“Rm w/a Vu”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Scott McGinnis
Cordelia is demonstrating her acting skills for Doyle, who is pretending she’s Oscar-worthy because he likes her. The phone rings, and Angel comes out to see if Cordelia’s going to do her secretary duty. It’s one of her high school friends, Aura, who she hasn’t been in touch with since she left Sunnydale because she’s slightly ashamed of her current situation. Doyle offers to help her if she ever gets sick enough of her apartment to do something about it. She heads out.
Doyle goes into Angel’s office, hoping to get information about Cordy out of him. Angel tells him a bit about Cordy’s clique at high school. He thinks she’s doing okay despite having dropped from upper class to working class in the blink of an eye.
But maybe that’s just because she’s good at hiding it. Back at her apartment, nothing is good. The water is brown and gross, there’s no reception on her TV, and there are roaches! It becomes all too much, and she calls Doyle for help after all.
Doyle is about to answer his phone, but there’s a demon with a bunch of horns on his face waiting for him. Apparently he owes this guy money. He acts like he’s getting the money for him, but really he’s just hoping to use his dresser drawer as a blunt weapon. He succeeds at this, though not before the demon guy slams his hand in the drawer. The demon goes down when he hits him, and he skedaddles.
Angel is showering in his apartment while “Ode to Joy” plays on a record player. Interesting choice. Someone knocks, and he comes out sopping wet, wrapping a towel around his waist.
The person at the door is Cordelia, who barges right in, shoving a suitcase into his arms and instructing him to grab the one she left outside too. She turns off his music, complains about her horrible apartment and about Doyle being incommunicado. Angel stands there awkwardly, waiting for her to realize that she’s being super rude, but that’s a long wait for a train don’t come. She then heads for the shower, even though it’s obvious he wasn’t done with his.
The next day, Doyle shows up at the office with a nasty bruise on the back of his hand. He finds Cordelia in Angel’s kitchen, wearing a bathrobe and using Angel’s teapot as a mirror. Angel comes out of his bedroom, complaining that Cordelia got peanut butter on the bed and wearing nothing but boxers and a bathrobe of his own, which is hanging open.
Cordelia goes to investigate the alleged peanut butter stain, which gives Doyle an opportunity to express his hurt and indignation at Angel having apparently slept with Cordelia, because he and Angel are sort of friends now, and Angel knows how Doyle feels about Cordy. Angel sets the record straight: he spent the night on his own sofa. Doyle is sheepish, and Angel gives him a flat stare. Cordelia returns to insist that Angel was the one who got peanut butter on the bed.
Angel goes to change the sheets because Cordelia is incorrigible, and Doyle asks her if anyone’s been asking about him. Yeah, someone from “his part of England.” *winces* Wow, not the best phrasing to use when you’re in an apartment with two Irishmen. Doyle gets a bit snappish with Cordelia about just handing out his information to people. She doesn’t know a scary dude is looking for him, so she just thinks he’s being a jerk. Angel returns and comments on Doyle’s bruise. He hedges.
Some time has passed, but probably not much. Cordelia is now using a knife to peel up some of the linoleum in Angel’s kitchen to see if there’s a hardwood floor under it. Wow, she is the worst houseguest of all time. Doyle finds it crazy, but in a cute way. He also notices Cordelia’s cheerleading trophies and singed diploma on one of Angel’s shelves.
Angel comes down to tell Doyle he has a visitor. Doyle thanks him, then tries to flee out the back. Angel catches him on his way out and manages to get an explanation out of him. Now that Angel knows, Doyle thinks he might as well help him get some of those thugs off his back. Angel agrees, on the condition that Doyle find Cordy a new apartment so that his floors, bed spread, and leather chairs will be safe.
Cordy and Doyle are checking out apartments. She refuses to go through his guy. So they see a series of apartments as bad as or even worse than hers. One of them is at some kind of cult, and another has a super creepy dude living across the hall. That’s the one that makes her cave and be willing to go through Doyle’s guy.
Angel is checking Doyle’s apartment, trying to get the demon’s scent. No need, because the demon’s there!
Doyle and Cordelia follow a realtor lady into a gorgeous apartment. Cordelia asks if he’s ever seen anything so beautiful, and he does that adorable cliché of agreeing while looking at her, not the apartment itself. Hee. Cordelia absolutely loves the place, with the exception of one wall that she wants to knock out. It comes furnished and at a really low rate. She’s so happy she even hugs Doyle. Then she takes his arm and they leave, talking about how things are looking up for both of them.
Angel fights the demon until he gives him some information. Then he assures him that Doyle will pay up. He makes threats very sexily. Man can Angel just spend an entire episode threatening bad guys? It’s incredibly attractive. The demon agrees to Angel’s terms.
