and Willow, is one of the best run of episodes in any angel season. totally riveting.
– In retrospect, i liked the Beast as a plot point much more than i did the first time around.
- Wes and Lilah. Mmmmm.... gotta love it when the angel writers let their characters get nice and twisted. Plus, there's an unexpected undercurrent of real feeling to the relationship.
- Connor. I still have my quibbles with the character, and i definitely got sick of his angsty teenager whining, but again – i liked him and his character development better upon seeing the episodes all together. His complexities really emerge, especially in terms of how he relates to jasmine.
- the season finale. I thought "Home" was a brilliant way to wrap up this season and to move Angel in a totally new direction.

In terms of the not-so-much:
– Cordy. Not only has her character been obliterated beyond all recognition, but charisma carpenter, much as i love her, can't play evil to save her life.
- Skip's revelation. Ok, this REALLY bugged me. the whole idea that almost every single thing we've seen in the past 3 1/2 seasons has simply been part of Jasmine's evil plan, that the characters have all been manipulated - not only does it feel like a slap in the face to fans, but it makes NO sense. Why go such a twisted and convluted route to getting Jasmine to Earth when there are so many simpler options? And you're saying that, although now the characters sometimes seem able to act against what Cordy/Jasmine wants them to do, in the previous seasons every time they had an unexpected triumph, they were reallly being manipulated? The only way i could make peace with this was to decide that skip was lying. I could accept him being evil – and that his "higher being" pitch to Cordy was a trick – but figured the rest of it was either him being deluded or deliberately trying to mess with Angel et al.
- Jamine. Again, i liked her plot arc better than i did the first time around, but it still got old. I actually liked the conundrum it set up – free will vs. total happiness but loss of self – and i liked the fact that the decision to destroy Jasmine ultimately meant the loss of world peace. But, there was just a bit too much of the Jasmine adoration, and everyone milling around saying how happy they were, and it got old fast. Plus, though i loved Gina Torres in Firefly, i wasn't crazy about her in this role.
- Fred/Gunn. Meh. I enjoyed Supersymmetry, but i got pretty tired of the Fred/gunn tension as it stretched across the whole season.

Overall, i felt like there were fewer throwaway eps in this season – even ones like The House Always Wins had redeeming points (Lorne's show? Oh yeah!). And it was definitely "operatic" - the word the writers keep using to describe it. I appreciate how ambitious it was, and at times it really succeeded. I did miss the humor (Spin the Bottle was the one exception) but Angel often tends to be more all-out dark, without the mitigating humor, than buffy was. The tone fit what they were trying to do. I still have my quibbles, but the season definitely holds up better on eps watched back-to-back than stretched over nine months.
Sorry that got so long! I didn't mean to ramble on quite so much, but writing that post turned into sort of a way to reassess the season for myself. And there was just so much to assess :-)
acp, IMO, you nailed that review on the head. I feel many will think differently about this season once they've seen it as a whole.
Yeah, great season assesment acp. I haven't yet seen it on DVD but I always enjoy the seasons better when I do and I'm sure it won't be any different this time around either. Your review was so much what I felt when I watched it the first time around. I also felt Charisma didn't do a good job playing evil (and it seemed to me that she was playing the part and not acting). I actuallly thought the show was building into it's best season ever until around that time and then it seemed to fizzle once Jasmine was born. I agree with you that all the Jasmine episodes and the too happy people was dragged out too much. And Skip's explanation that EVERYTHING was manipulated didn't make sense to me either. They never seemed to address that again in future episodes to verify it either but I guess the whole memory swipe thing was supposed to take care of that.

Of course, I still think any episode from the Whedonverse is 100's of times better than anything else out there so I know I'll enjoy this season on DVD even though I think it kind of fell apart a little during the evil Cordy/Jasmine arc. If Charisma had been able to carry it off maybe it would've worked better for me.

I did like the ending and the questions of whether or not they truly did do the right thing and the cliff hanger with Fred asking "Who's Connor?" when Angel mentions him as he's leaving. That had me wondering what was going to happen all summer.
I agree with a lot of what was said here but in my opinion s4 was not bad by any means. There were stumbles but taken as a whole its an amazing and ambitious piece of work that should be applauded. I am not as bothered by the Skip stuff or the sudden far reaching arc of Jasmine's influence, though it does annoy me a tad.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2004-09-21 17:34 ]
When we recently bought season 4 on dvd, we hadn't seen the first half of season 4 at all. We'd heard about some great moments-Spin the Bottle was rife with them, and some not so great moments-rather unconvincing Cordy/Connor sex.

