I was wrong about Gunn--he doesn't make a big show of his guilt over killing the professor as I'd remembered. We get one shot of him and Fred lying side by side in bed, separately angsting, but after that it's like it never happened--at least in how he behaves. The issue is used to explain the increasing distance between him and Fred, but I don't really *see* it--there are plenty of times when they're glomming on each other and when they're not, the air between them isn't so much charged as neutral. And then of course the primary issue becomes Wesley, I think, and not the murder.
In "Habeus Corpses" I'd forgotten that the slaughter is so much like Resident Evil, with the dead coming back as zombies. Ha.
I'd also forgotten that Gwen returns for "Long Day's Journey" with her cool superhero pad and panic room. She's there, I blink, and she's gone again--to Tahiti, presumably. And it's in this ep that we have the first real sign that there's someone on the inside, sabotaging their fight against The Beast--Cordelia and/or Angelus, as summoned by the Big Evil. I'm baffled by Cordy--I'm watching this all again, and I still can't figure out when she goes completely out of whack. Is it early, or was she just being sapped subconsciously to perform bad deeds by the Big Evil? Was she taken over just before killing Lilah, or was she manipulating events before that? We know that her sleeping with Connor was part of the plan, but did *she* know that at the time?
Maybe all this is explained later in the big exposition scene where everyone learns that events of the last several seasons were machinations within a vast plot to bring about the reign of Jasmine. I can't remember.
But all through this season, Cordy, man--it's hard to watch her. She's so lacking in pep. Does she have any vital signs at all? She's Pod Cordy, always playing it calm and reasonable, always taking elaborate, queenlike care with her movements as she seats herself and prepares to deliver her little speeches. Always completely devoid of facial expression. This suggests she underwent her radical personality change way, way back, right after returning from the ethereal plane. Hmm.
Angelus is fun, sometimes a little too fun. They certainly try to build him up as the evil genius, don't they? It's like when you tell people, "This is the greatest! movie! ever!" It's hard for the movie to live up to the hype. I don't get how Lorne misread his aura--"Yay, his soul is back! Oh, wait...oops." His failure to get an evil vibe off Cordy is more plausible; the part of his brain which read her earlier and got sucked out might account for a blind spot there.
Connor is consistently great throughout this. I love him more the second time around. And when he faces off with Angelus for the first time ("Is that my shirt?" "Not anymore.") he is so frickin awesome! VK's line reads kill me. A bitter, sulky teen with sociopathic tendencies, who kicks demon ass but gets all protective and soft and vulnerable over women--he's Spike! Teen Spike.
I liked "Awakening" better second time around too. Knowing what was coming, I could appreciate the cleverness more; the story within a story, and what it tells us about Angel's character.
In "Soulless" Gunn finds the priestesses in the phone book. That was cute, but it also annoyed me. It's like they had to prove that he was useful not just as muscle but as brains, but it was so implausible. The show is always doing stuff like that though, as is BtVS, so I probably shouldn't find it so eye-rollingly intrusive.
I liked watching Faith--for the most part. In the early scenes of "Release" she reminded me uncannily of Buffy, even down to a physical resemblance, and the way she reacted emotionally, like in the shower scene, also resonated Buffyishly for me. Later, her tough-girl act started to pall. I don't know why I can't sustain an interest in her. I did like Connor's fascination with her; his puppyish smiles and submission to her smack-down. Hee.
Angel as "rock star" to the demon community...yeah, okay. Whatever. I noticed that the writers were very careful not to give him an obviously high body count. If he did a lot of feeding, they kept it offscreen. Instead we saw him (a) fail to find someone to eat on the streets of L.A., (b) kill another vampire, (c) feed off Lilah, who was already dead or pretty much so, and (d) torture a bookseller, but not kill him.
I keep finding Lorne incredibly well-dressed, fun, and handsome throughout all these eps. And he drinks a lot of sea breezes too. Given the events, you'd think the others would be drinking heavily alongside him. Instead, they punch each other and have apocalyptic sex. Yay!
I go now.