Friday, July 04, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x10: "After The Fall Part 10"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by David Messina And Nick Runge

Gunn: “Now I know you don’t think you can but -”
Betta George: “Shut up psycho. I’m on it.”

Let’s see, for me it’s been about a few hours since I wrote my review for Issue 9 so it’s not like I had to wait extensively for this issue. In fact when I went into collect the previous issue and Buffy’s “Time Of Your Life Part 1”, I was actually surprised to realise that there was another issue in stock.

This issue opens up with a dream sequence. There’s a group of robbers taking a woman hostage and there’s only ensouled vampire that can save her. Given that Angel is all human, it’s only right to see that Spike is the woman’s champion.

Spike stands atop of a getaway car and gloats about the robbers being screwed. It’s something they even vocalise themselves and with an old Angel in the background, it’s a good thing for Spike that his actual partner in busting crime happens to be Connor.

This makes Angel sad in a few obvious ways. Not only does being human mean that he’s no good in a fight but there’s some clear hurt in the way Angel watches Spike and Connor bond with each other and abandon him.

Luckily for Angel, it’s just a dream and he wakes up in the hotel to a snowy background. He also wakes up to find that Nina is there watching him. Luckily for us, Nina is more the Nina we met in Season Five rather than the erratic woman we’ve encountered a few times this season.

As Angel continues to think about his bruises, Nina brings up both the snowfall in LA and Connor as specialist topics. After all the fire we’ve seen in the previous issue, the snow makes for a nice backdrop here. Think of the Doctor Who episodes “The Fires Of Pompeii” and “Planet Of The Ood”. Also I tend to prefer snow to fire on most occasions myself.

Lorne, Groo and Spike’s groupies are also basking in the snow. Lorne’s in fine form as he muses about the weather but Angel is adamant about the volatile Spider rescuing everyone rather than a select few. That being said, the snow in LA also seems to be temporary given Angel’s understanding.

As for Angel, he’s also in the mood for a decent hunt and tells Connor, Gwen and Nina that they won’t be doing it in the most straightforward of manners. It’s nice that Angel is out to get some answers and even Illyria’s inability to use a door is a lot less tedious than it might have been in a different issue.

With people recognising Angel as a hero, it’s finally beginning to feel like things might be progressing after all. This issue isn’t as tantalising with hints as the previous one but it’s still pretty interesting, especially when Angel advices Illyria to put some distance between herself and Wesley.

Given that Illyria and Spike have also been joined to the hip since Issue 2, it makes no difference that he’s signed on to protect. Wesley is pretty okay with the idea even if he does try to find out whether or not Illyria and Spike were having a sexual relationship. With Spider and her mates still looming around, do we really need another female head over heels for Spike?

The thing is, Spike knows that Wesley cares about Fred and even Illyria to an extent and we know that Spike has similar feelings himself. That being said, Spike comes across as being quite patronising when he tells Wesley he’ll kill if he tries to hurt Illyria. I’d happily torture the woman to get Fred back myself. Wesley however just accepts Spike’s threat without putting up a fight.

Gunn on the other hand has finally manages to remember that he’s keeping Betta George hostage. Given that we’ve had that burly vampire beating the living daylights out of the poor fish for a good few issues; it’s nice to see Gunn interact with anything other than his new found vampire lackeys.

Betta George was curious about what exactly a slayer was so what does Gunn do to educate him? He brings the poor fish down to a basement with a few of them there. While it’s understandable for the slayers to want to attack Gunn, they do rush a little too quickly to start pounding on Betta George for my liking.

Angel and the gang meanwhile take the dragon into the more fiery parts of LA. Illyria’s getting anxious to kill anything and ignores Angel’s pleas to wait. Instead she crashes a vampire nest and starts killing the blood suckers. Angel and the rest of them then have no choice but to help her.

Seriously you can’t take Illyria anywhere; she’s like a spoiled child. However there is a fine moment when a Dracula-esque vampire has the arrogance to threaten to kill Angel, only for him to be overpowered and then left dangling from a roof. Perhaps he could’ve tried to attack Angel first before making the comments.

Getting back to the murder of the Lord from Westwood earlier on in the season, Angel tries to get some answers. Warning the vampire that there are only bad cops and primordial bad cops isn’t much of an incentive to get the guy to reveal anything potentially helpful.

In fact at one point, the guy almost begs to be killed and even has a go at Connor for his lack of self-awareness. The big bads that he’s alluding to are Gunn’s gang but Angel doesn’t figure that one out. Instead as Angel and Connor argue, Illyria really puts her foot in it by revealing to everyone that Angel’s human.

Naturally this shocks everyone and Angel explains to Connor why Wolfram And Hart would do this to him. Illyria also manages to become irritating with her goading of Angel’s mortality and I was bummed to see Connor run away from the conversation he was having with Angel.

