Previously: Lorne did a memory spell that briefly went terribly awry when everyone woke up with 17-year-old brains/memories and tied him to a chair. He fixed it and Cordelia remembered all the things but didn’t inform us of much beyond your basic reminder that sometimes we forget shit on purpose.
Sweeney: This post is obviously incredibly late. It is mostly late because I’ve been enjoying some much-needed family time. (Also, feeling incredibly old because I feel like family time is a lot more exhausting than it used to be.) The other reason this post is late is that everyone would not stop going on about how painful this episode is. Half a dozen people discussed the necessity of brain bleach for this particular episode. I had the choice of stuffing my face with cookies until I passed out in a painful-but-glorious food coma or watching the ZOMG BRAIN BLEACH 5EVA episode; I stand by my choices. In spite of our many drinking games, I can’t actually write a recap while shitfaced. It doesn’t work out well for anyone.
That was my long-winded introduction to say that even though I haven’t seen the episode yet, I already know it’s rated BB.
All of these points (lateness, family time, BRAIN BLEACH, etc.) also serve as an explanation for how little stopping and rewinding I plan to do, so feel free to play, “Spot the errors!” as you read and identify pertinent details I left out. These drinking games are for you, dear readers.
Lorraine: Yeah, Merry Christmas and all that. I watched this episode last week sometime and my gift to myself is NOT revisiting it for the sake of this post. I’m sure between the three of us we’ll come up with an semi-accurate recap. It’ll be great.
Kirsti: And if it’s not accurate, then that’s just probably for the best!!
Sweeney: Lorne and Angel are arguing about whether or not it’s time to start asking Cordelia to talk about what she remembers – Angel is erring on the side of giving her time, probably because the whole, “We were in love,” thing still burns. Lorne turns to Fred & Gunn for backup, but they’re distracted by gathering weapons for a case and also the giant MURDER chasm between them. Angel assures Lorne that it’s NBD because the world isn’t going to end ASAP or anything. The title merely says that the apocalypse is “nowish” which is kind of standard for the Buffyverse, right? Right.
Lor: Apocalypse always-ish.
Sweeney: End-of-world talk is our cue to segue magic to a scream. It’s part of a movie Cordelia is watching at Connor’s Brain Bleach Attic. He returns with junk food and she offers half an explanation of the movie she’s watching – she only vaguely remembers, not because of the amnesia fuzziness, but because of she saw it as a child. Long before he was a child. “Natural fuzz.” Cordelia thanks him for the junk food and everything else he did for her, insisting that she would have been lost without him. He says it was NBD and it’s sweet up until he kneels in front of her, brushing her hair back and telling her to rest. Then it makes me uncomfortable.
K: “It makes me uncomfortable” is a pretty good description of this episode as a whole.
Sweeney: Cordelia says that every time she closes her eyes she sees the gross thing that we saw at the end of the last episode. She can hear and feel and taste the flesh of everyone it’s going to kill. Which is also ew. She wants to warn Angel but can’t find the words. You know, like the ones she’s using right now. This mass destruction is almost here and she can feel it. “I know,” is the deep-voiced response. Perspective switches and in Connor’s place is the demon Cordelia saw, grabbing her by the throat. She screams and wakes up.
I know this episode is BB, so pause to say that I liked this transition. Apocalypse talk segued us to a scream, but it turned out to be just ice cream and subtle gross romantic subtext. But then! That gross romantic subtext built into the apocalyptic conversation.
Connor rushes in so that we can do that gross romantic subtext for a second time in a row! “Yay!” said no one. He asks if she’s all right and she cries into his shoulder. That was simpler than I was expecting. Maybe all this mental preparation will serve me well. Electric cellos.
Lor: Mmhmmm. Let’s please monitor this so-called “mental preparation” for the remainder of this episode.
Sweeney: Brooding Hotel. Lorne is taking a call from a client about snakes that have gone up somewhere. It’s implied that they could have entered by way of something sexual. Or maybe Brain Bleach Paranoia has me convinced that everything has unpleasant sexual undertones. (K: I don’t think it’s the BBP, just quietly) Angel cleans a sword and says that they can fight snakes if they are demonic, but Lorne isn’t clear on that.
Fred and Gunn arrive at the job, in a fancy-ish house. A woman is explaining that the thing she called them about is horrible and there’s lots of miserable grunting and groaning going on. AHEM. They step inside what turns out to be a giant bathroom. Gunn says something about them moving into a place with a fancy bathroom one day and Fred gives an awkward, “Yeah…” because she’ll be busy shaving her hands while motorcycling to Africa then. (L: BOTH. DAAAAAMN.)
Fred is saved by the rumbling noise they came to investigate. They can’t figure out what caused it. Just as Gunn leans into the mirror, it bursts. On the other side there are rats. Within seconds, the entire place is crawling with them. These two demon hunting badasses squeal like children and flee. They tell the homeowner to call an exterminator, because apparently rats are the line they won’t cross. Good to know.
