Mark Watches ‘Angel': S03E15 – Loyalty

In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Angel, Wesley’s discovery about Angel’s destiny haunts him and tests his loyalty to his friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

I’m so happy with this episode, and I love that it starts almost immediately after the end of “Couplet.” I’ve noticed that Angel introduces more unresolved plots than Buffy does. For instance, we still have Wolfram & Hart to deal with. We don’t know what Cordelia’s demon side is. And what’s up with the Nyazian prophecies? What role is Angel going to play in that? So once I thought about it, I wondered if the show was introducing another myth arc for me to think about, and I worried that it wouldn’t be addressed for a while. But the focus of “Loyalty” largely centers on Wesley, and it takes the final moments of “Couplet” and shows us just how fucked up everything is going to be in the immediate and distant future.

At the heart of this is the prophecy that Welsey uncovered at the end of the previous episode. “Loyalty” opens with a nightmare, one in which Angel feeds on his son, and Welsey’s hands are covered in blood from the book he was reading. It’s not exactly a subtle metaphor, but it does represent Wesley’s fear quite well. He is terrified of being unable to stop Angel from devouring his own son, and he worries about how complicit he’ll be in this act if he doesn’t do anything to stop it. And at the exact same time, he refuses to believe it. Angel couldn’t kill his only son. The world isn’t bound by prophecies! How could this possibly be true?

So I must start this out by praising Alexis Denisof, who does a spectacular job of portraying a man who is being split apart by his morality and his intellect. His performance is both physical and emotional, and I absolutely believed what I was seeing on the screen. It helps that Mere Smith’s script is complex and challenging, as Denisof has so much to work with in this episode. This might be the most exhausted we’ve ever seen Wesley. He’s working around the clock not just to figure out what to do, but to find any evidence that the prophecy isn’t true. I think that’s the main reason he goes with Angel for Connor’s check-up. Is there a clue inside Connor’s body that might sway Wesley one way or another?

There’s not, and I wasn’t shocked by that. That’s too easy! Though, does anything in the Buffyverse have a simple ending? Okay, that’s a different point. Anyway, from this point on, Mere Smith manages to juggle at least four separate plot lines without confusing me or losing the pace of the story. SHALL WE?

Fred/Gunn

OMG they are totally trying to figure out how to date and work together at the same time. IT’S REALLY CUTE, OKAY, AND I REALLY LIKE THEM AS A COUPLE. Everyone on this show is an adult, and I think that’s why Fred and Gunn feel so youthful. I mean, yes, they’re both young, but it’s almost like first love. Wait… it is first love for both of them, isn’t it??? I LITERALLY JUST REALIZED THIS AS I WAS WRITING THAT LAST SENTENCE. Oh my god, my babies. It totally explains why Gunn is so gung-ho about romance, why he doesn’t care about being reckless, and why Fred is also terrified of messing things up. This couple has exactly zero experience being in a relationship. Oh, it’s just too much for my heart, I swear.

And then Fred saves Gunn’s life, and they have breakfast again at that diner, and then they just stare at each other, and they are open and honest with each other, and Gunn tells Fred that if it came down to it, he’d choose her over work, and then my heart melts again and what is happening to me?

Holtz

Yeah, I shouted, “FUCK YOU!” at the screen when it was revealed that Aubrey was working for Holtz. He’s collected quite the army, hasn’t he? Here’s the thing about Holtz: the reason I’ve become fascinated by him is because he represents fundamentalist thought in a way. He has a belief – that Angel is Angelus, that he is evil and it is in his nature, that it’s only a matter of time before Angelus kills again – and he refuses to budge from that belief. It does not matter to him that Angel has a soul, that he’s saved hundreds of lives, that he is a good being working towards redemption. Holtz has a singular goal, and it’s been interesting to watch him dismiss any claims that what he’s doing isn’t right. He doesn’t care. It’s that patient drive of his that frightens me, and it’s what makes this subplot entertaining to me. I think I shouldn’t underestimate what Holtz is doing. He clearly has a plan, he is patient enough to perfect it before executing it, and he is ridiculously determined. And it’s not like he doesn’t have a justification for feeling the way he does about Angel! Oh god, what is he going to do? He better not hurt anyone at Angel Investigations. :(

Cordelia

I miss her.

Lilah/Sahjhan

God, he is such a sassy demon. It must suck to not be able to get a haircut.

As scared as I am by Holtz’s determinism, the sheer secrecy of what Lilah and Sahjhan are doing freaks me out. Holtz’s plan seems rather obvious after this episode. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad! But what the fuck are these two planning? What does Sahjhan know about Connor’s blood that can help them???

Also, Lilah, your hair looks amazing.

