Angel Review – “Shells”

Man, I so don’t want to wait for April to see more of
this.

Cast and Crew

David
Boreanaz
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 and directed by Steven S. DeKnight

Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate

Shells originally aired on Wendesday, March
3, 2004.

Synopsis

What’s left of Fred tries to fulfill its plans to
rule the world,
while the crew tries to deal with the loss.

High Point

“Were you even listening?”

Low Point

Wes’ lack of immediate reaction to his surprise
visitor.

The Review

They took a concept that looked familiar and ran to
new places with
it. The unoriginal feel of last week is
almost gone; the
similarities to past events is acknowledged, and the
story is driven
elsewhere almost immediately. The character
interaction was
excellent, and the resolution of this story was
totally unexpected
when the episode started. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were very well done, again. My
only complaint is
that the slow motion bits looked more like low frame
rates than honest
slow motion. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was well written, and well
structured. These guys
don’t hold back. When this was made, they didn’t
even know this would
be the last season; I can’t wait to see where they
take this now.
This just kept driving through, moving things
forward. The character
work was great all around. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting this week was packed in very
well. Everyone had
some time with strong emotions, and they all pulled
it off. This is
one aspect that this episode had to do perfectly, and
they pulled it
off. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. The
acting tied in
well with the script, and kept me involved the entire
time. I give it
6 out of 6.

The production was very well done,
particularly with the
camera work slowly revealing the pieces of the
Hyperion, bringing fans
of various focus into things at various times. I
give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a fantastic way to end sweeps,
and leave us
begging for more. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Shells receives 38 out of 42.

23 replies on “Angel Review – “Shells””

  1. teraph says:

    Hyperion?

    The production was very well done, particularly with the camera work slowly revealing the pieces of the Hyperion, …

    I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the Hyperion. It had a long hallway, a stainless-steel drinking fountain, and the doors at the top of the steps were wrong.

    I believe it is, however, a set they’ve used before. In season one, when Faith comes to town, she first announces her presence to Angel by shooting at him with a crossbow. I believe the building where that occured and the one used as the set for the swordfight are the same.

    • Set says:

      Re: Hyperion?

      I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the Hyperion. It had a long hallway, a stainless-steel drinking fountain, and the doors at the top of the steps were wrong.

      Sorry, but I can’t remember…what’s the Hyperion? TIA!

      • teraph says:

        Re: Hyperion?

        Sorry, but I can’t remember…what’s the Hyperion? TIA!

        The hotel they used as “home base” for Seasons 2-4.

        • UncleJam says:

          Re: Hyperion?

          The hotel they used as “home base” for Seasons 2-4.

          And, apropos of nothing, the apartment building they use for the exterior shots of the Hyperion is just a couple of blocks down from my building! I always used to get a little kick out of driving past it.

        • Set says:

          Re: Hyperion?

          The hotel they used as “home base” for Seasons 2-4.

          Holy crap, how could I forget that. Excuse me while I beat my head against the wall :)

          • rune says:

            Re: Hyperion?

            Holy crap, how could I forget that. Excuse me while I beat my head against the wall :)

            Maybe it disappeared together with your memory of … whatshisname?

  2. Babbster says:

    Best Episode This Season
    I figured Joss & Crew had to have something different from last season up their sleeves, but this episode turned out better than I could have hoped.

    What’s most interesting to me is that Illyria can be interpreted to have almost no responsibility for Fred’s death. Angel decided to join Wolfram & Hart, Knox chose Fred as the vessel, Gunn facilitated the sarcophagus clearing of customs – all of them are complicit to some degree in Fred’s fate. On the other hand, the demon had no idea it would be resurrected inside a human and was clearly surprised once the resurrection was complete. That certainly helps explain Wesley’s willingness to take the demon in and makes Fred’s death quite a bit more interesting.

    I have a different low point, though. Mine was when Wesley stabbed, but didn’t kill, Gunn. While he knew the Knox was the one truly responsible, still, Gunn’s actions were emblematic of the problems they foresaw when the crew took over W&H, and they specifically warned Gunn early on of the potential price that would be exacted for his enhancements. I expected a harsher lesson, but we’ll probably get at least one or two of those before the season ends. :)

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Best Episode This Season

      I expected a harsher lesson, but we’ll probably get at least one or two of those before the season ends. :)

      He Would Have Traded His Life For Freds At Any Moment. He Lost Her, And I Think That Was The ‘Harsher Lesson’.

