Angel, Season 2 eps 15-18

I’m actually up to “Couplet” in my marathon viewing. Which means catch-up, ketchup


Reprise

I’m going to vote “Reprise” as my favorite episode of Season 2. Even though I love “Dear Boy” and “Darla” and “Reunion”, Reprise is all about Angel and his struggle to understand his mission and his destiny and himself. Half a season out from “TSILA”, he’s already lost faith in his shanshu, or at least his shanshu as *he* interprets it–the idea that he can earn redemption with enough good deeds. He now realizes that no amount of good deeds can ever pay for the evil he did in the past.

But rather than realizing that redemption is really about “Go from this point and sin no more” rather than “paying back all your sins”, Angel is just simply bitter.

And so he is going to throw himself on the pyre, so to speak. In one big melodramatic move, he plans to bring down Wolfram and Hart by killing the Senior Partners. He KNOWS it will get him killed; he just doesn’t care anymore. Except that part of him does, or he wouldn’t even bother with this.

Angel spends most of the episode running around trying to get hold of a ring that will take him to “The Home Office”–the source of the Senior Partners’ power, what he believes will be the Hell where the Senior Partners reside. He comes across a number of obstacles, including Darla, who also wants the ring, although what she thinks she’ll get from it is anybody’s guess.

But Angel gets the ring and puts it on and takes an elevator ride to hell, only to find himself right back where he started at the end of the journey.

As dead!Holland explains, the Home Office is Earth itself–the real source the Senior Partners power is the capacity for evil in every person. Wolfram and Hart accumulate power through facilitating and supporting that capacity. You can’t simply kill the Senior Partners and “win” because the Senior Partners are themselves nothing without the human equation*. So unless Angel plans to take on that equation on a grand scale, he can’t fight Wolfram and Hart at their own game.

And given the human capacity for evil, it seems the humans he is trying to help really aren’t even worth helping, either. Because no amount of helping is ever going to change the world.

Realizing this puts Angel at the lowest, darkest point he’s been in our whole history of knowing him as a souled being, lower and darker even than the loser in the alley. I was so there with him at the time. He’s utterly devastated. Beyond caring. Exactly where Wolfram and Hart wanted him to be.

And so goes home and finds Darla waiting for him and throws himself at her in despair. He has every reason to believe he will lose his soul in doing so and he doesn’t care. And in fact, we see Angel rise up in his bed after having sex with Darla, like an echo of “Surprise”.

The previews for “Epiphany” were deliberately edited in a way that made it look like Angel could be attacking his friends–that Angel would in fact lose his soul. And we were left for… was it only a week? Longer? To debate over whether he actually would.

I couldn’t make up my mind whether I thought Angel would lose his soul or not. On the one hand, it seemed repetitive and a bit too predictable. Why do Buffy Season 2 all over again? On the other hand, it would be just like ME to do exactly what WAS predictable just because we would all assume they wouldn’t do it. And at that time, it certainly seemed logical that Angel WOULD lose his soul. We hadn’t had any episode, really, that had negated the equation made in “Surprise” between perfect happiness and sex.

We had had episodes dealing with the happiness clause of the curse, but they dealt with a slightly different issue. For example, Angel argues to the faux T’ish Magev in “GWBG” that the happiness clause “isn’t a sex thing, specifically”. In other words, things *besides* sex could result in perfect happiness. And “Eternity” and “Enemies” both teased us with the “has he lost his soul or hasn’t he” question, but in both those episodes, it was other things–a spell, and a drug–that are the supposed catalysts, rather than sex. From this, it only followed that other things, besides sex could also result in perfect happiness. But Angel had gone two and a half years with no sex because he feared sex was the one thing guaranteed to bring back Angelus.

In “Epiphany” he realizes that sex does not always equate with perfect happiness, that in fact he had sex with Darla in “a moment of perfect despair”. The irony is that in that moment of perfect despair, of no longer caring about the future, he accomplishes the one thing that, IMO, secured his future, possibly even his shanshu. He fathered a child, a child who would live on after Not Fade Away.

The flip side of that, of course, is that that child bears the symbolism of having been conceived in a moment of perfect despair. In fact, that would make a classic depressing!Connor icon. Connor in his worst angsty moment from “Home” with the caption “Conceived in a moment of perfect despair.”

And to continue the irony, Darla, in seizing the opportunity to remove Angel’s soul, becomes mother to the infant who will re-ensoul her in Season 3.

Final thought on Reprise: Those of you who have read my thoughts on other AtS and BtVS episodes might be aware of how viscerally I dislike farce and camp on the shows. I don’t dislike it in principle, I just think it’s extremely difficult to pull off well without undercutting the seriousness of the drama with cartoonishness. That said, the opening scene of this episode is sheer genius–a ritual sacrifice presented like two parents trying to assemble a child’s toy on Christmas Eve from indecipherable instructions. A demon needs his tribute, and what’s a busy executive to do? Hire a couple of schlubs to do it for him. You don’t need to understand the Latin, just sound it out. ‘Cause that’s going to impress the devil. Not.

[* And that almost makes the Senior Partners superfluous. As long as there are human beings around ready to take advantage of the evil in other human beings, what are the Senior Partners but metaphors for the temptation to evil?]

