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1x13: "She"
Review by Ryan Bovay (Ryan-R.B.)
Posted on May 8, 2006
Writer: David Greenwalt and Marti Noxon | Director: David Greenwalt | Air Date: 02/08/2000

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Spoiler Warning!
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
Review

Shockingly, this episode was written by series co-creater David Greenwalt, and right-hand-to-Joss-herself Marti Noxon. This shocks me because "She" has problems that writers of their caliber, especially on this show, don't often cause. The episode itself is an anomaly; an intriguing mix of mysticism, social commentary and could actually have really been a highlight with some better execution implemented. As it stands, it's probably the poorest episode of the entire season, and likely one of the lesser showings of the series as well. This is a particular disappointment, as the first half of the season has been mostly consistent in its high quality.

The plot's conception isn't all that bad either; the main faults lie in the execution. The basic synopsis is one we've seen in many sci fi and fantasy shows: A dimensional portal opens up, and trouble comes through. In this case it is in the form Jhiera, a warrior princess from an alternate dimension to ours, on her mission to liberate the women of her home. She and her species, of the dimension of Oden Tal, are all extremely close to human, save for the males who posses ridges on their foreheads, and the females who possess what looks like a skin-covered spine on their back, jutting out from where their spine lays (this extra 'spine' being called a 'Ko').

We learn that Jhiera is the princess of her dimension, a dimension where all females have their Ko's forcibly removed to prevent them from involuntarily seducing men, as the Ko generates energy that drives males into lust beyond reason. The only problem being that the removal also strips them of their sexuality and much of their emotional range, making them near androgynous. The men claim necessity on the grounds of maintaining the order of society, the women claim oppression, and we, the audience, claim disinterest. I'd wager that even the synopsis bored you.

As I said, it's not all that bad an idea, but falls completely apart on the screen. It's another shocker that David Greenwalt also directed this; he's usually better. Firstly, the pace is impossibly slow. We don't even see Jheira until about a quarter of the way through the episode, and are instead given a bunch of pointless misdirection about who killed a few men in a warehouse. The story elements, concerning Jheira's people, are not even brought in until three quarters of the way through the episode, and even then it's only given to us to provide context for the battle in the final act, and to give us the full point about the episode's metaphor. However, this too is done poorly and isn't all that satisfying; the whole fight scene is anti-climactic.

Then there's other material that's just a waste. Angel trying to dial his Investigation's office number on the crummy cell phone was kind of funny, but took too long. Also, him following Jhiera shouldn't have taken as long as it did either. And while I enjoyed him pretending to be an art exhibitor, and hinting that Baudelaire's "Le Vampyr" was influenced by his evil alter-ego Angelus, this was just more filler. It also kind of lends more credit to critics of this show who call it a rip-off of "Forever Knight" (as a popular shtick was to see how Knight was conveniently connected to important historical moments). 'Knight' was an older TV show with Anne Rice-style vampire mythology that, too, is about a formerly evil blood-sucker seeking redemption.

But, as long as we're on the plot, I'll concede that I did enjoy the teaser scene. Wesley trying to hit on women was absolutely priceless, and Angel's fantasy of himself trying to dance was downright classic. It's small, but also provides a decent commentary about Angel's image. When Cordelia chastises him for 'sucking the energy' out of the party, he defends himself and his cool, lurking-in-the-shadows image. Turns out – surprise! – that image doesn't really impress most people, and Angel's insecurity about himself and interacting with others is a nice insight; dark, lurky guy may not be so solid and collected after all.

My next major problem with this episode lies within the metaphor. Now, obviously, the entire thing is a metaphor for the barbaric practice of forced female circumcision. This is a practice that still takes place in some very dogmatic countries and other isolated tribes today. The Ko represents the female clitoris, and the mystical effect it has, driving men around the Oden Tal women into involuntary lust, represents the sexual power it can have over men. It's never so blatant in our world, but the male impulses and drives to attain sex, especially for younger males, is strong.

The Vigories (male denizens of Oden Tal) are representations of the extremist religious and cultural views; societies that see female sexuality as a devil's tool or a threat, as the power of sexuality over men is massive (you ever seen an ad campaign?). The removal of the Ko and its effects are where the metaphor speaks its piece. A female from Oden Tal who is captured from Jhiera's rescue attempt is stripped of her Ko in a rather disturbing scene that was played out like a brutal rape; I suppose we're meant to believe it was. When the Ko is removed, she appears to become an empty, obedient slave to the Vigories' will.

Like the episode as a whole, I just didn't appreciate how this concept was carried out. We're kind of hit over the head with it, rather repeatedly. In particular, all the discussion about males forcing the de-Ko'd women to "do as they wish, marry as they wish" crossed the line into "duh" territory. The males are also portrayed as dumb, mindless evil. That may even be, but their motives are still a little hazy; it was hinted that the Ko's power was so strong that it actually caused society-wide chaos, and I would've loved to have heard more about this kind of thing. Putting the entire conflict into a total gray area, one where the innate nature of the female may actually be truly dangerous would've been the perfect route for this show.

