Angel - Five By Five

Summary

A young man encounters what seem to be some bums burning something. He's a gang member and he starts telling them to leave his territory. Then we realize they are demons burning human remains. They chase him. Wesley and Angel show up and kill the demons by decapitating them. Angel offers the man, Marquez, a ride. At the bus station, Faith arrives in LA. A guy comes over to her. He's probably a pimp trying to pick her up. She beats him up and steals his money and keys.

We flashback to Darla and Angelus. She's brought him a present, a gypsy girl for him to kill while she watches. Of course, this is the girl who was the cause of his curse. Back in the present, they are at the office and Angel is trying to get Marquez to do the right thing. Cordelia says he won't, that guys don't change. Wesley tells Cordelia that he has a soul and therefore wants to do what is right. At a club, Faith is dancing. She starts a fight and beats up several people. In court, Wolfram & Hart are defending someone who will soon get off because no witnesses are willing to testify. Then Angel walks in with Marquez, the witness. Wolfram & Hart are really upset and decide to do something. They discover Faith is in town and intend to contact her. The lawyers we've seen before, including the woman from The Ring, are setting this up.

Cordelia finds a new client, only it's a divorce case and she keeps this secret from Angel and Wesley. They return to tell her they won at the trial. The lawyers contact Faith. Another flashback has Darla coming home to discover a cursed Angelus, now Angel. She drives him out, disgusted by his soul. At the Wolfram & Hart offices, they tell Faith they want her to kill Angel. She quickly agrees. One of the lawyers annoys her, and she pounds his head into the table. The other two look on amused.

Angel, Wesley, and Cordelia are going to meet the new client at lunch. Cordelia tells them it's a divorce case and they are upset. Faith sneaks up behind and shoots at Angel with a crossbow. He catches the bolt. She says this is going to be fun. They are shocked to see her. Angel phones Giles and gets the lowdown on Faith. Wesley is upset Giles didn't contact him immediately since he was Faith's watcher. Angel tells them he wants them to track Faith for him and hide. He doesn't want them getting in the way. Wesley objects. He also says Angel must try to save Faith, not necessarily kill her. Angel says he had a chance before and Wesley blew it.

Later, Faith shows up at his office. She has a gun and gives it to him. She says she's giving him a chance to kill her. He shoots, but doesn't aim to kill and it's a blank anyway. He tosses back the gun. She says he's not in the game. She wonders whether he would enjoy killing her so much that it would activate the curse and cost him his soul. She says she'd enjoy that. She shoots him, the second bullet isn't a blank. Angel dons a suit and wanders into the offices of Wolfram & Hart. He's mistaken as a lawyer by another lawyer and bluffs his way through a conversation. He breaks into an office. Lindsay, the lawyer, walks in. He tells Angel he's committed a crime by breaking in. He denies all knowledge of Faith. He also says the office has mystical barriers and a vampire can't walk in without them knowing it. That the police have been called and everything is being recorded. A guard walks in an Angel takes him out. Lindsay also reminds Angel of the time, in City of, that he hurled a client through the window. Angel says if the body hadn't burnt up before reaching the ground, he might have needed a good lawyer. He leaves and Lindsay comments on his suit.

Wesley and Cordelia are going to her apartment for her to pack a few things. Her ghost, Dennis, won't let them in at first. When they do get in, they discover Faith is already there. She says Angel isn't in the game and she feels they are the key to getting him involved. Wesley says they want to help her, that he believes she really isn't bad. She hits Cordelia knocking her out. Wesley punches her knocking her down. She kicks him and knocks him out. Flashback to Angel approaching a group of men and a woman. They take him for a beggar, but he wants the woman. He beats up the men and grabs her, biting her throat. In the present, Angel is at Cordelia's and she tells him what happened. Wesley is gone. Faith has Wesley tied up and is torturing him. He stands up to her, calling her names and refusing to be cowed. She breaks some glass to get something sharp for the next stage of the torture. Cordelia and Angel figure out where Faith is.

Faith is looking out an open window. She drops a piece of bloody glass to the ground below. She goes back into the room and says she's going to try fire now. She starts asking Wesley if he believes in fate and destiny, whether they were destined for this confrontation or if things could have been different. If Wesley had been a better watcher, would she have been a better person. She claims she doesn't think about things like that. She removes his gag saying she wants to hear him scream. He says she never will. Angel bursts into the room. Flashback to Angel and the woman. He can't kill her and stumbles away. Back in the present, Faith holds a knife to Wesley's throat. But he manages to turn his chair over. Angel attacks her and the knife falls near Wesley. As Angel and Faith fight, Wesley works to get at the knife and free himself. They fall out the window and continue fighting in the alley. Faith keeps claiming that she is bad, Angel says he won't make it easy for her. It starts to rain. Wesley comes down in time to hear Faith pleading with Angel to kill her and collapsing, sobbing in his arms. Wesley drops the knife.

Analysis

For most of this episode, I was thinking that they didn't have enough script for a whole episode and were padding it out with some Angelus/Darla scenes. I actually felt that way right until the final scene. Then I realized what was really happening. We were being shown the parallel between the lives of Angel and Faith. Both are raised in virtue (we saw the upbringing Angel (as Liam) had from his religious father in Prodigal and we know what the council and specifically Wesley and Giles were trying to do for Faith. In both cases, good intentions are marred by poor execution by characters who don't understand them and mishandle them (the father and Wesley). In both cases, we have already dissolute characters (Angel is a drunkard and promiscuous and Faith practises a take what you want or who you want philosophy - seen in episodes like The Zeppo and Bad Girls). In both cases, they are seduced from mere dissolution to real evil by a character who offers them love - Darla and the mayor. In both cases, they seek revenge against their families. Angel kills his mother, sister, and father. Faith attacks Joyce (her surrogate mother), attempts to destroy Buffy (her sister in slayerdom) - both in This Year's Girl, and tortures Wesley (her surrogate father) in this episode.

