Angelus: The Series

Season 4








The Metaphysics of "Calvary"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 3 BtVS/season 4 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

Soul-eaters are wispy corpse-like monsters that paralyze their prey and draw out their soul. A soul-eater was buried in Los Angeles 200 years ago by the Chumash, and its grave was likely consecrated with magicks to keep it interred. When Connor and Gunn crack the casket, the monster escapes and attacks them both. They free each other, then Gunn decapitates the soul-eater.

"Restoring" Angel's Soul: Angel's soul is missing. The gang return to the shaman for help. Wo-Pang casts bones and tells them that it is still within the muo-ping. However, he cannot return Angel's soul without knowing where the container is. Later, Cordelia's eyes go white with a vision. She sends the others out to collect ingredients for a spell to restore Angel's soul. Lorne lays twigs in a circle on the basement floor. The skull of the soul-eater is set in the center. They light candles. Cordelia drips the contents of a vial on the skull. Each of Angel's friends holds a talisman made out of animal bones and talons. Cordelia walks over to the cage where Angelus is desperately taunting them. She touches him with her talisman. It sends him flying into the far wall. Wesley incants:

In degera fortis murus

The candles flare up.

Kesta sartuum mundi ethericon chimera nihilo

Smoke rises from the skull and follows a line along each of the talismans until it reaches Angelus. It lifts him into the air. The skull explodes. Angelus falls to the ground. "Angel" looks up and apologizes for all that he's done. But Angel's soul isn't restored. The minute Angelus realizes it, he plays the part in order to escape. So did the spell do anything besides put on a convincing light show? Well, it may have done something to Lorne to make him believe he was sensing Angel's soul when in fact he was not.

Angel's memory loss: The Angel Investigations team has found no references to the Beast in books or people's memories because there are none in the Earthly dimension. They were all removed by a spell. So why does Angelus retain a memory of the Beast? The simplest theory is that Angelus didn't meet the Beast in the past. The "memory" of meeting him was placed in Angelus' mind after his soul was removed. Fred concludes, however, that Angelus remembers because his mind wasn't "here" when the spell was cast. What does this mean?

(1) Assume for a moment that "Angelus" is a separate being from Angel's human soul--that he is the "demon soul" that possessed Liam's body when he was made a vampire. When has "Angelus' mind" ever been not present within Angel? As long as Angel is a vampire, this theory posits, Angelus is always around. The soul may be dominant over the demon, but the demon is still present. The only time that it wasn't was when Angel became human, and that event technically never happened. However, if Angel is successful at repressing the demon most of the time, then Angelus' "mind" may have been buried when the spell was cast in such a way that the memory spell did not effect Angelus' memories.

(2) That works fine if Angel and Angelus are two separate entities. But how could the spell not work on Angelus if if Angel and Angelus are one and the same person, one and the same mind?

A way to explain this is using Multiple Personality Disorder.... "Contrary to prevalent opinion, MPD patients do not have more than one personality; the so-called different personalities are fragmented components of a single personality, abnormally personified and dissociated from each other" (Colin A Ross, MD).

...The trauma of death and the constant killing that the vampire does causes the original [human] personality to fragment ...[But there is] not a brand new separate personality ...[T]he person who once was [is] ...acting out their past traumas, past experiences and preferences. ...With [restoration of the] soul the balance tends to be in favor of what the person was like while human.

...for every good act Angel does, part of his personality is cringing in disgust, while if evil is done the other part feels guilt and remorse. Angelus isn't a totally separate personality, just a fragmented part of a whole. ...trauma can fragment and create an amnesiac state between the personalities. is conceivable that there are fragments of memory that Angel can't access but Angelus can (Rufus, 1/23/03 2:07).

If Angel has successfully buried and dissociated certain parts of his own personality and memory from himself, those parts may have been protected from the spell.

But why would a creature as powerful as the Beast need to hide all traces of himself in the first place? It now seems likely that this spell was done to hide the identity of an even more powerful entity.

Evil in "Calvary"

Wolfram and Hart and Lilah Morgan: An epitaph

Angelus: When mounting evidence leads Gunn to hypothesize that somebody is helping the Beast, Angelus suggests that it is the Beast who is doing someone else's dirty work. The Beast in Angelus' memory was not good at making plans. Now he seems to have a very precise agenda. Ergo, the Beast has a boss. Should the gang believe anything Angelus says, though? His only interests have been throwing Angel's friends into emotional turmoil and escaping his cage. He uses Gunn's insecurities to goad him into revealing that he killed Seidel; he urges Fred to pursue Wesley, then promptly reveals that Wesley has been sleeping with Lilah.

But when he gets free, he leaves the Hyperion as quickly as he can. He knows that the others will find Cordelia unconscious and come after him, and he'd rather not take them on all at once. But Los Angeles isn't ripe for Angelus' hunger. It's crawling with hunters and very few prey. Angelus heads back home, where he knows he'll find a good meal.

