I've gotten to the point where I can blah-blah-blah about "Charmed" for the sheer mock value, but I watch "Angel" and then I read some people's reviews, and all I really have left to say is...
Wes. Faith. Lick.
And other guhlike noises in that red and juicy vein.
Still, I can spew stray thoughts with the best of them.
- Wes & Faith scenes--electrifying. That bar scene, as it tightened and twisted to its climax? Holy shit. You'd have had to physically rip my eyes out with a shoehorn before you could get me to look away. (Oh hey, Angelus. No, no. That's not necessary. Thanks.)
- Yes, that *was* Princess
- Fred/Gunn, notably that Meaningful Relationship Talk they had together--two thumbs down. Hold up, am I watching "Days of Our Lives"? No? I'm sorry. My bad. That scene stank of artifice and staging. It was forced and it was dull. The music sucked, the writing sucked, and the acting cued itself to the writing and sucked. I honestly *did* feel I was watching some other show for three minutes, and it was a show I'd never choose to watch unless it was sandwiched into an Angel plot. There is only one type of relationship filler I want to see--the kind that's not filler. It needs to make me cry, make me snicker, or cut my guts out with edgy angst, the way the big Wes/Faith clash did. I realize that there are some rather unusual conflicts at root between Gunn and Fred--offing your girlfriend's old professor adds a special twist to things. So why the hell whenever they *talk* is it so damn vanilla, generic, and boring? Maybe it's as simple as the fact that they have not one joule of chemistry. I don't know.
- Fred with her princess hair was gorgeous and Amy Acker does try hard. Fred's episodic arc did, however, get old fast (as someone else said; I am a thief).
- Lorne. Little used as usual. Didn't notice him in the credits. I always sit there for them; love the music. Must tune out the visuals, I guess.
- Angelus fun this week, for the most part. Got a bit wiggy and Shatnery at the end, and also a little bit during the bar scene. I don't really *get* how or why he relates to the L.A. demons the way he does. It confuses me. Must think more on this. Maybe. Someday. But, oh! The necrophilia comment! How did that go? "Screw you!" -- "Maybe after. I like my women to lay there unmoving." God. We'll just sliiiiiide that by the censors, shall we?
- Fight scene went on too long. Flying squirrels. Heh. The fight's issues seem to have been driven by Faith's arc--though her arc is going to be damn short, so it seems disproportionate somehow. But maybe that's why they're lavishing what time they do have on it? (Or maybe they didn't know when they wrote it that there'd be no spin-off.)
- This episode felt very rich, and as I was burying myself nose-deep in my bubble bath just now I decided that it was because of the extra sets. I've yammered on this theme before, about how Angel at times feels very claustrophobic and "small," when--having all of L.A. to work with--it should be larger. Being a *noir* universe, it should be seedier, shiftier, both more glamorous and grittier. In short, it should get outside the hotel more often. This week it did--occult shop, bar, exotic import-export mansion, or whatever the hell that was. Gorgeous sets, their atmosphere already seeping into the fabric of my personal, imaginary Angelverse. As someone else said, they're on a streak right now, and I think it's helped along by details like this. I wish they took such care all the time. I mean, look at it again: you had the occult shop, you had Lorne's local lore, you had a dead shyster and a demon junkie den and you had Angelus in full-elegance mode, reading books in front of a cozy fire. It was entrancing, it was building a city. And it had all these levels and layers--literally. You had multiple floors and broad stairs and scaffolding and backrooms. Visual metaphors like that sink in and complexify a universe for us.
Anyway. Next week, Willow--I cannot freaking wait. My secret crossover junkie will be jumping.
In other news, I muse on the fact that I was friended by five people today and unfriended by four. I wonder what I said that was so exciting? Strange.
Here's a snippet of Sentinel story just for the hell of it--one of my hard-drive dust bunnies. Over-elegant in the extreme, I tend to think now, but I still like the picture it makes, the atmosphere. I was using Seattle sights to ground the landscape--specifically, Jim's view from the loft--which may be why it still feels vivid to me.
Jim Ellison woke, opening his eyes to stare at the ceiling for sixty heartbeats before the alarm’s buzzer sounded and he reached out to slap it silent, and in that window between sleep and life he once again questioned whether it was worth getting up. His room was an open box, a loft within a loft, its boundaries three walls and a headboard of nearly open space. Sometimes the geometry of his room led him to dream nightmares of the open sea; his body buried in water, his head bared to an eternal sky. But he bedded down there night after night, even when the challenge became tiring. What else would I do, he might have asked. He didn’t think much about the arrangement of his bed, the placement of his furniture. When tending to the details of his domestic life, he made the thoughtless, arbitrary choices that suited such unimportant matters, and if they were a bit off, he corrected them on principles he couldn’t articulate but which struck him as right.
The sheets of his bed were navy blue. No plants conspired with him in the loft's still air. He lay nearly naked in the familiar cradle of his world. When putting himself to bed last night, he had as usual stripped to his boxers, sorted out his clothes (shirt and socks to hamper, trousers to--hamper?--no, to the back of the chair) and folded himself to sleep, a man tucking a letter into an envelope and posting with trust for a safe arrival. His feeling might have been indifference rather than trust, but at midnight or one in the morning when the occasion came, he didn't let his mind touch such riddles. When the lights went off all colors turned to shades of grey for a time, and it seemed to Jim that the thoughts of his mind were often caught and pinned in a similar twilight. It was hard to read the gradations between two points. He could see fine lines with his eyes, better than most people, he suspected; but the invisible lines between words, between ideas, and between feelings, these were more difficult.
