Gunn is being tortured. Illyria bursts in and sends the torturer flying. She rips the medallion from Gunn who tells her he can't leave unless someone else puts it on. The next scene shows the torturer wearing the medallion and stabbing himself in the chest. Wesley is talking to Angel in the office, saying he didn't send Illyria to get Gunn. They were talking about Gunn, she opened a dimensional portal and disappeared. Angel questions Illyria's motives and wonders why she would help them suddenly. Wesley says she represents a resource, Angel scoffs at the idea of her joining the team. Illyria and Gunn materialize. She holds Gunn up and says he has great value to them. Wesley realizes she's talking about the debt they now owe her. She drops Gunn and walks out.
Gunn returns to his office to find a huge stack of documents piled on his desk. In Wesley's office, which is quite a mess, Wesley is researching everything he can think of which will tell him something about Illyria. Gunn enters. Wesley is acting pretty weird. He says he should apologize for stabbing Gunn but doesn't know how and it would just be awkward. Gunn says he's not looking for an apology and doesn't know if he'd take one. He says he just spent two weeks getting his heart cut out every day and a little stabbing seems insignificant. Gunn says he's confused. He doesn't know what's happening, why Illyria saved him. Wesley says it's all about adjustment. He says he can't look at Illyria without seeing Fred, but Illyria talks very differently. That they all seem so tiny to her. Gunn thinks he's controlling her, but he laughs at that idea. He says she still thinks she's the god king of the universe. Gunn compares her to a tv star, but Wesley says she's not that bad. But more violent.
Spike and Illyria are fighting. He's doing better than previously. She says he had affection for Fred. He says he knows she's not Fred. She says he's adapting and adaptation is compromise. He says it's called learning. She says when the world met her it shuddered. All they needed to know was Illyria. Spike mocks her. She says modern rulers have tiny fragments of the world. She says to never die and to conquer everything is winning. Spike attacks and she does her time warping thing. He says that's cheating, she slams him into the wall. Angel calls Spike. She says he can go.
Spike tells Angel he's starting to figure out Illyria's moves. Angel tells him to stop the sessions. Spike says he's just getting into it and Angel says they aren't testing her, she's testing them. Illyria suddenly pants. Spike thinks he's winded her. She looks startled. Gunn is going through the pile of papers on his desk. Lorne, in a hat and dark glasses, enters. He asks how Gunn's doing and says he's been assigned to tail Illyria by Angel, hence the disguise. He has a walkie talkie. They talk about Wesley and Lorne says he's acting crazy. He says he's like two people. One is almost catatonic and the other is obsessing over every tidbit he can find on Illyria. Angel calls them to a meeting.
In Angel's office, he says he wants Illyria dead. Wesley acts strangely, but seems to agree it's the best thing to do. Gunn asks about the apocalypse and Wesley says they are in the 1000 year war between good and evil and evil is winning. Spike says they're on the wrong side, unless you like winning. Angel says they have to figure out how to fight an invisible war. Angel says with all they've done, they are still Wolfram & Hart's number one earner. Marcus enters and says not anymore. He says Illyria did an enormous amount of damage freeing Gunn and it's being billed to the firm. They are now losing money. He says the partners have a task for them, he's sending Gunn the file. He says it's good to see Gunn again and Angel reacts slightly. Angel says that's not his priority. Marcus says it's about profits, that they are in a business not the batcave. He leaves.
Wesley is in his office sitting on the floor surrounded by books. Illyria enters and asks what day it is. He says Monday. She says they've had this conversation before. He says they have talked about their systems of measurement. She says he's her guide and her betrayer. She says when he shattered the Orlon he hoped to rewrite history and bring back Fred. He says instead he brought back more painful memories. He asks if his betrayal stings her and she says it was a neutral word in her day. But she is bothered that it bothers her. He says that sounds very human.
