Now, I liked the final issue of this arc better than A&F #4 finale, maybe because I did not have any inflated expectations for the arc, so I won’t be complaining that it was anticlimactic. There is an appropriate amount of drama here, as well as action and some character interaction cuteness. Still, when I tried to ask myself why was not I completely blown away – as I honestly wanted to be – I would have to answer that there was simply not enough ironic context in the story, that I have come in the past to expect from Angel series. Logically, I understand that with characters in their current situation there is only so much humor – dark or otherwise colored – the writer can put in – and yet it is what makes the whole A&F adventure somewhat less enjoyable ( to me anyway) than it could have been.
There are a lot or repetition and replay of the old themes, which is all good and solid, considering that the writer is a newcomer to the verse, and is trying really hard to stay true to the characters’ voices. And yet, even if you go directly to the scripts of the episodes referenced in this particular issue (and yes, I know it is unfair to bring up something as spectacular as Five by Five or even Redefinitions) you notice that the Daddy Issues arc takes itself way too seriously, while not adding much new development to the characters in play, and in the end reversing their current state to what it was beforehand. One might even ask – what was the point of the whole exercise – only to answer that perhaps it was in reminding the audience that nothing is perfect or even solid with Faith’s newly found confidence, and that she is still haunted by dark shadows of the past. In itself, that was not a bad choice of a story for her, but I am still wondering how much more drama and emotional content could have been produced from more direct interaction between Dru and Faith – where they to try and compare notes on their respective transformations caused by Angel’s actions in the past ?
Action sequences were very well written in this issue, and the art is stellar. And I definitely prefer Drusilla as her mystical Seer self, so I was not unhappy with that development.
IMHO, Faith figuring out what Angel's plan is RE: Giles' soul fragment collection is a bit far-fetched, and clearly was a shortcut. I enjoyed the confrontation between Angel and Dru part the most - as well as her personal take on his 'problem' of torturing himself with empathy.
So, going into the relationship part of the arc, I think that Angel and Faith dynamics became more interesting now that they have more tension between the two of them. I am actually quite impressed with their exposed imbalance, because all through the first arc of the series I was feeling puzzled with Faith's suddenly acquired serenity, that never followed any major character development. She still has not had a story that brought her to the point of major sacrifice, or a long-term commitment. And however cool and sleek she looks in her neat new outfits, her inner self is still that of a young girl with a history of quitting at every major obstacle. I still think the turns this arc is taking are a bit too sharp. But at the very least Faith lack of understanding of importance of keeping one's memories and emotional baggage intact -- even when the memories in question are those of pain and failure -- are the measure of her lack of maturity that only comes with age. After all said and done, the most important watershed between these two characters is the volume of their experience, and the number of times that Angel picked himself up from rubble, and kept on going. Only time and age can bring perspective that Faith is so severely lacking: pain and loss is as equally important part of one's personality as is joy and victories. You cannot fully relish the latter without experiencing the former (same as you cannot fully appreciate the brightness of day without full experience of darkness).
But of course in Angel's case pain is also his own personal scale of worthiness. Insane as it sounds, he is using his intrinsic sense of guilt as a divide that separates him from his own personal demon - both literally and figuratively. A paradox that soulless Drusilla is both incapable and unwilling to understand, and that is the major cause of her frustration. For me, Dru's getting back her pain ( something that also reawakened her visions, and gave her back the missing sense of mystery and beauty of the world) was perhaps the most puzzling and unnerving part of this arc.