Over the Rainbow
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:  Mere Smith

Directed by: Fred Keller


A Set-up Continued

As I indicated in my review of “Belonging”, that episode was almost entirely concerned with the place (or rather lack of it) that our heroes had found for themselves.  Angel was trying to form a connection with humanity and was failing.  Wesley was trying to be a leader and was failing.  Cordelia was trying to become someone other than vision-girl and was failing.  Gunn was trying to maintain a balance between his involvement in Angel Investigations and his roots and was failing.  “Over the Rainbow” was in some respects a continuation of this set-up.  Certainly we are still building up towards a discovery of the real issues the writers intend to deal with in the closing episodes of the season. The danger of course here is that, by prolonging the build up, the writers will simply be treading over old ground, thus losing any interest at all.  But they have I think very skilfully avoided this danger.  And they have done so in two ways.  First of all there are some very significant character progress for both Wesley and Gunn.  And in the case of Cordelia and especially Angel we are allowed a rather different look at who they are and what they want.  As a result there is clear thematic development in "Over the Rainbow" when compared to "Belonging" .  Whereas the latter dealt essentially with our heroes trying to be what they were not, “Over the Rainbow” shows us what they are.  For the future, the intention especially for Angel, seems to be to pose the question: is that really what he wants to be?



As I have already mentioned a very significant theme in “Belonging” was that Angel did not fit in with this world.  At the start of that episode  the idea was conveyed mainly in a humorous vein, concentrating on his lack of experience in interacting with people and his great age.  But towards the end the focus began to shift towards the fact that his was an essentially simply and straightforward view: see evil and kill evil.  First there was the similarity in outlook between himself and Lorne’s cousin, Landok.  They were both impatient of planning but reveled in the fight.  And this similarity was put in a wider perspective by stressing that Landok was a typical even admired product of his home world precisely because he embodies its black and white value system:

“A world of only good and evil, black and white, no gray.  No music, no art, just champions roaming the countryside, fighting for justice. Bo-ring. You got a problem, solve it with a sword. No one ever admits to having actual feelings and emotions, let alone talks about them.”

Lorne, on the other hand, hated his world and was more at home on this one.  Here we begin to get a very strong feel for the real cause of Angel’s difficulty in making a connection.  Without going back over the whole “Angel goes beige” period, implicit in it was Angel’s very black and white outlook.  In “Blind Date” he described Wolfram and Hart’s world in the following terms:

“Structured for power, not truth.    It's their system, and it's one that works.    It works because  there is no guilt  there is no torment, no consequences.  It's pure.  I remember what that was like.  Sometimes I miss that clarity.”

When you are part of the world, your actions have consequences – sometimes very messy ones - for you and for others.  They are part of its complexity, its interlocking relationships where everything is connected to everything else.  You have to deal with these consequences.  Because of this thing are never pure or simple or clear.  But that is the way Angel instinctively thinks they are – or at least should be.  When he fired the Fang gang or went after Lindsey and Lilah in “Blood Money” he didn’t think about how his actions would have undesirable consequences.  All he cared about was the simplicity of revenge.  More to the point in the aftermath of his elevator ride with Holland his view of LA and his understanding of what was going on around him was conditioned not by an appreciation of evil being one aspect of a series of complex interlocking relationships.  Rather all he saw was human beings really are motivated by their own selfish ends and as such are really no different from vampires in their capacity for evil.

Although now seized of a need to connect with humans, Angel is still in no better a position to understand them or their world than he was then.  And this sense of a man for whom things continue to be very black and white lie at the heart of this episode.  Right at the beginning when Wesley and Angel realize what happened to Cordelia the difference in their reaction is instructive:

Wesley: “Okay.  Let's approach this logically.

Angel: “You know what? Screw logic. We're getting Cordy back.  We're opening another portal, and we're goin' in after her.”

Host: “Oh no.”

Wesley: “Angel, I don't think that's a good idea.”

Angel: “Wesley, I don't think I care.”

Host: “I'm just gonna, you know...”

