Monday, July 23, 2012

Angel: Life of the Party (5.5)

Even though he's essentially been a permanent cast member for four years now, I don't think Lorne has ever been better than he was during Angel's second season, cast as the proprietor of a strange demon karaoke bar and a proud dispenser of little nuggets of profound wisdom. Ever since Caritas burned down, he's been something of a background character. And while Andy Hallett is still a wonderful presence on the show, most of the time he's only there to toss around nicknames and euphemisms... and that's sort of a drag after a while.

Life of the Party is only the second episode in two seasons in which Hallett drives the show, and it's nowhere near as interesting as The House Always Wins. Unfortunately, it's yet again an episode that's completely uninspiring on a narrative level. Like Spin the Bottle, it's another hour that gets its kicks from making the Angel gang get all 'wacky' under the influence of a spell, but it lacks any of the emotional resonance of that episode and struggles to be particularly funny either.

On a character level, I liked the implication that Lorne, being somebody who has essentially become a background character, believes himself so inconsequential and lightweight that he keeps his personal struggles to himself. It's an interesting statement on a character's underuse, as well as the ideology of somebody whose gift is the understanding of other people -- is this just how things are supposed to be? Are you pre-destined to be somebody selfless, just because your abilities give you greater awareness of the emotions and futures of those around you? Maybe I'm reaching for deeper themes a little, but I guess I was a little bored by most of the stuff on screen.

Life of the Party is funny in places, and I loved the sinister ickiness of the pee-pee dude, but it's another frustratingly bland season five episode, even if it does position Andy Hallett center stage for once. I'm real eager for the fifth year greatness to kick in at this point. C-

Guest stars
Sarah Thompson (Eve); Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall); Jonathan Woodward (Knox); Leland Crooke (Archduke Sebassis)
Writer Ben Edlund Director Bill Norton

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