Written by: David Fury
Directed by: Fred Keller
idea that we all have a path to follow has been a major theme of this season’s
ANGEL. But this is not to be confused with the idea of pre-destination.
In the Angelverse there is nothing inevitable about that path.
Ultimately it is ours to divine and ours to accept or reject. Nor is any given path immutable; as we walk along it we grow
and change and as we do then so too does our future. And another major theme of this season has been the way in
which the choices we make and the changes we undergo in this search for our path
affect the relationships we have with others.
Indeed the idea that “no man is an island” is tightly woven into the
fabric of this season and no more so than in the events after “Reunion”.
As those events played themselves out we saw Angel as a character move
away from the path he had been on, arguably since “Amends”.
His decision to do so had major consequences for his friends. But having
now started down (or should that be up?) a different path this too must be
reflected in the nature of his relationships.
As Angel admitted to Kate in “Epiphany”:
fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat
the other guy, but... I never got it."
he could not go back to that way of thinking.
As the Host had already told him:
that's just the thing. You don't. You go on to the new place.
Whatever that is."
just as Angel as a character (and possibly ANGEL as a series) is now undergoing
a major change in direction, so too must his relationship with his
“co-workers” as Wesley very pointedly calls them.
Not the same relationship as before, but a new one. And it is in this context that the reappearance of Harmony is
important because of the light it sheds on the relationship between Angel and
Cordelia. But, before we go on to
look at this aspect of the episode I would like to spend some time discussing
Angel’s relationship with Wesley.
Gunn and Wesley
concentrate on Wesley here because it is noticeable in this episode that the
interaction between Angel and Gunn is minimal. Indeed I cannot recall offhand a conversation that the
two of them have in this episode. And
for an episode that is about rebuilding relationships among former friends I
find this extraordinary. And what
this says about Gunn is worrying but hardly surprising.
Gunn never really fitted in to the Angel/Cordelia/Wesley dynamic before
“Reunion”. He never
participated in the discussions about the direction Angel was headed in. He never showed any real concern for him at all.
Equally his attachment to Angel Investigations in “Redefinition” and
beyond was never wholly convincing. Did
he share Wesley and Cordelia’s new found sense of mission or did he have a
different one relating to his old neighborhood?
Did he feel there was any conflict in his loyalties to Cordelia and
Wesley on the one hand and to his street gang on the other?
If not why not; if so how did he resolve them?
Beyond the (for my money overdone and far from convincing) anger he
displayed in “Epiphany” we have no sense of a relationship at all between
himself and Angel that might be damaged because of the latter’s actions in
“Reunion”. It shows how much of
a fifth wheel Gunn has become. Take
him out of this episode and it would not have suffered at all.
contrast, there is now a very interesting dynamic between Wesley and Angel.
At the beginning we see Wesley in mid-lecture.
Wesley: “Engage your co-workers from
time to time. Be sensitive to their feelings, their opinions. Especially before
you take some action one might construe as, oh, let's just call it: insane? Goes
a long way to show you respect and appreciate them….This is torture for you,
tone is firm but friendly; there is no sense of malice. Rather the relationship is of teacher and errant pupil who
needs correcting for his own sake. And
in the same spirit Wesley provides Angel with a clearly subordinate workspace
and sets him the menial task of making coffee.
But he really does mean Angel well; hence the kind but fatherly demeanor
when he encourages him to talk to Cordelia and also warns him against the quick
Angel: “She said... She said we're
not friends, Wesley.”
it is very noticeable the way in which Wesley now takes charge.
Both in the park when looking for the blue robed vampires and also in
planning the entry of the team into the Vampire Cult’s headquarters, Wesley
directs operations telling everyone else (including Angel) where to go. And Harmony calls him “Boss”. Indeed in his general
management of the firm he exudes an air of competence.
For example he is ahead of Angel in trying to identify the labels on the
cult robes and in getting Gunn to contact his sources.
Moreover he is no longer afraid to say what he means.
He uses the word “insanity” instead of some euphemism.