But now having watched it in it's entirety, I can say it was a hell of a season! Despite the fact that we fast forwarded through most of the scenes that had just Cordy and Connor because we find them beyond boring, the rest was really top notch.

And I rather like the idea of making everything going on for the last few years just a way to bring about Jasmine. One one hand, I can see how you feel a bit cheated as a fan, but on the other, I like that it makes the characters think about their own parts and their own destiny, and if it was really all just to bring about Jasmine. It makes them feel like pawns, and I think that brings about another dimension to their characters. Well, at least that's how *I* would feel if I were them. I'm not sure we saw a whole bunch of them worrying about it. I could just be projecting what I wanted the characters to feel.

I will agree that Charisma just can't do evil very well. And as a fan I do feel a bit cheated that the last 'real' Cordy we see is in Season 3.

And I have to say it...Angel is probably the only vamp that can go without blood for months and *gain* weight. I'm thinking Spike in Pangs....just a few days and he was all gaunt and pale...or rather gaunter and paler. I thought with Angel it would be like famine pictures from those dusty countries, only not half as funny. ;)
acp nailed it - Great post don't worry about the length. Skip's explanation feels wrong - but he's evil so most likely lying. I do like the vampire birth as pay back for the trial Angel won for Darla.

Home is absolutely fantastic as a finale. Lilah is wonderful all season (dressed as Fred!!was fantastic)

Watching this season on DVD has made me a much bigger fan of it and btw I think weapons should be arranged by the amount of damage inflicted.
Have to agree with this review and what's been said quite eloquently on this thread so far. Although it had some standouts, "Home", "Spin the Bottle", to name a few, Season four was not a favorite (that honor belongs to Season 5 and 3).

Loved the Wes and Lilah stuff and the choice Angel makes at the end. Didn't like David's over-the-top performance as Angelus. He came off more like an obnoxious car salesman rather than evil serial killer. He was a better Angelus on Buffy Season Two. Hated the unrecognizable Cordy, and absolutely despised the forced Jasmine arc.

Yet, still this season offered some very profound themes to chew on and for that reason alone I can't seem to hate season four completely.
As I've said previously, I agree that Skip was probably lying just throw the fang gang off their game. Can't say I ever had a problem with Charisma's protrayl of evil Cordy, while not as good as say David's Angelus, I never felt it was jarring or ruining the story for me. I've actually only rewatched season 1 on dvd so far but s4 is still my favourite and I can't see that changing once I do get all the dvd's
I do like the vampire birth as pay back for the trial Angel won for Darla.
Oh, i totally forgot about that. I loved that tidbit! It was such a great reference back to season 2, and a wonderful explanation for a birth that was impossible – and which had never really been explained.
One of my favorite things about both buffy and angel is that dangling plot threads (almost always) get resolved, even if it's two or three seasons in the future. And that the shows aren't afraid to make major referrals to events that happened several seasons back (supersymmetry was another good example). Not that there weren't plot threads left dangling in both shows, but i always figured they were mostly due to the unexpected need to rush both series to a close without the time to deal with everything.
I thought the Angelus performance was rather profoundly good. It was creepy and slimey :)

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2004-09-21 18:32 ]
The vampire birth explanation was one of Skip's tidbits that I believed, and worked well.
Its been said before but its really true that when you watch this season in one go without adbreaks it's totally addictive

I ended up getting the boxset on Saturday morning

By the end of Saturday Night I had watched 16 episodes. And it was painful for me to go to sleep and not watch the rest of the season

Thats how good the season was

I also found the same thing with Season One of Angel. It had been so badly cut by Channel Four (who by the way is my channel in the whole of the UK) that I was dissapointed and did not feel particuarly for the characters

Watching it on DVD, it fantastic and I realized just how much I love Elizabeth Rohm's Kate and also how utterly disturbing it is watching Glenn Quinn's Doyle, knowing that the actor is cold in his grave. It freaks me out a little bit. I still love the opening episodes though and will watch them over again

