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Angel, Season 5 Opener

Some thoughts

“With great power comes great responsibility”

“Spiderman does not get paid. Justice is his reward.” (Although, I would argue that a career taking pictures of yourself is an oblique way of getting paid for justice, but whatever.)

“he has forsaken the law to take justice into his own hands.”

 So, to recap, Buffy is Spidey and Angel is the Punisher. Check. The Punisher it too violent for small children to read, but they can get around that. Check. A man with an automatic weapon, who wants to deliver a message to Angel about how Wolfram and Hart does things doesn’t shoot out a window to let in the light. Rather he delivers his message about the quality of his convictions and then dies at Angel’s mercy.

“The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.”
                                          Merchant of Venice, IV, I.

“You have reached ritual sacrifices…loved ones…goat”
                               Wolfram and Hart’s VRU system

“5 And he (Aaron) shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin-offering, and one ram for a burnt-offering. 6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scape-goat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin-offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scape-goat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scape-goat into the wilderness… (11-14 offering the bullock) 15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat:”
                                                                                       Leviticus, Ch 16

Now just for the record, I liked the new character, Eve. I don’t see Eve (Adam’s second wife according to some versions of the tale) as a replacement for Lilah, her name so like Lilith (Adam’s first wife). Although, I suppose more precisely Delilah, who shorn Sampson’s hair, stole his strength, brought him into the mercy of his enemies. And thus from the blind belly of the beast killed his enemies and himself. Destiny, fate, hairstyles. They play strange tricks.

I don’t know if it was a trick of the light, but Eve’s skin was so smooth. Unreal in an adult who has passed puberty. Out, out, damn spots. She’s like an intern from hell, pun intended. She seemed young and old and perky and random and for heaven’s sake I don’t want to ever understand her. The apple merely grants the knowledge of good and evil. The choice to choose between the two. Even as the implacable Angel with the flaming sword chases the newly comprehending from Eden.

Red, crisp, apple. Red as blood. Goats. Otters. Pigs. Humans. All spilt on the alter of mercy. Sacrificed like the son. Isaac. Connor. That little boy. Bleating goats wandering in the desert. Just who will father Abraham sacrifice?

I can’t help but think of Abraham’s other son, who it seems is now reconstituted to argue once more with dad. Don’t trust anyone over two hundred and thirty.

“Call me Ishmael.” White whales. Jonah in the deep. Did you know that faux abalone is made from giant squid. That’s not really germane to anything. I just think it’s cool.

In his way Angel is simultaneously Abraham (and now I have that song stuck in my head and seriously, I’m no one’s son) and Isaac with his own twin sons. The favorite Esau and the trickster Jacob, who is also Israel. One is loved by the father. One is loved by God the father and, okay, his mom, so birthright is all disordered and poor Esau is pushed aside from the story.

Angel seems to be Abraham in so much as he is “Father” Abraham, with many sons, and many sons who have Father Abraham (see it just won’t go away). The insistence on that role each time he remakes his family. He could have played the recalcitrant son to the Master’s lecturing father, but instead strikes off.

Forming his family of Dark Mother Darla, favored mad daughter Drucilla, and that idiot boy Spike.  

And life twists, his family dissolves, reforms and then fate deals him a strange trick and he has this favored son. A blessing. Who’d have thought Darla’s womb could quicken at such an age, in such a condition. She’d have laughed at anyone who predicted it. And that Darla is Angel’s vampiric mother, his vampiric grandchild, only plays games with Abraham’s sister wife.

The sacrifice has already been made, but it’s been but a few days, their number not even forty. Angel assumes the roll of both God and Abraham in Home. Requiring and carrying out the sacrifice. And depending on which version of the Isaac story you go with (where the knife fell, there was no ram, goat, scape), arranging for his son’s recovery after the sacrifice.

Course, I equally see Angel as blind Isaac, who wanted to lay blessings on his favored son, and instead is tricked into blessing champion birthright to the joker in the deck. To quote Homer, “D’oh!”

One more time to play out the father role. Except, no spoilers, I expect it will be far more difficult to cast off this son when words and snark battles by night. Snarks. They’re like sharks only on land, with no gills. And possibly like pigs with wings, these Snarks fly.

Spike is Ishmael, the elder, but born out of season. Jacob the slight sly, wrestling with Angels in the dark. Who knew that there was oil? Pause for a moment of purely religious contemplation.

But the goat thing just gets me. Ritual sacrifices. Goats carrying away sin. Sacrificed in place of loved ones. The sacrifice of Connor into a third life. The three beats of, “Spike.” “Spike.” “Blondie Bear.” I certainly hope that that is not either Connor or Spike’s third life/name/straight narrow high path.

