Angel - Disharmony

Summary

The gang are moving back into the old offices and Angel is being lectured by Wesley about his new role as an employee. Wesley tells him he has to be friendlier. Wesley gets the big office and Angel is out in front and told to make coffee for everyone. Cut to a couple making out in a car attacked by robe wearing beings. Angel tries to make small talk with Cordelia, but she rebuffs him. She tells him she's eager to get the business running again, but they are not friends. She has a vision of the woman being pulled from the car by people in blue robes. She also sees a bird. They rush off and Angel tells Cordelia she should go home and order Chinese. As she prepares to leave, Cordelia senses someone is there. It's Harmony. She says she's just broken up with someone (who was smothering her) and has come to LA to check out the nightlife. Cordelia offers to let Harmony stay at her place.

Wesley, Gunn, and Angel find the now abandoned car. They hear a woman screaming and find her being attacked by a green robed vampire whom Angel stakes. They remember Cordelia said the robes were blue and Gunn searches for other vampires in blue. Neither Wesley nor Angel recognize the insignia on the robes. Wesley is going to call Cordelia, but Angel tells him he gave her the night off. He wonders whether he should send her flowers as a thank you. Wesley tells him he cannot buy Cordelia's trust or affections.

Cordelia and Harmony are reminiscing about high school. Cordelia says even though she is no longer powerful, rich, and popular, she is happier than ever. She talks about an emptiness inside her being filled by her work. Harmony is looking ill and she says she's hungry. Cordelia offers to order pizza. As she gets the phone, Harmony puts on her vampire face but switches back before Cordelia sees. That night, Harmony sneaks into Cordelia's room. Dennis slams the door, awakening Cordelia. Harmony tells her she is having trouble resisting her urges, that Cordelia is luscious. Cordelia obviously thinks she is a lesbian and tells her that it's ok as long as she is happy. She says the last time she was happy was in high school with Cordelia. Harmony asks her not to tell anyone and Cordelia agrees. The next morning Cordelia calls Willow and asks why she didn't tell her about Harmony. Willow eventually explains Harmony is a vampire. Cordelia says she thought she was a lesbo. Willow explains she is a lesbian. Cordelia says 'good for you'. Willow warns her Harmony is dangerous. Cordelia says she'll go somewhere safe and Harmony walks in asking where she is going.

Angel is trying to find something to do. The phone rings and it is Willow telling him about Harmony. He and Wesley rush to Cordelia's and burst in to find Harmony doing Cordelia's toe nails. Cordelia says Harmony came to her for help and they shouldn't hurt her. Angel sides with Cordelia. This is so strange, both Wesley and Cordelia are stunned. Wesley says they need Cordelia at the office. Harmony doesn't want to stay alone with the ghost, so she comes with them. At the office, Harmony is annoying Wesley by chewing gum. Cordelia is trying to find the bird she saw, but she cannot figure out what it was. She just remembers it was red. She asks Harmony to get rid of the gum and Harmony tears a page out of one of Wesley's books to wrap the gum with. He's outraged. Angel tries to calm things down by giving Harmony some blood, pig's blood. She asks him how he can stand being without human blood. Her graphic description of the pleasures of drinking human blood get to him and he's relieved when Gunn shows up and rushes to hear what he has to say. Cordelia introduces Harmony and Wesley points out she's a vampire. Gunn says robed guys have been grabbing people off the street for some time now. But bodies aren't showing up - someone is creating an army.

A crowd of robed vampires are in an auditorium listening to a vampire motivational speaker. He's running a co-op. To join, you turn two people into vampires and bring one human in for the foodbank. He reveals a cage full of humans. The gang are going through a list of disappearances likely linked to the robed vampires. Cordelia and Harmony talk about how their lives haven't led where they thought: Cordelia is an office manager and Harmony is dead. Cordelia finds the symbol. It was the symbol of a now defunct pyramid scheme run by a motivational speaker (Doug) who disappeared. She brings up his picture and it is the speaker we saw. Harmony spills her cup of blood on the keyboard and shorts it out. Harmony is upset. She tells Cordelia no one knows what she's going through. Cordelia takes her to the bar where Harmony sings very badly. The host says he can't help her, but he does treat her to a carafe of AB negative. And he tells her Cordelia will be her guide, she should stick to her. He calls her cacophony. Wesley, Gunn, and Angel enter. They say they want to drive around the area where the attacks occurred hoping Cordelia will recognize something. She tells Harmony she is leaving and Harmony seems fine with that. She has blood and potato skins and is thinking of doing another number: Candle in the Wind or the Princess Diana Candle in the Wind. Cordelia suggests she do both. The gang leave, only Harmony follows them. She says she realizes the host said she should stick with Cordelia, so she is. She says she's one of the good guys now.

