Derek’s Review – 2.19 “Belonging”

The Good:

The way this episode started to tie together the season was pretty impressive to me. Nineteen episodes in, it’s clear this is a season about identity.  The majority of the journey has been on Angel. Angel’s a work in progress, but we got a really good idea of who he is this season. The rest of Angel Investigations not so much. “Belonging” manages to present logical stories for Gunn, Cordelia and Wesley focusing on their identity. These stories don’t come out of nowhere but Gunn’s in particular feels like their pulling on the smallest thread.

Cordelia’s feels the most organic. She wasn’t used well for the majority of the season, but in the last three episodes, they have really shined a spotlight on her. Each episode since Epiphany has felt like it is tackling an aspect of Cordelia’s new identity. In “Belonging” her acting career is dealt with and seems to be the final nail in the coffin. Cordelia being objectified is hard to watch and the director an absolute scumbag. Yet the whole sorry scenario feels completely believable, which makes it all the more uncomfortable.

I’m not sure if Cordelia needs to suffer as much humiliation as she does, but it certainly is emotive. It also proves the character deep inner strength where it doesn’t destroy her. She simply decides, if rather sadly, that maybe it is time to give up her acting dreams. Denisoff and Richards also do really good work in this episode but Charisma Carpenter and Cordelia’s story is the stand-out.

It’s also a lot of fun to get know more about Lorne, including his real name. This episode is very plot heavy but there is a lot of humor to be found in Landok and Lorne that doesn’t feel too bogged down in the moment.

The Bad:

However upon reflection this is a pretty blasé episode. It can’t help but feel like a part one of four. It has a very comic book feel to it, being the first issue in an arc. A lot is introduced but nothing is remotely resolved and it ends on a cliffhanger. “Belonging” might end being crucial to the arc as a whole but as a isolated episode it’s not at all memorable.

By showing the audience that the demon was murderous while Lorne played mum about it, it cut a lot of tension. They seem to want to cast doubt on Lorne’s intentions and that’s an interesting idea. Yet by intercutting the drokken murder spree with Lorne being vague it just created frustration. Even if Lorne is being super shady we know the drokken needs killing, so the mystery just feels like stalling for time.

The Unknown:

August Richards hits the emotional beats when he has to but there is no weight to Gunn’s story. Gunn’s gang have never been real characters and it’s hard to feel anything when one of them dies. The story makes sense and it has been seeded before but we haven’t spent enough time with any of these characters, besides Gunn, to care.

Favorite Moment:

Angel and Wesley’s disdain for power walkers was a joke I did not remember at all. Yet I found myself laughing out at the whole exchange. Whether it was Angel’s puzzlement over the existence of power walking or Wesley telling of his assault by the ridiculous liberal power walker. It was just really solid and clever joke writing.

Bottom Line:

I hate giving scores, but this is an episode where I’m happy how our scoring system. This episode accomplishes most everything it is trying to do. It would be ridiculous to classify it as bad. It would also be ridiculous to rank among something like “Reunion” or “Sanctuary”. This is a necessary and sometimes really entertaining episode but ultimately unremarkable.

61 out of 100

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