Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a ground-breaking television series that redefined the genre of supernatural drama. The show's success can be largely att...
For five seasons, the supernatural television series Angel kept fans on the edge of their seats with its unique blend of action, humour, and drama. The show, which was a spin-off of the popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, followed the adventures of the vampire with a soul, Angel, as he battled evil forces in Los Angeles. However, the show's controversial ending left fans with more questions than answers. So what actually happened in the ending of Angel? We're exploring what happens after the season 5 finale "Not Fade Away," and try to shed some light on the mysteries that surrounded the show's conclusion.
The series finale of Angel is "Not Fade Away" and it aired on 19th May 2004. The episode marked the end of the five-season run of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off show.
In the episode, Angel (played by David Boreanaz) and his team of friends and allies prepare for a final battle against the forces of evil. They know that this battle will likely result in their deaths, but they are determined to fight to the end. As they prepare for the battle, Angel and his team are joined by several allies including Spike (James Marsters) and Illyria (Amy Acker).
The final battle is intense and brutal, and many characters meet their demise. In the end, Angel and his remaining allies are victorious, but the cost is high. The final shot of the series shows Angel, battered and bloodied, standing alone on a city street as the sun rises behind him.
The ending of Angel has been the subject of much discussion and debate among fans over the years. Some viewers were disappointed that the series ended on a cliff-hanger. Others felt that the ending was fitting for the show's themes of sacrifice and redemption. The ending leaves it up to the viewer's interpretation and imagination, allowing each person to decide for themselves what happens to Angel and his team after the final battle.
Why Is The End Of Angel A Cliff-hanger?
Joss Whedon reflects on this episode, stating that it is not meant to be a grand finale like the conclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He emphasizes that the essence of Angel is the ongoing fight for redemption, and he wanted the character to go out fighting. Whedon challenges the notion that it is a cliff-hanger, asserting that it serves as the final statement for the series.
Producer David Fury echoes Whedon's sentiment, believing that it is the perfect way to conclude the show. He emphasizes in interviews that the central theme of Angel, the fight against evil never truly ends. Fury dismisses the idea of a neat resolution where the demons are defeated and everyone enjoys a carefree existence. He underscores that part of Angel's journey is the realisation that he will outlive those he cares about and that death is a constant companion.
David Boreanaz has said in interviews that he is "comfortable with the way they're ending it. It's very open-ended [and he] goes out fighting."
What Did Critics Think Of Not Fade Away?
Upon its initial airing, the episode received a mixed response from both critics and fans. It was included on Zap2it's list of worst series finales due to the lack of a definitive conclusion to the ongoing fight. E! News quoted a fan expressing disappointment over the absence of a second part, referring to it as the "best first half of a season finale ever."
Another critique came from essayist Roz Kaveney, who argued that the episode exemplified "'Superhero Exceptionalism," suggesting that superheroes are exempt from normal considerations and entitled to disregard consequences. Kaveney felt that the characters' attempt at redemption through a single heroic act of defiance contradicted Angel's message that redemption is earned gradually, one day at a time.
Filming The Angel Finale "Not Fade Away"
Due to scheduling conflicts, Christian Kane was unable to be present for the final episode, resulting in Lindsey's scenes being filmed earlier. Kane expresses some dissatisfaction with his character's ending but attributes it to the suddenness of the series' cancellation, as the cast had just become comfortable in their roles.
Notably, David Boreanaz and Christian Kane are the only actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of Angel, as well as the show's 100th episode, showcasing their enduring presence throughout the series.
Alexis Denisof, whose character also meets his demise in the episode, views it as a fitting end. He has described it in interviews as "the perfect human death for a human life". Whedon confirms that Wesley's death would not have occurred if the series had continued, but he considers it one of his favourite moments to film, appreciating its impact.
Why Does Buffy Not Appear In The Angel Finale?
Addressing rumours, Whedon clarifies that Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy does not appear in the finale. He explains that he wanted the focus to remain on the core characters who have endured the challenges together throughout the series. Writer Jeffrey Bell further explains that while Gellar was intended to appear in the penultimate episode, scheduling conflicts prevented it. It was deemed unnecessary to force her into the final episode to revisit storylines that had already been addressed.
The episode serves as a powerful statement on the ongoing fight for redemption and the impermanence of victory. The reactions from cast and crew highlight the bittersweet nature of the finale, capturing both the shock of the series' end and the satisfaction in the emotional impact it delivers. The decision to exclude Buffy as a guest star emphasizes the focus on the core characters and their shared experiences.
What Happens In Angel's Final Episode "Not Fade Away"?
In "Not Fade Away", Angel convinces his team that they must take out every member of the Circle of the Black Thorn in a defiant and probably futile stand against the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart. He tells his team to make the most of what may be their last day on Earth: Gunn visits his old neighbourhood; Wesley tends to the wounded Illyria; Lorne spends some time onstage; Spike performs poetry at an open mic, and Angel visits his son. When night falls, the team divides and sets out to eliminate the members of the Black Thorn, incurring the wrath of the armies of hell.
