Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Reunion" (Angel 2.10): What you might call a paradigm shift

So I've been thinking a lot about Angel in terms of genre lately (fantasy? noir? detective?) and it seems like this episode is where the season, if not the series, declares its allegiance, but with a twist. But whether you're working on a conference paper or not, I think this episode is a highlight. Here goes the Angel guide to changing the rules halfway through.

DO bring out the big vamps. As you fellow Buffy fans might recall, Angel is no stranger to changing horses midstream. Season 2, anyone? And the constant is Drusilla. After she re-vamps Darla, and stake-blocks Angel, the grandmother-granddaughter/mother-daughter duo go on an L.A. killing spree. They even end up looking like 80s club kids whilst preparing to massacre the partners of Wolfram & Hart at a, wait for it, wine tasting!

"Oh my God! We're going to, like, totally kill you all!"
Unsurprisingly, Lindsey is completely into it.

DO remind everyone what the show *used* to be about. Hey, remember visions?

How about Doyle? Anyone? Doyle?

Cordy throws one in the car chasing Darla and Drusilla (Drusarla? Dilla?) . . . and Angel could care less. He stops a kid from sacrificing his own life to a demon in a fairly brusque "I've got better things to do" manner, and resumes the chase. Angel doesn't self-define as a detective anymore, even one committed to rescuing mortals who run afoul of supernatural forces. He's become a champion, a major player in the supernatural poker game being played by Wolfram & Hart.

DON'T forget what we learned from season 1. But, what makes this transition interesting, is how Angel in some ways becomes more of a hardboiled detective when shedding the noir trappings than he was when ostensibly inhabiting them. What makes Angel unique in terms of the literary trope is that though he found himself in a noir plot, he didn't, he couldn't, become completely inured to emotional connection as, say, Spade in The Maltese Falcon does. The thing about Angel was, he had to have people help him both practically (he's a vampire and can't go out during the day, go places he's not invited, etc.) and metaphysically (his connection to humans forestalls Angelus). But this episode finds Angel shedding his detective responsibilities at the same time he is becoming more hardboiled than ever. He abandons the gang at Wolfram & Hart to be slaughtered, and fires the entire staff of Angel Investigations when they try to challenge his authority and make him come to terms with his past in a way that he is not yet ready for.

Angel's "I don't give a fuuuuck" face.

Jenn remembered this was coming. I did not. I'm not sure if she knows how it will be resolved, but I can't quite remember the path Angel takes back to Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn. I will leave you with Jenn's handy life lesson that one should take away from this episode: "Don't fuck with vampires, even ones with a soul because if they don't eat you themselves, they just might let someone else do it."

Sound advice.

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