Wesley doesn't believe it's really Lilah. Angel confirms it's her and she's dead. They think she's a vampire, but she says Angelus didn't turn her and Wesley cut off her head - she shows them the scar on her neck. Angel says her contract with Wolfram & Hart extends beyond death. She says she's a messenger with an offer for them and after she'll be sent back to hell.
Return to the gang standing around speechlessly staring at Lilah. Finally, Gunn asks her to run it by them again. We learn that they have been offered the LA branch of Wolfram & Hart, the senior partners are ceding the territory to them. Fred points out the office was destroyed and Lilah says it is back and restaffed. She says they can do anything with it they want. She says to think of it as a reward for ending world peace. They insist that wasn't what happened, that Jasmine was creating a slave state and ate people. She says the slaves were full of joy and she ate dozens a day while millions were saved from pain. She says if they are interested there will be a limo waiting outside just before dawn. She leaves.
Connor is walking through the now chaotic and crime ridden streets. He senses something on a rooftop and goes there to find a suicidal man. He talks him out of it and tells him to go home. The man talks about his home and takes out pictures of his family. Connor is outraged at how he was going to abandon his family and starts beating the man. Wesley is mapping Angel's confrontation with Jasmine and trying to figure out where Cordelia might be. Gunn says they might have a better chance finding her if they took up Wolfram & Hart on their offer. Wesley says he can't be serious. Gunn talks about Lilah as the dead lady and apologizes, thinking that bothered Wesley. Wesley refers to her as a loved one, but then just says it's a figure of speech.
Lorne returns to tell them it's a mess out there and no trace of Connor or Cordelia. Gunn hints that they might want to go with Wolfram & Hart. Angel says no. He says if they get in the limo, they'll be corrupted. He leaves saying he's going to look for Connor. Gunn says he's going to bed. Wesley says it's late and he'll be heading home. Later, we see Fred sneaking out of the hotel and looking for the limo. Wesley comes up behind her telling her the limo has been there for some time. She's surprised he's there, he's surprised Gunn isn't. Gunn walks up. Wesley wonders what the odds are that humans would be the most corruptible. They wonder if they are doing the right thing and if Angel was right. Angel is there. He opens the door and inside is Lorne complaining that the limo is out of cherries.
At Wolfram & Hart, they find a busy crowd of workers all greeting them respectfully. Lilah appears with four guides, one guide for each of the gang. Angel is suspicious and says they want to stay together. Lilah says if they wanted to hurt them, they would have blown up the limo. She brings out a cart with guns and says they can arm themselves during the tour if they like. Gunn is entranced by a pretty black woman who is one of the guides. Wesley and Lorne don't think there is any immediate danger. Fred takes a large gun and says it will be alright. Lilah says Preston will show Lorne around the entertainment division. He says he's a big fan of Lorne's and shows him the list of talent they represent which Lorne realizes is everyone he ever wanted to meet. Rutherford Sirk is Wesley's guide. Lacey Shepard is Gunn's and Knox is Fred's. Lilah will guide Angel.
Gunn thinks Lacey is taking him to security. But she tells him they have grander things in store for him and he's flattered. Fred thinks Knox doesn't look like a lawyer and he says he's a scientist. He says he manages the science division for the department head who would be her. He takes her to a lab which impresses her. He shows her a device he invented which hacks into any personal electronic nearby. Sirk takes Wesley to the ancient prophecies wing which seems to be just a row of books. Sirk says appearances are deceiving and tells Wesley to choose any book, preferably something rare. He asks for a rare codex. Sirk picks up one of the volumes, repeats the name, and hands it to him. The pages are blank, but Sirk explains it's a template linked to the firm's locked archives. The pages fill with text. Wesley is impressed and asks if the council knows Sirk stole their copy of the book when he left. Sirk says there is no council and Wesley says not any more. He asks if Sirk decided to cross the line. Sirk says lines are blurry and asks how he knows. Wesley says there is something about watchers and libraries. As he says it, he attacks and knocks out Sirk. He batmans up to the ceiling.
