snark squad | where nostalgia comes to die

Angel S04 E07 – Decidedly Not Good

and on December 27, 2013 · 53 comments in Angel,Season 4,TV

Previously: Lorne did a memory spell that briefly went terribly awry when everyone woke up with 17-year-old brains/memories and tied him to a chair. He fixed it and Cordelia remembered all the things but didn’t inform us of much beyond your basic reminder that sometimes we forget shit on purpose.

Apocalypse, Nowish

Sweeney: This post is obviously incredibly late. It is mostly late because I’ve been enjoying some much-needed family time. (Also, feeling incredibly old because I feel like family time is a lot more exhausting than it used to be.) The other reason this post is late is that everyone would not stop going on about how painful this episode is. Half a dozen people discussed the necessity of brain bleach for this particular episode. I had the choice of stuffing my face with cookies until I passed out in a painful-but-glorious food coma or watching the ZOMG BRAIN BLEACH 5EVA episode; I stand by my choices. In spite of our many drinking games, I can’t actually write a recap while shitfaced. It doesn’t work out well for anyone.

That was my long-winded introduction to say that even though I haven’t seen the episode yet, I already know it’s rated BB.

bb

All of these points (lateness, family time, BRAIN BLEACH, etc.) also serve as an explanation for how little stopping and rewinding I plan to do, so feel free to play, “Spot the errors!” as you read and identify pertinent details I left out. These drinking games are for you, dear readers.

Lorraine: Yeah, Merry Christmas and all that. I watched this episode last week sometime and my gift to myself is NOT revisiting it for the sake of this post. I’m sure between the three of us we’ll come up with an semi-accurate recap. It’ll be great.

Kirsti: And if it’s not accurate, then that’s just probably for the best!! 

Sweeney: Lorne and Angel are arguing about whether or not it’s time to start asking Cordelia to talk about what she remembers – Angel is erring on the side of giving her time, probably because the whole, “We were in love,” thing still burns. Lorne turns to Fred & Gunn for backup, but they’re distracted by gathering weapons for a case and also the giant MURDER chasm between them. Angel assures Lorne that it’s NBD because the world isn’t going to end ASAP or anything. The title merely says that the apocalypse is “nowish” which is kind of standard for the Buffyverse, right? Right.

Lor: Apocalypse always-ish.

Sweeney: End-of-world talk is our cue to segue magic to a scream. It’s part of a movie Cordelia is watching at Connor’s Brain Bleach Attic. He returns with junk food and she offers half an explanation of the movie she’s watching – she only vaguely remembers, not because of the amnesia fuzziness, but because of she saw it as a child. Long before he was a child. “Natural fuzz.” Cordelia thanks him for the junk food and everything else he did for her, insisting that she would have been lost without him. He says it was NBD and it’s sweet up until he kneels in front of her, brushing her hair back and telling her to rest. Then it makes me uncomfortable.

K: “It makes me uncomfortable” is a pretty good description of this episode as a whole.

Sweeney: Cordelia says that every time she closes her eyes she sees the gross thing that we saw at the end of the last episode. She can hear and feel and taste the flesh of everyone it’s going to kill. Which is also ew. She wants to warn Angel but can’t find the words. You know, like the ones she’s using right now. This mass destruction is almost here and she can feel it. “I know,” is the deep-voiced response. Perspective switches and in Connor’s place is the demon Cordelia saw, grabbing her by the throat. She screams and wakes up.

I know this episode is BB, so pause to say that I liked this transition. Apocalypse talk segued us to a scream, but it turned out to be just ice cream and subtle gross romantic subtext. But then! That gross romantic subtext built into the apocalyptic conversation.

Connor rushes in so that we can do that gross romantic subtext for a second time in a row! “Yay!” said no one. He asks if she’s all right and she cries into his shoulder. That was simpler than I was expecting. Maybe all this mental preparation will serve me well. Electric cellos.

Lor: Mmhmmm. Let’s please monitor this so-called “mental preparation” for the remainder of this episode.

Sweeney: Brooding Hotel. Lorne is taking a call from a client about snakes that have gone up somewhere. It’s implied that they could have entered by way of something sexual. Or maybe Brain Bleach Paranoia has me convinced that everything has unpleasant sexual undertones. (K: I don’t think it’s the BBP, just quietly) Angel cleans a sword and says that they can fight snakes if they are demonic, but Lorne isn’t clear on that.

Fred and Gunn arrive at the job, in a fancy-ish house. A woman is explaining that the thing she called them about is horrible and there’s lots of miserable grunting and groaning going on. AHEM. They step inside what turns out to be a giant bathroom. Gunn says something about them moving into a place with a fancy bathroom one day and Fred gives an awkward, “Yeah…” because she’ll be busy shaving her hands while motorcycling to Africa then. (L: BOTH. DAAAAAMN.)

Fred is saved by the rumbling noise they came to investigate. They can’t figure out what caused it. Just as Gunn leans into the mirror, it bursts. On the other side there are rats. Within seconds, the entire place is crawling with them. These two demon hunting badasses squeal like children and flee. They tell the homeowner to call an exterminator, because apparently rats are the line they won’t cross. Good to know.

K: Dude, if there were suddenly a million sewer rats everywhere, I’d be getting the fuck out too. Although I ran and hid from a massive wasp that was in our bathroom earlier and made my mum deal with it, so…yeah.

Sweeney: Wesley returns to his apartment to find Lilah there. He asks why she’s dressed like that and we pan around to see that she’s dressed like Baby One More Time Britney Spears, but with glasses like Fred’s. “Isn’t this what you like,” she drawls. He tells her to cut it out, but she commits to the bit, mocking Fred in her silly accent. Wesley smirks and asks if she’s done. Lilah says that she saw him at Fred’s thing, but has no fucks to give because he’ll end up in her bed. Wes asks if she thinks she knows him. “Better than she ever will,” Lilah answers. They fuck, and Wesley orders her to keep the glasses on. (K: Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. I just hate them so much.)

