Written by Tim Minear
Directed by James Whitmore Jr.
We open in the corridor of an abandoned building, which has been graffitied and piled with assorted refuse. Angel arrives, accompanied by the ghostly whistle sound (yes, I will keep making note of that wherever it pops up, because I’m pretty sure it stops after S2, and I want to make sure). He goes through a door and turns on a light. It’s a room full of goats! Oookay. He goes through another door and finds some dudes attempting to perform an occult goat sacrifice...using an instruction manual. It even has diagrams! Bahahahahaha. And why hello there David Fury. Almost didn’t recognize you without the beard.
These two guys are doing sacrifices on behalf of W&H, and they weren’t told much about what it’s for. All they know is that midnight is the deadline. Angel lets them go and then smashes all their ritual stuff.
Cordy, Wes (who is in a wheelchair while he recovers from his gunshot wound), and Gunn have successfully gotten rid of Leah Pipes’s third eye. She has a bald patch on the back of her head where it used to be, but the hair should grow back in no problem. Unfortunately, her unpleasant mom doesn’t want to pay the bill for the team’s services. She feels that since the supernatural can’t exist, supernatural services are a scam, so she won’t pay for it. She and her daughter leave. Cordy is furious, but Wesley stops her from chasing after them. Gunn leaves to go check things out in the neighborhood.
Lilah is annoyed with Lindsey for not feeling the need to fire on all cylinders, because W&H is having some kind of review in two days. It’s a big deal, and everyone (except Lindsey) is scrambling to get ready. Lilah regrets not having children because now she can’t sacrifice them to whatever’s conducting the review. She’s also worried about Darla and/or Drusilla showing up and screwing things up. Lindsey figures they’re lying low after getting immolated by Angel.
Angel is at Kate’s precinct, going over all the stuff W&H is doing lately. He thinks they’re up to something big. Kate isn’t interested, and she’s not sure why he is. He wants her help, but she can’t give that because she’s catching a ton of crap from what they did about the zombie cops. The captain (and necromancer) from that precinct is blaming her for letting Angel storm in and beat the crap out of him, so now she has to go to a hearing with Internal Affairs. She couldn’t handle it if she got suspended. Angel apologizes. Kate doesn’t accept it, because the investigation into the massacre at Holland Manners’ home has turned up evidence that the killers had to break out, not in. So she’s figured out what Angel did, and she’s particularly pissed because he pulled it off with her unwitting assistance.
Lindsey comes home. Darla is there at his apartment. She’s slowly healing from the burns. He found her in a sewer because Dru told him where to look. Darla appreciates that he hasn’t abandoned her. He gives her some blood, and she’s disappointed that it’s cold. It seems Lindsey has a ritual of showering after he laves W&H. Darla rolls her eyes, then snoops through his stuff, including the file Lilah gave him about W&H’s 75-year review.
Angel comes to Caritas to get info from Lorne. A bunch of W&H lawyers are there to sing. Lorne doesn’t want to share his confidential readings, but confidentiality doesn’t apply to bathroom gossip, so he’ll share that. Every 75 years, W&H has a review, and the reviewer is one of the Senior Partners. Those guys are ancient, extremely powerful, extremely evil demons. Angel considers it his destiny to destroy them, so he wants to know how. Lorne reluctantly gives him a lead. He also tells him there’s something called the “home office.”
Angel goes back to the hotel and does research on Lorne’s lead. He doesn’t have a lot to go off, so he goes to the gang’s new office to ransack his way through Wesley’s books, which he and Cordy do not appreciate. Cordy tries to get in his way, and Angel threatens to move her back out of it. Wesley stands up and orders her to give him the book so he can leave. She does. Angel leaves. And Wesley has popped his stitches now.
Kate is at her hearing. There’s nothing she can really say in her defense, because all the context is supernatural. They feel her withdrawal and fascination for macabre cases is linked to her father’s death. They’re firing her, but giving her a nice severance package including psychological help.
Angel’s next stop is the very same bookshop he went to in ’52 to gear up against the Thesulac demon in the Hyperion. Denver is still there. He’s old and bald now. And it’s a bit of a let-down for him that, after fifty years of marveling that a vampire showed up in his show for help destroying a demon, Angel off-handedly tells him he didn’t destroy it and it killed everyone in the hotel.
