“Five by Five”
Written by Jim Kouf
Directed by James A. Contner
(Oh wow, the previouslies also include stuff from Buffy! That’s kinda cool.) We open on a shot of a big bridge, then pan down to a seedy sort of area. A street kid finds some dudes in hoodies at the spot where he and his friends usually hang out. Turns out these dudes in hoodies are actually really messed-up looking demons, and they’ve killed his friends. He books it out of there. Angel’s car comes roaring into view. Wesley’s behind the wheel, and Angel’s perched in the back with a sword, ready to behead demons as they drive past. I kind of love the shot of the demon’s legs as it’s running, where it shows the head tumbling down before the body collapses.
The car spins around and Angel leaps out and approaches the street kid, who is apparently the guy he’s supposed to be saving. He beheads another demon, getting its pinkish-white blood all over Wesley. He offers the kid a ride.
Elsewhere, a bus pulls up to a station, and then we follow a pair of chunky black boots away from it. Those boots belong to a brunette. Faith. A guy smoking by the corner of the station is intrigued, and he starts walking with her, trying to make conversation, maybe convince her to come with him back to his place. She doesn’t respond at first, but then she tells him she’s cold. When he’s halfway through taking off his leather jacket, she delivers a few swift punches and knees, knocking him out. Then she takes his wallet, keys, and jacket. Well that bodes ill for her intentions.
Flashback! We’re in Romania in 1898. Darla leads a blindfolded Angelus into what appears to be their apartment. She has a surprise for him, ‘cause it’s his birthday! The surprise is a bound and gagged Gypsy girl. Wait, does that mean Angel was cursed on his birthday, or does Darla just mean the anniversary of the day she turned him? Anyway. It seems Darla gets off on watching Angelus rape and torture his victims. He bites the girl on her thigh.
In the present, Angel is trying to convince the street kid that he needs to testify about what happened to his friends. Cordelia seriously doubts he’s going to succeed, but Wesley is more confident in Angel. Aww. Just when Wesley’s explaining that the fact that the kid has a soul means that deep down he has the urge to do what’s right, the kid tries to walk out of Angel’s office, but then Angel yanks him back inside. Angel tells the kid that he can either face his own demons or he can face Angel’s, and I love how that threat actually seems to scare him.
Faith is dancing at some club. As usual, her definition of dancing involves lots of grinding up against people. One guy in particular, a guy who clearly has a girlfriend. She’s not happy. Faith doesn’t care. The guy doesn’t really seem to care either. Maybe that girl should find a different boyfriend. Faith elbows her in the face, which is enough to awaken the guy’s sluggish sense of loyalty. A full on brawl breaks out, but Faith just keeps dancing while occasionally punching and kicking people.
Lindsey, the hot lawyer from “City Of,” is trying to convince a judge to dismiss the case against his client. His argument might be annoying, but as long as the prosecution can’t produce their witness, there’s not much they can do to fight back. Then Angel walks in with the street kid. Success! Lindsey is not happy to see Angel again. The kid goes up to the witness stand, and Angel and Lindsey have a glare-off. Or, at least Lindsey does. Angel just stares at him like he’s not even worth the effort.
Having lost the case, Lindsey is trying to save face on the phone with his boss. Another W&H lawyer comes in. It seems Lindsey’s boss wants him to get rid of Angel. The other lawyer has an idea for how to accomplish that, but we don’t get to see what’s in the file he shows Lindsey. Lawyer #2, Lee, is met by Lilah from “The Ring” on his way to the elevator. She’s interested in his solution to the Angel problem too. His idea is to sic Faith on Angel. Lilah has already located Faith and she’ll be the one to go hire her for the job. Lee isn’t happy about that, but Lilah walks all over him.
Cordelia is on the phone with a potential client. At first, she doesn’t think it’s their kind of case, since it’s just a divorce case, but the potential client wants to pay bank for it, which is enough to pique her interest. She schedules a lunch meeting for the next day.
