Astronauts or Cavemen? : Angel Season Five

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Angel and the crew try to control the evil law firm they’ve accepted control over without being swallowed up themselves.  Old friends and enemies return for the final season, and Angel gets turned into a puppet.  Oh yeah, Spike turns up too.

Angel – Season 5
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Angel and the crew have taken control of the Wolfram & Hart offices in Los Angeles and now have to figure out how to use the evil power at their fingertips to do some actual good.  Oh yeah, and a certain platinum haired vampire with a soul stops by to be a tremendous pain in Angel’s ass all season long.  Fun, fun, fun!  It’s the last season of Angel folks, let’s get to it!


Season Five picks up with Angel (David Boreanaz) having accepted the deal to take control of the West Coast offices of Wolfram & Hart and now are trying to decide how to use this incredibly evil business to do some good.  So tension is already high when an amulet from Sunnydale arrives and out shoots the ghost of Spke (James Marsters) who will haunt Angel, quite literally, for the first few episodes.  As Spike is finally made corporeal new problems arise as now there are two world saving vampires with souls walking around the halls of Wolfram & Hart.  After beating each other into a bloody pulp, Angel and Spike form a kind of uneasy truce as Spike walks out of the law firm and goes to work on the streets fighting the good fight.  He is approached by Angel’s old nemisis Lindsay McDonald (Christian Kane) who is calling himself Doyle and pretending to have visions.  Lindsay hopes to create enough confusion in Angel that he can sweep in and finally take control of Wolfram & Hart.  Another old friend will return for a single episode as Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) shows up to remind Angel who he was and put him back on his path.

The Gang

Things return to normal until Fred (Amy Acker) is infected by ancient sarcophagus and the gang, even Angel and Spike, band together to save her.  In the end Fred dies and her body is made into the new vessel of Illyria (again played by Acker), an ancient and extremely powerful old one.  The ramifications of this change will shake the characters, especially Wesley (Alexis Denisof) and Gunn (J. August Richards) for the rest of the series run.  Illyria learns that her followers have turned to ash millenia ago and has no other option to try and live in this world and asks Wesley to be her guide.  Things come to a head as Angel becomes acting much more like the CEO of Wolfram & Hart and the gang gets information that Angel may have sacrificed Fred for more power and to inducted into the Circle of the Black Thorn.  The confrontation reveals the truth and the gang decides to declare war on Wolfram & Hart and take out all the members of the Circle thus stopping the mechinism for the senior partners plans on earth, if only for a short time.  Some of the group are successful, but more will fall before the end as the Senior Partners will unleash hell on earth for revenge.

Season Five returns to the original style of the show with more stand alone episodes with shorter story arcs.  We do get the Spike / Angel arc which evolves over the season, the Illyria arc, and the final arc of the series which involves the gang taking down the Circle of the Black Thorn.  And the show stays true to form, with Buffy each season is a possible bookend for the series, but Angel differentiated itself early on by deciding the cliffhangers are the best way to end and this one is a doozy.


Spike vs Angel

Spike is made corporeal by a mysterious package in the mail and the universe is sent into wackiness because we now have two vampires with souls who can lay claim to the Sanshu prophecy.  They race each other to drink from the cup of perpetual torent and cement themselves as the chosen one.  Wonderful stuff here as the huge battle between Angel and Spike is intercut with scenes from their first meeting and we finally get some of the background causes of the animosity between the two.  And it’s great see Juliet Landau reprise her role of Drusilla.  What’s even more interesting is that for the first time ever Spike wins the fight, defeating Angel and leaving him to wonder “What if I’m not the guy?” and us to wonder should the show be called Spike?


An oddity here because it’s a Wesley episode which we don’t get very often.  Wesley’s father Roy Dotrice shows check out Wolfram & Hart, but really to steal a mystical item that will allow him to control Angel.  Wesley has to choose between the mission and family, a choice that is made all to easy when daddy threatens Fred.  Great episode that creates some more bonding and understanding between Angel and Wesley, and will a catalyst as Fred begins to look at Wesley in a new light.

A wee little puppet man

Smile Time

Here’s the set up – Angel gets turned into a puppet.  The children’s show Smile Time is run by demons who have taken the form of puppets and are draining life force from children through their television screens.  Angel goes to investigate and he becomes as Spike so perfectly puts it “a wee little puppet man.”  Written and directed by Joss Whedon this episode just rocks in all kinds of ways.  My favorite scene involves Spike discovering what has happened to Angel and the puppet beating down the incredulous laughing vampire.  The scene where Angel is attacked by werewolf Nina (Jenny Mollen) who rips out most of his stuffing is also quite good.  Also of interest to longtime watchers of the show, this episode marks the moment that Fred and Wesley FINALLY get together, but you know Whedon doesn’t like his characters to be too happy so….

A Hole in the World / Shells

Fred is infected by a sarcophagus of an old one, an acient race that lived on earth well before the age of man.  The old one burns Fred from the inside out to use her body as its new vessel.  Spike and Angel travel to England to the Deeper Well, a gigantic hole going through the center of the earth where all the remains of the old ones are kept.  Grogan, the keeper of the well informs them that the only way to pull Illyria out of Fred would involve killing hundreds of thousands.  Fred dies in Wesley’s arms and Illyria is reborn in her shell and prepares for the coming of her army to destroy the infection of humanity.

After discovering her worshippers are long dead she wanders unable to find any solace in this new world.  She asks Wesley to be her guide, and because she is the closest thing to Fred that still exists Wesley accepts.  Great two part episode that involves the most heartwrenching death scene in any Joss Whedon episode as Fred slowly falls into oblivion.  Gunn is faced with his part in her death as he learns he is responsible for getting Illyria’s sarcophogus through customs and delivered to Wolfram & Hart.  Angel and Spike come to the realization that as much as they love Fred they cannot sacrifice thousands for her.  Wesley must not only deal with the loss of Fred, but now the responsibility of teaching Illyria about humanity.  Amy Acker is wonderful in a totally new role as the mysterious old one who is now lost in this world of humanity.

The final season of Angel gives us a featurette on the 100th episode of the series You’re Welcome which brings back the characters of Cordelia and Lindsay.  We also get a short featuretee for Smile Time, a featurette on the making of a stunt scene, a final season overview, a gag reel and commentary for seven episodes.  To comemorate the season we also get a look at Whedon’s favorite episodes and a featurette on the recurring villains of the series.  A nice set to finish your collection.

I prefer the wide sweeping story arcs of Seasons Three and Four, but I must admit that this season is one of the best.  The Angel / Spike relationship is a wonderful way to shakeup the series chemistry.  Boreanaz and Marsters work so well off each other it’s really a shame we didn’t get to see more with these two.  The season also meets my requirement of the best seasons having meaningful deaths, and oh boy does this one have it in spades.  Before the end we’ve lost many of the characters who made this world so interesting to watch.  As the series has done since the end of Season Two, it leaves us on a cliffhanger that would make a great opening for a Buffy / Angel movie.

The End???

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