Written by Mere Smith
Directed by Michael Grossman
Cordy, Wes, and Gunn are leaving the hotel, the former two with boxes of their stuff. They’re still a bit dazed from Angel firing them. Cordelia in particular. She doesn’t understand at all how Angel could seriously do that. Gunn doesn’t feel it’s very surprising after what Angel let Darla and Dru do to all those W&H lawyers. So...now what? Gunn is a bit less broken up than the other two, since he was basically still an outside contractor. Cordy and Wes are both hurt and disappointed. Wes thinks maybe some space will give Angel perspective. The three of them head off in separate directions.
Inside, Angel is going through boxes in the basement. Boxes of his sketches of Darla. He’s throwing them in the furnace. After the intro credits, we get a training montage of Angel doing some pretty intense workouts while we listen to his voiceover about how he’s getting ready to go up against Darla and Dru again.
The Manners’ wine cellar is full of bloody lawyer corpses. Lindsey, though, is still alive. He crawls out of the pile, and then we cut to him dealing with a police officer. He seems rather out of it, though not so much so that he can’t be very smug about being the only one they left alive. He’s not, though. Lilah is also alive. Lindsey is annoyed.
Wesley is at Virginia’s place. She’s very indignant that Angel would fire Wesley, particularly since they weren’t just a business—they were on a mission to protect the innocent. She’s very supportive and sweet. She thinks Angel is jealous of Wes for being too good at being him in “Guise Will Be Guise.” Wes doubts it. It’s more about Darla and Drusilla. Wes doesn’t think he’s very qualified for any other sort of job.
Angel’s training montage (and voiceover) continues, now with weapons. He heads out. In the voiceover, he’s talking about getting to W&H’s level. He’s saying this while heading down the stairs, down to the basement, and down into the sewers. Symbolism! That’s not good.
At W&H, Lindsey and Lilah are both being iced out by the rest of the firm. Everyone’s suspicious of them because they survived. Lilah has no interest in being made a scapegoat. Lindsey’s just angry. They go to Lindsey’s office, where Darla and Dru are waiting. Darla informs him that she spared him because she loves him. Then she bursts out laughing. So do Dru and Lilah, and then Darla and Dru snap at Lilah to be quiet. Bahaha. The reason they spared Lindsey and Lilah because, while one of them will probably get literally axed, the other will end up in Holland’s old job. That one will be Darla and Dru’s liaison with W&H. Darla despises being used, so she wants power, and they’re going to help her get it. Lindsey hopes their target might be Angel. Darla shuts that down maybe a little too hard.
Angel ambushes a nest of vampires in the sewers and takes out all four of them by himself, without saying a word. He leaves the sword and his coat behind when he leaves.
Lorne is singing “Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi” at Caritas. Why’d he have to pick such an obnoxious song? Wes is there, ordering a bloody Mary—hold the blood. He’s planning on singing. Cordelia comes in too! Cordy gives him a hard time for coming in to sing, but then he realizes she’s there too, so she must be looking for advice about her path too. They commiserate for a bit. And then there’s Gunn! They all feel pretty pathetic.
Angel is dunking Merl in and out of some kind of sewer drain until he talks. He tells Angel Darla and Dru have been recruiting demons and vampires to be on their new crew. Angel leaves him tied upside down and walks away. Bahahaha. Merl’s scenes are always great.
A bunch of vampires and demons have circled around a fight, cheering the fighters on. The vamp eventually taps out and it ends. Darla and Dru stroll up. The demon who won the fight mouths off, so Drusilla rips off his ears. Angel is in the crowd, wearing a gray hoodie. Darla and Dru are looking for minions who are particularly malevolent and sadistic, with the muscle power to back it up. Drusilla senses Angel. She starts doing her usual thing, but Darla doesn’t want that right now. Especially not when the crazy talk is about Angel. Darla starts searching the crowd for Angel, but then she finishes her recruitment speech, drops an address for them, and drags Drusilla out.
