Angel 2×20: Over the Rainbow

[Review by Ryan Bovay]

[Writer: Mere Smith | Director: Fred Keller | Aired: 05/08/2001]

“Over the Rainbow,” like the previous episode, is largely setup without a lot of payoff, but like its predecessor succeeds because of its comedy and the fun it has in the process. Its chief mistake is repeating the exact same material we heard in the past episode, concerning most things; the character issues, central themes and elements of foreshadowing all make an encore here. Once again, it’s hardly bad television, but it speaks of laziness, which is something you usually don’t expect from a show of this quality. A show can be flawed and be watchable; a show can have serious problems and still be very good. But the one thing a show cannot, and must never be, is boring.

But, a slightly boring episode of Angel chalk full of fun dialogue and amusing moments is still many times better than a boring episode of a much lesser show. And what keeps its score at the same level as the last episode is that it, for all its re-hashings, does do a few new things that are important in retrospect of the entire Pylea arc, which carries us right to the finale. And even though its purpose or direction isn’t revealed until the last, painfully hysterical moment of the show, Cordelia does get some genuine development. However, take care to note that this review will be far shorter than my usual fare. For my complete analysis of the themes of the arc thus far, see my review of “Belonging” [2×19].

The new material we get comes from finally arriving in Pylea. The girth of this odd world’s thematic purpose comes in “Through the Looking Glass” [2×21] and “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22], but what we get here is somewhat useful. We learn the basic aesthetics: Populated by demons, it’s a medieval type of dimension, where not unlike in our own past, a culture bound hopelessly by ignorance and ritual has been consumed by xenophobia and greed; humans, who commit no atrocities other than being physically identifiable as different, are enslaved and bluntly treated like work animals. Pylea, essentially being a cartoon mirror of our world’s past, meant to highlight the graces of our present world’s ugliness, basically lays out the character’s conflicts in a way that forces them to deal: literally.

Cordelia is forced to bear a burden placed on her by a society in need of certain things. In our world those things are champions and good people, and in Pylea they are workers and saviours. Her visions are not-so-slyly referred to as a curse, which Cordy obviously can’t disagree with given how they’ve socially isolated her into her heroic duty and become increasingly painful. However, that a curse and a burden are usually things that accompany positions of great prestige, power and respect is no secret to the writers who play a fun, if not overtly clever, mislead about Cordelia’s fate.

Her abilities are a curse, yes, but they give her power to recognize evil and help fight against it, a lofty position that clearly deserves gratitude and respect. And since Cordy has wanted to be nothing if not a real, actual princess her entire life, it’s fitting that she gets her just reward. However, we mustn’t forget that she is still referred to as cursed. Just as for Angel, who is initially caught up in the wondrous and rewarding fantasy that is Pylea, the next episode will bring harsh truths about the aesthetically appealing simple life, much like the worst aspects of the avatar roles chosen for our characters to play in this land.

At least here, before we get to the real meat, we dig in quickly and get some hints about what everyone is going to be doing running around in this No. 2 version of hell. Gunn has made his choice, but can he stick with it? Of all the gang (minus Lorne), he is the most doubtful and uncomfortable about being in Pylea, initially reluctant to go at all. He’s chosen his side, yes, but he’s not entirely sure if it’s the right choice just yet. Wesley, who has been having difficulties leading his new group since he took command of it in “Disharmony” [2×17], picks up the threads of the team and instantly starts taking effective charge.

But Pylea is a harsh enemy, and his equally harsh self-critique, no doubt instilled in him by his father, takes over when the group is captured, nearly rendering him impotent. The role of leader is at first glamorous, but Wesley’s fantasy is quickly crushed just as Angel and Cordy’s are only just beginning. No wonder he has a worse time there. And if he’s unhappy, imagine how Lorne feels. The green demon who speaks lovingly of discovering music and building his beloved club on the very spot from which he escaped his home-sweet-hell sinks deeper and deeper here. In our world he’s the fantastical one, but now, he’s just stupidly out of place and hated for it.

To look back over what I’ve just written is kind of shocking. This is possibly the shortest review I’ve written for an episode of this show yet and will likely be the shortest for a long time to come. As I said, the episode’s greatest flaw is its boring re-hashing of earlier conflicts. “Belonging” [2×19], at least, did something a little new by giving those conflicts a clearer voice and properly highlighting them for us. Pylea’s new, sure, but doesn’t get interesting until next episode, in which I’ll get in a little deeper along with the episode.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Angel’s strangely correct “battery” theory.
+ Aggie’s cut-off.
+ Angel getting absolutely giddy about the sun.
+ Fred being all crazy, unsure of her name and words and stuff.
+ The big fight scene, and the crushing smash cut back to reality.


* All the main characters’ conflicts (as discussed in “Belonging” [2×19] ) and personal problems are brought out into the open even more here: Angel’s uncertainty about his status as a champion, Cordelia’s burden, Wesley’s leadership role and Gunn’s sense of belonging are all addressed and put into a fantasy-world light. Over the next two episodes those roles will be torn down, have their flaws exposed and be ultimately overcome.



