Teleplay by: David Greenwalt
Story by: Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt
Directed by: Bill Norton
A Change in Tone
A Change in Tone
last five episodes of ANGEL, beginning with “The Trial”, have been
relentlessly dark. We have seen the
destruction of hope and the emergence of a spirit of hatred and vengeance.
We have seen Angel turn his back on humanity and his mission to save
souls and instead embrace a cynical “anything goes” attitude in his fight
against evil. This is an attitude
that denies the very human values his struggle is intended to promote.
ANGEL, as a series cannot, however, continue to explore these themes week
after week. For one thing to do so
runs the risk of being repetitive and of diminishing the effect of what we are
shown. For another an audience
might easily be put off by a series that wallowed in such unrelenting darkness.
The series does have a sense of fun.
It is one has been suppressed somewhat over the past couple of months but
here the writers bring it back to the fore.
In doing so they give us some variety in the form of a different type of
episodes intended to balance out the very heavy “Dark Angel” material.
On the other hand we
have now reached a very significant juncture on the season’s arc.
In the last two episodes in particular we have seen the writers define
pretty clearly just what “darkness” in Angel means in this context.
Moreover the suggestion we see in “Redefinition” in particular is
that Angel turning dark is not so much a one off event as a process where, as a
conscious act of will, he separates himself from humanity.
This in turn implies that the writers are working towards something
darker than we have seen to date. So,
in “Happy Anniversary” they have given themselves the not inconsiderable
task of lightening the tone of the series while at the same time they continue
to depict Angel in accordance with a continuing descent into the dark.
solution was to bring the demon Host from Caritas out of the Karaoke bar.
By doing so they were able create a very interesting dynamic between him
and Angel. First and foremost he
seems to understand Angel and what is going on with him.
Secondly he seems genuinely to like him and want to help him.
But most important of all he was not intimidated by Angel and used a sly,
knowing humor to poke a little fun at him and his moods. This combination resulted in some wonderful exchanges between
the two. And much of the fun we find in this episode is derived from their very
pointed exchanges. But in those
exchanges the episode does make some very serious points about Angel and where
the arc presently finds him. I am
not sure we could say that there was very much in terms of character
development. I certainly do not
think that we have seen Angel rethinking his current “this is war” attitude
at this stage. Equally much
of the surface character exposition was simply bringing out things that we have
already seen in previous episodes. But
what we did get was a glimpse of the Angel that lies beneath this surface and a
much better idea than before about why he reacted as he did to the death of
Darla and his hopes for her redemption. In
that sense the humor actually contributes towards the arc rather than
undermining its flow while at the same time it prevents the episode getting too
heavy. In this sense I thought that
the writing of the episode (and especially the dialogue between Angel and the
Host) was very well judged indeed. It
was just serious enough to make the necessary character related points but at
the same time it maintained the predominantly light tone the writers obviously
wanted to be the principal feature.
this context it might be convenient if we started by looking at Gene Rainey, the
post-graduate physics student who almost ended the world.
Near the beginning of this episode he explains the possibilities of his
work to a colleague, Val:
"What you should do is carve out one instant at a time."
"Look, I like the theory of freezing time as much as the next Star Trek
"It's not freezing time, although that is what it would look like to an
outside observer. I'm talking about removing one infinitesimal space-time
aggregate of from all that surrounds it."
"A tiny event horizon."
"Sort of. And then growing that event into something measurable and
controllable. Your dog and his favorite bone preserved forever - in his
own impenetrable little bubble."
"And who's gonna clean up that bubble?"
"If I could just get the math right, I should be able to prove it by
generating a focal point with the accelerator's beams here and passing liquid
mercury - through that point."
"Suspending the mercury. Snatching it out of our time-space continuum
- and freezing the moment."
is what he eventually tries to do, not to a drop of mercury or indeed to a dog
but rather to himself and his girlfriend, Denise.
Why? The clue comes in the
following exchange when Denise explains to Val her decision to leave him:
"I mean, Gene's a wonderful guy."
"But he's just sort of …hollow, or something. When I'm with him I
feel…I feel lonely."
"Maybe that's because *he* is. You know I love him, but he *is* an
Denise refers to the relationship she had with Gene she says:
was really sweet there for a while. Really sweet. But it's just
…it's just not the kind of love that lasts."
Gene’s feelings for her were not really those of true love.