He goes after Lilah, but before he can kill her, Cordelia beats him to it.

[W]e saw the Beast give his Boss a knife, "forged from his own" bones.... Bizarre twisted-iron looking thing... that's what Cordy uses to get Lilah in the neck (Solitude1056, 2/13/03 6:15).

Has Cordelia gone evil? There is plenty to be suspicious of:

What has happened to Cordelia?

Moral Ambiguity in "Calvary"

When Lilah starts hanging out at the Hyperion hotel, she's not throwing in with the good guys. She's just got nowhere else to go. She's looking out for herself, like she's always done. She doesn't think any force for good can save her. She'd still rather take her chances with Evil. But Angelus, the "champion" she wants to send after the Beast, would rather have her for dinner. And "Saint" Cordelia, whom Lilah scorns for her short-sightedness, has much broader vision than Lilah Morgan.

Connor is in the front of the line to kill Angelus when he finds out the vampire has escaped. And Gunn is right behind him. They brought Angelus back, and now it is their duty to take him out. But while for Connor this hunt is deeply personal, Gunn needs something to take his mind off his personal life. The strain between him and Fred has finally reached the breaking point. He can't live with the doubts Fred has had about him since he killed Professor Seidel. He can't live with the connection she seems to have with Wesley. Or perhaps our resident Othello simply doesn't trust Fred's love for him.


The Metaphysics of "Salvage"

The sanctuary spell: It may not be possible to de-invite a vampire from his own home, so the gang finds an alternative. They sprinkle burnt clove dust around the perimeter of the Hyperion. Lorne lights candles and incants:

Violence restrained, demons disarmed.
For mortals within these walls, no harm.
Protection and safety, this charm doth endow.
To make this shelter a sanctuary now!

There is no noise, no flashes of light. Connor makes a snide remark about the worthlessness of magic. Annoyed, the demon Lorne tries to hit him over the head with a candlestick. Before it can make contact, it bounces off a mystical barrier with a loud boom. No demon violence--towards humans or demons--can now happen within the walls of the hotel.

Slaying slayers: Prisoner 430019 doesn't get much trouble from the other inmates. Except the ones hired by the Harbingers to gut her. A prisoner comes after Faith with a curved knife. The Slayer defends herself handily. If the First Evil wants to kill Faith, It's going to have to get her out of prison.

Killing the Beast: The Beast is impervious to conventional weapons. And Slayer fists seem ineffective as well. But if anything should pierce his body, it's the Beast's own bones. While Faith distracts the Beast with a futile fight, Angelus grabs the weapon and stabs the Beast in the back. Just as in Angel's perfect day fantasy, the Beast incinerates from within. The orb from the Ra-tet ritual that he swallowed is destroyed along with his body, releasing the spell's energy skyward. The darkness covering the sun recedes. Ding dong, the Beast is dead, killed by his own stupidity. Never turn your back on Angelus.

How did Angelus determine that the Beast's knife is forged from his bones? (considering the Beast does not appear to be missing any body parts)

Maybe [the Beast's bone] regenerates really fast...or did. ...[Angelus] was led to the site by the smell of Lilah's blood on the knife, & it makes sense that the knife itself would smell like the Beast (anom, 3/16/03 19:42).

Evil and Good in "Salvage"

Angelus: The Beast has been trying to recruit Angelus, but Angelus has no interest in becoming a minion. For Angelus, it's all about control. In order to get that control, he needs to meet the Beast's Master; discover his plans. Without that knowledge, Angelus can be manipulated. But the Beast has orders not to tell Angelus anything about his Master. So Angelus has no use for him--at least not alive. He kills the Beast. In doing so, he sends a message to the Beast's boss that he's nobody's lackey, and he "proves" (to himself, anyway) that he is smarter than Angel.

The Beast's Master has made a home in the body of Cordelia. As "Cordelia", she can pretend to be upstairs resting when she needs to sneak out and meet the Beast. She can steal Angel's soul. She can manipulate Connor. And she can can keep an eye on everything the Angel Investigations team does. When Wesley brings Faith to the hotel, "Cordelia" isn't pleased. She has plans for Angelus. But Faith isn't there to kill the soulless vamp. Still, she manages to interfere with "Cordelia"'s plans in another way--Connor becomes quite smitten with the Slayer. "Cordelia" needs to draw him back to her. She tells him that she is pregnant with his child.

When Faith gets a visitor in prison, she is surprised to find the (ex-)Watcher she once tortured waiting for her on the other side of the glass. Wesley is there to call her to duty once again. At first, Faith insists on continuing her sentence. But when Wesley tells her that Angelus is loose, the Slayer steps up. She tells Wesley to stand away from the window, and leaps through the glass.

