Angel S05 E20 – A waste of episode.

Previously: Illyria started to explode but Wesley shot her with a magic gun that made her (it) a little less powerful, but still alive.

The Girl in Question

Lorraine: Angel and Gunn start us off with a pede-argument about whether or not they just take on some new case. Angel wants a full risk analysis, Gunn wants to go now, now, now. “Don’t want to lose another baby with the bath water,” Gunn says with a meaningful head tilt. Angel says fine. They’ll send Spike.

Cut to Spike telling them to do it themselves, playing on what looks like a Game Boy Advance. There are Mario sound effects in the background of the rest of this scene. They all bicker back and forth about the super important job: some dead, demon mobster’s body needs to be collected. He was a human-tolerant demon so they need to return him to his family to be revived, or else some other, less tolerant demons will take his place. Angel tells Spike to pack his bags and go.

Angel’s phone rings and he has a very! serious! one sided conversation. When he hangs up, Spike drily asks what it could possibly be this time. Dramatic music flares up as Angel announces, “it’s Buffy.”


Kirsti: The first line of my notes for this episode says “OH GOD, NOT THIS FUCKING EPISODE. UGH UGH UGH.” So…yeah.

Sweeney: Everyone was all, “You’ll hate this episode!” and I wanted so badly for you to be wrong because that last few have been so good, but before we even got to those Electric Cellos I was all, “Oh. I see now.

Lor: Electric Cellos.

Seizure cut through LA and back into Wolfram & Hart where Angel is dramatically leaving his office, saying he’ll take care of it. Spike and Gunn follow after him, trying to get more information. As it turns out, the Immortal was spotted in Rome near or around Buffy. Gunn is all, “who?” and Spike says he’s the biggest, foulest thing in hell we’ve never heard of during 12 seasons of shows in this universe.


Lor: The boys assume that the Immortal went to Rome, killed the Demon Mob Boss and is luring Angel there to also kill him and the Slayer. Spike of course says he’s coming along to help save Buffy; Angel is not pleased.

The Longest Flight in the History of the World. Shit, I’m already over this episode. Angel and Spike snit at each other about who is going to rush in and save Buffy. Angel says he’s seeing someone (Nina the werewolf) but without much conviction. Plus, this isn’t about him and Spike. It’s a dangerous mission and they have to work together to stop the Immortally Unknown, save wittle Buffy-wuffy, and pick up the Mob Boss’s body. Spike agrees. “Partners?” he asks. “Just like old times,” Angel replies which earns him a small smile.

Cut to the boys having consumed probably every mini-bottle of liquor on the flight. Angel laments not being able to get drunk of the mini-bottles. “Vampire constitutions,” Spike awkwardly reminds us. “Not always a plus.”

Spike wants to know how Angel knew about Buffy in the first place. He answers that he has “a source,” which sounds suspiciously to Spike (and me) like spying. “You’ve been [Christian Grey-ing] her?” Spike asks disbelievingly (K: A+ script change, Lor). Indeed he has, but he explains it by softly saying, “it’s Buffy.”

OOOOOH. I see now. The spying is okay because it’s Buffy.

Sweeney: It’s a pretty safe bet that some variation of, “Because it’s you,” was used somewhere in Fifty Shades. (And then recycled 18 times.)

Lor: Even Spike agrees now, and after hearing that the one dude Angel had tailing Buffy got caught, suggests that Angel should’ve had more people following her.


Lor: Angel says they’ll be landing soon. He asks if Spike remembers the last time they were in Italy. He does and we cut to a black and white flashback.

Sweeney: BROUGHT TO YOU BY TUMBLR! This was our favorite Tumblr to pull gifs from in the beginning but then the gifs stopped – save for this one gif from near the end. This gif mystified me for so long until I eventually forgot about it, but it made this moment that much funnier when it finally appeared on my screen.

Lor: Angel interrupts the flashback because he was never in Italy in the 50’s (K: Too busy brooding in the Hyperion). Spike says it’s too bad. Especially since Angel actually remembers 1894 and something called the Room of Pain. We head off into another flashback: Angelus and Spike-us are hung from a ceiling, their arms in manacles. Is it weird that David Boreanaz is wearing a shirt but James Marsters is not?

K: I think it’s less weird and more “David Boreanaz got chubby because of his knee injury and they didn’t want him to take his shirt off.” (Also, in checking that it was a knee injury, I discovered that David Boreanaz and his wife have their own line of nail polish. Oh, Wikipedia. Always an adventure…) (Also also, TERRIBLE WIG FLASHBACK SHOTS, which is totally a thing I just made up but this episode needs all the help it can get.)

