Angel - Players

Summary

Everyone is shocked at Cordelia's mystical pregnancy. Lorne walks in and is particularly shocked since he had no clue. Gunn notes it has only been a couple of weeks since they released Angelus and she looks 8 months. Wesley points out last time she got pregnant it only took a day. Gunn says Angel will have a grandspawn. Connor gets angry and says they are making jokes because they don't like him. He leaves. Cordelia says she can feel the life growing within her and sense its goodness. She turns away from them and we see an unnatural squirming by the baby. She says they'll see.

Gwen meets a man by a fountain. He's nervous. She gives him money, he gives her a packet of blueprints and stuff. He then comes on to her, but she's struck by lightning and he runs away. At the hotel, the gang (sans Cordelia, Connor, and Angel) are discussing the mystical pregnancy and what the offspring of two quasi demon beings would be. Angel comes in and reveals he could hear all they said. He says he's been thinking about what happened. He says Angelus did not kill Lilah and tells Wesley he's sorry for his loss. He tells Lorne to hit his contacts and find out what he can about the beast master, Wesley and Fred to research the mystical birth, and Gunn to sit tight in case they need muscle. He says he'll go through everything the beast master said to Angelus and all that he can remember and try to piece it together. Gwen shows up. She says a girl is in trouble and she needs someone suave who can handle himself in a tight spot. She says she wants Gunn.

Cordelia finds Connor and tells him he can't let what they said bother him. He says what she said didn't make sense. That she was wrong about Willow opening a gateway to evil, wrong about having to kill Angelus. She says the important thing is he was there to help her. She says now she knows she can trust him completely. She says before their baby comes, she might ask him to do some things for them. She wants him to remember there is always a reason. He says he will.

Gunn is at Gwen's, looking at a small jade animal she says is a souvenir from her last trip. She asks about his travels and he talks about the wounds he's received fighting demons around the region. Gwen says she worked for a company, undermining another company's bid on a big contract. The losing company kidnapped the daughter of the man who hired her. The girl's name is Lisa, she was kidnapped by a guy called Morimoto who will kill her if the company who hired her doesn't give up the contract. Gwen wants to set things straight and needs Gunn to help her. Gunn is actually really happy to be able to do good that doesn't involve anything supernatural. She reveals they will get in by going to a party that's being hosted there. The dressed up duo go through some tight security at the party - scanners and metal detectors. They pass, but when Gwen hands in her invitation she's told the electronic signature has been altered. She explains she was struck by lightning, but they don't buy that. She's going to use her powers, but Gunn stops her and approaches Morimoto saying hello in Japanese. He reveals that's all the Japanese he knows. He says they met at the zoo benefit. He asks him to accept a gift and holds out a box. Morimoto takes it, it's the jade animal. Morimoto is impressed. He invites them in and they get past the guards.

Fred and Wesley are researching demon births. Fred says she's grossed out by the idea of Connor and Cordelia together. Wesley says they were both lost and lonely. She says no matter how lonely she was she wouldn't. He says things happen. He says when you are alienated from the people who care about you you start to look other places. Fred realizes he means Lilah. He says they were on opposite sides but in the same war. Fred says he hated Lilah. There is a silence. He says it's not always about holding hands. There's a long silence.

At the party, Gunn reveals he learnt about Japanese culture from samurai movies. She reveals she stole back the jade. The little girl shows up, flanked by bodyguards. Gwen says she'll get a closer look and tells Gunn to keep an eye on Morimoto. At the hotel, Cordelia visits Angel. He says killing Manny, stealing his soul, killing Lilah were not the beast's style. They were done by his master. Cordelia says she's his master. She's his all powerful master and she takes all these risks. Angel says the master is insane enough to do it. He says it's deluded and demented. He talks about the cheesy voice it used to talk to him and says he doesn't even think it has a plan but is just making things up as it goes along. He says they'll get it. He says the beast master will slip up sooner or later.