He is direct, self confident and capable.
This is a very different individual to the one who could not bring
himself to challenge Angel over his obsession with Darla.
previously, for Wesley his work with Angel has been his salvation after the
disaster that was Sunnydale 1999. It
was because of this that he and the others defined themselves not as fighting
“the good fight” in their own right but as auxiliaries to Angel.
He was not only their friend. He
was the good fight. They
conceived that as the natural order of things and could not see beyond it. Indeed after Cordelia’s vision of a girl in trouble in
“Redefinition” they seemed to try to get in contact with Angel by telephone
and when he ignored them still hankered after his help:
“If we had Angel he could track her.
“He’d also kill the big spiny demon that took her.”
the attitude that Wesley and the others adopted was the mirror image of
Angel’s own attitude. For him, the good fight was about his struggle for
redemption. He was the
key; everything and everyone revolved around him.
He had a special understanding of evil and that gave him a privileged
view of how to fight it. That was
why in episodes like “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” he adopted such a
high handed attitude towards Cordelia and Wesley and why, in his pursuit of
Darla he refused to listen to anything that contradicted his own views.
But the message from the Powers that Be was that the good fight goes on
with or without Angel and if needs be then Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn had to
carry that fight on themselves. And
in doing so Wesley found confidence in himself.
On the other hand Angel learned that it was not all about him; it was
about those they were trying to help. And
with this changing understanding of the role that each was to play so we see the
change in the dynamic between them. Angel
learns that by accepting a subordinate’s role he can still carry on the good
fight without making everything about his own redemption.
And Wesley learns that he too has his own unique destiny; his part to
play and he isn’t just Angel’s helper.
So here too we see that the way in which each has now defined his future
directly affects their relationship and changes it for the better.
that does not, of course, means that Angel has suddenly become a different
character altogether. That would just be unbelievable.
He doesn’t take naturally to others’ authority.
We get a hint of that in his “Man, atonement's a bitch.” Statement at the
beginning. But as I have said
before on several occasions Angel is a trier.
If he believes in something then he will do it no matter what the cost to
him. It’s just that this course
of action involves for him a fairly high cost.
But he is still by nature a leader, a doer, someone who acts on his own
initiative rather than someone who waits to be told what to do.
And he demonstrates this again and again throughout the episode.
For example when he tells Cordelia:
As Wesley might have pointed out but didn’t that wasn’t his call. Or then, when Wesley seems about to shoot Harmony Angel intervenes:
most strikingly of all he simply ignores Wesley’s warning against trying to
buy himself out of trouble with Cordelia; much to Wesley’s evident disgust.
It seems fairly clear from this that there has been a real change in the
dynamic between the these two but those changes are still working themselves
my money the relationship between these two now promises to be the most
interesting in the series. Previously
Wesley had been too unsure of himself, too in awe of Angel to see the latter for
what he really was, a flawed individual just like him.
Now that he has seen his idol has feet of clay he can actually relate to
him more as a human being (well at least he could if Angel was a human being).
Equally Wesley himself displayed many of the immature characteristics of
someone who was deeply unsure of himself. So,
whereas previously we saw Angel keeping the peace between squabbling children,
we now have, on both sides, a more mature and a more rounded relationship.
These two are not going to agree on everything.
Angel is still inclined to think with his heart; Wesley is much more the
voice of calm reason. So I am sure there will be conflict ahead.
But Wesley is clearly the first to forgive if not forget.
He displays a genuine sympathy for Angel throughout this episode.
And in return Angel seems willing to open up in a way that he did with
Doyle but only did even with Cordelia on a few occasions.
And even the differences between them were handled in an adult fashion,
without anger or recrimination. There
is here I think the basis for a very meaningful friendship between the two.
That I find very encouraging.
Cordelia and Harmony
Interesting as the
dynamic between Angel and Wesley is in this episode, it is not the writers’
central focus. That is the
relationship between Angel and Cordelia on the one hand and Harmony and Cordelia
on the other. And it is in the
parallels and the differences between Cordelia’s relationship with both of
them that we see the central theme of this episode most clearly explored.