Wesley: “But we're completely unprepared! We should go back to the hotel, do some research…”

            Angel: “I don't wanna research, all right?  I wanna jump                 through the big swirly hole thingy and save Cordelia.”

Even when Wesley points out that they might not ever get back, Angel is undeterred.  It’s not that Wesley doesn’t care about Cordelia or even that he puts his own safety first.  It’s just the difference in temperament.   He is concerned with those consequences; he naturally thinks things through.  Angel, on the other hand, is principally concerned with doing what he thinks is the right thing and the devil take the consequences.

But perhaps the most interesting illustration of the difficulty Angel has in coping with the ways of the world is to be found in the visit of two more of Wolfram and Hart’s seemingly never ending army of well dressed young lawyers:

Park: “I'm Gavin Park, and this is my associate, Mr. Hayes. We represent Wolfram and…”

Angel: ”Already bored.”

Park: “We've come to appraise the hotel.”

Angel: “What?”

Park: ”Correct me if I'm wrong, but your lease expires in six months, and Wolfram and Hart is interested in purchasing this building."

 Angel: ”You gotta be kidding. You guys couldn't get me to turn   evil so now you wanna evict me?  Now they're trying to   annoy  me to death."

Park: “We'd like to take a walk around the place, if you don't mind.

Angel (in vamp face): You think I mind?

Park: “Very well. We'll contact your real estate company and inform them of your non-compliance. They should send you a notice of obligation and, after that, if you still refuse to cooperate, I'm sure that somewhere in your lease agreement, there must be one or two loopholes to be exploited.

Angel: “How quick can we get outta this world?”

Here we see the limitations on this world of Angel’s way of looking at things and of the direct methods he favors.  With the complexity of life comes its  bureaucracy and that is the element in which Wolfram and Hart and those like them can swim and in which Angel is at a marked disadvantage.  The implication of Angel’s last words in particular are that it would be a positive relief for him  to get away from not only them but the whole world that they are at home in. 

The first thing I like about this is the way that is has been structured. “Belonging” and “Over the Rainbow” are not simply two separate episodes  linked to one another by the event of Cordelia’s disappearance.  There is a clear continuity between them in terms of character analysis.  As I have already pointed out “Belonging” started out by looking at Angel’s isolation from the world from one perspective and move to a different one near the end and “Over the Rainbow” picks this theme up and builds on it.  And in doing so the writers get back to where this season’s real strengths lie – its dissection of Angel’s psyche.  And the really impressive thing about their analysis is that it is both new and implicit in everything we have seen before.  As I have tried to explain, the idea that Angel does have this very black and white view of the world has been implicit in the whole development of the Darla arc and in his dealings with Wolfram and Hart generally.  But it has been implicit rather than having been dealt with in such a thematically comprehensive way before.  And we have certainly never seen it portrayed as an aspect of his inability to fit in with human society in the way we see it here.  Nor indeed have we seen it before quite so explicitly as an aspect of Angel’s tendency to think with his heart and not with his head.  The contrast between Wesley’s attitude to Cordelia’s disappearance and Angel’s is very reminiscent of a similar difference between them in “Prodigal” when Angel lost his temper and went after the demons who killed Kate’s father:

  Wesley:  “What happened to calmly, cautiously, and       deliberately investigating before rushing in?"

Angel:  “That was plan A.  We’ve since moved on to plan B.”

Wesley:  “And plan B is?”

Angel: “Do I really have to explain it to you, Wesley?”

Again Angel simply doesn’t care about consequences; all he wants to do is strike back at evil. 

This is yet another way in which the characterization of Angel is both three dimensional  and  internally coherent.  It is three dimensional  because it is multi-faceted.  Angel has many different aspects to his character and the writers can explore these in different ways.  But in doing so great care does seem to have been taken in ensuring that the different aspects of Angel’s personality fit together seamlessly.   Angel can and does develop and grow, especially as he learns more about himself,  but there is little or no jarring discontinuity in the form of attempts to ignore previously established characterization in favor of some new idea.  In a word the characterization does seem to have an organic quality about it rather than having bits just bolted on even if they don’t belong.



