Even as Angel mourns the death of Buffy, Darla makes her way to L.A. with a mysterious new life growing within her. Now thrust into a role he never imagined, Angel needs the assistance of the Angel Investigations team more... more » than ever. But while Cordelia, Gunn and Fred rally round the new dad, an ancient and deadly prophecy convinces Wesley to commit the ultimate betrayal.« less
"Warning: Lots of spoilers.Season Three of Angel remains, in many ways, my favorite of the show's run. The shows are persistently good, but if I had to put my finger on a specific reason I like it so much, it is that the cast meshes together perfectly. By the end of the season, there would be major--at the time seemingly impossible to mend--rifts between some of the members of Angel Investigations, but the core group was the best to date. Angel, restored to the group as their spiritual if not technical leader, has recovered his sense of purpose. Cordy (whose presence is missed mightily in the Fifth Season--I hope she and Joss Whedon patch up their differences and work her back into the show where she belongs--Note: their differences, apart from the official rhetoric, apparently revolving around her leaving the show for a few episodes near the end of this season, and her delayed announcement of her real-life pregnancy in Season Four, causing significantly rewriting--my gut feeling is that she will be back after a period of "punishment") has completely accepted her role as the contact to the Powers That Be, and both works hard at becoming a more important member of the team and manages to work a compromise to deal with the extraordinary physical toll the visions are taking on her (by becoming part demon--a gigantic step that one could hardly imagine the Cordelia of the first three years of Buffy making). Wesley and Gunn are both taken by the new resident of Hotel Angel, Winifred aka Fred, the scientifically brilliant but psychologically traumatized young woman they had rescued from Pylea. And finally, Lorne, formerly known as The Host, moves in when his karaoke bar has to close. It is a great group, and the interaction between all of them is extraordinary. And the romance! Well, the potential of romance. Fred is initially smitten with Angel, her rescuer. Wes and Gunn gradually fall in love with Fred. And Cordy and Angel are both quite obviously growing closer and closer to one another. Against this background of interpersonal relationships, Angel unexpectedly becomes a father. Darla, with whom he had had sex in Season Two in a futile attempt to lose his soul, returns to LA, in an exceedingly pregnant state, all the more remarkable for the fact that vampires cannot reproduce sexually (they reproduce through that biting thing). The result is a cute baby Angel dubs Connor, which is all well and good until he is kidnapped and taken to a demon dimension, where he grows up to be an uber angry, obnoxious kid bent solely on revenging himself on Angel, who he has been taught to hate by the man who kidnapped him. In the entirety of Buffy/Angel, the Connor story line might be the least popular in the history of the show. Still, it doesn't keep this from being a very good season indeed. Unlike most years of Buffy/Angel, Season Three is carried less by the season-long story arcs than by the individual episodes. There are some great shows, and many marvelous moments. The most harrowing might be the torturous decision that Wes has to make, and the enormous payment he has to pay for attempting to obey the dictates of conscience.One of my favorite moments in the season occurs when the writers engage in one of the great in-jokes in TV history. On Season Six of Buffy, Buffy is so broke that she has to take a demeaning job slinging hamburgers and frying processed chicken product patties at a fast-food joint called Doublemeat Palace. It is probably the most biting joke at the expense of the fast-food industry in the history of TV (especially ironic given the fact that Sarah Michelle Gellar's career began as a very small child in a famous series of commercials for Burger King explicitly attacking MacDonald's). As a result of the Doublemeat Palace episodes, MacDonald's and other food outlets ceased advertising on Buffy. Meanwhile, on Angel, Wesley is researching a prophecy and is striving to solve the last piece of the puzzle. To do so, he needs to consult an idol in the shape of a statue, but when he goes to the coordinates, he sees not an imposing statue, but a personified plastic hamburger (think the Hamburgler from MacDonald's). The image of a dumb plastic hamburger person being a powerful and all knowing entity is funny enough on its own, but knowing about the conflict with the fast food industry on Angel's sister show gives the scene an entire different dimension.The show ends on a spectacularly chaotic note. Angel, unlike Buffy, has tended to end each year with far more loose ends. Every season ends with as many questions raised as answered. Of no season closer is this truer than this year. The final episode sees Angel and Cordy, both obviously with strong feelings for one another, agreeing to meet on the beach near Malibu to "have a talk." (No mention is made about that nasty little curse afflicting Angel, which I found curious. No curse and Angel would have been back with Buffy.) But Cordy is unexpectedly called upon to become a Higher Being and ends the season by ascending into the Higher Realm, and Angel is bushwhacked by Connor and, in one of the most nightmarish moments in the show, encased in a metal cage and lowered to the bottom of the Pacific. The season started off with everyone feeling pretty good about things, but ends with Cordy no longer on Earth, Angel on the bottom of the ocean, and Wesley recovering from a near-deadly wound and utterly alienated from all his friends. And all of this sets up the utterly remarkable fourth season."
