|Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 2 BtVS/season 3 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.|
Vampire invincibility: James goes to Dr. Gregson for an operation that will make him invulnerable for six hours and then end his unlife. Dr. Gregson removes James' vampire heart while injecting mystical potions into James' body through an I.V. The combination of no heart and the injection of the potion make James invulnerable to the usual vampire-killers.
Angel stakes James in the heart and throws him out into the sunlight, all without killing him. But James turns to dust on schedule when his six hours is over.
The invitation to vampires: College students at Wilson College get a room full of vamp party crashers by simply printing on their flyer "Back to school blast, come one, come all." So how come Angel can't get in a room in his own hotel without being invited? Because Angel isn't the owner according to the mortgage papers. The lease is in the company name (see Over the Rainbow). He therefore doesn't have owner's rights like, for example, Russel Winters had when he entered Tina's apartment in City Of...
Vampires and procreation: Darla is looking for a special shaman deep in the outback of Nicaragua. After she disposes of the man who provides the name of the shaman, we see why--the vampire Darla is very pregnant. How is this possible?
Vampires and love
Evil in "Heartthrob"
"Watch out for the girl, she's the worst of 'em" -- Cordelia, while having a vision
She may have been in love for two hundred years, but Elisabeth is far from loving. She is in fact a sadistic predator who leads a pack of vampires to a college dorm slaughter. She then takes two humans home as a gift for her beloved James. En route, she teases the young man with the prospect of trading his girlfriend's life for his own just to see if the young man will say "yes, take her, not me," after he's begged for his girlfriend's life. Elisabeth puts up a vicious fight against Angel and Co., but finally meets her end at the point of Angel's stake.
The evil of Angelus
Moral Ambiguity in "Heartthrob"
Holtz was a skilled vampire hunter (as opposed to a Slayer) who chased Angelus and Darla across half the European continent in the late 1700's until his mysterious disappearance in 1773 (Larson, McMillan, Vampiricus Conquestas, pg 412). The two sociopathic vamps were a special target for Holtz--Darla and Angelus tormented and killed his family.
Fred doesn't seem have made giant strides towards mental health in the three months since she left Pylea. She's traded her cave in Pylea for a room in Angel's hotel. Is it trauma from five years as a slave and a fugitive? Or is it simply morbid shyness towards the summer time Angel-less Investigations gang? We know very little about Fred's life in L.A. before she was sucked into Pylea. She was working as a librarian and studying to be a physicist. In Pylea, she tells Angel that she "knows what it's like to be squirrely and a freak"--presumably not a Pylean judgment. It is possible that Fred was already something of a recluse and an eccentric before she ever went to Pylea. She may have been a woman whose life revolved around thinking, ideas, and numbers rather than developing social skills.
The moral ambiguity of Wesley
Merl the stoolie
Philosophies Represented in "Heartthrob"
What is true love?
"It's not real unless it kills you? This your idea of love, James?" --Angel
James is a dark, passionate Byronic romantic. He takes every aspect of his unlife to the extreme: He doesn't just feed on a victim, he burns the man's villa to the ground; He is not merely grief-stricken when his lover Elisabeth dies, he wants to die as well; He doesn't just fight Angel vamp to vamp to get revenge, he makes himself invulnerable first.
For James, one cannot truly love without wanting to die in response to a true love's death. This is a pretty strict criterion of "true love", for a vampire or a human.
The Angelus he knew was incapable of loving anyone but himself. Angelus betrayed Darla's safety as easily as Darla betrayed his. James cannot easily believe that the Angel he meets in the present has changed at all, despite Angel's attempts to protect Cordy. When James hears of Buffy's death, he concludes that Angel could not have truly loved her--after all, he's standing there, alive, three months later.
"In all those years no one ever mattered, not like she did."
Angel worries that his ability to deal with Buffy's death is a betrayal of her. This despite the fact that he has isolated himself for three solid months in an attempt to deal with his pain. Should he be like James, ready to die at his own hand in grief?