Brooding Hotel. A glasses-free Fred is telling Gunn that her bath is going to be some solo time. There’s a whole lot of, “We need to talk,” implied here. Fred doesn’t want to do this, but Gunn’s tired of avoiding the conversation. I’m annoyed with him, but I can at least appreciate someone saying, “Hey, it’s time that we all use our words!” He says that they haven’t even touched each other since, and Fred finishes, “since they murdered the professor.” Gunn corrects that it was him and they have an annoying conversation about whose heart it’s in. Fred says it’s in his and runs off. Are they done yet? Please tell me they can be done now. I can handle a drawn out break up if I at least care about one of the people involved but this whole situation is a giant, “Fuck you both,” for me.

Lor: +1. Doesn’t help that I was over these two the moment they started.

K: I was on board with the cute at first, but then they started kissing with mouthfuls of pancakes, and EW.

Sweeney: The mouth-full-of-pancakes-kissing was unacceptable.

More phone calls. Lorne passes a call off to Gunn. He talks to Angel who wants to know if it’s best to organize weapons by nomenclature or damage. Cute. Lorne votes damage because heat-of-the-moment efficiency. Lorne moves the conversation toward getting more help around the office, like, say, Cordelia.

This conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Connor. They have an actual sweet moment — the surest sign of bad things ahead — about Connor being helpful in the last episode. Nobody mentions that it was mostly because Connor thought he was going to get laid. I know, everyone, you’re welcome! Connor is there to tell Angel to talk to Cordelia which makes Lorne’s day. Angel makes some excuses, but is cut off by, “Dad, please.” Nice move, friend.

Lor: Manipulative, creepy-face-having friend. Sorry. Hate Connor.

Sweeney: Fair. I was naively assuming that this might lead to a conversation that made actual story-progression sense.

Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia’s annoyed that Connor got Angel, but comforted when he sits down and holds her hand. Connor awkwardly scurries off, because seeing your dad’s connection with the lady you’re chasing should be a boner killer. Just a guess. Angel tries to awkwardly start this conversation. Cordelia says that she loves him and always will, but it’s more complicated than that. When she got her memory back everything came with it, including her time as a higher being. That included feeling and experiencing everything Angel did as Angelus, which is the reason she can’t be with him.

I’m trying really hard to appreciate the weight of Cordelia’s words, but this explanation is frustrating as a viewer. We’re sitting over here, where the Angelus stuff has been treated as the distant past thing and the show has worked so damn hard to create a distinction between Angelus and Angel. I can almost appreciate the concept of what’s happening here – blurring that distinction and suggesting that a human being wouldn’t be able to get past it if they’d really felt all the feels of his time as a mass murderer. However, I can’t get behind it because it feels so abrupt and inconsistent with the way these characters have been pitched to us. Nor was there anything in what we saw of her as a higher being to make this ring true. I’m assuming that we’re meant to believe that the experience is now super fresh for her and that’s the issue. That explanation doesn’t make this feel any less hasty. Or bullshit. This whole MEMORY! SWOOSH! device is annoying. Dislike.

Lor: AGREED FOREVER. This was about the time I started ranting about my supreme dislike for this episode. There is nothing about Cordelia or their storyline so far that would make me buy this as a progression of the story. Yick.

K: The whole thing smacks very strongly of “Charisma Carpenter’s announced that she’s pregnant so we have to do a rewrite of Cordy’s storyline, but we don’t really give a fuck so let’s half arse it as much as possible, WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

Sweeney: All of that is interrupted by Cordelia looking dizzy and faint as she’s interrupted by another vision of the terrible red, horned demon. Her eyes get white. “He’s coming. He’s coming now.

Not Break. Angel’s confused because the visions aren’t supposed to hurt, but she says that this wasn’t like the others – more Niagara Falls than lawn sprinkler. There’s a BB closeup of Cordelia putting her hand on Connor’s hand. Other than that, Cordelia can only add that it’s, “Big. Powerful. Clawing its way up through the bowels of the Earth to slaughter us all.” She continues, “It’s coming Angel, and it won’t stop, until we’re all…It won’t stop.” She’s also pretty sure that she knew more as a higher being, but can’t get at that information. They consider forcing Lorne to read her again.

Brooding Hotel. Phones are ringing off the hook and Lorne wants Gunn to go get Fred, but he says that if she wanted to be there she would. He says that if Lorne wants to know what’s going on and Gunn suggests talking to Fred. Gunn admits that things have been rough since the professor incident. Lorne says that this makes sense, but implies that getting sent to Pylea was the right thing to do, oblivious to the actual murdery reality of the situation.

There’s a thud at the door. Gunn investigates and it’s a sparrow that apparently flew right into the door. Lorne shouts for Gunn to close the door and he does just in time for a fuckload of sparrows to start flying at the building. They both agree that this is decidedly not good.

K: Excuse me while I go and curl up in the foetal position until my bird phobia calms down.

Sweeney: Wolfram & Hart. Lilah’s on the phone having an HBIC conversation about someone muscling in on their apocalypse. She enters her office to find Angel sitting on her desk. She tells Angel that she doesn’t have time for his shit. He says he wasn’t expecting to get anything out of her, but DDK [Gavin] was more accommodating. She turns around to find DDK tied up and somewhat beaten on a chair. Angel wanted to beat more, but DDK was pretty easy with the talking, what with his hatred of Lilah. Whatever W&H uncovered from Lorne is still being deciphered, but is definitely serious enough that Lilah’s scared — even though she won’t admit it. There’s a big terrifying thing that they didn’t see coming.

Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia’s pacing around. She reaches for her jacket and Connor appears instantly like a mega creep. Like father like son, Cordelia suggests. She admits that the feelings are stronger but she needs to go see what’s going on. Connor reminds her that fighting the thing alone is not a good idea, since she’s no longer a higher being. She starts talking about how, when she was, she wanted to be human again to touch and feel and I squirm in my seat. She continues that she can’t figure out what happened that caused her suddenly be here, on Earth — that part wasn’t included in the Memory Restoration Package.

Did I do something to piss off The Powers That Be?

Because you’re important,” Connor answers. She says the world appears to have turned just fine without her. He adds that she’s important to him. She says that Angel is good at saying the right things too, which is funny because social awkwardness is much more of an Angel trait. Cordelia ends this gross sexual subtext conversation to go track the thing, and of course Connor insists on coming with.

Lor: I can’t even get over the whole, “the way you woo me is so much like how your father woos me!” thing right now. BRB. Barfing.

K: Oh, we’ve only just started the barfing? Sorry. Guess I got a little ahead of schedule…

Sweeney: Cordelia is talking about finding her place in the world and Connor says he gets that. She reminds us that he’s 18, as if that’s going to make it all better. She rounds a corner and realizes that they’re in the alley where Darla died and Connor was born. She shares this information with Connor just before that same spot on the ground bursts open and the nightmare demon bursts through the ground. After a Not Break they all fight. Apocalypse Nowish Demon knocks Connor out and kneels in front of Cordelia. Connor comes to and tells him to stay away from her. Apocalypse Nowish Demon just smirks and then Superman jumps into the sky. (Kirsti informed me via email that his name is “The Beast” which is some lazy bullshit.)

Brooding Hotel. Lorne and Gunn are concerned by Fred’s absence in lieu of the big plaguey happenings. They decide to go out and look for her. On their way out, Wesley arrives so that they can have a big annoying Bro Stand Off. Gunn wants to storm off and find Fred but Angel appears to say that they need to focus on the latest and greatest in apocalyptic happenings.

The four guys sit around the coffee table with pages of information Angel got from W&H – it’s all the information they got from Lorne’s head. The phone rings and Angel says that they need to start charting locations to see if this stuff is concentrated in one area. Angel again reminds everyone that it’s really important that they figure this out.

Time lapse break. Gunn says that they’re never going to figure this out. Wesley agrees, but when Gunn is pacing behind Wesley, he notices that the pages sort of overlap to make a design. They lay them out on the ground to see the big picture. The symbol is a big square with an X in it. Angel calls it “The Eye of Fire.” Meanwhile, Lorne has finished plotting locations and he says he, “hates to be the little demon that cried Apocalypse Nowish,” which he shouldn’t hate, because it earns him a gold star! He gets all the good ones.

title star

Lor: These last couple of episodes would be upgrades if they were just 45 minutes of Lorne saying the episode title.

Sweeney: This is entirely true.

Anyway, the spots being plotted on the map make a giant square.

Fred & Gunn’s breakfast diner. Fred is on her millionth cup of coffee and the waitress awkwardly jokes that she’s cutting Fred off so that she won’t vibrate into another dimension after the 9th cup. Waitress suggests calling Gunn and when Fred says she’s not sure what she’d say, the wise waitress advises her to start with, “Hello.” You’re much too logical for this universe. (K: Possible girlfriend for season 7 Xander, though?) She adds that Gunn would do anything for Fred. She sighs that this is the problem. With that, an earthquake hits the spot. The waitress will probably be dead soon. Hopefully this relationship that I grow to hate more with each scene will die too.

Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia is cleaning up a shirtless Connor, who probably broke some ribs. She sad pandas that she no longer has purpose in this world. Connor rightly points out that the only thing she learned was that it can hurt her. He unnecessarily adds that he’ll find a way kill it if it tries again.

K: Okay, but seriously. Why the fuck is he shirtless in this scene? It’s not like he has cuts on his chest or back or shoulders or arms. Most of the damage is to his face. And Cordy doesn’t even NOTICE his potentially broken ribs until she’s mostly done cleaning his injuries. Literally all I can think of is that they want us to suffer.

Sweeney: Brooding Hotel. The gang added the X to the map and they’re declaring that the focal point of the disturbances. Gunn knows the area. Angel and Gunn start gathering weapons. Lorne wants to chill for a second to gather more details, but Angel ain’t got time for that. He tosses a crossbow to Wes and asks if he’s in. He doesn’t answer, but the slightly off-center framing and zoomy camera on him holding the crossbow suggests an answer in the affirmative.

There was a time when I would have flailed over this reunion. You know, when I didn’t hate everyone. Those were good times.

K: I feel like we’re meant to be all “YAY, WES IS BACK IN THE FANG GANG!!” feelsy at this moment, but I just hate everyone and everything about this episode so much that I have negative infinity fucks to give.

Sweeney: Negative infinity.

The Man Gang arrives on the scene and gets a great boy band panning shot of their “Let’s do this!” faces. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve arrived after the Apocalypse Nowish Demon slaughtered everyone there. Oops. After a Not Break, they slow motion separate before getting into the one-at-a-time fighting. By which I mean, “Angel fights and the others throw/shoot stuff at the demon. Including a bunch of arrows that end up in Angel instead.” After the demon throws Angel at Wesley, Gunn finally gets up close. Wesley opts for guns, which are equally ineffectual, in spite of all the slow motion emphasis.

 

K: At least the guns have more than one projectile before requiring reloading, unlike the crossbow which looks flashy but requires you to be a hell of a good short or really quick at reloading. The Fang Gang are neither most of the time, making the crossbow quite possibly the most useless weapon they could choose.

Sweeney: The demon just kind of smirk-grunts a lot and it’s moderately amusing. Angel gets super close to stabbing the demon in the eye and I cringe for Kirsti. (K: Thank you.)

Angel doesn’t do the deed, though, and the demon chucks Angel off the building before asking, “Do you really think she’s safe with him?” He drops down and ignites a flaming version of The Eye of Fire. You know, because fire. With human corpses. The Man Gang gets up, with Wesley helping Gunn. That’s sweet. Angel is severely wounded but still alive.