Sweeney: The talk of DB getting chubby makes me super anxious. For all the many things I disliked in this season/episode (talk of stalking right after the credits, for starters), the shifting physique of an actor is not a thing that seems worthy of commentary.

Lor: And that’s why it makes it awkward to be all, “Marsters, shirt off. David, no you keep it on.”

Angelus comes to first and wakes William. DB is doing his “Irish” accent and I may be imagining it, but it kind of sounds like JM’s accent has gotten worse, probably due to proximity. (S: CAN’T…HOLD…ON….TERRIBLE ACCENT POWERS…TOO…STRONG.) Anyway, the Immortally Unknown is the one that captured them. They struggle against their restraints and make a lot of grand threats against the Immortal, but can’t get free.

Some lackey walks in and sets them free, telling them to get the heck out of the city because the Immortally Unknown is back and doesn’t want them there. Angelus snaps the lackey’s neck. Angelus says he’s going to bring a world of pain on the Immortal after a good meal and a good rest in the arms of Darla. We cut to said Darla (Julie Benz!) passed out on a bed. (S: Seeing Julie Benz gave me false hope that this episode could be redeemed.) Spike asks what they’ve done to her.

Present. Wolfram & Hart. Illyria is running her hand across some plants. I know she’s not a she, but it’s too hard to keep up, guys. Or maybe it’s too hard to put that much effort in when I’m already bored out of my mind nine minutes into the episode.


Illyria’s sad because she can no longer “hear the song of the green.” I guess the plants used to sing to her? That’s nice. Lorne and Wesley are standing a little way away from her, and Wes explains that Illyria’s powers have been greatly reduced, though she is still really strong. Illyria thinks he’s reveling in her defeat, what with her lack of powers and confinement in a human body. Lorne tries to joke that maybe she could cope with some alcohol, but apparently ancient ones don’t have senses of humor. She gets all growl-y and threaten-y, but Wesley stands between her and Lorne and carefully suggests that she return to the lab. Illyria says she does what she wants, but Wesley frames it as a suggestion to go do more tests to try and help her. She glares and agrees, but only because she totally wants to.

Once gone, Wesley notes that Illyria seems to be overcompensating while she adjusts to her new powerless self. Behind Wesley, the elevator opens and out comes Fred’s parents. “Burkles!” Lorne exclaims. Wesley gives them an awkward, “why are you here?” but they don’t seem to notice. They are going to Hawaii and decided to surprise Fred during their layover. Welp. This will certainly be a surprise?

Wesley asks them to step into his office. We pan up to see that Illyria was standing upstairs, watching all of this happen.

K: It makes me insanely angry that they didn’t think to contact her parents – WHO THEY’VE ALL MET – to tell them that their daughter died. Admittedly, it’s a situation that’s complicated by the existence of Illyria. BUT STILL. It makes me wonder if anyone outside of the Fang Gang knows that Cordelia’s dead…

Sweeney: I hadn’t even considered that. Although, Fred’s case is kind of complicated, what with the fact that the thing that killed her is now wearing her skin. You’re right, though – they should have told her parents something.

Lor: They would’ve definitely asked for a body or a funeral or something. The other part of this is that I don’t think any of these people have been in normal functioning head space since, between hell dimensions and Illyrias and trying to reverse the Fred thing.

Jaunty Music and Establishing Shots. Angel knocks on an apartment door and hey! It’s Andrew.

Andrew explains that he’s crashing at Buffy and Dawn’s place because his house was torched in an incident he doesn’t want to talk about. He awkwardly invites them in and rambles about taking them out sightseeing or something. Nope. The boys just want to see Buffy, but according to Andrew she isn’t there. She gone after the Immortal, which Andrew thinks is a good thing, seeing as most days, they just stay home and snuggle. What was that? Yes, indeed. Buffy is dating the Immortal.

K: Because adding a third dude to the “BUFFY IS MAHN” (a la Bill Compton) equation is JUST what this show needs! 

Lor: Flashback. Angelus flips Darla over. There really isn’t anything wrong with her, except that she’s apparently well-sexed, since the Immortal was there. Angel is pissed, especially as Darla goes on and on about how great and big and awesome the Immortal is. Spike’s getting a kick out of this until Drusilla (Juliet Landau!) (seriously, I’m so bad at noticing guest star credits. They get me every time.) shows up and admits she slept with the Immortal too. The boys get angry as the girls head off to go shower. They promise blood vengeance on the Immortal.

Cut to them being turned away from the Immortal’s party. Guest lists are a bitch.

