Angel: The Series

Season 5


Just Rewards



Life of the Party

The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco


The Metaphysics of "Conviction"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 7 BtVS/season 5 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

A mystical vessel designed to hold anything its owner desires has been made the container for a deadly virus. The container will dissolve and unleash this virus on the world when a specific "magic word" is spoken.

"Anagogic" Lorne is put in charge of evaluating the loyalties of the employees of the Wolfram and Hart Los Angeles office. Each employee sings for him, allowing him to "read their spirits"--get glimpses of their lives and futures.

Instant law degree: Gunn allows Wolfram and Hart to enhance his mind with a comprehensive knowledge of the law. He goes to an office where he is hooked up to a machine that does a "neural path modification"--essentially, a "download" to his brain. He now has the equivalent of a law school degree and several years' experience practicing law. The knowledge is real, although his credentials are forged.

Spike's return: Angel gets an envelope with no return address. He opens it and a crystal amulet falls out. It glows, then emits a swirling cloud of dust. The dust forms into the shape of Spike the vampire, who is disoriented when he finds himself suddenly alive again after his recent death.

Cordelia's coma

Evil in "Conviction"

The end of Angel Investigations

When the Senior Partners "seceded" the offices of the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram and Hart to Angel and his friends, they weren't offering to let the gang turn their facilities into a super-enhanced office for Angel Investigations. Angel and the gang work for Wolfram and Hart now.

Eve is Angel's "liaison" to the larger firm. And if the Senior Partners' purpose is to corrupt team Angel, then Eve is the bearer of the apple of temptation. She offers the fruit of Wolfram and Hart's resources and secrets to the gang, but unlike the serpent of old, she is up front about the consequences of taking what Wolfram and Hart have to offer.

The Senior Partners expect Angel and the gang to run the law firm, make a profit, and keep their evil and morally ambiguous clients happy. If they chose to stay, they might manage to do some good in the process. If they chose to leave, evil will go on its merry way doing as it pleases, and they will have a lot less resources to stop it. It's their choice.

Angel takes a bite of Eve's apple.

[T]he apple grants the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, and the ability to choose. Angel's decision is not dissimilar to his [dethroning] of Jasmine in 'Peace Out'- it establishes the possibility of free will, and demands the strength of character from his team that they can both acknowledge evil and fight it. It's simple to dismiss Angel's takeover of Wolfram and Hart as the wrong one, but Angel's apple makes the point that he goes in with his eyes open (Tchaikovsky, 10/06/03 9:53).

Their first challenge: foiling the plans of client Corbin Fries, a human charged with all manner of crimes, including drugs, gun-running, and prostitution. He is on the verge of being convicted in court. Angel and the gang's "official" job is to get him off. And Fries is threatening to kill the entire state of California if he doesn't. He has put a mystical container containing a deadly virus into the body of his own son.

The Wolfram and Hart special ops team does the "field work" for Wolfram and Hart, and Angel knows their work well. They provided back-up when Wolfram and Hart turned Darla back into a vampire. They tried twice to get their hands on Angel and Darla's infant son (first in Offspring, then again in Sleep Tight) and later distracted Angel and the gang when Wolfram and Hart wanted to extract important apocalyptic information out of Lorne's brain. Angel doesn't trust them to follow his orders, and there is no reason he should. Their only loyalty is to evil. When ops leader Hauser finds out that Angel intends to isolate the boy who is ground zero for a lethal virus, he sends his team out to terminate the boy and any witnesses to what they have done.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Conviction"

"[Y]ou think I'm just a trigger-happy jerk who follows orders, but I am something you will never be. I'm pure. I believe in evil. You and your friends, you're conflicted. You're confused. We're not. That is why you are going to lose, because we possess the most powerful thing in the world... conviction." --Hauser


Wesley: "Why on Earth are we here?"
Fred: "Because we're crusaders against evil, and now the law firm that represents most of the evil in the world has given us its L.A. branch to run however we want, probably in an attempt to corrupt, divide or destroy us and we all said yes in like, three minutes?"

Fred is the most vocal of the gang in expressing her doubts about their new situation. Her employees seem to be the "I was just following orders" types (Gunn calls them "opportunistic"), with little thought about whether the work they are doing will be used for good or evil purposes. But Fred is now their boss, and she puts them to work researching how to destroy a virus they might have indirectly helped develop.

