Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S02E21 – Through the Looking Glass

In the twenty-first episode of the second season of Angel, the group splits up to find a way out of Pylea while Cordelia deals with a surprising ritual. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel. 

You know, I normally wait until the end of these kind of episodes to have my outbursts, but I can’t do it this time. I just can’t.

So: fuck you, Tim Minear. You take this back. You take it back right now. This whole episode is about how Pylea makes various characters reflect on their lives back in their own dimension, and we see how unhappy Lorne is there, and then you CUT OFF HIS HEAD AT THE END OF THE EPISODE SO HE CAN NEVER GO BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE HE FEELS LIKE HE BELONGS.

You are fucking evil. I hate you forever, and I demand your head on a platter for this travesty. I LOVED LORNE SO MUCH. HOW COULD YOU TAKE HIM AWAY FROM ME. FUCK. FUCK!!!!!!!!

Okay, now that that is out of my system, there’s a lot to talk about in “Through The Looking Glass.” Let’s do this shit.

  • I can’t talk about this episode without first saying that my mind went immediately to the season three finale of LOST, which has the exact same title. It’s intentional for both shows, since they deal with a very deliberate twist of perception. There’s a neat fairy tale quality to both shows, and this episode of Angel in particular addresses some common tropes found in those sorts of stories.
  • Hell, in this episode alone, we have: the humble commoner who is gorgeous and brave, destined for greatness; the knight in shining armor who saves a helpless young woman from death; the evil religious organization who plots behind the scenes; humans lost in a fantasy land/dimension; the everyday and self-conscious character thrust into power by coincidence or mistake; and seriously, I could keep going on and on. It’s a rad way to look at the episode because Tim Minear twists our expectations of these tropes at every turn.
  • I’m impressed with the way that Angel, even more so than Buffy, toes the line between absurdist comedy and serious melodrama. So much of this episode is genuinely hilarious! Angel checking his hair out in the mirror, the dance of joy and the dance of honor, Lorne singing as a weapon, Gunn’s spot-on prediction that a com-shuk was sexual in nature, the appearance of the Groosalugg, Fred’s shock at learning that Cordelia was made a princess after one day in Pylea, Gunn’s booty comment, Angel mouthing, “…..mother????” upon meeting Lorne’s mom, and for real, this episode was ridiculously entertaining.
  • And yet, this is a deeply serious episode about the implications of the group’s trip to Pylea. I can’t believe I didn’t catch Wesley’s mention of a hart, so when he assembled the books in the right order, I wanted to punch myself in the face in shame. Oh god, so the finale does have something to do with Wolfram & Hart, doesn’t it? GODDAMN IT.
  • I already adore Fred, and I desperately need her to survive the finale because THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR HER CHARACTER ON THIS SHOW. I know I shouldn’t say that because now Tim Minear will probably retroactively kill her just to spite me. Damn.
  • I would watch a buddy cop movie of Gunn and Wesley. Yep.
  • I can’t get over how these last few episodes of season two take place in an entirely imagined world with its own culture, society, race, and supernatural rules. THAT IS SO AWESOME TO ME.
  • These characters travel through the looking glass, and it causes them to examine exactly who they are. I just cannot believe I actually got to see the real demon within Angel. I’d never even thought about that concept. I admit that the continued use and exploration of Spike on Buffy during season five certainly has me thinking about what it means to be a vampire, but… fuck. Does each demon in each vampire look different? Seriously, it’s an unbelievably horrific and unsettling moment for this WHOLE show, but if it weren’t for the fantastic writing for Angel’s character, this episode would absolutely not hold as much emotional weight as it does. Over the course of season two, we’ve watched Angel struggle with and then ultimately give in to evil. It was a choice, not the remnants or effects of having a demon within him. He hurt those around him terribly, and he is still dealing with the loss of trust from his employees and closest friends. And in this very moment, he is reminded of exactly what he possesses within him. How the fuck is he supposed to go back after seeing what he is? We know, as the viewer, that Angel really does have the capacity to be a good person, but this is about his own perception about himself. He sees the image of his demon in Fred’s cave, and it renders him completely unhinged.
  • Fuck, I am just so sad. 🙁
  • Which is why it is also so hard to watch Cordelia in this episode. My god, I think when all is said and done, the best written character in the Buffyverse will be Cordelia Chase. I just can’t deal with how incredible her transformation has been and how believable it is. This has been a gradual journey for her, and it’s here that I can’t deny the fact that there wasn’t a day back when I started Buffy where I believed I’d be writing about Cordelia being lonely, unpopular, and under appreciated. As the Groosalugg showers Cordelia with compliments that she absolutely deserves, it serves to highlight just what an incredible human being she is. Yes, this Pylean dimension is absurd, but here, she appears to be recognized and appreciated. It’s that exact validation she was seeking in “Belonging.”
  • Oh my god, I have so many feelings about Cordelia Chase.
  • Actually, I have quite a few feelings about Fred now. How the fuck did that happen? WHY SO SOON? I just met her, goddamn it! There is something so unbearably heartbreaking about her quiet offer to let Angel stay with her, and more than ever before, I really want to see her beyond this dimension. PLEASE LET HER COME BACK TO HER OWN WORLD. Oh my god, Amy Acker, you are incredible.
  • I’m glad Cordelia brings up the fact that she keeps getting in situations where she’s impregnated against her will. Could this be the last time this happens, please?

Okay, I don’t care. I have to do it again. TIM MINEAR, PLEASE GIVE LORNE BACK TO ME. FUCK. FUCK!!!!!!

Ugh, I am so upset.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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