K: Dude, if there were suddenly a million sewer rats everywhere, I’d be getting the fuck out too. Although I ran and hid from a massive wasp that was in our bathroom earlier and made my mum deal with it, so…yeah.
Sweeney: Wesley returns to his apartment to find Lilah there. He asks why she’s dressed like that and we pan around to see that she’s dressed like Baby One More Time Britney Spears, but with glasses like Fred’s. “Isn’t this what you like,” she drawls. He tells her to cut it out, but she commits to the bit, mocking Fred in her silly accent. Wesley smirks and asks if she’s done. Lilah says that she saw him at Fred’s thing, but has no fucks to give because he’ll end up in her bed. Wes asks if she thinks she knows him. “Better than she ever will,” Lilah answers. They fuck, and Wesley orders her to keep the glasses on. (K: Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. I just hate them so much.)
Brooding Hotel. A glasses-free Fred is telling Gunn that her bath is going to be some solo time. There’s a whole lot of, “We need to talk,” implied here. Fred doesn’t want to do this, but Gunn’s tired of avoiding the conversation. I’m annoyed with him, but I can at least appreciate someone saying, “Hey, it’s time that we all use our words!” He says that they haven’t even touched each other since, and Fred finishes, “since they murdered the professor.” Gunn corrects that it was him and they have an annoying conversation about whose heart it’s in. Fred says it’s in his and runs off. Are they done yet? Please tell me they can be done now. I can handle a drawn out break up if I at least care about one of the people involved but this whole situation is a giant, “Fuck you both,” for me.
Lor: +1. Doesn’t help that I was over these two the moment they started.
K: I was on board with the cute at first, but then they started kissing with mouthfuls of pancakes, and EW.
Sweeney: The mouth-full-of-pancakes-kissing was unacceptable.
More phone calls. Lorne passes a call off to Gunn. He talks to Angel who wants to know if it’s best to organize weapons by nomenclature or damage. Cute. Lorne votes damage because heat-of-the-moment efficiency. Lorne moves the conversation toward getting more help around the office, like, say, Cordelia.
This conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Connor. They have an actual sweet moment — the surest sign of bad things ahead — about Connor being helpful in the last episode. Nobody mentions that it was mostly because Connor thought he was going to get laid. I know, everyone, you’re welcome! Connor is there to tell Angel to talk to Cordelia which makes Lorne’s day. Angel makes some excuses, but is cut off by, “Dad, please.” Nice move, friend.
Lor: Manipulative, creepy-face-having friend. Sorry. Hate Connor.
Sweeney: Fair. I was naively assuming that this might lead to a conversation that made actual story-progression sense.
Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia’s annoyed that Connor got Angel, but comforted when he sits down and holds her hand. Connor awkwardly scurries off, because seeing your dad’s connection with the lady you’re chasing should be a boner killer. Just a guess. Angel tries to awkwardly start this conversation. Cordelia says that she loves him and always will, but it’s more complicated than that. When she got her memory back everything came with it, including her time as a higher being. That included feeling and experiencing everything Angel did as Angelus, which is the reason she can’t be with him.
I’m trying really hard to appreciate the weight of Cordelia’s words, but this explanation is frustrating as a viewer. We’re sitting over here, where the Angelus stuff has been treated as the distant past thing and the show has worked so damn hard to create a distinction between Angelus and Angel. I can almost appreciate the concept of what’s happening here – blurring that distinction and suggesting that a human being wouldn’t be able to get past it if they’d really felt all the feels of his time as a mass murderer. However, I can’t get behind it because it feels so abrupt and inconsistent with the way these characters have been pitched to us. Nor was there anything in what we saw of her as a higher being to make this ring true. I’m assuming that we’re meant to believe that the experience is now super fresh for her and that’s the issue. That explanation doesn’t make this feel any less hasty. Or bullshit. This whole MEMORY! SWOOSH! device is annoying. Dislike.
Lor: AGREED FOREVER. This was about the time I started ranting about my supreme dislike for this episode. There is nothing about Cordelia or their storyline so far that would make me buy this as a progression of the story. Yick.
K: The whole thing smacks very strongly of “Charisma Carpenter’s announced that she’s pregnant so we have to do a rewrite of Cordy’s storyline, but we don’t really give a fuck so let’s half arse it as much as possible, WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
Sweeney: All of that is interrupted by Cordelia looking dizzy and faint as she’s interrupted by another vision of the terrible red, horned demon. Her eyes get white. “He’s coming. He’s coming now.”
