Monday, April 16, 2012

Angel: Ground State (4.2)

This week's script appropriately name-checks Batman, Flash Gordon and Lex Luthor, tying in famous comic book characters to a very comic book-style episode of Angel. Ground State does a successful job at setting up an exciting standalone mystery while still connecting it with the major story arcs at work right now. So even with Cordelia's disappearance a top priority, we also got some breaking-and-entering electrical hijinks with a bad girl in tight leather. Gwen Raiden is a sizzling new Angel character: smart, funny, quick with the banter and skilled at fighting -- she's like a superpowered Batgirl. While she could have so easily been a cheap ratings stunt, Gwen turns out to be one of the coolest creations in a long while. It's also not a problem that Alexa Davalos is really, really hot. Giggity.

Opening with an awesomely retro flashback to Gwen's childhood, Mere Smith's script quickly makes electro gal wonderfully endearing as a character. She's emotionally detached from other people, but gets a real kick out of her career as a high-price thief-for-hire. Her chemistry with Angel is off the charts, too, especially in that badass moment where she shocks his heart back to life and they share an unexpected kiss.

I should also mention that I'm not missing Cordelia right now, which is strange considering she was at one point so integral to the series and one of my favorite characters. While it's not explicitly a statement on how unnecessary she is at this point on the show, it does feel like the writers have kind of ran out of material for her. They removed a lot of the funny last season, leaving her a sort of bland female ancillary character. As her absence shows, the team is working fine without her, even with Wesley on his own separate mission. Strangeness.

Ground State is very standalone as an episode, but manages to be one of the first Angel hours in a long while that is just straight-up entertaining. It's an exciting and occasionally ridiculous heist episode with flirtatious banter, chicks in leather and double-crosses. Awesome. B+

Guest stars Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Alexa Davalos (Gwen Raiden); Rena Owen (Dinza); Tom Irwin (Elliot)
Writer Mere Smith Director Michael Grossman

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