In the twenty-second (and final) episode of the third season of Angel, hearts are broken and smashed and torn apart. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
So I don’t ship. Okay, wait, I did ship Roslin/Adama for that one period of my life. (By “one period of my life,” I mean, “The second those two sexy babes ever appeared on screen together.”) I often make jokes about shipping myself with characters I have the hots for, like Bolin. (Plus, that gets you Pabu by default, so everyone wins.) I have also spent the last year of my life reading more meta about why shipping happens and why it’s awesome than probably any human being in the world. So many of my friends naturally fall into shipping! And they post these wonderful, thoughtful analyses of why their ship is interesting, or why a certain fic distills their ship down to its important elements. And I have been trying so hard to get all of this.
Then Roslin/Adama happened and everything was beautiful while I was writing about Battlestar Galactica. It was so easy! But then I wondered if it even counted if all I was doing was shipping a canon relationship. WAS I NOT A TRUE SHIPPER?
Okay, so I didn’t put that much thought into things, but I’ve been wondering if the same thing was happening to me in terms of Angel and Cordelia on this show. Not only was I interested in the pairing, especially given what had happened between them since they first met on Buffy, but I started wanting them to end up together. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment this happened. It must have been about halfway through this season, but it was a fleeting thought at first. Wouldn’t they make a good couple? But it wouldn’t ever happen, and plus, there’s that pesky curse to deal with. Angel can’t end up with anyone! Right?
I think you all know where I’m headed with this. Over the course of “Tomorrow,” I am teased with the most brilliant union of my almost-ship, only to have it ripped away from me at the end. Yeah, that’s so fucked up.
I adored this episode, especially since the plot isn’t based on intense actions sequences and a complicated plot. There’s really only three things going on here: Connor’s anger at Angel, Cordy’s ascension, and the weird Wolfram & Hart story. It’s simple, and it’s a million times more devastating than I can possibly imagine. Shall we?
It’s bad enough that “Tomorrow” almost seems like a joke of a title. How can there be a tomorrow if there’s no Lorne? I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he wanted to leave and pursue his own life away from Angel Investigations. Truthfully, it’s been a long time coming. That doesn’t make it any easier to digest, and it makes me sad that he’s gone. Is it possible he can come back in the future? Sure, especially since he’s not dead. But this episode has such a finality to it. No one’s spoiled me about whether or not these actors or actresses left the show at this point, but if the season four premiere doesn’t have Charisma Carpenter or Andy Hallet, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see them for a long, long time.
It’s heartbreaking, but it’s for the best. I’ll miss you, Lorne.
Fred and Gunn
They really don’t do much in this episode, do they? Meh, so now that Gunn and Fred are together, are the writers just going to ignore them? Wait, I take that back because then that means something awful will happen to them.
WESLEY, WESLEY, I HAVE TO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR WHOLE EXISTENCE. I know it’s not subtle, but his entire interaction with Lilah is all about how the events of season three have essentially changed his entire personality. Like, never in a million years would I have ever thought that Lilah and Wesley would have anything in common, much less have sex. But there’s that moment post-sex where the two of them are almost the exact same person: cynical, brutal, sassy, and completely using all of the above to hide their emotional vulnerability. I could almost see Wesley breaking through Lilah’s tough exterior. Almost. But let’s be real, Wesley ain’t gonna do it.
I’m just so interested in his character arc right now, and I need more of it. He’s only getting a few minutes per episode, and this is NOT ENOUGH. At this point, I don’t know that there’s much that Lilah could do to convince Wesley to come to Wolfram & Hart, so I’m thinking that he might go back to being a rogue demon hunter. Seriously! I see no indication he’ll return to Angel Investigations, and despite that Lilah makes him realize how similar he is to her, I think he’s still too proud to go to her side.
Seriously, though, so many Wesley feels.
