Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Angel S5: Eps 16, 17, 18

5.16 Shells
5.17 Underneath
5.18 Origin

For my lengthy analyses of these episodes, follow along in Once Bitten.

Whoops! Big thanks to Marebabe for sending me a note to nudge me into remembering this week's post!! I was just telling someone earlier today that this week, for the first time since 2005, I don't have a project on the go. And I guess I just slacked off SO much for the past 2 days after working my butt off for 7 years that I completely forgot to do anything. Yikes.

OK, so in order to get this post up as quickly as possible I won't say much other than I LOVE Amy Acker as Illyria (while I was devastated to lose Fred, I think as Illyria she shows serious acting chops I wasn't aware she had, and I thought it suddenly unveiled her as a quite remarkable actress.

Complete sidenote: A friend of mine had her first daughter after three boys, and gave her the middle name Illyria. Yes, I do surround myself with awesomeness.

And... poor Wesley. Fred's not the only character who is just a shell of who she once was. Compare the dark, broken, destroyed Wesley of this week's episodes to the slapstick Giles wannabe from season 3 of Buffy, and it's like they're two different people entirely. I think Alexis Denisof is just extraordinary. And I won't stop saying that until the finale. (I lie... I won't stop saying that even after the finale.)

And... is that Jayne?? ;)


Marebabe said...

Attention, shoppers! Now through February 11th, Amazon has a 60%-off sale on Angel: The Complete Series. What that means is you can get the $140.00 item for $56.00. (That’s a savings of $84.00.) Here’s the link:


Just in case you’ve been watching Angel on Netflix, or something, and dreaming of owning the series on DVD. Now, on to this week’s episodes.

I saw history repeating itself for Wesley in “Shells”. The moment when he swung that battle-axe at Illyria was painfully like when he had to chop off dead Lilah’s head. One thing about Wesley, whenever he sees his duty, or something he must do for the greater good, he grits his teeth and does it. That makes him a hero in my book. Trying to destroy Illyria was useless, as he soon realized, but he didn’t hesitate, and he did his best.

All I can really say about this episode is that I didn’t think it was possible to pack so much grief, guilt, remorse, despair, and vengeance into 42 minutes!

Several weeks ago on this rewatch, I had questions about Eve: “I know she’s the liaison to the Senior Partners, but what ELSE is she?” While watching “Underneath”, I was so pleased to get more information about her. I had given up hoping that we ever would. And they KEPT giving us these huge downloads of information. To me, this episode was both pivotal and awesome! (How many pivots can they DO in the final stretch of this series?)

When Lindsey stepped outside to fetch the morning paper, I was instantly reminded of both “The Truman Show” and “L.A. Story”. And I kept noticing the musical score throughout. Robert J. Kral is doing a beautiful job in this final season.

In “Origin”, when Wesley smashed the Orlon Window cube and the world changed back to the way it was, I’ve never been more stunned (in a good way) by a plot development in my life. I will not call it a plot twist. That sounds too trivial to me. I have the greatest respect for the writers who have crafted this intricate and amazing story.

I was momentarily confused when Connor apparently had no new knowledge at the end. I didn’t immediately get that he was pretending. Nikki straightened me out in her chapter on this episode.

Dusk said...

Ironic: Joss's Avengers will come out soon.

They are still AI to me even without the hotel and 2 of 3 founders gone.

Amy rocks, and you haven't seen it all yet!

I wonder what they thought happened to Darla in the false memories?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Jayne? Looks more like Col. Casey to me. :)

I think Gunn does know how Wes feels - he was with Fred much longer. He killed a man for her.

I think Lorne couldn't read Knox because he genuinely loved Fred and believed he was doing the right thing. Just not in the way that Lorne would think.

Spike said "I fancy I saw a blur." The Blur would be the first name Superman was known as on Smallville, where James Marsters played Brainiac.

I love that line "I think I hate her a little for that."

First Dr. Flox sings Jesse's Girl, and now another Rick Springfield line.