Season Five is overall my favourite but Season Four will always be a great vieweing experience
One of my favourite parts of the series was Angelus in the cage - they did a really good job of getting a sense of Hannibal Lector in his cell.
"- Skip's revelation. Ok, this REALLY bugged me. the whole idea that almost every single thing we've seen in the past 3 1/2 seasons has simply been part of Jasmine's evil plan, that the characters have all been manipulated - not only does it feel like a slap in the face to fans, but it makes NO sense. Why go such a twisted and convluted route to getting Jasmine to Earth when there are so many simpler options? And you're saying that, although now the characters sometimes seem able to act against what Cordy/Jasmine wants them to do, in the previous seasons every time they had an unexpected triumph, they were reallly being manipulated? The only way i could make peace with this was to decide that skip was lying. I could accept him being evil – and that his "higher being" pitch to Cordy was a trick – but figured the rest of it was either him being deluded or deliberately trying to mess with Angel et al."

I've said this in another thread but you are looking at in the wrong way.

Jasmine, up until that point anyway, had been a PtB. Manipulating humans was as easy to them as us nudging ants around with our fingers is to us. What you saw as twisted and convoluted would have been very straight forward to Jasmine. However once she was inside Cordy she no longer had that kind of power and was no longer able to manipulate everything so easily. Hence why things went wrong for her.

I totally believe it possible that the fang gang could have been manipulated for all that time because that is what the PtB do. They, and the Senior Partners, have been using mankind to further their personal agendas for thousands of years. However this does not take anything away from what the fang gang have done over the years.

Jasmine just created situations so as to manipulate the guys into position to do what she needed them to do. However the gang still made the decisions themselves. They still had freedom of choice and so all the good they have done is not negated just because Jasmine was making the most of their heroic natures in order to bring about her rebirth.

The gang were all pawns in her plan sure but in the slayerverse all humans are pawns to a certain degree. The fang gang are just more aware of that fact now.
nice post SP, good thoughts all and thought provoking :)
I have to disagree with Senior Partner. While I'll admit that it's possible that Jasmine could've manipulated events as Skip suggested, I find the lack of forshadowing, something Joss is usual so good at, to make it unlikely and from a pure story prospective I find it unlikely that Jasmine could manipulate someone (Angel) that much when both the PTB and the Senior Partners had so much invested in him. Not without them noticing and taking steps to stop it.

Of course that's just my view and Senior Partner's is just as valid. Until someone has Joss confirm either way we can keep believing that our version is the truth :)
I'm not entirely sure which way I am leaning on this so its interesting to see both views :) I'm not sure how much Joss had to do with this, though arguments could be made either way as far as foreshadowing, how much he actually had to do with it etc.
Looking at some parts of season 4, you got the impression that the writers were making it up as they went along. The Jasmine plot arc was sublimely ridiculous but it was so much fun and exciting to watch. it's the best season alongside season 2. Jack Bauer and co have nothing on the adventures of the season 4 Fang Gang.

And let's not forget slo-mo Wes fighting The Beast and Cordy killing Lilah. Two of the best Buffyverse scenes ever.

I also have fond memories of the debate about whether Darla was the First when she appeared to Conor.
And let's not forget slo-mo Wes fighting The Beast and Cordy killing Lilah. Two of the best Buffyverse scenes ever.
To quote my favourite red-head: darn tootin' :)

And let's not forget slo-mo Wes fighting The Beast and Cordy killing Lilah. Two of the best Buffyverse scenes ever

Somehow managed to miss that, maybe because I was in serious spoiler avoidance mode and so avoiding all speculation as well as actual spoilers.
"While I'll admit that it's possible that Jasmine could've manipulated events as Skip suggested, I find the lack of forshadowing, something Joss is usual so good at..."

Oh don't get me wrong, as far as the writing is concerned i totally agree that this wasn't planned up until season 4 and Skip's revelation was something that was done to give some weight to the Jasmine plot. I definately don't think Joss or anyone else planned Jasmine that thoroughly prior to Inside Out being written.

All my explanation does is provide a little perspective so that if you assume what Skip says is true it still doesn't take anything away from the actions of the gang over the last three and a half years. If you accept that everyone, everywhere is being manipulated by these higher beings, both good and evil, then what happened to Angel and company is just the slayerverse status quo.

