Angel - Lullaby

Summary

Holtz captures Angel. Angel tries to tell him things have changed, but when a sprinkle of holy water turns him into a vampire, Holtz says they look the same. He says he will have justice. Angel says there is no justice for what he did to Holtz. He tells his minions to find Darla. Cut to Darla in the car screaming. Wesley tries to show her how to breathe. She hurls them all away from the car, crying that she doesn't breathe. She puts on her vampire face. Then she breaks down into tears.

It's the past and Holtz is rushing home to his dead wife and baby. But his daughter Sarah is alive. He holds her and sings her a lullaby, then sees the bite marks in her neck. His men arrive and he orders them to stay outside. He sits and sings while the child plays with her doll. In the present, Lilah has failed to find out who Holtz is. The surveillance is still down. Linwood makes it clear he will blame them for what is happening. At the hotel, Angel is trying to figure out how Holtz got there. He warns him that he will lose his soul if he works for evil.

At the car, the gang revive Wesley. Darla has calmed down some. They get into the car, all four climb into the front seat. Darla asks why no one will sit with her and she promises not to throw anyone out of the car while it is moving. Fred points out her water broke all over the back seat. Wesley notes they are surrounded by demons. In the hotel, a demon comes in saying he has Darla. But he brings in Lilah. Angel realizes the dead men are hers. She explains she is an attorney. She tells Holtz about the curse and Angel working for good. She wants to leave, but he won't let her. He's afraid she'll call the authorities, but she says she won't. While they talk, Angel manages to get a grenade from one of the dead commandos with his foot. He tells Lilah to duck and sets it off. It hurls him free and he escapes. Holtz tells Lilah that if she sends any other men, he'll kill them because he wants Angel. She says they sent the men for Darla. He asks if she is cursed, and Lilah says no. She tries to strike a deal with him, but he refuses. She calls a crew in to clean up the place and hide the evidence. She sees the scrolls and takes them.

While the gang are fighting the demons, Darla is in the car talking to herself. She drives off, knocking over a couple of demons in the process. Angel runs up after she is gone and asks the gang what they are looking at. He explains about Holtz. Fred thinks he may kill Angel's unborn child who is actually good and thus cause the end of the world. Or maybe not. Angel says he'll track down Darla if they will find a safe place for her to have the baby.

Lilah has one of her staff looking at the scrolls. She gives him Wesley's notes to help him. She tells him if he doesn't finish by morning, she'll have his family killed. Holtz is angry with Sahjhan for not telling him Angel is ensouled. Sahjhan fears he is abandoning his quest and tries to convince him killing Angel is still good. Holtz claims this isn't his problem, that setting Angel's soul free to be tormented for eternity is fine by him. But he says he was searching for the wrong prey. Sahjhan realizes his mistake, that an ensouled Angel is a different creature from a soulless Angel. Holtz says he needs all the information and asks if there is anything else. Sahjhan says no.

Angel has found Darla. She wonders why anyone would want to bring a baby into so horrible a world. He says the baby may make the world a better place. She says it may destroy it. She says she can't let the baby be born. She admits she loves it. She says she has nothing to offer a baby. She says the baby has been nourishing her. That the feelings she has come from it. She knows that its soul is giving her feelings. That when it is born, she won't be able to love it or even remember loving it. She cries.

The gang are at the club. They want Lorne to let Darla have the baby there. He is getting ready for his grand reopening tomorrow night. The demon electrician is there. He has to wire together the protection spells to make both human and demon violence impossible. He hums while he works and Lorne reads him and sees he intends to cheat him. Lorne fires him and decides to finish the wiring work himself.

Darla asks Angel to protect the baby from her. His cell rings and it is Wesley telling him about Caritas. Lorne is still working on the wiring, having Fred slap Gunn to test it. The translator tells Lilah the prophecy is when the skies open and the heavens weep, there will be no birth, only death. In the past, it is morning and Holtz takes his daughter outside into the sunlight where she catches fire and is destroyed.

At the club, Lorne is still working on the wiring and now Cordelia is slapping Gunn. Angel arrives with Darla. He tells Wesley the contractions have stopped. Darla is in pain and they take her to Lorne's bedroom. Fred sees blood on the chair Darla was using. The demon electrician has gone to Sahjhan and tells him and Holtz about Angel and Darla being there. Wesley and Fred tell the gang that the baby is dying. Darla isn't equipped to bring it to term. They would do a C section, but the power protecting the baby won't allow that. Gunn wonders whether the powers that be aren't acting now by killing the baby. That it may be a world destroying monster and they are actually doing something. Angel is upset at the idea of the world being saved by killing his son and walks off. Cordelia criticizes Gunn for being too honest and hits him. The sanctuary spell works and Lorne is overjoyed, but no one else seems happy.

