Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
A girl is fleeing for her life through the back-alleys available to Angel’s production crew, and the camera is doing some very strange shifts and flashes. Then a vampire catches the girl and uses the nastiest thimble ever to carve a cross into her cheek before he feeds on her until she dies. Then he drops her, and the camera zooms in on his face. It’s Angel! Wait, what? Then he wakes up in his bed. Oh, so it was just a dream. Except…Kate pulls up to a crime scene in her cruiser and finds the body of that girl. She’s dead of a vampire bite and has a cross carved into her cheek just like in Angel’s dream. That plus the title of the episode, and things aren’t looking so good for Angel.
Wesley is in the opening credits now! :) And Doyle isn’t. :(
Cordelia is giving a pitch about their private investigation business to an empty chair, and she finishes it up in time for Wesley to arrive and mock her for it. He’s still calling himself a rogue demon hunter, but he’s also overly eager to hang out and collaborate with Angel and Cordelia. Ah, early days Wesley and his ego. Two of my favorite characters. Nothing’s been happening that either of them have noticed. Also, Wesley, using his keen powers of deduction, brought in the wrong mail. Whoops. Lucky he did, though, or he wouldn’t have had the chance to spot the article about the dead girl.
We hear sounds of Angel coming up in the elevator, and Wesley suddenly seems very keen to leave. Hmm, now why would he want to avoid Angel? Wesley leaves and Angel comes in, looking extremely grumpy and sleep-deprived. He’s a bit short with Cordelia, and then almost gets himself fried when he forgets it’s daylight outside.
Wesley didn’t leave all the way. He was just lurking in the corridor outside the office. What is he up to?
Angel goes to Kate for help tracking down a license plate. She’s working on the case of the dead girl and the other two who were killed in the same way. It looks like a serial killer case, except that the victims have nothing in common. Angel sees photos of the dead girl and is very troubled. She tells him some of her murderer profile ideas, and he corrects her, which maybe he should be a little subtler about. Then he leaves abruptly when she’s turned the other way.
That evening (or maybe it’s just afternoon, but in a poorly lit room), Kate is briefing other cops on the murderer profile, and it sounds remarkably specific for a murderer profile for a guy who has an M.O but not a victim pattern. Almost as if the writer was just describing Angel instead of trying to craft a credible psych profile. I mean, seriously, there’s even a big chunk about how the killer probably just got off an intense relationship that meant everything to him, after a long period of little activity. This briefing is intercut with shots of Angel walking the streets, spotting a blonde girl from behind, and pausing because she looks a bit like Buffy until she turns around. Wait, are we actually supposed to suspect Angel?
Wesley certainly does. He shows up at the office carrying a stake, and he tells Cordelia of his suspicions. He did a lot of research on Angel while he lived in Sunnydale. Apparently a long time ago, it was Angelus’s M.O. to carve crosses into his victims’ left cheeks. Cordelia is much more willing to give Angel the benefit of the doubt than he is. She tells Wesley to get out, because Angel’s her friend and she doesn’t care what he did when he was evil. But then Angel comes in and says Wesley’s right, and she immediately starts looking for a weapon.
Wesley holds a cross up to Angel, and it’s about as effective as the crossbow was last episode. He doesn’t remember killing these people, but he has been dreaming about it. He doesn’t describe the dreams as nightmares. They’ve been fun dreams, and he’s definitely on a serious guilt trip about that. Wesley thinks he might be sleepwalking and killing these people.
So Angel volunteers to get chained to his bed while he sleeps.
Flashback time! A girl in a dress and bonnet is running down the cobblestone alleys of…some town in Europe, I guess. There was no caption. A vampire catches her, and he has the thimble of doom. He kills the girl, and she seems to resemble the modern victim rather a lot. Angelus is there. Then Angel wakes up. He’s still in bed, and there’s another victim! That means Angel’s off the hook. But Angel’s not so convinced, which unsettles Wes and Cordy.
Resume the flashback! Angelus isn’t the only one there. He’s also got a padawan, played by a baby-faced Jeremy Renner. Evidently he recently turned the guy into a vampire, and now he’s siccing him on all of his family members. J-Ren’s English accent is about as good as David Boreanaz’s Irish one.
Skip back to the present, where the vampire is in much more modern attire, and he’s putting together his serial killer press clipping shrine wall. At Angel’s apartment, Angel is no longer chained to the bed, and he’s telling them the story of Penn. They won’t be able to find him, because Angel’s connection to the vampires he sired isn’t strong enough to be helpful. They’ll have to just be ready to pounce when Kate finds him.
Angel goes to the precinct to see Kate. She’s happy to see him, and she’s found what he needed about that license plate. She’s also being kind of flirty. He asks to speak to her in private, and she takes him to the room where she did the case briefing. He realizes from all the victim photos that Penn is killing people who look like his own family members. Then he asks if Kate trusts him. She’s a bit weirded out, but she says yes. He tacks up a sketch he did of Penn on her board of case photos and tells her that the next victim will be a teenage boy hanging around a liquor store.
