In the sixth episode of the fifth season of Angel, I don’t know how to feel? For real. If you’re intrigued by this, then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
I have such a strange relationship with my heritage. My biological ethnicity is Mexican by way of Jalisco by way of East Los Angeles. But I was adopted when I was a wee toddler, and I grew up as a transethnic adoptee. I am not the same racial background as my parents. (I swear, if you though “transethnic” meant someone who was born the wrong ethnicity, erase this definition from your brain and please un-friend whomever told you this. My god, I know y’all probably don’t give a shit about largely obscure identity politics, but I just need to state this now: if you appropriate this very necessary term I need to describe and cope with the cultural dissonance in my upbringing, I will automatically think you are an awful human being.) This led to a lot of pain on my part, and my twin brother and I sought out any sort of connection to our Latino background at a very young age. But it’s hard knowing that you weren’t raised with it, when you weren’t brought up to speak Spanish, and when other people with the same ethnic background believe you have no right to any aspect of this culture. So navigating this sort of stuff is terribly complex for me, and in the 29 years I’ve been on this Earth, I haven’t figured it out. Yet.
So this is one reason why this episode is weird. It’s great to see so much of Mexican culture displayed on the show, from luchadores to Día de los Muertos iconography to the importance of family, and even some of the music. Plus, I’m pretty sure this is all one giant reference to El Santo, right? I mean, a luchador who fights vampires? IT’S CLEARLY THE SAME THING. But I could never tell if this was meant as a love letter to this community or if it was poking fun at it. I mean, this is the first episode that truly acknowledges the massive Latin@, Chican@, Mexican@, and Central American cultural influence in Los Angeles. And it’s about brothers who are Mexican wrestlers who died fighting Tezcatcatl? And one survives, and he gives up hope about being a moral, good person until Angel comes along? Like, I get that this was meant as a way for Angel to examine his own issues since he became CEO of Wolfram & Hart. And it’s not like I don’t want to see that! I think it’s an important story to tell. Plus, there were a lot of great little moments, most of them involving Spike poking fun of Angel.
But… what? What did I just watch? I thought the main writer’s name seemed familiar, and a quick Google search confirmed that he had once written for The X-Files! Oh, he wrote “Alpha.” Oh. Well, to be fair, he also wrote “The Goldberg Variation,” and “Signs and Wonders”! I love those episodes! But they’re all very, very, very strange, and I think that’s why I can’t wrap my head around this episode. Is it funny? Is it a really sad story about the loss of family and the loss of hope? Is it meant to be a farce? is it supposed to be thrilling? Y’all, I don’t know. I don’t!
Can we just talk about the other stuff? Like:
- Everyone (aside from Spike) showing genuine concern for Angel’s well-being! Oh god, MY HEART.
- Jesus, so if Wesley remembers nothing of the prophecy Sahjhan created, does that mean Wesley never betrayed Angel??? Holy shit. 🙁
- Oh my god, THE SHANSHU PROPHECY COULD TOTALLY BE TALKING ABOUT SPIKE. How did I not connect those dots? They were right there!
- Holland Manners hired Numero Cinco! Neat!
- Seriously, all of Spike’s lines in the first ten minutes of “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco” are gold. GOLD.
One note about this season that’s bugging me before I give up trying to pull a review out of this episode. Was it strange to any of you that Spike fell so hard for Buffy in season seven of Buffy, yet he doesn’t mention her once beyond “Just Rewards”? No? Maybe? Well, it’s odd to me.
Okay, I can’t come up with anything else to say about this episode. What the hell did I watch?
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