Angel - Sacrifice

Summary

We begin where the last episode ended, with Connor calling for help. Angel pushes him out of the room and holds the door against him telling the others to flee out the window and to the car while he holds him off. They go down the fire escape and he breaks through the door and starts pummelling Connor. The others are in the car waiting. Connor falls on the hood, Angel comes after. He pushes Connor off and tells them to drive. Jasmine and her followers come at them and Wesley drives off.

On the car radio, they hear the mayor has declared LA the first citadel of Jasmine and that the LA Catholic archdiocese will remove all false idols from its churches and replace them with images of Jasmine. Fred wonders what they can do. Wesley says they have very little gas. Fred says they should have taken Connor, what if he doesn't wake up. Angel asks what if he did. Jasmine is having some more followers strip and be eaten. Connor, semiconscious, is in the room with her. We see the glow again. Jasmine walks over to him and heals him. He tells her what happened. She tells him to rest. She says she and her followers are fusing together like the cells of a body. The gang stop at a gas station. Gunn knocks out a guy getting gas and takes the pump. The people around surround them and one talks to them in Jasmine's voice saying they are a disease in the body Jasmine. They fight off the attacking crowd and flee, but the police follow. Jasmine laughs. The gang realize they are the only criminals left and every policeman in town is after them. They abandon the car for the sewers.

Angel is pushing the gang but they are exhausted and he gives them a minute to rest. He admits he doesn't have a plan. Fred says she forgot about Cordelia. Angel says they should forget about her, they don't have a choice. He tells them to get moving again. Something is watching them from the shadows.

Connor is with the sleeping Cordelia. Jasmine enters and says the gang cut Cordelia and took her blood for their magic. She asks him to leave saying she wants to be alone with her mother. In the sewer, Fred says she can't forget Cordelia and Lorne says Angel has become heartless. Angel says they have to gut themselves and remove everything that gave Jasmine power over them. Wesley says he misses the warmth of knowing you are doing what's right. Gunn says it is a tough drug to kick cold turkey. Fred remembers Jasmine taking her aside and talking to her in the bowling alley about what her name should be. Wesley says it's strange so old a being doesn't have a name. Lorne wonders whether it is an embarrassing one. Angel falls through the floor into a pit. Wesley almost falls in, but Gunn saves him. A kid runs up to the pit and points a stake at Angel. Others appear and confront the gang. Angel leaps out of the pit and disarms the boy. The others fight, but Angel soon stops them. He says they are not under Jasmine's control, they aren't fighting like a unified army. Gunn realizes one of them is Randall Golden, Tommy's brother. They hear a weird wailing sound in the distance.

Connor returns to the room to find Cordelia gone. Jasmine says Cordelia was a danger and now she's where Jasmine wants her to be as is Connor. In the sewer, Randall and his gang take the others to their hideout. He says they don't know what is in the sewer, they haven't gotten a clean shot at it. Gunn says Tommy was in his crew, then went solo. Randall says they were driven underground when the sun went out and there were too many demons to fight. Angel goes to check the other entrances, the little boy goes to him and says his name is Matthew. Angel continues checking, Randall says they found Matthew in a pile up at La Brea where vampires murdered his parents. Angel looks at his hand and sees the blood from beating Connor. He asks Matthew for water and washes his hands. A girl in Randall's gang explains she knew of the place as somewhere she went when the missions were full. They moved down there, but then some demon arrived and started picking them off. It got Tommy. Matthew asks whose blood it is and Angel says somebody he knew. He has a flashback to beating Connor. He says it was somebody who tried to do bad stuff to his friends. Randall says he's determined to kill the demon. Fred says they are professional monster killers. Angel agrees. He picks up a sword which Randall says was Tommy's and leads them out.

Jasmine is on the phone with the governor who is handing over control of the state to her. Connor wants to go after them, but Jasmine says soon he'll go out with all of her power behind him. She says soon the whole world will be united with her and she and Connor will live in a palace together forever. But Connor is unhappy. She says he hasn't completely surrendered to her. That he has kept a part of himself from her, his pain. She says pain has been the only constant in his life, the only thing which has not abandoned him. She says she wants it, that he should let it go. She digs her nails into his palm, cutting it. She holds up her palm and we see the same marks magically heal.

In the sewer, Randall is attacked by the demon and Angel has to leap up to get him back. He has his vampire face on and Matthew sees it and runs away. Fred and Gunn go after him. But the demon has Wesley. We see the demon hurling Wesley into another room and saying 'We loved her first'. Angel says the demon knows the tunnels better than he. He will go for Wesley and tells Lorne to take the others back to the hideout. Randall says no, he realizes Angel is a vampire. The scorpion demon is talking to Wesley. It's sad because Jasmine came to earth even though its kind had loved her for ages. He's angry that they have named her. He says she's the devourer, the song, and they are filthy mice. Something falls down (it looks like some flesh) and the demon says he has work to do. He leaps up on the wall where there is a person trapped. Wesley asks how he defines love. The demon says the same as everyone everywhere. He says love is sacrifice.

