Monday, April 9, 2012

Angel: Tomorrow (3.22)

It's all about parallels. Angel is confined to the depths of the ocean, and Cordelia ascends to places unknown. Tomorrow is one of the few Buffyverse finales that literally ends on a cliffhanger, leaving you gasping for some kind of resolution just as that coffin fades into the darkness and we smash into the end credits. Even before that ending, however, this is a strong closer to the third season. Here, events conspire to make everything sort of perfect. Angel has his family back together again, Cordelia has her epiphany. But David Greenwalt's script ensures that, once we look a little closer, things aren't as wonderful as they may appear.

Connor and Justine's plan is crazily intense. Taking a note from the one father he ever really knew, Connor seeks the ultimate betrayal by becoming the exact person he knows Angel wants him to be. A fighter and a son who embraces his true identity and wants to form a real relationship with him. Only this, of course, is an elaborate ruse that culminates in Angel taking a horrible plunge into the ocean chained up in a locked coffin. It's the worst fate for him, on both mental and physical levels.

Cordelia finally gets that resolution she's been angling towards all season and realizes that she's in love with Angel. But it's at the expense of Groo, who she treats badly enough that he ends up walking away to places unknown. I liked Groo, and I loved how much inner sadness Mark Lutz conveyed in this last run of episodes. Cordelia's behavior with him is pretty callous and cruel, and it's no surprise that she instantly jumps into a mysterious new vocation after a short pep talk with Skip. I remember thinking this particular element of the episode (Cordy's evolution into a higher being) was more than a little ridiculous, but the way it all becomes so clear in season four is pretty masterful.

Elsewhere, Wesley and Lilah. The two biggest badasses on this show finally boned -- a development full of as much mutual hatred as it is dangerous lust. These two have had a ton of chemistry over the last couple of episodes, and it makes sense for Wesley, already in the midst of self-destruction, to sleep with the enemy. But sleeping with Lilah doesn't dent his angst, showcased in that genius exchange of "Don't be thinking about me when I'm gone"/"I wasn't thinking about you when you were here".

Tomorrow is an interesting finale, one that bristles with tension as we're all certain of the car crash epicness that's right around the corner while our heroes remain entirely unaware. It brings to a close a mostly successful season that, while not as strong as season two, featured unparalleled ambition in the revenge saga of Holtz. It managed to push characters into deeper, darker directions, and that's something pretty fantastic in itself. Sometimes the show didn't seem to know what to do with most of its ensemble (Cordelia was a martyr nightmare most of the time, and Fred became rapidly diluted in her horrible romantic subplot with Gunn), but the intensity remains in general. And who can resist that epic cliffhanger? A

Guest stars John Rubinstein (Linwood Morrow); Vincent Kartheiser (Connor); Laurel Holloman (Justine Cooper); Mark Lutz (Groo); Andy Hallett (Lorne); Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Parks); David Denman (Skip); Keith Szarabajka (Daniel Holtz)
Writer David Greenwalt Director David Greenwalt

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