It would have also added another dimension to Jhiera's character; she is a woman driven by her kind's plight, and clearly feels no remorse for the death of men who come between her people's salvation, even innocent human men in our dimension. To have her entire quest rendered purely self-serving and ignorant of the greater good in light of truth would've fashioned very interesting material, discussion, and fit with her character (she's remorseless over the human men, and has not a quandary about sacrificing Angel's friends for her girls, despite their equal innocence). Instead, we get scenes with her flexing her cleavage and making Angel hot and bothered. Yawn. The talented Bai Ling does her best with this role, and is the only saving grace; the poor pacing and sloppy writing allows the character one dimension only.

Take the what the metaphor says as you may; clearly feminist, it's still not wrong about the horrors inflicted upon certain women in the world, and how it can rob a woman of her dignity and, akin to a rape, can make her feel violated, dominated, and powerless. And Angel, counter pointed by the Vigories, provided an interesting specimen to study. He was, in Jhiera's presence, seduced, but controlled his urges. The Vigories, clearly incapable of doing any such thing, reacted with fear and hatred for the Ko and the Oden Tal women, eventually descending into violence. It's my favourite aspect of the metaphor, and makes an interesting point about the responsibility of men to control their urges, and how they make their own fear of female sexuality through their lack of control.

Agree or disagree with the point made, these parts worked. Overall, it's just too heavy-handed for my liking. The males coldly and lamely referring to any woman as "it," the talk about forced marriage, and how the women instantly turn into mindless drones without their Ko's, well, it was all just too obvious to be appreciated.

Add to the fact that we're given little back story on Oden Tal and it's people, that what we are given is given to us very late in the game, and that absolutely no consequences come of any events in this episode, we're left with a useless pile of 'what-could've-been.' Angel and Jhiera clash over the human men's death, Angel scares off the Vigories and the women flee. I was almost frustrated watching, seeing Greenwalt and Noxon miss every mark they aimed for.

I did read that Jheira was to be a recurring character, and so maybe more of her story was meant to be told. Too bad it never was, as it could've redeemed this poor showing in some aspects, most preferably its stunning uselessness.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+Angel's fantasy of himself dancing.
+Angel's comments on Baudelaire; entertaining, if useless.
+Wesley kicking ass.
+Cordelia sneering at Jhiera.
  
-Bumbling Wesley. It was way too overdone.
-The mansion. I find it hard to believe no one's noticed the presence of so many strange women, or the huge quantity of ice being delivered there.
50/100D
N/A

DEPTH
N/A

EMOTION
N/A

CHARACTER
N/A

PLOT
Quotes
WESLEY:(to Angel; cocky) What say a couple of brooding demon hunters start chatting up some of the fillies?
GIRL:Hey. (Wesley chokes on his food and starts coughing) Nice sweater. Hand knit?
WESLEY:Certainly not by me.
GIRL:I didn't mean – I mean it's a great sweater.
WESLEY:Oh, well, I-I'll pass that on then – to the person who knit it – I-I mean, I would, if I knew who did – but I don't - So I won't pass it on to anyone, will I?

CORDELIA:(answers the phone) Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless.
ANGEL:I hate the cell phone that you gave me. Any luck?
CORDELIA:We're stymied on the demon guy, *but* we did find four similar killings in the last 11 months. All guys, all burned from the inside out. (about the demon) Did you find it?
ANGEL:Yeah. It's not an 'it,' it's a 'she.

ANGEL:(pretends to be showing at the gallery) On the left one spies the painter himself. In the middle distance is the French poet and critic Baudelaire, a friend of the artist. Now, Baudelaire – interesting fellow. In his poem 'Le Vampyr' he wrote

JHIERA:When the females come of age, Ko controls our physical and sexual power – It even signals when we are aroused and have met desirable mates. But when it's removed…
ANGEL:You're more easily controlled.
JHIERA:We marry who they command, - serve without questioning - We leave behind dreaming.

GUY:My shaman has a place in the dessert. He never could turn away scantily clad women in distress - from any dimension. (pauses) You know, I wish you would let me work on your mirth chakra.
JHIERA:If he's as trustworthy as you are, we'll go to him.
GUY:He's good people.

JHIERA:I had no choice.
ANGEL:Yes, you did. If you vowed to protect the innocent it shouldn't matter which dimension they're from.
JHIERA:An easy sentiment when your people are free.
ANGEL:I'm not saying you shouldn't fight. Just know that I will be there to stop you – if you cross the line.
JHIERA:I don't need an extra conscience. I'll do what I think is right.
ANGEL:And I'll do the same.


Comments (45)
All Comments | Link1 | fryrishMay 9, 2006
This is an episode I love in spite of the main point. I don't dislike it all that much really, but its stuff Marti Noxon had already covered better in her Buffy eps to that point. There's some really great character interaction between Angel, Cordelia and Wesley that makes up for its flaws though. I love the party and the Angel dancing. One of my favourite quotes being:

CORDELIA: This is your idea of hell, isn't it?
ANGEL: Actually, in hell you tend to know a lot of the people.

I love scene in the office with Angel offering Wesley a job. I love the final scene with the coffee bean spillage. Bumbling Wesley as a negative. :P I found him coming onto all of the women during the rescue hilarious. This stuff, and the stuff you mentioned in the review, raise my opinion of an otherwise lackluster episode.

I've only seen a few episodes of Forever Knight so I'm not sure what you mean in regard to the criticisms. Care to elaborate?

