Angel - The Girl in Question

Summary

Gunn is trying to get Angel to act. Angel says they'll send Spike. Spike doesn't want to go. Gunn explains Spike has to pick up the remains of the capo of the Goran demon clan. The capo was human tolerant. He has to be returned from Italy in 26 hours or he'll stay dead. Within that time, he can be revived if his family performs a ritual. Otherwise, there will be a power vacuum and a demon war. The phone rings. Spike complains he doesn't speak Italian. Angel answers the phone and is shaken by what he hears. He says it's Buffy.

Angel says it's the Immortal. Spike says he's the foulest evil. Angel says he was spotted in Rome with Buffy. They think there is a connection between the Immortal, Buffy, and the capo's death. That these are an attempt to lure Angel there and kill him, then Buffy, and start a demon war. Both Spike and Angel decide to go to Italy and battle the Immortal. In the jet Angel says Spike is dreaming of saving Buffy and going off with her. Spike says Angel is thinking the same. Angel says he has a girlfriend, Nina. Or at least he's seeing her. Angel says they have to put aside their differences and work together. Spike agrees. They start drinking, but can't get drunk on the tiny bottles in the jet. Angel reveals he had someone following Buffy, that's how he got word. They start to reminisce about being in Italy. Spike remembers the 50s (the scene is in black and white like an Italian film of the era), but Angel points out he wasn't in Italy then. He was there in 1894 and we flashback to the two of them hanging from chains and swearing vengeance against the Immortal. A man with two guards enters. He releases them and says the Immortal wants them gone or they'll be killed. Angel kills the man, then threatens the other two and they flee. He and Spike return to their hotel where they discover Darla sprawled across the bed.

Illyria is walking the hallway, upset that she can no longer talk to plants. Wesley tells Lorne her powers have been reduced. She accuses him of reveling in her defeat. He asks if that's how she views it, defeat. She says her world is gone and her powers stripped. Lorne says she could have died. She says this is worse than death. Wesley suggests she return to the lab. After some posturing, she goes. Wesley says she's overcompensating and unpredictable. The Burkles step off the elevator. They are going to Hawaii and are taking a layover to surprise Fred. Wesley asks them to step into his office. Illyria watches this.

Angel and Spike arrive at Buffy's, Andrew answers the door. He's thrilled to see them, well Spike whom he hugs. He explains he's staying with Buffy and Dawn because his place was burnt down. He invites them in. Andrew reveals Buffy is actually seeing the Immortal. Back in the past, they discover the Immortal has had sex with both Darla and Drusilla. And they were very willing participants. They are incensed and swear a blood vengeance. But they can't even get in to see him. Spike reveals the Immortal gave some nuns safe passage, particularly angering Angelus who specializes in nuns. Back in the present, Spike says it's over. Angel says Buffy wouldn't fall for a centuries old guy with a dark past who may or may not be evil. They agree she must be under a spell and they have to rescue her. They are given a bag, by a demon, which has the capo's body. Actually, it's just his head. The head falls off when a Goran demon is very old. But the ritual can make a new body grow out of it. The demon tells him to hurry back with the head. He agrees, but next we see them at Buffy's door which Andrew answers. Buffy is not back. They ask where she went.

The Burkles are impressed with the offices, saying they are a step up from the hotel. Wesley is about to tell the Burkles what happened when Fred walks in. Spike and Angel are at a club where they spot Buffy and the Immortal dancing. Spike goes to rescue her. Angel goes after him. Then they realize they don't have the head any more. They see a demon making off with it. They intercept him, but a bunch of big thugs come up. Angel suggests talking things over, but one of the thugs punches him. There is a brawl, shown in slow motion with what I think is a Dean Martin tune playing over it. They get confused and start hitting each other. When they stop, they see the demon getting away. They follow him outside, but he's driving off in their car. Spike takes a moped, gets Angel to climb on back, and they take off in pursuit. There's a chase which ends when they cut off the car only to have it smash into them, destroy their vehicle, and take off. They realize they have only 12 hours to get the head back to LA. Angel says no more screwing around. In the next scene, they are at the bar asking after Buffy. They start whining about how this always happens to them. Angel says if they had their resources from LA they'd deal with him. Spike asks if there is a Wolfram & Hart office in Rome.