Lilah takes Angel into a luxurious office. She tells him the elevator takes him to the motor pool where he now has 12 cars. She tells him he can do anything he wants. He turns to leave and she opens the drapes. The sun's rays don't harm him. She says the whole building is fitted with special windows which block the deadly rays and are energy efficient. He tells her to close the drapes. He is going to go and she says nothing in the world is the way it ought to be and that's why there is Angel. She says he has to learn to compromise. She says innocents are at stake. She hands him a file. It's on Sunnydale and it includes a pendant needed for some final battle. He gives it back saying Buffy can handle herself. She asks him if he's interested in missing persons. He asks what she knows and she says nothing. She says he can find out in seconds if he picks up the phone. She hands it to him and he hangs it up. He says he's sorry what happened to her, but they are leaving. The phone rings. She answers it and says the senior partners want him to test all the amenities. She turns on the tv, which is really nice. There is a news broadcast about a hostage situation with Connor being the one holding people hostage.
Angel believes Lilah set this up but she denies it. She says he's responsible. She tells him it's a one time offer, if he walks out the deal is off. He says she and this place are what is wrong with the world. He says he'll tell her what the deal's going to be. Gunn and Lacey are in an elevator. Too late, he realizes it's the magic elevator and he'd rather not be there. It opens up into the white room where he is confronted by a black cat (like a panther). They stare into each others eyes.
At the hostage scene, Connor has everyone terrorized with bombs strapped to them. Angel arrives. Wesley has fought his way into the archives and starts looking through them. Lilah appears and says it took him longer to get there than she thought. She talks about all he could do with the information. He realizes she wanted to get him there. She says who knows him better than she. He says perhaps she doesn't know him that well. He pulls out her contract, it's what he broke in for. He says he's going to release her, that she's suffered enough. He sets fire to it. She says he's gallant, but she knew what she signed up for. She tells him to look in the drawer, the contract is back. She says flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything. She says it means something that he tried.
Connor is strapping on a bomb. Angel moves toward him and sets off an explosion. Connor tells him the people are rigged too and he can't save them all. He says any of them could be first, even Connor. Then he steps aside to reveal a rigged Cordelia on the floor. Angel tries to talk to him, saying they all feel the loss of the love of Jasmine. Connor says he doesn't feel it, that he can't feel anything. Angel tries to apologize, but Connor says that doesn't fix anything. He says he loves Connor and Connor says it's a lie. He says even Darla couldn't love him. Angel says she did. Connor says Angel tried to love him, but not enough to hang on. That he let Holtz take him. He says Cordelia said she loved him, but where is she now. He says Angel lied when he said he loved Jasmine. Angel says Jasmine was the lie. Connor says Angel and the others don't deserve what Jasmine tried to give them. Angel says he wants to help Connor start over. Connor says you can't, but Angel disagrees. Connor says everything but death is a lie and you can't be saved by lies. He says you can't be saved. He tries to explode himself and Angel leaps at him and pulls off the bomb. They fight. Angel release the hostages. Angel defeats him and says he really loves him and is going to prove it. He hits him.
Lorne is in the lobby singing. Fred comes in and hands back her gun. A somewhat distraught Wesley arrives. Gunn gets off the elevator. Fred thinks he looks taller. He says he wants to take the deal whether the others do or not. Wesley agrees. Fred is surprised. Angel arrives and says he already took the deal. Lilah arrives and says Cordelia is receiving the finest care. If she can be revived, they will find the way. He says he has to see him. She says that wasn't part of the deal and he says she has to compromise. She hands over the Sunnydale file and tells him a limo outside will take him to see Connor. He thanks her. He walks out. Fred says 'who's Connor'. The limo takes Angel to a house where he looks in and sees Connor with a family. It's as if this has always been his family. He's happy, going to university, loved. He makes a toast to family. Angel walks away.
Once again, the very best scene of an Angel episode was between Wesley and Lilah. It was entirely predictable and still wonderful. More on that later. But first I've got to comment on the setup for next season. In short, I'm awfully glad this show has been renewed because if it weren't, this would have been a lousy series finale.
I've seen a number of people complain about the deus ex machina of Connor. Frankly, that's not my problem with it. I never really liked the sulking teen concept and I'm glad to see him go. But even if I was sad at his departure (and I understand he'll be back at least as a recurring character next season), I still wouldn't have a problem with how it happened. Basically, Wolfram & Hart seem to have done something similar to what the monks did to create Dawn. Only without really creating someone, just changing the history of the world as related to him. Jasmine had done a similar thing in erasing memory of the Beast. So it's not like we've never seen this in the Buffyverse.
