Angel - Carpe Noctem

Summary

Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn are sitting quietly reading. Fred comes in and startles them. She's obviously looking for Angel and Cordelia says he's in his room. Fred assumes he's reading as well, something deep like The Brother Karamazov, and maybe some Joyce and Goethe. Angel comes downstairs asking if anyone else has read the paper. There is a Charleton Heston double bill: Soylent Green and The Omega Man. He wants to go, but only Fred will come. He says the others often claimed he was sulky and stay-at-home, but, they don't know what fun is. Cut to a man in a hotel room in bed with two women. He's actually tired them both out. He looks perfectly fine, but something happens to him. He says an incantation and his body basically collapses, like an empty skin shell.

Fred is gushing to Wesley about her date with Angel and what a wonderful time she had. Cordelia tells Angel he has to talk to Fred, that she takes their night out far more seriously than he meant. He doesn't want to talk to her, but Cordelia drags him into the other room and says he has something to say. But he chickens out and points out an article in the paper about the man who died in the hotel room. Wesley remembers some similar stories in the recent news and Angel says they should investigate. Wesley agrees and Angel avoids talking to Fred.

Gavin is still trying to talk to Lilah. He tells her that the building code violations he has filed against Angel will cause him trouble because he doesn't legally exist - no ID at all. Lilah tells her secretary to contact a forger. Meanwhile, the gang have found three victims. Gunn is sent to interview the hotel staff. Wesley will meet with a contact at the coroner's office. Cordelia has found all three belonged to the same health club and she and Angel go there. Fred, rather sadly, is left behind. As they walk into the club, Cordelia tells Angel he needs to talk to Fred and explain how business and social life must be separate. But she sees some cute guys and runs over to talk to them. Angel talks to one of the staff, implies some kind of steroid scandal, and gets to look at their files. The only thing connecting them is a pilates class. Angel wanders around and notices someone in the senior's home across the street looking. Cordelia is collecting phone numbers from a gang of good looking guys. Angel tells her he's going to check out the home and to pick him up.

Angel finds an elderly man named Marcus who watches the gym. He talks to him and Marcus says the same chant from the man in the hotel room. He and Angel exchange bodies. He knocks Angel out and goes outside. There Cordelia is waiting. Of course, he doesn't recognize her but when she says she'll drive him to the hotel he's happy to get in the car with her. At the hotel, he finds their business cards and realizes this is where the gang work. Cordelia tells him he still has to talk to Fred and he thinks Fred is a man and he is gay. Real Angel awakens and goes downstairs where he finds a phone at the desk. He calls the office only fake Angel answers and tells him his only worry now is Ryan. A man takes the phone from Angel - he's one of the home staff. He thinks Angel is really a demented old man who keeps imagining he is other people. He takes Angel back to his room.

Cordelia finds fake Angel asleep at the desk. He's been looking for the case file, which Cordelia has. But she won't give it to him until he talks to Fred. Wesley walks in and fake Angel thinks he's Fred. He has an awkward talk in which he is so elliptical Wesley never quite understand what he is saying. Cordelia calls Wesley to eat and Angel realizes it's not Fred. He asks where Fred is and Wesley says she's in her room. So fake Angel realizes Fred is a woman.

Gunn has brought breakfast burritos and fake Angel grabs one and gives Gunn money thinking he's a delivery man. Gunn says he found all the men had called an escort service. They're all surprised fake Angel is eating. Gunn says he'll go check out the escorts. Wesley says he will. Cordelia says they are dogs and she will. Wesley's pager goes off, it's his contact at the coroner's who will let him look at the bodies. Cordelia sends Gunn with him.

Angel is trying to break out of the senior's home. But he can't get past the desk. Fake Angel is destroying the file and the evidence against him. Fred comes in and fake Angel hits on her, telling her to change and he'll take her out on the town. She leaves and Lilah enters with forged documents which will solve all the problems Gavin is causing with the hotel. Fake Angel hits on her.

Angel sets off the fire alarm, hoping he can sneak out in the confusion. But he has a heart attack. Fake Angel soon has Lilah stretched across the desk and they are making out like crazy. Fred comes down and sees this and goes quietly away. Fake Angel turns into a vampire and bites Lilah who screams and pushes him off. She pulls a cross out of her bag and runs off. Fake Angel touches his face and feels the strangeness. He then notices his fangs. He goes to look in the mirror and sees nothing. Angel is a hospital bed. He's told this was his 4th heart attack and he likely won't survive another.

Cordelia returns from the escort service saying they were skanky. She finds Fred crying and thinks Angel had the talk with her. But Fred tells her about Angel making out with a woman on the desk. Fake Angel is at a club coming on to a woman who is there with her boyfriend and she's interested. Pretty soon they are on the rooftop making out. He bites her and her boyfriend with a couple of his friends arrive and attack fake Angel. He easily defeats them and realizes since he is in an undead body he will be able to live forever. He jumps off the roof to the street below and runs off.