Spike finds "screams, various fluids" - I always said Sayid was my Lost Spike.

Gunn is now in the same position (in the hospital) that Wes was after stealing Connor. Though his part in Fred's death wasn't intentional.

When Illyria looks over the kingdom she's lost, I always think of the poem Ozymandius.

"`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away". "

I don't cry during Hole in the World, but I always do at the end of Shells, when hopeful Fred heads out to LA.

I find the conversations of Wes and Illyria a lot more interesting than Wes and Fred.

Like You're Welcome redeems Cordy, Origin redeems Connor (not in a 'they did bad things' way, but in a 'their storylines sucked' way.)

Wes, it's pronounced "Colleen" not "Kleen." I may be sensitive.

Sahjhan says, "Long lost enemies tend to return." He's the one who brought back Holtz. I wonder what Wes thinks his backstory is.

Angel's signature is different depending on the inset shot (and which PA actually signed it.)

Why didn't Connor's parents remember who he really is? What kind of deal with the devil did they make to get a son?

Christina B said...

Wow. Amy Acker IS brilliant, isn't she? It's like I'm watching two completely different actresses! Even her voice is totally different!
THAT'S talent!

Nikki, I absolutely get now why Wes is your favourite Joss character. I can't even compare the man he is now to the timid, shy, nerdy Wes we met so long ago.

Three solid episodes this week, but I think my favourite was Origin.
It almost hurts me to say this, but I LOVED Connor in this episode. This is a great kid!
And the end? Yeah, of course I choked up when he said his father taught him and Angel realizes he DOES remember.
D'awww. Good boy, Connor.

I'm feeling pretty bad for Gunn. I hope they don't leave him there much longer. Poor guy.

Only two weeks left, everyone. I have NO idea what I'm going to do on Tuesday nights after we're done. :(

Christina B said...

Oh, also-- I went to see Serenity on the big screen tonight. It was a part of the Great Digital Film Festival.
Imagine my surprise when, just a few hours later, Jayne shows up in Angel!
What a great surprise. :)

Quarks said...

After last week’s emotional rollercoaster we have three more fantastic episodes, although not quite up to the standard of last week in my opinion. ‘Shells’ is the conclusion to the ‘A Hole in the World’ story, where it becomes clear that Fred isn’t coming back and instead we have to deal with Illyria. We then have ‘Underneath’, which shows us where Lindsey has been since ‘You’re Welcome’ and starts setting wheels in motion for the end of the series. And we finish with ‘Origin’, which includes yet another character’s return, this time being Connor as we see the effect of Angel’s decision at the end of last season.

I had forgotten just how good ‘Shells’ was; I always just considered it as the less-emotional ending to the heart breaking ‘A Hole in the World’, but it is actually a really good and emotional episode by itself. In the previous episode we watched as Fred slowed died, in some fantastically created scenes, but now we have to deal with that death and what it means for the characters, who are all affected by it. This episode is slightly more plot-driven, also dealing with the gang trying to take down Illyria and stop her killing anybody else, but it certainly still contains emotion.

Wesley is obviously the one most broken by Fred’s death and for all the episodes this week we see him spirally deeper and deeper into despair, as he no longer seems to care about anything. Whenever I think about Fred’s death, I always consider the parallels and the differences with Tara’s on ‘Buffy’. As with Tara’s death, and many deaths on ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’, Fred’s friends all mourn her death ‘quietly’ and largely by themselves, but the person who was in love with her, in this case Wesley, can’t do anything except try and exact revenge on the people who caused it. Wesley doesn’t have the power that Willow did, so he can’t do anything so apocalyptical, but he does stab Gunn and kill Knox. I would never say that Willow had it easy after Tara’s death, but in a way what happened with her was better for her. Once Xander brought her back to herself she was able to start moving on and trying to make things better, and although what happened did change her and it would remain with her for all her life, she was able to achieve a certain degree of peace with Tara’s death. Wesley, on the other hand, can’t do anything so big and get all his emotions out in one go, so instead starts sinking further and further into his grief and losing himself.

