Angel - Habeas Corpses

Summary

The episode starts where Apocalypse, Nowish ended, with Angel watching Cordelia and Connor in bed. He walks away, smashing things and shouting.

Fred is manning the phones at the office, clearly worried about the others. Gunn, Lorne, and Wesley arrive. She rushes to Gunn and hugs him. Wesley walks past her, saying nothing. She asks after Angel and they say he is alright but they were separated. They start planning and Gunn and Wesley snap at each other. Angel arrives, he's not talking. He says they can wait until morning. Fred asks about Cordelia and Connor and Angel says they are alright but doesn't say anything more.

Cordelia and Connor awake and she starts giving him the talk, about how they can't do this again. He thinks she believes he is responsible for the demon and angrily leaves. Wesley is at home. Lilah arrives, relieved to find him alive. He breaks up with her. She doesn't believe him. He tells her it's over. He tells her he thinks the day of reckoning is at hand and he's choosing a side. He admits he's made mistakes before and she says he's making one now. She thinks it's about Fred, but he says no. She offers to dress up as Fred again. He tells her not to embarrass herself. He says there's a line between black and white, good and evil. Lilah says when you mix black and white you get gray. And that no amount of white added can change it from gray. She says she thinks Fred prefers black and leaves.

Fred is unable to find any information about the demon. Cordelia shows up and goes to Angel saying she wants to talk about Connor. He says he already knows. She's surprised and when he says he doesn't want to talk about it she says they have to, that the beast coming out of the ground at the spot his son was born is important. He's surprised at this revelation, but pretends he did know and says it might just be a coincidence.She says she doesn't believe there is a connection between Connor and the demon, but Connor does.

Lilah is in her office with obsequious Gavin and trying to get her staff to capture the demon. Gavin says their intelligence confirms it caused the fires the night before, but they don't know why. Lilah doesn't think it has an agenda and reveals the senior partners want her to cut a deal with it. Gavin leaves, but is walked back in by Connor. He wants to know what he is. Lilah secretly calls security and when they arrive says she'll be glad to have Connor analysed, including slicing and dicing him. He knocks out the guards, grabs her by the throat, and says he thinks he might be connected to the demon and wants to know. She tells Gavin to get Connor his report on the demon. The lights flicker, the building shakes, and Connor says it's here. Lilah thinks it's just an aftershock and tries the phone, it's out. She tells Gavin to try a walkie. All they get is frantic screaming. She sends Gavin down to check things out. He's more afraid of her than the demon and he goes. She asks Connor what the demon wants and he says everybody dead. She pulls a gun out of her desk. Downstairs, the demon is slaughtering the staff. Lilah and Connor are walking through the halls surrounded by panicked staff attempting to flee. Connor says he thinks the demon is following him around. Lilah realizes Connor is looking for the demon to fight him and leaves. The demon continues killing staff. It comes across Gavin in a storeroom and kills him.

Connor is searching for the demon. It finds Lilah and Connor hears her shooting at him. But the bullets don't bother it. She tries to bargain with it, but it just stabs her in the abdomen with its claws. It then knocks her flying. Connor attacks and the demon calls him by name. It knocks him into a wall so hard the wall breaks and debris covers him. Lilah is trying to escape, staggering through the halls. The demon is following. Wesley grabs her, pulls her into a room and closes the door. He says he has a man on the inside. The building shuts down, Lilah reveals it is a security measure. Nobody can get in or out now. The demon breaks in and Wesley grabs her and heads out. He's sure there must be some emergency exit for people like her. She directs him to a supply closet (the one Gavin was in). He tosses a grenade at the demon and hopes it will slow him down. They make it into the emergency exit just before the demon breaks in. They drop into the sewer. Wesley tells Lilah to go underground, to change her name and disappear. That the demon intends to kill everyone at Wolfram & Hart and she shouldn't make it easy for it. She tells him about Connor.

At the hotel, the gang are futilely researching and getting frustrated. Wesley walks in and Gunn refers to him as bad news. Fred says he should try to get along, that Wesley was his friend. Gunn says 'heavy on the was'. Wesley tells them what is happening at Wolfram & Hart and that Connor is there. We see Connor, apparently ok, walking quietly through the halls. He passes a body which suddenly opens its eyes.

The gang are arming themselves for an attack on the demon at Wolfram & Hart. Fred tries to talk to Wesley. but he's not very talkative. Cordelia tries to reassure Angel that Connor will be fine. He doesn't seem to take it well. He says someone has to stay to mind the place. Lorne volunteers. Gunn asks what their plan is, given that they've not been able to defeat the demon before. Angel says they aren't going for the demon but for Connor. He says if they see it, they run. He then tells Cordelia to stay at the hotel claiming it is too dangerous. Then he calls Fred to come with them.

