July 2003 posts

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This week's episode: "Teacher's Pet" -- Jay, 18:43:31 07/06/03 Sun

Sorry if someone else brought most of this up, but I haven't been able to read a whole lot of the board this past week, with Voynak on the loose, and a nice three day weekend. God, did I need that. But I have some thoughts on Teachers Pet.

I have a lot of mixed feeling about the episode. I feel like they could have done it better, except, they really probably couldn't have in the wild first year.

First off, Xander's fantasy scenes. At initial glance they seem embarrassing and cheap compared to where this show eventually goes only one year later. But to a 15/16 year old male, who's finding himself in the circumstances that Xander has recently found himself in... well, they're spot on. He's not battle forged yet, at least not as much as he will be in just a few more episodes. The scenes really aren't humiliating, since it's all in Xander's head and no one else knows what the hell is in there. But it kind of gives us a taste of the humiliation the writers are prepared to heap upon our beloved characters, once they decide to play it for real.

Next, it's the first episode that Xander and Willow lay eyes on the "buff", Angel. This really doesn't mean much to me. It seems like a token appearance, but they're trying to build mystery to something that we all know as Buffy ancient history. This is okay, since it pays off later in the episode "Angel". But what kind of girly name is Angel, anyway?

First faculty member killed. Of course he would be the first one that gave Buffy encouragement in her scholastic endeavors. And his replacement, of course she would be attracted to Xander and try to kill him. This is so obvious looking back, but initially, it was the first time either situation presented itself.

Buffy and Willow teaming up against Xander's hormone driven attitude: Perfect. This is only the fourth hour of the series, and this character interaction has found its legs and is sprinting.

Cordy barely ranks at all in this episode, serving to find the dead body, and to make a joke at the expense of high school counseling.

The bad girl seems pretty pedestrian for all the work that the gang puts into figuring out who and what she is. The vampire with a claw, what the hell was he suppose to be? Angel must have been looking for excuses to talk to Buffy to warn her about that guy.

Male virgins being targeted by evil is kind of a sunny switch on the horror genre. Which I believe is the target of the episode given the Xander fantasy scenes. But I can't help but think all of this could have been done better. It was only the fourth hour of the series. The canon was not only not established, it was barely in the forethought of the writers. It does serve better continuity compared to the later upcoming "Angel" episode considering his now known huge history with Darla. At least Flutie survived the episode, but not for long...

[> Oh crap. I should have posted this with Darby's thread. -- Jay, who is too impulsive, like the buffalo, 19:03:26 07/06/03 Sun

*Out of the Chair* - Coda for Season Seven (a.k.a. "The Endless 7.22 Review") ... Part II -- OnM, 19:07:14 07/06/03 Sun

~ ~ ~ ( Continued from Part I ) ~ ~ ~

OnM: As I had started to say a little bit earlier, one of the high points for me this season was in the
scene near the end of Chosen where Robin Wood appears to die as Faith is watching him. Now while I
don't think many viewers would question how genuine the look of sadness was on her face as this occurs, I do
think that a lot of folks interpreted Wood's actions as only pretending to die, continuing the 'season of
fakeouts' trend and getting a chance to 'surprise' Faith.

EC: Not to mention getting a little retribution for her blowing him off earlier in Touched.

OnM: That's what it may have looked like, and I certainly can't dispute that interpretation for certain.
There is the idea that you treat someone poorly, and then they die shortly after that and all you can think of is
what their last encounter with of you was like, and that wasn't the real impression you wanted to leave. But in
the shooting script, Joss uses the phrase He coughs, spasming back to life, and she draws back her hand, as
startled as he.
It makes no sense to use the words 'as startled as he' unless he wasn't faking-- he
actually did die, at least for a moment. What Faith saw was real.

EC: So your take on this trip was?

OnM: She brought him back to life with her touch. Faith, like Willow, has finally tapped into something
that is a very powerful and positive force. Her touch can bring death, but it can now also bring life, and just as
Buffy's self-resurrection during the ultimate battle brought the other Slayers around her 'back to life' and
enabled Spike's amulet to do its thing, Faith has just bent reality in a smaller but still similar way.

EC: Without really understanding the how and all, just like you always maintain that Buffy does. The
Matrix-y Neo thing. But doesn't Neo have an understanding of his powers?

OnM: Well, I don't think so, at least not to date. He can manipulate the Matrix at will, with some
limitations of course, but he couldn't always, and I don't think he understands the mechanism, he just wills it and
it happens. I think it's a quiet little homage to The Matrix in that in the first part of the trilogy, Neo is
dead, killed by Smith, and I mean he is dead dead. Trinity tells him that he can't be dead, because she
knows he is The One-- and she tells him that she loves him. Neo comes back from death, and not only that, he is
reborn with new power. Her thoughts and her touch bring him back to life.

EC: True and all, but isn't that more of an analogy for Buffy than Faith? Buffy has died twice, Faith
hasn't even died once yet, other than maybe psychologically.

OnM: And after Buffy's first death at the hands of the Master, she arises and 'feels strong'. But
Prophecy Girl predates the first Matrix film by several years, so it couldn't have been an homage
for back then. I'm not sure that it's really important anyway, I was mostly noting the general thematic
similarities. I like the idea of a psychological death, though. Faith certainly has experienced that, and in AtS
earlier this year, she nearly did die physically, but Angel pulled her back from the grave that time.

EC: It's in keeping with alla them traditional mythologies, Campbell and Faust and whathaveya. The
hero dies and is reborn with new knowledge and/or powers, yada-yada, boom-schuka-lucka. But wouldn't this
mean that Faith is actually in love with Wood? I mean for the homage to hold up in Faith's case.

OnM: (Faust?) I think most people would agree that Trinity didn't know for sure that she loved
Neo until that critical moment when he died, and it came to the surface of her mind out of her subconscious. I
agree that it's too early to tell for sure whether there's more than friendship and good sex between these two, but
there is the potential. But that's more on the shippy side of things, and my main point here was that for Faith,
bringing life to someone she cared about had to be an ecstatic moment in both an emotional and a spiritual sense.

EC: But aren't you reading a lot into her reaction? Don't you think maybe she was just plain ol' relieved
he wasn't dead, and that that's all there really was?

OnM: I don't know about that. Faith isn't the hugs'n'puppies type, at least not yet, and she may never
be. That doesn't mean she has no deep feelings, just that she doesn't usually expess them openly. Remember that
funny little exchange in AtS where she and Wesley say goodbye right before she leaves for Sunnydale? She kids
Angel that he 'wanted to hug' and that Wesley is the one who knows how to do a proper parting of the ways.
It's funny, because Faith is obviously very female, yet emotionally she's most often stereotypically male. There's
a distance that she needs to keep, and the strong instinctual feeling that emotions are weaknesses that can be

EC: (grins) Well they are ya know! You feel guilty, I get drunk. Works for me!

OnM: (glares) You know, I though you were doing so well there, what with the attempt at having a
conversation in a manner of cooperative civility and all. But, nooooo......

EC: Hope springs eternal, right? What would you have done if ME decided to kill off Faith? Or have her
return to her evil ways? Aren't you Faith shippers just like the Spike redemptionists? Isn't it all just this desire to
prop up one's ego by thinking that if only she met the right guy, she could be reformed? Be a good girl again?
Face it-- it isn't realistic.

OnM: It isn't common, no. Unfortunately such attempts, no matter how well intentioned, usually fail
because you can't make someone change-- they have to want to change, and for real, not specious
reasons. I think this is what got Dave Fury all bent about the fan's reactions to Spike. People though he was
redeemed because he was in love with Buffy. While that was a step in the right direction, it wasn't enough. I
don't think Spike was truly redeemed until Chosen.

EC: And now he's dead! That's a great reward for ya! Redemption is overrated, sez me.

OnM: Granted, in the real world, that seems kinda rude. But metaphorically as the show goes, it pretty
much had to happen. The fact of the matter is that two of the characters who died in the finale were entities who
killed a huge number of humans in their demonic days, and did so cheerfully. BtVS has always had a distinctly
Eastern religious/philosophical slant to it from day one, and I think that it's a matter of karma and the cosmic
wheel turning. Anya and Spike have a ways to go before some sense of karmic balance is restored, but they are at
least moving in a positive direction.

EC: (giggles again) Hee-hee... my karma ran over my dogma... hee-- that always cracks me up.

OnM: (rolling eyes, then continuing) Also, as some other astute fans have pointed out, the original ME
vamp metaphor was that vamps are representative of arrested adolescence, and by extension unwilling to accept
the reality of mortality.

EC: Kinda like people who make clones, right?

OnM: Your existence does not extend my own. We share similar DNA, but your mind and body are
yours, not mine. You are not me-- and I'll still die some day.

EC: (momentarily stunned): Damn! Logic... I hate logic. Didn't expect that.

OnM: See, if you were me, you would have expected that. Thus proving my point. Besides
which, you love logic when it supports your own point of view.

EC: (suddenly jumping up and backing away from the desk) Ahhhh!!!! My brain!! You're gonna do a
brain transplant and take over my body! Ahhhhhhh!!!!

OnM: (bemused) Yeah, right. Like I have the skills to do a brain transplant. Not to mention the probable
state of your liver and several other organs I really don't wish to know the status of.

EC: (not convinced) You could hire someone! Get thee from me, Satan!!

OnM: I thought you were an atheist? Besides, who could I hire on my income?

EC: (calming down) Oh, yeah. Right. You are disturbingly weak in the revenue department, that's true.
(brightens up, walks back over and sits down at the desk again) Whatta loser. Never mind.

OnM: Are you quite sure you're through? I really need to get this written.

EC: So then why are we talking about Spike? Spike, Spike Spike, it's always about thee, Spike.

OnM: I was talking about Faith. Spike only came up because of the redemption issue. What I was going
to point out was that just because genuine redemption is a rare happenstance in the realverse, that doesn't mean
it isn't a worthy goal to strive for. That concept has always been what ME has established as one of the
philosophical baselines of both BtVS and AtS, I would say. What tweaks my interest in the case of both Faith
and Spike is the idea that in a way, they are perceived as being more heroic than Buffy because of the depth of
darkness that they pulled themselves out of. Faith, in particular, is someone I could see that way.