Spike and Angel exit the elevator into the Rome branch of Wolfram & Hart. It looks exactly like the LA branch, only everyone is smoking. Ilona Bianchi, the head of the Rome office, greets them. She's effusive and knows about them, including the gypsy curse. She's very antigypsy. In LA, the Burkles are getting the tour and Mr. Burkle comments on how friendly everyone is. Fred says they have to be because she's their boss. Mrs. Burkle wants to know if Wesley is still single and points out Fred is. The Burkles go to look at Fred's office. Wesley asks Illyria what she's up to. She says she couldn't bear the Burkle's grief in addition to his own. She asks if he wants her to stop. Mrs. Burkle comes out, sees them staring at one another, and asks if everything is ok. Wesley says it's all fine.

Angel and Spike tell Ilona about the Immortal. She knows him and says Buffy is not under a spell, the Immortal doesn't use magic. Angel wants to do research and asks for their Wesley. She says he's taking a nap and she doesn't need him to tell them what everyone knows about the Immortal. She says the head is being held for ransom and they've already received the demand. Angel wants a helicopter, an assault team, and guns. Ilona says this is a civilized country and they do these things all the time. Someone gets kidnapped, you pay the ransom, they are released, and all is well. They already have the money. Cut to Angel and Spike standing in the street with a suitcase of money waiting for the head. Angel gripes about how he's saved the world. Spike says he has too. They argue over which of them has done it more often or in a more meaningful way. Angel can't understand what Buffy sees in the Immortal. The head stealing demon, and his thugs, step out of cars parked in the street. He says maybe Buffy likes the cut of the Immortal's trousers.

The Burkles are leaving. Mrs. Burkle tells Wesley to take care of Fred. She asks Fred if she's ok, saying she looks different somehow. Fred hugs them both. They leave. Wesley asks if she got what she wanted from the experience. She says yes. He says don't do it again. The head stealing demon says they must be lonely since their girlfriend has become lovers with the Immortal - unfortunate for them and fortunate for her. Angel asks if he knows the Immortal. Angel believes it's all part of the Immortal's plot. The demon says he doesn't work for the Immortal. The Immortal is a wild card. He talks glowingly of him and when Spike asks admits he's sort of in love with him. He says the Immortal is an inspiration, a spiritual guide. He asks if they've read his book. Angel says he's tired of Italy. He and Spike start fighting with the thugs. The demon mocks this and tosses the bag with the head to his men. They start tossing it back and forth. The demon gets it again and pulls out a gun. He tells them to stop or the head gets it. He says they give him the money, he gives them the head. He repeats this several times. Spike gives him the money, he gives him the bag. The demon and his thugs leave. Spike says he believes the Immortal is behind it and Angel agrees. He looks in the bag and sees a bomb 5 seconds from detonation.

The street is full of debris from the explosion. Spike is upset because his jacket is destroyed. He says it had sentimental value and cannot be replaced. Cut to Ilona giving him a new leather jacket which he loves. She says she's sent ten more like it to LA and an assortment of shoes. Angel comes in, they've given him a jacket which looks awful on him. They want the helicopters and assault team. She says she'll take care of things, that they have to put their fate in a higher power. She shoos them out and closes the door behind them. They keep talking loudly, but nothing happens. They decide to go home, but in the next scene they are back asking Andrew if Buffy has returned. He says no. Spike asks if Buffy is under a spell. Andrew says he's thought of all those things but Buffy just fell for the Immortal on her own. Angel says she's not done baking yet and he's supposed to wait until she is and the Immortal is eating cookie dough. Andrew asks if Angel is crying and Spike says no, not yet. Andrew says the Immortal has his flaws. They ask what they are and Andrew says the point is Buffy has moved on. He says they should do the same and they might catch her one day. If they stay in place, they'll find she's long gone. Spike says it is a bit silly, them acting like teenagers. Andrew says she loves both of them, but has to get on with her life. Andrew says people change and they should try it. He comes out, all dressed up. There is a knock at the door and two beautiful women are there. They appear to be his dates and he talks to them in Italian. He leaves.

Fred enters Wesley's office and comes on to him, asking if this isn't what he wants. He says he loved Fred. Illyria says he loved this (the Fred body) and that she can feel part of him still does. She says she wants to explore it further. He says never. He says he's sickened by her as Fred. She says that's not true. He tells her to stop, to change back, and to never be Fred. He walks out. She changes back and says 'as you wish'.

