Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Angel S5: Not Fade Away

As many of you know, my all-time favourite series finale is Six Feet Under, as I know it is with many of you. But that's mostly for the last five minutes, which I've watched so many times I've lost count. I couldn't honestly tell you what happens in the rest of the episode that preceded it. That last five minutes, though? SUBLIME.

But my second-favourite series finale of all time is Angel's. And I love it for the entire episode, so in some ways that pushes it right to the top. Every character arc was beautifully realized, every moment was wonderfully written and acted. I adore this episode, and what it says.

I went back to check my entry on it in my Angel guide, Once Bitten, and honestly, to sound REALLY immodest here, I was really quite delighted with what I'd written there, and couldn't possibly add anything to it. (It was that long entry for the Angel finale that inspired all my long entries in the Finding Lost books that followed.) For anyone who has held off reading the exclusive and spoilery Alexis Denisof interview in the book, feel free to finally read it, where he reveals that the decision to kill off his character was a direct result of the show being cancelled. He was absolutely lovely, and perhaps that's part of the reason why I love his character as much as I do. But I think it's mostly because of this episode.

Instead, I'll just say three things, and leave the rest of the talking to you.

Why I loved this episode:

Because "effulgent" made me laugh. ♥♥♥

Because "Would you like me to lie to you now?" made me cry. A lot.

And because "I kind of want to slay the dragon" made me cheer. It doesn't matter what happens at the end of that alley; in my mind, our heroes will always be racing into battle, willing to die to save the world.

Thank you to everyone who stuck around for Angel S5, and who have been with the Great Buffy Rewatch from the beginning. It's been a blast rewatching the Buffyverse with all of you.


Marebabe said...

I can now state for the record that I like how Angel the Series ended. However, you mustn’t think that I loved it from the first time I watched it. It has been quite a journey for me this week, trying to understand what happened in the finale, and the views of fans (like Nikki) who have called this episode “magical and perfect in almost every way”. I’m glad I started early on it, because it’s been rather time-consuming. I watched it once straight through without making any notes; discussed it briefly with my husband, Larry; read Nikki’s chapter on it; listened to the commentary by director Jeffrey Bell; thought about it a LOT; watched it again, pausing frequently to make some notes; discussed it again at length with Larry (very productive); read Nikki’s chapter again; and finally replayed a few key scenes to zero in on some important moments.

Larry’s and my initial reaction to the ending was annoyance bordering on outrage that we were being handed a cliffhanger ending that would never be continued or resolved. I’ve been down that road too many times, and I HATE it! I am one of the forever-disappointed fans of Invasion, The Nine, FlashForward, and V. I’ve gone so far as to “break up with network TV” so I’ll never have to go through that again. I’m all done.

I’m having a hard time organizing my jumbled thoughts, so I’m just going to go from my notes for awhile, laying out some ideas in the order that I wrote them down.

Angel’s tiny band of warriors made the commitment to kill every member of the Circle of the Black Thorn, knowing that it would likely cost their lives. After they carried out their mission, they still had an overwhelming army of demons and monsters bearing down on them. It looked to me like the beginning of the Apocalypse. So, what they did appeared to be pointless. They didn’t save the world or themselves.

At first I was disappointed that the Shanshu Prophecy just sort of “went away”, without being fulfilled for either Angel or Spike. I gradually came to see what a noble sacrifice that was for Angel. He was no longer focused on any reward for himself. He was selflessly dedicated to fighting the good fight, to help the helpless.

I was sorry to watch Lorne losing his spark all through this last season. By the time we got to his final scene, he was so bummed he almost seemed suicidal. How incredibly sad.

On a lighter note, there’s no question that my favorite parts of this finale were the ways that everyone spent their day off, their last day. Especially Spike, tossing back “shots of courage” so he could share his poetry. That was just the best! “That was for Cecily!”

Marebabe said...

The condescending, all-high-and-mighty way that Hamilton was talking to Angel during their big fight reminded me of how Agent Smith talked to captive Morpheus in “The Matrix”.

I couldn’t place the “holy vessel” baby that Spike was sent to rescue. Once again, too forgetful. (Who IS this kid?) Then I realized that maybe it was because he didn’t look like the newborn that he was supposed to be AT ALL. It’s hard to tell when all you can see is the face, but my guess is that the beautiful, blue-eyed cherub they got for Spike to rescue was at least six months old. I also couldn’t recall when and how Wesley learned to conjure a ball of fire in his hand. (It looked so very elegant. I really liked that.)

