|Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 5 BtVS/season 2 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.|
The sewer monster is a two-headed, fire-breathing beast over 20 feet tall who has "risen" (out of the ground? Sleep? Hell?) to menace the Kenyard School for Girls. Wesley and Gunn hunt it down on a tip from Cordelia. After getting stomped and thrown and ducking flames, Wesley buries his ax in head number one and Gunn guts the beast.
The invitation to vampires
Evil in "Blood Money"
Wolfram and Hart has become the "guardian angel" of a runaway shelter, bailing it out of eviction and defending some of its residents. Now they are sponsoring a Charity Ball to "raise funds" for the Center. In actuality, though, the law firm plans to use the charity to garner some undeserved good publicity. And after "expenses and fees", the shelter will see only five percent of the proceeds. Spear-heading the campaign are Lindsey and Lilah, arguably the two most naive attorneys ever to rise to high positions in a law firm they know to be Evil Incorporated.
Lindsey hires Boone, a demon who came in off the street, just because he says he has a grudge against Angel. Then the joint acting co-vice-presidents bicker over who could have said something that Angel might have gotten on tape, and in the process, Lilah repeats the firm's plan for the fundraiser outloud to Lindsey--who already knows it--in public. Why doesn't their new boss Nathan Reed "fire" them on the spot, like Holland did to Lee Mercer? Reed certainly isn't pleased when Boone steals the money and Angel humiliates them on camera at the Ball. But Wolfram and Hart still have a use for their lacking little lackeys.
Wolfram and Hart's plan for Angel: dust, dark, or distracted?
The prophecies (of Aberjian, and others perhaps) all agree that the vampire with a soul plays a key role in final battle of the coming apocalypse. What they do not agree on, however, is whether he's on the side of Good or Evil. Wolfram and Hart want to push Angel towards the side of evil. Evil doesn't imply soul-lessness, though, since that would be in contradiction to the prophecy.
Wolfram & Hart aren't interested in removing Angel's soul - they just want to corrupt it (Safarigirl, Nov 15 9:52 2000).
The humans of Wolfram and Hart presumably have souls, and it doesn't stop them from their evil ways. They think Angel just needs a push in the right (or wrong) direction to make him go back to the more conflicted morally ambiguous souled vamp he was in the early 20th century. They want to torment Angel with the very humanity he clings to until he cannot hold onto it anymore. Wolfram and Hart have
Given Angel's rejection of his mission in Redefinition, it's a safe bet that Wolfram and Hart is bringing out Angel's darkness. But if a dark souled Angel is what they are trying to encourage, why did Holland assume in Reunion that Angel would never kill a human or allow a human to die that he could save? For the same reason Lindsey and Lilah assume the same this time. The senior partners are not above sacrificing their own to get what they want.
And now Angel is after project heads Lindsey and Lilah. Lindsey and Lilah thought that they were safe in the walls of their employer until they found out they have become bait for the more important not expendable Angel (Rufus, 25-Jan-01 4:29).
Why would Reed admit this to the lawyers in question? Probably because Lindsey and Lilah's fearful reaction to it is part of the on-going plan.
Moral Ambiguity in "Blood Money"
"Hey, I don't go selling out one of my pals. How much you gonna pay?"
Angel contracts help from Merle, counting on his betrayal. Merle rats out Angel to Boone, Boone "rats out" Angel to Wolfram and Hart, Wolfram and Hart go to Merle to find out what he knows of Angel's plan. And Merle knows very little about it--just enough to make Lindsey and Lilah as paranoid as Angel wants them to be.
Boone is a big blue demon who met Angel in Juarez, Mexico in the 1920's. They apparently fought for three and a half hours over an unnamed "senorita" before sunrise brought the fight to a halt. Boone, hung over at the time, could not fight at his best, and has wondered ever since who was the better fighter. Boone's interest is not revenge, nor a a duel to settle the dispute over the senorita. He is only curious to know who would win in an evenly matched fight. "Evenly matched" means no special advantages on either side, such as Boone's ability to go out in daylight. A battle in which each opponent takes every advantage in order to win would not tell him what he wants to know. This story and Boone's lack of interest in money should have tipped Lindsey and Lilah that Boone would make a poor assassin--he simply does not share their priorities. But when Boone offers, Lindsey accepts.