Not Break. Angel’s confused because the visions aren’t supposed to hurt, but she says that this wasn’t like the others – more Niagara Falls than lawn sprinkler. There’s a BB closeup of Cordelia putting her hand on Connor’s hand. Other than that, Cordelia can only add that it’s, “Big. Powerful. Clawing its way up through the bowels of the Earth to slaughter us all.” She continues, “It’s coming Angel, and it won’t stop, until we’re all…It won’t stop.” She’s also pretty sure that she knew more as a higher being, but can’t get at that information. They consider forcing Lorne to read her again.
Brooding Hotel. Phones are ringing off the hook and Lorne wants Gunn to go get Fred, but he says that if she wanted to be there she would. He says that if Lorne wants to know what’s going on and Gunn suggests talking to Fred. Gunn admits that things have been rough since the professor incident. Lorne says that this makes sense, but implies that getting sent to Pylea was the right thing to do, oblivious to the actual murdery reality of the situation.
There’s a thud at the door. Gunn investigates and it’s a sparrow that apparently flew right into the door. Lorne shouts for Gunn to close the door and he does just in time for a fuckload of sparrows to start flying at the building. They both agree that this is decidedly not good.
K: Excuse me while I go and curl up in the foetal position until my bird phobia calms down.
Sweeney: Wolfram & Hart. Lilah’s on the phone having an HBIC conversation about someone muscling in on their apocalypse. She enters her office to find Angel sitting on her desk. She tells Angel that she doesn’t have time for his shit. He says he wasn’t expecting to get anything out of her, but DDK [Gavin] was more accommodating. She turns around to find DDK tied up and somewhat beaten on a chair. Angel wanted to beat more, but DDK was pretty easy with the talking, what with his hatred of Lilah. Whatever W&H uncovered from Lorne is still being deciphered, but is definitely serious enough that Lilah’s scared — even though she won’t admit it. There’s a big terrifying thing that they didn’t see coming.
Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia’s pacing around. She reaches for her jacket and Connor appears instantly like a mega creep. Like father like son, Cordelia suggests. She admits that the feelings are stronger but she needs to go see what’s going on. Connor reminds her that fighting the thing alone is not a good idea, since she’s no longer a higher being. She starts talking about how, when she was, she wanted to be human again to touch and feel and I squirm in my seat. She continues that she can’t figure out what happened that caused her suddenly be here, on Earth — that part wasn’t included in the Memory Restoration Package.
“Because you’re important,” Connor answers. She says the world appears to have turned just fine without her. He adds that she’s important to him. She says that Angel is good at saying the right things too, which is funny because social awkwardness is much more of an Angel trait. Cordelia ends this gross sexual subtext conversation to go track the thing, and of course Connor insists on coming with.
Lor: I can’t even get over the whole, “the way you woo me is so much like how your father woos me!” thing right now. BRB. Barfing.
K: Oh, we’ve only just started the barfing? Sorry. Guess I got a little ahead of schedule…
Sweeney: Cordelia is talking about finding her place in the world and Connor says he gets that. She reminds us that he’s 18, as if that’s going to make it all better. She rounds a corner and realizes that they’re in the alley where Darla died and Connor was born. She shares this information with Connor just before that same spot on the ground bursts open and the nightmare demon bursts through the ground. After a Not Break they all fight. Apocalypse Nowish Demon knocks Connor out and kneels in front of Cordelia. Connor comes to and tells him to stay away from her. Apocalypse Nowish Demon just smirks and then Superman jumps into the sky. (Kirsti informed me via email that his name is “The Beast” which is some lazy bullshit.)
Brooding Hotel. Lorne and Gunn are concerned by Fred’s absence in lieu of the big plaguey happenings. They decide to go out and look for her. On their way out, Wesley arrives so that they can have a big annoying Bro Stand Off. Gunn wants to storm off and find Fred but Angel appears to say that they need to focus on the latest and greatest in apocalyptic happenings.
The four guys sit around the coffee table with pages of information Angel got from W&H – it’s all the information they got from Lorne’s head. The phone rings and Angel says that they need to start charting locations to see if this stuff is concentrated in one area. Angel again reminds everyone that it’s really important that they figure this out.
Time lapse break. Gunn says that they’re never going to figure this out. Wesley agrees, but when Gunn is pacing behind Wesley, he notices that the pages sort of overlap to make a design. They lay them out on the ground to see the big picture. The symbol is a big square with an X in it. Angel calls it “The Eye of Fire.” Meanwhile, Lorne has finished plotting locations and he says he, “hates to be the little demon that cried Apocalypse Nowish,” which he shouldn’t hate, because it earns him a gold star! He gets all the good ones.
Lor: These last couple of episodes would be upgrades if they were just 45 minutes of Lorne saying the episode title.
Sweeney: This is entirely true.
Anyway, the spots being plotted on the map make a giant square.
