Forgive me if my thoughts wander. I tried to zero in on one aspect of Soul Purpose to talk about but just couldn't do it. I have to admit, I enjoyed the episode more on second viewing. Perhaps, thanks to some great observations by others, I was able to notice and contemplate things I hadn't before. And, suddenly, I found it to be all...about...Wes. But, more on that later.
I'm largely skipping any analysis of Angel's various dreams/hallucinations because I found them to be pretty damn obvious. Wes betrays him again. Fred voices the concern that he's empty inside. Gunn turns into the panther. Spike takes Angel's reward. Color me shocked by these revelations. I did find one thing interesting though. When Spike announces "I didn't do this for a reward, Angel's subconscious admits what Angel tries not to - he does want a reward, an acknowledgment that he has finally atoned for his sins. Also, even with all my Angel issues, seeing him dressed as a geek pushing the mailcart broke my heart. As big of an ass as he can be, I never want to see him broken like that.
Now, a few, brief, general observations....
- I completely forgot about Lorne until he showed up half way through the episode. Even then he didn't have much to contribute. It was a huge mistake to make AH a series regular and, apparently, ME doesn't have the heart (or guts) to bump him back to reoccurring.
- Why wasn't Christian credited in the beginning?
- When Lindsey told Spike not to worry about the bed because he wouldn't be sharing it anytime soon, for better or worse (depending on your perspective), I think it was Joss' way of telling the fans to quit obsessing over who Spike may be shagging. Ain't gonna happen, they have more important plans for him.
- The Buffy/Spike/Angel scene. OK, that was just...odd. And awkward. And couldn't they have found the actress a better wig?
- Amidst all the drama, several funny lines...."And not try to read the runes myself cause that can cause fires" "There's your soul. Oh, we're gonna have to flush this." "Act like we care. Good Plan." :)
As for the bigger issues.....
I found it strange that in Angel's alternate take on the events in Destiny he had Spike voice "it's nor your destiny it's mine". Yeah, I know, Spike is speaking of Angel's worst fear, but it reinforced for me that the 'destiny' of the Shanshu has become much too important. Angel wasn't even aware of it until roughly three years ago. He was fighting the good fight long before he even heard the word shanshu. So, why now is it this bloody important destiny? One that makes him a failure if he doesn't achieve it. More and more I think the shanshu is irrelevant and that Angel (and Spike) will come to find that out the hard way.
Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey. I could go on and on at how happy I am to see him again. Granted, he needs a better haircut, but he more than makes up for that in other ways. And, frankly, I think he's had the best chemistry of anyone this season with Spike (no, not in *that* way).
Why exactly did he bring Spike back? That's assuming he really did. For all we know someone else could have resurrected Spike and Lindsey is just using his presence to his advantage. But, for the sake of argument, let's say he is responsible. From what I can gather Spike is being used as an annoyance and a distraction and a way to undermine Angel. After all, with Spike around Angel's attention is being focused elsewhere and not solely on W&H and those around him. Lindsey specifically tells Eve he wants the Senior Partners to believe they have backed the wrong guy. So, it would seem the Senior Partners and not Angel our Lindsey's target and Angel just happens to be a means to an end. Why do I think Angel would be disappointed by that revelation? ;)
I know there have been mixed feelings regarding Lindsey using the name 'Doyle'. Personally, I have no problem with this. If anything, I found it to be a nice tribute to GQ. Instead of ignoring Doyle's history with the show, they chose to remind us of his importance. Even more touching could be Angel's reaction when he discovers what Lindsey is up to and who he is pretending to be. With Spike's history of shooting his mouth off, it will get back to Angel eventually. Lindsey must know this as well so, again, how does this serve his plan?
Crockett and Tubbs, uh, I mean Wes and Gunn....while I'm concerned for Gunn, Wes is scaring the Hell out of me. Assuming it's Wes. Hey, they replaced his Dad with a robot/android/whatever, do we know it's actually Wes? I hope it is, it's far more interesting of he's the real deal turned to the darkside.
Wes seems to becoming far too comfortable with the W&H way of doing things. I mean, should he even be wondering if they have a satellite that can assassinate individuals from space? Kudos to Fred for reminding them "If we did that sort of thing. Do we do that sort of thing?" If Spike is (again) the truth teller, then Fred is being positioned as the conscience of the show.
I'm still uncertain of what that lengthy shot of Wes' face was meant to tell us as he watched Angel head for the elevator, but it has to be important. Soon after we see him go behind Angel's back. His solution to the Warlock problem had been made a fall back plan if Gunn's less obvious plan fell through. Yet, the we see Wes ordering Harm (who, last time I checked, was Angel's secretary not his) to get a check from accounting to take care of the Warlock problem. There was no way there was sufficient time for Gunn's plan to have worked or failed. So, not only has Wes negated Gunn's imput, he's completely ignored Angel's wishes.
Interestingly, when Wes again takes charge in Angel's absence, taking the relic from Eve, she compliment's him with "That's my boy". Given her parting shot to Angel at the end of the episode - informing him he should look within his little group for a traitor - could the two incidents be unrelated?
Then there is the visit to Spike's apartment. I enjoyed that the audience and Spike had a bloody revelation at the same moment. Angel most likely is thrilled to be rid of Spike. It made no sense to extend an offer to join W&H. Course, we quickly come to see that Gunn and Wes aren't really concerned about Angel, but instead are looking out for the company and hedging their bets if the Shanshu is to be Spike's and not Angel's. It's one thing not to be loyal to your boss, but their disloyalty now is to their supposed friend.
And when did fighting the good fight become "territory"? Um, isn't that something everyone should be doing. Considering their stance, I wouldn't be shocked if they hired a Slayer in the future to whack Spike.
The one difference I found between Wes and Gunn in all this is that Gunn at least attempted to rationalize/defend what they were doing. Even more telling is when Fred tries to counter Spike's assessment that they sold out by bringing up their original intent - "We didn't sell out, we're trying to change the system from the inside" - Gunn points out just how naive that sounds. Wes, on the other hand, says nothing.
So, putting aside some bad lighting, bad hair, and obvious dream interpretations, I say this was a dran successful episode overall. It's the first time in a long time I've had no quibbles with characterization. The story was also tightly written and seems to open the door to a lot of interesting possibilities. And did I mention Lindsey's back! :)