“Guise Will Be Guise”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Krishna Rao
Wesley makes a prat of himself first thing in the morning by pulling a drawer out of a filing cabinet, dumping its contents everywhere, and then bonking his head on it when a potential client shows up. The guy is crusty and intimidating, and he doesn’t want to talk to anyone but Angel himself. The problem is urgent and not one that could be addressed by someone without special abilities. Wesley tries to make himself sound impressive, but he loses most of his credibility when this happens:
The would-be client leaves Wesley with a bit of a demeaning suggestion, and he starts cleaning up the mess. Then Cordelia comes down with an urgent problem of her own.
At W&H, a security guard looks around the basement. After he leaves, Angel and Gunn climb up through a grate from the sewer. Cordy and Wes catch up to them on the elevator and try to convince them to get right back off it and leave the building. Angel is determined to find Darla, and his brilliant plan is to wing it. That’s the point when Gunn stops being on Angel’s side. The security guard is standing at the elevator door the tenth time Cordy opens it, and Angel slams his nightstick/collapsible stake into his foot before he can use it. They all leave.
At Caritas, some dudes are doing a really embarrassing rendition of “I Got You Babe” while Wes and Cordy explain this fine institution to a thoroughly baffled Gunn. Lorne gives Angel advice. Angel feels desperately that he has to do something, but he’s not sure any of his options are good ones. Lorne refers him to a swami named T’ish Magev.
Angel heads out to see T’ish. Cordy sits in Angel’s chair and does impressions of him. She’s glad he’s getting help.
Angel arrives at T’ish’s place. T’ish is the guy who plays Babe Ruth in The Sandlot. Angel seems to have expected someone different, but this guy knows who he is and invites him in. He compliments Angel’s car, then points out that he’s living in a famously sunny town and driving a convertible, so why does he hate himself? Hahahaha. Angel claims the car wasn’t about self-loathing as much as it was about being offered a great deal on it. Angel doesn’t want to talk about the car. Or his outfit. T’ish asks Angel what he thinks the people around him see when they look at him.
At the hotel, Cordy gets jumped by a big goon looking for Angel. Who then pulls a gun on her. Wesley comes downstairs in time to hear the goon threatening to shoot Cordy if she doesn’t produce Angel immediately. So he dashes to Angel’s room, grabs one of his big billowy overcoats, and strides confidently into the lobby. This is going to be amazing. He almost blows it one second in by tripping, but then he catches himself. Even the camera is playing along with his act, giving him some nice low angle shots to make him seem all imposing. Wesley’s Angel act seems to be the answer to T’ish’s question about what people see when they look at Angel. At least, this is what Wesley sees. Tall, imposing, aloof confidence. He tries to stare down the gun-toting goon, who expects “Angel” to immediately come with him to his boss. Gun-toting goon is more than happy to keep threatening Cordy if bullets won’t work on “Angel.” He goes.
They end up at a huge mansion, where Wesley again almost blows it by coming right inside before the goon invites him in, but he manages to cover it. The boss man comes out, talking to a rival, who leaves. Goon #1 introduces “Angel.” Boss man is a Mr. Bryce. Very powerful businessman whose money actually comes from wizardry. He pours “Angel” a drink and tells him about why he needs his help. He needs supernatural protection detail for his daughter. Wesley forces down three swallows of the drink (it’s blood) and pretends to enjoy it, then dumps the rest in a vase of flowers at the first opportunity. The vase is glass, so it’s really not that subtle. Bryce’s company provides spells that can improve appearance or talent for people who can pay, and the rival who left runs a company that grants wishes. Holy crap. It’s men like this rival (or Briggs over at Consolidated Curses) who are a threat to Bryce’s daughter.
T’ish tells Angel there’s the real him and the image he works to project. Yeah, I’m not so sure about that. I think Kate was right in “Sense and Sensitivity” when she said Angel doesn’t have an insincere bone in his body. If he’s projecting an image, it’s not on purpose. T’ish wants to find out if Angel’s fighting himself, so he tosses him a quarterstaff.
