The fifth season of Angel, the dark Buffy the Vampire spin-off might be one of the best. For some, the fact that Angel is now head of Wolfram and Hart is an unwelcome change. But for me, it presents interesting moral questions about the greater good that have always been at the heart of the Wedonverse, and places them front and center. Having said that, some of the episodes were a little weak.
5. Damage- I want to love “Damage” but the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable it makes me. No matter how dark the Buffyverse gets, violence against children was mostly on the periphery. In this episode, however, it is front and center. But it feels like the writers put a little girl character through a lot of horrible stuff just so they could answer the question of “What would happen if there was a crazy Slayer?” It’s not handled smoothly, and making us think Spike is the one who hurt her for part of the episode, ultimately ends up being a cheap shot.
4. Time Bomb- What the viewers go through in order to be introduced to Illyria is one of the most heartbreaking things that has ever been put on television. Watching Illyria jump around through time? Not interested! Illyria is cool, and exploring her and her relationships with these characters is handled much better in other episodes. Also, “Time Bomb” resorts to more cheap shots, messing with time and making us think important characters are dead for a bit. This is just not cool considering Illyria’s very presence.
3. Destiny- Viewers have been watching Angel and Spike fight since season two of Buffy. So watching them fight over a grail-thing that lets them know who is going to be the champion? Feels pretty old hat. Their quibbling is done much better in “The Girl in Question” when it is just as brotherly as antagonistic. Plus the whole “Mountain Dew” thing is stupid!
2. Unleashed- While I like Nina (Angel’s werewolf girlfriend) ok, I’m not exactly crazy about this episode. Parts of it are interesting, like the concept of a fancy werewolf banquet (although that is basically the plot of the Matthew Broderick movie The Freshman). But overall, the episode just feels weak. It drags a little and doesn’t do anything illuminating–and this season is full of illuminating stuff about these characters.
1. Why We Fight- Conceptually, I love this episode. But unfortunately, it feels like it comes too late in the game. Knowing that Angel was on a submarine during World War II is just fun info, but I wish I’d gotten it in one of the earlier seasons. By the time we get to the show’s final season “Why We Fight” feels like an aside to some very interesting stuff. Humorous and interesting, but ultimately forgettable. Also, we have seen the person wanting to get revenge on Angel thing a little too much by now.