Angel - Benediction

Summary

Angel returns to the hotel and tells them Connor is now Steven. The gang tell him something else may have come through the rift. They are worried about Connor, but Angel says he survived Quortoth and will survive LA. Connor books into a motel with Holtz. Next morning, Connor breaks into a vending machine and brings snacks and a paper back to the room. Holtz looks at the date and realizes he was only gone a few days. Connor says LA isn't like home. Holtz says Quortoth wasn't their home, it was their prison. We learn that Connor forced the slugs to flee Quortoth and followed them. Holtz followed him. Connor says he would have returned after killing Angel. Holtz says it isn't in him to kill. He tells him to go to Angel and to learn from him. He says to be on his guard, that the devil will show him many bright things.

Fred is rigging a geiger counter with a magical crystal which will help track down anything which came through the rift. Cordelia goes to see Angel who is working out. She tells him he is doing the right thing. He admits he is worried Connor may not come back. Groo and Lorne talk in the garden. Groo says he is confused at Angel's inaction. Lorne says sometimes not acting is the right thing to do. That if something is meant to be forcing it doesn't make sense and if it's not meant to be you can't force it. He realizes Groo is thinking not just about Angel and his son but about Cordelia and himself. Groo says he's going for a walk and to tell Cordelia if she asks.

Angel tells Cordelia he feels further from Connor now than ever. He misses all the things he'd hoped to do with Connor as he grew up. He fears Connor hates him. Cordelia says he won't and he will return because he is family. Wesley is eating a frozen dinner with wine. He gets email and it's an unsigned invitation to a club that night.

Fred is using her mystical geiger counter and the others are following her. Connor comes in and he sends the counter crazy. Angel introduces him to the others and they find reasons to leave them alone together. They talk awkwardly. Cordelia starts shouting. She's having a vision of a bar and a girl surrounded by a gang of vampires. She's screaming because of the noise from the vision. Angel realizes this will mean a lot of fighting and killing and asks Connor if he wants to come. At the bar, we see Wesley - it's the club he was invited to. And Lilah, she's the mysterious inviter. She points out Justine. Wesley is going to leave, but Lilah says he'll miss the death scene. He realizes she's arranged for vampires to attack Justine. But he says he's not interested. Lilah asks if he's going to leave or going to warn her. He pauses and she says his having to think about it is all she needs to know. She says she'll stop them before Justine is killed. Wesley sees Angel and says she won't have to. Angel gives Connor a stake. Connor doesn't understand why he fights other vampires. The vampires attack Justine and Angel goes to her aid. They all fight. Wesley realizes who Connor is and reveals this to Lilah. Justine realizes it as well. She flees. The fight takes Angel and Connor outside where they slay another vampire. After, they do some father/son bonding. Holtz watches from afar.

Connor is in the motel room eating an oreo cookie. Holtz enters. Connor says Angel tried to trick him but he wasn't fooled. Holtz says he saw Connor's true face. Angel is bragging to Cordelia about how well Connor did. Cordelia says she saw. That after they left she was able to reenter her vision and see them. Holtz says Connor was meant to be at Angel's side. He says Connor has to find out what he is. Fred and Gunn are outside the motel, led there by the geiger counter. Connor comes out and they think they were following him. But then Gunn sees Holtz.

Lorne is pouring himself a drink. Connor enters. He's rude to Lorne because he's a demon. Cordelia enters and tries to calm him. She says not all demons are evil. She says she's part demon and willingly. Connor attacks her. The white light thing she did in The Price happens again. This has a cathartic effect on Connor, reducing him to tears. Angel observes this. They realize Connor had been poisoned by the atmosphere of Quortoth (hence the geiger counter readings) and Cordelia essentially cleansed him. Angel suggests to Connor that he stay at the hotel. Connor says Angel sounds like his father and then talks about what Holtz said. Angel realizes what this means. Fred and Gunn arrive.

Justine shows up at the motel and finds the aged Holtz. Angel arranges to have Gunn and Fred take Connor out. He's going to see Holtz and Cordelia tries to talk him out of it. He says he won't kill him. Cordelia says she doesn't care if he does, but he shouldn't lie to his son. Justine says she would do anything for Holtz. He says he wanted to pass on his legacy of hate. He says the hate turned into love for Steven. He says he needs her to do one more thing for him and then he can be done with vengeance.

Gunn and Fred have taken Connor to see the ocean. They talk about what Angel is doing. Even though Connor is standing far from them, he hears. Cordelia thinks Angel has come back and not gone to see Holtz. She's overjoyed until she sees it is Groo. Holtz has just finished writing a letter when Angel enters the motel room. Angel grabs him, but Holtz isn't going to fight. Holtz realizes Angel has remorse for the murder of Holtz' children. Angel apologizes. Holtz says he was wrong to take Connor. Angel says it wasn't justice but vengeance. Holtz says he'll give him back. That every time Connor calls him father, Angel will remember what he did to Holtz. Holtz says if that's vengeance he has no taste for it. He gives Angel a letter for Connor, saying he should read it. He says Connor will look for him, but will never find him. Connor runs to the motel, Angel reads the letter. It says goodbye to Steven. At his bequest, Justine kills Holtz by stabbing him twice in the neck. Steven arrives when he is dead and Justine is holding him. He thinks Angel did it.