Epiphany

Suffice it to say, Angel doesn’t lose his soul. He kicks Darla out, runs to help Kate (who has also given in to perfect despair), and then to help his friends. Which is all very exciting and heroic and all that, but the true highlight of the episode, IMO, is the Lindsey-Angel smack down.

All season, Lindsey has been obsessed with Darla, and her becoming a vampire again has only made that obsession stronger. For some period of time, he harbored her in his apartment while her burns healed, and he tried to protect her even after she went after a Senior Partner in Reprise (so tell me why they chose to promote him in “Dead End” instead of firing his ass two ways to Sunday?)

So when Lindsey figures out that Darla has slept with Angel, we see a whole new (although not completely unexpected) side of lawyer-boy. He comes out swingin’ (a sledge hammer), acting very much like a man who thinks he has a claim on a woman.

So the question arises. Did Darla and Lindsey ever sleep together? A lot of fans say yes. In fact, when Darla showed up pregnant in season 3, there was speculation all the way up through Offspring and even past that that the infant was actually Lindsey’s child and not Angel’s.

Personally, I’ve never been one of those people who assumed characters were having sex, or were even sexually attracted to each other, if I didn’t see any literal on-screen evidence for it (which is why I make such a lousy slasher). Like, for example, oh, a scene where they have sex? Obviously, there was sexual attraction, at least on Lindsey’s part. We get obsession, mooning, smoochies. But actual sex?

In “Epiphany”, Lindsey certainly acts like a man who might have “had” Darla. But the thing about obsession is that it doesn’t necessarily need a firm ground to stand on. It’s all about the one obsessed, not the object of their obsession. And all you need to get the one obsessed going is to put the wrong thing between them and the object of their obsession. And that, for Lindsey, is Angel.

Which leads to one of the most entertaining fight scenes on either show, in eight seasons. Lindsey runs Angel over with a truck, all righteous fury. Then Angel swipes his sledge hammer and crushes the plastic hand he was responsible for. Talk about adding insult to injury. And since you know Angel won’t lose the fight, and you know he won’t kill Lindsey, it’s all about watching the fun violence. Ow! Ooh!

Now to get philosophical for a moment. The way I see it, we get the real message of Angel the Series in Reprise and Epiphany. The true existentialist message of the show. There can be no “big win” against evil. The reality is, you must get up every morning and fight evil again, and then again, and every individual battle won is a victory if it saves one life or takes away some bit of pain. What matters is what we do now, today. “Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness… is the greatest thing in the world.”

So if that is the show’s message in a nut shell, the question arises–did Not Fade Away undercut that message?

“Not Fade Away” has a lot of resonance with “Reprise”. Both episodes pose the question, “Is fighting the evil Wolfram and Hart represent as easy as killing the masterminds behind the whole thing?” Both episodes answer this question with a “No.” In Reprise, Angel procures a ring he believes will allow him to kill the Senior Partners. In Not Fade Away, he and the gang take on the Senior Partners’ representatives–their eyes and arms on Earth–the Circle of the Black Thorn. Another resonance with NFA is that both moves are truly suicidal. Angel doesn’t expect to come back from either attack.

So what’s the difference between Reprise, where behaving this way is clearly a mistake, and NFA, where it’s supposedly not (other than the fact that at least in NFA, bad guys actually died)?

Not Fade Away and Reprise also both affirm that nothing we do matters in changing the big picture. Evil will always exist, you can’t defeat it once and for all. Holland tells Angel as much in the elevator ride in “Reprise”. Gunn raises the question to Anne in “NFA”. What if nothing you did mattered? Would you still fight?

There is no big win, and NFA was not the big win, and it’s quite possible our heroes died in that alley to accomplish only one thing–to bring down one (albeit powerful) source of evil. They won’t be around to get up the next morning to fight the Good Fight again. Does this somehow make their willingness to die for this one accomplishment less?

Disharmony

It’s no big secret that I have absolutely no use whatsoever for Harmony. But really, Harmony was the least of this episode’s problems:

1. O.K. — we know that Cordelia didn’t stay in contact with her Sunnydale friends at first in season 1 out of shame, but she got over that in “Room w/ a Vu”. So why did no one think to tell Cordelia that her best friend was a vampire? And wouldn’t Cordelia and Harmony herself have kept in touch? And if Harmony opted not to keep in touch because of the whole vampire issue, wouldn’t Cordelia have wondered what the deal was if her best friend NEVER contacted her for a year and a half after graduation??

2. And Vampire (un)Life Coach Doug’s big cooperative plan? “Turn two and one’s food?” Soooo anti-Darwinian and anti-economical and anti-abunchofotherstuff. You’ll run out of food really fast, at an exponential rate. How about turn one, two’s food? Especially if some get stored for the winter?

3. When exactly was there a vote about who would become the new boss of Angel Investigations? Up until “Disharmony”, Cordelia, Gunn, and Wesley worked as a team. They quibbled about whose name they would use as the name of the firm, and ended up just sticking with “Angel Investigations”. Now Angel is back and all of a sudden, Wesley’s the boss. Um… why? He doesn’t have seniority. He’s not the best fighter. Sure, he’s smart and can come up with plans, but that didn’t make him boss before.

