Previously: Connor’s parents showed up at W&H and Wesley got all the Connor memories back for himself, Connor, and Illyria before Connor said goodbye to Angel and returned to his fake life.
Sweeney: You know what I love? Torture scenes! And sarcasm and this blog. (Two truths and a lie, guys!) Lucky me, we kick off my final full recap (!!!) in Gunn’s very own Basement Of No Seriously You Know Don’t Fucking Want To Go In There (K: A+), where he’s being tortured and asking what he did to deserve the torture, what with his lack of memories. He calls out for the torturing demon to wait and it actually does, though not so much because of Gunn as because the ceiling is rumbling. The basement door swings open and it’s none other than Illyria. That’s a weird but pleasant surprise. Torture Demon tries to stop Illyria but is easily cast aside. Illyria rips Gunn’s tacky mystical Hot Topic necklace off. (L: What a relief! For our eyes…) He slowly remembers who he is and who Illyria is and explains that he can’t leave unless someone else puts on the necklace. Illyria has a really intense head-cocking I’VE GOT AN IDEA FACE.
A cut later and we see that Torture Demon is now wearing the necklace and preparing to carve his own heart out. PLOT TWIST. I like it. I’m recapping during a road trip and I paused so I could exclaim to everyone how fun this plot twist was but promptly realized that I have seen (ALMOST!) every episode (!!!) of this show and I still struggle to make this show make sense so it was better not to bother. This is a great little it’s-so-obvious-now-that-you-know-the-answer moment. I love it.
Kirsti: I also love that Illyria, the shoved-a-whole-petri-dish-in-its-mouth character, worked out what two Champions (SHOTS!) and a former Watcher couldn’t.
Lorraine: Feelings of guilt or not, I bet Gunn is having a “well, shit,” moment right now.
Sweeney: Wolfram & Hart. Wesley is explaining to Angel that he was sharing the whole Gunn-is-trapped-and-we-can’t-save-him dilemma with Illyria and hasn’t seen it (the other characters on the show opt for “she” but Illyria never indicates anything of the sort and after so much was made of this, it seems awkward to refer to Illyria as a “she” on the blog. You can all now watch and laugh as I excessively opt for full name references to minimize pronoun usage altogether) since Illyria (SHOTS) opened a portal to another dimension, probably to rescue Gunn. Angel is antsy about this whole thing, what with his general not trusting of Illyria. Wesley dispassionately says he’s not entirely sure why Illyria has stuck around. (It’s wholly understandable, given everything that’s happened, but deeply unsettling to watch the state Wesley’s in.) Angel’s confident that Illyria’s hanging around because as a former god-king, Illyria’s aware of all of Wolfram & Hart’s influence and likely plans to use them as a means to some sort of powerful end. Wesley’s still convinced that he can find a way to bring Illyria into the fold more generally.
With that, a portal opens and Illyria appears, holding Gunn up by the throat. Illyria talks about how important “this thing” is to them. Wesley assures Illyria that, yes, Gunn is super important and a debt is now owed. Satisfied, Illyria drops Gunn and leaves. “Go team,” Angel adds unethusiastically. Electric cellos.
After the credits, it’s presumably a new day and Gunn enters the W&H lobby. He goes to his office and finds a stack of files on his desk. He goes into Wesley’s office where he’s also buried in books, all actually open and being put to use. Wesley, whose focus makes him seem a lot less suicidal than he came across in the last scene, only half pays attention to Gunn at first. Finally, he stops and says that he should apologize for stabbing Gunn, but thinks that would just be awkward. Gunn agrees – he’s not there for a sorry and a little stabbing is pretty NBD after having his heart removed every day for the last however long.
Sweeney: He’s really there for some sort of compass, having just been saved, for no apparent reason, by the thing that killed his friend. Wesley says that things are a bit odd and they all just have to adjust. Wesley tries to throw himself back into his crazy-eyed work focus, but slips as he says that you can’t look at Illyria “without seeing…” finishing after a pause: “her body’s previous owner.” He continues that what comes out of Illyria’s mouth brings on pure vertigo and he laughs at Gunn’s suggestion that he could possibly have Illyria on any sort of leash.
K: Wes was like SUPER twitchy through this entire thing, and it gave me a lot of feels.
Lor: Yep. A+ for Denisof.