The nature of the
relationship between Cordelia and Harmony while they were at school together is
shown in that wonderfully poignant and funny “post-shower” bonding scene
between them in Cordelia’s apartment:
“And then... Remember, in ninth grade remedial Spanish? Donnie something...”
“Donnie Wray! Yes!”
“That's him. Followed me everywhere...”
“Oh! Oh! And he wrote that love song to you... How did it…”
(together): "How I long to fee-eel ya..."
“God, we totally ruled.”
“Yeah. That we did.”
that was a different time, a different life (for Harmony literally).
And now both have moved on. And
we see the difference encapsulated in the following little exchange:
we have been made very conscious of the changes in Cordelia’s life.
She has little time for herself nowadays, witnessed by the fact that she
is tired and especially by the clothes she is wearing which are in stark
contrast to Harmony’s. But then Cordelia immediately follows her admission by
“It's hard to explain, but... It's like... I had these... I dunno, air pockets
inside me... and the work I'm doing... we're doing... It's like the pockets keep
getting... filled up and I'm becoming me and... Me has had way too much to drink
so me shut up.”
so this is hardly the most cogent description of a person’s feeling of
self-fulfillment but I think we can get the picture. Cordelia has indeed found her path and is following it
willingly. Harmony on the other
hand hasn’t. In Sunnydale her
plan to kill the slayer ended in fiasco, her own gang turned on her and she was
first betrayed and then rejected by Spike.
It’s little wonder that at one point she says to Cordelia:
What's that? The last time I remember being truly happy was back in school with you.”
that she truly envies her former friend’s sense of purpose in life.
As it is she can do nothing right even in LA where she meanders around
the lobby of the Hyperion, destroying the odd book or two, annoying Wesley and
embarrassing Cordelia before eventually destroying a computer with some spilt
blood. As she says herself:
was a mistake. I should never have come here. I'm just getting in the way.
Messing up, like always.”
when she is brought to the Host he quickly diagnoses the ailment:
I'm picking up on the "betwixt and between, gotta find my corner of the
sky" vibe, loud and clear, kitten.”
then follows this exchange:
“Yeah, I thought you were supposed to do some mind mojo, show me my path.
“You're already on it, my little Cacophony. Only I'm not your travel agent for
this trip. (Indicating Cordelia) Brown eyes here is. Stick with her and let your
pal be your guide
first misinterprets this as meaning that she should follow Cordelia’s
vocation. So, she joins the team on
the way to find the vampire cult:
“Harmony? What are you…?”
“I just got it. Stick with you, he said. I understand now where my place is.”
“With you. I'm one of the good
she quickly demonstrates she doesn’t really want to do good; all she wants is
something that she can be good at, a purpose in life:
was at least a path for her to follow. And
in following that path she does indeed show a willingness to try to help
Cordelia and the others not least by infiltrating the vampire cult.
But it is here that things change for her.
bless her lack of soul had made no bones about the fact that she was evil.
When Wesley described her in the following terms:
is genuinely confused about why she should take any offense.
And when she unintentionally destroys the old book Cordelia tries to
cover for her
“Wes, she didn't do it on purpose.”
Harmony: “That's right. And I
could've 'cause, you know, I am evil.”
was just that being evil wasn’t getting her anywhere so she tried something
else. But then she heard the Vampire cult leader begin to spout all his nonsense and
saw a vampire called Tibor rise in the ranks and be rewarded for his efforts by
a fresh kill:
probably thinking "Wow. That Tibor. He's motivated. He's actualized his
potential. But, hey, he's bigger and stronger than I am. Maybe I don't have what
it takes… That's just the voice of your inner human, spreading the ghostly
remnants of neuroses from your past life...Ignore it. Suppress it. Instead...”
hearing and seeing this Harmony realizes where she really does belong.