That is why, when he decided to freeze the two of them out of time, what
was good for her was not an issue. It
was all about his feelings of loneliness or fear of loss.
This is I think more than amply demonstrated by his choice of song both
in the karaoke bar and while implementing his plan.
“All by myself” is not about love of another person.
It is about fear of being alone:
“Living alone, I
think of all the friends I’ve known;
But when I dial the telephone, nobody’s at home.”
interestingly enough he first sings this song before he has any idea that Denise
is planning on dumping him. This
seems to be why she refers to him as hollow and Val calls him an energy sucker.
Gene is single minded, obsessive almost. When we first see him he is standing in front of a dry erase board staring at some equations written on it. Val and another colleague Mike watch him through a window from above
"Someone forgot to wind time-boy."
"He's thinking. Something *you* ought to try."
Denise visits and, as she leaves, she tells Gene
work all night."
this Val replies:
"You know he will."
like this would take things very seriously indeed.
He would not have a sense of perspective.
Everything would be judged solely by reference to their impact on him;
the interests of others would assume a secondary importance.
And when things go wrong their importance would become life changing if
not life shattering events. The
whole purpose of his trying to stop time was to take control of his destiny in
such a way as to prevent changes that he didn’t want and otherwise had no
control over. He didn’t intend
any harm, not even to Denise. It
was simply that his inner anxieties and uncertainties, the feeling of not being
in control of what was important to him warped his perspective.
He didn’t understand the dangers – to himself and to others –
inherent in what he was doing. All
of this is very interesting as a means of laying down a credible back-story for
the episode. But the really
important part about Gene’s personality is the light it sheds on Angel’s
current state of mind.
parallels between Angel’s case and that of Gene were not exact. They were not
intended to be. For Gene change was something he feared and wanted to
prevent. For Angel the fear was
that he could not change things:
"You want to know what my problem is? I'm screwed. That's my
problem. I can't win. I'm trying to atone for a hundred years of
unthinkable evil. News flash! I never can! Never going to be
enough. Now I got Wolfram and Hart dogging me, it's too much! Two hundred
highly intelligent law-school graduates working fulltime driving me crazy.
Why the hell is everyone so surprised that it's working? But no, it's
'Angel, why you're so cranky?' 'Angel, you should lighten up. You should
smile. You should wear a nice plaid.’ ”
Host: "Oh. Not this season, honey."
"Redemption. Darla had a shot at redemption. They took it from
her. Now I have to hunt her down and kill her. I'm gonna do it.
I'm gonna kill her, and then I'm gonna burn that law firm to the ground.
My crew - they couldn't handle that. That's good. It means that
they're still human. It means they’re better off fired."
"You kind of left them in the cold."
"It's a lot colder in here."
behind this difference we see fears and anxieties that were remarkably similar.
For Angel, only a matter of months ago everything was plain sailing.
As he himself said in “Judgment”:
saw the light at the end of the tunnel - that some day I might become human.
That light was so bright, I thought I was already out."
has changed? The answer is what happened to the human Darla and the fact
that he couldn’t prevent it. We
have already seen how much he identified with the human Darla. His own focus on, almost obsession with, her
that this wasn’t a single failure for him.
It became symbolic of the futility of his own quest for redemption.
And Wolfram and Hart’s involvement in her destruction loomed larger and
larger in his consciousness until he personally and to the exclusion of all else
was their target. Finally the fact
that his “crew” didn’t share Angel’s point of view on this led him quite
coldly to dismiss them without bothering overly about what that meant for them.
his lack of perspective, the exaggerated significance of events and the way they
were judged by reference to their impact on him and finally by his disregard for
the consequences of his decisions on others Angel’s basic attitude was not
dissimilar from Gene’s.
of all I like the way in which the writers have delved a little deeper into
Angel’s psyche. They were not
content to leave his descent into darkness to be the result of a simple desire
for vengeance. Instead they have
tried to show how the events of “The Trial” warped Angel’s perceptions of
the world and his place in it. And
I think they did so in a way that not only helps us understand the inner Angel
but more particularly helps us sympathize with him more.
