Home Season 1 Season 2


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





Written by:  Shawn Ryan

Directed by: Turi Meyer


The title of this episode really says it all: “Belonging”.  We all of us need to feel we have a rightful place in the world; somewhere where we can make a difference to others as well as feeling fulfilled ourselves.  Indeed these two aspects of “belonging” almost by definition go together.   To belong means to feel part of something bigger than yourself and it is because you are  making a contribution to this greater whole that  you  prove your  place in it.   It is by this standard, rather than fulfillment of your own narrow wants and needs, that you measure your own worth both to yourself and to others.

In the immediate aftermath of “Epiphany” it had appeared that our intrepid little band had indeed established or re-established a sense of belonging.  First Angel had been accepted back into the fold and in that sense each member of the Fang gang had once more been bound together by ties of mutual loyalty and affection.  More to the point he had accepted the need to turn his back upon the old preoccupation with his own quest for redemption and to look outward to those in need of help.  As I have discussed extensively on my previous reviews an essential part of this was connecting with others, not only Wesley. Cordelia and Gunn but the world in general.  The other members of the Fang gang for their part seem to have found their own sense of mission.  They were no longer simply there as auxiliaries helping Angel to fulfill his mission.  They had a mission of their own.  Even Gunn had been shown to have established a strong bond of friendship with Wesley in particular, despite the obvious differences in their backgrounds.  But in this context both Cordelia and Wesley had undergone more significant changes.  Cordelia had now become much more empathic to the pain and suffering around her and, as a result of that, fully committed to “helping the helpless.”  Wesley for his part seemed to have slotted in without too much trouble to a leadership role.  Indeed he positively seemed to be enjoying it. A new course seemed to have been established.  And with a lesser series it would have been.  Logically and consistently with what we had seen before the writers could have shown us each of our protagonists travel along the new path charted for them.  But the writers of this series seem to want to constantly look one level below where they had reached and ask still further questions about them and their role in the scheme of things.  Sometimes in doing so they make us look at things with genuinely new eyes.  Sometimes their purpose is simply to make us think harder about the implications of the situations our characters find themselves in.  And I think it is the latter that they are doing here.  In “Belonging” they look in turn at each individual’s sense of having found the place they belong and show clearly that things are not as simple as on the surface they appear to be.



Here, as usual, we must start with Angel.  It was never going to be easy for him to change the habits of several lifetimes but, as I have already said, he is a trier and in opening up more to Wesley and Cordelia and in his efforts to work with Lindsey he made a very good start in his task of connecting with others.  And, as I have already said, the writers could simply have continued to show him opening up, episode by episode.  But here they obviously intend to reinforce the difficulty by showing us just how apart from the world Angel is, psychologically and physically.  The teaser opens with a shot of Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn around a table in an expensive restaurant.  There is a fourth chair there, seemingly empty.  It is only when the camera pans across do we find we have been looking in a mirror and that the chair isn’t really empty.  Angel is sitting in it.  This symbolizes just how uncomfortable Angel is.  As he says himself:

Angel:  "It's a little exposed.  Kind of public."

Gunn:  "Oh, yeah, that public thing.  It happens when you go where the people are."

            Angel:  "Oh, no, no, no.  I…I…I like people.  Normal people.  I           wanna get out and be one of them.”

His protestations don’t sound remotely convincing.  And the rest of the scene hammers home the same message.  He can’t really share the meal with the others because he doesn’t know what the food tastes like.  He is awkward about joining in the little social gestures such as the hand bumping Wesley and Gunn quite naturally do.  Indeed it has been so long since he has done something like this that he has no idea of the cost of the exercise:

Cordelia:  "I feel a little guilty."

Angel:  "Don't.  I mean, nineteen dollars for a sashimi couscous appetizer is money well spent.  How was it anyway?  Pretty good?  I mean, it ought to be pretty..."

Cordelia:  "It's delicious but that's not what I feel guilty about."

