Angel - Dad

Summary

The gang return to the hotel and discover the chaos from the commandos, Holtz, and Angel setting off the bomb. Lorne arrives. Since his club has been destroyed twice, he's decided to stay with them for a while. Angel is holding the baby and won't give him up even when Lorne asks to hold him. The baby has a scratch on his face and Angel won't even let Cordelia put ointment on it but insists on doing it himself even though the baby cries. A demon attacks. Wesley kills it. They realize they will be attacked by other forces and they need a plan. Angel realizes the baby needs his diaper changed.

Wesley goes to get Angel who is changing the baby on Wesley's desk. They are making an enemies list. There are a lot of names on the list. The baby starts crying and Angel tries feeding it but it won't take the bottle. He refuses help from Cordelia and Gunn. He says they have to erase the names on the list and Fred starts erasing them until she realizes what he meant.

Holtz and Sahjhan are arguing. Holtz is angry he wasn't told Darla was pregnant. He says she got off easy and Angel's death will be more painful. Sahjhan says he should just stake Angel and be done with it. Holtz wants to get rid of the minions. Sahjhan is against this, but suddenly the minions die from the poisoned drinks Holtz provided. Holtz wants to use the computer to search obituaries. Meanwhile, Cordelia has found there are already three web sites offering money for the baby. Angel asks Fred to help her track down the sites. Lorne has had the Furies put a protection spell around the hotel. No one can get in or out. He has an emergency exit in the sewer with the password being the Pylean word for hedgehog. Cordelia says they will have to use it because they need to take the baby to a doctor for its newborn checkup. She says it needs a shot and a PKU test. She asks if Angel is going to circumcise. The baby starts crying. Lorne asks if there are fluorescent lights because he hears humming. Angel sends Gunn to get some more fire power. He says no one is going to put their hands on the baby.

Linwood is watching all this via the secret cameras Gavin had installed. He asks how the baby was born given that the prophecy said there was no birth, only death. Lilah points out the baby wasn't born, Darla dusted herself and he was left behind. Linwood tells Darla to find out about Holtz. Meanwhile, Angel is trying to stop the baby from crying. He tries a teddy bear and when that fails he tries singing a lullaby. Lorne walks in and tries singing. It doesn't work. Angel is frustrated. He feels he is a terrible father because he can't stop the baby from crying. Lorne says the baby is picking up on Angel's anxiety. Lorne leaves and Angel tries to calm down. He makes funny faces and talks funny. He tries a couple of faces which don't work. Then he tries his vampire face and the baby stops crying.

Lilah is in files and records looking for information about Holtz. The clerk gives her a huge book which she says has everything about Angel up to the baby. Lilah asks how she knows about that and she says it's her job. Then she explains the book is only an index to the files. The files take 35 cabinets to hold. Holtz is watching a woman. She confronts him, thinking he is a stalker. We learn her name is Justine and her twin sister was killed, presumably by a vampire. She has been sleeping all day and stalking them at night. She wants nothing to do with Holtz and walks off.

It's morning and Angel comes downstairs with the baby. He was up all night watching it. Cordelia wants him to share responsibility, but he won't. He says he is the child's only family. Cordelia takes him outside. She asks what he will do if he has to rush his son to the hospital in the daytime. She says even a normal parent can't do everything by himself. Angel sticks his hand into the sunshine where it starts to smolder. He says at noon on the sunniest day, he'll get his son to the hospital. Cordelia pushes his hand away and takes him back in. Lorne comes downstairs and says the only safe place in the wide open to the sunshine hotel is the janitor's closet. If you look very carefully, you can see him slip a note into Angel's pocket. Angel walks away, thanking him for the tip. Gunn comes in with the promised fire power. He reports there are various groups outside. The vampire cult, a biker gang, and Lilliad demons. The demons have the magical power to break through the force field around the hotel. Their power is linked to the lunar cycle, so they are waiting for nightfall. It's a full moon.