Wesley, whose doubts are as great as Fred's, sneaks a gun into Fries' trial. If Fries threatens to use the magic word to unleash the virus, Wesley plans to shoot to kill, even knowing that doing so might itself trigger the container holding the virus.

Angel has been made "CEO and President" of the Los Angeles offices of a multi-dimensional corporation committed to making the lives of their evil clients easier. So of course, the Senior Partners and employees aren't pleased when Angel kills a vampire that works for one of "his" clients, tries to foil the threat posed by another one of his clients, and kills a member of his own Operations team in the process.

This is the thin line Angel must now walk. A desperate decision to save his own son has put him in bed, metaphorically speaking, with his enemies, and he must find a way to continue the mission of the now defunct Angel Investigations amidst the evils and the temptations of working for Wolfram and Hart.

When client Corbin Fries' courtroom looks ready to hand in a Guilty verdict, Angel decides to isolate Fries' son. Then Angel learns that the special ops team is on its way to kill the boy instead. He rushes to the boy's school and gets the children out of danger, then tries to fire the special ops team. They respond with bullets. Angel fights back with fists and fangs, killing the ops team leader.

Gunn has hope that the gang will be able to do some good at Wolfram and Hart, and he has a new role to play in that effort. The Senior Partners allowed Gunn to speak to their conduit in the White Room. They wanted to tap into his untapped potential. And tap it they did, just in time to stave off a viral apocalypse. Gunn enters the courtroom and gets Fries' trial declared a mistrial on a technicality involving the judge's conflict of interest. This doesn't mean Fries is off the hook; he will have to stand trial again with a different judge.

Not exactly a win for the evil client, but the thin line the ex-Angel Investigations team is walking just got thinner. Gunn doesn't believe that Wolfram and Hart put anything else in his mind besides morally neutral knowledge, and he offers to sing for Lorne to prove it. But the danger of Gunn's new knowledge isn't what's in Gunn's brain today. It's in the influence having that knowledge might have on his actions and intentions in the coming days.

Unanswered question: When Angel and the gang were in the middle of their initial Wolfram and Hart tour, making up their minds about accepting the offer, their memories of the past two years were altered. Did this in any way affect their decision to take the offer?

Just Rewards

The Metaphysics of "Just Rewards"

Grox'lar Beasts eat baby heads. Or at least, they do for the moment. A member of the clan has come to the new Wolfram and Hart to open negotiations to end this practice. Angel, unaware of this, beats up the Grox'lar. Good thing the clan respects someone who takes a strong opening position.

Necromancers are sorcerers with power over the dead (including dead bodies, vampires and spirits). Magnus Hainsley uses his power to give rich demons and humans replacement bodies. He places a hand inside a fresh cadaver and points his other hand in the direction of the client's old body. He transfers the spirit of the client through his own body (acting as a channel or conduit) and into the cadaver.

Spirits vs. ghosts: Spike is incorporeal (non-physical), but he isn't a ghost. As Fred explains, when ghosts are visible, they have an "ectoplasmic matrix". Spike doesn't have one. He does, however, have brain wave activity, which ghosts don't have since they no longer have a brain. Finally, ghosts absorb light and heat energy, which makes the air around them colder. Spike is radiating heat just above vampire normal (room temperature). And whatever Spike is, he's emitting electromagnetic energy consistent with spiritual and physical entities.

The difference between "spirits/essences" and "souls"

The amulet: Wesley theorizes that Spike's essence (or spirit) was held within the crystal amulet after his body was destroyed in Sunnydale. Spike is now bound to the amulet. And since the amulet is bound to Wolfram and Hart (it is their property), Spike is for all intents and purposes trapped in Limbo. He cannot go anywhere outside a fixed radius from the amulet (for now, the city limits). When he tries, he is transported back to Wolfram and Hart. The question is why? The most likely answer is that Spike's situation is just a normal side effect of that particular amulet.

But this begs the question: why did Wolfram and Hart give that amulet to Angel? Did they intend Angel to use it? Or did they know it would fall into Spike's hands? Perhaps they simply hoped that some supernatural warrior of good would use it and end up like Spike.

Who sent the amulet to Angel's office?

Regardless, the gang is now stuck with Spike.

Almost. Spike keeps fading in and out of this plane of existence. One minute, he is on Earth, the next, he is in "another place"--from Spike's description ("fire and torment"), quite possibly a hell dimension.

