Angel - To Shanshu in LA

Summary

Wesley is still translating the scroll Angel got in Blind Date and is hung up on the word shanshu. Cordelia kids him. Someone approaches the building. Cordelia reads an item in the paper about Lindsey becoming a junior partner at Wolfram & Hart. Angel hears something and they go out to find Nabbit from Warzone. He's wearing a cape and is on his way to be dungeon master but dropped by to hang with them. He goes into the office, excited to be around them. He complains that all he does is make money while they do something important. We cut to some monks chanting a ritual. There is a burst of flame and a being (Vocah) suddenly appears. He is greeted by Holland, Lilah, and Lindsey and leaves with them. Nabbit calms down and leaves the office. Wesley suddenly has an idea about shanshu, he discovers it means death, that Angel will die. Angel is completely unconcerned. Cordelia has one of her visions and Angel rushes to catch her. She sees a homeless woman being attacked by a slime demon. Angel goes to her rescue, leaving Wesley to look after Cordelia.

Vocah is angry that they have lost the scroll since it is essential to their plans to destroy Angel. He says he will retrieve it and cut Angel off from all access to the powers that be. He tells the lawyers to stay out of it. Kate arrives at the site of the slime demon attack. The officers already there make fun of her obsession with weird cases. She encounters Angel who has already dispatched the demon. She says she wants to rid the city of his kind.

Wesley tells Cordelia he's worried about Angel and his lack of concern over the prophecy. He feels Angel is cut off from life because he doesn't want or desire anything. Cordelia says they have to help him become more alive, although Wesley doesn't think they can. Angel arrives and Cordelia tries to get him to want something: coffee, doughnuts, a puppy, a ficus, an ant farm. Wesley leaves to check out the rare book stores for more information on translating the scroll. Angel says he'll lock it up in the weapon cabinet. Wesley and Cordelia suggest he visit the oracles, but he doesn't want to. But Vocah does visit the oracles. Evil beings are not supposed to be able to enter their realm, but he says the old order is passing. They refuse to talk to him, but he materializes a blade to kill them. Meanwhile Cordelia is shopping and buys art supplies from a street vendor for Angel, hoping this will give him some interest in life. Vocah walks past her (actually since no one sees him and he seems to vanish I'm not sure if it is him or a projection) and touches her. In seconds, she starts having visions and blinding pain to accompany them. The visions don't stop and she collapses. The street vendor rushes to help her.

Vocah enters Angel's office. Angel senses something, but doesn't see him. He locks the scroll in the weapon cabinet. He gets a call about Cordelia and rushes to the hospital. Vocah breaks into the cabinet and takes the scroll. He leaves something behind. At the hospital, Angel finds a screaming Cordelia. The doctors cannot understand what is causing her fits or what to do to help her. Wesley returns to the office with some books. He notices the cabinet and opens it, he immediately moves away. Angel drives up to the office. As he walks toward it, the building explodes. Angel enters the burning building and carries an unconscious Wesley to safety. The firemen and police arrive and Wesley is taken to hospital. Kate is there and tries to detain Angel, but he refuses to stay. He tells her he is sorry about her father but tired of her blaming him for things she can't handle. At the hospital, Angel is at Wesley's bedside. He then walks to Cordelia's room where she is in restraints and heavily sedated. He promises to cure her and notices a mark on the back of her hand. He visits the oracles, only to find them dead. The spirit of the dead female oracle talks to him. She tells him Vocah, a warrior of the underworld, killed them. That he also hurt Cordelia by opening her mind to all those in pain and that she has little time left. She says he can cure Cordelia with the scroll and the words of Anatole. She says Vocah is here for the raising and that he hides behind man's law. She vanishes. Angel takes the blade Vocah left behind.

Gunn is collecting food from a restaurant. Angel arrives and tells him he wants Gunn to protect Cordelia and Wesley in the hospital while he hunts down Vocah. Vampires are chained to the outside of a large box. The monks and Vocah enter, this is part of the ritual they are going to perform. Angel is watching the offices of Wolfram & Hart and sees Lilah, Lindsey, and Holland. Lilah says they'll be late, but Holland says you never want to be on time for a ritual. He tells Lindsey the senior partners are watching him and how he carries out this assignment. They drive off and Angel follows.

Vocah is leading the monks in the ritual as the lawyers arrive. Vocah senses something, puts the scroll on top of the box, and walks toward the window. Angel comes crashing in and he and Vocah fight. Holland just says 'Lindsey'. Lindsey grabs the scroll and continues the ritual. The vampires are disintegrated and a whirl wind circles the box. Holland sends Lilah for the movers. There is a burst of energy from the box knocking down Lindsey. Holland, Lilah and the others flee with the box leaving Vocah and Angel battling and Lindsey lying there. Angel is using the blade Vocah left with the oracles. He smashes in Vocah's face, revealing maggots. He then kills Vocah. Lindsey has the scroll and refuses to give it up. He holds Angel at bay with a cross. He goes to burn the scroll, Angel hurls the blade cutting off Lindsey's hand, which drops with the scroll. He picks up the scroll and leaves the bleeding Lindsey behind.

