The gang enter a room to find five slaughtered nuns. Wesley says their client did this as part of a ritual to escape to another dimension. Angel is frustrated at having evil clients and not being able to stop such things. He says he quits and walks out. Cut to a hospital where comatose Cordelia suddenly wakes up.
At the office, Angel still intends to resign. He tells the others that they shouldn't be doing these jobs. Instead of fighting evil, they are negotiating with it or even for it. Gunn says the senior partners won't just let them leave. Angel asks if he really thinks that or he just wants to stay. Gunn admits he likes it there and Angel suggests what he likes is his brain upgrade. Gunn says they all got something out of it. The phone rings. Angel answers and says Cordelia.
Wesley and Angel enter a hospital room with a patient lying there. Cordelia steps out and says the patient is near death and they could have given her a private room. Angel hugs her, Wesley hugs her. Wesley says she's hot. She says a mystical coma isn't so bad. She remembers everything up until the coma and says she hopes they kicked the ass of the higher power who hijacked her body. Wesley looks puzzled. Angel says they should get her out of there. She says they need to bring her clothes and Angel says they can buy some which excites her. She says she's not ready to go back to the hotel yet.
Cut to Angel, Wesley, and Cordelia stepping out of the elevator at the office. Cordelia is really reluctant to enter the place and they tell her it's just an office. Angel says there is nothing scary. Cordelia turns and comes face to face with the archduke's slave from Life of the Party (Party Animal). It's been living off toner and hiding in the copier room. They are taking it back. Angel takes her into his office where she finds the rest of the gang and more hugging. She's shocked at Gunn having hair and he realizes she thought he was prematurely bald. She asks about Connor and nobody gets what she's talking about. Harmony rushes in and hugs her. Angel explains she's his secretary. She asks how the coma was and Angel says Cordelia has had enough excitement and tells them all to get back to work. As he leaves, Lorne says when she wants to get back into acting to call him and he'll have her lunching with Colin Farrell. She asks Angel who Colin Farrell is. He says that things are working out well and with the resources they have now there is no one they can't save. She says except himself. She says the powers sent her a vision which woke her. It was of Angel in trouble and of symbols on a wall and on flesh, a tattoo. She says there's a woman behind him. He asks if there was a woman in the vision and she says no, there's a woman behind him. It's Eve and she says the partners are upset about them letting the client skip dimensions, the firm is out $10 million in bail money. She asks who Cordelia is and then tries to introduce herself but Cordelia cuts her off. Eve says Angel talked about her, at first. He says she shouldn't be there and she says he has no control over her comings and goings, then says he did have something to do with her comings at the party. Cordelia is surprised and disgusted and Angel tries to explain about the mystic suggestion and Lorne in Life of the Party (Party Animal). Eve leaves and he tells Harmony to have security keep tabs on her. Cordelia says he's made a deal with the devil. He denies it but a guy who looks like a devil comes over, shakes hands, says the paperwork is being completed, and confirms a raquetball date with Angel. Cordelia walks off in a huff and Angel asks what he did.
Spike is threatening someone. We see he's playing video games. Lindsey enters and Spike isn't thrilled to have him there. Lindsey says he's concerned, Spike hasn't been out in the field lately. Spike points out he had his hands cut off (by the crazy slayer Lindsey sent him after in Damage) and says the video game is therapy, exercising his digits. Spike says Lindsey can't understand his pain. Lindsey says he can and explains he had a hand cut off. Spike is impressed. Lindsey says Spike is supposed to be a champion. Spike says he's ready to leave once Lindsey has a vision to direct him. Lindsey's phone rings, it's Eve telling him Cordelia is up and having visions about him. He says it calls for a change in plans.
