Derek’s Review – 3.03 “That Old Gang of Mine”
I enjoyed this for what it did with Gunn’s character. The fact that he is still uncertain of demons and can’t fully trust Angel because what he is, are both interesting ideas. It consistent with his character and if they stick with it, could lead to some great moments down the line. It’s unfortunate that we have to reach all the way back to Gunn’s first appearance and the death of his sister to make this seem relevant but the blame can’t be laid at this episode’s feet.
Fred continues to be used well, especially when you to reveal things about other characters. We pretty much know the Fred and Angel dynamic so this explored her relationship with the other members of Angel Investigations. The sequence of her singing “Crazy” was perfect in what showed about the other members of Angel Investigations. Wesley’s horrified by her terrible sing, Cordelia is amused by it but Gunn smiles honestly appreciating her.
The invasion of Caritas was surprisingly violent and effective. While there is violence aplenty, guns are almost never seen in the Buffyverse. The image of demons being gunned down was shocking at set a tense tone for the hold-up, even if everything else surrounding Gunn’s old gang is a mixed bag.
I don’t think the actor playing Gio is bad. I don’t think he’s a quiet actor but he’s not a bad actor. It was always going to be hard to make Gio work. We are introduced to him in this episode and he has to be incredibly aggressive and antagonistic. He has to be the opposite of Gunn. Gunn’s quiet and contemplative and Gio is boisterous and reckless. It might have been better if Rondell was in the Gio role. The death of the gang member last season could’ve turned Rondell into this violent character, hell bent on eradicating demons. The ending to his story would probably have to change, but that’s also my biggest issue with “That Old Gang of Mine”.
As annoying and unlikable as Gio might be the episode tries to humanize him. In his past a girl died and he believed himself responsible or had a direct hand in killing her. So he dove headfirst into this violent behavior as a coping mechanism. That’s a real sad story but we’re also supposed to cheer when he gets his head bitten off by the demon. Gio’s death seems in direct conflict with everything that Angel Investigations stands for in their mission. I don’t even know how many times Angel has said, “We’re not in the business of giving up on people.” Why is Gio the exception? I have my very plausible answer to that query. There’s no easy end to the conflict between Angel Investigation and Rondell if the proverbial head to the snake is cut off and Gio dies. That’s just terribly sloppy writing though.
Angel, the show and the character seems to believe that someone needs to fill the role of potential executioner if Angelus comes back. For a long time, it seemed like Cordelia fit that role but I’m not so sure anymore. Cordelia certainly wouldn’t be a “whiny cry-Buffy” if Angelus came back, but I don’t she’d behead without hesitation. This episode presents Gunn that new role, with the reasonable skeptic inside Angel Investigations. Will they actually begin to meaningful use Gunn in this way or will he just revert back to his old usage. Gunn has to be something more than funny reactions and quizzical looks.
In the beginning of season two, Angel was the Gunn liaison. It was nice to revisit that relationship in the final moments of the episode. I enjoy how these two don’t always agree but accept each other. There is a nice respect built between them. Hopefully now that is everything is laid out on the table they can build a friendship out of that respect. I’ll be paying attention to how they develop their interactions moving forward.
I’m not sure what exactly to make of this episode. It’s good to a Gunn spotlight, we needed one. It didn’t tap into all the potential of his character but if it’s a start of something more it’s acceptable. I’m just afraid they won’t use him more. My fear is he’ll float into the background again just so they can trot him out later next season to revisit how he isn’t assimilated into the group yet… again.
59 out of 100