I won’t go as deeply into all the characters reactions to Fred’s death. Gunn is feeling guilty about what he did and, like so many other characters on ‘Angel’, is seeking redemption for it. Angel wants to do whatever he can to bring her back, and when he finds out he can’t he returns to the mind-set that they should never have taken the job at Wolfram and Hart. And Lorne just pulls away from the group, not being able to deal with what has happened and realising, perhaps for the first time, how terrible the world he is now in can be. In a way, Lorne’s reaction reminds me of Giles from ‘Buffy’ after Joyce’s death; when he’s around the group he does what he can to help and comfort them, but when he’s on his own he really grieves for his own loss.

As I said earlier, I often compare the way in which ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ deal with the similar situations, and one place which I find interesting is in the gangs’ reactions to Willow and Wesley killing Warren and Know respectively. The Scoobies, and Willow herself, are horrified that Willow could do such a thing and Willow spends a lot of time wanting redemption for it, while the Angel Investigations gang aren’t particularly bothered by what Wesley does, and although Wesley regrets it after the fact, he doesn’t really feel guilty. It shows how ‘Angel’ is a much more ‘shades of grey’ show that ‘Buffy’, not that that is necessarily a compliment or a criticism.

Quarks said...

Once again the acting is great in this episode, especially when Wesley is talking about Fred and mourning her death. The scene where Wesley finds Gunn has tied Knox up and Knox says how he much he loved Fred is heart breaking when Wesley describes how Fred was so brave when she died, especially because of Alexis Denisof’s acting.

Also, it’s a testament to Amy Acker’s acting that, even in this episode, I never watch her as Illyria and think of her as Fred, or even the same actress who played Fred, even though I know that she is.

I still like to think that, somehow, Fred got some kind of ‘Lost’-esque happily-ever-afterlife even if her soul was consumed by the fires of resurrection.

I love the final ‘montage’ of the characters all by themselves mourning Fred and ending with the flashback scene of Fred leaving to go to LA, all played to “A Place Called Home” by Kim Richley.

‘Underneath’ is a relatively good episode, although not up to the standards of the previous episodes, in my opinion. Anyone who’s been reading my comments over the last couple of weeks will know how much I love ‘Firefly’, so it’s good to have Adam Baldwin in the series now, even if it seems strange to see him in a suit.

The quest to get Lindsey is interesting, and it’s good to see what the Senior Partners have done with him since they sucked him up in ‘You’re Welcome’. They clearly know a certain amount about suffering, giving him a perfect life before ripping it away every day and torturing him in the basement. We also see Gunn ‘sacrificing’ himself in order to help out the gang and achieve his redemption for what happened with Fred, which is a common theme in the show.

I’ve never understood the point in promoting Harmony to main character and putting Mercedes McNab in the opening credits. There are 6 episodes left until the end of the series, and although Harmony appears in most episodes these days she never really has much of a role and she isn’t a member of the gang.

I love Spike’s line: “Tell me we’re not Scoobies.”

Illyria visited a world with nothing but shrimp. Is that where all the shrimp from the world without shrimp has gone?

My favourite line in the whole of this week is: “I'm trapped on a roof. Just one roof, in this time and this place, with an unstable human who drinks too much whiskey and called me a Smurf.”

‘Origin’ is another good episode this week, as we get the return of Connor. Not that that is necessarily a good thing, but the Connor here is much more bearable than the one from Seasons 3 and 4, and this is actually an enjoyable episode. There’s a fair amount of humour, but also the plot is a nice way to ‘tie off’ what happened at the end of Season 4 and has a nice subplot of Wesley finding out what Angel did.

The scenes with Spike and Illyria in the training room are fantastic, especially how Illyria is constantly beating Spike and wanting to keep him as a pet.

Something occurred to me as I was watching this episode. The Orlon Window restores the memories of someone who has their mind altered, so when it breaks near to Wesley and Angel does that mean that they now also have 2 sets of memories of Sunnydale: one where Dawn exists and one where she doesn’t?