Angel:  "Oh. I 'm not cheap, I…I'm just old. I…I remember when a few bob got you a good meal, a bottle *and* a tavern wench.  You were saying?"

Nor does he have a clue about the clothes people wear.  He can’t even tell the difference between a thousand dollar Laura Mina shawl and the battle shawl of a Voltar Witch.

Here we are reminded very forcefully of everything that separates Angel from everyone else: the fact that he is a vampire with the physical constraints that implies, that he has lived a long time and that this has marked his habits and thought patterns and finally that he has spent most of that time on his own; away from normal social intercourse.  But throughout the episode the writers remind us again and again of these of these facts.  For example there is his reaction to the stage set for Cordelia’s commercial.  He walks straight past a girl in a bikini, not even giving her a second glance.  Instead he luxuriates under the glare of the false sun and when Cordelia asks him what he is doing all he can say is:

"Getting a tan. Ha. Not bursting into flames?"

Then when the Host invited him out to an Elton John concert to hear “Yellow Brick Road” (absolutely no subtext there of course) he said:

 "I don't do big and crowded."

Or there was the instance where he was the only one to get a not so modern cultural reference:

Angel:  "Right.  Lorne Greene.  Bonanza? Fifteen years on the air not mean anything to anyone here? Okay.  *Now* I feel old."

Actually I did find this last a little jarring.  I seem to recall from “Eternity” that he doesn’t even own a television and besides I had always pictured him whiling away the daylight hours reading Sartre or doing something equally pretenti….eh cultural.

Anyway, Angel’s purpose, his place in the world is to make a connection with those he is intended to help.  But can someone who is so isolated from society by nature and by experience make such a connection?



Wesley’s problem is different.  He has always wanted to make a contribution; to feel as though he was able to do something important in the good fight.  But he was never able quite to trust himself.  In episodes like “Shroud of Rahmon” or “the Trial” we see time and time again that he avoided a confrontation with Angel seemingly  for fear that he would simply be revealing how ineffectual he was.  But when Angel was separated from the rest of the group he assumed the mantle of leader.  We saw the way that  in, for example, “Blood Money” he relished killing the Fire breathing monster (it breathed fire as well!). Equally we also how, in “Happy Anniversary”, he solved the mystery of why the Wainakay demon committed the murder.  In both cases we also saw what it meant to him to find his own sense of mission.  And now he has assumed the mantle of boss if “Angel Investigations” you might be forgiven for thinking that he could put his previous problems behind him.  At last he could feel as though he had the place he had so long coveted and was able to feel a sense of belonging.  Certainly he begins to give orders as if it were natural and he even has the self confidence to lecture Angel about his behavior.  But as with Angel the writers have clearly decided that simply to allow Wesley to declare victory over his insecurities and move on would be unsatisfying, even unbelievable.  The roots of his lack of self-confidence go very deep.  As we discovered in IGYUMS they seem to have originated in childhood trauma and the writers pointedly remind us of the fact in the following (one sided) conversation:

Wesley:  "Yes, mum.  Yes, well, put him on.  Right.  You too. Hello father.  Happy Birthday.  How are you?  Good.  No!  It's going quite well actually.  Yes.  I have news.  I've been put in charge of our group. Yes, as their leader.  No, it's a permanent position.  Well as permanent as these things... No, I certainly won't be fired.  Ah. Well, yes, I was that one time, yes.   Again... No, you're right.  I see how... . Yes, I'd forgotten, thank you.   Yes.  Ah, just recently. Uhm, it's going quite well so far.  No, I think this time...  I hope it will be different.  No.  No, you're right.  I see how...  I just thought you'd be... I thought you'd want to know, that's all.  Right.  Well  again, happy birthday.  Okay."

You can see Wesley slowly deflating throughout this conversation as the confidence is knocked out of him.  You can see all too clearly what his father thinks.  He’s useless and it’s only a matter of time before he messes things up and gets fired again.  And Wesley again cannot or will not stand up for himself.  Given the memories he must carry about being humiliated by a powerful and overbearing personality it’s perhaps no wonder he was never able to bring himself to stand up to Angel.