Wesley is waiting in the car when Angel gets back, having stolen a police radio. Hahaha.
Just like Angel predicted, the next victim is a scrappy kid trying to get an adult to buy beer for him. Does anyone ever actually fall for the “can you buy me some beer for my sick mother?” story? Because it sounds like the lamest story ever. And there’s Penn. Come cops on a stakeout spot Penn talking to the kid, and they follow. He starts attacking the kid when they pull up, and he runs away, demonstrating a much more savvy use of his vampire strength than we’ve seen so far, and leaving the cops baffled.
Kate arrives on the scene, and she heads in to confront Penn. Angel and Wesley are there too, and Angel enters the building by climbing up a drain pipe. I’m so glad he’s dispensed with the grappling hooks. This is way better.
Kate finds Penn inside, and she shoots him three times after warning him not to move. He crumples to the ground, and she gets closer to check his pulse. He, of course, doesn’t have one, and then he grabs her and throws her across the room. He’s stalking towards her when Angel breaks through the ceiling—with far more grace than Xander and Oz did that one time—in between them. Penn’s so happy to see him. Angel doesn’t return the sentiment. Apparently they were supposed to meet up in Italy in the early 20th century (Penn says 19th, but I’m just going to put that one down to another instance of the writers sucking at math), but Angel wasn’t interested in keeping Angelus’s appointments, so that never happened.
Kate’s still on the ground, watching the exchange between Penn and Angel, and she’s on her walkie-talkie to get backup. I can’t tell if she suspects Angel already, but things definitely don’t look good from her perspective. Penn wants Angel to help him kill her, but Angel would rather kill Penn. He vamps out, and Kate is horrified. They start having a super-fight (Penn vamped out too), to Kate’s complete shock. Angel yells for Kate to leave. She tries to get involved in the fight instead, and ends up on her butt again when Penn throws Angel into her so he can flee. She is definitely not going to be taking this well.
In the aftermath of the fight, police are examining the scene. Kate pulls a gun on Angel. She wants to know what he is. He tells her she already knows, and he also tells her about the details of the murders that the police haven’t been reporting, like puncture wounds and that the victims had much less blood than they started out with. He tells her the ways to kill vampires, because if she’s going to keep going after Penn, she might as well know what to do. She’s still trying to hold onto her safe worldview, but Angel won’t let her. He grabs her cross necklace with his bare hand so that she can see the smoke coming out of his fist.
Oh hey, it’s that same sunset shot again! Except that now it’s a dawn shot? Seriously? Is there an identical neighborhood that faces east or do they just think we won’t notice?
Kate is in the briefing room again, and even though she’s reeling over the exciting supernatural world she’s been exposed to, she’s still working the case. She’s dug up every file they have on killings that match this same pattern. Penn’s been doing this over and over basically for his entire unlife.
Cordelia’s giving her same pitch from earlier to…Penn. Uh oh. He says Kate referred him to them. Cordelia notices the heavy black coat he brought with him (to hide from sunlight), but she doesn’t figure it out in time to avoid giving him the exact piece of information he wanted: Kate’s name, and the fact that she matters to Angel. Then she finally realizes what he’s doing and who he is. He makes with the threats, and she makes with the whipping open of the blinds. Her hand was far more effective than his. Angel comes up and the two vampires have a standoff across the patch of sunlight.
Penn is very indignant about Angel’s no-killing-humans policy. He feels betrayed, much like Spike did when he first found out about Angel’s soul. Angel apologizes for turning him, but like all soulless vampires, Penn loves what he is and he’s very proud of his work. Angel thinks it could use a little more imagination. I mean, really, reliving your family’s murders over and over? Particularly when those killings weren’t even your idea? That’s pretty lamesauce, dude. These insults are much more effective at getting to Penn than the apology was. Alas, Wesley chooses that moment to pop in for another round of pooling their information, and Penn grabs him. Penn admits that he might not have been that original, but now he’s willing to reinvent himself. He throws Wesley at them and bolts.
Montage! Angel is looking for Penn, Penn is hatching some plan, and Kate is doing vampire research.
Angel knocks on Kate’s door. She opens it, and then pointedly doesn’t invite him in. He’s both impressed and a bit saddened that she’s learned so much since he last saw her (saddened because of how her attitude towards him has changed). She rattles off everything she’s found about Penn’s killings in an unnecessarily accusatory tone. And her research didn’t stop there. She also looked up everything about Angelus. She’s definitely not his friend anymore. She doesn’t even want his help taking down Penn, because she blames him for everything Penn did. She gets pretty harsh about it. I guess that makes sense, since she’s a cop. She plans on staking Penn the next time she sees him, and staking Angel after that.
Cordelia, Wesley, and Angel are trying to figure out where Penn might be holing up. They eventually strike gold, because it turns out Penn is just as uninventive in coming up with new hideouts as he is with finding exciting new ways to murder people. He’s in the same apartment he was the last time he hit L.A.