Gunn has the file from Marcus. It's a ceremonial demon pact. Angel asks how he met Marcus. Gunn explains and Angel asks how he answered when Marcus made his offer. Gunn seems upset at being asked, but answers. In walks a normal looking pregnant woman who says she's there about the demon pact. She explains that the Fell brethren found her through a seer and say her baby is a holy one. Gunn says demon contracts are tricky and as their client they have to advise her to be careful. Three Fell brethren enter and say she's not their client, they are. Cut to Wesley and Illyria in his office. Wesley says she doesn't look well. Illyria doubles over in pain. Angel shouts to Wesley to do it now. Wesley picks up a kind of gun to fire at her. Time bends and we're back at the point where Spike is commenting on Illyria being winded to Angel. Then we're back in Wesley's office. Illyria says he tried to murder her again and shoves him against the wall. He says he doesn't want her dead. She says she saw it and walks out. Lorne follows behind.
The Fell brethren are in the lobby. Harmony tells them Angel needs another minute and offers them their choice of refreshment: coffee, tea, blood, organic cola. They are worried about the holy vessel, but she assures them Angel will come through. They confer and ask for the organic cola. Angel and Gunn tell Amanda she can still get out of the deal. Lorne keeps calling on the walkie talkie and Angel just ignores it. She says they would look after the baby and worship him, give him things she never could. She says they can't afford the baby. Her husband was hurt at work, brain damaged. They're getting by on food stamps and disability. The brethren say they can make him whole again and she can't turn that down. Gunn leaves the table. Angel goes after him. Gunn says he's not feeling so good. Angel says it's not surprising given it's his first day back. Gunn says the worst part of his hell wasn't the basement, but the false life above. That it all was just hiding the horror. He asks if that is what they are doing and says he doesn't think he can stomach it. Angel says he has to. They have to figure out the big picture and plot their next move. Gunn says she is their next move. Harmony enters and says the brethren have finished their colas and are anxious. Angel tells her to send them in.
Wesley is in the lab. Marcus enters and asks if he's curing cancer. Wesley says it wouldn't be cost effective. Marcus agrees saying the patent holder is a client. He asks about Illyria, saying the partners have concerns about her. Wesley says they have common ground. Marcus calls her a walking nightmare. He says Wesley is her friend. Wesley says if he knew her, he'd realize how ridiculous that statement it. He says the partners know her, they go way back. They want her gone. He suggests Wesley look at low emanation scanner readouts. He leaves. Wesley looks.
Lorne is on the walkie talkie saying Illyria is wise to him tailing her. He's about 5 feet behind her in the hallway. The brethren enter the conference room and make a fuss about Amanda. Angel is ignoring the walkie talkie. The brethren sign the contract and give it to Amanda, but Gunn starts asking about some ritual which includes sacrifice. The brethren get mad. Illyria walks in and insists Angel speak to her. He takes her outside. Lorne is there trying to talk on the walkie talkie. When they come out he asks if Angel ever turns it on and Angel pushes him aside. He tells Illyria never to interrupt their work. She asks if he's using poison or magic. She says she's impressed but it won't save them. He says they aren't doing anything. She says he's jealous. She has a spasm. She grabs him and calls him an ape asking what he's done to her. She says he doesn't know yet, it's too early. She walks off. Lorne tells Angel he has to keep the walkie talkie on. Angel knocks off Lorne's hat. Harmony says it's getting shouty in the office. He says to let Gunn take care of it.
Angel goes to Wesley and Spike and says Illyria is crazy. Spike asks how can he tell. Wesley says Illyria is unstable, the human part of her cannot contain the demon essence. He says this can allow them to get to her. He pulls out the gun thing we saw before and says it's a mutari generator. He says it will kill her. They go to the training room where they've tracked her. Wesley says if she blows the damage will range from several city blocks to continental. They pass Lorne who asks Angel if he even knows how to use the walkie talkie. They enter the room but Illyria isn't there. Lorne says he didn't see her leave. She appears and stakes and slays Spike. Then she kills Wesley, then Lorne, and finally beheads and slays Angel. She has another spasm and finds herself back in the hallway conversation with Angel where she says he's jealous. She grabs Angel, as she did before, has another spasm and they both find themselves in the sequence in Wesley's office. Illyria realizes there is an aberration in the time line. She spasms again and she and Angel end up in the torture chamber with Gunn. She says they ripped her out of the normal time sequence. He says they didn't do it. She hits him. She says when she was young he was the muck at her feet. He tells her to shut up. He says he is trying to contain her and she'd do the same thing. It's his kingdom and she's a dangerous element.