Wesley suggests they unbind Spike from the amulet by destroying it. The amulet is protected by magicks that make it invulnerable except when it is on hallowed ground (a church or cemetery).

Good and Evil in "Just Rewards"

Reforming Wolfram and Hart: Wolfram and Hart didn't just give Gunn knowledge of human laws, they also gave him knowledge of demon laws from every dimension. He's been using all his legal know-how to implement reforms at Wolfram and Hart, including firing forty employees and closing down the Internment Acquisitions Division (IAD, grave-robbing). He warns Angel that there will be a backlash for these actions.

The first backlash comes in the form of Magnus Hainsley, Wolfram and Hart client and stockholder. The IAD was supplying this powerful well-connected necromancer with fresh bodies for his business. When he finds out he is no longer a client, Hainsley kills the messenger. In response, Gunn strips Hainsley of all his financial assets. Hainsley offers Spike a deal to end the gang's meddling: he will give Spike a physical body if Spike double-crosses Angel and helps him regain what he lost.

Spike tells the Necromancer he will take the deal, then returns to Angel and tells him about it. The two vampires head to a graveyard, acting as if they intend to release Spike's spirit from the amulet. Hainsley appears and stops Angel from "destroying" the amulet. Angel wakes up on Hainsley's slab. Hainsley intends to give Spike Angel's body. As Spike's spirit is drawn through the Necromancer's body, he takes control of Hainsley. Angel beats on Hainsley's body and kills him, leaving Spike once again in his incorporeal state.

Moral Ambiguity and Philosophies Represented in "Just Rewards"

"Control. That's all anyone really wants. Isn't it?" --Hainsley the necromancer

Angel is trying to take control of Wolfram and Hart, but the Senior Partners have plans for him. He doesn't know what those plans are, but the Senior Partners aren't the only ones keeping secrets. Angel failed to mention to his friends that Spike was anything more than Buffy's ally (like, say her lover?) He also left off the soul-having part. Feeling like someone is encroaching on your territory, Ang?

Spike is a bit miffed that saving the world for "all the right reasons" wasn't enough to earn him eternal rest in heaven. Instead, he's trapped on the Earthly plane with his un-beloved grand-sire, a vampire who is determined to spend the rest of his unlife doing good for others. Spike tells Angel that he doesn't "give a piss about atonement or destiny". Nevertheless, when Spike is given the opportunity to get control of his unlife back from an evil necromancer, he doesn't take it. He's on the side of the good guys now.

So why then is a force trying to drag the newest vampire with a soul away from his Earthly limbo to a very unheavenly place that is "not the place heroes go"? Spike fears that this might be the afterlife he truly deserves. But perhaps Spike's fate isn't heaven or hell... at least not yet.

You don't stop striving to do good things simply cause last week you did something that was really really super duper good. In fact, I find the idea that Spike's sacrifice at the end of Chosen to be far more poignant knowing that it wasn't enough. That it will never be enough because being "redeemed" doesn't mean that you can stop striving for a better world. Angel got that concept in "Epiphany" and hopefully Spike will understand the same thing this season (10/09/03 12:28) ...expecting someone to continue trying to be a good person isn't a punishment. ...[Spike] will discover that having this second chance to do good things in the world is his reward (Sheri, 10/10/03 10:35).


The Metaphysics of "Unleashed"

Werewolves come in different breeds. Wolfram and Hart cryptozoologist Dr. Royce identifies the werewolf McManus as Lycanthropus Exterus, a breed previously undocumented in North America. In wolf form, this breed walks upright rather than on all fours, has a longer arm span than most werewolves, and longer canine teeth.

Nina, also of this breed once McManus bites her, has heightened senses while in human form, an attraction to blood, and finds herself fantasizing about ripping people's throats out--even her loved ones'.

A weapon made of silver is especially helpful in killing a werewolf, although not absolutely necessary. Angel's vampire senses detect a disturbance in the park. He runs off to find a woman, Nina, being attacked by a werewolf. Angel fights the wolf and stabs it with Wesley's sterling silver pen.

Psychic intelligence: Wolfram and Hart employ psychics for all manner of purposes, from testing employee loyalty to getting intelligence on events and people they can't get through conventional means. Wesley has psychics in his department trying to get information on the girl attacked in the park. They only have her blood and tire tracks she left behind.

