Angel - Guise Will be Guise

Summary

Wesley is at the office when a client comes in. He tries to act impressively, but keeps stumbling and dropping things. When the client leaves, Cordelia comes in saying she has found Angel and they have to stop him. We cut to Angel breaking into the Wolfram & Hart building with Gunn. Cordelia and Wesley catch him at the elevator. He plans to get Darla, but they say it's insane. They argue until a guard, with a stake, arrives. Angel stakes him in the foot and they leave.

At the karaoke bar, Wesley and Cordelia explain how things work there to Gunn. Angel is talking to the host. He says he feels like he's going to explode. He doesn't have to sing, the host gives him the address of a powerful swami who can help him. That night, Angel drives to the swami's. At the office, Cordelia does an Angel imitation that actually gets Wesley to smile.

A hood comes into the office and threatens to kill Cordelia if she doesn't get Angel. Wesley impersonates Angel to save her. The swami talks to Angel about his car. He says he lives in a city known for its sun and drives a convertible. He asks why Angel hates himself. He says Angel is concerned about his appearance: hence the car and all the black clothes. Angel says he doesn't have a reflection and this way everything matches. The swami says he's reflected in the people around him. Meanwhile, Wesley convinces the hood he is Angel and goes off with him.

He's taken to meet Magnus Bryce, the hood is Benny. Magnus is a wizard who is a powerful businessman in Hollywood. He sells glamour spells. He says he needs Angel to protect his daughter, his only family, who is being threatened. Angel admits his persona may be a little affected. The swami asks how many warriors for good use that much hair gel. He asks how can Angel fight evil when he is so busy fighting himself.

Bryce introduces Wesley to his daughter, Virginia. Wesley almost exposes himself in the mirror in her room. She's not that eager to have him as her bodyguard. He admits he was forced into the job, but he does want to protect her. They go shopping. Cordelia has called in Gunn and told him what happened. She tells him to find Angel at the swami's while she tries to track down Wesley. Virginia is shopping for a birthday present for her father (his 50th) at an upscale magic supply shop. She's looking at talismans of the goddess Yeska, his favourite. Two hoods try to grab her. Wesley scares them off just by pretending to be Angel. They reveal they were sent by Lanier, a business rival of Bryce. He takes Virginia home. The swami is fighting with Angel and trying to get him to let go. He says Angel is fighting the demon, but the demon is him.

We hear the swami on the phone and discover he is a phony who has killed the real swami and is working for Lanier who wanted Angel kept out of the way. Ramone from the club tipped them off. Lanier now knows Wesley is a fraud. Cordelia finds a picture in a magazine of Bryce and his daughter and the hood who took Wesley. At the Bryce home, Wesley fights off two kidnappers. Angel tells the swami about Darla. The swami suggests he find another blonde girl and make love to her. Meanwhile, Wesley and Virginia start making out. Angel has explained the curse to the swami. Virginia knows about the curse, but Wesley impersonating Angel downplays it and soon they are making out. Wesley does try to tell her he isn't Angel, but not very hard.

Gunn finds the swami's house. The fake swami meets him outside and knocks him out. Angel comes out and realizes what has happened, but the swami is in the sunlight. Angel grabs a fishing rod and reels him in. Wesley is leaving Virginia's room in the morning. Cordelia is there to rescue him. Bryce comes up and says he got a tip Wesley wasn't Angel and let Cordelia in so Virginia could hear her call him Wesley. He's exposed and leaves. Benny says Bryce should have killed them. Bryce gets angry and tells Benny to shut up. He says he needs to worry about the party and the sacrifice. It becomes clear he intends to sacrifice Virginia at his birthday party.

Cordelia tries to console Wesley. Gunn and Angel show up and tell about the fake swami. Wesley realizes Lanier tipped off Bryce so he could get rid of Wesley after failing to defeat him with his thugs. Wesley mentions Yeska and Angel says she's a Davric demon. Wesley realizes Davric demons require human sacrifices and figures out what Bryce is doing. He leads them back to the house. At the party, Virginia is chained and Bryce has begun summoning Yeska. Wesley and the others arrive and fight their way through the guards. Wesley frees Virginia, but Yeska materializes. However, she rejects the sacrifice as impure. Virginia is thrilled Wesley returned for her. Bryce realizes Virginia isn't a virgin and blames Wesley (Cordelia is shocked Wesley is having sex). He says he hired Angel because he was a eunuch. Angel is angry at that. Virginia says she wasn't a virgin and hadn't been since she was 16 - the chauffeur. She punches him in the face and knocks him down.