Denver helps him find some information about the species of demon the Senior Partners likely are—or, at least, the species they take the form of when they manifest in this reality. They do this using an interdimensional ring that seems to work in a similar way to the rings in The Magician’s Nephew. Angel wants to get one of these rings and use it to travel to W&H’s Home Office and destroy it. Angel and Denver are pretty sure the Home Office is hell, and that this is a suicide mission. Angel’s fine with that. First, he needs a glove! Wow, there are too many MacGuffins in this episode. Luckily, Denver bought the glove in question at a yard sale in ’78. If Angel wears it, he can kill the Senior Partner with a chokehold.
Just when Denver is bequeathing the glove to Angel, he gets impaled from behind on a sword. Wielded by Darla. She impales Angel too, so Denver and Angel are like a shish kabob. Darla takes the glove, kicks Angel in the face, and leaves. She plans on taking the Senior Partner’s power for herself.
Wesley is at his apartment. Virginia is there with him. She’s having a hard time dealing with how close he came to dying. They snuggle—carefully, so as not to further damage him. She wonders if it’s really worth it to fight this fight. She wishes he’d give it up. He won’t, and she knows that, which is why she’s breaking up with him.
Kate brings a box of her stuff home from the precinct and sets about getting very drunk. She smashes her shelves of police medals and trophies, and starts sobbing over a picture of her dad.
Lilah, accompanied by two bodyguards, heads to work. Angel jumps out and takes them both down in a single move. She’d like her money back. Angel needs her fingerprints to get him into the building. He winces from his stab wound, which she notices.
Wesley calls Cordy at the office. She’s still extremely upset about Angel’s visit. Wesley doesn’t want to come in the next day because he feels like crap (and was just dumped). He advises Cordy to go out and have fun, but who’s she going to do that with when he and Gunn are her only friends? It’s a rather touching conversation. Wesley feels hopeful about the future, even if the present is kind of sucky. They hang up. Then Cordy gets a call from Mrs. Sharp (the unpleasant mother of three-eyed Leah Pipes). She’s changed her mind about paying them! Cordy is thrilled and will drive out to their house immediately to collect the check. Problem is, Mrs. Sharp only called because a demon made her. It snaps her neck.
It’s review time at W&H! Nathan Reed chides Lindsey for Lilah’s absence. A guard alerts him that there’s a vampire on the floor. Lilah comes in, being dragged by Angel. She elbows him in his stab wound and gets away, but he evades capture. Then he creeps up behind someone, rips her wig off, and throws holy water on her. Hey there, Darla. They fight, and Lindsey is furious to see Darla there, because it means she was using him.
A Senior Partner manifests inside the ritual circle. So is this Wolf, Ram, or Hart? Angel gets the glove away from Darla and then a bunch of guards tackle her. They have stakes. Lilah wants them to stake her, but Lindsey punches Lilah in the face, then fights the guards away from Darla so she can escape. Angel puts on the glove and tackles the Senior Partner through the window. It crumbles to ash at the touch of the glove. Wait, so did Angel seriously just kill one of the Senior Partners? He falls the rest of the way to the ground (fifteen floors—ouch), along with the demon’s empty robe and the interdimensional ring.
He gets up and puts the ring on. Time to go to the Home Office. An elevator door opens on the exterior of the building. Holland Manners is inside, giving Angel a slow clap for making it this far. He’s still dead, but his contract with W&H extends well into his afterlife. The trip to the Home Office will be one-way. Angel is fine with that. Holland hits the down button, and down, down, down they go. Holland asks if Angel’s plan is to kill the Senior Partners and destroy W&H for good. That’s pretty much it. And there’s the prophecy about Angel averting the apocalypse. Well, do that, and there’ll be another apocalypse around the corner. And another. The elevator goes so far down that it’s now in the bowels of the earth, if it’s even still in this dimension.