Looking forward to your next review. It's one of my favourite episodes of Angel.
All Comments | Link2 | TranquillityMar 6, 2007
Without doubt the worst episode of Angel ever, and perhaps the worst chapter of the entire whendonverse.
All Comments | Link3 | TranquillityMar 6, 2007
oh, i just went back and read the review and saw that cordelia's party was in this ep. That was funny and the only bit of the show worth watching.
All Comments | Link4 | MikeJer | CREATOR/WRITERMar 6, 2007
Just for the record, this episode would have gotten an easy F from me. :p
All Comments | Link5 | shanshuprophecyJun 21, 2007
Agree with most of your points here.

In fact I am currently doing my 5th watching of the Angel DVD's & this is one of the eps that I ff after the scene with Angel Dancing - which I loved the first 2 times but after watching all of the behind the scenes interviews/outtakes etc.. I am less of a DB fan than I used to be .. I love Angel .. not so fond of DB himself & the dancing smacks of DB NOT Angel .. my opinion only :))
All Comments | Link6 | shanshuprophecyJun 21, 2007
Agree with most of your points here.

In fact I am currently doing my 5th watching of the Angel DVD's & this is one of the eps that I ff after the scene with Angel Dancing - which I loved the first 2 times but after watching all of the behind the scenes interviews/outtakes etc.. I am less of a DB fan than I used to be .. I love Angel .. not so fond of DB himself & the dancing smacks of DB NOT Angel .. my opinion only :))
All Comments | Link7 | shanshuprophecyJun 21, 2007
OOPPPSSSS!!!



Sorry about the double - I got an error message the first time around & thought it didn't work ...
All Comments | Link8 | AaronJerAug 23, 2007
I agree with MJ. This is easily the worst episode of BtVS of AtS and by a wide margin. The bad episodes of BtVS were at least fun to laugh at and pick apart. This episode just makes me want to die. It is the only episode of either series that I wish I had never seen and would certainly never rewatch. This episode was hideously and unbearably boring. I felt like I was watching Xena without any comedy. It was a stupid and cliché storyline without the slightest bit of innovation. I'd be impressed with how "by the books" they managed to make the episode if I wasn't so busy cutting myself.
All Comments | Link9 | AaronJerAug 23, 2007
I agree with MJ. This is easily the worst episode of BtVS of AtS and by a wide margin. The bad episodes of BtVS were at least fun to laugh at and pick apart. This episode just makes me want to die. It is the only episode of either series that I wish I had never seen and would certainly never rewatch. This episode was hideously and unbearably boring. I felt like I was watching Xena without any comedy. It was a stupid and cliché storyline without the slightest bit of innovation. I'd be impressed with how "by the books" they managed to make the episode if I wasn't so busy cutting myself.
All Comments | Link10 | AaronJerAug 23, 2007
Why that posted twice, I don't know. This comment system is tarded.
All Comments | Link11 | buffyholicFeb 3, 2008
Ryan, I´m surprised you gave this episode a 50. This has to be the worst episode of the whedonverse. The only thing I like about this is the first scene where Angel fantasies about him dancing.
All Comments | Link12 | Till EulenspiegelMar 26, 2009
It is a very boring episode (with a few good moments), but the worst? Please. Aren't we forgetting, well, pretty much everything to do with Connor? Boring is better than extremely annoying.
All Comments | Link13 | EmilyMay 9, 2009
I have to say this *was* the worst episode so far. I have seen the whole Angel series already, but I don't remember if it's the worst episode over all.



Was Angel saying that *he* was Baudelaire? Confused at that point. Because Angel only got his soul in 1898- I think- and Angelus didn't write poetry.
All Comments | Link14 | wytchcroftAug 2, 2009
i like this episode a lot more than Expecting which REALLY has metaphor, pacing and tone problems.



Apart from the nifty teaser scene there's also the real beginning of team Angel v2.0 as Wesley gets a salary, and that scene is another winner.



I don't think the pace is as slow as you do, and some of the initial mystery is well done.



I have no real love for the story as a whole but i don't hate it like most folks seem to. On the other hand, most of the narrative flaws and hackle raising lack of the subtle you point out are - well, you're not wrong.
All Comments | Link15 | GuidoJan 30, 2010 @ 12:44pm
I would give this episode a 75, at least. It took a courageous stance against the primitive, misogynistic, sheep-herder mentality of the Islamic world. Forced circumcision is a heinous and barbaric act, perpetrated by a male-dominated culture that relies on the centuries-old words of a pedophile warlord for its spiritual guidance.

In western society, the United States especially, the laudable notion of religious tolerance is taken to such an extreme that we ignore the evils of Islam in the interest of cultural sensitivity. We rightfully shout in anger over the indignities of slavery and genocide, we get our panties in a knot when an "official" enemy such as Iraq invades Kuwait, and we send men and women to die for it, but when 50% of an entire culture is oppressed, sexually mutilated, forced to marry before they are even teenagers, sentenced to 100 lashes or stoning to death for extramarital sex, even when raped in some cases, and generally stripped of their rights, we turn a blind eye. Or, we turn to the molasses-slow and feckless system of diplomacy when only the most publicized and cruel instances of the abuse of women come to light.