Also, it's in keeping with the way Angel has been thinking. In Deep Down, Angel dreamt of a happy family. The final scene, with Connor and his new family, pretty much recreates that dream. So I can see why he would do this. But what doesn't work is that despite this being Angel's dream, it violates every precept he has articulated. Last week he spoke of the need of freedom of choice. This week he said that by going along with Wolfram & Hart they would be corrupted while also saying he couldn't make their decision for them. Yet he takes away Connor's freedom of choice - essentially giving him the artificial happiness Jasmine promised the world. And where Jasmine was eating people, Angel has made a deal with Wolfram & Hart and we know only bad things can result from that.
Connor always complained about how the gang consistently resorted to magic and how it never really worked. That theme has been explored in Buffy as well where Willow bringing Buffy back from the dead has led to even greater sorrow and problems. Magic always has a price and you can't really use it as a shortcut to happiness. Angel knows this, from bitter experience. But he does all the wrong things. He tries to shortcut to Connor's happiness. He uses magic. He makes a deal with evil beings. This has got to end badly. I can see a less experienced character like Fred or Gunn doing this, but how can Angel - who has seen it all - be so dumb. Yes, he loves Connor desperately. Yes, he wants him to be happy. But he knows this won't work. He's being saying exactly that for ages. Even Connor knows this, he says you can't start over, but Angel just won't believe him. Connor knows lies can't save, but Angel is still going to try.
There is an irony in Lilah echoing Angel's lines about why he is a champion from Deep Down (going with the harsh and cruel world theme which has recurred throughout this season) and offering him choice. Of course, the harshness and cruelty of the world is what Wolfram & Hart exists for. It wants to maintain and extend it. And the only real choice is to reject any alliance with it. But Angel is led into temptation by his love for his son. He knows he can't fix the world this way, but he's a hopeless romantic and he can't help but try. Lilah recognizes that and attacks him at that weak point.
Next season fills me with dread. My first fear is that the cast will expand with the guides we met this week becoming recurring characters next season. And with the promise of Spike becoming a regular and Willow and others making guest appearances (and with Gwen still hanging around out there) it's likely to get very crowded on this show. But most of that is potential, so lets just look at the guides this week.
I'm going to start with Gunn, because what happened there really bothered me. Buffyverse shows have not been like most tv. They haven't had black or gay characters. They've had characters who happen to be black or gay or undead or psychic. Those things were just characteristics, not the be all and end all of characters. So when Gunn got involved with Fred the interracial aspect was never really an issue because this is the kind of show that gets past surface issues like that. In the Buffyverse people are people (some of them undead) and not stereotypes. Which makes Gunn constantly asking if the sole black woman was his guide really annoying. The pairing off of the only black characters is something tv shows used to do and bad ones still do. And things didn't get better when Gunn is confronted by the black cat.
Lilah says Lacey and Gunn have nothing in common. Gunn asks if Lacey intends to corrupt him and she says no. Her last name is Shepard and I wonder if that means Gunn is the sheep, to be herded and controlled. Gunn's low self esteem comes into play when he thinks he's slated for a position in security. He's easily flattered when Lacey tells him they have bigger things planned for him. All of this might have worked last season, but too much has happened since. The relationship with Fred, the budding relationship with Gwen, it all seems to have been forgotten in the rush to set up next season issues. And the promise of a potentially evil Gunn, or is it really Gunn, seems Cordelia of this season writ small.
Preston is Lorne's guide. Lorne is always in danger of becoming a stock character (the Kramer of Angel) who has no depth but gets trotted out to do his routine at which we all dutifully laugh. Characters like this often have huge fan followings, but they have to be used sparingly and I think Lorne may have been overexposed. Preston is a little too like Lorne and I'm afraid the two of them will become a comedy duo in the future. Basically a low rent version of Angel and Lilah.
Knox is just boring and it's no surprise that his scenes with Fred were among the briefest. We know Fred is brilliant, but she can't be an expert in every field of science. And a guy who can build anything with a fully equipped multimillion dollar lab really isn't all that interesting. I don't see Knox as competition for Gunn or Wesley and we don't need a second Fred. It actually seemed to me the writers had no clue what to do with this character or with Preston and that's why both those scenes were so short.
