Angel - Waiting in the Wings

Summary

Wesley is mooning over Fred and Cordelia tells him he should make his move. He says he's waiting for the right time. She points out he once thought she was wonderful and he tries to compliment her. She says in Sunnydale she could have had any man she wanted and now as a hero all she gets is a ghost with a loofah. Wesley pretends not to have heard the last part. Angel walks in and asks what about a loofah and Wesley pretends it was a different word in another language. Angel pulls out tickets and says they are going out. Gunn and Fred are returning from breakfast, where Fred ate two of them. Gunn is amazed at how much she can eat. He tells her she's gorgeous. They enter and Gunn is excited about the tickets. He had asked Angel to get him tickets to see a band. But, instead, Angel got tickets to the Blinnikov ballet doing Giselle, one night only. He says he saw their Giselle in 1890 and cried like a baby and he was evil then. Gunn says the trust is gone. Fred thinks it's exciting and Wesley is interested and Cordelia says she's in when they agree they have to dress up. At the ballet, the head of the company is promising the performance of a lifetime and in the rafters some strange creature is giggling.

Cordelia and Fred are searching for gowns. Cordelia says they will buy them, wear them once, then return them. The secret is hiding the tags. Fred wants to ask her a question and Cordelia says she thinks he has feelings for her. They never mention a name. Fred says they have to find a dress for Cordelia which will make Angel crazy. Cordelia says she doubts Angel is worried about his clothes. At the hotel, Lorne is getting a stain off Angel's tux and Angel is worried about it. Lorne says he read Angel and sees he is interested in Cordelia. He says kyrumption (a term Fred explained in Offspring). Lorne says they are meant for each other. Angel says he has nothing to offer her. Lorne tells him he has to take a shot. Cordelia enters, looking beautiful. Elsewhere, Gunn is reluctant to come out and makes Fred promise she won't laugh. He appears in his tux and she laughs. She tells him he looks pretty. He's pleased and tells her how beautiful she is. Wesley brings her wrap. Cordelia and Angel enter and she whispers to Wesley that the iron is hot. They go to the ballet. Angel apologizes for the seats which are pretty far back. It's the best he could manage for five together. During the ballet Cordelia falls asleep and Gunn is on the edge of his seat loving it. At intermission, Cordelia realizes she drooled on Angel's jacket. Gunn is shouting bravo. Angel tells them that this is the exact same ballet he saw in 1890. The same dancers. They can't imagine how that is possible.

They wonder whether it's vampires, but Angel says he would have sensed them. He says he's going to check backstage and Cordelia decides to go with him while the others go back in. There is a guard backstage and Cordelia suggests she distract him. Angel says that's stupid, that if that guy sees the most beautiful woman he's ever seen coming on to him he knows it's a scam. Cordelia asks him to repeat that and he apologizes for calling her stupid but it's the beautiful part she's interested in. Angel suggests violence, but Cordelia attempts a bribe. It doesn't work (not enough money) and Angel uses violence. They enter only to find the backstage is under a spell and it seems to stretch on forever. Moreover, the door they entered by has vanished.

The others are watching the ballet. Angel and Cordelia enter the dressing room of the prima ballerina. Cordelia finds a cross necklace there. They start acting strangely, possessed by the spirits of the ballerina and her lover. Cordelia asks Angel to undress her. They start making out, sometimes under the control of the spirits, sometimes not. They realize what is happening and still kissing and holding one another get out the door. Outside, they revert to normal. Angel quickly takes off his jacket and holds it in front of himself.

Lorne is singing Connor a lullaby about resenting being left behind to babysit. We see someone coming up the stairs. Lorne senses this and goes to investigate. The door opens and he's shocked. Meanwhile, Angel and Cordelia can't find their way out. Cordelia realizes the ballerina had a secret lover and they were discovered by someone they were afraid of. She thinks that person is responsible for what is happening. She wants to go back into the room and try to learn what happened. Angel doesn't want to risk it, but she says she has her cross if things get out of hand. In the theatre, Wesley and Gunn are both about to touch Fred. But she suddenly says 'Angel'. She thinks Angel and Cordelia have been gone too long. Wesley agrees and the three of them leave to find them.

Angel and Cordelia are back in the room but nothing seems to be happening. Cordelia starts kissing Angel and drops her cross. The gang find the unconscious guard and enter the backstage area. Those strange beings we heard before see this and tell the head of the ballet who orders them to deal with it. Cordelia and Angel, possessed, are making out. Cordelia as the ballerina warns her lover about the man she is afraid of. She says he's powerful and can do something worse than kill them. He wants to flee, but she can't give up the ballet. We learn the lover is Stefan and the owner Kurskov. The gang hear the sounds of their making out. Angel has pulled down Cordelia's dress and is kissing her body. But the strange creatures, who are dressed in formal wear and whiteface, attack. This breaks up the romantic moment. Angel battles them while Cordelia dresses and the gang rush toward the noise of conflict. A lackey stabs Gunn. Fred and Wesley fight the lackeys. Angel manages to kill the two attacking him and Cordelia. She tells him they have to get out of the room because he looked really hot doing that.