Overall, ‘Origin’ is a good episode, although I don’t have that much to say about it. ‘Shells’ was clearly the highlight of this week, and ‘Underneath’, despite being a good episode, was probably the weakest. Next week is the penultimate week of the ‘Angel’ rewatch where we have some more great episodes, before we end of the incredible finale.

Dusk said...

I also love Illyria catching the two swords. If anyone thought Glory was weak for a god, Illyria isn't!

Lindsey's repeating life and and the shoot out were hilarous.

And the award for biggest jerk of the week goes to Rupert Giles!

Quarks: The Senior Partners only altered Connor related memories, so why theirs not one person alive that has Dawn-less memories, and all the Connor ones were in a glow-in-the-dark box. Score one for the monks.

Dusk said...

Am I a bad person for liking the fact that Wesley killed Knox?

I think the writers realized after Tara's death, (for any show really,) Having a morality issue after one of the major characters is killed is all well and good for theme and such, but immediate fan reaction is they'll want the murderer's head on a silver platter, especially if the viewers just lost a fan favorite or someone close to a favorite. Glad to see they brought in both sides after Fred's death.

Quarks said...

@Dusk: But Vail says:

"Do you know what an Orlon Window is, Angel? It's a fascinating little spell. It allows warlocks such as myself to see the past as it once was. You have to be careful with it, though. If it were to break around someone whose mind had been altered, then all his old memories would come rushing back."

As Angel and Wesley's minds had been altered by a spell in relation to their memories of Dawn, surely those memories (without Dawn) would return as well.

Dusk said...

Vail is the main magical power that W & H used to alter Connor memories, I doubt the writers meant in the context of Dawn, and were only refering to the Window being used when Angel joined the firm.

Vail would have no knowledge of Dawn, and just mean Connor. Also, if you want to get in-show literal, we only saw Connor related memories in Wesley's mind-flash.

Aso, the monks were a force for good and would likley have taken pecautions againist dark magic like Vail's anyway.

Suzanne said...

I was surprised by how good Shells was because I hadn't remembered it like I did A Hole in the World. I am tempted to say that Shells is better in some way. I really liked seeing everyone's reaction after Fred's death and the way that Angel tried to maintain some hope at first, but then it was shattered. The tension in so many of the scenes and the emotion behind everything was very powerful. I also really liked the exchange between Gunn and Wes because it was very real in the sense that you could see both sides to it. Even though Gunn made a horrible bargain, he never intended for Fred to be caught up in it. From the look on his face, it appears that he still have incredibly strong feelings for her; perhaps he loved her just as much as Wesley and is suffering as much, too. Yet, Wesley's point about watching her suffer until the end is poignant and can't be argued. As is often the case with Whedon, the tragedy can't be escaped by anyone here.

I was less impressed Underneath this time around. I remember really liking it the first time and picking up on the same "Truman Show" feel that was already mentioned. However, knowing everything about it this time made it seem flatter somehow. Jayne's appearance was fun, and I look forward to seeing him more.

I loved Origin! I am so glad that Angel finally got some time with his son in the way he deserved to have with him. Connor was really likable here, which has not typically been the case! As for the breaking of the memory box, I loved the way it was visualized. See everything in that way was powerful and emotional. The one point I don't understand, and I hope someone can clear up for me is why didn't Connor's adopted parents regain their original memories? Also, what about Gunn and Lorne; are we to assume that they regain theirs?

There is also an interesting parallel here between Wes, Angel, and Gunn. All three seem to have made choices that they knew would have major consequences for others, yet they made the choice any way. In Wesley and Angel's cases, though, they seem to be motivated by a need to do good or to help someone else with Wes trying to "save" Connor from a prophecy and with Angel trying to "save" Connor from himself. However, Gunn made his choice selfishly. Even so, Angel seems to get the parallel. It will be interesting to see if Wes begins to see it now that the memory box has been broken.

