Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Angel S5: Eps 1, 2, 3

5.1 Conviction
5.2 Just Rewards
5.3 Unleashed

Well, I really intended to write a few words for this first of the Angel S5 episodes, even though I said I'd basically just be posting these to be forums. But it's been a crazy week with holidays and all, and I've read been spending most spare moments reading the Twilight series (I'm just finishing Breaking Dawn right now, and I really want someone to put a stake in me). It's research. No, really it is. I'm going to be giving a paper in Nebraska at the end of January on Twilight, and I'm reading all the books so I really know what I'm talking about. It hasn't been all bad. I mean, I have had the joy of seeing Bella in extreme pain on a few occasions, so that was fun.

But back to Angel. He and the Angel Investigations team is... working for Wolfram & Hart? Wait, they RUN Wolfram & Hart?

Don't worry, it'll make sense soon. ;) Until then, these are a fun group of episodes. I especially love the very opening of "Conviction" when we see a repeat of the Angel premiere, with Angel saving a girl from the alleyway. But... it's a little different this time. He's not quite so alone, as much as he wants to be.

I know there was something else I was going to mention... blonde, vampire with a soul or something... but it escapes me. So I'll let you guys discuss it. ;)


Marebabe said...

When I sat down to watch “Conviction”, I fully expected to LOOOVE it, based on all the oh-boy-I-can’t-wait endorsements I’d heard for Angel S5. And I really think it was the opening shots of Angel swinging on a rope through L.A. just like Spider-Man that sort of threw me for a loop. I mean, really? Since when does Angel get around that way? (And I also didn’t think much of the brief animation they used. I won’t even call it CGI.) This was an enormous transitional episode, and I think it just took a little getting-used-to, what with redefining all of our characters’ roles, integrating them into Wolfram & Hart, and introducing some new characters to boot. It was a lot to take in, so I stopped trying to take notes on it (a fruitless endeavor) and just paid attention to all these new developments. I figured that even the best season of a series couldn’t be expected to be brilliant ALL the time. And I recognized that I was just doing a gradual warm-up to S5. I was sure it would get better. And it did!

Marebabe said...

In “Just Rewards”, we quickly returned to one of the things I like best about any Whedon project: the brilliant dialog and clever quipping. I really enjoyed it in this episode.

This may seem superficial to you, but it’s a burning question for me: WHO scooped up the amulet from the depths of the Sunnydale crater, put it in an envelope, and addressed it to Angel at Wolfram & Hart?

During the discussion of exactly how they should deal with Hainsley, Gunn said, “I know what you should go for.” And I was reminded again of “Trading Places”: “The way you hurt rich people is by turnin’ ‘em into poor people.” Right then, I predicted that they were gonna go after Hainsley’s wealth, somehow take down his financial empire.

And I was RIGHT! Boo-yeah!!

There’s no way a body can predict everything, however. (How boring would THAT be!) My eyebrows shot way up when Spike said, “I want it to end.” He sounded completely sincere, and I believed him. Even though I knew he was supposed to be a series regular for, y’know, the whole season. It turned out he was lying, but we learned he’s a very good liar.

I love Hainsley’s voice! It sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn’t place where I’d heard Victor Raider-Wexler before. At first I was thinking maybe some documentaries, or even though I knew good and well that he was NOT the narrator for the old Rocky & Bullwinkle TV show, his delivery reminded me of that. So I made a note to look up his filmography. Turns out the only thing I’ve ever seen him in was “Minority Report”. (And one episode of “The Wonder Years”.) He’s done a ton of voice work in video games, animation, and documentaries. And he’s played lots and lots of supporting roles in TV and movies that I’ve never seen. But interestingly – or bizarrely – he was in the 2000 remake of “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle”.

Because we’ve seen that Ghost Spike (so far) isn’t trustworthy, and because he mentioned that he found Fred attractive, I was wondering at the end if his speech to Fred was of the “I’m shipping out tomorrow and I don’t know if I’m going to come back alive” variety. I guess we’ll see.

Marebabe said...

In “Unleashed”, when I first saw the werewolf attacking, I thought, “Oz?”