Wesley is shocked at Angel making out on his desk. Gunn points out it used to be Angel's desk. Cordelia says it's like Angel to have sex with some cheap blonde. Fred says it was a brunette and Cordelia is surprised. Wesley wonders who Angel is and Cordelia thinks he is Angelus. Gunn wonders why he didn't kill the woman he had sex with. Wesley says that's not what he meant, because he has discovered the person they thought was Angel was reading up on vampires - something the real Angel or Angelus would never have to do. He realizes what really happened. Cordelia remembers Angel went to the senior's home while they were checking out the gym.

Angel is trying to sneak out of the home again. But he discovers fake Angel, posing as his son, has just arrived. He chases down Angel and Angel realizes he plans to kill him so he can stay in his body. Fake Angel says Angel is a terrible vampire, helping people when he's supposed to kill them. Angel says he has the attitude and the power but he's missing something - friends. The gang are standing behind him. He tries to fight them, but Cordelia takes him out with a taser. Angel tells Wesley where to find the conjuring stone in Marcus' room. Fred hits fake Angel on the head, even though he's already out.

Wesley gives Angel the reversal spell and he reads it, getting his body back. He crushes the stone in front of an outraged Marcus. As they leave, Marcus has another heart attack. Later, Angel tries to have the talk with Fred, but Cordelia already did and Fred understands. She says he's like a character out of Fitzgerald, able to have everything but love. She says he may be lucky, because while love is everything it's also heartache and disappointment. Cordelia comes running in. Willow has called and told her Buffy is back. Angel rushes off. Fred wonders who Buffy is.

Analysis

I guess irony was the theme of this episode. On the one hand you've got the elderly Marcus who's about to die and who just wants to be young and strong forever. On the other, you've got the virtually immortal, perpetually young and strong Angel who wants nothing more than to age and die like a normal human. Which would be interesting if it weren't already obvious and if Marcus weren't incredibly dull.

Gavin tells Lilah that she might not know Angel as well as she thinks she does. This episode demonstrates that nobody seems to know him all that well. In the past, as recently as That Old Gang of Mine, Angel was criticized for not getting to know others - for distancing himself from people. In this episode, when talking about the Charleton Heston double bill, he refers to the worm turning and how others accused him of not knowing how to have fun. Well, those who accused him of not paying attention to others weren't paying attention to him this week.

There are so many clues that something is wrong with Angel that it's hard to see how they were ignored. His language is strange, using words like 'doll'. When Cordelia picks him up outside the senior's home he acts strangely, clearly not recognizing her or understanding why she's there. When they enter the hotel, he acts like it's a regular hotel. There is the bizarre conversation with Wesley. His tipping of Gunn and then his eating breakfast. And, throughout this, he's just acting too human - too happy. He's never Angellike. No, you can't guess from these actions that he's had his body taken over by an aging soul shifter - but you can see that something really strange is happening. And no one, not even Wesley, does anything about it. It's only when Fred says Angel was having sex with Lilah (although I'm not sure if they ever realized it was Lilah), that they really get worried and start thinking seriously about what has been happening.

Fred's comments at the end, about love, are interesting. Especially when juxtaposed with Angel's comments to Marcus - about having a weak heart because he never uses it. Angel, whose heart doesn't work in the anatomical sense, does use his heart in the metaphorical sense. And, while he cannot act on his love, Fred is wrong in thinking he doesn't have it. When he sat down to talk with Fred at the end, he wasn't able to get the words out. I think this was evidence of the strength of his emotion. While he doesn't love Fred, he cares for her deeply and he doesn't want to say something which will hurt her. Even if it's for her own good. Fred is right in that love brings with it disappointment and heartache and Angel certainly has those.

What kind of a weird senior's home was that? They've got ambulatory seniors who aren't allowed a phone in their rooms and aren't allowed to walk outside. They take a man who has had his fourth heart attack and treat him in the home - releasing him within hours to his own room. And, while residents seem prevented from contacting the outside world anyone can wander in and claim to be a relative and get access to them.

Some quick final thoughts. A vampire who likes The Omega Man is a very strange creature. I was glad to see the issue of Angel's legal existence raised. It's hard to live in modern society without some paperwork. I liked the way the fake Angel looked at himself and came to the conclusion he was gay. Does anyone find the package of documents Lilah left or are they still going to have trouble with Gavin's complaints about the hotel?

Lines of the week:

"I'm not a eunuch." - Angel hit in his soft spot.

"There's something about brewed tea you simply cannot replicate with a bag." - Wesley being English.

"It's also heartache and disappointment and those are good things to avoid." - Fred on love.

"Buffy?" - Fred not completely clued in yet.

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