[ edited by Senior Partner on 2004-09-21 19:27 ]
I haven't rewatched all of the Season 4 episodes yet on DVD, but can someone please explain why Jasmine needed all these events to transpire in order for her to be born? Why did she need the child of two vampires to be her father? Why did Cordy have to "ascend"? I don't remember the details of Skip's whole monologue all that clearly. It just seemed that in order to explain all the inconsistent plot points that didn't make any sense, the writers got lazy and chalked it all up to the Fang Gang having been manipulated by the PTB. The only thing that stands out during his whole speech was how stupid the Fang Gang was for believing that Cordy deserved to be a "higher power". The statement acknowledged one of the many complaints I had (and I'm sure many others) about this season.
I also have fond memories of the debate about whether Darla was the First when she appeared to Conor.

I guess I wasn't around for that debate, but I'd have to say not. I don't recall The First encouraging people to do good. Unless The First didn't like Jasmine's way of happiness, I guess I could see it there.
Yes Rogue Slayer - good points - It didn't occur to me that The First would appear to stop Jasmine's happy, peppy and bursting with love society.

Whenever The First appeared to anyone in Buffy it tried to turn them against other people, or commit murder or suicide. Darla clearly was trying to help Connor by trying to persuade him to not kill an innocent. It never crossed my mind that Darla was The First.
Mai, cordy had to ascend so that Jasmine could infect her, as she existed up in the PTB's realm.

Conner was created to give birth to Jasmine, I don't think any further explanation there is neccesairy. His genes, whatever he is, was required to give birth to Jasmine.

Steven S. Deknight comments on the "Inside Out" commentary that Skip could very well be lying to keep them off-kilter. However I don't find it to hard to believe that events are being nudged to create a certain conclusion.

Now, as for Joss Whedon foreshadowing it, I don't think he needs to. The reality of the situation for any such TV show, especially with Charisma's unexpected pregnancy, is that one needs to create a story that fits in with all the threads. Not every moment in the series is going to be carefully crafted from early in the run (ie. the sanshu prophecies, which served very little purpose in the end.)

I think Joss and company did an admirable job of taking all these plot points throughout the season, and tying them together.

It's pretty much fact that Joss had originaly planned for Cordy to be the big bad (thank god for the pregnancy cause she's terrible at it.) But you can tell that the pieces started falling into place by Apocalypse Nowish.
Mai, the miraculous birth of the miraculous Jasmine on the earthly plane required the miraculous mating of two miraculous beings. I know that sounded completely insane, but hear me out: this kind of reasoning has precedents in the folklore of many different cultures around the world. One example: in order to pass the most concentrated form of Hawaiian chiefly mana (power) to the next chiefly generation requires the mating of the most miraculously exalted chiefly male and female to be found. The result? A new Hawaiian chief is born who is acknowledged by all as a direct descendant of the gods.

So Jasmine's tortuous shenanigans from her perch on high -- arranging for Cordy to be made part-demon and arranging for the mating of Angel and Darla to create Connor -- makes anthropological sense, at least. Jasmine's birth on the earthly plane had to be effected through a miraculous mating between a Higher Being Cory and Impossible Child of Two Vampires, Connor. Voila, a god is born.

Oh, sky bully help me, I sound like a stuffier version of Giles. Stuffier even than season one Giles.

Thanks, Senior Partner, for making me feel better about the Skip thing. Although I'll have to check out what rabid pointed to in DeKnight's commentary about Skip lying....acp, as others above say, you did nail it with your commentary.

I love season four. I love it. And I cannot wait until season five comes out. The fact that once you get your hot little hands on these DVDs it's possible to watch 18 episodes at a time is a glorious thing - well done, Apocalypse.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-09-21 21:22 ]
Interesting stuff phlebotinin! One reason i'm glad for Whedonesque is that we get all these great insights from the diverse group of Whedonverse addicts...

Anyway, my 2 cents is that as much as I love her, as I was watching I was looking forward to her coma so I didn't have to see this awful character anymore. I guess they were going for sinister, rather than just manipulative & mean like BtVS season 1 Cordy. Too bad - it would have been nice to see her back.
Wow, valid points all. It gives a person a lot to think about.

