Angel - Belonging

Summary

The gang are at a fancy restaurant celebrating Cordelia landing a spot in a national commercial. She's having a sashimi couscous appetizer. Angel is uneasy out in public like this. She can't drink because she has to be on the set early in the morning. Angel says she mustn't leave them when she's rich and famous and she says she can't leave while she is the owner of the visions. She says she feels guilty and Angel thinks it is because of the cost of the appetizer. She says she feels guilty about leaving them in the middle of a case, they are tracking down a Haklar demon. But Wesley says they'll be alright. Gunn suggests getting a flame thrower and while he and Wesley discuss this, Angel, a bit left out, looks around and sees a woman. He leaps up and accosts her claiming her shawl is a sign she is a witch. Only on closer examination, he realizes he's wrong. Cordelia manages to smooth things out, claiming he's French. Back at their table, Cordelia feels the sashimi coming up and vomits grabbing the table cloth and pulling everything off the table.

At the office, Wesley has called home. He's talking to his father and telling him about becoming leader of the group. But it sounds as if his father just keeps reminding him of past failures and criticizes him. Wesley puts up with this quietly and politely. Angel is at the studio. He walks toward a girl in a bikini, who seems happy to see him, but walks past her to the beach set. He stands in the fake sunlight. Cordelia shows up and asks what he's doing there. He says he has a question about her vision. The director shows up and treats Cordelia pretty badly - like an animal. He wants her back in makeup to get something done about the dark circles under her eyes. She says she had food poisoning and he finds that funny. Angel tries to intervene and Cordelia stops him and apologizes to the director. Angel asks her whether in her vision the demon ate his victim whole or just the liver. He says there are two types of the demon and where they will be depends on what they eat. Cordelia runs off.

At the office, Gunn asks Wesley about the Haklar demons. Wesley goes into a lengthy description of the beast and Gunn stops him saying all he wants to know is how to kill it. The answer is a simple slice and dice. Rondell and George show up. They say there are vampires in the park and they have set a trap for them. They want Gunn's truck. He says he'll go with them and Wesley can page him when they find the demon. Angel walks in with news of finding the demon. Gunn tells Rondell and George he'll meet them and they should wait for him. Angel tells Gunn and Wesley about Cordelia taking all the garbage the director gave her. Which they find strange. He also mentions the flimsy swimsuit. They go off to kill something. The host is singing at the bar. A dimensional portal opens up behind him and a demon comes out. It rushes out of the bar, scaring the patrons.

Cordelia is doing her commercial and the director continues to treat her badly. His big emphasis seems to be on cleavage. Wesley and Angel return to the office to find Cordelia. At first she's angry with Angel, but then admits she's angry with herself. She doesn't know what she has been doing or what she has become in pursuit of an acting career. She asks after Gunn and Wesley explains he has gone home to deal with vampires. They saved a group of power walkers and one of them hit Wesley for disrespecting the Haklar's culture. The host shows up and tells Angel he wants to hire him to kill a Drokken demon. He explains it showed up in his club and that they won't know anything about it because it's not from any world they've ever heard of. He says he doesn't know where it is but it's probably getting hungry. Cut to the Drokken attacking and killing two men. A woman walks onto the scene. The host can't give them any more details. Angel suggests a circular search pattern and Cordelia points out Wesley is the boss. Angel defers to Wesley who agrees with Angel. As they are about to go, Cordelia gets sick. They think it is food poisoning but it is actually a vision. She sees a woman being sucked through a portal at the library. They think the portal is the link and rush off to the library.