At some point in the events we see, Boone, who holds no real grudge against Angel, has already met up with him and agreed to help him with his scheme against Wolfram and Hart. The short scrap between the two demons in the shelter was probably staged. And later, after Lindsey stations a vamp-detecting demon at the Ball to warn Boone if Angel gets within a hundred feet, Boone allows Angel to enter. They begin to fight on the second-floor balcony. The fight takes them over the side and onto the table where the fundraiser proceeds are being counted. During the mayhem that follows, Boone leaves with the money. Angel doubts that Boone will actually take the two million dollars and run, and he's right. Angel is able to bring Anne the money after Boone quite predictably shows up at the hotel wanting his long-awaited rematch (more demons with honor).
Angel is using the snitch-skills of demon Merle and his own finely-honed stalking expertise to get the low-down on a runaway shelter manager who has been seen in the company of Lindsey. Once Merle assures him that Anne is clean, Angel owns up to her. As honorable as that is, Angel's goal is not to expose Lindsey and Lilah's crime. He doubts such a plan would succeed. Wolfram and Hart would only find a way to cover for it. Angel reveals his real motives to Lilah when he harasses her with not-so-veiled threats in her car. It's no more Mr. Nice-Guy where Wolfram and Hart is concerned. If they are going to use any wily, cowardly tactic it takes to get what they want, so will he: "You screw with me, and you screw with me, and you screw with me. And now I get to screw with you." His actions are relatively mild compared to the last time, though. He has the two lawyers running around hysterically in full view of witnesses screaming about a tape that contains nothing but Cordy and Wes clowning around in front of a covert surveillance camera.
Call me Anne:
...yes that was Anne, and yes she had the huge tat removed cuz she's independent now. Which I love. The strength she's gained over her incredibly spread out arc... it's what the shows are all about (joss, Jan 23 22:06 2001).
"Anne Steele" has come a long way since the days when she looked for anyone, or anything to give her life structure. She is now managing the East Hills Teen Center, a shelter for runaways like she herself was. They give teens with no place to go food, clothes, and shelter. Anne's primary goal is helping the teens and she believes she can do whatever it takes to accomplish it--including taking five percent of the money promised to her, even knowing the other 95 percent is going to an evil law firm. She doesn't like the idea, but her options are few. At first she refuses to help Angel mess with Wolfram and Hart. In the end she does help him, and when she finds out his plan is not to expose them, she feels betrayed. Luckily for her, she's dealing with a couple demons who still have some honor (even if one likes to think he's lost it all), and ends up with the whole two million, free, clear, and untainted. Well, except for the icky demon blood.
The Metaphysics of "Happy Anniversary"
Psychic visions: The Host arrives to tell Angel that the world is going to end unless they can stop it. A human came into Caritas and sang a song that gave the anagogic demon a reading of such power it knocked him unconscious. The Host saw that after 10 p.m. Friday night, no one on Earth would have a future. Later, the Host asks a bartender to sing for him so he can figure out if a patron of the man's club is the same man who sang in his bar. He also hints at an interesting destiny for Wesley.
Freezing time: According to Einstein's physics, space and time are not the separate things they appear to be to human perception; they are part of a single fabric ("space-time"). This is why change is inevitable--if you alter time, space is altered as well, and vice-versa. Gene the physics grad student believes it is possible to separate space and time into two independent entities. Theoretically, he should be able to remove a region of space from the influence of time--in other words, remove it from change.
Unfortunately, he can't figure out the mathematical equations his equipment would need to do the experiment. The experiment involves passing a particle accelorator's beam (a machine that shoots out subatomic particles at high speeds) through a point in liquid mercury in a way that would push the tiny point of mercury out of normal space-time into its own time-free universe where it would be forever unchangeable.
Gene enters his lab the next day to find the equations he needs supplied by the Lubber demons. He tries the liquid mercury experiment and it works. When Gene discovers his girlfriend is going to break up with him, he decides to freeze the two of them in the act of making love. Gene sets up his equipment in the basement of his apartment complex, as well as a switch to turn on the beam from his bed, and a series of mirrors to direct the beam from the basement to his bed.
Buffyverse as multiverse: the demon dimensions are not "alternate" dimensions to the Buffyverse Earth, they are merely "other" dimensions. In other words, they are not variations on events, people, and places found here, they have their own unique species and events unrelated to the Earth. However, if Anya's prattle can be believed, there may be genuine "alternate" universes as well--e.g., the world just like ours but without any shrimp--but these are not the demon dimensions.