I’m sad to report that my brand-new DVD (S5, disc 1) is scratched and glitchy as hell! That’s a lesson to me. I got it back in mid-December, and if only I’d done a visual inspection THEN, I would’ve seen the scratches, and there would’ve still been enough time to send it back and get a replacement. So, I limped through this episode, with many a pause and skip. I missed a lot, I’m sure, and had to sort of piece things together. I tried playing some scenes twice, and the second time through I saw that Wesley darted Nina, so that was good.

It was only when I read Nikki’s chapter on this episode that I learned about the in-house psychics. What I saw on my damaged DVD was about one second of some guy in a suit, listening to something in his earpiece and looking like he was in the Secret Service, or something. Then it jumped away from that scene, and I had no idea who he was. My guess is that he was one of the in-house psychics.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Yay! More Whedon talk. And while I didn't participate in the Angel part of the rewatch (I could barely keep up with Buffy), this is the show with the Angel I love. David had three years before it started to learn about acting, and by season five he's almost up to Agent Booth level. So on with the comments.

Speaking of Agent Booth - it's Hodgins!

The new set is beautiful, and doesn't say cut budget to me. It reminds me of the Dollhouse (which will of course come later.) Wolfram and Hart also reminds me of the company in Profit, a show that pre-dates Angel and is developed by David Greenwalt.

Sarah Thompson who plays Eve will later be in the Bollywood movie Rajneeti (Hindi movies are my other passion.)

This rewatch is the first time I noticed the flashes in the scene changes - the panther from the White Room and Eve looking at the blood stain on the wall. Very quick and very cool.

Angel and his cars - a boy and his toys. :)

Gunn's evil doctor will later appear on Lost - as an evil doctor.

Sadly, the stunt work always takes me out of the moment. Mike Massa is so much thinner than David.

Gunn becomes a lawyer - and J is typecast ever since. Quick story - I was having dinner with him at a local con just before the season started and told him I didn't want any spoilers. He rubbed his hand over his head and told me that was a spoiler. To be honest, his hair was so short I didn't notice. :)

How does Wesley know Spike? It's a Wrath of Khan moment. "You, I know."

Just Rewards is the first episode by Ben Edlund, creator of the Tick. Note the use of the SPOON!

Angel made Spike who he is and then reviles him - but before we can get too sympathetic, Spike does the same thing to Harmony.

Spike, by being outside the deal, puts some balance/commentary on W&H. BTW, Marebabe, be patient about the amulet.

Angel seems to distain Spike for wanting a soul - isn't it what makes him a champion?

Torchwood reference - Spike in this is not unlike Captain John re denouement.

The head is cut off with a tray - like in James' episode of Supernatural.

Jealous Wes is a d*ck. Every time I think I might like him, he does something stupid and turns me off again.

Is the scene with the werewolves so dark so you won't notice the cheap effects? ;)

Spike's character seems a bit off - this is Craft and Fain's first time writing him.

When Fred says "You're so full of crap" a ship is born.

It's Dr. Phlox! I hear. I don't watch Enterprise.

This episode is a more serious take on werewolves than we often saw with Oz - bitten by his little nephew? Whatever happened to that kid, anyway?

If the werewolf bites Angel, will he be a Werepire?

I LOVE the question whether Angel is a Frankenstein. :)

Since when can vampires control themselves without souls? Oh yeah, since Spike chose one.

Angel has a weakness for blondes. Darla fixation?

If you cut off a piece of werewolf, doesn't the flesh die and turn human?

Dusk said...

Not much to say yet. Around the middle is when it picks up for me. That's not to say these eps are bad, it's just in comparsion to what's coming I think they lack.

Love Gunn's courtroom smack down, even if their are helping a baddie. Lorne's "disguse" also rocked. (How *does* he get around town in the day?)

Marebabe: We will learn who popped over to the crater...sometime.

Just Rewards does a good job in case your someone who watches this years later and see Angel first. Notice how they cut out Buffy saying she loves Spike.

Not Oz. They also apparently wanted to make sure the werewolf gear wouldn't look like "a gay possum."

Also, Spike and Angel don't agree on a lot, except one thing, which I love to see building here. (kt gets clearer as it goes on).