They go to Penn’s apartment, where Wesley, having clearly forgotten everything he ever learned about vampires, tries to invite Angel in. Yeah, two problems with that. A: Penn is a vampire, so there’s no mystical threshold around his dwelling. B: Wesley isn’t the owner (or permanent resident) of the property, so he has no control over who comes and goes. Angel finds Penn’s fun shrine, as well as a bunch of shiny new photos of school busses and a schedule of pre-dawn bus routes.
Kate enters the briefing room to tell the other cops that they’ll have an easier time finding Penn if they keep an eye on Angel too. But that’ll all be unnecessary, because Penn’s here! The whole thing with attacking school children was just a red herring! He wants Kate dead. He goes through the cops with ease, using some vamp super-speed. Man, I wish this director had stuck around for more than just the one episode. This stuff is cool. He grabs Kate and drags her out. She can’t even grab a stake out of her bag before he gets her.
Angel, fortunately, did not fall for the red herring. He and Wesley drive up to the precinct, and while the cops are in a panic, sending out loads of cruisers in pursuit of Penn and Kate, Angel notices the askew sewer grate.
Sure enough, Penn has Kate in the sewers. He vamps out and is enjoying the rich bouquet of her fear. He’s not planning to kill her. He thinks turning her will hurt Angel more. Angel walks up then, and Kate takes advantage of Penn’s distraction to throw holy water all over his face. Penn has decided that if he wants to relive killing his father, a better idea will be to kill Angel instead of a bunch of rando humans who look a bit like his dad. While they fight, Kate looks for a good chunk of wood to use as a stake, and she picks out the bluntest piece imaginable.
I guess that’s good enough, though, because she succeeds in staking Penn. Through Angel. *rolls eyes* Whatever. Nice of her to decide Angel didn’t deserve to die, I suppose. She pulls the “stake” back out, and he collapses.
Angel’s sitting on the roof of the office building, and Cordelia comes to find him. She’s just had a vision. Angel’s been thinking about how people are pretty much the same now as when he was a human. Cordelia knows him well enough now to be able to translate that into him still feeling guilty about Penn, and about enjoying the dreams where he vicariously experienced Penn’s murders. What matters to Cordelia is that Angel is stronger than his demon and that the Powers that send her the visions know he’s not Angelus. She assures him that if he ever does turn back into Angelus, she’ll kill him. He’s very touched, and she has successfully snapped him out of his funk. Aww.
I really like “Somnambulist.” It’s almost always fun to meet vampires who share history with Angel, particularly when they’re played by actors who’ve since become major action stars. I kind of wish Penn could have lasted longer than a single episode. With some additional development, could’ve been the same thing to Angel that Faith is to Buffy. A foil. His darker counterpart (who is ironically of lighter complexion). Oh well. This is another episode in which Kate is a more important character than two of the opening credits characters, and yet she still doesn’t have that status herself. Humph. Was she not a popular character or something? Because I think she’s great. We haven’t had a character like her in the Buffyverse. All the other female characters are on the spectrum somewhere between bold/outgoing and socially anxious/shy, but Kate is asocial, grouchy, and unyielding. I like her, and I want her to have a bigger role in the story. I love how she handles her introduction to the supernatural. She spends a brief scene refusing to believe what she’s seeing, and then she dives right into the lore and gears the hell up. She’s a bit harsh with Angel, yes, but who could blame her? Kate rocks, basically.
I think this is the first episode where Angel really thinks of Cordelia as a friend. What she says to him at the end of the episode definitely has him looking at her in a new light. I’m really enjoying how that dynamic is developing. Alas, the dynamic with Kate is deteriorating. The best that can be said for their former friendship now is that Kate doesn’t quite want him dead, but the trust is completely gone. He doesn’t interact much with Wesley, which is a shame. And then there’s Penn, who is pretty much the embodiment of Angel’s crippling remorse and guilt. In that sense, it’s kind of a shame that he wasn’t the one who killed him, but it’s still pretty fitting that Penn was killed literally through Angel, since he was kind of created that way too.
Cordelia calls Angel her friend twice! Granted, that doesn’t stop her from being willing to kill him at the first sign that he’s evil again, but that’s probably for the best. She’s slowly getting better at talking to him in his own language. It’s great.
Wesley doesn’t have much to do except spectacularly fail to conceal how badly he wants to be a part of this group. He’s so adorable. I just want to hug him. And it’s interesting that he wants in on the group and spends a lot of time riding shotgun with Angel even though he clearly doesn’t trust Angel yet or consider him a friend. I suppose Angel earned his respect and gratitude last time, and now he looks up to him.
“You’d be locked up faster than Lady Hamilton’s virtue!” *turns to Cordelia* “My apologies.”
“That’s okay, I don’t know what that meant.”
“Where did you get the police radio?”
[brightly] “Nothing on the streets about a new vampire in town!” *Penn grabs him from behind* [hoarsely] “Which is maybe because he’s here and has me by the throat.”
“What are you gonna do?”
“Well, first, I thought I’d stop everything and tell you my plan.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.