I don’t really get how Illyria pretending to be Fred at the end could be so emotional about Wesley’s death. (The fact that she was made for a beautiful scene!) She even admitted later that she was grieving for him. Everyone had said that when Fred died, she was truly, irretrievably gone, and I could accept that. As Miles said of dead Naomi in LOST: “That’s just meat.” A bit crass, but pretty accurate. So, how is it that Illyria gradually came to love Wesley, just from moving into the empty house of Fred’s dead body?

In the commentary, Jeffrey Bell drew my attention to the moment when Illyria’s fist crashed through Sebassis’ head. He recommended watching that in super-slow motion, and I have to agree. It really is awesome to look at that explosion frame-by-frame!

Marebabe said...

Now we come to the stuff that helped me look at the ending in a new light and finally come to appreciate it. Larry and I were discussing the sheer futility of what Angel and Company were trying to do. And he pointed out a significant moment that I had stupidly glossed over.

Gunn: “What if I told you it doesn’t help? What would you do if you found out that none of it matters?”
Annie: “I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here.”

It’s an important principle in life: Do what’s set before you. Keep on keepin’ on. Or as our very dear friend – a minister – is so fond of saying, “Just put your hands to the plow.” I know that many of Nikki’s readers and commenters are atheists, by their own admission here on the blog. But Larry and I are Christian believers, and we recognize that all human wisdom is folly to God. All we can EVER do is the best that we can, and God honors that. In view of that, I thought Angel’s exit line was a fabulous note to end on: “Let’s go to work!”

Update: Just this morning, one of my Facebook friends posted this on her Wall: “You only have three choices in life: Give up, give in, or give it all you've got!” Exactly.

In the final seconds, our heroes bravely faced the hopeless situation with the same degree of courage that the Captains of the West had when they assaulted the Black Gate of Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”. The difference is that, in Middle Earth, they were saved from disaster in the nick of time, and the forces of good triumphed. As I stated above, it sure looked like the Apocalypse was starting anyway, in spite of our heroes’ courage, resolve, and sacrifice. They didn’t manage to save the world or themselves. They were probably all dead within a minute or two, followed closely by the world going to hell in a hand-basket. But if, by some miracle, they survived, and the Apocalypse was averted, I sure would have liked to have seen that! Wouldn’t you?!

Marebabe said...

Larry pointed out something else that I really liked. It was a wonderful thing, when Wesley was dying, that Illyria so obligingly assumed the shape of his dead love for a final goodbye. It brought much-needed closure for both of them. It’s important, when dealing with death, to speak the words that need to be said. Ideally, loved ones have adequate time for parting words before death occurs. But very often, death is sudden. There’s no time. And even if you don’t have an accommodating ex-god to play the part of your departed loved one (lucky Wesley!), speak the words anyway.

It’s interesting to observe how people instinctively do this. Just a few minutes after our discussion of the Angel finale, Larry was channel-surfing and watched a segment of some show on National Geographic about illegal drug-trafficking. There was an interview with a father whose son had died because of his addiction to some sort of new designer drug. While the father was speaking, he broke down crying and said, through his tears, “I love you, Bobby.” The words just came out, even though his son wasn’t there to hear them. One way or another, the important things get said.

Well, we’re finished with the rewatch. I’m sure glad we made this trip together. And I’m glad that every bit of the journey is documented here in the archives of Nik at Nite. Thanks to all of you, and thanks all to pieces, dear Nikki!

Dusk said...

I love that they go out fighting.

Much of my problems with the Buffy finale are "fixed" in this one. We can tel the difference between most of the baddies. We know how many their are in each fight so we have a reasonable idea if the good guys are winning or not, and the good guys are people we've watched for a while and cared about, not nuisances that just were inserted in the last half of the season.

And in a really sad way the couple gets to say goodbye! Hopefully Wesley will get peace.

I don't really think it's strange Angel had Lindsey killed. Angel gave him his chance to change and Lindsey came back worst then ever, Angel's team has never had an issue with killing evil humans, so it's normal. With Faith, she took her shot at redemption by going to jail. Sure, he was trying to help her in Sunnydale, but before he could get through to her some British guy interrupted them, so I don't think Angel counts that one.

I feel horrible for Lorne, but I know that's what they were going for, so good job!