Marebabe said...

@Colleen and Dusk: Thanks for the reassurance that my burning question will be answered in time. That's plenty good enough for now.

Christina B said...

Yeah...I expected too much, I guess. These first three episodes didn't do much for me.

It's nice to see Gunn in a different role. I'm hoping he'll be a better lawyer than he was a muscle-guy.

So great to see Harmony! I had NO idea she was coming back!

And Spike...of course. Although he's not very Spike-like...I hope that changes?
Also, what was up with his voice and the dubbing in Just Rewards? Was it Netflix, or was that just bad?

Not a fan of Eve. She's very wooden.

And what the heck is with the Mexican wrestler?! There's GOT to be a story there!

Out of the three, I liked Unleashed best. The very last scene was great.

It feels like Cordy has just been kind of forgotten...and Connor HAS been forgotten.
It's like their saying, "Okay, lets write them both out and just forget season 4 ever happened!"

Fine by me! ;)

Although...I miss Cordy. Is she gone for good now? Is the answer to that too spoilery?

Anonymous said...

First of all: "I'm just finishing Breaking Dawn right now, and I really want someone to put a stake in me" - that made my day. Bless the divine unity for your dry humour!

I remember watching Angel Season 5 the first few episodes and being rather disappointed. After the darkness of Season 4, which I had tremendously enjoyed, Season 5 at the beginning just felt too lightweight to me. It took a while before that feeling changed.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I find season 5 very dark - but in a black humour way (which I like.) Eating Nina alive? Pretty dark.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Then again, Anonymous, I pretty much hated season four (Jasmine excepted.)

Suzanne said...

I hope that those of us who recommended Season 5 didn't build it up too much for new viewers. I am still enjoying it a lot on rewatch. Even though Spike seems a little different, I still adore him. I love his interaction with Angel. My favorite of last week's rewatch was in the 2nd episode where Spike and Angel argue about who is luckier. Spike makes a sarcastic comment about Angel's good fortune and Angel replies with a comment about he was tortured with guilt for over a century after getting a soul he didn't ask for while Spike only spent three weeks moaning in the basement. Their dynamic is awesome. I also like Fred and Spike's developing friendship.

Quarks said...

It says quite a lot about this season of ‘Angel’ that I really enjoyed this week’s episodes, despite this week probably being the least good week of Season 5 (along with next week). Like almost every season of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ the first few episodes are some of the weakest in the season, as everything has to be reintroduced and it’s too early to do anything incredibly radical or really introduce the overarching plot. But I think when you rewatch these episodes, and you are already used to seeing the characters at Wolfram & Hart, they are a lot more enjoyable.

I haven’t really commented on ‘Angel’ in the past but this is by far my favourite season. I won’t say exactly why now, just in case I end up accidentally spoiling something in my excitement, but by the end of this season the show should have spoken for itself (especially the second half). I will say, however, that if I had to list my top ten ‘Angel’ episodes, about half of them would come from this season.

One of the things which is quite clear from this week’s episodes is that after the last couple of seasons being incredibly serious, this season has more humour in it.
Like with ‘Buffy’, I prefer shows which are able to mix together humour and the more serious plots, which is one criticism I often have with some seasons of ‘Angel’ not doing so well. But as is clear from this week’s episodes, this season is having more success with that.

I love the ‘evil as everyday’ vibe which we get from Wolfram & Hart, like the ritual sacrifice phone menu. And “He was fired. Oh, no, I'm sorry. He was set on fire.”

I’m not the biggest fan of Harmony, but she is relatively entertaining as Angel’s secretary. I think she’s a character who works best in the background, instead of when she is at the forefront of the plot, so having her only appear now and again works for me in these episodes. And “Preaching to the horse’s mouth” may be my favourite ever line of hers.

Connor being erased from history does slightly bother me, more than Dawn being written into history. It’s easy to imagine how the events of the first four seasons of ‘Buffy’ happened with Dawn existing, as she was probably just there but not doing anything of consequence. It’s much harder for me to imagine how everything happened without Connor being there. Did Wesley still betray the gang if there was no Connor to abduct, and if not, what caused him to change from his Season 1 and 2 persona? How did “Cordy” get pregnant without Connor around, or if she didn’t how did Jasmine get born and how did Cordelia end up in a coma? Not that I have a problem with Connor being gone, but I would prefer it if they had more explanation like on ‘Fringe’ when we are getting to know the new world after Peter’s disappearance.