Faith ...tells [Wesley] there's no way she's killing Angelus. Angel is the one person who believed in her when no one else would -- he saw the good in her and she's going to return the favor ...Compare this Faith to the one in Revelations who was all prepared to kill Angel because he was a vampire and fought Buffy over it. ...Faith has recaptured her own faith humankind and in souls. She no longer hates herself and she owes Angel for that (shadowkat, 3/05/03 21:15).

Faith is not the mixed-up girl she used to be. Prison has changed her. Knowing Angel has changed her. She immediately takes charge of the Angel-salvage operation. But Angelus has gotten wind of her presence in town and is waiting for her. He pits her against the Beast. Faith is beaten to a pulp. After Angelus kills the Beast, he comes after her. Faith throws a heavy pulley through a blackened window, bringing the newly-restored sunlight pouring down on her. For now, Angelus is kept at bay.

Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "Salvage"


"He has to be destroyed. And I'm the destroyer."

When Connor finds out that Angelus (allegedly) killed Lilah, he is more determined than ever to dust Daddy. And he can't be talked out of this reckless resolve. Someone needs to put a lid on this kid, but with Angel out of commission, who's going to do it? Bring on the Slayer. Faith has no patience for the impulsive, patricidal Connor. When he challenges her authority, she looks him in the eye and tells him exactly how things are going to work. Connor is in awe.

And why not? Faith is a beautiful young woman, and she's everything Connor could be--a confident, self-controlled, super-naturally enhanced human being who has no uncertainties about whether Angel should live or Angelus should die. But Connor does. When he kills a vampire against her orders out on the hunt for Angelus, Faith pins the boy to a dumpster, threatens him with a cross-bow, and sends him home with Gunn. If that angers Connor, he doesn't stay angry for long. When the sun comes out, he assumes Faith killed the Beast, and he is impressed.

Wesley finds Angelus feeding from Lilah and assumes that he killed her. Now he must decapitate her to ensure that she does not become a vampire herself. The specter of Lilah haunts him as he sits by her body, trying to get up the nerve. He is as torn in his feelings for her as ever. Lilah came to him at a time when he had serious doubts about his own heroism. She allowed him to flirt with the darkness he was descending into, to test his mettle against it. But at the same time, he wanted to be her hero. Deep down, he has embraced Angel's philosophy of never giving up on someone, no matter how far they've fallen.

I'm not sure you can understand redemption until you are lost yourself. Or the need for it. ...[Wesley] can't understand in Five by Five and Sanctuary, after Faith has rather gruesomely tortured him with fire and knives and hot pokers, how Angel can possibly let her live or forgive her. "There's evil in this girl," he states. "She's not redeemable." ...Now Wesley has had his own little journey into darkness, he's done things and felt things that make him wince and feel ashamed. ...Wes is in a way where Faith was in Sanctuary, ...This is the question that Wes keeps asking himself. Am I salvageable? ...He couldn't even save Lilah. And it was vitally important to him that somehow he be able to do just that. ...He wanted to give her a chance at redemption. But Lilah is beyond his reach. It's too late. ...[It is] his first sin, his first failure as a Watcher which ironically leads him to the answer. The one person who may possibly aid him in his quest to salvage Angel is the same person he failed years ago. The same person he once condemned (shadowkat, 3/05/03 21:15).


The Metaphysics of "Release"

Telecommunication: The Beast's Master doesn't want Angelus to know her real identity, but she wants to make contact with him. "Cordelia" uses a glowing talisman as a transmitter. Angelus can hear what she says in his head, but he doesn't hear it in Cordelia's voice. Instead, he hears a cheesy, self-important male voice peppering him with endearments. No one else hears what Angelus is hearing. When he speaks aloud in return, his words are transmitted back. "Cordelia" is not in any way reading his thoughts.

Bringing back Angelus: Angelus does the math and realizes that he is free because the Beast's Master manipulated the Angel Investigations team into removing Angel's soul. "Cordelia" claims that the rain of fire and the blotting out of the sun were ends in themselves, but it appears that these events, along with the removal of all record of the Beast from the Earthly plane, were really engineered to make the A.I. team desperate enough to bring forth Angelus. And to distract the entire team from the Beast's Master's ultimate purpose.

Researching the Beast's Master: If the information Lorne pulled out of Cordelia's head has any clues about the Beast's Master, it is locked inside the ancient demonic glyphs and symbols on the pages. Fred is about to start a translation when Angelus steals the papers from her.

Of course, the most revealing clues to the Master's identity are right above the gang's heads, but Connor is deftly preventing them from seeing Cordelia. And Lorne, who can sometimes read the "billboard" vibes off people even without a song, isn't getting anything off the Master or her new minion.

Vampire drug-bite dens: Junkies in Sunnydale line up to get bitten by vampires. Junkies in Los Angeles use themselves as drug "conduits"--they inject drugs and let vampires get high off their blood. Like standard voluntary vampire feeding, it's a rush for the human as well. But it leaves them even more decimated in the end--both drug-addicted and drained of the blood needed to maintain any semblance of health.