Present. Spike says it’s all over. Not that he had much of a chance with Buffy anyway. Blah, blah, blah, Buffy would never fall for a hundred year old morally ambiguous sort, GET IT? BECAUSE YEAH. SHE HAS. While they argue, there is a demon with ears coming out of his cheeks lurking in the background. A second demon enters and hands over the Demon Mob Boss’s body, but it’s really just his head in a bowling ball bag, because that’s the way these demons roll.

Demon head in their possession, Spike and Angel go back to Buffy’s place. She isn’t back yet, though, because it’s only 8:30. FEELS LIKE FOREVER, THOUGH, RIGHT GUYS? For me too.

K: SO MUCH FOREVER. Maybe Andrew’s up to his old tricks and we’re trapped in the mummy hand episode of season 6?

Lor: Probably not.

Wolfram & Hart. The Burkles are super impressed by the new offices. Wesley keeps setting himself up to break the news, but they keep right on chattering happily, right up until we hear, “mom?” IN FRED’S VOICE. And there she is, running into the room with a huge smile, greeting her parents. Wesley looks like, well, like he’s seen a ghost.



Lor: Rome. Club. Angel and Spike ask a bartender if she’s seen their blonde friend hanging around with the Immortal. The bartender points out a blonde dancing in a crowd. It’s an extra wildly flicking around her too-blonde wig. It’s really awkward. The we get Angel and Spike bickering about who’s going to save Buffy and who had a relationship with her and who loves her and who slept with her more.


Lor: Angel realizes that they left the Mob Boss’s head behind. They see the Cheek-Eared Lurker stealing the demon head. They confront him, but as it turns out, Cheek-Eared isn’t alone. After a Not Break, we join a fight in progress, all in slow motion and set to Dean Martin’s Take Me In Your Arms. Spike accidentally hits Angel. Angel hits him back. Then they hit each other. Tra la la.

Back at normal speed, Angel and Spike see that Cheek-Eared is getting away with the Mob Boss’s head, in their car no less. Spike thinks on his feet and grabs a nearby scooter.


I like that the camera man is careful to linger on the line of other scooters behind them. “Yes,” the cameraman is saying, “Angel could’ve hopped on one of these. But then how would we shipper bait you?” Indeed, cameraman. Indeed. Here is the dialogue from on top the bike: “Faster, come on! Punch it.” “Stop holding on so tight.”

K: And oh so subtle! Also, that poor scooter. They HAVE to be pushing the weight limit on that thing…

Lor: They cut the Cheek-Eared demon off, but dude just crashes the car into them and there is the most hilarious crashing sound effects. Super cartoonish, as is the weird cut that leaves us on the floor with Spike and Angel with pieces of the scooter about them. Angel yells at Spike because all he was supposed to do was, “hang onto the head,” (wink wink). Spike says they don’t have time for arguing since they have to get the head back to LA in 12 hours. “No more screwing around,” Angel agrees.

Cut back inside the bar where Angel and Spike are asking the bartender about Buffy again. Screw the safety of people in LA, right?! There is a woman to be had! Spike and Angel complain to each other about how the Immortal is always taking their possessions (by which I mean women) and generally ruining their lives. Angel says if they were in LA, it’d be a different story because they have resources there. Spike remembers, though- doesn’t Wolfram & Hart have an office in Rome?

WHY YES THEY DO! And it looks exactly like W&H LA. (K: HOW CONVENIENT. Except that a lot of people are walking around drinking wine at work???) A woman in a showy dress greets them enthusiastically and introduces herself as the CEO of the Roman office. She says they can have whatever they’d like and invites them to step into her office.

Wolfram and Hart LA. (Probably Not) Fred is showing her parents around Evil Radio Shack. Mama Burkle pointedly asks Wesley if he’s seeing anyone, ’cause her daughter is all single and stuff. (Ouch.) The Burkles laugh and Fred points them in the direction of her office. Wesley grabs Fred’s arm, now that they are momentarily alone.


I wasn’t going to include the whole set, but look at that head tilt in the last gif. It’s such a simple movement, but my gosh. Look at Acker go. She looks like Fred and acts like Illyria and it’s impressive. When the Burkles come back out of Fred’s (now empty, which they notice) office, they find Wesley and Fred!Illyria glaring at each other. Wesley snaps out of it and says everything is fine. Back in Fred’s voice, Fred!Illyria assures them of the same.

W&H Rome. Angel and Spike tell the Roman CEWoah that their friend is under the spell of the Immortal. CEWoah laughs them off because she knows that the Immortal doesn’t use spells or magic at all. The boys insist, asking for the Italian version of Wesley to do some research, but CEWoah says it’s pointless. Besides, she knows all about their real mission of retrieving the Mob Boss’s head, which is way more important. They already received a ransom note, addressed to Angel, via their offices. Angel says they are going to need a helicopter and an assault team and guns. CEWoah says no way, because they are in a civilized country and they are just going to pay the money. Angel sighs and says fine.

