Angel - Damage

Summary

We're in a mental hospital where Dr. Rabinaw discovers there has been a mistake, a patient, Dana, has not been properly medicated. He rushes to her room, but before he can enter she breaks out. She has superhuman strength and beats up the orderlies and cuts their heads off.

At the office, Gunn is on the phone arranging a meeting with a judge behind the DA's back. Fred wonders if that's a good idea and he says it's just professional rivalry, it's on the golf course that things get ugly. She asks when he started playing golf and he says it's part of what Wolfram & Hart did to him. He says half their cases get resolved on the links. They walk into Angel's office where he is talking to Wesley and Lorne about Eve. He wants to fire Eve, at least. Gunn says they can't prove she did anything and warns that she must have powerful connections. Angel agrees they can't move against her yet. Gunn says they can restrict her access and monitor her. Harmony enters to tell them about Dana. They think it's a case of possession and Angel decides to investigate himself saying it requires finesse.

Cut to Angel exiting the elevator at the hospital with Spike coming out of the adjacent elevator. Angel is upset at Spike being there and they argue. They find Rabinaw who explains that Dana's parents were murdered when she was 10 and she was taken and tortured for months. Then she was found naked and bleeding, wandering the streets. She's been almost catatonic ever since. He says a few months ago things changed, she had inhuman strength and outbursts. Spike says it's demon possession and Rabinaw says that's ridiculous. Spike walks out to find Dana. Rabinaw says Angel should stop him, he'll end up dead like the others. Rabinaw walks out, Angel looks around the room at the drawings Dana made. He wonders what Rabinaw isn't telling him. A nurse tells him Rabinaw videoed the sessions with Dana and Angel asks her to show him. Dana is in a store eating food off the shelf and when a clerk comes up to her, she breaks his arm. She then goes to take some clothes and has a flashback to being tortured as a little girl. A guard confronts her. We cut to her leaving the store, now dressed, carrying her bloody saw.

Angel is watching the video where Dana is struggling in a straight jacket and talking in foreign languages. He recognizes some of what she says in Romanian. The nurse admits she tipped them off. She's hoping she can get a job at Wolfram & Hart. Cut to police cars pulling up to the store. Spike walks by, tracking Dana. Angel calls Wesley and says she's not possessed. Spike finds Dana and confronts her. He says they should talk demon to demon and puts on his vampire face. Angel says Dana was saying she was chosen in Romanian. She's a vampire slayer. Spike and Dana fight. She speaks to him in Chinese but he doesn't understand. He goes out the window and falls several stories to the ground. Angel pulls up. Spike gets up and says it's a Chinese demon.

Cut to them walking out of the elevator at Wolfram & Hart with Spike repeating 'a psychotic vampire slayer'. He says he killed two slayers, he should be able to handle a crazy one. Angel says Wesley contacted Giles who sent his top man to help them. They walk into the office to find Andrew there. He runs over and hugs Spike. He says he's like Gandalf, back from the dead. Spike stands there unmoving. Andrew recovers himself and insists on bringing them up to speed. He tells them the story of the 'slayer of the vampires' with his weird fake accent. Basically, he recounts slayer myth and how Buffy awakened all the potentials. He says Giles and a few others are tracking down the slayers and helping them. But Dana is an anomaly. Wesley says her mental instability made the slayer dreams seem more vivid and real. Spike says she spoke in Chinese remembering the slayer he killed during the Boxer rebellion. He points out he didn't have a soul then. Spike walks out and Angel goes after him. Angel says they are the last people who should confront Dana, she's made to destroy creatures like them. Spike says as tortured as she is they did worse in the day. Angel says he knows and he's still paying for it. Spike says he should let it go, it's making him look old. Andrew watches all this.

Dana is walking down a deserted street. She has flashbacks to being tortured. A man comes up and asks if she's alright. Cut to Angel saying maybe Spike is right. He says they have to figure out what she's looking for. Lorne suggests taking a psychic to the house she was abducted from. Angle says they should bring Andrew, but Fred says he's gone. Spike is walking down a deserted street and realizes he's being followed. He grabs a man out of the shadows, it's Andrew. Andrew reveals he's armed. He says Giles has been training him and he's faster and stronger and 82% more manly. He trips over the body of the man who tried to help Dana and screams. Cut to the house where a realtor is showing Angel, Lorne, and a psychic 'he does Tom Arnold's readings' around. The psychic recounts what happened in the house and says she was taken to a basement which smelled of molasses. He says she's drawn there. Cut to Dana entering the basement, having flashbacks, and finding the torture implements used on her as well as drugs. Flashback to the torturer drugging her. We see and hear him for the first time, it's Spike.