Fooling the reader: Dr. Royce passes the test when he sings for Lorne, but that doesn't mean he's not an untrustworthy employee. Royce is in possession of calendula, a substance that allows him to alter the results of a reading much like a Valium relaxes a person enough to help them trick a polygraph (lie-detector) test.

Evil in "Unleashed"

Dr. Evan Royce is double-dealing Angel and the others, working for a man named Crane who, among other things, runs a restaurant that serves werewolf on its menu. Crane sends his men to take out the Wolfram and Hart security guards and kidnap Nina. They leave Fred at Nina's house unconscious. At the restaurant, Nina is cleaned, tied down and garnished, awaiting the full moon, when she will be cut up and served alive (because once a werewolf dies, it reverts to its human state).

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Unleashed"

The good fight: The gang wants to help the woman attacked in the park, if they can find her. Using traffic signal cameras, Gunn tracks Nina down after Fred gets a make on her car from the tire treads. Angel heads out to find her. And just in time, too, because the full moon rises, and Nina turns into a werewolf while her niece stands outside her bedroom door. Angel lures Nina-wolf outside and stuns her with a tranquilizer gun. He puts her in a cage back at Wolfram and Hart.

Later, after Nina is dragged off to the restaurant, the gang goes to rescue her. They subdue Crane's men and tranquilize Nina-wolf again. But the dart doesn't keep her down for long. She bites Royce. Crane drags Royce off to become next month's featured meal. But there is to be no poetic justice for Evan Royce, just the regular kind. Gunn closes down Mr. Crane's restaurant permanently.

McManus was a werewolf who tried his best for a while to manage his situation, but he did it alone. He didn't turn to friends or family or others to help him. He feared endangering them. But in the end, he couldn't cope on his own anymore, and he gave up. He returned to populated areas and started to leave a trail of bodies behind him.

Angel's mission

"Thought he had to fight it alone, ended up with nothing worth fighting for. But this girl, she's not alone. She's got us." --Angel

Angel knows something about living with one's inner monster. So after he discovers a woman who has been made into a werewolf, he doesn't just leave her to her own devices. He takes it upon himself to help her learn how to manage her new condition, so that she and the people around her will remain safe. She can live a normal life, even as a werewolf, he assures her. In fact, it's imperative that she continue to live as she always has. Isolating herself from her family and support system will only make her life more difficult, emotionally, physically, and morally.

After reuniting Nina with her family, Angel takes his own advice and invites his (demon-hunting helpless-helping dysfunctional) family to his swanky apartment in the Wolfram and Hart building.

Angel helps people. ...Angel relates to the Wolf because he too is a monster.... He helped the girl by taking a personal interest in her. That is how Angel helps people. He doesn't just slay demons. He saves souls (Lunasea, 2003-10-16 11:01).

Spike comes to Fred desperate to know what progress she's made researching his situation, because it's getting worse. He's disappearing for longer periods of time, and he's afraid that soon he won't come back at all. Fred is curious why Spike doesn't go to the occult expert Wesley with his problem. Spike is adamant that his situation not get back to Angel. Although Angel and the others have resources that might be able to help Spike, Spike's recent bad experience with an ex-Watcher and old enmities with Angel(us) make it difficult to trust.

Gunn is a little defensive about the gang's insinuation that the Senior Partners put more into his head than legal knowledge. He feels like his loyalty to the forces of Good is being questioned. But it's more of a healthy caution. His friends still invite him along to a secret meeting in the park.

"Atlas Shrugged"


The Metaphysics of "Hellbound"

Mediums are psychics with the ability to communicate with and call up the presence of the dead. A Wolfram and Hart medium is brought in to locate Spike after he disappears. The gang sits in a circle at a table. The medium closes her eyes and says,

I call upon the guardian of souls, the keeper of the passage. Let our breath flow from what is to what has passed. Bless us with the presence of the lost. Grant us communion with the world beyond our reach. Give voice to those who can no longer be heard. I beseech you, open your gates... reveal your secrets.

She senses a presence, but it is not Spike. It is a "dark soul"--The Reaper.

The Reaper: There is only one ghost in the Los Angeles offices of Wolfram and Hart, although you would think from the violent way the law firm "fires" its employees that there would be more. Pavayne haunts the building because two hundred years before, he was sacrificed in a ritual to de-consecrate the land that Wolfram and Hart's seers had recommended as the site for their new branch (occupied at the time by a Spanish mission). The ritual required the blood of a very evil man, and Pavayne has the creds. The other ghosts that have appeared in the Wolfram and Hart building over the years have been sent to hell by Pavayne.

