Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Tim Minear
We open on Angel’s reaction to Holtz. He understandably surprised to see the 18th century human arch-nemesis of his soulless alter-ego here in the 21st century. Holtz’s demon minions use weird metal claw things to hold Angel in place, in crucifixion pose. Holtz wants to know where Darla is. Angel tells Holtz he’s changed, but Holtz doesn’t care because he’s still a vampire.
Cut to Darla screaming with labor pains while sitting in the backseat of Angel’s Plymouth in the middle of an alley. Wes really wants the prophecy scrolls, but Cordy doesn’t think they’re necessary for the delivery process. Wes gives Darla advice on how to breathe, and she responds by vamping out and kicking/punching Wes, Cordy, Fred, and Gunn across the alley all at once, then bursting into tears.
Flashback! Holtz arrives home after Darla and Angelus have already left. Caroline and baby Daniel are dead, and Sarah...Sarah is a vampire now. Holtz’s men try to come inside, but he angrily shoos them away. He sings Sarah a lullaby while completely coming apart inside.
Lilah, Gavin, and Linwood still know nothing about Holtz. Lilah’s guess is that he’s an old rival of Angel’s. They still don’t know anything about their operatives. Linwood reminds Gavin and Lilah that he claims plausible deniability. He plans to be very shocked to hear about all this blundering at the staff meeting later in the week.
Holtz is debating the merits of staking Angel now and finding Darla later, while Angel is trying to get him to say how he’s here but still human. Angel tries to convince him that, as a good man, he shouldn’t let himself be used by evil. Holtz seems less certain he’s dealing with the same old Angelus, but he still punches Angel in the face.
Cordy wakes Wes up by smacking him on the face. He got knocked out from Darla kicking him into the side of the alley. Darla is now muttering to herself. Wes, Cordy, Fred, and Gunn all squish into the front seat because Darla’s water broke all over the back. Also now there are demons closing in. Holtz’s minion demons.
One demon comes back to report that they’ve found Darla, and Holtz orders it to go retrieve her. Except he was actually talking about Lilah, who is hear to learn about Holtz. Lilah blurts out a short version of Angel’s current situation, but she’s cool with Holtz killing Angel. Angel spots a grenade lying within reach on the floor, so he tells Lilah to duck, kicks it into his mouth, and shakes the pin loose. When it explodes, it knocks him through the elevator doors, and he makes his escape. Holtz doesn’t want anyone else interfering in his campaign against Angelus and Darla. Lilah considers telling Holtz about the baby, but just lets him go instead. She finds the bits of the prophecy scrolls while she’s at the hotel, though, and steals them.
The team fights off Holtz’s demons while Darla mutters to herself some more. Then she gets in the driver’s seat and plows through a couple of demons, then drives straight out of the alley, leaving the whole team standing there staring after her, which is when Angel joins them, a bit confused.
Angel tells them about Holtz. They figure Holtz must be part of the prophecy. Angel leaves to go find Darla while assigning the team to find a safe spot for her to have the baby.
Lilah now has a linguist examining the scrolls. He seems to be very twitchy about job security, and also about how she has highlighted an ancient scroll in neon yellow. He’s settling in for a fun translating session, but she doesn’t want him having fun, so she tells him he better finish it that night, or she’ll have his whole family killed.
Holtz is very annoyed with Sahjhan for not telling him about Angel’s soul—not because he’s concerned about the moral implications of killing a souled being, but because a soulful Angel is a whole different prey than a soulless Angelus. Sahjhan does not take this opportunity to tell Holtz about the baby.
Darla is standing on a rooftop, baffled that anyone would want to bring a child into this world. She doesn’t want to let the baby out into the world. Because she loves him. His soul is in her right now, giving her the ability to love him. She can’t bear the thought of having the baby and losing her ability to love him—to even remember what that was like. It’s a very affecting scene. Angel hugs her.
The team has decided Caritas will be a good location for the birth. The crew is still working on the security system, which will prevent violence from anyone, not just demons. The workman has been scamming Lorne, though, so he kicks him out.
Darla makes Angel promise to protect the baby from her. He gets a call from Wes. Fred and Gunn are testing the protection spell while Lorne tinkers with the wiring. It’s not working yet, but they hope to have it up and running by the time Angel and Darla get there. Darla doesn’t feel good, and not because of contractions.
At W&H, the translator updates Lilah on the prophecy. He’s not straightforward enough with her, so she threatens him, and then he gets to the point. The prophecy specifically states that there will be no birth, only death. Also there’s going to be a thunderstorm.
Resume flashback! Holtz has been sitting in a depressed stupor all night. His men want to take him somewhere else. Vamp Sarah is sitting in a corner away from the encroaching sunlight. Holtz, looking resigned, picks her up and hauls her outside. She tries to get free and stay in the shadows, but he forces her into the sunlight, and she vamps out before burning to nothing.
Lorne still can’t get the security spell to work. Darla and Angel have arrived. Wes gets a chair for Darla. She says thanks, which weirds everyone out. She keeps being polite, but she’s also in major pain. When she gets up, there’s a lot of blood on the chair.
Lorne’s fired workman is now betraying Angel and Darla to Holtz and Sahjhan. Now Holtz knows where to find them.
Things aren’t going well with the delivery. Darla will probably be fine, but the baby’s heartbeat is getting weaker. Wes doesn’t think there’s anything they can do about it. Angel refuses to accept that they could get this close and then the baby would just die. Gunn points out that they still don’t know the Powers are the one protecting the baby—maybe the Powers are the ones stopping it from being born. Cordy smacks Gunn for his blunt honesty, and big blue energy surges stop her hand from connecting. The spell is working!
