Sunday, February 19, 2012

"The Ring" (Angel 1.16): Demon Fight Club

So this is an odd late-season offering. It's a standalone ep that is a little bit Warrior, a little bit Gladiator, a little bit The Jungle, and a little bit Whedonverse guide to making it on the inside when you're a vampire with a soul. Intrigued? Let's begin.

DON'T be anyone's bitch. I did say it had some parallels to jail, right? Once Angel gets tricked by a pair of nefarious brothers into becoming imprisoned in their underground demon MMA operation, his first task is to establish his place in the pecking order of similarly trapped fighters.

That place would be at the top.

DO remember your moral code is really more a set of guidelines than hard and fast rules.
The beasties have to score 21 kills before they're freed, and Angel repeatedly vows to perform precisely none of them. Until an unfortunate (and a little ungrateful) demon wakes up Angelus.

Are you not entertained?

DO keep your friends on the outside. While Angel is eating his gruel and doing his time, Wesley and Cordelia are retracing his steps and tracking him down. During the course of their wild Angel chase, there's a idiosyncratic little moment with Wesley being bad-ass.

This screencap doesn't do the badassery justice.

I'll let my intrepid co-watcher break it down for you:
"Why can't they be more consistent showing Wesley's evolution? It would make sense that the more practice he gets as a 'rogue demon hunter,' the better he would get. He must also be learning quite a bit from Angel. But, these weird glimpses of coordination followed by bumbling undercover work just don't jibe for me. It's like they couldn't quite figure out how much they wanted him to evolve. He couldn't just stay the bookworm, luddite, 'fucks everything up, but means well' Wesley; yet, he must obviously still serve as a foil to Angel and thus can't be smooth competent fighter guy."

Good points all. Though they managed Giles's similar evolution much more smoothly on Buffy, they did it over seasons, not over episodes.

DON'T become an institutional man. Despite their best efforts, Wes and Cordy don't save Angel. Who does is his fellow demons-in-arms. After snagging the bracelet-unlocking-device from W, the demon horde turn on their captors, realizing that the true enemy is not each other, but their oppressors.

Pictured: Marxism!

This episode was entertaining enough, and notable for Wolfram & Hart associate Lilah's first appearance. This means Lindsey can't be far behind!

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