Gunn arrives to fight vampires and finds his friends went off without him. George was killed by a vampire and they aren't sure if he was turned. The gang are at a library and the host is trying to convince Angel to go to an Elton John concert with him. The host bumps into a librarian who is shocked, but thinks he's there for the children's reading program. He goes along with this and says he's come to check out the space. She directs him to the room and turns to Cordelia, Wesley, and Angel. Cordelia describes the woman in her vision and the librarian says it sounds like Fred, Winifred, who disappeared. 5 years earlier. She was cataloging in the foreign language section and vanished. They go to the room and the host shows up, ecstatic about the children's reading room. Cordelia finds the book from her vision and reads aloud from it. It's in a strange vowelless language. The host looks really nervous as she does this. A portal opens and a green, horned demon with a large sword comes through. He starts fighting with Angel but the host calls him Landok. Landok calls the host Krevlornswath. The host says he prefers Lorne but doesn't go by that because of the references to Lorne Greene (only Angel gets this). Lorne explains to Landok that he is in Los Angeles. He admits they are cousins and he also came through a portal. Landok wants Lorne to go back with him. He says they thought he had committed suicide. Lorne doesn't want to go. Landok tells him of the sorrow he brought his mother who clearly wishes he were dead. Lorne is angry at being called a coward and says they are on a Drokken hunt. Landok offers to join and learns the easy way to kill a Drokken, using thromite, is not available since thromite doesn't exist on Earth. Landok says he can track the Drokken by the waves of hostility it leaves behind. They take him with them.

Gunn and the others are building a pyre. Gunn is angry they didn't wait for him. Landok has led them to the dead bodies. Lorne tells Angel that his homeworld consists only of black and white, heroes and monsters, and everything can be settled with a sword. Wesley cannot contact Gunn and Cordelia feels they are missing something. Landok determines where the Drokken is headed. He calls Lorne a coward again and Lorne says he had trouble participating in the sacred joust because he empathized with the other guy's point of view. Landok says the Drokken took more food with it and Cordelia realizes he means people.

They track the Drokken to where it is and they spot it carrying the woman we saw earlier. Wesley starts formulating a plan, using flares to distract the beast, but Landok rushes out to attack and Angel follows him. Wesley has to go. Landok is bitten by the beast and Angel takes his sword and fights it. Lorne and Wesley enter and Lorne says the bite will kill Landok and the only cure is in their world. The beast flees and Angel goes after it. Wesley lights a flare and goes in. They seem to be in a warehouse and the Drokken is leaping across piles of pallets watching them. Angel tells Wesley to find the woman. Landok wants to join the fight, but Lorne won't allow him since he's too wounded to even raise his arm. Wesley finds the woman but the Drokken attacks and knocks him down. He shoves the flare in the Drokken's mouth but it isn't harmed at all. Angel attacks and hurls a sword through the beast's throat, killing it.

Landok is sure he will die and wants Lorne to perform the rituals, but Lorne won't. Cordelia says if they read from the book in a place where there is a portal, it will send Landok back. Landok still asks about the rituals and Lorne says no one is dying. Cut to Gunn and his friends setting the pyre ablaze with George on it so he won't turn into a vampire. The gang have taken Landok to the bar. Lorne tells him to tell his mother he committed ritual suicide. Landok says Angel must be a great warrior to have defeated the Drokken. He says he feels they will meet again. Landok reads from the book and the portal opens, transporting him to his world. But Cordelia is also gone. She finds herself in a clearing in a woods on a world with two suns.

Analysis

At first glance, I have to say this was a bad episode. And that just isn't something I normally say about Angel. It was far simpler than most episodes and I think its explanation of the host was uninteresting and for that to work it needed the entire gang (and even some others) to act stupidly. In fact, acting stupidly was kind of a theme this week. I'll ameliorate all that negativity by noting that this seems to be the start of a mini arc and the perception of this episode's quality may be positively affected by the final three episodes of the season.

Let's start with people acting stupidly. We've got Angel, who has just indicated how uncomfortable he is at being in the spotlight, drawing attention to himself by accosting what he thinks is a witch. Wesley clearly knows an incredible amount about Haklar demons - so why does Angel have to go talk to an informant. We've got Gunn's friends who apparently do not learn from experience. They know Gunn has responsibilities. They know Wesley has been there for Gunn and Gunn can't walk out on him. Why do they hold a grudge over this? Wouldn't they think less of Gunn if he abandoned Wesley? Isn't demon killing a valid occupation? Then we've got the entire gang failing to ask the host (ok, I'll start calling him Lorne) the simplest of questions. Like how does he know so much about a demon that isn't listed in any of Wesley's books? Why would a portal open in his club? And surely LA has more than one library branch. How did they know which one to go to?