Cordelia is sleeping in her apartment, which is haunted. The radio turns on and switches to an oldies station, her drawers open, and there’s a whispering voice that doesn’t like having Cordelia there.
Doyle is annoyed that he’s going to have to pay the demon now, but at least he won’t try to kill him. Angel wants to know why Doyle lives this way, dealing with all these lowlifes. Angel doesn’t really have a choice in the way he lives, but Doyle does. Doyle doesn’t want pity. There are up sides too, like how Cordelia will probably be grateful about the apartment for a long time.
Heh. Yeah. About that. Cordelia reaches for her glass of water, and it boils. Her bed lifts off the ground and hovers. She tries to convince the ghost that Sunnydale girls don’t scare easy, but she doesn’t sound very confident. When morning comes, she’s still sitting curled on her bed, which is still floating. It crashes down. She goes about getting ready for the day with insanely determined optimism. We catch a glimpse of the ghost, an old lady, in the bathroom mirror. More ghostly shenanigans start up, but she doesn’t want to let it get to her.
Angel and Doyle come to visit. Angel brought the tiniest cactus ever as a housewarming gift. Weird. Cordelia tries and fails to play things cool as they take a look around, but eventually the ghost activity becomes too obvious for her to hide. The word “DIE” appears in blood on the wall she hates. They try to drag her outside, but she’s so determined to keep the place that they have to promise to do a cleansing on it before she’ll leave.
At the office, they look up stuff about the apartment. Angel tries to convince Cordelia that it’s just an apartment, and she doesn’t need it. She disagrees. She thinks a nice apartment is proof that she’s not being punished for being a bully for so long in Sunnydale. Doyle found records of a death in the apartment. An old lady who died of a heart attack there in the ‘50s. Cordy is convinced that she’s the ghost. Doyle leaves to get cleansing spell supplies, and Angel leaves to go see if Kate can help them find out more about the apartment’s history.
Hours later, Cordelia is still alone at the office. Angel calls, and she picks up. He wants to meet her at the apartment. She hurries over, but when she gets there, she realizes that the ghost was imitating Angel’s voice to lure her there. She tries to leave, but the door won’t budge. Then the ghost throws her across the room and starts talking crazy fixating ghost talk. Something to do with a woman involved with her son.
Angel is still at Kate’s precinct. They found records of Maud Pearson’s death. Maud and her son argued a lot about his fiancée, who she didn’t like. He disappeared around the same time that she died, so maybe she didn’t die of a heart attack after all. Angel has Kate check for suicides in the apartment. She finds several, and she seems hyperaware of how close Angel gets to her when he’s looking over her shoulder at the screen. He calls the office, and Doyle gets back with the spell supplies just in time to catch the phone. They realize that Cordelia was tricked into going to the apartment.
Maud’s ghost is still getting in Cordelia’s face. She might be ranting about her son’s fiancée, but she’s touching a lot of nerves in Cordelia, bringing up all Cordelia’s creeping feelings of worthlessness.
Angel and Doyle are on their way, Angel filling Doyle in about Maud Pearson. At the apartment, Maud makes the chandelier wire form a noose around Cordelia. Angel and Doyle burst in just as she’s losing consciousness, and they get her down. She’s a sobbing, traumatized wreck. Angel tries to convince her that she has power against this ghost because of the role she plays in the ghost’s delusion. He and Doyle start the spell, but it’s like a tornado inside the apartment.
The ghost is still whispering to Cordy, and she’s still crying. Angel tries to shout some confidence back into her, and holy crap, he just got hit on the head by one of those flying household objects. Did that hurt? He barely flinched, so I guess it was lighter than it looked.
The spell doesn’t seem to be working, and Angel can’t get Cordelia to fight back, so he and Doyle decide to cut their losses and run. However, there are three gun-toting dudes (two demons, one human) in the doorway who might have something to say about that plan. They’re here to kill Doyle. And Angel, for helping him.
The addition of more intruders in her territory makes Maud’s ghost even angrier. The lights start exploding. The human runs away. Maud sends a bunch of kitchen knives into the chest of one of the demons while Angel fights the other. Maud sends Cordelia flying back into the bedroom. Cordelia is finally willing to give up the apartment if Maud will just let her leave. She crumples to the floor, crying, while Maud insults her. Then Maud makes a fatal mistake. She calls Cordy a bitch. For Cordelia, that’s not an insult. It’s a title. She’s the queen bee of Sunnydale High. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, dead or alive. Maud’s ghost is trying to mind control her into committing suicide, but Cordelia yells at her to back off and get out of her house, dammit! Cordelia just won this battle of wills. Maud vanishes, and the whirlwind stops.
