Angel, “Life of the Party”

Lorne Hulks Out (originally posted – 11/5/03)

By Anthony Karcz
September 16, 2004

OK — those of you who think the Angel production team needs to find a new CGI whipping boy, raise their hands. Anyone? Am I the only who thought “subconscious” Lorne looked a wee bit like another purple-pantsed, green-skinned beastie? Just me?

This week it’s character development episode the second as Lorne gets his time under the disco ball. It’s an episode that’s coming at just the right time, too. Besides being “upper-management’s” divining rod, it seems that Lorne has been having himself a grand time — chatting up starlets, securing contracts, providing witty repartee. We all know that W&H has to be having some sort of adverse affect on him; but the subversiveness of it is actually quite surprising.

While his less-than-cheery demeanor and, oh yeah, man in the mirror bit at the beginning of the ep and should have tipped me off that there was more here than simple insanity, I was still taken aback that it wasn’t W&H that did this to Lorne…not intentionally at least. As with Gunn, they simply provided the means to an end. It was Lorne himself that made the decision, simply to stay in the game and provide some kind of usefulness to a team that his little to no use for a PR rep.

Speaking of PR, the whole “Demonic Royalty” bit was sadly done. As much importance as was lauded upon them, I expected the entire party to bow down as soon as they entered the room. However, they’re practically ignored by everyone there (until they go and get themselves torn apart, of course). All they serve as is a plot device to put Angle into an uncomfortable situation. I suppose that they did their part, as they were crucial to Id Lorne’s unveiling and Angel & Eve’s *ahem* coupling; but I would’ve appreciated someone with a little more substance and little less cliché trappings.

Despite this, the party is wonderfully done. All of our favorite goofy personas are there: Happy Spike, Drunk Fred & Wes, Horny Angel (“You guys go look, we’re going to stay here and have more sex”), and, um, Peeing Gunn? The transitions from their regular and “under the influence” characters is seamless, keeping us guessing as to what exactly is going on. In the hands of a clunkier or less experienced team, the twist could have easily been telegraphed from minute one of the episode: Lorne: to Fred and Wes You two should lay off the work and help me because I am stressed and want to make the party lots of fun. It is an important party.

Wes: looks at Fred You know, we should really lay off the work and help our friend Lorne.

Fred: Yes! He is stressed and only wants to make the party lots of fun.

Together: It is an important party!

They link arms and skip off together.

But it’s done subtly enough that it’s only after finding out that Lorne’s mojo was on Send instead of Receive that I realized he’d been subconsciously manipulating everyone from the beginning of the episode. After all, since when has anyone been able to convince the Angle Inc. team that a part is more important that saving the world…or convince Angel that he needs to schmooze in order to make it the bestest party ever? However, even once it becomes obvious as to what’s going on, the scenes are still, mostly, fantastic. Gunn’s peeing problem is hysterical, Angel and Eve’s chemistry is perfect (as is their “morning after” contrasting of old world and modern mores), however I could have done without Wes and Fred’s clumsy “We could be best buds and tell each other everything!” scene in the psyche meat locker. It’s hard for me to believe that two (scarily) intelligent people, despite alcoholic (or psychic) influence, would revert to such high school pabulum. After all, how many different ways can they spin it so that Wes doesn’t end up with the girl? His “Here’s Johnny” showing at Halloween two years ago should have been the final nail in that coffin, after all.

While there were some missteps (which are really more opinion than anything else — I’ve talked to several people who really like the Demon and his Posse…especially the Walking Decanter), it was a really enjoyable episode; substantially lightening the mood after last week’s fright fest. I was a bit disappointed that it was nowhere near the level of depravity that we’ve come to expect from Angel’s Halloween eps (as mentioned before, Season 3’s “Billy” is the raining champ for truly creepy Halloween episodes); but I’ll get over it. Especially when we’re treated with such excellent character development and a chance our favorite demon hunters-cum-lawyers to let their hair down. A solid ep. Let’s hope that this week’s episode provides a little more meat, though. What? It’s focus is on the mail boy who wears a Mexican wrestler mask? Mio dio.