Angel - Apocalypse, Nowish

Summary

Angel and Lorne are arguing. Lorne wants to question Cordelia about the demonic vision she had, Angel wants to give her some time. Fred and Gunn are off to help a woman who thinks her house is haunted. Cordelia is at Connor's watching a horror movie on tv. Connor brings her junk food and sits with her. She thanks him for all he has done. He says she should get some sleep. She says whenever she closes her eyes she sees the demon from her vision clawing its way upward. She says she can taste the blood of all the people it is going to kill. She says nothing can stop it, that she wants to warn Angel but the words won't come out. She says it's almost there. Connor stands, says I know in a demon voice, and transforms into the vision demon grabbing Cordelia by the throat. She wakes from her nightmare. Connor rushes to her side, she cries.

Lorne is handling a call from someone plagued by snakes. Angel says they don't deal with snakes unless they are giant, demonic, or giant demons. Gunn and Fred are led to the haunted room by the woman who called them. It's a really nice room and Gunn says it's the kind of place he dreams about them having one day. Fred is not so keen on the idea. But before they can talk, they hear a noise. Suddenly, there are rats everywhere. They run screaming out of the room and tell the woman to get an exterminator.

Wesley gets home, from fighting a swarm of bugs, to find Lilah dressed up as Fred. She puts on a fake Texas accent and pretends to be Fred. She reveals she saw him go to the conference and believes he's in love with Fred. But she says she doesn't care since she knows he'll be in bed with her. He asks if she thinks she knows him, she says better than Fred ever will. They start making love, she goes to take off the fake glasses but he tells her to leave them on.

Fred and Gunn return home and she talks about taking a long bath to scrape the rat off her. Gunn is keen on bubbles, but Fred meant to take it alone. He's obviously disappointed and she says it's ok for him to join her. Gunn complains that they don't talk and they haven't touched each other since Seidel died. Fred talks about them killing Seidel, Gunn says he killed Seidel. She says he did it for her. He says he couldn't let her carry that burden, that it's not in her heart to kill. She asks if it's in his and he says it is now. She leaves.

The phones are going crazy, Gunn comes in and relieves Lorne who goes to Angel who is rearranging his weapons. He asks Lorne if he should organize them alphabetically or by how much damage they inflict. Lorne says damage. Lorne tries to get him to see Cordelia. Connor walks in. He says Cordelia is staying with him and Angel says that's fine. He asks Angel to talk to her and Angel says it's not the right time. Connor says "Dad? Please?" and Angel goes with him.

He talks to Cordelia and she says he makes everything feel like it's not spiraling apart. Connor leaves them alone. She says she loves him and she always will. She says as a higher being she experienced his past as Angelus, she felt the pain of those he tortured, but also the pleasure he took in inflicting pain. She says she loves him but can't be with him right now. That maybe she just needs a little time. She has a fit, she has a vision of the demon and says it's coming now.

Cordelia is lying down. Angel says the visions weren't supposed to hurt anymore. She says this wasn't normal. She says it's big and powerful and clawing its way through the earth. But she doesn't have a location. She says it's coming and it won't stop. Angel says Connor is right and she should get some sleep, he'll figure out a way to fight it. She says she thinks she knows more, but she can't get at it. Angel suggests Lorne read her again. She wonders if he would and Angel says he could hold him down. She says she needs to know more.

At the office, the phones are ringing off the hook. Lorne suggests rustling up Fred and Gunn says if she wanted to be there she would be. Lorne asks Gunn if he and Fred are ok. Gunn says to ask her, maybe she'll talk to him. Lorne says Gunn knows how Fred feels about him. Gunn says things haven't been the same since the thing with Seidel. Lorne says getting sent to Pylea was a taste of his own medicine. Gunn says he got what he deserved. There is a thud at the door. Gunn finds a bird which flew into it. Lorne tells him to come in and close the doors. He does and hundreds of birds hurl themselves at the building.

Lilah is on the phone walking to her office getting reports of strange occurrences. She says someone is trying to muscle in on their apocalypse. She enters her office to find Angel and hangs up the phone. She says he won't get anything out of her. Angel says he figured that, but Gavin was more accommodating. She turns and sees Gavin bound and gagged. She asks if Angel couldn't have tortured him some more and Angel says he talked so much he just couldn't get into it. He's learnt they have hundred of psychics trying to figure out what Lorne read in Cordelia, only when they peel back a layer their brains get fried. Literally. She says he has it right, the information is somehow protected. Angel says he can sense she's afraid. He says he knows this caught her by surprise and she didn't know it was coming. He says it's a win-win situation for her. She helps him and he stops it and she preserves the 1000 year plan of Wolfram & Hart. He fails and the thing kills him, making her a winner again.

