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Are You Now...
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Dear Boy
Guise Will Be Guise
The Shroud of Rahmon
The Trial
Blood Money
Happy Anniversary
Thin Dead Line
Dead End
Over the Rainbow
Through the Looking Glass
No Place Like Plrtz Glrb




Written by:  David Fury

Directed by: Fred Keller


Actualizing Your Potential

The 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”:

“I fought for so long.  For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it."

But he could not go back to that way of thinking.  As the Host had already told him:

 "Well, that's just the thing.  You don't.  You go on to the new place.  Whatever that is."

And 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

I 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.

In 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, isn't it?

Angel: “Yes.”

Wesley: “Good.

The 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 fix:

          Angel: “She said... She said we're not friends, Wesley.”

Wesley: “I know. There is only one thing you can give her, Angel. That's time.  Cordelia's got a lot of pain to work through.”

And 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.

But 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:

Gunn: “If we had Angel he could track her.

Cordelia: “He’d also kill the big spiny demon that took her.”

Here 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.

But 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:

You should... take off. The rest of the night, I mean. Go home early.”

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:

”Wes. You can't. Cordelia feels her friend doesn't post a threat. I think we should respect her wishes.”

But 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 out.

For 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:

Cordelia: “And then... Remember, in ninth grade remedial Spanish? Donnie something...”

Harmony: “Donnie Wray! Yes!”

Cordelia: “That's him. Followed me everywhere...”

Harmony: “Oh! Oh! And he wrote that love song to you... How did it…”

Cordelia: "Oh, Cor-or-delia..."

Cordelia/Harmony (together): "How I long to fee-eel ya..."

Harmony: “God, we totally ruled.”

Cordelia: “Yeah. That we did.”

But 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:

            Harmony: “We were powerful, rich, popular...”

  Cordelia: “None of that's changed for me. Apart from the "powerful, rich and popular."

Indeed 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 saying:

Cordelia: “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.”

Alright, 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:

“Happy. What's that? The last time I remember being truly happy was back in school with you.”

Or 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:

“This was a mistake. I should never have come here. I'm just getting in the way. Messing up, like always.”

Indeed when she is brought to the Host he quickly diagnoses the ailment:

“Yeah, I'm picking up on the "betwixt and between, gotta find my corner of the sky" vibe, loud and clear, kitten.”

There then follows this exchange:

Harmony: “Yeah, I thought you were supposed to do some mind mojo, show me my path.

Host: “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

Harmony 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:

Cordelia: “Harmony? What are you…?”

Harmony: “I just got it. Stick with you, he said.  I understand now where my place is.”

Cordelia: “Where?”

Harmony: “With you.  I'm one of the good guys now.”

As 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:

“Woo-hoo! This is gonna be great. I'm an evil fighter. That's why I suck at being evil. I was meant to  fight evil. It's so clear to me now. Is this what it feels like to have a purpose? Wow. Look at us, working together. Never had a job before.”

This 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.

Harmony bless her lack of soul had made no bones about the fact that she was evil.  When Wesley described her in the following terms:

”That's not your friend. That thing may have your friend's memories, her appearance... But it's just a filthy demon, an unholy monster. Um... no offense.”

She is genuinely confused about why she should take any offense.  And when she unintentionally destroys the old book Cordelia tries to cover for her

Cordelia: “Wes, she didn't do it on purpose.”

Harmony: “That's right. And I could've 'cause, you know, I am evil.”

It 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:

“You're 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...”

On 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.

But 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:

Cordelia: “So you thought you just bust into my house and kill my friend without giving her a chance to explain herself.”

Angel/Wesley: “Yeah/Pretty much./That was the plan.”

Cordelia: “Well, holster your guns, boys. She came to me for help. That's what we do, right? Help?”

The 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:

Angel:  “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."

Cordelia: "I know. It's just temporary. I mean, look at her. She's loving this. Giving her a reason to go on…"

Angel:  “I don't want her going on. And neither should you. She's the enemy.”

Cordelia: “Now you're sounding like Wesley.”

Angel: “Because he's right. Look, I know how painful this is. Believe me. But you're letting your personal feelings cloud your judgment...”

And, 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.”

Harmony: “Really?”

Cordelia: “Not just here. I want you out of my city. You're gonna want to be as far away from me as possible.”

Cordelia 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.


Cordelia and Angel

At 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:

“I 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
throat, with its sweet, sticky…”,

a 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 through.”

At 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 Harmony:

 Angel: “I screwed up. Difference is, I never, once, lost sight   of what Darla was... or what she was capable of. Harmony   will turn on you."

Cordelia: “Why? Because you did?”

Angel: “Because it's her nature. She's a vampire.”

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...”

Cordelia:  “I am the needy. Do you know how scared I was you were on your way to becoming Angelus again?”

As 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:

“Okay, 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.”

The 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.

But 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:

“Angel, why are you working with these humans? You should be maximizing your inner potential, empowering your vampire self.”

This 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:

“Wes. You can't. Cordelia feels her friend doesn't post a threat. I think we should respect her wishes.”

Even 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.



All 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 first because:

            “the smallest act of kindness means everything”.

To 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. 

And 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.

I 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 atonement.  But  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.

On 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.



The 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.

And 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.

The 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 little disappointing.

But 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;

The 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.

And finally let us not forget that there is some very successful physical humor from Angel as well, as he literally stumbles around.  And who could forget happy, laughing, dancing Angel at the end?  To borrow a phrase for Cordelia herself: OK, scarred for life.

Not 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 bad.



C+ (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.