Angel - Orpheus

Summary

We begin exactly where Release left off, with Angelus biting Faith. But, after a moment, he falls back dazed. We get a flashback sequence revealing Faith doping herself (presumably with the drug we saw in that episode). She spiked her blood and Angelus passes out. Wesley drops in. Faith says she kicked his ass and passes out.

Gunn arrives at the hotel calling for Connor. He's dragging the drugged Angelus. He tells Fred Wesley called, he went. Lorne enters, shocked to see Angelus. Wesley arrives carrying an unconscious Faith. Connor and Gunn chain and shackle Angelus and put him back in the cage. Lorne, Wesley, and Fred take Faith to a bedroom. Lorne sees the needle mark on her arm. Connor realizes Angelus fed on Faith. Angelus mumbles. Faith mumbles. Lorne asks if Wesley let her inject herself and then get bitten by Angelus. He's angry at Wesley for allowing this.

Connor is telling Cordelia everything. She wonders if Faith is faking the coma. She asks about Angelus and Connor says Faith really did a number on him. Cordelia pushes him across the room. She yells at him going on about Faith. She claims he is in love with Faith. He wonders how she was able to do that given the antiviolence spell. She says they are different, she and the baby. She claims he won't be a better father than Angel was to him. He says he will. He says he'll do anything for them. She says her hormones are out of whack, hence her outburst. She asks him to go look in on Faith, that she's concerned.

Connor asks how Faith will be. Fred asks what happened to her. Lorne explains about Orpheus, a mystical opiate. He says between it and the biting, some serious psychic stuff is happening. Connor says this is what magic gets you. Wesley says it leads you down to hell. Flashback to New York 1902 and Angel arriving in America. He walks right through Angelus. Faith appears and Angelus attacks her, but goes through her. He doesn't understand why she's in his flashback. She says she's dying. He says not soon enough. She says she thinks she's there to babysit him until he gets his soul back. She says she took a chance by taking the drug. We move forward to the 20s and Chicago. We see Angel sit on a bench. Angelus gets really upset, saying he won't go through it again. Angel saves a puppy from being run over and gives it to a woman. She clearly comes on to him and he rebuffs her. Angelus is irate.

In the hotel, Connor says they have to kill Angelus. He says they have no soul and no jar and there is nothing else they can do. Willow arrives and says they need a witch. We learn Fred invited her as the only living person to reensoul Angel. She asks about Cordelia and while Connor says she's not up to visitors Wesley says she'll see Willow. Connor takes her upstairs and Cordelia, in bed, does agree to see her. He leaves them together. Throughout their conversation, Cordelia holds a knife beneath the bed clothes and is clearly considering stabbing Willow. Willow says she can do the spell to reensoul Angel, but getting the soul is the problem. Cordelia says that's a tough nut to crack and it gives Willow the idea of breaking the jar holding the soul. She doesn't even have to know where it is. There is a mystical arrow spell which can seek it out. She can then get the soul back into Angel. At this point, she's walking animatedly about the room and Cordelia tries to get her within stabbing range by asking for a glass of water, but Willow doesn't hear and leaves. An angry Cordelia throws the knife at the door.

Lorne is with the ailing Faith. He sings. Flashback to Angel entering a diner. He goes to the jukebox and puts on Mandy. Angelus hates this. Flies seem to be buzzing around him. Faith is amused. Angelus says the concerts were worst. He says that no matter what happens, he'll always be deep inside Angel. A robber comes in with a gun. He shoots the clerk, then flees. Angel goes to help the clerk. Angelus is annoyed by the buzzing. We see Cordelia trying to magically awaken Angelus, but not succeeding. Willow is continuing with her spell. She explains what she's doing to Wesley. He talks about discovering a darkness in himself. She says she flayed a guy alive and tried to destroy the world. He says he chained a woman in a closet, but it doesn't compare. She says it's really dark and he's been to a place. Wesley feels she's unchanged. Wesley asks if there are any other things he's not up on. She says just little things and asks about Fred.

