Derek’s Review – 3.13 “Waiting in the Wings”

The Good:

I immediately recognized this as a Joss Whedon script before I saw the credits. It just had a different feel that was recognizably Whedon and quirky. It’s not a tone that works well on Angel most of the time but it fit here, especially since this was episode so heavily focused on Angel and Cordelia’s relationship. I’ve been complaining recently how about how stale and monotonous this unrequited romance has become and this put an end to that. It wasn’t just that Angel pulled his head out of his undead ass and admitted to himself that he loved Cordelia but the way he got there.

The spell was just a very clever way to put those characters in a situation they would never be normally. It’s just because of Angel’s curse but the fact that Cordelia and Angel don’t have a very sexual bond. It’s certainly an element of what Angel feels for her, that he is attracted to her, but it so much more than sexual frustration and heat. The pre-existing friendship means that the two have a connection that goes beyond the physical. They are linked much more emotionally (and even spiritually) then they are physically attracted to each other. So when Angel tells Cordelia this not them when they start passionately ravishing one another it works on both levels.

The Bad:

While Fred and Gunn getting together was sweet, I found the love triangle incredibly tiresome. It doesn’t help that at this point I have no idea why Wesley has feelings for her or why he thinks that’s a remotely plausible option. We’ve barely seen them interact and there is no suggestion that Fred has shown any interest in him romantically. Yet the episode still wants us to feel sorry for Wesley when he doesn’t get the girl and I don’t because it was never a possibility.

They also spend some time playing with the idea that Wesley has grown incredibly resentful with Gunn and Fred. The moment where he pauses and there is a hint of a suggestion that Wesley was going to order Fred or Gunn into harm’s way bothered me greatly. He doesn’t do it but there is a self-congratulatory attitude to it where it is portrayed as a great thing that he doesn’t do it. It’s like its a moment of personal triumph and victory for Wesley and it is anything but that. Wesley shouldn’t be praised for being a decent human being, he should just be one.

The ending is just every kind of stupid. It would be one thing if Cordelia didn’t have feelings for Angel and she told him in that final scene. Yet again though they hold that off and now that Groo is back it is unlikely to be addressed for several more episodes. It’s just a very frustrating and transparent stall tactic that will end with Cordelia ultimately realizing that she too has feelings for Angel and has for all this time. Yawn.

The Unknown:

There’s nothing really that I have lingering questions about or that causes uncertain feelings. I don’t remember where exactly Groo’s story goes and I’m neither excited or dreading to see where it heads. It’s just there, kind of like Groo as a character. He’s neither offensive nor endearing he just exists.

Favorite Moment:

The never ending ballet and the trapped ballerina were so elegantly simple but heartbreaking. Summer Glau’s Russian accent is more than a bit distracting but her speech to Angel is incredibly moving. The pain of not being trapped but unable to dance forever just makes so immediately sympathetic. She only has one scene of actual dialogue but she makes the most of her short bit of time. She is without a doubt one of the most memorable one episode characters, though that bar isn’t set that high.

Bottom Line:

I love the first fifteen minutes or so but it doesn’t keep up that level of enjoyment for the entire episode run. It settles into a enjoyable rhythm after awhile and Whedon dialogue provides some really clever lines throughout. So the whole affair becomes a better than average monster of the week episode.

67 out of 100

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