Cordelia is despondent over Lorne's death. But the disembodied head starts talking to her. She screams, a lot. When she stops he explains beheading doesn't kill his people until their bodies are mutilated. A couple of servants enter because of her screaming. She tells them she was just meditating and wants to keep the head and turn it into a planter or candy dish. They leave and Lorne tells Cordelia to find someone who knows where the mutilation chamber is. Silas, the head priest, questions the servants who saw Cordelia. He sends a guard to find Wesley and Gunn and Angel and Fred. He knows Angel is a vampire and the guard is told to burn him, behead him, and pierce his heart with a wooden stake - just to be thorough. Silas says by saving Fred Angel gave hope to the other cows. He turns to the cow servant and accuses him of giving diagrams of the holy devices to the rebels. He uses the slave collar to blow up the cow's head. He then reveals a device capable of activating all the slave collars and killing all the cows.
The rebels are about to execute Wesley and Gunn. Guards attack them and Wesley and Gunn, even though they are tied up, take part in the battle against the guards. Angel awakens and Fred has breakfast. They talk and she tries to comfort him. Cordelia has summoned a slave girl. She wants to go to the mutilation chamber but the girl tells her someone as exalted as the princess could not enter there. Cordelia tells her to take off her clothes.
Angel sees the writing on the wall and tells Fred they are like the words in the book. Fred says they aren't words, they are representations of a mathematical formula. Angel says she must have opened the portals which allowed the Drokken and Landok onto Earth. The guards attack. Angel deals with most of them, but not the leader who is the one Silas talked to. Angel refuses to change into the beast and is wounded. Fred hits the leader on the head with a rock, knocking him out and saving Angel. The rebels have chased off the guards, but their leader is dead. They realize the guards came for Wesley and Gunn and that they were telling the truth when they said they weren't spies. They release them and give them five cheers. Gunn suggests they stay and help the rebels. He says they could work together to free Cordelia and he also believes without them the rebels will be killed.
Angel is ok and Fred is tending to him. He says he didn't turn into the beast because he's afraid he won't be able to turn back. She pushed the guards into the Drokken gully except for their leader who is tied up. Angel questions the guard who tells him about the groosalugg and Lorne being killed. Angel realizes he has to go to his friends. Fred tells him he should stay with her in safety, that she isn't afraid of the beast. The guard manages to get a knife and attacks. Fred is hurt, but Angel kills the guard.
Cordelia is wearing the servant's clothes and carrying Lorne in a bucket. She is in the mutilation chamber. They find Lorne's body, his clothes are unmistakable, and it has been mutilated. Lorne can't understand why he is still alive. The groosalugg enters and says he switched bodies and had Lorne's body smuggled to his home. Landok will meet them and take Lorne's head to be reattached. He did this for Cordelia because he knows Lorne is her friend.
The rebels are arguing tactics. Wesley says instead of a frontal attack, they need to be sneaky. Cause a diversion and then attack from the rear and kill Silas. The rebels make him their new leader. Angel is tending to Fred's wounds. He leaves to help his friends. He returns realizing he doesn't know his way around and Fred offers to lead him. Cordelia is encouraging groosalugg to be a real champion and stop working for the monks. He tells her that after they have sex, he'll get her visions. She doesn't want to give up her visions. She has one of the Angel beast battling groosalugg.
Wesley has a plan. It involves challenging the groosalugg, sending off several diversionary teams, and then scaling the back wall of the palace. Gunn thinks the team is too fragmented, but Wesley disagrees. The rebels tell him about the collar device. Angel and Fred appear and the rebels, realizing what a bad job they do of guarding their base, take off to check the perimeter. Wesley shows Angel his plan and offers to let him lead. But Angel refuses because of his fear of his demon coming out. He does say Fred can help them open the portal. The rebels return with Landok. He is carrying Lorne's head and shows it to them. They look at it silently and are shocked when Lorne speaks.
