Just a few thoughts on Angel seasons 3 and 4

angel season 4

I wanted to write this post after I had ended season three of Angel, but then I clicked play on season four’s premiere … and, well, stuff happens. I just watched the final credits roll on the season four finale. Whoa. What a crazy ride that was, huh?

For the most part, I don’t even know what to say, really.

A couple of months ago, Lost Girl won out for the show I should watch from the beginning. As many of you know, Buffy won last year, and so watching Angel came as a complement to watching Buffy. But I ended my Angel watch last year when I began watching season six of Buffy and it was sort of getting in the way. (I was definitely feeling it getting in the way of zooming through season five, but the beginning of Angel season three was my time to exit for the time being.) But then I finished Lost Girl quite quickly. And I still had a few more seasons of Angel to watch. So I clicked play.

I resumed season three midway through “Billy.” If there’s an episode to watch in season three, it’s definitely the one after that, “Offspring.” If I had just watched one and a half more episodes, I probably would have stuck with Angel and finished it way back when. But alas, that was not the choice I made.

Once Darla entered the picture, season three really changed the game. In a few words, it made it much more exciting. It had become almost laborious to watch Team Angel take on another case-of-the-week format after suffering through its freshman season like that. And to my surprise: Wolfram & Hart was still around and relevant. It made sense, of course, as I think Lilah was the most charismatic of antagonists for the two-season run. Still a bit miffed, though.

But enter Darla, pregnant and ready to pop. Suddenly, season three had a real drive, going full-speed ahead and not looking back. I don’t truly care much about some of Angel‘s past buds (if you want to call them that) — Dru, Spike, yes even Spike — but I realized something when she returned: I like Darla. A lot. How can you not? And if Darla were ever going to bow out, she was going to do it in a blaze of glory.

That she did, my friends. And for the most part, it all worked quite well from that point on. I do have to say that I was getting a bite lovesick of the entire love triangle between Gunn, Fred, and Wesley. It was a bit too prominent and sort of aimless, but once I realized they were using it to propel Wesley into this outcast of the group storyline, I grew to care for it a lot more. Other setbacks? The amount of whispering on this show! I know that it’s Angel’s show, The Ultimate Whisper-Talker, but geesh, I didn’t think I’d have to raise the volume on practically everyone!

One of my other favorite aspects of season three is Cordelia’s growth — not as a supernatural being, though that was fun and funny at appropriate times, but as a person. It was something that really validated her as a three-dimensional person, and having watched her since season one of Buffy, it kind of made me glad for her … which, yes, is a weird emotion.

What I did not enjoy is how season four kind of just pressed delete on all that characterization. Throughout so many seasons, Cordelia had finally developed into someone worthy of being important in the lives of many people and the betterment of the world. While I know now that Cordelia had lost her agency (or maybe not, she’s still in a coma) to Jasmine, throughout season four, she lost much of her wittiness, to boot. It only resurfaces when Willow makes a pitstop in Los Angeles. Some of that camp charm had faded away, but writing Willow lines reinvigorated it for just that one scene they shared. Willow commands it, anyway. (And, I missed Willow so much, guys. The feels.) But that It-factor that makes Cordelia Cordelia had begun to fade ever since her extended vacation in season three … and hasn’t been back since. I know it’s because she was growing as an individual, but it doesn’t mean she has to lose her sense of humor.

Then again, there’s a lot to not like about season four. It’s weird. It’s messy. And it somehow tops a more ew-inducing couple than Cordelia and Wes ever were. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one who ew’d at my screen when Cordelia and Connor got really acquainted. Because ew.

But there’s something so masterfully ridiculous about season four. It’s like an insane pendulum of sabotage and fearlessness that it’s the fastest season of Angel I’ve ever watched. Actually, it’s the first season that has actually made me really care and feel for the characters or about anything that was happening on the show. I loved it and hated it at the same time. Well, they say thin lines. But after every episode, there was a crazy amount of “WHAT?” going on in my head, that I had to press play on the next one.

And I’m not really sure if any of it adds up. So Jasmine needed Cordelia to sleep with Connor. Makes sense. But then she needed Cordelia to compartmentalize Connor away, and then profess her love for Angel, then turn off the sun, and then have Angel become Angelus because he’s a big part of the entire plan, and then she needed to kill Lilah to have everyone think Angelus killed her, but then she needed to be with Connor again, and then… what? You lost me at a bajillion commas ago. Whatever, Jasmine was kind of fun, so I’ll forgive them.

Though I liked Connor as a dramatic force and for tension, it’s nice to see him get a happy life he should have been born with. Though, this is Angel and it was a deal by Wolfram & Hart, so we know that everything may not be as it seems. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I also like that they’ve given Gunn a few more layers. He’s become sort of our “normal guy” transplant — except that he can actually kick ass and take names, but he’s tired of others underestimating him. Seeing the actor who plays Lorne finally get a series regular spot towards the end of season four was a nice touch, too. He’s been there since ever, being our hilarious comedic relief. Lorne is great. And weirdly, I’m really sad to see Lilah go. But I’m OK if she pops in every now and again all dead. I really liked her and Wesley together.

