Friday, June 5, 2009

My Top Eleven Biggest Goofs

One of the challenges of starting to watch a TV show smack dab in the middle of the series is having to fill in the blanks when you're faced with questions on what happened in earlier episodes. Now that I've seen most of the Angel episodes (with the exception of two that I missed because TNT messed up on the programming), I can laugh at some of my mistakes. Here, in no particular order, are some of my biggest blunders that I made from having started watching Angel:The Series late last March at the very end of Season 2

1. Lilah Morgan a Force for Good? Don't ask how me how I goofed on this one, but for whatever reason, when I first came across Wolfram & Hart at the beginning of Season 3, I couldn't tell if they were bad guys working on the side of evil or if they were evil zealots working for the forces of good! I think what confused me was that Lilah made it very clear that she hated vampires, and the law offices were even equipped with vampire detectors. If Wolfram & Hart were bad, than why did they hate bad old vampires? Another thing that threw me off was when Lilah took care of all of the code violations at the Hyperion Hotel as a favor to Angel. In my defense, I think I was also getting a little too cute with the moral ambiguities, such as, people going way over the line in trying to battle evil. (Think of Puritan Christians going after suspected witches in Salem, or, Holtz and his recruits hunting down vampires.) It didn't take me too long to figure out that the lawyers at Wolfram & Hart were evil through and through.

2. Cordelia Chase and Her Sexual Experiences. Cordelia talked an awful lot about wanting sex and her lack of opportunities for forming romantic attachments. She certainly seemed awfully eager to comshuck with the Groosalug! Since Charisma Carpenter was such a mature-looking actress (NOT meant as an insult), I had no idea that the character of Cordelia was on the verge of her 21st birthday when I first started watching the series. Even when I found out how young she was, I just assumed that she had already had a fair number of sexual encounters, and that she missed having boyfriends and sex. I had no idea she was almost totally missing out on the opportunity to even get started with having something resembling a sex life. (I read one theory that Cordelia was a virgin until Season 1 of Angel.) Oh, and don't get me started on a feminist rant about how almost every sexual relationship she had (with the exception of the one she had with the Groosalug) resulted in her giving birth to evil spawn!

3. Cordelia and her Fighting Spirit. I had no idea that Cordelia only started holding her own in a fight somewhat after I first started watching the series. I obviously didn't see her fighting with the same gusto as Angel, Charles and Wes, but I did see her make some worthwhile contributions on a steady basis. In very early Season 1 Cordelia was completely helpless. She then got to the point where she would opportunistically step in, like she'd grab a 2-by-4 that just happened to be laying around and clunk a demon on the head, startling it just long enough to allow Angel or some other male to regroup and continue fighting. As I start watching the series again, I'm curious to see at what point Cordelia becomes a real fighter.

4. Fred and her Annoying Habits. This is easy to describe. I first started watching the series almost the exact moment Fred was introduced. I couldn't stand her psychotic chattering! This time around, I really don't have much of a problem with her little idiosyncrasies. Now, if we could just get her to fall in love with Wes a lot quicker.

5. Darling Darla. The episodes featuring Darla have always been confusing to me, in that, I'm always expecting to really hate what's going on simply because Darla had this horrible habit of messing everything up just as things were starting to go good for Angel. But then, when I start watching her episodes, I'm amazed at how carried away I get with her story. One of my favorite arcs concerns her pregnancy with Connor. Julie Benz is a very skilled actress if she can make such an unsympathetic character so fascinating.

6. Even More Darling Lindsey. I kept hearing the characters talk about Lindsey McDonald throughout the later years of the series, and I kept reading old forum threads about people who were disappointed when Christian Kane left Angel. I also read comparisons between Lindsey and Gavin, where a lot of people chose Lindsey over Gavin. I happened to like Gavin, so when I found out that Christian Kane would reappear in Season 5, I told myself, "I'll be the judge as to how good this guy really is!"

When he finally did reappear in Season 5, I had no idea who he was, but WOW! Can Christian Kane dominate a screen or what? As soon as I found out that particular character was Lindsey, I thought, "Well, all those people sure knew what they were talking about." Lindsey was even more dynamic in Season 2. It got to the point that every scene Christian Kane appeared in was the highlight of the episode. I know Lindsey was evil, but I was fascinated with his own version of moral ambiguity, where every once in a while he would do the right thing.

