Derek’s Review – 4.07 “Apocalypse, Nowish”

The Good:

“Apocalypse, Nowish” might be the perfect example of Angel season 4 so far. The stuff it does well, it does extremely well. The stuff it doesn’t do well, is a pile of hot garbage. Focusing on the positives for now, it really is the majority of the episode. Angel’s pain, the impending doom, Wesley’s twisted relationship with Lilah and even some of the Fred and Gunn stuff. It’s all really excellent executed. Especially the overall tone of the episode that something terrible is beginning to happen.

We’ve seen Angel Investigations struggle before, we’ve seen them even lose. We’ve never seen them get decimated as soundly as they do in “Apocalypse, Nowish”. This feels like a very different episode of Angel and that’s a good thing. Angel is typically about the singular fight. The battle for one virtue or one person’s soul. The show rarely gets global in the same way that Buffy typically did. Buffy was saving the world and by extension, people. Angel is saving people and by extension, the world. The threat of the Beast is not personal like most of Angel’s conflict, it’s big, it’s bad and it’s far reaching.

The image of fire raining from the skies is among the most evocative things Angel has ever done. There is a sense in this episode that the show will never be the same after this arc. It will alter things in unimaginable ways. This is exciting as long as the changes are good…

The Bad:

…and so far they haven’t been. I really don’t want to harp on Connor and Cordelia stuff because there is very little new to say. It’s still disgusting, gross and unnecessary. It’s actually more of all those things because Cordelia has her memories. While I think this is Connor’s best episode yet, because he shows emotions other than anger, he is weighed down by this gross storyline.

Cordelia and Connor are obviously there to shock us. It’s not meant to be a couple to root for but it’s abhorrent that you wonder why it is even there. There is just no reason why Cordelia would reciprocate Connor’s feelings. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The Unknown:

Charisma Carpenter’s acting has to be called out and praised. She does a good job at playing Cordelia different than ever before. It is Cordelia but at the same time there is something off. There is a really dead quality to Cordelia now, a flatness, which obviously must be intentional. It’s interesting if it is going somewhere but it doesn’t make her scenes with Connor any less of a drag. This season is kind of bummer and we really do need the standard Cordelia cheer, but we’re not getting it yet.

Fred and Gunn have some nice moments but they are still in a holding pattern. I can imagine several reasons why Fred would feel estranged from Gunn but we haven’t gotten any expressed on screen. I hope there is so movement, even if it is her breaking up with him. As long as her reasoning for calling it off, isn’t that she is in love with Wesley because that would come out of nowhere.

Favorite Moment:

The fight scene with the Beast is a stunning achievement for the show in terms of choreography. I’ve said before I don’t watch Angel for the fight scenes because with the influx of superhero TV, fight scenes have gotten much better in recent years. However this one does stand up to the test of time. It’s a little too staged with each character taking a part in tackling the Beast but it all ends in an engrossing if disheartening fight.

Bottom Line:

To steal a line from Cathleen in Feedback, this is an episode I both love and hate. Even though the majority of it is very good, the Connor and Cordelia stuff is just terrible. It’s shame that Angel is going forward with making those two and their interactions as disgusting as possible. It is putting a black mark on a season that could be really compelling otherwise. Depressing as hell, but still compelling.


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