Then we've got an excess of humour. This was a pretty light episode conceptually, so why toss in so much through away humour. The entire scene in the restaurant is an extended joke starting with Angel's cheapness, moving on to the French joke, and ending with Cordelia vomiting and Angel making another cheap remark. The studio scene, which should have been moving, was cheapened by the liver eater vs whole people eater question. Then we've got the three guys visualizing Cordelia in the flimsy swimsuit. Next we get Angel pondering the foolishness of power walking (got to agree with him there) and Wesley being hit by an angry power walker who wanted him to respect the Haklar culture. Then we have the host asking Angel to an Elton John contest and the librarian meeting him and thinking he is there for the children's reading and saying how his horns look fake. Then there is the Lorne Greene joke. Next, Landok tells us the tale of Lorne's unmotherly mother.

Wesley's conversation with his father was interesting and tied into his comments about fathers in I've Got You Under My Skin. So was the brief description of Lorne's world, one which clearly did have a lot of appeal to Angel. Tie this to Gunn's ambivalence about his work with the gang versus helping his friends and you have three misplaced, unhappy people eager to belong but not quite there. And Cordelia, after her unpleasant commercial shoot, seems to have joined their company.

I did like Angel talking about being old not cheap and how he remembered when things were so much less expensive. This is something I've often noticed. You tend to remember what things cost when you first started buying them for yourself and you just always think that's the natural price. I think that's why increases in the cost of things like candy bars really bother people while the cost of champagne rarely does. Angel is so old even the things he started buying as an adult have undergone a century of inflation. So everything has to seem incredibly expensive to him.

Lorne refers to Elton John's Yellow Brick Road in this episode and the next episode is titled Over the Rainbow, so the obvious Wizard of Oz references have to be made. If Cordelia is Dorothy (searching for happiness and ultimately slated to discover it exists at home), then Lorne must be the cowardly lion (he's accused of being a coward by Landok and seems really sensitive about the point), Angel is the Tin Man (his lack of heart and emotions has become a focal point of the latter part of the season), and Wesley the Scarecrow (who clearly is really smart but doesn't believe it because of the constant criticism he seems to have been raised with). All of which leaves Gunn out of things (although you could make an argument for him being Dorothy - he's torn between two worlds) and explains why he was separated from the gang in this episode. Of course, a couple of episodes from now we see Through the Looking Glass and a whole new set of analogies will have to be formed.

Some quick final thoughts. There was a nice cut between Lorne saying no one was dying and he wouldn't have to perform the rituals and Gunn and his friends burning George's body to prevent him from turning into a vampire. I guess the bikini scene is a joke at the audience's expense. While in the context of the story it's critical of treating women like meat on display, everyone watching (or at least all the guys) is hoping Cordelia will lean forward just a little bit more - and that point is emphasized when Wesley, Gunn, and Angel have that quiet moment contemplating the skimpy bikini. All in all, I don't have much to say this week which kind of emphasizes my point about it being a bad episode.

Lines of the week:

"I'm not cheap, I'm just old. I remember when a few bob got you a good meal, a bottle, and a tavern wench." - Angel letting us know exactly how old he is.

"Pardon." - Angel acting French and apologetic.

"They'll take that off the bill, right?" - Angel revealing he really is cheap.

"Yeah. Right. You eat. Good one." - The director acting like a director.

"I hate my whole life." - Cordelia not answering Angel.

"Patience not really a virtue with my people." - Lorne on the nature of green, horned people.

"That was fun." - Angel on the joys of Drokken hunting.

"No one's dying." - Lorne being very wrong.

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