At risk of spoiling my opinion of this issue, I liked it well enough. It's not bad, it's not badly constructed or headscratchingly weird or anything like that to make me dislike it. The thing is, I've read this issue before, or seen it in an episode of either TV series. Everything in the Archeus arcs we've dealt with has been oddly repetitive, and it's feeling like they think they're running out of new things to do.
For one, the structure of this issue is very much like the last one. The ending comes in the middle of the big action sequence instead of just after it, but the rest is following that almost perfectly. We have the long beginning and middle where they prepare for battle, then walk on their way towards the battle, with the long character scenes bridging the gap there. It's not that I dislike these moments, but when it's something I just saw in the last issue, it feels like spinning their wheels. Angel is still dealing with the awkwardness of Buffy and Spike being together, and they're dealing with how uncomfortable it is having Angel around after that, and everyone else is trying to keep things from falling apart. They did diversify it by bringing Andrew back and giving Angel a joke about Andrew finally realizing he's gay, but that was just stolen from earlier in this season rather than the last issue.
Then they have the constant running parallels between Angel and Spike, and there are a lot of similarities there. As everyone is on their way to Archeus, they split into two groups and Angel and Spike are in different groups, and those parallels are shown by them doing a lot of the same things and talking about a lot of the same things, but again, this is just a repeat of a lot of the same jokes and observations from Season 7 of Buffy and Season 5 of Angel. They're all set up and executed well, it's just being repetitive.
I liked this issue, I really did, but this issue and the last couple have spent a lot of time being either repetitive or just bizarre, and I'm concerned. I don't want this season to lose itself like the last season did after a good start, but it's starting to show signs that they're running out of things to do, which is never a good thing.
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