There has been some debate over some of the episodes in the fifth season of Angel. As part of the deal with returning for the season that Joss made with the WB, the season would focus on some more stand alone episodes instead of an intricate story arc. Season 4 was one long storyline, and I loved it, but the powers that be at the network thought that it would bring more viewers in, and boost ratings, if there were more stand alone episodes that would be easier for people who don't normally watch to tune in and to keep watching the show. Okay, fair enough. I love stand alone as much as the big arc-y ones. A huge number of stand alone eps from 'Buffy' were, a lot of the time, as good as any other. But people felt that these stand alones were not important or as good because they weren't part of the bigger picture. I disagree with that. If people had problems with this one, then they had even bigger problems with "Why We Fight", another episode that I liked quite a bit but was thrashed by a lot of fans. But first, we have this episode. Now, don't get me wrong. This is not a fantastic episode, and probably won't become a famously remembered one either. But it's fun and entertaining enough. It finally got some more action going and got characters out of the office, since up till now there seemed to be a huge majority of the show just taking place in the new offices. But anyways, how did mexican wrestling come into the Angel world?...
Wesley finds out that there have been three bodies discovered with their hearts ripped out. Angel goes to a certain mysterious member of his staff to get information, when it appears that it is right up his alley.
First of all, it was quite smooth how the writers teased us with this Numero Cinco character. Since the start of the season, we were treated to a mysterious presence with the character, as he delivered the mail with a mask over his head and the letter 5 on it. This guy was just there. No explanation. No nothing. Was this just supposed to be an odd image and nothing more?. Of course not, Mutant Enemy has more things up their sleeve than just that. So, it's just cool that they set this guy up and then we finally get an answer to just what this guy's story is.
Written and directed by the great Jeffrey Bell, the episode is a lot better than one would assume on first viewing. Just like "Smile Time" a little later on, the episode could of just been some funky one off episode that didn't have anything to do with the show, and had as little effort put into it to stand among the other episodes. But the episode, really, is very well told and well written. The music played throughout is completely new to the show, and brings an air of freshness to it. It's not something that you would probably care to hear more of on the show, but for now, it's new and most welcome. Plus, there are the flashbacks, the era they take place, and the material. Flashbacks and bygone eras are no strangers to the Buffy/Angel fold. In fact, they are a necessity. We have been given numerous flashbacks from all kinds of eras, but we have never been given a flashback like this in a time not seen on either show before. Bell does a great job of placing the era, and writing it's history. He does a marvelous job of directing and getting the look, feel, and the action. And Bell knows what he is doing. He has said in many interviews that he, for some reason, has always wanted to do a mexican wrestling episode. Really, Jeff?. Okay. From what I could find, the idea of mexican wrestling began back in 1934 when an American wrestler known as The Masked Man came to wrestle in Mexico wearing a mask. All mexican wrestlers since then have donned these masks when they perform. They all come with a number on their masks as well. I guess these masks are supposed to signify some kind of mexican honor or something. I am still not quite into the info on that folks. But a lot of these guys, apparently, never even removed their masks when they weren't performing. And you will see that the character of Numero Cinco doesn't here. But there is a connection here. A lot of people didn't quite get the message that was there between Numero Cinco and Angel. The demon Tezcatcatl killed Numero Cinco's four brothers because they were heroes. He didn't kill Numero Cinco. He was left behind, and felt that he was no hero and had no hope. Angel, anyone?. Angel has been the hero and champion for a number of years now. But now, with the new situation in season five and how he feels about Wolfram And Hart and where he stands with it, he feels like he is no longer the hero he once was or is supposed to be. He too has given up hope. Just like Numero Cinco. He also no longer believes that he is the one that the Shanshu Prophecy is talking about. Is he right?. Is it Spike?. Angel leads Numero Cinco to believe otherwise of himself. He is a hero. There is hope after all. But is there for Angel?. Would Angel and the gang of lasted this long if there wasn't hope?. If they didn't have it?. Wesley tells Angel that it's hope that has gotten this far in the world. So, even though this was like a stand alone episode, it does have a meaning, and it does connect with ongoing storylines.
In the end, "The Cautionary Tale Of Numero Cinco" probably won't win over any new fans, but it certainly wouldn't turn them away either. One of the things I liked about this episode was that it seemed to pump up the action a bit more and had more things going for it. This was always something that the show did a lot of, but it seemed that the start of season five was incredibly slow. A lot of episode that seemed to take place, most of the time, in the new offices. There also seemed to be more talking as well. I know that the show's budget was cut in half as part of it's renewal and that cut down on location shooting, but this episode finally got things going more and had a lot more action and finally got the people out of the offices for a while. Anyways, it was a well written and well told tale that is a lot better than people give it credit for. It won't be at the top of the list for season five episodes, but it is a decently entertaining hour with an interesting story.