Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E03 – The House Always Wins

In the third episode of the fourth season of Angel, Fred and Gunn convince Angel that he needs a break from recent events, and the group goes to Vegas. SHENANIGANS ENSUE! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

Well, this was a neat episode! It was kind of underwhelming at times, but I certainly had fun watching the gang in Vegas. ANGEL HAD SO MANY GOOD STORIES. I suppose that after the endless parade of awful things happening to everyone that was season three, it was nice to see these characters act so silly. And that first scene of Lorne singing? UGH, ANDY HALLET, YOU ARE JUST SO PERFECT AS THIS CHARACTER. It’s that simple! And this episode, which focuses on the horrible state he’s in at the Tropicana, showed me just how much Lorne’s friends really cared about him, especially Gunn and Fred.

I’m glad that this episode was actually filmed in Vegas and that you could tell it was filmed there. It is such a weird city. I generally don’t like it? I mean, I’ve been often, I’ll usually go if friends and shenanigans are involved, and I’ve been there to see bands more times than I can recall. But I don’t actually care about Vegas. It’s hard to eat there if you’re a vegan and you’re not by yourself. I don’t drink so… well, that means most of everything there is sort of pointless. I am generally terrified of gambling because I grew up poor, and the very idea of giving hundreds of dollars to pure chance in that context makes me feel horrible. (That being said, get me on some penny or nickel slots with ridiculous bonus games, and I AM ENTERTAINED FOR HOURS. Also, I miss that you can’t use real coins anymore. BOO TO ELECTRONIC BALANCES. YOU ARE NO FUN AT ALL.)

It’s hard to describe the vibe to people who haven’t been there. I suppose it’s just as overwhelming and seedy as you probably think it is. There are always tons of people everywhere, and it’s hard to escape the crowd. Everything has this fake hint of glamour to it that you can see right through, but no one talks about it. Then there are the billboards for people just like Danny Gans, whose face you could see all over the place until a few years ago. And then you start thinking about Vegas entertainers, and you wonder how a person can perform the same show hundreds of times a year without wanting to die, and then you forget that when you watch Lorne. Because good lord, he is so incredible to watch. Actually, let me also state for the record that because of Rich from FourFour, I would die to see Celine Dion live in Vegas.

Anyway, I admit that aside from a few choice moments, I actually didn’t feel like I had much to say after “The House Always Wins” ended. There is, of course, that very important reveal at the end, but otherwise, this episode kind of felt like the show’s attempt to get Lorne back in Los Angeles, and that’s it? Wait, let’s discuss the things I managed to pick up that felt important to me:

  • I know it’s basically signing a death warrant, but it’s nice seeing how Fred and Gunn interact as a couple. They’re still flirty and intimate with one another after all this time. Plus, with Angel out of the running for the second half of the story, it’s up to them to rescue Lorne. Taking center stage, then, is Fred, who must utilize absolutely none of her scientific knowledge to get inside Lorne’s room. Seriously, she’s not very good at all, but hey, she helped save the day!
  • Framing parts of this episode with Cordelia felt a little strange at times, especially since she never once intervened in the past. Why did she wait until now? Still, it was really exciting to see her get involved in this story, even in such a limited capacity. OH GOD, HER LOVE FOR ANGEL IS SO STRONG IT TRANSCENDS DIMENSIONS. I can get behind this plot.
  • The idea behind Lorne’s imprisonment was SUPER FUCKED UP. Oh, I wish we could have spent more time with it! Stealing a person’s future to be resold on the black (magic) market? THAT IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA. I wouldn’t go far to say it’s wasted on this episode; it’s absolutely necessary to examine Lorne’s morality and to give us that scene where Gunn tries to confront Lorne over it. But it was such a small part of the story, and I just wanted more. This is probably not a real criticism, and I’m probably just ridiculously selfish and entitled.
  • UGH MORE WESLEY/LILAH, OKAY. My god, Wesley seemed happy for like two minutes.
  • I ALSO MISSED THE TRUE MEANING OF “FLUFFY.” Holy crap, I would have been no help to Lorne.
  • Okay, so are the writers saving the Apocalypse until the last season? It’s always just around the corner. Well, when are we going to get there?
  • OH MY GOD, I LOVE OLD VEGAS SO MUCH. So that entire scene on Fremont Street was just wonderful. However, I had to laugh at the fact that after Lorne used his high voice to create a distraction, he and his friends stop like 100 feet away to have an argument. Oh my god, RUN FURTHER AWAY FIRST.
  • I wish it was developed a bit more, but I enjoyed the idea that Angel’s destiny has nothing to do with fighting right and wrong, that he still has a purpose as long as he still loves the people around him. That is a rad message.

Okay. I only have one other thing to say:


I admit I’m more excited for future episodes than I was about this one.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E03 – The House Always Wins

  1. Kali says:

    Since Mark let’s us know how accurate or inaccurate this shows portrayal of LA is I feel the need to point things out about Las Vegas, having been born and raised here.

    The Good:
    – The scenes we get of people mindlessly putting coins into the machines are so true. Go to casinos that cater more towards locals and you’ll see dozens of people smoking their cigarettes while staring at a machine wasting hours and hours each day for the tiny chance of winning anything worthwhile.
    – Ask anyone who has lived here for more than 30 years and they will agree with Angel, this town WAS better when the mob ran it. There’s a lot to get into about that, but suffice to say crime was actually lower, more people had jobs, and everything ran pretty smoothly.

    The Bad:
    – Not necessarily bad, just not accurate. But I laugh at the statement that the Tropicana is a big place or top casino… LOLZ no…just no. Even 10 years ago that place was run down and not very popular.
    – I also have to laugh at them running out of the Tropicana and magically appearing 10 miles away on Freemont Street. Granted if they had used a casino located on Freemont nobody would have heard of it because they are all crap holes.

    And while most people visiting go to The Strip as the main tourist attraction, there is a lot more to this city. I’m not a fan myself, I just want to make sure everyone is aware that we all don’t live in hotels and work in casinos!

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