In the past, the clerk dies and Angel leaves the diner. But he stops and returns. He goes to the dead clerk and bites him, drinking his blood. Angelus says he's deep in. He says maybe Angel waited just a little too long to do something so the clerk would die. Faith's wound starts bleeding again. Angelus says his hell isn't private. Angel screams. In bed, Faith is moaning. Connor asks how long and Lorne says not long. He says Connor can hold her hand. Wesley enters and Connor tells him he did the right thing. Wesley says it's time. Willow and Fred are starting the spell to smash the jar. Gunn says he'll go keep an eye on Angelus. Before Willow can begin, she's hurled back by a mystical force and hears the beast master voice in her head telling her to stop. We cut to Cordelia doing the talking. Willow fights back and seems to match the beast master's power. Wesley realizes what is happening. Willow activates the mystical arrow. Cordelia fights back and Willow responds, her eyes go black. Lorne is with a moaning Faith who suddenly seems to waken. In the flashback, Faith comes to in an alley. Angelus is there, too. He says she's going to die. Cut to Willow doing the spell. She says he's going to get his. He says he has friends in high places. We see Angel there, eating a rat. Angelus says for the last 20 years Angel has been like this. Faith says he's paying for what he did. Angelus says he's hiding from what he is. He says he already knows this and why must he relive it. Angel says because it's not about him. In the hotel, Connor senses evil manifesting. Cordelia conjures up a scary, floating head, but Willow sticks to the spell. She sends the arrow (a marble actually) off. It finds the jar and Cordelia holds it off while Willow pushes it forward. Cordelia says if only it were a few weeks later. Connor rushes upstairs and shouts to her. She's distracted and loses her grip, the jar is shattered.

Angel asks why Faith is still there. She says to see Angelus defeated. He asks then what. Angelus attacks and knocks down Faith. Angel confronts him. They fight. Angel calls to Faith. She says she's dying. He says it's easier than redemption. In the hotel, Lorne sees new wounds on Faith reflecting the battle in the underworld. In the underworld, Angel tells Faith he's not perfect and has done things, even with a soul, he regrets. Connor breaks into Cordelia's room - she's barricaded the door. She attacks him, then apologizes saying she was frightened. She says she saw the floaty head. Connor thinks Willow opened a gateway. Cordelia says she's let hell into the hotel. Connor wants to stop Willow, but Cordelia says she's too powerful. She says the only way to stop it is to kill Angelus. Downstairs, Willow is working on the reensouling. As this continues, Cordelia convinces Connor to kill Angelus, saying he will save the world and one death can save infinite pain.

In the flashback, Angelus is beating up Angel. Angel calls to Faith to wake up. She says she rolled the bones, him for her. He says he used to think there'd be a point when he'd paid his dues. Connor goes downstairs. Cordelia has told him not to tell the others, just to do it. She says she can fix the sanctuary spell. Angel knocks down Angelus and goes to Faith. He says after what happened, he tried to disappear. She says she did her time. He says their time is never up. She says it hurts. Connor goes to the basement and knocks out Gunn. Angel tells Faith she has to get up and fight, he needs her. Angelus attacks. Faith comes to Angel's help. When Angelus attacks her, she disappears. In the hotel, she awakes and bolts out of the room. The soul is restored. Connor is about to stake Angel and Faith stops him. They fight. Wesley, Fred, and Lorne rush in. Faith knocks Connor against the bars. Angel grabs him and says it's over, it's him.

Later, Faith and Angel are talking. She's going to Sunnydale with Willow. They go inside and she says goodbye to Gunn, Connor, and Wesley. Fred and Willow come in - Fred is showing Willow the books they have. Fred kind of babbles and Willow says she's seeing someone. She hugs Angel goodbye and says she'll tell Buffy he said hi. She says the next time they resurrect Angelus they should call her first. She and Faith leave. Angel turns to address the gang, but Cordelia (in a really awful outfit) enters and says "If this is the speech about how the worst is behind us you may wanna save it for later." She is obviously pregnant.

Analysis

Orpheus, of course, is the Greek hero who ventured into the underworld to recover the soul of his dead wife, Eurydice. He succeeded in winning her, but failed in the end to bring her out to the world of the living by lacking faith. He was ordered not to look back to make sure she was following, but he did and so lost her. Faith makes a similar journey into the underworld - or at least a dreamworld - to return Angel's soul to the land of the living. Wesley makes this explicit when he says the drug leads you down to hell. But Faith recovers her faith and learns an additional lesson. She succeeds in recovering Angel and in finding her mission. While it is Angel's soul which is physically recovered, it is Faith's which is metaphorically regained. Angel makes this clear when he tells Angelus it's not about him. It's about Angel and about Faith. Angelus is a permanent prisoner of the underworld. But Angel and Faith can still fight their way clear of it.

Back in Epiphany - Angel realized redemption isn't about winning. It's about continuing to fight. There isn't a single act which makes up for past sins. Rather, you need to dedicate your life to doing good. That is what Angel has done and what drives Angelus mad. He tries to dishearten Faith by arguing his darkness will always reside within Angel. That evil is buried deep within us all. But it's not about the presence or absence of evil, it's about choosing good, about options. Even Angelus recognizes and says this in his now traditional lying with the truth style. Angel reminds Faith that she can take action. That she can continue to fight against evil. She doesn't have to commit evil and she doesn't have to give up. It's a matter of choosing. In Release, she chose not to sink to Angel's level of violence and found a different way of defeating him. This week, she chooses not to give in to death but to fight against the beast master via Cordelia's control of Connor. And she will continue to fight by going to Sunnydale. Angelus says Angel tried to hide from what he was. More accurately, he tried to hide from the world pretending that denying himself the opportunity to sin was the equivalent of making virtuous choices. Faith's time in prison was a similar choice. She removed herself from the occasion of sin, but that didn't make her virtuous and it didn't bring her closer to redemption. Fighting for Angel and now going to Sunnydale to fight by Buffy's side is an act of virtue.

