Derek’s Review – 2.20 “Over the Rainbow”

The Good:

There are some really good jokes here. Some nice character moments and scenes. I particularly want to point out Cordelia and Lorne though. While Cordelia takes a really unfortunate and distasteful turn towards the end, I enjoyed her throughout. Charisma Carpenter is so good at embodying Cordelia that she never feels like a victim. Even shackled and enslaved here for 98% of the episode Cordelia is still Cordelia. She’s waiting for Angel and crew to show up but not necessarily to be rescued, which is an important distinction. She is such a strong character emotionally that no matter what dire situation she is, she’s not the victim.

There’s not a lot of mystery whether Lorne (and Gunn) are going to go Pylea. It’s a TV show so naturally all characters are going to be involved in the finale. Still, there continue to do an excellent job developing The Host into Lorne. I said on the podcast with character like The Host, you don’t have to develop him. He’s charismatic and charming but as “The Host” he’s aloof and enigmatic. When you give that character a proper name like Lorne, you have to create a history and psychology for that character. We are only two episodes in but he has a lot of more development than most other minor characters.

This is still an interesting experiment Angel is attempting, crafting their final four episodes as one long episode. I don’t think the show originated this but it certainly its commonplace.  There is a lot of serialization in television now but nothing quite as comic-book or novel as this with each hour leading directly into the next one. So as far as this being a part two of four it is very successful.

The Bad:

The problem is a part two of four, is such a hard thing to find interesting. The first act (“Belonging”) is exciting because all these things are being introduced and things are moving along. The second act (“Over the Rainbow”) is very plot heavy and best described as a necessary evil. It’s hard to get invested in the plotting and exposition to get to the action. That’s really this episode’s problem.

Angel is desperate to get to Cordelia and save her, but the episode moves at a snail’s pace. They have to stop explain how the portals work and they have to stop and deal with Gunn and Lorne’s emotional issues. There are some good to great scenes when dealing with that emotion. However it all undercuts the sense of urgency to “save” Cordelia.

Speaking of Cordelia, the biggest error of the episode is the decision to needlessly torture her. While I like the Cordelia story in the macro, this scene was really the rotten apple that spoiled the entire basket. There is no reason to have Cordelia get tortured. The twist of her becoming Princess of Pylea, is just as strong if the last time we see her is when her visions are uncovered and the townspeople are threatening her. Besides introducing the Convent, the torture does nothing but psychically harm the singular female hero of the show. The Convent could easily be introduced in a scene that doesn’t deprive the heroine of agency.

I find Gunn’s “story” here equally dissatisfactory. I really liked how “Belonging” gave every member of Angel Investigations a story to end the season on, so Gunn had to choose between his crew and Angel Investigations. So naturally he makes that decision completely off-screen and we are robbed of any potential impact and development for that character. It’s possible they could be saving that for next season but I would have loved to see Gunn actually stay behind in LA and have to fend of Wolfram and Hart while everyone is away at Pylea. This would have made his internal decision to an external action and give the character the screen time he deserves.

The Unknown:

Thanks the great work by Andy Hallet and development of Lorne so far, I certainly understand why he hated Pylea. I’m not sure it’s quite the horrible place, the show is implying at times. It’s true that humans are sold into slavery and the like but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of consequence yet. We’ve only just got here so it’s unfair to judge and I’m certain there will be dire situations to come, but I’m not immediately impressed with Pylea.

Wesley was bulldozed by Angel’s desperation to get to Cordelia. The power dynamic of season one was back and Angel was clearly in the boss’ chair. This makes perfect sense considering the circumstances but I hope it is addressed in the next two episodes. Especially since Wesley was already questioning his ability to lead in “Belonging”.

So the slave girl who helps Cordelia is obviously the same one from the vision in “Belonging”, right? She is also the cutest human in the history of people, right?

Favorite Moment:

No moment hit me as strongly as Lorne talking about how growing up in a world without music affected him. It’s just a really powerful moment that is beautifully written and performed by a horned demon in green make-up. A sentence that really describes Angel in a nutshell.

Bottom Line:

There’s not a whole you can expect from this episode, given its nature. Still they could have done a much better job pacing it. While it wouldn’t have improved my opinion of the episode immensely if it was removed, needlessly harming Cordelia didn’t help matters. Even if it does feel about ten minutes longer than it actually is, it’s not a bad episode.

57 out of 100

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