What is Connor? Angelus can't hurt anyone inside the Hyperion because of Lorne's anti-demon Sanctuary spell. But Fred is human, so she is able to shatter a glass vase against Angelus' head. Angelus manages to evade her tranquilizer darts, only to find himself at the receiving end of an attack from Connor. But the Sanctuary spell kicks in and deflects Connor's blow. Connor is thrown, literally and figuratively. If the Sanctuary spell works on him, then he must have demon in him, right? The part-demon "Cordelia" assures him that there is nothing wrong with having a little demon in him. It makes him special.

Evil in "Release"

Angelus: After the Beast's Master invades Angelus' mind, Angelus is more determined than ever to find out what he can about this mysterious entity. He goes to the Hyperion and uses a phony "anti-Sanctuary spell" charm to intimidate Fred into relinquishing the information the Angel Investigations team has on the Beast. But the information is useless untranslated. And the Beast's Master has leverage over him--she has his soul. She sends him after Faith and Wesley. Angelus throws Wesley off a balcony, then goads Faith into lowering her guard and sinks his fangs in her.

Why is Faith the first human we see Angelus try to kill?

The Beast's Master is a master manipulator. She plays the fragile pregnant woman for a doting Connor, filling his head with visions of fatherhood, family, and his role as protector. She needs him as her protector, and as her eyes and ears downstairs. "Cordelia" can no longer let the others see her--she is too obviously pregnant. Soon though, she tells Connor, they will know about the life growing inside of her. But that time is not quite now.

Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "Release"

Connor seems to finally have what he's always needed--a family. But when the mother of his child insists he not tell the others about her condition, Connor assumes that she is ashamed of him--reluctant to let them know he is the father. "Cordelia" tells him that she simply doesn't want to scare the others with the rate at which the child is developing. She is afraid they will try to harm the baby, like they talked about doing when Darla was pregnant with Connor himself. Telling Connor about the Angel Investigation team's fear of him before he was born only serves to alienate Connor further from his other "family" downstairs.

Fred's brush with Angelus makes her question her own inner strength. She allowed herself to be intimidated by him, and he got away with all the information they have on the Beast's Master. Gunn is more pragmatic--Fred made a mistake; the trick is to not do it twice. Fred admits she made another mistake as well--she should have tried to firmly discourage Wesley when he kissed her. Her admission brings out Gunn's tender feelings for her. When Fred sees them, she tells him she misses him. They kiss briefly, then Gunn pulls away. He's all business again.

What tactics are necessary to capture Angelus?

Faith and Wesley return the hotel to find Angelus leaving. Faith attacks him, but Angelus manages to get Wesley in his grip. He tells Faith that he will snap Wesley's neck if she attempts to tranquilize him. Faith hesitates. A moment later, Gunn yells out, distracting Angelus. Wesley pulls away and Angelus escapes.

Wesley tells Faith that she should have tranquilized Angelus. Wesley's own death is nothing compared to all the people Angelus will hurt and kill because she let him escape. He argues that the only way to defeat Angelus is to be as vicious as he is. This philosophy is sometimes called the philosophy of "total war"--the belief that Good must sometimes stoop to the methods of Evil if it is to have any hope of defeating Evil. For Wesley, the noble ends they are pursuing (restoring Angel's soul, ending the apocalypse) justify any ruthless methods necessary to achieve them.

This is a philosophy that Buffy has traditionally rejected: "You can't fight evil with evil". Buffy wouldn't kill the human Ben to defeat Glory. Giles took on that job himself because he believed it was the only way to protect everyone from Glory's wrath. Even Angel himself once stooped to the methods of Wolfram and Hart in order to defeat them when he let Darla and Drusilla kill the Special Projects Division.

Wesley and Faith visit the demon haunts looking for Angelus. They question a vampire drug-bite junkie. The woman is disoriented. In frustration, Faith hits her, then pins her. When the woman tells Faith that she's hurting her, Faith lets her go. Wesley steps in. He stabs the girl through the shoulder and tugs on the handle of the knife until she cries out in pain. From what the woman tells them, Wesley concludes that the Beast's Master has made contact with Angelus.

Faith is stunned. Wesley has crossed a line she is no longer willing to cross, simply because he believed it served the greater good. He reminds her that she once tortured and killed people simply for her own ends. "Well, it's not me anymore. You know that", she replies. It is important to Faith not to be the person she once was. Wesley taunts her, telling her that she hasn't changed, that she can't. He's trying to bring out her viciousness, and he succeeds, for a moment. Then Faith tells him that she won't do anything that will risk killing Angel. "There's got to be another way," she pleads.

