Angel - Supersymmetry

Summary

Fred is screaming. She got an article published and is showing it to Gunn who can't even understand the words. Soon they are making out. Angel has brought Lorne something to eat - he's in bed recovering. Lorne is pretty jumpy and he tells Angel he won't read Cordelia again. Angel hears something and goes to investigate. He finds Connor, picking up some things for Cordelia. He tells him to remember her fuzzy slippers because her feet get cold. Connor says he knows because she's always hogging the blankets. He leaves and Angel takes a big gulp.

Angel comes downstairs in the morning and Gunn warns him not to go in the office. Fred is there and he says she kept him up all night. Fred rushes in and tells him she's been asked to speak at a conference about her article. She wants him to come in so she can rehearse on him. He and Gunn enter the office, Lorne, clearly exhausted by physics, is there. She asks them to come hear her speak and Gunn says they'll all be there. Angel is quiet and Lorne reveals Connor dropped in the night before. Angel explains he just came to pick up some of Cordelia's things. Fred says everything will work out for the best. She points out that if she hadn't been sucked into a hell dimension she wouldn't have worked out her theory.

Wesley is reading. Lilah comes to the door with a box. He suggests it's a bribe or a setup, but she says it's just a gift. It's a helmet (I'm not sure from what but it looked like a piece of armor). Wesley says it must have cost a fortune and Lilah says it will take him hours to thank her properly. They kiss and she says she has taken the afternoon off. He says he has to leave. He thanks her for the gift and goes. She sees the magazine he was reading - Fred's article.

Cordelia is pinning up photos of her and people from her past. She asks Connor why there's no picture of Angel and he says he didn't see any. She says she feels something is missing. He gives her an ax and says maybe it's the thrill of the kill. He offers to take her demon hunting.

Fred and the others are at the conference. She's shocked to discover the important speakers she will be with. She's nervous and Gunn tries to reassure her. She spots her old professor, Seidel, and rushes over to him. He sends off his assistant, Laurie, and tells Fred he's introducing her. She introduces Gunn and Angel and says she was a history major until she took his physics class. Seidel says she was a natural. He asks her to come see him and she makes an appointment for the next day. Gunn feels kind of left out. Angel has entered the room and he notices Wesley is there. Gunn sits with Angel and asks him to translate Fred's lecture into English. Angel says he has no idea what she's talking about and Gunn asks him to tell Fred that so he won't stand out at as the only stupid one. Seidel introduces Fred and she begins her lecture. Angel notices Lilah entering. Lilah sees Wesley engrossed in Fred's talk and she leaves while taking out her cell phone. Angel notices this. A dimensional portal opens above Fred. People scream and flee. Seidel goes out the stage door. A many tentacled demon reaches down and grabs Fred. Gunn and Angel manage to rescue her and the portal and demon disappear.

Lilah is leaving the garage. The top of her car is ripped off and it's Angel. She thinks he's there about Lorne, but he tells her about the portal and accuses her. She says it's not her and he believes her. She gets back in the car and he tells her there's going to be a conversation about what happened to Lorne one day. She tells him she's not afraid of his idle threats. He waves his hand in the hole in her car roof and reminds her of what he did.

That night, Gunn wakes to find Fred writing formulae on the wall. She's afraid of being sucked back to Pylea. He reassures her. She's also worried about seeing Seidel, but Gunn says everything will be fine. She should take care of physics and he and Angel will take care of the demons and portals. In the morning, Gunn comes downstairs to find Angel has arranged chairs in the lobby to duplicate the layout in the auditorium where Fred spoke. He has Gunn sit in the position he was in and starts remembering who was where and what they were doing. Gunn asks why he never did this before and Angel says it's not an automatic reflex, but it kicked in when he saw Lilah. Gunn is surprised to learn Lilah was there. Angel says she was stalking Wesley. He remembers a nerdy guy behind them with a camera who seemed to be waiting for something. Gunn knows where to find him. At a comic book store, Gunn is roughing up the nerd who reveals he was there to see if Fred was one of the students who vanished. Gunn didn't know there were others. Fred is telling Seidel about Pylea. He introduces her to his TA, Laurie, who was his TA 5 years ago. In his office, he returns the last test she took, A-. He says he'd like her to come back. She says she has a new life now but he says she belongs in physics.

