Angel Review – “Unleashed”

There’s a new wolf in town.

Cast and Crew

David
Boreanez
as
Angel

Alexis
Denisof
as
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce

J.
August Richards

as Charles Gunn

Amy
Acker
as Fred
Burkle

Andy
Hallett
as
Lorne

James
Marsters
as
Spike

Written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft.

Directed by Mrita Grabiak

Original Airdate

Unleashed originally aired on October 15,
2003.

Synopsis

Angel’s saves a woman’s life, but not before she gets bitten
by a
werewolf.

High Point

Spike’s history with Wesley.

Low Point

Is Cordelia really forgotten this quickly? Why is Angel
even
considering this?

The Review

Some of these plot elements have been used before. In
fact,
everything but Spike’s story has been used on Buffy or
Angel in the
past. That’s not a good sign for originality.
The only
other new element was Angel choosing deliberately not to
save a person
near the end. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects weren’t extravangent this week,
although they
were well done. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was very well done, until the last few
minutes,
when a couple of little problems turned up, as mentioned in
the Low
Point and Originality sections above. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting from the guest stars was very well
done. The
regular cast is doing good work, as well. I give it 5 out of
6.

The emotional response this produced was
very positive. Now
that the “new pilot” episodes are out of the way, they can
get back to
moving things along. There was humour here, as well as
some good
suspense. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production value this week was pretty
high. It’s hard to
create dark and moody atmospheres with soft light, but this
show
consistently does that well. The sound was excellent,
particularly
during the “morning after” sequence. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s the first step in a return to top form
for
Angel. I hope it lasts. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Unleashed receives 33 out of 42.

18 replies on “Angel Review – “Unleashed””

  1. Babbster says:

    Excusing the Werewolf Rehash
    While the story was indeed unoriginal, I have to give kudos to Mutant Enemy for not doing another werewolf story before now. The temptation to get a werewolf into the full-time cast HAS to be painful to resist given that they already do vampires all the time. It’s just as hard to believe that they haven’t put a magic-user type (with limitations, of course, as they did with Willow on BTVS) on the team (Wesley doesn’t count).

    Another thing to be glad of is that they didn’t “science” their way out of this episode’s plot. It would have been easy for them to say “Wolfram & Hart developed this cure years ago in case a client was afflicted” or some such. In fact, that may be how they justified doing the episode in the first place – surprising us by NOT completely solving the girl’s problem despite the massive resources at their disposal.

    Or maybe I’m over-thinking things. :)

    • y42 says:

      Re: Excusing the Werewolf Rehash

      It’s just as hard to believe that they haven’t put a magic-user type (with
      limitations, of course, as they did with Willow on BTVS) on the team
      (Wesley doesn’t count).

      Wes doesn’t count?
      How ’bout Wes, Fred and Lorne? Wes does the occasional spell,
      Fred
      does the dimensional rip thing, Lorne reads souls…

      Why don’t they count again?

      • Babbster says:

        Re: Excusing the Werewolf Rehash

        Wes doesn’t count?
        How ’bout Wes, Fred and Lorne? Wes does the occasional spell,
        Fred
        does the dimensional rip thing, Lorne reads souls…

        Why don’t they count again?

        They don’t count because they’re not going to walk into a random room and throw knives with their mind, teleport people a mile into the air, flay the skin from someone’s body with a gesture, etc. There’s a pretty clear Buffyverse line between people who read words from a book (Wesley/Fred) or have one specialized magical ability (Lorne) and folks who have the ability to do just about anything they want with the magic inherent to them.

        • y42 says:

          Re: Excusing the Werewolf Rehash

          Wes doesn’t count?
          How ’bout Wes, Fred and Lorne? Wes does the occasional spell,
          Fred
          does the dimensional rip thing, Lorne reads souls…

          Why don’t they count again?

          They don’t count because they’re not going to walk into a random room
          and throw knives with their mind, teleport people a mile into the air, flay
          the skin from someone’s body with a gesture, etc. There’s a pretty clear
          Buffyverse line between people who read words from a book (Wesley/
          Fred) or have one specialized magical ability (Lorne) and folks who have
          the ability to do just about anything they want with the magic inherent
          to them.