Good and Evil in "Happy Anniversary"
Lubber demons are a gray skinned, pointy-eared, raccoon-eyed religious fanatics. As the Host explains, a popular demon theology holds that a messiah is destined to arrive and usher in the end of all human life on Earth. The Lubber demons believe that Gene is this messiah. First, they give Gene the physics equations he needs to freeze time, then they try to prevent Angel and the Host from stopping Gene's plan to freeze himself and Denise. Gene flicks the switch and he and Denise are frozen in place. The Lubber demons sneak into Gene's basement and crank the machine into overdrive, expanding the field. They hope that it will continue to grow until it freezes time all over the world. Clear examples of evil-as-corruption.
When Angel and the Host arrive to stop them, a Lubber demon declares, "you shall not stop the golden child, the one for whom we have waited." Angel fights off the Lubber demons in Gene's basement as the time-freezing bubble approaches them. He manages to pull the wires of the machine and stop it.
Note: this plan would not only freeze human life, but plant and animal life and any demon life on Earth as well. And it is doubtful that demons emerging from the demon dimensions could escape it, either. It brings a halt to human life at the expense of reclaiming the Earth.
Angel Investigations without the Angel:
Virginia Bryce brings the gang their first real case--a Wainakay demon terrorizing the family of one her rich friends. Gunn slays the demon and Wesley determines that the demon was being controlled by magic (a spell using foxglove and hellebore) to do the bidding of Aunt Helen, who wanted to seize control of the family fortune. She had the demon kill the oldest son and heir and planned to blackmail the younger son who was next in line for the money. When Aunt Helen tries to run away, Cordy blocks her escape.
Moral Ambiguity in "Happy Anniversary"
Gene may be a genius when it comes to physics, but emotionally, he is a bit stunted. He was singing broken-heart songs before his girlfriend even broke up with him. His depressive moodiness is what causes her to break it off--she can't stay with him and be happy. Gene did not intend on freezing the entire world, only himself and Denise. It is natural to want to protect ourselves from unhappy changes in our lives, but eventually we must deal with the pain and move on. The only thing Gene is guilty of is imposing a desperate fantasy on his unwilling girlfriend, an act born of fear and hurt.
"Man, you just get darker and darker. And the weird thing is, your aura? Beige." --The Host
The Host is concerned about Angel's behavior of late and wants to help him get back on his path. Angel doesn't care about people as much as he used to--not the innocent, not the company of his friends. Why? Wolfram and Hart, Angel explains, have not only interfered with his attempts to do good, they are trying to drive him back into evil. But the lawyers aside, the optimism Angel had last summer in a quick and easy redemption has faded into pessimism. Even if he were freely allowed to do good, he does not believe he could atone for his 150 years of evil. Everything seems pointless. All he has left is his hatred for Wolfram and Hart. The Host sees that Angel is as much a prisoner of his gloom as Gene is, and is as likely to do something inadvertently destructive out of a desire to control events that aren't going his way.
....from the Buddhist point of view we are ...burdened with a karmic debt we can never pay off in this lifetime.... a serial killer named Angulimala was converted by the Buddha ...Buddha turned around and said, "I stopped long ago. When will you stop?" By which he meant "I stopped creating karmic actions that will lead to rebirth whether good or bad. When will you?"
... the lesson here is that even a serial killer can escape his karmic debt if (and only if) he lets go of the "self" that accrued that debt through awakening to the selfless nature of things. One must repent not only of one's actions, but even of the self that ...futilely seeks to atone for them. In Buddhism it is clinging to self that motivates all our greedy, angry, and deluded actions, and on a subtler level it motivates our attempts at self-improvement and self-seeking efforts at salvation. ...Once the delusion of self is let go of, the reality of interdependence with all other beings and phenomena becomes clear and can become manifest in our actions.
So Angel has not reached this realization yet. He is still stuck on himself. He still thinks that he can save himself, when what he really needs to do is let go of the self which is causing this predicament. He needs to awaken to that which is selfless. This selfless nature is at the same time the source of genuine compassion, altruistic joy, loving-kindness, and equanimity, as well as generosity, virtue, patience, effort, calm, and wisdom (Ryuei, 07-Feb-01 14:05).
The Thin Dead Line
The Metaphysics of "The Thin Dead Line"
Zombies: Cops in the precinct where the East Hill Teen Center sits have been hassling citizens on the street. When Angel encounters a police officer, though, it takes little effort for him to kick the man's head off. The body begins to decay immediately, but the head keeps right on talking. Angel and Kate discover disturbed gravesites in a cemetery where many officers have been put to rest. The officers are corpses without spirits acting under the control of a police captain using magic.