Comic book guy says he heard rumours. He recognizes Angel and says there are forums about him in chat rooms. He says there were 3 disappearance before Fred and 1 since. Seidel has to leave the office for a moment and Fred browses his books, finding one with mystical writings. At the office, Angel and Gunn realize the link between the missing students is Seidel. Fred arrives, she's figured it out as well. Angel and Gunn say Seidel will pay. Fred says he'll die.

Fred is irate. They try to calm her and say the demons which will plague her if she kills him will never go away. She agrees and goes to lie down. Gunn says they have to deal with Seidel quickly, before she does something. Wesley says vengeance sounds good. Fred has gone to him for help. He reveals he was at the conference and Fred realizes he has been following her career. He tells her Angel and Gunn are right and there will be a price to pay for vengeance. She still wants to hurt Seidel and Wesley quickly agrees to help. She gets a page, it's a series of mystical symbols which open a portal. Cut to Cordelia and Connor fighting a vampire. She slays him. They kiss, in a friendly way at first and then romantically. Cordelia pushes him away.

Gunn and Angel realize Fred has gone and she intends to kill Seidel. They split up and head to Seidel's. Fred and Wesley are driving to Seidel's. Wesley wonders why Gunn isn't with her. Fred says Charles doesn't have this in him and that's part of why she loves him. He tells her she can back out if she thinks Gunn's right. She says it isn't about what is right. She tells him to pull over and gets out.

Angel shows up at Seidel's. Seidel conjures a demon to fight Angel, then flees. He runs straight into Fred who says it's time for payback. Connor is snuggling up to Cordelia. She tells him they need to talk and explains that the kissing was wrong. He realizes she is going back to Angel. She says she needs time to think. Angel kills the demon. It comes back to life. Seidel pleads with Fred, but she's not listening. Angel has decapitated the demon, but it comes back to life. Fred realizes Seidel was scared of being overshadowed and that's why he sent his best students to demon dimensions while keeping around Laurie. She opens up a portal to suck him in. Gunn arrives. He tells Fred this will kill Seidel, but she won't stop. Seidel screams. Gunn grabs Seidel, breaks his neck, and tosses his body into the portal. Angel comes out, Gunn tells him it's been taken care of.

At the hotel, it becomes apparent Fred and Gunn have told Angel Seidel opened a portal and was sucked in himself. They go to bed. He hears a noise and finds Cordelia there. She notices his wounds and he says the demon had 9 lives. She says she realizes he lied before to protect her, but she doesn't need protecting. They agree no more lies. She asks if they were in love.

Analysis

It's all about love. Unrequited love, unconsummated love, unwanted love, and the things we do for love. Mostly, it's about getting in trouble.

Lilah and Wesley are getting lots of consummation, but it's questionable whether they are actually in love. It's looking as if Lilah may love Wesley - her trip to the conference seemed to be an act of jealousy. But it's not at all clear whether he returns her love. I think both of them are on the verge of loving the other and neither of them wants it. Lilah finds life easier when she's hard and unattached. If she loves Wesley, she can't use him. She's already let her feelings for him interfere with her work - she spared Lorne for him. Wesley has decided that emotional coldness is his only protection. He doesn't want to have feelings for Lilah because he thinks they will weaken him.

Wesley's coldness is made even more apparent when he talks to Fred. He argues both for and against her act of vengeance. He says he'll help her, but advises her not to do it and says the others would be opposed. He eschews any responsibility and limits his involvement - making it all Fred's decision. But his neutrality is just as much a stance as Angel's heroism or Gunn's amazing act of murder. There are times when not taking a side is the moral equivalent of taking a side.

The falseness of his neutrality, the fact that it's a facade and not a genuine philosophical stance, comes out when he talks to Fred about Gunn. Clearly he is trying to convince Fred that he, Wesley, loves her more than Gunn because he's willing to do this with her. But since Wesley has so carefully avoided commitment, his assistance isn't perceived by Fred as an act of love. Instead, she talks of how she loves Gunn because he is true to himself and would not help her do something he thinks is evil. Gunn strives to stop Fred from doing evil, even at a great cost to himself, because he cares for her. Wesley allows her to give in to her baser instincts because he hopes to ingratiate himself with her. Gunn will risk her love for him because his love for her is so deep. Fred recognizes that.

