How much is enough? Is it when your trust is broken? When the person you promised yourself to, lets you go first? Is it the all encompassing result of your recklessness? What causes the depression that swallows all your hope, destroys your dreams and faith?
For Damon (Kaleb Ong), it is the reality of living with the HIV that has backed him into this corner. At night when he is alone, the depression drowns him in its cold waters and he tries to numb himself with can after can of alcohol to numb his senses. But it stops working as all band aids can’t cure gun shot level wounds. The depression seeps through the band aid, leading to an almost euphoric feeling of complete surrender. There is a relief in giving up the will to fight for yourself, which is captured in stunning HD definition, so that you can experience his pain and sufferings along the way.It could be the scenes where the camera shakes as it pans across his maniacal smile, tears brimming at the edges of his eyes as he decides his next course of action. With the way it’s presented you never know if it’s intentional for the image to shake. He walks or stumbles to the bathroom. The internal struggle of staying alive smashing against the feeling of wanting the pain to stop. With a razor slit across his wrist the choice is made and he collapses to the ground, comforted by the fact that he won’t have to suffer the consequences of his past mistakes. But he awakens alive and fully healed, and the story of “Meet My Angel” begins!
First I need to add, this was such an arresting start to a series. I foundmyself riveted by the opening speech in which Damon resolutely declares his desire to end his suffering. He fully and eloquently explains how his very existence feels out of obligation to his family who expect what most normal families do. They don’t understand how tired he is of the chore of living up to those expectations. The script demands your utmost attention, as close angle shots illustrate his room that acts as a cage for him. The somber moments illustrate his lack of care for himself as we see the beer cans, the uneaten meals, his emaciated form on the bed, as it becomes difficult to not emphasize with him. Kaleb Ong’s dialogue delivery is so well done that it feels like Damon is actually having a conversation with the audiences, hoping that they will understand his grievances.
There is a level of fear associated with knowing your death is nearer and being unable to do anything. Due to his recklessness in having sex with strangers, he got infected with the HIV. He understands his failings and as such, doesn’t see a point in fighting for himself. Instead he waits for the right circumstances to act as a catalyst to bring his life to an end. Bare in mind, the trailer certainly was lacking in portraying how this show expertly handles suicidal tendencies and depression and didn’t do much justice to the prolific storyline.
Instead of peppering the series with side characters that most of the time draw attention away from the main characters, this show seems to work with a small cast. Most of the first episode focuses on Damon having lopsided conversations with the two most important people in his life. His uncle Peter(Gio Emprese) who is forever worried about his nephew’s suicidal tendencies. He means well but his version of caring for Damon felt more like talking at him than to him. The supporting characters never feel like an added load, they appear as essential moments in Damon’s journey of self-discovery. His mother is the other character who constantly supports him, despite his morbid misgivings.
However, Death isn’t an easy task to accomplish and that becomes the charm of this series. He has a guardian angel named Angelo (Enzo Santiago) who challenges his diabolical logic with cleverly written rhetoric. Here the show should go off the rails or at the very least show an artificial side to it. But instead it feels very logical for Angelo to be there. His brutal honesty, bluntness and whimsical way of talking to Damon was delightful. His presence is a fresh breath of air that causes the second episode to explode in major feels, as he refuses to sit back and watch Damon die.
That being said the show does go overboard in certain places, as Angelo patiently listens to Damon’s childish tirades. His empathy and subsequent reaction to Damon’s complaints stirred so many emotions in my heart, that I was left aghast. I actually paused, went back and had to rewatch the bridge scene again. Angelo’s promises cause a small change in Damon that strengthens the continuity of the story and also portrays how much effect the characters have on each other. In certain instances, I felt the show was telling more than showing. That can be a bit much and I’m guessing it is because most of the storyline revolves around Damon and his life struggles. So, trying to explain or define Damon is understandable, but it becomes too cumbersome when done repeatedly.
I’m hoping that we get more scenes with Angelo, not because I have a huge crush on hm (seriously I do, he looks so angelic lol). But because his scenes bring about such an abrupt change of pace and add a level of brevity to the series, which is certainly delightful. He is obviously omnipresent and knows everything about Damon. It is clear in his dialogues but until now he has never felt the need to reveal his presence. Why he suddenly does so is an important question as well? Is it because Damon needs that emotional support to hold onto? Can Angelo bring him back from the vestiges of utter despair? Angelo is certainly different because he never demands anything from Damon, accept his past mistakes and sincerely wants to focus on Damon’s future. I really enjoyed the last scene of the second episode, where Angelo wraps his arms around Damon, shielding him from the cold while Damon is utterly clueless of the comfort that is being silently provided.
Unfortunately the series suffers from very poor audio which is a shame. The cinematography is far better than most other independent Pinoy BL dramas. Jodi Garcia is a wizard with close camera shots and has an eye for detail in most scenes. He doesn’t use color codes in the way most directors do, but prefers to create a mood that aligns with the expectations we have while dealing with the supernatural phenomenon. New episodes come out every Friday and “Meet My Angel” is an eight episodes show streaming on Asterisk Entertainment’s YouTube Channel!
Rating- 4.5 out of 5