Wait just a second… This episode could put me off the whole show for one reason alone. The “little old lady” ghost died at 57!??!?!?! 57 is “little old lady” material???? David Greenwalt and Jane Espenson, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do! I had to listen to that twice to make sure I heard it correctly. Jane must be pretty depressed about that writing choice, since (at the time of my writing this) she’s pushing 58 and David is older than Methuselah at 75! Little old lady, indeed…
Ok, so this story seems to be all about building character. We find out Doyle has some bad stuff in his background and is being hunted for money he owes someone, but we don’t get too deep into his backstory, just an overview that there is a backstory. The bulk of the episode is around Cordy, who is looking for a new flat and finds the perfect one before being reduced to a whimpering wreck. I hope the whole point was for her to find her inner strength again and return to the less dippy, more bitchy Cordelia we knew from Buffy. Considering this series has managed to do continuity far better than I originally thought, my guess is we’ll see a change in her in the coming episodes.
In fact, since I’ve been forced to eat my hat on more than one occasion having watched this show, I will take this opportunity to credit the writing again. Doyle sees Cordy’s diploma which is slightly burned because of the finale of season 3, Graduation Day wherein a battle took place causing them to be singed. Furthermore, it takes a pause and a screen capture to see it, but look closely and you see the name Snyder on that diploma along with an empty area where a signature should have gone, presumably for the Mayor’s signature who was busy trying to ascend to another level rather than sign the diplomas. (This latter fact, I was made aware of; I can’t say I pieced that second one together myself!)
The episode is effectively a ghost story about a crazy mother who sealed her son up in a wall to prevent him moving out with a girlfriend. Clearly she’d read a bit too much Edgar Allen Poe (The Cask of Amontillado). A gruesome death for her son, which promptly leads to her own heart attack. At the end of the day, Cordelia is able to beat her, not through the incantations she and Doyle are using, but her own inner strength. I think that’s a solid message about finding one’s voice, but as charismatic as Charisma is, I didn’t buy her crying; it never looked real. Then again, I’ll throw her a bone in that it was less about making her cry and more about making her piteous. But that also fails to a certain extent because just earlier in this episode, she was saying how she feels she’s doing penance for all the mean stuff she said in her High School. I would have preferred the message to be about redemption and not about returning to the nastiness that she felt got her into this position to begin with.
Having said that, I still do love the writing because there’s always something that makes me laugh, whether Doyle is talking about Angel’s brooding brow (resulting in Angel touching his own forehead) or Cordelia complaining about cockroaches with their antlers (to which Angel curiously asks “antlers?” and I realized I had interpreted her word as antenna, before laughing out loud!)
Do I have complaints with this series? Yes because it has now plagued me for 2 episodes. In episode 3, Angel gets a ring that could have explained how he got around the city throughout the day, but for some reason, he destroyed it. Then, for the last two episodes, we see he’s getting around in the daylight without issue. He and Doyle appear at Cordy’s new flat and Doyle goes to close the window blinds specifically so Angel doesn’t burn but he clearly was outside before that. I may also have a complaint around “Phantom Dennis” if he’s gone by the next episode. I did laugh when I realized Cordy was still haunted, but really hope that’s not a single day haunting. I’m feeling more confident about this one though and have a good feeling that he’ll stick around, since the show has managed to surprise me on almost every other count.
It will all come down to the worldbuilding and character development for me. I can accept some things more than others. The getting around the whole city through underground means isn’t going to cut it. Especially when the answer was handed to them in the third episode! But so many other things are done so well, that I suspect that one will just have to be chalked up to an oversight. ML
Accepting some things more than others in TV shows quite often works best for me too.
Thank you, ML, for your review.
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