In the car, Harmony is driving them nuts. Angel tells Wesley it's his job to speak to Cordelia, but she won't listen to either of them. Cordelia makes them stop - she seems a carving of a bird on a wall that she thinks is the right one. Only she remembered the bird as red and this one isn't. Angel has the nearby electronics store turn on its lights - the bird turns red. They go to investigate, telling Harmony to guard the car. Only she needs a little more help. Cordelia is going to talk to her, but Angel grabs her hand and pulls her aside. He tells her Harmony has to go. He says Wesley is right, she's the enemy and will betray them. Cordelia says just because Angel did doesn't mean she will. He points out he has a soul, she doesn't. Cordelia tells Angel he didn't just betray and hurt her, he gave away her clothes. She tells him how scared she was that he would sleep with Darla and become Angelus. He says he would never do that.

Gunn and Wesley return saying they couldn't get in the building. Angel offers to enter, but they say he would instantly be recognized. Cordelia says Harmony could do it. At first everyone, including Harmony, is against the idea. But Harmony gets excited by it and agrees. Inside, she is given a copy of Doug's book, Selective Slaughter, and sits down to listen. One of the members has graduated to the next level, his reward is feeding from one of the people in the food bank. The gang are waiting outside, wondering why it is taking so long. Harmony comes out. She leads them in saying she is thankful to them for helping her find her purpose. Only she leads them into a trap - she says she belongs with the vampires. Doug gives her a blue robe. Wesley says to kill them all. As the fight grows, a lot of the vampires run away. Cordelia fights with Harmony. Wesley goes to free the prisoners. Angel fights with Doug. Cordelia aims a crossbow at Harmony's throat. She says that won't kill her. Cordelia says it will hurt, then aims another crossbow at her heart saying that one will kill her. A vampire attacks Wesley and Gunn stakes it. They release the prisoners. Harmony is almost in tears. She tells Cordelia it wasn't personal, she's evil. She asks if they are still friends. Angel slays Doug. Cordelia tells Harmony they are not friends. But she lets her go. She tells her to leave, to get out of the city and as far away from Cordelia as she can. Harmony runs out. Angel walks up behind her and she tells him not to say anything.

At the office, Wesley is telling Angel he has to give Cordelia time and space to get over her anger at him. Angel says he realizes that. We hear screaming and Cordelia rushes in with clothes Angel has bought for her. She's ecstatic about the gift and hugs him in happiness.

Analysis

Harmony was the perfect vampire recruit. As a human, she had everything and was totally insecure. As a vampire, she has nothing and is totally insecure - only she's got time. It's unlikely the human Harmony would have matured in even a single lifetime. But vampire Harmony, a few hundred years down the road, might make adult hood. And that's go to be her big redeeming factor. That's why we feel sorry for her and keep letting her go, despite betrayal after betrayal. I think that's what this episode was about: finding out who you are and what your purpose is. Angel thought he knew and now he's having to relearn everything. Wesley, Gunn, and Cordelia are still finding their way. And we learn even vampires suffer from insecurity and low self esteem. The vampire cult leader (really a pyramid scheme con man) was preying on these character traits. You can't blame Harmony for falling for him. And you have to wonder whether she wasn't better off with Spike, no matter how poorly he treated her.