Gunn is signing for something. Spike and Angel return to say they've failed, but Gunn tells them the head is in Angel's office. In the office, they find the bag with a note from the Immortal. Angel tears the note up. They start whining about Buffy again. They agree they have to move on. They both sit there, unmoving.

Analysis

When you start missing Angel and bemoaning it's cancellation, remember this episode. Because it's awful and it should remind you that the time had come for this series to end, lest it all become like this. In fact, the last time I saw something this bad in the Buffyverse it was Buffy Vs. Dracula and even that was better. Okay, it wasn't totally awful. While the main plot was excruciatingly painful to watch, the B plot was pretty good and actually interesting. And Andrew was great.

We all know Spike and Angel love Buffy. But why do they have to act like stooges when they discover she's moved on. These guys aren't stupid and complicated relationships are the norm for them. It's not like Darla and Drusilla were easy to understand. For that matter, the whole scene in Italy with Darla and Drusilla was dumb. We've seen in other episodes Angel having sex with Drusilla just to spite Spike. Vampires just don't seem much into monogamy. And if the Immortal is such a long time foe of Angel and Spike, why haven't we heard of him before? That's the most annoying thing here.

No, I'm wrong. The most annoying thing is Andrew showing more maturity than either Spike or Angel. I'm used to Angel being a doofus in relationships, but Spike is the deep thinker. He's the guy who really has insight into people. And he's an even bigger idiot than Angel in this episode. Both character are played broadly, for laughs. It's as if this were a poorly made Italian copy of the actual series and not the real Angel at all. The whole point of the Angel/Spike/Buffy's hair seen briefly in the background/Immortal triangle (rectangle?) is that Angel and Spike have to move on and that Buffy has. I know this show isn't a philosophy class, but even Friends would find that kind of simplistic. And it takes Andrew to explain this to them? Plus, what's with Andrew and the two women and his comments about growing up and changing? Is this meant to indicate Andrew is suddenly straight or that he was never gay - despite all the hints at this in his relationship with Warren and later (and even in this episode) with Spike. That ranged from dumb to offensive.

Just slightly less annoying was Angel and Spike completely ignoring their mission, time after time. They could easily have put the head on a plane home. Obviously it was capable of getting there without them. Instead, they lugged it around town, lost it, and then spent valuable time chasing after Buffy who clearly didn't want to be caught - by them. Am I supposed to believe Buffy didn't notice two of her exlovers having a brawl in a club just a few feet away from where she was dancing. For that matter, would she really miss two vampires walking in. She is a slayer after all. I'd rather believe she was embarrassed for them and took off, staying away from home until they left so they wouldn't have the chance to completely humiliate themselves in front of her.

On the plus side we have Wesley/Illyria/Fred. Fred has also moved on, to death, and Wesley has to move on himself. We're obviously meant to see a parallel between his deep, conflicted and tortured relationship with Fred/Illyria and the cartoonish love sick posturing of Angel and Spike over Buffy. The parallel is clear and it makes the Buffy/Spike/Angel story look even sadder. Another parallel, one less painful to consider, is with Lilah who donned Fredlike apparel in Apocalypse, Nowish. That led to some hot sex with Wesley who was disturbed at the whole thing but also clearly turned on. Maybe he learnt something from that episode, maybe he was just way more disturbed this time, but he turned down the obvious offer from Illyria. He has told Angel he knows Fred is dead and he doesn't love Illyria, but it's getting harder and harder to believe that.

Illyria says she impersonates Fred because she couldn't stand the Burkle's grief in addition to Wesley's. That doesn't seem credible. We know Wesley has a strange tie to Illyria, but she also has a tie to him. Maybe it's a little bit of Fred left over, maybe it's the fact that he's the only one who cares for her in this brave new world. Whatever it is, it's genuine. She wants to spare him the pain of having to tell the Burkles their daughter is dead. She can't come out and say that, but it underlies all she does. It's another example of Illyria's infection with humanity. We saw a bit of this last week when she talked about being bothered at Wesley's betrayal, something she admits would not have bothered her in the past.