Sweeney: As Wes talks of Illyria’s violent streak we cut to Illyria and Spike fighting. Illyria notes that Spike had affection for Fred (“loads. Loved the bird.“) and yet strikes Fred’s form without reservation. Spike can easily see and smell how fully not-Fred Illyria is. He’s adapting. Illyria thinks little of that: “Adaptation is compromise.” Spike corrects that it’s actually learning. Illyria blathers on about its glory days and Spike has a little fun mocking Illyria. He sees an opening to jump at Illyria but is thwarted by that time freeze thing while he’s mid-air. It looks pretty cool. (K: Team Heartless Cow found it oddly funny for inexplicable reasons) When he unfreezes on the ground (with Illyria on the other side of him now) Angel comes over the intercom asking for a word. Illyria makes a show of telling him he may go.
Spike tells Angel that in spite of being had by the cheatery time freeze, he’s starting to work out Illyria’s moves. Angel wants the sessions to stop, though, because the reality isn’t them testing Illyria – Illyria is testing them. Illyria appears in the doorway, seeming a bit unwell. I can’t really tell since Illyria has a constant case of crazy eyes and the zoomy cameraman zooms in on the crazy eyes and I’m over here asking a time-honored question: what are you trying to tell me, zoomy cameraman?
K: I KNOW!! But I’m not a Snow, so I’ll just taunt you a little and then not answer the question because SPOILERS. But mostly I wanted to say that Angel’s hair is less poofy than it was at the start of the season and that makes me a little sad. Which, given how much we mocked it, is weird.
Lor: I spent lots of this episode asking myself if her (its) (whatever) forehead was more blue than usual. Is the blue creeping lower? DOES THIS MEAN SOMETHING?
Sweeney: At Gunn’s desk he takes a deep breath before digging into his stack of files. He’s still wearing a hoodie instead of the business suits. A Hoodie of Overall Sadness, perhaps? Lorne (!) pokes his head in, wearing a fedora and sunglasses. He says he’s just there to check on Gunn, who seems fine enough. Lorne’s about go on Illyria-tailing duty. Having nothing to do with the green and everything to do with basic personality, Lorne is probably the last member of the team I’d put on stealthy tailing duties.
K: Truth. Although I’d add his selection of loud shirts in as a reason why he’s the last member of the team to put on stealthy tailing duties… I mean, they’re adorable. But the complete opposite of stealthy.
Sweeney: Gunn switches gears to talk about Wesley – Lorne’s horrified that Gunn went into Wesley’s office because “that’s where he keeps his full-strength crazy.” As Lorne’s explaining how little Angel has to offer on that front, his voice buzzes in from the walkie-talkie Lorne is holding. Everyone’s meeting in Angel’s office.
In Angel’s office Fang Gang: Maximum Dudebro Edition (K: A+) is meeting to try to find an Illyria vulnerability they can exploit. Wesley’s being tasked with that, though he’s clearly a bit uneasy about it. There’s also the matter of the apocalypse-in-progress, which evil is winning due to them having not told anyone about it or something. I’m pretty sure we’ve been told about it a whole bunch, but whatever, show.
While they’re panicking about the not-suprise, Jayne strolls in. He explains that Illyria did a whole bunch of damage on the way to Gunn and that’s all being billed to Angel’s team. Financially that just moved them from “leader of the pack to bottom of the barrel.” Angel has no fucks to give. Jayne is also there to inform them that Gunn’s going to receive a file with a small task from the Senior Partners, which they need to take on for the sake of profits. “It’s business boys, not a batcave.” While Kirsti loves finding her Avengers shots (in places where they dubiously exist) (K: RUDE) (L: LOLOL.) the Batman references are always my favorite because they remind so much of the pilot. That he’s come so far away from the batcave as to have to concentrate on business is entirely the problem.
Seizure cut to Wesley’s Full Strength Crazy office. Illyria comes in to ask what day it is. Illyria says that Wesley is both guide and betrayer – when he brought back the memories his actual plan was to bring back Fred. Wesley says that yes, he did want to bring back Fred and destroying Illyria would be an unavoidable consequence. It says a lot about the actual relationship they’ve already formed that he feels the need to defend that choice at all. Wesley asks if the betrayal stings. Illyria tries to insist that it doesn’t, but is once again struggling with this gross new experience of feelings.
Gunn comes into Angel’s office to explain that the special project involves Angel serving as W&H’s witness to a demon sacrifice. Angel, picking up on something Jayne said, asks about Gunn having met him before. Gunn explains Jayne’s visit to his torture basement to make him a deal. Gunn is hurt when Angel asks what Gunn said, but answers that he turned it down because making deals is so yesterday for him. That’s sort of a problem for a lawyer, though. As Gunn is explaining that making deals for scaly demons was always hard (a bit of a reminder that Gunn was the member of the gang who held longest to the idea that demon = bad) a pregnant blonde lady enternounces that she’s there about the demon pact.