@Colleen/redeem 147, I like the Sayid comparison! I, too, adored Sayid like I do Spike. However, I always equated Sawyer with Spike. Now that you point out the torture scene, though, I can see the Sayid parallel. Of course, many more are beginning to come to mind now, too.

Quarks said...

@Suzanne: In terms of why Connor's parents' memories, and those of the others, weren't restored, the answer is in the quote I commented earlier from Vail. For whatever reason, the memories are only restored in people who are close to the Orlon Window when it breaks, which in this case are Wesley, Illyria, Angel (although he already knew what happened),and presumably Connor himself, based on the final scene.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

So Gunn and Lorne would never remember Connor?

Lisa (UFN) said...

I didn't get to comment last week. Sometimes REAL life just gets in the way, you know?????

I can't believe we only have 4 episodes left. I will sorely miss this. As for Buffy and Angel, however, I am rewatching with my husband now. We are on season 5 of Buffy (just saw the episode where Xander is split in two: played by his brother Kelly) and the Angel episode "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been" where we revisit Angel in the 50's and Angel Investigations gets the Hyperion Hotel back from the demon.

I'm not sure if you all remember when I lamented about my husband "hating" Angel. He couldn't wait for him to leave Sunnydale, and he refused to watch Angel. I told him he really owed it to himself to give it a try, at least for the cross-over episodes. Well, he ended up loving Angel so much more than Buffy that he got about 10 episodes ahead until I made him stop watching Angel and go back and catch up with BTVS so that he could watch it the way we were here on Nik at Nite alternating between Buffy and Angel.

I knew he would like Angel the series better. Just a tad bit darker and much more willing to do the dark things that the Scoobies weren't. Like Spike said, "Tell me we're not Scoobies," as he totes around his new breifcase filled with important papers :) LOL.

As for A Hole in the World and Shells, they completely gutted me...again. I do like that even though Fred is gone, we at least get a walking, talking Amy Acker, as compared to staring at Cordy in a coma...on occasion.

Underneath is ok, but not a real highlight episode for me, but it's important the way it settled things up and moved the story along.

I love Origin. I love that Conner was redeemed, both to Angel, himself, and the viewers. I adore how gutted Angel was seeing him again, but then so proud of him.

It's set up to make us fear for Conner finding out who he really is, but it ends up being poor Wes who suffers the most with the past truths coming back to (haunt)him. Cordy is dead, and she remembered him anyway. Fred is dead, Angel never forgot, Lorne is fairly useless at this point, Spike never knew him and Gunn has his own problems. So it's back down to the bottomless pit of pain and despair for Wes. God, I love him too, Nikki.

"Anyway, I just wanted to say goodbye. I gotta go back to my life now...You gotta do what you can to protect your family. I learned that from my father." Yay for Angel, he is the father now, not Holtz. Good riddance forever to him I say.

To the rest of you, have a great week and talk to y'all then.

Dusk said...

@Colen:Based on what this episode gives us, then they wouldn't but I assume Angel and Wes would tell them about Connor (whenever Gunn gets out of Groundhog Day world that is.)

kluu said...

I love Joss. He finds out that season five is his last and he makes the second half of it the most brilliant TV since Firefly. I would have loved to have had another two seasons of Angel but I would not want to have to have lost the second half of season five for anything.

Missy said...


And the pain continues.
I LOVE Fred,But I ADORE Illyria.

Amy Acker is waay too damn talented for her own Good.

Kim Richey's song 'A Place Called Home' is perfect over the closing minutes.

I feel bad for Wes..and Gunn,In this ep Wes' intial "Fred is Dead" monologue is heartbreaking as is Gunn's "None of it means a Damn Thing" monologue.


Is my least favourite of the bunch but not a crap episode.
Bazooka's anyone?Lol

I'm a fan of Eve,Most people can't stand her.

Lindsey is always a joy.

And who saw Gunn trading places?Crazy.


From the moment Connor says "Dad" to the moment he says "I learnt that from my father" is pure gold.