We tread ever so cautiously and carefully in our righteous indignation so as not to offend the religion of Islam, ignoring the fact that it shares most of the guilt, and perpetuates the ignorance that leads to these crimes. That makes us complicit in the torment of women. Hard to hear for some, and I'm sorry to get so political, but it is by way of saying that David Greenwalt and Marti Noxon took a bold and politically incorrect stance in writing this episode. Treated as anything but metaphor, this episode would likely have never been aired, or watered down beyond recognition.

The metaphor may have been simple and exaggerated, and the execution awkward, but it was not without significance. We don't see stuff like this very often, and isn't that one of the things we appreciate about the Whedonverse?
All Comments | Link16 | CirrusFeb 27, 2010 @ 1:58pm
I... actually liked this episode. Then again, I saw all the scores for bad episodes in the Buffy section before I watched them, so I always expected something awful -- usually they just turned out mediocre because of that expectation.

But even so... I actually prefer this over I've Got You Under My Skin, which I'm amazed you gave an A-. I think this episode had a lot to like about it. I agree that it would have been nice to see Jhiera's lack of remorse explored more deeply, and I really disliked the whole Angel/Jhiera-ish aspect. Priority should have been making Jhiera an actual character.

Even so, definitely not the worse episode of Season 1 -- there were a couple of worse nearer the beginning, and at least this one was memorable. I always seem to disagree with you guys when you rate episodes D and below, though. X3
All Comments | Link17 | AttackedWithHummusApr 18, 2010 @ 11:12am
This episode is just plain awful I can't even fathom how all the talent was sucked out of these usually fantastic filmmakers, but I can't go into it without falling asleep.

I only want to point out that the man who ran the mansion was Sean Gunn who also played Lucas in "Hero." Perhaps they thought we wouldn't recognize him without Brachen makeup despite the bone structure, build, and exceedingly trademark voice? Anyway, I could never take him seriously in any role after seeing him as Kirk in "Gilmore Girls" (which - I know - came mostly after, but still).
All Comments | Link18 | MaxApr 23, 2010 @ 3:11pm
Guido, you need to learn the difference between Islam and certain Arab societies before you take your righteous stance.

You're a lot more ignorant than you seem to think.
All Comments | Link19 | GuidoApr 24, 2010 @ 12:25am
Max, I don't know why, to you, I seem to think I'm ignorant. Sorry, couldn't help being a pedant.

It seems you did not read my post carefully. I acknowledged that part of the problem of forced female circumcision is societal, not necessarily having it's origins in religion. However, Islam serves to perpetuate ancient tribal customs that, to western societies, appear cruel, unnecessary, and based on superstitious beliefs. There is no denying that Islam, a religion that basically has locked itself and its adherents into the 12th Century, does little to stop, and indeed decrees, the oppression of women.

That said, my point was that the show's writers are to be commended for addressing this subject.
All Comments | Link20 | MaxApr 25, 2010 @ 4:01am
Guido, female circumcision preceded both Christianity and Islam. In fact, Islam states that the practice is "haram and barbaric" and thus should not be practiced. So, I don't understand why you feel it necessary to attack one particular religion.

Also "There is no denying that Islam, a religion that basically has locked itself and its adherents into the 12th Century, does little to stop, and indeed decrees, the oppression of women". Why? Why is there no denying? You can't just base your opinions of an entire religion on what you see in the media, or presented by fanatics. You just seem to buy in to mass hysteria of something you do not understand. In it's truest form, it is a religion that preaches peace and equality. In more tolerant Islamic societies (Bangladesh to name one) women are far from oppresed. It is not the religion, but those with foolish agendas that have misrepresented the religion to justify their motives. Where I live, in the UK, there are numerous right wing, fascist groups such as the BNP, who misquote the holy texts to spread religious hatred and to inside both sides.

Islam only "appears cruel to western societies" that do not bother to find out the truth about reality, rather than believe anything that they are told.

NOTE: I would like to just point out that I don't mean to personally attack you, and am not trying to label you as "fascist, right-wing" e.t.c.
All Comments | Link21 | GuidoApr 25, 2010 @ 11:27am
Max, I don't wish to continue this, as it is derailing the purpose of this comment section. I have to say, however, that your have been unfair, and somewhat condescending. You have erected assumptions about me that are uncalled for.

Yes, I know "female circumcision preceded both Christianity and Islam." Why would you think I don't know this?

Correlation does not imply causation. My reference to the "Islamic world" may have led you to believe I blame Islam for female genital mutilation; I only blame it for its archaic doctrines that contribute to continual subservience of women, thereby reinforcing—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa—cruel and superstitious ancient practices.

If you are not trying to label me as "fascist, right-wing' e.t.c.," then please do not equate what I have said with what Nazi organizations like the BNP, or their followers, believe. In spite of your denial, you erected a straw man at my expense. And yes, I will concede that to "blame" Islam for female genital mutilation would be doing much the same thing, but as I said, I have not done this. The "Islamic world," as I put it, is itself a generalization (intended mainly to correspond to the predominantly Islamic Arab and sub-Saharan African regions), so I concede that, but again, there is a strong and academically supported nexus between the religion and the ignorance and superstition underlying the ill treatment of women and girls in this particular "world."

