Written by Mere Smith
Directed by James A. Contner
Wes is asleep at his desk. Gunn and Fred find him there, and they try to check out his research, but he wakes up and tells them not to touch anything. Angel comes in with Connor. Then things start to get weird, first the dialogue, and then Angel vamping out and biting Connor. Dream sequence! Blood pours out of the book beneath Wesley’s hands. Then he wakes up. Angel comes in with Connor. Wes still seems pretty disturbed from the dream.
After the credits, we cut to a clinic where Angel’s taking Connor for a checkup. The moms their with their own babies are impressed with his parenting skills. Angel is very flattered. Wes is there with him, and he’s still in a very justified funk (WHICH HE SHOULD TALK TO ANGEL ABOUT). It’s time for Connor’s appointment, and Wesley goes in too because he’s paranoid about the prophecy. In the appointment, Angel describes this weird noise Connor’s been making, which he can only hear because of his vamp hearing. Even the doctor can barely hear it through the stethoscope. The doctor’s pretty sure the noise was just Connor digesting his baby formula. Connor seems completely healthy and normal, but there will be blood test results in about a week. After the doctor leaves the office, one of the moms from the waiting room comes in and swaps out Connor’s blood for a different test tube. Uh oh.
At the hotel, Angel has gotten a package of stuff for Connor, which he purchased using Cordelia’s credit card information. It’s tiny hockey gear for when Connor’s a toddler. Cordy hasn’t called about any visions the whole time she’s been gone, and Gunn is getting cabin fever over having no cases. (SEE? “Provider” continues to be a ridiculous fluke!) The reason Angel has chosen hockey for Connor’s future sport is that it’s the most vampire-friendly sport, and he wants to be able to attend all the games. Angel is so excited about watching Connor grow up.
Wes can hear Angel talking about that from the office, and he seems a little less worried. Angel and Gunn start playing hockey in the lobby with the tiny hockey sticks, and Angel ends up breaking a window. In comes a lady who wants help. Her son got turned into a vampire, then burned in the sun when she wouldn’t invite him in. She feels guilty and awful, but Angel assures her that he wasn’t her son anymore. Just an evil thing that couldn’t be saved. This seems to reverse Wesley’s burgeoning optimism. All the team can do now is fight the vampires who turned her kid.
Turns out, that lady was just doing recon for Holtz, who now has a full team of angry human warriors. Now Holtz knows much more about Angel’s team. Justine is baffled that Fred, Gunn, and Wes would be working with a vampire. The other warriors are practicing sparring against a vampire who’s chained up. He gets loose, and Justine incapacitates him so they can chain him up again. Sahjhan appears! He’d like a word with Holtz alone, but Holtz doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care about Sahjhan’s timetables. Sahjhan goads him by talking about his dead family, and Holtz threatens to trap Sahjhan in a mystical urn, a bit like a genie in a bottle. Holtz has won this round.
Wes is trying to get help from a wizard, but he’s getting a lot of pushback. Fred comes in and he’s a bit curt with her. She compliments him on how he handled Aubrey (the grieving mother), and she advises him to take some time off. And maybe he could even ask Aubrey out! Wesley’s curtness returns. He sends her to the pier.
At W&H, Lilah is on the phone with her elderly mother, who clearly has dementia. Sahjhan appears, and Lilah hangs up. He’s surprised that she already knows who he is and wasn’t even a little bit shocked by his appearance. She accurately guesses that he’s here to recruit W&H to get rid of Angel faster than Holtz will, and while W&H is still officially trying to turn Angel evil rather than kill him, Lilah is all for helping Sahjhan with this. He needs a super rare ingredient for his plan to work. That ingredient: Connor’s blood. Oh hey, she already has that! The W&H lab workers found nothing out of the ordinary about it at all, but that’s not why Sahjhan wanted it.
Fred and Gunn are at the pier, looking for signs of a vamp nest working out of there. Fred feels guilty about having fun instead of working, and Gunn figures out that Wes must’ve come down a little hard on her at the hotel. He’s annoyed. He manages to talk Fred out of being cowed by Wesley’s disapproval. It’s very cute. At the hotel, Angel is playing with Connor. Wes comes in. He’s about to head out. Angel is really grateful for everything Wesley’s doing for him and Connor.
It’s after dark now at the pier, and Fred and Gunn spot someone breaking into the carousel house. The carousel turns on, and Fred and Gunn are suddenly surrounded by vampires. Justine and another of Holtz’s goons are recording this, so I guess those were the vampires they had chained up. Gunn tries to keep the vampires occupied so Fred can get away. He stakes one, then two more gang up on him, but Fred comes back and helps him take them out. Justine and the goon leave. Fred and Gunn kiss and hug in relief.
Wes is looking for something that can give him information, and it’s...the drive-thru microphone at a fast food place, which is shaped by a big anthropomorphized hamburger. Wes does a spell to awaken the statue, which works. Well that’s an embarrassing form for a being of truth to take. The hamburger tells him Angel will definitely devour Connor, and there’s no way to stop it. Also, betrayal and agony lie in store for Wesley. The three signs to herald the prophecy are an earthquake, fire, and a bloody sky.
Lilah is at a bar. A guy tries to hit on her, but she shoos him off hilariously before he can even speak. Sahjhan takes his seat. Their plan is in motion. She wants to know why he wants Angel dead. He’s not saying, but he’d like to know why she wants him dead. She’s similarly tight-lipped about it. She knows Sahjhan is afraid of something.
