Angel - Not Fade Away

Summary

We're where the last episode left off. The gang have all agreed to help Angel destroy the circle. He says they can't take them all in one place, the circle is too powerful and would destroy them. They have to take them separately. He says they will move soon, but until then they have to keep fighting so the circle doesn't suspect anything. Gunn asks about Illyria and Angel isn't sure she can be trusted. They explain she's with Drogyn and Angel says Drogyn's dead, he killed him. Spike is angry and Angel punches him. They start to fight and Marcus comes in. Angel says he's just finishing. He kicks them out, telling Wesley Illyria is his responsibility. Marcus says he has a problem. He's been summoned by the circle.

The gang arrive at Spike's to find Illyria still unconscious. She wakens and tells them Marcus took Drogyn. Lorne says he took him straight to Angel and Angel has lost it. He says any of them could be next. Gunn says they aren't being monitored and Lorne says he isn't playing, he means it. He doesn't trust Angel. Gunn says they just have to hope the circle trusts him. Cut to the circle meeting and the archduke saying the insurrection of Angel's friends is worrying them. The archduke's minion gets tangled in Vail's tubes and Angel shoves the minion aside. The archduke says some of Angel's friends are the problem. Angel asks who missed the cut and Vail says they are interested in Wesley who seems intriguingly unstable. The senator says Gunn is not of interest to them. The archduke says he's not the big problem. Angel asks if it's Spike and the archduke says no, it's Angel. They are concerned he has hope in the Shanshu prophecy. They want him to sign away his chance at becoming human again. He agrees. The racquet ball demon stabs him with a pen, it has to be signed in blood. Angel signs.

Angel is in his office looking out the window. Harmony enters wondering where everybody is. He asks if she misses being human. She says part of her always knew life would end after high school. He says he doesn't remember what it was like. She says not so good. But she does remember her heart and how it would race when she kissed a boy for the first time. She says she knows something is happening and everyone is in on it except her. He says she's not part of it. She wants to help. He says he wants to pay a quiet visit to the archduke and she can keep Marcus occupied.

Angel is asking Lindsey to help him fight the circle. Lindsey says the demons are too strong. Angel says they used to rule the world and now they don't. Lindsey doubts that. Angel says he wants Lindsey because it's not what's expected. And if they succeed, there will be a power vacuum at Wolfram & Hart which Lindsey could fill. Lindsey asks what if they fail. Angel says Lindsey will talk his way out of it. Lindsey says he was talking about Angel. Angel says he hasn't been listening. Lindsey says he breezes out when Angel gets speechy. He says he's in. He wants to be there for the big fight.

Wesley is going for supplies to help Illyria. Angel enters, surprised to learn Marcus is the one who attacked Illyria. The others are surprised he didn't know. Angel says they will kill them all tonight. Angel tells them to take the rest of the day off. To live the day as if it is their last, because it likely is. Cut to Lorne stepping up to a mike in a club and singing. Angel goes to visit Connor. Spike is in a tough bar drinking for courage. Gunn is helping Anne move furniture to a shelter. He asks what would she do if none of it mattered, if things will never get better. She says she'd pack the truck. He helps.

Wesley is making medicine for Illyria. She is eager to help them and get revenge for her humiliation. She doesn't understand why he is with her and not going out. He says there is no perfect day for him. He says there's nothing he wants. She says he wants Fred and he says yes, if it were possible. She says she could become Fred, but he won't ask. He says the first lesson a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion. He won't accept a lie. Cut to Spike reading his poetry. He's at a poetry slam. He does the poem we heard part of in Fool For Love. The crowd loves it. He goes on to a poem about his mother.

Connor and Angel are talking about Nina. Connor reveals he knows Angel is his father. He's grateful for what Angel did. He's applying for an internship and Angel offers to help with his resume. Lindsey and Eve are making out. She doesn't think Angel trusts him. He says Angel needs him and he'll play fair as long as they are on the same side. He says his task can't be tough since he's going in with Lorne. He tells her not to worry about Lorne's reading of her in A Hole in the World. He says he wants her to stay safe.

Angel is meeting with the gang. He says one of them will betray him. Spike volunteers, but Angel calls on Wesley. He says Vail expects Wesley to betray Angel and it will get him in the door. He tells Illyria that Izzerial (the racquet ball demon) and three other circle members dine together every night. He sends Gunn to take out the senator and her vampire aides. Spike is sent to retrieve the baby given to the fell brethren. He asks Lorne to back up Lindsey. Cut to Harmony in bed with Marcus telling him about Angel's secret plan.

