In the seventeenth episode of the first season of Angel, the group takes a high-profile client who is being stalked, but the case becomes complicated when the actress has ideas about Angel that could prove dangerous to anyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
Well, that was not what I expected at all.
I think I’m starting to genuinely like Angel as a show. It has had a rough start. Some of the episodes have been mediocre and a bit forgettable, but it’s starting to hit a good stride right now. I think the fact that the show is already experimenting with an episode that essentially has no supernatural or demonic elements in it (aside from Angelus, of course) is a great sign of the potential Angel has to tell brilliant, thought-provoking stories.
In a way, we basically get two entire halves that are devoted to a theme, and I love the way they this episode segues from one to the other. There’s no way that Buffy could have pulled off an episode about the excesses of fame and how people become obsessed with the idea. (And I do love that more and more of these episodes are justifying the fact that Angel is its own show.) Cordelia comes off very strongly in the first twenty-five minutes of “Eternity,” and while she did start to get grating, I understood that this was what she was like. She wanted fame and recognition, so it only makes sense that she’d practically have a heart attack when Rebecca Lowell comes into their lives. I think it’s easy to criticize Cordelia’s joy because we want to view it as this shallow, absurd thing to want. I do think there is criticism of Cordelia within the narrative, too. The show portrays Rebecca’s obsession as a negative thing that leads her to make poor decisions. Is it all that much of a stretch that Cordelia might one day end up like this if she isn’t reminded of the dangers of fame? Perhaps, but I think Cordelia was aware of how fucked up this all is.
At the same time, this was definitely meant more as some sort of modern fable for Rebecca more than anyone else. I like that she’s not portrayed as someone who’s prone to extremes. Instead, this is about a sequence of events that gradually pushes her to make the decision she did. The Rebecca we see in the opening probably would not have tried to get Angel to convert her. It’s only after being stalked, being rejected from a much-needed role, and then discovering that her own manager set up the stalking that she decides to turn to something different to solve her problems. Even better, the show openly scorns her for using Angel for her own ends. Angel gets nothing out of being her sire, and she gets everything she wants.
Even if this is a story-of-the-week kind of episode, I think that what “Eternity” ultimately is about is Angel’s fragile line between friend and foe. I guess what frightens me about it is represented in Cordelia’s absolutely electrifying monologue to Angelus about the bottle of holy water she might be holding. This is such a huge moment for Cordelia because I genuinely do not think she was lying. She has met Angelus. And while I have been a deeply unhappy person for most of my life, I can’t even fathom having to keep myself that way forever.
Cordelia knows this, and even if she was bluffing, I’m sure there’s some truth to her fear. I think that’s why this upset me so much. Well, David Boreanaz’s acting was a large part of that, too. But Angelus is so much closer than I ever really considered. As we see here, that side of Angel is brutal, cruel, and unbelievably dangerous. I mean, that moment when he sprays blood into Rebecca’s mouth is one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever seen on television. It’s so raw and disturbing, almost as if David Boreanaz didn’t even tell the actress he was going to do this. Unsurprisingly, it only gets worse, and it honestly hurt to listen to him insult Wesley and Cordelia. It hurt because Angelus doesn’t lie. He may be unnecessarily cruel, but he tells the truth, and that’s so fucking awful to hear. How are Cordy and Wesley going to deal with this? Even if they all seem generally okay by the end of the episode, I don’t think this is going to go away. Until they can guarantee that Angelus can’t ever come back, they’ll always have to worry about Angel turning.
I honestly believe this is the best-acted episode of season one. All four of the main cast (I’m including Tamara Gorski because she’s in so much of the story) give performances that are convincing, haunting, and real. It’s weird saying that I enjoy when David Boreanaz gets to portray Angelus, especially since he brings nothing but destruction with him, but it’s just so entertaining. Angel! With emotions! I adore it!
We’re also nearing the end of season one (only five episodes left!!!) and I still have no idea where this is heading. Unlike season four of Buffy, which has a well-defined mytharc, I feel like I’m a bit in the dark here. That’s not good. That means I’m even more unprepared than I would like. GREAT.
Mark Links Stuff
– My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at MarkDoesStuff.com. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Firefly books are priced from $2.99 to $3.99 a piece, and are available in ePub (iBook, iPod, iPad, Nook), Kindle, and PDF files.
– I now have a Lulu storefront, where you can purchase physical copies of all of my previously released books, including a full Mark Reads Twilight book that includes all four sets of Twilight reviews.
– I am going on tour in the following cities this month (click the name for the Facebook RSVP page): San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. I still need venues/spaces in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and Portland. Even if it’s your house, I don’t care. I’ll show up! Please let me know if you have any ideas. I can also be reached at markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com.
– I am presenting for three days at Ascendio 2012! Come hang out and have the best weekend ever in July!
– Mark Watches The Two Towers will happen most likely on Sunday at 1pm PDT, which is the same as this past weekend. Y’all better break the comment record again.
– I finish Mark Reads The Princess Bride on April 13th, and then Mark Reads Sandman begins on Monday, April 16th. I will split up reviews by issue, and I will be reading the extra books/volumes. IT SHALL BE GRAND.
– I’m on Twitter (@MarkDoesStuff) and I have a Facebook page y’all can Like and flail about on. Join me!
– This is my fifth consecutive year riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle! I’m aiming to raise $10,000 this year. For every $1,000 I raise, I will make a video live reading of a community-chosen fanfic. I am not bluffing. I will read as much of it as possible, and it will be beautiful. Help me out if you can!