More importantly, we see the scene of Angel's start toward redemption paralleled with Faith's similar movement. Angelus is cursed and abandoned even by Darla. But even with a soul, he tries to kill once more. This is something we were never told about Angel before. You can't hold his soulless evils against him, but to continue in evil when he does have a soul is truly sinful. He beats up the men and attacks the woman, but cannot bring himself to actually kill her. Similarly, Faith is abandoned by the mayor, although not of his own free will. She has a soul inducing moment (when she opts to return to Sunnydale to fight the vampires who have invaded the church in Who Are You). But she still is ready to kill Angel. Yet when it comes to the final moment, she cannot bring herself to do it.

Earlier in the episode, Wesley spoke of how having a soul meant part of you always knew what was right and wanted to do that. Angel proved that by getting the man they saved to testify. He proved it again by breaking down Faith's will to kill. Faith keeps complaining Angel is not in the game. She does things to bring him to a murderous rage. Not to turn him into Angelus, but to provide herself with an excuse for killing him. But Angel won't play. He won't fight as hard as she wants him to. He won't go for the kill. And her soul won't let her kill him. For Faith kill or be killed has turned into kill me. Wesley realizes this when he approaches Faith and Angel in the alley and drops his knife. His intent was to kill her, but he sees that her actions are merely suicidal. He said earlier Faith was sick and needed help and he was right. Faith cannot stand her current life, cannot see an alternative, and is ready to choose death. There is a parallel to the same decision being made by Angel in Amends (A Buffy Christmas). It snowed that day and saved him from death and as Faith collapses in tears it is raining.

It's possible Faith will not be redeemed. In fact, redeeming her would lose one of the best villains Buffy and Angel have so I'm almost hoping it won't happen. But her salvation isn't the only one at stake here. There is also Wesley. He failed as her watcher and even Faith realizes that. She says as much to him when she is torturing him. And Angel makes a similar point when he says he was close to saving Faith when Wesley intervened in Consequences. In Parting Gifts, Wesley confessed that the council fired him as a watcher because of his failure. Working with Angel is Wesley's attempt to regain his self respect. But redeeming Faith, making up for his great failure, would set the record straight. Wesley implicitly recognizes this point when he complains that Giles didn't call him immediately Faith was out of her coma. He refers to himself as Faith's watcher. Despite all that has happened, he has not abandoned that role. It's interesting to remember that Faith is a rogue slayer (she is often referred to as such) and Wesley described himself as a rogue demon hunter when he first appears in LA in Parting Gifts. There is a strong and unbreakable tie between Wesley and Faith.

Part of the reason Angel hired Wesley was to help him regain his self respect. Wesley has gone to the mat for Angel before, most notably in The Ring when he tracks Angel down and goes to rescue him. By rejecting Wesley's aid, Angel is undoing some of the good he has done. But he's also forcing Wesley to become an independent agent, not merely an assistant. Not unlike the way Angel has been forced to become independent of Buffy. When Wesley tells Angel he must try to save Faith, he takes that first step toward independence, standing up against Angel. And this also brings up his failure. Angel did try to redeem Faith and it was Wesley who messed that up. Wesley tries again when Faith appears in Cordelia's apartment, saying he believes she is not truly bad. But Faith isn't listening to him. Angel claims Wesley's original intervention made it impossible for Faith to trust anyone and he may be right. Wesley stands up again, this time to Faith, when he refuses to play her game and assures her he'll never scream. But Wesley's best moment comes when he doesn't kill the crying and helpless Faith. He realizes he was right and despite what has happened to him (not unlike the torture Giles suffered at the hands of Angel) he cannot kill her because she has a soul and can be saved.

Doyle, whose sin was not helping Brachen demons from the Scourge, set things to rights by dying to save a different set of demons from the Scourge. Wesley is clearly following in those footsteps, although he needn't die to succeed. But he does have to do something to make up for his failing. He took a big step forward in this episode by realizing that Faith was making a move toward redemption and not killing her.

Faith's musings about fate and destiny suggest she'd like to believe what is happening is not her fault, but inevitable. And if she can convince Wesley of that, or of his own responsibility, the better for her. But this is very much the opposite of the Nietzschean philosophy that was so much a part of Faith in last season's Buffy. Then she promoted a philosophy of strength makes right and of taking what you want. Now she suggests she is a simply a pawn of destiny. Or that her failure is the responsibility of others who have failed. Before Faith didn't believe in any sense of right or wrong and so didn't worry about responsibility. But since the events of This Year's Girl and Who Are You she has changed. Believing in right and wrong she now has to make excuses for her evil. And realizing you have done something wrong is the first step to redemption.

Some quick final thoughts. Cordelia has a moment of humanity when she asks how Buffy is. She's really becoming a nice person. I like the way Faith's entrance into Angel's office is paralleled with his entrance into the offices of Wolfram & Hart. I'm also glad Wolfram & Hart have finally decided to do something serious about Angel. I also like Faith's suggestion that killing her might be the perfect happiness that costs Angel his soul. I believe a slayer could take Angel out. The fact that Faith with so many opportunities didn't suggests she really didn't want to. The scene with Faith dropping the bloody piece of glass was incredibly effective. Far more so than any torture scene they could have shown on tv.

Lines of the week:

"Pretty lively coma." - Cordelia surprised to see an ambulatory Faith.

"We're not a team, I'm your boss." - Angel pulling rank.

"You know just when I think I got you figured out, you show up in a suit." - Lindsay on the mystery that is Angel.

"You never will." - Wesley to Faith when she says she wants to hear him scream.

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