What is Spike? Spike has most of the traits of a flesh and blood vampire (wrinkly forehead and fangs, room-temperature radiant heat, brain waves), except without the flesh and blood. He is dead in that he is a vampire, but he is not a ghost. His incorporeal state (Fred calls it a "lack of particle cohesion") was caused by the mystical action of the amulet.

Where is Spike? Spike's fading in and out, on the other hand, is Pavayne's doing. Pavayne has power over other spirit beings and he has been using this power to draw Spike into the mouth of a hell dimension for brief periods of time. In "Hellbound", however, Spike's disappearances from the offices of Wolfram and Hart have a different cause. Spike is still there in the building; Pavayne is simply preventing the others from seeing or hearing him.

"Hell" in the Buffyverse has always meant the "demon dimensions"--physical realms not unlike Earth, except with harsher living conditions and demon inhabitants. What is this "hell" that Pavayne wants to send Spike to? At first blush, it sounds very similar to the Christian concept of hell--an incorporeal place where the spirits of the wicked are sent after death to suffer torment for their sins.

But that implies some higher force that is interested in seeing the wicked punished. And the only force mentioned in this episode is described by Pavayne:

"Hell always hungers for the wicked, boy, and it's feeding time. ...Hell knows you're ready, plump and ripe. ...The soul that blesses you... ...damns you to suffer--forever."

A portal opens up in the basement of Wolfram and Hart. Long black tentacle-like arms reach out toward Spike threatening to pull him in.

This hell sounds less like a place and more like a "beast" that feeds on the torment of souled beings, most especially the torment they feel in their souls for the evil deeds they did in life. And there is no guarantee that this hell will get every wicked souled being in its clutches. Ghosts of the wicked that haunt the Earth, for example, have managed to avoid this hell (except for the ones Pavayne fed to It).

Powers of spirit beings: Spirit beings are not completely powerless in the physical world. If they want it enough, they can touch and effect physical objects. Pavayne describes this as "reality bending according to desire". Spike has been interacting with physical objects since he emerged from the amulet. For example, he has been able to sit in chairs and walk up stairs. This probably happened because he took the operation of gravity completely for granted, even though technically, gravity doesn't have to have the influence on him it used to. Other things he tried to do, like pick up objects--didn't work until he put his mind to it.

Pavayne also uses his desire to effect other spirit beings and create non-corporeal illusions, like giving Spike "wounds" on his face. Likewise, the disturbing mutilated people Spike saw weren't ghosts, they were images created by Pavayne to dishearten Spike.

The re-corporealization ring: The Magdalene Grimoire, the Necronomicon des Mortes, and Hochstadter's Treatise on Fractal Geometry in 12-dimensional Space are just some of the rare talismans and theoretical principles that Fred uses to create a circular ring of mystical energy that can transform incorporeal entities into flesh and blood. Once the ingredients are assembled, the mystical process must be catalyzed (set into motion) by "a massive surge of dark energy". Gunn and Angel obtain volatile matter from the body of The Conduit to serve as this catalyst. When Fred turns on the machine, it sends out a pulse of mystical energy that attracts Spike and Pavayne. But the energy in the symbol-inscribed ring can be used only once. Spike throws Pavayne in, and Pavayne's living physical body is restored.

Because the ingredients used were rare and in one case, no longer available (the matter from the conduit), Fred cannot use this process again to re-corporealize Spike. Pavayne, on the other hand, is much more manageable than he was as a ghost. Angel knocks him out, then Eve and Angel lock Pavayne up in a form of stasis that prevents him from moving, touching, feeling or affecting anything around him.

Evil and Good in "Hellbound"

Matthias Pavayne was an eighteenth-century European aristocrat and doctor nicknamed "The Reaper" because he performed deadly and unnecessary surgery on his patients. He fled to California, where he murdered people in order to use their body parts in dark rituals. He was killed by Wolfram and Hart, but managed to avoid the gaping maw of hell by supplying It with the spirits of others, specifically the ghosts of Wolfram and Hart employees who otherwise would be haunting the L.A. offices.

