beginning | blinding torment | boils | lies | making me bitter | evil compounds evil | blah blah bity blah

 

Angel 5.11: damage


 

I admit that I haven’t seen Angel since before Faith came back, so I wouldn’t be the immediate choice for recapping this latest episode. Normally, I get all irked and bitter when I read a recap by someone who hasn’t been a watching a show, but I’m thinking of this as a service for those of you who are like me and drifted away from the Angel fold. Is Angel worth trying again? Or are Wednesday nights best spent watching Buffy DVDs?

 

I’m here to help answer those questions. [Of course, I wrote this before the big cancellation notice, and no matter the actual quality, with at least one of Joss’s shows on the air, there are always new shows to recap. Once Angel is over, we’ll be left with a finite number. And that makes me a little sad. Maybe sad enough to be really lazy and recap the remaining Buffy episodes very slowly. Oh wait, maybe that’s not actually because I’m sad. But I am, dammit! Also, you may have noticed that this recap is a teeny little bit late. Basically I wrote up some notes like “Rome… Italian… dreams.” I thought it was all lovely, but ST had to step in one night and help out. It’s possible margaritas were involved. Also tequila shots. Slight possibility.]

 

The big dramatic beginning at the psych hospital is completely ruined for me because I’m distracted by the actor playing the doctor. I have so seen him before. Probably in another Buffy episode or two. ST says no, I’m just hallucinating, which is possible, but if someone could stop by the boards and let me know, I could get on with my life already and stop obsessing. Anyway, this psycho girl escapes and kills all the orderlies. She’s tormented, tough, crazy, and has a sweet little soul. Nope, I didn’t watch ahead, I just saw her hairstyle.

 

Cut to Wolfram and Hart where ME must think a lot of viewers are like me, as they sum up the last year’s worth of episodes. Do they do this every week? (Why, yes! They totally do! Feel my pain, bitch!—ST) Anyway, everyone works for W&H now, Gunn’s all smart and plays golf because see, it’s so opposite of what he did before! It’s unexpected and funny! Or I’m thinking maybe that’s what ME was going for.

 

Hey, it’s Harmony! She bursts in and says they got a phone call about the psycho girl (I guess the phone calls have replaced the visions) and is characteristically ditzy. Actually, that’s the vibe I’m getting from this whole episode: characteristic. I haven’t seen the show since the middle of last season but I can tell what each character’s “new” personality is from the first scene. It’s like the writers phoned in the script based on a “This is Angel” how-to book.

 

I am “happy” however, to see that they’ve kept last season’s misdirection and funny transitions. And by funny, I don’t actually mean funny. I mean, more like “characteristic”.

 

So, the nurse (who looks suspiciously like the nurse who wanted to kill Sunnydale high with rat poison, but isn’t) wants to risk her job and break the law exactly why? She sees the goodness in Angel and knows, somewhere deep down, that he can help?

 

Oh wait. It’s because she wants a job. Of course. She wants in on the glamorous life at W&H and figured this would be a good way to get in the good graces of the psychotically moody vampire who heads it up. Right. You don’t want to run from a psychotically moody vampire, you want to work for him. Which I guess couldn’t be worse than working with deeply disturbed people and the doctors who plan to make money off of them by writing books about their lives steeped in tragedy, horror and most of all, the triumph of the indomitable human spirit.

 

Pardon me, I have to wipe a tear from my eye. I’m so moved.

 

So, not to spoil the plot, but I’m thinking this may be the story of a demon hiding inside a helpless little girl. Like, oh, Faith! And maybe River! And, er Fred in later episodes we haven’t yet seen. And ooh, possibly slayers! But I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

 

Angel and Spike both show up at the erstwhile Slayer’s (oops, we gave it away, didn’t we) loony bin, though now that I type this I’m not really clear on how or why Spike showed up. I mean, I know he’s trying to best Angel, but I don’t recall anyone letting him in on the fun. But then again, I was busy hiding my computer screen and furtively sneaking peeks at the people behind me on the plane for the first half of this episode, horrified that the people behind me would be watching and that it would be as bad as Soul Purpose and I didn’t want them to think that I had absolutely no taste in TV or, worse, ask me for an explanation of what I’d been watching as we deplaned. If you’ve seen Soul Purpose [I have not, so I just think you were chatting it up with your neighbor to get extra peanuts. - SP], I think you understand. So I might have missed it. Anyway, her walls are covered in child-like drawings of demons and death and just sort of really unpleasant things.

