1st Anniversary Character Posting Board Party - Lorne
verdantheart - September 19, 2001

First, a couple of notes. Unfortunately, due to unforseen tragic circumstances that delayed my return home, I wasn't able to put in the time that I wanted to polish this up a bit. I also wanted to compare the scripts with the episode transcripts, but wasn't able to get that done. So all the quotes are from the shooting scripts. I'm posting this Wednesday because I may not be able to look in tomorrow. So don't be surprised if I don't respond to comments until Friday. Thanks!



Wesley: The Host, the fellow Angel is talking to? He helps demons, reads their souls, senses their futures...
Cordelia: But he can only do it when they sing Karaoke.
Gunn: 'kay, now you're just having fun with the new guy. [note: this line appears in the shooting script but not the transcript.] (Guise Will Be Guise)

Krevlornswath of the Deathwok clan, Lorne for short, a.k.a. the Host of Caritas is a bright green demon with bright red lips, eyes, and hair who hails from the dimension of Pylea. Caritas ("mercy" in Latin) is the Karaoke bar that Lorne created on the spot that he entered the Buffy dimension. Caritas is a sanctuary, where weapons, violence, and eating the clientele is prohibited. Here he hosts a karaoke show, sings, and dispenses advice based on his psychic abilities.

Much of the role Lorne has played in AtS has to do with his talent. As Wesley says, "He's anagogic.... *Psychic*, connected to the mystic. When you sing you bare your soul and he can see into it" (Judgment). The keys to Lorne are his psychic gifts and his love of music. Lorne's interactions with Angel illustrate how Lorne's talents shape his character.

When Lorne first sees Angel, he offers unsolicited help:

Host: Love the coat. It's all about the coat. Welcome to Caritas. You know what that means?
Angel: It's Latin for mercy.
Host: Smart *and* cute. How 'bout gracing us with a number?
Angel: I don't sing.
(In distant background, Mordar the Bentback growls a tone deaf version of "Sexual Healing" ...)
Host: And neither does Mordar the Bentback -- That cat's a foghorn on two legs; this isn't about your pipes, 'bro, it's about your spirit.
Angel: I don't sing.
[Cordy/Wesley dialog omitted]
Host: I know you're feelin' smooth, in the groove. Isn't that the thing that comes before a fall? (Judgment)

This indicates that Lorne is not completely dependent on having someone sing to sense things about them. He could see here that Angel was headed for trouble, as indeed he was (accidentally killing a demon that was serving the force of good). (Later, in "Epiphany," Lorne sees what's happened immediately: "Keep yer pants on! ... Ahhh. Well. I see we're a little late with *that* advice.")

Angel returns to sing Mandy and accept Lorne's advice. Lorne's assessment? "Well, you're just the hot ticket. One night only, partially obstructed view --" That is, Angel's destiny at this junction is unclear.

When Angel next appears in Caritas (not counting the dream sequence in "First Impressions") looking for Darla, he sings "Ramblin' Man." But Lorne refuses to give Angel the information he wants, saying "I tell beings what their path is -- I try to give 'em a roadmap -- this little highway you want to take is headed straight for Disaster, Maine."

So Lorne can withhold information that he thinks will only harm the individual that he is advising. But, further, he doesn't see everything. For example, in "Guise Will Be Guise," he does not foresee that sending Angel to his friend the T'ish Magev will get the T'ish killed.

"Happy Anniversary" occurs smack-dab in the middle of Angel's dark patch, and is the first time Lorne sees Angel after he fires his crew. As they rush to save the world from ending, Lorne can't help but offer his services:

Host: ... To tell the truth, if the world were to end tonight, would it really, in your heart of hearts, be such a terrible thing? (Nothing from Angel) Now sweetie, is that a fun place to be?
Angel: (This is hitting too close to home) I think you should shut up now.
Host: Excuse me, I'm the Host, have you met me? I never shut up. You pushed your friends away, you went from helping the helpless to hunting down the guilty -- blood vengeance is a luxury of the lesser being. You're a champion, Angel, I mean you were at any rate.
Angel: (beat) What do you want me to tell you?
Host: *Everything*, what's in your heart, why you stopped caring, you know, whole ball of wax, so I can help you get back on your path... no need to rush we've got time... (checks watch) ...you know, not a lot.
[Angel goes on to bemoan the fact that he can never win and that he couldn't save Darla.]
Host: Not always gonna be like this. The song changes. Unless of course we don't get there in time, in which case you'll be stuck in this crappy mood forever. Shudder to think.

Lorne, like Spike, sees a lot and is not afraid to speak his mind. But unlike Spike, he wants to help people find their path through life. Wesley and Cordy were a bit afraid to speak frankly with Angel -- and why not? He is a vampire, after all. But Lorne isn't afraid of that, perhaps because he can read Angel well enough to know how he's going to respond. He doesn't mind being a little testy with Angel. When Angel insists that getting to the senior partners is his destiny, but Lorne says, "Is it? Because I haven't actually featured a destiny with you in it lately. It's all a little murky." (Reprise) Angel is rebelling against the plans of the Powers and trying to make his own destiny. Lorne is trying to help him find the destiny that the Powers have planned. As circumstances change, and people follow or rebel against their fates, the paths laid out for them by the Powers change as well.