And indeed there are signs here the relationship between the two of them is slipping back to what it was before “Reunion”.  As I said in my review of “Disharmony” Angel is by nature a leader, a doer, someone who takes the initiative.  Unlike Wesley he has the self-confidence not to keep on second guessing whether he was doing the right thing or not.  He believed in himself.  In “Disharmony” he deliberately suppressed his instincts but even so there were occasions when his natural authority showed through clearly.  We see the same thing here.  When the Host shows up looking for help to find and kill a Droken demon, it is Angel who by instinct takes charge:

Angel:  "Okay.  We can start at Caritas, do a circular search, say one mile in diameter, keep moving out and hope we get lucky, huh?"

Cordelia:  "Angel."

 Angel:  "Sorry.  I didn't mean to step on your toes, Wesley."

Wesley:  "Quite alright."

Cordelia:  "Wesley is kind of our new leader now."

Host: "Well, it's been a long time coming.  Congrats. (To Angel)  And kudos to you.  Nice choice of conductor to lead your symphony. (To Wesley)  So, what do we do now?"

Wesley gets up:  "Well, ah... Angel's right.  Barring more promising leads a circular search pattern for the beast seems best."

Significantly it is Cordelia who  has to remind Angel that Wesley is the leader now.  And even the Host’s choice of metaphor is double edged.  Wesley is Angel’s choice.  He is there by permission and not for any other reason.  And the true relationship between them becomes pretty clear when they go after the Droken.  Angel gets out of his car and walks sword in hand towards its hiding place while Wesley is reduced to following him saying:

"Angel, what are you... What are you... We don't have a plan."

But In this episode there are also significant indicators that Wesley isn’t quite the natural leader he had hoped.  The first contra-indication comes in the following exchange with Gunn over the best way to deal with a Hacklar demon:

Gunn:  "You think we should get a flame thrower?"

 Wesley:  "For the Hacklar?  I hadn't thought of that."

Gunn:  "Of course if we wound up in a tight space we could burn each other."

Wesley:  "Right.  Right."

Gunn:  "Well, you're the boss.  You'll decide."

Wesley:  "A flame thrower is big and loud.  Might call attention where we don't want it.  Stealth, you know being a large part of..."

The way Wesley responded here suggests indecision.  First leaning one way then the other.  Gunn almost gave him permission to make up his own mind and when he did the reason he gave didn’t make an awful lot of sense.  If a flamethrower is big and loud what is a Hacklar demon?  Worse still when Gunn asked what he needed to know about the Hacklar, Wesley launched into a detailed but largely academic treatise about it which was quite useless.  Worse still when going after the Droken Wesley makes almost the stupidest mistake imaginable.  When tasked to get the victim and get her out of the way he lights a flare which in the end turns out as a much more effective way of attracting the beast's attention than Angel's "here kitty kitty."

In other words Wesley hasn’t after all found his place in the world.  Quite the opposite.  He probably thinks right now that he is about to prove conclusively that he has no such place. The position he holds is the gift of another; his own father thinks he will fail at it and at the moment he isn’t doing a whole lot right. 


In episodes like “Epiphany” and “Disharmony” the writers began to create a picture of Cordelia as someone who had fundamentally changed.  Perhaps the best description of her was given by Wesley in the former episode when he chided Angel for not seeing the change that has come over her:

“You don't know her at all.  For months now you haven't cared to.  Otherwise you might have realized that our Cordelia has become a very solitary girl.  She's not the vain, carefree creature she once was... Well, certainly not carefree. It's the visions, you see.  The visions that were meant to guide you.  You could turn away from them.  She doesn't have that luxury.  She knows and experiences the pain in this city, and because of who she is, she feels compelled to do something about it.  It's left her little time for anything else.”

