Angel - Soul Purpose

Summary

We're back in Destiny, with Angel just defeated by Spike. Spike drinks from the chalice, only this time it's real and he's infused with an unearthly glow while Angel burns up. Angel wakes, it's a nightmare. Cut to Spike in a strip club. Lindsey comes to his table and wants to talk. Spike blows him off. Lindsey calls him by name and asks if he's received any interesting mail recently. He claims responsibility for bringing back Spike and tells Spike to call him Doyle. At the office, Wesley is suggesting a preemptive strike to Gunn. They want to take out a powerful warlock called Lucien Drake with a cult following. They talk to Angel about this who asks if they are doing it because it is right or cost effective. Gunn says a bit of both and Wesley says it's a gray area. This upsets Angel, who tells them to explain it to him again.

Spike is ready to leave and Lindsey wonders if he'd like to know why he was brought to LA. He says Spike has a destiny. Spike accuses him of having sent them on the wild goose chase in Destiny. Lindsey says he doesn't know anything, that he's a nobody just doing what he is told. He says he suddenly started having visions of people in trouble who need help. Spike tells him to go to Angel, Lindsey says Angel works the other side of the tracks now. He tells Spike a young girl will be murdered. Cut to a vampire attacking a girl in an alley with Spike walking up. Spike slays the vampire. The girl thanks him and he tells her she's stupid for walking in a dark alley and wearing heels she can't run in. He tells her to take a cab home and if someone offers her candy not to get in the van. Lindsey is there and asks if Spike believes him now. Spike says there are girls in trouble all over the city. Lindsey says he's saving people in a different way now. That there was nothing in it for him when he saved this girl. That he wasn't trying to impress anybody.

Wesley and Gunn are still arguing. Fred comes in with the lab reports and Wesley asks her if they can use the Wolfram & Hart satellite to covertly destroy people. She says they can heat an area to 1000 degrees, so that would work and the signal looks like cell phone static. She asks if they do that type of thing. Wesley says they might. Angel says they should kill them all, that they should get back to the basics of good versus evil. Gunn says they have to tread lightly. He asks if Angel is alright. Angel says he's tired. He tells Gunn to get a meeting with his informer and if it looks like Drake might be tipped to go with Wesley's plan. Fred and Gunn tell Angel to get some sleep. He goes to his place. Wesley follows him and when Angel seems weak, helps him. Wesley says Angel must be having trouble coming to grips with the situation, that he's irrelevant now. He says it's lucky Spike arrived. He pulls out a stake and says that makes it easier and attacks Angel. Angel screams and we see he's alone.

Spike takes out two vampires attacking a couple. When they ask who he is he says he's the hero. Wesley asks Harmony to take something to accounting. She says she can't because she accidently authorized a bath of the month subscription. He tells her to give them his account code and cut the check. Eve comes up and says he's solving problems by throwing money at them. He asks what she wants and she says she needs Angel. He says he'll help her, but she insists. He says Angel will just hand it over to him anyway. She agrees and gives him a piece of stone with runes on it. She says the senior partners want to know what it is. He says he'll get right to work on it. She leaves and Harmony returns saying she's supposed to tell Angel whenever anything with runes comes in. Wesley says he'll tell Angel, but they should let him get some rest. Cut to Angel tossing and turning in his bed. Fred comes in and says he looks terrible. She snaps on a rubber glove and says they'll take a look under the hood. Next, she's in a lab coat and cutting him open. She starts removing organs: his liver, kidneys, a dried up walnut that's his heart, a string of pearls, raisins, a license plate, a fishbowl with a dead fish she says is his soul and which she gives to a man in a bear suit to flush. She says there's nothing wrong with him, but he's empty, just a shell. Cut to Angel tossing and turning in his sleep.

Fred is in the lab looking at the stone. Gunn comes in with reports of vigilante activity. They realize it's Spike. Lindsey takes Spike to an apartment and says it's for him. Spike doesn't particularly like it. Lindsey says you need a spartan existence to be a hero. Spike doesn't like the bed and Lindsey says he won't be sharing it with anybody soon. Angel wakes to find Spike in bed next to him having sex with Buffy. We don't see her face, but we hear her talking. Spike is taking her to the prom. Spike tells Angel he has something on his shirt. Angel wakes. He goes to the office where he meets Fred who points out he forgot to put on his shoes and says he should put on a clean shirt. Gunn runs up and says they're going to miss it. Angel follows them past a refreshment stand into a movie theatre. They are watching the apocalypse. Wesley says Spike will take care of it. Lorne tells Angel there's something on his shirt. Angel looks down and sees a stain. Cut to Angel in bed with some kind of animal attached to his chest.

Fred is holding a cake which says 'Way to go Spike'. Everyone in the company is singing for he's a jolly good fellow. Spike has single handedly saved the world and turned it into a perfect place where all their dreams come true. He says he didn't do this for a reward, but he gets one. A fairy appears and turns him into a human. They rush up to hear his heart beating and cheer him. A sorrowful Angel looks on. He's wearing a short sleeved shirt and a bad tie. He looks very geekish and walks away. He's the mail boy.