Outside, Angel switches out of vampface and takes off his hood. He’s changed his mind. He’s still not ready to face Darla. He hasn’t cut himself off enough from his feelings yet.
Lindsey is packing up to leave for the day when Lilah comes to his office. All this stress seems to have really gotten to her. She’s tired of it. She suggests maybe they could both survive if they left W&H together, taking confidential files for protection. She offers to do the stealing herself. Also, she seems to be trying to use seductive body language, but struggling with it because of how much she doesn’t like him. Lindsey starts to go in for a kiss, but it’s a ruse. He reaches inside her shirt for the wire she’s wearing instead. Nice try, Lilah. He leaves, blowing her a kiss.
Cordy, Wes, and Gunn are drinking and trying to figure out exactly which one of them is to blame for Angel’s current craziness. Cordy is blaming Wes. Gunn thinks it was Cordy and Wes’s constant bickering that did it. Cordy and Wes think Gunn’s belligerence wasn’t helpful either. The boys both think Cordy could’ve gotten more visions to keep Angel occupied. It devolves into a rather hilarious bout of insult swapping. Just when it seems like it might come to blows, we smash cut to this:
They’re singing “We Are the Champions” very badly. Afterwards, they’re starting to feel hungover and very depressed. Lorne joins them. Cordy wants guidance already. Lorne has been slowly folding up his coat for the last few lines of dialogue, and then he puts it behind Cordy’s head just in time to catch her when she gets slammed with a vision. They head out to deal with it.
At the hotel, Angel is gearing up. The phone rings, but he ignores it in favor of the scary axe right next to it.
Wes, Cordy, and Gunn show up at the location of Cordy’s vision. They spend about thirty seconds wishing Angel was there before Wesley takes charge, announcing that just because Angel abandoned his mission doesn’t mean they will. They start investigating.
Darla and Dru leave another bar where they went recruiting. Apparently Dru gouged out the eyes of the bartender there. Dru and eyes, man. Dru talks about how no matter how many minions they get, it won’t be enough to keep Angel away from Darla. Darla is fed up with all this Angel talk. Drusilla finds that amusing. Darla is very bitter that instead of having Angelus with her, she has to deal with Angel. Now Dru is off in another crazy tangent, this time about licking flames. They’re due for the battle royale of their potential minions.
Angel shows up at the warehouse where the aforementioned minions are waiting.
Cordy, Wes, and Gunn make it into the building where the demon was attacking a girl. It jumps out at them. Wes and Gunn tag-team it while Cordy helps the girl escape. They get pretty beat up, especially Wes, but they win in the end. They feel pretty good about themselves, even though Wes might be passing out soon.
Darla and Dru march up to the warehouse. Dru likes it because it reeks of death. Darla doesn’t like it because it has no view. They talk about Lindsey and Lilah a bit. Dru prefers Lilah. When they go inside, they find that all their demons are dead. Angel is in there, smoking. Smoking? Darla taunts him. Angel doesn’t react. Drusilla is very freaked out. Angel tosses his cigarette down onto a puddle of gasoline. It trails all the way to where the girls are standing and lights them on fire. They flee, still on fire, and Darla breaks open a fire hydrant. They douse the flames, but they’ve both been burned very badly. Dru is particularly devastated. Darla doesn’t recognize Angel or Angelus in the guy who did this to them.
At W&H, Lilah and Lindsey discuss the fire and the demon slaughter. They walk into a conference room, where an unfamiliar higher-up has them sit down. This meeting is to discuss who will be the new Executive Vice President of Special Projects. He talks about Lindsey’s spotty record. Lilah gets smug, until he turns on her. He doesn’t think either of them is very qualified for the open position. However, he is impressed by their cut-throat competitiveness. Which is why Lilah and Lindsey will be sharing the job until further notice. They’re absolutely thrilled about it.