          Well, so long as it keeps them away from the horrible “magic as heroin”
          metaphor, I’m happy.

  2. denardo says:

    Matters of Choice
    The only other new element was Angel choosing deliberately not to save a person near the end.

    Actually, IIRC, they mentioned that the dinner party group had been shut down, well before the month had passed. Since the guy had to be kept alive until the next full moon, there’s a good chance that he was saved from being eaten, at least. And since they didn’t have a cure for lycanthropy, Angel couldn’t have saved him from that once he was bitten (and I doubt that he could have predicted that the present werewolf would have bitten specifically that person).

    • nkuzmik says:

      Re: Matters of Choice

      The only other new element was Angel choosing
      deliberately not to save a person near the end.

      I assume that we are talking about the doctor who got
      bit in the end.

      I would guess Angel’s rational for
      that was that the doc was a bad guy anyway. Siveling
      coward, yes, but he was still going to eat Nina alive with
      the rest of them, just because they could!

      This wanton cruelty would resonate with Angel. Killing
      and eating someone just because you can is
      something Angelus would do. If those people
      were there to eat werewolf in order to gain something,
      health, strength, better than viagra, whatever, that would
      have at least mitigated their actions. But there was no < i>need on thier part.

      This would pretty much take
      anybody in that room off Angel’s christmas list. That
      said, the only lives in the room he cared about were
      Nina and his crew. If they want to eat one of their own,
      call it population control.

      Anybody have any other
      theories on Angels motives there?

      BTW, I think he
      killed the werewolf in the begining because there was
      the threat to the girl, sunrise presumably wasn’t for a
      few hours and he had no means of containment.

    • y42 says:

      Re: Matters of Choice

      Actually, IIRC, they mentioned that the dinner party group had been shut
      down, well before the month had passed.

      “Tonight may not be salvagable, but my guests have paid a high price.
      Some higher than others, and I promised them a werewolf!”
      (cryptozoologist gets biten) “And a month from now you’ll have one.”

      And later on Gunn says that the “bistro of the bizarre has been shut
      down”

      So I dunno

  3. dkichline says:

    Dr. Phlox
    Anyone notice that Dr. Phlox played our bad guy of the week?

  4. jdarksun says:

    Oddness from Spike?
    Yeah, I know this is about A:tS (heh), but was anyone else confused by Spike’s reaction to Fred’s heartfelt promise to help him? That… leer?… plus his fading back in made it seem like he had intentionally making himself appear fuzzy to try and get Fred to promise to help him.

    And why would “Ghost Spike” lead Fred into the Dr.’s office – if he didn’t do it on purpose, that’s a stunning coincidence.

    I might be looking too deep into these two things, but hey – I’m a Spike fan.

    • Babbster says:

      Re: Oddness from Spike?

      Yeah, I know this is about A:tS (heh), but was anyone else confused by Spike’s reaction to Fred’s heartfelt promise to help him? That… leer?… plus his fading back in made it seem like he had intentionally making himself appear fuzzy to try and get Fred to promise to help him.

      And why would “Ghost Spike” lead Fred into the Dr.’s office – if he didn’t do it on purpose, that’s a stunning coincidence.

      I might be looking too deep into these two things, but hey – I’m a Spike fan.

      I’m a Spike fan myself. I never understood the hatred for him, except for possibly anti-BTVS-post-high-school backlash. On the Internet, it could also be male backlash against the fact that a LOT of the ladies really seem to dig the Marsters.

      I can’t say that I’m sure whether or not he intentionally led Fred to the office – I suspect not since the evidence revealed was caused by Fred stumbling on a garbage can, something Spike wouldn’t have been able to count on. Maybe Spike’s subconscious was controlling his image while he was re-entering the real world? We’ll probably find out next week.