 

According to the turncoat at the loony bin, Dana (that’d be er, the psycho girl, er River-character, I mean, slayer, oh never mind) had been having nightmares forever of demons and spoke gibberish in sessions. Luckily those were videotaped for the doctor’s previously mentioned book on what a really great doctor he is to work with such a loon.

  Angel realizes she’s not insane. Well, she is insane, but she’s babbling in Romanian, which, according to Angel’s lightening fast calculations, makes her insane and a slayer. This, of course, just means that ME is lying to us again, with the whole “potentials have nightmares since birth and remember other slayers lives before they become slayers and bah blah blah.” I’m going to have to call bullshit on this one, because I’m pretty sure we would have heard about it if little miss valley girl Buffy ever did, (and no, I do not want anyone to bring up the point that we didn’t know about her little stay in the insane asylum until 6 years later. Because that point? To me, she is moot. Plot points culled from thin air to create a reason for SMG to whip out the crying eyes do not count.) but it also begs the question: why doesn’t Angel immediately assume that if Dana’s a slayer, Buffy or Faith is dead? Callous bastard.

 

‘Cause not to spoil anything, but apparently Buffy has told Angel exactly nothing about the whole “every girl is a slayer” now and either did Spike, even though he was there when the big plan went down and has now been hanging out with Angel for quite a while. I think. Like I said before, I haven't really been watching.

 

Since Angel’s thinking it’s a slayer, they decide to call Giles. Yes, apparently they never talk to Giles, even when Sunnydale disappears and thousands of slayers are running around. But they’re calling him now! And not to find out if Buffy died or something, since after all, the last time Angel talked to Buffy she was being cookie dough and was facing the menancing First Evil who had previously kicked Angel’s ass and was only beaten by scary snow. But just to let him know a rogue slayer was in town.

 

Giles sends someone to pay the Angel crew a visit. I’m sure it’s a long-loved character. One who has the experience, knowledge and wisdom of years of fighting and vanquishing evil! Oh wait, maybe experience, knowledge, and wisdom of years of being evil. Yep. It’s Andrew! The third-rate character that we barely knew ‘til the very last season of Buffy! And dear lord, what is that thing on his head? It’s, like. Alive. This, THIS is how he chooses to style his hair while trying to be taken seriously in a suit, puffing a pipe? This is what Giles is teaching him? Words cannot express my horror. How is any slayer going to take this man seriously when he comes calling in his pompous tones, pronouncing “vampire” “vam-peers”? They’re going to kick his ass and steal his lunch money, that’s what they’re going to do, not join his merry brigade of teen runaways.

 

Andrew and his bloody-awful-poet’s hair is elated to see Spike, since apparently Angel and Buffy aren’t communicating at all, not even to say oh, hey, guess who showed up one day in a flash of light? That’s right, Spike! Or, maybe even a “by the way, we made a few thousand girls vampire slayers. Thought you might want to know since you’re a vampire and all. Watch out for teenage blondes in knee high boots and blue eyeliner.” You know, that sort of thing.

 

Whatever. I guess with Angel being distracted from his one true love by Cordy and electrobabe and apparently a girl Oz, he hasn’t been in touch much with Italian Buffy of Rome. Also, that the Buffy and Angel gangs haven’t talked at all since Angel was all worried about Sunnydale’s pending apocalypse makes it really easy for Andrew, Spike, and Angel to sum up the whole damn last season of Buffy.

 

Spike strikes out on his own to find the insane vampire slayer because, well, he is the son of Dumbass and he really doesn’t need to hear last season summed up. He’s followed by Andrew and they, of course, are attacked by Dana. A fight ensues, Andrew gets punched and kicked in the head pretty fucking brutally, and because I refuse to believe that Andrew is alive after that particularly painful looking double helping of head trauma, he and the separate entity masquerading as his hair shall henceforth be referred to as Ghost of Andrew. Because Andrew? Dead to me now. Go into the light, Andrew. Or the flames. You know. Whichever.

 

Spike, without the fabulously capable, prat-falling Andrew around to save him, gets captured by the psycho and chained up, just like Dana was as a child. Seems the psycho is a bit confused and the memories are confusing her, especially the ones of the slayers Spike killed, and has placed Spike in the role of her torturer. She shoots him up with lots of pretty drugs and chops off his hands, all while spitting out things her captor used to say to her and ignoring Spike’s pleas of “hey, I didn’t do it to you. I did it to other people, not you. Stop it. Ow. Stop it. It wasn’t me.”