Cordelia argues that James' attitude is a sign that he is a "sick obsessed vampire". Angel, on the other hand, is getting on with the good fight--the task Buffy lived her life for. By doing this, he is honoring her life. If he could have been there to save her or die trying, he would have. But he couldn't.
People react to grief differently. Some become vocal, act out in an obvious way, and some internalize their emotions. Just because someone isn't grieving in a way that is most recognizable as grief, doesn't mean they don't feel any pain, it just isn't obvious to the average person. Cordy and the rest of the gang knew that Angel had been greatly affected by the death of Buffy. But ...we must remember that it had been three months since he first found out. Also look to Buffys final words about loving her friends and to "live-live for me", how would becoming imobilized indefinately be living and carrying on the fight that was so important to Buffy. Angel had time to get over the relationship, time to grieve....just because after 3 months he seemed to be recovering from the worst of it doesn't mean that Buffys death meant nothing to him (Rufus, 8:42 9/27/01).
That Vision Thing
The Metaphysics of "That Vision Thing"
Psychic visions: Cordy has three violent visions in which she sees things that leave physical traces on her body:
The tracing process: Cordelia and the others are puzzled about why the benevolent Powers That Be would harm Cordelia in her visions. Fred suggests tracing the visions back to their source. Wesley theorizes that the Host's ability to read auras might accomplish this--Lorne uses this skill to put people on their paths, and Cordelia's visions are part of her path.
While Lorne and Cordy are in a trance together, Cordelia gets her third vision and sends Lorne flying across the room. After Lorne recovers, he explains that the visions aren't from the Powers. The source is local, in the city. Someone has "hacked" into Cordy's head and is sending her visions through the "celestial pipeline" the Powers use. Whoever did this would have to have the connections to hire a psychic with that kind of power. Angel immediately thinks of Wolfram and Hart.
The psychic: Lilah Morgan has hired a powerful psychic to send Cordelia the visions. The psychic sits on a table in Lilah's office and begins to float. The top of his skull has been cut off, exposing his brain. This apparently helps tune his psychic abiities. As he sends Cordelia a vision, his brain bulges slightly. This illicit tapping into Cordelia's mind has the unfortunate side effect of creating physical wounds to match the vision content.
Entering the prison dimension: Angel, Wesley and Gunn retrieve the coin in Cordelia's first vision and the key from her second vision. Wesley puts the key in the hole in the center of the coin and spins it on the floor like a top. It creates a cone of energy that is a portal to a demon dimension. Angel steps through and arrives without his weapon. But he still has the coin and key--his way out.
Darla goes to a shaman. He mixes some of her blood and some herbs in his hands and lays them on her abdomen. He is thrown backward by the force of whatever is inside her, but he cannot tell her what it is or why she is pregnant (he does assume it has a vampire father, though). Nor can he help her get rid of it, something Darla has been unsuccessful at herself. Darla decides to go see Angel.
Evil in "That Vision Thing"
Lilah Morgan, now Vice President in charge of Special Projects, wants to free an evil man trapped in a demon dimension so she can use him for her own purposes. Her plan is to trick Angel into rescuing the man by sending Angel on a "mission" via Cordelia's visions. When Angel infers that Wolfram and Hart are behind the visions, he takes the coin and key to Lilah to get her to stop torturing Cordelia. This doesn't stop Lilah. She still has the ability to send Cordy the wounding visions. She blackmails Angel into finishing the "mission".
Gavin Park, an attorney with Wolfram and Hart, has been moved from the Real Estate division into Special Projects by the Senior Partners in order to use his bureaucratic skills to harass Angel. Park apprises Angel that he has filed 57 different city code housing violations against Angel's hotel with the city planning office.
Gavin Park... is going to be the real problem for Angel.... Lilah's schemes are big and clumsy and easy to throw a wrench (or a big iron spike) into. But Gavin's death by ten thousand red tape papercuts is something to really fear (Ryuei, 10/02/01 10:23).
Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "That Vision Thing"
Cordelia has always had mixed feelings about her visions, but when they are threatened, her attachment to them shows. She is afraid that if Lorne traces the visions back to their source and her wounds are cured, she might lose her visions too. But why be attached to something that feels like hot lava being poured into your cracked skull? Because Cordelia fears that if she loses her visions, Angel and the others won't need her anymore. Her job has been the one place that she's belonged since she lost everything after high school.
Angel's Choice: Save Cordelia now or keep an evil man imprisoned?
When Cordelia shows her friends the physical manifestations from her visions, Angel's only concern is to help her. He will do whatever it takes, including cooperating with Wolfram and Hart, to accomplish this.
Wesley informs Angel that the clawed Chinese couple and the welt-demon Angel pummeled were soldiers of Good, guardians of a coin and key that unlock a demon dimension. Cordelia was sent visions of these objects by Wolfram and Hart to lead Angel to where a man is being held prisoner. If Wolfram and Hart want this man freed, Wesley argues, he can't be good. And helping Wolfram and Hart, Wesley points out, violates everything Angel stands for.
...Wesley is the one who figured out that the old Chinese couple, and the slimey demon, were all on the side of the Good - so it wasn't a surprise that Skip was a good guy, too. This isn't the first time that Angel has acted on a vision without considering that there's more to the picture; he killed that Prio Motu and found out afterwards it was one of the White Hats.... Cordelia's visions may be useful, but the episode revealed exactly how vulnerable they are.... Cordelia gets the image, but not the context or intention, in terms of the creature's bias towards good or bad (Solitude1056, 16:36 10/02/01).
|Despite Wesley's warnings, Angel enters the fortressed demon dimension. There,he finds a man burning alive with fire that doesn't consume his body. The metal-covered demon (Skip) holding this prisoner says, "do have any idea how monsterous a guy's gotta be before he gets sent to us?" It makes little sense to Skip that Angel, a warrior for the Powers, should be trying to save this guy.|
Angel doesn't like what he's doing either, but he does it anyway. He knocks Skip unconscious so that Skip's will no longer holds the prisoner, then he takes the prisoner to a water way back in Los Angeles where Lilah is waiting. Lilah signals the fez-wearing psychic to remove Cordelia's wounds. As soon as Fred tells Wesley that Cordelia has recovered, Angel delivers the man to Lilah. Just to be on the safe side, Angel picks up a rebar and kills the (human? demon?) psychic, then threatens Lilah if she ever uses Cordelia again.
Later, Cordelia tells Angel that his act was "selfless and brave". But she also worries that about people who might be hurt or killed by the man Angel freed. Angel argues that Cordelia's life and sanity were more important than what may or may not happen in the future. He tells her he'll deal with the consequences when they happen.
Angel made a conscious decision to unleash a potential new evil while trying to do something good. ...there will surely be consequences. He did it without killing Skip and eliminating another good warrior, i.e. doing as little damage as he could. In the absence of any other information, he could reasonably believe this was an evil he could handle later.... It [is] reminiscent of Holland Manners in "Reprise": "Winning, of course not, we have no intention of doing anything as prosaic as winning." If that is the case, Angel can afford to let them have one battle to protect his own people. (Rattletrap, 10/02/01 5:11).
...Only real evil people get that type of punishment. I don't think he was there for cheating on his taxes. What Angel did will harm people. Innocent people will suffer greatly for Angel's act. ...Many of them. All because Angel was "selfish" enough to think of a friend before thinking of the obvious consequences.... there is something about a friend, something about family, that you do go out of the way to protect. You will sacrifice all morality to help someone you are close to (Raven Eye, 10/02/01 22:44).
That Old Gang of Mine
The Metaphysics of "That Old Gang of Mine"
The transuding furies are three sisters whom Lorne has hired to cast a monthly sanctorium spell on Caritas. The spell creates a mystical barrier that appears when violent demons try to attack someone in the club."Transuding" means "to exude or give off". This may refer to the sisters' posession of some sort of mystical energy that they use to accomplish their work. Angel sends Cordelia to the furies to have them lift the sanctorium spell so that he can fight the men who have invaded Caritas.