Angel - Vampire Dad/Hero/Super Detective
Lauren H. Lavine | Cleveland, Ohio | 05/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The following paragraph is in my other reviews, but I believe it bears repeating. This six Disk DVD Set is extraordinary. The Picture and Sound quality are so very good that you feel as though you are watching it in a theater. The closed captioning and Audio come in other languages besides English. It's jam packed with all sorts of extra bonus specials. The Brilliant creator, Joss Whedon and other staff members are at their very best, just as they were with their work on Buffy (which is also a must own). I not only highly recommend this Season disk set, but the other four seasons as well. Quite a bit of quality work went into the making of all five seasons. They are a necessary buy for any Angel fan! It's completely impossible to be anything but extremely pleased with this purchase as well as the rest of the series. The writing, acting , directing, etc... are amazing per usual. This is without question once again feature film quality. The fact that all but the first season is filmed in Letter Box gives it that theater feel. In addition, the closed-captioning is less likely to interfere with the picture. David Boreanaz (Angel) and Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) are brilliant in their performances together as well as the obvious sexual tension between them. They play it to the hilt. I personally would have liked to see them get together, but Joss Whedon as always had other ideas. Yet, another character was added at the end of season two, Amy Acker (Fred). She was rescued by the crew from Pylea, Lorne's home demon dimension. She joins Angel investigations, starting out a little bit on the crazy side. She grows into a pivotal member of the group. Amy Acker is quite a versatile actor. I must give extra credit to the incomparable Julie Benz (Darla, Vampire Extraordinaire). She was introduced at the end of Season One, brought back by Wolfram and Hart as Human. She does an exceptional job in playing the wickedly pissed off pregnant vampire and then redeeming herself in Episode 9 "Lullaby", by taking her own life so that her son may live. I'm aware that quite a few fans didn't like her until Lullaby, but I always thought she was incredible and was very sorry to see her go as a on and off regular. However, not to worry fans she will reappear now and again. As in many cases in the Joss Whedon universe the dead end up working again and sometimes more. I not only highly recommend this Season disk set, but the other four seasons as well. Any true Angel fan must complete their set with this one. It's a keeper folks. Purchase this before it gets sold out and you miss your chance to continue your collection. ORDER IMMEDIATELY AND DON'T FORGET TO BUY SEASONS ONE, TWO, FOUR AND FIVE WHILE YOUR AT IT.