The gang are setting out on their missions. Angel says to meet in the alley by the Hyperion after. Lorne says he'll do this last thing for him, for them, but then he's out. He won't meet them and they won't see him again and not to come look for him. Illyria tells Gunn to try not to die. Wesley and Angel lock eyes. Spike asks Angel what he thinks this means about the Shanshu prophecy. Angel says they won't survive.

Vail is dining with Wesley. Wesley says Angel is unpredictable and has a conscience. Vail says he makes a good case. We see an energy ball forming in Wesley's hand. Cut to Spike disguised as one of the brethren infiltrating their lair. Cut to the senator's office, Gunn enters and starts fighting her vampire aides. Cut to another demon lair and Lindsey bursting in. Cut to Izzerial and his friends getting into a car with Illyria standing in front.

Angel passes Harmony in the lobby and tells her to keep Marcus busy. He goes to his suite and gets a knife. Marcus enters. He knows he's going to see the archduke. He grabs Angel and tosses him out the window, he falls through the skylight below and into the lobby in front of Harmony. Harmony says Hamilton isn't her boyfriend and she didn't betray Angel. He tells her to drop the act. He always knew she would betray him. He says it's because she doesn't have a soul, she says she would if he had confidence in her. He tells her to get out, she's fired. She asks for a recommendation. He says there's one in the desk. She takes it. Marcus enters. She says may the best man win and leaves. They fight and Marcus sends him flying again. He mocks Angel and asks if he really thought he could kill the archduke. Angel says no, he's already killed him. Cut to the archduke dead, poisoned by drinking his minion's poisoned blood - Angel injected the poison when he shoved the minion in the meeting earlier. His intention was always to face off with Marcus.

Spike gets the baby and is attacked by the brethren. Lindsey is fighting demons. Wesley has knocked down Vail, but Vail successfully counter attacks. Marcus is getting ready to stake Angel, but Connor appears and knocks Marcus aside. He says he knew something was up when Angel visited. Gunn is fighting off vampires. He kills the senator and is confronted by even more vampires. Illyria walks away from the devastated car and the dead demons. Eve paces nervously. Lorne walks through demon blood and guts. Lindsey is washing the blood off his hands. He asks Lorne if he's heard from the rest of the team and Lorne says no. Lindsey says he really feels like part of the team. Lorne says that's today. He says this was Angel's plan. Lindsey offers to sing for him. Lorne says he's heard Lindsey sing. He pulls out a gun and shoots him. Lindsey is shocked that Lorne, not Angel, kills him. He falls dead. Lorne drops the gun and leaves.

Vail has Wesley at his mercy. Wesley tries to stab him, but fails. Vail stabs Wesley, mortally. Wesley unleashes an energy bolt which knocks Vail down. Illyria enters. She realizes Wesley is dying. He says it's good she came. She says she was concerned. She asks if he would like her to lie to him now. He says yes. She transforms into Fred. She says the pain will soon be over and they'll be together. He says he loves her and she says she loves him. He dies. Vail approaches and says Wesley's death was meaningless. Mockingly, he tells Fred to take her best shot. She transforms into Illyria and puts her fist through his head shattering it.

Marcus is doing well against both Connor and Angel. He tells Angel he can't be defeated. That the power of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart runs through his veins. That it is in his blood. Angel says he shouldn't have said that. He vamps and bites Marcus. Super powered, he kills Marcus. The building starts falling apart. He tells Connor to go home. He gets Eve and tells her Lindsey isn't coming for her. He says it's time to go. She says 'go where'.

Angel arrives in the alley. Spike is there. Gunn runs up. He's bleeding badly. Illyria drops in and says Wesley is dead. She says she has uncontrollable grief and wishes to do more violence. Spike says wishes are horses. A demon horde led by a dragon attack. Illyria says Gunn will last 10 minutes at most. He says lets make them memorable. Spike asks what the plan is. Angel says fight. Spike asks for specifics. Angel says he wants to slay the dragon. He says lets get to work.

Analysis

It's the last episode and I want to do a little housekeeping before I get on with my review. I intend to keep this site up indefinitely, so people who link to it or like using the summaries and reviews for reference can keep on doing that. More importantly, I intend to write a series review for Angel (and finish the series review I've long promised for Buffy - it's 40% finished, really). I can't commit to a date, but it will eventually happen so keep checking the site. And I'll be posting other random reviews in the future, so the site isn't dying. I would appreciate people sending me mail because I'd like to hear your ideas about the Buffy and Angel series and maybe incorporate some of those thoughts into my series reviews.