Of course, with Angel, we are still very much involved in character set-up.  The writers have by now fully described their starting point so the real question is where are they going with him.  At this stage that is still anyone’s guess but it is safe to assume that the intention is to use parallels between  Angel’s way of thinking and the comparable values of Pylea (as we must now call the Host’s Home World) for the purpose. 

So, in “Belonging” we opened with a scene that symbolized Angel’s separateness from the world – the fact that he cast no reflection.  Here too there is a moment of great symbolic importance.  When Angel and the others arrive in Pylea it is daylight and Angel’s first reaction is to panic:

“The sun! Daylight! Quick, somebody hand me a blanket.  Hand me a blanket or I'll catch on fire!”

Then he realizes what is happening and asks:

“Why am I not on fire?”

The fact that he can as he says go “walking in the sun” suggests that this is a world that he can be a part of; except for one small matter.  In the course of this episode we find out about the way that Pyleans treat humans and those who look like them.  Cordelia’s experiences at their hands are quite brutal.  Humans in general are referred to as cows.  As the Constable tells Lorne:

“Cows are not friends. They are creatures of labor, beasts of burden, no more. I do not know where you have been, Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, but it is clear you have abandoned the teachings of your people.”

A cow’s only value is as a beast of burden; and that value is very low as was witnessed by the derisory price obtained for Cordelia.  Their death is routine and unimportant. Cruelty to them is also commonplace.  Indeed Angel and the others are condemned to death for little more than defending themselves from an attack by an angry mob. 


But while Angel isn’t exactly welcome the attitudes of the Pyleans accord  exactly with how Lorne described them.  Everything is black and white.  Humans are literally not worth a bucket of warm spit.  Lorne went to his friend because he was:

“a boyhood chum of mine.  Ah, we were the best of buds, always playing games, watching out for each other; close as a Torto demon and its parasite.”

But to the friend he was “Traitor, deserter, betrayer”.  There is nothing about this place that is middle of the road or which recognizes any shade of gray.  There is no attempt to see anyone else’s point of view.  Any transgression is punished by death.  And in this context the warning given by Fred to Cordelia about her collar seems particularly instructive:

“if you take the collar off bad things'll happen to your head, like it'll implode so don't take the collar off, okay? I can't talk to you if you don't have a head, okay?”

Because this all or nothing, black and white set of values does seem to me to parallel fairly strongly Angel’s own thinking there does appear every opportunity to examine whether this is an appropriate set of values for one whose preoccupation should be saving souls.  And in this context the warning given by Fred and the Pyleans treatment of Cordelia, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, strongly suggest to me that we haven’t been fully exposed to the peculiarities of this dimension and that there are other things we have to understand.  And perhaps the biggest clue here comes from Lorne himself.  The vehemence with which he talks about Pylea is striking.  For example when he talks about escaping from it and arriving on Earth:

Angel: “So where'd you end up? In this dimension?”

Host: “In an abandoned building – unlike any building I'd ever seen... and that's when I realized:  I'd been delivered from hell. I created Caritas on that very spot.”

Angel: ”You're saying Pylea is a hell dimension? That Cordy's stuck in hell?”

Host: “Oh, not literally. But it runs a close second.”

Angel: “I find that hard to believe.”

Host: “Do you? Well, try this: they have no music there. It doesn't exist - do you know what that's like? No lullabies, no love songs – because there aren't any. All my life I thought I was crazy, that I had ghosts in my head or something, simply because I could hear music. Of course, I didn't know it was music - all I knew was that it was beautiful, and painful, and right. And I was the only one who could hear it. Then I wound up here, and heard Aretha for the first time... Don't kid yourselves.  Cordy's in a very bad place.

Even the screwed up value system and the fact he was considered a coward or absence of music (or of alcohol) cannot quite account for his loathing of the place or his insistent  refusal to countenance going back there.  This is something he makes plain time and time again:

“I'd rather have a hydrochloric acid facial. I'd rather invite a hive of wasps to nest in my throat. I would rather sit through a junior high school production of "Cats".  Do you see where I'm going with this?”