Darla knows the baby is dying. Also, she calls him a “he” for the first time. Darla would fight for the baby’s life, but she doesn’t know how.
Gunn thinks he should apologize. Nobody on the team thinks this is going to go well. In comes Holtz. Unfortunately, the only two people who recognize him are not in the room. Lorne hands him a flier for Caritas’s grand reopening. He sings that lullaby as he walks out. Lorne starts singing along, then reads Holtz and yells for everyone to run. They do. A moment later, a big barrel bounces down the stairs, followed by a grenade. Then everything blows up...from directions that don’t make sense unless there were other ‘splody barrels outside.
The whole place is coming down, but Lorne’s bedroom in the back isn’t quite on fire yet. Angel tells Darla about Holtz. Lorne thinks they can get out through the old loading dock door he put a wall over. Gunn and Wes start attacking it with heavy figurines. Darla feels horrible about what they did to Holtz. Angel helps break down the wall so they can escape.
Holtz comes striding impressively through the rubble of Caritas, holding a crossbow. The team makes it into the back alley, which is under pouring rain. Angel has the team go get the car. Fred’s the only one who stays with him and Darla. Angel puts his coat on her. Darla knows that if the baby dies or comes out, she’ll be evil again. This baby is the only good thing she feels like she ever did. She wishes she could apologize for turning Angel into a vampire, but what would it change? She wants Angel to make sure the baby knows how much she cared about him. He agrees, and then she grabs a chunk of wood and stakes herself. She turns to dust, leaving a crying baby boy lying on the pavement.
Holtz emerges from the building just as Angel picks up his son. Fred helps Angel wrap the baby in the coat. Holtz and Angel stare at each other for a long moment in the rain, Holtz’s minions creeping into the alley from either end. The Plymouth pulls up, and Holtz lowers his crossbow, allowing Angel and Fred to run to the car with the baby. Sahjhan appears, yelling at Holtz to finish Angel off, but Holtz lets Angel get away. However, this doesn’t mean he’s going to just let Angel go forever. He has a much more sinister plan in mind.
“Lullaby” is another arc episode, and it’s sort of Darla-centric and Holtz-centric more than anything else. We find out exactly what Angelus and Darla did to Holtz that gave him the motivation for this vendetta. Not just raping and killing his wife and killing his infant son, but turning his daughter into a vampire so that Holtz would be forced to destroy her himself. Holtz’s attitude about Angel’s soul is interesting. I’m not sure he’s aware of how deeply remorseful Angel feels for everything Angelus did, but he seems to believe that if he kills Angel, then Angel’s soul will burn in hell. Why? His soul isn’t guilty of any of the stuff Angelus did. And I thought soulless vampires just sort of cease to exist after they’re slain. Did it just seem unsatisfying to Holtz to think that he’d kill his enemy and that would be the end of said enemy’s suffering? Does he like this option better purely because Angel’s suffering will theoretically go on forever? He and the Kalderash have very different ideas of what constitutes suffering, but they’re both kind of horrible about it. Why the crap does everyone want to keep punishing the soul for the demon’s actions? How is that even satisfying from a revenge standpoint? Bah. Whatever. I love Darla’s side of this story. From Darla, we get the clearest explanation of the difference a soul makes to a vampire. With one, they’re capable of love and remorse and selflessness. Without one, they are so incapable of those things that they can’t even really understand them. Darla is a fantastic character, and her departure from the show is definitely a bittersweet one. And, of course, as someone who did her master’s thesis on Macbeth and dresses up as Éowyn at comic cons, I love the phrasing of that prophecy. No man of woman born can kill Macbeth. No man can kill the Witch King of Angmar. There will be no birth. The villains always become unreasonably cocky when they hear these things, despite their clear loopholes. Birth by c-section, a female killer, and birth by the mother turning to dust around the baby. Bwahaha.
Angel is definitely looking forward to be a dad, and he’s even hopeful enough to entertain the idea of raising his son alongside Darla. Maybe he thought they could figure out a way to get her soul back too or something.
Cordelia really doesn’t do much except smack Gunn for being insensitive about Angel’s baby. *shrug* Oh, and she’s the one who smacks Wes until he wakes up. It’s kind of hilarious, now I think about it, that Fred and Gunn both deferred to her on that one. Apparently Cordelia is the one who’s most okay with inflicting minor injuries on an ally.
Wesley continues to seem less and less like the boss. Angel gives orders to the entire group, and Wesley follows them without question or objection, and when Angel fails to retrieve the prophecy scrolls, Wes just sort of offers to make do without them, rather than reminding Angel of how important they are. He’s getting slowly shoved to the background.
Gunn seems to increasingly be the character who voices unpleasant truths (or, at least, possibilities) that Angel doesn’t want to hear. That used to be Cordelia’s job, but she’s being a lot more sensitive about his feelings lately, so Gunn’s been doing it more and more.
Fred continues to show a heartwarming level of loyalty to Angel. She’s the only one who stays with him and Darla in that alley. She doesn’t even say anything (which is interesting considering how much she can talk when she gets excited about something); she just offers her silent support and sympathy. It’s moments like that when, if the writers were actually serious about Angel/Cordy, they probably should’ve put Cordy in the scene instead of Fred, but they didn’t, so Cordy loses the chance to witness the birth of Angel’s son, and Fred ends up strengthening her bond with Angel instead.
“You know what they say. Birth: painful.”
“Yes, but generally for the mother, not the bystanders.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.