Yarbnie demons are balancing demons (demons whose tendencies towards good balances out the evil nature of other demons). Yarbnies tend to nest in urban areas and are non-violent.
Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "That Old Gang of Mine"
Reasons for killing demons
"We used to chase death because we had to. Now you go chasing it down, man, for the fun of it." --Gunn
The death of the informant Merle puts Angel and Wesley on the trail of a killer who is slaughtering demons--but not for any particular threat that they pose. Wesley determines that the victims had integrated themselves into human society and were abiding by its laws. Angel's observations of the evidence lead him to conclude the killer's central motive is to have fun. Rather than aiming for a vital organ, the killers are hacking and shooting their victims to bits.
When Gunn finds the tip of one of his old crossbows at a death scene, he confronts his old street friends about it. Rondell admits they did the killing. In Rondell's view, non-human equals "enemy" and they are protecting our own by initiating an offensive against anything demonic. Gunn tells Rondell that he has "lost the mission". When Gunn led the group, they merely defended themselves against those who tried to kill them. In Gunn's view, an offensive fight that takes out the harmless as well as the harmful is wrong. In the end, the two old friends find no resolution and agree to go their separate ways.
It has been specifically stated in previous episodes that not all demons are evil. ...and we have seen evidence that it is true. ...Gunn's old gang was killing sentient beings because of what they looked like, not because of anything they had done. Not only that, but they were having fun doing it. How were they any different from the souless vampires they hunted? (Traveler, 10/10/01 21:04)
Why did Gunn choose to become a member of Angel Investigations?
Charles Gunn was a passionate and involved leader of a group of vampire-hunting street kids, and he remained the leader of this group for months after meeting Angel. Although he occassionally helped out Angel Investigations, he didn't become a full-time employee until the middle of Season 2. Why did he decide to make the switch? His reasons for leaving his old group have never been made clear.
Gunn has never totally abandoned his old friends, and his visit to them triggers his conflicted loyalties. He questions Wesley and Angel's investigation of the demon deaths--they kill demons everyday; why refer to a demon's place of death as a "crime scene"? Later, Gunn realizess his old friends are the culprit Angel and Wesley are looking for. He struggles between telling Wesley the truth and protecting his old friends.
When those friends shoot up Caritas with guns, though, the truth is out--on both sides. Gunn's old crew see him defending Lorne against them and decide to put him to the test. They send Cordelia to get Angel. When Angel arrives, they arm Gunn with a stake and tell him to kill Angel. Gunn admits to them that he doesn't consider Angel his friend. Nevertheless, he choses Angel over Rondell and his crew. "It's about the mission, bro," he explains. Angel Investigations is following the mission he believes in; his old friends are not.
Fred is still not adjusting well to life back in our dimension, so Cordelia invites her out for an evening at Caritas. This puts them in the middle of the attack on the club. When Gunn refuses to kill Angel, Gio asks for a volunteer. The person who agrees will be allowed to escape the bar with their life. Fred pretends to step up to the challenge. In actuality, she wants to defend Angel. Gio hands her the cross bow. She aims it at Gio's throat and describes what shooting it will do to him. Gio manages to get the cross-bow back. At that moment, the sanctorium spell is lifted and Angel leaps into the fight. A praying mantis demon bites Gio's head off.
The Host may be a benevolent guy who just wants to belt out a tune, but what's up with letting baby-eaters and praying mantis demons into Caritas?
Caritas is a neutral zone and the best place to get to "know the enemy" and also to realize that ...demons are ...not necessarily baby-eaters or blood-drinkers or gaint praying mantis creatures (of course some are though). And for those who are - isn't it a good thing to keep an eye on who's in town? There is a great saying that applies here: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" (Ryuei, 10:12 10/09/01).
The Metaphysics of "Carpe Noctem"
Transmigration: Marcus Roscoe, a 76 year-old man with a weak heart, parties it up in penthouse suites with booze, whores, and fur flying by "borrowing" the bodies of twenty-something body-builders. He transfers his own "essence" (spirit and soul) into the other men's bodies while the victim's essence enters Marcus' body. The young bodies soon collapse under the stress of Marcus' spell, however, and he must exchange places again before the their insides dissolve and leave only an empty skin husk.
