I’m returning to WV today after a four month (well three days shy of four months) stay in New York City as an editorial intern writing about independent music at Baeble Music. Although my internship is over and I’m going to be eight hours away from the office, I’m still going to be staying on as a contributing writer to the site (unpaid but it will be a great resume booster). So, there’s a reason why my blogging has slowed down a little bit again these last two weeks (besides how much I’ve gotten into Mass Effect 3), and it’s that I’m in the process of moving and taking care of all of the last minute things I need to do in order to be completely finished here in NYC. Although, I’ve still found the time to watch some TV (mostly Community so there should be another review of that here), and I finished up the second disc of Angel day before yesterday which means it’s time to jump back into the world of Joss Whedon yet again with a disc that contained the best episode of the series yet.

Angel hasn’t really done much in terms of a season-long story yet (though this disc did a lot to further develop our characters in the one-shot adventures and it also deepened the mythology of the franchise) and this disc consisted of four mostly stand-alone episodes. In the first episode, Cordelia decides to move out of her dingy, cockroach infested apartment, and with the help of Doyle, she finds the apartment of her dreams at a “too good to be true” price. It was too good to be true because the apartment is haunted by the vengeful (and homicidal) spirit of a woman who may been murdered in the apartment 50 years earlier. In the second episode, Angel helps Kate bust the leader of a powerful L.A. crime family. However, when the crime boss calls in the assistance of the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart, a case of court-ordered sensitivity training for the LAPD takes a turn for the supernatural when all of the police (including Kate and even Angel) lose all control over their emotions. In the third episode, we learn a little more about Doyle who we discover is married (though estranged) when his wife shows up asking for a divorce. Although she’s human, she wants to marry another demon who invites Doyle to his bachelor party (in order to eat his brains as part of an ancient demon marriage ritual). Finally, in the most heartbreaking episode of the series yet (although I know what happens in my next episode which will be even more soul-crushing), Buffy comes to L.A. to confront Angel about protecting her in Sunnydale without letting her know he was in town. When a demon crashes their argument, some of its blood mixes with Angels and he becomes a human again. He and Buffy share an amazing day together but when he learns that his mortality will come at the eventual cost of Buffy’s life, he decides to beg the Powers that Be to return him to being a vampire. They acquiesce to his request but at the cost that Buffy will never remember the day they were able to spend together and it will be like it never happened.

Cordelia isn’t exactly the most likeable character in the Buffy/Angel-verse, and centering an entire episode around her is a tricky proposition at best (though there was an entire subplot about Doyle owing money to some demon loan sharks). Still, “Rm w/ a Vu” was a surprisingly great and dark episode (with its fair share of humor because it wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon program without dark comedy). I think this was the moment when we were finally supposed to start fully sympathizing with Cordy instead of equally liking and disliking her. She still has her more annoying traits but she went through so much hell in that episode (and matures so much over the next three episodes) that she’s finally someone you can root for as much as anyone else in the team. Also, the big twist at the end was a great reveal and I really hope that we “see” more of Phantom Dennis throughout the series. The episode also really upped the “noir” aspects of Angel with the Doyle loan shark subplot, and Glenn Quinn is just incredibly intense in the role. He has the comedy down but there’s always this seething darkness there and I hate he’s ultimately going to spend such a small amount of time on the show.”Sense and Sensitivity” was probably the least memorable episode of the disc (but still a solid “B+” in its own right), and we learned a little more about Kate and her daddy issues. The scenes with the uber-sensitive Angel were comedy gold, and David Boreanaz spends so much time in hardcore “brooding” mode that it’s easy to forget he can be a really funny guy.

“Bachelor Party” was really cool to me because along with the next episode, I felt like it did a really good job of contributing to the over-arching mythology of this particular universe. Prior to this, not counting Doyle, I can’t think of any demons from the Buffy or Angel episodes that weren’t inherently evil. These demons turned out to be bad (they wanted to eat Doyle’s brain), but they were also intelligent and well-acclimated into human society. Much like Doyle’s ethnodemonologist ex-wife, I find this kind of stuff really interesting (because I’ve gabbed and gabbed about in the past, I’m really into universe building). Also, Glenn Quinn does such a great job with Doyle that any chance to learn more about him and why he’s become the broken man he is makes for compelling TV. However, the best episode of the show yet (that I would include with a lot of the classics from Buffy just for the sheer tragedy aspect) was “I Will Remember You.” I mean, it’s pure Joss Whedon even though he didn’t write write it or direct it. He gives Angel and Buffy everything either has ever wanted and then he rips it right away from them in the most vicious way imaginable. That last scene where Buffy and Angel are holding each other one last time before existence is rewritten and Buffy forgets everything that happened is pure waterworks. I was crying like a baby. It was embarrassing. Yet, it shows everything that is making Angel such a more interesting and complete character on this show than he ever was on Buffy. As a complete character who is defined through his own struggles with his past and his inner darkness rather than being defined through Buffy, he’s really grown in interesting ways and I can’t wait to keep seeing him develop as the show progresses.

I want to keep writing more about Angel but there are some last minute things I want to do before my mom gets here to pick me up at around between 5:30 and 6:30. It’s so freaking weird that I’m going to be coming home tonight. I honestly just don’t want to think about it. I’m really excited for the opportunity to see my dad and sister again and my friends back home, but NYC is my home now. I’ve never been happier anywhere else than I was here. And I know that the plethora of interesting and available women that greeted me here in NYC will be non-existent in Morgantown. I’m either going to have to settle with being celibate for the rest of the time that I’m back home or seriously lower my standards in terms of things I want to have in common with girls I’d like to date. So, like I said, I just don’t want to think about things like that. For now, I’m just going to sit here and bask in the endless stream of wonderful memories I’ve accumulated over the last four months and how I’m going to use those memories to sustain myself when I’m back in the cultural wasteland that is Morgantown.

Final Score: A-