Brain Bleach Attic. They see the fire shooting up from the building and then a bunch of balls of fire falling all around the city. Getting very close to their window but never actually happening, so that they can just watch the show. It’s kind of pretty. Let’s keep looking at that. Let’s stay there. Please?

But no. Connor says that there is some significance to it having risen where he was born – what with the child of two vampires being a thing that was never supposed to happen. He’s tearing up. Cordelia insists that it’s not him and she knows in her heart that it’s not. She kisses him. He asks why she did that. She says that she knows how he feels about her and her answer basically amounts to, “Well, this might be the actual final apocalypse – kind of looks like it – so I figure that after your SRSBSNS Childhood Trauma, you shouldn’t have to die a virgin.”

Lor:

K: I second that reaction, with a side of this:

Sweeney: We get shots of the rest of the series regulars watching the fire shower from their respective locations before cutting back Connor and Cordelia having sex, because the world is terrible.

We end on a shot of Angel, I think looking at them, with rage face. Because this needed to get grosser. “I fucked my adoptive maternal figure while my father watched.”

Lor: If you let your eyes linger on this abomination for a few seconds, you saw that Cordelia/Connor have about as much chemistry as Buffy/Riley. Or less. Probably less. I hate everything.

K: And yes, Angel is definitely watching from a nearby building. Because we needed to vomit more than we already had. Thanks a lot, Whedon.

Sweeney: I don’t really have anything else to say besides hating everyone who ever said we should watch this. YOU’RE ALL TERRIBLE PEOPLE AND I WANT YOU ALL TO GO SIT IN THE SHAME CORNER AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

Did I do something to piss off The Powers That Be?

 

Next time: Probably more gross shit. Fuck if I know. Find out on Angel S04 E08 – Habeas Corpses.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I earned my MA in Global Communications and watching too many YouTube videos. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.





Lorraine (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.





Kirsti (all posts)

I'm a 30-something under-employed librarian and I still live with my parents because I'm super broke. Leader of Team Heartless Cow. I have an inexplicable love for 90s television, eat too much chocolate, and tweet about the random crap that happens to me on public transport more than I should.





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  • Policy of Madness

    NGL – I watched this episode shortly after the corresponding Buffy much earlier in the week, and could not bear to watch it again while reading the recap. I got to the end and said, “WTF, was that ‘I won’t let you die a virgin’ sex????” and that was it for me. I literally can remember nothing of this episode but the broad plot highlights and the holy-god at the end, and so I have very little constructive to say here. Except, of course, Holy God. And something that I’m sure is news to no one: experience of penetrative sexual intercourse is not so extremely important a life milestone that everyone NEEDS to have it before death. And it makes me *headdesk* every time some media property implies that it is.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      PREACH. The worst is when people/viewers/readers complain about media properties NOT going there. As if people going through their apocalyptic scenario simply MUST be fixated on getting it in rather than, you know, the world / their lives ending.

      • Policy of Madness

        I kind of get that if the world were shit you might want to “feel alive” so to speak. It’s not always terrible to show people macking on each other in the middle of a slow-moving disaster. But it only works well if the disaster is slow-moving, and it NEVER works (for me) if the motive for the sex is to get someone across an arbitrary line in the sexual experience spectrum.

      • Clément Polge

        Haha I’ve never seen that, but I usually avoid all kind of critics/fandom, so that’s not surprising. It seems like a weird thing to complain about : “why did the guy went to see his parents when the world ended ? WHY DIDN’T HE HAVE SEX ??”

    • Clément Polge

      That’s another example of things to list under “things that will make sense later and show that this wasn’t total bull”.

      (spoiler for end of season)
      Fvapr Pbeqryvn vf cbffrffrq ol Wnfzvar, vg znxrf frafr sbe ure gb hfr gur syvzfvrfg bs cergrafr gb trg gb Pbaabefrk fb fur pna trg certanag jvgu urefrys. Va n jnl, gurl nyfb fcvaarq gung gebcr ba vgfrys… Rkprcg, jr qba’g xabj vg lrg, fb vg’f n ovg fghcvq.

      I totally agree with your larger point though.

  • Jojo

    Yes, Connor tries to kill his father and then sleeps with his mother. Someone should write a play. I think the moral of this episode is do not piss of Whedon by getting pregnant.

    • Clément Polge

      Seriously, do you have ANY reliable source linking the story to the fact that CC got pregnant ? The only thing I could find was a quote from Whedon saying that the story had to move a bit faster to accomodate, but that’s nowhere near the same as a “season-defining fuck you for having a life besides my show”.

      • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

        Kirsti mentioned that to us before we started S4 and I had actually heard that rumor in various places before as well – even though I didn’t even know the tragic arc destruction. It’s pretty much just a rumor but it’s not like Joss Whedon would actually go on record and admit to destroying a character because she got pregnant either, you know? From what I can tell, it’s a popular, well-known rumor in the fandom.

        • Clément Polge

          It just seems like a pretty big accusation to throw around with actually nothing that I know of to back it up except speculation…

          I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m saying that people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, so I’m asking for the teensiest bit of proof. Otherwise it’s not a rumour – it’s slander.

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            Charisma Carpenter has talked about being rather abruptly, and unexpectedly fired from the show. It’s not a giant leap to speculate that there’s a relationship between these things.

            All I’m saying is that she’s not the one who made up the rumor. And while I’m pretty much over it being brought up 6 times an episode, I’m also not going to blame anyone for accepting the fandom folklore.

            Gently asking someone to provide a source on that is one thing. Accusing people of slander for perpetuating a popular myth? That seems a little much.

            (I don’t care one way or another. Much like ASH choosing to be with his family hurt Giles as a character, that stuff is pretty irrelevant to me. The pertinent thing is what ultimately happens on the show that I am watching.)

