Angel Machete Order: 5 Seasons Breakdown – What Episodes You Can Skip
June 30, 2016 \ TV \ 0 Comments
This machete order of Angel is purely intended for people who want to see what Angel has to offer, but who don’t want to dedicate a five full seasons of their time.
Awhile back I convinced my friend to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While we were watching, he made some comments that made me realize I could have catered the show to him better. Early on he told me he had a lot of trouble watching Season Two (we skipped Season One) because of all the whiny teenager stuff. I realized that, while grew up with Buffy, to an adult it’s difficult to relate to the problems of a teenager. I also noticed how he complained about filler episodes that either weren’t fun, or didn’t advance the main plots of the season. As I tried to justify those episodes to him it became clear it might have been better to skip them entirely. The more we watched, the more I learned what he liked and disliked and eventually I could say, “OK we’re going to skip this next episode — we don’t need it.”
Once the show was done he told how much he missed it. I told him that we could watch Angel, but admitted the show was a little uneven and he balked at the idea of watching a full five seasons. So I told him I would streamline the show for him by removing episodes that were either sub-par, or didn’t advance the themes and plots of the season. He agreed.
I’ve seen people ask for this kind of thing before, so if you’re someone with a friend or a spouse who wants to get into Angel, but like my friend, doesn’t want to invest five full seasons, this machete order of Angel is for you. Also, if you’re a first time viewer watching the show without a fan to help you along, I’ve separated the article into two parts: The first part is spoiler-free and just shows you the episodes you need to watch, the second part is spoiler-heavy and for fans to explain why I cut what I cut.
Episodes skipped: Episode 1 – City of, Episode 3 – In The Dark, Episode 4 – I Fall to Pieces, Episode 5 – Rm w/a Vu, Episode 6 – Sense & Sensitivity, Episode 7 – The Bachelor Party, Episode 9 – Hero, Episode 10 – Parting Gifts, Episode 11 – Somnambulist, Episode 12 – Expecting, Episode 13 – She, Episode 14 – I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Episode 15 – The Prodigal, Episode 16 – The Ring
Episodes skipped: Episode 1 – Judgment, Episode 3 – First Impressions, Episode 4 – Untouched, Episode 5 – Dear Boy, Episode 7 – Darla, Episode 8 – The Shroud of Rahmon, Episode 9 – The Trial, Episode 13 – Happy Anniversary, Episode 14 – The Thin Dead Line, Episode 17 – Disharmony, Episode 18 – Dead End, Episode 19 – Belonging, Episode 20 – Over the Rainbow, Episode 21 – Through the Looking Glass, Season 2, Episode 22 – There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb
Episodes skipped: Episode 2 – That Vision-Thing, Episode 7 – Offspring, Episode 11 – Birthday, Episode 12 – Provider, Episode 14 – Couplet, Episode 17 – Forgiving, Episode 18 – Double or Nothing
Episodes skipped: Episode 3 – The House Always Wins, Episode 4 – Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Episode 6 – Spin the Bottle, Episode 9 – Long Day’s Journey, Episode 10 – Awakening, Episode 11 – Soulless, Episode 12 – Calvary, Episode 15 – Orpheus, Episode 16 – Players, Episode 17 – Inside Out, Episode 18 – Shiny Happy People, Episode 19 – The Magic Bullet, Episode 20 – Sacrifice, Episode 21 – Peace Out
Note: You only need to watch the beginning of Episode 10. The first 11 minutes or so.
Episodes skipped: Episode 2 – Just Rewards, Episode 4 – Hell Bound, Episode 6 – The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco, Episode 7 – Lineage, Episode 8 – Destiny, Episode 13 – Why We Fight, Episode 20 – The Girl in Question
A lot of people would probably disagree with skipping the first episode because it skips over Cordelia, Doyle and Angel coming together and their purpose. One thing about Angel is that the show repeats itself a lot. In episode two, we are told about Doyle’s visions, that he gets them from the Powers That Be, and that Cordelia, Doyle and Angel are all working together to help the helpless. As long as you can get an idea of the beginnings I don’t think it matters that you don’t see it.
This other show I watch, The Good Wife, is constantly thrusting the viewer into scenes without explaining how they got there; it simply expects you to be able to catch up. It trusts the viewer. And I trust you too.
I also skip a lot of Season One because Doyle isn’t that important to the show. I find the episodes with him are weaker. Not necessarily because of him, but because he happens to be around while the show is finding its footing. The show gets a bit better when Wesley arrives. I skip ahead to episode seventeen because this episode does a good job of showcasing the new group working together and starts to ease us into the other characters like Gunn, Lindsey, and Lilah.
Season Two is really all about how Darla’s presence spirals Angel into apathy, hate, and darkness. So the episodes I chose were mostly to follow that arc. Like the episode where Angel traps the Wolfram & Heart employees in a room with Darla and Drusilla. This scene helps illustrate his fall.
I did, however, put episode two in there to show how they got the hotel and also because it’s just a good story. And because when the demon that feeds off paranoia sees Wesley it comments about how insecure Wesley seems. After they beat the demon, Wesley asks Angel nervously, “You don’t think I’m really paranoid, do you?” Then when Angel reassures him, Wesley replies, “Good … I was worried.”
This season frames the tone for the series. Like in the episode where Angel takes the elevator to hell and it leads to Earth. Because Angel is so gloomy and dour himself, the series presents this constant struggle between giving up hope and fighting for it.
You’ll probably also notice I skip over Plyea. While I can appreciate that it’s because the group is in another world/dimension, there’s a weird, goofy tone to the episodes that just doesn’t work. I think the Groosalugg is a part of that weird, goofy awkwardness which is why when he returns later he doesn’t stay long and I remove as much of him as possible. And don’t worry; Fred is just as crazy at the start of the next season so skipping Pylea doesn’t ruin her arc.
