Over the past few weeks, Nick C was kind enough to lend me Angel Season 5. I have now completed watching this.
In short: *shrug*
There were some very very excellent individual episodes. There were some awesome moments in the show that blew my mind, where I felt like the writers really got the point. There was some very powerful drama, keying into both a lot of in-show history, and a lot of deep philosophical questions.
The trouble was, I felt a lot of the episodes were handled awkwardly, or hinted at questions and then ignored them. The whole season was rife with deus ex machina, not one episode felt like it had a natural progression of events and resolution.
So, Angel season 1 and 2 were written by Sophocles. There’s the profound interest in the human dimension of the dizzying mythology. Sure, we have the touch of the divine, but ultimately events unfold with almost full Aristotelian causality.
Season 3 & 4 were journeyman works, poor imitations of the real thing. More like supernatural melodramas than a real exploration of either the fantastical or the personal.
Season 5 was written by Euripides. Ever elusive: robust enough to withstand layered analysis and fully resistant to either structural or post-structural analysis but ultimately forever enigmatically hinting at more meaning.
I felt in Season 5, for the first time in the show’s history, that the characters were consistent and yet evolving people. Angel in particular was less wildly variable than in some earlier shows. From the first few episodes, their natures and stories compelled. I must concede that reformed Spike was the catalyst for a huge amount of good, especially with respect to Angel. I was skeptical, but his return made the show. He provided a much-needed counterbalance to Angel, a second, equally compelling, view on the rules of the universe.
Your mileage may vary, but I am interested in how other people unravelled that knot.