Angel - Deep Down

Summary

Angel, Connor, Lorne, Gunn, Fred, and Wesley are having dinner. It's a big dinner at a nicely laid out table. Everyone is happy and joking. Wesley toasts to family. Angel can't seem to get a plate. Suddenly, the atmosphere changes. He's in a dark room with water on the floor and only Connor with him who tells him to freeze the moment, it'll last forever. Cut to Angel still in his watery coffin.

Fred and Gunn run to the truck. They drive off but are stopped by vampires. Gunn says they just want to know where a girl, Marissa, is. The lead vampire says aren't they detectives or has that changed with Angel gone. Fred threatens him with a crossbow. He tells them where the girl is but then attacks. Fred fires, but misses. The lead vampire grabs her, but she uses the wrist stakes we saw Angel use to kill him. She then reloads and slays another vampire and Gunn slays one. The final vampire hurls an axe at her, but Connor suddenly appears, catches it, hurls it back, and decapitates the vampire. He says that's cool.

Back at the hotel, Fred and Gunn are angry with Connor who ran off after the rest of the vampire gang, leading to them being trapped. Gunn says Connor has to start thinking about more than just himself. Gunn admits the thing with the axe was cool, but makes Connor clean it. He and Fred go into the office and discuss whether they should tell Connor. Gunn says they have been hunting for Cordelia and Angel and found nothing. Fred says Lorne is too busy in Vegas to return their calls. She uses slang terms like 'bro' and 'dog' and Gunn tells her she can't say that. She finds an abandoned tenement where Marissa likely is. She used to feed by the bluffs, where Angel's car was found. They hope she can tell them what happened. Connor has overheard.

Angel is standing on the bluffs. Cordelia arrives. Angel realizes this isn't what happened. Cordelia says she loves him. He says he needs her. They kiss. He bites her. He wakes in his coffin screaming. Connor insists on going with Fred and Gunn. Against Gunn's better judgement, they agree. Gunn says they are down to their last clue. Fred says they could go to Wolfram & Hart and Gunn says how would they do that. Fred wants to ask Wesley for help, but Gunn says no. He says Wesley made his choice and has to live with it.

Wesley and Lilah have just had sex. She gets up and dresses to go to work. She starts talking about Angel and Wesley and tries to pump him for information. He says he has no idea where Angel is and doesn't care. She thinks that is cold and they are making progress. She asks if not knowing doesn't bother him. He says that part of his life is dead and it doesn't concern him now. She agrees, they kiss, she leaves. Wesley dresses and opens a locked door revealing a gagged and chained Justine. He says it's time to go for a boat ride.

Justine and Wesley are in a boat hunting for Angel. Justine tries to get Wesley angry, but he's really cold. He says she's consumed by a need for revenge because of her sister's death. That she turned Connor against Angel and killed Holtz. She goes to attack him, but without even turning he stops her with a threat.

Gunn, Fred, and Connor burst into Marissa's place. But she doesn't seem to be there. Connor realizes she is hiding and she attacks. He subdues her. She claims to know nothing. She flees out the window. Connor jumps out after her, it's several stories. Connor catches her. She obviously knows what happened and tries to seduce him. He stakes her, then cuts himself as Fred and Gunn come up pretending she attacked him. Gunn is angry at him for destroying their only lead and he runs off, jumping off the roof. Fred tries to calm Gunn, saying Connor is just a boy. Gunn points out he's the offspring of two vampires who can jump off a 6 story building and who was called The Destroyer in Quortoth. She says he's Angel's son.

Connor is on a rooftop. Angel comes up behind him. A gang of vampires approaches and they both laugh. They fight and defeat the vampires. Angel thanks Connor and snaps his neck. He wakes screaming in his coffin. Cut to Vegas and Lorne getting ready for his act. Fred has called, but Lorne has no news for her. He promises he will call if he hears anything. He tells her he has to go and to make sure Fluffy is getting enough love. Fred doesn't understand what he means. Is Fluffy Gunn? Is it something of Fred's, which would be inappropriate? Gunn is worried they will lose the hotel. Fred says they'll be ok.

At Wolfram & Hart, Gavin has been using psychics to try to find Angel. They don't know exactly where he is but they know he is immobilized. Linwood is happy with this, but Lilah says they need Angel out and about to play his role in the prophecy. Linwood reveals they know about Lilah and Wesley. She says she's not sleeping with him for information and he doesn't know anything. Linwood tells her there is a staff meeting in an hour.

At sea, Justine and Wesley find and retrieve Angel. Wesley unseals the coffin and as Justine is mocking him, Angel awakes and grabs him by the throat. Wesley removes his hand and Angel falls back. Wesley starts feeding Angel animal blood. He says prolonged starvation can't destroy a vampire but can cause brain damage. Justine says all he has done is for nothing, that the gang all hate him. Connor arrives at the hotel. Fred and Gunn are upset at him running off. He apologizes and Gunn says he's like Angel. This upsets Connor. Before a fight can begin, Fred sends Connor off. Gunn says Connor keeps pushing him. Fred says he's testing him, that with Angel gone Gunn is the alpha male. They start kissing. The phone rings.

