Monday, July 2, 2012

Angel: Home (4.22)

Reinvention is good. There's something about Home that screams of an attempt to curb cancellation, and it's not a new phenomena. When a show's ratings are flatlining, not horrible but certainly not strong enough for an immediate pick-up, it's seemingly traditional for the show to experiment with a game-changer. Sometimes the show flashes forward in time, sometimes a major new character is flown in, and sometimes an entirely new environment is introduced. The latter doesn't always work, think back to the jarring "Veronica Mars: FBI Agent" thing, but sometimes the game-changer is so absurd yet so inherently believable that it's no surprise the network was completely charmed by it.

Wolfram & Hart has always been sort of nuts, so seeing them hand over the reigns of power to Angel and his team reads like a natural outcome. It's a story that also makes the whole Jasmine saga so retroactively hilarious, since they did generally wind up averting world peace -- the one thing Wolfram & Hart had been desperate to do since the dawn of time. Lilah, in her final appearance (for realsies this time), has never been used to greater effect than in her placement here, guiding the ensemble through their fresh and warm new headquarters, aware of how ridiculous their entire enterprise is but still maintaining that shiny allure that naturally bends others to her will.

It's also a natural shot in the arm for the show. While I adored the Hyperion, it had become a little 'stock' over the years, and you could only see so many rituals in the lobby and stalk-and-slash chases sequences through the corridors before it got a little repetitive. Unlike Buffy, where the base of operations changed at least four times over the course of seven seasons, the Hyperion was growing safe and routine. Opening the show up like they have, and pushing this isolated, incestuous mess of a team into a worldly, bustling 'machine' -- it's ridiculously impactful.

Away from Wolfram & Hart, Home allows Connor the future he deserved. Whatever you thought of Connor, and I still don't understand why he's a figure of so much hate, nobody can truly argue that he deserved some kind of rehabilitation. He's a victim of circumstance, every move of his life plagued by betrayal. In the end, he's left a shell of a person, so devastated by the pain he's experienced that he just wants to end it all, but determined to make it as chaotic a final act as possible. Angel's last gift to him is wonderful, that unquestionably moving final sequence showcasing how much love is there, so much that he removes his own paternal emotions in order to ensure a brighter future for his son. It's just a deserved closer, and something that Connor absolutely needed.

I should also add that Wesley's final scene with Lilah is similarly moving. In some ways it's a neat metaphor for their relationship. Try as they might, they could never escape the inevitable. They both tried to save each other and got truly attached to one another... but both were doomed to live the lives they respectively signed up for. Aww. I really loved those two.

Season four has been consistently frantic, like a speeding freight train full of hidden agendas, ridiculous plot twists and incestuous love affairs between people with freakishly similar haircuts. It's also been overwhelmingly dark, the removal of the sun just one literal representation of a sense of foreboding bleakness that permeated every corner of the show this year. Even the light and breezy final stretch gave way to maggoty-faced misery. But Home really pushes a brighter future for the show, a turnaround that's just as nutty as it is quietly intense. Going from fighting the monster to actually becoming the monster and doing damage from within -- this ought to end well... right? A+

Guest stars Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan); Jim Abele (Laurence Reilly)
Writer Tim Minear Director Tim Minear

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