Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lindsey and Lilah

Episodes I've Seen So Far, In Order: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Seasons Three and Four [Except for "Peace Out"]. All of Season Five. All of Season One. Season Two: "Judgment" through "Darla").

I'm sometimes guilty of putting together blog posts in my head about certain episodes before I've actually viewed them. I batted .500 today as far as whether the shows panned out the way I thought they would. In "Guise Will Be Guise", just as I predicted, I wanted to give Wesley Wyndam-Pryce a great big hug and kiss every time he did something adorably inept, my heart fluttered out of control when he romanced Virginia Bryce, and I was thrilled with how he took control over Angel and the rest of the team while they went back and saved the woman he loved.

What really surprised me was "Darla", which I'll talk about in this post. (Don't worry. I'll get to Wes and Virginia soon, hopefully tomorrow.)

The whole "Darla" thing had all of the trappings of everything that bugs me about the Angel series. These annoying things include unpleasant story arcs that just go on way too long; Angel's flashbacks (as much as I love David Boreanaz, I'm not thrilled with his Irish accent); Angel and his crew being too stupid to figure out when Wolfram & Hart was up to something (i.e., when Angel was sleeping 20+ hours a day and constantly dreaming about Darla); and episodes dealing with Wolfram & Hart's evil-doings or other internal problems rather than rockem' sockem' demon-hunting client issues.

Boy, was I ever wrong about "Darla"!

First, I was impressed with the settings of the flashbacks, as they occurred during historically significant (but little-known in the U.S.) moments in history, as opposed to just generic "France A.D. 17XX(whatever)" or something like that. I found out that Darla ended her human life as a whore in the Virginia Colony circa 1609, possibly during the Starving Time at Jamestown. I won't go too much into the history of that era, particularly since I don't know much about it, but I don't think too many white Englishwomen were living in the Virginia Colony at that time. However, it would certainly make sense that some of the women could have turned to prostitution given the grim living conditions of the times.

Sometimes our history books are a little too discrete about these matters.

Another flashback took place during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China when the Chinese were revolting against outside Western influences. With the Rebellion raging all around, Angel hunted down Darla in an attempt to get back into her good graces after he received his soul two years earlier in Romania courtesy of the gypsy curse. Darla challenged Angel to prove his loyalty to her by feasting on an infant she had kidnapped from Western missionaries. Angel, of course, did the right thing by rescuing the baby, and presumably returned the child to the parents.

What really saved this episode for me was Christian Kane's performance as Lindsey. Even though he positively oozed raw sex even when he was dressed in a suit and a tie, I was still pleasantly surprised to find Lindsey developing feelings for Darla and even kissing her (although the extremely brief romance ended rather badly for him). I was also happy to see Lindsey gallantly trying to protect Darla from the evil clutches of Wolfram & Hart.

I just knew he was going to get in touch with Angel to let him know that Darla was in danger. And once again, Angel rewarded Lindsey by beating him up. One of the few things I disliked about Angel was his total mistrust in Lindsey (which I blogged about previously). This episode didn't give me any more insight as to why Angel hated Lindsey, although I think it did reinforce my belief that Lindsey was bewildered as to why Angel kept totally rejecting the idea that he was capable of performing good deeds. Was this little more than the predictable outcome of what happens when two alpha males butt heads?

As long as I'm talking about Wolfram & Hart, I might as well talk about Lilah Morgan in "Untouched", where she pretended to befriend the young woman with telekinetic powers, but was actually trying to groom her to work as an assassin.

In a few of her earlier episodes, Lilah actually exhibited some signs of tentative behavior and actual deference to her superiors, while showing her soft side toward others (particularly in some of her first conversations with Darla). She continued her (faux) gentle ways with Bethany the Telekinetic Girl while Bethany was crashing at Lilah's apartment.

Although we didn't find out any particulars about Lilah's early days in this scene (as opposed to when we earlier found out about Lindsey's poverty-stricken childhood), we do get a hint that Lilah had to overcome considerable early adversity in order to become successful. I'm starting to get a picture that Wolfram & Hart preferred to recruit people who had rough beginnings in their lives. If they could survive their childhoods, then they'd be that much more likely to survive whatever horrors Wolfram & Hart could throw their way.

To get really sidetracked, I was fascinated with Lilah's apartment, since it looked like part of some sort of shabby chic-makeover of an old industrial building. I know she lived in a different apartment in later episodes. Another thing was, Lilah/Stephanie Romanov was drop-dead gorgeous with her hair tied back in that cute little scrunchy thing while she had on her casual yoga attire. It wasn't the usual power-suited Lilah we're used to seeing! Too bad Wesley didn't show up right then and there.

Finally, what an incongruous sight to see Lilah carrying a laundry basket and then folding clothes!

In several scenes, I've noticed Holland Manners unfavorably comparing Lilah against Golden-Boy Lindsey. It seems that Lindsey had the natural talent whereas Lilah had to somewhat learn the ropes the hard way. In the episodes I'm seeing right now, the very ambitious Lilah, although perhaps lacking in natural ability, is making up for her deficiencies by honing her skills in being cunning and ruthless. It's easy to see that Lindsey's conscience is periodically going to hold him back during crucial moments, while Lilah won't be afraid to go for the jugular (perhaps due to self-preservation instincts as much as anything else). As much as I like Lindsey, I can see why Wolfram & Hart wasn't big enough for the two of them.

So far, I'm enjoying the adversity Angel is going through and his devotion to Darla. However, I do see this as a foreshadowing of things to come, where the writers started getting enamored with their non-stop series of dreadful story arcs (only to mercifully interrupt them once in a while by giving us amusing stand-alone episodes, like, "The House Always Wins".)

Mid-to-late Season 3 is going to start the downward slope for me. Angel and Co. will be forced to deal with that nasty Holtz and Justine business; Wesley will have his throat slashed, be left for dead, and will be abandoned by his friends; Connor will make his sickening appearances; and that whole Beast/Jasmine endless story arc will drag on forever. I'll be enjoying the glow for a few more weeks, it seems, and then I'll have to wait until Season 5 rolls around again before I can really start enjoying the series again.

Or, now that I'm seeing the series sequentially from the beginning, will I gain a new appreciation for all of the upcoming horrifying events? Stay tuned, I guess.


Juanita's Journal said...

For me the end of Season 3 and Season 4 meant the relationship between Wesley and Lilah . . . which for me was one of the best things about the show.

It's a shame that Whedon was determined to make Fred Wes' love of his life. Which only tells me that Wes lost any chance for character development when he and Fred became a couple in Season 5.

Miriam said...

I hear you about end of Season 3 and Season 4! I don't think I could have gotten through those episodes without Wes and Lilah.

It's funny you should mention Fred, because just yesterday I was giving some thought to how I never understood the supposed soulful connection they had with each other. They were both very smart, and...?