I have a sneaking suspicion that when the fall comes around and I’ll have school work and a real job plus my commitments as a contributing writer to Baeble Music to take care of, this blog may suddenly disappear. Two jobs plus being a full-time student (and my firm knowledge that I can’t fuck my schooling up this time like I have the last two years) means I won’t have a lot of time to invest in my for fun writing. Since I’ll be doing writing at a professional level though, there are worse things that could happen to me. Still, knowing that this blog probably doesn’t have a lot of life left in it is a sad realization. I’ll keep it up and running til I absolutely decide that it’s days are over, but I’m going to miss the hundreds of hours I’ve put into this thing over the last year and a half (more like year and three months). So, let’s use this summer to get as much blogging out of the way as I can if it will be this blog’s last days. And without further ado, we jump into the beginning of the second half of the first season of Joss Whedon’s cult favorite,Angel. I wasn’t as crazy about this disc as I was the two preceding it (primarily because of the very self-contained nature of most of its stories), but even this show’s stand-alone adventures have more bite and wit than the serial stories from lesser programs.

With the exception of the disc’s final episode, the stories on this disc did little to contribute to the overall development of these characters or the myth arc of the series. In the first episode, Cordelia goes out on a date with a seemingly nice and well-to-do man (Ken Marino) and after a sexual evening together, Cordelia wakes up the next day to find herself looking like she’s eight months pregnant. Cordelia (and her circle of friends) have been impregnated with the spawn of a demon (the men were sexual surrogates) and if they come to term, it will kill them. In the second episode, Angel finds himself embroiled in a battle between the genders of an extradimensional race of demons. The men (in a process very similar to the genital mutilation common in some cultures) disfigure the external spines of the women in order to control their sexual desires as well as their minds. The female princess of the race, Jheira (Bai Ling), is on a quest to rescue the women of her species, but her actions have been putting human lives in danger. Now Angel must help Jheira protect her women while also finding a way to keep humanity out of the crossfire. In the third episode, Angel Investigations finds themselves pitted against a more Christian concept of a demon that has possessed a small boy and Angel and Wesley must perform the exorcism. Lastly, we get an episode exploring Angel’s life before he became a vampire (his human name was Liam apparently) with his troubled relationship with his father (as well as the first on-screen presentation of his murder of his family as Angelus) interspersed with new drama in his friendship with Kate when we discover that her father is actually a crooked cop (retired but still crooked) working as part of a demon drug-running scheme. When her father is murdered by vampires, I think it’s safe to say that Kate and Angel’s partnership is going to be forever shattered.

“Expecting” was cool in so far as that whole notion of getting pregnant after one “safe” sexual encounter is a very adult fear. Angel and Buffy have always excelled at translating the growing pains of being a teenager, young adult, grown-up into engaging supernatural foes and a demonic pregnancy works great in the established canon of Whedon metaphors. Also, Alexis Denisof had some great moments of physical humor in the episode (but more on that in “She”). We got to see Dennis again (the ghost living in Cordelia’s apartment) and the little touches of him trying to comfort her while she was freaking out about her pregnancy were well implemented. It’s good to know that Whedon takes canon seriously (not that I didn’t already know that because of Buffy). “She” was the weakest episode on the disc (and one of the weaker episodes of the series) but what can you expect when Bai Ling is in an episode of your show. She’s very responsible for one of the worst episodes in the history of Lost. You’d be crazy not to think her presence on Angel would have a similar effect. I just thought the whole story was a little silly. I think it’s cool what message the show was trying to send about female genital mutilation, but they should have wrapped it in a better story and cast an actual actress, not the sad sham that is Bai Ling. However, the scenes at Cordelia’s party where Angel and Wesley are dancing are without question some of the funniest moments of the show yet. It was just a comedy gold mine. I don’t really like Wesley yet. He’s still a huge tool, but Alexis Denisof is quickly becoming the show’s comedy touchstone. And he’s excelling at the humor.

I actually thought “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was going to be pretty awful at the beginning but it turned into one of the more legitimately frightening episodes of the series yet. I still firmly believe that the original The Exorcist is the scariest horror film ever made, and the whole notion of exorcisms in general/demonic possession still freaks me out even though I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits or God or any of that nonsense (bet that sentence pissed some people off by referring to God as nonsense. Oh well.). So, the touch of having the little boy be so absolutely terrifying when the demon was called forth was freaky enough. The make-up work was really top notch. But the best part of the episode was the end when we discovered that he was more dangerous and evil as a boy than he was when the demon was in him. The scene where the actual boy tries to murder his little sister in her sleep was among the scariest and most tense things on either Buffy or Angel. This episode was my pick for the best of the disc. “The Prodigal” was pretty good as well because we learned how damaged and scarred Angel was before he even became a vampire which has a lot to do with why he was so particularly evil and psycho as Angelus. Also, Julie Benz was back and ever since the Trinity Killer murdered her on Dexter, I’ve been looking for a chance to watch Rita do something. I guess I’ll have to take Darla (cause I’ve read that she has a more important role on this show. Not sure how since she died in the first season of Buffy but I’m sure I’ll find out). Also, Elisabeth Rohm did a great job the whole episode, and we finally learned a little bit about why her dad was so shut off. It was a really good episode all around.

I’ll stop my ramblings for now (mainly because I need to work on a feature article I’m doing for work about Bonnaroo and also I have some movies at home that I’d like to watch). There’s only two discs of this season of Angel left and before I know it, I’ll be back to Mad Men all over again for a short (compared to the 22 episode seasons of Angel) stay in the offices of Sterling Cooper (though they were purchased in the season finale so I don’t know what to call them now). I’m definitely glad that I’ve been watching Angel so far. At this point, the series still isn’t at the same leve as Buffy although I think the writing has been consistently good at a better rate than Buffy. Angel just hasn’t gelled with me as a character-driven drama yet and I don’t feel nearly the same level of attachment with these characters as I did with the Scoobies (which is sad because these three characters now are all cast-offs of Buffy). I know that every show takes a while to find its center so I’m more than willing to give Angel the time it needs to develop into the cult classic it is now remembered being.

Final Score: B+

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