Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Redefinition" (Angel 2.11): Fang Noir

This mid-season episode is as chiaroscuro as the noir it is explicitly citing. We have Angel(us?) embracing his inner hardboiled demon in a shadowy L.A. that matches his darkening soul (which he's still got), and we've got the recently axed ex-employees of Angel Investigations trying to figure out life without detecting. Everyone in this episode is in a different state of in-between-ness. Angel is straddling the blurring line between his human self and Angelus; the gang is at loose ends; Drusarla are planning their takeover of L.A.; and Lindsey and Lila are waiting to see which of them will be promoted by Wolfram & Hart, and which of them will be murdered.  "Redefinition" gives us the Angel guide to negotiating the liminal.

DO work out like you're in prison. As his first order of business, Angel subjects himself to a Mr. T. in Rocky III style work-out, after realizing, in voiceover, that he's been working out like Rocky in Rocky III.

By the end of the pre-credits sequence, he's ready for a spot on MSNBC's Lockup.

DO be honest about what your past meant to you. Though Cordy, Wes, and Gunn all cope with being fired in different ways (protesting, intellectualizing, dismissing, respectively), they all end up at Lorne's later that night so the green-skinned prophet can tell them what to do next.

"We Are the Champions," if you were wondering.

They all feel betrayed by Angel, but also unmoored without the work of (his) redemption, and by the end of the episode have decided to continue fighting the good fight without him.

DON'T wear a sensible ribbed turtleneck while recruiting your rogue vampire death squad.

Now who's seen the softer side of Sears?
Jenn thinks this episode belongs to the women (Darla's disdainful "I loathe being used" to Lindsey is indeed a highlight), and I agree, though I blame this outfit for Dilla's failure to muster a band of minions. Well, that and Angel(us) slaughtered them all. Speaking of which,

DO embrace the contradictions. According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the mark of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind. This episode demands we all have first-rate intelligences (which is totally a word--trust me, I have a first-rate intelligence) when trying to understand the titular vamp. Angel(us), in voiceover, chronicles his deepening commitment to violence and amorality in his quest to stop Drula. He kills, tortures, and caps off the day by setting the two on fire, smoking a cigarette like a bad ass. Or like Angelus.

Remember when Angelus exhaled the smoke the girl he ate inhaled in Innocence? That was awesome.

In case we didn't catch on, Darla vocalizes that he is neither Angel nor Angelus now, but someone entirely new, and possibly more dangerous. Though not quite ready to kill his sire and former lover yet (shades of Buffy in "Innocence"), Angel(us) has created a persona that is utterly detached from everything (friends, quest for redemption) that made him human. Chillingly, he doesn't speak one word in the episode--it's all narrated internally. Though Jenn is right that the voiceovers get a touch cheesy, I think the idea of them is pretty effective.

And lastly, DON'T lose that shit-eating smirk, Lindsey.

I know it's the real reason Darla spared you.

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