EC: Huh?

OnM: Don't get me wrong, I love the character of Buffy, and she's still my favorite character if forced
to choose one. But one of the reason fans are so compelled to attached themselves emotionally to darker souls
such as Faith or Spike is that most viewers don't see themselves as Buffy. Even though Joss takes pains to make
Buffy Summers a flawed human being, she is still an unnatural hero to most of us, because of her strength and
inner poetry of being.

EC: Uh-oh, look out-- New Age-y alert...

OnM: Hold on now, I'm not getting New-Agey. By 'strength and inner poetry of being', I'm referring
to the fact that while Joss would almost certainly deny it, Buffy is imbued with certain deity-like qualities. It's
part of what is required for the mythology to work. But we have to figure that God must have an easier time
with the moral issues because, well-- God, you know? Big with the eternal goodness and wisdom, right?

EC: Uhh-- right... huh?

OnM: Joss gives his god-figure a difficult time with her life because he doesn't want us to waste our real
potential admiring a hopelessly perfect being. I generally agree, I think it's a critical fault with most Western
religious belief that it insists that its god be perfect, all-knowing, eternal, etc. If you want to set up a vertical
hierarchy that can be used to effectively control the masses for political or economic purposes, then this is a truly
superb way to do it. But as I mentioned before, the Buffyverse only borrows selected iconic elements of Western
religion, spiritually it's mostly Eastern. That's one of the several reasons that I closed the 'official' portion of my
Chosen review with a long quote from our beloved Buddhist poster Ryuei. And of course, I've also
stated previously how much I admire manwitch's take on the 'chakra' concept of Buffy's spiritual advancement
through the seven seasons.

EC: Yeah, haven't heard from ol' Ryuei in a long while. Wonder what he's up to these days, and if he's
still Buffyized?

OnM: I'm not sure it's possible to become truly un-Buffyized, even if you really didn't like season 6 or
7, or have other dire complaints. We are what we are, tempered by experience. I haven't been a Catholic since I
was a child, nor have I wanted to be one again, but elements of it still affect my thinking. I expect for the
remainder of my natural life...

EC: (proudly) Un-natural in my case! Yay, me!

OnM: ...ahem... that I'll be a Buffy disciple. Buffy-ness now permeates my view of the world.
Short of an aneurysm-- funny or otherwise-- it's part of my psyche.

EC: (nods in agreement) There are certainly worse fates.

OnM: Absolutely. And some of them become president. But we won't go there.

EC: Oh God no, please don't. My blood alcohol level is only like 1.2%. It's not enough.

OnM: (pondering) I wonder why Buddhists don't ever run for president? Guess maybe it's just way too
much bad karma to balance out in future lives. Anyway, back to Faith...

EC: Are we going to talk about any other high points of the show, or it this all about Faith?

OnM: Of course we're going to talk about other stuff. What's your hurry? "There's another beer / There
always is."

EC: I though you wanted to get this done and all, and here we are rambling mindlessly.

OnM: I don't think it's mindless. Reality is just strange is all, and sometimes you go strange places. As
long as you get back OK, right?

EC: I guess. And as long as there's beer. Beer good.

OnM: So, Faith is someone that ordinary people identify with, at least the people who have had
difficulties in their own lives that they've had to overcome, or at least learn to live with. Hopefully, they haven't
actually killed anybody, but still... I think it's a quietly heroic act to not give in, because frankly that really is a
hell of a lot easier. One of the things that pisses me off about my own generation is that so many of them sold out
so easily once they slammed headfirst into adulthood. Oh yeah, it's the 60's and it's all peace'n'love this, stop the
war that, hope for the future of humanity blahdee-blah-blah and today they live in big gi-hugic houses in the
suburbs with their monster SUV's and vote Republican. Bleah!

EC: Uhh, you drive an SUV.

OnM: (hesitating) Yes... but... it's a really small one, just a four cylinder. Like a long Jeep. And it's 13
years old. And my first car was a VW beetle, and I had that for 19 years. I live in the city, and my house could be
euphemistically referred to as 'quaint'.

EC: And you're proud of these things?

OnM: (pivot...) Getting off the track again here! Faith! Faith faced up to the evil that was taking over
her soul, and she fought back. Granted, she had help, but why shouldn't she? Buffy survived to save the world a
lot because of her friends, and because she has a solid internal moral compass. Faith had very few friends, and a
more typically human shaky moral compass. Eventually, one friend who did not abandon her helped her on the
path, but ultimately she made the decision to change her life on her own, when she accepted responsibility for her
actions and committed herself to prison. To me, this is a valid form of heroism.

EC: But then she broke out. Sorta morally ambiguous, yea?

OnM: Absolutely, typical Hollywood liberal writer types at work. I mean, the woman killed at
least one completely innocent person, and severely injured a whole raft of of others, including a little torture of
one special fellow for good measure. She should be locked up for life, with no possibility of parole.

EC: And in the real world, she would be, whether she's genuinely sorry or not. That's the law, and the
law has the history of human morality behind it, does it not? In the real world, there are no First Evils taking over
the planet via a horde of uber-vampires who need a supernatural Slayer to combat them. So why do we all cheer
when she breaks out?

OnM: Yeah, isn't that a hoot? But it's perfectly reasonable, considering what I've just noted about what
actions those of us behind the 'fourth wall' tend to perceive as heroic and the fact that we are privy to
information that in a realverse situation, we would not have. Namely, we 'know' that Faith has made a sincere
effort to reform herself, and now she needs a way to put those intentions to the test. Sitting there in jail proves
nothing at this point, and serves no one, with the one valid exception that Faith has exerted the self control to do
it. As pointed out, she could have broken out of jail anytime, easily. It's another personal growth experience that
parallels the ones that the other characters in the series have been going through. The first six seasons have been
kind of a preparation, now the lessons that have been learned over that time need to be applied.

EC: Like Buffy learns that the solution to dealing with her power isn't to ignore it, or repress it, but to
spread it around to others.

OnM: Exactly. I find it delightfully ironic that Faith, always a completely dominant individual in terms of
her past relationships with other humans, eventually finds a sort of psychological peace in a more submissive
role. At least when it makes sense to be, when she can learn something from it. The power-exchange thing is
more in balance for her now, and of course before it was all one-sided. The scenes between her and Wesley on
AtS illustrated this dynamic perfectly. Here is this man, who once was weaker then her, and she basically preyed
upon him. Now, he is clearly the one with power over her, and again there is the wonderful irony of how that
came to be.

EC: Ahh. Guilt.

OnM: Yes, guilt. It was there even several years ago, but of course it was stringently repressed.
Remember that scene in Five by Five where Faith is sitting on the windowsill of the apartment where she
has been torturing Wesly, staring almost blankly out at the night, holding a bloodied shard of broken glass, idly
handling it. She tosses the shard almost indifferently out of the window, and it falls to the ground below and
shatters further.

EC: Freakin' great image, isn't it? "That's my soul in there...", like Sting said.

OnM: Yes it is. She then goes back into the room to make Wesley suffer some more, but we can tell it
really isn't working for her. There is no catharsis, no satisfaction. Wesley is suffering horribly, but he is in
control, because he will not beg or plead. He is physically powerless, yet he has power over her. She picked
Wesley because she felt he was weak, and an easy mark, and it turns out that he's far tougher than he seems. All
of this only reinforces her subconscious feelings of inferiority-- this inept, 'poncy' Watcher is better than she is
after all. Maybe everyone is better than she is-- so it's a good thing that Angel will be here to kill her

EC: It's the exact opposite of Buffy's superiority/inferiority complex.

OnM: It is indeed. Buffy is superior, and has huge trouble dealing with that fact, so much of the
time she makes herself feel inferior because to her that's the only appropriate response to an otherwise
inappropriate ego-trip. Buffy upbraids Faith because Faith revels in her specialness, and Faith in turn criticises
Buffy for not accepting her superiority. What Buffy doesn't understand is that behind the arrogance is a lonely
person who perceives that the calling to Slayerdom has essentially elevated her from something akin to common
dirt, although Buffy does eventually gain the insight in S7. To Faith, it's just too horrifying to accept that said
calling is a cosmic mistake of some kind, but events just appear to keep hammering that idea home.

EC: Do you fault Buffy for abandoning Faith back in the fourth season?

OnM: Yes and no, but mostly no. It goes to what I was saying earlier about Joss making his god-figure
flawed. Buffy isn't all-giving and forgiving, at some point she gets really pissed and then compassion
definitely has it's limits. We do know that after Buffy stabbed and possibly killed Faith that Buffy was
immediately regretful, and knew that she had gone too far. Her motivations may have been very justifiable from
any imperical sense, but she would only have been giving Faith what Faith wanted, in several ways, and doing so
at the expense of adhering to her own moral center. Faith said as much long before-- "you kill me, you become
me". Of course, I think that this incident was the prequel to the Angel/Faith conflict, where Faith's way of
dealing with her evil actions was to engender a death wish, but not just any death-- it had to be a death at the
hands of a 'superior' being.

EC: Which makes the death a 'righteous' one to her way of thinking.

OnM: And submissive in a way that only Faith could envision it. Namely, I will fight with every
strength that is in me. If I win, the 'master' wasn't worthy of me. If I lose, it is because I deserve to.

EC: That's perverse, ain't it?

OnM: But sensible in context. Much has been made of the Buffy/Faith lesbian subtext over the course of
the third season, and that Faith saw Angelus not just as a threat to humanity, but as a rival for her affections. And
Buffy accepted Angel's darkness, but yet balked at accepting Faith's. It does seem unfair on Buffy's part.

EC: But ya know, fanfic fantasies aside, really and truly, we have never seen any actual evidence
that Faith is bisexual, and less than that amount that Buffy is anything but heterosexual.

OnM: I was getting to that. By the way, "less than never"?

EC: It gets the point across, doesn't it?

OnM: (begrudungly admitting that it does) Yes, but... anyway, as I was saying, I think that Faith
could have had thoughts like this-- on some level-- that were directed at Buffy, and even if they only were
ever realized as a close friendship with an 'equal', it would have made Faith happier and more secure. Faith
understands that she has a dark side, and she thinks that she sees the same in Buffy. This is a great relief for
Faith, because if someone as standup and righteous as Buffy Summers has darkness in her, than it can't be so
awful to possess those same traits. Buffy seems to want to be friends, so the signs all appear good here. But as
always, hopes get dashed by circumstances.

