But it gradually sinks in, slowly, a little at a time, that there won't be a next season. There will be no more "on the next Angel." It's over. Done. And I'm not ready to say goodbye yet.
With other shows I've loved over the years, the finale either finished things or came a little past the show's organic ending (I don't blame Babylon 5 for this -- they thought they HAD been cancelled and so hurried to their organic ending too quickly). But there is SO much potential for future storytelling in Angel that it's just painful to contemplate.
Just as I became deeply fascinated and intrigued by the character of Illyria, it's gone. Just as we started to really see the awesome connection, chemistry, and comradery between Spike and Angel, it's gone. Just as we're introduced to a Connor who might have been if Holtz hadn't kidnapped him, it's gone.
I felt for Illyria when she chose to look like Fred to spare Fred's parents the pain of her death. But I agonized with her as she began to understand emotion and feelings as she held the dying Wesley, much more so than I actually felt for Wes as Fred died. Her desire to "commit more violence" due to the pain of his loss rang so powerfully true I cheered. I also cheered Angel's desire to slay the dragon. "Let's go to work."
Because that's what Angel was always about -- we go to work. I'm not talking about the job that gives you your bi-weekly paycheck -- I'm talking about the work of living. Of getting on with it, doing the best you can, making the world, even just your corner of it, better. That's what our heroes will go on to do when they come out of this "final" fight, because that is what they do. I won't even consider they didn't make it -- they did, and their fight will continue. "Let's go to work." It's the final fight we'll get to see, but in that universe they will always go on to the next fight, and the next, and the next.
Angel may be gone. But Angel's fight will go on forever. I'll miss it a lot. I was never afraid to say I liked it better than Buffy right from the get-go. I will regret all the potential wasted. The stories that could have been given to strange, lost, struggling Illyria alone would fill up a season.
The WB had the nerve to say "Thank You" before the show last night, as though Angel was leaving of its own free will. I liked what Joss Whedon said about it, how Angel couldn't hack it on the WB because it was the only show there that wasn't trying to be Buffy. It was ever too adult for the WB, and I guess we're lucky we got this much.
Goodbye, Angel. I'll miss you.