Faith: When Faith finally faces Angelus, the vampire comes after her with Wesley's shotgun. But his greatest weapon isn't bullets or brute strength. It's his ability to psychologically manipulate, to unhinge his opponent until they lose control. He tells Faith that violence is her real nature, and that her new unwillingness to needlessly hurt others is not. She must hurt others, he insists--she wants to--because it is the only way to ease her own pain.

But Faith has heard all this from Wesley already. He armed her with the knowledge of Angelus' tactics. And at first, Faith seems to adopt Wesley's strategy of ruthlessness as well. When Angelus tells Faith that she's a murderer and that she enjoys it, just like him, Faith goes after him with her fists. But then she stops. She tells him she's not like him. Angelus takes that moment to bring her to the floor. "You will be" he says. He bites into her neck.


The Metaphysics of "Orpheus"

Orpheus is an "enchanted opiate"--a drug with both physical and mystical properties. According to Wesley (in Release) Orpheus is intoxicating for both vampires and humans. But it can also "lead you down to hell and leave you there." It is not clear whether he means this literally or metaphorically, but the drug takes both Faith and Angel(us) on a "trip" into Angel's past. At high enough doses, Orpheus can kill a human. And Faith injected a dose large enough to put them both in a coma, almost completely oblivious to the world outside. Almost. Faith can sense the rumblings from Willow's spell. And "Cordelia"'s voice registers as an annoying buzz to Angelus' mind. Angel(us) is also aware when Connor enters the cage.

Overcoming the Sanctuary spell? When Connor sings Faith's praises for capturing Angelus, "Cordelia" shoves him against the wall in a rage. But Cordelia is part demon. Shouldn't her blow have been blocked by the anti-demon violence spell? Later, Connor asks how he will be able to kill Angelus. "Cordelia" tells him they can get around the spell because they are "different" and "special". But this is puzzling, because in Release, "Cordelia" told Connor they were "special" and "different" because they were part demon. There are two possible explanations for why the Sanctuary spell didn't work on "Cordelia". Either she is not part-demon, or she used some kind of magic to counter-act the spell. Likewise, one of these two options explains why Connor was able to disable Gunn and fight Faith.

Delothrian's Arrow: Fred has tried to discover a way to restore Angel's soul without any luck. The muo-ping containing Angel's soul is missing, and as long as its location remains unknown, the shaman Wo-Pang can't work his counter-spell. If Angel's soul were in the Ether, it could be restored via the Ritual of the Undead. But Angel's soul is somewhere on Earth. So Fred decides to bring in the closest thing Angel Investigations has to an expert on restoring Angel's soul.

Willow has tried standard locator spells to find the muo-ping, but the container and its contents are impervious to them. Then she gets an idea. A talisman called "Delothrian's Arrow" is attracted to sacred objects (like a human soul), but it will not harm them. It can, however, be used to break the glass around the soul. Once freed, the soul will retreat into the Ether. Willow pours ingredients into a jar. They form a red liquid that emits a smoky mist. From out of this she creates the enchanted stone. Fred walks around the room with a lit candle, ringing a bell. Willow holds the stone in her palm. She incants:

Open the window
Fill the stone
Inside, outside
Two made one

The stone rises into the air and glows. Willow is briefly distracted by "Cordelia"'s magicks, but finally says:

Find your target, leave my side!

The "Arrow" enters "Cordelia"'s room. She stops it with her hand. Willow pushes the Arrow towards the muo-ping, "Cordelia" pushes back. Then Connor distracts "Cordelia" briefly. She loses control of the Arrow, and it breaks the muo-ping. Angel's soul rises into the air.

Fighting the Beast's Master: Just as Willow is about to start the Delothrian's Arrow spell, she is thrown across the room. It is the Beast's Master, trying to prevent them from restoring Angel's soul. A voice in her head warns Willow against what she is trying to do. "Vetsche invadoria disparu!" Willow cries out. "Cordelia"'s communication talisman is destroyed. "Cordelia" sends out another bolt that knocks Willow down. "Ahlesh ashtorath!" Willow shouts. Her eyes go black with the power of the magicks she is harnessing. The hotel shakes. "Semsa nahl erash a'lahm!"

"Cordelia"'s eyes go white. She incants, "Seiza jah n'hast engai. Seiza jah n'hast engai." A ghostly image of a demon's head appears in the air above Willow and the others. Willow tells them to ignore it. It is merely an illusion to frighten them. She sends the Arrow out to break the muo-ping. "Geth na haroth castellum tol!" "Cordelia" fears she doesn't have the strength to stop Willow. "If only this were a few weeks later!" she despairs.

Vampires, minds, and souls: Why is Angel able to talk to Faith and Angelus in their "hell" long before his soul is restored to his body? If we assume that (1) Angel's "mind"--his consciousness, his beliefs--is the same thing as his "soul" or that (2) "Angel" is just "Angelus with a soul" then Angel can't really be there. His soul is still ensconced in the muo-ping. And even after it is released, it leaves the Earthly plane and enters the Ether.