What’s so heartbreaking about Angel’s story in “Tomorrow” is that he spends most of the episode being a fantastic father to Connor, and we know that every moment has a different context to it because of Connor’s true intentions. It’s some damn fine writing, too, because I was constantly thinking about where Angel would end up by the time this episode was over. Would he feel betrayed by Connor? Would he understand that Holtz had manipulated the kid? Just… fuck. That whole scene where Angel is trying to find the right room just hurts to watch. You already know Connor is going to do something to him, and Angel is absolutely clueless. He’s instead thinking of nothing but making his son happy. And look, that doesn’t mean Angel is going to be a perfect father. This is his first child, and he didn’t even get to raise him. But he’s got such a pure heart when it comes to this, and it’s just so goddamn touching.
I’m getting emotional.
And then we have Angel realizing he has feelings for Cordelia in a much more serious way than ever before. I think Angel liked Cordelia and was aware of it long before she was, but having Lorne spell this out for him was such a punch right in the feelings. I know that I have to keep thinking about whether Angel is going to turn into Angelus, but for a moment, I was so happy. (Apparently, Fred and Gunn think exactly the same way. Good for them.) They fit so well. The character dynamic between them is beautiful. IT’S PERFECT. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS PERFECT.
So that means it has to be ruined. The ending to “Tomorrow” is so painful, y’all. I can’t stop thinking of Angel’s face as he looks at Connor. I don’t see the rage I would expect from him. I see complete and utter disappointment. It’s the worst. If he was angry, I might have been able to handle it. But Angel doesn’t even seem to fight what’s happening to him. That shot of him underwater is the opposite of what I wanted from life in general.
I can’t even really be mad at Justine or Connor. What they do is terrible, but they’ve both been manipulated and used by Holtz. This is not a black and white issue. Moral ambiguity, you are ruining my life.
I can’t. I CAN’T. My favorite character is literally so flawless that she ascended to a higher plane of existence. This is both beautiful and gut-wrenching.
I was actually prepared for Groo leaving, but I was not anticipating how sad it would be. There was no violent death, no painfully dramatic argument. It was just two people accepting reality, and Groo removing himself from Cordelia’s life. Can I just say that despite how similar his character is to Riley, this is how you should handle the stuation? Groo holds on to a little bit of hope that there might be a future, but once it’s clear there is not, he doesn’t insult or berate Cordelia. He does what’s best for himself, and he leaves. I don’t know that there could have been much story to tell with him, so I get why Groo is gone, but I was sad to see him go. Unrequited love is the pits, y’all.
I had a feeling something was going to go wrong once Cordelia was late to Point Dume. I actually thought she might crash and not be able to contact Angel, since Angel had dropped his phone off a cliff. But how could I have ever guessed this ending? Sure, there was a history of the Powers That Be putting Cordelia in difficult situations to test her moral fiber. But right then? I was happy to see Skip, but that happiness lasted a fraction of a second before I began to put things together.
I’m just overwhelmed at where Cordelia’s character has gone since she was introduced back in the first episode of Buffy. If you look at her first scene in “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” and then think about her ascension here, it’s hard to see how things could ever end up this way. But her time in season three of Buffy and her story since she came to Los Angeles has been magnificently told. It’s about a woman who sheds the privilege she was born into and begins to care about the world around her. It is a selfless act to choose to leave our world to fight good, and it broke my heart in the best way possible to see her light up and ascend up to a new dimension.
It’s not lost on me how this episode ends: Cordelia, bathed in light, rises up to a new world, while Angel, swallowed by darkness, plunges to his new life at the bottom of the fucking ocean. These two people were just about to confirm their love for one another, and now it’s been taken away from them.
What a haunting end to a stellar season. I am terrified that Cordelia is gone from the show, but if that was the last thing I saw from her, I won’t be upset. It’s satisfying to know that at the end of her story, she chose to help others instead of herself. And I love and respect her for that.
I’m gonna go drown myself in a tub of ice cream. Sugar will help repair my feelings.
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