Can somebody please, please tell me what Illyria says as she lays Wesley's head down? No matter how many times I watch it I can't make it out. She's whispering and sobbing as Fred. To me it sounds like "Go to bed" but that can't be right.

I only have two real irritations with it.
1) It seems unfair that most of the people that were with Angel for the long haul aren't there for the final shot, and the one person who is there, is already dying. While the two Season 5 "imports" are still ready to brawl. Yeah, I know you keep fighting no matter what and Angel loses people, but it seems unbalanced especially when you consider most of Buffy's friends are in her final shot.

2) Why in the world doesn't Angel just stake Harmony? She was bothering him all season and then turns to the evil side anyway, so why is he giving her a letter of reccomendation?

Dusk said...

@Marebabe: After being depowered, Illyria was a little humbled and she has Fed's memories whispering in her head, so she is prone to at least some human emotion. Hence, the pain of losing Wes.

Marebabe said...

I just remembered a thought I had several days ago, which I ended up forgetting with all the other stuff there was to write about this week. The title, “Not Fade Away” reminded me of a line spoken by The Kurgan in “Highlander”: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!” Clearly, that was Angel’s, Spike’s, Gunn’s, and Illyria’s philosophy at the end. (It was Wesley’s philosophy, too, before he was struck down in battle.)

Nikki, thanks for mentioning the interview with Alexis Denisof. I haven’t read it yet, and I think tonight will be the perfect time to sit in front of the fire with a good (Once Bitten) book!

Lisa (UFN) said...

I don't really have much to add about the episode itself. There sure is a lot of stuff packed in there, though.

Things I LOVED: Spike getting the long overdue appreciation for his poetry.

Conner: Both when Angel visits him and then when he comes to help Angel. I love this Conner so much. Cordelia would be proud.

The final look shared between Wesley and Angel, not knowing it was their last, reminds me of the final look Cordy gives Wes, KNOWING it was her last. Sigh.

Oh but to have another season where we get more of Illyria and Spike.

So very sad for Lorne, and just plain po'd at Harmony.

Im so very happy we had the real Gunn in the last few episodes.

Guess I had more to say than I thought. I have loved this rewatch and the discourse that we have all had. Fortunately, Nikki posts plenty, and I'm sure we will all partake again.

And as Bob Hope would sing..."Thanks for the memories".

Annie said...

I don't have a lot to add that hasn't already been said. I thought the finale had a lot of great moments, but the last scene left me disappointed that they were heading into a great battle without us there to see it.

I want to thank you again Nikki for hosting this whole huge re-watch. This was my first time through Buffy and Angel and it was a truly fantastic experience. I'm so glad that I was not only introduced to the two shows, but that I got to watch them with such great people.

I know you need a long break after this re-watch, but I'll definitely be in if/when you ever decide to do a re-watch of another show :)

Marebabe said...

@Dusk: I was intrigued by your mention of Illyria/Fred’s final line as Wesley dies, and she lays his head down. I just watched that scene with the English subtitles on, and she’s not saying anything as she lays his head down. Just quietly sniffling and sobbing. (Every time I’ve watched that scene, I’ve noticed how beautiful Amy Acker’s hand is as she slowly touches Wesley’s face.)

Nikki, I thoroughly enjoyed the lengthy interview with Alexis Denisof in your book. It’s fun to read an interview when you know the voices of everyone speaking. Every time I read one of your questions, I could just hear the way you would’ve asked it. It was a great overview of Wesley’s development as a character, from the time we first met him back when he was Faith’s Watcher.

Suzanne said...

Wow! What a great ride this has been everyone! I really hate to see it end. Thanks so much, Nikki, for everything!

I love this finale, and it is definetly one of my favorites gor all the scenes Nikki and others have mentioned.

I believe Ilyria had begun to love Wesley, which seems odd but it reminds me a bit of Anya. Having to live as a human seems to be having an effect on her. I really liked this development a lot and would have loved to see more Ilyria.

Spike - what can I say but awesome as usual. He is probably the character I have consistently enjoyed more than other on any show. I loved his poetry reading.

I was so thrilled tonsee Angel and Connor together and to see him come to fight with Angel one last time. I am sure many fans would have liked to have seen Buffy this season, but I am really pleased withnthe way Connor really became Angel's true love in life and the way their relationship ended on such a sweet note.

