Previously: A werewolf who was tragically not Oz.
Sweeney: Wolfram & Hart. Late at night. The soundtrack from my 5th grade haunted house follows Fred around as she says goodnight to people and closes up Evil Radio Shack for the night. She turns around and then sees Spike and fake screams, dropping her papers. He appreciates her efforts to humor his evil-but-not ego. His I’m-not-evil-but-I-still-want-to-be-a-badass ego? IDK. Anyway, Fred says he needn’t worry about any of that because he’s a super special ghost. She’s pretty sure she can help him, too, but obviously she can’t help him without flaring up the Angel/Spike rivalry.
Pause: I get that for those of you have spent years with this show and written all the fic and whatnot, the tension in their relationship is a big huge deal. Aside from finding it redundant and uninteresting, it also didn’t need to be written this way. The writers absolutely could have worked towards writing a reconciliation story into the first few episodes. “Why is here? Is it the powers? He got a soul and died to save the world? Maybe he’s a good guy! He can probably be useful!” etc., etc. In a show that has so much external tension as our heroes fight off world-destroying evil on the weekly, it’s not necessary that they do this. It’s a total insult to this show to turn it into a petty staging ground for extending that stupid argument, that seems to be mostly about Buffy. They’re trying to add in all the other layers of their “rivalry” but it’s all so damned flimsy. (Based on a handful of episodes from the two shows.) They didn’t need to go down this route and I hate that they did.
Kirsti: A big fucking A+ to all of this, Sweeney.
Sweeney: Right, so. Fred. Spike. Fred mentions that prophecy from forever ago about how if Angel helps enough people he can be human again. I couldn’t say anything in that post because Lor was a Snow, but I emailed Kirsti immediately and asked if that was actually going to turn into a Spike thing. It’s not on the blog, but it’s part of official snark lady correspondence, so I’m giving myself Snarky Prophet points. (K: I’ll approve these points.)
Lorraine: Can I sigh in advance over that prophecy? SIGH.
Sweeney: Table of SIGH, party of 2.
Fred’s really excited that she’s maybe got a breakthrough, but then Spike falls through the ground. Womp.
Basement of Don’t Go In There: Los Angeles. Spike wanders a corridor and finds a guy sitting alone at a table. He asks for directions upstairs but then it turns out that this man is slicing his own fingers around. He turns to reveal that he has also sliced his face up. Then he disappears because gross. Spike’s all, “Well, shit.” Electric cellos.
K: I, meanwhile, have flashbacks to the torture-porn that was I Know Who Killed Me. Thanks a fucking lot, show.
Sweeney: Lorne is on the phone chatting with an actress client and trying to talk her out of downing some pills. Fred runs something in to Wesley to be handled ASAP. He’s all, “Manners, yo. Can I get a hello?” Wesley brags about how serious this request is but he can do it because he’s majorly important. He attaches a string to that request: Fred needs to eat and take a nap. This is squicky for me. She probably does need to be eating/sleeping more and it’s not wrong for a friend to point it out, but dudes putting themselves in charge of poor little Fred’s well-being is an unfortunate recurring thing on this show. It’s gross. Plus, it’s a simple matter of saying, “Yeah, sure, I’ll do this. Also, as your friend I’m a little worried about you.” I don’t like that it was turned into an order like that. It’s not on the level of, say, murdering a man to save her ~*purity*~ but still gross.
K: Especially seeing as it gave a serious “we should go on a date” vibe – to Fred as well based on the way she reacts – before Wes clarifies that he means she needs to eat more. So yeah. Squick-tastic.
Lor: I didn’t think about that when I watched the scene, but I get that. To reiterate, I think it’s how Wesley frames the observation.
Sweeney: Also, since we were accused of this in the comments: at no point in any of our recaps have we ever ever said that Denisof isn’t a good actor. We’ve commented on his being quite possibly the best actor on this show before. I think the show has done some gross things with Wesley as a character and I also don’t find this show to be all that well-written, for reasons that I dedicate over 3,000 words an episode to explaining. (You’re welcome to disagree, though it’s absurdly arrogant to say I just don’t “get it” because I don’t derive the meaning you do from this show.) Bad writing generally means that a good actor is being put to ill use, but 3/3 Snark Ladies agree that Alexis Denisof is a good actor, so fuck that made up complaint.