Buffy allows her naughty side to surface a bit under Faith's influence, but it all comes crashing down when first
off, it soon becomes clear that Buffy keeps close rein on her darker tendencies, far more so than Faith does, and
with far less effort. When they get caught by the police, Faith sees this as just another fun battle to engage in, but
Buffy is humiliated, probably wondering what her mother and her friends would think. When the two Slayers
cause the police car to crash, Faith is content to bug out while Buffy is concerned that the police officers might
be hurt. The inferiority complex starts rising up out of the ashes again. Finally, the straw that breaks Faith--
during a fight with some vamps, Mayor Wilkins' assistant wanders into the fight zone and Faith accidentally stabs
him, fatally, but not before Buffy screams "Faith, NO!" Faith was totally lost in the heat and violence of
the battle, and Buffy was not-- she instantly, instinctively realized that the assistant was a human, and not a vamp.
Buffy is shown as the superior person again, and Faith snaps. In her mind, it's all agonizingly true-- she
really is stupid and worthless, and there's no coming back from it this time.

EC: (sings) Oh, oooh-oo head to toe / I'm a loser baayy-beeee / So why dontcha kill me

OnM: (hummm....) Oh, good one. Nice musical ref.

EC: (happy at the rare compliment) Tenk yew.

OnM: Sadly, while Beck is only commenting ironically and humorously on the slacker mindset, Faith is
drowning in irony, Summers, and it's as fatal to her as the stake in Alan's chest was to him.

EC: And now she wants to be punished, and Buffy goes all Dumbledore on her. Bad move.

OnM: That's not a given, although you do have a possibly valid point. As is the norm in the Buffyverse,
the worst monsters are those inside of ourselves. Faith desperately wants to be forgiven for her terrible act,
which after all was an accident, but at the same time her inferiority complex is screaming at her that she doesn't
even slightly deserve it. Buffy knew better, if it had been Buffy instead of her, the man would still be alive. Buffy
must hate her for her carelessness and stupidity, for betraying her calling.

But Buffy doesn't hate her, she's sympathetic. She wants to help. Smug, superior bitch... lording herelf over

EC: (getting the theme) Accept her help, what are you, crazy? Who else will stand up for you? Who
else will understand how alone you are out there.. and out here?

OnM: (following through) It's all a front. It was all along. Nobody gives a damn about you except
you. You're a Slayer, you're special, and now they're going to take that away from you. She'll help
take it away from you, and then what? Don't let her. Do what you want, not what
they want.

EC: Yeah, First Evil talkin' there. Signature.

OnM: In spirit, if not in person. From that point on it's a years-long messy violent trip until the bookend
appears in Touched and the FE appears in the guise of Mayor Wilkins to tempt Faith with 'reason'
again-- and this time it fails.

EC: Except it's Wood who shows up afterward and assures Faith that she's still worthwhile and that
she's needed. Maybe that's what Buffy and Giles should have done, instead of the hopeful sympathy? You know,
too passive-agressive?

OnM: Not sure it would have made any difference. Faith wasn't in the right place mentally, and
Wesley's faux pas in calling the Council made it easy to tip her the wrong way. The Council employed their usual
heavy-handed tactics, essentially forcibly abducting her. If she was ever on the fence, that's when she jumped off
of it. She may have even felt that Giles and Buffy were all in cahoots with Wesley. Survival instinct-- them or me,
and it's gonna be me.

EC: Hey, you ever come after my brain with a scalpel, I ain't hangin' around for a discussion!

OnM: (sighs) I'm too old to turn evil. It's too much effort. Stop worrying.

EC: Nonsense. It's never too late for evil! They have pills now, too.

OnM: They do not. Don't believe everything you see on the Shopping Channel.

EC: It wasn't on the Shopping Channel. It was on FOX News.

OnM: (hesitating) OK, now I'm worried. It could actually explain some things.

~ ~ ~ ( To Be Continued ) ~ ~ ~

[> If you absolutely *must* know... Part I of this eternal madness can be found at... -- OnM, 19:24:06 07/06/03 Sun


Or at least it is right now. Tomorrow? The next second? Who knows.

And no, The Shadow doesn't know either, so don't be ringin' him up and asking. Let the man enjoy his retirement! Sheesh!

Part III next week? Maybe. Depends on when the evil pills arrive. Stay tuned!


[> [> OnM - is the whole thing somewhere? I've only caught Parts I and II! -- Marie, 05:05:59 07/07/03 Mon

[> [> [> Uhh... there are only two parts so far, at least for this part. -- OnM, 05:28:52 07/07/03 Mon

Do you mean the actual End of Days / Chosen ep review itself? That would be somewhere scattered through the archives by now-- because of the length it was posted over several weeks time.

If you meant that, and you can't find it, e-mail me and I'll send a copy to you.


[> [> We're all on to your little game, OnM. -- Rob, 11:34:06 07/07/03 Mon

This review is never going to end. Because when it does, you and all of us will have to accept that "Buffy" is actually over. And that's no fun. Keep it coming...as slowly (and in as many parts) as you need to. ;o)


Your sex revealed by your word choice? (OT and possibly provocative) -- Vickie, 12:30:37 07/07/03 Mon

I'd love to see the boardizens' reactions to this:


Basically, some researchers think they have written a program that can analyze writing and determine the author's sex at 80% accuracy.

[> Not provocative by my lights -- dub ;o), 12:43:51 07/07/03 Mon

I've been pushing the gendered brain research results for twenty years. There are gross neurophysiological differences in the composition of female and male brains. Why are we so surprised that those differences are reflected in, for instance, the way we communicate? We should be amazed that we can communicate with the opposite sex at all!


[> [> Not the alleged fact of the differences -- Vickie, 13:31:23 07/07/03 Mon

but the means they use to find them.

I agree with the little you've said about brain differences between men and women, though we are still the same species and should reasonably still be able to communicate (somewhat). I just felt that the research seemed to be looking at trivial differences, and I wondered if they held up in other languages.

For example, would they be analyzing the Gospel of Luke in the original?

[> [> [> If the research undertaken... -- Random, 15:40:50 07/07/03 Mon

by the group established a means of detecting elements that accurately allowed them to tell whether the text was written by a male or female, I fail to understand the complaint. They used these "trivial" elements, as I understood, not because they only wanted certain elements but because these elements turned out to be the most accurate indicators. If they chose other criteria, the chosen elements would have to demonstrate predictive power -- if not, they are, by definition, "trivial." The ones that work cannot be considered "trivial," but essential, by default. In other words, they chose their elements because they were the ones that were distilled from the analyses of the text...and the validity of this distillation is established in the fact that, when applied to the algorithm, they had an 80 percent accuracy rate. Not a rate I'd trust in, say, the next plane I happen to board, but still better than the 50/50 that purely random guessing would have gotten in the selected texts.

On the other hand, the other languages issue is interesting, but I don't fault them for not doing a comprehensive study of every language before publishing their article. They were merely establishing a postulation and confirmation in a given case (i.e. English.) It may prove to be the case that the cultural differences affect the predictive powers of the algorithm in other languages. It may not. It doesn't invalidate the significance of the fact that they discovered differences in the language they chose. It may be that it will be left to others who follow to continue the work in other languages and epochs.

[> [> [> [> And not just English... -- Darby, 11:39:21 07/08/03 Tue

...But British English. Would American, Canadian, or Australian sources give the same accuracy?

I'm expecting it to all be a vast editorial conspiracy (one must remember that published papers get edited to varying degrees)...

[> [> [> Re: Not the alleged fact of the differences -- sdev, 18:26:06 07/07/03 Mon

"For example, would they be analyzing the Gospel of Luke in the original?"

What language would that be?

[> [> [> [> Greek -- Sophist, 19:57:22 07/07/03 Mon

[> [> I'd be wary of this interpretation -- d'Herblay (or d'Himblay? You be the judge), 17:57:31 07/07/03 Mon

I, like pretty much everyone else here, hasn't read this study, just the Boston Globe's abstract, but I'd be wary of deducing evidence of "gross neurophysiological differences" between the brain chemistries of males and females from it. From what I can ascertain, it seems that the conclusion can be summed up as "men write more formally than women do": fewer personal pronouns, more quantifiers, more hifalutin convolutions such as "garden of roses" rather than "rose garden." One could ascribe biological causes for these differences, but one could as easily explain them within the realm of sociology instead. It could be that there are biases within the educational system that push men to write more analytically, more formally and that encourage women to write more personally. I don't know that this would be any more far-fetched than arguing that our hormones effects our word choice. Now while the study's authors claim that the gender difference is noticeable even in such neutral realms as scientific papers, certainly one can reply that early training will have late ramifications.

So, even if the study is borne out by further research, I'd be reluctant to assume that the difference it claims to discover is based in biology -- of course, I'm speaking as someone who decided, under the influence of X-Men 2 and egalitarianism, that my X-Factor genetic ability involves the use of semicolons.

[> [> [> Um, d'Herb? -- dub ;o), 14:03:52 07/08/03 Tue

You know I wasn't "deducing evidence of gross neurophysiological differences" based on this article (which I haven't read), right?

And I'm not talking so much brain chemistry as I am physiology. I was an old-school, 1970s feminist (still am) and I think I have a pretty clear idea of effects of culture, socialization, etc. on gender. I can't help but conclude, though, that female/male differences are much more than culturally determined. If anything, my recent experiences have confirmed just how subtle and extensive an effect any differences in brain physiology can have.

dub ;o)

[> [> [> & just to make it more complicated... -- anom, 21:20:46 07/08/03 Tue

...early (& maybe later) influences can affect brain structure, so it's very hard to sort out what's genetic & what's environmental. Finding patterns is 1 thing, interpreting them another entirely.

I saw a TV program once (probably on PBS) that showed an experiment in which adults were asked to play w/a baby. How they played w/the baby--the same baby boy throughout--depended on whether he was dressed as a boy or a girl. If the adults thought he was a boy, they encouraged more active play, w/toys. If they thought he was a girl, they talked to "her" more. So we get cues about how we're supposed to interact from very early. Could that affect writing styles? I wouldn't be surprised....

