Happy Anniversary
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Are You Now...
First Impressions
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




Teleplay by: David Greenwalt

Story by: Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt

Directed by: Bill Norton


A Change in Tone

The 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. 

The 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.



In 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:

Gene:  "What you should do is carve out one instant at a time."

Val:  "Look, I like the theory of freezing time as much as the next Star Trek nerd..."

Gene:  "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."

Val:  "A tiny event horizon."

Gene:  "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."

Val:  "And who's gonna clean up that bubble?"

Gene:  "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."

Val:  "Suspending the mercury.  Snatching it out of our time-space continuum - and freezing the moment."

Gene:  "Forever."

This 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:

Denise:  "I mean, Gene's a wonderful guy."

Val:  "Yeah?"

Denise:  "But he's just sort of …hollow, or something.  When I'm with him I feel…I feel lonely."

Val:  "Maybe that's because *he* is.  You know I love him, but he *is* an energy sucker."

When Denise refers to the relationship she had with Gene she says:

"It was really sweet there for a while.  Really sweet.  But it's just …it's just not the kind of love that lasts."

But 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.”

 And 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

            Mike:  "Someone forgot to wind time-boy."

Val:  "He's thinking.  Something *you* ought to try."

Later Denise visits and, as she leaves, she tells Gene

"Don't work all night."

To this Val replies:

 "You know he will."

Someone 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.


The 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:

Angel:  "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."

Angel:  "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."

Host:  "You kind of left them in the cold."

Angel:  "It's a lot colder in here."

But 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”:

"I…I 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."

What 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

meant 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.

In 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.

First 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 and fears.

And 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:

“The 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."

It 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. 

Host:  "Your heart isn't in it anymore."

Angel:  "I don't have a pulse so technically I don't have a heart."

 Host:  "Technically, someone puts a stake through it you don't have anything anymore. So, Bubba, your heart counts."

Angel:  "I have no idea what you're babbling about."

Host:  "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?"

Without 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. 



As 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:

Host:  "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."

Gene:  "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."

Host:  "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."

But 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 Angel:

"It's not always gonna be this way.  The song changes.” 

Just 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.

First and foremost there was Angel’s participation in the effort to save the world.  At the beginning he is remarkably disinterested:

 Host:  "I looked into this guy and I saw he has no future   after ten o'clock tomorrow night …and neither does  anybody else."

Angel:  "Let's say I do believe you."

Host:  "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 him."

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.” 

And 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.

But 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:

Angel:  "What I hear, and maybe, hopefully, I'm still dreaming, is the star-spangled-banner being belted out by a loud green demon."

Host:  "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 ask?"

Angel:  "Yes!  Is there a reason you're here?"

Angel’s 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:

Angel: “Yeah, I guess I did kind of leave them in the cold."

Host:  "What, your buddies?  By firing them?"

Angel:  "Yeah.  Yeah, I guess I made it pretty hard for them."

And perhaps even more significantly he did make some attempt to relate to Gene:

Angel:  "Well, you know; love -it's a fire."

Gene:  "You’ve been there?"

Angel:  "It burns you. Alive. Down to the bone.  And then it turns the bone to ash..."

And later he admits:

"Well, the guy is a disaster at love, and nearly destroyed the world.  I can relate.”

As 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.

And 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.   

As 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.


The Host

In 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:

Host: “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 little..."

Angel:  "Pointless and deadly?"

This 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:

Angel:  "Where did you learn how to drive?"

Host:  "Just now in your car.  Not bad for a beginner, huh?"

Angel:  "What? You nearly got us killed - four times."

Host:  "Someone had to drive.  You weren't exactly qualified, huddled under a blanket in back, hiding from the sun.”

This 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."

Angel:  "I don't."

Host:  "Man, you just get darker and darker. And the weird thing is, your aura? Beige."

Here 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.

Under 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.


Angel Investigations - Without Angel

I 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:

Man:  "I just… I need help.  Is this Angel Investigations?"

Wesley:  "Uh, yeah, you're in the right place. Ah. Sorry about the confusion."

Cordelia:  "We're just having a little celebration.  A new beginning kind of thing."

Man:  "Oh, well, maybe I should..."

Wesley:  "No!"

Gunn:  "No, no.  You need help; you're in the right place.  We can talk in back.  Come on in."

Man:  "Which one of you is Angel?"

 Wesley:  "It's just a name."

At 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.



For 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:

Angel:  "What's a Lubber demon?"

Host:  "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."

It 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.

In 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.

The 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. 

Here 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.

So, 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.

About 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.



B+ (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.