Illyria spasms and they are back in the training room where she killed them all. The others are dead on the floor. She describes how she killed them. He asks why and she realizes he knows nothing about it. She says he's from an earlier point in the time line, a paradox and impossible. She says his morality makes it impossible for him to rule. That there is power there and he quibbles at the price. She has spasms through all this. She says you must serve nothing but your ambition. She realizes they aren't responsible. Angel says things can change. She explodes and he's hurled through the time line to when he was walking to the training room with Wesley and Spike. He tells them what happened. In the room, he realizes Spike is in danger and shoves him aside. Illyria misses Spike and stakes Angel in the gut instead.
Angel tells them all to stop. He explains what's happening and how the continent may be destroyed. Illyria says he's asking her to let herself be murdered. Spike says it's no murder if she consents. Wesley says the device won't kill her, he lied to Angel. It will just take her power away. She says she'd rather die and kicks Wesley away. Spike fights with her. She time warps, but spasms and the warp stops. Angel says she's fighting to hold on to what she was but has to be what she is. She starts to break up, Wesley uses the mutari generator and it works. She is lying on the ground. She says touch me and die. Spike says there isn't much of a difference. Wesley says everything is different.
Later, Angel and Wesley are observing Illyria, still on the floor. Wesley says she won't be stopping time or walking through dimensions and her physical strength has decreased. Angel says that's what he wanted to hear. He asks if Wesley will stay with her and he says yes. Angel says he doesn't like it. Wesley says he's not in love, but he needs Illyria. Angel says that's weird. Wesley agrees. He says Illyria will still try to conquer everything. Angel says Wesley was right about her being a resource and she might make the team.
Gunn and the brethren are arguing. Angel enters and takes the contract. He says the baby belongs to the brethren. Marcus is surprised. Gunn asks what he's doing. Angel says serving his clients.
This episode substituted a complex plot for interesting ideas and character development. Actually, it's not that complex, just told out of sequence to make it appear so. It does have two interesting points and two interesting events. The points: the realization that Wolfram & Hart are scared of Illyria - maybe because of her power, maybe because of her knowledge of them. And Angel has realized he has to play a very different game (focusing on his ambition) it he wants to win this war. The two events: Gunn returning to the firm and Illyria potentially joining the team. They seem to be two soldiers up now.
The senior partners rarely reveal their hand and rarely make a direct statement. But they, through Marcus, seemed pretty clear in their dislike and fear of Illyria. I think that's a sign of how shaken they are at the turn of events. For Illyria to resurrect and to attach herself to the gang has to both unexpected and worrisome to them. They give Wesley the clue about Illyria's weakness. Of course, that stops her from blowing up the continent - and it's possible that even the partners don't want that much destruction right now. But it also makes her an even more likely ally for Angel. I have to assume the partners thought Wesley would kill Illyria, not just weaken her.
And if the Illyria story isn't working out the way the partners want, I think it's even more true of the Angel story. He listened to Illyria. He quotes back her comments on ambition to Wesley in his last scene with him. He recognizes that her approach to power is effective if immoral. He also knows that he has become predictable to the partners. And if they can predict his moves then they can prepare for them. He doesn't have the power to meet them head on, so he has to do the unexpected. That's how he managed to deal with Illyria - by creating a paradox though not really of his making. He's trying to do something like that, deliberately, with the senior partners. He makes the deal with the brethren because it's not the scenario they really expect. I think his actions will be increasingly obscure in the remaining episodes and the partners will find themselves shaken and surprised.