Quarks said...

Then we get Spike’s return, which I love. Any and all scenes between Spike and Angel are pure gold, and I love how Angel hasn’t told any of his friends about Spike’s soul, or him saving the world. I think the Spike in this season is probably my favourite Spike: he has a soul, so he’s not just plain evil, but he also has some of his attitude from the earlier seasons back.

Spike’s appearance sort of reminds me of Dawn’s appearance in Season 5 of ‘Buffy’. They both appear suddenly, without explanation, at the end of episode 5.01 and then by 5.02 they in the opening sequence and a main character in the show.

I love Angel killing someone with a spoon, and Spike’s reaction to it makes it even better.

‘Unleashed’ was quite a good episode, but for whatever reason I don’t have anything to say about it particularly. The werewolf plot was quite enjoyable; we haven’t really seen any werewolves since Oz so it was nice to get more of an idea of the impact it has on their lives. Sidenote: Oz was able to, to all intents and purposes, stop the wolf coming out on a full moon thanks to some Tibetan monks or something similar but a multi-dimensional corporation like Wolfram & Hart has no such capabilities?

It’s also nice to see Spike making a connection with somebody from Angel’s gang (Fred), without there being any kind of romantic relationship involved.

Overall, this was a good week of episodes of ‘Angel’ and the series will improve from here on. Next week is another good week, and then we start to get to some of the great episodes until about half way through the season when we get to the phenomenal episodes.

@Christina B: I’m going to try and answer your Cordy question without being spoilery, although if you are incredibly sensitive to even the tiniest and vaguest of spoilers you might want to look away now (but if you were you probably wouldn’t have asked the question): As I say, I don’t want to give away any details, so I will simply say that Cordy does appear in this season, but I won't say how much or how she appears, i.e whether it is as normal, or only in a coma, or in flashbacks, or in a dream, or in archive footage, etc.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

When I watched this season, I chalked Spike's character change up to being with people he doesn't know/and/or/like. He seems most himself around Fred, who is very likable, and most like a reversion to his old (old) self around Angel.

It's his heartless attitude about Nina that bothers me so far, but then again, he's got his own problems at the moment.

Joel said...

@Quarks and Colleen/redeem147

I need a bit of humour in my shows, too. But the writers seem to be using Spike for more comic relief. Maybe it's being apart from Buffy, but he's missing his usual intensity. I definitely prefer Buffy Spike over Angel Spike.

Nikki Stafford said...

To everyone who is iffy about the beginning of S5, I can't say I disagree. i think all of us who go on and on and ON about the greatness of S5 are usually talking about the second half, which is rather amazing and dark and heartbreaking and hopeful and beautifully acted and written.

Hm. I've just built it up again too much, haven't I? The first half of S5 is trying to dig out of the mire of S4 and building the foundation for the latter half of S5. They're going to get a little bogged down in the whole W&H thing, and there are some really silly episodes. But then you'll see the change happen, and when it does, hold on. Because it's a wild ride to the end. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Just one more thing: I mentioned in my "Chosen" entry that while I liked that series finale, it doesn't rank in my top 10 series of all time. Angel, on the other hand, ranks in my top 3 series finales, along with the enders for Lost and Six Feet Under.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

HMV had Six Feet Under seasons for $15, so any time you want to do a rewatch... :)

Remember when they cost ever so much more? I now have the season of Michelle Trachtenberg, Rock Star (and the rest of them too.)

Nikki Stafford said...

Ha! I'd totally forgotten about that... when Keith was her bodyguard, I think. Hilarious.

I bought the full series when it first came out, and it's got grass and a tombstone on the top of it. Wicked packaging, but so big. It's been rereleased in a much smaller package now. I probably paid $150, and that was on sale.

Dusk said...

To anyone who thinks these starting episodes in the first half are more monster-of-the-week, let me say your half-right, but I'd pay a bit more attention. Their is one or more signifigant threads hidden in the early eps that link to the great side of S5.