Because I think we are more ready to forgive transgressions that are the
result not so much of a brutalizing hatred but are rather born out of anxieties
in this context what especially appealed to me was the way “Happy
Anniversary” helps to emphasize the symbiotic nature of Angel’s own
redemption and his quest to save souls. And here I return to a theme I discussed briefly in my review
of “To Shanshu in LA”. Remember
in “Sanctuary” when Angel said to Faith:
truth is - no matter how much you suffer, no matter how many good deeds you do
to try to make up for the past - you may never balance out the cosmic scale. -
The only thing I can promise you is that you'll probably be haunted - and may be
for the rest of your life."
seems clear that here he was referring not only to Faith but more importantly to
himself and in those words we do get a sense of the bleak hopelessness he must
feel at times. He is describing a
struggle without an end. In the
same episode redemption is defined as a process or a journey.
But any journey must have an ultimate goal, otherwise it is pointless.
Equally the significance of redemption cannot be just the process.
It must be the sense of having accomplished something.
In the final analysis Angel must seek redemption for his own benefit.
Although others may benefit they are not the definitive goal.
Otherwise he becomes entirely detached from the process.
That is why I suggest that Angel needs a stake (if you forgive the pun)
in his actions. What we see here is
what happens when he truly becomes convinced that he has no such stake.
"Your heart isn't in it anymore."
"I don't have a pulse so technically I don't have a heart."
"Technically, someone puts a stake through it you don't have anything
anymore. So, Bubba, your heart counts."
"I have no idea what you're babbling about."
"Yes, you do. If the world were to end tonight, would it really, in
your heart of hearts, be such a terrible thing? Now, now, sweetie, is that a fun
place to be?"
hope of redemption Angel continues to see himself as fundamentally different to
humans: the very distinction he made between himself and the rest of the Fang
Gang. He is in short right back to where he was for example when he was staying
at the hotel Hyperion in 1950’s LA – in the world but separate from it and
without any interest in helping human beings.
Hence his decision to turn his back on helping humans such as the would
be suicide in “Reunion”. Hence
his cynical and exploitative behavior in “Blood Money”.
All he has left is a personal vendetta against Wolfram and Hart in
particular and evil in general.
we have seen at the root of both Angel and Gene’s anxieties is change.
In one case it is a positive resistance to it.
In the other it is a fear that there will be none. But the message of this episode, as articulated by the Host,
is both the inevitability and the desirability of change.
After a particularly gloomy pronouncement by Angel he proffers the
following advice to Gene:
"I…I think what my chipper friend is trying to say here, Gene, is the
wheel keeps turning. You can't stop it. Sometimes things get worse,
sometimes they get better."
"I want the wheel to stop - which probably explains the whole time in a box
disaster. I can't emphasize enough how sorry I am about that."
"It just don't work, Gene-y. It's like a song. Now, I can hold
a note for a long time. Actually I
can hold a note forever. But eventually that's just noise. It's the
change we're listening for. The note coming after, and the one after that.
That's what makes it music."
this message did not only apply to Gene. For
our purposes it was more particularly aimed at Angel.
In fact the Host’s words here echo advice he had already given to
not always gonna be this way. The song changes.”
as the inevitability of change was the answer to Gene’s fear of it, so too was
it the answer to Angel’s fear that for his things would never change.
And here we see some important straws indicating that these words might
not fall on deaf ears.
and foremost there was Angel’s participation in the effort to save the world.
At the beginning he is remarkably disinterested:
"Let's say I do believe you."
"Oh, honey, let's say a lot more than that. We've got to find this
guy. This is the big blackout we're talking about. This guy is gonna
do something between now and tomorrow night. I don't know what, but it's
gonna cancel *everybody's* summer plans. We got to find him and stop
Angel: "Why'd you come to me?"
Host: "Isn't it obvious? You're a champion. A unique force for good in a troubled world. Also, all the other champions I know are currently out of town or dead.”
join in Angel does and as the danger becomes greater so too does the extent of
his commitment as he takes on first of whole posse of religious fanatics trying
to stop him reaching Gene’s apartment and finally as he struggles against time
and the advancing energy field to destroy the machine.
perhaps more interestingly is the way that, during this episode, almost in spite
of himself, he begins again to connect with other beings.
The first image we have of Angel is of him alone in that great big hotel.
And he does not take at all kindly to being interrupted:
"What I hear, and maybe, hopefully, I'm still dreaming, is the
star-spangled-banner being belted out by a loud green demon."
"We're all brothers under the skin, mi amigo. Although the garden hue
and the horns have kept me out of some key public performances. Just once I'd
love to ring in a Lakers game with our national anthem. Is that so much to
"Yes! Is there a reason you're here?"
hostility to being disturbed is, I think, intended to indicate his general
feeling of separation from the rest of the World.