There is an obvious analogy between Harmony and Angel. Both are vampires trying to find their way. Both are recovering from painful relationships: Harmony with Spike and Angel with Buffy. Both want very much to be friends with Cordelia. Angel is hurt when Cordelia says they are not friends. Harmony desperately tries to convince Cordelia that they are still friends, even while Cordelia has a cross bow pointed at her heart. Both have betrayed Cordelia and hurt her feelings. When Harmony says no one knows what she's going through, Cordelia looks toward Angel. She then takes Harmony to see the host, the same person who helped Angel deal with his problems.

When Angel tries to convince Cordelia they have to destroy Harmony, she points out the similarities between Harmony and Angel. She notes that Angel betrayed her - giving away her clothes - and they aren't slaying him. He says it's in Harmony's nature to be evil. Ultimately, Harmony's exposure to Cordelia doesn't make her better. She never quite seems to take in anything anyone is saying to her. As soon as she has the chance to revert to evil, she does. Harmony is easily manipulated, having little will of her own. She wants to fit in with every crowd she's with. But underneath her weak personality there is evil. Alone with Cordelia she was tempted to bite her. With the gang she is thoughtless and annoying. She's continually insensitive to those around her - exactly the opposite of what Wesley was telling Angel he must be. She joins the cult not because it's a good idea, but because it's the easy thing to do. She says she hasn't been happy since high school (and Cordelia should have listened to that revelation and realized staking was the only cure for Harmony), but she isn't seeking happiness - just pleasure. With a mindset like that, she cannot be saved. Meanwhile, Angel is listening. Even while arguing with Cordelia about Harmony, he hears what she says about her clothes. And he buys her new clothes (clearly putting some thought into getting her something nice). Her joy at getting the clothes, and the renewal of their friendship, isn't quite as superficial as it seems. Cordelia realizes that Angel listened to her and was trying to tell her (through his actions) that he regretted the harm he had done her. That, unlike Harmony, he genuinely cared for her and would not willingly hurt her.

Harmony is Cordelia's Darla. Angel's great regret was failing to do anything for Darla. Cordelia tries to do something for Harmony and ultimately realizes she cannot. Neither seems strong enough, yet, to kill their vampire friends. Both Angel and Cordelia seem to realize this connection, although perhaps only subconsciously. It brings them closer together and helps them understand one another.

Cordelia will cease being an interesting character when she becomes nice. So let's not expect that to happen. But there is lots of evidence in this episode that Cordelia is deeper than she lets on. In addition to her desire to help her friend - and it's an indication of growth that she thinks of Harmony as a friend at all, there is her attitude toward her work. She tells Angel how excited she is to be back in business helping the helpless. And she tells Harmony how she felt hollow before and now feels fulfilled by her work. She ultimately realizes how Harmony is cursed. That her eternal youth and beauty - things Cordelia would have cared a lot about before - mean nothing. That Cordelia can do good and feel the emotional and spiritual growth such actions bring. That's something Harmony can never have. It's that realization and the sorrow which accompanies it that leads to her decision to let Harmony live - for now.

A vampire motivational speaker was inevitable. If Harmony is any example, vampires have real emotional problems and have lots of self doubt. A scam artist like Doug could clearly make a killing. The amazing thing is the vampires never figured out that the pyramid scheme was inherently unstable. Of course, these were pretty pathetic excuses for vampires. It's no surprise so many of them run away when the gang attack.

Some quick final thoughts. It's amusing that Wesley says Harm is an appropriate nickname and the host points out how inappropriate the name Harmony is. I loved Harmony's choice of songs. I wonder if Angel will ever gather the nerve to tell them he did sleep with Darla.

Lines of the week:

"Atonement's a bitch." - Angel realizing exactly what he has got himself into.

"We're not friends" - Cordelia rejecting Angel.

"You can't buy back her trust, Angel. Or her affections." - Wesley seriously misunderstanding Cordelia.

"Thanks for the affirmation." - Willow wasting sarcasm on Cordelia.

"Don't we kill 'em anymore." - Gunn trying to get the rules straight.

"I think your friend should reconsider the name Harmony." - The host on Harmony's lack of a musical gift.

"Don't say anything. Not a word." - Cordelia realizing Angel was right.

"You have, like a gay man's taste." - Cordelia complimenting Angel.

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