Oh! He’s the only other White Guy! Silly me.

4. In this episode, Angel is desperate to get back on Cordelia’s good side (and not Wesley’s. Why?), so he lies to Cordelia about sleeping with Darla, which will come back to bite him in the butt, and he bribes her with new clothes. The look of anger and betrayal that Wesley gets on his face when he sees the latter is just…. wow. And yet they don’t follow up on that in the next episode at all. It’s just forgotten.

5. My next issue is really more of a problem with Season 5. Wesley HATED Harmony in “Disharmony”. So why promote her to Angel’s Executive Secretary, thereby guaranteeing this brainless annoying klutz would be around ALL THE TIME? Especially after she betrayed them?

6. The good stuff: I like Cordelia’s speech about how she is happy in her new life. She feels good about herself for what she does–doing good and helping people, rather than for what she is–cute and popular, as was the case in high school. Her transformation into a new and different character is complete, and it is convincing. I have a whole bunch of thoughts about where they took her after that, but I’ll save them for my season 3 reviews.

Dead End

Name your favorite Lindsey episode.

Dead End.

Name your favorite monologue/soliloquy in eight years of AtS and BtVS.

The Evil Hand Speech in Dead End.

Do you like buddy movies?

No, they bore me. Never was into male bonding.

Except for–

Dead End.

Enough with the praise. Here’s a question for you. After two years of observing their records, if you were a Wolfram and Hart executive and had to decide between promoting Lindsey or Lilah, who would you promote? Forget about their mutual incompetence. Just concentrate on what’s really important. Propensity for evil.

How.Stupid.Are.These.People? Lilah is a company gal all the way. Lindsey has betrayed the firm and the partners repeatedly. He takes showers every night when he gets home from the office. He’s unreliable. Moral (gasp!). And he’s got those evil hand issues.

Duh.

And yet, Lindsey gets the hand transplant, and he’s offered the promotion, while Lilah is apparently going to be transferred to the branch office in Hell.

WTF?

I mean, just look at how Lindsey deals with the whole hand thing. Soon after his transplant, Lindsey discovers something funky is going on with his new hand. He’s writing kill kill kill on everything. It’s crazy! So he starts a personal investigation into his hand’s origin right around the same time the gang starts looking into someone’s funky new eyeball.

Which puts Lindsey and Angel in that fun slap-stick buddy-movie pairing (did anyone else find the Angel/Lindsey bickering a tad over the top in places? When it bordered on juvenile, it just seemed OOC to me).

Together, Lindsey and Angel discover that Wolfram and Hart are harvesting body parts from live people, people who are being kept alive while their bodies are slowly disassembled for other people’s use. Ewww. So our heroes put a stop to this, save the people they can and mercy-kill the others, and then Lindsey decides it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge.

A lot of people think Lindsey was redeemed at the end of this episode. Personally, I think he was just tired of being jerked around and used by Wolfram and Hart. Yes, he does have a sense of ethics. But he doesn’t necessarily listen to it when it interferes with what he perceives is his personal self-interest. I think he still believes in the philosophy of, “You’re either the user or the used.” Which is why he’s going to get one up on Wolfram and Hart before they get one up on him. I mean, they’re not really just going to let him walk away, any more than they would have let Lilah walk away after being fired. They’ll be after him, and he knows that.

And how do you get one up on Wolfram and Hart? “The key to Wolfram and Hart is to not play their game. You gotta make them play yours.” Lindsey doesn’t forget that in Season 5 (he’s just not very *good* at it). Angel, on the other hand, does forget that in “Home” (for the best of reasons, but still).

Bye, bye, Linds. See you on the other side of seasons 3 and 4.

A note on Cordelia: I think it’s “Dead End” where M.E. starts the Cordelia-really-can’t-handle-her-visions thing. But they don’t do much more with it than have her cry and complain until “That Vision Thing”, and even then we have to wait until “Birthday” for a resolution.

Having dabbled in writing virtual television now myself, I realize how hard it is to keep viewers aware of a plot thread that you don’t plan to pay off for a while. When it’s something like, “the visions are hurting me”, there’s not much building and changing that can be done, so you end up with weekly repetition of the same refrain. Trying to make the repetition, well, not boring is a challenge.

The question is, this is episode 18 of season 2. Were they already planning to half-demonize Cordelia at this point, or were they just playing with a possibility (“the visions hurt”), unsure where they would take it?

58 thoughts on “Angel, Season 2 eps 15-18

  1. So if that is the show’s message in a nut shell, the question arises–did Not Fade Away undercut that message?

    To me, that comes down to how each individual interprets the attack in NFA. (Seeing as ME never stated anything officially.) To what extent one thinks Angel’s plan was based more in hope or despair. Personally, I take the cue that it’s more hope than despair, because if it were despair one would have expected him to throw more behind it than just those last few principals. (Wes, Gunn, Illyria and Spike)

    So why did no one think to tell Cordelia that her best friend was a vampire?

    It’s even odder considering that she and Willow were portrayed as talking on the phone at the end of S4/1. It’s a cheap storytelling trick that makes characters look dumb or callous. (Cordy never asked about Harmony, and her friends never told her.)

