For previous installments of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
For previous installments of Angel:
Reprise, and Epiphany
Reprise and Epiphany are two episodes which truly define the series. It doesn’t get any better than this. They have been favorites of mine for many, many years. For Reprise, it’s what Holland Manners says to Angel that send prickles down your spine:
Angel: You’re not gonna win.
Holland: Well, no. Of course we aren’t. We have no intention of doing anything so prosaic as winning. [laughs]
Angel: Then — why?
Holland: Hmm? I’m sorry? Why what?
Angel: Why fight?
Holland: That’s really the question you should be asking yourself, isn’t it? See, for us, there is no fight. Which is why winning doesn’t enter into it. We go on no matter what. Our firm has always been here, in one form or another. The Inquisition. The Khmer Rouge. We were there when the very first cave man clubbed his neighbor! See, we’re in the hearts and minds of every single living being. And that, friend, is what’s making things so difficult for you. See, the world doesn’t work in spite of evil, Angel. It works with us. It works because of us.
[the elevator screeches to a stop, and the doors open to reveal ANGEL back exactly where he started]
Holland: Welcome to the Home Office.
Angel: This isn’t …
Holland: Well, you know it is. You know that better than anyone. Things you’ve seen. Things you’ve, well, done. You see, if there wasn’t evil in every single one of them out there, why, they wouldn’t be people. They’d all be angels.
[Angel steps slowly out of the elevator.]
Holland: [pleasantly] Have a nice day.
It is, also, what Angel realizes in Epiphany that truly makes these episodes superb, when he speaks with Detective Kate Lockley about what this epiphany was. According to the A.V. Club review:
“Reprise” and “Epiphany” are superbly written (both by Tim Minear), and are paced and performed with an intensity that belies their moments of melancholy. The first of the pair is exciting, but also profoundly sad as all the main characters retreat into despair and isolation. The episode ends with Angel giving up all hope and having sex with Darla, in hopes of losing his soul again. But then he wakes up and finds that nothing has changed, aside from him feeling his true purpose renewed. (Quoth an insecure Darla: “Was it not… good?”) “Epiphany” provides the payoff Angel fans have been wanting—or had been wanting I guess, since the episode aired nine years ago—as Angel seeks to mend fences with his old friends, just in time to save Cordelia from the same clan of demons who gave the little girl the extra eye a couple of episodes ago. (“You destroyed our spawn!” they complain. Moan, moan, moan.)
As frustrating as it was to deal with the scattered team over the past few weeks, it’s fun to see them reconnect one by one: first Angel checks back in with Lorne, who says he’d been waiting for Angel to come around and be a champion again, and warns, “If all you’re going to do is switch back to brood mode, we’d rather have you evil.” Then he swings by Wesley’s in time to kill some demons—“In I invite you!” Wesley says hastily—and endures Wesley’s scorn, which isn’t that tough, because Wesley is clearly happy to see him even though he knows he needs to be angrier. Still, the two have a funny exchange in the car, as Angel tries to make conversation (“Hey, guess who stabbed me!”) while Wesley acts all steely.
In the end, Angel saves Cordelia, then makes an unexpected proposition to his old team, saying he’d like to be their employee rather than vice-versa. Thus completes the humbling process that began withe Episode One of Season Two. And while I still wonder if we needed this many episodes to reinforce an idea introduced neatly in the season’s first, I can’t argue with the emotional impact or entertainment value of these two hours. I look forward to seeing how the writers build on this for the last six episodes.
The Thin Dead Line
I never really liked The Thin Dead Line much. Can do without. According to the A.V. Club review:
As fun as “Happy Anniversary” is though, “The Thin Dead Line” is pretty much a complete bummer, dragged down by some clichéd cops-and-gangster business. It starts well, with another moneyed client walking in to the new agency looking for help with her daughter, who has an eye in the back of her head. (“We should be able to de-oculate her,” Wesley says. “I mean, just the one in the back.”) But then the zombie policeman show up, and while Angel works that case with the help of Detective Kate—whose appearances on the show now seem like a sad reminder of the semi-major role she used to play—Gunn comes at it from a different angle, with the reluctant help of his former buddies and some teen shelter administrator whom I’ve never seen before. (Yes, that’s a joke, folks.)