Yes, there are "more' tolerant Islamic societies," which implies (and indeed is true) that there are "less" tolerant ones. I am not talking about peaceful Muslims. Not all Christians kill doctors who perform abortions, either, but then does that make the subject of the religious influences on culture off limits?

You implied in several places, either directly or indirectly by association, that I am intellectually lazy: I "base [my] opinions" on those of others, I "buy in to mass hysteria of something [ I ] do not understand," I "do not bother to find out the truth," that I "believe anything that [I am] told." These are veiled ad hominem attacks, whether you "mean" them or not. This practice makes for tiresome debate, because—whether intentionally or not—it attempts to marginalize an opponent by characterizing them as ignorant and in need of a good education. I can't just sit by and let someone try to substitute their knowledge and wisdom for mine, based on almost no information as to my level of education, experience, insights or political affiliations.

As I said, I don't want to derail the discussion of this episode. If you wish to respond, I will regard your reply as the final word out of respect for the comment board. However, please do not continue to make assumptions about my intelligence, knowledge and motivations, or rely on information that I have not previously and explicitly given.
All Comments | Link22 | DavidMay 6, 2010 @ 10:17am
I would personally give it 70%, give or take. It includes good humour, some chemistry between Angel and the princess, interesting idea, tension caused by different viewpoints and the action; even if execution was far from perfect.

The 50% rating seems to be unfair in my opinion ... and for you guys shouting this was the worst episode from BtVS and AtS - please (re)watch some of the 1st BtVS eqpisodes and than come back and apologize yourself.
All Comments | Link23 | FloOct 18, 2010 @ 9:04pm
After reading on several occasions how aweful this episode supposedly is, I was surprised to find that I actually rather liked it.
Sure, it has its problems. The metaphor is overly explicit, but no more than that in several other Angel episodes (especially the Hero-Nazis), and at least here we get a hint at a grey area. In particularly I thought that the ambiguousness of the Jhiera character, a freedom-fighter who literally goes over corpses for her cause, worked quite well.
What I actually found most jarring was that Angel didn't really fit in the episode. In his first encounter with Jhiera he seemed very much out of his league, but he still somehow manages to chivalrously save her again and again. That really didn't fit; although I think there was on poccasion some nice sexual tension between the two (which Angel seemed to brush off way too easily imo, considering the difficulties he and Buffy always had keeping their hands off each other).
Come to think of it I recon it would have been fun to make Sean Gunn's character Jheira's love interest, and develop his character a bit instead of dumping him so unceremoniously.
But these problems I found no worse than those of some prior episodes which have gotten far better scores (Hero again being a prime example).
All Comments | Link24 | jojo nycFeb 16, 2011 @ 10:52pm
I like this episode a lot. I think the writers had fun and went for a different kind of pacing. Kind of a standalone episode and had a bit of a classic Star Trek feel to it.

Just watched it tonight as my wife and I discover the Angel series (after loving the whole Buffy arc). The only episode I didn't like so far is Bachelor Party (aside from Doyle himself in that episode).
All Comments | Link25 | OdonFeb 26, 2012 @ 1:41am
I'm afraid I missed the female circumcision metaphor, as I was too busy lusting over Bai Ling's incredible cleavage.
All Comments | Link26 | DaveNov 23, 2012 @ 11:43am
Fecking hated Jheira. I could barely understand any of her lines, her makeup and such were terrible, not to mention the god-awful plot.

Have to agree with what someone said above, though. This episode is boring, but it beats the pathetic teenage angst of Connor.
All Comments | Link27 | PaulDec 25, 2012 @ 11:31pm
Ryan/Whoever wrote the review:

There was no point in any further depiction and/or explanation of the purported chaos in the other dimension since there wasn't any. That's the point. The chaos there is just as illusory as the claim made by some humans here on terra firma that we'd have chaos if we didn't go in for female circumcision. The fact that the males from the other dimension weren't seduced by our princess makes that point plain (such a seduction would be the princess' best defense if the power were real vis-a-vis the males of her kind).
All Comments | Link28 | MikeJer | CREATOR/WRITERDec 26, 2012 @ 12:28am
Replying to Paul (#27)
FYI: The author of each review is listed right beneath the title.
All Comments | Link29 | jw2sNov 1, 2014 @ 4:06am
I gave up on Angel a few episodes before this one, back in 1999. In my hunger for Whedonness, I have finally gotten around to watching them all. So far, the show is uneven and sometimes just headsmackingly stupid. The audience is asked to suspend more disbelief than the Buffy average; the show is so silly in places it's like it's being played for laughs, but the laughs themselves are few and far between. Stuff is so patently impossible, and the "grittiness" often makes it seem all the more ridiculous.

That said, so far Angel still has some great moments, lovely twists, good dialogue, and has led me to appreciate Charisma Carpenter's talent, skill, and beauty more and more. It's an enjoyable escape, so far, but I think without the camaraderie, wit, driving character motivations, etc etc, of Buffy, it's been kind of meandering. And if it hadn't been for Buffy, I don't think it would have survived, based on what I've seen so far.

I mean, even such memorable moments as Doyle's death involve making a lot of assumptions and forcing your brain not to think... which yes, can be enjoyable.

