Written by Meredyth Smith
Directed by Joss Whedon
We open on Lilah creeping into Lindsey’s office and poking around. Darla catches her, spooking her rather badly. Darla shows Lilah the powder she uses to control Angel’s dreams. She’s quite enjoying herself doing that.
Angel wakes up abruptly, then heads to the hotel lobby and finds Cordy and Wes squabbling. Angel is confused and annoyed and hasn’t been getting much benefit from his sleep lately, so he wants them to explain or knock it off. That second one especially. They were debating whether or not to start paying Gunn, and then it devolved into the aforementioned squabble. Cordelia wants to pay Gunn, Wesley thinks Gunn might feel insulted by it. Angel tries to pull rank on Cordelia when she gets all bossy, but she sticks out her tongue. She’s indispensable, as the one who gets visions. This gets the first smile of the day out of Angel, but it’s brief. He needs caffeine. However, it’s ten at night, so there isn’t a pot of coffee handy. They start discussing Angel’s sleep problems, but Cordelia gets a vision. It’s of a girl being attacked in an alley. Angel runs out, but Cordelia doesn’t think he’ll make it in time.
The girl is running from two thugs who plan to rape her, and then she telekinetically squashes them against the side of the alley with a dumpster! So it looks like this will be the much darker version of Matilda. Awesome.
Angel strolls onto the crime scene like he owns the place, and a very confused beat cop goes from trying to get him to leave to awkwardly telling him everything he knows about the double homicide. It’s fantastic. Confidence is the best disguise. The cop hasn’t seen a girl like the one in Cordy’s vision, so Angel ditches him to go looking for her. Then an actual police detective shows up, and the beat cop realizes he’s been had.
Angel finds the girl in an abandoned building that looks like it could be a department store or something. She’s extremely rattled and wants him to keep his distance. He tries to stop her from bolting, and she telekinetically shoves a chunk of rebar through his chest. This makes her even more upset. It seems this stuff happens as a kind of reflex. She starts running away, but Angel gets up and pulls the rebar out. The girl is shocked. Angel introduces himself. The girl misunderstands and thinks he’s an actual angel, which would mean she’s screwed. He corrects her. He tentatively asks her some questions. She’s very skittish, but his approach is enough to get her to take his card. Then she runs away. Angel then falls over, clutching his wound. Hahaha.
The girl heads home...which is Lilah’s apartment. Oh crap. Also, girl’s name is Bethany. Lilah asks her how her night at the club was. Bethany feels like a total moocher because Lilah is letting her stay at her place for free. She wants to contribute in some way, but Lilah laughs it off. She’s doing this out of the goodness of her heart! She doesn’t expect anything in return. She certainly isn’t planning on getting Bethany to sell her soul (and her talents) to W&H or anything. The reason Bethany knows Lilah is that she came to Bethany’s school, posing as a domestic abuse survivor. Bethany was so inspired that she tried to follow in Lilah’s footsteps. Bethany heads to bed.
Cordelia is struggling to get Angel’s wound bandaged, with Wesley’s help. For this process, Angel is, of course, shirtless.
She isn’t impressed with the paucity of information Angel managed to learn about the girl (he didn’t even get her name). She too has been impaled by rebar, and she expected better from Angel. Bahaha. Their best lead for now is based on Bethany’s northeast accent and the fact that she’s on the run, so they can start searching missing persons from the northeast. Also, Wesley knows nothing about telekinesis except its definition. Angel puts him on research duty.
Gunn shows up! He has an awesome battleaxe that looks like it was made by bolting half a hubcap onto a curvy-handled hatchet. He’s psyched for a chance to use it, but alas, all Angel needs from him this time is some legwork in the form of figuring out who the squashed guys were. Something he says on his way out puts Cordelia back on the subject of paying him. Angel promises to mention it to Gunn. Then he heads to bed. He’s only been awake three hours.
Bethany is lying awake in her bed, and shots of her falling asleep are intercut with Angel getting in his bed. Then she starts dreaming. Seems like a really creepy memory of her backstory, which involved her father sexually abusing her as a child. And it seems he was a particularly determined piece of pedophilic slime, because she already had telekinesis back then, but that didn’t dissuade him. The nightmares/memories make her wake up, and also send a lamp crashing into Lilah, who was checking on her. Bethany runs away, panicked and remorseful.
Angel, meanwhile, is dreaming about Darla. It might also be a dream that’s half-memory. They’re snogging in old-fashioned clothes in front of a fireplace, and then they vamp out and bite each other. It’s the night Darla brought him the Gypsy girl. In real life, Darla is narrating this dream to him. He wakes up, and Darla isn’t there anymore.