Spike and Angel wait in an empty piazza. How will they pass the time? Bickering over who saved the world when, of course! Which all goes back to the main point that they are totally awesome and what the heck could Buffy see in the Immortal? Cheek-Eared gets out of a car behind them and suggests, “Perhaps she likes the cut of his trousers.” That’s a dick joke, right? Right.

K: Dammit. I wish I’d called Sexual Innuendo Shots right back at the start of this episode. I’d be three sheets to the wind by now and this episode would be much more tolerable.

Lor: W&H LA. The Burkles’ visit is wrapping up. Mama Burkle tells Wesley to take care of Fred for them. (Ouch.) Fred!Illyria and Wesley wave at the Burkles as they leave. As soon as they are out of sight, Illyria’s face falls into a scowl. Behind her, Wesley asks if she got what she need from that experience. She did. It was informative. Wesley tells her never to do it again.

Sweeney: The hugs were the worst. Unbelievably painful to watch, and I appreciated the glimpses of Wesley wincing a little at the sight of it. The Burkles were just unknowingly hugging their daughter’s corpse. Worse yet, hugging her corpse because it’s inhabited by the thing that killed her.

Lor: I didn’t even think about it in such detailed terms. UGH.

Rome. Cheek-Eared is sassing the man-pires since the Immortal has their possession (by which I mean woman.) Spike takes this as confirmation that this was all the Immortal’s plan, with the stealing of the head and taking of his girl. Angel glares at him and he amends that to, “our” girl. Cheek-Eared says that isn’t the case. The Immortal doesn’t do business with demons like him. He’s a lone wolf. Cheek-Eared talks about the Immortal lovingly and Angel and Spike have had enough and start fighting the lackeys. Cheek-Eared is unsurprised that the Americans are resorting to violence because this entire episode has been jam packed with unamusing stereotypes, and we have like 10 minutes left so why not add some more! Cheek-Eared pulls out a gun and points it at the head-in-a-bag, threatening to shoot the head unless they hand over the money. “You gives us the money, we give you the head,” Cheek-Eared says. I don’t even know what to say about that.

K: I can’t even with this dialogue. MORE SHOTS.

Lor: They hand over the money, Cheek-Eared gives them the bag and leaves. Spike and Angel grumble some more about how the Immortal is totally behind this whole thing. They look in the bag and find a bomb.

After a Not Break, the piazza is covered in debris. Spike’s pissed because his jacket got ruined in the explosion. He says he’ll never replace that jacket he took off the body of a dead Slayer and we cut to the CEWoah clothing him in a new one. Plus she’s sent him 10 more to LA. Meanwhile, Angel is wearing this:

It’s like Spike is looking at us all, “do you have any freakin’ clue what’s going on?” Nope. We don’t.

K: Between that jacket and that facial expression, I am in fits of hysterical laughter right now. If nothing else, at least this episode gifted us that screencap.

Lor: The CEWoah claims Italians always hand bombs to first timers. IDK. Go with it, we’re almost done. Angel wants to resort to helicopters and assault teams now but the CEWoah says to let them handle it and shoos them out of her office. Angel and Spike halfheartedly put up a fight but then just decide they want to go home.

BUT NOT BEFORE STOPPING BY BUFFY’S AGAIN! She isn’t home yet but Andrew invites them in. Spike asks if maybe Buffy has been acting like she’s under a spell or something. Andrew says nope. And no to love potions and mind control too. She just fell for the Immortal and that’s it. Angel: But she’s not finished baking yet. I gotta wait till she’s done baking, you know, till she finds herself, ’cause that’s the drill. Fine. I’m waitin’ patiently, and meanwhile, The Immortal’s eatin’ cookie dough! 

Okay: HA. That’s probably the only thing I’ve chuckled at and only because it’s a call back. (K: I was torn between chuckling and cringing…) From off screen, Andrew asks if Angel’s crying. Spike says no and the after a beat, “not yet.” Andrew tells him to hold the water works because while the Immortal is cool, he isn’t without flaws. Then he adds, “The point is she’s moving on. You guys do the same, and you might catch her one day. One of you, anyway. But you keep running in place, you’re gonna find she’s long gone.” Spike admits that it’s silly, them chasing her around. Andrew says Buffy loves both of them, but she’s got to live her life. People change. Andrew comes back out, wearing a tuxedo, hair slicked back. He opens the door and two pretty girls are there. He leaves with them.

Sweeney: I reject this moment on the grounds that Andrew’s totes gay.