Angel hits its stride
R. Seehausen | Cypress, TX United States | 10/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many have called the third season of Angel a "supernatural soap opera". I won't deny it, this season contains many elements that could cause it to be described as such. But it's more than just that - Angel: Season 3 is a character-driven thriller of a story, intent on pulling viewers more directions than they can handle, all at once.The season starts out normally enough; though he has taken some time off to mourn the death of his old lover, Angel returns in a state much better than expected; indeed, no worse for the wear after the news of Buffy's death.Early in the season, the episodes remain mostly of the 'monster of the week' variety, alternating between humorous stories ("Carpe Noctem") and darker narratives ("Billy"). But the seasonal plot arc quickly kicks into overdrive when Darla arrives, pregnant with Angel's child and none to happy about it.Throughout the season, romances are developed between the show's major players. At the forefront is Angel's seemingly unreciprocated feelings towards Cordelia, a development that drew as much distaste as it did intrigue among the viewer audience. The first episode where this really comes into play, and in my opinion one of the best of the season, is the excellent Whedon-penned "Waiting in the Wings". This episode also sees the climax of a love triangle between Wesley, Gunn, and Fred - the results of which are still sending ripples all the way into the early fifth season.As the season passes the halfway mark and begins to draw near to its conclusion, things heat up, with fewer stand-alone stories and more storyline episodes. Things become so dynamic and tug the viewer so many different directions emotionally that you almost long to just have a break from all of the turmoil.You don't get one. The season ends on one of the best cliffhangers ever seen on network television.This is one of my favorite seasons of any television show, ever, for its intensity, character development, and well-executed plot. Make no mistake: this is one incredible buy for any Joss Whedon fan or anyone looking to get into his excellent shows."
Angel becomes a daddy and then things get really bad
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the end of the second season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," when Buffy skilled Angel, the series reached its operatic height. The climax was the culmination of everything that had been set up and provided a level of pathos rarely seen in network television. During the third season of "Angel," the counterpart to "BtVS" reached its height in a moment that was stunningly surprising. But then the story arcs that dominated this third season were totally surprising. Season two of "Angel" had ended with the gang returning from Pylea only to learn from Willow that Buffy is dead (How good is Alyson Hannigan? She just looks at Angel, never says a word, and it is clear what has happened). Season three starts with Angel still in a bad mood after a long summer of mourning Buffy, but then three significant threads are revealed. The first is a prophecy in the Nyazian scrolls, that predicts a being or an event that will bring about the end of time. The second is the arrival of an immensely pregnant Darla (Julie Benz), who informs Angel that he is the father. The third is the arrival of Holtz, a mortal enemy of Angelus and Darla, who has been brought from the past by the demon Sahjhan to kill them both. Of course, these threads all collide, and this is only the story arc that dominates the first third of the season. Darla's pregnancy derails any romantic entanglement between Angel and Cordelia, the evidence of the one night stand with Darla adding insult to the injury of the gypsy's curse. Then there are the complications of the pregnancy, which should have been impossible given mommy and daddy are dead vampires, because it turns out the baby has a soul and that Darla cannot deliver naturally (as if that has meaning at this point). This sets up the aforementioned great moment in "Lullaby" when Darla gives birth in the rain in the alley behind Caritas. How great was this moment? I basically told everybody I knew about what happened--we are talking people who never watched the show and had no interest in ever watching it--and they were all impressed by the power of the moment. What impressed me the most was the performance during this season by Julie Benz. When you consider how little there was to Darla during the first season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the change in the character is impressive, but then on "Angel" that is par for the course: witness the transformations of Coredlia Chase and Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. But I still think there was something special about the totally captivating performance by Benz. The Darla plot thread is replaced in the rest of the season by the Connor plot thread, as Angel has to learn how to be a single parent to a baby boy. Holtz is still in pursuit, gathering his own collection of warriors to go up against Angel and his gang, and getting ever closer. But the key development turns out to be the prophecy in the Nyazian scrolls, which is finally translated by Wesley. The former Watcher discovers that the prophecy says that Angel is going to kill his own son, and with Wolfram & Hart spiking Angel's blood supply with blood from Connor so that the baby starts smelling