She did indeed have much to be grateful to Cordelia and the others for
– not only not staking her but leading her to others with whom she felt she
belonged. So, being evil and
without a hint of regret, she betrayed them all.
This is what the host meant in his advice to follow Cordelia.
It wasn’t that she would find her vocation in fighting evil; she would
find her true nature by eventually betraying her friend.
in this context the important point isn’t Harmony and her quest for her path.
It’s Cordelia’s reaction to Harmony and especially the comparison
between that reaction and her reaction to Angel that really counts.
Cordelia’s initial reaction to Harmony was based on the former bond
between them – as friends. So,
Wesley and Angel try to kill Harmony she defends her:
“So you thought you just bust into my house and kill my friend without giving
her a chance to explain herself.”
“Yeah/Pretty much./That was the plan.”
“Well, holster your guns, boys. She came to me for help. That's what we do,
reference here to Harmony being her friend (even though by now she already knows
she is a vampire) is significant. Because
she still sees Harmony as such she wants her to be good. She
takes her to Caritas to have her aura read.
And even though at this stage it is obvious there is a difference between
them and Cordelia is noticeably impatient with her blabbering in the car
afterwards, she is still willing to giver her the benefit of the doubt when she
says she wants to fight evil. Indeed
she stands up for Harmony even when Angel points out the inevitable outcome:
“You know, I've tried not to say anything... Tried to step back and
wait for things to sort themselves out but...Harmony can't work with us."
"I know. It's just temporary. I mean, look at her. She's loving this.
Giving her a reason to go on…"
“I don't want her going on. And neither should you. She's the enemy.”
“Now you're sounding like Wesley.”
“Because he's right. Look, I know how painful this is. Believe me. But you're
letting your personal feelings cloud your judgment...”
as we have seen he is of course proved right.
And when he is Cordelia must accept the truth:
Harmony: “ Okay, you're angry. I
don't blame you. But, you know it wasn't personal. I'm evil. We're still
friends, right?…We're still friends right?”
Cordelia: “No, we're not friends.
Now get out of here.”
Cordelia: “Not just here. I want you
out of my city. You're gonna want to be as far away from me as possible.”
wanted to give Harmony the benefit of the doubt; to see if she could fight on
the side of good so that they could remain friends. But it was a forlorn hope.
At some stage harmony was bound to return to her true path – evil.
And for Cordelia, her path lay in fighting evil.
The friendship between them could not survive Harmony’s rejection of
what Cordelia now stood for and her decision to follow a very different path.
Whatever friendship there once existed and whatever sentiment remained
(and Cordelia’s failure to kill harmony proved there was still some left) they
could not be friends because of the gulf that lay between them.
several different points in this episode we were reminded of Angel’s own
struggle with his dark side. First
of all there was Harmony’s description of drinking human blood:
mean, how do you stand everything? Being what you are. How can you deprive
yourself of the taste... the sensation of rich, warm, human blood flowing into
your mouth... Bathing your tongue... caressing your
description Angel evidently found distracting.
Then there was the connection that Cordelia seemed to make with Angel
when Harmony began to talk of her feelings of inner confusion:
You've got friends. I don't have anyone who understands what I'm going
that point Cordelia looks directly at Angel; perhaps thinking of the time when
one friend in particular left her without any idea about her path in life and
she had to go to Caritas for help. Finally
there is the argument between Angel and Cordelia over her friendship towards
Cordelia: “Why? Because you did?”
Angel: “Because it's her nature. She's a
Cordelia: “So are you.”
Angel: “She doesn't have a soul.”
Cordelia:” Oh. That's it, isn't it?
You're better than her because you have a soul.”
Angel: “Well... yeah.”
Cordelia: “I noticed yours didn't
get in the way of betraying the people you work with. Who cared about you.”
Angel: “I never…”
Cordelia: “ And you didn't just
betray me, Angel. You didn't just hurt me... You gave away my clothes!
Angel: “To the needy...”
