Derek’s Review – 3.17 “Forgiving”
I’ve talked at length about how Connor’s presence has made Angel more human and it’s no different now that Connor has been taking. Angel’s determination and rage to find Connor and make those responsible “pay” is the scariest Angel has ever been. This isn’t the vampire coming out, this completely his human side in control. He’s vicious, desperate and full of rage but it’s a very human rage. It’s the desperation of a parent losing a child, not a vampire with a soul constantly trying to come to terms with his conscience.
I’ve been so impressed with Boreanaz when it comes to acting everything relating to Connor. I feel the heat between Angel and Cordelia, I know that Angel has affection for his friends but the bond between Connor and Angel feels so much more tangible. It was such a genuine and open affection for someone so closed off that the ripping away of that connection is all the more heartbreaking. There were times when Angel interacted with Connor that I forgot that I was watching a TV show and it felt more like a window into this life between father and son.
“Forgiving” is at its best when it focuses on the emotional toll that Connor’s kidnapping has one of the members of Angel Investigations. Whether it is Angel soundlessly staring at that empty crib, or Fred and Gunn struggling to understand Wesley or Lorne’s impassioned pleas for reason this Angel at the top of its game.
However there are not enough of those moments to make this a great episode. There is a probably a need to have Justine and Sahjhan in the episode to continue the narrative and explain some things. It would be odd and not to mention anticlimactic if “Sleep Tight” was the last time we saw them but their presence in this episode really disrupts the emotional flow of misery. It’s just because I don’t care about either one of them or even find them that interesting and I doubt that will change soon.
Justine’s pain at losing Holtz is just as real as Angel’s losing Connor. She’s lost that one person in her life who she felt wholly connected to but the problem is that relationship never developed on screen in a way that made me buy into them. Their scenes were always about Holtz and his motivation and his drive to get revenge. Justine was just a prop. Now that Holtz is gone, Angel really wants to convince that Justine is a character that can stand on her own and she can’t at all. I found myself sort of drawn in when she comes to hideout after Holtz has left her and lies to the remaining members of the army and says they’re going to take Angel down anyway. After that though she went back to the same one-dimensional, snarling warrior that has no personality or depth other than pain.
I know I’ve complained about the lack of answers with Sahjhan and here we get them but it’s almost too much. While suitably creepy the child explaining Sahjhan’s backstory to Angel brought things to a screeching halt in the episode. I won’t disagree we needed to know that information, same for Sahjhan telling Angel that Connor was his enemy all along. The exposition just came at really inopportune moments where Angel is supposed to be a non-stop mission but he frequently stops for story-time.
Gunn and Fred searching everywhere for Wesley but the park outside his house when he specifically said he was taking Connor there was ridiculous. Furthermore how did Wesley get to the park, Justine slashed him in front of his house and car. Did he stumble away from society and into the woods? The homeless man mugging him was the height of unnecessary time filler as well.
Obviously Angel being distraught at not finding Wesley at the end of the episode was a bit of misdirection. Though I am curious when exactly Angel decided to try to kill Wesley. Was it seeing him in the bed and just the combined frustration and anger of this entire day? Was he upset when they couldn’t find Wesley because he wanted to kill him? Is there any there any possible way their relationship can be mended after this?
Angel trying to kill Wesley is for sure a shocking way to end the episode. It’s also completely in line with his character and in no way feels like they are crossing a line for the sake of shock value. I just worry that it might prove to be too much in the long run. Wesley is clearly not leaving the show anytime soon if he didn’t die from getting a knife across his neck and not being found for hours. He deserves to be punished and Angel wanting murdering him ensures he won’t have much contact with the rest of Angel Investigations. However for all its faults “Forgiving” definitely proved how important Wesley is to the functioning of the group. Angel might feel too different without his influence and do even I want to watch Wesley all on own? It’s just a lingering question that for the spoiler-free nature of the rewatch I have to pretend I don’t already know the answer to…
I’m a really sucker for when a visual media uses empty space to convey a larger sense of loss. I won’t say Angel staring at Connor’s crib is the most original or groundbreaking idea. It is the one moment that hit me the hardest though and really drove home what Angel is going through after the abduction of his son. The charred crib forever a reminder to what he lost and can never get back.
I want to like this episode so much more than I actually do. Maybe it’s a consequence of setting my hopes too high because I was really anticipating this after “Sleep Tight”. Unfortunately “Forgiving” gets nowhere near matching its predecessor in terms of drama and intensity. Well if you complete ignore Angel trying to smother his former best friend.
64 out of 100