Of course it could just be that this too is an example of the Pyleans’ penchant for seeing everything in the most extreme terms but I fear we will have to wait and see. 

How successful a set up Pylea will be is, at this stage, anyone’s guess.  I will defer comment on this until later.  The fact that it is another dimension with a fairly standard “fantasy world” feel to it doesn’t bother me one bit.  I mean if you don’t mind exploring metaphors about life through the medium of fantasy character like vampires or demons then I cannot see the objection to taking that to its logical conclusion and creating an entire demon world for the same purpose.  Of course there are some conventions that you have to accept along the way – the mix of magic and technology, the faux mediaeval look which never seems to vary from fantasy world to fantasy world and the fact that everyone speaks English.  This is a story not an ethnological treatise.  But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how well the whole thing looked.  Some care and thought had gone into planning it and some money had been spent on it..  For me suspension of disbelief here was not a problem.


The first thing I noticed about Cordelia in this episode was the way in which her treatment in the commercial in “Belonging” foreshadowed her humiliation here. Being referred to as a cow, sold for a pig, paraded through town with a collar, made to clear up horse dung and then used as a beast of burden was a level of degradation and hardship unimaginable for her on Earth.  Truly she had hit a bottom that she never knew existed.  Then she was suddenly and unexpectedly raised to a position of pre-eminence that she could never have anticipated either.  She becomes:

“The Venerable Monarch of Pylea, General of the Ravenous Legion, Eater of Our Enemy's Flesh, Prelate of the Sacrificial Blood Rites, Sovereign Proconsul of Death”.

In terms of symbolism this too is very typical of Pylea.  She moved from the lowest of the low to the Highest  of the High.  We are certainly not talking about a dimension that believes in the middle way.

But perhaps more interesting is the means by which she became literally Queen C.

She sees a vision in which a villager is being ripped apart by a Drokken before it happens and tells everyone of that fact.  No-one is remotely interested in the fate of this villager.  His only significance lies in the fact that his fate conformed what Cordelia had seen.  Equally for a society where empathic abilities are common the fact that Cordelia has visions produces a very strange reaction.  All the villagers are horrified and regard her as cursed.  Such is the importance of this curse that a demon priest has to test her saying:

“Now we shall see if you are truly cursed, my child. I pray                 you  are not..”

These are very strange words.  Why is she suddenly “my child” and not “cow”?  Why is there any concern for her?  But above all why does he pray she is not cursed?  That strongly reinforces the idea that having the visions is bad. Yet the implication at the end is that she was cursed and that it was because of this that she was made the Venerable Monarch of Pylea” instead of a cow just like all non-cursed humans.

On Earth the visions were debilitating; and not only physically.  They were something she had come to accept because it was her way of helping others.  But they were nevertheless something which meant she was unable to fulfill all her previous ambitions for wealth, privilege and power.  As she said at the beginning of “Belonging”:

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

Yet here the visions were the very reason why she got all of those things

The mystery is why.  Nothing in the set-up of Pylea to date would explain this.  As I have already indicated this is perhaps the strongest reason why I think it likely that there is rather more to be learned about this strange dimension and its very peculiar value systems.  It is also why I do not think I can at this stage comment about just how successful this set up is going to be in exploring the ideas that the writers seems to have in mind.  All I can say at this stage is that they have certainly piqued my interest in where they are going with this one and the mere fact of holding my attention in anticipation of next week must be accounted a success.  But they have done so largely through the mystery of the Pyleans’ attitude to Cordelia.  Fantasy and Science Fiction is replete with examples of misfits coming to positions of power in strange societies through misunderstandings or through a cynical ploy to exploit the credulous.  If  this turns out to be a rerun of this rather tired theme I will be disappointed.  I look to ANGEL as a series to provide new twists to old devices and especially to provide some depth in the treatment of themes or ideas.  I hope and expect that here we will see another example of this. Just as with Angel finding a dimension whose values accord with his own, the fact that Cordelia finally achieves her own ambitions – and the reason she does it – is pregnant with possible implications.  It is difficult to imagine that anything good will come of her elevation.  The real question is what are its consequences.  It was said in rather different circumstances but it seems to me that the most prophetic words uttered all evening were:

Wesley: “But the catch is…”

Angel: “Gotta have one of those.”



