Written by Tim Minear and Jeffrey Bell
Directed by David Grossman
Angel is training Cordy in the use of swords. I would say it’s one of those sexy sparring scenes except that they feel way too much like siblings for sexual tension to be a thing with them. Also because she turns the series of sword moves he teaches her into a cheerleading routine.
Lilah has a very urgent meeting, which Gavin has been horning in on. It’s that guy Billy from “That Vision Thing.” Oh hey, are we finally getting the resolution to A.I. team’s decision cave to W&H’s demands for Cordy’s sake instead of finding another way? Apparently Billy skipped out on his family for a few days. His family which includes a congressman, who retrieves him from W&H. Also, Lilah doesn’t appreciate Gavin horning in on her case. When she gets in Gavin’s face about it, he goes all Misogynistic Hulk on her, grabbing her by the hair and throwing her around her office. This, it would seem, was Billy’s doing.
The whole team is having dinner and videogames at Wesley’s flat (wait, Wes owns a game console?). It seems he’s doing that thing guys sometimes do when they’re too scared to ask a girl out, so instead they throw a group get-together that happens to include the girl in question. Why exactly is he nervous about talking to Fred? She’s way more of a spaz than he is. Cordy has noticed his crush, but Gunn and Angel haven’t. Wes thinks maybe office romances are a bad idea, but Cordy thinks they might have no other options, unless they’re content with being forever alone.
Vision time! Cordy sees a man attacking his wife in a convenience store. Last week. So this is a useful vision to have now...why? Later, at the hotel, Wes has done a ton of research into that vision. Angel spots Billy in one of the photos. Which explains why the Powers sent Cordy a rerun. This is the fallout. Angel still doesn’t regret breaking Billy out, and he doesn’t want Cordy to feel guilty. He sort of has a good point, though, about W&H being the ones who are really responsible. I still think he should’ve at least tried to find another way out when they were giving her those visions, but whatever.
Angel breaks down Lilah’s door. She’s sitting in shadow. She comes close enough for us (and Angel) to see that she has a shiner and a ton of scrapes and bruises. Lilah is pretty sure there’s no way Angel can get near Billy, since he’s so well connected. Not that she wants him to go near Billy.
Angel, Wes, and Gunn check out the family estate where Billy lives. While Wes and Gunn toss around ideas for how to break in, Angel simply hops the gate. They decide, nonplussed, to wait for him. Angel makes it up to the window, through which he can see Billy. And Billy can see him. He throws a chair through it and walks inside, no invite needed. Before Angel can do anything to him, he gets arrested. Wait, no, Billy gets arrested. When an officer tries to cuff him, he agrees to go quietly, but his fingers leave a scary red light in the man’s skin. The cops leave with Billy, uninterested in Angel.
The cop Billy infected with his misogyny goes nuts on his female partner while they’re on the way to the precinct.
At the hotel, Wes has confirmed the reason Billy was arrested: a dead body. They realize that Billy’s goal was to get away from his family. Angel plans to intercept Billy before Lilah can catch up with him. Only problem is, he isn’t in lockup. The patrol car crashed after the male cop attacked his partner. She had to shoot him to stop him from killing her, and she’s in the hospital now. Angel can smell that some of the blood in the cruiser is Billy’s. Wes collects a sample of it by pressing a paper bag against it. Nooo that is not how you collect blood samples. You don’t know where that paper bag has been! You’re supposed to be a detective! Angel will track Billy by scent while Wes finds out whatever he can from that incredibly contaminated blood sample.
Cordy is preparing to leave the hotel, armed with a taser and other weapons. Fred advises against her leaving, but she goes anyway. Then Wes gets back. He wants Fred’s help, which she’s very good at giving.
Cordy’s destination is Lilah’s flat. She barges in without permission and demands information about Billy. Lilah is amused by the idea that she’s going to help Cordy with this case at all. Cordy can tell that Lilah’s been crying, so she’s not convinced Lilah won’t help. Lilah tells Cordy a bit about Billy’s powers, then amuses herself at the thought that Angel might’ve fallen victim to them already. They work instantly on some men, but others can take hours to go nuts. Cordy feels very strongly that Lilah owes it to women in general to help her take Billy down. Does her pitch work? We’ll find out.