[> Re: Your sex revealed by your word choice? (OT and possibly provocative) -- Rahael, 15:50:35 07/07/03 Mon

I thought the article set the findings in a fair context - that there are many ways this can be read.

I know my writing style (on the board at least) conforms the study's idea of how a 'woman' would write. I'm not so sure that my essay writing style does. You see, I am very much influenced by models and narratives that are pretty self conscious - for example, my use of English is highly self conscious. I sometimes have to translate what I think in one language into another. When I write essays, I am influenced by academic essays, and newspaper articles, because that is one of the ways I 'learnt' English. When I was growing up, I learnt English for 'academic' purposes. My family used it for writing articles about politics, or essays or research papers. When we talked about ourselves, or we were connecting emotionally, or being funny or satirical or affectionate, we would use our own language. In a way, I can see that when I write on the board, I am directly translating from the narrative patterns and rythms of my childhood speech. Imagery and ideas and concepts that are even more resonant within a different cultural context.

So for me, the idea of 'involved' ways of writing, or writing about things is much more complex than the study seems to suggest. I look over this paragraph, btw and notice that it is full of 'I's, which is a big no no for me if I am writing formally.

I have no problems with the idea that men and women's brains may differ. I just think that how this expresses itself is much more complex, and interacts much more with environment and self-expression, and cultural modes than it appears others seem to allow.

[> [> Re: Your sex revealed by your word choice? (OT and possibly provocative) -- sdev, 18:40:41 07/07/03 Mon

Have to agree with Rahael and D'Herblay. In fact your point is made specifically in the article--" When women wrote for men's magazines, they wrote in the ''male'' style. ''It clearly was performance,'' Tannen notes. ''It didn't matter whether the author was male or female." Tannen says it was the context that determined the style.

Also this program shows 'what is' not 'why it is'. To conclude that these differences are in the brain and not the upbringing is to take a quantum leap. Correlation in science is an iffy matter. You cannot draw conclusions as to the origin of the correlation merely acknowledge its existence.

Wolfram and Hart: Season 2 -- lunasea, 12:59:25 07/07/03 Mon

Season 2

Season 1 is somewhere in the archives at this point. I thank those who brought it back and tried to keep Voynak at bay. Analysis of season 2 has a lot to do with the arc of the season, and not just themes of the episodes. I will try to keep this focused on Wolfram and Hart as much as possible. I love Wes and Cordy dearly, but they aren't what this essay is about. Same with a lot of Darla stuff. Lots of oodlely essay goodness in there, but for other people and/or other essays. Season 2 is 15 pages. That's long enough.

I'm not sure how coherent the conclusion is. I will elaborate on it when I get to why Wolfram and Hart gave Angel the LA branch. It is actually the point of this series of essays, to give the background for this bizarre turn of events. With Wolfram and Hart playing Angel's foil for all these years, what will happen now that he runs it? How can that fit into what Angel has learned over the years and how he has developed?

Everyone just take a minute to reflect on the glory that was season 2. Warm contented sighs should be heard across the globe now. Now to business, Wolfram and Hart's role in each episode in Season 2. Even when AI leaves this dimension and you think that they will get a break from their schemes, we get three books on Pylea that say this isn't so.

[> 2.01-2.06: Establishing Contact -- lunasea, 13:03:33 07/07/03 Mon

2.01-2.06: Establishing Contact

Last season we saw a confused and disheveled Darla being greeted by Lilah after she was raised. In "Judgment," Darla is out of the box and wants to see her boy. Lindsey and Lilah are with her and why Holland prefers Lindsey is evident. Lilah and her flair talks to Darla like she is a child. Lindsey can see things as they are and really relates to her as a person. This will lead to his ultimate undoing or redemption, depending on your perspective.

The appearance is to set up what will follow this season, but it also fits with the theme, as I would expect of absolutely every single line in a Whedon/Greenwalt script to do. "The road to redemption is a rocky path," better not take anything for granted or start keeping score. Lilah comes in with her typical style and really doesn't know how to handle the situation. She talks to Darla like she is a child and to further illustrate how clueless she is, when Darla says "he's here," Lilah doesn't know who she is referring to.

But the ultimate person who is taking something for granted is Lindsey. He is looking forward to "giving back a little" to Angel for the loss of his hand. Instead of Darla being the instrument that was foretold in the prophecy, she ends up leading to Lindsey's redemption and Angel's epiphany. Darla is the flip of the Prio Moto. Angel kills the Prio thinking he is evil and trying to harm the woman. Lindsey bring Darla to life, thinking she hates Angel and she will hurt him. Angel killing the Prio Moto by mistake will help set him on the right path and Lindsey raising Darla will set him on his. A single scene for Darla/Lindsey/Lilah, but every scene matters.

In the next episode "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" there is neither Darla or Wolfram and Hart. What a tease. First they give us a glimpse and then nothing. Then again, neither fit the theme of this episode. Gavin will later use the hotel to make Angel's life a pain and Lilah will come to his rescue. Cordy lives in a haunted apartment and Angel gets 68 rooms that used to be infested with something that feeds of emotions. That is just too symbolic to even talk about and has nothing to do with Wolfram and Hart, so I will refrain from doing so (hear that fingers. Don't even think about it.) No Darla leads to lots o' Darla. "First Impression" opens with Angel's "dream" (can we call them that?) Still, no actual Wolfram and Hart, so I will skip this one, too.

"Untouched"-- This masterpiece that is Mere Smith's first outing deals with the importance of control and how that relates to contact. What an incredibly appropriate episode to have someone who is telekinetic (who touches without touching). What is even more appropriate is that Bethany's powers come from "abuse of some kind - very early on," incest. Could we get a better set up for this season? Mere will be missed. Besides "Untouched" there is "Redefinition," "Blood Money," "Over the Rainbow," "Fredless," "Birthday," "Loyalty," "Ground State," "Long Day's Journey," "Calvary," and "Orpheus." Not a bad one in the bunch and some of the best non-Minear, Greenwalt or Whedon penned episodes. Just had to say that. Now back to business.

The contrast between how Wolfram and Hart and how Angel see control is drawn in clear lines in this episode, except Lilah crosses that line with a single line. Gotta love when that happens. Nothing is a throw away in these shows. Control for Angel and Bethany is self-control. For Wolfram and Hart and Darla, it is control of others. Lilah crosses that line when she mentions that she enjoys folding laundry because it is "like a zen exercise" for her.

Holland and Lindsey don't need this sort of self-control. They have it because of the clarity that comes from understanding the big picture and their role in it. There is a saying in Zen. If you want to control the ox, give him a large enough pasture. Lindsey and Holland have a pasture the size of the world. That gives them tremendous peace of mind.

Lilah doesn't have this. There is no Lindsey in this episode. Angel, Bethany and Lilah are the ones that are out of control. It is interesting that it is Holland and not Lindsey that orders Lilah to get Bethany out because she "is currently finger-painting all over his efforts." Lindsey would only be interested in the big picture of what Darla is doing to Angel. Now that Holland has Lindsey where he wants him, he is moving onto Lilah. This will save her life later.

The purpose of contact for Wolfram and Hart is to establish control. This is shown in many ways in the episode. The episode opens with Lilah going through Lindsey's papers in order "to keep abreast of his latest project." Lilah establishes contact with Bethany in order to control her as an assassin. I like how the phrase "pull the trigger" is used. It isn't just the effect of triggering the weapon, as Spike was this season. It is actually pulling that trigger. This requires contact to do. Holland only has contact with Lilah to control her and the situation.

Knowledge is also important to this sort of control. Contact allows us to have knowledge. The ever wise Darla tells Lilah, "There is nothing so lovely as dreams. Everything is in them, everything hidden. Open those chambers and you can truly understand someone - and control them." Lilah attempts to use Bethany's past against her. Wesley uncovers this past, so that Angel can use it to help her. Wolfram and Hart are using Darla, Angel's past, against him. Darla mentions what happened in Romania to try and control him.

Control is the obvious theme to this episode, but the title and the helpless really show it is about contact's role in control. Lilah loses her contact with Bethany and Angel manages to save her. Later in this season, Angel will fire AI and this will allow him to go darker. Lots of foreshadowing in this episode (a nice encapsulation of the Darla arc), including Bethany not killing her father. Contact is VITAL to Angel maintaining control. It is what establishes and maintains his world view and his heart. That is pretty much the theme of the entire series and will be revisited several times in specific episodes. It is so important that it was the theme of the second episode of the series.

After such a stellar episode, which really spells out the season for us, what could possibly follow that? Answer, Greenwalt is the next writer on deck. Wished they could have shot the scene for Dru's vamping that Greenwalt had written, but what they showed was only less in comparison. Lindsey tells us just what Wolfram and Hart want with Angel, "We don't want him dead. We want him dark. And there is no better way to a man's dark side than to awaken his - nastier urges, is there?" I like their plan B in "The Trials" better. Much more interesting nastier urges.

What does Angel dark mean? We see that in the vamping of Dru. With Lindsey, Holland turned him into one of the steppers instead of those that get stepped on. As Darla tells Lindsey, she can unhinge Angel because ""I created a lot of those strengths and weaknesses." She does this with a simple exchange near the end of "The Prodigal." She creates an Angelus that even though he has killed his father, still has to prove himself. "Am I learning?" he asks her when he reveals his plan for vamping Dru. It is this trait that even in Plan B Wolfram and Hart will try to use to make him go dark.

Lindsey is listening in as Darla plays Mrs. Kramer. Again Wolfram and Hart use the police in their schemes, much as they hope to use Angel. Wolfram and Hart are not in complete control of Darla or the situation. Darla wants her boy back. She offers to give Angel his perfect moment of happiness again. Wolfram and Hart could have used black magick to take Angel's soul. They don't want that.

As we get to plan B, I will discuss what Wolfram and Hart really want with Angel. What is this big picture that Lindsey supposedly sees? Why should they want Angel dark WITH his soul?