At the Bryce mansion, Mr. Bryce introduces “Angel” to his daughter, Virginia, who has curly red hair reminiscent of Merida. Wesley realizes he’s going to give himself away if anyone sees his reflection in Virginia’s mirrors, so he orders Virginia to cover them. He claims it’s a strategy to conceal his identity from would-be attackers. Mr. Bryce approves, but Virginia isn’t thrilled. Bryce and the goon leave them alone. Wesley admits that he didn’t want to be here. Neither does she. She’s been under threat for a long time, so her existence has been not unlike Rapunzel’s. She’s had a lot of time to read. Wesley wants to do his best to protect her, even if neither of them wanted this. Virginia proposes they go shopping. Shenanigans music starts up. Excellent. That’s my favorite music.
At the hotel, Cordelia is explaining Wesley’s ruse to Gunn. She’s convinced Wesley’s going to get found out and killed in no time, so they have to get Angel back and rescue Wes. Also, what the crap is going on with her hair? Did she get her real hair cut to just past shoulder length but not take out the waist-length extensions? That was a terrible idea.
Wesley is at a rather elite wizard supply shop. There’s fancy music and the items are on displays like it’s a museum. Virginia wants to buy her dad a 50th birthday present. She’s thinking maybe a trinket with the emblem of the goddess Yeska, Mr. Bryce’s favorite pagan deity. Virginia is a little sad about how distant her dad has been for a while. Wes absentmindedly fiddles with a cross on a helmet, then tries to play it off when Virginia notices. Some scary dudes grab Virginia and are about to march her away, but they leave her alone when they realize she’s under “Angel’s” protection. Hahaha. Nice reputation, Angel. Wesley seals the deal by acting all threatening. It’s amazing. Every time he makes a sudden movement, they flinch. He tells them to tell their boss to back off. They skedaddle, and Virginia is much more impressed with him than she was before.
Angel and T’ish are fighting with the quarterstaffs, and T’ish wants to know why Angel’s holding back. Angel doesn’t want to go all out, because he’d kill him. Or is it because he doesn’t want to let the demon control him? T’ish knocks him down, illustrating that Angel’s fear of the demon getting control might mean it’s controlling him in a different way.
T’ish is on the phone with Lanier, Bryce’s rival and the boss of those guys who just tried to kidnap Virginia. Apparently this mook isn’t T’ish. He killed the real one and is now just trying to stall Angel so Lanier’s goons can get Virginia. (Wait, wouldn’t Angel have been stalled if he’d actually been visiting the real T’ish anyway? This seems like a very unnecessary tactic.) Lanier realizes something’s up if Angel is out at T’ish’s place when there’s some guy claiming to be Angel at Bryce’s place.
Cordy scrolls through mugshots online (how she accessed them, I have no idea), then gets bored and looks at a magazine instead. This turns out to be more useful than the mugshots, because she finds a photo of Mr. Bryce, Virginia, and the goon who took Wesley in there.
Wes and Virginia go back to her room. He’s sympathetic of her overly sheltered existence. She’s fed up with it. And now there are a couple of shaman guards outside her door. Only they’re actually kidnappers (or assassins?). Wesley fights them. Quite effectively. They flee. He’s giddy. Virginia is surprised he didn’t vamp out.
Angel is telling fake T’ish about Darla now, as fake T’ish fishes. Fake T’ish thinks Angel needs to get over Darla, and he advises him to find another small blonde woman to have a fling with to get Darla out of his system. Awkward. Angel tells fake T’ish about his curse, which is why things went so badly when he actually did fall in love with another small blonde woman.
Wes and Virginia are in her room. She thinks about running away sometimes. Getting her own place and some kind of silly job. She leans on Wesley’s shoulder. Then they kiss. She’d very much like to sleep with him, but she knows about “Angel’s” curse. Wesley hates everything about this ruse right now. But they keep kissing. The hormones are stronger than Virginia’s sense of caution and Wesley’s desire to stick to his Angel act. He wants to tell her who he really is, but she’s too into the snogging by this point.