Angel finds some off-duty cabbies standing on the sidelines of a crime scene in which another cabbie beat a female passenger to death. The cabbies have a “she probably had it coming” sort of attitude about it, which Angel finds repellant. He’s about to beat one up unless he tells him where the driver dropped off his previous passenger.
We cut to a club where a rich guy is playing pool. This is Billy’s cousin, and he is very much not a fan of Billy. When Billy shows up next to him, he gets super anxious.
Wes is examining slides of Billy’s blood. Fred takes a look. The red blood cells are rather hyperactive. She theorizes that Billy’s power is probably in his blood, possibly even his touch. Correct, which means she’s standing way too close to Wes. At this point, Wes starts getting snappish and coldly belittling. This is extremely unsettling. Fred tries to leave, but he insists that she have a seat. He wants to talk to her about not wearing “provocative” clothing. I really really do not like this version of Wesley. He accuses her of taunting him and leading him on, and then he slaps her. She tries to run away, but he’s faster. Holy crap this is extremely not okay. He hurls her into the stairs. She runs up them. He notices the weapons cabinet.
Angel is still looking for Billy. He has arrived at that club. His cousin happily lets him in when he says he wants to kill Billy. Billy isn’t there anymore; his cousin gave him money so he’d leave. Cordy has been here since Billy left. Cousin guy tells Angel Billy was planning to leave the country via the family’s private jet.
Wesley, now armed with an axe, is looking for Fred in the upper floors. The music gets all tinkly and creepy as he goes down the corridor, pushing the doors open with the axe. One of the doors has the chain on it, so he breaks the door open. The whole time he’s hunting Fred, he yammers creepily about how women are the worst, ever since Eve. Fred is hiding under the bed in that room. He finds her and yanks her up by the neck. Then he kisses her, but she stabs him with some nails that rolled her way, knees him in the groin, and runs away.
Billy is about to board that private jet when Cordy catches up to him. She introduces herself. Billy is extremely scornful of the idea that Cordelia’s problems with him are legit. Wow. Are there people like this git in real life? Because I never ever want to meet one. Cordy doesn’t want pity for what she suffered; she just wants to make sure Billy can’t be the cause of anyone else’s suffering from now on.
Fred didn’t get very far away from Wesley, but she manages to flee to a higher floor. Then she trips. She can’t see Wes, but he’s definitely coming. Gunn finds her and helps her flee.
Billy tries to claim he doesn’t hate women. Because it’s okay to hate women if you also hate men...for the lengths they will go to in order to get women. Can someone shoot him in the face already? Billy doesn’t think Cordy will be shooting him in the throat. And he might be right. She hesitates at least long enough for Angel to get between her and Billy. Angel would like the privilege of killing Billy himself. Billy grabs Angel by the face with both hands. Double dose of his whammy.
Fred and Gunn try a bunch of doors on that floor until they find an unlocked one. He helps her barricade the door, and she explains why Wes went psycho. Unfortunately, Gunn didn’t know the danger when he picked up the bloody handprint paper bag, so he’s now infected too. At least he hasn’t gone nuts yet! He unbarricades the door so he can leave and won’t be a danger to her. Except that Wes is here, breaking down the door with the axe. Gunn starts getting affected, but he’s not so far gone as to be unaware of what’s happening to him. He and Fred are both terrified.
Billy is gleefully waiting for Angel to brutally murder Cordy. Angel tries to convince Cordy to leave. She refuses; this is all because of her, so she can’t just leave. Angel starts talking as if he’s about to be super sexist and insulting like Wes has been doing, but then he just punches Billy to the ground instead. Haha, sucker, this ability doesn’t work on vampires. Yay!
Gunn gives Fred a broken table leg and insists that she use it to knock him out. She doesn’t want to, but he starts going nuts again, which provides her with sufficient motivation. But she still has to deal with Wes, who has almost finished breaking through the door.
Angel and Billy fight, and it seems Billy has a second ability: pulling strength from the ground. Oookay, I’ll just go with that with no explanation. Cordy picks up her crossbow again, but before she can end the fight, Lilah does. By shooting Billy in the head.
Wesley gets inside the room. Fred is nowhere in sight, but Gunn is lying there unconscious. Wes is pretty confident that Fred’s instincts after Pylea mean that she hides when she should run out into the street, somewhere public. She tells him he’s right, but he forgot about her habit of making clever contraptions, and she Home Alone’s the crap out of him.
