“That Vision Thing”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Jeffrey Bell
We open on Gunn and Wes eating Chinese takeout and discussing how to act around Cordelia, who then arrives. They try to be cheerful without being too obvious with their concern. Fred gives them low marks. She’s sitting under a table with her box of takeout. Wes tries to get her to come out and join them for the meal. Cordy comes back through and Wes and Gunn are extra sensitive again. Apparently it’s been a while since she had a vision.
Gavin Park shows up. For those in the lobby who haven’t met him, Wes introduces him as a W&H lawyer. Gavin notices Fred, and Wes and Gunn immediately move to block her from his view. Aww. Angel comes in. Gavin has brought a list of the hotel’s code violations. He’s apparently still pursuing the “Turn Angel to the Dark Side by evicting him” angle. How annoying. Angel’s glad to see Fred in the lobby.
Vision time! There’s some kind of clawed demon and a Chinese coin. Wes heads to research immediately. Cordy shrugs off Angel’s help, then goes to the bathroom. She now has a set of nasty claw marks on her stomach, and more on her shoulder and back.
Fred is looking in the phone book for herb shops in Chinatown. Wes has figured out some possibilities for what the claw beasts might be. They have enough to head out. Angel gives Fred a task.
Angel checks on Cordy. She’s still in the bathroom. She tries to pretend she’s fine, but he won’t leave. He can tell she’s having a hard time, so he’s having Fred take her home. She’s annoyed at his high-handedness, but it’s probably a good idea.
Gunn, Wes, and Angel have checked four of the five herb shops now, because of course the last one is the right one. An old Chinese man is weighing herbs inside. When Angel steps inside, an old Chinese woman informs him angrily that he’s not welcome. I love it when people can just tell what he is at a glance. Wes explains what they’re looking for, and the couple immediately attack, clawed ninja style. They are not human. They give the guys a pretty good fight before going down. Angel finds the coin they’re looking for around the old man’s neck, and they head out.
Lilah a paper out of her printer. Gavin has taken the liberty of sending all his print-outs to her printer because his is down. She doesn’t appreciate that. He informs her that he’s in special projects now (from real estate). Lilah is not impressed by Gavin’s offensive against Angel. (Because it’s lame.) It seems that she’s up to something a bit scarier than building code violations.
Cordelia is all ready for bed (and also for Fred to leave her apartment). She finds Fred sitting by her kitchen table, eating all of her peanut butter. Fred is reluctant to leave without Angel’s order. It looks like Cordy doesn’t much like Fred, and Fred is making that worse now by rambling endlessly about the strangeness of colloquialisms and also what do those visions feel like? Fred thinks Cordy is like Lassie, since she’s the one whose tips give Angel what he needs for his missions.
Before Cordy can completely shoo Fred out, she gets another vision, this time of a very boil-covered demon. When it ends, Cordelia is covered in boils too, and she’s unconscious. The team comes to her apartment. She’s miserable, but she explains what she thinks the vision is about. Now there’s a key they have to find. She doesn’t understand why the Powers would do this to someone who’s working for them.
Angel wants to make this stop right away. Fred has an idea! What if they could tune into the frequency the Powers are using to contact Cordelia and trace the calls? Wes thinks that’s brilliant. He assigns jobs to everyone. Angel wants to stay with Cordy, but Wes has other ideas. He has to go get the key. ...From a key shop. Crap. Luckily, he has a drawing! Which makes the shop owner hit the panic button, and then Angel has to fight the boil-covered monster.
Gunn walks Fred back to the hotel. It seems like he might have a crush on her, but I’m not sure she’s noticing. Also, there are fumigators in the hotel. Gunn is pretty sure they aren’t legit.
Angel returns to Cordy’s apartment with the key. Lorne is there! Wes thinks Lorne should be able to trace Cordelia’s visions using his empath powers, but Cordy is reluctant to try it, because she’s afraid of losing the visions entirely and becoming useless to Angel. Angel is shocked that she thinks she’s only valuable to him for her visions, and he convinces her to try it. Lorne puts his hands on her temples and asks her to picture a lovely scene. He puts too much spinning into the mental imagery, so they have to stop and then try again.
Lilah is waiting impatiently for this private contractor to finish his paperwork so they can carry on with his task. Also he’s the same actor who played one of the cavemen in “Beer Bad.” Now he’s gone to the opposite extreme with his brain.
He meditates and sends Cordy a vision of some guy in a flaming cage, guarded by a demon. She gets third degree burns all down her arms from this one, and since Lorne was poking around in her mind when the vision hit, he is now unconscious. Wow, I liked that guy better as a caveman.
Cordelia doesn’t understand why this is happening to her. Is she a horrible person? Angel thinks it’s more likely that she’s strong. Cordelia has changed her mind. She’s terrified of having another vision now. Why would the Powers do this to her? Wesley pulls Angel out of Cordy’s room for a word. Lorne’s awake. It wasn’t the Powers. It was someone local, and they’ve basically hacked Cordelia’s feed from the Powers. It doesn’t take long for them to guess W&H is behind it.
Lilah is playing a golf game on her computer when Angel appears, Batman style. He drops the trinkets he retrieved because of Cordy’s visions on her desk and gets up to leave, but Lilah isn’t done using him as an errand boy yet. She wants him to go rescue that dude from his cage of fire, using the coin and the key to get there. Lilah thinks she’s got Angel cornered, but just when she’s having a good taunt about it, he grabs her by the throat and corrects her. He’s not doing jack for her unless she agrees to undo what’s been done to Cordelia.
