The best show on television this current season is (drumroll please) Angel. Yep, that’s right, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off (both shows helmed by Joss Whedon) just had the best season it’s ever had, and I know, because I’ve seen them all. The show has finally come up out of the sewers and underground tunnels, and it’s a shame that the WB is giving it the axe…or the stake through the heart, as the case may be. WB claims that it’s just not cost effective for them to keep the show up. Despite a massive fan-based grass roots campaign, the decision of the network stands. Word on the street (Nerd street in the town of Loserville that is) says that the WB has the option to do a TV movie down the road, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.
Let’s be honest. Brutally so. Last season was bad. Really bad. To quickly compare this year and last year, here’s a recap.
Last season Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) became a higher power and then got tired of that, came back to earth, somewhere along the way got possessed by an evil power, seduced Angel’s son, Connor, and gave birth to a fully mature goddess-being. This season, Cordelia was in a coma for all but one episode, then she died. Last season Connor (Vincent Kartheiser ) was a jerk who didn’t really give a damn about anybody but Cordelia and his weirdo spawn with her, named Jasmine. This year, Connor was also only in one episode, where we find that memory has been wiped clean, he’s living a normal life, about to go to college, and he’s a really nice all-American kid.
You can’t write last year off totally, though. It came through phenomenally in the end, laying the groundwork for this season. Our motley crew ended up joining arch nemesis, law firm Wolfram & Hart in your typical “pact with the devil” deal. Now we have Angel (David Boreanaz) as CEO of the firm, Wesley (Alexis Denisof) as head of research, Gunn (J. August Richards) with brain modification as head of the legal department, Fred (Amy Acker) manning the science division and Lorne (Andy Hallett), everybody’s favorite green singing demon as head of the entertainment group.
New to the cast this year are Harmony (Mercedes McNab), the ditzy blonde vampire from Sunnydale, playing Angel’s personal secretary, and company receptionist. Rounding out the cast is Spike, played by James Marsters. Last we saw Spike, he was down in the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, saving the world before disintegrating into a pillar of bright light. Spike and Angel are long time associates. We’re talking centuries here. Without getting too complicated, let’s just say that Angel made the vampire that made Spike, so yeah, there’s a history there. It’s because of this history that the two vampires work so well together. The banter (always a staple on Buffy and Angel) is top notch between them.
Nearing season’s end, Fred has been taken over by a millennia old demon named Illyria. Gunn, felt responsible for Fred’s “death” and was trapped in a Wolfram & Hart suburbia hell (think along the lines of “Groundhog Day” only instead of Punxsatawney Phil, you have a sadist Demon who lives to torture you). Lorne was disaffected and depressed that he didn’t catch Fred’s betrayer, Knox. Wesley was moping around in an alcohol-induced haze with Illyria, claiming that he “needs” her at the moment, while still dreaming about Fred and the life they could have had together. Angel and Spike are left to put the gang back together.
In the second to last episode, we find that the gang is starting to distrust Angel. He’s been acting weird, talking about power, saying that good and evil don’t matter, and playing racquetball with the devil, then they find out that he has joined a secret Apocalypse-loving society called the Black Thorn. Lorne, Gunn, Wesley and Spike decide to confront him with weapons, and it is in that critical moment that Angel reveals what is really going on. He received a vision of the apocalypse, and he’s been trying to stop it by going undercover as one of the Black Thorn.
In the finale, Angel sets the stage for the destruction of the Black Thorn. He tells each member of the gang to go live the day as if it were the last, “since it probably is.” Lorne ends up at a karaoke bar singing, “If I Ruled the World.” Gunn spends the day helping out an old friend (Anne, from an episode in Season 2) at her teen shelter. At one point he asks her what she would do if she found out that higher forces controlled everything, and that what she was doing didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. She basically tells him that she’d keep doing it anyway. Spike ends up getting drunk in some seedy bar, then reciting poetry in a poetry slam (we all of course remember that before he was a vampire, Spike was a poet). Wesley spends the day tending Illyria’s wounds (from her fight with Hamilton), because he would want to be with Fred if she were alive. Angel ends up tracking down Connor and hanging out in a café with him. We find out that not only did Connor get his memories back, but he also is okay with everything, and understands why Angel did what he did.
I won’t go into too much more detail about the series finale (which aired this past Tuesday, June 25th). If you’re reading this, you were probably a long time viewer, and already know. I will just say that I cried like a little girl, and that if anybody could pull out of that mess alive, our gang could.