Fred & Gunn’s breakfast diner. Fred is on her millionth cup of coffee and the waitress awkwardly jokes that she’s cutting Fred off so that she won’t vibrate into another dimension after the 9th cup. Waitress suggests calling Gunn and when Fred says she’s not sure what she’d say, the wise waitress advises her to start with, “Hello.” You’re much too logical for this universe. (K: Possible girlfriend for season 7 Xander, though?) She adds that Gunn would do anything for Fred. She sighs that this is the problem. With that, an earthquake hits the spot. The waitress will probably be dead soon. Hopefully this relationship that I grow to hate more with each scene will die too.
Brain Bleach Attic. Cordelia is cleaning up a shirtless Connor, who probably broke some ribs. She sad pandas that she no longer has purpose in this world. Connor rightly points out that the only thing she learned was that it can hurt her. He unnecessarily adds that he’ll find a way kill it if it tries again.
K: Okay, but seriously. Why the fuck is he shirtless in this scene? It’s not like he has cuts on his chest or back or shoulders or arms. Most of the damage is to his face. And Cordy doesn’t even NOTICE his potentially broken ribs until she’s mostly done cleaning his injuries. Literally all I can think of is that they want us to suffer.
Sweeney: Brooding Hotel. The gang added the X to the map and they’re declaring that the focal point of the disturbances. Gunn knows the area. Angel and Gunn start gathering weapons. Lorne wants to chill for a second to gather more details, but Angel ain’t got time for that. He tosses a crossbow to Wes and asks if he’s in. He doesn’t answer, but the slightly off-center framing and zoomy camera on him holding the crossbow suggests an answer in the affirmative.
There was a time when I would have flailed over this reunion. You know, when I didn’t hate everyone. Those were good times.
K: I feel like we’re meant to be all “YAY, WES IS BACK IN THE FANG GANG!!” feelsy at this moment, but I just hate everyone and everything about this episode so much that I have negative infinity fucks to give.
Sweeney: Negative infinity.
The Man Gang arrives on the scene and gets a great boy band panning shot of their “Let’s do this!” faces. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve arrived after the Apocalypse Nowish Demon slaughtered everyone there. Oops. After a Not Break, they slow motion separate before getting into the one-at-a-time fighting. By which I mean, “Angel fights and the others throw/shoot stuff at the demon. Including a bunch of arrows that end up in Angel instead.” After the demon throws Angel at Wesley, Gunn finally gets up close. Wesley opts for guns, which are equally ineffectual, in spite of all the slow motion emphasis.
K: At least the guns have more than one projectile before requiring reloading, unlike the crossbow which looks flashy but requires you to be a hell of a good short or really quick at reloading. The Fang Gang are neither most of the time, making the crossbow quite possibly the most useless weapon they could choose.
Sweeney: The demon just kind of smirk-grunts a lot and it’s moderately amusing. Angel gets super close to stabbing the demon in the eye and I cringe for Kirsti. (K: Thank you.)
Angel doesn’t do the deed, though, and the demon chucks Angel off the building before asking, “Do you really think she’s safe with him?” He drops down and ignites a flaming version of The Eye of Fire. You know, because fire. With human corpses. The Man Gang gets up, with Wesley helping Gunn. That’s sweet. Angel is severely wounded but still alive.
Brain Bleach Attic. They see the fire shooting up from the building and then a bunch of balls of fire falling all around the city. Getting very close to their window but never actually happening, so that they can just watch the show. It’s kind of pretty. Let’s keep looking at that. Let’s stay there. Please?
But no. Connor says that there is some significance to it having risen where he was born – what with the child of two vampires being a thing that was never supposed to happen. He’s tearing up. Cordelia insists that it’s not him and she knows in her heart that it’s not. She kisses him. He asks why she did that. She says that she knows how he feels about her and her answer basically amounts to, “Well, this might be the actual final apocalypse – kind of looks like it – so I figure that after your SRSBSNS Childhood Trauma, you shouldn’t have to die a virgin.”
K: I second that reaction, with a side of this:
Sweeney: We get shots of the rest of the series regulars watching the fire shower from their respective locations before cutting back Connor and Cordelia having sex, because the world is terrible.
We end on a shot of Angel, I think looking at them, with rage face. Because this needed to get grosser. “I fucked my adoptive maternal figure while my father watched.”
Lor: If you let your eyes linger on this abomination for a few seconds, you saw that Cordelia/Connor have about as much chemistry as Buffy/Riley. Or less. Probably less. I hate everything.
K: And yes, Angel is definitely watching from a nearby building. Because we needed to vomit more than we already had. Thanks a lot, Whedon.
Sweeney: I don’t really have anything else to say besides hating everyone who ever said we should watch this. YOU’RE ALL TERRIBLE PEOPLE AND I WANT YOU ALL TO GO SIT IN THE SHAME CORNER AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.
Next time: Probably more gross shit. Fuck if I know. Find out on Angel S04 E08 – Habeas Corpses.