Angel - Salvage

Summary

Angelus finds Lilah's body. Wesley and Gunn arrive to find him drinking her blood. They chase him off. Downstairs, the others are pulling the crossbow bolt out of Cordelia. Gunn comes downstairs to tell them Angelus is gone and Lilah dead.

The gang are looking at Lilah's lifeless body. Connor wants to go after Angelus, but Wesley says there is no need, he'll come back for them. Connor says they need to kill him, Wesley says that's the kind of reckless thinking that got them into trouble. Fred says they need to protect themselves and Lorne suggests the protection spell he used at Caritas. He can call the Furies for help. Connor says they use magic too much. Wesley says they use what tools they have. They can't understand what went wrong with the spell to return Angel's soul. Gunn blames the powers that be for sending cryptic messages. Connor says they have to destroy Lilah, she might have been turned. Gunn says there wasn't enough time, but Wesley says they can't take chances and he'll take care of it. He grabs an axe.

Angelus has gone to a vampire bar where he is warmly greeted by his fans. A vampire groupie comes on to him and he stakes her. He asks about the beast and a vampire says he can show him where he is. Wesley has taken Lilah's body and is preparing to behead it. He touches her face and she opens her eyes and talks to him. She says this is what he wanted, her finally and completely out of the picture. He denies this is what he wanted. She gets up and says he hated himself for being with her. She says they both knew sooner or later it would come to a messy end. She says he's free of the shame of their relationship. He claims it wasn't a relationship and she says there's a signed dollar bill in his wallet proving otherwise. She says he knew how she felt. He yells she didn't love him and looks down to see her dead body lying there. It's all his imagining. She appears again and says they'll never know now.

Angelus and a couple of fawning vampires are looking for the beast. They aren't much help, but he senses something and walks off. At the hotel, Lorne and the others are gathering what's necessary for the protection spell as he talks to the furies on the phone. Connor is eager to go kill Angelus. Fred says Wesley says they shouldn't. Connor says he doesn't care what Wesley says, that he isn't the boss. Gunn defends Wesley, saying he's right. Connor says Angel told him what to do - if things go badly, kill him. Fred says Angel's soul is still out there. Connor asks how many have to die before they give up on that plan. Cordelia asks how many will die without Angel there to save them. Connor says it's too late for that, he has seen the true Angelus, the vampire has tasted blood, he has to be destroyed and Connor is the destroyer. He goes to leave, but Cordelia calls to him and faints. He rushes back and helps her upstairs. Gunn says they can't stop him. He says as soon as Connor has a chance, he'll kill Angelus. Lorne says more likely die trying. He says they can't control him and Gunn says besides Angel who can. Cut to a prison in Stockton and Faith. She's exercising and is attacked by another inmate with a knife. Although the other woman is big and strong, she's no match for a slayer. She does say it's nothing personal and she's doing it for the money. The guards eventually intervene and they are shocked at the attack, since Faith is known to be unbeatable.

Wesley is still hesitating and Lilah appears again saying she knows why he is taking so long to do it. She says the truth is he couldn't save her and decapitating her is the final proof of that. He says he saved her from the beast. She says he couldn't save her from herself. He asks if that's what she thought and she says it's what he thinks - she's just a figment of his imagination. She says despite all his darkness, he always secretly hoped to save her from evil. That it was Angel's influence, never giving up on someone. He says he's sorry. She says that's not a word in their vocabulary. He cuts off her head.

Angelus is in a warehouse type space. He says he's been lured there by the scent of Lilah's blood. We see the knife lying on a crate and the beast appears. Angelus mocks him, calls him names. The beast says he didn't lure him there to fight, that his master wants Angelus. Angelus goes to touch the knife and the beast tells him not to. Angelus realizes everything that happened was just to lure him out and keep him there. Angelus says he wants to meet the boss, he won't take orders from the beast. He calls him a lackey, toadie, lickspittle, and flunky. The beast attacks him but he evades the attack and leaves saying when his boss is ready he'll talk to him. After he is gone, Cordelia appears and upbraids the beast, saying she hasn't spent all this time and energy for her plans to be messed up because of the beast's petty jealousies. She says Angelus is crucial to her plan. The beast apologizes and calls her master. She says he'll come around when he sees what she has to offer. If he doesn't, then the beast can kill him. She kisses him.

Lorne is doing the protection spell. Connor doesn't think it has worked and Lorne attacks him. The spell worked. Wesley comes in and says the spell will make things easier. He wants to bring Angelus in alive. He says they need to save Angel and he knows who can help them do it. Cut to the visitor's room at the prison and Faith being brought out. Wesley is there, he has claimed to be her lawyer. She says he looks good. She's seen the news about LA. He says they need her. She says they don't need her and Angel will come through as he always does. He tells her Angelus is back. She tells him to step away from the glass. He does. She smashes through it. She takes out the guards, grabs him, leaps through the window, and they fall several stories onto a car with her shielding him from the impact. She asks if he's ok, he says five by five, and they run off.