Andrew tells Spike he mostly talks to Giles but they all keep in touch. Xander is in Africa, Willow and Kennedy in Brazil. He asks Spike what blood smells like. Spike asks if he's ever tasted a penny and says it's like that. Andrew picks a penny off the ground. Spike asks about Buffy. Buffy and Dawn are in Italy where Dawn is in school. Andrew tastes the penny and quickly spits it out. He realizes Spike hasn't told Buffy he's alive. He offers to tell her, but Spike tells him not to. As they walk, we see Dana on the roof tops watching them.

Angel returns to the office where Gunn asks how it went. Angel says they have to find out who the kidnapper was. Also, they have to find the place he took her. Andrew is telling a story to Spike, but Spike suddenly gets a stronger scent of blood. Spike says it's Dana's blood. She attacks. Andrew tries shooting her with a tranquiliser but misses and she knocks him down and runs. Spike pursues, he has her scent now. He enters the basement where she is waiting. She keeps talking about heart and head and he realizes that's slayer talk. He tries to explain things to her. She starts talking about having to get home to Robin and he realizes she's remembering Nikki, the second slayer he killed. He tells her she probably shouldn't think about that. She recognizes him as William the Bloody. She attacks him and stabs him with a needle. It weakens him. She drags his body along as she has flashbacks of Spike carrying her as a child. She chains him as she has flashbacks of him chaining her. She drugs him again, this time to knock him out. She says he can't hurt her anymore and he says he never hurt her.

At the office, they are still trying to find the basement. Fred says when you make whiskey it smells like molasses and Angel says they should look for a distillery. Andrew bursts in saying she attacked them and got Spike. Spike awakes to find she's cut off his hands. Spike says he never hurt her. He says her visions are mixing with real memories. She has her flashbacks again this time replacing Spike with the real torturer. Dana realizes he killed the two slayers, he says yes he did that and worse but he didn't torture her. She says it doesn't matter. She goes to slay him. Angel grabs her. They fight. Angel tells her the man who tried to kill her robbed a liquor store 5 years ago and was shot and killed by the police. Angel holds her and Wesley shoots her with a tranquilizer. Angel calls in a med team for Spike.

Spike is being carried out. Fred is on the phone alerting surgery and letting the shaman know they have his hands. The ambulance leaves and Angel tells his men to chain Dana in the van. But Andrew says he'll take her. Angel says no, but Andrew blocks his way. Angel tries to move through, but Andrew stands his ground and a group of slayers walks up behind him. Angel says he'll clear it with Buffy, Andrew says that's where his orders come from. He tells him they don't trust him, they aren't on the same side anymore. The girls take Dana. Angel tells Wesley Andrew is right, they have enough problems of their own.

In a hospital room, Spike has his hands back on. Angel enters. Spike says he's in pain and deserves it. He says he complained because he didn't kill the girl's family, but he killed hundreds of others. He says he never thought much about the nature of evil. He never looked at the victims, he just enjoyed the rush. Angel says he couldn't take his eyes off them. He was in it for the evil. It was art for him. Dana would have been a masterpiece. Spike asks about her and Angel says Andrew took her. Spike is impressed. Spike says she's too far gone to help, she's a monster like them. Angel says she's an innocent victim. Spike says so were they once upon a time. Angel echoes his words.

Analysis

A good alternate title for this episode would have been Meditation Upon the Nature of Evil. Is Dana a victim or a monster? Are Spike and Angel victims or monsters? Are Angel and the gang good or evil now that they are working for Wolfram & Hart? The answer seems to be that everybody is part everything and it's not easy deciding what to call them. Last week Angel complained about the shades of gray, the loss of the clear delineation between good and evil. We're getting that in spades this week.

For me the key point of this episode was Spike admitting he'd never thought much about the nature of evil and that it really didn't matter that he wasn't the one who tortured Dana and killed her family because he did the same things to others and would have done it to her had he had the chance. Dana punished him for a crime he never committed, but he's not innocent. Given that he was lying in bed with newly attached hands and a lot of pain, that's a pretty deep insight and a surprisingly morally advanced one. It's in sharp contrast to his earlier comment to Angel about letting go his guilt.

The slayers were the merging of demon power with a young girl. The torture of Dana turned her into a demon, the actions of Buffy gave her the power of one. The same painful cycle gets endlessly repeated. Spike is metaphorically right when he says this is a case of demon possession. The slayer power is a form of demon and a form of possession - it's nothing Dana wanted anymore than she wanted the kidnapping and torture.