After all that yummy Darla goodness, she is missing in action in "Guise Will be Guise." We don't get any of the faces of Wolfram and Hart, but they aren't completely missing. The episode opens with Angel going to break into the building so that he can get to Darla. Great Espensode, but not really a lot of stuff to do with Wolfram and Hart, so skip it I must. Though you will have to pardon me while I go rewatch it. BRB (why oh why does she have to go to the Gilmore Girls? This is cause for great lamentations involving ripped clothing)

Should I come back now? Nah. Gotta watch FFL and "Darla" the way they are meant to be seen. This essay is going to take forever.

[> 2.07- 2.14: Plan B -- lunasea, 13:11:42 07/07/03 Mon

2.07- 2.14: Plan B

Now I'm back. Darla finally feels her soul. Something that someone else might want to write about (or maybe I will later) is that it takes both Spike and Darla a while before they feel their soul. Angel/us feels it pretty damn quickly. Why? I'm not talking about the resouling in "Becoming" or "Orpheus" but his reaction we see in "Five-by-Five." Faith seems to be in the same boat as Darla and Spike. Lindsey is more like Angel. Wonder where Lilah would fit. What about Giles?

We get a very human Lindsey in this episode. He is more than just a Jr partner at Wolfram and Hart. When we first see him and Darla, they aren't at Wolfram and Hart. They are at her apartment, which Wolfram and Hart has gotten for her. When he does come back to Wolfram and Hart, he finds out that Holland expected Darla to crack up because of her soul. This news upsets Lindsey. Holland takes it in stride and says that things have to be accelerated. As he is talking about Darla, he is congratulating Lindsey for getting things ready. How much of the big picture does Lindsey really have?

Lindsey shows several things about Wolfram and Hart. He is their first face and shows what they do and how they operate. He also is someone they are highly interested in and shows what they want/look for. When and why he leaves shows where their blind spot is. He is like Angel. Why they want him so badly is why they can't have him.

Lindsey helps Darla escape. The guy really does have a heart, a nice one to go with that face of his. Holland (who is higher than a Jr Partner, but not a senior partner. He is Executive Vice President of Special Projects) takes Lindsey off the project. Lindsey's concern is Darla and not the project. When this happens, what does Lindsey do? Same thing he does in "Blind Date," turn to Angel.

Lindsey finds out he has been played. Plan B is actually the real plan, though Lindsey doesn't know what Plan B is yet. (Three paragraphs in a row starting with "Lindsey" is bad form. I can barely tolerate two, but I really don't feel like rewording, so deal.) Lindsey doesn't get the big picture. Just two more episodes until Plan B is unveiled.

Lots of Darla leads to no Darla again in "The Shroud of Rahmon." An important episode to set up Angel's character, but not to this essay, so off to "The Trial." Have I said that Tim Minear is my favorite Angel writer, yet? Do I really need to? I'm not even going to attempt to list his masterpieces. He, too, will be sorely missed, but at least he gives us a whole other series to look forward to. Buffy goes off the air and I have to pick up 4 new shows. What was it Joss said about what to do with that one extra hour a week. HAH!!! Do I tape Angel so I can rewatch it or Greenwalt's new show so I can watch Angel when it airs? I shouldn't have to make such important decisions.

Things have been accelerated. Angel reached out to try and help Darla and she fled. Lindsey is the one to find her. Darla doesn't have time to adjust to her humanity. She is actually dying, and not just in the sense that we all are. Lindsey brings her to the office so that Holland can tell her this. Then it is up to her what is done. Yeah right. Evil does lie.

Lindsey thinks Plan B is to get Angel to sire her. Oh boy does he so not get it. Holland told Lindsey in "Darla" that Angel would do what he had to do, save her soul. Lindsey is concerned with her life, as Angel is focused on right now. Plan B involves Angel saving Darla's soul, which he does. It is a very beautiful moment, right up there with Buffy in "The Gift." Then the Tim Reaper has to step in.

(an aside, the timeline leads me to wonder what Lindsey knew when. Was he acting when he told Angel about Darla? Had Holland kept him in the dark, again, so that he would play his role properly? Lindsey invites Angel in on we'll call it Day 1. Same day/night Angel faces the Trials and Darla is vamped. Day 2, Gunn gets Angel back to the hotel. Night 2, Angel goes back to Lindsey's apartment to find out he moved yesterday, day 1 and Dru had been visiting. How long had Dru been there? Did Lindsey have no problem inviting Angel in because he knew that he'd be leaving afterwards? When did Lindsey know why Dru was being brought in?)

Plan B. They don't want Angel evil. They don't want him dark. They want him postal. Bring Darla back, have Angel actually save her and BAM. They don't care who Angel goes after. They want him after someone. Wolfram and Hart have no problem using Lindsey earlier in "Darla" and they have no problem using their people as cannon fodder.

As magnificent as Angelus was, for 150 years they showed no interest in him. In "The Ring," Lilah asks if Angel having a soul gives him an edge in fighting. The response was depends on what he is fighting for. The Senior Partners know this. This arc will come to a head in "Epiphany" when Angel finds out what he is fighting for. After that he will find out how this affects him.

Until then, better hold on. Angel with a soul going postal is as much fun as Angelus ever was, though the voice overs are a bit much. They are much better in "Passion."

What a nice family "Reunion" Wolfram and Hart arranges for Angel. Lindsey is still attached to Darla, even as a vampire (and talk about creepy. Humans just shouldn't be attracted to soulless vampires). Holland wants him to form *healthy* attachments outside of work. Of course he does. How better to control Lindsey? Wolfram and Hart are gearing up for the war that they know is coming. As Dru puts it, Angel is "very cross."

Even with all this going on, they still continue their rich life styles. Holland's wife is throwing a wine tasting party. In "Guise Will be Guise" Bryce is so evil that he is willing to sacrifice his own daughter to increase his power. Did Holland give up his colleagues and their families for the mission? Great start to Angel's mail route.

Or was Holland used by the Senior Partners every bit as much as he used Lindsey earlier? It could read either way. Holland probably thinks, like Lilah does later, that he is protected by working at Wolfram and Hart. He wants Dru and Darla to go on a massacre. Why? Is he trying to fuel Angel's rage? Where did he think that rage was going to go? Did he think that Angel would join the girls? Big deal. Angelus is back. The Senior Partners want more than that. Not to mention, Holland severly misjudges Darla.

Holland's reaction tends to say he was used. He has just become one of those people that gets stepped on, instead of one who knows how the world is. This doesn't seem to phase Lindsey. He has no attachments to this world. Holland did. He was visibly upset when he found out his wife was dead. He has a passion for wine. Lindsey doesn't "mind" that he is going to die.

Before continuing, in "To Shanshu in LA" Lindsey says "And since it is foretold that we sever all your connections" to the PTBs. Angel's rebuttal is his usual violence and a quip. The prophecy isn't fulfilled in that particular episode. The scroll is also one of those connections and it is not destroyed. Can it be said that the action Wolfram and Hart took in that episode leads to that disconnection? Depends on your interpretation. Angel is the one that fires his gang at the end of "Reunion." Also, just because they were severed, doesn't mean they can't be fixed. Buffy died in "Prophecy Girl," thus fulfilling that prophecy. It just didn't mention that she would be revived. Prophecy is a tricky bitch in the Buffyverse.

Things get some "Redefinition" after this. Darla and Dru didn't eat everyone. Lindsey and Lilah are still alive. Why? Really would be a shame to write off such wonderful characters. ME would *never* do something like that to us. Darla figures that with Holland gone, who she had a serious grudge against (and we know what happens to people vampires have serious grudges against), Lilah or Lindsey will be the next big cheese. They are alive to "keep the line of communication open between us and Wolfram and Hart."

Darla thinks just like those at Wolfram at Hart and she has her moment of clarity, now that she no longer has a soul. "See, Lindsey, during my stint as Wolfram and Hart's puppet, something occurred to me. I *loathe* being used. If I recall I sent you a fifteen-body-memo to that effect. We plan on being big players in this town, Dru and I. - And while you can't give me what I want, you have the things I need to get it. Money. Connections."

Wolfram and Hart is an interesting organization. The subtle and not-so subtle plays of power is like watching ballet. Darla was the tool, not the project. Now she is looking to be treated like a client. Darla always was the practical one in that family.

Holland needs to be replaced and how he is shows how Wolfram and Hart thinks. "As for your relationship to one another: your competition has been - vicious, destructive and - healthy. We think you keep each other on your toes. Which is why we have decided to appoint you both - as joint acting co-vice-presidents until such time as we see fit to - narrow it down."

After Angel sets Dru and Darla on fire, it is time to turn his attention to Wolfram and Hart in "Blood Money." He could just go in there and rely on his wonderful violence, but that wouldn't be the Angel/us that we love (even redefined). He wants to hurt them. As he puts it "The game. - It's actually kind of fun when you know the rules. I mean, when you know - that there aren't any. You screw with me, and you screw with me, and... you screw with me. And now - I get to screw with you. That's gonna be great!" "No. No. No. No. The begging - that comes later." Darla knows what Wolfram and Hart has that gives them power--money and connections. So does Angel and he goes after that money first.

Rules have changed and Lindsey has no problems with Angel dying, even though the Senior Partners still want him alive. Lindsey still holds a major grudge against him for the loss of his hand. He didn't mind Darla killing him, but he isn't particularly thrilled at the idea of Angel doing it. What's the point of being a stepper/having power, if you can't step on the guy you hate with a fiery passion? (something Wolfram and Hart are trying to get Angel to see)

Holland in "Reunion" says that Angel is but a part of the Senior Partner's plans and Nathan in "Blood Money" tells Lindsey that he can't kill him because of that part. Angel is a major player in the apocalypse, but which side is gray. The plan is to keep that as gray as possible. To sum up how Wolfram and Hart thinks on this matter "Until then - his growing obsession with the two of you, the increasing possibility that to scratch that itch, he'll go so far as to kill you... Well, that could actually play in the firm's favor. It would be a sign that Angel is on the path to joining our team. And as hard as it is to lose good attorneys, well the truth is - you are both expendable. Angel - isn't."

Nathan Hart is probably either above Holland or on par with him. Lilah refers to him as one of her bosses at Wolfram and Hart. He seems to know a bit more than Lilah or Lindsey and dresses them down rather well.