In the sewer, Gunn and Wesley argue and Angel shuts them up. Angel leaps up the hole to the entrance into Wolfram & Hart. As the gang walk through the hallways, we see another dead person open her eyes. Wesley notices Gavin's body is missing. They find the room where Connor was attacked, but he's not there. Angel can smell that he was there. He says to split up, sweep each floor, and meet on top.

Angel senses something moving. He's attacked and it's Connor. He hugs the boy and says he's glad to find him. Connor says they have to stay and kill the demon, that he is responsible. Angel says he's not and they can't because they don't know how to kill it. Angel is attacked by Gavin. He realizes Gavin is dead, or undead. He's a zombie. Connor doesn't see the difference between this and Angel. All the dead seem turned into zombies. Zombies attack the others, who hide in a room. Gunn is bitten. He makes Wesley promise to kill him if he turns into a zombie and promises to do the same for Wesley (a bit too quickly). Fred and Wesley go into another room and Gunn remains behind to fight off the zombies. Wesley believes the zombies may be part of building security. Fred and Wesley are trapped in the room by the zombies, but Gunn comes from one door and Angel and Connor from the other. They have Connor and now need to get out. There are too many zombies to fight their way through downstairs, so Angel suggests they try to get to the white room and see if the being in there will help them out.

They fight their way to the elevator which Fred tries to restart. She succeeds and Angel tries to remember the code. Gunn spots Gavin and cuts off his head, destroying the zombie. Angel gets the code and they go to the white room only to find the demon there and the little girl almost dead at its hands. The little girl says 'The answer is among you'. The demon turns its attention to the gang who prepare to fight. With her last strength, the little girl transports the gang back to the hotel and safety. Cordelia hugs Connor. Lorne asks what happened and Gunn explains wondering how they can defeat something which could just walk in and destroy a power like the little girl. Wesley says it will take something greater and more powerful than them to do it.

Angel has gone into his office and Cordelia follows. She tells him she was worried and the others are discouraged. He tells her to take her new boyfriend and get out. He leaves, she whispers 'Oh, God'.

Analysis

Whedon has never produced shows about fantasy worlds. He's produced shows about relationships and life issues which use fantasy elements as a metaphor. I think this particular episode was all about relationships: Cordelia/Connor, Cordelia/Angel, Angel/Connor, Fred/Gunn, and Wesley/Lilah. In fact, you could say it was about break ups since Cordelia/Connor. Angel/Cordelia, and Wesley/Lilah break up.

Cordelia connects Angel and Connor. It's no accident that Angel makes Cordelia stay in the office when he goes to rescue Connor. He is planning on breaking off the relationship with both of them. He does so metaphorically by leaving the connective component out of the action and later, when they are safe in the hotel, sending her away. His ouster of Cordelia parallels her earlier talk with Connor. She tells him that what happened before cannot happen again. But he hears that he is the cause of evil and flees. Angel sees Cordelia and Connor together and feels she has chosen his son over him because he is evil and his son is not. So he throws her out. It's ironic that Cordelia is both the unifying and disruptive force.

Determined to understand himself, Connor goes into the belly of the beast - to Wolfram & Hart where the beast follows. He says it is following him, but it appears to have a different agenda. Lilah believes its acts are random, but the killing of the little girl suggests otherwise. It's interesting that Connor calls Angel dad when the crisis is over. He has accepted this relationship. The hug with Angel, when he rescues Connor, seems more passionate than that with Cordelia when they return to the hotel. While Wolfram & Hart were not capable of telling Connor who he is, he does seem to have come to the conclusion he is Angel's son.

While Fred and Gunn were on a rocky road last week, her choice of him over Wesley is made clear when she rushes to him as the wounded men return. Wesley's 'all safe' statement makes it clear he understands her decision as does his later remarks about 'no one likes to lose'. But while Wesley realizes he has lost with Fred, the conflict with Gunn continues. The two snipe at each throughout the episode and even when working together seem to be working in opposition. Gunn must realize that his relationship with Fred is secure, so why does he continue to bait Wesley? I think he still resents the competition and cannot quite understand why Fred has chosen him while she has so much more in common with Wesley. He has to keep assuring himself that he is superior and create situations where Fred must choose sides and prove to him, time and again, her allegiance. I am betting that Gunn's anger against Wesley will dissipate when he discovers the strength of his relationship with Lilah.

I've saved Wesley/Lilah for the last because they are the best. If you had told me a year ago that the best love story in the Buffyverse would be about Wesley and Lilah I'd never have believed you. But it's true. The chemistry between these two is incredible and I was really moved by the scene where Wesley tells Lilah to leave town and lie low. This was easily as good as the Angel/Buffy parting scene in Graduation Part 2. But before I begin my analysis, I have to mention an idea suggested to me by a correspondent - Mike. Mike thinks Lilah may have been pregnant with Wesley's baby. He argues this helps explain her attitude toward Wesley - her relief at his survival - and that the demon is deliberately destroying the baby when he attacks her. Mike notes that the demon didn't torture other victims, so he believes treating Lilah differently was a result of her being different. He also argues her mixing of black and white metaphor could refer to the unborn child. A point I can think of in support of this is that Lilah said she wasn't sleeping with Wesley for information. So why was she - possibly because she wanted a child and saw him as good father material? It's a really interesting idea and one to keep in mind since it lends a certain additional overtone to the relationship. I'm not sure if I buy it, but I'm not discarding it out of hand.

