Reign of Fire: Angel Season Four

by Alan Rapp on September 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

The sun is blocked out, the sky rains fire, Angelus returns, the unstoppable Beast smashes and crashes through L.A., and that’s just in the beginning.

Angel – Season 4
Custom Rating

So much happens in this season it will make your head spin.  The quest for Cordelia, the rise of The Beast,  the rain of fire and permanent midnight, the return of both Faith and Angelus, and the arrival of an ancient power who first takes control of Cordelia and then all of Los Angeles.  A packed full season that is one of the series best.

You just treat it all like it was up to you,
the world in the balance, because
you never know when it is.

Both Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) are missing in action as Season Four begins.  Angel is finally freed after months at the bottom of the ocean by Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and will deal with the betrayal of his son Connor (Vincent Kartheiser).  Cordelia returns from her stint as a higher being, without her memory, just in time for everything to go to hell as The Beast (Vladimir Kulich) burrows his way up from hell, makes the sky rain fire, and blocks out the sun.  No one knows how to stop The Beast, all records of his existance have been destroyed in this dimension.  The only one who might know someting is….Angelus.

Since Angel cannot remember that specific period of time the group decides to bring back Angelus and find out what he knows.  Yeah, kind of like solving a bruised elbow by ripping off the arm and throwing it to the wolves.  Of course Angelus escapes and the group enlists the help of a Vampire Slayer, no not her, the other one.  Faith (Eliza Dushku) returns to help stop The Beast and bring down Angelus.  World saved right?  Well, not exactly.  Everything would be just fine except Cordelia turns out to be The Beast’s master and pregnant to boot.  The creature inside Cordelia gives birth to herself, an angelic Jasmine (Gina Torres) who creates a Utopia as any who see her or listen to her fall under her spell.  Slowly the gang is forced out of the delusional paradise and embark on a mission to end world peace…I mean Jasmine’s control.  Finally they return to the hotel to find an old friend who offers them a deal of a lifetime.

Whew, you get all that?  We also get new characters such as the wonderful and wickedly sexy thief Gwen (Alexa Davalos) as well as the return of several familiar faces including Faith, Skip (David Denman), Lilah (Stephanie Romanov), and Darla (Julie Benz).  This season also asks the question, can you copy from yourself?  If Spin the Bottle looks familiar it because Buffy did it much better in Season Six with Tabula Rasa.  And if House Always Wins gives you a sense of deja vu you might want to go back and look at Double or Nothing from Season Three of Angel.

Aside from those misques, there are some great episodes here and although I prefer The Beast / Angelus story arc to that of evil Cordelia / Jasmine there is much to enjoy in both.

The Beast

Apocalypse Nowish / Habeas Corpses / Long Day’s Journey

The Beast burrows his way out ouf hell to arrive in Los Angeles and reak havoc.  First he tosses around Connor around the alley like a ragdoll, then dispenses the Angel crew without breaking a sweat.  Can a guy made out of rock sweat?  What next?  Well he makes the sky rain fire, but he’s just getting wamred up as he walks into Wolfram & Hart and kills everyone he sees stealing the power of the conduit to help him block out the sun.  The rain of fire is spectacular and The Beast is a powerhouse of a villain.  Whedon’s trademark for turning things sideways is in full force as The Beast doesn’t join the evil law firm, but massacres them.

Salvage / Release / Orpheus

Angelus has been brought back to learn how to defeat The Beast, but he escapes the hotel and roams Los Angeles enjoying the havoc permanent night has brought.  With no other options Wesley calls on Faith to track down Angelus and capture him alive.  The scenes between Wesley and Faith show how much each character has changed since Season One.  The method of capture is paticularily interesting as Faith and Angelus are trapped in his mind as the group, with the help of Willow (Alyson Hannigan) tries to recapture and restore Angel’s soul.

 

Inside Out / The Magic Bullet

Darla

My two favorite episodes of the Jasmine storyline.  The first is the birth of Jasmine where Kartheiser gives his best performance of the series.  I especially love the scene between Darla’s “ghost” and Connor; the scene ends showing how irredeamable Connor has become.  That final shot of Darla looking up at him is heartwrenching.  The other episode involves Fred versus the world as she is the only one who can see through Jasmine’s spell.  Some great conspiracy monments here and I really enjoyed Patrick Fischler as the owner of the conspiracy bookstore.  I love how the cast reacts to knowing and understanding that they now know the truth, yet acknowledging how each of them still craves the lie.

The collection contains commentary for seven episodes (Spin the Bottle with Whedon and Denisof is pretty funny stuff, and I can almost forgive them for ripping off the Buffy episode).  Also included are a season overview and a collection of outtakes.  A set of featurettes about the Hyperion Hotel, Wolfram & Hart, and the Beast storyline round out the collection.  The Wolfram & Hart featurette is especially interesting as it gives you a look back and helps set the stage for Angel and the gang’s new surroundings in Season Five.  In all a pretty good collection of extras.

A nice collection of extras and some pretty damn good storytelling make this a great little set to add to your Buffy / Angel DVD collection.  The Beast and Angelus storylines are particularily well done, and the Jasmine storyline is interesting as it shows us a completely different type of villain.  One thing Angel does as a series is show how much the characters live in shades of gray, can be tempted, and often make bad decisions.  And bringing Lilah back to point out that by stopping Jasmine they effectively ended world peace and have thrown the world into chaos is cool.  They had to stop Jasmine, but did stopping her actually improve the world or did they do more harm than good?

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