7 Things: My Favorite Episodes #4 – Angel

Counting down my favorite episodes from Angel. Some of the best writing. Some of the best moments. The best overall. Per me.

Of course, there will be a few spoilers. Though, nothing too spoilery, I don’t think.

7 – Sleep Tight 3.16

Wesley is turned onto a prophecy that Angel will devour his son. After a couple of episodes of building tension, Sleep Tight brings this belief to a head. Maybe the viewing audience doesn’t lose faith in Angel. Maybe it does lose a little. At the very least, it’s easy to understand why Wesley has his concerns. Though we wish he didn’t, because we know it’s not going to end well. The last few minutes of the episode are some of the most explosive in the series and they capture the crumbling of Angel’s team perfectly, which foreshadows the season’s end and the early eps of season four when everything seems lost.

6 – The House Always Wins 4. 3

It’s doesn’t get much better than a Lorne-centric episode, and this one really works for me. It’s a relief – even without Cordelia – in the midst of the darkness that Angel and company inhabit. Even in a show filled with monsters, prophecies, portals and body swaps, the plot about stolen destinies seems magical, and, due to Angel’s role as champion, has greater significance than it would on most shows. Of course, we know things are going to turn out fine, but, still, it feels sticky. And, again, it foreshadows later events in the season. Stolen destiny, stolen soul… either takes down a champion. Plus, Fred in a Lornette costume. Ridiculously awesome.

5 – The Magic Bullet 4.19

From what I can tell, a lot of people didn’t like this season. To some extent, I get it. Cordelia barely around and then barely Cordelia. Wesley, a totally different Wesley. And, yet, season four of Angel is my favorite. For me, it hits upon a very real fear, that of how easily the masses can be blinded to evil.

Don’t get me wrong, getting to the birth of Jasmine, Angel‘s totally-bitchin’ Big Bad of season four, did require some plot devices that skeeved me – like, there are some things that I wouldn’t have minded happening off-screen – but, once she was there, I was like, “Alright, I can dig this.”

The Jasmine episodes of Angel have such a nice arc to me, because the Buffy/Angel-verse had explored the idea of the heroes not being able to see who they were up against several times, but this one, where they couldn’t see what was standing right in front of them, was pretty stellar. Of the entire arc, though, it’s this episode, in which the gang finally comes back together as a cohesive unit, and where Fred gets to be totally badass, that stands as my favorite.

4 – Soulless 4.11

Let me clearly state how much I love David Boreanaz as Angelus. When he slips on that role, he is so horrendously evil he makes my skin crawl. My favorite Angelus arc is at the end of season two of Buffy – it was pretty impossible to top – but, still, every time he went evil on Angel, it was good times. In the Angel-verse alone, though, this episode remains my favorite Evil-Angel ep. He is so deliciously cruel to his friends, and the fact that most of the gang are meeting Angelus for the first time – and don’t have any idea what he might do or say – gives it a kick. Watching anyone meet Angelus in either Buffy or Angel is something to see.

3 – Deep Down 4.1

The end of season three of Angel was the moment during my watching when I was glad that I had seen only a couple of episodes during the show’s live run and did my viewing of the series from beginning to end on DVD. Because that’s the kind of cliffhanger you don’t want to sit with for three months. It was quite lovely to be able to jump up, pop in the next DVD and go “ahhhh.”

Anyhow, everything is fractured at the start of season four to a point where one wonders how they might fix it. While some things are more simple than others, Wesley’s separation from the group seems like quite the distance to make amends and Cordelia, well, she was a little outside the group’s jurisdiction. I’m not sure writer Steven DeKnight could have captured the feel of that fissure any better.

Seeing that Wesley, who is undoubtedly a changed man, and who, from Buffy to Angel, underwent the best transformation of any character in the Buffy/Angel-verse, proves he hasn’t changed entirely. Not when it comes to his loyalties, at least.

Plus, Fred’s line to Connor when all is revealed is a great shocker moment – perfectly delivered – and I greatly enjoyed that Connor didn’t see it coming either.

2 – Billy 3.6

I get chills every time I watch this episode. For reals. It opens ugly, the plot is intense, and the performances score big. Alexis Denisof – looking like he stepped straight out of The Shining – pops on-screen as infected-Wesley. And the build-up of Wesley’s feelings in earlier episodes – knowing what a broken man Wesley will be if he actually hurts Fred – is the soul of the plot. Of course, just the thought of it leaves Wesley a little broken, and the final scene of the episode is difficult to shake.

What I like most about this episode is how much it could have been a disaster. The plot revolves around Billy, a character who spreads misogyny through touch, so you spend a lot of the episode watching women getting attacked and chased by men that they spend time with every day. It’s hard to watch. If they had sent a man to the rescue – even Angel – if he had been the savior after that, it would have destroyed this entire episode. Instead, they allowed two women who hated each other to share a moment of mutual understanding and each woman, in her own way, got a chance to stand up for herself.

1 – I Will Remember You 1.8

The first time I watched this episode of Angel, my heart ached for days after. When I was trying to convince my brother to watch Buffy and Angel (he remains unrecruited), he asked if he could just watch Angel. I told him that he could – it wouldn’t eliminate any real understanding -but that he would lack background that made the character arcs more impressive, but, mostly, I tried to describe this episode without really describing this episode to explain how much less impact it would have without Angel and Buffy’s history. Because, if I hated Buffy as a series, it would have been worth watching it for this episode of Angel alone. That’s how emotionally-worthwhile this ep is if you go into it with the background of the Buffy-verse.

They had to do it if Buffy and Angel were going to move on without each other, but the fact that Angel has to live with the memory – for as long as he may live – is exactly the kind of emotional-anguish that Joss Whedon and his writers dole out with incomparable skill.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.