Lor: Fred!Illyria finds Wesley. Going back between Fred’s voice and Illyria’s voice, Fred!Illyria tells Wesley that she wants to explore what she knows Wesley still feels for Fred. He turns her down.




Lor: Wesley leaves and Fred!Illyria morphs into just Illyria. “As you wish,” she says after him, which means Illyria is either the Dread Pirate Roberts or she loves Wesley or something I haven’t thought of yet.


Back in LA, Spike and Angel find that the Mob Boss’s head made it back as well. Courtesy of the Immortal, who left a little card with the bag. Guess what, those two bicker about which of them sucks more. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I tuned them out, and that seemed like a safe bet. Finally, Spike asks IF THEY CAN LOCK BUFFY IN A BOX SO NO ONE ELSE CAN TOUCH HER.


Whatever, episode over. It goes on, but fuck this. The gist is that they sit around while they say they have to move on. The end.

Of all the things that bothered me this episode, it absolutely BAFFLED ME that this is how the decided to spend episode 20 of the last season ever. This episode purposefully features an A-plot that gets ignored by our heroes in favor of going after Buffy. See, because they’ve lost the mission, yada, yada. Problem was that in other episodes, that felt like the story. In this episode, it felt like we were burying the story to get some bumbling around Italy for reasons I’m not entirely confident will make sense to me, even after the season is done.

K: YES. I’ll talk about this more when we recap the finale, but this episode feels so out of place at this point of the season. 


It also hurt the Fred story, too, because the pacing was just too weird. That story also had nothing to do with the apocalypse, but that story made sense – you know, if it weren’t sandwiched between all the Angel/Spike bullshit.

Lor: Back when Spike first came into the picture, I made super clear how annoyed I was with the extended bickering between him and Angel and also their turf war over Buffy. AN ENTIRE EPISODE DEDICATED TO THAT. AN ENTIRE ONE. This would’ve made sense probably somewhere early in the season, but considering all we’ve seen, and the serious tone of everything post-Cordelia and Fred’s death, the cartoon-y vibe here just did not work for me, at all.

Sweeney: YES. E20 is too late to try to do a lighthearted episode. It doesn’t play with the rest of the story. What’s more, it was just completely pointless. If you’re going to try to lighten the mood, it needs to mean something. Storyteller comes to mind as a great example of that – it was a light episode but one that ultimately packed an emotional punch. This was not only badly placed but a giant waste of time.

Lor: Speaking of which, here is ANOTHER place where it made no sense to absolutely forget Cordelia.

Plus this bears repeating: fuck both those dudes for the way they think about, talk about, and treat Buffy.

K: Seriously. IMDB has just informed me that both Michelle Trachtenberg and Sarah Michelle Gellar were originally supposed to appear in this episode but had to pull out due to shooting other things, and thank God they did. I’m not sure how I would have handled seeing either of them interact with these possessive douchenozzles.

That said, I feel the need to mention that Whedon did a major piece of retcon at the very start of the Buffy season 8 comics and revealed that two of the Slayer army were working undercover as Fake!Buffys, one literally underground fighting demons and the other in Rome, partying and dating the Immortal. I don’t know whether this means he ultimately regretted this episode, but at least it explains why Buffy didn’t notice the MASSIVE FIGHT happening like ten metres away from her in the club. So…at least there’s that??

Lor: Nah, man. Not even retcon can fix it.


Next time: Angel gets CrAngel as we approach the end in Angel S05 E21 – Power Play.


Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I spend too much time on YouTube. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

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  • Kendra

    Yeah, wasn’t wild about this one either. The revelation that Illyria can turn back into Fred whenever she wants is devastating/interesting and would have been explored more if there had been a sixth season.

    There are a couple of funny moments with the other storyline, but the rest of it is so stupid. Yes, there was a little more self-awareness about how petty their Buffy bickering is than usual and Andrew called them out at the end, but it still bothers me that they treat this awesome, smart, and strong young woman like she’s a child in need of rescue and then argue over who deserves to be with her when she’s clearly chosen to be with neither one of them. I’m a sucker for Buffy/Angel, but I’m glad she recognized that she needed to grow on her own at the end of her show, that she wasn’t a prize to be won by either Angel or Spike. They still haven’t figured it out, though.

    • They still haven’t figured it out, though.
      YUP. And this fact is exasperating and drags both of those characters down.

  • Idriss Boukhanef

    The Illyria/Fred bits were really really great and gave me tons of feelings… and that’s it. The rest was absolutely awful, out of place, and I agree with everything you said.

    But I also have a lot of issues with the end. Andrew is a character who was several times hinted to be gay, and seeing him going out with these pretty girls and talking to them in a flirty way WHILE saying people can change made me really, really angry. It strongly implies that he, somehow, changed his sexuality, and, well, UGH.