Angel walks in on Cordelia who is watching the video ad for Angel she made with Doyle back in Hero. Angel tries to justify his Wolfram & Hart alliance, but Cordelia says he was seduced by money and power and toys. Angel tells her about Connor. She says he gave up his son and let them rape the memories of his friends. He says it was the only way to save Connor and everything is alright now. She says she doesn't believe that and neither does he nor the powers who sent her. He says the powers aren't behind him any more, Spike is the new champion and he explains about Spike having a soul and doing good now. She says he's lost, he agrees, she says he's forgotten who he is and he asks her to remind him. She says he has to figure it out, she can only tell him who he was. A champion. She starts to say that's the guy she fell in love with, but catches herself. She asks if he ever thinks about what might have happened had they met in Tomorrow. He says they missed their moment, maybe that doesn't happen for people like them. She says there are no people like them. Cut to Lindsey and Eve in bed together. Eve asks if he's worried, he says they've just raised the stakes. He says they gave Angel everything he worked for and he couldn't let that slide. She says it all comes back to Angel, he's the center of Lindsey's universe. Lindsey says no, she is and kisses her.
Wesley and Lilah are hitting the books, looking for the tattoos she saw. She says it was a dumb idea for them to do this rather than have his staff help. He says he sort of missed it, but won't again. She tells him she's sorry for what happened to Lilah, her hijacked body killing her. She finds the symbols and Wesley says they are concealment runes. They protect the bearer from mystics or any modern surveillance. They realize someone wants to stay hidden. Cut to Lindsey, dressed as a maintenance worker, walking down a hall and entering a room which says Maintenance Restricted Access. He walks down a flight of stairs and then through a laser security system without setting it off. He even waves at the security camera which doesn't see him. We see a demon in a lab coat which Lindsey kills. He cuts something off from around its neck. Cut to Cordelia lost in the maze of hallways. She sees Spike. He puts on his vampire face and runs at her, biting her.
Angel hurls himself at Spike. They fight and Spike says Cordelia is evil, he thought she was a demon. Cordelia is shocked Angel called Spike a hero. Spike is surprised, too. Spike says it was a taste test, he wanted to see if his source was right. And she doesn't taste evil, demons are more astringent, oakie. Angel asks what his source is and he says he's got a guy with an in with the powers. He talks about the visions, the tattoos and says the name was Doyle. Eve is watching this and is on the phone to Lindsey telling him Cordelia was not killed and they're talking. He says it was a long shot and she should get out of the building. When she turns, Angel and Cordelia are there. Angel says they want to talk, Eve wants to leave, Cordelia grabs her.
They bring Eve and the gang to Angel's office. They start questioning her, but she denies knowing anything. Angel says he's really angry about the tattooed man going by the name of Doyle. Harmony enters and asks if she gets the afternoon off. She says everyone has gone, the whole building has cleared out. Cut to Lindsey in some secret lab powering the place up. He uses the thing he took from the demon to activate a device. He ways 'wakey, wakey'. Gunn returns to the office saying a message went out to all staff, code 7. They don't know what that is and Eve won't talk. Cordelia tells Angel to torture her, but he can't and Fred says they can't sink to their level. Harmony starts beating up Eve. She says she's technically evil and doesn't mind torturing her for the team. Angel says ok. Eve cracks quickly and explains the senior partners housed a fail safe in the lower levels of the building. It's big, alive, and specifically designed to kill Angel. The only way to shut it down is in the chamber itself. They realize it was set off by the tattooed man. Angel asks Spike for more information and he mentions the guy lost his hand once. They realize it is Lindsey. Angel sends Gunn to shut down the building and says he can't trust the security systems since Lindsey won't show up. Wesley says he might be able to fix that and Lorne says he'll help. Fred keeps asking who Lindsey is and they briefly explain it to her. Angel tells Harmony to guard Eve. He says he'll go to the chamber and they should evacuate if he doesn't succeed. Spike offers to go with him and so does Cordelia.