A despairing Angel is talking to Lorne. It's an hallucination. Wesley enters and Justine says Angel won't stop talking. Angel thinks Wesley is Connor and says he should have killed him. Justine laughs. Wesley says Angel was down too long and pig's blood isn't enough. He cuts himself and lets Angel feed from him.

Lilah is alone in the meeting room. The others enter. Linwood starts talking about Lilah and her failures. She says she's sorry, she's made mistakes. But she's never been afraid. She accuses Linwood of being afraid of Angel and Connor. She says Suvarta, a senior partner, agrees with her. She says he was really helpful and had some hints about office furniture. Linwood is outraged. Lilah pushes a button. A blade whips out of Linwood's chair and cuts his head off. Lilah says they are all reporting to her now and tells them to get out. She orders Gavin to take away the head.

Fred brings Connor a snack. She says she knows he's hurting, but he'll hurt a lot more for what he did to his father. She stuns him. Connor awakes, tied to a chair. Fred and Gunn reveal they know what he did and that Angel has been rescued. They ask if he did the same to Cordelia. Fred gets outraged and stuns him again. Gunn pulls her off. Wesley loads Angel into a car. Justine, handcuffed to a railing, shouts that Angel will turn on him. Wesley tosses the handcuff key to her. He tells her she can continue being a slave or she can lead her life, it's her choice.

Fred can't get over Connor's treachery. Connor says Angel got what he deserved and she wonders how long before he would have decided Gunn and Fred deserved it. Wesley and Angel arrive. Wesley turns to leave, saying he is done here. They ask why he didn't tell them about Connor. He says he felt they were safer not knowing. He says Angel will need blood and he's fresh out. He leaves and they hear a noise, Connor escaping. They rush into the room and Connor knocks down Gunn and stuns Fred. But as he turns to leave, Angel appears and orders him to sit. Frightened, even though he thinks Angel is weak, he sits.

Angel asks how his summer was. He says his was fun. He saw some fish and almost went mad from hunger. Gunn and Fred get up. Connor says he deserved it. Angel says he didn't kill Holtz, that Justine did at Holtz' instigation. Connor says he still deserved it. Angel says that's open to debate. He says there is a difference between wishing vengeance and taking it. He says the question is what Connor deserves. Connor tries to flee, but Angel knocks him down. He asks Connor if he hurt Cordelia. Connor says no. Gunn and Fred don't believe him, but Angel does. He says Connor has lied so much Angel can see the difference when he says the truth. He tells him to get up. He says that his girlfriend once sent him to a hell dimension for a hundred years, so a few months at the bottom of the ocean gave him perspective. He says the world isn't what it should be and that's why there are champions living the way we should. He says Connor isn't part of that yet, but he hopes he will be. He tells Connor he loves him and to get out of his house. Connor leaves. Angel falls back. He says he needs Cordelia. Cut to Cordelia in the heavens saying she is bored.

Analysis

After you've watched a show for 3 years and known a character for 6, not much is likely to surprise you. So I was thrilled when I found myself constantly surprised by the twists and turns of this episode. There's a lot of steam left in the Angel series.

Speaking of steam, there is plenty of it between Wesley and Lilah. But what's going on is confusing. Both are vague as to their motives. I found the scene where Wesley tells Lilah he doesn't care what happened to Angel and she kisses him interesting. She seems almost disappointed. As if sad that he has lost his essential goodness. Then she seems to be protecting him when confronted by Linwood. She aggressively states there is nothing in Wesley to take advantage of and that she isn't sleeping with him for information. But she never says why she is.

It's possible Lilah has an emotional connection to Wesley. Maybe she has an appreciation of someone who has suffered so much physically and mentally and yet has opted not to turn evil. He's had his throat slashed and been abandoned (violently and repeatedly) by his friends. But while he seems to have turned cold, he hasn't turned evil. Nor has he turned neutral. He's still helping, but secretly and without expectation of reward. That's real altruism. Lilah doesn't know the whole story, although I suspect she senses there is more going on than Wesley reveals, but the little she does know is really impressive. I'm betting Lilah secretly wishes she had Wesley's strength. She mocks his morality and his friends, but underneath the mockery is a sense of loss and a hunger.

You've got to juxtapose the Wesley/Lilah relationship with Wesley/Justine. Both of them are enemies who have entered into a relationship with Wesley. And both keep reminding him that he has been cast out of the gang. Both have choices to make. Both have formed alliances with evil (Wolfram & Hart and Holtz), both have done terrible things, and both have established a relationship with Wesley which is not based in evil or at least not entirely so. He allows them both to be free agents. They get to decide what they will do.

Unlike Lilah, we are given a rationale for Justine's evil. She has been a victim. First by vampires who killed her sister and then by the betrayal and loss Holtz. Her sense of victimization has found a cause in Angel. The fact that he's blameless is irrelevant. She needs to have someone to blame, other than herself or a blind fate. Wesley recognizes this and repeatedly points out that she is a slave to her own delusions, her own need for vengeance. A need which can never be satisfied. When we first see her, she is bound and gagged. But even when she is free, and it's interesting that Wesley never ties her up aboard the boat and gives her access to all manner of dangerous implements, she is still a captive. He controls her because he understands the emotions which control her.