Sweeney: Fred tries to say that she’s totes fine but turns around to be legitimately terrified by Eve suddenly appearing.
Angel’s Office. He’s awkwardly bumbling through concerns about starting a new job. Fred cuts him off and says she just got the Dudes Trying To Tell Me How To Live lecture from Wes, but that’s not Angel’s concern right now. She’s nearly a million dollars over her quarterly budget and the quarter’s not over yet. Fred says that she gets that but also trying to recorporealize a speshul ghost is a feat never before accomplished and that shit costs a lot. It takes a lot of resources and money to get The Great Contrivance Spirit to find that solution! Angel’s pissed that that is the reason she’s burning a hole in the evil law firm’s pocket, because this show decided it would be fun to send this character off with full-blown character regression into the pettiest version of himself. Cool.
K: I mean, yeah, it’s stupid. But $800,000 to make Spike corporeal and still no success? NOT WORTH IT. Plus, I’m calling Angel-is-a-cheapskate shots, because I think we could all use more shots around here.
Sweeney: Fred thankfully calls him on his petty bullshit, reminding him of the soul/world-saving bit. She also calls him a champion (shots for Kirsti!) (K: So soon? I ACCEPT!) which makes Angel cross his arms in a huff about how much he hates that word now that he’s got to share his CHAMPION toys.
Angel says Spike only cares about himself and Fred says he also cares about Buffy. And apparently this is all about Angel’s great concern that once Spike can leave he will run off to her. I hate everything. That love triangle is the stupidest shit and I can’t fathom who decided it would be a good idea to take this total sausage fest of a show and turn it into a season’s worth of bickering about who deserves a certain girl without ever even hearing jack shit from that girl. Love triangle plots aren’t favorites of mine to begin with, but this is basically like, “A love triangle plot, but specifically focusing on all the worst parts!”
K: YUP. It’s the Twilight version of a love triangle, only without the creepy he-was-in-love-with-one-of-her-ova plot twist. YES. Their ongoing Buffy rivalry pisses me off because a) it negates Buffy’s “I don’t want anyone because I’m still cookie dough” speech, and b) it makes Buffy a possession to be won, taking her choice out of the equation.
Lor: I didn’t comment on the whole feud thing earlier, because it’s early in the season yet. Here’s my issue so far: it isn’t so much that Angel hatesSpike. I get that. Years of history. Same girl. WHATEVER. It’s this whole thing with SPIKE CAN’T CHANGE! that gets me so frustrated. It would be one thing for Angel just to say he doesn’t like the dude, but it’s this thing about whether Spike is evil or not that is dumb. It may be a consequence of having seen Buffy, but the ambiguity seems like repetition. Plus, in a season where we’re asked to believe Angel and co. would take over an evil law firm, helping the worst of the worst at points to do some good, the idea that Angel won’t help Ghost Spike from being pulled into hell doesn’t sit right with me.
Sweeney: Yes. Precisely. I don’t even like Spike and Angel’s pissing me off. It’s a completely stupid direction to take this character that’s downright inconsistent with everything else that’s happening. They’re trying to do this whole reset thing with S5 being very different from the other seasons, but they’re doing at the expense of all manner of character growth.
Fred, thankfully, says she’s smart enough to know when she’s being charmed with ~*magic cheekbones*~ and has no interest any of that shit. She just wants to do what’s right because that was supposed to be their whole mission.
Captain Cheekbones is lurking in Evil Radio Shack with that ominous soundtrack. The light on a microscope gadget of some sort flickers. He hears someone blow past behind him. He assumes it’s Mr. Slice & Dice and then proceeds to follow a trail of lights flickering out. Mysterious breathing noises. They belong to a woman in old timey clothes who has no arms. She begs to be held because “it’s coming.” She disappears.
Angel’s Apartment of Moral Ambiguity. Spike is there to “hang” and Angel plays the grumbly big brother. Angel says they’re all going to hell and Spike little-brother-brats about how Angel’s going to get his big brass prophecy ring handed to him. Angel says the prophecies are all bullshit and they both lament how their world-saving didn’t really yield the results they wanted – running an evil law firm, playing Casper. Spike says, “Well shit, guess I am gonna burn then?” He plops down on Angel’s couch, glad that at least he’s got company, rattling off a list of famous duos. It’s pretty cute. This quickly devolves into bickering because Angel doesn’t do small talk and Spike is chatty. “Never much cared for you Liam, even when we were evil.” “I cared for you less.” Then Angel concedes that he did like Spike’s poetry, because Angel/art!
