Derek’s Review – 4.04 “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”
Amnesiac Cordelia is not my favorite thing. I do like that Cordelia at least sounds like herself. She may not have Cordelia’s memories, but she certainly has Cordelia’s voice and personality. It makes up for a lot of the more groan-worthy portions of Cordelia’s story in this episode that we are able to hear Cordelia’s opinions about things which is something we haven’t heard in awhile.
As the name suggests, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem does a good job of building that bigger threat. There is a sense that something bad is going to happen and it’s going to be catastrophic. It’s deceptively hard thing to do where you have to make the threat seem real but can’t go too over the top with it. Angel hits the balance just right.
Lilah and Wesley really save this episode though. Lilah comes off as completely genuine and happy when Wesley calls their sexcapades a relationship. She definitely cares for him and not in a twisted Lilah way. Lilah likes Wesley as a person. Yet she is completely willing to use their relationship for her own gains. What I particularly love about Lilah playing Wesley is that it doesn’t threaten their relationship. Lilah has never hidden who she is and what she willing to do. “If I’d thought you’d ever trust me, I would’ve never played you like that,” just sums up their relationship so perfectly.
I really hate the direction the Cordelia and Connor stuff is heading or appears to be heading. I don’t have problem with Cordelia trusting Connor. It’s a nice way to bring Connor back into the fold. The weird incest storyline is just so bizarre and distasteful. There is no reason for it other than shock factor. Why does there need to be a sexual element to Connor and Cordelia’s relationship? Cordelia having no memories is enough of a reason for her and Angel to be kept apart, so his son really have to be groping her too? Angel goes out of its way to tell us that technically Cordelia isn’t Connor’s mother. That’s BS, quite simply. Biologically no, Cordelia is not Connor’s mom but she raised him as much as Angel. The whole thing is icky, gross and needlessly risqué.
Though honestly you could ask, “Why is this happening?” for a lot of “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”. We know almost nothing about where the story is heading so it’s hard to have precise judgement on anything. We don’t know how long Cordelia won’t have her memory and if it will lead to something amazing. We don’t know what the big bad thing is that is coming. We don’t even know why Cordelia is no longer a Higher Power. This is a really hard episode to review on rewatch and a spoiler-free rewatch because there is so much I can’t say. All of this relies on the pay-off and it better be damn good and satisfying. This episode is neither of those things.
I liked Cordelia reading her yearbook. It was typical Cordelia dialogue and that was fun to watch. That’s all I have to say.
I was mildly entertaining while watching “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”. Nothing made me particularly angry, except the Connor and Cordelia stuff but that is in such an embryonic stage that Angel could ignore and write it off quite this soon. So I can’t get too mad about it. On the other hand nothing really grabbed me. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” is the perfect example of ambivalent TV viewing.