Angel & Nina, re: Buffy. It's nice that Nina knows about Angel's history (at least he's more forthcoming with her than Buffy was with Riley). But why did Nina have to ask if Angel was thinking of Buffy during their sexcapades? What kind of faith does she really have in their relationship if she's having to ask if he's thinking of Buffy? She knows that she can't make Angel happy, but stays with him just because he understands the werewolf aspect of her? While I love Angel moving on and being more than a sexless shoulder to cry on, I wish Nina didn't accept this so well.
Act 2: All in Delivery. David Boreanaz's acting in the second half of Act 2 is what makes this episode. He tells the crew why he's doing what his is, but they are too caught up in his attitude to notice the underlying message. That whole scene depended on the actors' deliveries of the text, and Boreanaz knocked it out perfectly.
Crash Bandicoot? Why not Donkey Kong? Can you play Crash Bandicoot on a pseudo X-box? Was this David Fury's attempt to show the gaming community that he knows a little somethin' somethin'?
A & N Act 3 --> Actual pain. Oh, the last time we see Nina. Her real function in "Power Play" was to hint to the audience that Angel hadn't changed like the rest of the characters thought. She doesn't see what Angel is really doing at Wolfram & Hart, nor what his real intentions are about anything. Again, not a good hallmark for a relationship. Nina's broken about Angel sending her and her family away with no explaination, so she obviously cared. I guess if there was a sixth season, she would have joined the cast in a recurring way to flesh her and Angel out more. (The WB sucks.)
Why not call in Eve, too? Why Lindsey's chains? Ah, yes. Wouldn't it make more sense to haul in Wolfram & Hart's former liason to the Senior Partners to learn more about the Circle of the Black Thorn? And is Lindsey in a 21st century chain gang? He's reappearence just revives one of the ongoing annoyances of season 5: characters reappearing inexplicably. Where have Eve and him been since "Underneath"? Shouldn't the Senior Partners been after them? It's like the producers just haul in fan favorites (and Eve) when they need a one-shot to make an episode or be Captain!Exposition.
Realistic vs. Idealistic view of the world. Think back to "Reprise" & "Epiphany." Way back in season 2, Angel learns (by way of Holland & Darla) that there is no bigger picture to the world because it will endure beyond hin ("Reprise") but there's nothing wrong with that because what we do day-to-day is what matters then ("Epiphany"). To be in the world and endure to alleviate other people's day-to-day suffering is what matters. The system of good and evil will always wage on, and there will never been a winner in this machine. So I think that's Angel's main motivation for his plot to take out the Circle of the Black Thorn. His frustration at how evil will always be here despite the best of intentions of humanity has driven him to the point of being an anarchist. Angel's willing to fuck all the rules and just make himself an example of to the Senior Partners that we can stop them, even if it's just for a moment. It's a kamikaze mission that's doomed to fail in the big picture. But Angel & Co. won't live to see the big picture no matter what, so those rules don't apply. It's heroic in a suicidal way, and I don't know how I'll feel about it until I see the finale "Not Fade Away." I'm already spoiled by it, so I know how frustrating it's going to be, but I need to see this executed.
What notes didn't I take? Well, Gunn's still dressed like the fend-for-himself man that we saw in season 1 (minus the bandana, thankfully). It's all symbolic of returning to his roots of doing the right thing and not selling out to the Man. There's a restful break in the Wesley/Illyria drama, but it's at least mentioned to demonstrate evolution in the subplot. Spike & Lorne are kinda just there for this ep. And what was with the blue light between Cordy & Angel from "You're Welcome"? Guess they wrote themselves into a corner and decided to harken back to the days of "Hero" yore.
David Fury had the unevitable task of shifting what was a planned season finale lead-in into the first part of a two-part series finale. "Power Play" does set up the pins nicely so Jeffrey Bell & Joss can bowl us over. I can't determine if some of my dissatisifaction for "Power Play" (Lindsey's reappearance and the Angel/Nina relationship mostly) stems from the episode itself or from The WB for cancelling the show so John Wells could develop Dark Shadows (which probably won't get a Fall pick-up, meaning this was all for naught). Probably a little bit of both. But I'll blame the latter more.
"Power Play": B+/A-