Later, we see Cordelia bringing a clipping to Angel, of Wesley and Virginia. Wesley is getting famous as a bodyguard to the stars and Cordelia is upset because reflected glory is her thing. Angel is ok, until he realizes the agency is reported in the story as belonging to Wesley.

Analysis

Vampires in the Buffyverse are quintessential loners. Occasionally we see them as couples (usually with a sire) and sometimes they form gangs. But these relationships are fraught with conflict and usually dissolve quickly. Every vampire couple we've seen (Spike and Dru, Spike and Harmony, Angel and Darla) have split. We've seen gang members turn on one another (Harmony's gang is ready to kill her in Real Me and we've seen many instances of vampires killing one another in a struggle for power). So when Angel forms a strong relationship with Wesley and Cordelia (and now Gunn) he's going against the grain. And when he seeks out help from another, he's transcended the normal boundaries of vampirism.

Of course, things are never easy in the Buffyverse, but at least Angel is trying. And much of the advice he received from the false swami was actually pretty good. He was right in stating that by driving the convertible, wearing the clothes, moving to the sunny city of LA, Angel was making a statement about himself. And while Angel can rationalize some of it (it does make sense for a vampire to go monochrome since he can't see himself in the mirror), the truth is he is as concerned with his personal appearance and his reflection in the eyes and minds of others as is Cordelia. And this point is brought home when we see Angel repeatedly asking Wesley for his coat back.

Angel does come to realize that he is more human (maybe more like Wesley and Cordelia) than he cares to admit. The fake swami asks him a lot of the questions the fans of the show have been wondering about. And while Angel has answers, they lack the ring of truth and he seems strangely unconfident in his responses. Maybe the fake swami was taking things too far, but he did get Angel thinking. He does admit his persona is somewhat affected. But the most important thing here is the suggestion that the demon Angel says he has to control is not some separate entity, but an integral part of him. That's what the fake swami says and maybe he is right. Maybe this is how Angel can defeat Darla and Wolfram & Hart. They want to turn him dark again, but that is only possible if Angel perceives himself as being two people: dark and light. If he can integrate the dark into the light, creating a more complex and richer being, he will make himself impervious to their assault and also much more human. This is not unlike Buffy whose strength comes from the melding of her slayer self with her conventional family and friends. This makes her stronger than any slayer before and Angel can achieve a similar super vampiric state if he can do the same with his demonic part.

But if this week was a voyage of self discovery, Wesley certainly traveled as far as Angel and maybe further. When he impersonates Angel, he attempts to adopt the vampire's cool demeanor. This doesn't work that well, we see him stumbling, forgetting critical vampire things like not touching crosses, and not being quite as cool as Angel would be. But when Wesley is just himself, he's actually quite heroic. He scares off the thugs in the shop by pretending to be Angel, but he performs some Angel type moves himself when he fights off the thugs at the house. He's truly brave when he says he wants to stay and safeguard Virginia even though Cordelia has come to rescue him. She says he can't do things like Angel, but he is acting like Angel. He takes charge of the rescue mission when they discover her father's plans for Virginia. And Virginia realizes how brave he was to return to save her and how much he really cares.

Angel is rarely stupid, so I have to assume the hare brained scheme to break into the offices of Wolfram & Hart was an act of desperation from an emotionally over wrought man. Darla clearly still has enormously strong feelings for Angel and to some extent he returns those feelings. At the very least, he feels an obligation toward her and a duty to make an effort to save her. He's conflicted. He knows Darla is an enemy helping Wolfram & Hart. He knows Darla sired him. But he still feels responsible for her evil, possibly believing in his vampiric stage he encouraged her to ever greater evil and also possibly blaming himself for abandoning her when he recovered his soul. Hence, the feeling that he is going to explode.

Some quick final thoughts. In Dear Boy, we learnt Wesley slept with a bleached blonde. This week, he has sex with Virginia. Who would have thought Wesley would be the most sexually active of the trio? Will Ramone's treason be discovered? Will Giles find out about the upscale magic supply store and become envious?

Lines of the week:

"Do you have any clothes a man would wear." - Cordelia brilliantly putting down Wesley.

"Walking real quick was the plan." - Gunn realizing what he got himself into.

"It's pretty much a girlie name." - Cordelia on Angel.

"Were you in Virginia?" - Angel getting a little too close to the truth.

"Wesley, can I get my coat back." - Angel revealing just how deep that vein of vanity runs.

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