Wesley has moved past fear, very different from the cowardly Wesley we saw on Buffy or in the early episodes of Angel. He can sleep with the enemy, literally, and calmly turns his back on the dangerous Justine. He doesn't need to bind or kill them. He knows his power. As part of his quest for redemption, Angel has tried to redeem others. He took on Cordelia and later Wesley to help them. He has given them purpose and friendship and they have given him humanity. Wesley, seeking to redeem himself for his failure to trust his friends, seems to be doing something similar with Lilah and Cordelia. And this is part of a trend. Angel attempted the same with Darla and is doing so now with Connor. They are both seeking redemption not by asking for it but by helping others find the way.

Wesley has become the last of the big three to find himself. He is now the rogue demon hunter he claimed to be in Parting Gifts. Angel and Cordelia have both accepted their roles as champions. Angel does this in I Will Remember You (when he gives up his humanity) and in Judgement (where he explicitly takes on the role of champion). Cordelia does so in Birthday where, like Angel, she abandons her humanity. Gunn, Fred, and Connor are still finding themselves. In this episode, they attempt to form a family unit - but none of them are that comfortable in their roles. While the alpha male, Gunn is still insecure realizing that Connor is actually stronger than him physically. Fred keeps trying to merge her world with that of Gunn's, using slang she really can't pull off and attempting the mothering role but being rejected. Connor should be a champion, an Angel points out at the end of the episode, but he has not yet accepted that role. Even in his hallucinations, Angel realizes how difficult the creation of a family will be. The family dinner starts happily, but turns dark. When he and Connor face off against the vampires as champions all is well until the immediate enemy is gone. Then they turn on each other. Even his moment with Cordelia is ruined by his vampiric nature. Angel realizes that his curse makes a normal family structure difficult if not impossible. And his failing makes it difficult to help the others attain the redemption and the happiness they need and deserve. The world, as he points out, just isn't what it should be.

Justine and Lilah think they've found their roles. Justine as the lone avenger, always on the outside looking in and mocking the happiness and sorrows of others. Lilah as the tough, unfeeling, and fearless leader. Justine has achieved her revenge, alienating Connor and Angel and devastating Wesley. Lilah has risen to leadership in Wolfram & Hart. But neither of them is enjoying her role. Both realize all they have accomplished is to alienate themselves from anyone who might care about them. Lilah can't even talk to her mother. Justine has seen everyone she cares for die: her sister first and then Holtz at her own hand. Like Connor, and to a lesser extent Fred and Gunn, they have to establish their identities not in terms of what they are not (they all seek not to be victims) but in terms of what they are (champions or villains). They straddle the fence, attempting to justify their actions through nihilistic philosophy (Lilah) and primitive ideas of justice (Justine and Connor). Wesley says everyone gets what he deserves. Angel says what one deserves is a matter for debate. But Angel gives mercy to Connor. Wesley frees Justine. Wesley gives love (although in the most mechanical of ways) to Lilah. They've all been given a chance.

Some quick final thoughts. We've seen Angel with different hairstyles and with a beard in flashbacks. And this season on Buffy, Spike's hair is growing out. So how come after months underwater, Angel's hair and beard have not grown at all. The only possible explanation would be his not having any blood. On Buffy, we had a lesbian couple who were just an ordinary couple. On Angel, we have an interracial couple who are just an ordinary couple. Are there any other shows doing this? Oh, yeah - Firefly. So are there any nonWhedon shows doing this? Has anyone else noticed that Lorne always seems to be drinking when we see him? Does the green guy have a problem? I appreciate Connor not liking tomatoes. Something I was never able to convince my mother of. The episode title, Deep Down, refers to both Angel's physical status for most of the episode and the instincts for good which lie buried deeply in Connor, Lilah, and Justine.

Lines of the week:

"I just want to freeze this moment." - Angel searching for an instant of happiness.

"To family." - Wesley leading them all in praise of the thing most important to them.

"That didn't suck." - Lilah on her sex life with Wesley.

"I think we're finally making progress." - Lilah very wrong.

"You were always a slave, Justine. You just couldn't see the chains." - Wesley trying to help.

"I'll take away your bucket." - Wesley with a serious threat.

"One more reason to stay pink and rosy." - A weird sentiment from Gunn.

"Tall. Good looking, Weird hair." - Marissa on Angel and how it's tough when you can't look in the mirror.

"Make sure Fluffy's getting enough love." - Lorne with a cryptic comment.

"I'm not sleeping with him for information." - Lilah not really telling us anything.

"Everything I touch turns to ashes." - Angel on his despair.

"I've made mistakes. But fear was never one of them." - Lilah demonstrating why she's where she is.

"I'm done here." - Wesley getting fatalistic.

"Kind of an M.C. Escher perspective." - Angel on the perspective you get when the people you love send you to hell dimensions or the bottom of the sea.

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