Wesley defeats the lackey he is fighting. Fred is looking at Gunn's wound which is not serious. He realizes she was really concerned and they kiss. Wesley sees this. Quietly, he walks off and suddenly falls to his knees possessed by a spirit. Angel and Cordelia come in and tell Fred and Gunn about the room and the lovers. Fred points out Cordelia's tag is showing. Wesley returns and says Kurskov was a wizard and he created the temporal shift. He says he also hit a hot spot and was possessed. He says they can break free by overloading Kurskov who must be using a lot of energy to maintain the temporal shift. At that moment, the lackeys are reanimated and divide. Angel kills them and Wesley says forcing Kurskov to keep creating lackeys will probably do the job. Angel goes to find Kurskov as the gang fight the lackeys. The walls start breaking down.

Angel finds himself in the wings with the prima ballerina. She tells him she waited too long, she should have fled with Stefan. Now all she does is repeat the same dance over and over. She tells him it isn't even real dancing. That's it's just a repetition which is always the same, including her mistakes. Kurskov doesn't even notice them, he's not really knowledgeable about ballet. She asks him to stop it. Wesley's plan is working. Angel asks the ballerina to change the way she dances. He tells her Kurskov is losing control. She dances on stage and starts to change her dance. Kurskov's power fades as he tries to control her. Angel leaps into his box and destroys his power center. The lackeys vanish. The dance company vanishes, including the prima ballerina. Kurskov is angry, saying Angel has no right. Angel knocks him out.

Later, at the hotel, Wesley is cleaning Gunn's wound while Fred looks on at Gunn adoringly. Cordelia is wondering whether she can still return her somewhat the worse for wear dress. Angel tries to talk to Cordelia about what happened and his feelings for her. But Groosalugg (from Pylea) walks in and Cordelia rushes into his arms. Lorne appears and tells Angel there was revolution on Pylea and Groosalugg was deposed and a people's republic set up. So he came seeking his true love. Angel goes to check on Connor. Fred is surprised. She says she always thought Cordelia and Angel were fated to be together but you can't predict these things. Wesley agrees.

Analysis

There is a clear parallel in this episode between the trapped in time characters and the gang. It's not a one to one parallel, but a one to many. The prima ballerina is similar to Angel and Wesley. She waited too long to make her decision and found herself trapped in a reality she didn't want. The ballerina and Stefan as lovers parallel Angel and Cordelia as well as Fred and Gunn. Kurskov parallels Wesley. This is most obvious since Wesley is possessed by Kurskov's spirit (exactly how his spirit is in the timeless backstage area and he is in a box watching the ballet isn't clear but it's not really important). But there is also a relationship between Kurskov and Angel, both of whom see their beloved taken in the arms of another.

The Angel/Cordelia relationship has been a long time coming (clearly foreshadowed by Fred in Offspring) and is no surprise. I don't believe Cordelia is going to have a long relationship with Groosalugg and I don't believe Angel and Cordelia will get together. Happiness is not what this show is about. I am interested in how they are going to handle this.

The Fred/Gunn relationship was hinted at in Provider and the most interesting thing about it is Wesley. He clearly empathizes with Kurskov. And he, more than any of the others, fits the role of evil magician. But in this episode, Wesley stepped up. When he saw Fred and Gunn together, he left them alone. He encouraged them to stay close later. Wesley really cares for Fred and wants what is best for her. He's being self sacrificing. But you have to wonder how long will that last and is it the right thing to do? Is Fred aware of Wesley's feelings for her? Cordelia was certainly confused as to which of the two men Fred was interested in. If she's not, maybe she would respond positively to a declaration of love from him. Gunn may be her second choice.

It's interesting that Gunn, the one most reluctant to go to the ballet, enjoyed it the most. He's touched by the aesthetics of the performance. Fred talks about how her first sexual fantasies were sparked by ballet. So there seems to be a connection between them which is real and profound.

Some quick final thoughts. I liked the cheerful camaraderie that permeated so much of this episode. The casual conversations about relationships between Wesley and Cordelia and Fred and Cordelia and the joking during the intermission at the ballet. You really get the feeling these are people who happily work together. I loved Angel taking off his jacket and holding it in front of him. Angel and Wesley are both slow to act, reluctant to make their feelings known. Both seem to lose out to someone willing to say how he feels (Groo and Gunn). But there may be a tortoise and hare thing here.

Lines of the week:

"The best action I can get is an invisible ghost who's good with a loofah." - Cordelia getting a little too graphic about her phantom relationships.

"I had my first sexual dream about the mouse king." - Fred on why she's excited about ballet.

"Stop calling me pastries." - Angel with the kind of request you could only make to Lorne.

"You're so pretty." - Fred with a line Gunn normally wouldn't want to hear.

"It's a puzzler. Are there snacks?" - Cordelia cutting to the heart of the mystery.

"I don't dance. I echo." - The ballerina on the extent of her tragedy.

"You love her that much, start a web site." - Angel with advice to the lovelorn.

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