Animating the zombies: Angel finds the ingredients for the ritual that reanimated the cops in police captain Atkinson's office. Candles sit on bookshelves in front of photographs of the dead officers. There are (animal?) entrails in a bowl beside a statue of Granath, the Zombie god. The "god's" power has been invoked to use the dead cop bodies to patrol the streets.
Deanimating the zombies: Angel picks up the idol and smashes it on the floor. This breaks the spell. The zombie cops attacking the Teen shelter turn into decaying corpses. How Angel determines that this is the key to stopping them isn't clear, since Captain Atkinson isn't talking. However, breaking a "god's" spell by smashing its idol has happened before in the Buffyverse.
The evil eye
Good and Evil in "The Thin Dead Line"
Being hassled by a cop isn't anything new in Anne's neighborhood, but lately, no one is immune to it. Police officers have been assaulting citizens or trying to arrest them for little more than loitering. Anne arrives at Angel Investigations and informs Gunn about the cops. Gunn heads out with some old pals and a hidden camcorder to tape the cops in action. An officer approaches them and orders them to face the wall. He doesn't tell them whether they are being arrested or charged with anything. When Wesley stumbles in on the scene, the cop shoots him without provocation.
The cop needs to cover up Wesley's shooting. He radios for back up. The zombieCops try to stop the ambulance, but Gunn takes off in it. They follow him to the shelter. At the shelter, Cordy helps the paramedic tend Wesley's wounds. When the zombies inform the Captain that all the witnesses to the shooting are in the shelter, Atkinson tells them to lay siege to the place. The kids attempt to barricade the windows and doors. Cordy fights off a zombie cop with a hammer. But the cops break in and come after them.
Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "The Thin Dead Line"
Kate: "This job is making me crazy."
Angel: "I know the feeling."
There is clearly something rotten in this neighborhood, but it is hard to aim guilt in any one direction.
On the one hand, the Captain Atkinson's "tougher policy" is working. Crime is down in the 23rd precinct. There is no longer a murder every two weeks, a rape every two days, a robbery every hour and a half. His officers are no longer dying in the line of duty. He has won the nightly war against "the scumbags".
On the other hand, siccing cops on anyone suspicious--law-breaker or not--is clearly illegal, tempting though it might be. A basic principle of the American justice system is "innocent until proven guilty". The police cannot harass citizens or arrest someone without reasonable suspicion of their guilt on specific charges, and the charges must be stated at the time of the arrest or booking. The burden is then on the state to prove the suspect's guilt on this charge beyond a reasonable doubt in court. The defendant need not prove his or her innocence. This system sets up a clear bias in favor of the suspect. The opposite principle--"guilty until proved innocent"--would make it much less likely that the guilty would go unpunished. The burden is on the suspect to prove their innocence. This principle also makes it much more likely that the innocent would be convicted of crimes they did not commit.
In the best system of course, we would always know who is innocent and who is guilty. But since this isn't possible, the law must choose one bias or the other. The Captain has changed the rules. True, some of the street kids, like Jackson, are simply out for themselves, even if it makes their community unlivable. Others are doing whatever they can to survive--panhandling, dealing drugs, prostitution, carrying guns. And some have done nothing worse than leave a bad home environment. Innocent and guilty suffer alike when one police captain's understandable hurt and anger get out of control.
When Cordelia sees Angel in the hospital checking on Wesley, she says, "You walked away. Do us a favor and just stay away." Classic insensitive Cordy?
The last they've seen of Angel, he'd just locked Dru and Darla in with their little smorgasbord. ...then, when they had the audacity to question his actions, he fired them. No explanation ...while it is obvious, to ...the LA gang, that Angelus is not back, I think that he has retreated so far into darkness that Cordy could not see the Angel she knows and loves. And her past experiences tell her this is bad.
...Anne only tells them that Angel tried to help her but he wanted to mess with some law firm more. ...She didn't tell them everything. And, yes, Angel helped save them ...but he didn't say a word about it. They don't know he's the reason that the zombies disintegrated. ...and i think they have a little justifiable anger at Angel. He's the one who got drafted by the PTBs and they're stuck doing his job. ...the three of them know that the people in the visions will die if they do nothing, so, being good guys, they must risk their mortal lives with no superpowers to help them fight (Isabel, 16-Feb-01 02:52).
Good and Evil in and the Metaphysics of "Reprise"
Angel: "Something's coming."
Host: "Really? I thought it was just the complimentary nachos bringing in the morally ambiguous crowd."