Angel throws knives at a target in the hotel basement. He gets them all on or next to the bullseye. Wesley comes halfway down the stairs to announce that he and the others will continue the work of Angel Investigations whether he wants to be a part of it or not. He leaves. Angel’s next knife is waaaay off the bullseye. Then he closes his eyes and focuses. The reminder of the good fight threw him off for a second, but he’s still convinced that he needs to be fighting the war. The last knife hits dead center.
“Redefinition” is both an enjoyable and a well-named episode. Every character in it is looking for a new direction. Angel is toughening up, both by training physically and by distancing himself emotionally. Cordy, Wes, and Gunn are trying to figure out how to carry on without the man who brought them all together. Lilah and Lindsey are trying to escape the blame and catch a promotion at each other’s expense. And Darla and Dru are trying to make a name for themselves in the demon world, since they can’t be the Fanged Four without Angelus and Spike. At some point, they all hit bottom in different ways. Angel is trying his hardest to actually descend to W&H’s level, so he’s hitting bottom morally (or, as much as one can in an “ends justify the means” sort of way). Cordy, Wes, and Gunn hit bottom in the sense of being completely aimless, which is probably at the moment of the cut to them singing “We Are the Champions.” Lilah and Lindsey feel like they’re stuck at the bottom of a fighting ring, from which only one survivor can emerge. And Darla and Dru hit bottom when they lose all their minions and suffer many third degree burns. By the end, everyone except Darla and Dru is set in their respective paths. Angel is still determined to wage a one-man war against Wolfram & Hart. Cordy, Wes, and Gunn feel good about continuing the mission on their own. Lilah and Lindsey get to continue competing against each other while sharing the promotion. No pressure, guys! Cordy, Wes, and Gunn’s part of the story is so much better because of the way it started with them going their separate ways than if they’d just trudged off to Caritas together right from the beginning. That they each realized on their own how much the mission meant to them was very important for their characters.
I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out, but despite the voiceover, Angel doesn’t actually speak a single word for the entire episode. In a way, it sort of connects it to “Passion.” Angelus did have dialogue in that episode, but many of his scenes were just of him observing while we listened to his voiceover. That connection reinforces Darla’s observation that this version of Angel isn’t the Angel we know or the Angelus she knew. He’s something new. He feels like the only way to fight W&H is to be as ruthless as they are, and to cut himself off from all the human connections he’s built in the last year and a half. Has it all been for nothing? Would he have been right here by this point if Doyle had never found him?
I love that instead of Lorne giving Cordelia advice, she gets it directly from the Powers. And she and the guys don’t realize they can take care of the vision without Angel until they actually do it. Go them! But even if Cordy wasn’t the one getting the visions, I don’t think she’d have walked away from the mission. She’s seen too much suffering to turn her back on it now.
Wesley’s dormant leadership skills reemerge! And he’s still dating Virginia! Out of him, Cordelia, and Gunn, he’s the only one who gets a scene between parting ways in front of the Hyperion and meeting back up at Caritas. There’s no scene of Cordy waiting for an audition and then deciding she doesn’t feel like doing it, or of Gunn working with his crew but with a really disgruntled air—just the scene with Wes and Virginia. Which reinforces the idea that he’s the new leader of A.I. And he and Gunn finally get to spend some time together! Cordelia is there too, but that’s okay. She likes both of them, so she wouldn’t get in the way of them bonding. First they bond over snarking at her and then they fight a demon together. The start of a beautiful bromance!
Gunn didn’t think he was as invested in the mission as Wes and Cordy, but to his surprise, he found out that wasn’t the case. Somewhere along the line, these people and their goals became important to him.
“Aww, what’s wrong, Lindsey, bitter that your girlfriend didn’t slit my throat?”
“That might be overstating it. More like bummed.”
“How is a man supposed to run a business if his employees won’t follow directives?”
“Was one of his directives ‘Hire pansy-ass British guy’?”
“My ass is not pansy!”
“You know, in a perfect world, Angel would be here right now helping me burn this city to the ground. This is his job I’m doing, but where is he? Probably flogging himself in a church somewhere.”
“Ooh, flogging! Eww, churches.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.