William’s Review – 1.19 “Sanctuary”

The Good

While Five by Five sprinted out of the gates this episode was definitely more of a slow burn (until the end). Most of the episode is really Angel and Faith having philosophical discussions, which you would think would be bad. Instead I found myself really wrapped up every time Angel and Faith were on screen. Again I think Eliza Dushku needs to get real credit here. This is again the most they’ve asked from her and this character and she really delivered. I think Faiths standout scene in the episode is probably the rooftop scene with Buffy. The two of them bounce of each other well and I love how a sincere Faith totally disrupts Buffy’s almost hatred for Faith.

Buffy’s back again and this time she feels completely out of place. It was this wonderful tension that they were able to nail in this episode. It did such a good job of separating the two shows and for showing how much Angel the show has changed since I Will Remember You. Buffy is another antagonist in this episode and its a interesting turn. Buffy comes to L.A. expecting Angel to be with her in this fight and I love the contrast between the very black and white moral stand that Buffy takes and Angel’s more in the gray redemption storyline. I think you do get more out of being a fan of both shows, otherwise you will be totally entrenched in Angel’s camp.

It is however great to see this from Angel’s prospective. I love how hard he is trying to save Faith partially because of his own redemption parallel. They are able to convey a palpable sense of the walls closing in around them as all the party’s are gunning for Faith.

The Bad

The Watcher Council’s goons were pretty silly. I think they served their purpose, but they felt like the most cartoonish thing in this episode. Even over the weird purple predator demon.

The Unknown

Why is Kate SO anti Angel? It feels like a discredit to the character to make her so one dimensional now. After all her development we have to breaker down to just being a cop after Angel. It makes her totally unlikeable and I hope they go away from this soon. Either that or actually spend some time with Kate.

Does this function as a stand alone Angel episode? I’m still on the fence, but it is certain that you don’t get the full impact of the episode without the prior history between all these characters.

Favorite Moment

Angel and Buffy’s conversation at the end of the episode. It’s such a wonderful contrast to the last scene of I Will Remember You. That these two people who deeply love each other are now so at odds. To see Angel so hurt and bitter was the most relatable and human I’ve seen this character. I felt all the emotion in that scene and it was truly affecting. At the same time this scene draws the line between the two shows and it seems like Angel the show has finally stepped out of the shadows of its big sister show Buffy. Which is a confusing metaphor based on their history, so I will never use it again.

Bottom Line

I’m still struggling to only see this as an Angel episode by itself. However this episode does a wonderful job of reaffirming what this show is about. Not necessarily redefining it, but giving it a clearer focus. I also felt that all of the emotions in this episode rang true to make this clearly a standout episode.

Score: 86 out of 100

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