    And Doug’s scheme. Keep in mind – that’s actually how Ponzi schemes work. They’re unsustainable scams. But the guy at the top takes the big profit and then skips town, leaving everyone else holding the bag.

    The other interesting thing for me — was Wes more upset at Cordy for “selling out”, at Angel for thinking solely of Cordy, or because of what she “sold out” for.

    As for the rest. It seems, in hindsight, that playing the “Cordelia is the only person that matters to Angel card” must have been setup for the eventual C/A-Jasmine arc ME was formulating at the time.

    She (Cordy) feels good about herself for what she does–doing good and helping people, rather than for what she is–cute and popular, as was the case in high school.

    The question for me becomes – did this eventually replace her self-image in such a way that she started to backslide. That, instead of feeling good about herself for what she did, she started valuing herself because of her status again – only now, her status as the important seer and right hand of the PtB’s Chosen Champion. Who, more and more, is shown treating her as the Most Important of his associates.

  2. They promoted Lindsey because he’s male. I think Lilah in some sense really addresses the issue of women in power–we are shown no other women in high positions in WH, and she is repeatedly scowled at and passed up for male favorites–even Gavin seems to get mor epats on the head and promotion and encouragement. Every time Lilah makes good–or bad–she does it either by undercutting the boss or because there is no one else to do the job. She is never promoted for her own ability, while the male associates are continually groomed.

    Hey, it’s just like real life…

  3. Personally, I take the cue that it’s more hope than despair, because if it were despair one would have expected him to throw more behind it than just those last few principals. (Wes, Gunn, Illyria and Spike)

    I’m not sure I understand this. I would have thought it would be the other way around–“hope” would be signfied by “throwing more behind it”, and “despair” would have been signified by just the gang.

    It’s a cheap storytelling trick that makes characters look dumb or callous. (Cordy never asked about Harmony, and her friends never told her.)

    You mean that ME used the trick in order to introduce the element of surprise–so we’d be able to see Cordelia’s reaction, and get that lame lesbian misunderstanding–but that trick backfired on them, because it made the characters look dumb and callous?

    that’s actually how Ponzi schemes work. They’re unsustainable scams. But the guy at the top takes the big profit and then skips town, leaving everyone else holding the bag.

    Is that the same thing as a “pyramid” scheme?

    The other interesting thing for me — was Wes more upset at Cordy for “selling out”, at Angel for thinking solely of Cordy, or because of what she “sold out” for.

    I think that Angel was more worried about Cordelia’s feelings about him than the guys’, but I’m not sure they necessarily had a Cordy/Angel romance planned at that point. I think it’s that he’s just been closer to Cordelia at this point, he considered her more of a friend.

    The question for me becomes – did this eventually replace her self-image in such a way that she started to backslide. That, instead of feeling good about herself for what she did, she started valuing herself because of her status again – only now, her status as the important seer and right hand of the PtB’s Chosen Champion. Who, more and more, is shown treating her as the Most Important of his associates.

    This is exactly one of the points I’m going to be making in my Season 3 analyses, because I think this is in fact what happened. Cordelia’s transformation into a Champion from the Cheerleader doesn’t necessarily change who she is at the core, and status is important to her, and what happened in season 4 is in some small part attributible to her hubris, to her believing she was the sort of person who could be elevanted to “a higher being” in Tomorrow.

  4. They promoted Lindsey because he’s male.

    I was going to suggest that, but it seemed in this case that even gender bias couldn’t be so blinding as to make them THAT incompetent in their decision. I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they had some other better reason for choosing the candidate who was so CLEARLY worse, and in fact, had pretty much made himself an enemy.

    But I guess not.

  5. I would have thought it would be the other way around–“hope” would be signfied by “throwing more behind it”, and “despair” would have been signified by just the gang.

    I guess we have differing strategic approaches. For me, if I’m gonna do something like what Angel does out of complete despair, I’d throw the kitchen sink to make sure W&H feels the most pain. Otherwise, why even bother at all? If I’m doing it from a more hopeful perspective – like I think there’s going to be an end result people can enjoy – then I’m not going to want anybody to be unnecessarily hurt.

    You mean that ME used the trick in order to introduce the element of surprise but that trick backfired on them, because it made the characters look dumb and callous?

    Exactly. It almost always works out that way whenever someone writes that way. Granted, they would have had trouble writing the episode if Cordy already knows, but it still makes them look dumb. Just as I’ve always assumed various characters had looked into Angel’s loophole offscreen at one point or another, simply because it would be dumb of them not to. And until I hear onscreen that no one has done this, I’m going to assume someone has.

    Ponzi scheme: An investment swindle in which high profits are promised from fictitious sources and early investors are paid off with funds raised from later ones. (Named for Charles Ponzi, who made the practice infamous.) And yeah — that’s pretty much what pyramid schemes are.

    I’m not sure they necessarily had a Cordy/Angel romance planned at that point.

    I think it must have occurred to them, though it might not have been planned. Certainly, I think the network split was probably the biggest element – as that precluded any crossovers with BtVS. At which point, the writers probably felt the need to develop a more concrete in-show romance for the lead.

  6. Gavin was a real estate agent and they promoted him to be basically equal with Lilah after all this. They are clearly not comfortable having a woman in charge of special projects if they dredged out some underling almost instantly after her promotion.