Angel

Okay, yes, this is already five, but shush. Angel is becoming a dad, and it’s so fun to watch. Is it weird that it took this for Angel to develop a more complex character? Man, he hasn’t been brooding much since Connor showed up. Angel isn’t in this episode much, but when we do so him, most of the time he’s caring for Connor. He’s learning to juggle the responsibility of his job with the demands of being a single father, and he is doing it beautifully. Oh, right, and then he saves his son from an earthquake and a fire. No big deal.

Wesley

As I said before, this is really Wesley’s episode, and it’s mostly his loyalty to Angel that is tested. Holtz’s clan chips away at it slowly, and it’s through Aubrey that Wesley is momentary tricked. The more he engages with his own paranoia, the worse it gets. I mean, he believes the prophecy so fully that he consults a wizard, who gets him in contact with The Loa, some sort of ancient being that lives in a giant anthropomorphized hamburger. I know the scene was super silly, but I actually liked it!

Anyway, Wesley is a man of action, so he contacted The Loa to find a way to stop Connor’s death. It’s why he is so unraveled by what he ultimately learns: there doesn’t seem to be anything he can do aside from getting rid of Angel. The immutability of this prophecy infuriates and saddens him. How can Angel actually kill his own child? What possible context would make this a reality? So he’s dealt another dead end. The prophecy still stands, and Wesley can’t do anything to change that. All he is given are the three portents that will occur before Angel devours his child.

(Just a bit of a side note: who makes these prophecies? Like, where the hell do they come from? Is someone keeping track of them? Do The Loa have some sort of master list of prophecies? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. This isn’t important, though.)

So Wesley then turns to something else to focus on: reasoning with Holtz. The prophecy is a lost cause, at least for the moment, so he goes to Holtz to try to reason with him. Ugh, how well-written is his scene? IT’S SO GOOD. Because Wesley went there with one goal in mind, and then Holtz fucks with his paranoia even further. He exploits the fear Wesley has for Connor’s death, and for a brief moment, I thought we were about to watch Wesley defect to Holtz’s group. Oh my god, what a scary thought. The thing is, I don’t know how to feel about this! I mean, at heart, Wesley would be betraying the loyalty of all his friends, but what if the prophecy is actually true? What if Angel is destined to kill his child? Shouldn’t Wesley try to save Connor? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

But then Wesley goes back to the hotel, and he watches Angel care for his son, and the very notion that Angel would kill his own son is just absurd. He starts laughing, and I laughed right back! Angel can fight his own destiny, especially if it involves him loving his son as much as he does here.

AND THEN THERE IS A FUCKING EARTHQUAKE, AND THEN THE AIR IS ON FIRE, AND THEN ANGEL BLEEDS ALL OVER CONNOR’S SKY BLUE BLANKET, AND ALL THREE PORTENTS ARE FULFILLED IN SIXTY SECONDS, AND THEN ANGEL MAKES A JOKE ABOUT EATING EITHER HIS SON OR WESLEY AND WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

Oh my god, Wesley is right back at square one. What the hell is happening??? Is the prophecy unavoidable, and is it going to come true soon? I’m a wreck. PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE TRUE.

BEFORE I GET TO MY NORMAL LINKS! I have some things I’d like to share with you. First of all, I am at LeakyCon 2012 next week, and I will be on a panel on Saturday morning, August 11th, that will discuss the similarities and parallels between Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer! By the time I arrive in Chicago, I will have finished the posts through the end of season six of Buffy, so the panel will be catered towards NOT spoiling me for season seven. You should come out and see it!

As you know, I’ve been doing Mark Watches videos, but I’m also doing them for Mark Reads. Yesterday, I got the chance to read quite a few Buffy fics, so I thought I’d embed them here so that y’all can watch them!

Mark Reads ‘Wild Things,’ Part I

Mark Reads ‘Wild Things,’ Part II

Mark Reads ‘Slayer Wars’ / ‘The Slayer Strikes Back’

Mark Reads ‘The Return of the Slayer’

Thanks!!! Hope you enjoy them.

Mark Links Stuff

– You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for any updates and live commentary on upcoming reviews I’m writing.
– If you’d like to support what I’m doing, you can click the little Donate button in the right sidebar, buy eBooks on MarkDoesStuff, or purchase physical books on Lulu.com.
– Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is now on sale for just $3.99!!!
- The third volume of Mark Tells Stories, “1337,” is now out and available for just $1.00!
– You can purchase your very own Mark Reads or Mark Watches video for just $25, and I will read ANYTHING you want, or provide live commentary as I watch a Mark Watches episode for the first time.
– Mark Reads is now on YouTube, and you can watch all my videos right here!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Angel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.