Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E14 – Release

In the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of Angel, this is just inhumane at this point. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

I can’t bring myself to form any coherent thoughts about Cordelia Chase. I am so bewildered and lost by what the writers have done that I don’t even know where to start analyzing her. Was she always evil? Did it start at a certain point? Why aren’t we being told this? What the fuck is going on?

I concede that the show is purposely hiding this stuff from me. Okay. Fine. But the bad feelings I’m getting from this are all about characterization. What the hell have the writers done with this character? What’s the point of it? Why make someone’s character arc being about a long, slow process or redemption and goodness and then suddenly drop them into a pit of evil with no warning, no progression between points A and B, and with no apparent point at all?

It is very easy for me to say that Connor/Cordelia is the worst writing decision I’ve ever seen on a Whedon show. There is nothing revealing, entertaining, or fascinating about it. It’s gross, it feels gross, it makes me feel like I need a hot shower every time it’s brought up, and I hate it with every cell in my body. I understand that watching the rapid destruction of my favorite character is certainly affecting this. I have no problem admitting this. But I can’t find even one reading of this that feels interesting. It all feels BLECH and exploitative and NOPE.

NOPE FOREVER.

And you know, it’s really not fun to say this. Ever since I did Mark Reads Twilight over three years ago (HOLY SHIT I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S BEEN THREE YEARS) (SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: You can buy a fully edited collection of ALL FOUR BOOKS in one paperback right here), I have been weary of every hate-blogging like that again. There’s so much negativity in fandom. Trust me – I ran Buzznet, a fan-centered site, for four years, and it was a breeding ground for the worst sort of behavior on the Internet. I saw the worst. And despite that there was some catharsis in tearing apart that series, especially as a minority who was standing up for myself and others, that sort of empowerment also left me fucking exhausted. A lot of people don’t know this, but my editor at the time forced me to write the last three series. After I finished the first Twilight book, I said I was quitting. Mark Reads Twilight was always a joke, meant to be viewed by the people in my office who thought it would be entertaining to see me mad every day. NONE OF YOU WERE EVER SUPPOSED TO SEE IT. Oh god, the Internet is a weird place.

Anyway, I was told that I couldn’t quit because page views were too high. It became required of me. So, if you’ve ever gone back to read those reviews, that’s why it’s akin to watching someone have a nervous breakdown. I pretty much did. It hurt me so much to just hate every day that I started getting migraines – brutally intense, debilitating migraines – and irregular sleep patterns. The stress of that much negativity literally hurt my body. Despite that I tried to be as critical as I could when I started the Harry Potter series in 2010, I was so eager to enjoy writing again. It felt better.

I keep that in mind even when I don’t like something. I want to inhabit a space where I can criticize something, where I can pick it apart and separate what I like from what I don’t like, so that we as a fandom can discuss it. While a good rant or two might be quite empowering and exciting, I just don’t want to dislike things anymore. It’s why I’m so open-minded and positive around here. It’s tiring being angry all the time, and I can’t do it anymore. I have to pick and choose.

So I’m not taking this lightly. It’s disheartening that I despise a plot on Angel so much because I really do love this show a whole lot. I tried – really hard! – to find something redeeming about Connor/Cordelia, but I can’t. I hate it. Wholly and completely. Without abandon. And it sucks. I was so into this arc! Angelus is back, and he’s so fascinating to watch, even though I despise him, too! But… oh god, let me move on to something else for the moment.

Fred and Gunn’s conversation was quite similar to Anya and Xander’s wasn’t it? I mean, they didn’t have sex, but there was a spark of hope before they both realized that there wasn’t anywhere their relationship could go. Ugh, it’s just so sad. They were a great couple, and external circumstances were responsible for EVERYTHING BEING RUINED. Well, at least initially. Gunn and Fred had severe trust issues at the end of their relationship, and it was impossible for them to get around that. Still, I get the sense that these two want to remain friends throughout all of this. They don’t hate one another, and they want to still work together. Well, so far? Oh god, can this not be ruined either? That would be great. THANK YOU.

I also got this idea, but I’m not too hopeful it’ll pan out. WHAT IF. What if… well okay, look, there are two scenes in this episode where Angel speaks to someone no one else can see or hear. Granted, it’s Cordelia doing some weird telepathy, but HOW COULD WOULD IT BE IF IT WAS THE FIRST? I mean, it’s so similar! I don’t think the mechanics are the same, which means that both Buffy and Angel are dealing with their own apocalypses. BUT WOULD THIS NOT BE COOL AS HELL?

Great. Now I’m thinking of Evil Cordelia again. MOVING ON.

Faith is the best. SHE IS. And the horrifying role reversal in “Release” is definitely the best part of this episode. From the moment she freaks out in Wesley’s shower until the end, this is all about Faith’s struggle with her own morality as the Slayer. She stayed in prison because she believed in being reformed. She believed in approaching her penchant for violence and nihilism in order to find a new way to live. And while being physical is always going to be rewarding for Faith, she now approaches situations much more delicately than she did. Of course, that means that she has to cope with the fact that she really doesn’t want to kill Angel. Because she’s never seen Angelus, I think her breakdown in the shower is about that struggle. It’s too hard for her to separate Angel from Angelus. She still wants to save Angel, which is a GORGEOUS ROLE REVERSAL from Faith’s last appearance on this show. She refuses to give up on him. CAN YOU HEAR MY HEART BREAKING?

As if this wasn’t brilliant enough, the writers directly contrast Wesley and Faith during that HORRIFIC torture sequence. When Faith last saw Wesley, she tortured him. She believed in giving in to her more violent tendencies whenever it benefited her. Wesley tried to get her to do the opposite. AND THEIR ROLES ARE ALSO REVERSED HERE. It’s why it’s so shocking and awful to watch Wesley stab that poor woman just to get information. it’s a reminder of how far Wesley has come. I mean HE JUST LOST HIS GIRLFRIEND TWO EPISODES AGO. That being said, I THINK YOU WENT WAY OVERBOARD, DUDE. My god, that scene was hard to watch.

So where does that leave Faith? She’s stuck in this awful position where she has to think about whether or not she wants to give up everything she’s learned from her years in prison. We are left to imagine a lot of what that is, especially since Faith is thrust so rapidly into this chaotic situation. How does she navigate these two extremes when choosing not to give up on Angel means he continually kicks her ass?

I don’t know the answer to this, but MY GOD IT BETTER NOT BE TURNING FAITH INTO A VAMPIRE. OH MY GOD. They can’t do that, can they??? Right??? what the FUCK.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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