Derek’s Review – 2.11 “Redefinition”

The Good:

This episode stayed true to its name but redefining, or straight up introducing, the stories for the major characters of the rest of the season. I look forward to where all these stories are going. There were some hiccups, some minor (one major), but even though this was a busy episode it didn’t feel messy. There wasn’t much of thematic link between the stories but it didn’t feel disjointed.

The stand-outs for me were the more evil characters. I don’t know what that says about me as a person I’m not sure I want to but I really dug the Lilah/Lindsey and Darla/Drusilla stories. It’s not unique but it’s certainly a rarity when the villains of a superhero show get a story that is completely independent from the hero. Obviously whether Lilah or Lindsey become the Head of Special Projects will eventually affect Angel since he is the “Special Project”. The political maneuvering, backstabbing and intriguing, (i.e. the good stuff) will probably have very little to do with Angel. It gives the writers a great opportunity to develop both of them and there is a confidence in that story-telling. They could easily make Lilah and Lindsey smarmy one-dimensional lawyer types who we just want to see get their face smashed. I still want to see that happen to Lindsey but for petty irrational reasons, he’s become a fully developed character.

It is also a clever move by the show to have Drusilla and Darla purposely keep them alive. It allows the show to keep those characters and have it make sense in the world of the show. The reason I enjoyed the Darla/Dru stuff the most though was exploring more of the vampire mythology. In the Buffyverse we’ve never really seen a vampire turn and stick around for a while. Buffy is pretty good at that whole slaying part of her job description. So it was fascinating to watch Darla in this episode.

I still hold to my theory that vampires only feel the facsimile of the emotion not the authentic genuine article. Though because all they know is that facsimile it feels just as real to them as our emotion do to us. Yet in this episode Darla is clearly struggling with her feelings toward Angel. It’s up for debate but what I feel she is struggling with is the memory of how she felt about him as a human. She’s get agitated when people bring up Angel but it sends her over the edge when Dru mentions her humanity. There’s a real complexity to her character. She remembers and may still feel those pure “good” emotions she felt as human but she now sees that humanity as a disease.

The Bad:

Unfortunately I hate almost everything about the other vampire’s story in this episode. I don’t have a problem with the story on paper. I think Angel’s reason for jettisoning his friends is because he needs to become stronger and less emotional to take down Darla and Dru makes sense. It also shows some self-awareness on his part, demonstrating he’s not that far gone but god that narration is clumsy. I’m not against narration altogether but it has to earn its place. There is nothing in the Angel story that couldn’t be told with just visuals. In fact it would have been striking if we didn’t hear Angel speak once in the episode and it was all non-verbal scenes of him training and fighting.

The Unknown:

I love where the Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn story ends but it does drag in place. There are some really funny and cute moments (the karaoke, ass-pansy, etc.) but I’m not sure if it was all worth it. I feel like the scenes in Caritas goes on a smidge too long. It also is hard to suspend disbelief when we see how (comically) hammered they are in one scene only for them to sober up surprisingly well to save that girl once Cordelia gets a vision. But I do really love that they are going to keep on fighting. It gives those three direction they’ve been desperately lacking up to this point in the season.

Favorite Moment:

There is a pattern developing and I went with another Darla and Dru scene. Julie Benz’ considerable acting talent was on display yet again in the demon fight club scene. Her quick turn from HVIC (Head Vampire In Charge) to an emotional distraught and confused woman over her feelings for Angel and her missing humanity was expertly played.

Bottom Line:

Just by the nature of this episode it wasn’t going to get higher than a 65. It is a nice set up and midseason premiere and it isn’t trying to be anything more than that. I’d love to give it a 65 but I hate the execution of Angel’s story so much that it drags down my enjoyment of this episode.

59 out of 100

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