The Algurian body-switching spell: To enact the transmigration spell, Marcus recites an incantation:
Alii permutat anima kimota.
Alii permutat anima kimota.
The incantation ignites the power a small Algurian conjuring orb. As the orb begins to glow. Marcus' essence (in the form of a stream of energy) leaves his body and enters his victim's body. The reverse also happens.
Where was Angelus during the "body switch"?
Theory #1: If you take the standard view that a vampire is a human body transformed and possessed by a "demon soul", this is a legitimate question. If Angelus is a separate entity from Angel and his soul, then Angelus must have remained with the demon body. So why didn't he create havoc for Marcus? Perhaps because Marcus was giving into the vampiric desires of the body. It is still difficult to explain why Marcus didn't kill Lilah on this theory, however.
Theory #2: The second view argues that this question is a misleading one, because it assumes that Angelus is a separate personality coexisting with Angel inside his body. On this view, Angelus is part of Angel. You have
o The human Liam, who had
(1) human physiology, (2) a "spirit": memories, consciousness, intelligence, and basic personality traits, and (3) a human soul (conscience),
o who was then turned into Angelus with an altered demonic vampire physiology (including blood lust) and the subtraction of the soul (conscience):
Angelus = (1) Liam's "spirit": memories, consciousness, intelligence, and basic personality traits + (2) demonic vampire physiology - (3) human soul (conscience)
o Angel is just Angelus + human soul. In other words,
Angel = (1) Liam's "spirit": memories, consciousness, intelligence, and basic personality traits + (2) demonic vampire physiology + (3) human soul.
In other words, there is no person known as "Angelus" separate from the person known as "Angel". When Angel "fights" Angelus, it is his human soul struggling against his own personality weaknesses and the instincts of the vampire physiology.
In Through the Looking Glass, we learned that a pure vampire demon operates on instinct--without reason or intelligence. This means that the cunning evil of Angelus was due to Liam's personality traits unchecked by a human conscience and driven by animalistic blood-lust.
What does this mean in the present episode? It means hat when Angel's essence was transferred into Marcus' body, his (1) "spirit": memories, consciousness, intelligence and basic personality traits--the root of Angelus' cunning evil--went with him along with (2) his soul (conscience). All that was left in the body were the mindless vampire instincts, which Marcus's (1) "spirit": memory, consciousness, intelligence, and personality and his (2) very inadequate human soul (conscience) then had to deal with.
Good in "Carpe Noctem"
The Angel Investigations gang reads about Marcus' victims in the newspaper and begins investigating the deaths. Cordelia determines that all the victims belonged to the same health club. At the club, Angel sees Marcus' binoculars outside the window and goes over to the Monserrat Retirement Community. Angel considers Marcus a potential witness until Marcus switches their bodies. The weak heart in Marcus' body prevents Angel's escape, so it is up to Angel's friends to help him.
Meanwhile, Marcus is causing havoc in Angel's body, Wesley points out that "Angel'"s behavior sounds a lot like the men they are investigating--each of the victims exhibited wild, uncharacteristic behavior before they died. Cordelia takes the A.I. gang to the retirement home where they confront Marcus in Angel's body. Marcus puts up a fight, but Cordelia manages to subdue him with a stun-gun.
Evil in "Carpe Noctem"
Marcus seems like a lonely old man at first glance--a man who worked alone as a salesman for fifty years and now can't enjoy his retirement due to a weak heart. He is also a virtual prisoner at the retirement home. However, Marcus' deeds reveal a man who is self-centered and selfish. He is only interested in what gives him pleasure and steals other men's bodies to pursue those pleasures at the expense of his victim's lives.
In an unaired sub-plot that appears in the shooting script for this episode, we learn that Marcus neglected his family to have affairs with other women and travel the world searching for magicks to keep himself young. When Marcus realizes he has taken over a vampire's body, he has no compunction about using the blood-lust and strength to harm others. He has what he always wanted: an eternally young body that won't wear out under the stress of his spell.