The scene with Lindsay and Lorne gets to me every time. I understand why Angel ordered it, but I still see tragic irony in it. Lindsay seems to have truly changed after realizing that Eve really loved him enough to give up immortality. Then after fighting on the side of good he sounds genuinely pleased to be a part of the team only to be killed. Poor Lorne! Itbwas really roughnof Angel to force Lorne to act against his nature in that way.

I was also glad to see Gunn back to being himself. He was all kinds of awesomeness fighting Vamps again. Does anyone else wonder why he and Anne never hooked up?

Wesley -- when I first met him I could have never imagined how much I would love him ornthe depth of development his character would experience. He really was amazing.

I will miss you all! I really hope to see your names here from time to time. Take care and thanks again, Nikki.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I feel like that little green guy on Just for Laughs. "Mommy's it's over!!" I've loved the rewatch. I've seen more than I thought I had, and the comments from everyone involved are fantastic.

So, one last set of notes.

No! Not Mr. Peepee!! *glares at Angel*

I noticed that each Black Thorn at the round table member mentions the hero who will kill them.

It hasn't been that long since I Will Remember You - has Angel forgotten the day he was human like everyone else did?

Angel did tell Harmony to distract Hamilton. And as to why he didn't stake her - I think he knows that she does her very best. And she's never been particularly dangerous. He also used her, and he knows that.

Angel tells Lindsey that he's the greatest mass murderer that the man has ever met - then arranges to murder him.

I also enjoy the Carol Burnett show - but Tim Conway wasn't at the first taping. He started his guest shots in the fourth episode. He wasn't a regular until years later.

Harmony was never really popular - but she still hangs with the cool kids.

Things I learned from Angel - when your show is cancelled, smash up your set.

This is the first time I realized that Lorne is the right person to shoot Lindsey. Anyone else might show mercy, but Lorne has heard him sing.

I've made it clear that I don't care for Wesley (though Alexis is excellent), but I always cry at his death scene. I realized that it's because of Amy's performance. "My love. Oh, my love."

If Hamilton's immortal (he's taken Eve's place and he's familiar to Drogen) - how does snapping his neck kill him?

I do have a problem with the ending, but not for the reason some do. James was very ill with the flu, and they made him do that scene in pouring water in the cold. You can see what a pro he is, because you can't tell he's so ill.

Goodbye for now Buffyverse. Six Feet Under, eh? I do have all the DVDs. ;)

Christina B said...

I'm so surprised at how many people I've talked to recently that HATED the way Angel ends.
I LOVED it! I loved that it was a 'cliffhanger' and that I, as a viewer, got to decide what happened to the group I came to love.

I understand now what you were all saying to me so many months ago. "Wait. Just wait. You'll see."
It was worth it. It was so, so worth it.

I loved every single scene in this finale.
I thought it was perfectly written, wonderfully acted and I was completely satisfied with it.

Wesley...Okay, okay, yeah. I SOBBED, as usual. What a gut wrenching, heartbreaking, touching and emotional scene!
Nikki, I GET why he's your favourite now!!

I thought the way everyone spent their 'last' day was perfect...Gah, everything was just perfect!!

Now I have to watch it again because I only just finished it now and came rushing here to post right away.
I know I missed a ton of Angel and Connor fighting Hamilton because I was crying too hard to pay attention.

I'm really sad that this is the end, but I feel so blessed that I got to watch two amazing shows with such a wonderful bunch of people.
Thank you all for making me feel at home.
I promise I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.
Nikki still posts about shows that I adore (OUAT, anyone? The River? The Walking Dead?), so you'll see me around. :)

I feel like we were really involved in something special here...Thank you, Nikki. ♥

Dave said...

Thanks for doing this Nikki.

I love how Angel ended. Don't get me wrong, I'd have preferred a sixth season. My thoughts on the latter half of Angel season five and Not Fade Away are here.

Dave Wrote This

Suzanne said...

@Colleen/redeem 147, I had forgotten that Lorne heard him sing! I guess Lindsay fooled me a second time but not Angel or Lorne.

Boy am I ever going to miss this thoughtful group of people. Thanks to all of you fod making this rewatch grand.

Efthymia said...

I never loved Ats as I did BtVS, but I do think the finale is pretty great. I don't know why, but I really like how it ends with them about to enter this huge fight, and it never felt cliffhanger-y to me, although it apparently is; maybe it's because everyone I loved in this show is already dead (except for Spike, but I had already made my peace with his death once), so I don't really care what happens.

Doyle died too early on, Cordelia died -and her last living days (aka Season 4) were so awful- and now Wesley dies: Joss Whedon hates me.