After all of that, we get a bit of a break with "Happy Anniversary." No Wolfram and Hart and no Darla, even though Angel does mention them. Same thing with "Thin Dead Line." Angel seems to be coming out of it, but that is just to really set up what is coming up.

[> 2.15 - 2.16: What's the point? -- lunasea, 13:17:11 07/07/03 Mon

2.15 - 2.16: What's the point?

Reprise/Epiphany. Only Surprise/Innocence is as powerful a one-two punch (next would come The Body/Forever). Fitting that it revisits the Marti/Joss masterpiece that Joss consistently lists among his favorite episodes and favorite moments.

Holland spoke much earlier of a Harvest time, when the winners are separated from the dead weight. Time to see just what that means at the evil law firm. Every 75 years there is a review. "Reprise" opens with a lot of goats, a common animal for sacrifices. Seems the associates at Wolfram and Hart are trying to win a few brownie points so that they are not dead.

Just a brief detour about this animal (they could have been sacrificing anything, after all. Why goats). The following is taken from Louis Charbonneau-Lassay's "The Bestiary of Christ." I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get the subtle nuances of how the show uses animals symbolically. I will return to Wolf, Ram and Hart when we get to Pylea.

The only chapter in the Book of Numbers that codifies several important liturgies specifies the sacrifice of a goat before Yahweh, on ten different occasions, not as an act of adoration or petition, but for the remission of sins. This expiatory character, clearly defined for each ritual sacrifice of a goat, has quite naturally made the animal appear as a prophetic figure of the Redeemer.

According to Leviticus, Moses says that after sacrificing a bullock, Aaron, the high priest, is to take two goats, one for Yahweh, the Lord, and the other for Azazel, whose name means "the prince of the demons who have been case out."

(for full ritual and what it means see Leviticus 16:15-22)

First goat gets a nice ritual sacrifice. The second one is the scapegoat.

Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.

The commentators and exegetes of all times have seen in the first of these two animals the emblem of Christ sacrifice to God his father as ransom for the world, and in the second, the emblem of this same Redeemer became a sort of universal receptacle of evil, the terrible mass of human sin, which he carries away into the desert.

This symbolism will later play out in "Epiphany" and I will get to it then. Another thing about goats that will play into this episode

They said that in proportion to the heights they attained in climbing the peaks, they acquired not only a greatly extended feild of vision, but also an extraordinary increase in its power and acuteness, to such a degree that no other creature on earth could equal their ability to embrace with one glance the most immense space and to distinguish perfectly all the details.

In the same way, the inner vision of the seeker becomes more penetrating as his understanding attains higher degrees of mystery.

This will be echoed in "Reprise/Epiphany" with the Skilosh demons. Even though the members of AI are the ones that get the third eye, it is foreign to them and it has to be removed. Angel has to save them. He is the only one that really gains insight and they don't want to hear about it.

We get another nice Lilah/Lindsey exchange, showing why Holland was interested him in the first place. We also get a nice Lindsey/Darla exchange. Nothing that pertinent to Wolfram and Hart. More important to Lindsey's character and eventual redemption and why Lilah becomes the face for Wolfram and Hart next season. Angel meets with Lorne and finds out something important. A Senior Partner is coming in for the review. Lorne describes It as "It's evil. - It's dark. - It's merciless."

Angel is convinced that his big, important destiny is "getting to the Senior Partners." Lorne isn't so sure about that. Wolfram and Hart have really succeeded in getting things all murky with Angel. Angel goes to Denver to find out more about the Senior Partner. "A lot of dark entities use the form of a Kleynach to manifest because the Kleynach doesn't have to rely on being conjured or brought forth. They can come and go as they please with that ring."

The Senior Partner isn't a Kleynach demon. It will use that form so that it can come to this dimension. The Band of Blacknil is what allows it to move between dimensions. It will get it back to the Home Office after it reviews all the scared lawyers. The way to defeat the Kleynach is a glove from a brave and worthy knight. Buffy had her sword and Angel has his glove.

Now for the elevator ride to Hell. We either find out a bit more how Wolfram and Hart thinks or Holland just does a fabulous head job on Angel. Nothing can ever be taken for granted on this show.

Point 1) what's the point. "Of course all those people you save from that apocalypse would then have the next one to look forward to, but, hey, it's always something, isn't it?"
Point 2) It isn't about winning. Even though Wolfram and Hart does have an apocalypse planned (and Angel figures into those plans) "We have no intention of doing anything so prosaic as 'winning.'"
Point 3) There is no fight. Wolfram and Hart don't have to fight. "We - go on - no matter what. Our firm has always been here. In one form or another. The Inquisition. The Khmer Rouge. We were there when the very first cave man clubbed his neighbor."
Point 4) Evil is everywhere. "See, we're in the hearts and minds of every single living being. And *that* - friend - is what's making things so difficult for you."
Point 5) Evil is necessary. "See, the world doesn't work in spite of evil, Angel. - It works with us. - It works because of us."
Point 6) The Home Office is this dimension.
Point 7) People suck. "You see, if there wasn't evil in every single one of them out there why, they wouldn't be people. - They'd all be angels."

This is the Home Office. Whatever evil entity that used the form of the Kleynach demon to manifest physically, is non-corporally always here. Want to take out the Senior Partners, Angel would have to take out all of us. The people that he has sworn to protect are the Senior Partners. What's the point indeed.

The sacrifice. All those lawyers "Trying to score as many brownie points as they can before daddy gets home. I got news. Daddy? Not impressed." What impresses the bigwigs at Wolfram and Hart? Why did Holland hand pick Lindsey? Because he had the potential to see things as they really are. All those sacrifices, those attempts to score brownie points, are only half-complete. There needs to be a goat ritually sacrificed to Yahweh AND a scapegoat.

At least Lilah is concerned about the scapegoat, even if she doesn't realize how it really works. It isn't just about scoring brownie points. It is also about making up for past transgressions. Lilah in "Redefinition" tries to set Lindsey up for the fall. She is constantly worried about "our collective screw-ups." A scapegoat has gotten a bad name. People blame their problems on something and then in order to make themselves feel better, they punish the scapegoat. That isn't what the ritual says. I seriously doubt the children of Israel blamed the goat or even Azazel for their faults. They let the scapegoat go into the wilderness. They didn't hunt it down and then harm it in any way.

Lilah doesn't quite get it, but Angel does, or at least Tim Minear does. Angel has a lot of sins that he has been carrying around. He has been trying to atone for them by making "Amends." Angel can never really atone for them. He has to let them go, put them on a scapegoat and just let it go. In "Epiphany" playing the role of that scapegoat is the beautiful siren that made Angel the vampire he is today. Everyone put your hands together for that former lady of the evening and now creature of the night, Darla.

As he tells her, "I gave you everything I had left." After he puts everything on the head of the scapegoat, he tells her to go and doesn't harm her. This isn't to say that Angel blames Darla. He admits that he used to, but now he is just letting that all go. He doesn't even hate her. "And you were the reason. You've always been the reason. You were the thing that made me what I am, and - I thought - if I could save you, I'd somehow - save myself, but - but I was wrong. And when I failed...When I *failed*, you saved me. And I have to thank you for that. There is nothing I can do for you now, Darla. I can't even hate you." That's how a true scapegoat works. This clean slate is what leads to Angel's epiphany.

After he is able to get beyond his despair, he revisits what Holland says with a clearer head.

Point 1 becomes: "It doesn't...Mean anything. In the greater scheme or the big picture, nothing we do matters. There's no grand plan, no big win."
Point 2 becomes: "Well, I guess I kinda - worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. "
Point 3 becomes: "I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it....All I wanna do is help."
Point 4 becomes: "I don't think people should suffer, as they do."
Point 5 becomes: "Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."
Point 6 becomes: Angel going back to his gang. This might be the Home Office, but it is also Angel Investigations.
Point 7 becomes: I don't want you to come back and work for me....I wanna work for you."

Let's go briefly back to "The Trial," also by Minear. In it, Angel has to face three trials in order to save Darla. As he says in "Epiphany," "When I *failed*, you saved me." The life that Angel saved in "The Trials" was his own. The life that should have gone to Darla went to Angel. He refaces those same three trials again. The first is the Ever Ready demon that just won't stop coming. That demon is Wolfram and Hart and when Angel locks the lawyers in the wine cellar/bomb shelter, he fips it. The second was the crosses and holy water, which burn vampires. Angel setting Darla and Dru flip this. The final was facing his own death by stakes. He flips this when he wants to lose his soul. I would love to expand on that, but it really isn't the point of this essay. I just couldn't resist at least mentioning it when I got to "Epiphany."

The scapegoat is released into the desert to take the sins of Israel to Azazel, aka Lindsey. Thing is, this Azazel wants a scapegoat of his own and not in the way the ritual is supposed to happen. He wants someone to blame and to take things out on so he can feel better. What would Holland or the Senior Partners have done? Probably what Azazel is supposed to, take the sacrifice of the children of Israel, thus relieving them of their sins (then wait for more sin, which they know is coming). According to Holland, Wolfram and Hart aren't interested in fighting or anything as prosaic as winning. They know that next year a new scapegoat will be sent to them and the year after that and the year after that. This sort of understanding of how the world works leads them to realize they don't have to fight, so they really don't.

Lindsey isn't in that position. What he wants isn't just coming to him. She is sitting all the way down at the other end of the couch. Lawyer man isn't getting her. Time to resort to his inner-demon, his roots. He actually goes after Angel and wants him to confess. That isn't how the ritual goes. After the goat is released, the sins no longer belong to the children of Israel. Angel won't tell Lindsey what he did with Darla. That is left to our dirty little imaginations.

When Angel says he won't tell this to Lindsey, at first Lindsey manages to send Angel down and goes to his truck to finish it once and for all with a stake (Spike could tell him Lesson 1: always keep your weapon on you). Angel already got rid of his sins. Azazel/Lindsey has no power over him any more. He easily disarms Lindsey.

But Lindsey doesn't just play Azazel, prince of demons, or Co-executive Vice President of Special Projects. He is also a human being. Angel feels bad for that human being, something he couldn't do with all that sin on him Season 1. He is sorry that Darla will never love Lindsey and that Lindsey will have to live with that. He admits his role in Lindsey having to play Azazel, "I'm sorry I didn't try harder to help you when you came to me," but he won't let all responsibility fall on himself. "I'm sorry you made the wrong choice."