          • Clément Polge

            Isn’t passing a myth as fact when it’s demeaning to someone’s character the definition of slander though ?

            My issue isn’t with the mentioning (although I’m also pretty over it, but that’s more subjective) so much as the wording, it’s not the same to say “she pissed him off by getting pregnant so he raped her character and fired her” and “she got pregnant so changes had to be made to the story to accomodate that”.

            And totally agreed that the result on screen should be the only relevant part ;) I really wasn’t trying to start off a debate, just trying to point out that it’s a big affirmation to throw around so casually (unless there’s facts i’m unaware of). So my apologies for getting a bit off-track on this one !

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            This conversation definitely got away from us. It’s funny because my only reason for saying something was, similarly, a wording thing. Basically, “You could have asked that question a bit more gently.” But after having this conversation that got away from us, I get why it’s a rage-button for you.

      • SnazzyO

        So here’s what I know and can point to:
        - S4 DVD commentary in multiple locations, including this comemntary – I believe it was an executive producer but NOT Joss Whedon who stated that CC’s pregnancy changed the storyline after they had written the first three or four episodes because they didn’t find out until then that she was preggers.
        - Apocalypse Nowish was moved up in sequence (but I’m thinking only by a couple of episodes) because of the November airing and the December hiatus. They wanted this episode as the winter cliff-hanger. Subsequently, they didn’t have time to develop (I’m pretty sure this was DeKnight’s commentary) the Connor/Cordelia relationship as much as they wanted to before the sex scene. Joss comments elsewhere that they were always planning of having Teh Sex and this love triangle.
        NOTE: I realize it will NEVER have worked for the ladies of Snark Squad … I’m just explaining that in their mind Connor and Cordelia was a planned thing but the events of Apocalypse Nowish were slightly rushed.
        - CC gave a SPOILER FILLED 2009 response to a convention comment that explains from her perspective that there was tension between she and Joss due to her pregnancy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_igTbXKPck) The 6:08 mark. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK IF YOU WANT TO BE SPOILER FREE.
        - Joss has never acknowledged that he had hard feelings over her pregnancy in public.
        - CC never acknowledges the timing of her pregnancy announcement was an influence but simply her pregnancy.

        So…. there is more but I’m keeping this spoiler free if possible. My perspective:
        - Yeah, her late announcement of her pregnancy pissed Joss & Co off and in the DVD commentary I believe that vibe is evident.
        - I’m not sure CC is an innocent in this — sure she gets a life but IMO, waiting to tell them late in the game was inconsiderate for the lead actress.

        Finally — Joss being pissed at her IMO is only one facet of what happened to her in S4 and when the season is over I’ll provide perspective on this but I think further discussion at this point is kind of rechewing the same gristle.

        JMO YMMV.

  • Clément Polge

    I thought that the Giant Demonic Snake thing from Angel was a callback from the end of Buffy S3, at least I headcanon that it is, because there’s never enough crossover magic.

    Now, I’ve mentioned (quite a few times actually) that I don’t really like this season, but I can’t say I *hate* it either, so it seems like I’ll step up as resident defender of Angel S4. That sounds like a tough job, i’m exhausted already.

    For the Cordelia inconcistency: I agree that this all feels out-of-character. The only thing I can say is that THIS WILL BE EXPLAINED. The thing is that, in my opinion, the show didn’t EARN my assuming that o-o-c = plot, because they play so fast and loose with consistency already, I just thought this was another case of Joyce-sacrifice-for-plot. Anyways, Cordelia’s behaviour should be seen as *hints* not as bad writing.

    I actually like this episode too, the fight scene is pretty cool with lots of references: The Matrix is obvious, but the double-gun-sidejump is very reminiscent of John Woo movies, and the shotgun thing apparently came from Terminator 2.

    Finally, the Wesley-Lilah relationship… They started cold, then they opened up to each other a few episodes ago, and now we’re seeing Lilah jealousy and Wesley’s… I don’t know, motherfucking stupidity and creepiness and stupid macho bravado ? I don’t have a word. Anyway, it’s turning to shit because these two people are unable to get past their own ego and just USE. THEIR. FUCKING. WORDS. I love them both, I even sort of love them together, but there’s so much of sweet “could have been” with only actual “creepy shitshitshit barf”.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      It didn’t feel like it wasn’t “explained” — it felt like it was arrived at without any actual development. The rough explanation that I gleaned from what I saw was that Cordelia had all the memories come back at once, which meant that now the experience of feeling all of the Angelus feels was fresh for her. That’s a fine enough explanation, except that it’s a stupid and lazy thing to dump on your viewers. I’m prepared to eat my words when it turns out that Cordelia was just dropping hints about why being with him would end the world or some other such bullshit, I don’t particularly care. That, though? That thing that just happened in an episode full of stupid shit? That was stupid.

      That sounds like an accurate summary of Wesley/Lilah. They have had their moments that I enjoyed, but their scene in this episode was not one of them.

      • Clément Polge

        I don’t think I made my point clear actually… As you said, it wasn’t explained, so it feels sloppy and cheap (what i called bad writing), when the truth is that you should be wondering what other explanation there could be for Cordelia acting so weird (what i called hints).

        I’m trying really hard to make my point clear without just being spoiler-y, but the fact is that this season is probably the only of the buffyverse where we, the audience, do NOT have a lot of information, and is really based on mystery and reveals. So we see a lot of weird stuff happen, and we just think it’s just the show playing loose with consistency, when actually it’s the show trying to be subtle building up to some grand reveal…

        This season would probably have worked a lot better had it been built like the others – with us being just a bit more omniscient – because as it stands we don’t really have the keys to understanding it on first watch. At least, I know I didn’t. Or maybe it would be an interesting storyline for another show. Anyway, it doesn’t really work as it should.