When Spike discovers that Pavayne has the power to restrain him and hit him, he fights back. He may believe he's going to hell, but it's not going to be any time soon. After Fred turns on the power to the mystic ring that she has built to recorporealize Spike, Pavayne grabs Fred and starts to choke her. He tells Spike he has a choice: step into the ring and let Fred die, or save Fred and lose his chance to have a physical body again. Spike saves Fred by throwing Pavayne into the ring.

Spike in his ghost-like form felt useless, as if he had no will, no ability to affect the world. What Pavayne teaches him is it's not his corporeality that affects it, but his mind, his spirit. ...The very end shows the corporeal Pavayne trapped, his "will" removed. While Spike is still incorporeal but with his will is able to pick up a cup (shadowkat, 25 Oct 2003 14:57).

Moral Ambiguity in "Hellbound"


"Hearts get in the way.... If we don't gut ourselves and burn out everything inside that gave her power over us, then we're lost." --Angel, Sacrifice

Angel has been working hard to reform the practices of the L.A. branch of Wolfram and Hart, and has been fighting the evil he's encountered since he arrived there. But he isn't happy in his new environment, and it is starting to show. He's been irritable and unkind to his friends and Spike. And he has gone (in the words of Season 2 Lorne) from "helping the helpless to punishing the guilty" (Happy Anniversary)--killing several human bad guys with no thought for the state of their souls. And his assessment of his own situation is extremely pessimistic.

Angel long ago abandoned his belief in the shanshu prophecy--that after fighting many battles, the "vampire with a soul" would be made human. At that time, he simply wanted to do good for the sake of doing good, not to make up for his evil deeds (which he knew he could never do) and not to get a reward. But now Angel's existentialism is slipping into nihilism--a lack of a belief in anything. He has lost faith in prophecy all together, and in his chances for eternal rest. He and Spike can do good as long as they are able, but in the end, hell will come and claim them as its own. Is this what will happen when Angel turns to dust? Angel has no way of knowing, and perhaps it is not be the hell he should be worried about.

It is sometimes said that hell is the loss of hope, and if that is so, then Angel is straddling an emotional chasm not unlike the dimensional chasm Spike stood on. And it's getting wider, pulling him in.

Life of the Party

The Metaphysics of "Life of the Party"

Thraxis demons are nasty critters, as are most clients and/or employees of Wolfram and Hart. But if you kill one? Steer clear. Their demon blood burns.

Techno-mystical hybrids are devices that act on both physical and magical principles. The destructive capacities of a neural-intercept grenade, for example, occur via a spell, but the trigger mechanism for the spell is mechanical. This isn't much different than regular spells, which rely on physical ingredients (the uttering of words and the use of plant and animal parts and talismans) to trigger their effects.

The Psychic Component Storage Facility is where employees of Wolfram and Hart (and possibly clients as well) store parts of their psyche that they have had removed, from Lorne's sleep to Madeline Chu in Accounting's boredom. The unwanted psychological faculties and emotions are kept sealed in metal tubes where they can be restored to the individual if needed.

Sleep deprivation: Under normal circumstances, Lorne reads the destinies of other beings. But when an empath like him is deprived of sleep for a substantial period of time (like say, a month), this power is disrupted, resulting in two phases of symptoms.

Phase 1: Lorne "writes people's destinies" instead of reading them. Things he suggests to people manifest in people's behavior. Lorne tells Angel to be nice to Sebassis and he is. He tells Wesley and Fred that they should be drunk, and they are. He tells Spike to be more positive and he is. He tells Gunn to "stake out his territory" and Gunn pees on things like a territorial animal (including Angel's chair). Lorne tells Eve and Angel they have sexual tension and to "get a room", and they do--to have sex.

Phase 2: Sleep is a period in which, among other things, our minds process events and feelings at a subconscious level. Without sleep, Lorne's subconscious finds a new way to manifest itself--physically. A monstrous version of Lorne lurks in the offices of Wolfram and Hart doing things that Lorne subconsciously wishes he could do, including killing Artode and Devlin.

Stopping Lorne's manifestation can't be done by conventional means, like arrows and fists. Fred takes the canister that stores Lorne's sleep and attaches a "delivery device", which in essence turns it into the muzzle of a gun. She aims the gun at Lorne's head and shoots his sleep back into his head. He drops to the floor and naps. The manifestation disintegrates.

