Buffy Season Ten #16 is a successful start to what will probably be the climactic storyline of the Season Ten Buffyverse with its character driven storytelling in both art and writing with splashes of action. Gage uses the pre-existing emotional connections between important characters like Buffy, Angel, and Spike to correspond with the raised stakes in their fight against the Big Bad, Archaeus. Archaeus uses Angel and Spike’s pasts to tempt them to become soulless killers once again, and they must also confront their pasts with Buffy and each other in order to become effective allies to the Slayer and Scoobies. Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs effectively use both internal and external conflict along with one of the greatest fictional love triangles to kick off this mini-crossover in a way that will make fans smile and squee.
After Season 4’s controversial serial structure and retcon of the entire show up to that point, Angel Season Five was an excellent return to form for the show, especially with the addition of Spike (James Marsters) after Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s cancellation. This season sees Angel and the gang become even more morally ambiguous as they take over the evil Wolfram and Hart law firm while still attempting to fight the good fight. There are some funny episodes, like Ben Edlund’s puppet episode (“Smile Time”), but beloved characters like Cordelia Chase and Fred Burkle died emotional deaths. Before the finale, Spike, Wesley, Gunn, and Lorne think that Angel has become evil again and joined the Order of the Black Thorn. In “Not Fade Away”, Joss Whedon and Jeffrey Bell do an excellent job wrapping up the story arc of Season Five and the whole series’ story. However, what makes this episode a great season finale is its attention to not just the plot, but the major themes of Angel as well.
There is a preconception in parts of Hollywood and America in general that shows one might call “genre”, shows set in a different time period (other than ‘60s, apparently) or featuring actors in billowy coats or, heaven forbid, prostheses are somehow inherently less than their more traditional peers. They can be fun, sure, but they’re not really art and admissions of watching them should be made only in hushed, somewhat embarrassed tones.
Spending two hours in the world of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing inspires envy in his seemingly palatial abode, as well as delight at his effortless, carefree adaptation of an equally effortless and carefree Shakespearean comedy. There’s mistaken identity, slapstick, swooning romance, and giddy farce, as you would expect from any revival, modern or otherwise.