        To sum up, my point in a nutshell would be this: so far, i think this season is actually pretty good, if you know the future. Which is the dumbest “if” you could think of for enjoying something, but still.

        I think I just made things even less clear, I’m the worst defender S4 could ever have hoped for. WELL, IF YOU DIDN’T SUCK, YOU’D HAVE BETTER.

        • darkalter2000

          I found a really hardcore foreshadowing this watch that blew my mind. Rot13 for epic spoilers.

          Va Pbeqryvn`f qernz fur vf jngpuvat n zbivr nobhg cbq crbcyr. Cbq Crbcyr! Vg jnf fb fhogyr vg zvtug nf jryy unir abg unccrarq ohg ba guvf, zl yvxr avagu er-jngpu, gurer vg vf. Cynva nf qnl gb gur vavgvngrq.

          • SnazzyO

            To your ROT13… EXACTLY.

        • Melbourne on my Mind

          I know the future, and this season still sucks. BECAUSE I know the future. So…yeah.

          • Clément Polge

            Yeah I’m not saying that knowing the future makes it good, just that it makes it… Make sense. Because so far it’s really just a LOLfest of awfulness.

        • Zovc

          I think this season is probably more enjoyable on rewatch, but I had a ton of spoilers the first time I watched it, and still hated it (well, relative to other seasons). However, I did try to ignore those spoilers, so, that’s not the best example. Still, even seeing the whole picture, the season runs on contrivance and squick, so I don’t like it.

    • SnazzyO

      Sorry I’m tardy to the party. I’m a TOTAL S4 Apologist. I will write a long verbose-piffle post below but I just wanted to share my S4 solidarity with you and ad to what you said by saying:
      - This episode makes more sense (whether or not you like it) MUCH later. Whether or not it makes it better is entirely a different matter.

      • lev36

        It does get a more sense-making explanation eventually, but I still find that to be a very poor storytelling choice. It doesn’t reduce the “Ewww!” factor for me, and actually pisses me off even more about what they did to Cordelia, when it’s fully exposed.

  • Ashlea K.

    I just HATE Season 4. There’s not even enough good to heal me from the various never-ending trauma that occurs.

    I normally enjoy apocalyptic happenings but I seriously think Joss wants for me to be scared to open my eyes ever again.

    I guess I enjoyed…..No. I can’t even be optimistic this time. My spirit is just broken.

    I’ll be over in the Corner of Shame if anyone needs me.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      I’m glad you are accepting your punishment so bravely.

      • Ashlea K.

        I like Clem Corner much better. There are no snacks in the corner of Shame and it smells like regret over here.

    • Zovc

      Nope, get out of the Shame Corner. The episode revolves around grossness and contrivance, so you should not feel remotely bad for hating it.

      • Ashlea K.

        Oh, I definitely don’t feel bad for hating this episode. I have been banished to Shame corner for my part in encouraging the Snark ladies to watch Angel. Although in my defense, I wasn’t around when ya’ll decided to recap the show. Regardless, I will do my penance.

        • Zovc

          Ah, slight misunderstanding there. Still, I think you can probably go back to Clem Corner :)

  • Rosalie Town

    This is why I just skip Season 4. It just gets worse. Thank you all for putting yourselves through this trauma.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      It’s definitely going in my “never again” bucket.

      • Jojo

        Voluntary amnesia is a good option too – wait, no. If you completely forget you might repeat the viewing. Over to shame corner to curl up with Ashlea.

  • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

    Even after reading this recap I’m still not entirely sure what is going on in this episode. But the fire is pretty? And the demon looks cool?

    Unintentional funny moment (there’s always at least one of these in every episode of Angel for me): Wesley pulling that shotgun from NO WHERE. WHAT. Did I miss the part where he had a shotgun in his pants?

    I remembered that Connor and Cordelia sleep together, but I did NOT remember it being shown. It was thoroughly disgusting, and the slow lovemakeyness of their movement NOOOOOOO.

    • Clément Polge

      Haha yeah, I noticed the shotgun coming out of nowhere too, I wanted to point it out but didn’t find a way to include it smoothly in my comment ;)

      • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

        I don’t bother with smoothness. I just word vomit into the comment box and hit post.

    • Ashlea K.

      I am so traumatized by the slow lovemakeyness that even reading this recap made me have to look at puppies for a bit.

      • Zovc

        Oooo, good idea. I don’t rewatch these as we go, but when I do, I’ll have something to cheer me up closeby.

        • Ashlea K.

          Puppy cuteness is always a good thing to have on hand :)

  • SnazzyO

    ***BLOWS KAZOO TO BEGIN THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGAGE…aka DEFENSE OF APOCALYPSE NOWISH***

    So…let me set expectations: I’m not expecting to change anyone’s opinion. This is simply my “go S4″ rant because there are parts that I find freaking brilliant and want to wax poetic about it.

    Things I loved about Apocalypse Nowish:
    - The fight scene. All John Wu-ish… I thought it was pretty BadAss. I liked Lorne going in with weapons when he was COMPLETELY UNPREPARED. I loved that they had The Beast give no fucks about our heroes and swatted them like flies. I think it’s kinda cool when the protagonist gets his ass handed too him so casually when he’s coming in all heroic like. Angel getting stabbed in the throat and toss off the building like garbage? Good Stuff
    - Gunn was actually the one to spot the pattern. I like it when Gunn looks smart. I also thought that scene was nicely done in terms of building up the dread.
    - The special effects of the pillar of fire/rain of fire/montage of all the characters reacting. I thought it was very cool. Lilah’s 40′s hair was odd but it was also PRETTY.
    - They actually had an Apocalypse. Bird strikes, rats in the pipes, snakes all over the place, and then RAIN OF FIRE. Genius. I mean seriously, how many times do we have the threat of an Apocalypse. Well we get a nice start here with RAIN OF FIRE. Okay, I really really liked that bit.