For the summary to this season, I will get into why Angel messes up Wolfram and Hart's plan which is as Nathan Hunt says, "Which side he's on is the gray area, and we're gonna continue making it as gray as possible." That includes what is prophecy and what does Wolfram and Hart want with him. Season 1 contrasted Angel's mission to help the helpless with Wolfram and Hart's mission to help the not helpless. Season 2 will contrast them in regards to why they have those missions.

[> 2.18: Is that all there is? -- lunasea, 13:24:33 07/07/03 Mon

2.18: Is that all there is?

After all that, I need a break. ME agrees and gives us "Disharmony." It is a nice bridge to "Dead End." Both require their own shows (not to mention are completely different tones), so to smash them together wouldn't have worked.

"Is that all there is?" That was Lindsey's question Season 1. Holland helped Lindsey find the answer, the wrong answer, but any answer will stop us from questioning. Darla showed Lindsey that there was something more. Interesting twist on Buffy/Angel.

Angel saw Buffy and more than anything wanted to protect her heart. He finally found something he feels strongly enough about to fight for. Season two, we see Angel try to do what is right before meeting Buffy twice. In "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been," we see that his resolve in the face of a lynching just isn't strong enough. In "Darla" we see how a tiny baby and missionaries are enough motivation even to overcome Darla's desires. Innocence. It is a big motivator to Angel, souled and soulless. The Lolita-like clothes and lollipop of Buffy in "Becoming" aren't to say anything about her chronological age. It is about her innocence.

(an aside Angelus shirtless in "Innocence" when he tears Buffy apart in his apartment wasn't about sexuality. It is to make the scene more intimate. It was this intimacy that caused Angel to lose his soul in the first place and why Angel is now lashing out. It is this intimacy that hurts Buffy so much. (I sense another essay in there, how intimacy is shown and used in the Buffyverse).)

Lindsey's button was the concept of being stepped on. When Lindsey had no attachments, that just meant him. He accepted the power that Holland offered him in order not to be stepped on. Lindsey cares about Darla. When she is the one that gets stepped on, by Wolfram and Hart and by Angel, it upsets him.

There is a big difference between Angel/Buffy and Lindsey/Darla. Buffy also shows Angel that there are good people in the world, people that try real hard to do the right thing. Darla doesn't show this to Lindsey. Both awaken the man's heart, but Buffy shows Angel what to do with that heart. After Lindsey fights Angel, he goes back to his apartment to find Darla gone. Lindsey now knows there is more. Where will that lead him? Angel took his hand in "To Shanshu in LA" and smashed his artificial one in "Epiphany."

We finally see some actual lawyering going on at Wolfram and Hart, but Nathan Reed is more interested in Angel. Friday, they will be "reevaluating your division." As Lilah puts it "They'll promote one and cut the other. Around here, that's a literal cutting." Nathan invites Lindsey into his office to talk and does his best Holland impression on the young man. He sends Lindsey to an "appointment."

The appointment? Lindsey is getting a hand transplant. Holland wanted Lindsey to get some healthy attachments. He is about to get something attached, but is it healthy? At the very least it isn't just a medical procedure. Lindsey has complete use of his new hand and even can play the guitar again. This of course worries Lilah. It is an expensive procedure that they wouldn't do on someone they are about to kill. We see in the meeting with a client just why Wolfram and Hart would pick Lindsey. He really does know how to play the system. Lilah is relying on a handpicked or enchanted jury and Lindsey really works things without any reliance on the supernatural or even anything as unethical as jury tampering.

Lindsey's hand isn't so healthy after all. It keeps writing "Kill" over and over again and freaks him out. The fun part is that he has to work with Angel to figure out what is going on. Leave it to Greenwalt to write something so amusing, yet dark. As Lindsey puts it rather well, "I've got a murderous hand on me and you're telling me to team up with the guy who cut mine off in the first place?" The symbolism is just too good. Lindsey is still blaming Angel for what happened. He will have to get beyond that in order to let his own sins go off into the desert.

Holland Manners was married, had a beautiful house and indulged in his passion, wine. Nathan Reed is also married, plus he has a son. Even evil has attachments (a nice touch that humanizes Joss' villains). As Wesley said back in "To Shanshu in LA," "It's our desires that make us human." Lilah has desires up the wazoo. Nothing meaningful, but she has major desires, which is why she will become the face for Wolfram and Hart next season. Angel has been working on this, but they are meaningful desires, like attachments to his friends, which become so strong they are his family. Lindsey attached to Darla, but she is gone. What does Lindsey have now? Is that all there is?

We saw Lilah rifling through Lindsey's papers and now we see Lindsey going through Nathan's. We see Nathan's to-do list, which gives Wolfram and Hart a bit more flavor. Interesting to find out that his competitiveness with Lilah is stronger than his desire to find out about his hand. He clicks on her file first. Then he decides that he would rather find out about his hand than how he is doing with regards to the review. His uncertainty about his hand has given him a new perspective which is summed up wonderfully in a rather brief scene.

The interaction between Angel and Lindsey is even better than Lilah/Lindsey or even Darla/Lindsey. Their shared, but not shared history is just too much. Watching Angel tell Lindsey "you got to learn how to play with others" or "You just keep on moping. You're good at that" was just too much. This sort of wonderful humor in the midst of such a dark situation is what makes Greenwalt such a genius. Luckily the current stable of writers particularly excel at this.

A hand transplant sounds like a nice idea, until Lindsey finds out where the hand comes from. He gets a good look at what the firm he works for is about. "Kill" isn't about either the hand going to kill Lindsey or it wanting to go evil or even revenge. It is a man who is tired of being stepped on wanting to be killed. "Kill...me...please." The transplants still have a link to the people they are taken from. Wonder what the eye guy had to see. I'd gouge out my eye, too.

So Lindsey gets a lesson about how the world really is. In order for Lindsey and his firm to be able to give the steppers things, people have to suffer, really suffer. It isn't just a world designed for those who know how to use it. Those who use it can make it either better, like Angel does, or worse. Holland hand picked Lindsey because he had the potential to really see things for what they were. In "Blind Date" Lindsey protected the kids who could see into the heart of the matter. Lindsey has just found that heart. What will he do?

Time for Reevaluation of Special Projects. Lilah isn't the one they chose. She is flipping out, but Lindsey tries to calm her. Lindsey knows that only he has what it takes, what Wolfram and Hart wants. He doesn't want what they have to offer any more. Is that all there is? Hell no. In a world where people get stepped on, things happen, even to the steppers. One of those stepped on caused Lindsey to keep writing "Kill, kill, kill." It is an evil hand that will cause him to do things? Not really and Lindsey knows this. What is evil is how it was obtained. "I just can't control my evil hand." Actually, I can't control the evil company that gave it to me and I sure as hell am not going to stick around until you guys decide to step on me again.

He really defends Lilah. He also gives us some more flavor for the company, warning his superiors "Can you imagine if something were to happen to this girl and those files got back to the senior partners? - They'd eat you alive!" Would they? Lindsey betrayed the company in a very deep way. Those kids are very important to the upcoming apocalypse. They wouldn't be in the Scroll of Aberjian if they weren't. Lindsey wasn't eaten. He was promoted. Why? Because Lindsey did what he did out of his own moral sense. What Charlie and Nathan are doing is merely out of greed. Being your own man, both with Lindsey and Angel, is something the Senior Partners value. The greed illustrated by Charlie, Nathan and Toady Lee, is not. But what about Lilah? That is where things will get interesting next season.

The last words we hear Lindsey say to Angel are some good advice: "The key to Wolfram and Hart: don't let them make you play their game. - You gotta make them play yours." What Wolfram and Hart try to do with men like Lindsey and Angel is make you think you are playing your own game, but really you are playing theirs. What is that game? You'll just have to wait for the season 2 summary for that. We aren't quite done with the episodes yet, even if we do lose Lindsey (hopefully only temporarily).

[> 2.19-2.22: Pylea (someone else want to do this one better?) -- lunasea, 13:26:27 07/07/03 Mon

2.19-2.22: Pylea (someone else want to do this one better?)

"Belonging," "Over the Rainbow," "Through the Looking Glass," "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb." Time for a break from Wolfram and Hart. Lindsey has left (sniff for me, glad for him). Lilah is now sole Executive VP of Special Projects. The Pylea arc takes place in another dimension, so it would look like no Wolfram and Hart. That is until we get to "Through the Looking Glass." Three books, with a Wolf and Ram and a Hart on the cover, say this isn't the case. The Home Office may be our dimension, but it isn't the only one. Does evil really have a home, a place it can come from and go to?

So the priests are Wolfram and Hart's Pylean branch. I think the Pylea arc was a brilliant way for ME to handle their casting difficulties. It was a creative way to get Angel to face the pure form of his demon. I wonder what they would have done otherwise to get him to do this. Fred is a great character who is quickly becoming one of my favorites (though no one will ever displace Angel in my heart).

That said, I really don't want to go through the actions and lines of the priests and pick them apart. Instead I will address 3 areas. 1) the symbolism of the 3 animals. 2) why Wolfram and Hart needed to be in these episodes at all and 3) anything general the priests let us know about Wolfram and Hart.

First the animals the firm is named after. This comes from the same book as the stuff about the goats did. I'm only going to include stories that are pertinent to how wolf is used in the show. In the countries bordering the Baltic and Norwegian Seas, the wolf is regarded as one of the Devil's henchmen and they even bless the bullets they aim at it. It is also believed that the wolf has a power and keenness of sight equal to the lynx. Nordic tradition has it that the wolf, after participating in the birth of light, must at the end of time devour the last days.

Angel moves into the Hyperion season 2. The wolf is associated with the light that preceded full daylight. Wolf=lukos this light=luke One of Apollo's names is Lukogenes, "born of the wolf." Everywhere under the Hellenic sky the animal was associated with the cult of Phoebus Apollo. In Athens, the land surrounding the temple of Apollo, like the fleece of an animal surrounding its body, was called Lukeion, the "Lyceum" or school, meaning "the wolf's skin." It was here that Aristotle taught philosophy. Holland was very big on philosophy. He used it to manipulate both Lindsey season 1 and Angel season 2.