Cordelia tells Connor she's going for a walk. He just stares and she admits she is getting a stronger feeling about the vision. He realizes she was going to face it by herself. She says she was a higher being and he emphasizes the was. She says she remembers wanting to return home but she doesn't remember how she got there. Connor says she's there because she's important. She disagrees and he says she's important to him. She goes to find the demon and Connor goes with her. They wander the streets and Cordelia says she finally has a sense of purpose. Connor flirts with her and she flirts back. Cordelia realizes they are at the spot where Darla died and Connor was born. The demon bursts out of the ground in front of them. Connor attacks and is hurled aside. The demon grabs Cordelia. Connor attacks again and is hurled back. The demon approaches Cordelia, Connor yells to stay away from her, the demon laughs and flies away.

Gunn is calling around, looking for Fred. He says he's going to drive around. Lorne says he'll come with. Wesley walks in. Gunn assumes Wesley is there for Fred and says she's not there. Wesley asks where is she and Gunn says it's not his business. Lorne tries to break it up, Wesley suggests pooling their data, Gunn says no and that he's going looking for Fred, Angel arrives and says he's not. He says if they don't stop what's coming, it won't matter where Fred is.

Angel has everything Wolfram & Hart was able to decipher. He gives it to Wesley and the others. He points out Lorne would be dead if they hadn't taken it out of his brain. He tells Lorne to start mapping the calls, maybe they can figure out the center of activity that way. They are getting nowhere sifting through the data. Wesley says it's full of words from different archaic languages, but it's gibberish. Gunn walks around and stands behind Wesley, he suddenly notices something. He points out that the sheets can be put together in a pattern. They start laying out all the documents on the floor. What they get is the eye of fire, a symbol of destruction. Lorne has mapped the calls, they make the same symbol.

Fred is at the diner drinking coffee. The waitress says she'll give her one more refill and then she's cutting her off. Fred offers to pay, thinking it's because of the free refills. But the waitress says after 10 cups she's just worried Fred will vibrate into another dimension. She says Fred should call Gunn, that he must be worried. Fred says she wouldn't know what to say. The waitress says she's seen how Gunn looks at her and he would do anything for her. That as long as she's got love, things can't be that bad. An earthquake strikes.

Cordelia is tending Connor's wounds. She sees he's broken a couple of ribs. He says he's never been broken before, not even in Quor-toth. He didn't think he could be. She says he's hurt because of her. She thought she had some higher purpose, but now she knows better. He says she knows it can hurt her and if it tries again he will find a way to kill it.

Angel figures out the epicenter of the activity, it's a club called the Sky Temple. He gets ready to go there. Lorne wants to hold off until they know more, but Angel says if it's alive they kill it if it's dead they bury it. He tosses a crossbow to Wesley and asks if he's in. At the club, they find the demon standing in the middle of an eye of fire he has made out of the bodies of the club goers he has killed. Angel attacks and is hurled back. Gunn throws an ax to no avail. Angel attacks again. Wesley fires his crossbow, the demon deflects the arrows so they strike Angel. The demon tosses Angel at Wesley knocking him down. Gunn attacks with a sword. The demon tosses him aside. Wesley pulls out two guns and starts firing at the demon. He then pulls out a bigger gun and fires. It does nothing and the demon tosses him aside. Angel pulls out the arrows and comes at it again. When he's tossed back, he puts on his vampire face and comes at it again. The demon stabs him in the throat and his human face comes back. It says "Do you really think she's safe with him" and tosses him off the roof. It then ignites the bodies causing an explosion which hurls Lorne through a skylight to the room below. It flies off. Lorne gets up, Wesley helps an injured Gunn out, Angel pulls the blade from his throat.

A pillar of fire ascends upwards and then fireballs rain down on the city. Connor and Cordelia see this. Connor says he should have tried harder to defeat the demon. Cordelia says it isn't his fault. He wonders whether it is. Whether it chose the spot where he was born on purpose. He says he shouldn't exist, the child of two vampires. She says it's not him. They kiss. She says she doesn't think anything matters anymore. That Connor has never had anything real and if this is the end she wants him to have something. She pulls him to her. Cut to Lorne, Wesley and Gunn, and Fred gazing upward at the fireballs. Cut to Lilah looking from her office window. Cut to Cordelia and Connor in bed making love. Cut to Angel outside seeing them.