The three of them enter the secured area and set off the alarm. Zombies attack. Spike says he'll hold them off and the others go forward. Cordelia and Angel confront Lindsey. Angel attacks him and discovers Lindsey now has superhuman strength. He tells Cordelia to leave, but Lindsey locks them in. He pulls out a pocket knife. Cordelia tosses Angel her sword. Lindsey makes his knife magically grow into a sword. Angel tells Cordelia to shut down the fail safe. She doesn't make much progress and the fight with Lindsey doesn't go well. Angel says he's seen Lindsey's tough guy act before, the first time they met. He recalls the events of City of where Angel tossed Lindsey's client out a window. He calls those good times, Lindsey says it was a defining moment.
Wesley and the others are working on the uncloaking spell. Wesley says they need the arterial blood of a demon. Lorne realizes that's him. Lindsey skewers Angel and taunts him, saying who is this. He says he sold his soul and is a corporate puppet. Angel pulls out the sword and fights again. Cordelia turns off the fail safe. Angel says the tattoos and the tricks don't matter. He says "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." He beats Lindsey down. Lindsey says what will he do, he doesn't think Angel will kill him. But his tattoos start disappearing. Wesley has completed the spell. Angel says he thinks the senior partners want a word. A dimensional portal opens above Lindsey and he's sucked in.
They let Eve go. She says she's thinking revenge and Angel says she should worry what the senior partners are thinking. Lorne suggests a drink and they all decide to go to a bar, including Harmony and Spike. Angel says he'll get his jacket. Cordelia tells the others to go ahead and they'll catch up. Cordelia says he saved himself. That while trying to help all the people in the world he had forgotten he was one of them. He says she helped him remember and she says she did her part. Angel says he feels he can beat whatever is coming. Cordelia says everything she said about the deal with the devil was true, but he's bigger than that and will win in the end. She says she can't stay, this isn't her any more. She says he'll have to explain it to the others once he understands. He asks her to stay. She says she's on a different road and this is her off ramp. The powers that be owed her one and she used it to save him. She says you take what you can get. She turns to leave, then runs back and hugs and kisses him saying one for the road. The phone rings. He gets it. He says she's right there, but turns to see she's gone. The phone call is from the hospital. Cordelia is dead. She never woke.
So I'm thinking this episode has clarified some things and then we get that ending with the realization that Cordelia was never really there and I wonder whether anything we saw actually happened. If it did happen, we got some idea of Lindsey's motivation (is he really gone), but we still don't know what Eve was up to and I'm not entirely happy with the Lindsey story. It just seems too weak an explanation. For such an important episode, it seemed everywhere I looked I was being told this was the 100th episode and not to miss it, it didn't have much substance.
Angel says "I'm Angel" and you can't help but remember "I'm Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from Anne, the season three opener for Buffy which had her coming to grips with her role and deciding to return to Sunnydale and her duty after having run off at the end of season two. And that, of course, was partly because of the trauma of having had to send Angel to hell after striking a deal with Spike. So all the players were there, at least the ones with a capital D destiny, and the key moment was one of self realization. It was a great moment and it was one of the reasons I started writing these reviews. Angel's reprise of that moment was good, certainly more meaningful than much of what has gone on this season, but far from great. The bloating of the cast has made it difficult to focus on any one character and our sense of Angel's despair, his depression, isn't nearly as deep as it was of Buffy's. Which means his revival isn't nearly as significant.
When Cordelia says that Angel can't save himself, at least not by using the resources of Wolfram & Hart, she's beginning the process of leading Angel to that step of self realization, the acceptance of his role, his destiny, his obligation. Watching the Doyle tape takes him back to another decision point, his meeting with Doyle in City of where he was convinced to reintegrate himself into society and not to continue his spiral into solitude, depression, and eventual dehumanization. While Cordelia wants him to fight Wolfram & Hart and the evil it represents, she doesn't want him to abandon the situation he is in or his friends and allies. He has to understand that he has created this situation because of his own wishes, his desire to save Connor. He can't make amends for that horrendous error (what Cordelia graphically describes as the rape of his friend's memories - a denial to them of the truth of their own lives) by disengaging. He has to fight his way through to the other side, moving through the darkness of the coming days into the hoped for light of the future.