    • darkalter2000

      Andrew is gay, but /he/ doesn’t know that. So I could totally see him on the arms of two women, he isn’t afraid of rejection because he doesn’t really find them attractive. But he is an adult and wants to be in a relationship, so he goes out with people he finds ascetically pleasing, not realizing that he is the problem, not them. Or he could be bi. Either/or.

    • JEL

      I’ve read that Whedon has said that that line by Andrew was a mistake because it was written for Dawn and they didn’t realize it needed changing when MT was unavailable and they switched to Andrew.

    • According to IMDB (accuracy debatable, but whatever), Andrew was originally meant to leave with a guy and a girl. But when the time came, Whedon wasn’t around and they changed it to two girls.

    • Alex

      The others have already touched on it, but somewhere I read an interview either with Whedon or with one of the other bosses on the show, and they were very apologetic about that Andrew scene and the way it came across. They indeed said that the line was intended for Dawn, and that the people at the door were meant to be a large mixed group rather than just women, but with all the edits that happened between writing and production they ended up with the final scene which has all these unfortunate implications that they (apparently) didn’t intend.

      I’m not sure I buy it, to be honest. It feels like surely someone along the way would have said ‘hang on, what’s actually happening here?’ and changed the line appropriately if that wasn’t what they were trying to convey, but I don’t really know anything about TV production and maybe when you’re under pressure and shooting things in a hurry you just miss things like this which seem really obvious once they’re pointed out by viewers.

      The scene still sort of works for me in an ‘Andrew thinks he’s James Bond now’ kind of way, because that is very Andrew and shows that despite him saying that he’s totally changed, it’s actually the opposite: he’s actually still the same guy living out a total fantasy and thinking he’s something way cooler than he is. But I agree that it was extremely clumsy to do the scene in that way.

      • It has been fairly clear to me, this season, that many of the Angel writers never saw Buffy. Everything about Spike’s introduction undermined his entire S7 story on Buffy – and y’all know how much we hate(d?) him so I feel like we’re the last people to say that which makes me feel all the more certain it’s so. Likewise, Andrew’s previous appearance had a similar feel of, “You’re reducing this character to his basest and most punchline-worthy elements.”

        All of that is to say that I don’t forgive them for it, but that I definitely don’t think the intent was there. Again, everyone knows we’re much more interested in execution than intent, but since we’re going there, I really do think it was ignorance. I just have a strong feeling that there weren’t enough people on hand who knew Andrew’s character well enough to see what a giant fucking problem that was.

        (I should clarify that I fault these writers for character changes/reductions that seem to be some combination of laziness or accident – like this. Back in S1/S4, writing Angel and Buffy differently in that back-to-back crossover magic worked BRILLIANTLY. I loved that it was a very clear perspective shift. I should also add that part of why I judge them harshly is how much better Buffy handled stuff like this. Some of the most important shit in Faith’s arc happens in LA and when she comes back to Sunnydale, I never felt like the show tried to scrub her of all of that for simplicity’s sake. The Angel writers, however, have done that repeatedly.)

        • Alex

          Ahhhh, that’s a very good theory that makes a lot of sense, now I think about it. It seems very likely that the Angel writers just thought ‘Oh yeah, Andrew was that total nerd on Buffy, right? So we’ll have him swanning out of the door with two total babes like a big stud and then he can be like “people change” and yeah, that totally works, let’s do that’ and didn’t even realise that Andrew’s sexuality was a thing.

          • YES. That just about sums up my read on this. It’s still frustrating and problematic, but for all the little difference it makes, I think it’s a negligent erasure rather than a willful one. (In fact, that’s usually the case with erasure in representation, which is why I do want to be cautious to note how little difference it makes in the end.)

      • JEL

        An impression I have gotten from listening to various commentaries etc on more than show is that when doing a weekly hour long show the time pressures become incredible with every one working really long hours to meet schedules as a season progresses. So I do accept that mistakes can happen in that sort of environment.

  • darkalter2000

    One thing I love about the Rome plot is when Angel totally confirms that he never had a threesome with the girls. It tickles me that, That is the one of the few sexual things that was made canon. Otherwise it is irredeemable

    Weirdly, it is the side-plot with Wesley and Illyria that seems to be on point. Poignant and odd, with a dash of mystery.

  • Andy!

