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On TV Today's Date:

Soul Purpose
original air-date: 01-21-04

For many fans there is something inherently enjoyable about the "what if" episode. For that reason David Boreanaz had an edge for his directorial debut. Fortunately, he didn't blow that lead and delivered a rich, satisfying episode.

That end result is a pleasant surprise, given a rather shaky opening. There is a clichéd dream sequence and some poor back shots of Mr. and Mrs. Bickerson, a.k.a. Gunn and Wes, as they debate strategy in front of the boss. Even Spike's character seems a little off in his initial scenes with tattooed bad boy Lindsey.

But by the time a sarcastic champion Spike is telling girls not to wear heels in alleys, DB hits his stride. First Wes shows up in a creepy well done transition from reality to Angel's hallucinations. Then other members of the Fang Gang subsequently appear in an entertaining variety of surreal visions. For example, Fred offers up a comical vivisection that includes a cool scene transition as the camera dives into Angel's body. Later on, Lorne and Harmony (looking scrumptious) turn up as a Western flavored lounge act. Only one scene that substitutes Buffy sound bites for the real thing fails to work.

Overall it's a lot of fun for fans. But for Angel, it's the worst kind of nightmare, i.e., the kind where you think you wake up only to find you're still dreaming.

The architects of this scheme are Lindsey and Eve, who fans last saw in Lindsey's Senior Partner-proofed apartment. While Lindsey sets out to convince Spike to play hero, Eve tries to distract Angel's posse with a rune laden piece of masonry. She also has some nasty slug-like "pets" possibly left over from the Starship Troopers set.

The resolution of this plot raises an interesting question: Did Lindsey set Eve up? Or was the "failure" and subsequent accusation of Eve all really part of the plan? In any case it seemed unbelievable that the Fang Gang would have let her go so easily despite the claimed connection to the Senior Partners.

Despite popular opinion, Sara Thompson has done an acceptable job this season with the very complex character of Eve.

If nothing else, she continues to keep fans guessing. Hopefully all those audience members who dislike Eve or Ms. Thompson in general will at least delight here in her deft manipulation of Wes and Fred.

Christian Kane, however, is a bit of a disappointment. It's certainly nice to have him back. But this Lindsey seems to be missing some of the underlying passion and drive that made the Lindsey of the early seasons such a treat. His heart doesn't seem quite in it. Perhaps maybe Mr. Kane is showing us a more cautious Lindsey who's doesn't want to lose to Angel yet again.

The regular cast does an excellent job with the dream sequences. Kudos to David Boreanaz for not using the director's chair to seize the spotlight. Instead he lets other shine while no doubt having a bit of fun.

Well done, David.

Chris Crotty


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