Angel gathers his team to outline his plan to eliminate the Circle of the Black Thorn. At an emergency meeting, Marcus Hamilton calls Angel to address concerns about his loyalty. To prove himself, Angel renounces his involvement in the Shanshu Prophecy, forfeiting his chance at becoming human. Later, he enlists the help of his former adversary Lindsey McDonald and informs the rest of the group that the operation will take place that night. Lorne expresses reservations about the plan, his demeanor filled with darkness and solemnity.
Angel advises his friends to live the day as if it were their last, acknowledging the high likelihood that they won't survive the impending night. He visits his son Connor, who now remembers his true identity and appreciates the memories Angel provided. Lindsey spends the day with Eve, while Gunn assists Anne at the homeless shelter. Spike seeks solace in a seedy bar, drowning his sorrows in alcohol and reciting poetry on stage. Wesley tends to Illyria's wounds, reflecting on his love for Fred and the necessity of confronting her death to move forward.
The team splits up to individually confront members of the Circle, with plans to regroup if they survive their missions. Lorne informs Angel that this will be his final act for him before leaving for good. Gunn, Spike, and Illyria successfully eliminate their targets, while Lindsey and Lorne eliminate the Sahvrin clan. Following Angel's orders, Lorne kills Lindsey and departs, deeply affected by his actions. Wesley sacrifices himself while incapacitating Cyrus Vail, and a devastated Illyria offers him solace in the form of Fred before ultimately killing Vail.
As Wesley faces his final moments, he shares a poignant scene with Illyria, reminiscent of a conversation between Buffy and Giles in the Buffy episode "Lie to Me" following the death of a mutual friend. Seeking solace, Wesley asks Illyria to lie to him, and she assumes the form of Fred, expressing her love for him and assuring him that they will reunite in the future. Wesley's passing mirrors the heartbreaking loss of Fred in the episode "A Hole in the World," where he held her in his arms.
Harmony's warning prompts Hamilton to confront Angel, aiming to thwart his plan to kill the Circle's leader. However, Angel had anticipated Harmony's betrayal and already poisoned Archduke Sebassis. In their ensuing battle, Angel initially struggles against Hamilton's power until Connor arrives to assist. Hamilton proudly boasts of his Senior Partner-infused strength, prompting Angel to assume his vampiric form and drink Hamilton's blood, gaining the strength to defeat him. Anticipating retaliation from the Senior Partners, Angel instructs Connor to leave and rendezvous with the surviving allies.
An army of supernatural creatures descends upon Angel, Spike, Illyria, and the injured Gunn. As the episode and series draw to a close, the four prepare for the impending battle, with Angel defiantly declaring, "Let's go to work."
Interestingly, the dragon that Angel seeks to vanquish in the finale is revealed to be an unexpected ally in the subsequent comic series "After the Fall." Angel explains that the dragon had been deceived by Wolfram & Hart, and Angel recognized this deception early on during their encounter.
Angel's Ending Explained
Much like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel's story continues in comic book form. Season 6 of Angel reveals more information about what happened after the final TV series battle.
"After the Fall", also known as Angel Season 6, is a comic book series published by IDW Publishing that serves as the canonical continuation of the fifth and final season of the Angel television series. The comic series was originally released from November 2007 to February 2009.
In this storyline, following Team Angel's battle against Wolfram & Hart, Los Angeles has been plunged into hell. Human survivors are scattered in makeshift camps throughout the city, and Angel takes up arms to protect them from constant threats. Different Demon Lords, including Burge, the ruler of Downtown L.A., preside over separate areas of the city.
Angel, having tamed the famous dragon from Not Fade Away, rescues citizens from the chaos and directs them to seek refuge with Connor, Gwen Raiden, and ex-girlfriend/werewolf Nina Ash. Meanwhile, the deceased Wesley has become a disembodied representative of Wolfram & Hart as he is contractually bound to them even after death, and Gunn has been turned into a vampire and is luring his victims under the pretence of helping. He blames Angel for being sired. Spike, who has become the lord of the Beverly Hills borough, is living in a large house surrounded by human and demon women. Angel and Spike briefly fight, at which time Illyria appears.
There are a total of 44 issues and 5 extras in the IDW publishing series carrying on from Angel Season 5.
The controversial ending of Angel remains a subject of debate among fans. Some argue that the openness of the original finale allowed for personal interpretation and reflection, while others appreciate the expansion of the story provided by the comics. Angel has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on its audience, showcasing themes of redemption, sacrifice, and the ongoing battle against evil. The controversy surrounding the ending only serves to highlight the series' enduring legacy and the passionate devotion of its fanbase.
In the end, whether you choose to explore the events that unfold in "After the Fall" or prefer to leave the story's conclusion open to interpretation, Angel's controversial ending continues to spark conversations and engage fans, ensuring that the series remains a significant part of television history.
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