Thursday, June 05, 2008

Angel Wednesday (yeah, "Angel")

So, I vowed not to return to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt's "Buffy" spin-off, and I stayed pretty true to my word . . . at least for a while. But tyranist gave me a couple of weeks to mourn, and then he started nudging me toward watching "Angel" again. First it was subtle, like he started stocking his shelves with Angel Soft bathroom tissue, asking me if I'd ever seen that show where the girl was the high school student by night and hooker by day and what was it called, if I had an action figure of the X-men whose real name was Warren Worthington,
and referring to Jessica Alba as "that girl from Dark ANGEL." It was around the time he asked me who played Kelly LeBrock in the TV version of "Weird Science" that I caught on, and soon he started getting really overt.

Finally, he invited me over and after we'd watched our requisite "Twin Peaks" episode (this was the one where Laura's mother sees Bob crouching beside the couch at the end), he simply put "Angel" into the DVD player. I had pretty much given in by that point, even though my heart wasn't really into it.

So, I'll be brief, if I can. First up was "Double or Nothing," written by David Goodman. Basically, Angel sits around in Connor's room, staring at the empty cradle, while everyone else tries to make things work at Angel Investigations without Wesley. Cordelia and the Groosalugg return, and are apprised of what happened while they were off Com-Shukking.

The episode was, in many ways, about Gunn, with a demon loan shark trying to collect on a debt Gunn incurred years before. We actually get a flashback--complete with "Gangsta's Paradise"--of a younger Gunn going to a demon casino and meeting with a dude named Jenof, trading in his soul for something he wanted desperately. Well, Jenof in the present has learned that Gunn is getting ready to give his soul to someone new, Marge Simpson, and that--er, to Fred, and he wants to collect before that can happen.

There's also a subplot where an old demon couple hire A.I. to clear a squatter out of their lair. Said squatter is a demon that spews rivers of phlegm in all directions. Gunn kills it, then goes to see Jenof at the casino.

At one point, we do check in with Wesley, who is still in the hospital. Fred goes to visit him, having packed up his belongings from the office. She tells him she read his writings and knows why he took Connor away, but that he should've trusted his friends with it instead of going to Holtz. She tells him the prophesy was a lie, it was all for nothing and not to ever come back to the hotel. A rough scene, and for the first time, I wished they had just killed Wesley instead of thoroughly humiliating him.

Not for the last, though.

Gunn is told he has one day to get his affairs in order and pay up, or Jenoff will send his goons after Fred as well. So he trudges back to the hotel, where Cordelia sees that he's glum and tells him to take the next day off, to go out with Fred and have the bestest day ever. He takes her up on it and treats Fred to a packed schedule of sightseeing and eating and merriment (no mention of long hours sans clothes, though).

Fred finally realises there's something wrong, and instead of telling her the truth, he insults her, breaking up with her, and saying hurtful things to drive her away. Maybe not the way I would've gone about it, but seeing Gunn rocking in fetal position for twenty-four hours might not have been so dramatic.

Wesley is released from the hospital and has no one to pick him up or greet him at home.

Cordelia tries to cheer Angel up too, but he is just too miserable to notice. Fred goes to her and tells her something made Gunn talk to her that way. Angel believes her and is determined not to lose "another family member." Groosalugg, who has been standing around trying to look busy this episode, mentions the loan shark that came looking for Gunn earlier. He even left a business card, leading the gang to the demon casino.

Gunn arrives, walks up to Jenoff, and tells him to do his worst. It's much tougher than I would've been (see earlier fetal position comment and add defecation to it), but before Jenoff can collect, Angel and the others bust in and start pounding bad guys. And the occasional waitress.

Jenoff explains the legal contract he has with Gunn, and Angel gives him a counter-offer. Angel will wager his own soul on a card game, but if he wins, Gunn gets his back. Jenoff agrees and they draw cards . . . but Angel loses. Regardless, Cordelia stabs Jenoff and Angel cuts his head off. That doesn't kill the demon, however, so Angel tries another tactic: he suggests all those in the casino who owe debts to Jenoff help him kill him, and the crowd goes wild.