    Angel and Buffy have always been all about the real life parallel. I think this is adly on par with corporate procedure.

    At least it’s shown as evil.

  7. I think the fact that she has no problem believing herself to be the messiah and is incapable of empathy with Fred’s non-messiah experience in Pylea really shows this, and shows that the Pylea arc was not as superfluous as it might have seemed when it aired. Her sighing about missing the place and obvious joy and comfort in the princess role–almost relief, as if the world finally made sense with her as royalty.

  8. I guess as far as the message of NFA was concerned, it’s ME’s notion of strategy that matters, rather than yours or mine, but as you point out, that’s precisely what we don’t know. ; )

    Just as I’ve always assumed various characters had looked into Angel’s loophole offscreen at one point or another, simply because it would be dumb of them not to. And until I hear onscreen that no one has done this, I’m going to assume someone has.

    Angel’s “loophole”?

    Ponzi scheme: An investment swindle in which high profits are promised from fictitious sources and early investors are paid off with funds raised from later ones. (Named for Charles Ponzi, who made the practice infamous.) And yeah — that’s pretty much what pyramid schemes are.

    And those chain letters where you mail people on a list a buck each and later are supposed to get back more than you put in.

    At which point, the writers probably felt the need to develop a more concrete in-show romance for the lead.

    Assuming they could explain away the happiness clause of the curse, which while a brilliant story-telling device in Season 2 of BtVS became a big albatross later.

    And, I wish they could have gone a different route than Angel/Cordy. I enjoyed their friendship, I think it was good for both of them as characters. I would have been OK with a Nina-type romance earlier in the show if they’d convincingly found a way around the happiness clause thing.

  9. Yes but Lilah was so superior in her evil…. You’d think they’d have noticed.

    I never got the impression they made Gavin her equal in any way. They just put him in her department and expected her to take him onto her team and she didn’t like that.

  10. At least it’s pointed out, by virtue of W&H having a glass ceiling, that women are not inherently evil.

    Which is almost ruined by Eve and her stupid apple in S5.

  11. Yes but Lilah was so superior in her evil…. You’d think they’d have noticed.

    Superior corporate women are passed up all the time. That is completely true to form.

    And in S3-S4 or so, Gavin and the Holland v3 boss she eventually beheaded were all kinds of tight and close, both of them giving her dirty looks. Hv3 even praised Gavin for getting things done while questioning Lilah’s sex life. It’s classic misogynist glass ceiling syndrome.

  12. Was she “incapable” of empathy? I think she was capable of it and in fact showed it, but was a bit more caught up in her own ‘princess’ role. She certainly showed sympathy for the slaves as a whole group in that role.

  13. It was never clear to me that Eve really was a woman. She was a “child of the senior partners”, a creation of theirs, and could merely have been “dressed up in women’s clothes” so to speak.

    And I think the glass ceiling for women at W&H doesn’t prove women aren’t inherently evil, it just proves that the men who run the firm are so blinded by sexism they’re incompetent in picking out which women in their firm ARE evil.

    ; )

  14. I think she treated Fred abominably at the end of S2 and the beginning of S3. Cordelia has never liked other women threatening her queen bee role–cf. her attitude and treatment of Bethany, which was not entirely about her personal safety–and she was never warm to Fred at all. She had to be continually reminded that Pylea was not a paradise, and that Fred’s experience was not exactly royal. Cordelia treated Fred much the way she treated Willow–tolerated, but not loved or considered an equal.

  15. empathy for oppressed groups is easy. For an individual woman who is suddenly a part of your peer group and drawing romantic attention from everyone, not so much.

  16. I suppose it might have been different if Fred had played the Cordette role and fawned after her, but for the most part, Cordelia has always struck me as more of a guy’s gal–she is comfortable in friendships with men.

  17. Because they don’t threaten her status as Greatest Woman Alive. They confirm it by wanting to be around her, even in non-sexual ways. Queen Bee + Worker Bees.

  18. that’s precisely what we don’t know. ; )

    This was a common frustration I had with both BtVS-7 and AtS-5. There are some critical aspects of character motivation ME chooses not to reveal to the audience. (What does Buffy actually want? – for example. How does Angel’s strategy indicate what he’s actually thinking/feeling?) I feel like that’s stuff we ought to know, but that ME deliberately played coy.

    And by loophole – I do mean the Happiness Clause. Which is a giant albatross. He can’t actually do anything that approaches self-actualization without ruining everything – and knowing that, loses much motivation to even bother. He’s essentially in romantic stasis. He can have short-term, non-serious, friends w/benefit type relationships, but anything more serious geared toward the long term is just rehashing what he’s already done with Buffy.

  19. I’ve been watching season 3, and Cordelia was quite encouraging of Wesley/Fred. She encouraged it on both sides, encouraged Fred towards Wesley and encouraged Wesley’s feelings towards Fred. She spent maybe one sentence reminding Wesley he used to have feelings for her, and then she moved on.

  20. I think when she realized that it wasn’t just the brainy guys lusting for each other and Cordelia being the big sister guiding the innocent kid, but that Fred was becoming a new center of woman-attention, she lost interest in helping out.