Gunn and Fred have followed splashing sounds. Gunn figures it's Matthew or a demon, but Fred says it may be rats and that upsets Gunn. She says he should consider how Matthew feels. He says Angel said they have to get rid of their feelings. Fred says that doesn't work for her. She doesn't want to defeat Jasmine by becoming a heartless shell. She says she can't turn off her emotions. He says she did when they killed a man. Then says he did. She says we did. He says she did what she had to no matter what anybody said without feeling. She says he's right about everything except one. She felt it. She still does. It eats her up inside. He says it does him too. She says she still prefers that to being a shell. They go to find Matthew.

Randall and the others are threatening Angel and Lorne. Angel says he can't justify his existence, but he could kill Randall or Randall could step aside and let him go after Wesley. Gunn and Fred make it to the surface. The demon is cutting up the trapped person. Wesley sees a door is open and asks if the demon isn't worried he'll run away. The demon says he's good at catching furries. He admits he is from another world, an older world. Wesley sees a shining globe and the demon tells him it is the key to his world and Wesley can use it only the air there will burn out his lungs. He mocks Wesley. Wesley asks if he is preparing a spell and the demon says he's using blood and flesh magic, older than words and more powerful. She'll hear this and remember her true ones. He says she doesn't care about words. Then says there is one word and stops himself. Wesley asks what one word she cares about but the demon tells him to be quiet. The person he's cutting up talks and the demon doesn't understand why it's alive when he has cut out its guts. It cuts out his tongue. Wesley says he can't kill him that way, he's a vampire. The demon asks if that's like the one with the angry steel, the one who hurt him. Wesley says that was Angel. The demon says they are too quick to tell their names. That's why they are weak, because everyone knows their names. Wesley says it doesn't work that way here, then realizes her real name is the word Jasmine fears. The demon leaps down and confronts Wesley.

Fred and Gunn find Matthew. He won't go back with them and Gunn knocks him out. Fred is shocked. The demon isn't listening to Wesley who has figured out about the name. Wesley realizes she couldn't choose a false name by herself so one of them had to do it. The demon hits him and says it doesn't know the name, only the high priest does. He's just a messenger and Wesley will soon be dead. Angel appears and says it's time to shoot the messenger. Or chop it up into little pieces. He and the demon fight. Meanwhile, Lorne is lecturing the others on calling people names. Gunn and Fred arrive with the unconscious Matthew. Gunn and Randall start arguing. Matthew comes to and talks in Jasmine's voice. It tells them that Gunn and Fred hit him again and again. It tells Randall to kill them. They flee. In the tunnels, they meet a commando unit led by Connor who talks to them in Jasmine's voice.

Angel defeats the demon. Wesley explains about the key. The gang are running form the commandos. Wesley can't figure out how to work the key. Angel realizes Connor is there. Connor realizes Angel is there as does Jasmine. Angel finds Fred, Gunn, and Lorne and leads them back to the room the demon was in. They close the door, but the commandos are there. Wesley realizes blood will activate the key and uses some of his to open a portal. He explains only Angel can go through because of the atmosphere. Wesley tosses him the key and he steps through the portal. Connor and the commandos break in. There is a fight and we see Jasmine being cut and then magically healing as she reflects the battle in her body. She laughs. Angel arrives in the other dimension where he's confronted by a large number of the demons.

Analysis

There is the old adage about writing that you get your character up a tree and then you throw rocks at him. Well, Angel has been up a tree for a while and the rocks are coming fast and furious now. He's separated from everyone who might help him, in a world where he's an obvious outsider, and his enemy is in control of just about everything. This episode was mostly set up, but at least it set up some really interesting things and there were a few deeper moments.

Jasmine first took Cordelia from Angel before he realized she existed. Now she has taken Connor and Angel wasn't able to recover him. She has turned the world into a dangerous place for him and he has had to descend to the sewers, the lair of demons. It's interesting that Gunn talks about not eating rats and Angel says he won't either. We know, from flashbacks, that Angel lived off rats for a considerable time. This was a period in which he was so scared of what he had done and what he could do that he isolated himself from humanity and was reduced to an almost animal like existence. That's happening to him again and that's part of the cost of his personal battle against Jasmine.