Angel makes it downstairs halfway through the next day. Cordelia hasn’t turned up anything about the girl and Gunn hasn’t come back yet, but Wesley has learned that telekinesis tends to flare up in highly stressful moments. Oh, also, Bethany just walked in. She’s still very jumpy, but she introduces herself. She mistakes Cordelia and Wesley for his blood relatives and is rather disdainful of the idea. Despite the fact that Angel does consider them his family, he seems to pick up on her wariness of the concept, so he tells her they’re friends. She takes a couple of steps farther inside, then faints. Angel catches her, and she jumps away from him. Cordelia narrows her eyes. Bethany accepts the offer of tea, and Cordelia explains what Angel does.
At W&H, Lilah is reporting to Holland about Bethany. The rapists in the alley were arranged by them! Gross. Holland isn’t impressed with Lilah’s progress so far, but he isn’t taking her off Project Turn Bethany into a W&H Assassin. Then Bethany calls. Things are looking up for Lilah...until Bethany tells her where she is.
Bethany has changed out of her nightdress into some of Cordy’s clothes, which don’t fit very well. She’s worried her “friend” will think she’s crazy. She’s still pretty jumpy and doesn’t want to open up, but Angel’s okay with going her speed. He thinks she can learn how to control her power, but she just wants to get rid of it.
Cordelia is watching them chat in the courtyard from the lobby. She’s getting a serious vibe from Bethany. Some weird sexual vibe.
In the courtyard, Bethany explains how her power does its thing to Angel. She kind of gets sucked into it, then comes out. It’s like blacking out, but with supernatural abilities. Angel pushes the wrong button and Bethany gets angry. Wesley comes out, having decided they can make more progress if he just button mashes by saying they shouldn’t waste their time with her if she won’t let them help, so they should just send her home to her father instead. She snaps and makes Wesley fly into the courtyard wall and Angel land in the sunlight. No permanent harm done, but at least now they know for sure what her issue is.
Cordelia thinks Wesley’s insane for doing that, though. He’s not sorry, because now they know enough to move forward. Cordelia is horrified by the idea of Bethany being sexually abused by her father. Angel comes in and tells Wesley to leave until they’re done with Bethany’s case. Wesley understands. Angel also thinks it’d be better for Cordelia to spend the night at her apartment.
Angel finds Bethany sitting in a rundown room on the top floor of the hotel. (They haven’t gotten around to renovating that floor yet.) Angel sits next to her. He tells her something not unlike what he told Faith in “Consequences,” when he was trying to get through to her. There might be a lot of evil in the world, but there are also a lot of people who keep trying to do good. She wishes she could see people the way he does.
That night, Angel has more sexy dreams about Darla, caused by Darla. Bethany comes into his room, and he wakes up. She very awkwardly and passive-aggressively suggests that they sleep together. Then starts trying to grope him. He moves away and she goes all telekinetic for a second, then jumps back. She’s embarrassed/defensive now. It seems that she wants intimacy but has no idea how to have it, thanks to the heinous crap her father pulled. Her defense mechanism is to check out mentally and emotionally when she’s having sex. Not unlike how she isn’t mentally present when her ability triggers. Bethany thinks Angel might not be as much of a people person as his talk about the good in people would make him seem. He’s done talking to her (but not in a rude way). When she heads back to her room, we see Darla lurking in the bathroom area of Angel’s room.
At W&H, Holland is not happy about the ways Lilah’s project (Bethany) is interfering with Lindsey’s project (Darla gradually unhinging Angel through his dreams). He wants Lilah to get Bethany out of the Hyperion as soon as possible.
Bethany and Angel are working on getting some control of her telekinesis. She feels really weird, but she succeeds in draping a scarf around Angel’s neck without strangling him or something. Cordelia thinks it’s rather fetching on him, and she tells him Gunn wants to meet up. Meanwhile, she and Bethany can go shopping. Bethany’s down for that.
Angel and Gunn break into the apartment of one of Bethany’s would-be rapists. The guys were hired muscle. Angel leans against the threshold barrier to see inside better, and he brings up the whole “hey do you want to get paid for helping us out?” issue. Gunn wouldn’t say no to that. Angel falls through the barrier, which means the guy is dead. Angel hits redial on the guy’s phone, and he gets W&H.
Cordy and Bethany are still enjoying their girls’ day out. Then Cordy abruptly changes the subject to how Bethany needs to never try to sleep with Angel. She doesn’t really buy Bethany’s whole air of being a helpless damsel (but she’s pretty sure Angel does). Bethany could’ve stopped the rapist guys in a non-fatal way, but she didn’t. Bethany sits down, and Cordelia explains that Angel found her because of Cordelia’s vision. She really does know what Bethany went through, and she’s pretty sure Bethany has always had just a bit more control than she thought, and not in a good way. She doesn’t want anyone she cares about to become the next case of collateral damage. Bethany agrees not to come onto Angel, then asks if Cordy and Angel are a thing. Haha, no.
