Derek’s Review – 3.15 “Loyalty”

The Good:

As disappointed as I have been with how Angel has gotten Wesley to his extreme state of isolation (his completely manufactured crush on Fred) it did create a great Wesley episode in “Loyalty”. Everyone noticing Wesley’s extreme state of distress but Wesley refuses help created a very organic tension. Even putting aside what Wesley is feeling about his “rejection” by Fred this felt very true to his character. It only really hit me last episode that Wesley is turning into Angel and here is stealing pages right from Angel’s brooding handbook. He’s not sleeping, he’s obsessed with this mission and he’s having creepy dreams.

What I really appreciated about this episode is that Angel heavily implied that Wesley is on a fool’s errand. I’m not speaking from a rewatch perspective because I genuinely don’t remember but it is obvious to me this prophecy is fake and Lilah is behind it. Since prophecies have become basically meaningless on this show, I thought this was a nice workaround, letting the audience know more than Wesley. So it is almost heartbreaking that Wesley keeps trying to figure out the prophecy and he’s just a pawn in Lilah’s game.

This really was a reclamation for the Wesley that I find interesting. I was so tired of his pining for Fred and that’s still there but it’s not the main thrust of his story. This is a great exploration of Wesley as a character being shut off but somehow is still incredibly perceptive about others. A man who uses his intellect and research skills to investigate and explore.

The Bad:

The Sahjhan and Lilah story is among the most bizarre subplots that’s been on Angel in a while. Lilah writes a notepad that she is in with Sahjhan’s plan because presumably Wolfram and Hart has her office bugged. Then the two just openly start discussing their plan and it’s still supposed to be a secret to the higher ups of Wolfram and Hart. Lilah also tells Sahjahn later in another awkward staged scene that their plan has already started presumably discussing Wesley and the prophecy.

There could be two plans, the prophecy and whatever they are planning to do with Connor’s blood but it is very confusingly presented and not in a good mysterious. It’s in a bad this is sort of a mess way. Now this could all be attributed to Sahjahn exists outside of time but that’s a stretch. Also if Sahjahn doesn’t exist on a linear timeline why can’t he just travel to the future and see if Holtz killed Angel? Why he is so impatient that Holtz isn’t doing his job or if Holtz doesn’t kill Angel why did he recruit him in the first place? I’m really enjoying Holtz but Sahjahn has been a hot mess from the start.

I don’t think Wesley intends to get in her head by telling her that they don’t have time for romantic relationships and work, yet he still does. I don’t think there was great deal of tension in the idea that Fred might break up with Gunn, so early in the relationship. It was particularly disappointing that Fred was so easily manipulated by Wesley’s words and Gunn line about Wesley trying to steal his girl. It suggests that Fred a) doesn’t have a mind of her own b) is a prize to be won between the two men.

The Unknown:

On two separate occasions Angel asks Wesley what’s wrong and Wesley barely answers. Angel just takes this cop-out responses at face value and doesn’t press any further. It’s outside of Angel’s character but it was just a sort of odd moment. The episode wants to let you that the rest of Angel Investigation notice that Wesley is acting odd but the episode can’t tell the other characters what is going on. It’s a nice step for Angel that he comes out of himself and notices his friend’s struggles. This is yet another positive effect that Connor has had on him. The writing for Wesley’s response should have just been a bit stronger to make it clearer why Angel drops it.

Favorite Moment:

I really love Holtz and Wesley’s first meeting. Holtz is such a difficult a character to pull off, he’s incredibly single-minded. He wants his revenge and is ruthless in that pursuit but Angel has managed to make him into a nuanced character. He even has a plausible and sensible argument for why Angel having a soul doesn’t change anything for him. His meeting with Wesley is a such a good showcase for the character because despite all his doubts Wesley goes there with the intention of defending Angel but Holtz manages to shake his faith completely.

Bottom Line:

This was marketed improvement over Wesley’s stories lately. Wesley’s always been a fascinating character but here the situation surrounding him was just as interesting. Unfortunately everything else surrounding Wesley fell sort of flat to me. Mostly because “Loyalty” is very much a set-up episode, hopefully the direct continuation will be better.

63 out of 100

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