Marcus goes to the retirement home to kill Angel in his old body. He chides Angel for being a vampire that helps people. But the good Angel has friends, while the selfish Marcus doesn't, and Wesley performs the spell that reverses the transmigration. Back in his old body, Marcus' heart weakens again. As the gang leaves, Marcus goes code blue.
Lilah isn't impressed with Gavin Park's bureaucratic machinations, even when he points out that Angel is a non-person as far as society is concerned--he has no social security number and no last name. In other words, Angel can't fight back if Gavin sics the Building Commission on him. Lilah decides to undermine Gavin's efforts by forging the building permits Angel needs.
She takes them over to Angel's hotel and finds herself at the receiving end of Marcus' seduction. Although Lilah fears Angel in a healthy way, she has harbored a secret attraction to him, and Angel's status as a dangerous enemy of Wolfram and Hart is part of that attraction. She gives into lust. Not a smart move, but not out of character for a woman who will do just about anything to please herself under other circumstances.
Moral Ambiguity in Carpe Noctem"
Fred has a crush on Angel and when Angel wants company for the evening, Fred joins him. She later talks as if the outing was a date, and this concerns Cordelia, who knows Angel's history with romance. Cordelia tells Angel he needs to speak to Fred about it, but Angel procrastinates. Later, Cordelia finds Fred crying in the elevator after she discovered "Angel" and Lilah kissing in the office. Fred is devastated. Cordelia tells her about the happiness clause of the curse. When the gang goes to help the real Angel, Fred gives Marcus-in-Angel's body a wallop with a club. Later, she seems to almost envy his ability to avoid the heartache and disappointment of love.
The Metaphysics of "Fredless"
It's rather odd for a Durslar beast to jump out of the freezer at Haagen Dazs. These sewer-dwelling demons are mostly sound and no fury. When the Durslar attacks Angel after a chase, though, it gives him a fight before Angel decapitates it and brings the head home as a souveneir. Why is this Durslar so odd? You would be, too if you had insect demon eggs in your head.
The mystery of the purple crystals
Fred deduces that the insect demons have something to do with the Durslar--which means they'll be coming after the Angel Investigations gang. Sure enough, a posse of insect demons converges on the garden patio.
Good in "Fredless"
It's superheroes to the rescue when a giant insect demon attacks the gang in the bus station. Angel attacks with fists, Gunn with a bow and arrow, and the others with a handy set of golf clubs. When Angel gets pinned by an insect-demon's pincers, Fred rescues him with a golf club, putting herself in danger. Fred's dad helps out by smashing Buggy with a trashcan. But that's nothing compared to mom, who slams the insect demon with a bus. "Did I get it? Did I get it?"
Moral Ambiguity in "Fredless"
Roger and Trish Burkle haven't heard from their daughter in five years. Then they receive a letter from the newly Earth-bound Fred telling them that she is all right and to stop looking for her. They hire a private detective who tracks Fred down at a Hollywood hotel. Mom and Dad arrive to find an odd group of friends there who are obviously hiding something. And Fred is the oddest of them all, with crazy writing all over her wall. The Burkles consider calling the police. Before they can get that far, though, they find out what Angel Investigations is all about--and why Fred wants to be there.
"Once upon a time there was a girl who lived all alone in a horrible cave so far from home it made her chest hurt. And every day in that horrible cave, the girl tried to figure out a way to escape. None of her plans ever succeeded, of course, and she'd almost given up hopin' but then one day, just like in a fairy tale, a handsome man rode up on a horse and saved her, and took her back to his castle. You'd think that was the end, wouldn'tcha? Dumb old fairy tales and their happily ever afters.
But see, the minute they got back to the castle, the handsome man went away again. And even though she didn't mean to, didn't want to ... high up in that castle tower ... the girl just built herself another cave. Hoping he would save her again. But you can't save me this time."
