Derek’s Review – 1.14 “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
While far from a perfect episode this was pretty good monster of the week episode. The reason being that it focused on the Angel Investigations team without the monster being so obviously a metaphor for whatever they are going through. In particular this was Wesley’s best episode since his introduction on “Parting Gifts”. One of the best parts of that episode was Wesley coming to realization that he had failed and pretty much sucked at everything. Wesley as comic relief is fine but he is much better when they humanize him like that. Learning that Wesley was the victim of an abusive father makes so many things about his character clearer. Retroactively it twinges his more comical desperate to please action with a hint of sadness and that’s something impressive. It was also incredibly economical, three lines and we learn so much more about Wesley.
The only downside to the Angel story is that it has taken so long for him to really deal with Doyle’s death. I could have easily seen them not dealing with it directly after “Parting Gifts” and I think that would be fine. It makes sense that Doyle’s death would have been something that would have weighed on Angel and it just bubbled to the surface when he called Wesley the wrong name. While Cordelia was mainly used for comic relief in this episode her scene where she got Angel to open up about his feelings was excellent. Doyle’s death has changed the group dynamics to something much more interesting but there is a real sense of loss when they talk about him.
Unless they are on Game of Thrones, I can’t stand child actors but I thought Ryan did a really good job. It was a credit to his performance that they didn’t over modulate his demon voice and you could still hear him over the intimating demon. He held his own against more experienced actors and it felt genuine that he was getting to them emotionally. Angel’s not been the greatest on their twist but I thought this was clever. We’ve had good demons before and but besides Ronald in “I Fall to Pieces” who was almost a demon, we haven’t had any evil humans before Ryan. I think it is something important to introduce and keep in mind as the show moves forward.
Unfortunately acting doesn’t appear to be a heredity talent if Ryan’s parents are any indication. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement among the two that one of them had to be completely unsympathetic and irritating. Seth’s act was bit less egregious because it became clear halfway through the episode that he was putting on an act. He was purposely throwing every cliche in an effort to drive Angel away. On the other hand, Paige was just walking cliche.
Paige and I didn’t start off on good terms when one of her first lines was “Well kids in India only have three.” Because that’s something moms say all the time. If you’re going to use a mom cliche, just it, not some variation that is no way clever. Furthermore while some of her lines like “You’re not an Angel” are cringeworthy and her refusal to believe her son is possessed is par for the stupid white lady horror archetype, that wasn’t the worst part of her character for me. In all honestly it is perfectly reasonable for her to be acting irrational. Yet known of those emotions felt authentic. She was a woman playing at being emotional rather than being emotional.
This is one of the darkest endings to an Angel episode so far. They try to put a nice button on it by having Angel telling Seth that he kept his family together. Yet I wish they dropped that altogether and let it just wallow in it’s misery. Mostly because even if this family stays together AKA Seth doesn’t go to jail for apparently covering up his son’s crimes. This is still a terrible fate. Ryan is criminally insane or incurably evil and they all have to live with the fact that he tried to burn his sister alive. I appreciate what they were trying to do but I wish they would have committed to the really dark ending rather than the kinda dark ending.
Which brings me to my biggest question of the episode but really the series. This marks the end of episode fourteen and there are only eight episodes left. Yet I have no idea where the series is going with the end of the season, not in a cool “Oh what are they going to do?” way either. The season is completely rudderless and procedural. A lot of network shows will be procedural in their first season and I understand but there is at least a hint of something. Even in big episodes like “Hero” the monster of the week and the episode are completely boring and forgettable until Doyle dies. There has been a lot of talk about the show being misogynist on the podcast and while there’s no excuse for episodes like “Expecting” I think it comes from this lack of direction. They keep replaying Angel in this traditional hero role and it feels false, boring and (can be) super misogynistic.
As I said before I thought Wesley’s story was wonderfully economical. There was something really powerful about him slipping and saying “A father doesn’t need to be possessed to terrorize his children”. It shows not only that he is grown comfortable enough in this group to let that slip but all that statement implies about his history.
It was a really strong episode for Angel Investigations but the family fought be at every turn to be sympathetic. I didn’t care at all about what happened to Ryan’s family. I obviously didn’t want the little girl to burn alive but they didn’t feel like real characters. Just objects in distress for Angel to save.
61 out of 100