OK, guys, that I loved. Please tell me we can have more of that and less of the other bullshit? Pretty please?
K: Maybe we should just take over and rewrite the remaining 18 episodes in the show??
Lor: Dude, it’s hilariousthat in a recap where we’ve already complained SO MUCH about what they’ve done with the rivalry in the first few episodes, THIS scene nails it. NAILS IT. It’s hard not to get ahead of ourselves when (1) – we look at things episode by episode (2) – we feel the need to explain our opinions in detail.
Sweeney: It’s true. I was tempted to go back and take some of my rants out, but I always feel awkward leaving long ranty comments in posts that aren’t mine, so I just had a lot of pent up feelings which those scenes played to. I really did love this scene.
This fun time is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a man hanging from Angel’s ceiling. Unfortunately only Spike can see it. He keeps spotting them. We cut to Angel’s office where the whole gang gathers to discuss the situation. The place is now crawling with ghosts only Spike can see. Eve and Gunn explain that W&H does spectral sweeps of the building hourly and they just did one which found only Spike in terms of non-corporeal entities. Armless Lady from before tells Spike that something is coming for him. Spike is pleading with Fred to go to the lab, but then another man pops up and tells him that that something is here. Spike pleads some more and then disappears.
As everyone reacts to his disappearance we see that Spike is unaware that they don’t see him standing there. He keeps trying to talk to them as they go looking for him, and for some reason he doesn’t try to follow. I’ll just assume he can’t. An ominous voice tells Spike that no one can help him now.
After a Not Break he asks if this is the part where he says, “Who’s there?” and something creepy happens. Yup. Apparently he’s not trapped because he wanders after the creepy. He winds up at an elevator heading down. It opens and the doors remain open, waiting for him. He sighs and goes in, because of reasons.
Wesley’s Office. Gunn says it’s all good because Spike’s constantly doing weird shit like randomly appearing next to you in the bathroom. Apparently Spike only does that to Gunn. That is a slashfic genre I definitely don’t want to think about. Fred tells them that shit is serious. The music DUN DUN DUNS and the zoomy cameraman does his thing as Fred explains that when Spike disappears he’s slipping into hell. Wes and Gunn are all, “Well, duh.” LOL.
K: I snort laughed stupidly hard over that.
Lor: Perfection. Especially since we were all, “FRED SHOULD TELL THEM!” so vehemently last week. No need, us. They got this.
Sweeney: Basement of Don’t Go In There: Los Angeles. Spike continues to wander and call out to absent ghosties. He’s back to Mr. Slice & Dice’s creepy table of dismemberment. The fingers, blood, and knife are still there. A creepy lady with a shard of glass in her eye sing-songs that it’s gonna get him. Spike ain’t scared. The lady gets serious and says he hasn’t been forgotten by The Reaper, slowly removing the glass from her eye and slicing his cheek with it before disappearing.
K: Thanks for telling me what happened, Sweeney. My eyeball phobia and I were obviously hiding behind a cushion at this point in time.
Sweeney: Evil Radio Shack. Spike tells Fred that he’s pretty sure the ghosties are hell’s welcoming party. He’s telling Fred that he just wanted to thank her for her efforts. Fred’s excited and thinks she’s got it, which makes Spike excited. But then she doesn’t have it because she’d have to liquefy half of Los Angeles. She gets upset and he tries to encourage her. He grabs her shoulder and she feels something. She’s scared and the lights flicker some more. Spike angrily calls out that Fred felt him so it can’t take him now. Angel appears and tells Fred that the mystics did another sweep and still didn’t find anything. Fred gives no fucks.
Upstairs, Wesley is asking if they should rethink whatever they’re going to do, but a sassy blonde lady comes in and wants to get down to business. She’s cool. She tells them she’s got no time for all the bullshit because she’s got Pilates in the morning. She gets to work and tells them that she can feel the dark presence. Spike appears, but she’s not done. She goes on about all the pain and how, “It’s the re-” and Spike says, “Yeah, it’s The Reaper!” But then she starts choking and coughed blood into Fred’s face and dies. Womp.