9 thoughts on “Angel 2×20: Over the Rainbow”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on February 26, 2008.]

    Good review, Ryan. I agree with you in all your points. This episode is good, not great. And Fred is just adorable.


  2. [Note: Suzanne B posted this comment on January 13, 2009.]

    I laugh everytime I see the guys go through the portal and Gunn’s face. He loved the ride! And says something like,” Yo, that was PHAT!” I crack up at the whole exchange in the car.


  3. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 2, 2009.]

    Every time I see this episode, for some reason I always think that Angel is leaving the message for Buffy- or for Willow. I don’t know why- but I do always wonder why he didn’t say something to Buffy. Like leave her a message or something- after all, he thought there was a good chance he’d never come back. It seems to me that Angel would’ve tried to get in touch with her, and that the writers should’ve worked that in for consistency (not that he would’ve succeeded, what with the catatonia and all, but I think the writers should’ve put that in).


  4. [Note: SasukeMan posted this comment on November 10, 2010.]

    I am sorry, but the quotes section can never be considered complete without one of the funniest scenes ever:

    Angel: “The sun. Daylight. Quick. Hand me a blanket. Hand me a blanket or I’m gonna catch on fire!”

    Wesley scrambles for a blanket as Angel tries to pull up his leather jacket to cover his head.

    Angel: “Hand me a blanket! I’m gonna catch on fire!”

    Wesley hands him a blanket but instead of taking it, Angel looks down at his hands, then around himself.

    Angel: “Why am I not on fire?”

    Gunn: “Yo, that was phat!”

    Wesley: “Well, it is another dimension. Perhaps their sun…”

    Lorne: “Back up, Copernicus. (Points to the sky) That’s suns. Plural.”

    Everyone looks up at the two suns up in the sky.

    Wesley: “Suns. Yes. Well, perhaps they don’t have the same effect on vampires.”

    Wesley reaches out to pinch Angel’s cheek, making him jump and turn in his seat.

    Angel: “Hey! Watch it. Alright?”

    Wesley pinches Angel’s cheek.

    Angel: “Hey!”

    Angel slaps his hand down then retaliates by pinching Wesley.

    Wesley: “Fascinating!”

    Gunn: “Did you all see the street do that bendy thing?”

    Angel to Lorne: “So, we made it then. This is your world.”

    Lorne: “Oh yes. Home sweet hell.”

    Angel: “Ha! I’m not on fire.”

    Wesley: “And we’re together. (Look down at himself then at Lorne and Gunn in the backseat) And we didn’t merge into some freakish, four-men Siamese twin!”

    Gunn: “That was a risk? How come nobody told me that was a risk?”

    Angel jumps up to stand on his seat and spreads his arms looking up at the suns.

    Angel: “Can everyone just notice how much fire I’m not on?”

    Lorne: “Yeah, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood alright. Now, may I suggest we find some way to hide the car? It’ll be a little conspicuous, seeing as we don’t have convertibles in this world. Or you know, cars.”

    They all climb out over the sides of the car.

    Gunn: “Wonder if this is where Cordy came through.”

    Wesley: “Could be.

    Angel: “Let’s start gathering some branches, some brush. Anything to cover up the car. Oh, hey, look. There is some over in that patch of sun. I’ll get them!”

    Angel’s expressions in this scene are amazing.

    Great reviews!!!


  5. [Note: Mrpointy posted this comment on October 10, 2011.]

    Hey guys! My first post on a review, and an Angel review at that. Who would’ve thought? But, did anybody realize the woman Lorne talked to at the office near the beginning was the same girl from Buffy’s series premiere? The black girl with the dead guy in the locker? Pos!


  6. [Note: Rob posted this comment on January 11, 2012.]

    There’s something very old-school Star Trek-y about the Pylea setup. I could easily see Jim, Bones & Spock in place of our three boys here. Well, despite the goofiness, I’m thinking that if anything in this show’s going to finally hook me, it’ll be this arc. Or maybe it’s just Fred.


  7. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on April 6, 2013.]

    I like Gunn’s honesty towards Angel and Wes. He has a hard choice to make and he chooses his first responsibility: his roots, his community. I love Wesley for understanding his choice, while Angel is a pure bag of raw emotions.

    I’m not sure what to make of Angel’s last message. Was it a selfish act to make Gunn feel guilty ? (If so, he should have respected Gunn’s choice to be loyal to his gang.) Was it a just a legal message to inform Gunn of what he would inherit ? Was it a gesture of closure, if yes, why Gunn ?

    May I say that I find it very annoying when people travel to another dimension or in space (e.g. Stargate) and everybody magically speak what ? English ! I also agree with Rob, this arc (and S1 She) feels like a -mediocre- sci-fi setup.


  8. [Note: Darnell Major posted this comment on May 25, 2015.]

    Ryan you should’ve gave this episode a higher rating lol It was just brilliant. In fact so brilliant that I decided to track down the script and use it to help me with my writing.


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