beginning | blinding torment | boils | lies | making me bitter | evil compounds evil | blah blah bity blah
Angel 5.14: Smile Time
I’m going to reach here and assume this episode is a personal “thank you bunches” to me for hanging in there this season, because my love of muppets is matched only by my love for chocolate, potatoes, mochas, my boy, vacation days, laying for long periods of time in a hammock with a good book, telecommuting, Super Troopers, good hair days, cheeseburgers and SP’s fear of Muppets. Conversely, my love for Angel is matched by my love for man-eating cockroaches, work, cramps, my hour long commute to work, phone conferences, jaeger shots so large they could down a small elephant, hangnails, tests, balancing my checkbook, paying bills and spring cleaning. So not so much. However, mix the two together and what do you get? A fabulous installment of Muppets Gone Wild with Muppets like you’ve never seen them before: wackyily murderous and victims in a mass-muppet slaughter when their fundraiser to build a new Hades goes to hell!
Let’s just take a moment to bow our heads in thanks for the very special guest appearance of our new favorite murderous-champion-puppet, Angel! (My condolences to Miss Piggy. Sorry, hon. You knew the ride couldn’t last forever.) That’s right! Our favorite wacky vampire spends the better part of the episode as a Muppet, and god bless whoever came up with that idea. Seriously. Just...bless you.
So Angel’s a muppet and it’s not really important how he got that way (Fred took note of 11-7 kids that showed up comatose in area hospitals. Knox took note that they look like the Joker from the comic books. Angel took note that they were all downed in front of the tv between 7 and 7:30am. Lorne took note that that’s when Smile Time, a popular kiddie show involving murderous puppets, is on. Angel went to harass the employees of Smile Time. Angel disobeyed a door that said “Don’t” and did. An egg containing the power it somehow gets from the souls of innocent chidren exploded. Angel woke up a puppet. Served him right too. The door clearly said DON’T. Dumbass.), it’s just important that he is that way. I find myself yearning for Angel to be a puppet forever. I think it’d be really great to have a Muppet Angel moping his way through the hallways, singing a plaintive song to the view out his necro-tempered windows about how it’s not easy being a vampire made out of felt whose nose comes off, but he’s a vampire made out of felt whose nose comes off, and it’s fine, and there’s no other way he’d rather be. Just thinking about it makes me all tingly.
Angel does not enjoy being a puppet as much as I enjoy him being a puppet. It’s just so sad when you can’t see the joy in something, isn’t it? But a cranky Napoleon-complex-having Muppet Angel is still better than a cranky, morose, semi-human Angel, so I’ll take what I can get. And what I get is Muppet Angel swiveling himself around in his office chair for a dramatic reveal to the Fang Gang (ahahahahaha!), Muppet Angel running to the TV when it’s Smile Time with his jaw hanging open, reminding me more than a little of that enthusiastic game show host, Guy Smiley (bwhahahaha!), Muppet Angel firing Fred for calling him cute (best. Thing. Ever.), and Muppet Angel attacking Spike and totally kicking his ass for calling him a wee little puppet man (priceless). Good times.
The wee little puppet man sends his lackeys to research his issue. Fred and Wesley band together to make the out-of-the-blue jilted Knox feel like an outsider by sending him home and then giggling over Smile Time while sharing coffee as they research the evil tv show, Gunn goes to his brain doctor to whine that he’s getting stupid again and Lorne does—you know, I’m not really sure what Lorne does. Oh, wait, Lorne and Gunn go try to rough up the creator of Smile Time, to no avail. Partly due to the fact that he’s little more than a man with a puppet’s hand up his intestines who plays hardball and partly because they’re the worst goons ever. Then Gunn goes to complain to his doctor and the doctor puts him down a bit and rubs his past in and here’s where we have to stop a minute and slap ME on the hand. They come up with that peppy little song about self-confidence and then tear Gunn’s self-confidence down for who he is/was in the same episode? There was nothing wrong with Gunn, and it really bothers me that he got all “where do I fit if I don’t have my fake brains and Operatic knowledge?” It’s just not Gunn. It’s not something the streetwise punk who told Angel they would never be friends would do. Why would he be ashamed that he dropped out of school? He dropped out of school due to circumstances, but he headed up his own gang that hunted vampires and kept everyone sheltered and clothed and fed and mostly alive. I’m unclear where the shame in that is. It’s not like Angel’s had tons of schooling, and if anyone were to sit back and reflect on things, they’d see that Angel’s also nothing but the muscle of the group. The brains are Wesley (and who in their right mind would want to be like Wesley?) and Fred (see note after “Wesley”). At least Gunn had a well-defined role as the muscle, because could someone please tell me what service Lorne provides? Sure, he reads people. Big fucking deal. Before they had an empath they had to figure things out on their own without forcing someone to sing poorly. Besides, any successful crime-fighting group needs brains and brawn. It’s a whole balance thing. Brains don’t mean shit if you’re cornered by some fire-breathing, baby-eating demon and you can’t beat your way out of the corner you’ve stupidly put yourself into. So Wesley gets them in the corner, and Gunn gets them out. It’s a symbiotic relationship, people. So, in short, whatever.
