Mark Re-Watches ‘Angel’: Pylea!

Everyone, let’s talk about one of the BEST THINGS that Angel ever didAnd I mean that! In hindsight, I loved this arc even MORE than I did when I first watched it. Let’s discuss!

Okay, videos first:

“Belonging”

[vimeo 56861258 w=500 h=375]

“Over the Rainbow”

[vimeo 56861260 w=500 h=375]

“Through the Looking Glass”

[vimeo 56861261 w=500 h=375]

“There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb”

[vimeo 56861262 w=500 h=375]

I was serious yesterday when I said I had a lot to say about this arc. BUCKLE IN.

  • NO HELP ME, THIS WHOLE ARC IS ABOUT HOW EVERY CHARACTER STRUGGLES TO BELONG IN THEIR OWN RESPECTIVE WORLD, SO THEY’RE TRANSPORTED TO ANOTHER ONE IN THE PROCESS AND IT GIVES THEM ~PERSPECTIVE~ OH MY GOD. And in the case of Fred? She is given the hope of another world for the first time in five years.
  • ~my feelings~
  • Hey, Wesley’s dad sucks. He does! Even when he’s a robot, jesus.
  • Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan. YES.
  • It must be said that the worldbuilding given in these four episodes is ridiculous. I LOVE WORLDBUILDING.
  • I had said during my initial watch of these episodes that it was neat how this didn’t function as a traditional end-of-season story arc. And while it was certainly unexpected and bizarre, I’d like to amend that. The Pylea arc is an integral way for this show to examine the exact themes brought up in “Judgment” and throughout season two. Angel struggled with the darkness within him this whole season, and this was a chance to actually show us what was inside of him. I’m actually surprised that the show never really brought up the demon within Angel again, as I think it could have been pretty neat to discuss again. Of course… how? How would that have happened? I have no idea.
  • Anyway, the great part about these four episodes is how fantastically the writers deal with every single character. All of them get screentime: Gunn, Fred, Wes, Angel, Groo, and Cordelia. All of their stories matter. It’s something that later seasons of this show (and, to that extent, Buffy as well) didn’t do all that well. But lord, when this show was on fire, IT WAS SO GOOD. I’ve seriously re-thought my stance on the best season, and I think 2 might outrank 5 after having watched this.
  • NO, ANGEL IS CLEARLY IN LOVE WITH CORDELIA, NO, THAT PATH IS FULL OF TRAGEDY AND HEARTBREAK, DUDE. Oh god, why. They came so close! Then it was STOLEN FROM THEM.
  • Things I will remember when I am 89 and reminiscing on my youth: Angel not being on fire. It will forever be hilarious to me.
  • I don’t know why I hate Constable Narwek so much more on this second time around. Like, I just hated seeing him on the screen.
  • This arc made me miss Caritas. Poor Lorne. I’m eager to see if he’s in the Angel comics because his ending just made me sad, and Lorne deserves better.
  • Oh god, the references to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland are even more dense and complicated than I realized. I LOVE TEXTUAL REFERENCES, Y’ALL.
  • Cordelia is my personal queen, so the end of “Over the Rainbow” is canon for my life. Thanks, Angel. You helped me realize this, and I am forever in your debt.
  • It is absolutely surreal to watch Amy Acker in these episodes. I cannot even believe that is the same character as the Fred in season five. (Related: Fuck you, “A Hole in the World,” I will forever hate you on principle because you took Fred from me. Yes, watching TV shows is all about my own personal feelings only.) Amy Acker, I think after Sarah Michelle Gellar, you’re the best actress in all of Whedon’s work. Let’s add some Dichen Lachman in there, too, with an honorary reference to Enver Gjokaj as the beautiful free soul who loves the dance floor.
  • Ugh, “Through the Looking Glass” is so fantastic as an analysis of what it means for Angel to be a hero. He totally eats up the attention that Lorne’s family gives him, feeding into his more violent side in order to gain praise, but he then discovers the toll that violence takes on him in Pylea. It’s the end-point of the story brought up in this season regarding the demon within Angel. Before, it was always metaphorical. The poor decisions Angel made were in spite of his soul. Now, we see that the demon inside Angel is literal.
  • And Fred’s the only one to show him that she’s not afraid of him. I’m pretty sure Fred is my favorite character on this show, and this arc solidified that.
  • I kind of feel bad for Groo? Like, he falls for Cordelia, she goes back to a parallel world, he arrives in season three, but she’s basically in love with Angel, and everything is just sad for him? What’s his life like now?
  • Well, at least he existed to show Cordelia that even without a tiara, she’s a queen deserving of love and respect.
  • I miss Cordelia Chase so much.
  • FOREVER BITTER ABOUT SEASONS FOUR AND FIVE.
  • Oh god, please don’t let that be engraved on my tomb. HERE LIES MARK, WHO IS STILL REALLY PISSED ABOUT HOW ANGEL TREATED CORDELIA IN SEASONS FOUR AND FIVE. ALSO, HE’S DEAD AND STUFF.
  • Wow, the end of “Through the Looking Glass” upset me SO MUCH when I first watched it
  • This arc also reminded me of a time when Wesley was happy. That hurt my heart. Oh god, season three is just so agonizing to watch. I’m kind of glad no one’s commissioned me to watch the whole Darla/Holtz/Sahjhan arc yet because it’s unfair to all of my Wesley Feelings. Yes, that deserves to be capitalized.
  • You know, I’m kind of glad that the last episode didn’t make Lorne’s family suddenly satisfied with what Lorne had done. The Pylean culture is so unlike our own, and in their eyes, he disgraced them. Plus, it’s necessary that they reject him so that Lorne understands that where he belongs is in Los Angeles.
  • This bullet point is for Numfar. That is all.
  • Okay, so if you watch the video for “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb,” you’ll see I was STILL SURPRISED BY THE END OF THAT EPISODE. I had forgotten that this aired after “The Gift,” and Willow’s appearance once again was a total punch in the heart. DAMN YOU, JOSS WHEDON AND DAVID GREENWALT. DAMN YOU.

Give me all your thoughts, please.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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