Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

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 "Redefinition").

I continue to be astounded by the Angel/Darla arc, even though it represents what I consider to be some of the worst aspects of the Angel series, namely, self-absorbed, way-too-long story arcs featuring ugly machinations from Wolfram & Hart. Every time I start getting a little bit bored with Angel's obsession with Darla, something happens to perk up my interest. Like, Lindsey and Lilah make an appearance, or, Angel locks a bunch of human lawyers in a wine cellar and allows a couple of vampires to feast on them.

Sometimes I wonder if I should start a couple more blogs, like, "I Heart Lindsey and Lilah" or "I Heart Moral Ambiguity", since I seem to be writing a lot about those topics lately. The latest Season 2 Angel episodes that I've seen, "Reunion"and "Redefinition", seem to offering me non-stop helpings of those subject matters lately.

Moral Ambiguity. I've recently discovered that Wolfram & Hart brought back Darla and Drusilla so they would start a reign of terror within Los Angeles. The theory was, Angel would be so obsessed with hounding Darla and Drusilla, he would ignore the more lucrative evil-doings that the lawyers were involved with. The questions is, was Angel playing into Wolfram & Hart's hands by obsessively going after Darla and Drusilla? Was he guilty of dereliction of his duties as Wes, Cordelia and Gunn maintained? Or was Angel outfoxing the foxes and taking the war directly to Wolfram & Hart?

One line of thinking that's always bothered me in Angel is that humans needed to be protected at all cost, no matter how much destruction they've caused. I've noticed that the lawyers at Wolfram & Hart were particularly adept at bringing up that tired old saw, then hiding behind it in order to have their way with Angel. The first analogy that comes to mind is the sniper in the church bell tower that shoots his victims outside, then gets all high and mighty and outraged when he is captured and/or shot within the sanctuary.

I did have to stop and think about this line of thinking when Angel came across Darla and Drusilla (D&D) at Holland Manner's wine tasting party, then opted to leave the lawyers to their fate instead of responding to Lilah Morgan's plea to rescue them.

I felt sorry for all of the lawyers at that point and I fully expected Angel to protect them. For one brief moment, all of the evil humans in the room believed in goodness and humanity (so to speak) and trusted Angel to do the right thing. Yet Angel locked the doors, thereby dooming almost all of the lawyers to the fate of being massacred by D&D. This is that lovely moral ambiguity I always look forward to, where Angel shows he's not always the Knight in Shining Armor. Although I disagreed with his decision, (as did Wes, Cordy and Gunn), I recognized that Angel might have known what he was doing and was following either his finely honed instincts or some other master plan, similar to how he operated at the end of Season 5.

Angel had learned a lot about human nature in his 200+ years on the planet, and he knew that he wouldn't be rewarded for his generosity and mercy. In other words, he knows as well as anyone that no good deed goes unpunished. Instead of reforming themselves or, at least working out some sort of truce, the lawyers of Wolfram & Hart would have simply used their salvation as an opportunity to redouble their efforts to carry out whatever nasty plans they had in store for Angel.

Again, we have the classic situation of both sides trying to outsmart the other side by switching the poisoned drinks. Wolfram & Hart wanted Angel out of their hair, and wanted him distracted by Darla and Drusilla. However, they possibly wanted him to think that by going after Darla and Drusilla, he'd be lured away from some other sort of devious plot. Better yet, Angel might eventually start torturing himself over his decision to turn his back on the innocents who were being slaughtered while he continued on his obsessive quest of eliminating D&D.

In essence, maybe the partners and associates at Wolfram & Hart weren't following any coherent master plan, but were simply playing mind games with Angel by insuring that whatever course he took would result in tragedy. It might be too early for me to tell, but I prefer to think that Angel consistently refused to swallow that bait and instead charted his own plot to keep playing his own games with Wolfram & Hart. One way to think about it is, no wealthy client was underwriting the expenses associated with fighting Angel and his crew. The hours devoted to making Angel's life miserable were strictly unbillable, which is anathema to law firms. Wolfram & Hart could try to keep devoting their resources toward re-directing Angel's attention, but as long as he kept popping up, he caused them his own endless amount of expensive grief.

Lindsey and Lilah. I've been doing a lot of of these Lindsey and Lilah subposts. Haven't they been delicious lately, with the stakes higher than ever now that they are the only two survivors of the D&D massacre? I thought it was just too funny when Lindsey thought he was the sole survivor. You could just feel the disgust emanating from Lindsey when he saw Lilah emerging from the carnage. When he said "Lilah!" I couldn't help but think of Jerry Seinfeld whenever he hissed "Newman" at his nemesis.

I thought I was in for a real treat when Lindsey and Lilah came this close to kissing each other. Unfortunately, Lindsey stopped just in time to reach into Lilah's blouse (an interesting little gesture in itself) and pulled out the mini-microphone she had wired into her bra.

It was still a hilarious scene, even though we were cheated out of seeing a hot love scene between two attractive actors (Christian Kane and Stephanie Romanov). The scene also reinforced my theory that Lindsey was the smart associate, and Lilah was the ruthless one.

I was fascinated with how both Darla and the Senior Partners all planned on keeping both Lindsey and Lilah around to literally find out who would end up as the last one standing. In hindsight, it appeared that Angel unwittingly set up a situation where whoever survived the massacre and emerged as the victor would come out much stronger as a result.

One more observation I have about Angel is how he seemed totally oblivious to the fate of the lower-level Wolfram & Hart apparatchiks in both "Reunion" and in Season 5. In many instances, they might have been working at Wolfram & Hart simply because they needed jobs. In my previous career, I was a kindred spirit of those low-level apparatchiks. HAH! Angel could have stormed into my place of employment, and I would have been dead by the time he flew out the window.

I'm still trying to figure out Lindsey. From Lindsey's total lack of fear when D&D arrived at the wine cellar, and his stated admission that he really didn't care what happened, it appeared that Angel was correct in his assessment of Lindsey in an earlier episode when he stated that Lindsey didn't feel anything. Lilah, through her very visible fear, showed that she was very capable of feeling strong emotions. I'm left to wonder, who is the more dangerous opponent? The one who has nothing really to live for? Or the ambitious one who lives to get ahead?

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