    Ok, there are many reasons I dislike this episode, you’ve already covered them but just in case…
    1)it’s out of placed. The writers were setting up the final arc of the FINAL season I don’t see the point in doing an episode like this.
    2)Another problem in the episode, and possible in the entire season, there’s too much Buffy and she’s not even in the show, at least to make Spike and Angel stop bickering and treating her like a freaking trophy!!!!
    3)I’ve always liked crossover/flashback episodes but this is the only one I hate. Spike and Angelus felt a bit out of character, I suppose it was the point but it didn’t work to me. It was nice to see Dru and Darla, tough.
    The only thing I “like” was Wesley/Illyria/The Burkles! interaction. I wish this whole episode were all about them. Even tough I also find upsetting none of them has called Fred’s parents to let them know she has passed away, especially when Fred told Wesley to do it!, I love to see them. And it’s sad to see how they keep lying to the best parents in the buffyverse, it just breaks my heart 🙁

    • Kendra

      The most out of place episode I’ve ever seen is “Go Fish” in Season 2 of BtVS. That, in between “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “Becoming?” Really? This is on up there too, though.

      • Andy!

        Oh, damn! that episode!!!yes it’s out of place and one of the worst ever. I don’t if “Killed by dead” should be included in the list because is a really shitty follow-up after a powerful episode, “Passion.”

    • I honestly think part of the reason why I’m so disappointed by this episode is that all of the episode synopses I’ve seen for it are like “Angel and Spike go to Rome. Meanwhile, Fred’s parents turn up and OMG HOW WILL THE GANG HANDLE IT BECAUSE HER PARENTS DON’T KNOW THAT SHE’S DEAD”, thereby making it sound like the latter and not the former is the major plot of the episode.

      You know, that and the insanely awkward placing.

      • The plot summaries for shows on streaming services never make any sense. They range from MASSIVE spoilers to descriptions that have nothing to do with the actual episode. I always wonder if the writers have even watched the episodes.

  • SnazzyO

    SnazzyO’s reading of this fabulous blog:
    read, read, read… Ryan Reynolds gif..THIS EPISODE *pause, runs to grab Cersei-class goblet, fills it to within an inch of the top with left over Clos Du Bois, takes BIG swig to catch up, unpause*
    Ciao gif … hilar, more drinking

    S: CAN’T…HOLD…ON….TERRIBLE ACCENT POWERS…TOO…STRONG.**voice in head is from William Shatner school of acting**, hee –more drinking — trying to keep up with Jack gif.

    Ilyria/Plants OTP – drink! + Fred had a thing for plants while she was stoned and then Fred parents turn up and this episode turns both schizophrenic and sad all at once … BIG SWIG
    Spike and Angel pissed that Darla and Dru never let THEM have a threesome — and Spangel sex is canon IMO at this point — hey, the shows canceled, go for broke. *gulp*
    Wesley Feels — more drinking
    Oh shit. We are at that HORRIBLE Italian version of W&H were they make abominable gypsy slurs… Drink some more

    K: I can’t even with this dialogue. MORE SHOTS. ***joins you… wait… WTF happen to my glass… it’s EMPTY??? I’m not even halfway thru reading this review. Gets up, refills — well that killed THAT bottle ***

    DB needs to pummel the person who put him in that jacket. Mad props for him wearing it and being the butt of the visual joke.
    No.. Not yet – Valid assessment by Spike regarding Angel and crying.
    BULLSHIT! Andrew is the gayest gay that ever gayed. And the alcohol maybe taking effect.
    Dammit, Wesley Feels. And you HAD to bring in a Princess Bride gif with all of Wesley’s sincerity? **Quaff of red stuff**
    Truth: I kinda liked that they acknowledged they were being 12 year olds and that they WANT to put Buffy in a padded cell but she’d kick their collective asses. To me, it was actually a moment of truce b/w them regarding Buffy. She’s rejected both of them and they know it. It’s finally sinking in and they are commiserating. I’m on-board with that.

    BUT — Whedon has said the major love interest for Angel in S5 was Spike — legit. So I think he wanted to have this farce of an episode where they Hope & Crosby their way to a reconciliation. Okay in concept, HORRIBLE in timing. HORRIBLE in execution. I’m not forgiving them for virtually spitting on Jenny’s Calendars’ grave with the gypsy jokes. (… oooh can I take my own call-back shots… yes, I think I can).

    OTOH, FRED FEELS. WESLEY FEELS. Everytime Fred showed up it HURTS. Fuck You Very Much Whedon. ***Damn, that Cersei-class goblet is empty AGAIN***

    In maudlin mood now… will rewatch the Fred montage at end of Shells to cry myself into a gawd awful state.

    • SnazzyO

      Replying to my own self:
      Memo to self. Don’t watch that Fred Feels montage again unless I want to clean my contacts. Shit, that sucks.