Which leads us to Gunn's sacrifice. Gunn is a champion, a hero. he has consistently picked right over wrong. He holds himself and others to a high standard. He has found it impossible to forgive Wesley and Connor their betrayals. But now he's going to have to deal with what he has done. He doesn't kill Seidel because he's evil or a threat. He kills him because Fred is about to kill him and he can't stand for that to be on her conscience. So he takes it on his own. He both remains a hero and fails as one. He remains a hero by protecting his love, even at the cost of his soul. He fails because he murders and so imperils his soul. Wesley kidnapped Connor believing he was saving the baby's life by doing so. Connor sank Angel believing he had murdered Holtz. Now Gunn has killed a human believing it was the only way to help Fred. Wesley and Connor have been ostracized and have suffered for their sins. I have to assume something just as terrible will happen to Gunn. That said, Gunn's moral sacrifice (taking on Fred's sin) is the biggest thing to happen on this show since Darla slayed herself in Lullaby.

Connor's attraction to Cordelia isn't surprising. She's attractive and nice and just about the only female he gets to be alone with. Her response is just as expected. If she has feelings, they are for Angel. Which makes a relationship with his son difficult at best. But her question to Angel at the end of the episode opens up new realms of complication. Angel really doesn't know what Cordelia feels for him, but he knows what he feels for her. So how does he answer? Were they in love or was it just him? I don't think he can legitimately answer the question.

It's interesting that Angel refers to Lilah as stalking Wesley and later Fred notes that Wesley has been keeping track of her, following her adventures. There's a parallel in these relationships with stalking happening all around. Fred realizes that Wesley still has enormous feelings for her and that makes her statement to him about Gunn and her love for him all the more painful. Lilah, Fred, Wesley, and Gunn are all dealing with powerful emotions and expressing them indirectly, but meaningfully. Lilah gives Wesley an expensive gift. Wesley follows Fred's career. Fred, when she needs help, goes to Wesley. Gunn sacrifices his soul, metaphorically and maybe literally, for Fred. The connections between them are strong and increasingly complicated and eventually will lead to some flare up.

Fred and Gunn have told a big lie to Angel. As Cordelia points out, lies are not good. Wesley simply hid the truth from Angel, about the prophecy, and that led to horrible consequences. Fred and Gunn are concealing something much bigger and it's got to lead to problems within the gang.

Some quick final thoughts. It's interesting how the Buffy and Angel episodes this week (Him and Supersymmetry) both touch on sexual feelings between a young adult and a teenage minor. In Buffy, Xander and Willow find themselves attracted to Dawn when she dances with R.J. although they are upset when they realize who she is. In Angel, Connor is attracted Cordelia and they actually kiss and she is upset especially since she suspects a relationship with his father. I kept expecting Laurie to be the actual culprit, not Seidel. But maybe she was just a big red herring. Or maybe we'll be hearing more from her.

Lines of the week:

"I got your back." - Lorne being courageous in bed.

"She thinks we're both stupid, I won't stand out that much." - Gunn feeling left behind.

"Coming from you idle threats are so well...idle." - Lilah on how hard it is to threaten people when you are a good guy.

"You remember when I ripped your car in half." - Angel letting Lilah know he's not that good.

"Hulk smash," - Lilah mocking.

"Demons, portals that happens." - Gunn with a weird view of normal.

"She was just stalking Wesley." - Angel realizing why Lilah was there.

"Vengeance.It can get ugly." - Gunn worried about Fred.

"Vengeance. Sounds good." - Wesley trying to ingratiate himself with Fred.

"You've been keeping track of me." - Fred realizing Wesley loves her.

"I'm surprised Gunn's not here." - Wesley trying to make himself look good.

"Charles doesn't have this in him. It's part of what I love about him." - Fred shooting down Wesley.

"Come on, I'm holding your head." - Angel having killing problems.

"If you kill him, I'm going to lose you." - Gunn on his big fear.

"Were we in love?" - Cordelia asking the tough question.

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