Monday, March 19, 2012

Angel: Loyalty (3.15)

There's definitely been a strong sense of detachment this season when it comes to Angel's main cast. Angel has been wrapped up in being a father, turning him into somebody who appears so much lighter and comedic, yet being entirely single-minded and focused on his son. Cordelia has become a little sanctimonious at times, while her importance to the show has been so diminished that she's entirely removed from this and the following two episodes. Finally, after so much initial promise, Fred has been dragged into a stillborn subplot with Gunn, by proxy making her character a total drag. This leaves Wesley as the only strong character left, and it makes sense that the show has suddenly thrust him center stage in the middle of a moral dilemma and a dangerous prophecy.

One of the numerous things Loyalty does so well is giving Wesley's story that spark of disbelief that it needs in order to be effective. The idea of Angel killing his own son is crazy, and Wesley runs with that sense of insanity right through the hour. His dreams involve Angel randomly announcing that he's taught Connor a new trick, before sinking his teeth into his baby boy's neck. Apocalyptic warnings are given to Wesley via a giant gravel-voiced hamburger (in one of the series' funniest and most terrifying moments), and he later can only laugh at his misplaced belief in what he's been told.

But then the signs occur, and everything suddenly starts to come to fruition. The prophecy is seemingly true, and Wesley can only look on in horror. It's another example of this show bending against the typical, and damn if it isn't effective. Wesley has experienced one of the most rapid evolutions I've ever seen on television, and it works so well to see him take the reigns of this ambitious storyline.

While watching Loyalty, it also hit me how much I love Lilah. Feeding into the problems I'm having with the show's general ensemble right now, Lilah has happily remained the same. She hasn't been corrupted by silly romantic subplots or unsuccessful characterization and instead is still as badass as ever. Like always, she's wrapped up in another mysterious scheme, this time teaming up with Sahjhan to kill Angel. One of the best scenes in the while occurs when she tells Sahjhan, for the benefit of Wolfram & Hart bugs, that killing Angel goes against company policy, all the while holding up a hastily-written bit of paper with 'I'm in' scribbled on it. She's so awesome, that girl.

I'm enjoying Holtz more as the ruler of a small group of fighters than as a lone warrior. He's now pulled together a team of similarly vengeful people, and I like their attempts at research and undercover investigation before launching into battle. There's also a strong scene between Holtz and Wesley, something that calls back to Holtz's initial ambiguity as a 'villain' when he first appeared. You understand the guy, and while you can't actually support his plans because this is Angel's show and we all love Angel, you can't exactly dislike him.

Loyalty is the series setting the scene for what promises to be an explosive run of episodes, but it's just as good on its own terms. Wesley's character work is fascinating, while Lilah and Sahjhan are a great antagonist team. Fred and Gunn bug, but everything else is spectacular. A

Guest stars Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Laurel Holloman (Justine Cooper); Jack Conley (Sahjhan); Wendy Davis (Aubrey Jenkins); Enrique Castillo (Doctor); Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz)
Writer Mere Smith Director James A. Contner

1 comment:

  1. I don't remember much of Angel, particularly this season, but I always remember loving how bad-ass Lilah was. Can't wait to watch it all again.