Angel Season 4 Is Not As Bad As You Remember

By Erika Hanson | Updated

I’ve rewatched the Buffy spinoff, Angel, in its entirety more times than I can remember. Out of all the takes on the vampy series, one particular thing doesn’t sit well with me, and it all centers around Season 4. Fans all seem to detest this season, but I’m here to remind everyone that if you look past the one thing that seems to anger the Scoobies, you’ll see why it actually might be the vampire with a soul’s greatest season. 

Why is it Angel fans hate Season 4 so vehemently? Much of the disdain centers around the cringe way Cordelia was treated. Cordelia is put into an awkward romantic relationship with a young Conner, and the relationship is borderline pedophilia and incest. 

Cordelia’s Cringeworthy Story

Even if it was eventually explained that it wasn’t really our beloved Cordy in control of her body when she made these disturbing choices, we can all agree that Charisma Carpenter‘s character went in a direction no one expected and one she might not have deserved. 

Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, pregnant with Angel’s son’s child in Season 4

On top of that, you can almost feel Carpenter’s hatred for the direction Cordelia was taking. The actress even went on years later to explain her cruel treatment at the hands of series creator Joss Whedon at this point in the show.

Anger over the treatment of Carpenter on set is justified, but does Cordelia’s story arc really deserve the seething hate it still gets? Not necessarily. 

Taking the character down a villainous path meant the writers weren’t willing to take the easy road. At the end of Season 3, fans were elated as Angel and Cordelia were about to finally go on their first date. But that date never happened.

Cordelia and Angel disappear, and by the time both are back in Season 4, wheels are in motion to spin Cordy into the season’s big bad. Never quite having the two get together makes this love story all the more compelling.

If you look past the Cordelia dilemma in Angel Season 4, there is plenty to love about this season. Season 4 throttled Angel out of the episodic formula and into a massive overarching story that you find out was put in motion seasons ago. 

Angelus Returns

Likewise, Season 4 gave us the return of Angelus – something we hadn’t seen since Buffy Season 2The Angelus arc reminded us of just how dangerous the vicious vampire could be. 

David Boreanaz as Angelus in “The Awakening”

The image of Angelus laughing maniacally at the end of episode 10, “The Awakening,” after we realize the entire episode was an illusion to turn Angel into his deadly self, is engrained in my brain as one of the best moments in the series.

Angel Season 4 is also home to one of the funniest episodes, proving that Angel could, in fact, produce Buffy-worthy hilarious stories. Episode 6’s “Spin the Bottle” plays a lot like a Buffy favorite, “Tabula Rasa.”

In “Spin the Bottle,” Lorne’s spell to help Cordelia regain her memories backfires. The Angel gang is transformed into their teenage selves with no memory of their lives in Los Angeles. 

Jasmine Is The Most Unique Big Bad In The Franchise

Not only did Season 4 deliver one of the top one-off Angel episodes, it also gave us the greatest overarching story about the Apocolypse – something Buffy and Angel seem to be faced with on a daily basis.

Even above Wolfram & Heart, Jasmine, the real villain of Season 4, is not only my favorite in the show but the entire Buffy universe. Played by the great Gina Torres from Firefly, Jasmine is unlike any other villain we’ve ever seen.

Gina Torres as Jasmine in Season 4

One of the fallen “Powers That Be,” Jasmine, an ancient one, is akin to a god. What makes Jasmine such an interesting villain isn’t that she has terrible ideas of visceral carnage. Instead, Jasmine sought out her own interpretation of world domination via her version of a utopian world.

The problem with Jasmin’s Heaven on Earth is that it took away the free will of humans. Combining this belief with her need to “recharge” by consuming a handful of her faithful followers every day, Jasmine was Angel’s most intriguing baddie.

The Beast, blotting out of the sun mixed with doom and gloom, the return of Angelus, and Jasmine are all proof that Angel Season 4 delivered some captivating storytelling – likely the best of the entire series. 

Cordelia’s development throughout Angel made her one of the most loved characters in the franchise, and her treatment during this period was justifiably awful. But let’s be honest, the fourth season was not bad at all.