Not the least of the successes of “Over the Rainbow” is the way in which the writers have used the contrasts between Wesley and Angel to illuminate those aspects of their character that they want explored.  In “Belonging” we saw some of the problems that Wesley had as leader: his lack of self-confidence, his refusal to do anything without a plan, his tendency to indecision and his poor judgment in lighting the flare when going after the Droken.  Angel by contrast seemed to know what he wanted to do and went ahead and did it.   I have already referred to the way in which the different personalities possessed by Angel and Wesley were portrayed when Cordelia disappeared and they had to go after her.  And this certainly reinforces the idea that Wesley does not by nature take to the leadership role naturally.  Indeed it is noticeable that it was Angel rather than Wesley who reached out to Gunn despite the fact that it was with Wesley that Gunn had established the closer bond.  But in other respects it was Wesley who was revealed as the key player when it came to getting to Pylea.  He worked out the nature of the portal:

Wesley: “It's cold.”

Angel: ”What? Put on a sweater.”

Wesley: “No, no, the hot spot is cold.  Certain  geographical areas are rife with psychic energy. These areas function as dimensional "hot spots", a natural gateway between our worlds. I'm guessing Caritas is one such spot. But the catch is…

Angel: “Gotta have one of those.”

Wesley: ”…creating a portal depletes the hot spot of its natural psychic energy.

Angel: "And since we already opened one…"

Wesley:  The hot spot is cold. That's why you couldn't open the second portal.

He worked out the key difficulty:

Wesley: “When separate entities enter a dimensional portal, they tend to... well, separate. Assuming we find another hot spot and manage to open another portal, if we simply jump in... we could wind up, literally, on opposite ends of the world.”

And he worked out the solution.  And here the noticeable thing is the way that even Angel turned to him automatically for guidance:

Angel: “Should I... I don't know, put the top up?

Wesley: “ Shouldn't be necessary. If I'm right, then we only require a metal enclosure on four sides to ensure that we travel through the portal together. The car, top up or down, should do it. I'm almost positive.”

Angel: "Almost".

Wesley: ”Ninety-six percent.

And finally when they arrive in Pylea it is Wesley who works out an explanation as to why the book disappeared.  Of course having done that he still loses perspective on why they had come to Pylea in the first place and it is left to Angel to remind the others:

Angel: “ You guys. We'll work out another way to get back. We will. But right now we gotta find Cordy. That's why we're here, right? She needs us.”

On the other hand when Gunn locks horns with the Constable it is Wesley who warns him to back down.  Clearly he is still the voice of calm reason within Angel Investigations”; the person who is most likely to understand the realities of a situation and not to lose his head or act simply out of a misplaced sense of pride.  The implication is that Wesley as leader had also been out of his place.  It is as researcher and thinker and as a counterweight to the impetuosity of the others that he makes his own important and distinctive contribution to Angel Investigations. And perhaps it is an indication that, in fulfilling this role, he can be so effective as to leave behind his  old self-doubt because in contrast to the hesitant Wesley of “Belonging” and the early part of this episode, the Wesley who quietens Gunn is a figure of some authority.  And just as notable is the way that he relates to Angel.  There is no longer a sense of deference.  Indeed in this episode Angel seemed to defer to him when it came to matters within his sphere of expertise and the two of them even indulged in a little horseplay over Angel not burning up. Also interesting was the fact that Wesley did not just roll over and accept responsibility for losing the book in the way that he once would have done.