  21. Not just romantic stasis, but stasis as a character. Self-actualization enters into all parts of your life. Real happiness can occur in a romance, or it can occur because your son is a chip off the old block and has made you proud. Happiness can happen when your career is going really well.

    Basically, we are left with a character who must always be slightly mopey if he is to remain a sympathetic character, but his growth as a person is always stunted by the fear of being truly happy about anything.

  22. I don’t think she lost interest in helping out. Fred and Gunn quite soon became involved, and Cordelia herself got caught up in that part-demon thing and caring for baby Connor and then helping Angel cope with losing Connor and then helping Angel deal with teen Connor.

    I’m not saying Cordelia didn’t have a lot of hubris around being made part demon by Skip and all the physical changes that occured to her then, because she did, but I don’t think she’s quite as callous as you make her out to be.

  23. Agree, agree, agree, with so many things.

    I’m so glad I wasn’t imagining the hurt and betrayed look on Wesley’s face in Disharmony; I think that was a little character growth spurt there, but not necessarily a favorable one for the character.

    I never actually thought about Lindsey and Angel having sex. Hm. Well, Darla was familiar with using sex as a job, survival tactic, manipulation, I’m guessing from her personality and her former profession. However, Lindsey was so aimless in his obsession for her that I’m going to go with NO. I think in his case Darla was holding out the promise of sex, possibly as a culmination of his ‘courting’ her. All speculation of course. But Lindsey didn’t seem like his obsession was grounded in real events. And I never saw him as getting angry that Angel touched his property, more that he got there first (in the here and now.) I never thought about your view about it though; good food for thought.

    As far as Cordy knew Harmony was dead, right? Not sure if she said that or “How’ve you been” when she saw her. But if Cordy thought Harmony was dead, I can see the Sunnydale crew not wanting to mention the vampire thing, thinking it would be useless to upset Cordy as Harmony would most likely get staked and why would she leave Sunnydale anyway.

  24. I think she’s just a narcissist. It’s not really an insult, it’s just kind of the constant of her character. When it’s about Wesley/Fred, it connects to her, her past with Wesley. She is not nearly so connected to Gunn. She gets “caught up” in the rest because it’s about her, because she becomes a mother to Connor–Fred is never even close to that role, but Cordelia claims it, I have to think at least in part because it is her status as Angel’s right eye that informs so much of her self-image.

  25. Very true.

    Certainly – to me – this makes him far more sympathetic. If you picture, for a moment, what the reality of his life must be for him. Knowing that he’s quite literally not allowed to find contentment – and that he has no particular expectation that this will ever change.

    That’s what got me sympathetic to him. And to Buffy as well. It’s all melodramatic/romanticized big angst for an observer – but for them it’s a pretty grim reality. (Though, after “Chosen”, Buffy can legitimately project a whole sort of life now. The numbers of slayers means Duty doesn’t have to swallow her life anymore. Angel’s is still swallowed by the curse.)

  26. What I remember at the time (the “time” being early season 3 when we were faced with pregnant Darla), was a lot of people speculating that the baby was Lindsey’s and me thinking “but they never slept together!” Of course, I could be wrong, maybe they *did* sleep together off camera. People usually assume that’s going on when I assume it’s not going on. I always need stronger evidence of that than other people. (which is why so much allegedly slashy subtext goes right over my head)

    Cordelia didn’t seem surprised to see Harmony standing there in the Hyperion lobby *alive*, only surprised to have her out of the blue show up like that. So I am assuming Cordelia didn’t know what happened to Harmony at graduation–they just never talked even once after the ceremony, nor did Cordelia hear stories or rumors that Harmony was dead.

  27. I suppose I meant ‘women aren’t more inherently evil than men’ as a contrast to what is put forth by ultra conservative religious types of all faiths on occasion and throughout history. W&H did’t have an army of succubi and so on.

    Nevermind, I see what you guys mean. I don’t disagree, I just like having more than one interpretation even if it’s just a slight one.

    I thought Eve proved to be a regular woman embued with special power that passed on to Hamilton because she fell for the wrong guy. Hm. Read that but exchange the male for the female bit and vice versa, and it sounds very Samson & Delilah-ish.

  28. I would have thought someone who was as much a narcissist as you claim would never be content being Angel’s good “right eye” but would want to stand out from under his shadow in her own lime light. And yet she really does define a lot of herself around how she is helpful to Angel. In some ways getting the visions makes her all “chosen” by the Powers, in other ways it humbles her into playing a role for the Powers, especially vis a vis Angel.

  29. Yes, I know. I’m like you, I usually miss the subtext and go by what’s on the screen. I was just speculating because I had never thought about it before but I can see both sides of the argument from a fanwanking standpoint.

  30. Angel is still swallowed by the curse, which is why the shanshu was supposed to have significance for him. Not as a reward, the toy at the bottom of the cereal box when he was all done his duty, but as a sort of “graduation” like Chosen was to Buffy–it would be the time he could hope for the things everyone else hopes for, happiness, family, love, blah blah, just as Buffy has hope for those things now.

    Which makes me sort of not like NFA again.

  31. But what has defined her has been being popular, which is not so much about who you are but what other people think of you. She needs to be thought of as part of a group, a clique. And she is the female leader–I think she has more than shown she’ll accept male authority while challenging female authority (Buffy).