I, too, thank you Nikki for being so awesome and having such an awesome blog and organising this/these (officialy it was only the Great Buffy Rewatch, but it was also an Angel rewatch as well) awesome rewatch/es and allowing me to discuss with many awesome people!
I'm going to miss these Wednesday (for me) appointments...

Delvin Anaris said...

The first time I watched Not Fade Away, when it originally aired, I was annoyed with the cliffhanger. Rewatching it subsequently, however, I liked it a lot more.

It's a fantastic episode, and it and the episodes leading up to it are about the strongest argument I know for letting shows know they've been cancelled well ahead of time.

Aside from that, I can't really come up with much to say that everyone else hasn't already said: I cried at Wesley's death, grieved at Lorne's departure, broken and used, and was glad Spike finally got to share his poetry with people who appreciated it.

I will say this, though: for those who really, really wish they knew what happened next, go read the Angel: After the Fall comics. (I presume saying that they tell what happened next isn't too spoilery...)

For those who love the ending as it is, of course, you may consider the comics to not exist ;-)

Nikki Stafford said...

Delvin: Well said.

Marebabe, you might want to check out the Angel comics, where you see what happened to them after the fight. I didn't like them at all, because now they're not running headlong into battle forever in my mind. And I was very unhappy with what happened to one key character, who should have found his peace in this episode. So I stopped reading after the second issue (even though I have the first three).

I am glad that after subsequent viewings you changed the way you saw the episode, though.

It's funny, I love this finale so much, and everyone I know loves it, and I actually had forgotten how much animosity there was towards the cliffhanger ending. The fans were somewhat divided -- not the way they were divided on Lost, mind you, but while most liked the way it ended, there were many who thought it was unsatisfactory. So I absolutely see where you're coming from on your initial viewing.

Quarks said...

The ‘Angel’ finale is quite possibly my favourite finale of all time. While I had a couple of very minor nitpicks with the ‘Lost’ finale, and several slightly bigger ones with the ‘Buffy’ finale, I don’t have any here. I could (and have) watch this episode over and over again, as there is not a single scene in it I don’t like. Watching this season back, I think that I wouldn’t have liked this finale so much if we hadn’t had ‘You’re Welcome’ earlier in the season. That episode dealt with saying goodbye to Cordelia and in many ways the series as a whole, so I didn’t need this episode to do so much of that, certainly in terms of any appearances of the past characters. Instead, I could focus on this episode as an ending of the series, rounding off the plots and the character arcs in a fantastic way.

One of my big complaints with the ‘Buffy’ finale is completely avoided in this finale. In ‘Buffy’, I was frustrated that there was so much focus on Buffy herself, and her relationships, and less on the other characters we had grown to love. By sending each of the characters to say goodbye to the world in their own way, and to fight a member of the Circle of the Black Thorn by themselves, it prevents Angel from eclipsing the other characters. Angel isn’t really given much more focus compared to the other characters in this episode, but about the same amount, which I think is great as a show is made up of more than just one character.

I also love the plot of Angel giving the gang the chance to live their one last, perfect day. He knows that they will probably all die, so they all get the opportunity to enjoy their last hours, which I think is a fantastic ending to each character’s story.

Wesley tells Illyria that there is no perfect day for him without Fred, and that it doesn’t matter anyway because he doesn’t intend to die. I think that he’s not telling the truth there, and that even if he isn’t specifically trying to kill himself, he is indifferent about dying because at least then he has the possibility of being reunited with Fred. The only explanation I can think of for him trying to fight a powerful warlock with some fairly weak magic, especially as he is not a warlock, instead of his more usual swords or guns is that he isn’t really expecting to get out of the battle alive.

Wesley’s death scene is another fantastic scene in the finale. Without doubt, Wesley is my favourite character in ‘Angel’, and the way he leaves the series certainly does him justice. He dies in the arms of the woman he loves (sort of), in much the same way as she died in his. The dialogue is fantastic, and it is certainly the most emotional scene in the finale.

Quarks said...

Another thing I really like about this finale is how simply Shanshu is dealt with. I feel like the writers knew that they had been building this prophecy up for so long that no matter how they resolved it wouldn’t satisfy everyone, so instead they don’t try to. They do the opposite, show that they haven’t forgotten it, and just sign the destiny away.