I can enjoy a show like that, and mostly I have been, in a medium comfortable way. And TV in 1999 was not expected to be REAL with a capital REAL like TV now.

And then came this maligned episode, "She". I thought She was one of the first times the show felt like it actually lived in that gritty, real place, despite all its supernature. The phone not working, Angel chilling with Dennis, the visceral awfulness of Cordelia's vision, the whole ice thing, the slow measured pacing... it felt much more satisfying and cinematic to me than usual, as it unfolded. It was one of the first times with this show that I had NO idea where it was going. The mysteries were mysterious. You couldn't tell who the good or bad guys were for a while, and it was engaging. People talked like they really believed their lines, mostly. There were layers - Westley being hero and wimp, Angel being perfect but flawed, Jhiera fighting for justice but also being cruel, Cordelia having some really helpful awesome moments and some bitchtastic ones and some sweet ones... I felt like I cared about this universe and I agreed that this is how the people in it would act.

And then the metaphor was revealed to be increasingly simplistic, and then the plot had to get wrapped up in six minutes, and things got kind of silly again.

I liked the idea of a war-torn other world with no clear good guys or bad guys, which is what more than the first half hour is like. I wanted that complexity. I guess it wasn't to be. *shrug* I still really enjoyed it.
All Comments | Link30 | KyleNov 1, 2014 @ 9:33am
Replying to jw2s (#29)
I would say season one had some great subtle character development, season two was magnificent, and the last 2/3 of season 5 were equally as magnificent. Other than that, I agree with you. To me, the show seemed to dip down in quality at the very end of season 2, all of season 3, all of season 4, and the beginning of season 5. I am surprised some people see Angel as more consistent than Buffy. Throughout more than half the show the character work was mediocre at best. Most of the arguments I hear about Angel being supposedly better is that “it’s darker.” Frankly that’s a stupid argument because 1) it shows more of a matter of taste and 2) I can think of many times when Buffy was darker than Angel (season 2 and season 6). Okay, rant over. But yeah, I agree with you. Angel does “meander” quite a bit.
All Comments | Link31 | Freudian VampireNov 1, 2014 @ 9:41am
Replying to Kyle (#30)
Don't you believe everything is a matter of taste? :p

I think the main reason people believe Angel is better is that it is a far more philosophical/existentialist show than Buffy ever was, and if you are looking for ponderings on the bigger questions this is the place to go. The darkness of the show reflects its worldview, which is far bleaker and I would argue more realistic than the one presented in Buffy. I think Angel's characterization is also frequently underrated; Wesley and Angel are both very well-developed and complex characters, Cordelia is delightful up until her arc was destroyed in "Birthday"+ and Lorne, Fred and Gunn were no more under-utilized than their counterparts Oz, Anya and Tara.

I do believe Buffy is the superior series largely because the show's episode-to-episode consistency is horrific and the quality dips wildly throughout seasons one, but I think in terms of characters they are more even than most fans will allow.

And there is no way that Buffy seasons two or six are darker than Angel. Season 2 is presented with lots of humour and an operatic nature which prevents it from becoming too heavy, and Season 6 frequently overindulges in itself; both also end in victory. "Reunion", "Reprise", "Sleep Tight", "Tomorrow", "Deep Down", "Salvage", "Shells" and "Not Fade Away" have a blackness to them which Buffy never achieved.
All Comments | Link32 | KyleNov 1, 2014 @ 11:09am
"Don't you believe everything is a matter of taste? :p”

How did you guess?! :D

Anyway, I suppose I see your point on why people argue that Angel is a better show. It still doesn’t mean I agree with them.

My problem with Angel’s character is that he seems to go back and forth from being dark to being relatively good. By the end of the series, I’m left feeling like Angel made the same realizations he made in season two, which is not a detriment to the final episode nearly as much as it is a detriment to Angel’s character. There just doesn’t seem to be very much growth for him. He only seems to go through cycles, and it gets really boring (I know; it’s a matter of taste ;) ). As for Wesley’s arc, I agree with you. He is a wonderfully written character. However, Buffy never ruined its characters to the extent Angel did with Cordelia (actually Buffy didn’t really even do anything particularly bad to its characters). The only characters in Angel that have a satisfying arc are Angel (despite how repetitive his arc is) and Wesley. Buffy gave Buffy (of course), Spike, Willow, and even Xander (and Giles, to some extent, as well) some very good arcs. I do not think the quality of their character work is even at all.

"And there is no way that Buffy seasons two or six are darker than Angel. Season 2 is presented with lots of humour and an operatic nature which prevents it from becoming too heavy, and Season 6 frequently overindulges in itself; both also end in victory. "Reunion", "Reprise", "Sleep Tight", "Tomorrow", "Deep Down", "Salvage", "Shells" and "Not Fade Away" have a blackness to them which Buffy never achieved.”

Gotta disagree with you (again - we seem to do this a lot). Just because there is humor doesn’t mean that there is less darkness. The humor acts as a blanket that hides the darkness. The darkness is still there, though. Looking at the final arc of season 2 of Buffy, I don’t see much in the way of light-hearted humor (aside from “Go Fish”), and the season in no way ended in a particularly happy light. Season 6 of Buffy was very dark. Despite the fact that it ended up in a happier place than where it began, we still had to sit through some pretty dark times (“Dead Things,” “Normal Again,” and “Villains” come to mind). I agree that Angel, all around, is a darker show than Buffy, but there were moments in Buffy (particularly in seasons 2 and 6) that were probably darker than most of Angel.