Evil in "Life of the Party"

Archduke Sebassis is the latest in a long line of pure-blood demonic royalty, the commander of forty legions of demonic warriors, and something of a celebrity in the Los Angeles underworld. If Angel can convince Sebassis to come to Lorne's party, the other guests are likely to RSVP as well. Sebassis shows up with his aide Artode (dressed in a Deathwok-demon jacket he skinned himself) and a cache of weapons they have snuck into the offices of Wolfram and Hart using an anti-detection spell. They assume the party is a trap set by Angel to kill them all, and when Artode is torn to shreds, their assumption seems justified.

Moral Ambiguity in "Life of the Party"


"This place is trying to change us, Gunn, and we can't ever forget that."

Think it's all fun and games schmoozing self-involved celebrities and kissing evil demon butt? Lorne has been stretched to the breaking point as Wolfram and Hart's chief entertainment broker in a city built on the entertainment industry. And when he decides to throw a party to improve Angel's administration-employee-client relations, Lorne breaks.

He's been hiding the strain he's feeling from his friends and employees, isolating himself and finding solutions to his problems on his own (like having his sleep removed). But even the jolly green host who used to allow baby-eating demons and "Mandy"-singing souled vampires alike into his night club has his limits. After Lorne pretends to be nice to demons sporting human- and Deathwok-skin holiday garb, the monster of his subconscious returns and kills them.

Lorne gets himself back together with the help of his friends. But the rest of ex-Angel Investigations crew are overworked and becoming increasingly isolated from each other as well.

Angel: It's hard for a corporation to throw a party when the guests are convinced the CEO wants to kill them. And they aren't wrong. Angel still goes out at night on "field missions" killing potential party-goers. And Wolfram and Hart employees can hardly be in a partying mood while they're waiting to see if their boss is going to "give them the ax".

Angel still hasn't figured out how to walk the fine line he's being asked to walk every day. And how can he? Every move he makes could be part of the Senior Partner's plan to corrupt, divide or destroy him and his friends, and he's not willing to let that happen. But he doesn't really seem in any position to prevent it, either.

Wesley's interest in Fred is as strong as it ever was, but he isn't telling Fred about that interest. Instead, he stands by as Fred confides in him about her interest in Knox.

The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco

The Metaphysics of "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"

It is not clear whether Tezcatcatl was always a warrior demon, or was a human Aztec warrior who became a demon as a result of a mystical curse. He has pointed teeth and an animal-like face. He carries a sword and a shield and wears a plumed helmet.

Wolfram and Hart has records of nearly every mystical pact ever made, and Tezcatcatl's deal is no different. Tezcatcatl forged a mystical talisman designed to give him the power of the Aztec sun god. The talisman is gold, the size of a coin, and has an image of the sun and mystical symbols carved into it. When Tezcatcatl's plans were discovered, the talisman was taken away and he was killed. Before his death, he had a shaman curse him so that he could come back from the dead every fifty years on the date his death (the Mexican Day of the Dead) to find the talisman or be killed again searching for it. To sustain himself while he searches, he must eat the living, beating hearts of human heroes. This gives him temporary invulnerability to things like Wesley's gun.

The summoning spell: Numero Cinco keeps a shrine to the memory of his brothers in his apartment. Every year on the date of their death, he moves the flowers, pictures, talismans and candles to their tombstone, and performs a spell over the gravesite, hoping they will return. But they never do, because he is "unworthy". This year, he summons the demon Tezcatcatl to their grave, hoping the demon will kill him and send him to his brothers. During the fight with Tezcatcatl, Numero Cinco is mortally wounded. He wipes his own blood on the tombstone and bleeds into the earth. This is apparently the missing ingredient that proves his worth, because Numero Cinco's four brothers crawl out of their graves and join the fight. After Tezcatcatl is defeated, Numero Cinco's brothers pick up his dead body and disappear.

Stopping Tezcatcatl: Tezcatcatl the heart-eater will die if he is stabbed in the heart, but this only kills him so that he can rise again in fifty years. After Angel runs the demon through with a metal pike, the gang put Tezcatcatl's talisman in a safe place for the demon's return.

Wesley's source books are mystical indexes rather than original documents. Each book allows the user to read the text of one of hundreds of documents in a particular discipline, from ancient prophecies to historical narratives. The user simply speaks the name of the document they want to read to the appropriate source book, and the text of that document appears inside the book. The original documents are stored in the Wolfram and Hart archives. The source books themselves are blank until instructed what text to display.