So perhaps the "Angel" we see there--whether he is an echo of the past or actively interacting with Angelus and Faith--is merely a construct, a part of that "hell": Perhaps some person or force put Angel's image in this "hell" in order to encourage the Slayer to face her own demons and learn to live with them.

Or perhaps it is the real Angel after all, guiding Faith and coming face-to-face with his own dark side. How is this possible if the soul is absent? Think of it this way: "Angel" and "Angelus" are two different parts of a single psyche--the psyche of one Liam of Galway. The courage, ability to love, and belief in doing good that we associate with "Angel" are always part of Liam's psyche whether the soul is present or not, just like Liam's bitterness, sadism, and capacity for evil are always part of Liam's psyche whether the soul is present or not. The presence or absense of the soul helps determine which part of Liam's psyche will dominate his behavior. The soul--the conscience--urges Liam to follow his better nature. The absence of the soul urges him to give in to his worst nature. In this hell-place, the two sides are at war.

Angelus battles Angel in order to "kill" or submerge the "Angely" parts of Liam that are inside him. And Angel fights back with vampiric powers. The "vampire"--the demon--is also neither "Angelus" nor "Angel". It is blood-lust and physical strength and pointy fangs: something Angelus uses to hurt, and Angel uses to help.

Restoring Angel's soul: Willow and Fred recite the Gypsy curse in the original Romanian, complete with an orb of Thessela, the spirit vault for rituals of the undead. Yes, boys and girls, that means the happiness clause is probably still in effect for our broody-boy.

Evil in "Orpheus"

"Cordelia": When Connor's admiration for Faith threatens the control "Cordelia" has over him, she questions his loyalty to her and their baby. Connor falls immediately into line, and "Cordelia" backs off, blaming her outburst on "hormones". She can't risk making Connor suspicious of her. Then Willow arrives to restore Angel's soul. "Cordelia" is unable to stab her, so she uses magic to fight the witch. But Willow is too powerful. "Cordelia" tells Connor that Willow's magic brought forth an evil presence that almost killed her and the baby. But they can't fight Willow. The only way they can keep their baby safe is if they put an end to Willow's reason for being there--Connor must kill his father.

Unanswered question: If Cordelia is so willing to kill Angelus, why did she work so hard to bring him back in the first place? Indications are that having Angelus as a "minion" was only a side-benefit to the Beast's Master. Her real purpose in bringing back Angelus was to create a diversion. She needed to distract the entire gang from curiosity about her seclusion, her manipulation of Connor, and her pregnancy. And Angel more so than the others. He could not be distracted by jealousy forever. Angelus, on the other hand, could care less about Cordelia or Connor. But now Angel's soul is returned. "Cordelia" knows she can't hide upstairs from him. She must take her chances and let them know about the pregnancy.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Orpheus"

Faith wanted to find a way to capture Angelus without risking Angel's life, and she found one. During Wesley's struggle with Angelus, she injected herself with Orpheus, the drug being used in the back room of the demon bar. She fought Angelus, and allowed him to drink from her. Angelus collapsed under the drug's influence, and Faith soon followed. Faith did what she felt she had to, knowing it might cost her her life. She tells Angelus that her final mission as Slayer is to keep him there until they restore his soul. But her descent into "hell" becomes a great deal more than that. Faith witnesses Angel's journey--how even with a soul, he struggled to do what was right and didn't always succeed.

Angel tells her how he learned to keep coming back from the mistakes of living, even though it would have been easier to die, or stay in a rat-infested alley forever. When Angel can't convince her to fight for her own life, he asks her to fight for his. In the waking world, Connor is on his way to kill his father. Faith wakes up and runs downstairs and stays Connor's hand. Angel's soul is restored, and Willow tells Faith what is happening in Sunnydale. Faith agrees to accompany her there.

The moral ambiguity of Angel


Connor: "All right, I get it. I messed up."
"Hey, cheer up, punk, that just makes you one of us."

Connor grew up in a hell dimension with an exceptionally manipulative human being for company. So it's relatively easy for "Cordelia" to push his buttons to get him to do as she asks--it's all he knows. When Willow's battle of magicks against the Beast's Master frightens Connor, he runs upstairs to check on his "family". "Cordelia" tells him that the only way he can protect them, and the world, is to kill Angelus. After some hesitation, Connor sneaks downstairs, knocks Gunn out, and enters the cage with a stake.

Cordelia [was] just tell[ing] him things he already believed... He was just waiting for someone to give him permission to do it. ...As much as Connor acts like he'll play by his own rules and doesn't answer to anyone, his actions show him constantly trying to win the approval of someone - Cordelia, Fred, Faith, the ghost of Holtz.... If you strip away the bravado, the angst, the genetic sneer, the non-chalant attitude toward his mistakes... you just have a teenager seeking validation. That the AI team haven't given it to him has made him all the more susceptible to Evil!Cordelia's manipulation.