The wolf is seen as a predator, along the lines of the lion, panther and lynx, that feeds on what it finds. Unlike the cats, it lacks the noble aspects of these animals and Latin symbolists have the wolf represent all sorts of vices. In Rome, it represented the worst kind of prostitute. It has represented: anger, gluttony, rapacity and heresy. In the parable of the Good Shepherd, the wolf is the bad guy. Fits with Angel as Jesus rather well. Wolfram and Hart is the prey that feeds on Angel's flock.

The next animal is a RAM, not a sheep. Important difference. Young domestic animals, kids and lambs, and even deer were seen as pure. The ram was a favorite religious symbol among ancient religions. Just as Angel is the Good Shepherd, the Ram also heads his flock. The ram fights head on which makes them symbols of courage, strength and power. They are also symbols of fertility, abundance and good fortune.

Final animal in the trio is the hart. Just like the wolf, the hart is associated with Apollo. Again we are dealing with an animal that symbolizes abundance. It also is connected with fulfillment and contentment. Like the ram, the hart is seen as a leader.

So that is our evil law firm. Not one of the animals is king of their areas. The lion, not the wolf or deer, is considered king of the wild animals. It is this animal that Angel has tattooed on his back. The bull is considered king of domesticated animals, not the sheep. The Wolf is a dangerous predator, but not like the lion. The ram and hart are both the head of their flocks/herds.

That is area 1. I'm sure others can expand on it. Just something brief.

Area 2, why did Wolfram and Hart need to be in these episodes at all? Before they even go, Gavin shows up. He's almost as Toady as Lee. How did he make it through a full season? Angel is glad to leave this dimension in order to get away from them. In a mini-arc that shows there's no place like home, even Wolfram and Hart have to be represented, both here and there. Not the wonderful style that is Lilah, but the annoyance that is Gavin that shows what Wolfram and Hart will be reduced to next season. In a world where things are completely polarized and things aren't what they seem, of course you have to have Wolfram and Hart in charge, even more so then they are on Earth. When Angel faces his actual inner-demon, again, they have to be in the background. Of course as Groo is trying to reconstruct his world, they have to be screwing with that.

Area 3, some things about the priests. On Pylea the priests have complete control. The defining characteristic of Lorne's home world is everything is completely polarized. They want to keep Angel gray, but it is this grayness that causes them to lose him (and Lindsey). Wolfram and Hart is pretty evil on Pylea, but they are slaves to prophecy. It is this characteristic that undoes them on Pylea, just like it undoes them on Earth. They are as good at manipulating Groo as Holland was with Lindsey, but again it is a woman that gets him to understand how things really are.

So that was season 2. What was the point?

[> Summary Season 2: Why Fight? -- lunasea, 13:32:55 07/07/03 Mon

Summary Season 2: Why Fight?

Prophecy may seem like a really convenient plot device in the Buffyverse, the ultimate Deus Ex Machina, but it is much more than that. The first time it really plays a role in the shows is in "Prophecy Girl."

Master: You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything. You're the one that sets me free! If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that!

That is how prophecies work in the Buffyverse. They aren't written to predict things. They are written to make them happen. This will be used in Season 3 of AtS to drive the arc. There is a huge prophecy underlying the entire series, Angel is a major player in some apocalypse and when he plays his part, he will Shanshu. Why is this written down? If Angel is going to be a player, he is going to be a player.

Back in "To Shanshu in LA," when Vocah finds out that Angel has the Scroll, he says, "His connection to the Powers That Be is complete." Lilah responds, "He hasn't had time to make a full study of the text." The prophecy isn't seen as some neutral prediction about what will come to pass. It is seen as a connection to the Powers that Be. Whatever is in there is there because the Powers want Angel to know it.

Now I know that Wesley is a bit of a selective moron, but seeing as the Scroll is this big deal, Angel feels connected to it and it does mention most likely him, I would get to translating the whole thing. Have we heard word one about this being done? Knowing that it was used for Darla's raising and AI really needs to know about what is going on, this translating would seem rather pertinent to season 2. When Wesley is trying to figure out what is going on with Darla being pregnant, again since the scroll was involved in the raising of Darla in the first place, it would be first place I would go to. Like I said, Wesley is a selective idiot, depending on the needs of the story.

Back to that Scroll. The children in "Blind Date" are mentioned and according to Wesley, "They have an important role to play. " Wolfram and Hart sent as assassin after the children. They have no problem trying to take them out of the game. The kids can see to the heart of the matter and there is no way Wolfram and Hart will be able to use them. They will see right through any of Wolfram and Hart's trickery. Angel they won't kill. Angel doesn't have this power.

Nathan mentions prophecies, plural. The Scroll of Aberjian isn't the only one that talks about Angel. The Scroll is what the Powers want him to know, but there are other prophecies here. As Nathan says "Which side he's on is the gray area, and we're gonna continue making it as gray as possible." There are two ways to interpret this. The first is that Angel could be on the side of good (Powers) or evil (Senior Partners), it is just the prophecies are unclear about this. Does this really fit with what the Scroll of Aberjian says?

According to Wesley, "the vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, will Shanshu. Become human. - It's his reward." It can be debated whether this is a reward or not, but the Scroll isn't the only thing that has mentioned Angel becoming human. "I thought the only way for you to be made mortal was if the Powers That Be stepped in." (IWRY) We find out that there is another way, the blood of the Mohra demon, but whatever is sending Doyle his visions, whether that is the more neutral PTBs or Jasmine, has told Doyle about this grand plan, which Doyle doesn't tell Angel about fully. To second what Doyle says, when Angel asks point blank if the Powers that Be turned him mortal, the Oracles respond "The Powers That Be? Did you save humanity? Avert the Apocalypse?" Why would the Powers reward Angel for fighting on the side of evil? Why would the Senior Partners do this at all? If Angel is evil, why would they want to lose this powerful asset?

This leads us to option 2. Angel's role in the apocalypse isn't on the side of good or evil. It is a bit more gray than that. I like the idea of not knowing what side Angel is on. Doesn't really seem to fit our champion, though. With his soul, he can't go completely evil. Then again, who would have thought that Willow would go evil? What would it take for Angel to pull a Willow? Any number of things, but Joss has already told that story. Why repeat?

Nah. Much more interesting place to go with Angel. Season 2 we see a really gray area. The season opens with "Judgment." Angel wants his reward and is even keeping track of his kills, "Redemption points" so to speak. The powers send Cordy a vision that leads him to realize this isn't the right way to be thinking.

What was Plan B? As Nathan said, make Angel as gray as possible. He could have gone totally nuts because of the dreams. He could have gone back to some sort of whacked relationship with Darla. He could have killed her when he first got his fangs on her. He could have sired her when he found out she was dying. Any of these actions would have taken Angel out of the "solidly good" camp and made him a bit grayer. What happened REALLY made him gray. He didn't go evil. He didn't join their camp. He tried to demolish their camp.

That is what the Senior Partners want. Angel asks Holland, "Why fight?" Evil is secure in the knowledge that it will always exist. It doesn't have to fight. Season 1 Angel picked up his mission to help the helpless. Wolfram and Hart contrasted this by helping the not helpless. This season, we get the question "why fight" and their contrasting answers. Prophecy plays a key role in this.

Is there a big picture? In "Blind Date," Wesley tells Angel in regards to the Scroll, "There is a design, Angel. Hidden in the chaos as it may be, but - it's there - and you have your place in it." Holland says in "Reunion" to the assembled group, "Now it's no secret that our work is but one small element in a much larger, greater plan - one which the Senior Partners hope to. . ." This directly contrasts Angel's epiphany. "In the greater scheme or the big picture, nothing we do matters. There's no grand plan, no big win."

That is the important contrast between Wolfram and Hart and Angel this season. Both the people at Wolfram and Hart and the priests in Pylea are slaves to prophecy. The problem with prophecy, as we learned over on BtVS, is that it is often incomplete. It doesn't show the heart of the matter, just what some entity wants people to know in order to make something happen. Wolfram and Hart wants Angel gray. Do they even know why?

Why fight? Wolfram and Hart don't fight, but they work to make that prophecy fit their apocalypse, just like they tried to make Comshuck fit their designs back on Pylea. Lindsey's advice to Angel was not to play Wolfram and Hart's game. Interesting thing is that Wolfram and Hart are playing the game of whomever wrote the prophecies and they are losing so far, because Angel isn't playing the same game any more.

Prophecy is a great vehicle for the debate about determinism. The determinists see prophecy as what will happen. Wolfram and Hart is trying to use this to their advantage. They are taking it for granted that X will come to pass. They are just trying to mold X. If they can't, they will take X out of the picture, like they tried to do with the blind children. Angel is trying to get away from this. He wants to just help. It isn't for redemption or a reward any more. He can't just assume that he will Shanshu. He is just a really nice guy trying to do the best he can.

Wolfram and Hart want Angel gray. They provoke him until he fights back, hard. They turn him into one of the steppers, as he plays first with Darla and Dru and then with Lilah and Lindsey. Their problem is that the core of Angel is his heart. When he finds out his friends are in trouble, he rushes to their aid, symbolically in Lindsey's truck. When Angel first got his soul, he wanted to go back to Darla so badly. He thought he was willing to do anything to attain this. He wasn't. His new soul wouldn't let him hurt that baby. No matter how gray souled Angel gets, his soul/heart will always keep him from going completely evil.

Same thing with Lindsey. Season 1, just like Angel drew the line with Darla with a baby, Lindsey had to protect those children. Season 2, seeing what Wolfram and Hart did first hand was too much for him. Wolfram and Hart were interested in Lindsey because he had the potential to see things as they are. When Lindsey did, he discovered that the power he could have had just wasn't worth it. There was more to life and he was going to discover what. I hope they bring him back so we can see what he found.

I said earlier that Lilah is the Angelus of Wolfram and Hart. Really she is Darla. She wants her view. Season 3 she is the face of Wolfram and Hart and we will see how that plays out.

Here's to hoping that the thread lasts more than 5 hours before it is Voynaked.

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