The sacrifice of pigs and otters and bullocks on the alter of mercy. Discordant Harmony is off the human blood all together. Lorne with his red and green. Caritas has been twice destroyed. How then the third? The green of Eden lost and hope and paradise.

Also, was that a Hellraiser puzzle box that I saw Fred put on her desk? The puzzle, the door between dimensions, the bell that summons the Cenobites, “Demons to some, angels to others.” Practitioners in pain, servants of the god Leviathan.

 “It is not hands which call us, it is desire.”

A puzzle, like an infinite apple peel of knowledge. A maze. A labyrinth. A double headed axe. A scythe. An amulet in a really tacky style.

And also, just for the record, Gunn, pinstripes, yes. Choosing to quick fill his mind with the only thing he lacked, knowledge. Not intelligence, for he was always smart. But the tools that come of education and confidence and using the muscle that lies within ones skull. Poor little buttercup, whatever is he becoming. A modern major general? A pirate king? Powerful? Responsible? Rewarded?

“Evil hand!” Do we assume that good and evil is like the switch on a Crusty the Clown doll? This Gunn is set to evil? Or, as the serpent would say, is it more complex than that?

Bounded in a nut shell, but a king of infinite space

Yes, but from an Angel as the king and Spike as the fool, whose words are 50/50 gibberish/wise, the king is ultimately the one who needs guidance. “Marry nuncle, the crab does walk into the path of the gull.”

Course, being ME, this could go like Lear, and Angel Co are in the belly of the beast. And briefly, everyone who has read the end of Fray should consider the cross of the reference.

Be digested or do the other thing.

The continuing implications in everyone’s behavior that would seem to result from Connor’s absence. Than Angel made a choice not only to remove Connor, but the memory of him. That his current position separates him from what was always his source of power as a “Champion.”

Angel is used to hands on, being the leader of small band of rebels. Now he is, at the very least, governor of this mighty province. The danger is not only that the beast will devour him, but that his own doubts will devour himself.

The lack of complete openness on this subject that was always a source of his own uniqueness would seem to be just another indicator of his discomfort. And seriously, from a story point of view, I want his inability to talk about his son to be eating at him. The burden of knowledge as he barkas on his lounging throne. And here’s this other son, this grandchild, Abraham to Jacob. How can Angel dance on the head a pin if he cannot find his center of balance?

And just as aside, I read elsewhere, and I agree, without having really cognitively processing the meaning of it, that Angel seeks atonement and Spike seeks redemption and that those are not the same thing. No more than a goat is a sheep, although both have been sacrificed, been saved. Or a fig is an apple, although both have been figured as the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And as Cain wails, why isn’t mine good enough, I have to wonder, where is Eve?

To pluck the fruit, which is fair, from the tree. And it does beg the question, why place the tree if not to be plucked. Eaten when the time is right. Perhaps it is painful to be born and the world outside is certainly not as warm and dark as heaven, the womb.

A friend of mine in college took a class on the art of Chinese womb gardens. Little gardens in miniature. Eden strikes me as so, but perhaps I watched too much classic Trek as a child.

For such a sunlit episode, such luscious symbolism.

The sun is blinded in the school room. The children are gone. The light shunted. And it’s always about blood. Not Angel/us’ trademark neck snap, but blood. On the wall. Of a school. The alter, the temple of youth. And Conviction as mutton, as sheep and not lamb or goat or…

Angel is in the belly of the beast. Although, since S3 was more the season of Ahab, I’ll say that Angel is now spit up in the decadent city of Nineveh. He’s Samson going, well now what? What good is it to run around and kill things, when a few days after complete zombification, the Wolf and the Hart are still there.

The devouring wolf. Grandmother is dead and Red Riding Hood has left the building. The woodman is left behind and he has no heart. Or is it that it does not beat. Or is it that it is a pig’s heart. Lips as red as rubies. Mercy sleeping. The Hart, the son of Autumn. Plump and racked. The rack, the comfy chair, no one expects ninja lawyers. Larch. Apple. Fig. Fruit.

Angel, who has eaten the fruit of eternal life (with some small conditions), has his facsimile of the sun, wants to know, to help the helpless.

I consider the choice to not only reorder Connor’s memories, but everyone else’s as well. A choice that wipes away Wesley’s “sin”. That washes Cordelia’s role in the affair of the twining night flower. Blood washes away sin.

See wasn’t that easy. Never mind the mark on the wall. A little bleach washes away blood.

Except on that microscopic level where it remains.

Yeah, I liked this episode. It was tasty and delicious. With 50% less calories.

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