      Spike’s faded appearance in Fred’s office, though, would be classic manipulative Spike and I think was quite intentional. His “leer” can be explained by the fact that his ruse apparently generated exactly the reaction for which he was hoping.

      • jdarksun says:

        Re: Oddness from Spike?

        I’m a Spike fan myself. I never understood the hatred for him, except for possibly anti-BTVS-post-high-school backlash. On the Internet, it could also be male backlash against the fact that a LOT of the ladies really seem to dig the Marsters.

        I can’t say that I’m sure whether or not he intentionally led Fred to the office – I suspect not since the evidence revealed was caused by Fred stumbling on a garbage can, something Spike wouldn’t have been able to count on. Maybe Spike’s subconscious was controlling his image while he was re-entering the real world? We’ll probably find out next week.

        Spike’s faded appearance in Fred’s office, though, would be classic manipulative Spike and I think was quite intentional. His “leer” can be explained by the fact that his ruse apparently generated exactly the reaction for which he was hoping.

        Yeah, I had to stop reading TWoP because of Strega and her gang of caustic avengers/people-who-hate.

        I’m hoping Spike’s uncontrolled ghosting will be explained next ep, and who knows? Maybe it will. I’d sure love to find out why the heck that happened.

        My problem with ‘classic manipulative Spike’ is that really hasn’t been a side of Spike we’ve seen since the soul (iirc). The Yoko Factor was the last time he was *that* manipulative – it was pretty dark on the morally ambiguous scale.

        • Daemonik says:

          Re: Oddness from Spike?

          I’m a Spike fan myself. I never understood the hatred for him, except for possibly anti-BTVS-post-high-school backlash. On the Internet, it could also be male backlash against the fact that a LOT of the ladies really seem to dig the Marsters.

          I can’t say that I’m sure whether or not he intentionally led Fred to the office – I suspect not since the evidence revealed was caused by Fred stumbling on a garbage can, something Spike wouldn’t have been able to count on. Maybe Spike’s subconscious was controlling his image while he was re-entering the real world? We’ll probably find out next week.

          Spike’s faded appearance in Fred’s office, though, would be classic manipulative Spike and I think was quite intentional. His “leer” can be explained by the fact that his ruse apparently generated exactly the reaction for which he was hoping.

          Yeah, I had to stop reading TWoP because of Strega and her gang of caustic avengers/people-who-hate.

          I’m hoping Spike’s uncontrolled ghosting will be explained next ep, and who knows? Maybe it will. I’d sure love to find out why the heck that happened.

          My problem with ‘classic manipulative Spike’ is that really hasn’t been a side of Spike we’ve seen since the soul (iirc). The Yoko Factor was the last time he was *that* manipulative – it was pretty dark on the morally ambiguous scale.

          Next weeks episode synopsis according to TVGuide.com “As Fred works nonstop to embody Spike, the gang links his unintentional disappearances to an evil spirit who’s feeding other specters to hell in an effort to delay its own descent into the torturous realm.”

        • Babbster says:

          Re: Oddness from Spike?

          My problem with ‘classic manipulative Spike’ is that really hasn’t been a side of Spike we’ve seen since the soul (iirc). The Yoko Factor was the last time he was *that* manipulative – it was pretty dark on the morally ambiguous scale.

          Maybe, but then again the only soulful Spike(s) we’ve seen before now have been the ones either controlled/driven starkers by The First or obsessed with redemption. The former is apparently not a factor anymore and he probably feels like he’s achieved redemption through his willingness (and success) to die fighting evil.

        • teraph says:

          Re: Oddness from Spike?

          My problem with ‘classic manipulative Spike’ is that really hasn’t been a side of Spike we’ve seen since the soul (iirc). The Yoko Factor was the last time he was *that* manipulative – it was pretty dark on the morally ambiguous scale.

          Spike really hasn’t had many opportunities to be manipulative since then. Being an in-your-face kinda guy has worked well for him, and meeting his goals. But now, he’s sinking into hell, too proud to ask Angel for help, and needs someone to focus on his problem. He thought he had that before, but then Fred started to focus on the werewolf problem. Now, he has her undivided attention. (The fact that he became fully opaque after Fred promised to work on nothing but his problem suggests he had some control.)