    Also, I think this is part of what is so attractive about Pylea and ascension for her. She IS out from his shadow, she is finally lifted above Angel, and I htink that has a huge draw for her. It’s classic tragedy–hero’s fatal flaw is also her strength. At least Cordy acknowledges her status as hero among heroes instead of spouting Fred’s bullshit “I walk with heroes” line.

  32. In the first ep of the season, Wesley comments that Eve’s job is “a very powerful position for a young woman”, and Eve says, “How can you be sure I’m either of those things.”

    Then in “Origin”, Hamilton says to Angel, “I’m NOT a little girl”, implying that’s what Eve really was.

    On the other topic–M.E. was certainly *aware* of the belief that women are inherently evil or more evil than men. They had Wesley spouting exactly that viewpoint while he was under the influence in “Billy”, which I had the distinct displeasure of watching again recently. More on that fun when I do my review of that episode. Ech.

  33. After people pointed it out, then I did actually go, “huh. Maybe it *is* Lindsey’s”. But I had to have other people suggest it to me before I thought about it.

  34. I think in the beginning of the season there were hints dropped that Eve was a modified version of the Little Girl in the White Room, leaving it open for a later plot point but it didn’t go anywhere.

    Eve also went to college, University of California something. If she were a modified sekhtet thingy, why send her to college? Gunn didn’t need no stinkin’ college, according to W&H. Also, it wasn’t a very prestigious college. No offense to any graduates. I just mean if you’re promoting a demon to mimic a human, and you decide to take the time to send it to college, Harvard Business School seems more appropriate. 🙂

  35. Eve says that she’s “a child of the senior partners, created by them to do their bidding” in Underneath, which is episode 17 of season 5. Regardless of what gender she really is and whether or not she went to college and where, she isn’t just a human they hired out of the land o’ the Bananna Slugs.

    Also, re: Billy and the idea of innate female evil, Caleb was really big on that philosophy in Season 7 of BtVS and it was *him* who was evil while the Slayers were good. Mostly.

  36. Heh, but throwing Billy and Caleb into the same pot is blowing my mind. Because really, Caleb supports the ‘inherent male mysogyny exploited via supernatural means’ statement more than it turns the ‘inherent female evil’ idea on its ear. I’m not supposed to take the first one seriously (I don’t think) but it sort of, I don’t know, makes inherent evil an equal opportunity thing, I guess. Which, hey, supports Reprise; I found topic!

    Eve: Honestly, I always took the ‘child of the SP’, ‘little girl’, ‘W&H’s creation’ comments as metaphor. I see her as a human who became an actual product of her environment via a promotion or something. Her power passing onto Hamilton sort of negates the idea that Eve was anything more than she was post-Hamilton, IMO.

    Off topic, again: Before NFA I had the coolest speculation that Eve, trying to recover her immortality, would go get herself vamped. I like the way she turned out better, but if ST had been a better actress I might be clamoring for a followup story for her.

  37. Hehehee, you’re teasing me!

    Eve sucked. If they knew they weren’t going to explain her they should have stuck with Lilah and the season would have improved immensely.

  38. Oh, we were all wishing for Lilah. *How* we were wishing for Lilah. And creating a Lilah-esque (of such inferior quality) only made us pine more for Lilah.

    *sigh*
    *sobs!!*

  39. I don’t think some of those plot holes are as hole-y

    Dlgood mentioned the fact that pyramid schemes aren’t meant to work by their promoters, so I’ll ignore that one.

    Cordelia and Harmony – I think that it just shows the fact that the two of them were never really friends, more just allied predators, and that they way over-romnanticise things at their reunion because they’re both disappointed by how their lives turned out. I didn’t think we ever saw any real reapprochement between the two of them after Harmony turned on Codelia in The Wish.

    Lindsey’s promotion – it has always been my theory that the entire sequence of events in Dead End was planned in advance by W&H as something akin to a Cruciamentum for Lindsey, and he failed from their point of view. They wanted him to find out exactly where his hand came from and make the choice to keep it. Because (until S5) Wolfram & Hart are always about corruption rather than rule by force, and they’re always happier to corrupt someone who could potentially be good than just take advantage of someone who’s essentially evil. Think of “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…” and invert it.

  40. Re: I don’t think some of those plot holes are as hole-y

    That all sounds plausible enough. I’m usually the person madly trying to spackle in plot holes in AtS and BtVS–one could say I’ve made an avocation out of it, and I’ve tried to avoid nitpicking in these reviews as well. But I really didn’t have a lot more to say about “Disharmony”. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, and there were always one or two things that sort of bugged me about it.

  41. Re: un-holey plot holes

    Glad I read the entire way down here, since kds just said exactly what I wanted to say about Harmony and Cordelia. Plus, ‘allied predators’– great choice of words!

    I think that the irony in the ending was magnificent, where Cordy allows Harmony to leave without killing her, and admonishes Angel and the others to not comment on it. I think this was the first time she truly realized the tragedy of the situation, and had to evaluate just what the word ‘friendship’ actually means, and whether she was really Harmony’s friend.

    And sometimes being a friend means you do something stupid from a practical perspective, does it not?

