THE CHALLENGE: Binge-watch and review every season of Buffy to celebrate Dark Horse Comics' release of "Buffy Season 10" on March 19 and "Angel and Faith Season 10" on April 2. So far we've done: 
Buffy Season 1 (and an overview of why we love Buffy)
Buffy Season 2 
Buffy Season 3
Buffy Season 4
Angel Season 1 
Buffy Season 5
Angel Season 2
Buffy Season 6
Angel Season 3
Buffy Season 7
Angel Season 4

What an incredible ride. 

Highlights: Spike. Somehow the Angel-Spike dynamic always makes things more interesting, especially after a) both of them have souls, b) both of them have had relationships with Buffy. It's a wonderful sibling rivalry of sorts, with Spike often acting as Angel's conscience (a strange turn of events for sure.)

"Smile Time" with Angel as a puppet! Harmony as Angel's assistant and the episode where she thinks she's gone evil again.An argument about who would win in a fight: cavemen or astronauts. The suburban hell dimension where Lindsey has been trapped. When Adam Baldwin shows up as Angel and Spike go to Italy to track down Buffy and find only Andrew and hijinks. And the Big Bad -- the Circle of the Black Thorn. I really thought Angel had gone bad there for a while. Really awesome how they handled that-- slowly and deliberately. And that final confrontation.  "I don't have to say it. . .Winifred Burkle." 

Lowlights: It was so hard to lose Fred. I understand it may have been necessary (at least in the deranged mind of Whedon, who loves to kill off beloved characters), but Illyria is no replacement for Fred. The fact that there was no televised Season 6. Also, a lot of people hated the episode about the luchador mail worker, but I thought it was fun. As good as this season was, though, there's no room for mediocre. 

EPISODE MINI-REVIEWS: (both by Specbot)

Season 5, Episode 8 "Destiny"

There's a lot about prophecy in "Angel." What's meant to be, who you are to become, what will happen in the future...Yet "Angel" is a show about making your own choices. I mean, the main character has a demon inside him and fights for the forces of good. For all the shots it takes at the concept of destiny, it's never really explored how comforting it can be until this episode, and how much it can hurt when we realize we may not be who we thought we were. On top of that, we get to see the first moment Spike and Angel meet, how their rivalry formed, and the most brutal, personal battle the two ever share on screen. And the thing that freaked me out the most as the episode drew closer and closer to its climax is, I wasn't completely sure who I wanted to win.

Rating: 8/10

 

Season 5, Episode 15 "A Hole in the World"

Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes death isn't either. Sometimes you go kicking, screaming, scared, and wishing - pleading - that you could just stay a little longer. And sometimes it's not you, it's the one person in the entire world that you don't want to see go. "A Hole in the World" brings one of the most realistic and heart-wrenching depictions of death to the screen. Not by the method, but emotionally. It's so satisfying to see everyone charge ahead, united together, for the sake of one character. And they always have hope, even when it's hopeless. Because that's what Angel does best. Oh, also: Who would win in a fight, Cavemen or Astronauts?

Rating: 10/10

Overall rating for Season:  9 out of 10.  Angel's best season was also its last. It had the full attention of Whedon and bringing Spike onto the show was a stroke of genius. But what really made this season was the little things. Yes, the big character arcs and events are important. But the Cavemen vs Astronauts argument remains one of my favorite things in any Whedon show ever. And it was a tragedy that it was cancelled. Just desserts/karmic retribution were served on the WB as they tried to replace it over and over until they just ceased being a tv network.

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