Angel and Wesley arrive just when she hangs up. They swap news about the trial and the appointment. Angel wonders when the other shoe is going to drop with W&H after they beat them in court.
Faith is walking with Lilah. I’m not sure what Lilah told her, but at least one of them seems confused as to the nature of the proposition. Faith starts threatening Lilah, then gets even more threatening when Lilah calls her by her name. Lilah is clearly very afraid, but she handles it rather well. She introduces herself in such a way that it’s clear to Faith that she’s about to come into some money. A limo containing Lee pulls up. Faith and Lilah get in, and it drives away.
Flashback! Darla comes to the apartment to find Angelus, only he’s not Angelus anymore. He’s been cursed since she last saw him. He’s curled up next to the fire, muttering about how victims behave in a horrified voice. Darla thinks he’s playing a game, but he keeps muttering, and he smacks her hands away. Then he hugs her, seeming desperate for something familiar and comforting, but she shoves him off. He tells her that the Gypsy girl’s family got revenge, and now all he can think about is all the people he’s killed. He can remember every one of them. Darla realizes he has a soul, and she’s disgusted. He pleads for her help, but she kicks him out, threatening him with a stake.
In the present, Lindsey, Lee, and Lilah (bahaha, so many L names) are all in an office with Faith. They know she’s a Slayer, and they think they can help her with her legal trouble if she helps them with their Angel problem. As soon as they drop his name, she’s immediately on board. They’re a little bewildered; they thought she’d need more convincing. All she needs is to know how big her check will be. Lee tries to arrogantly explain how she needs them more than they need her, so she shouldn’t be making demands and if she screws this up, they’ll leave her to the mercy of the legal system. Faith’s response is to bash his face repeatedly into his desk. Lindsey and Lilah watch, amused, and Lindsey lets their scheduling guy know to subtract one person from the lunch plans. Hahaha, wow, these people are sharks.
Cordelia leads the way to the spot where they’re supposed to meet with their client. As Wesley and Angel are arguing with her about whether or not they’ll take a divorce case, Faith comes up behind Angel and shoots at him with a crossbow from point blank range. Angel spins and catches the bolt in his hand. Awesome. The only other vampire who ever catches a crossbow bolt in either series is the Master, but Buffy was farther away from him and he was facing her. Even Faith thinks that was pretty sweet. Then she runs out of the building. The A.I. team is all pretty shocked to discover that Faith is out of her coma.
Back at the office, Angel gets off the phone with Giles, who explained about what happened with Faith in Sunnydale (the short version, I’m assuming, since Angel didn’t immediately go into extra broody mode about what Faith did to Buffy). Wesley is indignant that Giles didn’t contact him, since he was Faith’s Watcher. Giles probably would’ve called if he’d known Faith was heading for L.A. The first step in dealing with Faith is locating her. Angel assigns Wes and Cordy to see what they can find out about recent incidents of violence and killings, particularly around bus stations and train stops. Then he wants them to get out of the line of fire until he handles the situation. Wesley doesn’t want to duck out of this fight, but Cordelia is fine with the idea. Wesley thinks they should work together, but Angel thinks that as the boss, he can tell Wesley when to lay low and when to help. Wesley’s a little concerned about Angel’s “kill or be killed” attitude regarding Faith, who is not a demon, but Angel fires back with a jab about how he had a chance to help Faith see reason a year ago, but then Wesley brought in the Council’s cavalry and helped tip Faith the rest of the way over the edge. Point taken.
Angel gears up. Or, starts to, until he hears floorboards creaking overhead. The office seems deserted, but then Faith draws the blinds in the outer office. She has a gun. She tosses it to him, giving him an opportunity to take her down before she takes him down. He doesn’t even hesitate to fire at her leg, but it was a blank. He tosses it back. She’s disappointed that he didn’t shoot to kill, since she thinks that means he’s not committed. He assures her that he’ll enjoy stopping her. She figures if it’ll make him that happy, then why not just sleep with her so she can tango with Angelus instead? He’s not interested. Then she shoots him in the torso. Second one was an actual bullet. She leaves by crashing through the window.