The tension in the Wesley/Lilah relationship accretes slowly through this episode just as it has through the series. The first big moment comes when Lilah arrives at Wesley's place relieved to see him alive and alright. He rejects her and she thinks this is part of the game they play. But Wesley makes it clear he can't continue this way. And it isn't because of his hopeless love for Fred. He simply cannot take the pain of the relationship with Lilah. He has chosen a side in the battle between good and evil and Lilah is on the other side. He can't be with her because he knows he has to fight her. Surprisingly, Lilah becomes desperate. She demeans herself, offering to dress up like Fred again. She won't accept the fact that the fundamentals of the situation are parting them, not Wesley's obsession. He feels sorry for her - the worst feeling a loved one can have for you.

It's at this point that the black/white/gray (BWG) metaphor gets introduced. There are a lot of ways to take this. Obviously, the once white Wesley has sullied himself by contact with the black Lilah. He has become gray and she is arguing that his decision to side with good (white) won't work because you cannot become white again. This, of course, belies the central premise of the series - the redemption of the once evil Angel. So we know that Lilah is wrong as a given. But it's still a strong and emotional argument. She cleverly mixes it with relationship issues. Fred had chosen the black in skin colour but white in goodness Gunn and rejected the white in skin colour but black in allegiance (for a time) Wesley. BWG can also be applied to Cordelia/Connor/Angel and Connor can be seen as the gray result of Angel/Darla.

The tension peaks when Wesley rescues Lilah from the besieged Wolfram & Hart. Since he doesn't know Connor is there, we have to assume he has come simply for her. He risks his life to save her. He saves her not only from the demon stalking the hallways, but also from Wolfram & Hart itself. Lilah, through contact with him, has herself become gray. She exists in the netherland between good and evil. He takes her from the Wolfram & Hart building (site of both the demon and the evil of the senior partners) and down into the sewer (Angel's domain). Like Wesley, she has a chance to choose sides. He says, as they attempt to flee, that there must be a way out for people like her. The building has shut down, ensuring that none of the minions of Wolfram & Hart can flee. On one level, he is saying flight must be possible for people in authority in Wolfram & Hart. But on another level, he is saying that people who exist in the gray zone, who are considering the possibility of good, also have an escape route. Lilah chooses sides when she tells Wesley about Connor. She moves, at least for a moment, to the side of good. Her relationship with Wesley and his redemptive powers is reminiscent of the Lindsey/Darla/Angel triangle where Lindsey was redeemed.

Some quick final thoughts. It was nice to see Lilah having a gun. When magic fails, there's still technology. In Apocalypse, Nowish, I commented that Gunn and Wesley exchanged roles with Gunn becoming the puzzle solver and Wesley the man of action. That continued this week with Gunn wanting to plan (in the early scene when they return to the hotel) and Wesley leaping into action (going to Wolfram & Hart on his own to get Lilah). This reversal is reemphasized in the sewer scene where Gunn says "I'm just saying" and Wesley "I'm doing". With that jumping ability, Angel is missing out on a great career in basketball. Since when does Angel have a photographic memory? The little girl's statement, that the answer is among them, is clearly the clue to the defeat of the demon. One or more of them, or the relationship they have, is somehow the cause of its coming and the key to its destruction. It's interesting, isn't it, that the demon had the chance to kill Connor and Lilah and didn't. And this is not the first time it spared Connor.

Lines of the week:

"Yes, all safe." - Wesley realizing he's always coming in second with Fred.

"No one likes to lose, whatever the circumstance." - Wesley not talking about Angel.

"I can't do this anymore." - Wesley breaking up with Lilah.

"It's over,Lilah." - Wesley drilling the message home.

"Don't embarrass yourself." - Wesley being unintentionally cruel.

"There is a line, Lilah. Black and white, good and evil." - Wesley on sides.

"What are you more afraid of: a giant murderous demon, or me?" - Lilah making it easy for Gavin to decide.

"Everybody dead." - Connor summing up the demon agenda.

"Oh good, more bad news." - Gunn not letting up on Wesley.

"Lot's of things I don't understand." - Angel not talking about why Connor is at Wolfram & Hart.

"Right. Like me. Special." - Angel on how Connor is like him.

"The answer is among you." - Little girl being enigmatic and helpful.

"Take your new boyfriend and get the hell outta here." - Angel not being understanding.

"Oh, God." - Cordelia pretty well saying it all.

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