So, for all that Lorne tries to help Angel with his problems, Angel wound up having to work through them himself (maybe because he's not exactly good at taking advice ..).

Lorne reluctantly assists Angel in "Reprise." He can see what's coming up, but he sees it by reading other people, and feels that passing along this information isn't ethical ("But I really can't divulge to you what I read in another being. (then) Though I can pass along what I overheard in the men's room."). Perhaps he senses that Angel needs to follow it through.

Angel seeks Lorne out immediately after his interlude with Darla (Epiphany).

Angel: I don't know how to get back.
Host: Well, that's the thing -- you don't. You go to the new place. Wherever that is.
(Angel looks at the Host. Weighs this, then he looks away again, can't meet the Host's eyes as he begins, slowly, tentatively...)
Angel: I don't know if I can. I've done... things... questionable things.
Host: Yes, you have. But you didn't kill those lawyers, Angel.
(Angel looks at him. The Host looks back.)
Host: That was slated to happen with or without you. The Powers were just trying to work it so it'd be *without* you, that's all. You just... well. You weren't much help in that department, were ya, sparky?
(A beat as Angel take that in, anger bubbling up now...)
Angel: I wasn't much help? If they wanted me to stay away, why didn't they just *tell* me?
Host: Would you have listened? Besides, what makes you think they didn't? Over and over and, as for example, over?
Angel: They could have been more specific.
Host: (clears throat) Er... isn't this just the sort of 'tude that got you where you are now? (Angel puts the lid on a potential rant. Fumes a bit.) I think I speak for everyone when I say -- if all you're going to do is switch back to brood mode, we'd rather have you evil. Because then, at least -- leather pants.

Then Lorne points out "I'm not your link with The Powers, Angel. I never was. You got rid of that when you fired your crew."

But when a portal opened up to Pylea and a Drokken jumped out (Belonging), things got personal for Lorne. We're used to see him looking confident in his superior knowledge (perhaps even smug?). But when it comes to Pylea, all that fades away. He's even reluctant to discuss it, to admit that he's even from that place. When Angel asks him about the Drokken:

Angel: That's all you've got for us?
Wesley: What is it doing here? What does it want? What is it capable of?
Host: Who cares? It trashed my club, my clientele. (Belonging)

Later, when Landok appears through another portal in the library, Lorne says "Just because I know his name doesn't mean you can't knock him unconscious. Please, continue."

He doesn't want to go back. It emerges that Lorne is embarrassed by a past of shame. In his world, he's considered a coward and traitor. As Landok said, "Your vanishing was a great mystery to our Clan.... It was hoped that you had sought atonement by forfeiting your life in the Sacrificial Canyons of Trelinsk." His best friend denounces him (Over the Rainbow). His own mother says, "You have shamed our clan and betrayed your kind... Each morning before I feed, I go out into the hills where the ground is thorny and parched, beat my breast and curse the loins that gave birth to such a cretinous boy-child" (Through the Looking Glass).

Further, Pylea has no music. As Lorne says, "*They have no music there.* It doesn't exist -- do you know what that's like? No lullabies, no love songs -- because there aren't any. All my life I thought I was crazy, that I had ghosts in my head or something, simply because I could hear music. Of course, I didn't know it was music -- all I knew was that it was beautiful, and painful, and right. And I was the only one who could hear it." (Over the Rainbow)

OK, he doesn't like Pylea. But why so afraid? It's because he's *out of his depth here*! Lorne can't sit back and watch himself sing. He can't read his own destiny in the minute detail that he can see the destinies of other people. He can't see whether or not he'll be able to return. Still worse, he fears that his destiny might be to return there to stay -- that he belongs there.

In "Through the Looking Glass" Lorne tells Angel, "They see you in a certain way ... you start to see yourself that way. You become that image. I get it. I do. Because I know how they see *me*." When Lorne popped through the portal into the Buffyverse, he could put his past completely behind and create himself in the image he desired. At last he felt in some control. This may be where much of his confidence comes from.

