As for James reading of the story, it was good though not quite as good as his reading of Storm Front imho. It’s my understanding that he only had two days to record Fool Moon which may explain why early in the reading his voice characterizations didn’t seem to mesh with those for Storm Front. And why there are several instances of him stumbling a bit over words.
I also cracked open my Angel Season 2 DVDs and made my way through the first eight episodes. Having not seen this episodes since they originally aired a lot of what I was watching was practically new too me. And I found myself beginning to analyze certain episodes -something I have never done with Angel before. Knowing what is to come after season 2 and with Buffy now ended, I found there is quite a bit to compare and contrast between the two shows.
I was also reminded as to why I used to like Angel. Yes, use to like. Last season was either a love it or hate it season for fans and I hated it. If not for the addition of a certain vamp I’m not even sure I would have watched this coming season. Still, with Spike’s presence I’m hoping we get back the much needed snark and humor that was missing last season as well as a return to, what I think is a more enjoyable balance between a season long arc and stand alone episodes.
Is it just me or does ME fail when trying to incorporate RL issues into their shows? In Untouched we learn that child molestation can have damaging and lasting consequences. Really? Never would have guessed. What makes it worse is that they manage to wrap up everything in the last five minutes of the story. The girl confronts her father, empowers herself (literally since she learns to control her power), and then moves on to a new life. Sorry, far-fetched even by the shows own standards.
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been again is more than a bit heavy handed with the moralizing (Discrimination/Racism = Bad), but I did enjoy this ep for several other reasons… The nice transitions from past to present. The parallels between Angel and Judy, both running and hiding from their pasts. Seeing Angel take his first hesitant steps back towards humanity only to be burned by doing so. Then choosing to walk away and let them all die (and foreshadowing the slaughter he allows to take place at the hands of Darla and Dru later in the season). And, in the end, seeing Angel being able atone for walking away all those years ago and to see Judy being allowed to seek forgiveness and release from her torment.
I have to say Dear Boy shows us Angelus at his worst (as he would confess as much to Buffy in Lie to Me). At the same time, Juliet Landau is perhaps giving her finest moment. Already driven to insanity, she is made fully aware that she is about to be rapped, murdered, and turned into one of her tormentors. After watching this play out, it’s hard not to feel sympathy and some compassion for Dru.
”Nobody could keep up with you…you don’t learn that kind of darkness, it’s innate. It was in you before we even met” ~ Darla
I found this remark quite interesting because I’ve always felt that who you were before you were turned affects who and what you become after. William needed to adopt a persona and seemingly learn to become Spike. Angel (Liam’s) transition to Angelus was much easier. After all, William turns his mother to ‘save’ her and so they can be together. His actions were born of love. Angelus, on the other hand, immediately slaughtered his family upon being turned.
Perhaps that is why Angel clings to his soul as he does. He fears what Darla says to him is true and knows that without the soul what kind of monster and man he would be.
Which brings us to Guise Will Be Guise. This episode seemed to lay some of the groundwork for Conversation with Dead People. In both episodes we see our heroes forced to look at some hard truths about themselves. In ‘Guise’, the fake Swami cuts right through to the heart of Angel’s fears and reveals the truth – “But the demon is you – that’s what you spent so much time trying to conceal”. Angel is continually at odds with himself. He attempts to distance himself from the demon referring to it as ‘It’ as if it was an entirely separate entity. If he ever accepted the demon as part of him, he’d have to acknowledge the ‘innate darkness’ that exists in him. And that the demon’s traits are ones that already lied within.
Yet, essentially, he is allowing ‘It’ to have control over him. He is allowing he fear of what he is, what he is capable of, to keep him distanced from the world he desperately desires to live in. In order to fully embrace humanity, he must first embrace what he, himself, is.
The search for identity is nicely paralleled by Wes’s impersonation of Angel. Much as with Angel, Wes seems much more comfortable inside his own skin while pretending to be someone he’s not. It also occurred to me that Angel could learn (and maybe shall) a thing or two from Spike. In his love for Buffy and even after regaining his soul, while he may have been guilt ridden by his actions, Spike was never so much disgusted by what he was. He accepted the darkness (even embraced it when necessary) within and the presence of the demon. Perhaps that’s why he was better able to adapt to his souled self and not spend more than a century brooding about it. :p
And on a purely superficial note, I loved Angel’s obsessing over Wes wearing his jacket. It’s all about the coat, isn’t it. ;)