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Whedony Goodness!! ANGEL 5.1!!

I am – Hercules!!

For the first time since 1.1, series creator Joss Whedon writes and directs the season opener, and we make no secret of the special affection harbored for TV episodes Whedon writes himself.

Will tonight’s installment be the last of its kind? Whedon is busily readying to make his big-screen directorial debut with Universal’s “Firefly” feature. If it proves successful, this could be the last time Whedon bothers to direct a TV show. So enjoy it while you got it.

Three months earlier …

What we said on July 3:

The fifth-season opener, scripted by Joss Whedon, will introduce a young Wolfram & Hart liaison named Eve, who will explain in smirky detail why it behooves Team Angel to use the L.A. branch rather than trash it from the inside. Eve will also explain that Lilah won’t be a big presence this season, as keeping dead people on the earthly plane is pricey! Speaking of which, James Marsters insists in interviews that Spike won’t “pull a Darla” and return as a human. The prevailing rumor these days is that William the Bloody will “pull a Dennis” instead, and reappear as a ghost. (The same rumors suggest that the Spike-as-spirit idea was going to be a component of the “Faith on a motorcyle” spinoff, had it gone forward.) In any case, a non-corporeal Spike might certainly find his new status impeding his ability to date a certain newly-homeless vampire slayer.

What we said on July 20:

* The major plotline for the episode, titled "Conviction," involves a very guilty criminal named Fries who threatens to unleash something capable of destroying every living soul in California -- if the new Angel-run Wolfram & Hart can’t engineer a “not guilty” verdict for him.

* Cordy’s old pal (and Spike’s former rebound girlfriend) Harmony is working for Wolfram & Hart as a secretary (or something), fetching coffee for clients and the like.

* Lorne busies himself by making all of Wolfram’s employees sing for him. Angel intends to sack the most evil.

* Handsome Wolfram science-guy Knox is back, still trying to do everything possible to make Fred happy in her new job.

* Following his meeting last episode with the White Room’s “conduit” (the big cat, one assumes), Gunn elects to undergo a mystical medical procedure designed to enbiggen his brain. The bigger brain comes in handy almost immediately.

* There’s no sign of Spike in the sides. One assumes if he turns up in the opener at all, it will be a brief appearance, and likely at episode’s end. (Whedon has stated that Spike will be re-introduced in 5.1, but what he's doing there won't be explained until 5.2.)

9 p.m. Wednesday. The WB.

USA Today says:

Renewed and revamped, so to speak, Angel proves that all is well in the Buffyverse ... What hasn't altered is Whedon's ingenious mix of comedy and suspense; his fascination with the meanings of right, wrong and responsibility; and his ability to produce a ceaselessly entertaining hour of television.

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