That night, Gunn tells Wesley the men sent to create the diversions will die. Wesley says yes, that some will have to die if others are to survive. He tells Angel he needs him to challenge and kill the groosalugg. Angel says he can't do that without turning into the beast. That he fired them because the darkness was coming out in him and he didn't want them near it. This is worse. And if he turns, he won't be able to turn back. Wesley tells him he is strong enough to come back. Fred offers to go with him and they leave. Gunn asks Wesley if he really believes it and Wesley says he needs Angel to believe it.
Cordelia is warning groosalugg not to fight. The priests enter and want the mating to begin. But before they can force Cordelia Angel enters the village and challenges the groosalugg. The priests take him out for the challenge and tell him if he loses Angel will defile and kill Cordelia. Wesley sends off his forces for the diversionary attack. Then he, Gunn, and a few others break into the castle. The groosalugg comes out and fights Angel, doing well. Silas learns the rebels have entered the castle. Wesley and Gunn go after him, but have to get past some guards first. Silas goes to the chamber where Cordelia is and she tells him he has to stop the fight because of her vision. He punches her, knocking her down. He blames her for what is happening and says he will kill every cow in the world. He unveils the device for doing so and tosses her aside.
Groosalugg is winning, Angel turns into the Angel beast and attacks. Silas is about to use the device. Wesley and the others enter. Wesley tries to talk to Silas, but he's not listening. Cordelia takes a sword and cuts off his head. Wesley tells her it is Angel who is fighting groosalugg and they go to the village to stop the battle. Angel beast is winning, but he turns back into Angel, refusing to kill. Cordelia rushes in and stops the battle telling them she loves groosalugg. She orders the guards to drop their weapons and says Silas is dead and the rule of the priests ended. Angel is a little hurt she won't say she loves him, not even as a friend and coworker.
Angel is picking up a now altogether Lorne. He encourages Lorne to talk to his mother. After all, she didn't store his body on the maggot heap but on the lice pile. She says that he has returned and heaped more shame on the family. By freeing the slaves they have no one to do their work. Lorne leaves with Angel saying he had to come back to realize he didn't have to come back. He sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
An ax wielding Cordelia is talking to a priest. She says she has a vision, two visions. In one of them he gets to keep his head. She tells him to proclaim the slaves free and all citizens equal. That there shall be no more discrimination. She destroys the machine which would activate all the collars. Wesley, Gunn, and Fred enter saying they know how to open the portals. Cordelia gives the throne to groosalugg and tells him reconstruction is beginning. Gunn explains the social and economic disruption he will face. Cordelia tells him he'll do ok. They kiss. As Cordelia walks out everyone bows to her.
Angel's car, with the gang in it, comes crashing into the club. Lorne says he was thinking of remodeling anyway and offers everyone a nightcap. The gang, and Fred, are entering the hotel. Cordelia is telling Fred about the availability of tacos and soap. Angel starts to say 'there's no place like home' but before he can they see a silent Willow sitting waiting for them. Angel realizes it's about Buffy.
In the Buffy episode Forever, we learnt resurrection isn't a good idea. That was a true lesson. And the resurrection of Lorne diminished the impact of this episode. And I suspect it diminished the impact of the Buffy season finale as well, since a resurrection seems pretty certain there as well. On the plus side, at least we didn't see a happy reconciliation between Lorne and his mother. I've been pretty unhappy with this final story arc of the season, but this finale did have some redeeming factors. Mostly they were about Wesley and Cordelia with just a hint of something in the future for Angel.
The whole idea of a head functioning without a body is ridiculous. Without lungs how is Lorne talking? And how is the head refastened to the body? These are points just blithely skipped over because the writers know it is nonsense. They wanted the priests to do something really evil so we would know they were evil. They wanted to end the previous episode with a strong visual. But they didn't want to kill off the Lorne character. So they cheated. They brought in this bizarre characteristic of the Deathwok clan, something not even hinted at before, and didn't even bother to try to explain how it worked. And to make things really annoying, we also have to believe the priests are so dumb they didn't expedite the mutilation of Lorne's body (his resurrection had to be a concern of theirs) and they don't bother to guard the mutilation chamber (surely Lorne isn't the only Deathwok with people looking to save him). It's a deus ex machina coupled with weak writing (characters who are smart enough to move the plot along and dumb enough to allow the heroes to triumph) and that just leads to disappointment.