“I am the needy. Do you know how scared I was you were on your way to
becoming Angelus again?”
one might expect there is a whole mixture of motives at work here but the
essential idea here seems to be an identification in Cordelia’s mind between
personal betrayal on the one hand and abandonment of mission and drift towards
evil on the other. For her the two
seem inextricably linked. So when
Angel attempts to draw her into small talk her response is instructive:
you wanna know how I am? Tired, mostly. With "sweaty" running a close
second. But, truthfully, I'm also jazzed. Can't wait to get our business up and
sputtering again. Ready to help those helpless...But, just so we understand each
other...You and I? We're not friends.”
emphasis here is on the effort she is putting into helping the helpless and the
contrast between that and her statement about the fact that she and Angel are no
longer friends shows the way in which Cordelia links this loss of friendship to
Angel’s decision to leave them to fight the good fight alone.
And here we see the parallel with Cordelia’s attitude to Harmony at the
end – the flat declaration that she could never be friends with Harmony echoes
and explained the similar declaration she made here to Angel.
the difference was that Angel did have a soul and that meant he could change; he
could do things differently. This
was further emphasized by the exchange between him and the cult leader.
Doug challenges him:
why are you working with these humans? You should be maximizing your inner
potential, empowering your vampire self.”
is the line that worked with Harmony. Angel’s
only response was to cut Doug’s head off.
But it wasn’t only the fact that Angel was back on board with fighting
evil. As we have already seen he
has changed in his attitude towards himself and his mission.
As we have seen at the beginning of the episode Wesley was lecturing him
on the need to engage with his co-workers and be sensitive to their feelings;
this was advice that Angel put into practice.
And no-one more than with Cordelia.
He was the one who noticed she was tired and in need of a rest and that
was why he gave her the night off. We
have already seen what he felt about Harmony.
But he also knew how Cordelia felt and unlike Wesley he bit his tongue. In fact he went further, acting as peacemaker and generally
trying to make things as easy for Cordelia as possible.
So when Wesley was tempted to shoot Harmony his reaction was:
You can't. Cordelia feels her friend doesn't post a threat. I think we should
respect her wishes.”
the lie about him and Darla showed a degree of sensitivity to Cordelia because it
showed he realized how badly she might take the truth.
But perhaps above all we see that now he listened to her.
When she made an issue about him giving away her clothes he paid
attention and tried to make amends. Ok
so he went overboard. Buying her
replacements for what she had lost would have been an appropriate gesture.
Buying out half of Rodeo Drive was bribery and corruption.
So much for not taking the easy way out.
But the gesture worked. It
helped establish the idea that Angel was now traveling the same path as Cordelia
and that was what opened the way towards a re-establishment of the relationship
fractured by his abandonment of her.
in all this episode seems to me to represent a major effort by the writers to
consolidate and rationalize their ideas about where the differences between
Angel and his former friends now lie and how Angel can resolve those
differences. In particular they
seem to be trying to establish that for Cordelia in particular the problem with
Angel is not simply hurt feelings; the idea that he didn’t value or listen to
her. Rather the issue was the sense
that they had been abandoned in pursuit of their mission to do good and had been
left exposed. Angel hadn’t cared
about either them or the helpless. As
I tried to show in my discussion of the changed relationship between Angel and
Wesley there is, I think, a basis for doing this.
Angel’s obsession with his own redemption and his failure to look
beyond that led him both to fail his mission and ultimately his friends by
cutting them off without worrying how they were faring.
“Disharmony’s” failure thematically lies in the fact that the
central story fails to address this issue.
On the surface it looked an attractive idea to bring back an old friend
of Cordelia’s gone bad and examine how the changing relation between the two
of them might have implications for her relations with Angel.
But there was nothing in the relationship between Cordelia and Harmony
that really could cast any light on what really went wrong between Angel and the
others, or indeed how or why Angel might change to fix things.
Those major issues had already been full dealt with in “Epiphany”
anyway. All that we really saw here
was that with Cordelia he put into practice his resolution to think of others
“the smallest act of kindness means everything”.
me, therefore, the comparison between Cordelia’s reaction to Angel’s
attempts to return to the fold and her reaction to Harmony’s own crisis and
eventual betrayal really took us no further forward in our understanding of the
new dynamic of the group.