Lorne’s role in the finale is also done very well. He has been fairly absent this season, but the end of his character arc is done perfectly. He does one last thing for Angel, killing Lindsey, before he leaves it all behind. Also, the fact that it is Lorne that kills Lindsey, as well as being shocking, deals with Lindsey’s plot very well. He’s not important enough for Angel to face off with in the finale, but it needed to be rounded off, so getting Lorne to do it is the final, perfect insult to Lindsey.

When Lindsey sung at Caritas back in Season 2, the part of the chorus of the song he sung was:

The skies gonna open
People going pray and crawl
It’s gonna rain down fire
It’s gonna burn us all

…Which pretty much sums up the final scene (and also fits fairly well with the Season 4 Beast plotline).

I was watching ‘Being Human’ (UK) for the first time this week and in a Season 2 episode one of the characters says “There’s a werewolf called Nina on ‘Buffy’”, which, although it’s technically ‘Angel’, impressed me because Nina is a fairly minor character.

I love the final scene, with the gang going into battle against the masses of demons Wolfram & Hart sent down. Normally I’m not a big a fan of cliffhangers at the end of a series, but this one worked really well. The ‘message’ from the past couple of weeks is that Hell is on Earth and the apocalypse has been happening for years, and there was no way that the Angel gang were going to change that in the finale, as in many ways that is a simple fact of life. But the gang refusing to accept that and fighting it just to slow the decay of the world for a few seconds shows how they are heroes. The show ending with the idea that these heroes will continue fighting for as long as they can is symbolic, because the ‘war’ will never be over, and they will never ‘win’, just like the bad things and the ‘evil’ in the real world will never just stop being there, but we should still do whatever we can to fight it. Essentially, the message is: the war will never be over, but you should still try and win all the battles.

For those people who want to know what did happen after the cliffhanger, you can find out in the ‘Angel: After the Fall’ comics. It took me months to decide whether or not to read them, because a large part of me wanted to leave the ending as it was and not find out what happens next, but I did succumb to the temptation over Christmas. The comics are very good but, as is probably obvious, don’t read them if you don’t want to know what happens.

So, there we have it, the end of all the live-action Buffyverse. It’s been a great ride, and I just want to thank Nikki for organising all this and all the other people who leave their comments every week. Once again I will just recommend the comics as I think they are a great addition to the Buffyverse and it’s great to have something new which is still being released.

Good night, folks.

Blam said...

I'm a lot more okay with the ending on this rewatch.

When the finale first aired I was bummed — not so much because of what happens to the characters per se but because of the limbo in which we leave them. I get and appreciate the read that the last shot shows how it's truly a never-ending battle. But I remember seeing something from someone connected to the show (don't recall who) that pretty baldly stated that we were to infer that what was so valiant about that final scene was that the gang couldn't possibly survive the assault in the alley; this was not so say that the someone said outright that they all went down after the fade to black, but rather that the last shot was sort-of like an event horizon (Look, Fred! Physics!) in that we should always remember our champions poised in that moment to confront impossible odds. So it was colored more hopeless than hopeful for me.

Nikki: It doesn't matter what happens at the end of that alley; in my mind, our heroes will always be racing into battle, willing to die to save the world.

Right. Like that. Except in a less optimistic fashion. 8^(

I haven't had time to listen to Jeffrey Bell's commentary, so I don't know whether he addresses this. And, hell, I could easily be misremembering; I certainly haven't pored over the copious takes that there have doubtless been from Whedon associates and fans alike over the years or even at the time; not long after the finale aired my computer died and my health was so bad that it was several years before I cobbled together the funds to get a new one — I missed out on the Interwebs during the years that blogging and high-speed connectivity really blew up.

So I for one really appreciate that the IDW Angel: After the Fall comics have officially continued the storyline, even if I haven't read them yet, just for the fact that it means (however tragic some of the ensuing events may be) the storyline does continue.

All of the first-billed human characters on Angel ended up dead or mortally wounded by the finale, if Gunn is truly fading like Illyria says. Doyle, Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, and Gunn: They all die — again, so far as the continuum of the series itself goes, events in the subsequent comics notwithstanding.

Would you like me to quote lines to you now?

Spike: "This next one's called... 'The Wanton Folly of Me Mum'."

Angel: "One of you will betray me."
Spike: [raises hand]
Angel: "Wes."
Spike: (disappointed) "Oh. Can I deny you three times?"

Angel: "Spike."
Spike: "First off, I'm not wearing any amulets."