The next day...or maybe several days later, Angel and Cordy are training again. Cordy doesn’t get why Angel was immune to Billy. She doesn’t think it’s because he’s a vampire. That’s a stupid thought. Angel thinks it’s because he lost the kind of hatred Billy brought out in other men a long time ago. That’s also a stupid thought, because I’m pretty sure we saw a whole bunch of Angel’s capacity for hatred in S2.
Wes is sitting alone in his flat. Fred knocks on the door. He reluctantly opens it. He feels like a complete monster for everything he said to her, and he’s extremely sorry, but she doesn’t seem to be holding it against him. He hasn’t been coming to work ever since it happened. He thinks that Billy brought out something that was already in him, so he’s really to blame for everything he did. But Fred insists that he’s Billy’s victim. She knows Wes is a good man. He agrees to come back to work. After she leaves, he starts crying. She can hear it through the door, but she doesn’t stay.
So...I kind of hate “Billy”? (And I definitely hate Billy.) It’s about as subtle as getting hit by a Mack truck, which really doesn’t work when the moral of the story is essentially “sexism is bad.” I find the idea that men have a “primordial misogyny” of murderous proportions lurking somewhere inside them offensive. Sexism isn’t an instinct that men have to suppress, it’s a learned attitude they have to unlearn. And most sexism isn’t anywhere near the level of what we saw from Billy and his victims. True, Fred suggests at the end that Billy doesn’t bring something out of his victims so much as he creates something in them, but that’s only after an entire episode of watching things play out in some incredibly chilling ways—ways that are fairly unique to each victim, so Fred’s explanation doesn’t quite feel sufficient. It’s also a load of crap that Angel would somehow be immune because there’s no hatred in him for Billy’s power to affect. He’s immune because he’s not human! He can’t get sick like humans get sick, and he’s immune to telepathy even though humans aren’t, so why should Billy’s ability be any different? The one thing I wanted this episode to address was accountability, but it takes a back seat to all the ill-conceived misogyny stuff. They still don’t address whether or not there could’ve been another way to save Cordy besides giving W&H what they wanted. Also, the reason I gave this review the title I did was because I feel like that hashtag is just as misguided as this episode (if in somewhat different ways), so don't get the wrong idea.
This is the first episode (but definitely not the last, if I remember right) that kind of divides A.I. into two groups: Angel and Cordy on one side of the story, Fred, Gunn, and Wes on the other. It’s effective in this particular episode because Angel and Cordy are the ones most personally connected to Plot A. Angel was the one who rescued Billy from his fire cage, and Cordy was the reason he did it. Her visions have always been primarily for Angel. I like the way their Plot B deals with their sense of responsibility for what happened. Even though they both understand intellectually that Billy and W&H are responsible for Billy’s actions, not them, it’s harder to understand that emotionally (because, yeah, they’re a little bit responsible, and now multiple people are dead).
Cordelia’s scene with Lilah is actually a pretty awesome one. I might not like the premise of this episode, but there are a few good character moments in it. I also kind of went “finally!” when she decided she wanted to get trained in combat. Why aren’t all the human characters on both shows doing that? Why haven’t they been doing that this whole time?
The nature of Wesley’s “primordial misogyny” makes me wonder about the relationship between his parents. A little. Mostly I think it was just designed by the writers to be the “high society” version of extreme sexism, where most of the other men affected by Billy went very quickly from anger to violence.
I kind of love this new motif wherein Gunn is kind of a ditz about detective things. Last time, when the Burkles found A.I. because of the work of a private investigator, Gunn couldn’t let it go, and this time, it didn’t occur to him that a blood-red handprint on a paper bag sitting next to a microscope might actually be evidence for a case.
It’s so cute how Fred is the only one who calls Gunn by his first name. Which, I believe, is a hint of which direction she’s leaning in this love triangle. And more impressive to me than her ingenious Wesley-smacking contraption is how easily she can forgive him for what he tried to do to her. I suppose, when you’ve spent five years being treated like dirt and hunted as a fugitive, it might make it easier for you to get over it when your trusted colleague says horrible things to you and comes after you with an axe.
“She said that a melodramatic guy named Angel would eventually show up.”
“Cordelia. ...Thinks I’m melodramatic?”
“Well, you did say that you were gonna kill my cousin.”
“That’s not melodrama! Melodram—” *gets tired of the subject and just grabs the guy* “—She was here?!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.