Now for the interesting stuff. It was all going so well. From Angel signing away the Shanshu, to everyone's last day, to Harmony's betrayal, to the death of the archduke (and even though I saw both of those coming they still worked for me), to the death of Lindsey, the death of Wesley, and the cool way Angel finally destroys Marcus. And then, they messed it up. Unlike Buffy, which really ended, Angel just went out on a cliff hanger. And if no movie results, we're never going to know what happens next.

It's hard to believe you can sign away a prophecy. But in the Buffyverse, who knows. Angel certainly believes he did. It's interesting that he's that willing to sacrifice himself. The circle and Wolfram & Hart misunderstand. They think the hope of the prophecy gave Angel strength. By removing that hope, they made him much more dangerous since he really has nothing to live for anymore. A suicide mission is no longer distasteful. He mirrors Wesley in that regard - both men who don't believe there is any real chance of happiness left for them. It's interesting that when Spike asks about the prophecy Angel says nothing. Maybe because he doesn't want sympathy from Spike, but maybe even more because it would demonstrate he was the vampire in the prophecy and take away Spike's hope. And while lack of hope makes Angel more dangerous hope does the same for Spike. It's another example, one of many in this episode, of how much thought Angel has put into his plan and into the needs of his allies and his enemies.

I really liked the last days because they gave us insight and continuity. Wesley staying with Illyria set up her final transformation and also reinforced just how tragic a figure he is. Lorne actually achieved a certain pathos. Gunn reintroduced us to Anne (from the Buffy episodes Anne and Lie to Me and the Angel episodes Blood Money and The Thin Dead Line) and reminded us of his old pals from the neighbourhood. And she also reinforces one of the central points of the series - that you do the right thing because it's the right thing. And Spike actually got to read his poetry (something that took more guts than fighting) with references to Cecily and his mother and effulgent (from Buffy episode Fool For Love). And Angel, of course, goes to see Connor leading to Connor coming in to help save him at the end. It ties together nicely and it was all in character.

Angel is right and wrong about Harmony. She betrays him because she doesn't have a soul, but also because she just doesn't realize the seriousness of what she does. She wasn't a deep thinker as a human and she isn't one as a vampire. She basically acts without thinking. Being vampirized prevented her from growing and maturing. Angel was vampirized really young, but Harmony was even younger, at least emotionally. Angel was a victim of his own vices as Liam, Harmony was just a victim. And that's why, in the end, he lets her go. He talks about living so long he's forgotten what it was like to be human and in Harmony he sees someone who never really got a chance to live at all. In The Harsh Light of Day, Willow speculates that Harmony never really had a boyfriend. And when she talks in this episode of missing the feeling of her heart beating rapidly when a boy kissed her was a sad reminder of how much she never experienced and never will. In I Will Remember You, Angel talks about how much better food tastes as a human. As a vampire, they experience things through a fog. They have shadows of reality (remember Spike on the vampire constitution in The Girl in Question and how they can't even get drunk easily) and while Harmony may experience things, it will never be the same as the human experience. It's a measure of Angel's heroism that in the moment when he has signed away his chance at humanity, he grieves for the loss of another's humanity and forgives her her evil.

What I liked about the death of the archduke was the subtle way it was foreshadowed, Angel shoving the minion immediately raised my suspicions since it just isn't like him, and the way it was part of the double/triple/quadruple cross of Angel and Marcus. The archduke was a powerful enemy with legions at his disposal. For Angel to confront him face-to-face would have been foolhardy. Also, that kind of subterfuge was symbolic of the new get the job done however you can Angel. He's abandoned the search for niceties. He knows he doesn't have much time and he intends to make a great strike against evil and for good. He's verging on 'the ends justify the means, but I think he just manages to sidestep it. Largely through his willingness to sacrifice himself and his attempt to save as many others as he can (Connor and Harmony being two). Anther nice point here is that Angel's poisoning of the archduke (or rather the opportunity to do so) was what kick started the whole campaign. It was after he infected the archduke's minion that he told the others to begin the attack. It explains the time table.