Christina B said...

Quarks--Thank you. That wasn't very spoilery...I'm glad you answered. :)

Nikki--I have Six Feet Under...haven't ever watched Six Feet Under.
I should do that, huh? ;)

Everyone--I have faith that this season gets better. It just has a few holes right now that I'm sure will be filled in once the ball gets rolling. :)

Dave said...

Nikki is right. Stick with season 5. Your time will be rewarded. It's one of my favorite in all the Whedonverse.

Lucky for me I didn't see the CW promo for Angel at the end of Buffy. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Spike come back. His interactions with Angel and Harmony are gold Jerry, gold.

Missy said...

I'm pimping out one of my fav current podcasts


ChristinaB ,Six Feet Under is awesome.
And like Nikki the series finale is one of my all time favs.

The cast is about to start s3 and is completely spoiler free.Join US!

As for this trio of AtS eps,Unleashed is my fav(I get alot of flack for being a fan of Nina's),with Conviction(Is a fun intro to life at W&H) and Just Rewards(makes me luagh and I've never been sure if that was intended.Lol) trailing in third place.These are alomst remarkable compared to next weeks bunch..which are hit and miss within the episodes themselves. :/
(I actually like the 2 & 3rd of the next bunch but I can see the Mehness,that some people feel)

Lisa(still) said...

I cherish all of these episodes as they are the last of it. If only there had been a season 6 of Angel. But if that had happened, maybe there wouldn't have been a Seely Booth. And him, I adore. So, it's all the way it was intended to be.

Spike and Angel (I like the longer hair) are gold when on screen together.

I am bummed that they blocked Buffy's "I love you" from the "nineteen days ago' segment. Ugh. Oh well, I guess all the writers were Bangels.

Quarks, I appreciate your reasoning about the absence of Conner from everyone's memories. Exactly how DOES that explain what the heck has happened and is going on now????

great one liners:

Harmony to Spike: "Slayer loving freak."

Angel: "I'm in a meeting, Spike."
Spike: "Oh, I didn't care."

Angel: "Harmony, let's be discreet about this."
Harmony" "Discreet? Oh, you mean not tell anyone about bucket-o-lawyer."

Spike: "Knew you'd pick the Viper. "So bloody predictable."

Angel: "We're from Wolfram & Hart."
Spike: "I'm his date."

Ok, I could go on forever...but I LOVE it.

Oh, and how can Spike walk on the floor without falling through and sit in Angel's chair without falling through, but he walks right through the desk and walls, etc? Ok, ok...i need to suspend disbelief. It's a bloody vampire/ghost/demon show. I know.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that about Buffy's "I love you" from the flashback sequence too. I think it really does help add to the context of the Spike/Angel conflict, and I wonder why they left it out?
Also, three weeks after the events of the end of BtVS, and she's in Europe? How did that happen?

Nikki Stafford said...

Anonymous: There's an explanation for why Buffy's in Europe later this season, and they elaborate on it in the S8 comics. ;)

Blam said...

Anonymous: How did that happen?

I'm gonna take a wild stab and say "airplane". 8^)

Blam said...

I'm over a week behind; sorry. Now that I've finally seen the gang back commenting, though, I feel extra-motivated to get caught up by next Tuesday. And I'll make this batch of comments 'n' quotes brief since I am so late.

Angel 5.1 "Conviction"

I had totally forgotten that David's future Bones co-star T.J. Thyne showed up as a W&H lawyer in the opening.

The long tracking shot that opens Act 1, Joss says in the commentary, was to show off the great new set (but I think also to show off Joss's love of long tracking shots).

Wesley: "Your run-on sentences have got a lot less pointless."
Fred: "Heh. That's so sweet — and a tad condescending."

Wesley: "Don't you think it's a bit unseemly adding 'y's to the end of people's names?"
Gunn: "Does that mean I have to call you Wesle?"

Gunn: "We could switch if you don't like, y'know, the kung pao or whatever."
Wesley: "Feng shui."
Gunn: "Right. What's that mean again?"
Welsey: "That people will believe anything."