Blood sacrifices, black masses, humans and vampires living together--is The End drawing nigh? No, it's the 75-year "Review"--a traditional event at Wolfram and Hart. Employees have been trying all the ineffectual last-minute dark rites they can think of to keep their jobs and their lives.
How do you attempt to impress an evil boss if you're a busy, well-paid professional? Hire a couple of guys to do the sacrifice for you. Just give them a ceremonial dagger (pre-blessed for their convenience) and a handy set of instructions complete with diagrams to get maximum drainage of goat-blood into the sacred offering bowl. And they can just sound out the words to that Latin incantation. Worship-by-proxy probably isn't going to get you that promotion, though. Especially if a pissy vamp interrupts your lackeys before midnight.
Angel goes to Caritas to find out what the Host knows about all the rituals around town and finds the club packed full of Karaoke-singing lawyers. The Host has an ethical principle against revealing people's destinies to others (unless of course a singer is about to end the world), but he does tell Angel some things he overheard. According to the Host, the Review-er is one of the "senior partners". He also offers Angel two clues--"The Band of Blacknil" and "Home office".
The Kleynach: Angel heads to the occult bookstore of Denver. Denver tells him the senior partner will manifest itself in the form of a Kleynach, a species of demon known to use the Band of Blacknil. The Band is a ring that allows these demons to come and go between dimensions whenever they please rather than being summoned by rituals. Angel intends to steal the ring and use it to enter hell and destroy the senior partners--or die trying. To get the ring, he has to kill the Kleynach demon. According to one of Denver's books, a group of Kleynach demons once rose up from their demon world and incinerated the humans they encountered. One knight had a metal glove fashioned and blessed by all "the powers of light". Whoever wears this glove can kill a Kleynach by grabbing its throat.
Vampires, age, and strength: Even vampires as strong as Darla and Drusilla need time to recover from being set on fire. But Drusilla was able to leave the sewer where they took refuge. After telling Lindsey where to find Darla, Dru took off for Sunnydale. Older vampires like The Master and Kakistos have been depicted as stronger than younger vampires, but this is simple (un)natural selection--weak vampires will die before they ever get to be that old; so we'd expect there to be a greater percentage of weak vampires among the young than weak vampires among the old. However, an individual vampire might also grow stronger with age. Dru is physically older than Darla, who was sired a few short months ago. At some point, though, it's likely that
...Darla was just pretending to be weak to get Lindsey's attention and to get access to his Wolfram and Hart files (Lucille, 1 Mar 2001 18:48).
She finds Lilah's envelope full of fun facts about the 75-year Review and tracks Angel to Denver's shop. Before Angel can take the glove, Darla kills Denver and steals it. It's not clear why she wants the glove's dimension-skipping power for herself, but it's clear that she isn't working for Wolfram and Hart anymore. The only way she could have gotten in their building, therefore, is by using Angel's entrance to cover her own presence (as Angel did with Gunn's decoy vamp in Blind Date).
Killing the Kleynach: Angel uses Lilah's fingerprint to access an elevator on the outside wall of the Wolfram and Hart building. Inside, he finds lawyers waiting for the arrival of the Kleynach. Angel's vampire senses hone in on Darla. He tries to pull the glove off her hand. As the two vamps struggle, the air shimmers above a pentagram on the floor and a red robed demon materializes. Angel dons the glove and grabs the Kleynach by the throat. The demon begins to disintegrate. The power of Angel's attack launches the two of them through the window. When Angel lands, all that remains is the ring.
And the senior partner? It no longer has the Kleynach body it used to manifest itself in our world, but that doesn't mean it's completely gone. It might have just been sent back to its own realm.
Wolfram and Hart: Angel puts on the Band of Blacknil. The elevator outside Wolfram and Hart opens. Holland stands there, dead as a doornail (reanimated by magic? Or is he something else?), waiting to take Angel on a one-way trip to the Home Office. As they ride, Holland discusses Angel's destiny. Angel has seen it as an "end"--the end of Wolfram and Hart, perhaps himself as well. In Wolfram and Hart's view, it's just another event in the on-going history of the world. There is no final goal, no "end" in which Angel will "win" or Wolfram and Hart will "win" once and for all. Wolfram and Hart's role is simply to perpetuate evil generation after generation, to provide the means by which the darkness in human beings can freely operate. The elevator comes to a halt and Angel finds himself right where he started--looking out at the plaza in front of the Wolfram and Hart building in LA. This is the Home Office.
Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "Reprise"
Angphlel Investigations: After the Sharps refuse to pay for services the gang can't prove they rendered, Gunn takes off to see what good he can do in his old neighborhood. Then the rude ex-boss pays a threatening visit. Wesley stands up to Angel and reopens his wound. At home, Virginia breaks up with Wesley when she realizes she is unable to live with dangers of his work. Then an adult Skilosh coerces Francine Sharp into luring Cordelia to her house by promising to pay her.
Angel finds Kate on desk duty pending a hearing with Internal Affairs. Captain Atkinson has filed a formal complaint against her for letting Angel into his office. She is also in trouble for letting a suspect who threatened Wolfram and Hart go free shortly before thirteen lawyers were trapped in a cellar and massacred. When Kate goes in for her hearing with Internal Affairs, she has nothing to say in her defense that they'll believe. The police want a "rational" defense of her actions, and she has none. They want to blame Kate's behavior on grief over her father's death. But Kate went on her lone crusade against the demon underworld in the city because she was a cop who saw a real threat that no other cop would handle.
But the police aren't buying it, and Kate is fired. In essence, she has been disowned by her "family", told that she's broken the rules of the institution that was the source of her personal values, and told she is incompetent in the job that is her source of pride and identity. She is left without emotional support or understanding and a backlog of grief.
Kate goes home to an apartment filled with reminders of a life that has rejected her. She goes into the bathroom and swallows a bottle of pills with an alcohol chaser, then calls the one person who'll believe her, the creature who started her down the road that ended here. She's angry at herself. She's angry at the LAPD. Is she angry at Angel? Maybe, maybe not, but he's a convenient target for her rage.
A moment of perfect despair: Angel walks home from his visit to the Home Office witnessing the nastiness of humanity all around him. The evil he is fighting is the evil in the human race. How can he beat that, once and for all? He can't. And if he can't do that, how can he redeem himself? He can't. And why bother? His reward is to become one of them--a human being.
He turns down the volume on Kate's desperate phone call and goes upstairs where Darla waits to kill him and take the ring. Angel makes a violent play for her, and Darla responds. Sex with Angel is her singular opportunity to get back her Angelus. Angel suspects he will lose his soul in her as well, and he doesn't care. If the evil in the world is perpetual and intrinsic and something he can't beat, then why not join it?
Despair, says the first existentialist [Søren Kierkegaard], is the sickness unto death. Children babble because they CAN; that is childlike innocence -- losing oneself in possibilities. Lacking that looking for possibility leaves one dumb - and stuck with [Angel's] "don't give a crap" or [Buffy's] "mommie"? ...Both seem faced with real despair. Without possibilities, then there is despair and so this endures for every moment without possibility. I imagine Buffy will recover better than Angel, but he's the real existentialist. He must believe that knights of the faith exist in order to keep up the struggle. It's absurd, but that's the way it goes (Cleanthes, 20-Feb-01 22:59)
The Metaphysics of "Epiphany"
The Home Office: According to Lindsey, after Angel stole the Band of Blacknil, it was was dis-enchanted in a ceremony that "took half the meeting to finish". Angel's trip to the Home Office was relatively short--a matter of minutes. This makes it likely that it occurred while the ring still worked.
The (un)happiness clause: After having sex with Darla, Angel stumbles out onto the balcony and drops to his knees in pain. Darla tells him to give into it. She thinks she's won, that the witless souled abomination that possessed her Angelus has has surrendered and left. Then Angel realizes there is nothing to give into. He still has his soul. So why the pain?
...Angel, after waking and realizing what he and Darla had done, *assumed* he was going to lose his soul again and started reacting like he did after the night with Buffy. Sort of like when you've been hurt by something (hot stove burner, biting dog, etc.) and when you go to touch that object again you start reacting as if you've been hurt even though you haven't been. And then you realize that you're okay (purplegrrl, 1-Mar-01 11:35)
The invitation to vampires: Darla's shocked reaction reminds Angel of Kate's phone call and he rushes over to Kate's apartment, kicks in the door, and shoves her under a shower stream. Kate has made it quite clear that Angel was not invited into her home. So how did he get in? According to the shooting script, her body was "lifeless". That could mean "alive but unmoving", or it could mean she was dead. If she was dead, Angel would not need an invitation to enter. However, as a vampire, Angel could also not have given her CPR. Furthermore,
...I don't believe you can revive someone who has flatlined just by sticking them in a cold shower. ...I believe ...[w]hen Angel found Kate she was unconscious, not dead. ...she gave Angel an *implied* invitation - otherwise, why did she call Angel in the first place?? She wanted to be found, despite her suicide attempt (purplegrrl, 1-Mar-01 11:35).
