Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E11 – Soulless

In the eleventh episode of the fourth season of Angel, this episode is what I want to be when I grow up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

Well, here’s one way to make me like “Awakening”: follow it up with “Soulless.” This is one of the most finely written episodes in the series, and I’m not surprised that Angelus factors into that. So, yeah, here are things that I thought:

  • The title. THE TITLE IS A HINT TOWARDS THE PLOT TWIST AT THE END OF THE EPISODE. BECAUSE THEY NO LONGER HAVE ANGEL’S SOUL. GET IT????
  • help me i am so overwhelmed
  • This episode cycles each of the characters through that basement, and they each must suffer the torment of Angelus. THIS IS A THING OF UNCOMFORTABLE BEAUTY.
  • I’m a huge fan of intimate dramas in tiny spaces. The narrative framing of “Soulless” just hits all the right tropes for me. Most of it takes place in the basement. It’s almost entirely dialogue. It’s dark. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS.
  • The fucking writing for Angelus is just unbelievable. It’s so fucked up. It’s so violent and horrific. That’s what makes this all so compelling. I hate what Angelus is doing to those around him, but I couldn’t help but feel transfixed by every word out of his mouth. His character has always been about this willful manipulation that we see in “Soulless,” but it’s like he’s been given more material to work with than ever before.
  • I suppose that’s another reason I’m so fascinated by “Soulless.” Nearly every plot in the last year of this show is brought up to be used against these characters. And while I’d like to think that with proper preparation, they’d all be able to go up against Angelus, the truth is that no matter how much they studied him, only Cordelia was able to get what she wanted. That’s important because she’s the only one who actually met Angelus before. You can’t study this man’s unpredictable nature.
  • That line about Wesley’s parents just about broke my heart. NOOOO. nooooo.
  • See, even though I’d experienced Angelus, I was still completely unprepared for what he did here. It was thrilling to watch just as much as it was agonizing.
  • Angelus was able to get Gunn, Fred, and Wesley to fight. While he was in a fucking cage. That’s just horrifying, y’all.
  • Gooooddddddd everyone is fighting again. It’s heartbreaking to watch, and I especially hate how this fairs for Gunn. He really gets the shit end of this, doesn’t he? Fred is welcome to pursue who she wants, but I hate how she and Wesley toy with the idea of being together for even one second without Fred breaking things off with Gunn. It’s unfair, and it makes me mad. And look, I am extremely happy that Wesley has integrated back into the group, but the dude is being totally awful in terms of Fred. NOOOO, stop it.
  • OH MY GOD, CONNOR AND ANGEL’S CONVERSATION WAS SO THRILLING. For a second, I thought Connor might be the one to get through to him, especially since Connor’s got the perfect combination of a lack of cynicism and a lack of fear. It’s such a huge moment for the character, too. Connor has heard about Angelus, but this is the first time he’s ever met him.
  • Cordelia, I swear, you will always be my favorite. Whether she truly intended to give herself over to Angelus or not is kind of irrelevant in the end. She was the only one able to play him perfectly, to get him to tell the truth. Ugh, I love her so much.
  • I’m really pleased that Angel’s vision from “Awakening” was not only openly addressed, but explored by Wesley. It definitely proves me wrong: it mattered. I LIKE BEING PROVEN WRONG ABOUT THINGS THAT I END UP ENJOYING.
  • Angelus refused to help the Beast back in Prussia. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.
  • Connor’s further development in “Soulless” is seen when he has an emotional breakdown outside the home of the Priestesses’ descendants. He has been distant as a person, numb to the violence and brutality of the world. It’s an interesting contrast to his growth in Angel’s vision. Here, he’s overwhelmed by the inherent cruelty of our world instead of inspired by it. Oh god, character growth. I love it so much!
  • how
  • how
  • HOW THE FUCK DID ANGEL’S SOUL GET STOLEN?
  • HOW DID ANGELUS KNOW ABOUT IT?

This is some mysterious shit, y’all. I don’t get it. Everyone was there! Can it Apparate? I don’t understand!!! Seriously, just when things were already awful, THEY GET WORSE. Oh my god. And the sun is still out, the streets of Los Angeles are becoming infested with vampires, and everything is awful. How is this going to be resolved???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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