As you can see from the number of episodes, Season Three is one of the better ones. There are a lot of important threads in the season, like Fred’s character arc and the relationship subplots she creates with Wesley and Gunn, the appearance of Holtz, and of course, Angel’s son Connor from birth, to baby, to young adult.
While we don’t get to actually see Fred crazy and frightened in a cave, she begins Season Three nearly as crazy and frightened and is still locked in her room drawing stuff on the walls and too afraid to talk to people. I made sure to include episodes that showed her fairly quick progression from frazzled maiden to competent team member, like the initial episodes that show her crush on Angel, the episode with her parents, and the all important Billy episode that flips the dynamic and has her supporting Wesley and not the other way around.
I’ve also included all the important Holtz stuff, including his recruitment of Justine and his backstory. As well as, of course, the Father Will Kill the Son storyline and the betrayal of Wesley. This season has one of my favourite scenes when Angel tries to smother Wesley for taking his son. I’ll never forget Angel’s bellowing threats that echo over a silent end credits. YOU’RE A DEAD MAN, PRICE! DEAD! DEAD!
You’ll notice I skipped a lot of Groosalugg stuff. His arrival will be a little confusing since I skipped Pylea, but in classic Angel fashion they explain where he came from in previously on segments. This includes skipping most of the episode where Connor first returns from Quor-Toth and just showing the end where he shows up. You might think that’s some extreme editing, but if you’re boiling down to essentials that’s all you need from there.
I also don’t skip any of the Connor stuff. It’s not every show that can bring a new character in (especially under the circumstances where a baby has returned as a young man) and have it work. And I think it’s entirely to how they’ve structured the Angel character to deal with his son. He’s just as devoted a Father as he was when Connor was a baby and he’s simply refocusing that devotion. The moments where the two of them are forming a relationship with each other are some of the most special in the series.
For the end of the Season I was going to cut out some of the final episode because the unpacking of Angel and Cordelia’s feelings for each other is terrible, but just this once I’m going to force it on you because it helps illustrate where characters are at the end of this season, which gives you a better idea of how they begin next season. I’m sorry.
Season Four is easily the worst one. When I was initially creating this list for my friend I considered removing it altogether, but he’s a guy and guys need to see the scene when The Beast first arrives and Wesley goes after him with a shotgun (he loved the scene, by the way). So I kind of structured a season around that.
I make sure to show the first episode so you can see how Angel gets out of the cage in the sea, I throw in some Gwen (because you’re welcome), and the episode where Fred confronts the man that sent her to Pylea to show more of her arc. I also skip the episode where Coredlia comes back, but when you see her running around with her friends you’ll figure it out.
And then THE BEAST. For everything else they got wrong that season you gotta give them this fight scene. Because shotgun.
Then I skip to some stuff with Faith and Angelus because we all think Faith is cool. And then jump right over all of the Jasmine stuff. Yup. All of it.
You won’t really understand why Connor was so upset that Angel had his memories removed in Season Five, but I keep his whining and Cordelia fawning to a minimum so again, you’re welcome. (you also get a few brief catch-ups on previously ons)
Then I throw in the final episode so you can see the part where they get offered Wolfram & Hart to help segue into the next season which is a contender for the best season they made.
Angel Season Five aired after Buffy Season Seven ended. So in a sense, Angel was the last Buffy-related TV that we could consume. And in the moment when we all were watching more intently it became the best of of both shows. That’s why I shared so many episodes, even non-essential ones. Strictly speaking I don’t think you need Episode 5 – Halloween, but it’s fun and it’s also one of the few times we focus on Lorne.
So the only episodes I skip in this season are ones that don’t really work. Like the dream portion of episode 10, Soul Purpose (all dream sequences in TV shows are bad), and episode 20, The Girl in Question (because Spike and Angel chasing a Buffy we never see around Italy is nonsense).
This season is all about the arc of the Angel Investigations gang getting used to operating inside of Wolfram & Hart. The entire season is an exercise in their struggle to retain their morality.
Season Five is probably as character-centric as the show has ever been. There are episodes that focus on smaller characters like Lorne and Harmony, and we get to spend a lot of time with each of the characters in how they deal with adjusting to working inside Wolfram & Hart, especially after things deteriorate.
This is the season where Fred dies and Illyria takes her place, so I make sure I include Illyria’s arc as she adjusts to the world around her, which includes how Wesley reacts (and overreacts) to Fred’s death and Gunn’s desire to atone for his part in it.
I also include the Smile Time episode because FUN.
There’s something visceral about this season thanks to the death of Fred. Experiencing actual consequences or having deaths of the main characters be a real possiblity just makes for better writing. Some of my favourite lines and moments are in this season. Like when Fred is sick and they are trying to extract information from Eve, Lorne threatens her: “You’re going to sing for me and I’m going to read you right now. And here’s one more thing: Winifred Burkle once told me after a sinful amount of Chinese food and in lieu of absolutely nothing, ‘I think a lot of people would choose to be green. Your shade if they had the choice.'”
What a beautiful way to put into context why Fred mattered to Lorne.
Then of course there’s my favourite line when Connor slyly smiles letting us (and Angel) know that he has his old memories back.
The ways the characters decide to spend their final days is extremely well done. Like Spike’s absolutely perfect moment of reading his poetry from when he was alive at a poetry slam night. If you’re a Buffy fan who loved Spike but never watched Angel you’re missing out the true, exquisite ending for his character.
Or how the scene with Gunn and Anne with the boxes for the shelter.
Gunn: What if I told you it doesn’t help? What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it’s all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive and they will never let it get better down here? What would you do?
Anne: I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here. Wanna give me a hand?
The world is messed up but we gotta try, right?
That’s what Angel was all about.