Wes is studying the coin and key. He thinks he knows how they work. Also, the demons guarding them were most likely good guys. Oops. Wesley is 100% sure this whole mission is a terrible idea, which is why he wants to go with Angel. Angel disagrees. Wesley reluctantly opens the portal by creating a spinning top with the coin and key, and Angel goes in alone. His weapons do not go with him. That’s fun.
He arrives in what looks like some catacombs that only just started their bone collections. He cautiously proceeds through the tunnel until he finds a room lit by fire. Sure enough, it’s the fire cage room. The coolest-looking demon we’ve ever had on either show is there.
This is Skip. He’s there to make sure the dude stays in his fire cage. He and Angel have a pleasant chat about Skips commute to work and how much the dude deserves to be in the fire cage. Skip’s kind of surprised that a vampire is working for the Powers, and also that a vampire like that would be trying to free fire cage dude. Skip punches Angel across the room. They fight. Angel doesn’t do very well for the first few rounds. But then he gets skip in range of fire cage dude’s throttling hands. He doesn’t let fire cage dude choke him out, but he does punch him out. Fire cage dude is free now. Yikes.
Lilah is waiting by a pair of limos on a spillway for Angel to show up with fire cage dude. Angel, Gunn, and Wes drive up with him in the car. Lilah compliments Angel on his success. He’s not interested in anything but saving Cordy from her horrible visions. Wes calls Fred at Cordy’s apartment to make sure they’re really undoing the damage. Bulgy brain man meditates some more, and all the wounds, boils, and burns vanish from Cordy. Gunn lets fire cage dude head on over to the limos. Lilah’s about to get into her own limo when Angel picks up some rebar and hurls it straight through bulgy brain guy’s bulgy brain. Then he threatens to kill Lilah if she ever comes at him through Cordy again.
The next day, Cordy is making coffee. She’s feeling bright and chipper. Also, the hotel has a giant kitchen, so why not use it? She’s very grateful for what Angel did for her, but she’s worried about fire cage dude. Angel isn’t remotely sorry for letting W&H win if it meant Cordy would be okay. They can deal with the consequences later.
Cut to the Yoro Mountains in Honduras. A shaman is casting bones when Darla comes to visit. Apparently she’s been trying everything she can think of to end her pregnancy, and nothing has worked. The shaman needs some of her blood to do his spell. He’s hesitant to slice her hand, so Darla takes the dagger and does it herself, annoyed. He does his thing, which has a 100% success rate. Well. Now it has a 99% success rate, and he’s pretty sure nobody else can do it if he can’t. Resigned, Darla decides it’s time to visit the baby-daddy.
“That Vision Thing” is a troubling episode. Season two began with an episode in which Angel accidentally killed a warrior for good and then had to spend the rest of the episode regaining his footing, after which he knew to proceed with greater caution. He does the same thing in this episode to not one but three good demons, but his only reaction this time is a flippant remark. And instead of figuring out a way to shut down W&H’s destructive visions, he complies (angrily) with Lilah’s request to free an extremely shady dude. This is like the “Choices” of Angel, only with more good guy collateral damage. Why didn’t the team do more research on the coin before the next vision hit? Why didn’t they consider that demons who hate vampires might have a good reason to? They don’t hesitate. Even Wesley, who argued so vehemently against trading the Box of Gavrok back for Willow in “Choices,” doesn’t object to complying with Lilah’s terms in order to save Cordelia. Has the A.I. team been infected with protagonist-centered morality? I know there’s an episode coming up that deals with the fallout of this one, so I’m hoping that if protagonist-centered morality is creeping in, it will soon be squashed.
Angel isn’t being painfully awkward or dorky yet this season! Hooray! Hopefully that will continue. There’s a lot of emphasis on Angel and Cordelia in this one. We don’t get a very close look at Wes or Gunn’s emotional investment in Cordy’s predicament, but Angel will barely leave her side even to pursue leads that could help her. And she’s willing to go through almost anything in order to continue being useful to him. Their friendship has definitely completely recovered from S2. But if the writers were trying to sow the seeds of romance here, I’m not seeing it. They very much still seem like siblings.
Cordelia resisted her visions at first, back in S1. Eventually, she saw the value in them and learned to look outward and focus on helping people instead of helping herself. Now, it seems she’s gone so far in that direction that she thinks her only value is in the visions. True, that’s the biggest thing she contributes to Plot A, but she’s also a strong stabilizing influence for Angel and Gunn, and Angel at least rarely opens up to anyone the way he does to her. She’s definitely useful to the team as more than just vision girl.
Wesley continues to seem not so much like the boss of A.I. (except for having control of the office) and more like Angel’s co-boss. This might just be a natural outcome of his friendship with Angel, his insecurities, and Angel’s sheer commanding presence. But it does seem odd that he wouldn’t even hesitate about the wisdom of giving W&H what they want in order to save Cordelia.
Gunn likes Fred! A man of good taste. So far, it doesn’t seem like his friendship with Wesley is under much strain from Wesley’s questionable leadership style, though.
Fred is making strides towards sanity and socializing, yay! She’s quite refreshing, actually. Just as Willow has been getting less and less likeable, we get Fred, who is very similar to Willow except ramp up the babbly awkwardness from the early seasons to unprecedented levels and also make her even smarter, somehow. And Texan! She’s also Texan. That’s fantastic.
“Your colleague, Gavin, he helped me out. Well, colleague, mortal enemy—however you guys play it around here.”
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