I continue to have reservations about the concentration of the idea of Angel’s
betrayal of the group. Yes that is
linked to Angel’s betrayal of the helpless and the ideals of his mission in
the sense that it has a common cause. But
the effects are different. And
therefore so must the nature of the offence.
For me the real issue is that by abandoning “the good fight” Angel
let down himself, those who he could have helped and those whose death he
assisted in. The implications of
his failings here are much more serious than the implications for his friends
because they did find their own mission, they did help people and if they
didn’t do it unscathed (In terms of personal effort and suffering) well that
comes with the territory. They
didn’t escape either with Angel at their side.
I just find it very jarring that it is the idea of personal betrayal that
the writers keep on hammering at.
fully understand why they do so. Consequences
are a necessary part of redemption. And
there must therefore be some form of atonement.
Stripping Angel of his special position within the group and the
trappings of power is, as I have already said, a clever and imaginative form of
a concentration on making reparations for personal wrongdoing does seem
to be a necessary corollary to this idea. And
while there does seem to be some effort to link this in with responsibility for
abandoning those he was intended to help, for reasons I have already given I do
not think this really works.
the other hand I am more relaxed about the idea Wesley, Cordelia or Gunn are
entitled to some sort of moral superiority.
I think they let Angel down. From
“Dear Boy” onwards he was under great stress and by their own admission they
failed to do as much as they could to help him.
Worse still I think they let themselves down.
In agreeing to take on “the good fight” they accepted a
responsibility that went beyond personal feelings.
Cordelia hit the nail on the head in “Reunion” when she asked whether
Angel would stop Darla and Drusilla when they finished off all the people he
don't like? Responsibility to help
another in need is an obligation not only of friendship but of the calling they
avowed. As such it has to transcend
personal feelings. By any
definition an Angel who locked 15 lawyers in the same room as a pair of hungry
vampires was in need of their help and they knew it.
Setting aside all issues of friendship what steps did they take to help
him? The answer is “none” even
when Cordelia admits in this episode they feared he was turning into Angelus.
In this respect they too failed in their obligations. And for a long time
this bothered me. But not now. You
see I eventually remembered that this story isn’t about Wesley or Cordelia or
Gunn. It is about Angel.
The others are the backdrop to his story.
We are now dealing with the consequences of his failures, not theirs.
In the end the individual destinies of Wesley or any of the others
don’t much matter. It is because
it is still all about Angel that the only important failures are his and they
are dealt with as such by the writers.
plot was built around a simple yet brilliant idea.
There is something both demonic and idiotic about a pyramid selling
operation. It represents the
economics of the madhouse. It can
only support itself by relying on future income to pay present outgoings so must
grow to survive. No operation like
this can last yet there are always those gullible enough to buy into it. With its psychobabble about self-empowerment the weak and the
directionless are tempted by promises of wealth. These people feed their own greed by exploiting everyone they
get into the scheme but in the end only those at the top – the really clever
people – get anything out of it. And
Doug Saunders’ vampire version of this is a wonderfully accurate portrayal.
The economics are ludicrous with only one new victim for three vampires
in every generation (deposited with Doug of course) it is a perfect example of
the way in which only those at the top benefit. And yet with his false bonhomie,
his appearance of being a plain and simple man (down to his self-deprecating
"Hey, Doug! Speak English!") and his dangerous deception of the
helpless and hapless he is so true to life.
This accuracy is what lends an edge to the comedy.
We laugh at the stupidity of those taken in yet at the same time we
realize that this hits far too close to home for comfort.
Millions of very real people have been taken in by just such people.
It is if you like a very nervous laughter.
of course it is just the sort of enterprise that would appeal to Harmony.
Her reaction to Doug when she saw him in action was so true to her
character. She was indeed one of
the helpless and the hopeless who would be attracted by this sham.
Any self-respecting vampire would have seen it for what it was.
