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When I got back from work on Friday evening, I found myself with a whole pile of Angel. I’d picked up 5x15 and 5x16 from [livejournal.com profile] snowking the previous evening; My season four DVD set had been delivered from Amazon during the day; and my season two set had been returned.

The latter event was accompanied by some slightly depressing news: apparently disc two was scratched, and ‘Darla’ no longer played properly. So the first thing I did was to sit down and watch it, to check the extent of the damage. Thankfully, it was limited (at least on my player) to one minor skip just before the Lindsey/Darla kiss. It was interesting to watch, though; I hadn’t seen ‘Darla’ for over a year, probably, and it took me back somewhat to umta’s early days. Back when [livejournal.com profile] gagravarr had not introduced me to the joys of downloading, and I would have to find some sneaky way of laying claim to the JCR TV on a Friday evening if I wanted to see Angel (either that, or get [livejournal.com profile] brassyn to post me tapes...). Back when nat was still posting random thoughts; back when pretty much every viewer was united in their praise of the show. Back when I would have found the line ‘it’s not me you want to screw’ entirely innocent.

Anyway, after that I decided I was in the mood for something of a retrospective. The next episode I dropped in the player was ‘A New World’, grown-up Connor’s first appearance. It’s not really in the same class as ‘Darla’, but I like it lots anyway, mostly because I rate Vincent Kartheiser as an actor, and because I love and adore the Angel/Connor relationship. Every scene those two characters had together worked for me, and their meeting in Sunny’s apartment makes my breath catch in my throat every time I see it. So good. The bullet-time teaser ain’t too bad, either...And this episode carries a whole different set of memories; first time I watched it was off a magic CD, with [livejournal.com profile] pikelet and [livejournal.com profile] mattia, in the front room of the Marston Street house I lived in for the fourth year. I remember Tim being pleased that the end of the episode had Connor running off and leaving Angel alone; I remember the mockery of old Holtz’ makeup that followed.

Next had to be something from season four. I debated beween the commentary for ‘Inside Out’ or the commentary for ‘Home’. In the end ‘Home’ won because (a) it was the man Minear! and (b) I was going to follow it up with some season five, so maybe it was more relevant. ‘Home’, in my opinion, is up there with ‘Darla’; if season five doesn’t redeem itself, I’m more than happy to take this episode as a wrap to the show. Again, a lot of that love is due to Vincent Kartheiser and Connor. So often the actor and character were underused or misused, but when the writers got it right, as they do in this one, they produced some of the best scenes in the show’s history. The commentary turned out to be more about the directing of the episode than the writing – how different shots were used in different scenes, how they were all put together; no great insights into the plan for season five, and only a cursory nod to the fact that the CRC made ‘a lot of people unhappy' – but it was still enjoyable. When ‘Home’ aired, I was still living at home; my expectations had changed such that I was almost resentful if I didn’t get to see an episode before America. I can’t remember whether or not that happened in this specific instance.

On to season five! Opinions of 5x15 and 5x16, no content spoilers )

Anyway, all of this musing (and some prodding by [livejournal.com profile] tomburnell) has led me to an inescapable conclusion: We need a series finale party. Current estimates suggest that 5x22 will air on May 19th, so Saturday 22nd seems to be the logical choice of date. Who's interested? I'd like to host, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone can think of a better location.
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No cards in the postbox on Saturday, but that didn't matter because I'd already planned to spend this weekend with my one true love: Books. In fact with one particular book, The Knight, a book that I felt I had to set aside a clear 48-hour run for because it's by an author, Gene Wolfe, who is right up there with Bulgakov on the makes-my-head-hurt-ometer. We spent a romantic afternoon in Puccino's just enjoying each other's company. To me, that's what Valentine's day is all about; yes, ideally we should be romantic all year around, but it's all too easy to let things slip, to not spare the time or the money, and it's good to have this excuse to spend quality time with those you care about. The Knight didn't disappoint me, either, since it managed to more-or-less single-handedly reclaim quest fantasy from the hordes of Tolkienesque tomes crowding the bookshelves by providing a spectacularly subtle adventure story and much debate about what gives a thing its reality. Now, that's what I call a committed partner.

But also over the weekend, the news broke that Angel has been cancelled, or more accurately that it will not be renewed at the end of this season. Much as it pains me to say it, I think the decision has come at the right time. Season five is working only in fits and starts, and never spectacularly; ending it now, I have some confidence that they'll pull themselves together for a big finish, and overall these five seasons give the show a kind of internal symmetry (one of vamp detective, three of myth-arc, one of [spoiler]) that I appreciate. Still, it's a weird feeling; another show down, another one bites the dust, and come May it's going to be a big part of my life that suddenly ups and dies. I think, if I can be organised, a series finale party might be indicated.

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