It's one thing for Spike or Lindsey or Eve to question the moral purity of the gang, but if Buffy and the others have the same doubts, it's time for Angel and the gang to give this some heavy thought. It's interesting that they opt not to punish Eve because they fear alienating the senior partners. Yet in past seasons they were constantly battling the senior partners. They really have been co-opted.

Gunn tells Fred he thinks the move to Wolfram & Hart has been for the better. They've been battling evil and still have all their fingers and toes and souls. In addition to foreshadowing the mutilation of Spike, the statement also shows how much a part of Wolfram & Hart Gunn has become. Angel says he preferred him when he just wanted to hit things and Gunn says he's got rational thought. But it's much more than that. Gunn has argued that all he allowed Wolfram & Hart to do was give him knowledge of the law (plus a side of Gilbert and Sullivan). But we've discovered he also learnt a number of demon languages and how to play golf. His mental upgrade was much broader than he first indicated and it becomes harder and harder to believe that he hasn't been changed to be more willing to accept the world view of the senior partners. He seems always to be thinking of reasons not to destroy demons.

It was good to see Andrew again. The character has grown in interesting ways. He's still the same Andrew - full of pop culture references and given to inflated self importance - but he's also matured. It isn't just the suit, it's the attitude. He faces down Angel and he shows a kind of courage we never saw from him before. Yes, there was a posse of slayers behind him, but Angel could have torn him in half before any of the slayers could have moved. He showed something there and Spike is right in saying there is hope for him yet. Anya's sacrifice wasn't for nothing.

The final scene, in addition to being poignant and drawing ever more strongly the parallel between Spike and Angel, has an important line. Spike says Andrew double crossed 'us'. Not Angel, but 'us'. Although he constantly distances himself from Angel and the gang and especially from Wolfram & Hart, it's clear he subconsciously has allied himself with them. When the chips are down, they can count on Spike to help them.

This scene also reprises the moral ambiguity which has been a theme of the last few episodes. Everyone is cast as victim and as monster. In an odd reversal of roles, Spike becomes the depressed one only capable of seeing the darkness while Angel holds out some hope. I've said before that in some ways Angel and Spike are the same person, just different aspects of one personality (like the multiple personality Wesley thought Dana was and in fact channeling slayers she was). As such, they are weak when separated strong when together. Just as the slayers, when brought together, form an unstoppable force, so does the union of Spike and Angel form a force capable of overcoming the machinations of evil being brought against them.

Some quick final thoughts. I'm betting the answer to the crossword puzzle clue "In a mellifluous manner 7 letters ending in Y" is sweetly. Dr. Rabinaw is played by Kevin Quigley who played Mendelsohn on Sheena amongst other things. He was easily the best actor on that show and did a great job in his small role this week. Was the use of Romanian a reference to the gypsies and Angel's curse? It struck me that Dana torturing Spike and cutting off his hands was a bit of an homage to Stephen King and Misery. I hope Giles shows up and gets to see the new and improved Wesley. The torturer has been dead for 5 years and I find it hard to believe the basement would remain undisturbed and untenanted. Why hasn't some demon moved in? I find it even harder to believe the drugs he used were still potent. Of course, drugs shouldn't work on vampires at all (no circulation of the blood), but that ship sailed long ago.

Lines of the week:

"Sometimes you gotta work the system before it works you." - Gunn not making anybody feel good about the move to Wolfram & Hart.

"Is pathological idiot an actual condition." - Angel trying to define Spike medically.

"My therapist thought I was holding onto false hope, but I knew you'd come back." - Andrew being Andrew.

"Mr. Giles may have been wrong about you." - Andrew on Wesley.

"You should let it go." - Spike on Angel's guilt.

"Danny, we're gonna need a whip." - Lorne taking cracking the whip a bit literally. But it's nice to see Danny is still around.

"Like nickels." - Andrew not quite getting the penny analogy.

"Doesn't matter." - Dana on Spike being guilty of this particular crime.

"I've got 12 vampire slayers behind me and not one of them has ever dated you." - Andrew with the line of the week.

"Where do you think my orders came from? News flash. Nobody in our camp trusts you anymore. Nobody. You work for Wolfram & Hart. Don't fool yourself. We're not on the same side." - Andrew telling it like it is and demonstrating he really is 82% more manly.

"Just what I deserve." - Spike on his pain.

"I'm physically incapable of saying that." - Spike on saying Angel is right.

"It was art." - Angel on how much he loved evil.

"Andrew double crossed us." - Spike getting strangely plural.

"Hope for the little ponce yet." - Spike on Andrew.

"She's one of us now. She's a monster." - Spike on all of them.

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