...Unlike the other characters, Connor hasn't begun to understand guilt and redemption on an intrinsic level. ...Evil!Cordelia is leading him down the path of bad choices. Of course, he has to see the suffering and pain he causes before he can feel the need to atone (Tyreseus, 18:09).

Is Wesley finally starting to emerge from his self-imposed darkness? The death of Lilah and Faith's refusal to become "as vicious as Angelus" in order to stop him has offered Wesley an opportunity to reevaluate his actions, and his attitude over the past year.

Wesley is in a hell of his own making. ...He's done his best to stuff his feelings into a dark closet and thrown away the key. But a little chat with our resident witch/Ultimate Evil shows him that he can't dwell on his past mistakes. That those mistakes shouldn't be a cage around him for the rest of his life (Scroll, 3/20/03 00:21)

Philosophies Represented in "Orpheus"

Philosophies of redemption

Faith lies dying in a bed in the Hyperion, telling herself that the things she's done--going to prison, using the drug to stop Angelus--will all be worth it. Worth her redemption. She is in that place that Angel was in when he lived in the alleyway pre-Whistler. And the place he continued to be in in Los Angeles pre-"Epiphany". Faith believes that if she pays enough, it will somehow make up for all the harm she's caused.

Angel tells her differently. Real redemption, in his view, is not about paying a debt. It's about going on living, day to day, as a good person, for the sake of being good. And that is much more difficult than a noble death in battle. Because living day to day means running the risk of making mistakes, of getting lost in the same attitudes that made you screw up in the first place. Faith takes this wisdom to heart, and passes it on to Connor.

Faith as Orpheus:

[Orpheus] goes to hell to retrieve ...his wife, Eurydice. ...Orpheus gains his wife, but then loses her by turning to see her before she's completely stepped out of Hade's shade as she exits the underworld.

...Faith's underworld visit isn't for Angel-as-Eurydice. And it's not even to rescue Faith-as-Eurydice. After all, Eurydice [in the Orpheus legend] is the one who, by accident or design, gets left behind. If we're assuming that Faith is bringing something back that she considers positive - yet somehow fails to do retrieve - then neither Angel's soul nor Faith's disassociation really fits the bill. Faith's Eurydice isn't her ability to fight. Faith's Eurydice is her escape [from life].

...Angel's rebuttal, in essence, is that ...disappearing into that good night does not equal redemption. One doesn't make the situation better by fading back into the underworld of prison, or death. One pays for, and is redeemed by, one's willingness to continue fighting (Solitude1056, 3/24/03 15:06).


The Metaphysics of "Players"

"That thing might let me be... well, not normal, but--hold hands, maybe."

LISA, or "localized ionic sensory activator", is a device that uses electrical impulses to regulate body temperature, heart beat, and body chemistry. Gwen is hoping to use it to neutralize the electrical field that emanates from her body. Gunn helps her test the device. He touches her bare back and gets a shock. He puts the device on her spine. It takes readings, then sends circuitry threads into her skin. Gunn touches her back again and does not receive a shock. But the big test of whether the device works is more prolonged physical contact. Gunn realizes that if no one has ever touched Gwen's bare skin, then she is a virgin. Gwen is receptive, but is afraid for his safety. He tells her she knows how to revive him if anything happens.

Mystical pregnancies are pregnancies that aren't possible by purely biological methods of conception. Most demon pregnancies in the Buffyverse are biological, not mystical, even if the pregnancy term is shorter or longer than it is for humans. Darla's pregnancy, however, was mystical. It is biologically impossible for female vampires to become pregnant. Connor's conception and gestation in the womb required supernatural intervention.

The gang debates whether Cordelia's pregnancy is mystical. If Cordelia is part demon and Connor is part demon, it is possible that they have simply conceived a child whose gestation rate is shorter than a human's. However, if mystical forces are responsible for the pregnancy, they are once again faced with the dilemma they faced with Darla's pregnancy--determining what is inside her, who put it there, and what they should do about it.

Identifying the Beast's Master: The Beast is gone, Angelus is Angel again, but all is not right in Los Angeles. The gang still has to find a way to defeat the Beast's Master. Angel mulls over everything that has happened, trying to find clues to this entity's identity. He tells the others that Angelus didn't kill Lilah. He assumes the Beast killed her, since her blood was on the weapon made from the Beast's bones. However, Angelus never saw the Beast. The only individuals in the Hyperion at the time were himself, Lilah, and Cordelia. Lilah's death, Angel realizes, was too precise for the crush-kill-destroy methods of the Beast. As was the theft of Angel's soul. Whoever took the muo-ping out of the safe used the combination. Then there is the lingering question of who killed the totem Manjet. At the time, Cordelia argued that the Beast might have used Angel to do this. But Cordelia was on guard then as well.

