Derek’s Review – 4.08 “Habeas Corpses”

The Good:

As far as building off the back of what came before and creating more tension this episode is excellent. The threat is just escalating with each passing episodes in exciting and reasonable ways. “Habeas Corpses” works best in its emotions and how it makes the audience and characters feel. There are some bad logical problems and inconsistencies. For example, why does the Beast stab Lilah slowly in her side as opposed to his quick dispatching of everyone else? Why does Cordelia do anything she does in the episode? And the zombies, oh god the zombies (see the bad) but if you can ignore all that, and it’s quite easy to ignore, this a tense little episode. It’s hard to feel bad that Wolfram and Hart is gone. The fact the LA Branch, sans Lilah, has been killed though means that Angel has no choice but to change after this season. Wolfram and Hart no longer exists as it did before.

The Cordelia and Connor relationship is a still hot piece of perplexing garbage but Connor is improving. I don’t like her quite yet but he’s certainly more relatable and sympathetic than he has ever been. It’s shameful what Angel is doing Cordelia but the more awful she becomes, the better Connor looks in comparison. Connor being seduced by Cordelia, then rejected and having to deal with the Beast has made the character much more tangible that before. It’s easy to see him as the confused kid Angel wants us to see rather than rage monster with severe daddy issues. The character that no one can remotely relate to or even understand.

As always Lilah is perfection in season 4. I love the break up scene with Wesley but also how she responds to everything. Lilah’s interacting with Holtz was great and she has a similar interplay with Connor. I love when she realizes that Connor is going to fight the Beast alone and sarcastically salutes him. Yet, she does inform Wesley that Connor is still trapped. The important thing about it and the aspect that is true to Lilah’s character though is she waits until she is safe to spill the beans.

The Bad:

The zombies awful. These aren’t the first zombies on Angel. “Dead Man’s Party” wasn’t much better than this but it was better. The zombies are about as much threat as wet paper. While the characters have great (and appropriate) reactions of horror and fear at the Beast, it just doesn’t work with the zombies. They never really threaten any one and the action is terribly staged. Angel clearly didn’t have the budget to stimulate zombie beheading but having the characters punch the zombies with swords and axes in their hands is beyond stupid.

The character assassination of Cordelia Chase continues and I’m still depressed. It’s not like it made sense before but in this episode is completely unfathomable. It’s not that she shouldn’t regret sleeping with Connor. She absolutely should because he’s a child, furthermore he’s her child, but Cordelia and Connor sleeping together wasn’t presented as a moment of passion in “Apocalypse Nowish”. Cordelia was very clear in her intentions and in control when she seduced Connor.  Cordelia waking up, regretting the act and calling it a one-time thing feels like a very poor attempt at course correction. The damage is done, Cordelia took her surrogate son’s virginity and we all have to live with it.

The Unknown:

I’m a teensy bit annoyed that the demon of the White Room had just enough strength to teleport our heroes away. It just feels a bit too convenient and the Beast did a pretty thorough job until this point. It’s asking a lot to think he didn’t drain all her power or confirm the kill before he walked away. There’s also the lingering question of if Angel can keep this going. The Beast was occupied in this episode but barely 12 hours have passed since he rose and the season has just begun. How can the show possibly keep this going for a whole season? I’m not facetiously asking either, I honestly don’t remember.

Angel’s petty treatment of Cordelia is somewhat cathartic because her sleeping with Connor is disgusting from every angle. Angel has a right to be angry at her. He doesn’t really have a right to treat her so poorly. It was still her decision, a terrible one, but her decision. It’s definitely within his character. The show has never shied away from showing the more negative parts of Angel’s personality but it does make the whole sorry storyline even harder to watch. There is no good way to deal with it, but it would have been nice if Angel’s anger came more from his position as a father than a romantic rival. Ugh, I can’t believe that’s a real sentence I have to write.

Favorite Moment:

As mentioned early I LOVE the Wesley and Lilah break-up scene. Lilah’s speech about black and white is my favorite thing she says in the history of the series. It’s not a wholly original idea but it is put so elegantly. The stain of evil deeds, the blackness, is always going to be on your soul, once you commit them and that idea is so perfect coming from Lilah. She’s a character who has embraced her inner darkness, knows it’s probably wrong but doesn’t regret becoming the person she has become. This line is what made the Lilah and Wesley relationship so interesting. Lilah has embraced her greyness. Wesley has always been uncomfortable with it.

Bottom Line:

75% of this episode is very strong. It doesn’t quite stick the landing. Emotionally it works pretty well, even if the zombies are real push-overs. Even the damage of that is recouped when our heroes run into the Beast yet again and are very nearly killed. Like most episodes in season 4, it is able to build nicely and layer new elements into the arc. Also like most episode in season 4, Cordelia’s storyline is revolting.

69 out of 100

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