Monday, August 10, 2009

My Friend the Cop

In my mind, Angel and Charmed are forever linked because a) both series originally aired during roughly the same years (with a slightly longer run for Charmed), b) their syndicated episodes are usually aired back-to-back, c) they both featured a lot of magic and demons, d) they both had attractive casts, e) both series were played somewhat straight but were blessed with lots of wonderful whimsical moments scattered throughout and f) most importantly for my post, both series featured the "friend at the police station" as important characters.

Angel could never quite pull off the "friend at the police station" trope as well as Charmed. I'd have to re-watch a lot of episodes in order to give a really good comparison between the two series, but it all boils down to how I think the writers at Charmed were simply more committed to their cop characters than their counterparts at Angel. In the back of my mind, I always felt Whedon et al were trying to emulate and play catch-up with what they were accomplishing with their law enforcement characters over at Charmed. (I have no idea if that's really true or not. For all I know, Joss Whedon never saw an episode of Charmed in his life.) Also, did Whedon somehow feel forced into coming up with the character of Kate Lockley, since it seemed like such a natural development that the police would have to become involved with Angel's dealings sooner rather than later?

I'm really glad Whedon et al decided to downplay police involvement in Seasons 3 through 5. I'd rather have the cops unrealistically look the other way than have them show up on the scene and slow down the action of the story lines.

I'd written previously that:
In addition to Lilah, Angel/Boreanaz already had quite an interesting relationship with Elisabeth Rohm as Kate Lockley. I thought their chemistry was marvelous! Unfortunately, I think the creators really squandered their opportunity to allow Angel and Kate to have a more meaningful, nuanced, non-romantic relationship by turning Kate into a mentally unbalanced hysterical female who kept rejecting Angel even more every time she came into contact with the demon world. It took Season 2's "Epiphany" to really bring Kate and Angel together in what I thought was one of the better scenes of the whole series. By then it was too late, as it turned out to be Elisabeth Rohm's last appearance on Angel.
After I saw all of the episodes of Angel the first time, I started scanning through most of the scenes with Elisabeth Rohm during my second pass through the series. That's too bad because I think Rohm is a fine actress and did a wonderful job with Kate. I saw a woman who was completely torn apart by her conflicting loyalties, not only between Angel and the LAPD, but between her comfortable old world and a much scarier and more evil new world. One thing Whedon et al did do right was turn Kate into someone who was very reluctant to work with Angel, regardless of her attraction to him, but felt forced to work with him due to circumstances way out of her control. The genie had come out of the bottle, so to speak, and Kate couldn't escape the Evil around her even if she tried.

Although I always thought Kate was kind of rough on Angel, I guess I can finally see her point. Her partners on the force had seen all sorts of weird things on the streets and were always able to brush things off as being unsolvable mysteries. Kate no longer had the luxury of being able to brush things off because, thanks to Angel, she knew what was happening. There were forces at work that were beyond just about everyone's comprehension, and she really wasn't equipped to handle the information. It was like she was trying to fight the demon world on the wrong plane of existence.

Regardless, "Epiphany" gave Elisabeth Rohm a marvelous opportunity to bring closure to her character. In addition, David Boreanaz and Rohm always had a great on-screen rapport with each other, and the episode gave us a chance to see these actors at their very best.

When Angel lovingly saved Kate's life after her "pillathon" suicide attempt, she still wasn't ready to have much to do with him. Intriguingly, we saw them later on in the same episode having a very profound and moving chat in the courtyard at the Hyperion Hotel. We have no idea what transpired off-screen to bring the two of them back together again. Regardless, in what I now consider to be my favorite scene in the entire series, Angel not only beautifully described his own epiphany, Kate dropped her own bombshell about how "I never invited you in". (Referring to how a vampire can only enter a person's home with a verbal invitation.) I appreciated how The Powers That Be were not mentioned by name in this scene, which allowed the viewers to use their own beliefs or imaginations in deciding what really happened. The possibilities for explanation are endless, and can run the gamut between complete divine intervention to all sorts of descriptive existential metaphors for other things in life.

Kate had been stuck between two worlds, between our "reality" and the unseen forces of darkness. TPTB, God, or some other entity(ies) gave Kate the gift of believing that someone or something really was looking out for her. Kate felt she was given the message that it was still possible to be able to draw on a lot of her old beliefs and value systems as she dealt with her new world. Kate didn't have to totally reject everything she ever knew in order to soldier on.

It's too bad that the friendship between Angel and Kate could not continue on and deepen. They finally got to where they should have been in their relationship all along. However, their relationship ended on a high note, and we couldn't have asked for anything better.

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