Well, regardless, I’m looking forward to watching Angel season five which is just the best — or so I hear. I’m also spoiled about something that happens — spoiler: Cordelia’s death — which makes me sad, but at least I don’t know how (I’m still hoping I completely misread and that it’s not true and that it’s all wrong).

Time to press play on one out of 22.

Tags: | Categories: Recaps, Television
About the author: Michael Collado
Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.

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  • Meg

    I consider the character assassination of Cordelia Chase one of the greatest tragedies in TV history.

    • Mike

      I know. I’m not a fan of just being like “well all that happened to Cordelia in season 3 is for nothing and oh she’s gonna just kill and sleep with everyone” but whatever.

  • Person Number One

    Wesley and Lilah is my probably my favorite pairing in the Buffy/Angel-verse, and probably in my top 5 pairings ever. They were twisted and messed up, but the show kept that clear and didn’t romanticize them. They were what they were- two messed up people trying to find some momentary relief from the messed world around them.

    • Mike

      Lilah and Wesley were GREAT! Loved their tension and the way they played off each other, too. Oh, well :/

  • Bernardis Trestian

    Too bad you didn’t mention Faith’s arc in season 4, it’s probably the part I enjoy the most. Faith and Angel’s relationship was really well done, starting in Buffy’s season 2 (I think?) and ending in Angel season 4. You truly get the feeling they have a connection the others simply don’t get (Wesley, Buffy, Cordelia and least of all Connor who simply didn’t understand why Faith won’t kill Angelus)

    Ok, I admit I might be a bit bias when it comes to Faith, Eliza is what wet dreams are made of…

    • Mike

      Haha! I’m picturing alligators. Sorry, there was just so much that happened in two entire seasons of Angel that I completely forgot. Besides, I feel as though I’ve commented on Faith’s arc back in my Buffy season 7 post.

      For the most part, I think gap of time is something that Buffy and Angel (the series) use to their advantage. A character goes away for a long time and when they come back, they seem particularly effectual in everyone’s lives. This is something that’s been used on the Faith character a couple of times. But it is interesting to note that Faith is the only person who probably would not have gone through with killing Angelus. Even Buffy would have. Then again, no one has experienced how it is to be so dark and the pain of that immense guilt.

      I have to say, though, that I don’t really think Faith is someone who *enjoys* the darkness. I do like it when characters explore that side of themselves, but she seemed to me as someone who went a step too far at some point, then tried to hide the fact that she didn’t care, and then spiraled out of control, finding acceptance in the Mayor as the first person who gave her comfort and saw her potential. Then again, she’s a slayer … and they’re all sort of born with that darkness in them.

      EDIT: Also, when she breaks out of prison and Wesley’s all “five by five” — UGH. Why is that phrase a thing? LMAO

  • InvestedInYourFuture

    And I’m not really sure if any of it adds up. So Jasmine needed Cordelia
    to sleep with Connor. Makes sense. But then she needed Cordelia to
    compartmentalize Connor away, and then profess her love for Angel, then
    turn off the sun, and then have Angel become Angelus because he’s a big
    part of the entire plan, and then she needed to kill Lilah to have
    everyone think Angelus killed her, but then she needed to be with Connor
    again, and then… what?

    That’s actually the only part that made sense to me.

    Jasmine threw all stuff she could at Angel’s team so they would not have time to see or notice COrdy being..well….weird and pregnant-y. Everything in that was just a charade to hide herself while she was vulnerable.

    Once that started to fail, she decided to manipulate Connor into defending her.

    Jasmine overall is a weird character to talk about anyway. And cordy part is just ughh….that’s what actor/writer feuds do anyway.

    Really, S4 is worth watching simply for growth of Wesley and Fred as characters. Wesley’s growth is just fascinating(especially felt in the Gunn/Wesley scene near the start of S4 – “What happened to you, man?” “I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me.”). And Fred. Fred got a chancel to shed some of that “damsel” image other characters saw her as and got a chance to showcase her darker sides and how much being in hell for five years changed her. Also fights were cool and the episodes with Beast just slaughtering everyone? good. everything else? not so much;.

    Its sort of like S4 of BTVS(except that BTVS did not have grossness on that level) – as it transitions from one setting to the other. They even had the finale almost completely unrelated to the mains season!

    But yeah. S5 is the best thing ever. Whedon gets back into the game

    • Mike

      Actually, yes, I should have mentioned this about the really good episodes. First off, I love a good amnesia episode, so “Spin the Bottle” was a lot of fun. But the episode where The Beast slaughters everyone in Wolfram & Hart was absolutely amazing. Maybe the best episode (in my opinion) thus far — only because of how tense and suspenseful it gets. And the direction was great. And they really did change up those fight sequences. Overall, season 4 did get a bit weird… but it was nothing if not interesting. I was never bored.

  • cacherr1

    my personal favorite about season 4 was the Angelus arcs with the Awakening ending really hitting the right spot and Soulless just being all types of awesome in my opinion. I love David as Angelus so for me that was redeemable about the season cause for me anything that gets me an Angelus arc is good to me.

    • Mike

      I liked those episodes, too. And I do love me some Angelus. Unfortunately, his being held in a cage for a long time just made him his quippy self whenever he regrouped with Spike and Dru during Buffy season 2. Then when he was out, not much damage was done. Overall, it just never hit like it did back then.