Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x03: "After The Fall Part 3"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Angel: “Demons from the primordium age, however, even those that had their powers reduced by, let’s say, mutari generators … they don’t seem to be affected.”

It’s vampire versus super bitch as Illyria promised to dismember Angel at the end of “After The Fall Part 2” and the God isn’t one to make empty threats. Angel gets his ass tossed into the kitchen and while he’s busy musing about Illyria still having enough strength to finish him off, things get somewhat confusing.

One minute they’re duking it out in the kitchen, the next we’re flashing back to Angelus having his own violent encounter with the deranged woman in a barn. Then it flashes back to the present kitchen fight. What the hell is going on here? Angel puts it down to a time slip but why is it only occurring during his fight with Illyria.

Illyria doesn’t seem particularly concerned about this though. Nope she’s much too happy to decimate Angel and there’s no amount of reasoning from him that’ll put her off. What the hell is this bitch’s problem? She’s caused more damage in her time than Angel sending LA to hell so shouldn’t she a bit more understanding as such?

There’s a great moment when Angel gets in a single punch to Illyria, followed by the opportunity to stab her. Now I’m not a big Illyria fan so anyone doing physical harm to her (except Spike) is fine by me. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Angel is able to stab through her armour.

Being in hell has changed people and demons. Wesley’s a ghost, Gunn’s a vampire, vampires no longer view daylight as a problem and werewolves are going crazy with the duality of day and night. The only ones seemingly unaffected is Gwen.

Of course getting stabbed doesn’t slow Illyria doing, although it’s safe to say that getting a blade in her side did hurt a little. The other thing is that Angel is still determined to find out whether or not Illyria murdered the Lord of Westwood. Illyria being her usual annoying self just rants cryptically before pinning Angel to the wall with knives in his hands.

Its times like this even I’ve forgotten how much of a quick mover Illyria but then the time slip dilemma is back again. This time round we’ve got Puppet Angel wondering why Fred is dressed so strangely and then a futuristic version of Angel wondering whether or not there’s something of Fred remaining inside Illyria.

I would love for this to be an actual hint or sign that Fred is destined to return. Seeing as this arc has acted as if Cordelia never existed, I really hope that in a few issues time, Illyria is gone and Fred is restored. Fred is a lot more interesting to watch than Illyria any day of the week The fact that Illyria is acting highly strung could also be a good sign that she’s not destined to last much longer.

Spike doing probably the only decent thing in this comic tries to persuade Illyria to refrain from killing Angel. Of course Illyria’s too eager to behead Angel and with Spike’s crappy persuasion skills, it’s up to the dragon to ensure Illyria isn’t successful in her latest slaughter.

Much as I’d like to know why Illyria is so determined to off Angel that dragon’s arrival couldn’t have came at a better time. Illyria being as gloriously arrogant as her pet ignores Spike’s warning that she’s out of her depth and decides to take on the beastie. Dumb God, doesn’t she listen to anyone?

The dragon responds to Illyria’s defiance by scorching her. It’s a good for Illyria that she is a God or else her ass really would’ve been barbequed at that moment in time. It’s almost a pity we didn’t another “maybe there’s a part of Fred inside of Illyria” hint during that moment.

Instead Illyria just goads the beast into continuing the fight and then tries to straddle him even though she’s the size of a fly compared to the dragon. Is it wrong that I want the dragon to kick Illyria’s ass? Maybe but at least dragon isn’t a Spike devotee and that earns it some respect in my book.

I know I’m being hard on Spike but that’s mainly because I’ve become sick and tired of the writers always trying to validate him and having him be a thorn in Angel’s side only re-enforces my sympathy for Angel that bit more. Spike’s decent to help Angel up but yells at his minions who offer to help Angel. Surely Spike should be able to put his pettiness aside in this battle.

I’m not exactly sure why Spike was so worried in being found but thanks to Illyria and the dragon’s airborne battle, they’re more or less screwed. Blaming Angel seems a tad unfair. It’s not like he had a choice when it came to confronting Spike and Illyria.

Battles aside, the Illyria/Dragon one is every bit as fun to watch as the Faith/Gargoyles in “No Future For You Part 2”. The dragon even gets the chance to try and eat Illyria up much to her fear. Yes Illyria showed some fear as she was being swallowed. It’s almost too bad that she’s such an unpleasant taste that the dragon has to spit her out.

Illyria’s penchant for stupidity doesn’t stop there. Any other powerful God smart enough to escape being dragon food would either have the sense to quit while they’re ahead or to at least go away and regroup. Illyria clearly not blessed with the sense of awareness annoys Spike with wanting weapons. Just give it up, Illyria. This dragon could kill you, which would not be a bad thing.

It’s good that Illyria’s erratic behaviour hasn’t gone unnoticed. Angel berates Spike about his destructive influence on the God and he’s got every right to but it’s Connor who rallies to Spike and Illyria’s defence when he claims that they had nothing to do with Lord Westwood’s demise. I’m begging you Angel writers; please don’t have Spike use Connor as a means of scoring points against Angel.

It does seem that Spike and Connor are working together however. As Illyria continues to get her ass kicked by the dragon, Connor explains that Spike has been rescuing people and sending at least half of them to Connor, Nina and Gwen. Connor then explains that Spike has been saving so many people and they’re running out of space.

