Derek’s Review – 1.18 “Five by Five”
People have questioned Eliza Dushku’s range as an actress and having not been able to sit through the first episode of Dollhouse, I can’t say those critiques are unfounded. Yet she embodies the role of Faith. She definitely has the benefit of being created and developed on Buffy. However it has been awhile since I watched season three of Buffy and Eliza Dushku’s performance is so strong that Faith acts perfectly on her own, even if this your first time seeing her as a purely Angel viewer.
Faith is so complex and her emotions swing from one extreme to another and it all feels completely natural. She is psychotic killer who revels in psychotically killing and that is the type of person who needs to be punished in some way. Yet when she breaks down, pleading with Angel to end her life there is something so tragic and so emotional about it. The performance is so genuine that she feels like a real person not a character on a TV show. So when she receives that comfort she is seeking, you feel for her. It also helps that Angel whispers “It’s alright. I’m here. I’m right here” as he holds her which is most tender we’ve seen him be, ever.
It is also a nice parallel to the flashbacks, which by the end of the episode connect beautifully to the Faith story. Newly ensouled Angel looks for physical tender comfort from Darla and is rejected. Not only that but she disgusted by this emotion from him. The flashbacks tell us so much about the Angelus and Darla relationship which is becoming increasingly fascinating. They are drive home this theme of redemption which has been the show’s strong point. All these characters are so flawed and have ruined their lives in Sunnydale and now are looking to improve themselves. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was very much about good people being tested. Angel is about “bad” people trying to become “good” people or champions and what how the definitions of what constitutes “good” and “bad” is fluid.
This episode really marks the beginning of Wolfram and Hart as Angel’s main adversary, a law firm full of humans. Humans which as Wesley points out have a soul. Now the definition of what a soul actually gives a human is one of the shows ongoing mythologies but characters like Lindsey and Lilah complicate it wonderfully. They don’t seem like “good” people but they are so charming. They have convinced themselves of what they are doing is justifiable and it’s easy to seduce the audience to that line of thinking as well.
The only problem I have with this episode is how accelerate the Wolfram and Hart story has become. They are the only recurring presence besides Kate but Angel really hasn’t dealt with them directly. Now he knows where the firm is, is ruining their court cases and just seems to know way more about them then the audience. Wolfram and Hart have definitely been an intriguing presence in these early episodes and I’m not upset they are taking center stage, this is just too sudden.
The only reason Wesley’s story isn’t in the good because the conclusion has yet to be reached. After being mercilessly tortured he seems to have changed his tune about Faith being worthy of redemption. While he doesn’t kill Faith at the end of the episode, his feelings on how he feels about her are a bit of a mystery. It would be a mistake if he is completely on board with Angel’s rehabilitation plan. Mostly because this episode does a great job of turning Wesley from Faith’s greatest supporter to her biggest enemy. It is also a great reversal of the usual Wesley story. Normally Wesley has an incorrect worldview that the episode will dissuades of it. Here Wesley starts off in the right that Faith is a “sick girl” and by the end he is willing to kill her without mercy.
Faith is so kinetic and enrapturing in her scene in the office with Angel. Whether she is handing Angel a gun to shoot her or urging him to take a literal hell ride with her, she is so fun to watch. Not to mention completely terrifying.
The acceleration from barely visible to Angel’s mortal (or immortal) enemies of Wolfram and Hart bothers me. When you add that to the fact that this feels like a part one in some ways, I can’t give this a higher score than “I Will Remember You”. However that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great episode and the best one in a very long time on the show.
77 out of 100