In Belonging, Wesley was proud of being made leader of Angel Investigations and was calling home to tell his parents. After talking to his father, who seems determined to undermine his self confidence and remind him of his past failures, Wesley was back to normal - insecure and unhappy. He started ceding authority to Angel. But with the rebels he becomes a leader again. They elect him on his merits. They have seen he can fight well and he has a plan. And while he questions the decision, he accepts the position and acts like a leader.
He affirms his leadership almost immediately. He develops a detailed plan and when Gunn questions it Wesley reminds him that he is leader. He does fall back into old habits when Angel arrives, ready to give him authority. Fortunately, for Wesley, Angel refuses and Wesley is soon on track again. When Gunn points out he is sending men to their deaths, Wesley agrees. But he knows that some have to die if the others are to have a chance at survival. A message important for Gunn, who is still mourning the death of his friend. Then he orders Angel to call out the groosalugg, requiring him to release the Angel beast. This frightens Angel more than anything. He convinces Angel he is strong enough to control the demon, even in Pylea. That he is a man with a demon inside, not a demon with a man outside. And when Gunn asks if he believes it, Wesley replies that he needs Angel to believe it. Wesley is doing what has to be done, delivering a lesson in leadership and responsibility to both Angel and Gunn.
Cordelia makes an astonishing discovery - she wants to keep her visions. They are painful and incapacitating and they may ultimately kill her. Groosalugg points out that as a human she is not built to carry such a burden, a comment Wesley made earlier. She knows this, but she's not ready to give them up. She realizes that she needs them to help her friends fight evil. She realizes she needs them because they are a part of what she has become. And although she loves groosalugg and wants to have sex with him, she won't if the price is the loss of her visions. He calls them her burden and he's right, but they are a burden she bears gladly.
She demonstrates her growth when she chops off Silas' head and later when she makes her emancipation proclamation. She's learnt how to use power to help others and is ready to do so. Like Wesley, she is ready to let some die so others can live free. Most importantly, she realizes she has to go home and leave groosalugg in charge. Being a princess is nice, but she has a job to do.
Some quick final thoughts. I wonder whether the whole headless scene was included simply so we could have the line about the planter or candy dish. It is a very funny line. Pylea has a strange mix of magic and technology. The portals seem opened by magic, which Fred perceives as a kind of technology. The priests are clearly mystics, after all they are working off a prophecy. But the necklaces seem to be an advanced technology as is the machine which would blow them all up. Will Fred be a kind of love interest for Angel next season. She's certainly attracted to him and unafraid of his demonic part.
Lines of the week:
"Probably a backlog in the mutilation chamber." - The kind of dialogue you only hear on Angel.
"You go to hell and I spend eternity in the arms of baby Jesus." - Gunn's plan.
"We don't have a lot of entertainment." - Marelda on why mutilation is so popular on Pylea.
"Since when do I have 5 toes." - Lorne with some insight to his personal anatomy.
"You're a good man." - Fred seeing deeply into Angel.
"I'm leading this charge." - Wesley taking charge.
"You try not to get anybody killed you wind up getting everybody killed." - Wesley spelling it out for Gunn.
"We know you're a man with a demon inside. Not the other way around." - Wesley spelling it out for Angel.
"I need him to think it." - Wesley being a leader.
"Mother of the vile excrement." - Lorne's mother on the shame she has to face because of him."Nobody belongs there." - Lorne on why LA is the perfect place for him and Angel.
"I have a vision. Actually I have 2 visions and in one of them you get to keep your head." - Cordelia being princesslike.
"Should people be bowing in a free society?"
"These things take time." - Cordelia answering Wesley's question about social evolution.
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