But even that is not quite as absolute as we might suppose.
We have already seen that Angel’s treatment of Cordelia, Wesley and
Gunn was an example of his first person singular view of things. Interestingly, near the end of the episode he opens up a
little to the Host on this:
“Yeah, I guess I did kind of leave them in the cold."
"What, your buddies? By firing them?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I made it pretty hard for them."
perhaps even more significantly he did make some attempt to relate to Gene:
"Well, you know; love -it's a fire."
"You’ve been there?"
"It burns you. Alive. Down to the bone. And then it turns the bone to
later he admits:
the guy is a disaster at love, and nearly destroyed the world. I can
I have already said whether Gene was really in love with Denise is highly
problematic but that is beside the point. Angel
knew the cost of giving up a person he loved.
He knew how much that hurt. The
“burning” metaphor he used is very expressive.
And just as his first step in helping Judy in AYNOHYEB was his
identification with her plight so too here an identification with Gene led him
to make the connection with him.
here I have to say that one of the best thing about this episode that, just like
“Untouched” and to a lesser extent “Eternity”, is that is proves that it
is entirely possible to introduce a one episode character and turn him or her
into a living breathing individual. In
Gene we get a very clear sense of someone who, whatever his gifts in other
directions, is socially awkward. Moreover
we also see we see the internal anxieties, sense of upset and confusion that led
him to act in such a reckless and irresponsible way.
Much of the impact of the story would have been lost of we could not
believe in his character and in his motivations.
But so real do these become that, in the end, our sympathies for him are
actually engaged. This is
important because he is the individual (rather than those of Denise who is after
all the innocent victim of his plot) with whom Angel makes a connection at the
end of the episode.
I have already said there is very little in all of this on which to base the
idea that Angel has somehow given up on the vendetta against Wolfram and Hart or
indeed the cynicism that has affected him since then.
But certainly we can see that, as “Redemption” and “Blood Money”
suggested, this is not a natural state of mind for Angel.
At the very least “Happy Anniversary” points the way towards the
possibility of change for him in this respect.
And the corollary of that is that his attitude towards his own redemption
(which is so closely tied up with it) might also change.
In this sense not the least importance of this episode, in keeping with
its general tone, is that it keeps hope alive.
all of this the Host is of central importance.
I have already referred to the grating impact that he initially made on
our sleeping champion and from this point onwards there is a wonderful dynamic
between them. It is almost that of
weary straight man and insufferable stand up comic.
The Host makes no concessions to Angel’s Greta Garbo attitude. He doesn’t tip toe around delicate issues the way Cordelia
and Wesley did. Indeed he almost
seems to relish putting Angel’s back up by harping on about sensitive subjects
like the absence of Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn or even more particularly some
unfortunate incidents in their own past:
“You don't want to work with me? Is
this because I sent you on a couple of missions that turned out to be a
"Pointless and deadly?"
last I took to be a reference to the last occasion when they met and the Host
sent Angel and Darla to the Trial with ultimately disastrous consequences.
But no matter how aggravating the Host became he always had the perfect
come back to Angel’s impatience:
"Where did you learn how to drive?"
"Just now in your car. Not bad for a beginner, huh?"
"What? You nearly got us killed - four times."
"Someone had to drive. You weren't exactly qualified, huddled under a
blanket in back, hiding from the sun.”
always puts the Host that one step ahead, challenging and probing for
weaknesses. The best example of
this comes early on:
Host: “Don't feel the need to offer your guest a frothy cappuccino or a hot cinnamon roll."
"Man, you just get darker and darker. And the weird thing is, your aura?
there is the unmistakable sound of Angel having the Michael extracted from him
by the host equating simple rudeness with his “darkness”.
But all of that is to make a serious point.
By equating Angel’s lack of manners with darkness the Host is
suggesting that that is as bad as Angel gets and that he is only putting on a
front for effect. And he further
emphasizes the point by referring to his beige aura.
The implication being that the best he can do is go a very light gray,
which would be really rather pathetic.
all the glib garrulousness of the Host there is a sharp and ruthless brain that
knows the truth and if necessary will force Angel eventually to open up.
But in this process he is never overtly judgmental. Rather he is encouraging.
Indeed he displays a real affection towards Angel.
It’s not just the constant endearments he uses such as “sweetie”.