Phone directory: "To sacrifice a loved one or pet, press the pound key."

Harmony: "The extra ingredient is otter."
[Joss: "If you wanna play trivia, that was my favorite line."]

The dialogue is on fire in the first act.

I don't believe that the Wolfram & Hart offices would really be empty at night, given the firm's clientele and unceasing workload.

The "cleaners" team doesn't think to shoot out the windows in the classroom or even hit them by accident, which is all kinds of stupid.

And would the team leader really be saying that he believes in evil – not vice, or power, or ruthlessness... but literally evil?

Blam said...

Angel 5.2 "Just Rewards"

I'd also forgotten about the obvious dubbing here for Spike.

Angel: "I'm in a meeting, Spike."
Spike: "Oh, I'm sorry; I didn't care."

Harmony: "You're preachin' to the horse's mouth."

My explanation for how Spike can stand on the floor, and even sit in Angel's chair, is that he's technically still floating. A ghost (or ghost-type thing like Spike is now) would have to come to rest somewhere, and it makes sense that especially for someone/something unaware of his ghostly properties that somewhere would be where his instincts tell him he's supposed to come to rest. I agree that it doesn't make sense for Spike to be able to sit in Angel's chair and not touch other objects, even if you see the chair as an extension of the ground (which you sort-of have to for it not to just be a huge "oops"), but it's possible that Spike didn't realize the difference and that his subconscious is all that matters. He quite possibly could have material contact with walls and doors and people if he concentrated hard enough or maybe didn't concentrate on it at all.

I'd also like to say, in a totally non-spoiler way because I recall thinking this when the episode first aired, that it seems pretty dumb for Fred's W&H crew to be doing all that inspection of the amulet, knowing that Spike was wearing it when he "died" and that he emerged from it and that it has some hold over how far he can travel from it, yet not try to put it back on him. Whether or not that ends up being a/the answer it sure seems like a top hypothesis.

Angel 5.3"Unleashed"

Lorne: "Gotta tell ya, Angelkins, that extra weight is not lookin' so good on ya. [Angel checks out his midsection.] I'm talking' psychic pounds, pumpkin. Why don't you consider me the Jenny Craig for the soul, huh?"

Blam said...

Marebabe: WHO scooped up the amulet from the depths of the Sunnydale crater, put it in an envelope, and addressed it to Angel at Wolfram & Hart?

Who indeed? 8^) Do you want to know now if we find out, and if so what the answer is? [Later...] Never mind; I see that other comments have answered the latter question.

Colleen: Sarah Thompson who plays Eve will later be in the Bollywood movie Rajneeti

And during this season of Angel she was in the quite good but short-lived TV series Line of Fire for ABC.

Colleen: Gunn's evil doctor will later appear on Lost - as an evil doctor.

I'd forgot about that, because I associate Marc Vann so closely with his recurring role on CSI. He also looks vaguely and sounds a lot like Billy Bob Thornton.

Colleen: Note the use of the SPOON!

Ha! Of course the live-action Tick has it's own Lost connection in the form of Batmanuel, Nestor Carbonell. And Ben Edlund has gone on to do some great stuff on Supernatural, one of my favorite series ever and #1 recommendation — even over Fringe — for fans of Buffy, Angel, and The X-Files.

Colleen: Angel made Spike who he is

Twice, in a way. He gave the amulet to Buffy. So in each case there was a woman (Drusilla, Buffy) as an intermediary.

Colleen: Angel has a weakness for blondes. Darla fixation?

Or perhaps an actual weakness for blondes?

Quarks: I’m not the biggest fan of Harmony, but she is relatively entertaining as Angel’s secretary.

Agreed... I think that she's used to much better effect here, like you say, in small doses as comic relief.

Colleen: I now have the season of Michelle Trachtenberg, Rock Star

Words can't describe how unprepared I was to hear Celeste give Keith a certain reminder before getting horizontal.

VW: fowless — Hen.

Blam said...

Why does an extra related to "Smile Time" appear on the first disc of the Season 5 set, by the way? I don't want to watch it until then, even though I've already seen the episode, just because I haven't seen any of this season since it aired and I'm watching through in order.

VW: stealt — Stole stealthily.