Angel finally wins his fight against the demon, and Cordelia comes out of the bedroom. At first, she seems fine, if angry, but then her eyes get all filmy and weird. She picks up a lamp and starts bashing in the wall she hates with it. Dang that must be a sturdy lamp. She manages to knock all the way through the brick, and inside is a skeleton. Maud’s ghost reappears and screams.
‘50s flashback! Maud is bricking in her son Dennis so that he won’t be able to marry the girl she hates and leave him. As soon as she finishes her work on the wall and hangs a picture there, she has a heart attack and dies. In the present, Dennis’s ghost comes out of the skeleton and attacks Maud.
Possibly the next day, Angel watches Doyle add another lock to his door. He’s willing to help Doyle out if he gets in more situations like this one, but he wants to hear Doyle’s backstory sometime soon. Doyle agrees, but he’s not looking forward to it.
Cordy finally calls Aura back. Things in her apartment are great now. It really is a gorgeous place. She’s just got ghost Dennis as her roommate. It’s kind of like having an invisible butler who sometimes moves your stuff around in ways you don’t like, but is mostly helpful. She’s back to being positive and confident, but it no longer seems forced.
I love “Rm w/a Vu.” As effective as I think Tina and Melissa were as one-shot characters, and as fun as it was having Oz and Spike show up for one episode, there’s usually going to be more substance in an episode that focuses on the main characters, like this one. And even though neither plot focuses on Angel, he’s kind of at his best when he’s working on solving other people’s problems. This one gives us insight into Doyle’s character at the same time as it gives us probably my favorite Cordelia-centered story so far. And there’s an excellent twist with the ghost, too! I’m trying to figure out if there’s a theme of this episode, and I think it might be about how important it is to not hide your skeletons in the closet. There’s Maud Pearson, who literally has her son’s skeleton in the wall of her apartment. There’s Cordelia, who’s been struggling to bury her growing hopelessness under forced enthusiasm. And there’s Doyle, who’s been acting all lighthearted and joking even when he owes money to men (and demons) who wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.
I love how Angel handles Cordelia when she’s being a horrible self-invited houseguest. She’s kind of a force of nature. It would take someone of equal bluntness to keep her from steamrolling right over them, and Angel is not someone of equal bluntness. As (unintentionally) rude as she’s being, he doesn’t want to be rude back, so he can’t really do anything but watch helplessly as she takes over his apartment. It’s so funny. And even though she drives him crazy while she’s staying at his place, he still refuses to accept that she can be beaten down by some little old lady ghost. He knows how strong she is, and he refuses to let her give up. He’s equally perceptive when it comes to Doyle, even though he hasn’t known him as long. I like the way he tries to prod Doyle into fixing his life, but doesn’t force the issue. There’s also some additional development of Angel’s professional relationship with Kate (and the fact that she seems like she might be okay with it becoming a little less professional). He’s so much more willing to work with people already than he was in “City Of.”
This episode is where everything has been building for Cordelia since pretty much the beginning of Buffy. She has very impressive optimism and determination, but even she has a breaking point. Her arc has been done very well across the two shows. After everything she’s suffered, she always refused to give up, but the apartment is the first good thing to happen to her basically since we met her. And then that seems to get taken away from her. She can handle a continuous stream of misfortune, but if you punctuate that with what looks like a change in her luck, then it’ll finally be enough to make her crumble. But it was very important for her to hit bottom, because that allowed her to find her footing again and regain her old confidence. And on how she deals with Angel and Doyle, it’s interesting that even though she’s only known Doyle for a month and mostly finds him annoying, she would still rather go to him for help than go to Angel. Maybe she’s still working up to being able to trust Angel after Angelus. She wasn’t around for as much of his redeeming behavior in Buffy S3 as the other Scoobies.
Doyle’s shady lifestyle is finally starting to bite him, which means that we finally get to catch more than a glimpse of it! He seems to be teetering on the edge of the criminal underworld, and he’s living this way by choice, because he “doesn’t want to let his expectations get too high.” There’s clearly a lot more to the story. What happened to make him believe this is the best he can have (or deserves)? I really like that, for as much as he tries to encourage Angel to make connections with people and open up, he’s been keeping his own problems closely guarded. But Angel’s becoming more than just Doyle’s mission from a higher power now; he’s starting to be his friend, which is just as good for Doyle as it is for Angel.
“It’s not that you’re the last resort; it’s just that I have nowhere else left to go.”
“I was just wondering if you had any linoleum glue, for if it started…curling up all over.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.