It is the tone. This is very
different to the mild flirtatiousness we have seen before.
There is genuine concern and kindness.
Frankly I do not know how these scenes could have been written much
better. The combination of steely
determination to get at the truth wrapped in a velvet kindness produces an
entirely credible picture of cutting though the outer reserve and allowing the
inner frustrations to surface. And
at the same time the verbal interchanges between these very different, in many
ways opposing but ultimately sympathetic characters are some of the most
entertaining in the history of the series.
And here it would indeed be remiss of me if I didn’t record how
wonderful Andy Hallet’s performance was here.
In Caritas the role he is called on to perform can seem a little
one-dimensional. For all the
reasons I have given his role here was anything but and he rose to the challenge
with great enthusiasm and great success.
Investigations - Without Angel
have already gone on at some length about the way the Fang Gang seem to have
forgotten their former boss’s existence and his problems.
I will not, therefore, waste time here repeating those views.
Suffice to say the lack of interest in what Angel is presently up to
remains baffling. On the positive
side, however, I should note very briefly that this episode included one very
encouraging development. It came in
the very last scene:
"I just… I need help. Is this Angel Investigations?"
"Uh, yeah, you're in the right place. Ah. Sorry about the confusion."
"We're just having a little celebration. A new beginning kind of
"Oh, well, maybe I should..."
"No, no. You need help; you're in the right place. We can talk
in back. Come on in."
"Which one of you is Angel?"
"It's just a name."
the beginning of the episode we were retreading old ground with the Fang gang
not making much of a fist of their new business and worrying about the future.
So far so not very interesting. But
here we get a sense for the first time that we might be seeing the beginning of
an interesting dynamic developing between Angel and his ex-employees.
"It's just a name." Implies a complete depersonalization for
the former center of their lives. This
may very well be preparatory to some direct conflict.
I hope so. As for the
rest I really did enjoy the pastiche of the scene in the old Agatha Christie
murder stories where the detective assembles the suspects in a drawing room and
reveals the murderer. The evidence
against each suspect is discussed in turn only to be revealed as a red herring
and then finally the real culprit is revealed to have been the least likely
suspect. Given the inherent
limitations of only having witnessed that last scene I thought it was very well
written and AD certainly seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. But it was entirely unconnected thematically with anything
else in the episode and the mere fact it was included at all only emphasizes how
threadbare and uninteresting the story of the Fang Gang has become since
“Reunion”. Although Cordelia
had one or two nice moments here (I am leaving it to others to comment on her
latest “hairstyle”) she may as well not have been in the episode for all the
impact she made. The main casualty
so far, though, has been Gunn. He
is presently unrecognizable from the character we saw in “First Impressions”
and unless the writers do something worthwhile with him soon they may as well
just write him out now.
such a light episode the end of the world may seem a very strange choice as
principal plot. But then again this is not the end of the world as the result
of some fiendish act of malevolence. The
main actor is a confused graduate student who poses a threat out of ignorance.
It is the end of the world by SNAFU theory that is inherently humorous
(as well as being entirely believable). Admittedly
there was a degree of manipulation by the Lubber demons.
But even here we are invited not to take things too seriously:
"What's a Lubber demon?"
"Fanatical sect, awaiting a messiah who will usher in the end of all human
life. A lot of your demons don't yak about it in mixed company, but it is
a pretty popular theology in the underworld."
is hard not to see this as a sly dig at some of the more fundamentalist branches
of Christianity who entertain similar hopes for the end of the world.
terms of plot development
there is nothing very much by way of surprise.
The initial mystery is, of course, what Gene will do to cause the end of
the world. But the answer to that
becomes blindingly obvious as soon as he starts to explain his theories to Val.
In this context I should add that I have the overwhelming advantage of
having no knowledge about and no interest in Physics.
In principle I look upon Fantasy and Science Fiction as two completely
separate genres and I think it is a mistake to try to mix them together.
The so-called “genetic bomb” in “Hero” is proof of that.
But it seems to me that worrying about whether Gene’s explanation of
what he is doing makes scientific sense is about as pointless as asking how a
combination of stinky herbs and a few incantations can be used to transform
matter or to do any of the other things magic accomplishes so readily in the
Whedonverse. I think it is
something you just have to accept, no matter how little sense it makes.
basic story here is told in an orderly, logical and easy to follow sequence.
There are two separate but linked lines of action.