Fred isn't happy to see her parents; instead, she grabs her belongings and leaves. Eventually, she goes at Caritas to get the Host's advice. He can tell she's scared. When Fred confronts her parents at the bus station, she goes into heavy denial. She doesn't want to believe her parents are standing in front of her. She was traumatized by her five years in Pylea. To survive, she tried to forget the people she loved, and to pretend that everything she saw and remembered wasn't real. Her life had become "a storybook... with monsters."
Fred comes to terms with the reality of what she went through and decides to go home to Texas with her parents. On the way out of town, however, she deduces that her friends are in danger from the insect demons. Fred returns to the hotel and uses her battle axe catapult to split open the head of the Durslar beast. Insect demon babies swarm out. The insects were using the Durslar head to incubate their young. When Angel claimed the head as a souvenir, the insects were ready to fight the gang for posession of it. After Fred releases the babies, though, the bugs take their young and go. Fred decides not to go home with her parents after all. She can face the realities of the world just fine now, and even contribute to the good fight.
The Host isn't his usual cordial self with the Angel Investigations gang, and he's downright rude to Gunn. But look at it from Lorne's perspective--his place of business was shot up and everyone's so focused on Fred's whereabouts they've forgetten how he might be feeling. A little depressed, by the looks of it--it's been a couple weeks and he still hasn't tried to clean up the club. Or take off his bathrobe.
I don't blame Lorne. He has been kicked around a fair bit lately. ...Everyone that comes through the door of his club want something from Lorne, not the other way around. It's enough to send any well dressed demon straight to terrycloth and smokes. It's time for the gang to realize his contribution to the cause and help him clean up his place and make him feel better (Rufus, 10/23/01 1:03).
Is Gunn being set up for estrangement from his colleagues? When he decides to wait outside at Caritas, the Host is outspokenly happy with the decision. Later, when Angel tries to protest that he's "not really a hero", Gunn jokingly quips, "More like a bloodsucking fiend." Or is he joking? We already know Gunn doesn't consider the vamp his friend.
The Metaphysics of "Billy"
The demonic touch: Billy Blim's blood has the power to turn men into misogynistic killers. Fred concludes that this power is in his other body fluids as well, e.g., sweat and saliva. When Billy touches a man's skin, his fingers leave a glowing red print on the man that quickly fades away. But what does the power do to these men?
(1) Theory #1: Lilah argues that it brings out a rage that already exists deep down in the men's psyche (what she calls "primordial misogyny"). Angel later claims that he is immune to Billy's touch because as a vampire he had no such hatred for Billy to bring out. Angelus never did anything out of hatred, but out of pleasure.
I have serious, serious problems with the idea of a "primordial misogyny." ...that just smacks of sociobiology and evolutionary theories that claim that rape and violence against women are natural expressions of drives inherent in all men. To claim that all men (and women) internalize to differing degrees the attitudes of a society that is (and has historically been) sexist (and racist, and homophobic) is one thing. ...However, to assume that the hatred of women was latent in all of the men in the Angelverse--that it is essential, ahistorical, and unchangeable--is quite another. It's a stance that I find deeply troubling (sassette, 10/29/01 20:00).
#2: Billy was transferring his own
hatred into the men. This theory comes out in Fred's argument
to Wesley that his homicidal behavior towards
her "wasn't you." She asks him if he wants to kill
her now, days later, and he says no. "It wasn't something
in you, Wesley," she says. "It was something that was
done to you."
The invitation to vampires: Angel can't enter human Lilah's apartment, but he is able to walk through the broken front window of Billy's home without an invitation. Billy says Angel has a "standing invitation" and that alone would negate the need for a formal invitation. But Billy is a demon-human hybrid. How he acquired this heritage is never explained.
Evil and Good in "Billy"
Billy: The normally quiescent Gavin Park beats Lilah and tries to choke her. A man with no history of domestic violence kills his wife in a convenience store. A male cop attacks his female partner with such fury the woman is forced to shoot him. A cab driver beats up one of his female fares. Billy Blim, the boy Angel rescued from a fiery demon dimension prison, has escaped his family's custody and is out wreaking havoc in L.A. However Billy drives men to violence, he is responsible for their actions and derives pleasure from the pain he causes. And as a powerful congressman's nephew, the law can't touch him.
