Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Few Mid-Season 2 Thoughts

Charles and Wesley, and "The Thin Dead Line"
First, good news for me! TNT is going to air the Angel Season 2 episode "The Thin Dead Line" on Tuesday, August 4.

The network opted not to include this episode in the last rotation of reruns, so it's the only episode of Angel I have not yet seen. I'm thinking "The Thin Dead Line" is significant since it supposedly marked the beginning of a deeper friendship between Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I've never found Charles and Wesley's friendship to be all that convincing, so I'm looking for some additional insight from this episode.

Angel's Descent Into Darkness
I confess that while I was watching Season 2 for the first time a few months ago, I did not recognize Angel's descent into darkness as being a harbinger of him growing closer to Evil. This is typical of what I was writing at the time. In retrospect, I can think, "Well, how much more clearer could the show's creators have been?" In my defense, two things were holding me up. First, I had already seen Season 5, and I was making the obvious parallel between Angel's Season 2 decision to go after the Senior Partners and his Season 5 decision to go after the Circle of the Black Thorn. I was convinced Angel had some sort of master plan that would all become clear to me later on. Second, I never fell for the concept in the world of fiction that if Bad People can get Good People to kill Bad People, then the Good People automatically become Bad People.

I realize that Angel locking the lawyers into the wine cellar so they could be massacred by Darla and Drusilla was a huge turning point. Even I was horribly shocked the first time I saw that scene. However, I justified it at the time because the Wolfram & Hart lawyers worked completely outside of the law. I recognize the difference between Justice and Revenge. However, if you have an entire class of people who, as lawbreakers, will never be brought into the criminal justice system, the only Justice is Revenge.

I'll write more about this at a later time.

Angel as the "Dopey Dad"
I've previously written about Angel as the father to his "kids", Wes, Cordy and Charles.

I also tentatively wrote fairly recently that Angel seemed like more of a big brother in Season 1, and more like a father figure in Season 2. I'm more convinced of that now, and I believe Angel's elevation in status helped lead to his Season 2 downfall.

Whenever you have someone in authority, an "us against him" mentality will spring up organically. Wes, Cordy and (to a lesser extent) Charles were the "kids" in Season 2, and Angel was the "dopey dad". I'm guessing this chasm occurred as a result of the move to the Hyperion Hotel, since Angel could physically remove himself farther away from the rest of the group whenever he wanted to go off and brood. Regardless, Angel somehow became more imposing, and Wes and Cordy became less comfortable discussing their concerns with Angel. (Charles gets a bit of a pass from me because he was new to the group.)

I was always curious as to why Wes and Cordy didn't make more of a big deal out of it when Angel started sleeping up to 21 hours per day. They of course mentioned it to Angel all of the time and suggested it wasn't healthy, but they didn't take the initiative to find out why this was happening. They simply kept telling Angel that he should do something about it. Did Wes and Cordy ever once consider that outside forces were trying to take control over Angel?

Wes and Cordy seemed to have fallen into the "father knows best" trap. Angel had proven himself time and again to be the best person to figure out the best course of action, and Wes and Cordy became used to deferring to his expertise. Also, it might have been kind of a relief for them to have "dopey dad" out of their hair most of the time, so they could work without his interference and also goof off whenever they felt like it. Any strange behavior Angel exhibited could be brushed off as just "dopey dad" being a dope. Wes and Cordy had become complacent, but it was a two-way street. Angel had started to cut off the lines of communication with his staff. Consequently, his staff felt a lot more reluctant to approach him unless they had something that was really urgent.

I had previously posted about the breakdown of the Season 2 relationship between Angel and the rest of the group here. I won't rehash what I wrote except to say that my opinions haven't really changed since I wrote that post. I will add that I'm starting to see Angel's decision to become subservient to the rest of the group when he rejoined them towards to the end of Season 2 in a different light. It wasn't simply Angel doing penance for wrong-doing (when he fired Wes, Cordy and Charles). If Angel came back as the leader, he could have easily made himself unavailable again by retreating into the bowels of the Hyperion Hotel, and the dynamics could have broken down all over again. By making himself a humble servant, he was forced to keep in closer touch with the rest of the group, which I really believe helped his overall personality development. He became used to being in closer constant contact with people to the point where it became more of a second nature to him. Quite frankly, Angel was a better person and became a better leader after his Season 2 experiences.

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