Lilah has spent 14 hours going through the records. She tries to remember Holtz's name, she heard Angel call him by name in Lullaby. When she says it, the clerk recognizes it and gives her the bio on Holtz. She discovers the clerk knows everything in every record. She explains why Holtz hates Angel and that he mysteriously disappeared. Lilah realizes he is a single minded vengeance machine. At a cemetery, Justine is fighting a vampire. Holtz is there. He helps her slay it. He tells her he understands her. He says she is wild and he can help her. He says he wants her help in slaying a vampire. She follows him.

At the hotel, the Lilliad demons are starting their spell to break through the barrier. The vampires and bikers start fighting over who will get the baby. Angel says he's going to leave with the baby. He wants the others to stay behind and stall. He hopes to be a few miles away before the bikers and demons find out he is gone. The gang are all angry at him for running away. Linwood and the others watch this and see Angel heading into the sewers. He says this will give them a chance to get a jump on the others seeking the baby. He realizes the baby is special and may grow up to hunt them all down. Gavin says they'll get the baby dead or alive. Lilah says they need to get it alive so they can cut it open and see what's special about it. They contact their commandos to go after Angel. The Lilliad demons break through. Wesley and Gunn are imagining themselves as heroes from films (Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13). The demons and bikers are fighting each other. Angel makes it to his car and the commandos see him and follow. Some of the demons make it into the hotel. Wesley uses a flame thrower on them. Outside, they realize they have been tricked. The remaining bikers and demons pursue Angel and the commandos.

In the car, Angel is talking to the baby while fleeing. He heads to an abandoned mine. He leaves the car and flees on foot with the baby. The bikers, demons, and commandos follow while fighting amongst themselves. Trapped, he tosses them the baby and flees. He gets to his car and drives off. They realize it isn't a baby, it's a bomb. They are destroyed. The gang have taken the baby to a hospital for its checkup.

Linwood is looking at tapes of the scenes at the hotel. He sees where Lorne passed the message to Angel. They realized all the arguing amongst the gang was just acting. Linwood feels Angel has thinned the herd, making it easier for them. He asks Lilah about Holtz. He says they have to find out more about him. The alarm goes off and Angel comes in. He cuts Linwood's face. He explains his son has a cut on his face and now so does Linwood. He says whatever happens to his son, will happen to Linwood and worse. He says Linwood is now his son's godfather. He tells him to start saving for college because he's got his heart set on Notre Dame. he leaves.

At the hospital, the doctor tells them the baby is fine. Angel arrives and says the baby's name is Connor. Fred tells him they listed the father as Geraldo Angel. Wesley asks if they ever considered the name Wesley. Fred asks if anyone else is coming after them. Angel says they and Connor are safe for the time being. Gunn arrives with a stroller. They leave.

Analysis

It's hard being a single parent. I don't think anyone would deny that. But it does seem harder when gangs of demons and thugs are competing to kidnap your child and ransom/sacrifice/kill him. And all that before you've even chosen a name. That is a tough childhood. And this was a pretty bad episode.

There are a lot of little things in this episode which bothered me. Like where did they get the baby blanket and diapers - they sure hadn't seemed prepared before. And where did they get the bottle and formula? It's not exactly the kind of thing Angel keeps around the place. Fred lives in the hotel, she's a human, it's no longer really a public place anymore, wouldn't that stop the vampires from coming in even without the force field? I note the definition of public place seems to vary a lot in Angel. Hasn't Lilah ever looked anything up in records before? Why would she be so ignorant of how things worked? And why would she be doing her research herself? Isn't that why lawyers have articling students?

Those little things are annoying and can be explained away. What can't be explained away is the big cheat at the end of the episode. So Angel and the gang knew all along they were being watched and were faking their anger and Angel never had the baby with him (although then you wonder who he was talking to in the car - did he think the car was bugged). Plus, where did the switch take place. Surely not all the characters went into the closet to discuss strategy or switch the baby for the bomb (and who built that bomb anyway). Basically, a big chunk of the story and the interaction between Angel and the others gets blown away because it was all acting. Which is one step above Cordelia waking up at the end of the season and realizing Pylea and everything which happened after was just a dream.