As for Buff not having a “blackness.” I have to disagree. “Innocence”, “Passion”, “The Body”, “Forever”, “After Life”, “Dead Things”, “Normal Again”, “Villains”, “Conversations with Dead People”, and “Sleeper” were all pretty darn black.
All Comments | Link33 | Freudian VampireNov 1, 2014 @ 11:33am
- QUOTE -
Anyway, I suppose I see your point on why people argue that Angel is a better show. It still doesn’t mean I agree with them.

I don't agree with them either. I prefer Buffy by a significant margin; I'm not sure if I made that clear enough in my post. It's just that I feel the disparity in quality between the two comes from Angel's inconsistency rather than something inherently inferior in its plots, themes or characterization.

- QUOTE -
My problem with Angel’s character is that he seems to go back and forth from being dark to being relatively good. By the end of the series, I’m left feeling like Angel made the same realizations he made in season two, which is not a detriment to the final episode nearly as much as it is a detriment to Angel’s character. There just doesn’t seem to be very much growth for him. He only seems to go through cycles, and it gets really boring (I know; it’s a matter of taste ;) ). As for Wesley’s arc, I agree with you. He is a wonderfully written character. However, Buffy never ruined its characters to the extent Angel did with Cordelia (actually Buffy didn’t really even do anything particularly bad to its characters). The only characters in Angel that have a satisfying arc are Angel (despite how repetitive his arc is) and Wesley. Buffy gave Buffy (of course), Spike, Willow, and even Xander (and Giles, to some extent, as well) some very good arcs. I do not think the quality of their character work is even at all.

I agree with you about Angel. He's a complex character, but never a particularly dynamic one. I might marginally prefer his arc to Buffy's solely because of how the latter's was utterly ruined by season seven (my hatred for season seven seeps into all of my opinions, it seems) but he's still a long way below my favourite characters. Since Angel is more interested in broad, philosophical questions than intimate ones, I think the more cyclical nature of Angel's arc works very well within the context of the show, but it gets repetitive swiftly; however, the supporting cast hold their own well enough that I consider this a non-issue.

I notice in your summation of Angel's arcs you only note Angel, Wesley and Cordelia. I think that the rest of the cast were surprisingly well done, albeit marginally less so than the likes of Xander or Giles. Doyle's nine episode arc was very strong and quite moving; Lorne managed to become legitimately compelling in the back end of season five; Fred's death was a disservice to her, but no more so than the equally underdeveloped Tara and Anya's; and I think Gunn's arc is actually brilliant in its totality, even if he's kind of stagnant during seasons three and four.

- QUOTE -
Gotta disagree with you (again - we seem to do this a lot). Just because there is humor doesn’t mean that there is less darkness. The humor acts as a blanket that hides the darkness. The darkness is still there, though. Looking at the final arc of season 2 of Buffy, I don’t see much in the way of light-hearted humor (aside from “Go Fish”), and the season in no way ended in a particularly happy light. Season 6 of Buffy was very dark. Despite the fact that it ended up in a happier place than where it began, we still had to sit through some pretty dark times (“Dead Things,” “Normal Again,” and “Villains” come to mind). I agree that Angel, all around, is a darker show than Buffy, but there were moments in Buffy (particularly in seasons 2 and 6) that were probably darker than most of Angel.

As for Buff not having a “blackness.” I have to disagree. “Innocence”, “Passion”, “The Body”, “Forever”, “After Life”, “Dead Things”, “Normal Again”, “Villains”, “Conversations with Dead People”, and “Sleeper” were all pretty darn black.

The individual times are black, but there's a level of hopefulness and a knowledge that it will all be alright. Can you really not see any light-hearted humour in the back half of Buffy season two? I can - "Phases", "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "Go Fish" instantly come to mind, and even the darker episodes have moments of hilarity. If I think of "Becoming, Part II", there's Buffy's conversation with Spike after the police officer gets beaten up ("I like this world") and then Spike and Joyce ("do I know you?") and Joyce on Slaying ("have you ever tried not being the Slayer) and Willow in hospital ("resolve face") and Xander coming to help ("Cavalry's here. Calvary's a scared guy with a rock, but he's here") and Spike seeing Buffy get beaten by Angelus ("he's going to kill her" *shrugs*) and so on and so on. Those are all from memory.

And it all always ends up fine. Not necessarily for the individual characters, but the show posits that people can redeem themselves, people can recover, people get better. Season six, by far the darkest season, ends with Buff metaphorically climbing out of her depression, Buffy and Dawn reconciling, Giles surviving fatal wounds and Willow getting saved by the redemptive power of Xander's love. Angel never was this way. There's a darkness at the heart of the episodes I listed, "Reprise" foremost among them, that is ultimately alien to Buffy the Vampire Slayer because things aren't going to be alright and nor are they going to get any better. The black existentialism of "Reprise" is more soul-destroying than anything Buffy and Co. faced.
All Comments | Link34 | Freudian VampireNov 1, 2014 @ 11:34am
Okay, I don't know why those quotes failed. Mike?
All Comments | Link35 | MikeJer | CREATOR/WRITERNov 1, 2014 @ 2:46pm
You're trying to use Forum quote tags where you specify a name. That won't work in the comments. Per the allowed tags listed above the comment box: only the more basic [quote ][/quote ] (without the spaces) will work.