And certainly in episodes like “Dead End” there is now some emphasis not so much on the physical pain of the headaches but on the pain of the victim that Cordelia feels.   There was, in fact, a very nice illustration of this in the question that Angel came to ask Cordelia while she was shooting her commercial:

 "In your vision - the Hacklar demon that you saw, did he eat his victim whole or did he just rip out the liver;  'cause, I mean, it's a funny story.   According to my informant, liver-eating Hacklar's have different feeding grounds then people-eaters, and I need to know what kind it was so I can track it down and kill it."

Just think for a moment what it might mean to any sane individual to be exposed to that sort of detail on a regular basis. 

Cordelia  was someone who had previously thought principally about herself, her own problems and her own ambitions.  When first given the visions she only wanted rid of them.  But you can only remain self-centered to the extent that you are insulated from the experiences of others.  So, it makes a great deal of sense that now Cordelia is unavoidably confronted by the pain and suffering of others on a regular basis that she does indeed feel impelled to do something about it. 

But again we are being shown here that it’s not quite so simple as that.  At the beginning of the episode she says:

“I *can't* leave you guys while I'm still the proud owner of the mind-shattering, ever more debilitating visions."

But there is still a part of Cordelia that wants the glamor, the wealth and the recognition that comes with being an actress.    That is, I think, why she was so keen on the commercial.  As she said herself:

“I just wanted to act, that's all.  For them to like me because I was good.”

In other words she wanted to be valued for what she could do well herself, not simply because she was the owner of the visions.  But even here her dreams crumble.  I wont try to describe the whole embarrassing episode.   Angel’s subsequent description gives the flavor:

Angel:  " Acting is her dream job?  I mean, that's the world she really wants to live in?  With people like that?  I don't get it."

Wesley:  "Who are you talking about?"

Angel:  "Mr. 'Hey, I'm an L.A. director, you know, shooting a commercial so I must be the center of the universe' guy?  It's just like, if you’re not making it in show business you’re a step or ten down the food chain.  I mean, all we do is save the world.   And the way he talks to her.  It's like she's his commodity.  Like she's his slave or something. And you know what the worst part is?  She took it.  When was the last time Cordelia took crap from any of us?"

Gunn:  "Never.  And the day after never."

Angel:  "Exactly!  He's also got her wearing this - flimsy swimsuit that covers like nothing."

This isn’t being treated as if you matter or as if you can make a contribution.  It’s just being used.

The interesting part here, though, is that Cordelia does do more than simply have visions.  She is the one who tries to make the connection between her vision of Fred's disappearance and the quest for the Droken:

Cordelia:  "I don't know. - We're missing something here, Wesley."

Wesley:  "When we get back to the office I'll see what I can do about deciphering it."

Cordelia:  "I mean something bigger."

Wesley:  "Like what?"

Cordelia:  "I don't know.  I just feel like we're chasing after this monster, which is good and all, but - we're missing something."

And eventually she works things out:

Cordelia:  "I think I understand."

Angel:  "Understand what?"

Cordelia:  "The vision.  This book.  I think it's how we send him back!"

Wesley:  "What do you mean?"

Cordelia:  "If he reads from the book where we know a portal exists I think it'll send him back.  My vision was telling me that that's what happened to that girl Fred.  The portal works both ways."

Angel:  "What if instead of sending him back it the portal sends something here?"

Cordelia: "It won't."

Wesley:  "How can you be sure?"

Cordelia:  "I can't. I...I just am. Don't ask me how I know.  I just know."



Gunn’s problem is different from any of the others.  It is not that he doubts his ability to make a contribution to others or what the nature of that contribution might be.  Rather he does not know who it is he is supposed to be helping.  He feels attached to two worlds – that of his former street gang and that of “Angel Investigations”.  Does his loyalty lie with his own people or must he work with Angel and the others to help anyone?  This was the dilemma crystallized when George and Rondell came looking for his vehicle.  Gunn wanted to go further than simply supply them with equipment.  He wanted to take charge himself:

Gunn:  "Count me in then."

Wesley:  "What about the Hacklar?"

Gunn:  "Angel gets a lock on its crib, page me."