It explains the hoards of scantily clad women around Spike’s place but Spike easily loses points when he starts rubbing it in Angel’s face. Angel doesn’t take it well and leaves with the dragon, despite Illyria still wanting to fight. Damn, does that girl have no other hobbies?

At least Connor isn’t against Angel in all of this. He did try to explain why he was working with Spike and he does go after Angel to see if he’s all right. It’s moments like that make all the more glad that Connor is in this arc. He’s the only person that Angel can fully trust right about now and I hope it stays that way too. Plus it would be nice to see Connor kick Spike’s ass if he acts too smug.

Then again that’s not much of a consolation to Angel. He doesn’t like the idea of Connor and Spike having a friendly rapport and his guilt about putting Connor in danger is nicely touched on without going overboard. Even better is that instead of sitting around and brooding, Angel decides to do something about his actions.

Pairing up with Wesley (who tries to warn him about the Lords), Angel decides to pay Burges a home visit. Here we get an eclectic bunch of demons all ruling certain parts but hardly any of them remotely interested in avenging the death of Burges’ bratty offspring. Hey they’ve got their parts of LA, why the hell should they care?

Even more fun is Angel and Wesley interrupting the little meeting. Better still Wesley doesn’t try to stifle Angel’s parade as our handsome hero dares to not only challenge Burges but also the entire demon lords of LA in his attempt to regain order. I don’t know about Angel but that to me, definitely is not baby steps. Funnily enough Wesley then points out the bad odds.

Angel might be all for getting rid of Burges and every other rotten demon from the hell he’s sent everyone to but given that aside from Connor/Nina/Gwen, Angel is pretty short on allies. Wesley physically can’t do a damn thing and Spike, Illyria and Gunn aren’t exactly that eager to help Angel out either. Perhaps he has bitten more off than he can chew so to speak.

Not that it matter because there’s a bigger shock when Angel lets slip that he’s no longer a vampire. Does that mean that Angel is now human? Going on all the three issues so far, Angel hasn’t vamped out when he’s been assaulted and Illyria did some mega damage to him this week.

Being human should be a good thing for Angel but just like the fates of Gunn and Wesley, it’s more than likely going to be played to his disadvantage. He might want to start banding his team pretty fast or else Burges will have a victory on his hands.

Also in “After The Fall Part 3”

I’ve started buying the variant covers since last issue. I just liked the Illyria grabbing Angel’s throat one for some reason.

Angelus (re Illyria): “What is wrong with this woman? Who is the woman? Where am I?”

Illyria didn’t seem to recognise the various stages of Angel. Angel was also shown as a baby too.

Angel: “We need to talk.”
Illyria: “If I separate your pieces and hurl them into different directions you will not return.”
Angel: “Granted -”

Angel: “Do you think I want to fight you Illyria? I just want answers, so – wow.”
Illyria: “I want you away.”

The artwork for Illyria is slightly better than it has been for characters like Nina and Gwen. Less porn star looks anyway.

Spike: “What I was merely making sure you were free of hell lice is what it … missing the point here … let him go.”
Illyria: “If he’s gone we move forward.”

Angel (re imminent Illyria/dragon fight): “Illyria I have a feeling what I’m about to see we could sell tickets to.”

There’s a preview to Joe Hill’s “Locke and Key” in this issue. It looks interesting.

Illyria: “First strike little dragon and go.”

Spider (re Angel): “Should I tend to his wounds?”
Spike: “You do and you’re out of the Top Twelve. Answer me, Angel.”

I’m impressed that Illyria didn’t even show scorch marks especially given that Hamilton was able to make her bleed in “Power Play”.

Spike (to Angel): “Great. Fountain of blood is gone. When Fred Sonja is done, I want you to take that thing and get out.”

Illyria: “Loud vampire! Fetch me my arms! All of them!”
Spike: “A bit busy here psycho.”

This is the first issue with a letter page. Most of the comments on Season Six are more positive than my own thoughts had been.

Angel (to the dragon): “Stop playing, we’re leaving.”
Illyria: “I’m not yet sated.”
Angel: “Join the club.”

Connor (to Angel): “I drove here. The dragon kinda indicated that it wanted me to ride on his back but I thought that would be weird.”

The shark demon from Buffy’s “Tabula Rasa” is the Lord of Santa Monica. Other lords are from Burbank, Compton, Downtown LA, Weho, Century City and Sherman Oaks.

Wesley: “It will, you know – Burge is right. It will absolutely be a slaughter.”
Angel: “We’ll think of something. We’re the kings of last minute saves. Except for that one time. When I sent everyone to hell.”

Angel (to himself): “Another thing about hell, doesn’t alter a vampire’s healing faculties, so a vamp can still mend quickly. Which, of course, would mean so much more if I still were a vampire.”

Next issue is out in mid-February and apparently this arc is a five parter according to the letter page.

After two underwhelming issues, “After The Fall Part 3” finally does what the others should’ve and ups the tension. The time slips, hints of Fred being there (possibly) and Angel’s revelation gives this arc the kick up the arse it needs. Less Spike worshipping would be welcome of course.

Rating: 8 out of 10.