Lives were upended--and some co-opted--in the fifth and final season of Angel
, as the denizens of Angel Investigations found themselves taking on one of their scariest endeavours ever: corporate life. After making a literal deal with the devil (or something distinctly devil-like), Angel (David Boreanaz) moved his team from their crumbling hotel to the high-rise digs of law-firm-from-hell Wolfram & Hart, his reasoning being they could better fight the forces of evil from the inside, and with more resources to boot. Clever maneuvering or easy rationalisation? Not a few members of Angel's team accused him of selling out (as did a number of viewers), but as with most of the show's previous four seasons, Angel
somehow took a dubious premise and mined it for gold. And with one core cast member gone (Charisma Carpenter, whose Cordelia was immersed in a deep coma), it seemed as if the show, from within and without, would suddenly fall apart--that is, until Angel's longtime nemesis Spike (James Marsters) showed up, fresh from his sacrificial roasting at the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. Let the vampire games begin!
off the air, fans flocked to Angel's
last season to get their fix of Joss Whedon's "Buffyverse" in any form they could, and the addition of Spike was a shrewd one, albeit not enough to keep the show from getting cancelled. And for the first half of the season, the creative forces behind the show seemed to be toying ruthlessly with the audience. Spike was around, but not entirely corporeal; Angel himself became sullen and withdrawn; and most horrifically, sweetheart scientist Fred (Amy Acker) and former watcher Wesley (Alexis Denisof) underwent traumas that would test even the most devoted viewer. However, just when you'd be about to throw in the towel, things started changing for the better--Spike became a permanent fixture (both in the flesh and on the show), Angel's secret motives were revealed, and the introduction of demon warrior Illyria, who proved to be the show's answer to Buffy's sardonic demon-made-human Anya, was a welcome breath of fresh air. Creatively, Angel
also came up with some of its best episodes, including "Smile Time" (where Angel is turned into a puppet--really!) and "You're Welcome" (the show's 100th episode, which marked the bittersweet return of Carpenter's Cordelia). The ending of the series was deliberately ambiguous, and not everyone made it through alive, but in going out kicking, it was a proper sendoff for a show that always fought the good fight. --Mark Englehart
All 22 episodes from Season 5 of the popular 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' spin-off. In 'Conviction', Angel (David Boreanaz) is forced to stand in the way of a criminal going to jail after he threatens to release a chemical warfare virus that could detroy the whole of California. 'Just Rewards' sees Angel trying to stop a Necromancer from peddling fresh corpses to demons for disguises. In 'Unleashed', Angel is just too late to save a young woman, Nina (Jenny Mollen), from being bitten by a werewolf, but manages to save her life. In 'Hell Bound', a damned soul, Pavayne (Simon Templeman) is throwing loose spirits from Wolfram and Hart into Hell to avoid going there himself. 'Life of the Party' sees Lorne (Andy Hallett) losing sleep over the big Hallowe'en party he's been planning for the last month. 'The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco' sees the return of Tezcatcatl, an ancient Aztec warrior who takes the heart of a hero every 50 years to sustain his own existence. In 'Lineage', Wesley (Alexis Denisof) is surprised by a visit from his father, Roger Wyndham-Price (Roy Dotrice). In 'Destiny', a mysterious package arrives at Wolfram and Hart that recorporealises Spike, and the gang learn that the existence of two living ensouled vampire heroes is causing chaos in the world. 'Harm's Way' sees Harmony (Mercedes McNab) getting in trouble after she wakes up to find a dead vampire-bite victim in her bed, and no recollection of the events of the night before. In 'Soul Purpose', Angel is having nightmares about Spike taking over as vampire champion. 'Damage' sees Dana (Navi Rawat), a mental patient since the age of 10, escape from her psychiatric ward and begin a psychotic killing spree. In 'You're Welcome', Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) awakens from her coma and helps Angel get back on track, reinstilling his confidence and reminding him that he does want to be a hero. In 'Why We Fight', a mysterious man from Angel's past, Lawson (Eyal Podell) arrives at Wolfram and Hart and takes the gang hostage. 'Smile Time' sees Angel attempting to put a stop to a popular children's show that is hypnotising children and stealing their life forces. In 'A Hole in the World', Fred (Amy Acker) becomes infected with a parastitic demon after opening a package containing an ancient sarcophagus and breathing in its dust. 'Shells' sees the demon Illyria fighting on undaunted, having taken over Fred's body and soul completely. In 'Underneath', Angel, Spike and Gunn (J. August Richards) track Lindsay (Christian Kane) down in a bizarre suburban setting, trying to elicit information about the ultimate plans of the Senior Partners. 'Origin' sees Angel refusing to help the parents of a boy possessed with supernatural abilities after realising that the boy is his own son, Connor (Vincent Kartheiser). In 'Time Bomb', Illyria's powers are weakening and her ability to jump through time is becoming erratic. In 'The Girl in Question', Angel and Spike travel to Rome with the intention of rescuing Buffy from their old nemesis The Immortal. 'Power Play' sees Angel appearing to develop an allegiance with an evil secret demon society, The Circle of the Black Thorn. Finally, in 'Not Fade Away', Angel and the gang prepare to bring down the evil Circle of the Black Thorn.