Monday, February 20, 2012

Angel: Quickening (3.8)

One of the most disquieting side effects of Angel's newest story arc is the fact that Holtz is very much entitled to his revenge. This has always been a series that highlights its interest in moral ambiguity, but this particular storyline really challenges your allegiances. Naturally, being Angel's show, we champion him and hope for his eventual victory, but Holtz is a compelling sort-of antagonist. He's already been given an intense back-story through dialogue, but actually seeing the horror of Angelus and Darla murdering his wife and child was pretty horrifying. We don't want Holtz to succeed in killing Angel, but we can't realistically condemn his repeated attempts to do so.

I had some problems with last episode, but Quickening sees the various strands to this storyline begin to merge, the script beautifully depicting how Darla's pregnancy is a huge story within this little Los Angeles universe. Wolfram & Hart, once they stumble across the truth, are buzzing with excitement. Vampire cultists see the child as some kind of holy figure, and the Angel Investigations team panic over what exactly is coming out of Darla's belly. There's that palpable sense that this story is headed somewhere strong...

Wolfram & Hart provides most of the fun here, and so far one of season three's greatest accomplishments has been allowing Lilah to drive a lot of the action. Her threats to menial co-workers never get old, and I love her casual undermining of Gavin's elaborate schemes. There's also Linwood Morrow, played to sleazy perfection by Broadway legend John Rubinstein, who makes just as much of an impression as Holland Manners did. Can we also spare a moment for creepy Dr. Fetvanovich and his horrible chicken feet? That gave me nightmares at the time. Gah.

Quickening feels a lot like another chapter of an epic trilogy, one that continues to ramp up the tension and sustained energy. It also improves a lot on last week, which I felt was flawed in areas. B+

Guest stars Julie Benz (Darla); John Rubinstein (Linwood Morrow); Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Parks); Jack Conley (Sahjhan); Jose Yenque (Vampire Leader); Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz)
Writer Jeffrey Bell Director Skip Schoolnik

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