Angel tells Holland he won’t win. Holland chuckles. This isn’t about winning. Angel doesn’t understand. What’s the point of fighting if you don’t intend to win? Holland says it’s about continuing on. W&H has always existed. They’re the evil that exists in every living creature on the planet. Holland claims that evil is an integral part of what keeps the world going.
The elevator stops, and they’re right back where they started. The Home Office is Earth. Angel drops the glove and walks slowly out of the elevator. He sees people fighting and being jerks to each other on the way, seeming to prove Holland’s point. There’s no winning against W&H. We get a montage of him in his walk of despair, cut with Wesley lying on his couch, Kate overdosing on some kind of pills, and Cordelia heading into the demons’ trap at the Sharp’s house.
Angel returns to the hotel in time to hear Kate leaving a message on his machine. It’s her drunken suicide note. Angel goes to his room. Darla is there. If she wants the interdimensional ring, she can have it. Then he shoves her against the wall and starts kissing her. She doesn’t want this if he’s just messing with her, or if it’s another attempt to save her. It’s not. He actually wants to lose his soul. Darla starts laughing. Angel isn’t in the mood for laughter, so he throws her through the door to his bedroom. She’s a little alarmed, but she’s still down for sexytimes.
Cut to later. It’s storming outside. Thunder crashes, and Angel jolts awake. It’s the end of “Surprise” all over again.
“Reprise” is a very significant episode for Angel. At first, it seems like it’s going to be an episode where Angel can defeat the villain by using a special weapon and that he’ll be able to continue his war against W&H at a whole new level. If that was where the episode had ended, it would’ve been a very mediocre one. But it didn’t. The MacGuffins turned out to be meaningless. The war turned out to be meaningless. Everything Angel’s been fighting for doesn’t seem to matter at all. In the end, “Reprise” transforms from a run-of-the-mill fantasy action/adventure episode into a devastating existential crisis. The people Cordy, Wes, and Gunn helped refused to pay them for it, and then they got killed by demons, and Cordy is now walking into a trap. Denver gets killed just when he’s trying to help Angel. Kate’s reward for working against supernatural evil is to lose her job—the one thing that gave her life meaning. Wes can barely move after his own injury, and his girlfriend dumped him because she couldn’t handle the stress of his high-risk job. Holland Manners’ death hasn’t diminished his ability to work for W&H, which means that Angel letting Darla and Dru kill all those lawyers didn’t actually hurt W&H at all. It’s kind of brilliant just how many flavors of meaninglessness Tim Minear managed to cram into this episode.
Angel spends most of the episode being demanding and abrupt with everyone around him—Kate, Lorne, Cordelia, and Denver. That crap needs to stop. He’s trying to fight W&H, but behavior like that is part of the problem. After everything that happens in the episode and everything he learns from Holland, I’m not really surprised that he’d end up feeling so utterly hopeless that he’d want to end it by losing his soul. Without his soul, he won’t care that the world sucks and W&H is impossible to defeat. And in a world like that, how much does it matter that Angelus would be loose again? I suppose we’ll find out.
Cordelia was already upset enough with Angel, but he crossed a major line by threatening to physically move her out of his way. I think it was easier for her to handle him kicking her, Wes, and Gunn to the curb than it is to handle this evidence of how cold and uncaring he’s become after all they went through together. After he said she was family. Poor Cordy.
It’s impressive that nearly dying from a gunshot wound doesn’t make Wesley consider stepping away from the good fight. Not even for a second. But while his own mortality is something he can apparently deal with quite well, Virginia can’t. Their relationship was pretty uninteresting, so I’m not sorry to be seeing the end of it. I think Wesley recognized how much Angel hurt Cordelia by being prepared to shove her aside if she wouldn’t move. He and Angel weren’t as close as Cordy and Angel, but seeing that hurts him too. Emotionally, but also physically because with the popped stitches.
After what Gunn’s crew members said to him last time about how he hasn’t been around lately, I think the reason he stayed offscreen for most of this one is that he was making up for lost time with them.
“Make sure all troths are securely fastened and sacrifices tilted as shown in diagram F-12 to ensure full drainage into sacred offering bowl. Using a clean, diagonal motion, slit throat of sacrifice with the pre-blessed ceremonial dagger provided. ...I didn't see that in the box."
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.