Monday, April 9, 2012

Angel: Benediction (3.21)

Revenge has been one of the driving themes of season three, especially in relation to Holtz. Holtz has never been somebody we could completely dislike, since his quest is rooted in the pain of experiencing the horrific murder of his entire family. Here he begins to showcase new levels as he encourages Connor to connect with his birth father, later granting Angel his blessing when it comes to re-forming the bond with his son. But, obviously, this is Angel, a show when nothing ever ends up the way you had expected. Holtz, hate driving his every action and decision, forms the ultimate revenge scheme, and it's a masterful moment of biblical intensity.

Connor is the real victim here, a doomed product of hatred between two individuals. Against his better wishes, he can't help but bond with Angel, playfully sparring with him in an alleyway and helping out in a mass dust-fest in an LA club. While he still sees Holtz as his father, Connor sees the humanity in Angel, and it's an unexpected but welcome emotion.

Connor himself continues to be an intriguing character, especially with his hatred of demons. There were two intense moments here related to that, first his horrible encounter with Lorne, followed by that out-of-nowhere attack on Cordelia. Their scene right after was full of uncomfortable intimacy, Cordy's new powers granting Connor some kind of 'soul colonic'.

There was a lot here about perception and voyeurism, characters watching others without their knowledge, and duplicities that strike deep. Wesley watched as Justine was led into a trap, only to figure out that his very presence there was merely a trick to further Lilah's plans for him. Then there's Cordelia mistaking Groo for Angel, Groo himself growing more saddened as he realizes where her heart truly lies. Holtz watches the growing bond between Angel and Connor from afar, both of them unaware of the plans he has set in motion. It's such a gorgeously constructed episode, Tim Minear folding so many layers into an already impressive final arc.

Benediction is all about pushing the characters into deeper chaos just in time for the finale, but also deals with Connor's return and Holtz's turmoil in such a blistering way. It's a story that is filled with conversations and pondering, yet continues to forward momentum and remain impactful. While I've had problems with season three, this final stretch is proving to be incredibly poetic. A+

Guest stars Vincent Kartheiser (Connor); Laurel Holloman (Justine Cooper); Mark Lutz (Groo); Andy Hallett (Lorne); Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz)
Writer Tim Minear Director Tim Minear

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