In the bedroom, Darla calls the baby he for the first time. She realizes he is dying. Angel says no, but she realizes he is lying. She says she doesn't know how to give it life. She calls the baby her darling boy. Outside, Gunn wonders whether he should go in and apologize. The others think he should stay outside, that Angel and Darla need time alone together. Lorne offers to buy everyone drinks. Holtz enters. Lorne tells him the reopening is tomorrow and gives him a flyer. Holtz leaves, singing the lullaby. Lorne reads him, realizes what is to happen, and tells everyone to run. A barrel and a grenade come rolling down the stairs. There's an explosion and the bar is destroyed. The gang are in the bedroom and Lorne says they have to get out. He tells them to move the bed. Angel tells Darla Holtz is there. There is a loading dock door, walled up, behind the bed. The gang try to break through. Darla feels Holtz coming after them and destroying their family is karmic justice for what they did to him. They break out into the alley, where it is raining. Angel sends them for his car, Fred remains behind. He gives her his coat. Darla is on the ground in pain. She says it won't be okay. She says their baby will die in the alley. She says he died in an alley. She says she wants to say she is sorry and mean it, but she can't. She says she knows it's not ok. That there is no way they can make up for all the terrible things they did. She says the baby is the only good thing they ever did together. She asks him to tell the baby that and stakes herself. She disintegrates and the baby is left lying on the street and crying. Angel picks up the baby and wraps it in the coat Fred gives him. Holtz arrives and points a crossbow at him. Two demons stand behind them. The car pulls up. Holtz lowers his crossbow. Angel, Fred, and the baby get into the car. Sahjhan yells at Holtz to finish him. Holtz says he swore he would show no mercy, and he won't.

Analysis

I've always felt one of the most brilliant things ever written in the Buffyverse was the gypsy curse which controls Angel. It's a brilliant curse. It tempts him with happiness, but makes happiness impossible. The thing which gives him hope, gives him pain. It alienates him from both human and vampire society. And, from an artistic point of view, it guarantees eternal sexual tension, something really important in a tv show. But Darla's incredible suicide (brilliantly foreshadowed by the prophecy which spoke of death and life) was just as great. It turned Darla into a sympathetic character for a moment (this time in her full demon form and not simply as a human) and then it snatched her from us. Last week, I complained that we were getting lots of setup and no payoff. This week, we got paid. And more cheques seem to be in the mail.

This week was about making choices. Darla and Holtz both get a chance to make a choice. They are at a turning point in their lives. They can give life or they can take it. Darla has the opportunity to be a mother and Holtz the chance to be a murderer. Darla can make a sacrifice or Holtz can relish his revenge. And both are made well aware of the consequences of their actions.

Darla gets increasingly emotional as the episode progresses. She's crying in the pain of childbirth at the beginning. She gets angry, striking out at the others and abandoning them. She tells Angel she feels love, for the first time. But she refers to the baby as darling boy, a term she has used for Angel. Angel has argued, Epiphany, that without a soul you cannot love. But in the Buffy episode Crush, Dru says vampires can and do love. But it does seem that the intensity of emotion they feel as a vampire is nothing compared to what they would feel with a soul. And that's what Darla is feeling now. So she discounts those earlier feelings for Angel, although subconsciously using language which combines those feelings with her newfound maternal feelings.

As a mother, she wants to give life. As a vampire, she knows she can only take it. She manages to integrate these two conflicting desires by taking her own life, thus giving life to her child. Her act of self sacrifice is the highest form of love. She dies so her child can live. Her only desire is that Angel tell their son that he is the one good thing she and Angel did.

Of course, this doesn't guarantee Darla's ascension to heaven. She also says she cannot say she is sorry and mean it. She says this talking about killing Angel and I believe she means the years they spent together and the creation of a child together are something she is willing to be damned for. That she cannot be sorry about the sin which led to this child. She also says there is nothing they can do to atone for the terrible things they did. This is the sin of despair and it prevents you from atoning. So maybe Darla has just done Holtz's job, damning herself. But she has also succeeded in being a mother and that is something. In the end, her feelings (good or bad) triumphed over the cold intelligence which guided her through life and undeath.

Holtz is all cold intelligence. From the time he saw his daughter had been turned into a vampire to the scene in the alley, he has been emotionless. Holtz never mourns properly. He never comes to grips with his loss and so is in a perpetual state of icy rage. He seeks revenge, but cannot actually enjoy it. His goal is to draw out Angel's suffering even as his suffering was drawn out. When he learns Angel has a soul, he's just happy this means he can cause him further torment. He has no remorse over killing the commandos, who may be innocent for all he knows. He walks into the bar and sees humans are there, but decides to kill them all anyway. At first, we think the sight of the baby melts his heart, but it doesn't. It just means he can torment Angel some more.

Angel reminds Holtz that he risks his soul, something Angel and Darla could not take from him. He points out that a demon hunter now works with demons. But Holtz is beyond feeling. The suffering of Angel and Darla, Darla's sacrifice, they mean nothing to him. He can't empathize because he has no feelings left. Darla was infused with emotion because of the life within her. Holtz is emotionless because the death of his family have drained all feeling from him. That's the terrible thing Angel and Darla did to him. They made him a monster. They didn't take his soul, but they set in action the process which would cost him his soul. Driven only by his cold desire for revenge, incapable of finer feelings, Holtz consistently makes the wrong choices.

Some quick final thoughts. I loved Lilah's translator. Why does a magical spell require electrical wiring? Was the Buddha a reminder of the bad karma Angel and Darla carry with them? It was nice the way the prophecy predicting the rain (heavens weep) and the death of Darla. It's all really obvious in retrospect. Will Caritas ever reopen or will it just be continually destroyed. Maybe Lorne is the one with bad karma.

Lines of the week:

"There's no justice for the things I did to you." - Angel confessing.

"I don't breathe." - Darla making a very profound point.

"They don't crucify here, it's too Christian." - Lilah on the Wolfram & Hart business practises.

"I'm a lawyer. I don't care about the law." - Lilah on her moral position.

"Have you thought of a name yet?" - Fred trying to talk her way out of a corner.

"I won't be able to love it." - Darla on the cost of losing a soul.

"I swore that I would show no mercy. And I won't." - Holtz reaffirming his vow.

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