Gunn is mingling, but Gwen gets him and says they are going to kill Lisa that night. She says she wants him to grab the girl while she makes a disturbance. She knocks over a table, Gunn grabs the girl, Gwen tells a security guard Gunn has grabbed the girl. Gunn runs into another room with the girl. He's attacked by some men, but easily beats them up. When he goes to get the girl, she reveals this is her home and she is Morimoto's daughter.

Gunn finds Gwen breaking into the safe. He realizes she needed him because the scanners would have realized Angel was dead. She says even if she did set him up, he's having a great time. She reveals LISA is an acronym for a black ops device Morimoto's company designed. It regulates heartbeat and body temperature. He asks who she is stealing it for and she says a thief doesn't ask. He's going to leave, but agrees to stay when she tells him he can keep the suit.

Fred and Wesley are hovering over Angel. Cordelia enters. Angel is trying to recreate a passage from the book Angelus was looking at when the beast master spoke to him. As Wesley translates, we see Cordelia about to knock over coffee on the text. But it's just nonsense and she stops. Angel says he'll try again. Gwen breaks into the safe and gets LISA. But Morimoto and his guards arrive. At the hotel, Angel fails again in recreating the text. Lorne enters and has no news about the baby or the beast master, but he got a spell to clear up his empathic powers. He has to do it by himself and alone, but come morning he will be able to read Cordelia.

Morimoto's guards have guns. Gunn wants to hand over LISA. Gwen refuses. She uses her power on the men and seems stuck herself. Gunn knocks her over, cutting off the electrical charge. Morimoto and his men are knocked unconscious. Gunn realizes Gwen is stealing the device for herself. He realizes she thinks it will fix her. Elsewhere, Lorne begins the ceremony. We see Cordelia secretly watching with a knife in her hand. Gwen and Gunn are at her home. She says Gunn is more than muscle and asks why he stays if that's all the others see in him. He says he's a fighter, born and raised. He asks her if she loves being a thief. She says she's a freak. She says LISA might let her hold hands. Gunn puts the device on her. He touches her and nothing happens. It worked. Gunn realizes, because of her power, she's never had sex. She thanks him for turning her off. He thanks her for the most fun he's had and kisses her before finishing the sentence. She tells him the device might fail. He says she already killed him once. If it happens again, she knows where his battery is.

Lorne is continuing with the spell. Cordelia goes to attack him. The lights come on and we see Angel, Wesley, and Fred there. Lorne asks if Cordelia has been bad and reveals he's been holding a magic 8 ball, not some mystic item. It says definitely.

Analysis

The death of Lilah was covered in Salvage, 3 episodes and quite a long time ago. Yet the Lilah/Wesley relationship continues to provide the best scenes on this show. There were two of them this week. First, Angel telling Wesley he was sorry for his loss. That was an incredibly touching moment as Angel makes it clear he understood the complexities of the Lilah/Wesley relationship and what her death meant to him. Second, Wesley talking to Fred about Connor and Cordelia while really talking about himself and Lilah. He reveals, as much as he seems capable, the richness of their relationship and its inherent tragic nature.

That first scene was important in another sense. It was the big hint that Angel suspects Cordelia. If Lilah was dead when Angelus found her and there was no one else in the hotel except Cordelia - well Angel can do the math. So can Wesley and the others. Later, he notes to Cordelia that he doesn't think such surgical strikes were the beast's metier.

When Fred reveals her disgust at the idea of Connor and Cordelia together, Wesley talks of how such things happen - clearly referring to his own relationship with Lilah. He talks about being lost and lonely. Fred is surprisingly insensitive and comments that no matter how lonely she was she wouldn't do anything like that. His only response is that things happen. And that's basically the case. Sometimes we don't really think things through or have a master plan. Things just happen. When Wesley talks about being alienated from those who care about you and looking elsewhere, Fred realizes he means Lilah. Of course, that alienation was partly her fault. Back in Double or Nothing, she told Wesley not to come back. Wesley talks of the bond between him and Lilah, the bond that sometimes occurs between soldiers on opposite sides realizing they have as much in common as not. Fred is still stunningly insensitive or maybe just extremely set in her position. She can't believe there was an emotional connection between Lilah and Wesley.

