Issue #20 of Angel & Faith is very plot-heavy, but does contain some pretty memorable action, especially toward the end. Archaeus has cemented himself as the big bad causing all of Angel’s current trouble in Magic Town and has gone full-on, over-the-top villain. He has a master plan he’s willing to explain to the right people, he has all of his pawns in place. He’s not that exciting as a villain and he’s probably not meant to be. He’s a giant monster who happens to have the good sense to know how to properly apply his power to the right things.
Of course, the most prominent of these pawns is longtime Buffyverse villain Drusilla, who has been popping up quite a bit this season. In this issue, she is both simultaneously in and out of character. She still has the same sort of attitude, she still knows how to hit people at their emotional core, how to manipulate, and her dialogue is pretty on point. But it’s weird seeing her act so subservient to a larger evil. She’s almost always been in charge of the situation or an equal partner in an evil plan, even when she was briefly working with Wolfram and Hart. Here, as much as we’ve seen her on her own, she’s still just a lackey and it’s not a great look for her.
I’m hoping that Drusilla will be able to fight against that before all is said and done. Angel fought against Archaeus’s hold over him during his crossover with Buffy and Spike has done the same. It would be interesting to see if she can break the mental hold he has over her, because she’d still be evil after that was done.
The real central character of this issue, without a doubt, was Nadira. She’s been used sparingly so far this season, really just a magical consult that Angel goes to when he needs it. That’s about all we’ve seen. Since being bonded with magic, understanding and communicating with it, she’s been the voice of not only the people in Magic Town but the area itself. Archaeus wants her to use that voice to allow him to slip in and set up camp in Magic Town, somewhere that will give his army the opportunity to grow and thrive.
It looks for a moment like she might agree to help him, which only shows how separate she has been from the main cast. She’s so far apart that we’re not even totally sure who’s side she’s on and even now, the most likely answer is “her own.” Yet instead of aiding the bad guy, she treats us to one of the best action sequences of the title so far, proving that all of that slayer power—that character she was last season who is so different from the character she is now—that strength and that person is still there just below the surface.
The issue also makes it clear that Team Angel—or rather, Team Angel & Faith—as different as it is now from the cast of characters we were treated to on the show, is well and truly back together. Which is good, because they’ll no doubt need strength in numbers going into the final fight and the end of the season.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10