Angel: "What are you doing here?"
Connor: "Come on. You drop by for a cup of coffee and the world's not ending? Please."

Illyria: "I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence."

Angel: "Well, personally? I kind-of want to slay the dragon."

Thanks so much for doing this, Nikki... I only wish that I could keep up with your posts on current cool television. Your blog was literally one of the first places I came to when I finally did get back online; I have never regretted making it one of the few places I expend my time and energy.

VW: effulgent — ... Okay, not really, but I shall take this opportunity to point out that I hate the verification that Blogger has switched to so hard that I actually turned it off on my own blog, relying on the spam filter and moderation for older comments.

Blam said...

Marebabe — I don't blame you your mixed emotions over the ending on first viewing, as you might see from my own comments.

Quarks said...

@Nikki: I know what you're saying about the 'Angel' comics. Part of me still wishes I'd not bothered reading them so that the resounding image in my head was still the end of this episode. As I watch this episode now, there are a couple of moments (I won't say what they are for obvious reasons) which feel slightly different in light of what happens in the comics.

Personally, I would still recommend them as I think they are a good addition to the series and that they get better as they go. Certainly by the end I think that some of my issues with it are alleviated, including the one with the character you mentioned (assuming it is who I'm thinking of). Certainly I think the comics are better than some of the TV seasons (*cough*Season 4*cough*).

Blam said...

Marebabe: I don’t really get how Illyria pretending to be Fred at the end could be so emotional about Wesley’s death.

Do you recall the episode in which Fred's parents visit and Illyria puts on her appearance and mannerisms for their benefit? It's established there that Illyria can access her memories and personality, which she offers to do again (including here in the finale) for Wesley. As for how Illyria came to care for Wesley, I suspect that it's some combination of Fred's residual essence and the humility / humanity that's come with her depowering as well as her reliance on Welsey even before that, as she adjusted to the loss of her kingdom and an Earth overrun by disgusting mortals.

Marebabe: Every time I’ve watched that scene, I’ve noticed how beautiful Amy Acker’s hand is as she slowly touches Wesley’s face.

I just notice how beautiful Amy Acker is — and get awed time after time at her range, especially after seeing her so adorably guffaw her way through the featurettes. She was great in Alias Season 5 and by far my favorite thing about Dollhouse Season 1; I'm really looking forward to her and other Whedonistas in Much Ado.

The conversation with Alexis Denisoff in Once Bitten really was a great capper to the rewatch, as I'd never read it before. I've conducted many an interview and always been grateful when the subject is willing to engage with genuine, thoughtful, articulate replies.

Colleen: I noticed that each Black Thorn at the round table member mentions the hero who will kill them.

Ooh... Nice observation!

Colleen: [H]as Angel forgotten the day he was human like everyone else did?

Yeah, I was surprised by that line to Harmony, too, saying that he could hardly remember not being a vampire, because I'd thought that that episode was still one of many fresh wounds.

Colleen: If Hamilton's immortal (he's taken Eve's place and he's familiar to Drogen) - how does snapping his neck kill him?

There's immortal and then there's invulnerable. Although the former is sometimes used synonymously with the latter, immortality often is restricted to a lack of aging and disease but not necessarily immunity from harm or death via outside forces the way that relative invulnerability is. Vampires are immortal, in the common parlance, but they can be dusted by stake or beheading or sunlight.

Dusk said...

@Marebabe: Thanks for checking, I could have sworn their was words there, ut oh well.

Dusk said...

Nikki and Everyone Else Iffy on ATF: I've read them all, they do continue the story of course, but in my mind they are more spin-off books based on the show. They do relate back to the alley, but when I watch the finale, do I think "Hey that's the dragon that in the comics..." No. I think "Hey that's the dragon from The Gift!" I still have the image of the 4 going into batle, even knowing what the comics say.

In my head they are seperate worlds, NFA leaves the Buffyverse and Angelverse open to interpretation, I view any of the comics as one interpretation of what happens next.

And Nikki, your feelings about a certain character may change if you read ATF all the way through. ATF isn't perfect but it's really good.

And in terms of making it seem almost like the show, ATF does a better job then the Season 8 comics, and After the Fall runs circles around Season 8 in terms of making it feel like the characters from the shows.

With one, maybe two exceptions, the Buffy characters don't hold up to their show versions for me in in Season 8's storylines. I can't look at Chosen and see what they comic characters do is the people I've watched for 7 seasons. They are also spin-off interpretations to me. If you got through Season 8, then I highly reccomend After the Fall.

