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Angel and Faith #18, Season 9, Review


Angel and Faith #18 - late review

Arguably, the 18 issue of the A&F series is more of an exposition
that character drama and this fact alone makes it little difficult to
review for me. Still, I want to stick to my usual format and go about
discussing character interactions and specific patterns.

Angel and Giles

Significantly , one of the most apparent but no less important
associations of the issue is Angel and Giles analogy - the likeness of
their respective life( and arguably death) situations laid bare by the
first part of issue 18. Namely the conversation that young Giles has
with his grandmother Edna , and especially her specific comment that is
so well written that I am not bothered at all to quote here exactly.

'No one who walks in our world does so unscathed. We all have our
demons, Rupert. Often quite literally. One does not give up one fights.
One preserves and overcomes them. We cannot escape the dark, Rupert. But
we can refuse to let it own us.'
( Beautifully said, Edna. Now, if we all could only refuse to have our life's struggle stories being written by writers of long running serials...)

But aside from obvious possessed by Eyghon - possessed by Angelus/ possessed by Twilight parallels,
Angel and Giles connection is furthered by the major plot development
in this issue. Mainly, we finally get the full exposition of Angel's
motivation regarding resurrecting Giles.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not entirely happy with the season's plot
regarding the so-called 'narcissistic quest' misdirection. The fact that
DH widely promoted both Angel's and Willow's S9 quests as 'selfish,
dangerous and narcissistic', only to make us discover later in the
season that their motivations were anything but purely selfish, bothers
me a lot.

Firstly because it was supposed to' engage the audience', meaning that
the writers collective were quite cynical about the said audience
reaction - and that after the disaster of S8 finale. Secondly, because
character integrity was once again sacrificed to the need for cheap thrill. I don't know, maybe keeping
audience on their respective toes is one of the distinctive features of
the comic books as a genre, but it sure puts me off the stories being
told in this particular manner. I mean - not every arc of the series has
to end with a cheap cliffhanger. Not every cover has to be specifically
designed to have nothing to do with the actual content of the issue.
Not every blurb/promotion has to contain a misdirect aimed to fool the
audience. After a while the audience gets so tired of being thrilled
that it just becomes disinterested.

In the mean time, and going back to our plot, we learn in issue 18 that
the demon Eyghon was not fully destroyed in BtVS S2 by being bested by
Angel's inner demon (Angelus). It survived by being able to possess a
corpse of a dead rat, then moved to a body of a passed out homeless man. Eventually, the
demon incubated inside the man's body , and hatched out of him - rather
like Alien - by bursting out of his chest. Now the demon has its own
physical body fully on this plane - which apparently makes it even more
powerful than when being present as a possessing spirit. Eyghon then
proceeded to hunt first Ethan Rayne - whom he found already dead - and
managed to steal his dead body out of Twilight maximum security
facility, then Giles, whom he also found only after his death and whose
dead body he stole out of its coffin. The story implies that both
Ethan's and Giles' souls belong to Eyghon now - because they sold
themselves to the demon by allowing him to possess them voluntarily on
multiple occasions. I guess if Angel's demon had managed to destroy
Eyghon, or if the demon spirit truly did not find another host - it
would have perished and both Giles and Ethan would have been free. As it
happened, S9 changed the outcome of the Dark Ages episode, thus making
Giles soul bound to Eyghon and drawn into Eyghon physical body upon the
Watcher's untimely demise.

It also appears that Angel learned about Eyghon's return when was still
under his Twilight identity, but did not do anything about pursuing and
eliminating the demon. However after killing Giles under Twilight's full
possession , and after overcoming his catatonia, it occurred to Angel
that Giles soul has likely not passed away to the outer planes, but was
trapped here within Eyghon's entity, together with the soul of Ethan
Rayne. Thus Angel decided that Giles resurrection was not only possible
but also crucial - if only to save the deceased Watcher's soul from its
demon slavery.

Angel and Spike

Personally, I find the brief interaction between the two vampires with
souls that was sketched out in Spike mini #5 and is completed in A&F
#18 the least intriguing of all communications in this issue. If Angel
wants to save the taken over girls, and free Giles soul, he needs a
backup in the fight against Eyghon. Somebody with supernatural strength
who won't turn on them, and who cannot be knocked out and taken over.
He has zero choice but to call Spike. It does not break any new ground
between the two - Angel does not like calling Spike a single bit , but
he trusts that Spike won't sell them to the enemy despite all the recent
bad blood between them. I suppose it is commendable that Angel
overcomes his embarrassment over the events of Twilight, jealousy, and
personal dislike , same as it is commendable that Spike makes a B-line
to London upon receiving the phone call, instead of holding the grudge
over being almost fried. Yet, they really have need of each other at the
moment - because as much as Angel needs a not-backstabbing supernatural
backup, Spike needs a distraction from his freshly-broken heart and
unrequited feelings uncertainties even more. I won't be expecting much
consequences on the A&F overall plot from Spike's visit to London,
as he is unlikely to be briefed on all the intricacies of Angel's
resurrection quest, and equally unlikely to have any long lasting effect
on the Whistler/P&N brewing disaster. He is to come in, bond with
Faith, and head back to SF for the BtVS final confrontation of the
season. I doubt Angel will even learn about Spike's current Buffy-woes,
although it would be nice to have a bit of good news thrown Angel's
way.

Angel and Faith

As it was already noted by many these two are too preoccupied with the
ongoing action to find time to snipe at each other or for Faith to
continue eating her guts over Angel's plan. And I feel it is better this
way, at least for the period of this arc. Faith is very good at leaving
in the moment and concentrating on the short-term goals vs playing
long-term strategic games. Her putting her Angel- grudge aside for the
duration of the fight with Eyghon reflects good on her. By the end of
the issue she even manages to somewhat patch it up with Nadira - who
also manages to show enough common sense not to jump into unnecessary
confrontations with Angel, despite her obvious distress over need to
cooperate with the former Twilight.

Whistler and Co

This is the part of the overall plot that I find most disagreeable.
Faith brief 'sojourn' with Eyghon gives her an insight on the upcoming
apocalyptic finale of the series - and we learn that Eyghon somehow
managed to find common ground and make a pact with Whistler and his
minions Pearl and Nash. I know that according to Gage the end of magic
messed Whistler up so much that he is no longer capable of rational
thinking, and no longer cares about the 'greater good' as long as his
future Hell on Earth vision does not become reality. I suppose giving up
on billions who are going to die in the magical plague he is cooking,
is no worse than also condemning these would-be dead to the postmortem
possession by Eyghon. But it is kind of gross, even considering that
Gage is going after the Cold War balance analogy here : with half the
world becoming the magical paradise, while the other half is turned into
Hell of the walking dead. Mostly, this is very un-Whedon-like allegory,
and it is showing as it runs against the core trend of the series -
that of the Gray Zone morality vs Black and White Manichean dichotomy. I
honestly hoped for a less disgusting face-heel-turn for Whistler, but I
guess it is naive to expect much nuance after all the world-destroying
freakishness of S8.
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