Derek’s Review – 3.12 “Provider”

The Good:

Yet again Connor forces Angel out of his obsessive and neurotic ways. This isn’t drastically different than “Dad”, in fact it’s pretty much the same. Still Angel continues to use Connor in ways that service the plot and character. It’s something I’d liked to see dealt with or mentioned in “Birthday” when Angel runs to go save Cordelia for the umpteenth time. Angel can’t be as single-minded now that Connor is dependent. I like that “Provider” doesn’t try to say money is meaningless it’s just needs to be dealt with in moderation.

I’m also sort of in love with the structure of the episode. It begins in a kind of hub and then all the characters branch out into their own stories which dovetail back together at the end. It’s really clever and neat way to do a case of the week episode with such a large ensemble cast.

The Bad:

However all these stories should have thematic link and they don’t really in “Provider”. I suppose I could say it’s about the dangers of love and the length people will go to for it. Except that doesn’t really fit with all the stories. It certainly does with Angel’s case of the grieving man who basically ruins his life trying to get vengeance for his “friend” but not so much with the others. You could argue the clicking demons love their leader and the zombie reconciles with his ex-girlfriend/murderer but you really have to stretch it to make it all work.

The stories themselves are kind of dull which isn’t the worst thing but it’s also not the best. Since there is no real overarching theme to hang our hats the plot has to stand on its own and it’s pretty paint by numbers. There’s no twist, no really snappy dialogue, nothing that makes these stories anything other than predictable.

The Unknown:

I’m unsure of what to make of Cordelia being on babysitting duty for the majority of the episode. She’s very much in her co-lead position, Angel defers to her at several times. It’s just a bit of a waste of her character and new fighting skills. It’s bizarre that she tells Connor almost the plot of the entire last episode, including her new part-demon DNA and that plays no part in the story. I like how everyone converges to save Fred but wouldn’t have better to Cordelia’s part-demon powers to manifest. She doesn’t need to save Fred (and Lorne) on her own but at least contribute.

It’s probably supremely unfair to the actress and the show but I still can’t watch Justine without thinking of Kate. It doesn’t help that Justine doesn’t have much of a personality. She’s just really angry and bitter. I know it’s because of her sister dying which they established in her introductory episode. Still it feels like Angel assumes we know her better than we actually do. This is why she feels like such a placeholder for Kate. The actress does a fine job and the writing is OK but I have no investment in her because she’s so much a Kate clone.

Favorite Moment:

Honestly, thank God for the last scene with Cordelia and Angel. It’s super sweet and after my frustrations with “Birthday”, this scene reminded me why I want to root for them as a couple. Angel just needs to tell us how Cordelia feels about Angel ASAP and stop teasing us with scenes like this one.

Bottom Line:

This is really just a boring, inoffensive and dull episode. There’s nothing egregiously bad but there’s also not a whole lot I can call good. Angel was autopilot for this episode and that’s a lot better than nosediving towards a cliff. A situation that has been certainly true for monster of the week episodes in the past.

55 out of 100

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