We therefore do see some very solid character development for Wesley here.  And it is entirely credible development as well.  Wesley’s book learning has always been his unique selling point.  It is one of the things that makes him distinctive as a character.   Of course Wesley had already established that role for himself in episodes like “Blind Date” and “To Shanshu in LA”.  But for the reasons I have given I do not think that this can be seen as the writers reverting to a tried and trusted formula.   As we have seen it was one of the consequences of Angel’s monomania that his relationship with Wesley and the others was shattered.  Since “Epiphany” there has been considerable concentration on rebuilding this relationship.  The events of this episode do seem to point in the direction of restoring the old status quo in which Angel is pre-eminent and away from the establishment of a group where he is simply one of the team.  Given the fact that ANGEL as a series is never going to be an ensemble production this is probably inevitable.  But the relationship between himself and Wesley is not  a case of the writers hitting the reset button.  It is more adult and more based in a mutual respect than ever before and that can only be a good thing.



As with Wesley we have also seen some real development for Charles Gunn as well.  I have complained in the past that the writers never did properly express why Gunn abandoned his loyalty to his old gang and threw his lot in with Angel Investigations.  Equally in “Belonging” he was faced with a choice between helping his former comrades and going to the rescue of a bunch of power walkers.  He chose the latter and again there was no real indication why.  Here for the first time the writers are clearly articulating the basis for Gunn’s adherence to Angel Investigations.  When he arrives back from Rondell’s funeral pyre he is concerned about Cordelia but is caught in a dilemma:

“Last night... I lost one of my crew.  I shoulda been there, but... I'm sorry. Wes said the trip might be one way and... I just can't. I know that makes me... I don't know what it makes me. I just figured I owed it to you to tell you face to face. I wish you luck. I hope you find her.”

There is of course no doubt that his crew does need him.  But this is the language of duty and obligation.  He is making a decision not because it is the one he wants to but because he thinks it is the one he should.  But what makes him change his mind is the following phone call from Angel:

“So as soon as Wes solves our scattering problem, we'll be leaving. Don't know if we're coming back.  It’s 11:16. Cordy's been gone almost 24 hours now. I think I've covered everything...Oh. The mortgage for the hotel is under the company name. Lease is up in six months - at least, that's what they tell me, so... Well, I guess that's it.  Take care of yourself.”

As Gunn later says:

“Sounded like the captain of the Titanic gettin' ready to go down with the ship.”

What he responded to was in effect a personal connection.   He saw the possibility that these were people he might never see again and decided that friendship with them was in the end the first call on him rather than any sense of duty to those he had evidently grown away from. 


As a proposition this is not without its problems.  In a case where you cannot help everyone where does responsibility lie?  Does it lie with those you can help most?  That might favor his street gang where his skills might do more good than with Angel.  Does it lie with those whose friend you are?  Is that not self-indulgent.  On the whole I would have liked to have seen a greater exploration of the moral and ethical implications of the decision Gunn took.  But I asked for a greater clarity on why he should adhere to Angel Investigations and, for good or ill, that is what we now have.  I cannot really complain about that now, can I?



As we have already seen, “Over the Rainbow” was essentially a continuation of the process of setting our characters – and especially Angel – up  for more significant developments in their lives in the closing episodes of this season.  However, unlike “Becoming”, the set-up here unfolded through the medium of  a single plot which dominated the entire hour. This had a number of important advantages.  First and foremost it made the fact that this episode was essentially set-up a lot less obvious than it was last week.  That actually made the set up far more natural and interesting.    Secondly it gives the piece a sense of movement that was missing from “Belonging”.  Set up is a very necessary part of any story arc.  It is what gives it depth.  But ultimately interest is created and sustained by a sense of change and development.  In an episode that is pure set up there can by definition be little such sense in theme or character; so it becomes all the more important that we have a storyline to follow.   Of course in its broad outline the plot in  “Over the Rainbow” was essentially formulaic.  Cordelia gets into trouble in the demon dimension; Angel and the others find a way through to try to rescue her but themselves land in trouble.   There was little new or surprising either in the general set up or in the specific developments of the plot.  Change the names and the place and we have seen it all dozens of times before.  But there were enough plot points to hold the interest well enough.

