Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by Turi Meyer
We’re in Rome in 1771. Someone is chasing Angelus through sewer tunnels. He slips and falls right into their main headquarters, which seems to be a torture chamber of some kind. In rides Holtz wearing sunglasses that are as cool as they are anachronistic.
Holtz’s friends are monks who were excommunicated for being a little too good at Spanish Inquisition style stuff. Holtz and his friends spend an unspecified amount of time torturing Angelus. Holtz wants to know if it’s possible to make a vampire pay for its sins. Can the demon be tortured out of one? Before Holtz can take his experiment any farther, an unaccounted for variable appears in the form of Darla, accompanied by allies and wielding flaming arrows. They rescue Angelus and kill a few of the scary monks. Darla and Angelus ride out in a wagon covered in thick blankets, leaving Holtz alive.
In the present, very pregnant Darla has killed most of the passengers on a bus and used it to get most of the way to the Hyperion.
Angel finds Cordy in the basement, where she’s been brightening the place up with a bunch of plastic flowers. He’s a bit nonplussed, but they quickly move on to sparring practice. She punches him really hard in the face, which he pretends doesn’t hurt. Apparently there’s some big new prophecy Wes is interested in. Or it’s another one from that same scroll with the Shanshu prophecy? Angel is playing it like not a big deal, but this might just be an act so Cordy doesn’t worry on his behalf, and if so, it’s not working.
Wes and Gunn are breaking into a big mansion to steal pieces of the prophecy scroll. Wesley has an elaborate plan involving cutting a hole in a glass door and then about a dozen other steps, but it occurs to Gunn to simply try the door, which is unlocked. Bahaha. There’s a fancy room full of occult artifacts, including a Cyclops head with an eye that moves.
They get caught by a man with a gun before they can get the scroll pieces. Wesley tries to talk them out of it by calmly threatening to turn the man in for having large quantities of rohypnol (it’s not, but the DEA won’t be able to tell the difference). He agrees not to kill the police; he’ll just kill them. That’s when Gunn starts juggling priceless conjuring spheres. This is much more effective leverage.
Fred comes downstairs. Angel and Cordelia are talking about sparring, but when you can’t see them, it sounds a bit like dirty talk. Angel’s teaching her about shifting her balance. Aaand now she’s done for the day. Also, Fred ships them. Angel thinks that’s one of the weirder things he’s heard recently. Fred thinks his denials are covering up his real feelings, but I think they’re just honest confusion. Try telling that to a shipper, though; Fred isn’t convinced. In comes Wesley. He wants Fred’s help with the prophecy.
While Fred helps Wes and Gunn with the prophecy, Angel walks into the lobby and watches Cordy working at her computer. He makes a funny face, like he’s trying to imagine being attracted to her and not getting very far.
According to Fred’s calculations, the big event in this prophecy would’ve happened...last March. She’s sure that can’t be right. The prophecy predicts the arrival of something that could either be an event or a person; either way, it’s most likely bad news. Wes and Cordy fill Fred in on the Shanshu prophecy. Fred’s new calculations still say that the bad thing should’ve already arrived in L.A.
Angel has been listening to their conversation, but now he’s back to watching Cordy, and this time, she notices. He starts talking about how they’re very different people and Cordy’s very funny and he’s just incredibly awkward about it. What are you doing, Angel? Cordy cuts him off and says she loves him. Platonically. Since this prophecy could mean the world’s ending, the whole team has been saying that to each other. This very much has the vibe of a friendship moment. Also, here’s pregnant Darla.
Everyone (except for Fred, who doesn’t know who Darla is until Gunn explains) is very alarmed to see Darla and even more alarmed by her big pregnant belly. Cordy is rather upset. Darla is too; she punches Angel in the face. Aaand Cordy is on Darla’s side. Okay. She helps Darla sit on that weird couch thing. She’s disappointed and upset with Angel for using Darla and for not telling any of them about it, since he was deliberately risking his soul. Darla tells them about going to all those shamans and getting no answers.
They go to Caritas, which is being repaired. The Furies are there, casting their protection spell. A demon workman is helping with that. The team plus pregnant Darla arrives. Angel is kind of nervous about the Furies being there. Darla sings a bit, and Lorne dismisses everyone who isn’t the A.I. team. Lorne has no idea what the child is. Could be super evil. Angel’s not happy about that.