I'd really like to stop ranting and focus on some good things in this episode, but I'm having trouble thinking of any. I don't think we really saw any character development here. Having Angel make faces at the baby isn't exactly growth on his part. And Wolfram & Hart are looking increasingly cartoonish. It used to take a huge effort for Angel to invade their offices. Now he walks in with impunity and threatens them. And Lilah and Gavin act like they are in high school.

I guess the point of this episode, or at least a point, was to show us different perspectives on family. Angel's pseudo family gathers around him to protect him and his son. His relationship with his son is one of openness and love. Gavin can only think of killing. Lilah, colder and crueler than Gavin, wants to disect Connor. Linwood talks of liking kids, but lets us know he sacrificed his to the senior partners. The various gangs see the child as something to own for financial or mystical rewards. Holtz, who was driven mad by Angel and Darla killing his family, sees Angel's family as a tool for his revenge. Angel singing the lullaby was clearly a link to the singing of Holtz in Lullaby.

Angel has, over the last three years, built a family around himself. When he needed them, they came through for him. They fought for him, they gave him the advice he needed, and they looked after his son for him. Holtz had his family taken from him. Sahjhan has failed to replace that family. His relationship with Holtz is purely a business one. The demons he hires to assist Holtz are incapable of forming a family structure. So Holtz kills the demons and seeks out Justine. He needs someone who shares his feelings. His goal is not simply to kill Angel (which is what Sahjhan wants), but to recreate the family he lost and to help others avenge the loss of their families. Angel built a family out of a desire to be human and to love and to have friends. Holtz is building a family out of the desire to destroy. Both are coming in conflict with the hugely disfunctional family which is Wolfram & Hart. It's not by accident that Linwood refers to Gavin and Lilah as children or that in this and the previous episode the two spend all their time jockeying for his (the father figure) admiration. The conflict between the bikers, vampires, Lilliad demons, and later the commandos is a foreshadowing of the coming conflict between these three units: Angel and family, Holtz and followers, and Wolfram & Hart. In fact, there may be four units since Sahjhan may find his interests are not completely the same as Holtz's. Holtz will be the central player here. For all his evil, he can still hear the voice of good. It was Angel, in Lullaby, who pointed out that he once worked with men and now surrounded himself with demons. Holtz got rid of those demons and is seeking out humans as allies. While his goal is still wrong, he is improving.

I think the scene where Angel puts on his vampire face and the baby stops crying is very important, but I'm not entirely sure why. It could be this is a moment at which Angel accepts his own reality (his vampire/human nature) and that his acceptance is the calming note the baby needs. Or it could be Angel realizes that the baby loves him unquestioningly and that his vampire self is not a barrier to a relationship with his child. Angel is always holding back his evil self. In the Pylean arc, he was humiliated when it was fully revealed to his friends and for a time too embarrassed to let them see him again. Now he has found someone for whom the vampire self is accepted without question. It's just another of father's funny faces.

Some quick final thoughts. I appreciated Lilah quoting Shakespeare. I did love the bit where Wesley says he's not surprised there is a baby on the desk since Angel had sex on the desk. And Angel saying he knows how to fasten old style diapers, but not the new fasteners. And, of course, Wesley's NASA nappy comment. So what is the Pylean word for hedgehog and will we ever learn it? You know, if the Pyleans spoke their own language in Pylea, which none of the gang except Fred know, then how come they all spoke English when the gang went there? That's the danger of continuity, it makes you remember things like this. It's interesting that Lorne always seems to walk into the room when people are singing. Angel burning his hand is a milder version of Darla staking herself. In both cases, the vampire is willing to be destroyed for love.

Lines of the week:

"You don't have a woman's touch. Whatever your taste in clothing may indicate." - Cordelia being nasty.

"MacDuff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped." - Lilah showing she studied Shakespeare.

"I like kids. The senior partners took mine before I really got to know them." - Linwood showing his soft side.

"Trade in the DVD players and get a life." - Cordelia with a little advice for Wesley and Gunn.

Got a comment? Send me mail.

Go to more Angel reviews.
Go to other tv reviews.
Go to my home page and get links to everything.