K: Because, you know, we haven’t had enough pregnant lady + demon things around these parts recently. GODDAMMIT, WHEDON.
Lor: This is a nice reminder. I mean, nothing particularly bad has happened, but this is a good visual reminder in the vein of, “HEY GUYS! REMEMBER HOW I FUCK EVERYTHING UP WITH PREGNANCIES BECAUSE I CAN’T SEPARATE MY PLOTS FROM WOMEN’S ABILITY TO CARRY SHIT IN THEIR WOMB?”
Yep. We remember.
Sweeney: After a Not Break, she’s explaining that she was told that some demons came to her because her baby is supposedly some sort of chosen one. The demons had been taking pretty good care of her and were super open about being demons, so all’s good. Just as Gunn starts cautioning her about demon pacts, as their client, he’s interrupted by the arrival of some ultra scaly demons correcting that they are the clients. Obviously.
Full Strength Crazy Office. Wesley’s trying to work while Illyria goes off on batshit tangents. As someone who works from home, I feel like this is always my life. I’m trying to get stuff done while people hover around me with weird sidebars like, “[Time's] only real when it starts to crack apart.” OK, so, maybe nobody ever says anything like that. Anyway, Wesley says that Illyria doesn’t look altogether well. Illyria starts to double over again, about the same as before with Angel and Spike. This time the doubling over is followed by a flash to a moment in which Wesley is firing something at Illyria’s stomach at Angel’s order. Illyria Time Warps again and ends up back with Angel and Spike, making those crazy eyes again.
After a Not Break, that scene resumes for a beat before Illyria returns to Wesley’s office. Illyria pushes Wesley’s desk back, pinning him to his window, insisting that he attempted yet another murder. Wesley’s confused. “I don’t want you dead. Believe me.” Illyria storms out.
In the lobby, Lorne walkie talkies that “Bluebird is in flight,” before following Illyria. Harmony, meanwhile, is trying to keep the Ultra Scaly Demons happy. They aren’t pleased that Angel is having a private meeting with “the vessel.” Harmony insists that Angel’s just sowing seeds of fear and stuff.
In Angel’s office he is, of course, trying to talk her out of it. Pregnant Lady insists that she’s thought all about it and figures that since the Ultra Scaly Demons are so obsessed with her kid, they’ll take better care of him than she ever could. Through all of this, Lorne is trying to radio Angel and Angel’s ignoring it. Pregnant Lady continues that she can’t afford the baby because her husband is brain dead after a work injury and in addition to taking care of the child she can’t care for, the Ultra Scaly Demons also promise to make her husband whole again and a person can’t possibly turn that offer down. This becomes too much for Gunn, who closes the file and gets up and leaves. Angel goes after him.
After closing the door to Angel’s little side-conference room, Gunn explains that the worst part of the torture dimension wasn’t the basement, because that had a kind of black and white order to it. The worst part was the fact that even daily life had the constant (accurate) feeling that it was all a lie to cover up something ugly. Gunn wants to know if all they’re doing there is hiding the horror because he can’t stomach any more of that. Angel wants to just get through this to figure out their next move, but Gunn’s confident that this woman is their next move.
Evil Radio Shack. Wesley is doing research and Jayne is there to check in on him as they have a mutual interest in Illyria.
K: YES. It could so easily have gone back to “BAMF” Wesley now that he has his memories back, but instead it’s shifted towards more of a PTSD vibe, partly due to Fred’s death and partly due to the fact that pretty much none of this would have happened if he hadn’t taken Connor in the first place. And Denisof does it brilliantly.
Lor: An excellent point. In addition to what the memories mean for him, the simple fact that they were all dumped in his head along with alternate reality must be crazy and adding to the whole scattered thing.
Sweeney: Apparently the Senior Partners go way back with Illyria and would pretty much like Illyria to be nowhere. Jayne leaves Wesley with a tip.
Elsewhere, Lorne is helplessly trying to reach Angel on the walkie talkie to confess that his cover is blown. He hurries up to Illyria to ask when, exactly, he blew it. He jokes that the elevator was tough. Illyria responds that, “The vampire plays childrens’ games.”
Angel’s Conference Room. Uber Scaly Demons come in and tell Pregnant Lady that she looks fabulous. Angel sits them down and slides them some papers. Gunn interrupts to read off a clause he’s just spotted about how the child will be ritually sacrificed on his 13th birthday. The lead Ultra Scaly Demon is understandably pissed, what with Gunn supposedly being his lawyer. Illyria interrupts, demanding to speak to Angel.