Lost memories: The removal of all memory of Angel's son Connor from the minds of everyone who ever knew him (including Angel's friends) was clearly part of Angel's deal with Wolfram and Hart, but it is not clear who stipulated it. It could have been Angel, in an attempt to protect Connor from his own past, or it could have been a clause Wolfram and Hart insisted on that Angel was desperate enough to accept. Either way, this stipulation has removed a number of events from his friends' memories, including the memory of the (false?) prophecy, "The father will kill the son". The lost memories could also have influenced the gang's decision to work at Wolfram and Hart as well. And yet the gang speak and act as if they have relatively in-tact memories of the past two years (Cordelia's coma, for example). So they must have an alternative set of memories that are quite similar to what actually happened. But what are they?

Evil "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"

Fifty years ago, Tezcatcatl rose from the dead and killed over a dozen heroic people while he searched for the talisman that would give him unimaginable power. He was finally defeated by Los Hermanos Numeros, but not before he had killed four out of five of these brave brothers. Now he is back, and willing once again to kill heroes in his search for power.

Good and Moral Ambiguity in "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"

Numero Cinco was once was a hero--"helping the helpless"-- until he lost his family while fighting evil. Over time, all memory of their heroic deeds together was forgotten and now they are remembered as nothing more than a joke. Los Hermanos Numeros were luchadores (Mexican wrestlers) who fought opponents in the ring and fought the evils--supernatural or otherwise--that plagued the Chicano community of East Los Angeles. With his brothers gone and the people they saved no longer calling, Numero Cinco grew bitter. He was offered a job at Wolfram and Hart--a firm that represented everything his brothers had fought against--and he accepted. Nothing mattered to him anymore; he had stopped seeing himself as a hero.

Which is probably why his enemy Tezcatcatl, the demon who eats the hearts of heroes, passes him by. But when Numero Cinco finds a reason to fight, he proves that he is a hero still.

Gunn loves his new legal career. He has always fought for good, both with his old street-fighting crew and as part of Angel Investigations, but as "the muscle" he was nothing unique, just another guy that could throw a punch or use a weapon. He finally feels like he has his own special (and powerful) contribution to make as part of the gang.

When Fred implies Spike is a champion, Spike denies the title. He reduces his role in closing the Hellmouth to "just standing there and letting the fire come". Nothing heroic about that, he says. Fred thinks differently.

Spike could have left Sunnydale at any time during S7. Spike could have looked at the amulet and snarked, "Forget it, luv. Doesn't match the jacket." He stuck around and he was at the right place at the right time. So he "just stood there." So what? Who else was going to do it? That's what heroism is all about. Angel (the hero and the series) has been telling us that for the past two seasons. It's not a single, glorious sacrificial act and poof--you've gone to your great reward. It's the everyday grind of being there when people need you. That's the hard part (cjl, 11/06/03 11:11).


"You made a difference in the lives you saved. And you did it because it was the right thing to do. Nobody asks us to go out and fight, put our lives on the line. We do it because we can, 'cause we know how. We do it whether people remember us or not, in spite of the fact that there's no shiny reward at the end of the day, other than the work itself. I think some part of you still knows that." - Angel to Numero Cinco

Angel can pay lip service to the hero's mission, but he doesn't feel the passion of it anymore. Wesley believes he's lost hope in his own future, and reminds him of the shanshu prophecy. But belief in a reward won't give Angel back everything he's lost. By agreeing to work for Wolfram and Hart, Angel has lost faith in himself: in his belief that his decisions and actions consistently serve the cause of good.

In previous seasons, Angel's nearly always been sure, what's right, what's not. ...His overstepping of the boundaries [was] deliberate and conscious. This time, he has been thrust into choices he doesn't like. He's at the mercy of events he can't control. ...he doesn't know whether he is doing the right thing or wrong thing. He's no longer a 'champion' (Rahael, 10/27/03 4:35).

Angel's "disconnection" comes not just from feeling cut off from his mission in his tower of glass and steel. He feels disconnected inside Wolfram and Hart as well--disconnected from his friends. When Angel lost his son, all memory of Connor was removed from his friends' minds. His friends cannot be a source of comfort in his grieving, and he is discovering that there are many things he shared with them that he can no longer talk to them about.

Angel: the Series copyright © 2003 The WB Television Network.
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This page last modified 5/24/04

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