Rutherford Sirk is an ex watcher. So is Wesley. Lilah says they have a lot in common, but actually they seem to have nothing in common. Sirk seems totally corrupted. He left the watchers, Wesley got kicked out. He joined Wolfram & Hart, Wesley joined Angel. That's a big difference. I can see Sirk being the dark side (actually the evil side since Wesley is plenty dark by himself) of Wesley next season. Only we don't really need that. Lilah was the evil side of Wesley and did a way better job than Sirk ever could. That avenue has already been explored. The show has to go on to new things, not repeat the past in a lesser way.
Wesley refuses to believe Lilah is really back. He refers to her as a loved one when talking to Gunn and then denies that meant anything. He's still dealing with having decapitated her and with his unresolved feelings for her. So it's no surprise that he tries to save her from damnation. After all, that's why he decapitated her. And what other show would have decapitation as an act of love. Wesley loves Lilah the way Angel loves Connor. He wants to save her from the consequences of her decisions. And he fails, even as Angel is doomed to fail. But he does get, once more, to express his love for her. The love he expressed when he kept that dollar. The love he expressed when he chopped off her head. He can't extinguishable the unextinguishable flames of hell. But it means something that he tried. Lilah and Wesley pretended their relationship was purely physical, but that moment, when he says she has suffered enough and when she tells him it matters that he tried, shows us that it was a spiritual love that transcends even death. Wesley fails because Lilah made her choice. She says she knew what she signed up for. Connor knows what he's doing, too, but Angel never gives him a chance to say so. Lilah says it means something that he tried. But that meaning is only there because she knows he did. Connor doesn't. These are both tragic loves, but Wesley and Lilah at least share in the tragedy while Angel holds it to himself. All Connor wanted was to feel something real and all Angel could give him was a lie. The last in a long series of lies for Connor to believe in. Only better because it came without strings - at least for Connor.
Some quick final thoughts. Kudos for Whedon and associates for that lengthy silent scene right after the opening credits. Most shows wouldn't have the guts to go silent for that long. Jonathan M. Woodward played the science guy and he also Holden in the Buffy episode Conversations With Dead People. I found that a little irritating since I found myself spending most of the scene trying to remember where I had seen him before. But like the casting of Torres as Jasmine and Fillion as Caleb on Buffy (both previously on Firefly), this is an example of Whedon sticking with actors he likes. What twisted stuff was going on in Connor's mind. I can understand him killing himself and maybe others, but Cordelia? Fred seemed to dress up for the trip to Wolfram & Hart - more makeup than usual and I think those were heels. Is this because it's a limo? Lilah refers to the Roald Dahl story about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she starts Angel's tour and later tries to get him into the elevator which was a big part of that story. Why must labs on tv always look so fake. No lab has chemistry and physics and biology experiments going on in the same space. How does a guy raised in a hell dimension learn about bombs? I wonder if Sirk is a bit of a tribute to Douglas Sirk the film director. I wonder how much of Lilah we'll see next season. My guess is she won't be heading back to hell any time soon and if she does she won't be staying for long.
Lines of the week:
"There's a signed dollar in your wallet that says different." - Lilah reminding Wesley.
"I'm sure that's true." - Wesley not meaning it.
"You decapitate a loved one you don't expect them to come visiting."
"Figure of speech." - Wesley meaning what he said.
"You'll be corrupted." - Angel on what happens when you even think about going along with Wolfram & Hart.
"What are the odds the humans would be the most corruptible." - Wesley showing he still has a sense of humour.
"Come on Charlie, let me show you around the chocolate factory." - Lilah with a great Willy Wonka moment.
"Feels even better when you're naked." - Lilah dead and flirting with the undead.
"Nothing in this world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and it's cruel." - Lilah with a recurring Angel refrain.
"Watch the head. It comes off kind of easy." - Lilah with a line you never hear outside of the Buffyverse.
"You've suffered enough." - Wesley really caring.
"Flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything." - Lilah letting Wesley know she really is in hell.
"It means something that you tried." - Lilah letting Wesley know she loves him.
"Everything else is just a lie. You can't be saved by a lie. You can't be saved at all." - Connor almost getting it.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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