Cordelia says Doyle knew what he had to do, that he refused to compromise and died so Angel could keep fighting. Angel realizes that by stepping out of the fight, he is undermining Doyle's accomplishment. When he pretends everything is alright (in stark contrast to his bitter resignation at the start of the episode) she call him on the lie saying no one, not him nor her nor the powers believe that. It's at this point that Angel reveals another cause of his depression - his belief that Spike is the new champion. At this point, he admits to being lost, she tells him he has forgotten himself, and he asks to be reminded. She says she can only tell him who he was, he has to figure out who he is. As always, Angel has to choose his future. Which brings us back to "I'm Angel" and his Buffylike epiphany. The embrace of the destiny of the champion which he has almost cast aside time and again.
When Lindsey and Angel fight, Angel recalls their first meeting in City of where he tossed Lindsey's client out the window. Lindsey refers to that as a defining moment. Then, as the fail safe starts to activate, he says this is one too. He's right, this is a defining moment for Angel. He has to choose between being a tool of the senior partners and being Angel. When he finally makes that decision he has the strength to defeat Lindsey and, we later learn, the strength to continue alone accepting Cordelia's death. Lindsey pushes the moment, taunting Angel, asking him who he is. He attempts to answer his own question, calling him a corporate puppet, saying he has sold his soul. But Angel continues to fight. He finally reaffirms his identity saying he is Angel, he beats the bad guys.
When they are alone, Cordelia tells Angel that the person he saved today was himself. She points out that he is one of the people in the world, the people he fights for. Angel needs to be constantly reminded that he is in the world, not apart from it. This is what Doyle tried to stress in City of.
I think a couple of years ago an episode like this would have been a two or three or four episode mini arc, not a single episode with things quickly wrapped up. But the new rule is to eschew story arcs and make episodes self contained. Which means a lot of the dramatic tension just wasn't there this week. There wasn't time for it. We did get to see the end of Cordelia, so there was some closure there. And, possibly, the end of Lindsey though without any sense of closure. And at least Connor was brought up again. I'm glad to see Cordelia recognizes that by erasing his friend's memories of Connor he's denied them free will and Connor, too, although you could argue that might be a good thing in his case. That was the start of Angel's travels down the road of grayness and away from the certainty of good and evil I have to wonder whether the Connor story and what he did will finally be made evident to the gang and how they will react.
I was perturbed at Spike implying the whole destiny thing was just made up by Lindsey and Eve. I think Spike does have a special destiny and I'd hate to see him give up on things now. Again, in a multiepisode mini arc his response to these revelations would have gotten the attention it deserves. I was glad to see that Spike never fully trusted Lindsey and tested Cordelia before killing her. However, I found it hard to believe that Lindsey could have a cell phone conversation a few feet from Spike and Spike with his vampire hearing couldn't hear it all. And I don't think the video game is a good enough excuse for that.
Lindsey's motives seem terribly weak to me. He's angry because Angel ending up getting the job he walked out on. That just doesn't work for me. And we never understand why he calls himself Doyle. Was that just to upset Angel? Some things seem to have happened just to add to the confusion and pad out the script.
There were lots of references to past episodes, though I'd hardly argue this episode brought people up to speed. But there were references to City of and the first meeting with Lindsey, Hero where Doyle made the video they watched and sacrificed himself, To Shanshu in LA where Lindsey go this hand cut off, Tomorrow where Angel and Cordelia almost get together, most of season four's possession and coma storyline, Calvary and Salvage where the possessed Cordelia kills Lilah, Home where Angel struck his deal with the devil to save Connor, and Life of the Party (Party Animal) where Angel and Eve became 'groin buddies'. That's a lot, but it wasn't really a reprise of the series.
I'm a sentimental guy and I have to admit I liked the ending with Angel realizing that he was the beneficiary of Cordelia's last wish. She died a champion, struggling against evil, and her final act was to restore Angel to his role of champion. And that blends nicely with Doyle making Angel hire her in the first place so he wouldn't lose his humanity.
