William’s Review – 1.20 “War Zone”

The Good

I like the premise here. I like getting to see a different side of L.A. And seeing other people having to deal with the supernatural was good. Gunn’s gang seemed fully formed and feel like they have a history.

By far the best dramatic scene was the ending scene between Angel and Gunn. I was able to really get on Gunn’s side by Angel showing a genuine respect for Gunn. It’s sad that the scene was more emotive for me than the scene between Gunn and Alana, but there it is. I thought they were able to make you sympathize with Gunn even if they failed at executing the emotion earlier in the episode.

Weirdly enough the comedy was probably the best part in this dramatic episode. I really loved the scene where Angel attempts to bust out of the meat locker only to have Cordelia and Wesley show up and chastise him for not using his cell phone. Also see favorite moment.

The Bad

The use of exposition was poor here. They literally needed to keep explaining everyone’s back story throughout the episode and it felt clunky. Especially the scene between Gunn and newly turned Alana. It’s the end of the episode and there is no payoff with her death, no emotion. Just a plot point to develop Gunn’s character.

I was not a big fan of the David Nabat storyline. I really love the actor they chose for the part, I’m just. It sure his storyline is completely necessary. It seems to only service in getting Angel to bump into Gunn. I do recognize the fact that they are trying to show the differences between the poor and rich in L.A., but they do a terrible job at pushing that theme. I literally am going “ohhhhh that’s what they where trying to do?” when Cordelia makes that connection at the end of the episode.

I don’t know why the decided to intercut some of the best comedic scenes with some of the most dramatic scenes. It really cut the tension and/or emotion, especially the scene between Gunn and Alana. If you were trying to get the audience to feel anything for either character you did them a disservice by doing this. In any case it really took me out of the moment. I know Joss Whedon shows are known for undercutting expectations by adding comedy to dramatic scenes or vice versa, but these didn’t seem relevant and abrupt.

The Unknown

They hint at more of Gunn with Angel asking for help in the near future. I wonder how much they will be able to develop Gunn into something different than Angel. As is he seems very similar and hope they are able to develop some interesting wrinkles to make him stand out from our broody vampire counterpart.

Favorite Moment

Angel side stepping the Vampire that falls from the ceiling was just a genuinely hilarious moment. I love when this show can catch me off guard with a joke. It was the most enjoyable moment in the episode for me.

Bottom Line

This had a lot of problems. Tonally and in execution. I think there was something to the story they were trying to tell and I like the inclusion of Gunn, but something failed in translation along the way. Add in the fact that they kept undercutting the emotion of the episode and you get a sub par episode.

Score: 50 out of 100

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