Benediction is an excellent episode that continues the great teenage Connor arc and begins to tie up the storylines of this season. I'm not a big fan of Connor. In fact I hated him the majority of Season 4 and he is probably my least liked Buffyverse character. However, I would be a fool to not notice how excellent the teenage Connor arc is just because I dislike one character. This episode is dramatic, sad and interesting and step up from last week's A New World.
We see Angel and Connor bond throughout this episode and even though Connor supposedly hates him and it is against his better judgement to begin to trust anything demonic, but the bond between them is so strong he can't help but let his guard down. Him and Angel seem like father and son, much more than him and Holtz do and I think Boreanaz and Kartheiser have good acting chemistry together. Connor is clearly an emotional wreck and has clearly been far more damaged by Quor'Toth than he is letting on. Holtz clearly passed on his black and white view of the world to Connor and as such Connor sees it as Human= Good and Demons= Bad. His verbal attack on Lorne and physical attack on Cordelia thus proves this and it seems he is filled with anger all the time and believes he belonged in Quor'Toth with the demons, proved by Cordelia's calming magic on him and her later conversation with Angel. Cordelia effectively cures him from his anger and calms him down enough to be allowed out without Angel. He says he never remembers being "lost", further proving he felt he belonged in a hell dimension.
Angel and Cordelia's relationship continues to become more apparent here and they seemed to become like a married couple here- sharing problems and decisions together and Cordelia is almost like a mother figure to Connor, continuing from when he was a baby. Groo has obviously picked up on this too and despite Cordelia's reassurances that he is the one she loves, he can tell he isn't and can see the obvious bond between Angel and Cordelia. Cordelia has tried her hardest to make Groo more like Angel through his clothing and haircut and the moment here where she mistakes him for Angel and runs up, happy to see him and then stops when she realises who it is is a turning point in the relationship and the final push needed to make Groo break up with her.
Holtz claims to be a different man here and claims he has no taste for vengeance anymore. His conversation with Angel almost makes him look like a good guy and Angel a bad guy, when he points out Angel murdered his son and Holtz kept Angel's alive, but for what intent did Holtz keep Connor alive? He seems to genuinely love Connor but a small part kept Connor alive to torture Angel further, as Holtz knew Connor would find a way back. He doesn't consider Connor's feelings but ends his own life with the help of Justine, framing Angel. This proves he is still the same bitter man he was back then and has not changed all that much. Justine was a tragic character and I really liked the her and Holtz scenes. I could obviously see the bond between them and I found the scene where she kills him incredibly sad and hard to watch. Laurel Holloman was excellent here and made Justine's pain so apparent that when she stabbed Holtz she cried out, as if she was the one in physical pain. Benediction is an excellent episode that is the beginning of the end for S3. Not to be missed.