A guy walks between them and sticks Bethany in the neck with a tranquilizer. Two other guys grab Bethany and try to run off with her, but Cordelia throws hot coffee on their faces. She almost manages to get Bethany away, but more guys haul her into a van and drive off with her. Angel and Gunn drive up, and Cordelia sends them after her.
Gunn takes the wheel and Angel jumps onto the hood. Gunn gets close enough for him to jump onto the back of the van. He gets inside and tosses the goons out.
Lilah is very angry that her plan to fetch Bethany didn’t work. She tells someone on the phone to send in the big guns. At the hotel, Angel and Cordy have just told Bethany the truth about Lilah, which she is not happy to hear. She’s starting to break down. The telekinesis is getting dangerous again. Angel tries to get through to her by saying she can’t let the bad guys win by going to pieces. It seems to work, but when she walks to the door, her father is on the other side of it. Every window on the fifth floor promptly shatters, and Cordy and Angel are unconscious now.
Mr. Chaulk comes inside, telling Bethany Lilah sent him to help her. He wants her to come home with him. She’s pretty much gradually destroying the hotel room the longer he talks. She manages to get it under control, though. At first, that seems like a very bad thing, because she freezes Angel in place. But then she levitates her dad and force chokes him. Angel encourages her, and she sends her dad flying out the window. She stops him before he hits the ground, then lets him drop the last five feet. She seems to be doing much better now! As are Angel and Cordy.
The next day, Bethany is cleaning her stuff out of Lilah’s place. Lilah tries to convince her she needs W&H’s support. Bethany doesn’t care. She heads out, and Angel is waiting on the doorstep. Lilah even tries to regain ground by outing Angel as a vampire. Doesn’t work. Lilah will just have to settle for the feelings of schadenfreude she’ll have as Lindsey’s project picks up steam.
I’ve always really liked “Untouched,” and I’m honestly not sure if that’s just because I love stuff about people with powers in general or because it’s a good episode independent of Bethany’s telekinesis. I love the little ripple effect that comes from Bethany when her telekinesis activates. It’s subtle, but it looks awesome and it makes it absolutely clear that she’s the one doing these things, not some ghost or something. This episode is also the one that comes closest to using the invitation rule for hilarious gags. I wish they’d done more with that, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s incredibly creepy that Wolfram & Hart not only hires remorseless supernatural contract killers like Vanessa Brewer (and like they tried to hire Faith), but they also track down people with abilities and manipulate them into becoming their pawns. Bethany had already been abused by her father in the grossest way, and they were going to use that to turn her into their tool. So evil. And Gunn becomes a part of the team for real! If in an independent contractor sort of way, rather than a fixed salary kind of way. Darla continues to screw with Angel, but we’re not sure what that’s building towards yet. It’s a good stand-alone plot and good for developing the ongoing storylines.
I still can’t tell how much control Angel has in the situation with Darla and her dream manipulation. The powder would suggest that Darla at least has full control over the dreams, but is she also stopping him from telling Cordy and Wes about it? If he’s sleeping twenty hours a day, there’s definitely something physically wrong with him, but he seems to be avoiding the subject, and they don’t want to push it. So far, it hasn’t cost them anyone they were trying to save, so I guess Angel can continue being surly about it for now.
Cordelia’s blunt form of perceptiveness gets put to excellent use in this episode. She figures out what’s really going on with Bethany, and while Wesley’s the one who actually confronts her, Cordelia’s talk with Bethany while they’re finishing their day of shopping was crucial. It seems like Bethany was wrapped up in her own little miserable bubble, but Cordelia forced her to realize that other people think and feel too, and she can’t just steamroll over them. I also like how insistent Cordelia is that they legitimize Gunn’s involvement in A.I. She’s the one who recently spent a whole episode attached to his side, so it makes sense that she would be the one rooting for him on the issue of a salary.
Wesley continues to be surprisingly courageous and willing to do things of questionable ethics to get the job done. That could go amazing places or terrifying places. I can definitely see the foundation for his future badassery being laid.
Gunn, having dealt with his residual grief and guilt issues about Alonna, is just as lighthearted as he was while that was still simmering under the surface. I really enjoy watching him and Angel doing fieldwork together. I just hope it doesn’t mean that Angel and Wesley won’t be doing as much of it this season as they did last season.
“I was top ten percent of my class!”
“What class, advanced bosoms?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.