Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Skip Schoolnik
We open on a flashback to York in 1764. Holtz is riding a horse at night. He meets a man waving a torch. Their associates have located “them”—Darla and Angelus, I assume. And Darla and Angelus are at Holtz’s house, convincing his little girl Sarah to invite them in. Holtz rides with his men. Unfortunately, their lead on the vampires was a decoy to stall them. Darla vamps out for Holtz’s wife, Caroline, to see, then bites little Sarah. Angelus bites Caroline. Holtz finds a mocking note from Angelus and realizes that his enemies are at his house. Daniel’s infant son starts crying, drawing Darla and Angelus’s attention. Holtz arrives home only after his family is dead and the vamps are gone. Well, now we know why he hunted them for years.
Back in the present, Darla is sleeping in Angel’s room. He comes in and sits next to her, then hesitantly puts his hand on her stomach. She covers his hand with hers. She repeats what she said to Angelus about Holtz’s baby, implying that she thinks one of them will kill the baby: her if it’s good, Angel if it’s evil.
Holtz is catching up on his world history through a cluster of TVs. The demon who brought him back gives him a quick, poetic rundown. Holtz is glad to know that England is still a thing, but he’s confused that Angelus and Darla are still alive after all this advancement. He wants to go confront them right now. The demon wants to use careful strategy.
Angel and Darla discuss their sordid night together. Angel isn’t particularly sorry. In comes the rest of the team with info about the prophecy. The Tro-clan is a confluence of events, which means it includes both Darla, the baby, and possibly a variety of other scary factors. Yes, like Holtz and his demon friend. Wesley hasn’t finished translating the bits about the baby, so he’s still not sure the baby isn’t one of the bad things. Darla informs them that the baby is clearly being protected by something powerful, because she tried everything to get rid of it and couldn’t. In that case, they’ll just have to wait until it’s born before they kill it. The rest of the team joins in this discussion. Angel does not appreciate this topic. How about they find out for sure whether the baby is just a baby or something that needs killing before they talk about how to kill it? Angel asks Cordy to watch over Darla. She punches Darla for biting her, then agrees. Aaaand now Darla’s having contractions.
Cut to W&H. Lilah pricks her finger so she can sign a scary contract in blood. The mail boy comes in and tries to kiss up to her. He hands her a CD and takes the contract away. The CD contains footage of Lilah and Angel (well, Marcus) making out on the desk at the Hyperion. Lilah thinks mail boy is blackmailing her, but he claims he’s on her side. Against Gavin. It seems Gavin has the whole Hyperion bugged.
Cut to Gavin’s surveillance guy, who is transcribing the audio while Gavin supervises. He hands Gavin a ream of paper’s worth of transcriptions. In comes Lilah. Gavin mocks Lilah for thinking he’d really blackmail her with something as weaksauce as scandalous makeout footage. Also, the mail boy is on Gavin’s side, not hers. Lilah notices one “unidentified pregnant female” in the transcript, and the surveillance guy puts that tape in so she can see who it is. Unlike Gavin, she recognizes Darla. This is big news. She calls someone called Linwood.
Back to Angel’s room. Darla is still in early labor, and she is not having fun. Angel helps her lie down on his bed. The team goes to the other room to talk about it. Fred thinks they should take Darla to a hospital. Angel thinks that’s a bad idea, but maybe they can just get the equipment.
Linwood is Lilah and Gavin’s boss. He knows their whole department will be in huge trouble if word gets back to the Senior Partners that they failed to notice Darla’s pregnancy until it was almost over. Gavin and Lilah assure him nobody could have seen this coming. Mail boy is eavesdropping. He calls someone named Master Tarfall, Underlord of Pain. Oh, so this is the one whose side he’s actually on.
It’s now 1773, and Holtz is remembering his family while in a drunken stupor when he gets a visit from his demon friend, for the first time. He threatens to kill the demon, but the demon explains the deal he can offer. All he wants in return is Holtz’s promise that he’ll show no mercy.
Angel wheels Darla into the maternity ward of a teaching hospital, where the team has commandeered a delivery room. The contractions have stopped. Wes thinks she might’ve been having false labor. Darla just loves that idea. Fred and Gunn arrive with an ultrasound machine.
Cut to Holtz’s dungeon thing. He’s extremely impatient to go attack Darla and Angel already, but the demon won’t let him. Also, he’s incorporeal, which is why he doesn’t kill them himself. He morphs into a human form. In case it was hard to tell in his demon face, it’s now quite clear that this is the same actor who played werewolf hunter Cain in “Phases.”
Cut to W&H, where Linwood is trying to find out why all the psychics and mind-readers on their payroll failed to see Darla’s pregnancy coming. He has one of the psychics killed. Lilah has discovered that although there is a prophecy regarding the baby, it’s on that scroll Angel stole a season and a half ago. Linwood wants to dissect the baby. He informs Lilah and Gavin that he will be claiming plausible deniability if this gets back to the Senior Partners, which means they’re the ones who are screwed. Lilah has a counter move, but we don’t get to find out what it is yet.
