Now you can pinpoint this blog geographically. Using the magic of meta tags and GPS, I'm now listed on GeoURL, in relation to other blogs. The maps are cool, and it's interesting to see who else blogs near me.
I saw the season finale of :Angel: and the penultimate episode of Buffy last night. I took Cameron's advice and taped the stories and watched them out of order. Doing that made Buffy's episode easier to follow, at least. And, yes, I was impressed by the both of them.
You know, a third of the way through the season, I was a little worried about :Angel:? I felt that the show had muddled itself up with the Conner storyline in Season Three, with characters that were now all over the place and thorougly messed up. I thought the writers were having a little difficulty getting things back on track.
Moreover, I'd heard from Dan about the behind-the-scenes troubles; how the executive producer hand-picked by Joss Whedon to handle the series had quit after a few episodes; how Joss and the others was all tied up and stretched thin with Firefly, Buffy and :Angel:. And, as the series went along, I thought that they were scrambling to keep up, shovelling big bad on top of bad, and bigger bad on top of that. First we had Angel and Connor's dischord, then the rising of the Beast, then the revelation that the Beast has a boss, then the arrival of Angelus, followed by the revelation that Cordelia is the Beast's boss.
But when Faith came on the scene, something clicked. Perhaps it was the charisma of Eliza Dushku, or perhaps it was Joss Whedon concentrating on this series now that Firefly was gone, but :Angel: was no longer scrambling, it was rolling. Events were descending on our heroes in an avalanche. It was exciting to watch.
Cameron argues that the second season of Buffy was the best, not just because of the quality of the individual scripts, but because of the structure of the season. Consider: we get a false start with the Annointed One in the first episode. Then Spike and Dru arrive in episode three to shake things up. They swap roles in episode ten (when Spike is confined to a wheelchair), and then Angelus materializes around episode thirteen. Things continue on at a merry pace, then Spike's jealousy of Angel shows up in episode seventeen, or so and he rises from the wheelchair to form an uneasy alliance with Buffy. Just when you think you have the season pegged, it turns on you. You have no idea where the show is going, and isn't the ride exciting?
Compare this to Buffy's seventh season. While the episodes have been among the strongest we've ever seen, and while the basic storyline is solid, there have been no surprises. It's been a fight against the First and its minions from episode one. Things will be tied together nicely, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's just a step below the magic the series was able to achieve in its earlier seasons. Buffy Season Six had a similar linearity.
:Angel: scrambled, but it fed off of the energy of its behind the scenes tensions and it produced one heck of a roller-coaster ride. Angel Season Four may have had some duds, but as a season I think it topped Buffy Season Seven, and I think it might be the best season of :Angel: so far.
The season finale sealed the deal for me. The resolutions tied together all that we'd seen throughout the season and set up interesting possibilities for the seasons to come. I hear that Connor won't be coming back, and I'm fine with that, though I like the character and Vincent Karthester who plays him. He may have had the rug pulled out from under him with all of the scrambing big bads this season, but the final arc with Jasmine really made his character shine. More than that, Home wrote him an ending that was simply wonderful and sad. Few characters on television get bookended so well, and if Connor does come back, it will detract from that ending.
Charisma Charpenter isn't listed in the fifth season credits either, and that worries me. She was one of the reasons why the fourth season clicked, and her character hasn't been given a proper ending. But I'm sure she's enjoying life with her new baby, and will come back when she's good and ready.
As for Buffy, yes, I loved Caleb's death scene (nicely played by Nathan Fillion -- a long laugh of sheer disbelief followed by the curtain jerking). I only rate :Angel: above Buffy this week because, again, Buffy is still setting up all of the pins to be knocked down, and knocked down they shall next week. Still, the conversations were impressive. I liked the moment between the two slayers. I don't think Faith has ever really understood Buffy until just this moment, and I think Buffy now understands her better as well. But the best moment of the episode goes to the hospital scene between Anya and Andrew. These two characters get to shine in this most unlikely pairing, and they contemplate the coming apocalypse in rather touching ways before capping it off with "so... wheelchair fight?". Quite possibly the best moment in Buffy Season Seven, and that's saying something.
Looking forward to next week!