William’s Review – 3.03 “That Old Gang of Mine”

The Good

It’s been a while since we’ve dealt with the morally gray area of killing demons if they’re harmless. Even last week we dealt with Angel taking out demons that were on the forces of good. Or even farther back to the season 2 premiere. It’s an interesting discussion. And while a lot of this may feel a little forced I thought it added some depth to the episode. The metaphor got a little muddled in the episode, but it did feel like they were getting a point across. It’s a precarious situation where you have to keep a character that’s part of the main cast and keep him likeable, but still make him more complex. A moment that jumps out to me is when Gunn asks whether if they catch the demon killers if they are supposed to kill it or thank it and Wesley can only respond with “I don’t know.” It’s a great moment in keeping the situation firmly in the gray.

Fred was great in this episode. I love that they have Angel force the awkward interaction between Cordelia and Fred. Seeing two characters who are completely different really helped both characters pop. The writers have just had a very solid grasp on how to write this character. She already has a well-developed voice and it’s a joy to see her sporadic scientific thoughts come rushing out. I liked seeing the different reactions from our gang to her singing. And it was quite a shocking sight to see her splashed with demon blood once Gunn’s old gang opens fire on the crowd. She even got a really bad ass moment where she stands up to the gang with the cross bow. They’ve really done a great job in making me like this character and show her inner strength.

I like the last conversation between Gunn and Angel. Even though the wrap up to the club puts a black mark on this moment, it is nice to set up the tension between the two of them. I think the way they are going to help develop Gunn is to have more direct interactions with our gang. This seems like a way they can do that. Also making Gunn not trusting of demons isn’t the most unreasonable response to his sister’s death. And it does try and paint him in a more complex light.

The Bad

Some of the moments felt a little forced. Angel taking Gunn’s reaction to Merl’s death felt really personal. It made the tension between Gunn and Angel Investigation feel more manufactured than natural. I know this was a moment to expand on Gunn’s development, but his sudden jump to hating all demons in this episode felt a little rushed. They hadn’t really ramped up to this moment.

There was little tension in the hostage situation. It is hard to really sell peril for our main cast, but the way we just sat around a while really took the air out of the room. Suddenly things became so slow that any believability that someone in our gang wouldn’t make it was just impossible to sell.

They really just rush through the ending of this episode. So Gio dies and suddenly everything is resolved? I get there is now more of a strain in certain relationships, but it did feel like there was no sense of consequence to the episode.

The Unknown

I feel like this episode is going for a deeper metaphor or message; I’m just not sure what it was trying to say. They way there is very purposeful verbiage when Gunn interacts with his gang. I’m not sure if they are trying to say something about racism or bigotry with the way Gunn’s gang profiles all demons as evil. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. It definitely gets muddled because some demons were evil and some were good. Ultimately I even enjoyed a bit of the confusion because it made the issue feel grayer.

Was that demon really a baby eating demon? In one of the more complex moments in the episode (see favorite moment) We have maybe a scene that is really dark for Gunn or it’s Gunn just killing another demon. I hadn’t remembered the demon mumbling to himself, but on rewatch seeing him confirm what Gio was saying made the scene a lot more confusing. I felt like it was supposed to be up in the air as a cop out to not make Gunn appear to dark. Still it left me wondering.

Favorite Moment

I ended up going with Gio ranting at Gunn in Caritas. Watching Gunn lose control and the way that scene spiraled was nice. I thought it was a pretty powerful performance especially the way Gunn delivered that “Shut up!”

Bottom Line

This episode was a little all over the place. I thought some moments were genuinely complex and thought provoking. Others fell flat or felt forced. Ultimately it was another mixed attempt at developing a character that sorely needs it in Gunn.

Score: 60 out of 100

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