In the car, Faith changes clothes while Wesley brings her up to speed on all that has happened to the gang. She says she won't kill Angelus. He's the only one who never gave up on her. Wesley says he knows, that's why it had to be her. But he's not sure she's up for it. He stops the car. Vampires attack and pull her out of the car. She fights two of them. A third attacks Wesley who tells him she's the one he wants. He sees she is the slayer and flees. Wesley tosses her a stake and she takes out the vampires. He says he thought she could use the release.

At the hotel, Connor is practicing with a sword. Wesley comes in with Faith. Fred goes to introduce herself, but Faith reveals she already knows about her from Wesley. Cordelia sees her and is angry. She says Wesley has brought psycho slayer to kill Angelus. Faith says to stow it until they are finished. She says it's a search and rescue mission and she wants Gunn, Wesley, and Connor with her. She wants Gunn to take a trank gun. Connor rebels and she says if she needs a bloodhound she'll call him, if Angelus has to be killed it will be her and not Connor who does it. Connor shuts up. Cordelia looks like she doesn't like how he is responding to Faith.

A woman is fleeing vampires. She runs into Angelus who pretends to help her but then goes to bite her. Then he hears other vampires talking about the slayer. He phones Buffy and gets Dawn. He asks if her sister is home. When she says yes he hangs up. He realizes it's Faith. Faith, Connor, Wesley, and Gunn are tracking Angelus. A vampire attacks and Connor slays it. Faith slams into him. She realizes he thought it was Angelus. She says she wants him to go back to the hotel. He refuses, they fight and she beats him. Without a word, he turns and goes. Gunn goes with him.

Wesley and Faith continue, they see a crate with Welcome Faith written on it. Faith clambers on top of the crates telling Wesley to take low. Two vampires attack Wesley and keep him occupied. Angelus lures Faith into the warehouse where he appears and then calls to the beast who comes out. Angelus explains that she's the slayer and intends to mess up the beast and his boss' plans. Faith and the beast fight and the beast gets the better of her. Meanwhile, Wesley is having his own problems with the two vampires. Faith is down. The beast brags about how powerful its master is and how petty Faith. Angelus comes over and says nothing could hurt the beast except himself, or maybe something made of himself. He stabs him with the knife. The beast dies. The sun reappears. The vampires attacking Wesley burn up. He starts looking for Faith. Angelus is upset, he really didn't believe killing the beast would bring back the sun. But he was using the beast to soften up Faith. He goes for her and she hurls a chain at him. He easily steps out of the way, but it breaks a window letting in the sunlight and Faith is directly in its path - protecting her. He realizes this was her plan. He says they'll have to take a rain check and leaves.

Gunn and Connor arrive at the hotel and they all realize Faith must have defeated the beast. Connor runs upstairs to see Cordelia. He starts talking about how wonderful Faith is. Cordelia tells him she is pregnant with his child. She kisses him. The fall back onto the bed.

Analysis

You certainly can't complain that nothing happened in this episode. If anything, too much happened. Lilah died (and I am really going to miss her and the great chemistry with Wesley), Faith came back (and it was way too easy getting her out of prison), and the beast was defeated (which while anticlimactic is practically a standard for Buffyverse shows with a little big bad almost always foreshadowing the big, big bad).

I have to start with Wesley and Lilah. As always, the chemistry was amazing and you really have to wonder why they can't manage this with Fred and Gunn. Or, for that matter, Buffy and pretty well anybody. Something strangely magical happens with these two characters. It isn't just the sex, it's the intensity of the emotions which radiate from them. That's why this scene works. Lilah has passed beyond flesh and Wesley is about to do the only thing he can do for her. He will stop her from becoming a vampire. I don't think he really believes she has been turned. But he wants to be able to do something. As Lilah points out, he wanted to save her. He couldn't and now stopping her from becoming a vampire is the only thing he can do. So he wants to believe he has at least accomplished that. It's her only chance at redemption now.

The Lilah who appears to Wesley has her mannerisms, but she's a product of his imagination. When she says he loved her and that they did have a relationship, it's not just Lilah speaking but Wesley revealing his heart to himself. Since Wesley kidnapped Connor and was expelled from the group he has built an emotional wall about himself. He's become quiet and unresponsive. His relationship with Lilah emphasized the physical, apparently freeing him from emotional entanglements. But Wesley is better than that. Like it or not, he's incapable of having a purely physical relationship. It may have started that way, but it soon evolved into something deeper. And there is, as Lilah notes, a signed bill in his wallet proving it. In this final conversation with Lilah, Wesley is starting the process of tearing down the wall. The wall which separated him from her and which would have stopped him from having any successful relationship with any other woman. If he's ever to stand a chance with Fred, he has to become the man he used to be. For that matter, if he's to rejoin the gang and the greater humanity they represent, he has to return to that former self while remembering the lessons of the past two years.