Angel:  "Hacklar is living on the North Shore of Lake Hollywood.  We better hurry.  They've got a five K race starting there in half an hour."

Wesley:  "Consider yourself paged."
Gunn:  "I got to take this.  Wait for me though.  I'm through, I hook up with you guys at base camp, we head out together.”

In an episode like “First Impressions”, Gunn’s first loyalty was to “his people.”  He certainly would not have put the power walkers first.  Yet that is what he did here; perhaps costing Rondell his life.  The loyalty he still feels to his former gang is evident by the way he takes care to ensure that Rondell does not rise as a vampire.  But the degree to which he is now separated from them is also shown by the following exchange:

Gunn:  "You should have waited for me."

George:  "We've been waiting on you for months, bro."

These two worlds that Gunn now inhabits are thus brought into direct conflict.  The implication from George is that Gunn cannot simply help out now and again.  He has to give his undivided attention to his own.  This is now the time to make the choice.


The Set Up

Of course very little of this is especially new.    We are simply reminded of the existence of our characters concerns and problems without much in the way of change or movement in them at all.  And that is something of a difficulty.  With so much set up going on the writers are clearly building up to something.  We do not yet know what so that makes any attempt to evaluate the episode in terms of theme of characterization highly problematic.   For Wesley in particular we have a restatement of an old established problem.  The writers have (I think rightly) decided that it cannot simply be discarded without further exploration or resolution. But at this stage we have nothing very new and the real significance of what we have seen her can, I think, only be judged in the light of subsequent developments.  In Cordelia's case we also see a continuation of an existing characterization.  As we first really saw in "Disharmony" she is beginning to have real difficulty in reconciling her life with the possession of the visions.  Again there is nothing new in this although there is now an indication that her role may be more than simply the recipient of the visions.  She may be their interpreter; someone who can play a more active role in guiding Angel Investigations along the path they are intended to take.  Perhaps the suggestion is that this is where her real path lies; that this is the real contribution she can make.  This is potentially a very interesting line and it would certainly expand greatly the possibilities for the character which have been a little limited recently.  I think we can only wait and see where the writers are going with this one.

But some of the difficulties cause by the need for so much set up are alleviated by the presentation of the issues.  With Angel and Cordelia their old problems are to some extent given a fresh treatment.  Serious points are being made but in a lively, fun way.  I especially loved the portrayal of the young director of Cordelia’s commercial.  He is obviously on one of the lower rungs of the food chain but is already full of himself.  Just like “Eternity” we get in ANGEL the occasional insights into the seedier side of Hollywood and can’t help but wonder about the extent to which individual figures are drawn from real life.  With Wesley too there is some interest aroused.  His problems are brought to life by that awkward telephone conversation where he starts off so anxious to give his father good news but ends up the same little boy who was locked in a closet for some misdemeanor or other. 

But the way Gunn’s dilemma was raised simply reminds us yet again of the problems in the way his character has been written from “First Impressions” onwards.  First of all why was there a necessary conflict of loyalties between the two organizations concerned?  Putting Gunn in a position of having to choose seems more than a  little artificial.  But even if we accept loyalty to one is exclusive of loyalty to the other then why has Gunn forgotten about his old gang?  The suggestion seems to be that he developed a personal friendship for and loyalty to Wesley; but is this sufficient to override the much older and more numerous friendships and loyalties he had with others?  There is nothing here that helps us understand Gunn or why he acts as he does.  Indeed one can go further and say that there is precious little about Gunn that marks him out as a well rounded  individual. Consider the fact that in this episode we are invited to think about the interior Angel, Cordelia and Wesley – what they want and why.  But with Gunn it is an exterior choice that he has to make and we are really given very little information about the internal considerations on which any such choice will be made.  This simply reinforces the fact that the development of Gunn as a character has been at best superficial

