Derek’s Review – 4.11 “Soulless”

The Good:

David Boreanaz is acting real hard in this episode as Angelus. It’s not Boreanaz best acting episode of the series, it’s not even his best episode of playing Angelus. He’s clearly leaving it all out there and having a lot of fun being a bad guy and that’s always fun to watch. In a sick twisted way, Angelus himself is enjoyable. Angelus does choose his words very carefully to manipulate the team. It’s rather impressive how he just barely blows on the tenuous Fred, Gunn and Wesley triangle and nearly blows everything down.

I’m really going to have to start questioning my memory. I’m liking Connor more and more on rewatch and I know on first watch he just got progressively more aggravating. Connor’s definitely a brat but Angel gives us good reasons for why Connor is a brat. Mainly Connor’s a teenager and Vincent Karthesier does a really great job of playing Connor’s bravado and fragileness as that kid.

It comes off especially when Connor’s scenes with Angelus. Connor believes he is so in control and so commanding talking to Angelus. Connor is saying a bunch of vile things to Angelus trying to hurt him. Who Connor is really trying to hurt though is Angel and Angelus couldn’t care less. Angelus is so lazily batting away Connor’s attempts to annoy him. It’s such a great way of showing how different Angelus is from Angel but how much more Connor needs to learn.

The Bad:

All the Cordelia and Angelus scenes fall so incredibly flat. It doesn’t help that Charisma Carpenter keeps playing Cordelia in the most boring way possible. This should be exciting it’s the first time Cordelia, as we now know her, is really interacting with Angelus. Instead it lacks any weight, Cordelia’s sacrifice of her body for Angelus is a weird moment and everything else is bland.

I have a real problem with some of the writing in this episode. Angelus is evil, perverted and sick but a lot of his lines feel too shocking. A lot of them are either too sexual, too violent or too disgusting. It all feels very amateurish and over-the-top. Angelus is a flamboyant character but there’s a definite line between flamboyance and just let’s say everything nasty that we can think of because this guy is EVIL.

The Unknown:

If you didn’t see Angel’s soul missing from the safe at the end, you’ve probably never seen a story before because that was twist coming from a mile away. It’s a good and sensible twist because Angelus has barely done anything but it didn’t make me anywhere near excited. For now this whole arc feels a little bit uncertain. This was yet another episode where nothing happened. Angel Investigations clearly didn’t have plan to deal with Angelus and Angelus’ knowledge of the Beast added nothing. I trust (and remember) the show going somewhere cool with this Angelus stuff but it’s all up the air.

As for Angel going ahead with the Wesley/Fred/Gunn love triangle, I’ve probably already said enough on the subject. I’m not mad anymore, I’m just disappointed. Though I’ll admit that was a pretty hot kiss between Wesley and Fred, even if his initial attraction to her is all sorts of creepy.

Favorite Moment:

I really connected to Connor seeing the murdered family. It was the first time I not only understood Connor but felt for him. It was a wonderful way of showing us how desperately Connor wants acceptance without having Connor yell about how no loves him.

Bottom Line:

Maybe my expectations were too high for this episode but I felt kind of let down. There were some parts I really enjoyed but mostly it was disappointed. I would get really wrapped up in the Angelus scenes only for him to have a very obvious reference to masturbation. I was reminded that this was a television. Angelus is not a real person and everything about this situation was fake. Hopefully the next episode will be able to capture Angelus’ voice better. He can be creepy and disgusting without going overboard.

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