    • y42 says:

      Re: Best Episode This Season

      I have a different low point, though. Mine was when Wesley stabbed, but
      didn’t kill, Gunn.

      Well, Gunn got the message (getting stabed is not fun, even if it doesn’t kill
      you), and he can still be usefull…

      Also, killing demons is one thing, but killing people is murder (dark priests
      don’t count).

      • Babbster says:

        Re: Best Episode This Season

        I have a different low point, though. Mine was when Wesley stabbed, but
        didn’t kill, Gunn.

        Well, Gunn got the message (getting stabed is not fun, even if it doesn’t kill
        you), and he can still be usefull…

        Also, killing demons is one thing, but killing people is murder (dark priests
        don’t count).

        I’m probably just reacting to the fact that I’ve got much love for main characters dying, and Fred’s death wasn’t quite as satisfying with her body going on. ;-)

      • vanyel says:

        Re: Best Episode This Season

        Well, Gunn got the message (getting stabed is not fun, even if it doesn’t kill you), and he can still be usefull…

        I think that was my high point: Wes’ line about “I didn’t hit any major organs, so he should live” — that was delivered perfectly. ;-)

  3. colonypod says:

    despair
    After the episode ended, I had to think to myself “when did Angel become an existentialist tv show?” The ideas of coping with despair and the pain of living, the separation of all the characters (that wes and gunn scene was one of the few where the characters were looking at each other), the mixing of hope and non-hope… all way more intense than anything I’d seen on Angel before

  4. UncleJam says:

    Shells

    I’ll reserve judgment on this ep until I see how it all plays out in a few months. At first viewing, however, I was less than impressed. I just felt like there was something missing, though I’m not sure I can put my finger on what it might be.

    It all seemed kind of pointless to me.

    But Amy Acker was h-o-t in that Illyria getup.

    I had to laugh when Wesley took a swing at Illyria with an axe. That’d be two girlfriends he had to behead.

    • teraph says:

      Re: Shells

      I’ll reserve judgment on this ep until I see how it all plays out in a few months. At first viewing, however, I was less than impressed. I just felt like there was something missing, though I’m not sure I can put my finger on what it might be.

      Right there with ya. I think the idea of a great power being brought low by being away to long, and then having an existential crisis about it, is a great idea. (Basically, the feeling of being irrelevant.) But I don’t think we had enough development of the Illyria character to sympathize with, or even believe, that crisis.

      As it stands now, I’d almost rather have had Wesley shoot her when she failed. All the same, it’s interesting that the only creature with whom she ever had a “personal conversation” was Wes. Knox was too busy fawning. The others were too busy trying to kill her. Wes actually talked to her (maybe even as an equal).

      Maybe, if we’d had Wes and Illyria trapped in her world for the rest of the episode, where they would be forced to interact (rather than her choosing to do so back at W&H) it would have been more believable that she would have wanted his help. Especially if that conversation was the first time she’d ever actually learned anything substantial about human beings, and she found that she was interested in them. (Presumably, a great demon, consumed in conflict with other great demons, wouldn’t have taken the time to find out what really made a bunch of worthless mammals tick. With that conflict mostly on hold, what else do you do?)

      Alternately, it could have been revealed that W&H wasn’t just responsible for locking down the gate, but also for the destruction of her army (some people may have inferred that, but I don’t recall it being said). Then she could seek revenge, asking Wes for help in taking out W&H. That gives us two characters with very active goals; right now, they’re sort of floating.

      Finally, at the end of the episode, we have Harmony comforting Gunn, although she doesn’t really have motivation to do so. We have Spike staying because of something bad coming, despite having no reason to think that. And we’ve had two potential Big Bads (Lyndsey and Illyria) that faded out after a few episodes each.

      In short, we haven’t gotten anywhere, except to places that don’t make sense. If we’d seen Harmony all season trying to mimic Angel and Spike’s path to redemption — she is, after all, a follower — then I could see her trying to comfort Gunn. Maybe that could have even been her first compassionate act that was “true” and not just going through the motions.

      If that guy in the Deeper Well had warned Angel and Spike that Illyria’s wakening was just the start of something worse, them Spike’s feeling of dread would make more sense.