Which only leaves us with our central character.  The more I see of what is sometimes called “goofy Angel” the more it becomes clear to me that the Angel goes dark/gray/beige/slightly milk-colored white was never intended to be an end in itself.  It was the nexus around which the character of Angel was intended to turn in a radically new direction.  In particular the writers seem to be developing much more clearly than ever before a philosophy for the show.  Much of this season has been taken up with the exploration of what is the difference between good and evil and the central theme we always come back to is that narrow self-centered attitudes lead to a person doing evil, even if he did not mean to.  Angel has already taken that message on board.  But as we have already seen he is not yet fully prepared or equipped for the implications of this.  The direction we are following here seems to me intended to complete his transformation into someone who is. And what might the framework for that resolution be?  Why the Host’s dimension of course.

A Different Place

There has been a good deal of negative comment about the cheesiness of the concept of sending Angel and the others on a quest to another dimension.  With respect this seems to me to ignore one of the fundamental strengths of Science Fiction and Fantasy as genres.  Without being too pretentious about it (ok I’ll admit it I am being very pretentious here) comparative case studies have always been a key tool in any social research. According to the dictionary "to compare" means to recognize similarities and differences between two or more cases.  But the purpose of comparative research is not restricted to this task.  Rather it can be used to infer from the existence of the similarities and differences one or more general propositions that will either -

help to explain a given phenomenon in terms of cause and           effect; or

assist in understanding its internal dynamics.

In Science Fiction and Fantasy writers have the luxury of designing their own societies with their own structures or values.  The purpose of doing so is not what we learn about the fictional society but what a comparison between that society and our own world tells us about the latter or about some phenomenon that is common to both but has different meanings and produces different effects in each.

And the evidence that this is exactly the way the writers intend to use the Host’s home dimension is there.  We simply need to look at the way the Host himself describes it:

"Talk about screwed up values.  A world of only good and evil, black and white, no gray.  No music, no art, just champions roaming the countryside, fighting for justice. Boring. You got a problem, solve it with a sword. No one ever admits to having actual feelings and emotions, let alone talks about them.  Can you imagine living in place like that?"

Alternatively we can get a very good idea of the sort of place this is from a comparison between the Host on the one hand and his cousin on the other:

Landok:  "Your cowardice even extended to the sacred joust."

Host: "For the last time: not a coward.  I just saw both sides of the joust. How you're supposed to joust someone when you partially agree with their point of view?"

Or again when Landok is trying the detect the aura of the Droken, Lorne (as we must now call him) says:

"He's channelling his mind to identify the Droken's aura.  I use that sense to help people find their destinies and I'm a freak.  He uses it to hunt, he's considered the golden spawn.  Go figure.”

What we see here are the outlines of a clash of values.  Those of Lorne are much closer to what we think of as human values and one wonders to what extent Angel’s are closer to those of Landok, especially during his “beige period”.  Indeed there were a couple of interesting straws in the wind here.  Lorne was appalled by his cousin’s “martyr complex”: the idea that honorable death in battle was somehow a good thing in itself.  On the other hand Landok does seem to have a connection with Angel.  When they catch up with the Droken at the warehouse he and Angel basically adopt the same approach - go in there and do something about it.  And Angel really relishes the hunt.  hence his:

 "Hey.  You want food?  I can be food. Pretty tasty here.  Come on, where are you? Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Here kitty, kitty, kitty."

Or indeed his "That was fun" comment after he killed it.  Landok himself is openly admiring:

Landok: "To defeat the Droken, you must be a great and noble warrior."

Angel:  "Well, you know, I try."

Landok:  "I am happy to know you."  

So we have a clear contrast between an Angel who is not at home on earth but obviously shares much in common with the values of the Host's Home world.  How the writers intend to use the contrasts between these two societies and their value systems is, at this stage, anyone’s guess.  But this story-telling technique is classic for very good reason.  And if I am right about it then there is every justification for the careful setting up of the issues the writers intend to see explored, even if the price for doing so is some degree of repetition.