Gunn, not thinking about anything but his precious brains because they make him somebody in a sea of nobodies who think they’re somebodies, signs a piece of paper allowing a rare artifact through customs. The fact that Gunn doesn’t even stop to think about the little details like nothing being free, especially if it’s from the senior partners, the same senior partners that only gave him a temporary upgrade so he’d get hooked on the smack and would do anything to get it back, and that perhaps this relic is something he should, you know, research before blithely okaying its way into the country, is annoying. But he doesn’t think of any of that because he’s stupid Gunn. Only Gunn Gunn was never this stupid. So this is really stupid. However, it does result in the death of Fred, so I’m going to let it slide. Besides, I have Muppet Angel to ease my mind.
Muppet Angel does just that by going to apologize to Wolf girl from so many bad episodes ago for hiding under his desk that morning when she came in to apologize for hitting on him. He was a Muppet, see, and a bit embarrassed. Plus he freaked out after everyone told him she had a crush on him. He pulls off his nose to impress her with the Muppetness-ness of the situation, and she is amazingly understanding about it all. He turns his back to deliver some heartfelt confessional about how he’s not good boyfriend material because he’s dead inside and is hilariously interrupted by Wolf Nina trying to eat him. Once again, bless whoever came up with this shit. Were that there always a werewolf around when someone on this show felt the need to open up and pontificate heavily!
Muppet Angel drags his tattered ass out to the hallway and collapses in front of Lorne. It’s fucking hilarious. Lorne carries him somewhere to get all sewed up and restuffed. Wesley and Fred figure out that the peppy songs the psychotic little muppets sing are cloaking songs to hide that the ringleader is talking to his victims through the tv. Somehow they read the energy off of their videotape, color me shocked that W&H doesn’t have every office equipped with a state-of-the-art tivo, and realize that that very day the Muppets are going to take out all the kids at once. Smart Gunn arrives, much to my chagrin, and tells them that he found the contract the creator of Smile Time signed (it was filed away in the demonic library of congress) and that the doofus hadn’t read the small print before signing it, thereby giving the demonic little muppets power to stick their hands up his backside and manipulate him like he’s their bitch.
The Fang Gang saddles up with Muppet Angel leading. Another fabulous bit. The gang gets to the set just as Smile Time is starting to suck the life out of its target demographic and it’s a full-scale assault—man against muppet, muppet against muppet, vampire muppet against muppet, all while broadcast live. Gunn ends up tearing the girl muppet limb from limb while Muppet Angel vamps out and takes out the spunky little ringleader. As a sidebar, considering this is all live, I think it’d be hilarious if the Fang Gang were out for a stroll one day and got attacked by an angry mob of kids screaming “Muppet killers!”
While the muscle participates in the on-air slaughter of childrens’ beloved Muppets, the brains invade the egg room and chant some shit at it, trying to get it to explode so everyone will be released from their comas and their zombifying (oh, by the way, the Muppets zombified their staff) and their puppetness. The big Muppet with the horn for a mouth tries to throw down, but Fred shoots his ass and then Wesley tears out his horn and shoves it in his eye, sending fluff flying. It’s really rather disturbing when you stop to think about it.
The brains and the brawn prevail, the egg goes kerblooey, all of the children slowly wake from their comas and Angel is assured that he is very slowly returning to his previous state of undeadness. He mopes his little muppet hiney down to Nina’s cage and asks her to come along with him to find out what Muppets eat for breakfast. Fred sashays her pert little ass into Wesley’s office and gives him a big, passionless kiss. Luckily, that’s just the kind that gets Wesley’s motor running, and we fade out to the sight of two geeks going at it like one of their parents is out of town and left them the keys to the camaro.