Lorne goes to a friend to get some help finding a portal for Angel's rescue mission:

Aggie: I'm getting all kindsa ugly conflict vibes comin' offa you, Lorne. And they're all pointin' at that portal.
Host: Are you sure you're not just seeing the chili I had for lunch yesterday? 'Cause whew, you wanna talk about conflict -- (off her look, stops) They need the hot spot because they're going to Pylea, my home dimension.
Aggie: And you're not going with them.
Host: Aggie, I'd rather have a hydrochloric acid facial. I'd rather invite a hive of wasps to nest in my throat. I would rather sit through a junior high school production of "Cats" -- do you see where I'm going with this?
Aggie: Not to Pylea.
Host: Exactamundo.
Aggie: That's too bad then. Now they'll never rescue the girl.
Host: (beat) Come again?
Aggie: I can find your hot spot, Lorne, but on one condition: you've gotta go with 'em. It's the only way you're gonna resolve these issues that are cloudin' up your aura, I can see it. Be honest, deep down, you've always known you'd have to take that one last trip back home.
Host: It's the "last" that scares me. (Over the Rainbow)

Fortunately Lorne finds that he simply had to make the trip to confirm that he didn't have to make the trip:

Host: My psychic friend told me I had to come back here -- I didn't believe her. Then I realized I *did* have to come back here because I really always thought I had to come back here deep down inside. You know? (Angel nods) I had to come back here to find out I didn't have to come back here, I don't belong here. You know where I belong? LA. You know why? *Nobody* belongs there, it's the perfect place for guys like us.
Angel: That's kinda beautiful.
Host: Ain't it?

Seems more obvious than profound, don't it? But it expresses a common experience (but more about that later). We leave him realizing that he is probably the character in Angel that is happiest with his circumstances, despite the fact that he is perhaps the one who least "belongs" there. As he says, "You know where I belong? L.A. You know why? *Nobody* belongs there, it's the perfect place for guys like us." (There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb) While the other characters were looking for belonging, Lorne had accepted his outsiderness and was happy where he was. (I'd go further into this, but this is a tangent, perhaps entitled "Why I disagree with a lot of people and actually got something out of the Pylea adventure" ...)

So what can we say about Lorne? Is he a force for good or evil? Lorne himself would not want to look at it in such simplistic terms, black and white with no gray.

He sees his calling rather as a servant of the Powers, helping everyone find their path, both human and demon, good and evil, Angel and Lindsey. He gets out of the way of the Powers That Be, telling Cordelia "... when the Big Guys talk, I shut my yap" (Redefinition). He won't advise an evil being to turn good, helping even Harmony find herself (Disharmony).

But we can note that he is not in favor of seeing his beloved Buffyverse end, seeking Angel's help to prevent this event in "Happy Anniversary." And though reluctant, he does want to help the crew find Cordelia when she's lost in Pylea. This would tend to put Lorne on the side of good, where his own actions are concerned.

Finally, let's take a look at the dramatic purpose of Lorne. When I embarked upon this project, I soon realized that Lorne has appeared in 15 of the 22 episodes in season 2. He plays a large role in five episodes, "Happy Anniversary" and the big Pylea quartet that concluded the season.

He opened the season with a rendition of "I Will Survive" in "Judgment." Does this episode foreshadow the season?

Lorne often serves to further the plot, as characters act on his advice. During Angel's dark phase, as I mentioned, Lorne's the person that Angel can talk to, revealing his anguished path.

Sometimes he seems to serve as a way for the writers to speak their minds, especially since he has a show-biz consciousness. For example:

Host: ...But I think the general angst is less about the review and more about the review*er*. And let's just say it ain't Rex Reed.
Angel: What is it?
Host: Something evil and dark and merciless. (then) Actually, now that I say it out loud, sounds an awful lot like Rex, doesn't it?

I hypothesize that the experience of an unsatisfactory return home (as though to Pylea) is a relatively common Hollywood experience. Creative people often feel like aliens growing up. I expect that after they are successful, they may return home (for a high school reunion or whatever) only to find the experience an empty one. Although they may be renowned in their home town, they may still feel as freakish as ever they felt growing up. Further, many in Hollywood "invent" themselves, creating personas that no one they grew up with would recognize.

Lorne also adds music and color to the mix. With his bright colors, snappy dialog and forthright manner provide a nice counterpoint to and relief from Angel's brooding persona. He provides some syncopation, if you will, to the rhythm of the series.

But the last four episodes fill us in on Lorne's back story. Up to that point, Lorne appears as a mentor and commentator, someone mostly outside of the main action (with the exception of "Happy Anniversary"). These episodes reveal more of what makes him tick.

This begs the question, Why? This hints that the writers are fond of Lorne and aren't satisfied with him remaining the eyes you see over the back fence. It points to the possibility that the Powers intend to expand Lorne's role in the future. Whether or not the viewer is satisfied by this prospect depends on whether he/she likes the idea of a mentor who is something of a cipher himself. Which brings me to the next point.

Does the character work?

I've seen several negative comments regarding the 2nd season wrap-up. Some seem to have been disappointed to know more about Lorne. However, if his role is indeed to be expanded, this is almost a necessary development. If you don't like Lorne, this may not be a positive thing. Obviously, since I took on the challenge of writing this article, I take the opposite point of view.

So, kind posters, please take the time to post your opinion. Do you like Lorne? Hate him? Never want to hear another Karaoke tune again? Do you think he was fine until you found out too much about him?

OK, that's it. Yep, it's a lot for a character who hasn't been around long. Please let me know what you think.

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