Angel and Illyria step out into the hall and he yells that there will be no more interrupting. Illyria says that whatever they’ve done to it is impressive, but won’t actually change anything because they’re just lowly beings and all of Illyria’s usual jazz. Angel has no idea what Illyria is talking about. Illyria slams Angel up against a wall but then decides that it’s too early for whatever move Illyria is about to make.
Evil Radio Shack. Angel comes down to talk to Wesley and Spike about Illyria. The tip Wesley got from Jayne shows him that Illyria’s demon essence isn’t gelling well with the human body and it’s on the verge of a violent explosion. He had no intention to tell Angel this, though, because he and Spike were dealing with it.Wesley pulls out the weapon he had in Illyria’s brief flash, and explains that it’ll solve this little problem and also probably kill Illyria, who Spike reveals is currently in the training room.
K: Yes, because when you have one major female-ish character left, you should endanger her life as much as possible. WHEEEEEEEEEE. -_-
Sweeney: When they arrive at the training room, Lorne’s standing outside, still clinging to the notion that Angel might actually make use of that walkie talkie. Inside, Illyria’s not there until suddenly Spike gets dusted and Illyria’s standing behind him with a stake. PLOT TWIST AGAIN! After all the contrivance Spike has both survived and been resurrected from, the idea that he could actually be staked stopped seeming viable to me a long, long time ago. I’m sure this will also be undone, but it was still weird to see. Illyria gets to fighting, stabbing Lorne and Wesley and beheading Angel. PLOT TWISTS FOREVER! This whole scene was insane.
Lor: SUPER weird. It just happened so quickly and they were all gone and even though you know something will happen, I like that it’s the kind of scene that still packs a punch.
Sweeney: We cut back to Illyria fighting with Angel in the hall – she apparently just saw the death scene right before throwing Angel up against the wall and that was the, “No, not yet.” This Time Warp thing, however, happens again, ending back in Wesley’s office, just before Illyria accuses Wesley of this newest murder attempt. This time, however, Angel also took that jump-to-the-left-and-step-to-the-right, being brought back from the hallway scene. Illyria notes that Angel wasn’t there before.
But then! Illyria jumps again, this time back to the torture basement. Angel follows again. Illyria’s pissed now and convinced that Angel is somehow responsible for the Time Warp. Illyria wants to know how the fuck he’s doing it. He’s just confused. Illyria points out that it’s already happening differently, though, thanks to the very fact that this conversation is happening in lieu of tearing off Gunn’s necklace and fighting the torture demon. Illyria throws Angel across the room and whines some more about its lost past, in which vampires were the muck at their feet. In among that Illyria notes that they sparkled at night. LOLFOREVER.
I’m just so pleased to have found an occasion to dust this gif off.
K: BEST. GIF. EVER.
Lor: Every time we use this gif is my favorite time we use this gift.
Sweeney: Anyway, Angel tells Illyria to STFU with all the speechifying because they have bigger shit to worry about.
K: This is pretty rich coming from the King of Ill-Timed Speechifying.
Sweeney: Illyria yet again grouches about being spoken to as less than a god-king. The yelling is interrupted by another Time Warp, this time to the training room, just after the team was murdered. Illyria talks about the deaths and realizes that Angel doesn’t know about this, having been pulled from an earlier point in the timeline and now being a paradox that shouldn’t exist. (NBD. I mean, who hasn’t been a paradox that shouldn’t exist, you know?) Illyria does some more speechifying about how real leaders win by destroying everything that’s not utterly theirs. OK. Illyria goes on that Angel is a slave to the ridiculous construct of morality. He’s surrounded by all this power but quibbles at its price. “When you want to win a war, you must serve no master but your ambition.” Illyria’s getting Time Warp headaches throughout all of this and finally realizes that whatever is wrong is definitely not his fault. This time, however, Illyria actually cracks open and explodes into a flash of blue light.
That explosion knocks Angel back to the hallway just before he reaches the training room with Wes and Spike. Angel explains that Illyria’s about to explode, calling her a Time Bomb.
Wesley and Spike are all, “yeah we covered that already thanks.” They enter the training room and things happen similarly to the first go-round, though this Angel wasn’t there before. Angel tries to explain that Illyria has already seen what’s going to happen and Wesley says Illyria told him something similar. Angel tries to piece it all together and remembers that Illyria kills Spike first so he pushes Spike out of the way just in time to get stabbed – but this slight shift means Illyria misses the heart, staking him in the stomach.
