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.
K: LOL, OKAY SHOW. WHATEVER.
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.
HOLY SNARK BALLS. I’M ONLY 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.
K: EXCUSE ME WHILE I HAVE ALL THE FEELS.
Sweeney: CAN’T HANDLE THIS. MAKE IT STOP.
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.
Sweeney: CAN’T HANDLE THIS EITHER, FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. MAKE IT STOP TOO.
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.
K: BRB, HAVING MORE FEELS.
Sweeney: TOO MANY. OVERLOAD.
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.
JFC. I CAN’T.
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.
Sweeney: EPISODE 20. THE APOCALYPSE IS “HERE” AND YOU HAVE THREE EPISODES LEFT TO HANDLE THAT AND THIS IS WHAT YOU DO, WRITERS? REALLY? REALLY?
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.