Cordy and Lorne help Darla go lie down on Lorne’s bed. Cordy volunteers to look after her. Angel very much hates the idea that his child, who shouldn’t have been possible anyway, is destined for evil. Fred decides screw destiny, which turns the mood of the conversation. They’ll be looking for a more positive interpretation now. Angel wishes Cordy wasn’t so mad at him.
Cordy tells Darla about her own experience with mystical pregnancy, but she says the wrong thing, which reminds Darla she’s a vampire eating for two. Cordy tries to leave, but Darla catches up to her. Cordy tries to fight her off, but doesn’t succeed. Darla bites her and covers her mouth to stop her screaming. To compound the awfulness of this moment, Cordy has a vision. Angel pulls Darla off Cordy before she can drain her, but then Darla gets away. Cordy’s vision was about where she’d go next.
A little later, they’re at the hotel, and Cordy is resting. She’s kicking herself for letting Darla’s helpless pregnant woman appearance trick her into dropping her guard and feeling too much sympathy. She tells Angel about her vision, and he goes to intercept Darla. Against Wesley’s wishes, he goes alone.
Darla is at a Chuck-E-Cheese type place. She finds a little boy who got separated from his mom. She can’t get full no matter how much blood she drinks, so she’s going to try super innocent blood and see if that works.
Oh, fun, Cordy’s having dreams about Angelus and Darla’s sordid past. Heeeeeey this is giving me a new theory. More on that later. She goes downstairs, where the rest of the team is still working on the prophecy.
Darla has brought the little boy to a secluded part of the building. When she vamps out, the kid screams and runs, and Angel attacks Darla before she can pursue him. He makes it safely back to his mom. Guests run screaming when they see vampire pregnant lady fighting Angel, who is also vamped out. Darla beats the crap out of Angel, but he manages to get her pinned to the wall. He’s about to stake her when he realizes that he can hear the baby’s heartbeat. Their child is human. She attacks him, begging him to stake her and get this human soul out of her.
Angel brings Darla back to the hotel and gives her pig’s blood, which she throws against the wall. He promises to help her through this. She doesn’t appreciate it. Gunn stands guard over her room. He’ll put a crossbow bolt in her if she tries to attack another human, particularly Cordy or Fred. Cordy is excited for Angel. He’s going to be a dad! She realized that her vision/dream means that the baby has a soul, so it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Fred has even more calculations now, and the prophecy will be coming to pass right now. Cut to somewhere below a park. There’s a statue in a chamber, and a demon with some serious skin problems approaches it. He does some kind of ritual, then takes a smoke while he waits for it to work. After a bit, the ground shakes and the statue cracks open, revealing...Holtz.
“Offspring” is the first episode to really focus on the season arc. I’m trying to figure out my opinion about it, but I’m not sure I really lean one way or the other. It’s just a serviceable arc episode. I definitely don’t like all the Angel/Cordy stuff, because their interactions do not (and have never) come across as remotely romantic. (And also because I’m a huge Buffy/Angel shipper, but that shouldn’t invalidate my observation that Angel and Cordy have zero romantic chemistry! I’m trying to see it, and it’s just not there.) I also kind of wish this Tro-clan prophecy had been introduced in an earlier episode. I do like that Cordelia wanting combat training wasn’t a one-time thing, to be forgotten an episode later. Darla coming back is pretty much always exciting, and now we finally get to the bottom of this pregnancy business. Or, at least, we get closer to the bottom. The child is human! Yay! Cross-season foreshadowing finally pays off with Holtz! Yay! So yeah, kind of a mixed bag episode.
Okay, so, my theory. Cordy says that the vision she got when Darla bit her wasn’t like her other visions. The bite seemed to give her a direct link to Darla that lingered even after Darla wasn’t actively biting her. This makes me wonder if this is just what happens when a vampire bites someone with some kind of psychic ability. This explains why Buffy became immune to the Master’s thrall after he bit her—Slayers have a psychic element to their power that’s very similar to Cordy’s visions (the part where they sometimes have prophetic nightmares). Maybe the reason Buffy couldn’t shake Dracula’s thrall until after she drank some of his blood is that he’s just maxed out his persuasion stats. And because I’m a huge Buffy/Angel shipper, I also wonder what the effects were from him biting her. When she woke up in the hospital, she was suddenly had a very clear game plan for what they needed to do to take down the Mayor. It was the same sort of calm, purposeful attitude she had after the incidents with the Master and Dracula. I’m gonna go ahead and headcanon that Buffy has a psychic connection to Angel because of that bite. After all, she did say that even if she doesn’t see him, when he’s around, she can feel him.