Just before leaving, Mrs. Burkle asks Wesley to look after Fred. That statement has to cut deeply into him. He blames himself for failing to save Fred, just as he failed to save Lilah. He even failed to save Cordelia. Almost every woman he has been attracted to has died. Only Virginia has survived and maybe because she left him. It's after the departure of the Burkles that Wesley's anger and sorrow come to the surface. He asks if Illyria got what she wanted and she says the experience was informative. There has been talk before of Illyria testing humans and learning about them. I think here she was testing Wesley, trying to understand the depths of his passion for Fred. The concept of love for another, a love that can lead to sacrifice, is alien to her. As a god king, she thought only of herself and destroyed everything else. She told that to Angel last week. I think she's fascinated by Wesley. By her ability to hurt him just by assuming Fred's form. And by his willingness to accept the pain. He tells her never to do it again. Not because what she did was evil. She actually makes things much easier for him and the Burkles who can avoid their inevitable sorrow for a little while longer. But because he cannot bear to be so near the shadow of what was once his love.

Illyria wants to explore the potential for love. But Wesley is shutting off that part of himself. Yes, a relationship with Illyria would be very strange. But no stranger than a lot of things that happen in the Buffyverse. But Wesley just can't bear to open himself up again to the pain that love can bring. Illyria changes back not because he orders her or because she's disappointed, but because she really does love him and will do what he wishes.

Since leaving Sunnydale, Angel has fallen in love with Cordelia and slept with her in a dream sequence, had sex with Eve under a spell, and had sex with Darla impregnating her. Spike has only attempted sex with Harmony and that was when he just recorporealized. But it makes you wonder why they are so angry with Buffy moving on and being with the Immortal. Maybe he's Angel's arch enemy, but what was Cordelia to Buffy? There's a real double standard at play here.

Some quick final thoughts. Spike and Angel on the bike was reminiscent of Spike and Andrew in Empty Places. The Immortal was a short lived syndicated series starring Lorenzo Lamas. If Spike spent time in Italy, both with Angel and later in the 1950s, why doesn't he speak Italian? The Italian offices are just like the LA offices except for the decolletage and the smoking. Well, mostly the smoking. It was nice to hear of Nina again. I wonder whether we'll see her in the remaining episodes. There's a nice parallel between Angel being angry about the damage done to his shirt in 1894 and Spike being upset about his jacket. Why has no one told the Burkles of their daughter's death? It was nice to see Darla and Drusilla again, but too bad their last appearances on the show had to be in such a terrible episode. I wonder how long before someone complains about the left wing bias of the show since Ilona complains about Americans and their reliance on guns and refers to Italy as civilized in comparison. And the head stealing demon comments about Americans and violence. Spike's jacket being from a slayer is a reference to the events described in Lies My Parents Told Me and before that briefly in Fool For Love. The cookie dough reference is to the conversation between Buffy and Angel in Chosen.

Lines of the week:

"Just don't wanna lose another baby with the bath water." - Gunn letting Angel know he's still angry.

"It's Buffy." - Angel with the scariest words.

"Vampire constitution. Not always a plus." - Spike on the problem of getting drunk.

"It was just fornication." - Darla trying to explain things.

"Concurrently, You never let us do that." - Angel getting jealous.

"Dancing. Why'd it have to be dancing." - Angel reminding us he's a terrible dancer.

"Stop holding on so tight." - Spike with a line neither he nor Angel will want to remember.

"The gypsies are filthy people and we shall speak of them no more." - Ilona on the Angel curse.

"Your grief hangs off you like rotted flesh. I couldn't tolerate it from them as well." - Illyria on the reason for her impersonation.

"Grazie. Prego. Kiss-kiss." - Ilona on the ways of a civilized country.

"Perhaps she likes the cut of his trousers." - The head stealing demon with a comment Angel and Spike hope is about fashion.

"Did you get what you needed from that experience?"
"Yes. It was most informative."
"Good. Don't ever do it again." - Wesley and Illyria on her Fred impersonation.

"Have you read his book? It's a life changer." - Head stealing demon on the Immortal.

"The Americans are relying on violence to solve their problems. What a surprise." - Head stealing demon not a proAmerican.

"You give us the money, we give you the head." - Head stealing demon with the deal.

"The Immortal is eating cookie dough." - Angel frustrated.

"Is Angel crying?" - Andrew caring.

"It is a bit silly." - Spike pretty much wrapping up the hole story.

"Don't ever be her." - Wesley abandoning hope.

"As you wish." - Illyria loving Wesley.

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