If you start with the assumption Angel always knew Cordelia was the beast master, many of the scenes take on a different meaning. His conversation with Cordelia about the beast master eventually slipping up and being insane is an attempt to goad her into increasingly risky and revealing actions. The scene with the recreation of the text and Lorne telling them about the spell continues that process. My question is whether everyone was in on it?

Is it just me or is this show more and more becoming about unlikely pairings: Wesley/Lilah, Cordelia/Connor, and now Gunn/Gwen. These are all tied together in the conversation between Fred and Wesley. He makes a direct parallel between his relationship with Lilah and Connor and Cordelia's relationship. But he also indirectly ties these with Gunn/Gwen when he makes the remark about it not always being about holding hands. That, of course, is exactly what Gwen wants - to be able to hold hands. Gwen appealing to Gunn by recognizing he's not just muscle ties in with his gradual change over the last few episodes. Gunn has become much more the brains of the group and Gwen is right that the others haven't noticed. Especially Fred whose insensitivity really seems emphasized this week. Still, I find the sudden attraction between Gwen and Gunn very strange. He talks about the adrenaline rush and I guess that's the equivalent to Wesley's alienation. But it doesn't work as well. Gwen's yearning for physical contact (it's all about holding hands) may match Gunn's yearning for an emotional contact (his isolation from Fred seems to have worn him down and he was happy for the first time in a long time in this episode). The fact that they enter the relationship with opposing needs pretty much dooms it. Which makes it similar to Wesley/Lilah. But a simple repetition of that earlier tragedy just won't be enough.

It's interesting that despite all the talk, Lilah never really tried to get Wesley to do anything evil and he never did. Gwen gets Gunn to help her with a lie, but her goal isn't really evil and she never asks him to do anything bad. But Cordelia is definitely using Connor to commit evil acts. So far he's avoided doing that. But it does signify the difference between doomed and bad relationships. While Lilah/Wesley and I suspect Gunn/Gwen can't work, they aren't necessarily bad for the people involved. But Connor/Cordelia is and Connor already senses that. We see that in his questioning of Cordelia. At some point, she will play the baby card once too often and Connor won't bite.

Some quick final thoughts. I was wondering was that baby clothes Cordelia was folding when talking to Connor and if so when did they buy baby clothes. Then it struck me those might have been Connor's clothes as a baby. It's a really sad moment when Gunn points out he's never traveled anywhere except to fight demons. Well, we finally have some comment about elapsed time. Gunn says it's been a couple of weeks since they released Angelus. After all this time, how come no one remembers vampires have great hearing? You shouldn't say anything you don't want them to hear when they are anywhere near. Silence is the hardest thing to act. A good job is done in the silent scenes with Fred and Wesley.

Lines of the week:

"You'll see." - Cordelia with what sure sounds like a threat.

"Really, I'm fine. Thanks for asking." - Gwen displaying more of a sense of humour than I gave her credit for.

"I'm sorry for your loss." - Angel revealing he watches NYPD Blue. Or maybe ER.

"A turgid, supernatural soap opera." - Gunn describing his life this year.

"See how my life sucks." - Gwen making a valid point.

"They were both lost, lonely." - Wesley not really talking about Cordelia and Connor.

"Things happen." - Wesley with the only explanation he has.

"We were fighting on opposite sides, but it was the same war." - Wesley on what brought Lilah and himself together.

"It's not always about holding hands." - Wesley on the complexity of relationships.

"Feels good to be doing good." - Gunn trying to relax.

"Hold hands. maybe." - Gwen on what she wants.

"Has Cordy been a bad, bad girl." - Lorne asking the question we all know the answer to.

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