    BTW, to Masq– This has been a very good discussion of these eps so far– might be nice to copy it over at ATPo or else post a link to LJ there.

  42. Re: I don’t think some of those plot holes are as hole-y

    Wow, you’re up early– only 8:30 here in the East. Insomnia again? Bummer!

    Take two plot holes and call me in the evening!

    😉

  43. Re: un-holey plot holes

    Copy the discussion? Because I’ve been posting all my reviews over at ATPo as I write them.

  44. Re: I don’t think some of those plot holes are as hole-y

    These days, if I manage to sleep to 5 am, I consider it a blessing. But I normally get up at 6 am every morning on the best days.

  45. Re: un-holey plots

    True, but sometimes there’s folks who only respond here, and not there. It was the responses to your thoughts here that I was talking about.

    Of course, the folks who post here could copy’n’paste from here to ATPo, but the overall thread flow would be lost.

    Anyway, just a suggestion. Before LittleBit told me (at our mini-meet earlier in the year) that there was all this Whedonverse discussion among ATPo-er’s going on at LJ, I was wondering why the board has dropped off in activity as much as it had.

    Perhaps Existential Scoobies could have a page dedicated to ATPo-LJ poster cross-links, and a link to that page posted at the ATPo board header? This could be handy, esp. since the names may be different over here.

  46. ATPoers and LJ

    There has always been a bit of reluctance to post the URLs of people’s LJs over on the board or ES. It’s not that they’re any secret, but, at least in the beginning of the ATPo move to LJ, people’s LJs were considered their “safe place” to discuss and rant etc without the public scrutiny of the board.

    Any ATPo visitor who put their mind to it could find their way over here, but it’s always been my personal policy not to make it easy by posting a lot of links.

    And while it’s true that we can friend’s lock posts that we don’t want just anyone to read, I’ve always found myself uncomfortable with having to do that just to feel safe speaking my mind in my LJ.

    Other ATPo LJers feel differently than me, but that’s always been my thing, which is why I cross-post all my Buffyverse essays to both boards.

  47. Yes on Reprise and Epiphany. I loved that whole section of season 2. For a while I loved season 2 more than season 3 because of that section.

    Some notes:

    I never thought Darla and Lindsey slept together. I pretty much thought Darla wasn’t that interested, but that Lindsey really was. She occasionally fed his interest when she was needy or confused or bored, but I don’t think she ever gave in. But it seemed clear that Lindsey was very interested in Darla. Maybe for some twisted reasons, but I think there were a few untwisted reasons as well. So when Lindsey came down on Angel with the sledgehammer I thought it was because Angel took his girl–whether or not he ever really had her wasn’t something I bothered to consider. I think that probably he didn’t. But I couldn’t say for sure. What I could say is that if Darla did sleep with him, it was probably not something she felt very emotional about.

    I still think that “not fade away” and “reprise” constradict each other. At least in the way that kind of matters to me… in “reprise/epiphany” Angel learned that not only can’t he do a kamakazi mission on the senior partners and eradicate evil in any real way, but he also learned that his dark, compassionless, suicidal approach to the problem wasn’t the best way to go. The better way was to value the things you could contribute, those kindnesses that make all the difference. So he went back to his friends and asked to be taken back in. I really loved that moment.

    Towards the end of season 5, there was that thing where a woman was signing away her baby to a cult of some kind. Gunn was just coming out of the daze that was season 5 and was very much against it. Angel overrode him and said we can’t worry about little things like this, we have to be thinking out our next step. Gunn says, “She is our next step.”

    Ok I found it: Angel: “I need you to get through this, to get through all of it so we can figure out the big picture and plot our next move.”

    Gunn: “Angel… she is our next move.”

    “Time Bomb”, four from the end. I know we find out later that Angel was faking it and wasn’t as nuts as he appeared. But to me that dialogue summed up everything I found wrong. Angel was willing to re-rescue the baby during his big move, but he was still thinking the same way.

    Disharmony:

    Cordy was talking to an old friend at the end of room with a view, but we never really saw her doing it again. Of course that doesn’t mean she didn’t, just that it was a private, apartment thing to do and she didn’t share it with the guys. But I wonder how many of her old friends she really would have had anything in common with. And did she ever talk to the scooby gang? That might be the important question. She had split with them pretty well by mid season 3 when she broke up with Xander. Outside of them, and maybe a few observant others, who would know Harmony was a vampire? I could see Cordy happening not to talk to someone who knew.

    I thought I remember Wes settling into the leadership role when it was called for. I can’t remember when, but when he announced he was the boss I wasn’t too surprised. In what episode did he call his dad? It was before this one, I’m sure. I can’t remember when I saw Wes slide into the boss role, but it seemed like he was the only one trying to do it. Yes, they did work together as a team, but then they usually did with Angel, too.

    Evil hand–yes. yes yes yes. That was the best “I Quit” speech ever. But you’re right, why would they ever pick Lindsey over Lilah?

    The only answer I could think might be competence. They don’t care if Lindsey has a tendency to betray them and Lilah is loyal. They might think they can handle that. After all, he betrayed them once and they promoted him. They might have simply decided that he’s, if not more ruthless, at least less likely to screw up. Although I think I recall both of them screwing up about equally.

    Now I want to go watch that speech again. 🙂

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