The death of Lindsey was another truly inspired moment. Because of what it said about Lorne and even more what it said about Angel. There's a strong parallel between Angel and Lindsey. They've shared two lovers: Darla and Eve. They've both been offered positions of power at Wolfram & Hart: Lindsey left and Angel took it. They've both been the recipients of significant gifts from Wolfram & Hart: Lindsey's hand and Connor's salvation. This became apparent when Lindsey said that Eve was the only thing he had Angel had not touched. Of course, Angel and Eve had sex in Life of the Party (Party Animal) and apparently Eve never told Lindsey. Add the parallel between Spike and Angel and Lindsey assuming the identity of Doyle when dealing with Spike and you've got a really complex series of paralleled lives: the pure hero (Angel), the bad guy saved by the love of a woman (Spike), and the guy who never can quite bring himself to be a hero (Lindsey). And then you've got Lorne. The demon who isn't very demonic. The nonhero, nonfighter who has spent the last few years being a hero and fighting. And the pure hero, the good guy, turns this innocent, the fellow who just wants to sing, into a murderer. And his victim is a man Angel is partly responsible for creating. The man Angel finally realizes never was really listening. Angel cutting off Lindsey's hand, his relationship with Darla, his failure to really help Lindsey when he tried to break from evil in Dead End - all of these things led to Lindsey becoming what he is. And what he is is untrustworthy. And the new Angel, the Angel ready to die to strike a blow at Wolfram & Hart, just can't allow that wild card to exist. And he uses a pawn to take down this knight of evil. It shocks Lindsey (remember he says that Angel will play fair with him), he's just said how he feels part of the team. But it shocks Lorne even more. Lorne's hand was the last to rise when the gang voted. He was the one who questioned Angel's motives later. And he had good cause. Because he was the one asked to kill a human. He was the one asked to clean up the mess Angel and Wolfram & Hart and Darla and even Eve made. And he's the one who has to live with that. That's why Lorne takes himself out of the game. He's put a blot on his conscience and his soul. That's bigger than facing death. He's more than paid his dues.

There are two basic templates for the big showdown between the bad guy and the good guy. In both of them, the bad guy starts off winning. He beats the good guy down until the good guy, digging deep, finds some well of strength and manages to defeat the bad guy. In one version, the good guy dies as well. In the other, he survives. Wesley is the version where the good guy dies, only it has a bit of a variation in that he doesn't succeed in killing the bad guy. It takes the girl, for whom he finally admits his love, to do that. I see a strange quasi parallel here to the very first Buffy episode, which starts with a girl and a boy in a school after hours. We're sure they are about to be attacked by something, only it turns out the girl is a vampire and she attacks the boy. Here we're sure Wesley will kill Vail, and Vail is sure having survived that he can't be killed by what appears to be a girl. We're all wrong. But the destruction of Vail is not the key point here. In fact, it practically takes place off screen. What's important is the death of Wesley and Illyria's transformation. She becomes Fred because she loves him and this lie (which as he dies he's willing to accept) is all she can do for him. It's a reverse parallel of the imaginary Lilah he talked with in Salvage. Even though the Wesley/Fred relationship never had the intensity of the Wesley/Lilah relationship (you just can't script chemistry), this is still a powerful moment. Partly because Illyria finally admits her feelings for Wesley - that part of Fred (her love for Wesley) still survives. Mostly because Wesley has always been the restrained character, repressing emotion. And we remember his words earlier in this episode about distinguishing fact from illusion, magic from reality. Now, with death staring him in the face, he embraces the illusion because it has become the only reality. Illyria asks if she can do the one thing she can now do for him. And he accepts her love.

There's also a parallel between Wesley's fight with Vail and Angel's with Marcus. Wesley is ultimately saved by the woman who was responsible for his love's death. Angel is betrayed by one woman (Harmony), but her betrayal is actually part of his plan. He's using her. As he leaves the collapsing building he tells Eve to flee (and he has betrayed her by killing her lover Lindsey). And, of course, he's saved by Connor who's the product of his night with Darla - the vampire who loved and betrayed him. Illyria goes to Wesley partly because of their earlier conversation. And she changes into Fred especially because of that. Connor comes to the office because of his earlier conversation with Angel. Vail dies because of his arrogance. Having survived the attack by Wesley, he can't believe Fred can kill him. Of course, she's really Illyria. Marcus also dies because of his arrogance. He's so powerful he can't believe anything can stop him and he doesn't keep his mouth shut - revealing the secret of his power to Angel.

Now we come to the ending. Which isn't an ending at all. I know some people say it fits the point of the series, which is that the fight is what's important and not winning or losing. But having had some conclusion in the final Buffy episode, Chosen, I'm let down by the lack of conclusion here. This is a season finale, not a series finale. Still it's better than most. That said, I suppose I have to speculate on the various ways in which Angel and the others can survive this impossible battle. There are a lot of them. An army of slayers could appear to rescue them. Buffy and Willow could appear to rescue them (maybe with that army). Both of those would tie in with earlier episodes this season (Damage and The Girl in Question). There's also the fact that Angel is superpowered (presumably he could share this with Spike by letting him bite him) and Illyria is still pretty powerful. That might be enough to defeat the demon hoard. Angel might also have prepared some magical weapon and hidden it in the alley - after all he chose the spot. Lorne might have one more assignment and might have sent allies or a weapon. Connor could show up (maybe with allies). It's also possible that Angel's comment to Connor that he can't be destroyed as long as Connor is ok is not metaphorical but literal because of some piece of magic we don't know about yet. In fact, there's also the possibility that Angel planned an escape from the alley - maybe into another dimension or to somewhere on Earth that's safe. That would also explain why he chose that spot. Or any combination of the above could happen. However, my guess is that any made-for-tv movie we might see will start after the battle and won't really give a satisfactory explanation of how it ended. And I don't really expect any made-for-tv movie to happen. And any feature film is more likely to be about Buffy, who's the more popular of the two.