Angel assumed it was Spike before the death and later Wesley tells Gunn that it would be way stupid for Spike to murder someone trying to help them so probably it was something else that’s a whole lot worse.
Steamy Shower. Sometimes it’s not enough to put your lone lady in short skirts and you’ve got to give her a Psycho shower scene or two. Spike’s creeping just outside the shower trying to figure out why The Reaper killed that lady and realizes that it’s not about him – there’s something that it doesn’t want Fred to know. He touches the foggy glass and leaves a hand print. With some epic concentration he’s able to write in the glass. REAPER.
K: Meanwhile, I’m channeling the movie version of Buffy Summers: “What are you doing here? This is a naked place!“
Sweeney: I was trying to find a way to make that reference happen and couldn’t, so thank you.
Fred spots it before she gets out of the shower, but then it shatters and Spike is blasted upstairs. Spike gets up, ready for a fight, but it’s just a lawyer with his face sliced off. More ghosties appear and Spike says he’s sick of talking to flunkies.
He’s torture cut away and back again, now face to face with the actual Reaper. Or, sort of, since he’s on the floor in pain.
Angel’s Office. They’re looking up references to “the dark soul” and there are shit ton of them – including a few that talk about Angel. Fred comes in and says they need to be looking for “reaper” and Angel finds it 2 seconds later. Matthias Pavayne. Angel explains that he was a doctor who earned the name for the creepy surgeries he performed on patients. Wesley conveniently recalls that there is a file on him in internal affairs because Matthias Pavayne fled to California when it was still under Spanish rule and committed a bunch of crazy slice and dice murders. The authorities never caught him, but W&H did. Their seers recommended a location that was home to a mission. They selected Pavayne as a sacrifice sufficient to deconsecrate the ground. I’m not the Snark Lady with Jesus points, but I’m not really sure this is how it works. “OK, OK, you got rid of that one serial murderer. You can have some of my Jesusy land back.” WUT.
K: Man, religion really gives up easy. Also, my understanding is that all ground that isn’t a church or a cemetery is unconsecrated. WHY NOT JUST USE THAT LAND?!?!?! Morons.
Lor: I mean, I’m not an expert in deconsecration of land or anything, but I assumed it was the spilling of blood on the consecrated land that made it good for evil? I guess they could use any blood, but perhaps like virgins, murderer’s blood is super special. Maybe it’s super unholy.
JUST GO WITH IT.
Sweeney: Regardless, the idea that Wolfram & Hart’s offices were built on the blood of a serial murderer sounds about right to everyone and they move on. They speculate that Pavayne has been doing some weird mystical shit involving stealthily munching on all of W&H’s ghosties in order to remain a perma-ghostie. I don’t even understand any of this. It does offer a convenient explanation for how this place is devoid of ghosts and that’s about it.
Evil Radio Shack. Pavayne is getting his torture on. Spike is crawling on the ground with his face all sliced up. Fred comes downstairs and Pavayne smarms about getting a taste of her one day and Spike tries to punch him, to no avail. Pavayne says he’s in charge of everything that happens around him. He zaps them to the basement and makes the scars disappear and also his clothes because they were definitely a few shirtless episodes in that contract. Pavayne does a whole lot of villain monologuing, essentially confirming that he has, in fact, been devouring ghosts. Spike says that means these ghosts aren’t real. “Real enough,” Pavayne says before one stabs Spike and he feels that real enough.
Upstairs, Fred is writing formulas on the window like they do in The Social Network. My engineer siblings went on a whole tirade about this over Christmas break because that’s apparently not a thing that would ever happen because you’re essentially giving away really important information. BUT GUYS, it looks really cool when you write on windows and have a cityscape in the background! Duh. Anyway, Fred assures them that she just ran out of whiteboard and hasn’t gone crazy. (K: I hate that it’s two years later and she STILL has to defend her sanity.) She’s got a solution but it’s going to require a level of evil energy that she describes as “nuclear evil.” Wes starts talking about a volcano in forbidden jungles but Gunn offers somewhere close to home.