Fred: Under the influence of Billy's bloody hand print, Wesley cruelly derides Fred about her alleged "taunting" of him, then threatens rape and murder. He stalks her through the hotel with a battle ax, telling Fred how she, like all women, is plotting to bring men down--essentially blaming her for his own desire to hurt her. Fred fights him off. She then runs into Gunn, who has touched Billy's blood downstairs as well, but is not yet effected.
Gunn realizes he soon will be and breaks off a chair leg which he gives to Fred. He tells her to knock him unconscious. After he grows more violent. Fred hits him with it twice. Then Wesley breaks in. He assumes he will find Fred hiding in a closet. Instead, he falls into the trap she's sprung. Fred pulls on a rope and a fire extinguisher swings down and knocks Wesley into a tarp covering a hole Fred inadvertently created earlier. Wesley lands unconscious in the room below.
Cordy has always been tough, but in high school, her attitude towards the Slayers revealed a girl who saw fighting skills as unfeminine. A lot has changed since high school. Not only does Cordelia insist that Angel teach her how to defeat an opponent (rather than just keeping them at bay), she decides to go after Billy Blim herself. First though, she goes to Lilah to get her help. Cordelia tells Lilah that a "vicious bitch" like her would not take any shit from anyone, as Lilah seems to be doing. Cordelia isn't insulting Lilah with this term; she is taking a phrase used to insult women and is giving it a positive meaning as a phrase of empowerment. Afterwards, Cordelia tracks Billy down at the airport. She tasers him and aims a crossbow at his throat. She may not have had to make the kill this time, but look for more fight from Cordelia in the future.
Moral Ambiguity in "Billy"
Lilah has become a victim of Wolfram and Hart's pact with evil. In order to protect her client Billy, she must put up with the havoc his powers cause, even when it harms her directly. Cordelia tells Lilah that she is experiencing what Cordelia went through with the harmful visions--she has been turned into a victim by someone who doesn't think of her as a human being. She tells Lilah that she doesn't have to put up with that. Lilah's choice is not so simple, however. Fighting back against Billy puts her job at risk. It's a job she has chosen with eyes wide open, granted, but it makes her decision a significant one when she shoots Billy down at the airport during his fight with Angel.
Ethical Quandaries in "Billy"
Cordy takes the death of the woman in the convenience store personally. Angel saved her from her vision-induced injuries by setting Billy free, and now Billy is out instigating violent attacks of men on women. But while Cordelia's injuries were a step in the causal chain that led to Billy's freedom, she made no free choices that led to this state of affairs.
Angel feels some responsibility as well. And indeed, his conscious choice to put Cordelia's welfare above the safety of others gives him some culpability in what is now happening. He was presented with a tough choice under Lilah's blackmail, however. As Angel tells Cordy, Lilah is the person most directly responsible for freeing Billy. Ultimately, though the person responsible for the violence and death now going on is Billy himself, but he would not have been free to do it without Lilah's acquiescing to her clients' demands to find a means to free him.
Although Fred argues that Wesley wasn't responsible for his actions, Wesley isn't sure. He was under the influence of Billy's demonic blood, but did Billy simply transfer his own rage to Wesley, or did he bring out something that was inside Wesley all the time? The answer lies in determining just how Billy's blood influences the men he touches. However this occurs, the incident causes Wesley to question his identity as a "good man", despite the remorse and trauma he feels in the aftermath of what happened.
It is interesting as well that Wesley's verbal abuse of Fred reflects attitudes he likely developed in his own British upbringing:
Wesley didn't seem to be merely mad at Fred (or women in general). His loss of inhibitions caused him to spout a long diatribe of Victorian-era Christian fundamentalist misogyny which was no doubt drilled into him by his father. That went beyond mere anger. It was a whole complex of previously unarticulated thoughts and feelings directed towards women that it seems even Wesley was not aware lurked within (Ryuei, 10/30/01 13:29).