Some I agree with, some I don't, but personally, I have to go with the best and worst theory (Thanks acp). While I feel like the story arc wasn't perhaps the best ever, I feel as though Season Four has so much to offer in other aspects. I don't think that I've ever seen another show accomplish so much character development in one season. This season was absolutely ripe with below the surface stuff. All of the characters (okay, maybe not Cordy) dealt with so many personal issues and revelations of self. That's what kept me riveted, not the Beast.

Of coarse I have qualms, what happened to Gwen? Did we have to SEE the Connor/Cordy, eh, mingeling scene? etc...

...But I also have praise, "Spin the Bottle", Lilah and Wes, Wes in general, etc.

In summation and repetition; the main arc wasn't the strongest, but the subplots really shone through... Or something. I suck.
Phlebotinin - "Thanks, Senior Partner, for making me feel better about the Skip thing."

Not a problem, here to help! ;)
Rabid and Phlebotinin, thanks so much for the info. Just a few more follow-up questions...I thought the whole Cordy being a higher-being was just a fake-out. I get that they needed to take her to a different dimension to put the mojo on her. But, was she really a higher power? Are we saying that Jasmine was part of the PTB? I thought she was an evil god (in the same vein as Glory)? Are the PTB morally ambiguous?
Well as said, everyone has their opinion but I consider S4 one of Angel's strongest. Rarely was a plot and the opposition so varied. Not just a single villain that we follow and finally defeat. Things kept changing and being fresh. Several other points:

-Wesley. I'd practically call this 'his' season. He reached whole new levels of cool here. 'I'll take away your bucket' is one of my all-time favorite quotes. The relationship with Lilah, the remeeting with Faith, everything was great.

-Connor. Okay that was a minus for me. He was annoying to me, but the first half wasn't all that bad. He actually showed some development, but when he learns Angel may have met the Beast before, he just transforms into uber whiner. Every line out of his mouth is just nasty and bratty from that point on. It's pretty much where they lost me with that character. It was just too much. And as I said before, half of his talks with evil Cordy were just reruns of the same predictable conversation.

-The villains. Ok, so Charisma can't do 'evil'. Other than that, no other season of either Buffy or Angel kept me on my toes so much. From the Beast to Angelus to Cordy to Jasmin. Every time I thought now we were in the home stretch they threw another curve ball. Inventive.

-Angelus! Great stuff Hannibal Lecter style! Faith! Willow! Gimme gimme....

This was the most epic of Angel's seasons. One of the grandest arcs of the buffyverse. Lilah's razzing on Fred, Spin the Bottle, the loneliness Fred feels when she's the only one not under the spell...the 'body snatchers' creepiness when everyone talks with Jasmine's voice, the 'Talky Meat' creeper in the sewers, the last stand they make as Angel jumps dimensions, with Jasmine's laughter as the wounds appear and dissappear on her body.....sorry but I dug the crap out of that season.

Oh and let me say once again that the fight scenes on Angel, especially this season, kicked the ass of the ones on Buffy. (Highlights being Faith vs the Beast & Faith vs Angelus. Man I just felt those impacts)
Mai- Cordy did in fact become a higher being, albeit. it seems, with limited powers. Whether she truly deserved it and was manipulated into that position, or Jasmine and Skip raised her when she did not deserve it is up for debate.

Jasmine was a Power that be, not an evil god. In fact I think it's debatable just how evil Jasmine was, for she truly did believe she was doing the right things. "I killed thousands, to save billions."

I think that making Jasmine a Power was supposed to bring an extra shade of grey to the series, the battle was no longer black and white, because the villain was a a Power who decided to take the world into her own hands. She believed that the Powers didn't really care about us, and that she would in turn heal our world.

The series really started as the character going out and solving supernatural cases, fighting for the powers against the corruption of Wolfram and Hart. I find it admirable that Season 4 turned it all on it's head, suddenly a power is the big bad, Wolfram and Hart is gone, and they are merely reacting to stimuli rather than "helping the helpless". It makes the turn at the ending all the more comprehensible.

[ edited by rabid on 2004-09-22 08:09 ]

[ edited by rabid on 2004-09-22 08:09 ]
Actually, Jasmine was in her own words "a Power that Was." She either gave up or was forced out of that status when she decided to try world domination (starting with the bug world). And she was the one, not Skip, who told the gang that outcome of The Trial allowed Connor's birth.

I think that she was evil, and that the Powers are still meant to represent good. The thing is, good includes free will, which in turn produces a lot of evil.

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