Now safe and free, Gunn and Fred reconcile. She asks him about the girl he traded his soul for and Gunn reveals that it was actually for his truck. Tyranist had called that earlier, so I gotta give him credit for that one. The end.

This wasn't bad, but then, I don't dislike Gunn, or even his relationship with Fred. You know what I don't like.

Which reminds me. I was hesitant to return to "Angel," and was pretty much only willing to watch the one episode. But since I survived that, we were naturally going to go on to the next one. I made a wager with tyranist, a high card draw inspired by "Double or Nothing," that if I won, we'd only watch one more episode. If he won, we'd finish out the disc.

Tyranist agreed with no hesitation (which should've been a warning). We drew cards, and he won. After we watched it, he revealed to me that there was only one more episode left on the disc anyway.

The next episode was probably a very good one, but my recap certainly won't be. First of all, we watched so many bloody episodes that I find it difficult to separate them (was it this one or the last one where Wesley was released from the hospital?). Also, I gotta admit that I slept through some of it, and had to have tyranist explain what was going on, as I thought we were watching "Homeboyz From Outer Space" and had to be put straight.

This episode was called "The Price" and was written by David "They Got the Mustard Out" Fury. It begins with Angel dismantling what was Connor's room, trying to move on with his life. Down in the lobby, a potential customer arrives, but finds no one there to greet him. Instead, he finds a see-through slug-creature that jumps inside him. He goes to a nearby health drink store and demands liquid refreshment, getting more hostile and thirsty the more he drinks.

Lorne hears about the commotion and Angel goes over and takes the man, whose face is starting to flake and crack, back to Angel Investigations, where he promptly disintegrates, all of his fluids dried up. The parasite that infected him wriggles from the remains, and Angel tells everyone to lock up the doors and windows and try and track it down.

Apparently, this parasite was created when Angel cast his dark magic spell to turn the Scarface demon into flesh and blood. It's something called Thaumogenesis, and it's something Willow learned well after bringing Buffy back from the dead: there is a price for such magicks.

Or maybe it was created when Angel cast the spell to open up a door to the demon dimension where Holtz took his son, I don't know (I think it's the other one, since the latter spell failed). What I do know is that it's not just one see-through parasite, but many, scurrying around the hotel looking for people to infect.Over at the evillawfirm, evillawyerchick Lilah Morgan gets word about the occurrence at Angel Investigations, and recalls her part in casting that spell. She decides to help Angel get rid of the parasites, but then Linwood, her boss, tells her that he wants Angel to die for the time he kidnapped him and slapped him around. No telling if Lilah would've joined the side of the angels (pun intended) had he not interfered.

Well, Gunn, Fred, Cordelia, Groosalugg, and Angel discover that there are hundreds of those slug-critters roaming about, and poor Fred finds out the hard way, when one of them slorpps into her mouth.* Gunn tries to get her out of there to get medical attention, but Angel says no one can leave, for fear of the parasites spreading all over town.

Soon, the parasites begin chasing after our heroes, and they hide in the hotel's big kitchen (which we've never seen before, but ah well). Gunn takes this opportunity to slip away and leave the hotel alone. He goes to Wesley's to ask him for help. Wesley is--in my estimation--understandably unfriendly toward Gunn, and tells him to sod off, but when Gunn lets him know that Fred has been infected, he grabs a bottle of whiskey and tells Gunn to give it to her. As Gunn leaves, Wesley tells him not to ever come to him again.

Apparently (I was sleeping at this point), Fred begins speaking for the parasites, telling them that something called The Destroyer is on its way, having followed them from their world to ours. She begins to dry up, despite the water they give her, and Gunn arrives with the alcohol. They give it to her to drink, and it dehydrates her so much that the parasite leaps out of her. Groo slays it with his sword, but there are zillions more coming toward them.

Suddenly, the now part-demon Cordelia begins to glow with a white light, and she uses this power to destroy all the parasites. "Why didn't you tell me she had one of those things?" the Joker asks Bob, then shoots him with his own gun.