Analysis

Okay, this is one of those episodes where you pretty much have to start at the end because that's where the fireworks were - literally as well as metaphorically. You've got Wesley saving Gunn, adding another kink to that increasingly complex relationship, and you've got Angel seeing Cordelia and Connor having sex, adding kinkiness to that really complex relationship. Have Lilah helping the good guys and Fred and Wesley practically switching places (she leaving and he rejoining the gang) and you've pretty much turned the Angelverse on its head. I'm reminded of last season's Sleep Tight, which ended on a similar note of confusion and despair.

But before we get into that, we've got to discuss the Wesley/Lilah scene - as always the best scene of the episode. Lilah does a great imitation of Fred and knew exactly the things to say to get under Wesley's skin. Despite her protestations, it's clear she is jealous of Fred and of the fact that Wesley still yearns for her despite the fact that he's with Lilah and she chose Gunn. Their relationship seems based on mutual pain - the suffering and the inflicting. Lilah taunts Wesley about his crush on Fred - she uses that demeaning, school boy term. But he makes her keep on the glasses, making her realize he's thinking about Fred while he's having sex with her. Lilah has the curves, but she doesn't have Wesley's attention. That's got to hurt.

That scene is nicely contrasted with the Fred/Gunn breakdown. While Wesley rejects Lilah, making his preference for Fred clear, Gunn tries to get closer to Fred. He thinks he's done her a great favour by killing Seidel, that he has removed a burden she would have to carry. But he's merely changed the nature of the burden. She would have had to live with being a killer. Now she has to live with loving a killer. That's clearly tough for her, hence her flight. This nicely parallels Wesley's departure from the gang when he kidnapped Connor. Like Wesley, Fred has come to believe that the one she cares for is a killer and she can't be with him. Wesley believed this about Angel and fled with Connor for the same reason.

It's interesting that Gunn, the muscle, is the one to solve the problem. It's also interesting that Wesley, the brain, is the one with the most muscle in the final fight scene and the last man standing. Just as Wesley and Fred have flipped positions, so have Wesley and Gunn. Which leads us, through a complicated analogy, to Cordelia and Connor. Cordelia says she loves Angel, but she has sex with Connor. The demon tells Angel she isn't safe with Connor, and Angel goes to her to protect her only to realize safe has multiple meanings. Through the episode, Cordelia keeps remarking on how like his father Connor is. Except for the history of demonic evil. Her love for Angel is projected upon Connor. She opts to give Connor what she refers to as something real, akin to the perfect happiness Angel can never have because of the curse. He and Connor have flipped positions. Connor is getting the girl and the happiness and Angel is the lonely outsider looking in.

I know a lot of people find Cordelia/Connor hard to buy. After all, she knew him as a baby and even with him grown up there's a significant age difference. Plus the fact that she claims to be in love with his father. But it's also the end of the world and people do strange things at moments like that. Cordelia says it no longer matters, the normal conventions and rules don't apply. She's not saying she's in love with Connor, she's saying she cares for him and she knows this is something he wants and she can give him. It's a last desperate attempt at humanity.

Now for demon speculation. Why doesn't the demon kill Cordelia and Connor when it can? Because, I think, there is some link between them and it needs them alive. Cordelia did not accidently return to Earth, there is something she has to do or say which will defeat him. And Connor's destiny (remember he still has to destroy Sahjhan) is wrapped up somehow with this demon. It's place of arrival can't have been an accident. It's even possible having sex with Connor is one of the things necessary to defeat the demon. Though that seems to be stretching it a lot.

Some quick final thoughts. Can someone explain to me where Connor is living and how he gets junk food and whether he ever eats anything decent and how they get electricity and cable (or can you watch tv without cable in LA - I'd have thought reception was impossible)? Am I channeling Connor, or were Cordelia's breast just very much in evidence this episode. How does Angel keep getting into the Wolfram & Hart offices? Why does a nonbreathing vampire gasp for air?

Lines of the week:

"Panic. Scream. Nut." - Connor on what Cordelia would have done without him.

"You might want to look into an exterminator."
"Or just burn the place down." - Fred and Gunn with some friendly advice to a client.

"You think you know me." - Wesley questioning Lilah.

"Better than she ever will." - Lilah answering.

"Can we have bubbles?" - Gunn getting excited in a way you would never have expected. 7

"Dad? Please?" - Connor saying the magic word.

"I don't suppose we could stop there." - Angel sensing the imminent but.

"He got what he deserved, didn't he." - Gunn trying to rationalize murder.

"Vampire detectors, my ass." - Lilah upset at the lack of office security.

"Couldn't you have at least tortured him a little bit more." - Lilah on Angel and Gavin.

"Vindict on your own time." - Angel hurrying Lilah up.

"Do you really think she's safe with him?" - Demon getting under Angel's skin.

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