Some dude is meditating somewhere and holding his hand over a fire. The paper in his palm catches fire and burns to nothing, but his hand isn’t burned. He gets a very short call, then telekinetically summons a sword to his hand.
Ultrasound time for Darla! She seems to be carrying a perfectly normal human boy. Angel is overwhelmed and happy. Darla, less so. Fred points out that they’re surrounded by vampires, which sort of kills the magic of the moment. These vampires are in a cult. They bow down in worship of the baby. Okay, creepy.
The demon (still in human form) shows Holtz around L.A. He’s taking him to meet his minions, and we find out his name is Sahjhan. Also, the minions are demons, not humans. Holtz isn’t pleased.
The vampire cult is there to protect the baby! So they’re allies? Well, they kill the telekinetic ninja when he comes leaping in to kill Darla, so that’s encouraging. But then they decide to kill Fred, Wes, Cordy, and Gunn to feed Darla. Darla likes this plan, but the team does not.
Gavin shares his blueprints and surveillance materials with a tactical unit, which will move in to extract Darla. Lilah comes in with a super creepy dude in a Nazi-like overcoat. He’s a paranormal obstetrician. He’s very excited to work on a vampire birth and to dissect both mommy and baby.
The team is ready to start fighting. Darla decides she’s not a fan of this cult anymore when they inform her they will be cutting her up to get the baby out and then they’ll kill her, sort of like the Thanksgiving turkey. Fred tries to bluff their way to freedom by threatening Darla’s stomach with a knife. This would work, except that she then whispers very audibly (to vampires) that it’s just a bluff. Faaaaaail. Time to fight. They manage to escape, staking a couple of the vamps on their way out.
Back at the hotel, W&H’s tactical team is in position, and mystical obstetrician guy gets set up. There are two very unpleasant cages ready for Darla and the baby.
The team is in the car. Darla seems to be having trouble maintaining her hostile attitude towards the baby. Seeing him on the monitor made him real in a way he hadn’t been to her before. But she pretends to still be mean and apathetic. Angel wants to get them to safety, but Wes thinks they should get the prophecy scrolls before they go anywhere, which means they have to make a stop at the hotel.
Holtz is at the hotel now. He kills one of the tactical guys. Wow, I really do not want the obstetrician guy to have a chance to use any of those tools he’s fondling. Holtz strides into the lobby asking about Angelus. Linwood, Gavin, and Lilah are watching all these proceedings from the surveillance, and they have no idea who Holtz is. Linwood orders his men to take him out. The video cuts out, and when it comes back, Holtz is the last man standing.
Angel parks the car in an alley near the Hyperion. He instructs them to leave without him if he takes longer than five minutes. Darla starts to wish him luck or something, but then remembers she’s supposed to be evil and tells him to beat it already. He super-parkours his way to the hotel, where he finds the massacred W&H guys. Oh good, the obstetrician is dead too (and apparently he had chicken feet). The place is a mess of bodies. Holtz greets Angel.
While the team is waiting in the alley, Darla’s contractions start up again, and now her water has broken. Great timing.
With “Quickening,” the stakes are getting pretty dang high. Several different independent groups want Darla and/or the baby for different reasons and purposes, but it’s hard to do anything about that while Darla is in the middle of labor. And I sort of like how long it took for them to establish that the baby is a human. With anomalies like vampire pregnancies, it’s better to ease into stuff like this. It’s also a lot of fun having more W&H shenanigans. I love how cutthroat they all are with each other. It’s reassuring that the bad guys can’t work together in a synchronized, supportive unit. Holtz is interesting too. I love how many different D&D alignments are threats right now. Holtz is Chaotic Neutral (I think he left Good behind a while ago), the vamps are Neutral Evil (crazy cults aren’t quite organized enough to be Lawful), and W&H will always be Lawful Evil. Not sure about the telekinetic ninja. He was probably Lawful Neutral.
Angel seems to be cautiously hopeful for the first part of the episode, but he’s definitely getting more and more invested in the idea of being a dad. Also, he and Darla have an unexpectedly hilarious rapport in this one. Just a lot of dry sarcasm. I love it.
Cordelia’s attitude towards Darla is very reassuring. It really does seem like her mistake with Harmony is one she learned from, and she won’t be taking crap from seemingly helpless soulless vampires anymore. But she really doesn’t have much else to do in this one.
It’s kind of disturbing how casual Wesley can be about discussing methods of killing a newborn. Has it not occurred to him at all that the baby could be good? (Or at least as potentially good as any human?)
I haven’t commented on Gunn’s obsession with Vegas yet. It’s hilarious and adorable. When will Gunn go to Vegas and live the dream? But he’s basically just another part of the group for the rest of the episode, so there’s not much else to talk about.
I love how fascinated Fred is by all intellectual processes. Gaining knowledge is not just about the end result for her; she genuinely loves the journey of it. Welcome to the team, new Ravenclaw! I also love how she’s willing to pull very brazen bluffs. If only she was subtle enough to not ruin it for herself.
“You guys make one move and I’ll slice the miracle child into triplets!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.