Kate believes that a higher power intervened and allowed Angel to enter. It's certainly possible, and the PTBs could even have brought Kate back from death.
The Powers that Be: Both Cordelia and Angel have complained at various times about the vagueness of her visions, and they have a point. Can you really blame Angel for accidentally killing the good demon Kamal? And why does Cordelia have a vision of being attacked two seconds before it happens? Maybe the PTB's like to yank their heroes' chains. Or perhaps these beings, whoever they are, are not all-powerful. They communicate as well as they can, when they can.
The Host tells Angel that the PTB's tried to keep Angel away from the massacre of the lawyers. He argues that Angel wasn't responsible for it; it was fated to happen whether Angel interceded or not. We cannot assume from this that the PTB's themselves wanted the lawyers dead, only that they had knowledge of Darla and Drusilla's intentions. The mission to help the suicidal kid may have been their attempt to put obsessed-Angel on another track. Angel asks the Host what the PTBs want him to do now and the Host reminds him that he is not Angel's link, despite the guidance he's given him. He also tells him that Cordelia and the others are in danger from the Skilosh (although how he came about this information isn't clear. If he got it when they sang, why didn't he tell them?)
|The Skilosh: A young girl, Stephanie Sharp, is brought to Angel Investigations with the tell-tale eye of an embryonic Skilosh in the back of her skull. Skilosh are white-skinned, yellow-blooded three-eyed demons that reproduce by implanting their spawn in the cranium of a human host. We see this process when Cordelia is attacked. The Skilosh opens his mouth and forces its spawn prong into her skull. Eventually, the infant Skilosh would have hatched full grown out of Stephanie and Cordelia's heads.|
Because Cordelia can actually see out of the third eye, it is evident that the demon embryo forms neural connections with the human host's brain as it develops.
The deoculation charm: Wesley pulls the pouch of deoculation powder (made from mandrake) from his pocket, sprinkles it on the back of Cordelia's head, and rubs it in. He incants in Latin:
Come clean, be new, release the grip, return to nothingness.
The eye in the back of Cordy's head vanishes.
You can kill an adult Skilosh any number of ways, although the most prudent method is to hack it to pieces.
Good and Evil in "Epiphany"
The Skilosh: When Wes, Cordelia, and Gunn cured Stephanie Sharp, they essentially killed the Skilosh's children. They did so to prevent an innocent girl from being used as disposable incubator by a demon species with no concern whatsoever for human life, but the Skilosh still want vengeance. If their only concerned were continuing their species, the Skilosh would have implanted the Sharps instead of just killing them. For them, vengeance is poetic justice--they intend to raise more spawn in the three that killed the previous embryo. The implantation is both forceful and painful (quite literally, a form of rape). This demon birth process will also kill Wes, Cordelia, and Gunn.
Is this Retributivist justice or unprincipled vengeance? Since the Skilosh put the humans in a position where they were forced to defend themselves and Stephanie against the Skilosh, the Skilosh "revenge" against the gang's actions cannot be seen as legitimate Retributivism.
Angel finds Wesley being stalked by two Skilosh. He kills one with Wesley's ax. Wesley fires his shotgun at the other. They head to the office, but Cordelia isn't there. The pragmatic-minded Gunn shows his detecting skills once again when he thinks to check Cordelia's message pad. Wes, Angel, and Gunn head off to find Cordelia at the Sharp's residence. Before they get there, a Skilosh attacks Angel's car. Gunn kicks it off. Angel remains to fight off a hoard of Skilosh advancing on them while Gunn and Wesley continue to the Sharp's. The demons flee Lindsey's truck and capture Gunn and Wes. Angel drives Lindsey's truck straight into the window of the Sharp's front room and attacks the demons with Lindsey's sledge hammer.
Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "Epiphany"
Angel's epiphany: In Angel's view, his hour with Darla "saved him" because it made him realize that Darla doesn't have any power over him. He ran around in circles for months chasing after this creature who made him what he is, this symbol of his evil. He thought that if he could save her, it would redeem him. And when he failed, he decided that destroying Wolfram and Hart was his much-touted destiny. After Holland showed him that the insidious nature of Wolfram and Hart was not just something he could attack with a sword, Angel gave into despair. He could not fulfill his destiny as he understood it. He saw no reason to continue on his path toward redemption. He gave himself to the woman who made him what he is to be rid of his pointless soul.