Gwen steps up in looking for Connor. As his girlfriend she’s a tad concerned but she also doesn’t mind assigning Nina to looking after Angel. Neither Nina or Angel seem pleased with the prospect and while Illyria’s knack for obvious statements is annoying, it’s nice to have a little backstory as to why Nina is fighting.

However as Illyria is then ordered to sniff out the vampire sitting on power, the very vampire in question is having a blast fighting with a group of slayers. Betta George doesn’t particularly like having to sit through this but Gunn provokes him into freezing the slayers as well.

Almost to prove that Gunn is on the dark side, with a frozen and defenceless slayer within his sights, Gunn then goes and kills her. The horrible thing is that she can’t scream and Betta George can’t get Gunn to do it for her. It seems that Gunn is somewhat immune to Betta George’s mind control.

Gunn’s also pretty pleased with the fact that he’s got the fish under his control. Betta can’t do anything to turn the situation to his own advantage and trying to reason with Gunn is also hopeless. Gunn clearly likes this power and authority that he’s got with Betta George and tries to exploit it.

It’s also unpleasant that when Betta George tries to get some friends to come to his side, he’s unsuccessful. To them, LA is going like clockwork and isn’t in a hell dimension. Because of that they are pretty quick to dismiss the fish’s plea for help. Some great friends there.

As for Gunn, he takes Betta George up to the roof for yet another lesson. Gunn knows a lot more than he’s letting on and Betta George is also becoming aware of that fact rather painfully. However the funny thing is that with all of Gunn’s planning, the last person he’d expect to encounter was Angel.

Gunn knew that an altercation with his former friend and employer was imminent but even was shocked to see Angel so quickly. Needless to say, Angel’s reaction when seeing Gunn is priceless. To him, Gunn is another reminder that he’s doomed everyone in this hell.

You do hope that instead of trying to tear each other apart, there’s a chance that Angel could save Gunn from causing whatever destruction he’s out to achieve. With Betta George caught in the middle, it’s an interesting hook to what will hopefully deliver in the next issue.

Also in “After The Fall Part 10”

The cover for this issue I got was Angel and Illyria outside a crypt, in the snow with a blue background. It’s one of the best covers going.

Connor: “Holy overreaction Dad! Don’t forget that wherever Spike goes – his faithful sidekick Connor is sure to follow.”
Spike: “Ha-ha! We gotta make this quick. The Spike-dragon is double parked.”

While not subtle, does this dream remind you of “Soul Purpose”? Angel still has fears that Spike might go and replace him.

Lorne (to Angel): “What, you weren’t dreaming of a white place of eternal torment, just like the ones you used to know? Sorry about this Angel cakes. Minor snafu on my end.”

Angel: “And it’s not just the four of us. You ready?”
Illyria: “I saw the ashen remains of the fallen fluttering outside. I wanted to taste.”
Angel: “It’s snow and next time use the door.”

Groo got his horse back from the fourth issue of this series and Spider just looked plain – no spider legs on her back.

Spike: “I feel your pain and I’m sorry you’re forced to Christmas past it but if whatever H&R has planned involves hurting what’s left of Fred and you’re even the smallest part of it … I will find a way to kill you.”
Wesley: “I know you will and off the record … I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Betta George: “Um, hi, you guys seem mad but if you just stop for a second -”
Slayer: “Fish is in our heads, hit it first.”
Betta George: “Stop. Stop. Stop.”

Why is Gunn using these slayers and how come they didn’t instantly attack him? They could’ve taken him out prior to being frozen.

Vampire: “What the? Slayer?”
Illyria: “Wishful thinking.”

Head Vampire: “Take solace in the fact that you’re going to go out on a high note. I’ve been looking forward to this, degenerate. Titans do clash and an Angel shall fall.”
Angel: “What with this place freezing over, today would absolutely have been the day could have happened, yet here we are.”

The Dracula-esque vampire did look a bit like Gary Oldman now that I’ve read this issue a few times. Did anyone else think that?

Connor: “Right now he sounds formidable. The opposite of you lately. Don’t jump down your son’s throat just because he wanted to keep you safe. Any number of people have had to jump to your defence at any given time for whatever reason.”
Illyria (re Angel): “It’s because he’s no longer a vampire.”

Nina: “You moved on, that’s fine. I’m still here so where should we go now?”
Angel: “Well Illyria knew about my situation because she can read power.”
Illyria: “Or in your case, lack of. So?”

There was a preview in this issue for the upcoming Doctor Who story “The Forgotten”, which is supposed to feature all Ten versions of The Doctor –neat!

Betta George: “One question, though … did you see this coming?”
Illyria: “There. A nest of vampires atop a structure brimming with power.”
Angel: “Okay hit them fast. Don’t let up until -”
Gunn: “No George. This wasn’t supposed to happen yet.”

There was no date for the release of Issue 11. If the Buffy issues can give us constant release dates, why can’t Angel?

“After The Fall Part 10” keeps up a good consistency with the previous issues but with two issues left, can this story genuinely get a satisfying conclusion or will it fizzle out like some of the earlier editions have done?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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