Derek’s Review – 4.12 “Calvary”
This was the Angelus I wanted to see. Now he’s still disgusting as hell but that final sequence when Angel is chasing Cordelia and Lilah is all I’ve wanted from this new arc. Here I really felt the cunning and genius of Angelus where “Soulless” just went over the top on how terrible a person Angelus is. Angelus was smart and wiley in this episode and I love how he manipulated himself out of the cage. Granted Cordelia let him (getting to that in a bit) but everything else Angelus did in the episode was pitch perfect manipulation.
Knowing that this is Lilah’s last episode alive on rewatch gave me a whole new perspective. Lilah is pretty much at the height of her sassy powers but it is more than that. Lilah is a woman with nowhere to run and nowhere to go. This is sad end for her character but there’s very little that Angel could have done with Lilah. Of course she couldn’t have joined Angel Investigations but that sounds like a redemption arc, even if she initially did it to save her own skin. Lilah went out being herself, even if she was completely blindsided by the kill.
It’s such a relief now to be able to openly talk about evil Cordelia. The spoiler-free part of this rewatch has been killer as we’ve tried to disavow any knowledge of what is really going on with Cordelia. All the cards aren’t out on the table now but we can at least say there’s a reason why Cordelia has been acting so different. I’ve had a problem with how down Charisma Carpenter has been playing Cordelia all season but that was only when I had to pretend she was the same Cordelia. Now I can talk about it as an acting choice, showing subtly that there is something very wrong with Cordelia. It’s also great to tally up now all the manipulations that Cordelia has been pulling off this season because there have been many. Everything bad that has happened this season can be traced back to Cordelia.
This is another episode where not a lot happens to qualify it as a singular episode. Angel season 4 is a precursor to the Netflix model where a season of TV is actually whatever number of episode hour long movie. It’s not my favorite method of creating and watching TV. I love Netflix and a lot their series but I miss the self-contained story that was an episode. I don’t get that with this episode or any episode in season 4. They’ve all pick up where the last one ended and the end is always cliffhanger. It’s just not for me.
Besides to reveal that Cordelia is evil what reason does she have to kill Lilah? There seems to be something significant to the fact that Cordelia kills Lilah with the bone dagger the Beast was shown presenting earlier in the episode. This not just me idly speculating and knowing the answer. I honestly don’t remember. Is it just to underline the connection between Cordelia and the Beast or is there something bigger at play.
There’s also the matter of how Angel will deal with Cordelia being evil. The audience now knows more than the characters. It could make Cordelia more interesting or it could becoming frustrating very quickly. It’s hard balance when the audience knows more than the characters, especially when it involves a traitor storyline. Hopefully Angel will make it work.
The moment when Cordelia shanks Lilah is played so perfectly even if it just for shock. The part of my brain that loves a good villain is just so pleased when Charisma Carpenter is finally able to let her devious flag fly loud and proud. I also think it’s a great bit of writing that Cordelia insults Lilah as a bitch while she dies. The Cordelia we know has always seen wore the word bitch as a badge of honor. She clearly doesn’t feel the same anymore.
Even if this episode is really just a chapter in a larger story it is satisfying one. If the Angelus chase sequence was more of the episode rather than just the last five or so minutes, this might be one of the best Angel episodes ever. As it is, it is still pretty good.
71 out of 100