Then "Cordelia" comes to see Angel in his room. The way she talked about her odd pregnancy has already caught his attention, and she does nothing now to throw Angel off her scent. She admits to everything while pretending to be speaking hypothetically, and takes visible offense when Angel calls the Beast's Master "deluded and self-important". At this point, Angel begins to clearly bait her. He tells "Cordelia" that the Beast's Master will slip up, and that when "he" does, "he's dead".

Exposing the Beast's Master: Angel tries to recreate from memory the symbols he saw in Lilah's copy of Rhinehardt's Compendium. Lilah's copy had information on the Beast, and possibly his Master, information that no other copy of the Compendium had. But Angel isn't having much luck. Wesley's translation of the symbols are gibberish. When "Cordelia" sees that their efforts aren't succeeding, she pretends to join in their research, if only to make sure that they don't succeed. It is likely, however, that the gang's efforts aren't meant to succeed. Angel and the others want to give the appearance that they are working on uncovering clues about the Beast's boss, when in fact the means to achieving their real goal--exposing her--lie elsewhere.

Lorne comes in and tells them that he's found a spell to remove whatever is making it difficult for him to read people. "Cordelia" is worried. If she is forced to sing, Lorne might discover the truth. Lorne enters a dark warehouse building wearing a cloak with a hood. He burns candles and incense, sings from a book of music, and puts powder on his hand. "Cordelia" stalks him with a knife. Before she can plunge it into him, however, the lights go on. Angel, Wesley and Fred stand behind her with weapons.

Moral Ambiguity in "Players"

Angel's friends don't really want to consider the possibility that Angel is anything but an entirely separate being than Angelus, and Angel does little to dissuade them from this. However, it's not entirely clear that Angel believes this himself. While he has occasionally claimed outright that Angelus "isn't me", he usually accepts responsibility for Angelus' deeds to one degree or another, and usually in the first person: "I did a lot of damage in my day."

Angel starts out very carefully saying "Angelus" instead of "I" in front of the others. Regardless of how or whether Angel bears any responsibility for Angelus' deeds, Angel realizes that the team has to move beyond any feelings they have about the damage Angelus caused. They have more important problems right now. It is interesting, however, that he soon falls back into his habit of saying "I" and "me" when referring to his time as Angelus. Perhaps he's a little preoccupied--with exposing the perplexing behavior of the woman he loved, and with the disturbing prospect of becoming a grandfather one year after he became a father.

Although Connor isn't happy with the gang's dubious reaction to Cordelia's pregnancy, it's Cordelia's behavior itself that sends him off to a room alone to brood. It was on her advice that he almost killed his father, and now her insistence that it was "the only way to keep their baby safe" seems completely unfounded. "Cordelia" assures him that she believed she was doing the right thing at the time, and that there are good reasons for everything she does. So Connor continues to stand by her and the baby. Being their loyal protector, after all, is the right thing to do. Right?

For a while, Gunn struggled with what exactly he contributed to Angel Investigations. Then the Beast and Angelus came around, and he was too busy fighting and guarding to reflect on it much. Now Angel is back, and he's got jobs for everyone--except Gunn, who he asks to "sit tight" until they need "muscle" against the Beast's Master. So of course Gunn is going to be interested when Gwen Raiden shows up looking for a "suave guy who's good in a tight spot" to help her "save a kidnapped girl".

And Gunn proves himself to be just such a guy. He suavely helps Gwen get into Morimoto's party when her invitation doesn't pass muster, then fights off the ninja-goons Gwen sics on him for "kidnapping" Morimoto's daughter, and finally rescues Morimoto and his men from Gwen's electro-whammy when they catch Gwen at Morimoto's safe. And when he finds out Gwen's real motivation for stealing L.I.S.A., he's still got sympathy for the thief who set him up. It's the most fun he's had since...?

Now if he can show that kind of James-Bond confidence back at A.I., they just might remember what they've got.

Gunn thinks that Angel Investigations just thinks of him as raw muscle. ...he is just as guilty of the same. ...he ignored his own contributions ...the ability to see to the root of a problem instead of making a problem bigger by overthinking it. The only person that can bring Gunn out of his trap of insecurity is himself....looking honestly at his strengths and his weaknesses instead of jumping to conclusions based upon half truths like those that came out of the mouth of Angelus. Once he values himself he won't have to do much to get the others to take him more seriously than just a street fighter....he was a "general" for a reason (Rufus, 3/26/03 23:57).


"It's not always about holding hands."

Fred has been squicked about Connor and Cordelia ever since she first heard about them. But Wesley is more sympathetic. He tells Fred that seemingly impossible sexual relationships can develop between two people who are feeling isolated from those they love. Fred insists that Wesley hated Lilah--Angel Investigation's most visible enemy. And though it may have started out that way, she sees in Wesley's face that it didn't end up that way.

Angel: the Series copyright © 2002-03 The WB Television Network.
Screen shot credits
This page last modified 2/18/04

Questions? Comments?