I think Angel's characterization of Gunn was correct, he likes things the way they are and doesn't want to leave. He's the most tainted of them all. He's always rationalizing dealing with evil. Cordelia helps Angel and singles out Wesley for special attention (saying she's sorry about Lilah and telling him he has great mojo). I think these two are the least affected by working at Wolfram & Hart and the ones most likely to make the break. Lorne and Fred are passively accepting, they wouldn't talk the way Gunn does but they clearly really like where they are and how things are going. But Gunn is actively accepting. It will be interesting to see whether Eve's revenge involves him in a pivotal manner. I'd certainly call him the weak spot. He is right in saying they all got something out of it. But some seem to have paid a higher price or at least be less willing to recognize the price they paid.
Some quick final thoughts. I loved Spike talking about blood like it was wine. I was surprised to find Spike so bad at video games. Maybe it's the hands. So I'm guessing the patient we see lying in the hospital when Angel and Wesley go there is really Cordelia and the comment about her being close to death is foreshadowing. I noticed that when Harmony hugged Cordelia she went left, not right. So no threat of a bite. When Cordelia says "When higher powers send you coma visions, you'd better pay attention" there were no closed captions and her voice sounds different. Maybe a glitch, maybe something added in post production. Her back is turned, so you can't tell if her lips are moving. Eve asks who Cordelia is. Shouldn't she recognize her? I realize she could be pretending not to, but that seems pointless. Cordelia had some serious decolletage going on in that outfit. How did the Doyle video survive? Did Cordelia keep it and Angel take it from her place after her coma? He had to take some action to save it and it does give an insight into the essential sentimental nature of the character. Is her remark that she gets Doyle's sacrifice now foreshadowing of her own death? Is the cut from Cordelia saying there are no people like them to Lindsey and Eve in bed together supposed to indicate some kind of warped parallel between the characters. Is Cordelia calling Eve Lilah junior an attempt to parallel Lindsey/Eve with Wesley/Lilah? I liked Angel saying he wouldn't risk anybody he cared about and quickly accepting Spike's offer of help. You could write a pretty interesting essay on how Whedon is the powers that be and Cordelia's final remarks are really about him and her role in the show.
Lines of the week:
"I quit." - Angel giving up.
"What did you think? I was prematurely bald.?" - Gunn guessing right.
"Except maybe yourself." - Cordelia on who Angel cannot save.
"When higher powers send you coma visions, you'd better pay attention." - Cordelia driving the point home.
"So you two are groin buddies?" - Cordelia getting kind of graphic.
"First soldier down." - Cordelia on Doyle.
"You let them rape the memories of your friends who trust you." - Cordelia letting Angel know what he has done.
"Spike's a hero and you're CEO of Hell Incorporated. What freakin' bizarro world did I wake up in." - Cordelia saying what a lot of fans are probably thinking.
"I am lost without you." - Angel admitting it.
"You just forgot who you are." - Cordelia on his real problem.
"Remind me." - Angel taking the first step and asking for help.
"That's for you to figure out." - Cordelia telling it the way it is.
"There are no people like us." - Cordelia on uniqueness.
"Which kind of makes the hair silly." - Cordelia maybe going a bit too far with Spike.
"You called me a hero." - Spike latching on to the key part of the conversation.
"Let's go, Lilah junior." - Cordelia on Eve.
"I know my rights and I wanna see a lawyer." - Cordelia on being a champion.
"No need to be gentle. We're all dead men here." - Spike with a great line.
"There's always time for redemption." - Lindsey trying to rub it in.
"Who is this?" - Lindsey pushing it.
"I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." - Angel with his defining moment.
"This isn't me any more." - Cordelia being literal.
"Explain everything once you understand." - Cordelia giving Angel her final request.
"You're welcome." - Cordelia's final words.
"Thank you." - Angel, maybe talking to Cordelia, maybe to the powers that be.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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