No sun today, striping the ceiling to turn the plaster golden, but in the wan half-light (a drumming din: rain) he could see dust motes drifting through the air, and their movement seemed to incorporate the distant sounds of the street outside the building where he lived. He lived alone and every morning he woke up and remembered this without surprise, because even though he'd been married it was his nature to be alone, and so there was no surprise in a failed marriage. Certainly no one who knew him had acted very surprised, least of all Carolyn, who had been remarkably resigned--even forgiving--for a woman whose union had dissolved in less time than the engagement had lasted. How she'd put up with him for even that brief a period was a wonder, and he'd heard this said in just so many words, around the station, among their acquaintances. People liked Carolyn Plummer. People liked Jim Ellison too, but in smaller doses.
It was with this thought--no more than a vague approximation of itself, just a fleeting feeling, less concrete than words--that Jim sat up in bed and threw off the sheets. His face, if anyone had been there to see it, was expressionless but eloquent. Not a hangdog face, but long in its bones, with a nose arranged somewhere between aquiline and arrow-straight, and chin enough for two men, its extra support kept ready for rare broad smiles. But lack of this exercise had hardened the flesh around his mouth, in all his face, in muscles stiff as cast-iron. His eyes were those of a soldier in wartime, but there was no war on, unless it was inside him. He would not have said he felt embattled, exactly, just walking a long march. If he unfolded his life like a map he could see, in memory's far-reaching vision, the small, homely dot of his birth; he could trace his path to his current location; he could identify the terrain of his personal jungle. But he didn't know where the hell he was going. From birth to death was certain, but not much else. His destination refused to come clear, and he felt no more than what he was: a foot-soldier following old orders, waiting for change.
He had these thoughts; knew these thoughts. He'd been himself too long to alter their pattern or the pattern of his days, of this morning. Awake, sitting on the edge of his bed, unspeaking, unspoken to, he had nothing to do but think, to pull on the uniform of himself, Detective James Ellison, and get ready for another round. He glanced at the clock, looked away, made familiar mental calculations, began fractioning his day. Tiny decisions. To exercise now or later. To eat here or elsewhere.
He rose, stretched, scratched and then rubbed his head, his palm measuring the bristles and finding that no haircut was yet necessary. It had only been a week, hadn't it. Walking down the stairs, his mind was on the stylist who cut his hair regularly, and he pictured the blonde swing of her curls as she bent over him. He sighed as he reached his living room, and paused at the door to the balcony to stare out across the city. Cascade was a dreary grey this morning, a bleak landscape that seemed the very end of the earth, a metro blast crater that one could have called Terminus without exaggeration. He could just see the waters of the bay, dark as ash, its wet finger leading off the sound, currents edging past the industrial battlements of the shore toward the abandoned canneries. A hell of a lot of rain. Rain spattered across the bay's surface, poured down the concrete embankments, broke from the sky and doused the hardscrabble office buildings in the distance. Closer by, sheets of rain lashed the door glass, spilled noisily off the roof of his own building. The sky didn't even look like a morning, but it didn't look like evening, either. It was a sky reserved for no other weather than this, for one specific density of downpour; with cloud cover as thorough as coal-dust on a miner's face; as if nearby a volcano had just erupted.
Jim could see his own reflection in the glass, so dark was the day. He blinked, turned from the sight, and moved to the kitchen for juice. No coffee yet; he rarely bothered to make a pot for himself, though Carolyn had left him one of her coffee-makers, the one you could brew for just two cups. Too cute for him, he'd told her, watching her pack up a box of appliances. The espresso maker, the two-hundred-dollar blender, the juicer. All hers. They'd come with her; they were leaving with her. At his remark, she'd made a face that was both irritated and amused, a womanly face that spoke without words. You are so utterly a male that I expect to come back within a week and find you dead of starvation on dirty sheets, her pitying face had said.
He gave the coffee-maker a narrow-eyed look, then opened the refrigerator and stared at its thinning shelves. He had juice. So there. He drank it standing at the fridge, in his boxers, defiant as only a grown man can be to the preferences of an absent woman.
Rain thumped and rattled across the skylights, spilling into the gutters, washing down brick. He picked through the threading noise to the sounds of the street, effortlessly, not realizing he did so. Horns blared. He listened for sirens, by habit. Juice to fridge, hand swiping across his hair once again. Gestures, like signs made in a vacuum. He had an odd flash of wanting to speak aloud, to laugh at himself, but as the feathering tickle rose from throat to mouth, he quelled it like a man swallowing a seizure. Laughter in an empty room would not be a smart thing to allow. On principle. Instead it was better to concentrate on the necessary routine.
Push-ups, crunches, some reps with the free-weights. That started the blood flowing. Later in the day he'd hit the gym; now, his exercises done, he hit the shower, then dressed; strapped on his holster, plucked his badge and gun from his dresser, found keys and wallet where he’d left them. No surprises. Nothing moved in his ordered universe that he did not put into motion.