Not Fade Away, 15 years later

*Note – this post contains some fairly oblique spoilers to last week’s Game of Thrones, though I tried to keep them vague. And do I need to warn about spoilers for the end of a 15-year-old show? Well, in any case, if you’re watching Angel for the first time unspoiled… maybe don’t read this. 🙂 I had a friend who was doing just that awhile back, so it can happen!*

So the other day I was walking to work, and as I did so I began brainstorming blog posts as part of my yearly pact to myself to post more. Specifically, what dolls do I have that I can turn into a blog post conveniently related to something currently happening in the world of popular culture? It’s already been a few weeks since Endgame, so I figured I missed my window there, and Game of Thrones and I aren’t currently on speaking terms after last week. Next, my brain wandered to anniversaries. What was happening 10, 20, etc years ago that I could relate to one of my dolls? Thus went my brain:

‘Hmm, I could finally post blogs about my New Zealand trip. That Tolkien movie just came out, and… holy crap it’s been 20 years since Fellowship of the Ring came out! Perfect! Also wow, I can’t believe that movie is 20 years old.”

*3 seconds later*

Other part of my brain: ‘That’s because it isn’t, it’s 18 years old. It came out in 2001.’

‘Right. I knew that. Ok, what actually happened in 1999? Oh wow, Angel started that year, didn’t it? My show turns 20 this year, hard to believe it.’

(Certain shows will always and forever be My Show. Angel is one, Babylon 5 is another. Coincidentally it also ended in 1999, but back in January so I missed that posting window too).

Followed a heartbeat later by,

‘…that means Angel ENDED 15 years ago. Well now I feel old. I wonder what actual date Not Fade Away aired? It would have been around now. Hopefully I didn’t miss it!’

One IMDB search later.

May 19, 2004.

Exactly 15 years to the day before the final episode of Game of Thrones is due to air tonight. I mean, I may have put Game of Thrones in the corner and told it to think about what it did, but it’s still been one of my favourite shows these past 7 years. So there’s something rather auspicious about it ending on the same day 15 years after one of my other all time favourite shows aired its last episode.

I know some people were disappointed by Not Fade Away, and frustrated by its perceived cliffhanger. I get that, but at the same time I thought it was the perfect way to end the show. I had my own issues with season 5, it’s true, though at the time I was younger and too caught up in my excitement to really notice. I was and still am disappointed by the lack of Lilah (I searched hopefully for Stephanie Romanov’s name in the guest credits at the start of every episode). And I was frustrated by the mind wipe that had erased nearly everything interesting that ever happened to my boy Wes in the previous two years, leaving only his Epic Love for Fred, of which I was not a fan (sorry Fresley shippers). And writing Cordelia out of the show (only to bring her back and kill her) was unconscionable. Still, Angel for all its flaws was a show I loved deeply at the time, and I’m still not sure I’ve ever been as obsessed with another fictional character as I was with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.

So on the one hand, watching him die – and in the arms of the wrong woman to my Weslah shipper’s brain – sucked. Rather like a certain other more recent character death, in fact, but narratively at least it made sense that Wes would be thinking of Fred in his final moments. Unlike certain other shows. I digress.

But on the other hand, the theme of the show has always come down to one scene: Holland Manners in that elevator, telling Angel that hell is Earth and so everything he does is pointless, and Angel having his epiphany that if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. Keep fighting even when you can’t win, because there is no winning – only doing what we can to help people, even if it’s just one action, even if we just make one life better then it’s worth it. And that’s what Not Fade Away was about – not the cliffhanger of ‘how will they defeat the dragon??’, but the recognition that the fight goes on and even if they all die in that alleyway, they will have made a difference.

It’s a seemingly dark and hopeless ending, but I never saw it that way. Angel was never about black vs white / good vs evil / defeat the big bad at the end of the season and head to the mall after. Angel was about fighting the good fight in the face of great odds, and knowing that your actions still matter. And in the face of a big scary world that is at once peeling back our hard-won rights with every stroke of a pen, even as we move ever closer to our planet’s demise, that seems like a pretty relevant message 15 years later. None of us individually is going to fix these problems, but we still have the power to make the world a better place in some small way – whether it be by voting in the people who CAN fix these problems (do that), or by simply helping a friend (or a stranger) in need.

This post didn’t really know what it wanted to be, and apparently it took a turn for the serious I did not expect it to. Sorry? Here, have a doll to make up for it. 🙂 After making Wesley doll 1.0, I decided I needed a smaller pocket-sized Wesley, and thus we have Wesley doll 2.0. I wanted to make a Lilah to go with him, but I don’t think I could truly capture the lusciousness of her hair using yarn. I might still make an Illyria one day, though, she would be fun!

15 years ago today I was waiting with both excitement and trepidation for my favourite show to end. Tonight I’m waiting with a kind of depressed resignation. I want to be excited, I want to feel the same love for the show I felt even 2 weeks ago when all my shipper dreams came true and I was still convinced that a certain character would do a certain thing and die in a certain way. Wes’s death made me sad, but it was an expected kind of sad. Last week just left me cold and angry. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this past week and come to a certain amount of acceptance of it, largely because I think it could have worked fine if they hadn’t rushed this season so much, but I’m still really sad about how it went down. I hope tonight we will get some closure for my ship, one way or another. Because I have a massive cosplay project I embarked upon a few weeks ago, when I was still full of happiness and feels after a certain ceremony scene, and dammit but I still want to make it. More news coming on that once I’ve let Game of Thrones out of its corner and decided to start working on said costume again. Right now it’s also sitting in the corner in time-out.