Cut to Spike in his new place. Wesley and Gunn appear at the door. They want him to come back and help fight evil with them. He says Wolfram & Hart doesn't change, it changes you. He realizes they haven't told Angel about this offer and suspects they are hedging their bets concerning the prophecy. Cut to Lindsey and Eve in bed. He asks if they've checked up on Angel and she says they are busy working on a relic. Lindsey says they build Spike up and tear Angel down and the senior partners will soon think they are backing the wrong horse. Eve says unless they discover the race is fixed. Lindsey says if they find that out, then he's as good as dead. She says they won't find out and comments on his markings. He says they are the only thing keeping him off Wolfram & Hart's radar. She says she finds them sexy. She asks if he'll give her what she wants. He says good girls always get what they want. She reaches to a box on the bedside table and says it's going to be fun.

Gunn and Wesley return to the office and tell Fred Spike thinks they sold out. She asks if they should tell Angel. Gunn disagrees. Fred realizes no one has heard from Angel. She asks Harmony who hasn't heard anything. She suggests they call him and Harmony thinks acting like they care is a good plan. She calls but Angel sleeps through it. He wakes to Lorne playing a piano beside his bed. Lorne is dressed as a western saloon piano player and says he's called honky tonk. Harmony says she got voice mail. Fred says she'll go check in. Eve comes up and asks how the tests are going. She says the senior partners really want the analysis of that relic fast. Fred goes back to the lab. Lorne is playing My Darling Clementine. Harmony, dressed as a saloon girl, comes up. Angel says he doesn't know what to do and Lorne tells him to sing. A spotlight hits him. But Angel can't make a noise. Fred says he's empty. We see she's sitting at a table with Gunn and Wesley. Wesley says they paid good money for this. They paid blood. Lorne tells Angel the crowd is turning on him. Gunn hisses. Eve shows up and says he's suffering. Lorne says Angel still has that thing on his shirt. Angel sees the creature and grabs it off his chest. He wakes and crushes the creature. Eve is standing there holding the box and saying he killed junior. She tells him she's not there and he's dreaming. She opens the box and reveals another of the creatures. She tells him not to worry, the dream's almost over. The creature is crawling up Angel and he throws it off as Eve leaves.

Spike comes home with some beer. Lindsey is there. Spike tries to get him to leave. Lindsey holds his head in pain and says he got another vision that Spike will definitely want to act on. Angel is crawling to the phone, but the creature gets to him first. Angel is sitting in a chair in the sunshine in a meadow. Fred says it's nice. Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne are there as well and say he can stay there. Angel says there is work to be done. They tell him they can cover things, that he can let go and be finished if he wants to be. Fred says he just has to stop caring. She screams, the others scream, Spike pulls the creature off Angel and kills it. Angel wakes. Spike says not to thank him, he's just helping the helpless, and leaves.

Later, Wesley explains it was a Selminth parasite. It injects an anesthetic and neurotoxins which paralyze the host and cause him hallucinations. The host doesn't even know the parasite is there. Angel talks a bit about his dreams: Fred operating on him, the bear, Lorne at the piano trying to get him to sing, Gunn heckling. Lorne says it's a good thing Spike showed up and asks how he knew. Angel says he didn't say. Gunn wonders how the creature got there. Fred says it may have escaped from storage. Angel says it was Eve. He says she put the big one on him when he destroyed the other. Wesley says there was only one and maybe Angel is confusing dream with reality. Angel insists. He says Eve changed her clothes, but not her earrings and he recognizes them from his dream only it wasn't a dream. Eve says she changes after a long day and she's worn the earrings before. Fred says she did change clothes and she's never seen the earrings on Eve before. Angel says he's sure the senior partners didn't give him the law firm just to turn him into a vegetable. He says she's playing her own game. He threatens her, saying the senior partners won't like what she's doing. She says things aren't going well for him and he's looking for someone outside his little circle to blame. She suggests he look inward, but maybe he won't like what he sees.

Analysis

Several times, I've noted that this season was a back to the beginning season. That the lessons Angel learnt seem to have been unlearnt and that he is in danger of being dehumanized, just as Doyle noted in City of. So is it a big surprise that the new Angel, Spike, is approached by Lindsey who takes the name Doyle. That's good, though a little obvious. But the various possible scenarios that we're seeing here are so complicated it makes my head hurt. In fact, we are getting dangerously close to Mulderland - that nation where complications reach a level even really good writers can't bring to resolution. Here's my take on defining the various scenarios:

  1. Lindsey is Lindsey and for whatever reason is trying to overthrow Angel and using Spike, possibly to put Spike in his place, possibly to destroy him as well.
  2. Lindsey is actually really Doyle, who somehow has taken over Lindsey's body and is doing with Spike what he did with Angel.
  3. Lindsey is Drake and using Spike to overthrow Angel and Wolfram & Hart and replace them for evil purposes.
  4. Lindsey realizes Wolfram & Hart have an evil plan and is attempting to subvert them and help Angel.
  5. Lindsey realizes Wolfram & Hart have an evil plan and is attempting to subvert them and hurt Angel.
  6. Lindsey is Drake and doing the above for misguided good purposes.
  7. Lindsey is under Drake's control and doing the above.
  8. Eve is evil, but Lindsey is not and he's playing a complicated double cross and things like using the name Doyle are subtle clues for Angel.
  9. Lindsey is evil and Eve is not and she's playing a complicated double cross leaving subtle clues for Angel like the earrings.
  10. Lindsey wants to punish Angel (because by changing the Connor history Angel basically undid the one unselfish and good thing done by Darla - her suicide - and thus condemns her to be damned) while Eve wants to undermine the senior partners.
Of course, the big problem here is figuring out which of the things we saw were real and which hallucinations. Even simple statements like Eve saying the dream is almost over are open to incredible amounts of interpretation. Is she referring to his awakening which will end when she puts the creature on him? Or to the whole nightmare scenario which will soon end when they send Spike to save him? Or to the dream of turning Wolfram & Hart into a force for good? Or the dream of the prophecy and eventually becoming human? I don't know if your head hurts, but mine does.

I keep waiting for Spike to just see through all this stuff and tell us what's really happening. He has seen through the whole Wolfram & Hart charade. He's right in believing that the organization corrupts those within it and the only way to be pure is to get out of it. In a lot of ways, the parasite is a metaphor for the association with Wolfram & Hart. The gang are all being fed sweet dreams by the parasite corporation while it drains them of their strength and will eventually destroy them. The more they use the tools of evil (a death ray?) the more they become like evil. At some point, the dividing line will be permanently crossed. He's also seen through Lindsey, rightly guessing it was he who set up Spike and Angel for the phony quest in Destiny. You just can't put one over on Spike.

Angel is sensing all this in his hallucination. When Fred finds nothing in him, he's sensing the soul destroying power of the corporation. When he can't sing, it's because he has no destiny. Not because Spike has usurped it, but because he's given it up. Angel asks Wesley and Gunn is they want to do what is right or what is cost effective. They can't give him a clear answer. He's in the same place morally. Is running Wolfram & Hart, basically allowing a whole bunch of demons free play, right or simply cost effective? It is nice to have the resources and the money, but is the cost allowing evil to grow unchecked? Spike has a clearer view of right and wrong. He helps the helpless. He slays demons. Can Angel say the same? His team are spending their time doing the bidding of the senior partners. Angel even threatens Eve (who he suspects attacked him) with the vengeance of the senior partners. The senior partners are admittedly evil. Yet the gang do their work for them and see them as allies against others. Fred says they are working to change things from within, but the senior partners aren't misguided or ill informed or salvageable. They are archetypes of evil. Gunn is right when he says it sounds naive. It is naive.

I hope we get some explanation of where Eve came from and how she fits into things. Was she working for the senior partners and seduced by Lindsey. Or did she seek him out? Or is he really Drake (or was that whole scenario a hallucination) and is he setting up a counter organization to Wolfram & Hart or maybe Drake is someone else bankrolling all this. Or maybe that was part of the dream and Eve and Lindsey are just on their own. Eve must have some motivation to take such huge risks. The senior partners will do a lot worse than kill her if they find out. I can understand why Lindsey would take the risk, he has a long time hatred on against Wolfram & Hart and maybe the deaths of Darla and Lilah - both of whom I think he really liked - just drove him over the edge. Especially since their deaths were both essentially (though not directly) caused by Angel.

I don't know if the prophecy is real, I think it is, or whether the hero mentioned is Spike or Angel or maybe both. But the prophecy is causing lots of trouble for Angel and maybe for Spike, too. And maybe that's part of the plan of the senior partners. Maybe they allowed Angel to learn of the prophecy just to cause this moral confusion. When he had no real hope for a better future, he could take big risks, put himself on the line fighting against evil. But now the possibility of happiness is out there and those risks seem foolish. He's playing it safe, staying inside the lines, becoming the corporate man who knows the way to succeed is to keep a low profile. The scene where he has become the mail boy makes that point strongly.

Some quick final thoughts. I love Spike berating the girl attacked by the vampire in the alley. About time someone talked some sense to those vampire baits. Spike uses the same stakes in sleeves tool Angel used in City of. Is the string of pearls Fred removes from Angel a family jewels joke? When Spike met Lindsey, he immediately noticed the markings. Does he understand what they are and is he playing Lindsey?

Lines of the week:

"It might be the thing to do." - Wesley trying to justify WMD.

"Get a meeting with your best Judas." - Angel getting biblical.

"I'm the hero." - Spike defining himself.

"This place has everything you need to be a hero." - Lindsey/Doyle seducing Spike.

"Hedging our bets are we boys?" - Spike seeing through Gunn and Wesley.

"Act like we care, good plan." - Harmony showing her sensitive side.

"The dream's almost over." - Eve just being confusing.

"Just helping the helpless." - Spike letting Angel know the way things are.

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