Gunn shows up at Tish’s place got get Angel. Fake T’ish jokes about Angel frying in the sun, then points Gunn towards the cabin and knocks him out as soon as he walks past him. Only problem is, Angel saw that. Fake T’ish feels pretty secure standing in the sunlight, but Angel drags him closer by snagging the hook at the end of his fishing pole in Fake T’ish’s lying mouth. Owwwwwww.
Wes is looking affectionately at a sleeping Virginia. They get dressed and step out of her room. He kisses her a bit more. Aww. And that’s when Cordelia finds Wesley. Wes asks Virginia to grab his coat for him, and Cordelia tries to get him to leave. He doesn’t want to. He wants to protect Virginia. Bryce and some shaman guys walk up. They know Wes isn’t Angel. They prove it by dragging him into the sunlight, where he obviously doesn’t burn. Wes introduces himself, for real, to Virginia. She feels very betrayed, especially because she opened up to him so much and trusted him. She gives him the coat back and walks away. Wes and Cordy get ushered out. Then Bryce gets super pissed at his goon for “risking the sacrifice” by bringing the wrong protection detail for Virginia. *narrows eyes* The sacrifice is a few hours away. And Virginia is the sacrifice.
Wes and Cordy get back to the hotel barely ahead of Angel and Gunn. Angel is very confused as to why Wes is wearing his coat. Wes seems to have gotten in the habit of acting like Angel now, because he sort of automatically takes charge of the case. Angel, who is very out of the loop, thinks Wesley is talking about Virginia the state, rather than Virginia a human woman, which leads to some gross accidental double-entendres that make Wes all flustered. But they figure out what’s really going on when Wes mentions the goddess Yeska, who Angel knows isn’t a goddess at all, but a type of demon who only serves humans if they provide a human sacrifice. Wesley realizes Bryce means to sacrifice Virginia. Lanier has only been trying to abduct Virginia to stop Bryce from getting his big power-up from Yeska. Wes immediately delegates responsibilities. Angel protests then admits Wes had a good plan. They leave. Angel really wants his coat back.
At the party, Virginia notices the sacrifice alter and wonders why there’s such an ugly decoration. Bryce calls everyone’s attention and starts the ceremony to summon Yeska. The goon chains Virginia to the altar. If this sacrifice works, he’ll get ten times the amount of power. Virginia can’t believe none of the party-goers will help her, not to mention that her own father is about to sacrifice her. The A.I. team comes in, Wesley taking point (to Angel’s confusion). They fight off Bryce’s guards and Wesley starts unchaining Virginia, but Bryce finishes the incantation and Yeska appears above Virginia. Then she kind of turns up her nose and claims the sacrifice is impure, before disappearing again. Virginia doesn’t understand why Wes came back. He said he’d protect her and he meant it. That seems to be enough to earn her forgiveness. He helps her off the altar.
Bryce would like to know what Yeska meant by Virginia being “impure.” How is she not still a virgin? He thinks this is Wesley’s fault. This whole problem would have been avoided if Angel had really been the bodyguard, since he’s a eunuch. Angel takes extreme issue with that. Cordelia can’t believe a girl like Virginia would sleep with someone like Wesley. Before Bryce can unleash some hilariously misguided fatherly anger at Wesley, Virginia informs him of all the guys she slept with before she even met Wesley, starting at age sixteen. The list includes one of the shaman guys in the room, who tries to slink away unnoticed. Hahahahaha. Virginia punches Bryce and disowns him.
At the hotel, Cordy (with a much better hairstyle) shows Angel a magazine article about Wesley and Virginia Bryce. She’s annoyed Wesley’s the one getting all this attention, and Angel’s annoyed that Angel Investigations was listed as the Wyndam-Pryce Agency in the article. I think maybe he should be more worried about the fact that the picture of Wes and Virginia is attached to a completely irrelevant article, but maybe that’s just me.