If you'd like to emphasize that you're replying to someone's else, you should use the Reply To functionality in the comment box.

I will clean up that comment for you.
All Comments | Link36 | Freudian VampireNov 1, 2014 @ 2:49pm
Replying to MikeJer (#35)
Thanks!
All Comments | Link37 | KyleDec 6, 2014 @ 11:06am
I realize this was a while ago, Freudian, but what about "The Body?" That episode, to me, seemed to be pretty darn bleak. I'm just curious to see your views of the bleakness of "The Body" compared to that of an episode like "Reprise" (although they're bleak in very different ways).
All Comments | Link38 | Freudian VampireDec 6, 2014 @ 11:18am
Replying to Kyle (#37)
"The Body" is, in and of itself, equal to "Reprise" in its bleakness; so is "Dead Things". However, Buffy in its totality is ultimately inspiring rather than crushing; the First is defeated, women are empowered, Buffy is freed, the characters who die do so in the pursuit of goodness etc. Angel is the polar opposite, ending in a suicide strike that can accomplish nothing in the long run because they are too broken and embittered to do anything else. The darkness of "Reprise" laps over for the rest of the whole show, a claim no episode of Buffy can make.
All Comments | Link39 | KyleDec 6, 2014 @ 12:26pm
Replying to Kyle (#37)
Okay... I can agree with you. :) Buffy is definitely a more inspirational show than Angel is, which is probably one of the reasons why I like it more than Angel.
All Comments | Link40 | KyleDec 6, 2014 @ 12:26pm
Replying to Kyle (#39)
Yay! I can now use the tags competently enough! :D
All Comments | Link41 | Freudian VampireDec 6, 2014 @ 12:40pm
Replying to Kyle (#39)
I personally love shows and films which are willing to go very dark, but then again I love The Shawshank Redemption, and that is for my money the most purely inspiring work of fiction ever (albeit not quite the best). So I guess my preference of Buffy over Angel has nothing to do with their respective worldviews and the bleakness thereof.
All Comments | Link42 | Smallprint84Dec 21, 2015 @ 4:05am
I find this episode decent enough. A very bold subject/metaphor for a television episode. It's good that they touch this subject. These horrible crimes still happen these days!
So a good idea, but a lousy execution. I give it a 6.0.
And indeed, there are worse Angel eps. than this one.
All Comments | Link43 | PandoritaMar 17, 2016 @ 9:24pm
I started watching this expecting it to be terrible because of the score, but hell, it wasn't so bad.
Sure, it has several flaws, but, I kinda enjoyed it. There were a few good moments; the whole party was gold and I laughed my ass off when Angel pictured himself dancing. The cell phone scene was good too; and the final scene when Angel breaks the coffee bag and Wesley trips over the spilled beans and falls, simple humor as it was, it made me laugh hysterically as well.

Jhiera herself was an interesting character and I would have liked to see more of her, but as I read in the comments (this is my first AtS watch) that doesn't happen and it's a pity. The plot wasn't bad either, it could have been really interesting with better writing, which sadly this chapter lacked. I agree the metaphor used was less than subtle, but the topic of the episode was bold and it's a pity it wasn't adressed in a better way. Anyway, still subtler than the Nazi demons in Hero!

Overall I'd give it a 70. Not bad, but not great. Tons of wasted potential, yet I still managed to enjoy it.
All Comments | Link44 | ArianeJun 21, 2016 @ 1:51pm
You make usually a great job.

But I totally disagree with you on this episode. It was great for many reasons. I wound have put a 70 at least.
You should read The Vampire from Baudelaire and maybe you'll have a better understanding of this episode. It really was interesting, as weel for the developpement on Angel's character. He has to control his desire because he would become Angelus on I think that the princess represents something he can't have -because it's a demon and because he's Angel.

Sorry for the mistackes I'm french
All Comments | Link45 | alan24Feb 17, 2017 @ 8:15am
I also thought this episode was *much* better than the review gives it credit for, not super-wonderful but much more fun than the episodes on either side of it. One particular point: it says that the early scenes are "a bunch of pointless misdirection about who killed a few men in a warehouse", but this part is a detective story, and in such a story it is common for the unfolding of the mystery to proceed gradually and indirectly. (jw2s has some good things to say about this)

And actually, when we get onto the action-story the dead people are not irrelevant at all, and to say they are is to buy into the princess’ speciesism, her disregard of humanity: respect for all creatures is the mission statement of this show.

Wesley’s comment at the party about getting hot and needing ice is also a great lead-in to the main story.

Most absurdly, the review complains about the lead protagonist not appearing until about half way through, but this is hardly unique, in fact not even unusual; think of The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan) in which the star turn doesn't appear until half way through. It is also very common (in BTVS, ATS and any mystery story) for plot-explanations to be delayed until the last 5 minutes; if you are going to object to that then you might as well stop watching/reading detective stories entirely.
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