And nothing happened.
At the beginning of the season Angel believed that he could earn his way to redemption (Pelagianism), then he realized he would have to do things one day at a time, so it was Pelagianism on a more relaxed schedule. ...he was still looking for the grandiose act by which he could redeem himself by redeeming another when he offered his life for Darla's. ...From that point on, Angel became more and more focused on vengeance rather than redemption (Ryuei, 28-Feb-01 15:26).
Angel realizes that he can't rid himself of the soul that makes him want to help people so easily. The Host calls this "a moment of clarity"--when Angel sees exactly where he's gotten himself. But his "epiphany" goes beyond that. He has given up on the ideas of redemption and his "destiny". He has taken the revelation that he cannot defeat Wolfram and Hart once and for all to heart: "...if there isn't any bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world."
Wolfram & Hart is all about encouraging man to be his worst, revel in evil, kill thy brother, all for the most petty reasons. They live on the evil that lives in the hearts of every living being. By even engaging in the most simple act of kindness, Wolfram & Hart lose power, the power to corrupt and destroy (Rufus, 1-Mar-01 3:59).
But Angel's epiphany is just the first step. He still has a calling by the Powers that Be. And there is still the destiny of the vampire with a soul to consider, murky as that destiny it may be.
Angel's egotism is slipping ...[but] it seems that Angel has lost faith in everything except simple goodness on the practical local scale. Now that is the position many thoughtful mature adults are in. It is hard to believe that there is some kind of Overall Intelligent Compassionate Coordinator to all of this. In [BtVS], there are TPTB, but they tend to be remote and their motives rather opaque, so while Angel (unlike most of us) knows that there is such a thing as TPTB, he has certainly not learned to trust them.
...he can easily revert due to the inherent instability of his current view. Sartre couldn't maintain the existential void either - if all meaning is just self-constructed and arbitrary then it is ultimately unsatisfying. ...St. Augustine said "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." ...the human condition ...is only satisfied by something that transcends that condition. But first one must be open to it. First one must empty the tea cup of one's own presumption and egocentricity (no matter how well intentioned). I think that Angel has finally emptied his tea cup (Ryuei, 28-Feb-01 15:26).
Kate: When Angel goes to Kate to check up on her, he tells her about his epiphany--that there is no greater meaning to what he does than "simple acts of kindness". All fine and well for Angel, but Kate has lost all her ties to the world. She needs higher meaning again to recover from this low point in her life, and she has found it, ironically, in faith towards something that bears a remarkable resemblance to the Powers That Be.
Angel Investigations: Angel returns to his friends, but they aren't willing to work for him again as if nothing happened, whether he saved their lives or not. He hasn't been around to fight the battles meant for him. Gunn, Wesley, and Cordelia have done that at the expense of their daily lives. They don't owe him anything. It is, in fact, the other way around. Angel apologizes and offers to help them, and, he hopes, earn back their trust.
Lindsey's feelings for a certain undead blonde are alive and well and putting him at odds with Wolfram and Hart. He's been giving Darla refuge while her burns heal. But when Darla tried to steal the ring and use the glove against the senior partner, Lindsey was surprised. Yet he is still willing to save her from Wolfram and Hart security and protect her from their new order to stake Darla on sight. Then she tells him that she slept with Angel.
After her confession, Lindsey dons the clothes and vehicle of his rural Oklahoma childhood and plows down a dazed Angel in the street. Once the vamp looks weakened, Lindsey beats him with a sledgehammer, demanding to be told about Darla. Angel tells him nothing. Lindsey tries to stake him. When he returns home without his revenge or his plastic hand, Darla and her things are gone.
Lindsey has let this whole Darla thing get way too personal. It is no longer about Wolfram & Hart and whatever their plans, agendas, or schemes are. This is about "his woman," despite the fact that Darla does not think about Lindsey in a similar manner. ...I think Lindsey will do anything to "save" Darla, even if he can't have her for himself. Even if this means going against what W&H have in mind. ...And I think on some level Lindsey doesn't care if they find out. He's tottering on the edge of going into full self-destruct mode (purplegrrl, 28-Feb-01 12:18).
ster·e·o·type: an oversimplified standardized image or idea held by one person or group of another. ...in literature and drama objects such as cars and clothing take on a larger meaning than themselves, becoming symbols. In this case the symbols of the "t-shirt" and the "truck" were used to ...play upon and re-enforce ugly stereotypes (May, 16:36 3/02/01).