Way back in City of, Angel was warned of the cost isolating himself from humanity of refusing human contact and human feelings. But now he finds himself forced to do exactly that if he is to have a hope of defeating Jasmine. He must abandon Connor, abandon Cordelia, and abandon his friends. He has to harden his heart because sacrifice is necessary in order to defeat Jasmine. But Fred, taking the role of Doyle and Cordelia, realizes that becoming heartless isn't the ultimate solution. That realization leads to her confrontation with Gunn about the murder of the professor in Supersymmetry, the issue which has been between them for months now and which they haven't been able to talk about. They finally share the guilt they both feel over this. You have to wonder whether part of Gunn's anger at Fred wasn't his assumption that he alone carried the guilt. He wanted to do that, it's part of the reason he went there. But if you're part of a couple you're supposed to share burdens. At some level he realized that and was angry because this was a burden he didn't think shared. This revelation has to change things. As does Fred's statement that the guilt is still better than being a part of Jasmine's cult. Part of being human is doing wrong and regretting it. If you can't sin, if you can't ask for forgiveness, you can't be saved.

When Angel has to go through the portal, his own words are used against him by Wesley and Fred. But their meaning is inverted. Wesley reminds him that someone who knows the truth must carry on. Angel used this to get the others to leave him in danger, now Wesley uses it to get him to leave the others to their peril. The opening scene, of Angel holding the door against Connor, sending the others off, then fighting Connor, is repeated with roles slightly changed as he leaves and the others hold the door and then fight Connor. Fred uses his line about gutting themselves of emotion. But we know, from what she has said to Gunn, that she doesn't believe an emotionless state is a good one. She isn't saying this to tell Angel how to survive, she's saying this knowing he has feelings and telling him it's alright to have them. Alright to feel guilty and sad. But he still must do what he must do.

The demon says love is sacrifice. A lot of sacrifice goes on here. Angel risks his life to save the gang. They are ready to sacrifice theirs to give him a chance at victory. Angel has accepted that he might have to sacrifice his son and the woman he loves. Fred and Gunn finally acknowledge the sacrifice they made - the loss of a clean conscience. It's about doing what you have to do, but also accepting the consequences.

I keep asking myself, how did Matthew get converted. He wasn't outside for very long. Did he see a tv image of Jasmine? Did he hear here on a radio? Or has she become even more powerful and do you just need to be around the converted to be changed yourself? That's what seems to happen with Randall when Matthew as Jasmine talks to him. Jasmine is now talking through her converts and controlling their actions more precisely. Perhaps simply being in their presence is the same as being in hers. Maybe this also explains why she is building her power base slowly and not following Gunn's suggestion to go on national tv. Maybe controlling all those separate beings and turning them into extensions of herself takes time and she would be overloaded if too many were converted at once. Conversion appears to be an organic process which takes a certain amount of time. But as the body Jasmine grows and grows, that time scale reduces. So Jasmine alone could only convert a few at a time. Jasmine with hundreds of followers could reach out to thousands, with thousands to millions.

The scene where Jasmine talks about Connor's pain and how he must completely surrender was pretty interesting. It suggests it was possible for Connor to hold out, not to be completely under her control. As her father, he seems to have some special value to her and even before Angel turned against her she was grooming him to be her champion. She talks of living with him forever and being worshipped by all humanity. Now that she has an army, she really doesn't need Connor for protection, so you have to assume she needs him for other reasons. She needed a human or quasi human vehicle to return to Earth. Connor and Cordelia were that vehicle and we've learnt Cordelia's blood is dangerous to her. So what hidden peril is there in Connor that makes her so eager to keep him so close?

Some quick final thoughts. I wonder whether the Catholic church will be complaining about this week's episode. I think Connor is a very realistic teenager, incredibly boring to anybody who's not a teenager. The power of the name is just really old hat. I had hoped for something better than Rumpelstiltskin. I enjoyed the reference to Gunn's fear of rats which we saw in Apocalypse, Nowish. I have no clue where Cordelia is now and her disappearance really surprised me. It opens up a lot of possibilities both for this season and next if she doesn't immediately return. I found Lorne particularly amusing this week both in his off hand remarks as they ran through the sewers and in his lecture on name calling.

Lines of the week:

"Someone who knows the truth has to live through this." - Angel being a hero.

"Talk about media bias." - Lorne with a very good point.

"You're a disease in the body Jasmine." - Jasmine getting all philosophical.

"They're always using magic." - Connor with an increasingly boring refrain.

"She's where I want her to be. And so are you." - Jasmine exercising control.

"Pain has been the only constant in your life." - Jasmine seeing deeply into Connor.

"I want it. I want everything you are." - Jasmine going the extra mile with Connor.

"We loved her first." - Really insecure scorpion demon.

"Love is sacrifice." - Scorpion demon being literal.

"I'd take that over being a shell any day." - Fred letting Gunn know he's not alone.

"There's a scared kid out there we gotta find." - Gunn agreeing.

"I think the universe just handed up our first break." - Wesley suddenly becoming the optimist.

"Someone who knows the truth has to live through this." - Wesley remembering his lesson.

"Hearts get in the way, right." - Fred letting Angel know it's alright.

"Oh, hell." - Angel possibly being very literal.

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