In fact this was one of the weaknesses of the plot.
Her reaction was really too predictable to come as anything of a
surprise. It was obvious from the
moment that Harmony joined the team in trying to track down Doug and his
followers that she would betray them and from the moment she entered the
abandoned theatre it was only a matter of time.
Indeed there was a degree of predictability about the way that the whole
storyline proceeded. We already knew that Harmony was a vampire; it was just a
question of how Cordelia was to find out. Equally
the fact that she would annoy Wesley came as no sort of a surprise.
And the key plot point – that she sucked at being evil and was willing
to try being good in an effort to find a purpose in life – was also heavily
telegraphed. At each stage we were really ahead of the writers and waiting
for them to catch up with the story. And
that is usually a major weakness.
one potential surprise there was – the fact that the danger came from a
vampire scam rather than a demonic army in training – was largely negated by
being revealed so early on in the piece. We
were left no time to wonder what the real story was. Other than that there were no clever twists; nothing to make
us look at previous events with fresh eyes.
Indeed even the climactic battle was lacking in suspense.
I mean you might have though that Angel or Wesley or even Gunn would have
figured out there was a risk that Harmony would betray them so the scene seemed
set for someone to pull a surprise counter to the ambush.
I was waiting for something like that.
But instead we simply had a rather lackluster pitched battle where almost
all of the looser vampires ran away and left a pitiful handful to be rather
easily turned over. I found that a
then this was an unusual type of story. It
was never really about countering a genuine danger. All the victims were generic – nameless and even faceless.
We knew nothing about them we were never intended really to care about
them. The real fun of this episode
came from the comic interactions between the characters.
And it is one of the strengths of this episode that it manages to cram a
number of different comedy types into this one episode.
I have already commented upon what is a wonderful piece of social satire. This is often one of the most difficult forms of humor to
pull off successfully because it can all too easily slip into an overdone
parody. But not here where the very
accuracy of the portrayal of Doug and his scheme that was the real strength of
the piece. Aside from this we had:
The comedy of misunderstanding when Harmony’s near attack is taken to be a lesbian advance;
comedy of manners when Cordelia used the words “great big lesbo” to Willow
and when Harmony and Wesley grate against one another;
The comedy of character when we see Angel’s distress at the lecture, the desk and being asked to make coffee and his puppy-like desire to please; also the humor derived from being able to see past the vanities that Harmony exhibits in her complete failure to understand what it means to be evil.
all were uniformly successful. The
scene between Harmony and Cordelia in the bedroom limped badly because you could
see the double entendres being forced out.
But the sheer range and general quality of the humor in these scenes
marks this episode out as the funniest of the season. Finally I have to say the failure to stake Harmony at the end
was a very real problem but it does have the advantage that we may be seeing
more of her and given Mercedes McNab’s obvious comic gifts that can’t be
(7.5/10) This is not one of my
favorites. The comedy was
excellent. It was very well
written and impeccably delivered. As
such it made for a highly enjoyable hour. But
I have to say that I look to an episode of ANGEL - even a broadly comic one –
for more than just that. And coming
out of such a layered and beautifully constructed series of meditations on
Angel, his nature and his mission as we have seen this season I am a little
disappointed in the lack of depth here. On
the positive side we certainly have a new and potentially interesting dynamic
between Angel and Wesley. And we do
get a sense of a very real change in Angel, someone who is not so introspective;
someone who is genuinely more involved with his fellows, if not quite at this
stage with the world. And this is
in many ways the promise of “Epiphany” in action.
But there is little here that coherently adds to “Epiphany’s”
analysis or our understanding of Angel’s change in direction.
Instead the writers try to marry – without I think much success –
Angel’s abandonment of his mission with his former friends sense of grievance.
Nor did it help that the episode was so short on drama.
A strong dramatic plotline with twists and turns and a high sense of
tension adds sharpness to a humorous episode.
Here in the end because the plot was so thin and predictable there was a
slight feeling of blandness about the whole thing.