At Cordelia's bedside, Wesley is reading from the scroll Angel has recovered. There is a flash of light and Cordelia is cured, the mark removed. She tells Angel of the pain she saw and how they have to help people. He says they will. A few days later, Wesley is trying to discover what was in the box. Cordelia is making them something to eat, insisting Wesley have something. She even brings Angel a warm cup of blood. She says she now knows how much pain and evil there is and that they must do something about it. Wesley discovers he misinterpreted shanshu, that it means Angel will live. Once he has completed his destiny, defeated the forces of evil, he will become human and live a normal life.

At Wolfram & Hart, Holland, Lilah, and Lindsey enter the room where the box is kept. Holland tells Lindsey the senior partners are impressed with his sacrifice and they will get even with Angel. Lindsey says they will. Lilah talks to the occupant of the box, Darla.

Analysis

At last, a season finale I can really enjoy. One with a good villain, promise of a better villain, a semi cliffhanger ending, and the promise of considerable change next season. I'm willing to bet Nabbit will play an important role in Angel finding a new office next season. Given all the money Wolfram & Hart have supporting them, giving Angel a major financial angel would be a good idea and Nabbit seems perfect for the role.

There was some nice irony in this episode. Angel begins the episode dispirited. He has accepted that he will die and doesn't care. Wesley realizes Angel has nothing to live for, there is nothing he wants or desires, no change seems open to him. There's a little foreshadowing in the scene in which Wesley first deciphers shanshu as death. He is commenting on how unconcerned Angel is when Cordelia has a vision. Angel rushes to her aid. His sanguine demeanor completely vanishes as his concern for Cordelia comes to the forefront. Vocah tries to dispirit Angel, cutting him off from the world by eliminating his friends and allies. But he accomplishes the reverse. The destruction of the oracles, the hospitalization of first Cordelia and then Wesley simply remind Angel of the importance of his function and the value of his friends. By imperilling Cordelia and Wesley, Vocah simply gives Angel more reason to fight. The unconcerned Angel is now motivated by a great passion. A desire not to save his own life but lives of others. When he rushes to Cordelia's bedside, he tells them he is family. And in a way he is. Cordelia and Wesley are as close to him as any people have ever been. He cares for them as if they were truly blood kin, and he knows they care for him the same way. We see that care in Wesley's concern and Cordelia's shopping. This makes Angel far more dangerous an enemy than he was before and gives him the strength and motivation to destroy Vocah and best Lindsey. A particularly ironic moment occurs when Lilah says they are not unaware of the irony of Angel stealing the scroll from them. The real irony, of course, is in their stealing of the scroll from Angel. A lesser irony is Vocah telling the lawyers to stay out of it, especially Lindsey who offers his help. Ultimately, it is Lindsey who completes the ritual and raises Darla while Vocah is defeated by Angel.

Kate's anger at Angel seems unmotivated. Yes, evil demons killed her father. But Angel helped her get vengeance for him. And Angel has demonstrated many times that he is not evil. Is she still mad at him because he sheltered Faith? If so, then it is Lindsey (who informed her of this) who inspired this anger and again we have an ironic circumstance. Vocah tries to separate Angel from the powers that be and from his friends, but merely strengthens those ties. In fact, in addition to giving Angel inspiration he has made Cordelia a more determined fighter of evil by forcing her to witness so much of it. But Lindsey (whose aid Vocah dismissed) has divided Angel and Kate, turning potential allies into enemies.

The saddest scene in the episode has to be Angel's walk from the bedside of unconscious Wesley to that of sedated and tied down Cordelia. But this is also the breakthrough moment of the episode. This is when Angel says he needs Cordelia (finally letting her know that he does want something). It's the moment when he sees the mark on her hand. And it is the moment he finally decides to visit the oracles. Not for himself, but for his friends. And by finally visiting the oracles, he gets the answers he needs to find and defeat Vocah. He then continues with the building of another alliance by getting Gunn's assistance to protect Cordelia and Wesley while he hunts down Vocah. Not only has Angel broadened his support base, but he has once again publicly confirmed how important Wesley and Cordelia are to him, something Gunn understands.

The episode begins with Angel feeling separate from the world. Vocah tries to make that separation real, not just a feeling. Meanwhile, Lindsey has been reintegrated into the society of Wolfram & Hart. Angel learns he is to die, Lindsey believe he is to inherit the world. But by the end of the episode, Angel learns he is to live and is closer than ever to those around him. He has gained at least a glimpse of happiness. Lindsey has lost his hand and has put even more distance between himself and salvation. He has moved further from the real world. Angel's goal is now the destruction of evil (battling against the apocalypse, stopping plagues, and defeating demons) while Lindsey's goal is revenge against Angel. In my review of Blind Date, I said Lindsey and Angel were the same person moving in opposite directions. That motion is more obvious and faster than ever.

Some quick final thoughts. Anybody with ideas on the connection between this episode and the film To Live and Die in LA, please email me. Wesley and Cordelia are eating far too many doughnuts.

Lines of the week:

"Nobody gets my humour." - Maybe Cordelia is just completely misunderstood.

"We're not unaware of the irony." - Lilah who is.

"I don't appreciate the dental association watching me like that." - A woman who knows who the real enemy is.

"Are you family."
"Yes." - Angel making the strongest statement he ever made about Cordelia.

"I need you back" - Angel to the unconscious Cordelia.

"If God was a busboy, he'd look just like you Jesus." - Gunn with what must be intentional irony.

"You never want to be on time for a ritual." - Holland taking blase to a whole new level.

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