Derek’s Review – 3.02 “That Vision Thing”

The Good:

This episode surprised me. I don’t remember season three at large very well and while I remembered parts of this episode, most of it felt fresh. I didn’t remember that Cordelia’s visions having physical manifestations was because of Lilah’s meddling, so the stakes were raised really high. I didn’t foresee a situation where Cordelia would go through the rest of the season/series horribly scarred. Still even if I knew these injuries would fade, the emotions of the moment were sold so well. Due to Charisma Carpenter’s acting and the direction, I was legitimately afraid for her safety.

Wolfram and Hart were rather uneven last season. Holland was fun to watch but our “point-of-view” characters were rather weak. Now that only Lilah is left, they are picking up the interesting thread that was hinted at last season. Lilah’s confidence is shown to be somewhat of an act here. We saw this a bit last season. Lilah tries to act like the most powerful person in the room but when her power is question she becomes flustered. Maybe they hit this weakness a little too hard in this episode. There are probably a bit too many times where Lilah tries to intimate Angel and his response of force shakes her. It worked though as “That Vision Thing” felt like a re-introduction to her character.

There were also some really good Angel and Cordelia scenes but it almost goes without saying at that point. Angel has about as many demonstrations of Angel and Cordelia’s wonderful dynamic as it has beheading and broodings.

The Bad:

I’m not sure whose episode this is, Angel or Cordelia? “That Vision Thing” feels confused on whose story it wants to tell. For the majority of the episode this is clearly Cordelia’s story. We kept going back to her, she is struggling with what the visions mean and we see the pain they’re causing her. Angel is very much in the background. Then once it was revealed that Wolfram and Hart is the true culprit the focus abruptly shifts to Angel. It’s now all about Angel’s one man army to save Cordelia. I’m fine with either of those stories being told in one episode. I’m even fine with both of these stories being told in the same episode. The transition needs to be neater than it was here.

The Unknown:

The identity of the Prisoner is meant to be a mystery but it’s almost too mysterious. There is the implication that this will have horrible consequences in the future. This guy can be the manufacturer of anything decent or wholesome. The implication is almost too slight. For this episode the release of this Prisoner into the world feels anticlimactic it doesn’t go anyway and there is no hint of where it was going. I’m sure he’ll come back at some point and I’m sure they’ll be consequences. The resolution of this episode concerning him feels a bit too clean.

Favorite Moment:

Normally I snatch up Cordelia and Angel moments like red skittles but I didn’t go for them this week. Fred and Cordelia don’t pass the Bechdel Test but I really enjoyed their first scene, because of how Charisma Carpenter played it. When Fred calls Cordelia Angel’s Lassie, Cordelia’s face falls. Cordelia never wants to be perceived as weak and Fred comes with a quasi-Outsider’s perspective and confirms her worst fears. She might be nothing more than a tool in Angel’s arsenal. When you consider this moment in addition to her behavior last week, it looks like season three holds a lot of promise for Cordelia. She looks like she will grow outside of “just” being the Vision Girl.

Bottom Line:

I enjoyed this a lot but there wasn’t enough consequences to this to rate it highly. There are very high stakes and a deep emotional investment but it sort of fizzled by the end. Everything ends mostly happily and safe. There is also a lack of focus on whose story is being told here but otherwise it is really solid.

66 out of 100

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