Not Fade Away


Ah, Angel. We’ve had some good times together. Now, many years after you finished, I’m ready to say goodbye.1 Luckily, you gave me a pretty good episode to say goodbye to. Alright, so things are a little contrived, a little forced; but I dealt with all my issues with that in the last review. I’m here to enjoy the near-perfect final days that every character has here, and as they were by and large awesome, that’s not a difficult task. So let me take things one at a time.

Goodbye, Gunn. You have, on occasion, been the most boring character on the show, but then you’re usually the most normal, and it’s important to ground things. In particular, you’ve been on a hell of an interesting journey this year — but it’s nice to have you as the conscience of the group now that Wesley’s returned to his borderline psychotic self. It’s also good to have you and Anne (nee Chanterelle) restating that beautiful, simple philosophy that’s been running through the show since day one; that the smallest good deed matters no matter what massive, horrible things might be threatening humanity.

Goodbye, Lorne. You had one awesome year on Angel, where you were mysterious and cool, with a hint of malevolence. Then you had three years as a lame and repetitive source of one-liners. You get something vaguely interesting to do in this final chapter, but it’s not your moment at all, it’s Angel’s (though it doesn’t really, to me, feel like it belongs to either of you). You have truly been hurt by the inviolate rule of “keep a character around regardless of whether you’ve thought of something interesting to do with them”.

Goodbye, person who looks like Lindsay, sounds like Lindsay, and acts like some schizophrenic2 moustache-twirling, revenge obsessed loon. I can’t express how completely unnecessary it was for you to come back, or how disappointing it was that you came back such a shadow of your former self. Finally, in this story, you get one last glimmer of your former glory as a character who refuses to be pigeon-holed as good or evil. And then Angel gets Lorne to shoot you. Apparently, because you have a tendency to turn evil, and are unlikely to seek redemption. What a fucking hypocrite that blood-sucking prick is.

Goodbye, Illyria. You were the one truly cool aspect of this season, even though we had to lose Fred to get you. Angel had a pretty good run, but if there’s one thing that really made the idea of a sixth season interesting, it was you.3 It was nice to see Fred and Wes finally get together, but much more awesome to see the far more fascinating and disturbing relationship between you and Wes develop. And we get an ending of sorts to that plotline here — a moving and peculiar one, even if it is based on what seems ridiculous stupidity on the part of my favourite character:

Goodbye, Wesley. It’s been great. You may well take the honour of being the one character in all of Joss Whedon’s shows with the most interesting and consistent character development. It’s a shame then, that in your last hurrah, the brains of the group comes up with a plan that amounts to no more than “walk in, start shooting, hope for the best.” This from the man whose clever strategies allowed him to storm a Pylean castle three years ago. What kind of a backup plan is a pen-knife? I was screaming at my television set. I’m still annoyed now, and it’s been five years for heaven’s sake. Luckily for you, every other bit apart from that is rather good.

Goodbye, Spike. I didn’t want you here. You might have been one of the best things about Buffy‘s last year, but bringing you into Angel seemed like some kind of invasion from the crummy show to the good show. Pleasantly, the story of Angel and Spike has been rich in potential ever since the bleached blonde one turned up in Sunnydale. Unexpectedly, by the end of the season Spike’s almost become Angel’s conscience, or at least, the voice of the part of Angel that likes to see things in black and white. It’s this element of Spike that’s prominent this week, though happily there’s also a little bit of time to pay off the roots that were explored back in ‘Fool for Love’ when he finds time to recite his poetry on his last day.

Goodbye, Harmony. You were evil, and often slightly annoying evil, but every now and then, very funny evil. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of you becoming a regular, for similar reasons to my resistance to Spike. And yet, you end on a high; betraying Angel and then getting indignant when he accuses you of being the sort of person who’d betray him.

Goodbye, Angel. You’ve come a long way. Once upon a time, you were just a cliched, brooding love interest for Buffy. Now, you’re a conflicted, intriguing, heroic, petty, interesting character. Who’d have thought? I said bad things about you earlier, but if I keep that out of my mind (and I do try) then you have a wonderful swan-song, with one final, truly awesome and satisfying fight. But what’s really satisfying this week though is to see you finally have a happy moment with your son. Oh, the pain we’ve gone through to get to this point. Crappy sideplots with sub-par Wolfram and Hart flunkies. Hours of angst-ridden, torturous moments with a sullen teenager. Bloody murders and attempted suicides. But finally, they can hang out in a cafe and joke around. It’s as close to a happy ending as our soulful vampire hero is ever going to get, and if Angel’s learned one thing over the last five years, it’s that he’s got to appreciate these things when they come to him.

Goodbye, Angel. What a good show you were. Sure, you had your rough patches, but there’s not been another TV show that’s mixed such comic book adventure stories, excellent action and violence, involving characters, and had it all work together so well. I kind of miss you.4

  1. If by “ready” you mean “can be bothered”. It’s, um, been a while. I mean, it’s been a while since I even wrote “It’s, um, been a while.” No other review has had a gestation period this long.
  2. I know that’s not what the word means. But I don’t have another word to use in its place. Frankly, I feel at this point it’d be less effort to rename the condition.
  3. Mind you, I thought the same of Anya in Buffy, and it turned out she was just a bunch of one-liners on legs.
  4. Although if you could just teach the British to choreograph fight scenes as well as you did it’d help no end.
This may come out a little pretentious but... one of you will betray me. — Angel

Comments are closed.