Wes' quest to reveal the spell that was cast when they took over W&H,Sahjhans return,Cyvus Vail's everything.Lol

And of course the fallout from the Orlon Window.
Connor knows his true lineage and Wes knows he betrayed Angel.

I also love the line "They were suppose to fix that"-Angel re:Connor's infatuation with older women.

RosieP said...

Does anyone remember the Season Four episode, (4.16) "Players" and the conversation between Wesley and Fred in that episode? I do. In it, Fred had expressed her disgust over the Connor/Cordelia affair. When Wesley tried to make her to understand what would lead those two to have an affair, the conversation eventually drifted toward Wesley’s affair with Wolfram and Hart attorney, Lilah Morgan. Not only did Fred failed to understand Wesley’s lack of disgust over Connor and Cordelia, she could not understand how he could have become involved with Lilah in the first place. And that is how the conversation (and scene) ended . . . with Fred at a loss over Wesley’s attitude. I cannot say what was going through Wes' head at the time. But judging from the look on his face and his eventual silence, I got the impression that he realized Fred would never really understand "the real him". Considering that this conversation began with the topic of Cordelia and Connor, I could not help but wonder if Wesley and Fred had lost their memories of this discussion, due to the erasure of their memories of Connor, at the end of Season Four. Also, Wesley's kidnapping of Connor proved to be one of the catalysts for his relationship with Lilah in Season Four.

I also cannot help but wonder if they would have ever gotten involved in the first place, due to the mindwipe. I realize that many Jossverse fans tend to view Wesley and Fred’s romance as idealized, I never could accept that prevailing view. I simply found their relationship boring and somewhat infantile. It had an uneasy mixture of a high school romance and incest, due to Wesley’s habit of treating Fred as part-lover and part-daughter. It was not surprising to me that a dying Fred had expressed confusion at the reasons behind Wesley’s feelings for her.

Fred’s Death Scene was one of the most unbearable I have ever experienced on television. In fact, I found it so excruciating . . . and slow that I was unable to experience any compassion or sadness over her death. I simply felt relieved when she finally died.

Blam said...

Angel 5.16 "Shells"

Wesley: "You tied Knox up."
Harmony: (with glee) "We're gonna torture him."
Welsey: "Good.. [pauses] Why?"

Knox: "I've loved you from the moment I saw you. I was eleven. You were ancient."

Illyria: "You are the Qwa'ha Xahn."
Knox: "I am your priest. I am your servant. I am your guide in this world. I have taken your sacraments and placed them close to my heart according to the ancient ways. That's why you were called to me. We're bound together."
Illyria: "My last Qwa'ha Xahn was taller."

Illyria: "Your breed is fragile. How is it they came to control this world?"
Knox: "Opposable thumbs. Um... Fire. Television. What they lack in strength they make up for in extraordinary sneakiness."

Angel 5.17 "Underneath"

Spike with a briefcase!

Illyria: "You drank a great deal of that poison. You called me a lot of names meant to hurt feelings I no longer have. And then you sat there for hours making noise with your nose."

Eve: "I'm not lying. (to Lorne) Tell him I'm not lying."
Lorne: "No-one can fake it through 'The Pina Colada Song' — not once the chorus kicks in."

Bitchin' Camaro.

And strong effin' couch.

Angel 5.18 "Origin"

Wesley: "She's either counting oxygen molecules or analyzing the petri dish she just put in her mouth. Or sleeping; I can never quite tell."

Wesley: "Testing her might be hard without getting someone seriously hurt."
Angel: "We'll make Spike do it."
Wesley: "Good."

Spike: "Ah. Old Broodypants gotcha wound up, eh? Keep in mind he can't get laid without maybe going crazy. Makes it funny."

Connor: "Do you spend all your time making out with other vampires like in Anne Rice novels?"
Those were the days...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Angel's decision regarding Connor was also motivated by selfishness. After all, Connor was his son. How would you describe Wes' decision to kill Knox and stab Charles? Selfless? I don't think so. Wes should have ended up behind bars.