I was surprised at Angel's poor treatment of Lindsey in the series finale, and I really thought Seasons 1 and 2 would give me some insight as to why Angel hated him so much. Lindsey certainly worked hard to thwart Angel's every move, but both my husband and I thought that a few simple overtures from Angel could have possibly turned Lindsey around. I guess it just goes to show how good acting can make a bad character a lot more sympathetic.

I think I'll just have to stick with my previous theory that Los Angeles just wasn't big enough for these two testosterone-charged alpha males.

7. History Between Lilah and Angel. Lilah and Angel certainly had their run-ins in Season 2, but those run-ins apparently didn't come to full peak until Season 3 after I first started watching the series. Just from watching the two in action, (and including what I thought was an undeniable undercurrent of sexual attraction, leading up to how she jumped at the chance to have sex with the man she thought was Angel), I thought they had a more complicated past history together than they actually did. Season 2 was simply Angel showing up out of the blue once in a while and giving Lilah a good fright. (Not to mention leaving her to die at the hands of Darla and Drusilla.) Taking care of the building code violations at the beginning of Season 3 was apparently the first morally ambiguous thing she ever did. Now that I understand the real history between Lilah and Angel, I can enjoy the running gag of Angel sneaking up on Lilah totally by surprise and startling her out of her wits. Part of the game was seeing how long it took Lilah to regain her composure. After a while, she got to be an old hand at it until it reached a point where she was almost relieved to find out it was just Angel.

8. Wesley - A Piece of the Action. I thought going into this that Wesley's love life was pretty nonexistent. Seeing as how he was denied the love of his life (Fred) until almost the very end of Season 5, and then lost her almost immediately afterwards, I was mostly right except for the anonymous bleach-blonde that Angel could tell had spent the night with Wes, another (or the same) anonymous bleach-blonde hitting on him at the pub to start out Season 2, a bona fide relationship with Virginia, those unexplained handcuffs, a torrid relationship with Lilah lasting several months, a slave girl (Justine) he wasn't having sex with but had something kinky going on nonetheless, the words "Mistress Spanks-a-Lot" that mysteriously came tumbling out of his mouth in one of his last conversations with Illyria, etc. Yep, poor Wesley led a pretty lonely life.

(A couple of asides here. I'd been purposefully reading spoilers ahead of time the entire time I watched the series. Somehow, I completely missed the Wesley/Lilah relationship until shortly before their first encounter! If I hadn't found out he was hooking up with Lilah, I would have been in serious danger of abandoning the series about the time Wes started meeting with Holtz. Also, although I had read the dialogue ahead of time, I had always been intrigued about the scene in "Over the Rainbow" where Wesley almost spilled the beans that he had a pair of handcuffs. I literally missed that scene by minutes when I first started watching the series. I had to watch the entire series before I could enjoy Wesley's awkward moment regarding the handcuffs.)

9. Wesley and Virginia. I thought Virginia would be some boring, nondescript woman who would be completely unable to conjure up any sort of on-screen chemistry with Wesley. (Think of Season 5's Eve and her decidedly unsexy sex scenes with Angel and Lindsey.) Imagine my surprise when, although she had lived a sheltered life, Virginia turned out to be a mature, sensible, funny and confident young woman. Brigid Brannagh is a delightful actress, and we are very fortunate that she was tapped to be Wesley's love interest for a too-brief period of time. It's too bad she didn't make any appearances later on in the series.

10. Wesley - Long Hair or Short Hair? When I first started watching the series, I completely fell in love with the short-haired Wesley in the Pylea arc. When Season 3 rolled around, I noticed Wesley's hair was longer, but it didn't trouble me in the least. Long hair, short hair, Alexis Denisof is one helluva nice looking guy. However, this time around, I'm having trouble adjusting to his longer hair in Season 3, possibly because I'm now used to his shorter hair from Seasons 1 and 2. Although I'm still enjoying looking at the guy, he's currently not the eye candy for me that he used to be.

This will be a moot point by the time he loses his glasses at the end of Season 3 and turns into Dark Wesley. By that time, his hair length won't matter at all.

11. Season 5. I fully expected Season 5 to be a painful dud. Was I ever wrong! With all of the intrigues of working out of the Wolfram & Hart LA offices, it turned out into my favorite season until Angel and his dark episodes from Season 2 started giving it a run for its money. I liked how an atmosphere of lightness returned to the stories while the underlying tension of the inevitable final countdown steadily increased in the background. Besides, any season with "Smile Time" can't be all bad.

If Season 5 was truly as wretched as a lot of people thought, it would have been a lot easier to say goodbye to the series.

Ah, well. Here's to many more happy months of correcting my mistakes!

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