Analysis

If you had told me at the start of this season that my favourite character in an episode would be Groo, I'd have said you were crazy. But Groo definitely topped the list for me this week. There were other amusing bits, but nothing all that exciting.

So I'll start with what I really liked. Groo was sarcastic last week. This week he manages to be subtle and full of subtext. He out subtles Lorne, which isn't easy. It starts with him gazing at Cordelia going to Angel. Groo has noticed that Angel has been uppermost in her thoughts since they returned. She has spent all of her time worrying about him and focusing on him. She stood by him when the slugs attacked in The Price risking her life for him. But Groo is even more concerned by the emotional connection. The fact that Cordelia always goes to Angel when he is hurting, seeking to help him emotionally. And that the others see her as the person best suited to that task. The connection between them is much deeper than fellow warriors. She is the only person Angel confides in.

It gains momentum in the discussion between Groo and Lorne. Lorne recognizes the subtext here. Groo realizes he can't make Cordelia love him. If she does, then there isn't a reason for him to do anything. And if she doesn't, then there is nothing he can do. He walks away telling Lorne to tell Cordelia he has gone for a walk if she asks. He realizes she won't ask. That she always asks about Angel, but never about him. The worst moment, the nail in the coffin of the Cordelia/Groo relationship comes when Cordelia is overjoyed to see Angel, only to discover it is Groo. And she never did ask Lorne where he was.

I don't have a clue what Holtz' plan is. Is he taking revenge by having Connor destroy Angel? Was he really intending to give Connor back and torture Angel in the way he described? Why did he feel he had to die? Was it because alive he could not have stopped himself from reuniting with Connor and he realized that would stop Connor from finding his birthright as Angel's son? Lots of questions and absolutely no answers. One good moment was Holtz telling Justine that it wasn't all lies. Clearly he did feel for her and his plan was not to betray and lose her. I also liked the way he used her line about being willing to follow him into hell. When he asks her to kill him, he says he's not asking her to follow him into hell, just to help send him there.

Of course, Holtz already was in hell and escaped by following Connor. Connor is his redemption and it may be Connor will redeem Justine and possibly Angel. And he still has to kill Sahjhan, so we know we haven't seen the last of that demon. Justine will be his first task. She recovered from her sister's death through her union with Holtz. Now she has to face not only Holtz' death but the fact that she caused it. Angel talks about regretting the years he lost with Connor growing up. Justine lost the same years with Holtz growing old. Both of them are joined through Connor and somehow both of them have to overcome their grief and move away from feelings of rage and vengeance to positive emotions.

Wesley also has to deal with some negative emotions. Lilah is right, he isn't immediately sure about saving Justine. But he does immediately recognize Connor. That's got to lift some of the guilt from Wesley. With Connor back, will it be possible for Wesley to return? Cordelia's comment about Connor returning because he is family is obviously meant to apply to Wesley as well. He, also, has to be reintegrated into the Angel family. Connor has to integrate his natural family (Angel) and his adoptive family (the mother who was supposed to be Justine). Wesley has to stand firm against the invitation to join Wolfram & Hart and somehow rejoin Angel and the others.

It's interesting how everything seems to come down to couples and whether Angel can be part of one. Will it be Connor/Justine or Connor/Angel. Wesley/Lilah or Wesley/Angel. Cordelia/Groo or Cordelia/Angel. The one established couple, Fred/Gunn, may play a key role in bringing back Wesley. Gunn is the one who went to him and Fred is the one who still means something to him. Lorne, the perennial outsider, has already played a role in Groo's decision (is there really any doubt about that one). And I would guess he will play a similar role with Connor/Justine.

Some quick final thoughts. Connor is the child of two vampires. Vampires have great hearing. Gunn and Fred know this. Why do they talk near Connor? All this talk of vengeance sure makes you feel the same overall theme is being applied to both Buffy and Angel this season. Once more Cordelia's demon powers are used to save the day. Please, not again.

Lines of the week:

"Just because someone hops a dimension or two is no guarantee things'll work out." - Lorne saying what Groo is thinking.

"If she asks." - Groo accepting he's not topmost in Cordelia's thoughts.

"Everything's temporary." - Angel on being virtually immortal.

"I thought the 'come alone' was a particularly ironic touch." - Lilah really rubbing it in.

"They're not like me." - Angel trying to convince Connor and himself.

"You speak as though you're my father." - Connor saying what Angel wants to hear.

"My hate kept us alive." - Holtz on how he survived.

"Hate gets a bad rap." - Justine's philosophy.

"I kept your son alive. You murdered mine." - Holtz on the scales of justice.

"It would mean a little." - Holtz on why Angel should apologize.

"Maybe vengeance is what I do now." - Holtz really muddying the waters.

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