Angel and Cordelia continued to be narratively partitioned off from Wes, Gunn, and Fred. Increasingly, that seems to be an attempt to make them seem like an inevitable couple, but for me, at least, it’s not working at all. What’s more interesting is how he deals with Darla. Up until the moment he realizes the child is human, he’s mostly just not happy to see her or at the prospect of fatherhood, but if the child is human, that means one of the things he thought he was never going to have is actually happening. As complicated as that is, he’s already looking forward to it, which, as far as I’m concerned, absolves him of his “oh crap I knocked a girl up now I have responsibilities”-esque attitude from when Darla first showed up.
Cordelia once again takes pity on a soulless vampire because she seems pathetic and unthreatening. I suppose “Disharmony” was good for something after all: it laid the foundation for this extremely foolish overflowing of sympathy/emotional revenge on Angel. Points for continuity. (I hope I’ve conveyed how much I do not enjoy this particular character trait. I would have preferred Cordy to initially feel sympathetic but then backtrack because she remembers how that went with Harmony and she won’t make that mistake twice.) Regarding Angel/Cordy, see no more evidence on her side than on his that this is actually a thing. She got flowers for the basement, but they’re not like a bouquet of flowers, they’re just tacky decorations that do not match Angel’s taste at all. She got upset with Angel for knocking Darla up, but it just seemed like disappointment in someone she thought was better than that—not jealousy. I’ve heard that the writers and show creators had no intention of doing Angel/Cordy, but the network was like “The main character needs a love interest to improve the show’s ratings.” And the writers and showrunners were like “But that doesn’t make sense! He literally can’t have a relationship!” And the network was like “You gotta.” So they were like “Fine. But it won’t be good.” Which is why the whole thing feels like what happens when a group of friends tries very hard to set up two people who were perfectly content to be friends, and it doesn’t work out in the end but is very awkward and confusing for those two people in the meantime. (For an example of a "two friends gradually become romantically interested in each other" type romance, see Stefan/Caroline of The Vampire Diaries. That one took two and a half seasons of impressively subtle build-up to actually pan out, and it was very satisfying. It very closely resembles Angel/Cordy--including the part where the popular cheerleader girl has a crush on the broody vampire guy waaay back in the first few episodes after we met both characters, but vamp guy is way too interested in the main girl to spare a second glance for cheerleader girl, so she gives up and moves on for several seasons--except that there's actual romantic chemistry with Stefan/Caroline.)
Wesley is still extremely ashamed of himself for what he did to Fred while under Billy’s influence, which is why his flirting is limited to finding opportunities for her to use her crazy math skills and not questioning her when she has to redo them twice. But actually, now that I think about it, all three of Fred’s calculations were correct. “Sometime in March” was when Angel knocked Darla up, “sometime in the past” was when Holtz was alive in the 18th century, and “now” is Holtz breaking out of stone in the present. All three are part of the prophecy.
I love Gunn’s style when he and Wes are trying to avoid getting shot by the man whose mansion they broke into. A man with a collection like that, who is currently pointing a gun at them, will have no problem killing to protect that collection, so threatening to turn him in to the police isn’t an effective strategy. Threatening his collection is. And bonus points for having surprise juggling skills. No forward momentum on Gunn’s feelings for Fred, though.
Fred, stop shipping Angel/Cordy! Is it just that because her crush on him went nowhere, now she wants to be able to live vicariously through Cordy’s potential relationship with him? I’m going to go ahead and file that under “lingering traces of Fred’s insanity.” It’s cool to see her contributing to a case in a bigger way than handing Wesley slides for the microscope. She actually kind of takes point on this one; the prophecy’s timing is the biggest remaining question mark.
“Oh, plastic flowers! My favorite!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.