 It is one of the great advantages of a properly written rescue story that you have parallel lines of action.  You can measure the efforts of the rescuers against the trouble that the rescuee gets into.  It is this which can be so effective in creating a sense of tension.  And I think that the writers handle this aspect of the story very adroitly.  The first attack of the hellbeast turned out to be a piece of misdirection and we wondered whether this would be such a bad place after all.  But the strange attitude of the old demon who owned it was enough to show us that all was not well.  He calls her a cow and talks about the price she will fetch.  But it is the Host who, as we have already seen, actually reveals to us the nature of life for humans on Pylea.  And when Cordelia’s fate actually follows the path predicted for it by the Host it provides a tangible link between victim and rescuers.  This can only lend urgency to the latter’s efforts. 

Of course when you have a rescue effort that doesn’t start until two thirds of the way through an episode that can cause some problems with pacing.  And indeed one or two scenes (such as the Host’s consultation with Aggie) while entertaining in themselves did serve to slow the episode down a little when the whole imperative seemed to be speed.   But the writers did quite cleverly build in some substantial obstacles that needed to be overcome first, so I don’t think in the end that pacing was much of a problem.  The obstacles required Angel and the others to find a workable hot spot and then avoid the “scattering effect”.  The creation of both obstacles showed some considerable thought had gone into this aspect of the plot.  To have had Angel jump to Pylea immediately after Cordelia would have changed the whole nature of the story.  But at the same time the way had to be left open for Angel and the others to get there eventually.  The explanation for the failure of the original portal to open (the batteries were dead) was neat and entirely credible and it did leave the way open to the latter rescue attempt.  But of the two it was the “scattering effect” that was the more effective plot device because the solution to the problem had to  be more inventive and was therefore more interesting than the location of the other portal.  That is why it was such a pity that the WB promo spoiled it so completely by revealing the team arriving in Pylea in Angel’s car.  When I first saw it I wondered why they did so.  As soon as Wesley mentioned the scattering effect the reason became obvious.

Another thing I liked was the creation of the further complication over how our heroes are to return home.  I appreciate the fact that part of the story set up is to create a doubt over whether they might want to but from the viewer’s point of view the name of the game is to return them all to Earth.  And how that is to be accomplished is at this stage an open question; although Fred seemed to suggest it might just be a matter of the correct mathematics. 

However in all of this the key plot point is the reversal of fortune whereby the would be rescuers are captured and are put at the mercy of the Venerable Monarch who, it turns out, is the person they had come to rescue.  This was not for me that much of a surprise.  In fact as soon as the Constable started to talk about a “royal highness” I guessed what was about to happen.  That was I think largely inevitable given the nature of the formula the writers were following here. But I think we were supposed to worry about what happened to Cordelia between the time she was tested for the sight and she reappeared as the “Venerable Monarch”.  As most of the tension in this episode was invested in the need to save Cordelia from some horrible fate and as nothing that happened to her beforehand was too horrible this dopes appear to be a considerable problem in the episode.

I am however, as I have already said, intrigued as to the reason for the transformation in Cordelia’s prospects, not least because there has been nothing so far that would adequately explain it.  So here too the quality of this episode will depend substantially on where we go from here.



B (8/10): This was a very difficult episode to grade.  Much of it was set up for the final episodes of the season.  And perhaps more importantly it left me with the distinct impression that not all the writers cards were on the table even now.  Accordingly  I have no real sense at this stage of the importance or interest of the resolution of the themes that this series of programs has been developing.  It is only when we see the pay-off that we will ultimately know whether the set up was worthwhile.  For what it is worth, however, this episode had a number of strengths.  First of all we can see much more clearly than we did in “Belonging” the nature of the writers’ analysis of Angel’s inability to connect with this world.   And as I have made clear I really do appreciate the care and skill that has gone into this analysis.  Secondly we have some substantial development for both Wesley and Gunn.  And I welcome in particular the signs that the former’s relationship with Angel has now matured.  Finally the character and theme-related set up was developed though the medium of an interesting storyline which as I have already mentioned had enough plot points  to keep our interest.  And the whole thing was enlivened by a number of set pieces such as Angel’s joy at being able to walk in the sun and the Host being given a taste of his own medcine.