ANGEL: Just tell me what I can do.I didn't like "COUPLET" as much as I expected to, because most of it felt obvious and clichéd. I've seen too many variations on the idea of a protagonist feeling like he/she is being supplanted by a better alternative. The return of Pylean warrior Groo (Mark Lutz) also isn't something I'm particularly happy about, because it doesn't ring true that Cordelia's (Charisma Carpenter) so enamoured with him—and her giddy affection just makes her look a bit shallow, as Groo's a dope. Still, as the episode's title suggests, this hour did explore the show's many pairings that have materialised in recent weeks, which was fairly interesting...
CORDELIA: I need you to help me have sex. With Groo.
Chief amongst them is the fact Gunn (J. August Richards) is now dating Fred (Amy Acker), which is making Wes (Alexis Denisof) very uncomfortable and jealous. The episode didn't really have enough time to get into that, however—which is a shame, because I'm more interested in that love-triangle than the silliness of Angel (David Boreanaz) feeling emaciated by an inter-dimensional beefcake. The scene where Wes made Gunn promise to protect Fred, under the pretence of being a caring boss, was very good, despite it being something that happens all the time in television-land and rarely in real life.
As I said, the situation with Groo turning Cordy into a lovestruck girly mess, wasn't very entertaining to me. Things improved once Groo underwent a makeover that turned him into an Angel lookalike (maybe Cordy is subconsciously using Angel as a template of the perfect boyfriend?), but only in the sense it was amusing seeing Angel walking around town with a guy who resembles his brother. And like so many episodes of Angel that I just don't feel attached to, at least the story offered up a memorable villain—in the form of a very nasty, scary-looking tree with black sap around its lips and a tendency to spear people with its roots. "Couplet" also ended on a decent note, as we saw Wesley's translated a part of the prophecy concerning Angel's baby, and it reads 'The Father will kill The Son'.
Overall, while it was fun in parts and I liked how the story explored the fact Wes and Angel are both unwilling bachelors, working through the pain of watching their beloved's flirt with men who are "better" than they are (Gunn's less stiff, more extroverted; Groo's equally strong and handsome, but with the added benefit of being able to go out in daytime), I didn't find "Couplet" all that exciting or memorable.
written by Tim Minear & Jeffrey Bell | directed by Tim Minear | 18 February 2002 | The WB
SAHJHAN: Love the whole chained-undead look you got goin' on. Really sets off your fern.Much better was "LOYALTY", which saw Wes struggling with the burden of foreknowledge that Angel's fated to kill his only son. It was a good hour in terms of emphasising the importance of Wesley's presence and counsel to Angel, and I liked how the storyline kept Angel in the dark throughout most of it. Rather than tarnish the healthy father-son bond that's forming right before his eyes, Wes instead investigated the veracity of the prophecy—via an enchanted hamburger-shaped fast-food intercom, hilariously—and even turned up on the doorstep of Holtz (Keith Szarabajka), to try and make the vampire hunter and his new army of vamp-haters to see reason about their vendetta against someone who's a better man now. And it remains true that the show's doing an excellent job putting aside Holtz's position on the matter (that Angel's past sins need avenging, and the fact he once again has a soul doesn't mean he's unaccountable). I'm slightly unsure about the plausibility of Holtz's volunteers helping him keep tabs on Angel's activities, by snooping around the Hyperion Hotel pretending to be clients, as their hate isn't as focused on one person as Holtz's... but for the purposes of the plot, it's working well enough.
Some wrinkles were also added to the season's arc, now that demon Sahjhan (Jack Conley) is feeling disillusioned by Holtz's slow-burn plan to kill Angel. After being threatened, he's now formed an allegiance with Wolfram & Hart's Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) to solve their mutual Angel problem, but somehow I can't see that panning out well. I'm also increasingly bored by W&H in general, and Lilah in particular, but maybe Sahjhan will shake some life into that area of the show. Or not, seeing as his involvement with Holtz went nowhere very fast, and seems to have inspired this change.
The business of prophecies on genre shows is so antediluvian that it's difficult to really care about, unless a different approach is found. Sadly, Angel is doing things very by-the-book, with Wes discovering outlandish portents that signal the imminence of Angel "devouring" baby Connor, and the hour ending with all three coming true (an earthquake that triggers a fire, and blood dripping onto a sky-illustrated blanket). At least this means the situation with Angel/Connor is going to likely resolve this season, as part of me wondered if the writers are going to keep this one on the back-burner—dealing with Holtz's feud this year, then Angel/Connor in season 4.
written by Mere Smith | directed by James A. Contner | 25 February 2015 | The WB