At W&H, Lindsey and some other guy get out of an elevator, and then the camera pans over to the feet of someone else (what’s with the camera and feet in this episode?), who turns out to be Angel in a lawyer suit. It’s a good look. The guy from the elevator catches him, thinking he recognizes him from some meeting, and Angel plays along until the guy leaves, then heads for the elevator. He makes it into Lindsey’s office and starts poking around. Lindsey comes in while he’s rummaging through his desk. They both do some posturing (which Angel is better at without having to try very hard), but Lindsey doesn’t give him anything about Faith. W&H has ways of detecting vampires on the premises, which means there will be a lot of security guards up there soon. Angel deals with the first one in about a second, though, so he’s not too worried. He doesn’t want to have to fight through the rest of them, so he leaves.
Wesley and Cordelia are reading the report of the brawl at the club on the way to her apartment. When Cordelia tries to unlock her door, Dennis shoves it closed again. Thinking he’s just being difficult because she brought a guy with her, she insists that he let them in. He does, and she assures him she’ll never be sleeping with Wesley. When she goes to her room to pack some stuff for the laying low, she finds Faith waiting for her. Faith thinks Cordy and Wes are the key to getting Angel fully in the game. Wesley tries to reason with her, but then she elbows Cordelia so hard in the face that she crumples to the floor. Wesley responds by punching her. Nice! Faith is impressed too, but she does a bit more damage to him when she retaliates.
Flashback! The newly cursed Angel, now thoroughly bedraggled from wandering around for at least a few days in the same outfit, stumbles through an alley. He spots a group of people leaving a pub. They think he’s a beggar, and one scornfully tosses some coins at him. But that’s not what he’s hungry for. He vamps out, the men try to beat him up, but he beats them up instead, then grabs the woman and bites her. Angel, no!
In the present, Angel finds Cordelia coming to in her apartment. She’s very distressed. It was her idea to grab some stuff from her apartment before leaving, and now Faith’s taken Wesley.
Wesley is bound and gagged in a chair, and he already seems to have taken quite a beating. It’s fascinating to watch Faith’s expression here. Sometimes she looks like she’s enjoying this, other times she looks like she’s horrified at herself. She’d like to know which of the five basic torture groups (is that a thing?) Wesley’s intereted in suffering next, but Wesley just tries to insult her when she removes the gag, so she replaces it and decides to go with sharp.
Cordelia tells Angel everything she and Wesley found out about Faith’s movements since she came to town. Luckily, they know the address of the guy she beat up for his keys and wallet when she first arrived, so that’s where Angel goes.
Faith is sitting on the window ledge, looking out at the city, holding a now bloody shard of glass. She lets it fall to the floor of the alley outside, then she slips back in. It’s time for torture with fire. She speculates on whether or not things would be different if Giles had been her Watcher from the start and Wesley had only been assigned to Buffy. She talks like she’s trying to screw with his head by musing on fate, but it seems more like she’s just wondering if she was doomed by destiny all along, or if she could have avoided getting here if only she’d made different choices. She flares a lighter on some cooking spray uncomfortably close to Wesley’s face while she talks about how he should’ve tried harder to be a good role model for her. She takes off the gag again so she can hear him scream, but he promises her she won’t.
Enter Angel! He kicks the door down so hard it flies across the room. Faith holds a knife to Wesley’s throat.
Flashback! Angel staggers out of the alley. The woman steps out a few seconds later. She’s lost some blood, but she’s fine. (I’m not sure about the dude in the alley, though. He’s still sitting with his back to the wall, just like before. Is he dead or just unconscious?)
