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On TV Today's Date:

The Girl In Question
original air-date: 05-05-04

This episode will be controversial for several reasons. Faster than an economics professor can say “opportunity cost,” many fans will wonder why such a trivial episode is taking up valuable space at the series' end. Other viewers will bemoan any Buffy-cation while the more moderate might suggest that if the writers can’t resolve the Buffy love triangle arc in a meaningful way, why bring it up at all? And any fans not put off by any of that might shake their heads with “Angel and Spike deserve better than that!”

Fortunately every flaw has its gem. In this case, there are a few bright spots in what is otherwise a weak, disappointing episode.

The basic premise: Angel and Spike head to Rome to retrieve a demon head while investigating what their beloved Buffy is doing with their one-time nemesis The Immortal. Viewers learn of the rivalry through storytelling and a flashback that utterly wastes the talents of Julie Benz and Juliet Landau. Why bother? Though it was at least nice to see them one more time before the end.

The why bother also applies to Andrew, who at least exhibits excellent taste in tee-shirts. But the viewers don’t get much in the way of what made Andrew such a fun character on Buffy. Sure, people change, as he advises our vamp hero duo. But do they have to become duller? And apparently Andrew has changed quite a bit given the gender of his dates. What a disappointment.

Meanwhile an LA based backstory involves a surprise visit by Fred’s parents. Uh oh. Wackiness is ensured when Illyria “modulates” her appearance to mimic Fred. OK, it is actually a little creepy to see “Fred” again suddenly. Ms. Acker deserves kudos not only for portraying two very distinct characters, but also for being able to shift instantly between the two. Advice to Wes: Therapy. Now.

So what are the gems? Well, the Wes-Illyria scenes fare pretty well overall. Seeing the Rome office of Wolfram & Hart is fun (so wanted to see their version of Numero Cinco in the background...). But the real keepers are some of the Angel Spike buddy moments. There is a slow motion fight scene which is brilliant and some fun moments involving a scooter. But would the boys ever really be that incompetent at this point in their lives? Probably not.

So what’s wrong with this episode that supporters will call fun?

It takes up valuable space at the series end.

The Buffy storyline is not needed and not meaningfully addressed.

And most of all, Angel and Spike deserve better.

Chris Crotty


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