    Connor Feels (feel free to skip this if it’s nausea inducing):
    - So the Beast shows up at the spot he was born. How could he NOT feel like he’s the Spawn of SATAN. And that Beast looked pretty Satanic. Remember Connor was raised by a serious bible-thumper who told him he was the bastard child of two demons. Connor getting further evidence that he is EVIL when he doesn’t want to be gives me FEELS.
    - Connor IS creepy. That doesn’t mean he WANTS to be creepy. He just is – raised in a hell dimension by a psychopath and all. That kinda sucks. He was nice to Cordy — and not just because he is attracted to her. She’s probably right — if there was no sexy times involved, Cordy could actually be very good for him and help him to acclimate to normal society.
    - It’s no surprise Connor is attracted to Cordy. He didn’t expect her to stay with him when he rescued her from the snack-eater at the hotel in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. SURE he’s falling for her — well he’s 18, horny, and apparently sleeping in the same bed with her every night. How exactly is him developing sexy feelings for her a big surprise. And he hates his father. I don’t think hating his father is his motivation for falling for Cordy but I don’t think his father’s feelings have squat to do with how he feels about her. Connor doesn’t remember her feeding him a bottle. He remember her being kind to him before disappearing and being nice to him since returning. Plus he has no clue what normal sexy times should feel like. He has no real social experience other than “slay monsters”.
    - So first Cordy tells him “no” regarding sexy feels and now she comes on to him. This is the kid who walked straight into the “we need to talk buzzsaw”. He has no idea she’s pulled the Apocalypse Sex card out. He likes her, she’s offering sex — this means a lot to him. Someone who is NICE to him and doesn’t treat him like a disease. This gives me Connor feels because while this clearly means a lot to him, it’s not clear what this means to Cordy.

    What was annoying:
    - Fred/Gunn dynamic. I’m kinda pissed at both but more pissed at Fred than Gunn. He’s at least trying to work the relationship and she’s just so creeped out she can’t even be around him. While I get her being creeped out, I kinda feel like she’s judging him and has no right to do so. I don’t want to start a fight with those on Team Fred… just saying, I don’t like the way she handles this whole thing.

    What was EPIC NO:
    - Wesley telling Lilah to keep on the glasses. Just NO. I can’t stand for her to belittle herself that way. And Wesley using her like this grosses me out. So… I didn’t find the choice “edgy” (which is what I think they were going for) but gross.
    - Slow mo sex: it actually wasn’t in slo-mo, it just was awkward and unsexy. Vincent Kartheiser is not particularly a stud, Charisma Carpenter looks 20 years older than he does and this is probably the worst sex scene I’ve seen them both do. VK’s had some good sex scenes in other films/TV. Same with CC. This was just the wrong chemistry, wrong directing, and wrong acting. So… I don’t know if it was intentionally gross (to emphasize the wrongness) or if it was accidentally gross. I think Joss may have actually intended the first but from the commentary I don’t think that was the intention of the writer/director.

    Bottom Line:
    - I find Apocalypse Nowish to be EPIC. It has some mis-steps but actually having an honest-to-goodness Apocalypse with RAIN OF FIRE was hellacool in my book.

    • Policy of Madness

      I respect that you enjoy the ep (I did not enjoy the ep but I can see where some people would). I can’t agree with you on the Fred/Gunn thing. Gunn treated Fred like you would a 5-year-old. He decided that he knew what was best for her and overruled her wishes at every opportunity.

      It would be different if he had killed the professor guy because he thought the professor needed to die. It would be different if he had opposed Fred because he couldn’t stand by and watch a guy get murdered (her first plan) or exiled to slavery in Pylea (her second plan). No, his motives had nothing to do with what is/is not morally acceptable behavior and everything to do with the kind of person that he, personally, wanted Fred to be. He took the crime against Fred, and the crime that Fred was plotting in revenge, and made it all about himself, his feelings, his desires, his delusions about the mold into which he wanted to shove Fred and his discomfort when she failed to fit that mold.

      It’s an absolutely terrible example to set (manly-man takes all the agency away from waif-like woman!), and if Fred ever forgives him for completely devaluing her as an adult human being who is capable of knowing what is in her own best interests, I will be incredibly angry at this show. I hope she never forgives him and they break up, sooner rather than later, because that’s the only way I can stand to watch this particular sub-plot. If this show sends the message that it is perfectly okay for men to overrule their womenfolk and the women should forgive them, I will be extraordinarily angry.

      • SnazzyO

        I just want her to use her words. I don’t like random passive aggressive behavior.

        • Policy of Madness

          She used her words once. He didn’t pay a bit of attention to her, and instead tried to placate her with hot cocoa (I can’t get over the hot cocoa – she’s a child in his eyes). What I see now is Fred trying to decide what she wants to do, if this is something she can forgive. She’s doing it by herself because talking to Gunn the last time had zero effect. I hope that the answer she reaches is no.

          • SnazzyO

            To be fair, even he knew the cocoa was a mistake. I understand your perspective. I just don’t like the whole murder plot nor the fall out.

    • Zovc

      I actually think the fight scene is one of the show’s weaker ones. I don’t like slow motion action scenes and AtS has WAY too many of them. Slow motion is generally better for building a sense of dread than for action sequences, and for God’s sake, if you use slow motion in an action sequence, use it sparingly. Fight scenes are supposed to be fast-moving and kinetic, to slow one down takes away the point. Still, the fight does look nice, I just find it fake and uninvolving.

      I don’t get Connor feels for this simple reason: the show never delves into the idea that he was raised by Holtz, or gave him any real personality. Connor never was written as a character, he was written as a plot device for making Angel’s life crappy.

      Sorry if I came off as rude here. Seriously, I love hearing from people who like this season and Connor. And, I do agree that the rain of fire looked amazing.

      • SnazzyO

        No worries. Glad you liked the rain of fire.