In the present, Angel seems to know something about Faith’s motives that she hasn’t been letting on. She feels that killing Wesley will be payback, and Angel asks “For what? I thought you were happy with the way you are?” Excellent questions. Angel’s disappointed that W&H’s pricetag for him is a mere $15,000. Wesley jerks so that his chair falls over, giving Angel an opening to attack. His and Faith’s fight is incredibly brutal, and it completely demolishes the apartment. Angel seems to take the worse beating for most of it, and then they both crash through the window and fall three floors to the alley. But that’s nothing to a vampire and a Slayer, apparently. Faith gets up and keeps whaling on Angel, while Wesley tries to saw through his ropes using a shard of glass, I think. It starts raining, and Faith keeps punching Angel, demanding that he fight back. He doesn’t. He just defends himself and dislocates her shoulder. Wesley gets free and comes rushing down with a knife from the kitchen. Angel continues to only fight defensively, and Faith’s attacks get sloppier and weaker. She starts crying, begging for him to just kill her. Gradually, her struggles cease, and he just hugs her while she sobs. Having watched this happen, Wesley lets the knife drop to the ground.
“Five by Five” is easily one of the best episodes of Angel S1. I think my top five list is “City Of,” “I Will Remember You,” “Five by Five,” “Sanctuary,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Without the flashbacks to Angel’s past, it would be easy to see this episode as mostly about Faith, but I think she and Angel share it pretty equally, and Wesley gets a good helping too. Throughout the whole episode, Faith keeps lashing out at people in ways that are more brutal than necessary. She tries to have fun while hurting people at that club, I think in an attempt to convince herself that she actually enjoys hurting people. It doesn’t work, so she just keep trying to become as evil as she feels. She wants to be stopped, but she feels unstoppable. Which is why she hurts Cordelia and Wesley. She knows how compassionate Angel is, so if she’s going to convince him to kill her, she’ll have to do something both heinous and personal. This is such an amazing crossover. It continues Faith’s story from “Who Are You?” without disrupting the flow of Angel. We learn more about Wolfram & Hart than we ever have, and two of their lawyers are upgraded to recurring characters, who have their own vibrant set of cutthroat professional relationships. Instead of it being a crossover that mostly just serves the storyline of the parent series, it actually broadens this one.
Angel, who has been in the position of feeling like a monster and trying to embrace it instead of hating himself, sees through Faith’s efforts to goad him into killing her. In fact, Angel once tried to provoke Buffy into killing him for similar reasons (but without trying to make the situation worse; he just neglected to mention that he wasn’t the one who bit Joyce). The suicide by cop trick won’t work on him. In “Consequences,” he told Faith that he and she were a lot alike, but I don’t think he realized how truly kindred are their spirits until this episode. He’s come a long way since he was in the place where Faith’s at, and he has a lot more baggage than she does. If he could pull through, then she can too. Angel’s situation makes him uniquely capable of believing other people can still be saved, even when most would have given up on them a long time ago. I think he might be even better at this than Buffy, who has never known much evil in a first person way. That’s why he doesn’t give up on the street kid, and it’s why he’s willing to help Faith even after she spent most of the day baiting him by hurting him and the people he cares about. Darla threw him out into the cold when he needed help; he’s not going to do that to someone in a similar situation.
I think this might be one of the first times Cordelia actually blames herself for something. It’s not something she should blame herself for. How could she know Faith would get a hold of her address and be lying in wait? But still. Usually Cordelia is very good at blaming other people for things, and now she’s upset with herself for letting her desire for a few creature comforts cause her to fail Angel.
Wesley goes from wanting Angel to approach Faith with compassion to being willing to kill her himself. Which is the opposite of Angel’s arc. And the way Wesley reacts when Angel essentially pulls rank on him is interesting. As much as he started out working for Angel as the biggest brown-noser ever, he already feels more like a friend and colleague than an employee. Being put in his place stings a little, but fortunately he seems to realize Angel’s high-handedness for what it is: a serious grudge against Faith (both on his own behalf and on Buffy’s), and a desire to finish it before anyone else can get pulled in. It’s also pretty impressive how well Wesley holds up under torture. Admittedly, Faith wasn’t really trying to get anything particular out of him, but he has a surprising amount of defiance in him.
“Someone with that much body art is gonna have a different definition of civic duty.”
“It seems you’re taking this personally.”
“Well she tried to shoot my own personal back, so yeah.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.