Before any answers can be given, a big portal appears in the hotel lobby, and a giant demon comes out of it. Looks to be quite a battle, but then a teenage kid pops out of the portal and promptly kills the demon. The kid looks at Angel and says, "Hi, Dad." The end.

Tyranist and I went downstairs to get a bag of chips (a fairly large part of every Buffy Wednesday), discussing whether the demon or Connor was The Destroyer Fred warned us about. I had just assumed it was the monster, but thought it being Angel's son was a heck of a lot cleverer.**

After that, came "A New World," written by Jeffrey Bell. It picks up immediately after, with Teen Connor attacking Angel, first with a sort of stake gun, then with fists and acrobatics. I don't know if he inherited vampire strength (or how, if he did), but he can handle both Gunn and the Groosalugg. Angel, however, is a bit tougher, and is able to beat the boy back. He's pulling his punches, I think, and the boy makes a hasty retreat out of the hotel. It's daytime outside, so Angel can't follow. The rest of the guys do, though.

In the streets, Teen Connor moves like a rabbit (or a CGI person), jumping onto a bus and away from his pursuers. He makes his way to one of those great T2 irrigation canals, where he sees the world's hottest junkie trying to buy drugs from a dealer. The junkie, name of Sunny, has no money, so the drug dealer decides to take his own form of payment . . . and Connor interrupts him with a bit of happy violence. The drug dealer has friends, and they gang up on Connor, but he and Sunny manage to get away, and he takes one of the drug dealer's ears as a souvenier.

Back in the hotel, the portal is still a'crackling, and Angel tells Cordelia and Der Groosalugg to watch it, in case something else emerges. Then he takes off toward the bus's destination, via the sewers. Groo and Cordelia are knocked out by a surge of power from the portal, and when the others arrive, everybody's worried something slipped through while they were sleeping. Lorne brings a mystic to close the portal, but she warns that something did come through.

So, Sunny the hot junkie takes Connor to a burned out hotel room (which is roughly what I paid eight hundred dollars a month for in Los Angeles), and tells him about the world. She also kisses him, gives him some chocolate, does some drugs, and kills herself.*** For some reason, this struck me as extremely lame, and I can't really put my finger on why.

We also have our prerequisite Wesley scene (which, I guess is being paralleled by our prerequisite Spike scenes on the last "Buffy"s), where evillawyerwoman Lilah Morgan comes to his apartment, presenting him with a book (Dante's Inferno) and asking him if he remembered who was in the lowest circle of Hell. Of course, that was reserved for traitors, and chiefly for Judas Iscariot, who she compares Wesley to. Oh, and she offers him a job with Wolfram & Hart.

Using Professor Xavier's Cerebro device, Angel tracks Connor down at the hotel room and tries to explain why Sunny the junkie is dead. Connor wants to kill the people who did this to her, but Angel just wants to talk to him. They fight a little bit, and Connor insists his name is Steven, which is what Holtz called him. He considers Holtz his father and tells Angel what he was taught about vampires and Angel in particular.

Having used William Stryer's Cerebro device, the one-eared drug dealer and his cronies track down Connor for a little revenge. They fight also, which the boy is good at.

Having used Magneto's Cerebro device, the cops track Connor down at the motel, and storm the building, opening fire like, well, the L.A.P.D., I guess. Angel takes a bullet meant for his son, and they both slip out the window together.

Once safely away, the boy refuses to go with Angel, but Angel tells him he can always come to the hotel if he needs help or a home. Not long after, Connor is reunited with Holtz, who did come through the portal, but got a severe case of old age makeup as a side effect. Connor--Steven to Holtz--greets him as his true father. The end.

Like I said, we had closed out the disc, and we only had a couple more episodes to go to be caught up with "Buffy." Tyranist nearly always calls the shots as to how long we'll stay up (my hint that we'll be calling it a night is usually when he says, "I'm going to kick you out of my house now"), and on this particular night, he suggested we soldier on to the end of the season. So we did.

There's no telling how late I'll be on that post too, so I'll stop here for now.


*No, it's NOT a word.

**No, also not a word. Sue me.

***See, in my romantic experience, I'd actually characterise this as a successful date.

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