White Room. Gunn figures that they’re in a place that doesn’t exist, so all they really need is like a hair off the conduit or something. I continue to understand nothing that is happening. Again, I don’t really know science, or how “nuclear evil” works but I feel as though all deference to logic has been abandoned. (K: SO MUCH. I mean, forbidden jungle volcano of evil gets trumped by A CAT WHISKER??? WTF.) (L: LOL. When you put it that way…) Angel didn’t like Kay Panabaker as the conduit and he’s way less a fan of Bagheera. Gunn’s got this though. He and Bagheera are Black Panther bros. He says it’s a personal favor, so Bagheera struts out and lets Gunn pluck his whisker.
Basement of Don’t Go In There: Los Angeles. Lots of naked Spike, but he’s in genuine agony due to being tortured. Pavayne is now offering Spike up to the big ghostly blob that I guess is his portal to hell. Here, a present:
K: Seriously. My niece created stronger storylines when she was two and pronounced my name Cur-ee.
Sweeney: Anyway, Spike really wants his leather jacket back (but do the wishes of fangirls mean nothing to you, Spike?), so he animorphs that into place and kicks the shit out of Pavayne. They go through some walls and desks and IDK, I think the Special Effects Team asked the writers to do this episode because they were all, “Guys, guys: GHOST FIGHT CLUB!”
Evil Radio Shack. Bagheera’s whiskers are going to do the trick. Fred says it’s almost go time.
GHOST FIGHT CLUB. Spike suddenly lost that upperhand and is losing. But then a wave of radioactive magic hits and Spike takes that cue to run to Evil Radio Shack. Fred’s calling out that he’s got a few seconds to get his ass in their magical circle in order to become corporeal again. Pavayne appears and starts choking her. Spike shows up and realizes that he can only fight Pavayne off of Fred as a ghost, and so he sacrifices the opportunity to be corporeal and punches Pavayne into the circle. Pavayne gets poofed into corporeal form. Spike says not to kill him because if he gets to be a spirit again, he’ll never be stopped. Angel says he’s content to just bruise him a bit.
Later on, Wesley and Gunn offer to clean up the rest of Evil Radio Shack so that Fred can chill out. She sits in her office and Spike pops in to joke that she probably didn’t build a spare. Fred says that most of these parts were nonexistent. (K: I wonder if she’s checked eBay? It worked for Willow with the Urn of Osiris!) Spike says he made a choice and he’s not sorry. He doesn’t want to be Pavayne, cheating hell any way he could, no matter who it hurt. Fred says this just proves that she’s right: he’s worth saving. Spike says he picked up a few new tricks, like wanting to pick up coffee cups super badly. (L: Hey, sometimes you just need some coffee.)
I’m glad that we are finally moving towards that reconcilation plot. I still contend that it could have been initiated off the bat, but I will happily eat my words if it turns out that we get there in the next 2-3 episodes. I’m expecting it to take a lot longer, though. We shall see.
This episode was all kinds of ridiculous. It made no sense and was generally batshit crazy. In spite of that, I actually enjoyed most of what happened after the first ten minutes. I hated the first ten minutes, which is why I kept stopping to rant. The rest of it was spooky and campy, which is a combination this show can do well. I wish they’d constructed a better plot and made fewer things up as they went, but that’s just sort of what this show does, I guess.
It’s funny because Kirsti tweeted all sorts of apologies at me over this episode. I mean, it’s fair because this episode makes no sense, but after those first few things that annoyed me in the beginning, it was mostly just sloppily contrived. That doesn’t necessarily make the show good but it certainly makes it a lot more enjoyable than some of the petty shit that I’m not such a fan of.
K: Mostly I was apologising because Naked!Spike, so…yeah.
Sweeney: I mean, my hatred of a character doesn’t extend to being physically repulsed by his nakedness.
I get what some of you mean about how the bickering can be enjoyable. The entire scene on the couch was delightful. I just hope that this scene is going to mean actual progress toward some sort of sustainable friendship. The way any sort of growth has been undermined is exasperating. A friendship with a lot of teasing is fine. Recycled banter that does nothing to advance characters or plot inserted into every single episode? Not so much. It’s especially hard to let this be a new journey for a certain character when they insist on continually rehashing an element I’m pretty eager to forget. Less love triangle without actual input from the lady in question, more brotherly banter. Pretty please?
Next time: The description says Lorne’s throwing a Halloween party, so I’m excited. Find out if the hype is legit in Angel S05 E05 – Life of the Party.