    • Clément Polge

      Agreed on all counts ! Except I didn’t get Wesley’s asking for Lilah to keep the glasses as intended to be edgy, I thought it was just a way to show us that they were resuming their mind games.

      They started their relation with a lots of mind game, then they finally opened up in the scene with the signed dollar bill. Then Lilah burned Wesley, who decided that he couldn’t trust her, but since he’s an asshole at the moment he also decided not to break up. Then there was the helmet gif, which was a cute moment, but apparently too late for Wesley…

      And now we have Lilah being jealous and resuming mind games with her “You can fantasize i don’t care you’re mine anyways”, and Wesley, instead of just being an adult human being and talking things through (or tell her to go to hell, valid option too), decided to call her game and resume the creepiness…

      In the end it’s really sad because if either of them had managed to just let their ego on the side for the time of just one talk, I honestly think they could have been good for each other.

    • Anagnorisis

      I can’t upvote your comment more than one time, sadly, but I agree completely!
      I’m a season 4 defender too, mostly because I can see the future and I absolutely love where it’s going. I know it has issues, a lot of them expecialy with a particular character but still.
      Also, regarding ConCor (lol), while I don’t like them, I still don’t find them as gross as other people do. I mean, really, I don’t see Cordelia as a mother figure to Connor and he doesn’t either, Cordelia is not his mother, not by biology (that’d be Darla), and not by adoption (Holtz?), so yeah, she took care of him for like a week when he was a baby, and that’s it. Connor can’t remember that and for him it happened 16 (oh, I’m sorry, I forgot it was retconed: 18) years ago.
      I do, I repeat, find it disturbing but that’s because of spoilers: Pbeqryvn orvat cbffrfrq znxrf gur ynfg fprar encr ol qrprcgvba, jvgu obgu punenpgref orvat encrq, fb lrnu, vg trgf jbefr.

      (Sorry for any spelling mistakes, I’m on a computer that only corrects Spanish so everything in this post is underlined and I have no idea if something is actually wrong, feel free to correct me obviously).

      • Clément Polge

        I actually agree, I have problem with S4, but it’s mostly towards the end… This being said though; I think the grossness of Cordelia having sex with Connor comes from the fact that she knew him and held him as a baby like 3 hours before sleeping with him, which is a teensy bit ew. (ok, that was more 3 months than 3 hours, but still).

        Totally agree on your spoiler-y comment, and I’ll add this: V qba’g guvax gur Pbaabe/Pbeql frk fprar tebff orpnhfr sbe Pbaabe fur’f n fgenatre, gur tebffarff jbhyq or ba Pbeql’f fvqr, ohg gung’f abg ure, fb…

        THIS BEING SAID, the sentence of your comment I most agree with is this one:

        “I’m a season 4 defender too, mostly because I can see the future”

        And really, I think it shows a huge problem with this season. SOMETHING wasn’t done right, I don’t know what, I don’t know how it could have been done better, but the fact that we need to know the future (at least I do) to make it better shows that there’s already something terribly wrong.

        And I can also understand why some people don’t like it, whether they know the future or not. Like Buffy S4, it’s the season where the gang is really separated (Wesley is having his daaaark phase, Gunn and Fred are starting to break up, Cordy is busy raping children, and Angel is back to brooding on rooftops), and that makes for some rather tedious bits.

  • Zovc

    Lateness is pretty much always acceptable in my book, and your excuse is more than exculpatory, Sweeney. Also, family time was exhausting for me as well, but in my case that was because of two fairly lengthy Nerf wars.

    I laughed out loud when I read “murder chasm”, and given the brain-bleachiness of this episode, that’s a very good thing.

    When I mentioned not being sure if Wesley reading Fred’s article was endearing or creepy, some people asked me why. Wesley asking Lilah to keep her glasses on was probably why I questioned his keeping tabs on Fred. Personally, I’m thinking of making it my headcanon that he thinks glasses are hot, because the other explanations are a mix of gross and douchey.

    Frunn needs to END. Additionally, the pancake kiss in Season Three was weird from my perspective, but not unacceptable.

    Angel wondering how to organize the weapons was adorable, but how a 35-year-old man can be adorable is beyond me. Just to give him a word of advice, damage is the way to go. The hotel gets attacked a lot and two out of the three people who live there are not versed in the names of weapons. Organizing weapons by damage does seem to yell Dungeons & Dragons, though.

    Confession: Cordelia saying she can’t be with Angel because she saw the actions of Angelus actually kind of worked for me on first watch. Cordelia gaining those memories was however, super contrivant, and the idea that she can never get over them is stupid. However, there is a semi-logical (spoilery) explanation for that scene.

    I love that W&H get their panties in a bunch when someone other than them threatens to end the world. It’s hilariously petty.

    The Beast: Oh, good, yet another generic villain from this show. The rain of fire thing is stupid, since the show never talks about casualties or media coverage of the event, and also for spoilery reasons. I probably will release a massive rot13 rant around episode 17 and then another, non-coded one at wrap-up time.

    Lorne, keep earning those gold stars. I definitely think the reunion was supposed to be a big moment, but they put it into an episode with too much else going on for us to get invested. Also, when you guys said you hate everyone, does that mean Lorne, too? :O :(

    Condelia needs something more than those gifs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eal4fep7pK4
    Hmm… the Zoolander and Full Metal Jacket clips strike me as particularly appropriate. Also, you would think Peter Jackson and James Cameron would know better than to use the Big NO for dramatic effect. Hurley’s reaction is my favorite.

    • Ashlea K.

      I kind of love W&H. They do villain-y evil so well and yet there is a sort of macabre humor about it all. “Hilariously petty” sums it up beautifully :)

  • JEL

    “This post is obviously incredibly late. It is mostly late because I’ve been enjoying some much-needed family time.” Personally I’m glad to see you all take a well deserved break. I’d encourage you to take next week off too (lots of people are), but I know you’ll do what you want!

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