Derek’s Review – 4.10 “Awakening”

The Good:

This episode might have benefited the most of any episode thus far on Rewatch. You’d think the exact opposite would occur, the big twist is spoiled. 95% of the episode is a quasi-Jacob’s Ladder scenario and it’s all taking place in Angel’s head. None of that sounds great on paper but for me none of that mattered. I though “Awakening” was a fascinating look instead Angel’s head. Angel is walking a very thin line with all the cheesiness in the episode but for this one episode it works. Especially when you consider Angel the character is gigantic dork.

Perhaps my favorite thing about “Awakening” is how it changes what we think we know about Angel. Angel is a very depressed guy, he’s often kind of a bummer. Yet “Awakening” tells us that Angel doesn’t have any hope, he has quite a bit of hope. Angel can imagine a world that’s a saccharine, perfect and harmonious as the end of “Awakening”. The world is what is holding Angel down, not himself.

The contrast of the dream world of “Awakening” and the real world is also incredibly moving on Rewatch. Season 4 has done magnificent job at making everyone and everything seem miserable. You can understand why Angel (and the rest of the characters) get to the point that they think bringing back Angelus can solve their problems. Comparing the hopefulness and peace of the group shot in the dream world after the Beast is defeated to defeat and desolation of the crew watching Angelus being reborn is so depressing and fantastic.

The Bad:

Cordelia wasn’t quite as useless in this episode as I remembered. In fact, she seemed like her old self in Angel’s dream world. This ultimately ends being a problem because it only goes to show wrong Cordelia sounds in the real world. Still, when Cordelia is trapped after Angel and her find the sword, it’s stupid. Cordelia can run in literally any direction and save herself. Instead she stands in that one spot and screeches to Angel shows up to push her in the right direction.

The dream is a gimmick that pays off. You can’t deny though that “Awakening” is a five minute episode. It’s not complete filler but it’s not an episode with a humungous impact. We don’t learn anything earth-shattering from Angel’s dream. It’s just a welcome reminder of what Angel wants and how badly things have gone this season. “Awakening” isn’t a filler episode but I wouldn’t argue hard with someone who felt it was one.

The Unknown:

There’s no part of me that’s not excited to see Angelus. However because I’m extraordinary messed up I assume that this good thing is coming with a catch. Angelus is such a great villain but he’s also tricky. Angel has been smart in not using the character before now (everyone forget about “Eternity”). You’d hope that after this time they have figured out a way to use Angelus and also figure how to get rid of him in a way that makes sense. Angelus creepy laugh to end the episode is great but I’m slightly nervous about how the story is going to progress.

Favorite Moment:

I really loved Connor and Angel’s conversation before Angel goes into the Angelus cage. What I really like about the scene with Connor and Angel is what it sets up for the future. Connor has (foolishly) thought that Angel and Angelus are the same person but he’s in for a rude awakening. While Connor is a lot more sympathetic on rewatch, I still can’t wait to see Connor come face to face with the monster inside Angel.

Bottom Line:

I’m not sure if “Awakening” will hold for a third or fourth viewing. I think the luster might wear out by then but a second viewing was arguably better than the first. The real thing holding this episode back is that the “important” stuff happens in about fifteen minutes. The less important stuff is still very entertaining but I can’t justify giving this episode a very high score.

69 out of 100

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