    • They really did up the shipper baiting in the last few episodes, so your “hey, the show’s cancelled, go for broke” seems frightening accurate.

  • ginar369

    Kirsti, it was actually a robot (Buffy!Bot)in Rome with the Immortal. Andrew’s handy work apparently. (And that is one of the many many reasons I have never and will never read the Buffy comics!) Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof acted the hell out of this episode. It is one of my favorites for that reason alone. As much of a Spike fan girl as I am the scenes with him and Angel in this ep are something I usually choose to ignore, expect for seeing JM without his shirt on! LOL But Amy and Alexis nailed this episode.

    • Alex

      Are you sure it was a robot in Rome? I don’t remember that being revealed but I stopped reading towards the end of S8 and only followed the story vaguely on the wikis after that so maybe I missed that development. But yeah, the comics are… not great.

      ETA: I did like the idea that Andrew had set up the Immortal thing as a prank to wind up Angel and Spike, though. That really amuses me, for some reason, even though it’s clearly a gigantic retcon.

      • ginar369

        Oh yeah. It just gets worse from there. But Andrew didn’t do it to wind up Angel and Spike. Supposedly the robot was to protect Buffy from some danger. Only get this the robot? she didn’t know she was a robot. She thought she was actually Buffy. And later on the robot thinks she pregnant! Something about Andrew placing Buffy consciousness into the robot. I stopped reading even the forum entries about the comics when that little nugget came out. But yeah it was a robot in Rome not Buffy.

        • Alex

          Ohh I think you’re mixing up two storylines! There was indeed a pregnant Buffy robot but that wasn’t the Buffy in Rome, that was the ‘actual’ Buffy i.e. the one that the story had been following for a while telling us that it was Buffy, then it was revealed that the real Buffy was in hiding somewhere not knowing that she was Buffy thanks to a memory wipe – the writer had been working on Dollhouse at the time! The girl in Rome was a decoy Slayer and Andrew had apparently done some research and decided to say that she was dating the Immortal because it would be ‘hilarious’.

        • Yeah, like Alex said below, that’s two different storylines. The mention of the Slayer in Rome being a decoy and all Andrew’s idea is mention on like the second page of the first issue of season 8. The pregnancy/robot storyline is in issues 5-7 of season 9 and features Actual!Buffy being replaced by a robot, not Roman!Buffy being replaced by a robot.

  • Alex

    Not much more to say that hasn’t already been said, really. I always forget that the stuff with Fred’s parents is in this episode, which is odd because THAT is fitting material for the final few episodes of the season, whereas the Rome stuff… isn’t. But I think I get blinded by my rage about the latter and so forget about the former.

    The Rome plot does have some pretty funny moments and I think I’d find ssome of it pretty amusing if it weren’t SO CLOSE to the end of the season. If this had been episode three or four then I think I’d be more likely to say ‘well that was silly nonsense but some of it was fun’, putting it in the same kind of box as ‘Harm’s Way’. But it’s here and I spend most of the episode sitting there in disbelief and thinking ‘WTF are you doing here, episode?’ It’s not just that it’s a silly plot, it also feels like a total regression for Angel and Spike, who I thought had grudgingly put aside their differences in favour of uniting as CHAMPIONS! for the common good. But nope, apparently not.

    That said, it may be a crappy episode but it made for one of the funniest Snark Squad recaps I’ve read in ages! It was thoroughly entertaining. I laughed especially hard at your reactions to ‘You gives us the money, we give you the head’ and couldn’t believe I hadn’t spotted that line before. I’m giggling like a maniac again right now just writing about it.

    • darkalter2000

      It seems sort of obvious that, of the main cast, she is the one who would be killed. Two loving parents is a major luxury in the Whendonverse. Who is the person in their relationship that feels sorrow over another member of their family? We should have seen that one coming.

  • SonicRulez

    I think this episode has laughs, but it’s wildly out of place. By this point I was super done with Buffy plots invading Angel. Damage was fine and we’re at the finale, let’s leave it at that. I suppose it may have been meant to foreshadow Buffy’s intended appearance in the finale, but I don’t care. I might’ve been okay if they had been able to get Dawn, because it is forever sad to me that Angel and Dawn have 0 scenes together, but since they got Andrew (who I do not like) bleh. Bleh bleh bleh. This could happen in maybe the 3rd episode after Spike got back. Not now.

    That ciao thing is super funny though. It’s hilarious that they asked Juliet Landau to make her final Buffyverse appearance and one of the scenes is just like 3 seconds of her saying “Ciao.” I also giggle at Angel having to ride on the back of a bike yet again. A reminder of happier times with dorky Wesley.

    You guys should’ve done Illyria head title shots. I shall do it in your stead!