like food to him, Wesley has to take things into his own hands and in "Sleep Tight" we have what you would have thought was a great season finale, but there are still six episodes to go.The final story arc has Angel dealing with the loss of Connor and then the surprise when his son returns, but not as a teenage demon fighter. However, having spent years in a demon dimension being taught to hate Angelus by Holtz, this is not a happy reunion and it is payback time in "Tomorrow." You look back at this third season and it is pretty impressive how much happened in these twenty-two episodes. One of the reasons this season was so strong was that there was so much going on in terms of the show's subplots. Having brought Fred back from Pylea, she develops an early crush on Angel only to become involved in a love triangle with Wesley and Gunn. Then there is Lilah Morgan (Stephanie Romanov), who comes into her own at Wolfram & Hart now that she is no longer in Lindsey McDonald's shadow (e.g., "Billy"). The make it or break it part of this season is the return of Connor all grown up. I have to admit that I understand the grain of salt with which it needs to be taken with regards to how long can Angel take care of a baby? Rachel has a baby on "Friends" and you can see how often anybody even remembers to talk about Emma. So from a writing standpoint I think this a good move, as understandable as when Pam woke up and found Bobby alive in the shower on "Dallas" (it was the easiest way of getting things back the way they were). Besides, Josh Whedon, Tim Minear and the rest of the writing staff were just pouring things on fast and furious by that point. The only part that I had trouble with was Cordelia's ascension as a higher being.The extras are getting better on these DVD sets. There is the expected commentary on "Lullaby," as well as on "Billy" and "Waiting in the Wings." There are a few deleted scenes, outtakes, and screen tests for the new kids on the block, Amy Acker and Vincent Kartheiser. But the chief extra features are the featurettes, which include a "Season 3 Overview," a piece on "Page to Screen," and, my obvious favorite, a celebration of Julie Benz's performance in "Darla: Deliver Us from Evil.""
Standing on its own two feet
Mr. B. G. Fowler | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's all too easy to state of Angel that it's not as good or as innovative as Buffy. Whilst this is true in many respects, Angel Season 3 really sees things pick up pace, with the show no longer standing in the shadow of its sister show and creating a compelling, interesting story arc. The opener, Heart-throb, sees the reappearance of Darla, pregnant with Angel's child no less. The main storyline concerns the birth of Angel's son, followed by his loss and return as a 15 year-old! However, just like on Buffy, Angel makes us care for its supporting players as well and it's notable that the story involving a renegade Wesley forced out of the group is still the show's best.Many fans disapproved of Connor as a teenager, and it's easy to see why. Vincent Kartheiser, though a good actor, doesn't imbue his character with anything that makes you really feel sorry for him and never did for me until his final episode in the Season 4 finale. This comes coupled with Angel's weakest villain yet, Holtz. An old enemy of Angelus, who slaughtered his family years since, had himself brought into the future to wreak the ultimate revenge on Angel by attempting to first kidnap his son, and subsequently to turn him against him. Put simply, he's boring, and we care far less what's going on when he's on-screen than when Lindsey was, or when Lilah's around. However, this season sees some of the stand-out episodes that Buffy was so good at, with Billy and Waiting In The Wings. Billy details Cordelia's increasingly painful visions and a guy who can turn any man into a homicidal mysogynist. Simultaneously fleshing out Cordy's character whilst making a statement about abuse against women is done so assuredly that it comes across as one of the show's most impressive episode. Waiting In The Wings was, of course, written by the master himself - Joss Whedon. The gang take a visit to the ballet together and find themselves in a time flux that they can't get out of. All of this is done with the kind of attention to detail (a classic ghost story, corrupted love versus true love, brilliant dancing) that marks it out as a Whedon episode. Much more so than Buffy, Angel has a lot of surprise endings that really make you hunger for the next episode. In particular, check out Angel's discovery of Wesley's plot to take his son, Wesley's realisation of what he has to do or the finale. If you've never really thought of the character dynamics on Angel, you will after seeing Season 3 and the cast really spark off each other. Above them all comes Alexis Denisof, who invests Wesley with such an interesting character that you completely forget the bookish Watcher from Buffy. This season really gives him a chance to grow though, and for many he's become a favourite character.After a haphazard second season, season 3 really gives Angel a chance to grow as a show and sets things up perfectly for the spectacular season 4. Significantly, Angel's got better with every season, much more confident about its own assets and began to get recognised in its own right rather than just as a spin-off. And it deserves to, after 5 seasons and still going strong, Angel's one of the best TV shows around at the moment."