Lilah talks of Angel's influence and never giving up on someone. That's the connection to Faith, the woman Angel didn't give up on and eventually saved. It's also the connection to Wesley's sudden change of heart. He won't give up on Angel, the same way Angel wouldn't give up on Faith. And he'll use Angel's previous success to return his soul to Angelus. Faith is in some ways a replacement for Lilah. She enters the group because of Wesley's intervention. He saved Lilah from the beast and he rescues Faith from prison. Cordelia (or whatever she is now) killed Lilah and fed her to Angelus. Faith is clearly presented in opposition to Cordelia and she has led to the destruction of the beast, Cordelia's minion, and will ultimately face off against Angelus. She will be Wesley's tool for an unknowing revenge.

Faith seems dark on the outside - both in her clothing and her past - but is actually an agent of good. Cordelia seems good, but is actually the great evil. Faith, as slayer, is a bringer of death. But she brings light through her actions in this episode and her goal is to save Angel, not slay Angelus. Cordelia, who is pregnant, is a bringer of life but in actuality she has brought darkness (both through blotting out the sun and bringing back Angelus) and promises death (note she talks of killing Angelus if he will not cooperate). Connor is infatuated with both of them. Faith sees this teenage infatuation for what it is and ignores it, largely treating Connor as a naughty child who needs correction. She fulfills a strong maternal role and he responds positively to that. Cordelia, who was Connor's mother figure in his infancy, seduces him and uses his infatuation to control him.

Cordelia returns from a higher plane without any memory of the gang or her history. Faith returns from prison with knowledge about everyone. The scene in which she reveals how much she knows (learnt from the conversation with Wesley in the car) is a parallel to the discovery scene of Cordelia in The House Always Wins [Bloodlust] and Slouching Towards Bethlehem. In retrospect, those titles are interesting since they speak of blood and the beast and they serve to introduce the amnesiac Cordelia who is the cause of the destruction they have seen. The title of this episode, Salvage, speaks about salvation - of Faith (whose name is also revealing since it is Angel's faith in her which saved her and Wesley's faith in her and Angel which will save Angel from Angelus) - and of the world from the beast.

I found the escape from prison very hard to believe. Would a visitors room in a maximum security prison have windows without bars? Would there only be a couple of guards there and would the ground below the window be unwalled and unguarded? It just seems awfully easy for Faith to manage that escape.

Some quick final thoughts. I'm not even going to venture a theory about Cordelia. Is it really Cordelia possessed or some creature disguised as Cordelia or is she sometimes herself and sometimes possessed? I don't know and I'm too confused to even guess. But I do have a theory about Faith. My theory is the attack in the prison was orchestrated by the First Evil and will be the mechanism for tying Faith into the storyline now going on in Buffy. I've just bought the DVD of Buffy's first season and the second episode - The Harvest - has a scene very like the one with Faith and Angelus. In both cases, the slayer breaks a window to let in the light and defeat the vampire. In The Harvest, it isn't daytime and it's a ploy to distract the vampire. In this episode, it's real sunlight and a way for a weakened Faith to save herself. I don't think this is any kind of conscious homage, but it's an interesting parallel and the scenes seem similarly staged. I have to wonder how many vampire were destroyed by the reappearance of the sun. It may have been a great blow for good with the destruction of hundreds or thousands of vampires. Of course, during the days of darkness, the vampires may have sired many hundreds of thousands. It's interesting to see Gunn defending Wesley and agreeing with him. Despite all that Angelus did to tear the gang apart, when the chips are down they stick together.

Lines of the week:

"Well...that's no fun." - Angelus on drinking from the dead.

"Everybody wants a piece of you." - Angelus on the problem of fame.

"There's a signed dollar bill in your wallet I think proves different." - Lilah knowing Wesley's heart.

"We'll never know now, will we." - Lilah with the saddest of epitaphs.

"I'm the destroyer." - Connor trying to live up to his title.

"You couldn't save me from me." - Lilah on Wesley's failure.

"We don't have that word in our vocabulary." - Lilah on being sorry.

"Step away from the glass." - Faith making a decision.

"Five by five." - Wesley proving he did pay attention to Faith.

"Just like riding a biker." - Faith reminding us why we loved her.

"Murder 2, 25 to life." - Faith clearing up the details on her conviction.

"It's the other one." - Angelus not really happy at seeing Faith.

"Are you a murderer, cause I am. If it comes down to you or Angelus you haven't shown me a thing to make me wanna take your side." - Faith getting Connor pretty excited.

"You and me forever." - Cordelia maybe revealing her ultimate plan.

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