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On TV Today's Date:

The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco
original air-date: 11-05-03

In the best episode of the new season so far, Angel takes on an Aztec warrior demon while wrestling (pardon the pun; when you see the ep, you'll know) with his own doubts regarding the Shanshu prophecy (or is it Shansu? Given the many pronunciations over the seasons, how can anyone be sure? Maybe Spike is right and it's "shan shoes").

Many kudos to Jeffrey Bell, the seasoned Angel and X-Files writer/director who helms this installment. Mr. Bell delivers the goods with an episode that features a standalone story that also ties into the ongoing story arc. That's no easy feat, and Mr. Bell pulls it off with style, humor, and some of the best fights in a while (perhaps because there is the clear possibility that Angel may not win). To do so, he uses a tried-and-true formula for Angel: Many shorter scenes featuring the characters in different combinations.

More importantly, Mr. Bell takes what might otherwise be a background character and builds a great story around him. The person in question is none other than the masked Wolfram & Hart mail cart pusher we've seen several times in the background. Number Five, or more aptly Numero Cinco, is actually the last surviving member of Los Hermanos Numeros, five Mexican wrestlers who were also evil-fighting superheroes in their spare time.

The flashbacks showing Numero Cinco and his brothers are larger-than-life campy perfection. David Boreanaz also contributes with a well expressed mix of skepticism, bemusement, and the doubt Angel is feeling.

On a side note, Los Hermano Numeros may remind a few (actually very few, i.e., those that like obscure/cult sci-fi and/or over 30, grew up in the metropolitan NYC area, and watched "Creature Feature" regularly) viewers of some really campy late 60's Spanish/Mexican films involving "Superargo," a masked wrestler turned superhero. There were two Superargo movies: Superargo vs. Diabolicus, and Superargo vs. The Faceless Giants (which were actually robots). Hmm...Given the reference to "El Diablo Robotico" as a past enemy to Los Hermanos Numeros in this episode, one might wonder if Superargo did in some way inspire Mr. Bell's creativity.

Another interesting observation is that this excellent episode could have occurred without the Wolfram & Hart storyline or Spike. Of course that raises the ongoing and contentious question of whether either are really needed. It doesn't help that when Spike first shows up, he's really just an annoyance and distraction to what is clearly going to be an interesting story. Spike is very amusing, but there is only so far the Angel prodding can go before it become tiresome.

Fortunately his role shifts in the episode and he attempts to contribute as part of the team. In fact, this episode shows the Fang Gang (sans Lorne) working effectively as a team for the first time in a while.

And for fans still upset about the so-called Connor mindwipe (or more specifically, any info on it's extent, ramifications, and effects on the main characters), Mr. Bell deftly settles the issue in large measure with a single line from Wes.

More importantly, Mr. Bell has, with one outstanding episode, settled the issue that Angel is still a great show despite the upheaval at the end of the last season.

Chris Crotty


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