William’s Review – 2.02 “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been”

The Good

The little we got from the rest of gang I thought worked really well. There interactions have been the highlight of the show on Rewatch. Just the little interactions from them really had a lot to making them feel like real characters. Also any time Wes, Cordelia, or Gunn bicker it’s quite funny.

I like the flashback to the 1950’s. I thought they did a great job of making this feel authentic where it could have felt very much like a stage with people in costumes. I don’t think it’s to the level of something like Mad Men, but what we got here was pretty impressive still.

I thought the paranoia demon make up was well done and he seemed to have his own characteristics that made him standout from the typical monster of the week.

The crux of this story boils down to if you by into the Angel and Judy relationship. I like getting to see a time in Angel’s life before Sunnydale and after Angelus. He is definitely not a happy guy and seems rather lonely. I think the reluctance only to find a kindred lonely soul with Judy was a story element that worked. That despite himself he found someone he could relate to. It makes it all the more heartbreaking for Angel when she turns on him. I think the shot of the mob rushing Judy works in ramping the tension of the scene and once the mob turns on Angel I found it pretty tense even though we know Angel gets out of the situation alive.

I was a fan of this story. Of the bad deed Angel does. Not Angelus, but ensouled Angel. It makes Angel a more dynamic character getting to see this part of him. It also adds to the road to redemption storyline.

The Bad

The fight with the paranoia demon ended quite abruptly. I know that there is only so much time you can fit into the episode as it was it didn’t feel very climactic. It’s also quite possible the the monster affects didn’t allow for a more interesting fight.

I didn’t really like the bell hop character. He felt pretty out of place to me and I found him pretty annoying for the most part.

Old Judy took the wind out of my sails and left me with a really bitter taste in my mouth (or more mix analogies). It’s suppose to be this emotional moment where Angel gives Judy forgiveness when he in fact is looking for it. I can see so many versions of this where they knock this out of the park, unfortunately they did not. What we were left with was pretty laughable. I was taken entirely out of the moment with how cheesy the dialogue sounded and ended up actually laughing at what should have been this emotionally charged moment.

The Unknown

Unfortunately we don’t know enough about Judy as a character. Just being introduced to someone and then asking the audience to care about her is asking a lot. I’m not saying this wasn’t well done, there is only so much you can invest in a character you don’t know.

Favorite Moment

Angel’s Lyncing was the most affecting moment in the episode for me. They did an excellent job at ramping up to this moment so that there was some weight behind it. It was shot rather strikingly and the image of a hanging Angel was disturbing.

Bottom Line

On the brink of having an emotional impact on me. It just didn’t quite stick the landing. It was good and different and definitely stands out for being a flashback. I’m pretty certain that if the ending scene between Old Judy and Angel had both better writing/acting I would have given this a higher score.

Score: 69 out of 100

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