      Heck, if Illyria had experienced a couple of Fred-like moments, or even just a affection for Wesley she couldn’t explain (especially if he was the only mammal she couldn’t bring herself to kill) then that dynamic may have been more interesting. (Of course, maybe they were shooting for “Illyria and Wes” have a special relationship, but then missed the target a little.)

      So, yeah, I’ll be waiting just like you.

      • NSA says:

        Re: Shells

        Finally, at the end of the episode, we have Harmony comforting Gunn, although she doesn’t really have motivation to do so… Maybe that could have even been her first compassionate act that was “true” and not just going through the motions.

        …Heck, if Illyria had experienced a couple of Fred-like moments, or even just a affection for Wesley she couldn’t explain (especially if he was the only mammal she couldn’t bring herself to kill) then that dynamic may have been more interesting. (Of course, maybe they were shooting for “Illyria and Wes” have a special relationship, but then missed the target a little.)

        I agree that Harmony’s recent character development has been pretty abrupt, but we already knew that vampires can show affection and sympathy, even for humans. Circumstances have forced Harmony to see Gunn and the others as “friends” instead of “food”, and she’s changed because of it. There’s still a lot of the old Harmony there, wanting to belong and have a surrogate family.

        I think the Fred flashback at the end of the episode was supposed to be Illyria having an extended and vivid “Fred-like moment” – reliving one of her shell’s most emotional moments. I also suspect the fact that she didn’t do more killing and mayhem might be an indication of some residual Fred-ness.

      • nkuzmik says:

        Re: Shells

        Alternately, it could have been revealed that W&H wasn’t just responsible for locking down the gate, but also for the destruction of her army (some people may have inferred that, but I don’t recall it being said). Then she could seek revenge, asking Wes for help in taking out W&H. That gives us two characters with very active goals; right now, they’re sort of floating.

        That is an interesting thought. Combine that with Illyria’s new relationship with Wes and the ever scheming Senior partners and that could lead to some interestingly uncomfortable alliances. Picture this, Illyria’s rise was not orchestrated by the Senior Partners, but perhaps by the Powers that Be. Perhaps they know something is coming. Perhaps they released this particular demon into this particular body for a reason. Maybe they banked on enough of Fred surviving and influnencing a very confused Illyria.

        Okay. I’ll stop talking.

    • y42 says:

      Re: Shells

      I was less than impressed. I just felt like there was something missing,

      Yeah, muppets.

    • Babbster says:

      Re: Shells

      I had to laugh when Wesley took a swing at Illyria with an axe. That’d be two girlfriends he had to behead.

      “Mega dittos.” I just about howled at that myself. :)

  5. Eldhrin says:

    So what now?
    Either: we all go mad and die because of the evil network habit of stopping for ages in the middle of the season (thank $deity that British TV channels don’t do that – this is the trick that let us show the last episodes of the last couple of seasons of Babylon 5 before they were shown in America. Muahahahaha).

    Or: Illyria and Wesley embark on a crusade to destroy the Wolf, Ram and Heart. Angel and co would probably end up having to decide whether to help them (I suspect any war between Illyria and the senior partners would have huge amounts of ‘collatoral damage’) or to help the senior partners in order to stop hundreds of thousands of humans getting killed in the conflict.

    Or: The senior partners try and take out Illyria, Angel and co end up saving her

    Or: Willow turns up and we don’t care about the plot anymore because she’s so cool.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: So what now?

      Or: Willow turns up and we don’t care about the plot anymore because she’s so cool.

      I Could Live with That. I Was Hoping That The ‘Old Friend From Sunnydale’ We Are Expecting Turns Out To Be Tara. (Unlikely As An Angel And Lindsey Sex Scene, But I Can Hope…)

      • Eldhrin says:

        Re: So what now?

        I Could Live with That. I Was Hoping That The ‘Old Friend From Sunnydale’ We Are Expecting Turns Out To Be Tara. (Unlikely As An Angel And Lindsey Sex Scene, But I Can Hope…)

        Well, Angel never knew Tara, so that wouldn’t really work very well. Plus if Willow can’t bring her back from the dead, she’s unlikely to show up in Angel unless the Powers That Be decide to get involved, and even if they do why would they choose her? Tara was never anywhere near as powerful as Amy, let alone Willow, so she wouldn’t really be that much use.

        It’d be very cool if Dawn turned up, although I’m not really sure what she could do. It’d be good to see all those implanted memories working away in Angel and Wesley’s minds though, and she (almost) always got on well with Spike.

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