Connect with us
Angel Series Finale Not Fade Away review
Image: The WB


The Angel Series Finale is a Strong, Emotional Finish to the Buffyverse

Angel Season 5, Episode 22: “Not Fade Away”

After Season 4′s controversial serial structure and retcon of the entire show up to that point, Angel Season Five was an excellent return to form for the show, especially with the addition of Spike (James Marsters) after Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s cancellation. This season sees Angel and the gang become even more morally ambiguous as they take over the evil Wolfram and Hart law firm while still attempting to fight the good fight. There are some funny episodes, like Ben Edlund’s puppet episode (“Smile Time”), but beloved characters like Cordelia Chase and Fred Burkle died emotional deaths. Before the finale, Spike, Wesley, Gunn, and Lorne think that Angel has become evil again and joined the Order of the Black Thorn. In “Not Fade Away”, Joss Whedon and Jeffrey Bell do an excellent job wrapping up the story arc of Season Five and the whole series’ story. However, what makes this episode a great season finale is its attention to not just the plot, but the major themes of Angel as well.

In a speech to ex-Wolfram and Hart lawyer and occasional ally Lindsey, Angel tells him that maybe Wolfram and Hart is “… not there to be beat. Maybe they’re there to be fought. Maybe fighting them is what makes human  beings so remarkably strong.” Even though he just signed away his part in the Shanshu Prophecy, Angel understands that things like endurance in the face of overwhelming odds make one human, not a beating heart or the ability to walk in the sun. Even though the Senior Partners are extradimensional beings with almost unlimited power, Angel will continue to fight evil even if it costs his life. This is why it’s fitting that the last shot of the series (and the Buffyverse) is Angel gripping a sword while facing the legions of Hell and saying, “Let’s get to work.” Redemption can’t be tied up in a neat bow (or an exploding Sunnydale, like on Buffy), but is an ongoing battle that is both external and internal.

Angel Season 5, Episode 22: “Not Fade Away”
Image: The WB

Even though this episode has lofty themes, lots of action, and witty Whedon-written dialogue, the focus is squarely fixed on the characters. Before they fight the Order of the Black Thorn, Angel lets each member of the team spend their “last day” however they want. Gunn helps out in his old neighborhood even though he knows it will be destroyed in the coming apocalypse, Lorne sings karaoke one last time, and Spike reads some of his “bloody awful” poetry. However, Wesley does nothing but tend to Illyria’s wounds. He does this because he has enough to live for after the death of Fred, his true love. This scene, as well as his death scene where he tells Illyria to lie to him and assume Fred’s form one last time, show the tremendous development of Wesley’s character. From a foppish Watcher wannabe to betraying Angel because of a false prophecy and watching his lover die, Wesley has had a tough time. This episode shows the depths of his despair when he says, “There’s nothing I want”, and also his joy as he declares his love for Fred before his death. These actions make Illyria feel grief for the first time and help her develop as a character as well.

There are more great character moments in this episode. Angel talks about not remembering what it means to be human, he teams up with his son Connor one last time, and the most decent member of the team, Lorne, kills Lindsey because not all people can be redeemed; Whedon and Bell reward viewers for sticking with these characters for five years and 110 episodes by giving them some real emotional payoff. Angel‘s cliffhanger ending may turn some people off, but it is a fitting end for a show that wasn’t afraid to put its characters in tough situations and experience real evil that can’t be defeated by punching, kicking, or staking.

Logan Dalton

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our old brand, Sound On Sight.

Now Streaming

Written By

By day, Logan is a data entry administrator in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby. But when he has free time, he enjoys writing about his favorite comics, movies, and TV shows. He also interviewed a vampire once and cries about the future of the L.A. Lakers at least once a day. Logan will watch, read, or listen to anything by Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright, Damon Albarn,Donald Glover, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Gerard Way, Grant Morrison, Kieron Gillen, St Vincent, and Black Mask Studios so you should ask him about those things on his Twitter. (

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



2001: A Space Odyssey 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: Clarke and Kubrick’s Odyssey of Discovery


Deep Impact was a serious look at the end of the world Deep Impact was a serious look at the end of the world

25 Years Later: Deep Impact was a Serious Look at the End of the World 


The Best Movies of 1973 The Best Movies of 1973

The Golden Year of Movies: 1973


The Zone of Interest The Zone of Interest

Cannes 2023: Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is a Manicured Vision of Hell


Jeanne Du Barry review Jeanne Du Barry review

Cannes 2023: Maïwenn’s Great Hair Goes to Great Lengths in Jeanne Du Barry


Black Flies Gripping Black Flies Gripping

Cannes 2023: Black Flies— Gripping Descent into the Underbelly of New York’s Urban Misery 


Asteroid City: A Gimmicky Vanity Project Asteroid City: A Gimmicky Vanity Project

Cannes 2023: Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is a Gimmicky Vanity Project


La Passion de Dodin Bouffant: La Passion de Dodin Bouffant:

La Passion de Dodin Bouffant: Surfeit Cooking Drama Most Inane Film at Cannes


BlackBerry movie review BlackBerry movie review

BlackBerry Is a Wonderfully Canadian Account of a Dying Tech Dream


Four Daughters Four Daughters

Cannes 2023: Four Daughters: A Family’s Journey From Goth to Niqab


The Mother Jennifer Lopez and Lucy Paez The Mother Jennifer Lopez and Lucy Paez

Jennifer Lopez’s The Mother is Eerily Similar to Enough, But That’s Not a Bad Thing



Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Is a Dazzling Web of Unbridled Creativity


Godzilla 1998 Godzilla 1998

Godzilla at 25: When Hollywood Made a Manhattan Monster Movie, with Disastrous Results


10 Best SummerSlam Matches 10 Best SummerSlam Matches

10 Best SummerSlam Matches


The Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Reloaded

20 Years Later: The Matrix Reloaded was Underwhelming, but Still Underrated


Discovery channel Discovery channel

The Head-Scratching Moves Discovery Has Been Making