In the first we see the build up to the end of the world as we uncover
the reason for Gene’s actions and the nature of his plan.
For the most part this was predictable.
The one element that did sort of add a twist was the involvement of the
Lubber demons in subverting his idea to confine the field so that it surrounded
only himself and Denise. This
was quite an important plot point. Given
what we had learned about Gene it was certainly possible to believe that he was
capable of solving the physics problem himself.
It was less easy to believe that he would have willfully destroyed the
whole Earth in his quest for his moment of eternal “connection” with Denise.
And here deliberate sabotage by an outside force that was manipulating
Gene was, from a dramatic point of view, always going to be a much more
satisfying cause of the real threat to humanity than simple miscalculation or
accident. Aside from any other
consideration it enable the level of tension to be ratcheted up in the second
line of action as Angel and the Host tried to trace Gene, discover the nature of
the threat he posed and stop it.
again there was a logical plot development as our heroes, when faced with a
problem, constructed a sound and believable plan of action and executed it,
following up all the proper leads and making all the proper deductions.
But the key to this part of the plot was in turning it into a race
against time and for that to work properly there really had to be a significant
obstacle in the way that threatened to delay Angel’s arrival until it was too
late. Gene for obvious reasons
could not be that obstacle. Instead
I thought that the Lubber demons did a pretty good job.
The very unexpectedness of their arrival at key moments to delay
Angel’s ability to stop Gene removing his particle accelerator and then his
arrival at the scene of the anniversary dinner contributed greatly to the
excitement and tension. While, even
though it has been done before rather a lot, you cannot really beat a scenario
where the hero has to literally fight his way through layers of opposition to
reach his goal. And in this context
the “just in time” element really meant something.
The image of the Lubber demon being caught in mid air as it was about to
jump on Angel contributed to the sense that he was able to pull the plug on the
machine just before he was himself caught in the field.
from this point of view the plot really worked very well.
But there was a price to pay for this dramatic benefit.
Introducing the Lubber demons raised awkward questions such as why did
they need Gene if they had the mathematical skill to give him the solution
anyway? And would they and all
other demons not also be caught in the energy field?
How would that benefit them? It
would have been better if these objections had been anticipated and dealt in the
script but they are not that serious as a little thought will provide answers to
these questions. For example the
Lubber demons may not have had the expertise or the resources to build a
particle accelerator themselves. And
they may have had a belief in some sort of higher spiritual existence that would
be their reward for righteously destroying humanity.
So, I do not consider any of these to be major flaws in the plotting.
the one slightly jarring note was the increasing sense of demons being so common
that everyone must know about them. First
you had the Host walking in on the Karaoke bar and the bartender not even being
surprised. Then he wandered around
campus under a very thin pretext (of being the school mascot!).
We had the fight between Angel and the very strange looking Lubber demons
right in the middle of the Library. And
finally Virginia’s friend just happen to be stalked by one (not to mention the
fact that the friend’s father himself was a wizard).
I can’t help but feel this is taking things too far.
(8.5/10) For me this was the strongest episode since “Reunion” and at least
as good as “Guise Will Be Guise”, the only other overtly humorous episode
this season. As I observed earlier what we did get here was a glimpse of the Angel
that lies beneath this surface and a much better idea than before about why he
reacted as he did to the death of Darla and his hopes for her redemption.
This episode not only tells us about the Angel we see today; it helps to
point the way forward for him. We
should not expect to see an end to his “beige” aura just yet.
But by pointing to the fact that the conflict within Angel has not gone
away but merely been changed in nature the writers are, I think, preparing the
ground for that conflict to produce further change in him.
And indeed if anything can be said to represent the theme of this episode
the inevitability and desirability of change is it.
And at least as important as the message of this episode is the manner in
which it was conveyed. “Happy Anniversary” worked so well essentially because it
restored a sense of fun to a series that was threatening to become very serious
indeed. But while doing so it in no
way undermined the very important and serious points it was making.
In particular the scenes between Angel and the Host were both funny and
oddly touching at the same time. We
saw humor used to touch tragedy and make sense of it without maudlin
sentimentality. I thought that was
very well done. The plot itself I
would characterize as competent and workmanlike rather than anything
particularly imaginative or daring. But there are some nice touches to it (especially the idea of
the world ending because of social ineptitude rather than malice) and it
provides a more than adequate framework for all the entertaining and interesting
parts of the episode.