“Guise Will Be Guise” is a lot of fun. I think this episode hinges on fake T’ish’s question to Angel: what do the people around him see when they look at him? We have Cordelia doing a somewhat unflattering (if affectionate) impression of him and Wesley spending most of the episode pretending to be him, and actually succeeding in protecting Viginia because of it. Even Gunn seems to trust Angel to be the guy who always has a plan, considering how shocked he is when that plan consists of attempting to outrun W&H’s security. The transitions between the stuff with fake T’ish and the bits with Wes and Virginia work very well, and I love the idea of there being a thriving, cutthroat industry of magical goods and services for the wealthy. Still, if there are magic shops for the middle class (such as the Magic Box) and big hoity-toity museum-like shops like the one Virginia and Wes went to, a giant international law firm that represents demonic clients, a karaoke bar that caters to demonic and human clientele, and a now-defunct branch of the military devoted to dealing with demons, then the idea that the average citizen has no clue the supernatural exists is getting pretty shaky. The trappings of the supernatural world are all over the economy and government! How have they not noticed? Anyway. This episode is a nice breather between the first part of the season (Darla and W&H screwing with Angel unbeknownst to him or the rest of the team) and the next part, which will be getting very intense very quickly and not letting up for quite a few episodes.
So, T’ish being not the real T’ish and all, I’m not sure we’re supposed to accept much of what he said as solid psychoanalysis of Angel. Like I already mentioned, I don’t think Angel deliberately creates a persona different from who he really is. He’s not a superhero with a secret identity; he’s a vampire with a soul who helps people while seeking his own redemption. Nothing about his image seems to contrast against that. The bit about having a convertible because he hates himself is probably more true than Angel wants to admit, but hey, Angel wouldn’t have been able to pull that car chase rescue stunt with Bethany if he didn’t have a convertible, so there. It’s really much more convenient for rescue work. The one part where I think fake T’ish was really onto something was the way Angel is fighting himself and letting his fear of his demon control him. This kind of gets at the core of why Angel is so dramatically different from Angelus. The soul and the demon loathe each other. Which means he might be holding back a little more than he needs to, handicapping himself when he’s only trying to handicap the demon. But is there a risk to deliberately using the demon as a source of power? I guess we’ll find out.
Cordelia is making some very disturbing hairstyle choices in this episode, but I don’t think I can hold that against her as a character. It’s much more the fault of the dozen or more people who saw that hairstyle and didn’t do something about it before it ended up on film. Judging from her impression of Angel, Cordelia seems to wish he wouldn’t beat himself up so much for his past. It’s kind of impressive that she would pick up on the fact that he does that, because he doesn’t exactly go around crying “what have I done?” all the time. He’s just quiet, surly, and endlessly introspective. She’s getting better and better at reading people. It’s not that she was ever terrible at it, but as she gets less self-absorbed, that quality has more room to breathe.
When Wesley pretends to be Angel, it’s almost like the bit in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where Harry pretends to spike Ron’s drink with luck potion, and then Ron plays his best Quidditch game ever because of a placebo. The Angel act is Wesley’s confidence placebo. Normally, he’s much more hesitant and cautious, but he has to feign intimidation and boldness as part of the act, and he accidentally discovers that he actually possesses some measure of those traits. We’ve seen him display them before, but not to this degree, and I think this is the first time he actually believes he really has them. Which is why he and Virginia are now dating. Go Wesley!
Gunn knows very well by now that sticking with Angel pretty much guarantees him a day (or night) of thrilling work either undermining or directly battling against evil. Wesley generally requires a more detailed knowledge of the situation before he’ll agree it’s a good idea to dive in, but Gunn will just follow where Angel leads. Now that things in A.I. are slightly more tense, I think Angel might find that quality particularly valuable, which is why he only brought Gunn with him to W&H, not Wes or Cordy.
“This is Angel. [Opens a book and stares at it.] Oh, no, I can’t do anything fun tonight. I have to count my past sins, then alphabetize them. Oh, by the way, I’m thinking of snapping on Friday.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.