Willow refers to Connor as androgynous, which I found physically inappropriate but spiritually correct. Connor is neither good nor evil. He is a being in the process of creation and he keeps moving across that fuzzy border. He intuitively recognizes and responds to the good in people like Faith. But he's easily controlled by Cordelia. His desire to believe in Cordelia (in the idea of a family with him as the ideal father/husband/protector) overwhelms his common sense. His slow walk from Cordelia's room to the basement (hearing Cordelia's words about not telling the others, about them being special) is his time of spiritual conflict. This parallels Faith's conflict, but in a lighter mode. I don't think any definitive statement is made by Connor's failure to resist Cordelia's allure. He does move slowly enough that there is time for Faith to stop him. And, remember, Angelus argued that Angel moved slowly to help the shot man and so contributed to his death. Maybe neither act was intentional. But even if subconscious, they reveal something of the inner desires of these men. Angel felt the need for decades of denial to purge himself of that evil act of omission. Maybe Connor will be spared spiritual agony because he didn't rush to do Cordelia's bidding, but moved slowly.

So what is the baby and how does it change Cordelia. It seems to make it possible for her to commit acts of violence despite the protective spell. And she says that had Willow come a few weeks later, she would have the strength to defeat her. So I'm guessing as the baby develops Cordelia grows stronger. Is the baby actually the vehicle for the beast master to enter this world?

It's interesting to note how very dark Angel has become. From the outset, the show was darker than Buffy. But contrasting the Willow character and dialogue to Wesley was the contrast of light and day. Buffy, even at its darkest, is just way lighter and happier than Angel. Angel has become depressingly, dismally, unremittingly dark. I'm not complaining, but I am noticing the vast difference in tone between the shows. It leads to a an awkwardness in this episode, where Willow doesn't quite seem to fit in. While she has gone very dark (flaying and destroying the world) she doesn't seem as dark as Wesley (keeping a woman chained in his closet). However, that conversation - the most comedic of the episode - seems to burst Wesley's bubble. Maybe he can get over himself and get on with things now. Maybe he can accept that as awful as he has been, there are those who have done worse.

Some quick final thoughts. It's good to see Faith has learnt some things in rehab. Mandy is the song Angel sang for Lorne when they first met way back in Judgement. Angel's musical taste, or lack thereof, has long been documented. Willow trying to reassure Wesley that he's really dark reminded me of the scene with Spike in The Initiative. Based on the mumbled words from Angelus and Faith, the time sequence of the underworld versus the hotel wasn't in the order it was presented. I mean some of the underworld events were happening at the same time as some of the events we saw in the hotel earlier. As for the connection between the events in Buffy and this episode, I guess we'll figure that out when Faith shows up on Buffy. The whole lesbian reference to Fred doesn't seem to mean anything other than Willow being nervous. Evil Cordelia has much worse dress sense than good Cordelia. However, evil Cordelia has way less presence than Angelus so clearly playing an evil character doesn't necessarily make you more interesting.

Lines of the week:

"Kicked his ass." - Faith proud.

"It leads you down to hell." - Wesley on Orpheus.

"This is hell and I'm in it." - Angelus on reliving the past.

"You're reliving Angel's good deeds. You are in hell." - Faith figuring it out.

"I think you need a witch." - Willow surprising everyone.

"And the sneer's genetic, who knew." - Willow on Connor as Angel's son.

"Come on, everybody loves fetal pigs." - Willow demonstrating how much lighter a show Buffy is.

"I've seen a darkness in myself." - Wesley on his personal journey of discovery.

"No. It doesn't compare." - Wesley on chaining a woman in a closet versus flaying a guy alive.

"Dinner by armed robbery." - Angelus displaying a real way with words.

"She was brave and she died in battle." - Connor getting a bit ahead of himself.

"Maybe because it's not about you." - Angel with a big clue.

"It's a lot easier than redemption." - Angel on death.

"Like those Manilow concerts." - Angelus on Angel's sins.

"Our time is never up." - Angel on the perpetual nature of redemption.

"If this is the speech about how the worst is behind us you may wanna save it for later." - Cordelia causing a pregnant pause.

Got a comment? Send me mail.

Go to more Angel reviews.
Go to other tv reviews.
Go to my home page and get links to everything.