If the writers are simply setting up a particular theme or set of issues to be dealt with in future episodes, one way of holding the audience’s attention is to give them a decent plot.  This is one of the ways in which “To Shanshu in LA” succeeded.  The story of Vocah’s attempt to cut Angel off from TPTB by striking at his friends and the final confrontation that that led to obeyed all the basic rules of storytelling.  The motivation was simple and easy to follow, it moved at a good pace through logical stages, there was something important at stake and whether Vocah would succeed was a matter of real  tension and finally there was a dramatically satisfying climax.  And in the middle of all this the set up for season 2 was organically developed.  Unfortunately we cannot say the same here.  The only real plot didn’t even begin until about 15 minutes in.  To keep us occupied during this period there was a sub-plot about the Hacklar demon.  But there was nothing about that that was interesting.  There was nothing really at stake; there was no real problem solving to be done; in fact there wasn’t even a sense of urgency since our intrepid little bad took time out for dinner before even going looking for the beast.  Instead the only things to keep our attention in this period were the entertaining exchanges over dinner and the scene with Cordelia, Angel and the director of the Commercial.  And clever as much of the dialogue over dinner was, that scene was just too long for all the purpose it served.

The best thing about the plot itself was the way it seemed to involve two separate lines of inquiry that had (at first sight) nothing to do with one another.  When Lorne had come to Angel Investigations for help with the Droken and they were diverted to the Public Library the obvious question was why.  Intuitively you felt there was a connection between the two quests and trying to figure out what it was constituted one of the few points of real interest.  Even here though the connection was really quite a straightforward one, hardly constituting much of a twist.  Moreover there are a few substantial plot holes in this set up.  For example how did the Droken or for that matter Lorne move between the dimensions?  Out of what book were they reading?  And when Cordelia read the extract from the book in the library why was Landok pulled over to this side instead of Cordelia being pulled to the other?  Was she reading the same extract as Fred?

Aside from that the plot was entirely predictable and very straightforward as Angel and co. track the beast, find it and kill it.  In fact so straightforward was this process that a couple of the scene seem to have been padded out.  The scenes in the Public Library in particular went on for too long for all that happened.   The final battle with the demon was well enough handled.  It was certainly dark and claustrophobic enough.  But the effort to create some sense of tension was badly compromised by the fact that all that was really at stake was the rescue of yet another anonymous young, white female.  This has now become such a cliché that quite frankly who cares.

Of course there is one final twist which did take me completely by surprise – Cordelia disappearing.  As I have already said, there was more than enough material in the episode to make it likely that the rest of this season was likely to involve the sort of comparative exploration of the Host’s home and its values that I discussed above.   So I suppose this outcome should have been anticipated.  But I didn’t see it coming so to that extent it was a very nice surprise, if not quite on a par with the ending of “The Trial” or “Reunion”.



B- (7.5/10) I found this episode unusually difficult to grade.  Its principal merit lies in its very careful set up for what promises to be a very significant last few episodes.  And careful preparation of that sort is, in my view, the hallmark of a mature and intelligent series.  It almost always brings rich dividends.  So I can hardly complain about that.  On the other hand pure set up also implies a lack of any character development.  And when the set up consists mainly of restating problems and concerns with which the audience is familiar then that is a difficulty.  While we can admire the thought that seems to have gone into this one once the audience is already familiar with the ground the writers are going over there is a danger it will lose interest.  And that is even without taking into account the problems I have already outlined over Gunn and his development.  Of course a good solid plot is usually the best antidote to this particular problem but I am afraid that this was one thing that this episode was lacking.  It was too slow to get started, too simple and too predictable.  So, in simple entertainment terms the main merits of “Belonging” lie in a few individual scenes: the opening dinner, Wesley’s conversation with his father, the  shooting of the commercial to name a few.  Sometimes it even came down simply to a brief exchange (such as the one over Bonanza).  In fact I would go so far to say that without  DB’s obvious relish for the more expansive nature of the part he now plays “Belonging” would have fallen very flat indeed.  So while this episode may play a very necessary part in the conclusion of this season it is a below par effort in terms of an individual program.