          Spike doesn’t manipulate unless it is the best way of meeting his goals. If something more direct would work, then he does that. He tried being direct with Fred (“I’m sinking into hell”) and it wasn’t long until she was working on other problems. Now, he’s inspired fear, pity and sympathy. I imagine if the first try had created the reults he wanted, he wouldn’t have had to be more manipulative.

        • TwistyHat says:

          Re: Oddness from Spike?

          Yeah, I had to stop reading TWoP because of Strega and her gang of caustic avengers/people-who-hate.

          Heh, homos with out pity is all about hating. If they could coordinate the hate they could move a small moon *G*

          • LC says:

            Re: Oddness from Spike?

            Heh, homos with out pity is all about hating. If they could coordinate the hate they could move a small moon *G*

            Hi.

            I don’t know if you realize it, but by saying “homos” in this derogatory tone, you’ve essentially spit hate at people who might be the good friends, family, or even users of this board. In my case, it’s some of the best friends I could hope to have. People who don’t deserve terms like that.

            I don’t want this to end up devoted to the topic of homosexuality, since this isn’t what the board is for, but I had to respond publically to a comment made in public. I’m not going to respond to any more posts on the subject but if anybody wants to continue further, you can email me.

            Respectfully,

            LC

        • LC says:

          Re: Oddness from Spike?

          I’m a Spike fan myself. I never understood the hatred for him, except for possibly anti-BTVS-post-high-school backlash. On the Internet, it could also be male backlash against the fact that a LOT of the ladies really seem to dig the Marsters.

          Spike’s faded appearance in Fred’s office, though, would be classic manipulative Spike and I think was quite intentional.

          Yeah, I had to stop reading TWoP because of Strega and her gang of caustic avengers/people-who-hate.

          My problem with ‘classic manipulative Spike’ is that really hasn’t been a side of Spike we’ve seen since the soul (iirc).

          Maybe I’m being way too interpretive, but manipulative Spike could still easily work with a soul. Pre-vamp, he was very child-like, hurt easily and showing it easily, so delighted to read his poems to his mother and glowing when she said something nice, and so on, and so with the soul back, he might regress to a very child-like state which includes manipulation, “It’s not fair,” obvious lies, whining, and of course being a brat any time Angel (Dad) is around.

          I did quite go off Spike when the whole in-love-with-Buffy phase started, mostly because it seemed to be a commercial decision rather than a real characterization one, and it tried to make him far too sympathetic too soon. If AtS can take this and reframe it to make him frequently obnoxious to the rest of the cast but entertaining and interesting to the audience, I think that’d be a great tack.

          I was wondering if I was the only one to give up the TwoP recaps–increasingly, it seems to me as though the recappers (not just for Buffy and Angel) are constantly jumping up and down shouting, “Lookkit ME! Lookkit MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” and riding their own hobbyhorses to exhaustion, instead of some of the genuinely funny and insightful writing that had been there.

          • Babbster says:

            Re: Oddness from Spike?

            I did quite go off Spike when the whole in-love-with-Buffy phase started, mostly because it seemed to be a commercial decision rather than a real characterization one, and it tried to make him far too sympathetic too soon.

            While I can understand the indictment of it as a commercial decision, I thought they handled it pretty well. I found it interesting that despite the fact that there might have been “true love” going on, he managed to seek the most base representations of love (at least in season 6) – namely, sex and Buffy letting him get away with whatever he wanted to do – culminating in the attempted rape. In other words, despite love he was still soulless and evil. His actions after Buffy’s resurrection and before obtaining his soul were aimed entirely at getting what he believed were his just rewards for being a “good” guy in the fight with Glory, and I thought that was interesting and compelling, especially since I could always find myself wondering how bad things would suddenly turn if his chip malfunctioned.

            Maybe I’m looking too hard for things to like about the 6th season, but I did think that Spike was the most interesting thing going on at the time. :)

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