 

The writers seemed to have had writer’s block during the Dana-tortures-Spike thing, so they dug up an unused Firefly script. They just replaced the “two by two hands of blue” with the whole “heart and head, piece by piece” thing and scribbled out River’s name and wrote Dana above it. They didn’t even need to change the instructions to the hair or wardrobe people.

 

An interesting note in the whole slayer memory thing: she channels Nikki begging Spike not to kill her because she had to get home to Robin. Now, is this just to make Spike look like more of an asshole so we really feel his apathy at the end, or is it because Spike!Spike from Season Two Buffy was actually telling the truth? See, I always figured that what we saw in Fool for Love was actually what happened, with Nikki just accepting her death, since he was already Buffy-whipped and all he’d tell her the truth, and that Spike!Spike was just being a bad-ass braggart, talking up his adventures to scare the little teenage slayer in front of him. But now, maybe Spike!Spike was telling the truth, and Dumbass-in-Lust Spike was softening the story so Buffy wouldn’t think he was a complete asshole.

 

Or maybe ME has no clue, and just does whatever the hell they feel like to hit whatever emotional note they’re going for at the moment. [Yeah, they probably forgot all about Spike bragging to Buffy about killing slayers in School Hard. And telling Buffy he was practically doing the slayers a favor by killing them in Fool for Love. I can just visualize the writers brainstorming sessions:

 

Let’s see… didn’t Spike kill a slayer or two or something? Like a long time ago?

 

Maybe. He is pretty old. And he used to be evil and stuff.

 

Wait… something’s coming to me. Wasn’t there a school principal on the last season of Buffy. And it turns out that his mom had been a slayer and when he was little he watched Spike kill her? And Spike told Buffy about it in season five?

 

Really? That’s a pretty cool coincidence.

 

I think the Buffy writers wrote it that way on purpose.

 

Really? We should totally do that. Write in some plot stuff about stuff that happened in earlier episodes.

 

We so should! How about… this psycho slayer girl Dana had some of those slayer dreams about Spike killing the principal’s mom! So, when she sees Spike, she gets all freaked out because he’s a murderer! And then she like, re-enacts it in front of Spike. It’ll be all heartbreaking and shit.

 

 

Er, should we go back and watch those episodes and make sure she’s re-enacting it right?

 

Nah. We’re writers! If we write it that way, then it is so. Anyway, that was a whole other show. This is our show. We can write it how we want, dammit.]

 

Ghost of Andrew arrives at W&H in a panic because his boyfriend [Spike, for those of you now totally confused] was taken. The gang figures out that Dana was taken to a distillery or something thanks to a cryptic “I see pain. I smell maple syrup” seer who walked around Dana’s conveniently-for-sale old house and shows up to save the day. There’s a fight between Angel and Dana that’s completely unnecessary, considering that the whole team is behind him armed with tranquilizers and they just could have dosed her up without a single blow being dealt, but this is ME, and we all know how they love to toss about the women folk around like rag dolls.

 

Spike and his arms are put into an ambulance while the gang wheels the tranqed Dana out on a gurney. At this point Ghost of Andrew steps up (hey, it’s easy to be brave when you’re dead) and gets all up in Angel’s grill with “We’re taking her, she belongs to us, Buffy told me to take her and she doesn’t like you anymore, you big ugly man. You work for the bad people now. Good day.” Angel makes a feeble attempt to laugh at Ghost of Andrew’s posturing until a bunch of sassily dressed young girls step out from behind a van. Slayers, we presume, though I prefer to think they’re just girls Ghost of Andrew picked up off the street and paid to stand around and look tough if Angel gave him any crap, because having them actually be slayers who just stood around doing their nails or whatever it is they did on their downtime while Ghost of Andrew hunted a big bad, super strong psycho on his own makes absolutely no sense.

 

Angel gets all crushed that Buffy doesn’t trust him anymore and then he and Spike sit around the hospital, pondering Dana and whether or not she’ll recover or whether or not she was responsible for her actions because, clearly, she had issues and demons and she was a victim so maybe she was and maybe she wasn’t and how long do you allow that to be your crutch, which of course is an allegory for our boys who were once, themselves, victims. Innocent victims. Once.

 

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