Gunn has swung to the opposite extreme from the Gunn that began this season. He was always the one justifying the deal with Wolfram & Hart. I argued, I think correctly, that he was secretly justifying his own deal with the devil. But now he's taking a hard line against Wolfram & Hart and doesn't want to do anything they may want. He refused the deal Marcus offered (he didn't even listen to it) and he wants to break the contract between the brethren and Amanda. He realizes it's a gray area. Hence his discussion about hiding the horror. He realizes that there are a lot of terrible things in the world that have nothing to do with demons (like Amanda's family situation). But he's sickened at the thought of doing anything which may give comfort to the enemy. Angel, on the other hand, has been struck with a dose of realism. He understands that Illyria is right, you have to serve your own ambition if winning is what you want. And this is a war he desperately wants to win.
Wesley says it's all about adjustment. Later Spike talks of adaptation. Illyria sees this as weakness. She wants to change the world to suit her and not herself to fit the world. That's the difference between gods and people. Angel wonders why Illyria is helping Wesley and where her loyalties lie. It's clear he still can't get over her looking so much like Fred and it seems likely she has some Fredlike attraction to him. Illyria is evolving, something a god never does. She's becoming something like a human. She infected Fred, but part of Fred seems to have infected her as well. She has asked Wesley to guide her in this world and she is changing, both by herself and by the hands of others, to fit into this world. And the partners know and fear her. If Angel has become a sudden realist, using whatever tools he has at hand to fight the partners, then she is a potentially vital one.
Lorne is often funny, but until this episode he wasn't treated as an idiot. I found that annoying. His acting as if his disguise would be effective and that trailing Illyria from a few feet behind her actually constituted stealth was ridiculous. And why does Angel just ignore the walkie talkie. He gave it to Lorne. If he doesn't want to hear it, why not turn it off rather than try ineffectively to hide it? Worse, why does Lorne keep harping on it when it is obvious Angel is just ignoring it and him? Illyria was right when she called him a clown.
Some quick final thoughts. I liked the way they got Gunn out. But since Illyria was willing to dimension travel again, why hasn't she found herself another place. Before she seemed afraid of old enemies, but she seemed awfully strong and self confident in this episode. Maybe Angel is right in that she feels the power of where they are and wants to be near it. I wonder how long before Angel calls Wesley on lying to him. The Jim Jones reference is one of the things I like about the writing on this show. It never gets explained. The assumption is the audience is smart enough to get it. I also loved the cancer exchange between Wesley and Marcus. Illyria's illness is like Cordelia's. Cordelia couldn't cope with the demon power of her visions and had to become part demon to survive. Illyria's human body can't contain her demon essence and she has to become more human to survive. There's never any point in trying to work out the logic of a time travel story. It always breaks down.
Lines of the week:
"She's still here because this place reeks of influence." - Angel on Illyria's motives.
"Of what you owe me." - Illyria giving a little insight into her motives.
"I stabbed you. I should apologize for that. But I'm honestly not sure how. I think it'll just be awkward." - Wesley being surprisingly straightforward.
"Nothing that bad. Bit more violent though." - Wesley comparing Illyria to a tv star.
"Illyria was all they needed to know." - Illyria on her followers.
"Then came the Internet." - Spike being insolent.
"To never die and to conquer all. That is winning." - The philosophy of Illyria.
"Still like him better than Eve." - Lorne on Marcus.
"I am only bothered because I am bothered." - Illyria implying she has some feelings for Wesley.
"Not into making deals. Not anymore." - Gunn on the new him.
"Who's Jim Jones?" - Amanda letting Gunn know he's old.
"The patent holder is a client." - Marcus on cancer.
"Common ground. Mystifying." - Wesley noting that Wolfram & Hart may share Angel's concerns.
"She's a walking nightmare." - Marcus with a very apt description of Illyria.
"Plankton envying the ocean that holds them." - Illyria on the jealousy of humans for her.
"The ooze that eats itself." - Illyria on humanity.
"You learn to destroy everything that's not utterly yours." - Illyria on being a king.
"If you want to win a war, you must serve no master but your ambition." - Illyria with some interesting advice.
"Everything is different." - Wesley on how the world has changed.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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