K: ANGEL GETS IMPALED SHOTS!! See, Sweeney. I don’t always find Avengers shots.
Sweeney: I love you. You have only three more episodes to spot all the shots you can!
After a Not Break, Angel tells everyone to chillax so he can explain. He tells Illyria that he knows about them all dying and whatnot, but adds that it ends with Illyria exploding in a blast that was powerful enough to send him back through time. Wesley chimes in that as for the structures they’re looking at contiental-shelf-level damage. Wesley goes on to say that he lied about the weapon being a murder weapon. He says it’ll draw the energy away from Illyria safely.
K: Spike chimes in somewhere here with “It’s not murder if you say yes!” which made me stare at my screen in confusion for several minutes.
Sweeney: Wes was willing to destroy Illyria to bring back Fred, but he’s since decided to accept that Illyria is all that’s left. Illyria’s not OK with this plan because the loss of power is too high a price. Fighting ensues. Illyria’s winning, but then another Time Warp headache sets in and Angel repeats that Illyria has the possibility of choosing to live this new life.
Illyria starts to go into yet another humans-are-lame speech. It’s interrupted by the explosion starting again. Illyria blames this on the weakness of the human species. Wesley gives that a general, “cool story, bro,” and shoots. Once the energy has been sucked, Illyria collapses. Illyria tells them all to stay the fuck away unless they want to die. Spike snarks that there’s not much difference, but Wesley insists that everything is different now.
A bit later, Illyria is still on the floor and Wesley explains that the time stopping and dimension jumping are done and maybe Illyria’s power has decreased some. Angel’s glad about that, but he’s worried about Wesley and his relationship with Illyria. Wesley says he knows it’s weird, but he thinks he needs this right now. Angel muses on the advice Illyria gave him – “serve no master but your ambition” – and tells Wesley that he may have been right about Illyria’s potential as a resource.
Back in Angel’s conference room, the pregnant lady sits at the table alone. In the lobby, Gunn is arguing with the Ultra Scaly Demons while Jayne tries to calm them down. Angel steps off the elevator and tells Gunn that the baby does, in fact, belong to the Ultra Scaly Demons, before leading them back into his conference room. Gunn asks what Angel’s doing. “What we’re supposed to – serve our clients.” He closes his door behind him. End credits.
K: Yes, because let’s make Angel evil with three episodes to go…
Sweeney: That end was…interesting. I’m drawing a bit of a blank as to what the particular other side of this is could be, which is fun. From about mid-season, I have finished each episode of this show and genuinely looked forward to continuing. I think my relationship with this show got too bad for me to come away from this show with a favorable opinion of it on the whole, but if these final three episodes shake out even remotely as strong as the last few have, I think I might at least come out calling it a draw. At the very least, I’m confident I’ll come away liking it enough to consider rewatching the occasional episode. (Something I did not think possible during S4.)
Brilliant performances from Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof. That’s both an “as always” statement and an, “especially here,” on both counts. J. August Richards, too, for that matter.
It’s hard to say too much about individual episodes now that we’re in the final stretch and this episode is clearly about building towards something. I’m still not a fan of this whole, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S ALREADY THE APOCALYPSE?” plot, and I’m right there with Angel on wishing we could have a little less speechifying from Illyria. Lorne and Spike were both weirdly tacked on characters in this episode. Otherwise, this was another great episode. (WEIRD.) The Angel/Illyria scenes added a new dynamic to this character. Wesley’s crazy is haunting and brilliant. Much like Illyria’s solution to rescuing Gunn, it’s very, “Yes, of course,” now that I see it, though it hadn’t occurred to me before.
Lor: Not much more to add to what you’ve already said, but I’m right there with you. I really enjoyed Angel/Illyria playing off each other a bit more, like you said. I think of everyone there, and despite the fact that Wesley is the one drawn to her (it), Angel and Illyria have more than a little in common. Illyria is learning to be human, a process Angel went through, she (it) is struggling with a loss of power, and boy if that isn’t just what Angel’s biggest struggle this season has been about. Seriously, I’m having fun watching these again. CRAZY.
Sweeney: TOO WEIRD.
This is a bit of a sidebar, but one I can’t leave out since we occasionally discuss the ways in which the blog itself colors our watching. It’s super interesting to be watching this shift for Wes because we have someone making their way through the Wesley/Connor story right now in the comments. In that sense, I feel like I’ve been freshly reminded of it too. I don’t have much more to say on this, but it seemed worth bringing up.
THREE MORE EPISODES.
Next time: Fred’s parents come looking for her because I guess no one told them? Find out in Angel S05 E20 – The Girl in Question.