Life Of The Party
The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco
Why We Fight
A Hole in the World
The Girl in Question
Not Fade Away
After a disappointing fourth season, Angel returns with a bang. With renewed vigour, some fresh faces to the main cast and a surprisingly comedic but focused plot, Angel manages to redeem himself for one last triumphant hoorah in one of the soul-wielding vampire’s best seasons. Gone are the endless shocking plot twists of old and in a way, so too is the overly dark, gritty tone. In its place is a welcome return of episodic monster-of-the-weeks in a series that manages to find its stride once again.
Following the climactic end to last year’s season, Angel’s fifth and final season begins with Wolfram & Hart defeated, handing the reigns over to Angel (David Boreanaz) and the others as they attempt to turn the company into a force for good. Predictably, nothing is as straight forward as it seems and fresh off his sacrifice for the hell-mouth in Buffy, Spike (James Marsters) appears in celestial form and begins wreaking havoc for Angel and the others. As the series progresses, each of the different characters find their own role within Wolfram & Hart whilst trying to avoid the toxic, unpredictable Eve (Sarah Thompson) and the senior partners in the meantime. Late on, a surprising plot development leaves Fred the worse for wear and it’s around this time the plot really kicks into gear as the group begin to question Angel’s loyalty.
Some interesting ideas around morality and the seemingly futile effort to thwart evil constantly show up this year, eventually ending in a culmination of everything in Angel’s history leading up to the final, epic fight to try to epitomise the series. The majority of the season is broken up into episodic, monster of the week bites with a brief portion of plot development at the start and end of each to build up toward the climactic finale. In response to the negative feedback the fourth season received, it’s certainly refreshing to see Angel change-up its formula and revert back to what made the show so successful to start with.
The focus falls back on solid character writing this year and Spike’s inclusion injects the show with some much-needed charisma and life. With Angel and Spike at each other’s throats, Gunn (J. August Richards) finds some renewed purpose with a controversial operation, Wesley wrestles with his continued affection for Fred (Amy Acker) and even Lorne (Andy Hallett), who’s usually used as a comedic respite, has some interesting character developments that show off a darker side to his persona. All of this builds toward the climax for each of the characters that bow out in satisfying fashion, especially Wesley who rounds out his impressive arc in a bittersweet, tender moment that epitomises how far his character has come.
With Buffy continuing beyond the time it possibly should have, Angel feels like the polar opposite. Angel’s ending certainly feels premature but at least it ends on a roar rather than a whisper. The finale is certainly the best episode of the season and although some may lament the final, abrupt scenes, they work perfectly to illustrate the overarching theme here which is the never-ending battle with evil. Aside from one little blemish with its fourth season, Angel is arguably the complete package and although this fifth season may be a little too comedic compared to the rest of the seasons on display here, the character work and interesting stories are enough to make this an incredible show and a worthy final season to bow out on.