Derek’s Review -4.13 “Salvage”
God, what a fresh breath of air Faith is to this season. I hadn’t rightly realized how slow things had been moving in season 4 until Faith showed up in this episode and things finally started happening for once. In her first appearance on Angel, Faith fit in perfectly and, if anything, she is even more at home in season 4. It’s a real credit to Eliza Dushku’s performance how natural Faith feels in the narrative.
Faith has only really met two of the regular characters on the show Cordelia and Wesley. She’s never (really) seen Angelus and this her first meeting with everyone else on Angel Investigations. It isn’t awkward or jarring at all. Faith comes into the Hyperion and starts barking out orders and it just fits.
Seeing Faith interact with Angelus is also a real treat, or as much a treat as Faith meeting homicidal sadistic vampire can be a treat. One of the reasons it works so well is for the most part Angel Investigations strategy for dealing with Angelus is too be as non-responsive as possible.
It’s probably a smart move in the story but the consequence is that it has made a lot of Angelus scenes repetitive. Angelus tries to get a rise out of Angel’s family and friends and he either succeeds or it’s just Boreanaz getting to cut loose. Faith’s character is as such that she will respond to and answer Angelus on both an emotional and physical level.
Still there are some problems that have plagued this whole season. This is still a rather unsatisfying episode as ends just as things are about to really get interesting. Maybe this should be in “The Unknown” but I’m getting increasingly annoyed with Angel Season 4’s style of every episode ends on a cliffhanger. The structure of the season is such that everything is really reliant on the conclusion. The more this goes on Angel is really going to need to stick the landing in season 4 and to my memory they do not manage it, at all.
While It is a relief to be able to talk about Cordelia being evil openly, I wasn’t too in love with where they went with it. I was especially bothered by the scene of Cordelia kissing the Beast. They’ve established the Beast respects and reverse its master AKA Cordelia. I’m irked by the suggestion that there needs to be sexual attraction between the Beast and Cordelia as well. There’s really no reason for it. Cordelia, or whatever is controlling Cordelia, can be a strong and power leader without having to use sex as manipulation tool. The same thing would never happen if the Master was embodying a male body.
Wesley interacting with “ghost” Lilah is interesting. I don’t really have a firm opinion on it. I enjoy Stephanie Romanov getting to pay Lilah a bit more but it’s not really much closure for her character. This is happening all inside Wesley’s head and really the scene is about him. I have no problem with that concept but the whole thing felt unfinished.
Faith’s prison escape is such a fantastic moment of economical storytelling. It’s not just a great action moment and re-re-introduction to Faith’s character. The escape seems volumes about Faith’s emotional headspace. The walls of the prison were not keeping Faith inside. It was her own willpower. It takes Faith roughly five seconds to go from behind bars to freedom and she chooses it all to save Angel. It’s a great way of showing those two characters’ connection and how far Faith has matured.
I do like this episode, a lot, Faith is precisely what this season needed. This is the first episode where I can say the Angelus stuff works without qualification and I’m genuinely excited to see the next episode. The episode does highlight some season long problems though but I can’t expect Angel to fix everything in one 40+ minute episode.
74 out of 100