Some quick final thoughts. I liked the way Angel just came out and said he'd killed Drogyn. It resolved the mystery and it also showed how he was past any pretense. The die was really cast. I was hoping we'd learn how Marcus and Drogyn knew one another. I'm not sure if Tim Conway was on the first Carol Burnett show. He was a regular guest on the show but didn't become a permanent cast member for several years. There's a nice parallel between Angel saying one of them will betray him and Harmony betraying him to Marcus in the next scene. When Wesley and Angel lock eyes as the gang depart, I'm sure it's Wesley saying he knows he won't be back. Lindsey is angry not because he's killed, but because it's not by Angel, but a flunky. I've noticed some people are wondering whether Lorne killed Lindsey at Angel's orders or on his own. Given his attitude, what he says to Angel, and the fact that Angel tells Eve Lindsey isn't coming, I'd have to say Lorne was ordered by Angel.

Lines of the week:

"No rest for the wicked." - Marcus saying the obvious.

"I still don't trust the man." - Lorne with a legitimate doubt.

"He seems intriguingly unstable." - Vail with a pretty accurate description of Wesley.

"If the next words out of your mouth are kill Spike, we just might have to kiss." - Angel not entirely lying.

"Part of me always knew life would end after high school." - Harmony on how tragic her fate is.

"I don't remember what it was like, being human." - Angel on how tragic his fate is.

"Once this world was theirs and now it's not." - Angel on humanity's defeat of demons.

"I want you Lindsey. I'm thinking about rephrasing that." - Angel going a little Anne Rice as the series comes to an end.

"Live the day like it's your last." - Angel with some good advice.

"A couple more shots of courage and I may make my presence felt" - Spike with a deceptive statement.

"I never had a proper one." - Spike on funerals.

"You're a very inspirational person." - Wesley being funny.

"There is no perfect day for me." - Wesley letting us know he expects to die.

"There is nothing that I want." - Wesley lying.

"You want to be with Fred." - Illyria calling him on it.

"The first lesson a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion." - Wesley making it clear he's ready to die.

"The truth is that Fred is gone." - Wesley on not having anything to live for.

"And since I don't actually intend to die tonight, I won't accept a lie." - Wesley lying.

"My heart expands
It's grown a bulge in it
Inspired by your beauty
Effulgent." - Spike with some actually pretty awful poetry.

"I was at the first taping of the Carol Burnett show. Tim Conway was on fire." - Angel on vampires having a sense of humour.

"It's nice to know you're one of the few things in my life he didn't get his mitts on." - Lindsey really wrong about Eve.

"We don't live in a fairy tale." - Eve getting it right, no happy endings here.

"Can I deny you three times." - Spike getting all Biblical.

"I'll make trophies of their spines."
"Good to have you on the team." - Angel being pretty serious with Illyria.

"I'm not wearing any amulets. No bracelets, brooches, beads, pendants, or pins." - Spike having learnt at least one apocalyptic lesson.

"Try not to die." - Illyria getting all emotional.

"Well, long as it's not you." - Spike ever the glass half full.

"He's not my boyfriend. I mean I certainly did not betray you." - Harmony demonstrating what a terrible liar she is.

"I thought the fight would be going a little better." - Angel on misjudging Marcus.

"You drop by for a cup of coffee and the world's not ending. Please." - Connor understanding Angel.

"And you wonder why folks don't vote." - Gunn on the failure of democracy.

"It isn't my kind of work anymore. It's unsavory." - Lorne on how things have changed.

"Angel ... kills me." - Lindsey angry at his fate.

"We'll be together." -Fred/Illyria comforting Wesley.

"I love you." - Wesley to Fred and Illyria.

"I love you." - Illyria and Fred to Wesley.

"My blood is filled with their ancient power." - Marcus doing too far.

"As long as you're okay, they can't." - Angel on why he can't be destroyed to Connor.

"Go where." - Eve accepting her destiny.

"I'm feeling grief for him." - Illyria on Wesley's death.

"I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work." - Angel's final words.

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