Blam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blam said...

Whoops! Sorry... I pasted into the wrong window. I'm finally getting my comments from the wees I couldn't be here in and lost track o' my tabs.

The Question Mark said...

Thank you Nikki, and thank you fellow bloggers, for this Joss Whedon thrill ride that's lasted over a year! It's been two tons of fun!

And the Angel finale was very, very emotional. I was depressed for like 4 hours after I watched it. I tried to put on an episode of the Tick, and I was just like, "I can't watch this funny stuff right now...I need to cope!" LMAO

kluu said...

The Question Mark,
I feel the same way, I really like the episode but when it ends I always feel so sad.
I wanted more Angel. And no matter how well they ended it I feel that loss.

I had heard that when UPN picked up Buffy and promised them at least two years, they had said that should Angel be canceled they would pick it up as well for at least two years. I don't remember where I read this but, oh, if it had been true...

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Just thinking - Wes was an employee of Wolfram and Hart. If he's with anyone now, it's not Fred - it's Lilah.

Dusk said...

@Collen: It's left open as to whether or not the team's contract with W & H still holds after attacking the Black Thorn.

Also adressed in ATF)...

Dusk said...

We are told Fred's soul was destroyed, but it's unclear if it's true, it was by the W & H Doctor, who also worshipped Illyria, so it's not like he'd tell Angel's team anything that could inspire them to destroy Illyria anyway.

Austin Gorton said...

First of all, Nikki, thanks so much for undertaking this massive project. For a variety of reasons both good and bad I was never able to follow along (let alone watch along) as closely as I would have liked, and I've greatly missed the fantastic discussions that are the norm 'round these parts. But I did my best to keep up from afar, and somebody hope to go back through the rewatch and really digest everything you, your fantastic contributors and the phenomenal commentors wrote.

Secondly, in terms of this final episode, I am, in general, not a fan of open-ended endings. Unless I'm a writer of the work in question, it's not my job to imagine how a story ends; that's the writer's job.

But for as much as I wanted to see what happened next, as much as I wanted to see Angel slay that dragon, I really love this finale.

Part of that is because, as a finale, it's about so much more than that final cliffhanger moment of our heroes rushing into battle against overwhelming odds. It's all the great moments and character beats leading up to that final shot. In the end, it doesn't matter that we don't know what happens after Angel and company rush out of that alley because the rest of the episode has already brought their stories to a close.

Part of it is because I do like the romantic notion suggested by the cliffhanger that the characters will always be out there, fighting the good fight. Not in a depressing ("they'll never get to stop fighting") way, but in a positive ("they are heroes, and they will always fight against the darkness because that is what they do") kind of way.

And part of it is because everyone needs that one exception to the rule. I can't stand cliffhanger-y finales, but I love the Angel finale. :)

@BlamSo I for one really appreciate that the IDW Angel: After the Fall comics have officially continued the storyline, even if I haven't read them yet, just for the fact that it means (however tragic some of the ensuing events may be) the storyline does continue.

And, for all my talk of liking the openness of the ending, I share this sentiment, and was overjoyed when the ATF comics started coming out.

In the end, I bailed on them after a couple years because they got a bit tedious and tied too strongly to IDW's earlier comic-specific Whedonverse stuff, but I wouldn't be opposed to going back and finishing out the run sometime.

And thankfully, even after reading the comics and getting some idea of "what happened next", my appreciation for the finale as it stands didn't diminish or anything. But then, I've always been a fan of expanded universe storytelling like that, and have never really had an issue compartmentalizing the various stories even while consuming them as one long uninterrupted narrative.

Angel: "One of you will betray me."
Spike: [raises hand]
Angel: "Wes."
Spike: (disappointed) "Oh. Can I deny you three times?"

That might be my favorite Spike line of the season...

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I watched the last episode of Quantum Leap this morning (I was doing my own series rewatch.) In the past that last title card has made be sad, even angry. In the light of the Angel finale I realize what it's really saying is that for a hero, the fight never ends.

Dusk said...

Two last treats for anyone still reading the comments.

On Youtube, their are 13 videos of fanmade trailers, that look amazing. One for each Buffy and Angel Season, and one on the Vampire Angel, about the Whirlwind. (It even makes Angel Season 4 look good).

There are also 12 videos of Buffy and Angel switching theme songs to fanmade credits thate really good, Angel credits Buffy style or vice versa.