Wes watches Connor in his crib. Aubrey shows up. She hands him a check for having that vamp nest taken care of. Suspiciously, she seems to know there were multiple vampires. She’s concerned about how worn out Wes looks, and she asks him out! But her act isn’t fooling Wes. Or Angel, who is suddenly right there. He pins her to the wall and demands answers about that setup Fred and Gunn walked into. She might have sent them into a trap, but her son really did get turned like she said. He lets her go and offers his sympathy. Angel and Wes have worked out that she’s working for Holtz. Angel warns her that even though he believes Holtz is a good guy, he’ll kill him or any of his goons if they come after Angel’s people or his son. Earthquake! It only lasts a couple seconds, but there’s the first sign.
Holtz and his crew are analyzing the footage from Gunn and Fred’s fight. He’s impressed with Fred’s willingness to fight a much bigger and stronger opponent for Gunn’s sake. Aubrey arrives, with Wes on her tail. He throat-punches the first guy who tries to attack him, then tells Holtz he needs to stop fighting Angel, because Angel isn’t Angelus. If it’s justice Holtz wants, and he’s willing to get it by killing Angel, he may as well kill Wesley instead, since that’s how solid Holtz’s logic is. Holtz isn’t swayed. Angelus may return. He believes that’s why Wes is really there. Holtz talks like he’s concerned for Connor. Wes is skeptical.
Fred and Gunn are having food at that diner they always go to. Gunn has thought more about what Wes told Fred. Fred is worried this means he doesn’t want to date her anymore. She thinks it’s worth a shot. They can figure out how to balance the job and their relationship. The problem is if Wes makes them choose. Gunn doesn’t know what he’d do if he wasn’t fighting monsters, but he’d pick Fred if he had to pick. She likes that. THEY ARE SO CUTE. Gunn is confident that Wes will do the right thing.
Wes goes to Angel’s room, where he’s about to heat up a bottle for Connor. Angel understands Aubrey. If something happened to Connor, he’d probably react the same way. Angel is terrified by the thought of anything happening to Connor. He loves Connor more than anything. Wes starts laughing at the absurdity of this whole thing. There’s no way that prophecy can be true, with Angel talking like that about Connor and obviously meaning it.
And then there’s another earthquake. A much bigger one. We see Lilah sitting through it and Holtz’s crew running around. It does serious damage to Angel’s room in the hotel, knocking his stove over and catching a lot of the room on fire. Angel grabs Connor and jumps through the flames to get out. He’s bleeding really badly from his head, and the blood is getting all over Connor’s blanket, which has the pattern of a cloudy sky on it. All the signs. Angel makes an extremely tasteless joke about how he could’ve snacked on Connor if they’d been trapped in the room.
Now, “Loyalty” is more like it. I’m not a fan of Wesley not telling anyone about his fears—that does feel somewhat contrived, but this is still a strong episode. Fred and Gunn’s stuff continues to be super cute, and they’re providing some good contrast with how ominous things are getting for the other characters. It’s interesting how season two explored how shady the protagonist can get and still be considered a good guy, and season three seems to be exploring the opposite: a group of antagonists who are still villains even though they have extremely strong motivations and tragic backgrounds. That’s fascinating. I like complicated antagonists. The stuff with Lilah and Sahjhan is also pretty fun, especially their scene in that bar. Two characters with razor wit riffing off each other? Good times. I don’t know about other Angel fans, but I kind of found the hamburger harbinger of truth to be a hilarious idea. And now that Cordy is off on her vacation, Angel is suddenly not a huge dork anymore. Yes, all around, this is a vast improvement on the last couple episodes. (With the exception of that joke Angel makes at the end, which, seriously, what the hell?)
Angel is so cute when he’s in dad mode. And this time he manages it without acting like a dumb sitcom dad, which is excellent. He’s worried about anything that could possibly be an issue, he’s patiently feeding Connor and putting him to bed, and he’s playing with him. Gah. My heart melts. (And it’s totally going to shatter at the end of the next one, but for now I can pretend to be happy.) This seems to be the most well-adjusted Angel has been possibly in the entire series. Content with his son, with his friends, and with his work. (Oh yeah, heart definitely shattering at the end of the next one.)
Wesley is the focus of this episode, and he spends it in complete turmoil. He’s a bit brusque with Fred, implying that her actions aren’t very professional, when really his own attitude is what’s less than professional. He’s allowing Fred and Gunn’s relationship to alienate him from them at a time when he desperately needs a confidante. And I wondered last time if there would be a good reason for him not to confide in Lorne. Well, if Lorne magically vanishes from existence at the moment of Wesley’s crisis, then only reappears when it’s over, I suppose that’s a reason. *eye roll* I seriously wonder if that’s the reason they left Lorne out of this one. Without Lorne present, Angel would need to be with Connor the whole time instead of backing Fred and Gunn up on their recon mission, and Wesley wouldn’t be able to ask Lorne for advice (or get asked by Lorne what’s bothering him). Convenient. It’s interesting and heartwrenching to watch Wesley’s struggles with the prophecy. He desperately doesn’t want to believe Angel could kill Connor, but everything in the text and the signs (which he’s always been able to trust) are pointing that way. Every time Angel has him convinced there’s nothing to worry about, something else happens to make the prophecy feel inevitable.
I’m not entirely sure why Gunn thinks he would ever have to choose between being with Fred and fighting demons, since even if Wes tried to fire him over the workplace romance, he’s been fighting demons since he was a kid, long before he ever met Angel. Surely he could keep doing that as not a member of the A.I. team. Or maybe the issue is at least partly about how much scarier it is to have a life-threatening career when you’re working side-by-side with someone you love. That would make a little more sense.
I love how charmed Fred always is by Gunn’s feelings for her (and his fearlessness in displaying them). It’s so sweet. And, like Holtz observed, I think Fred’s attachment to Gunn (and to the rest of the team, though obviously that’s in a different way) is what gives her the courage to fight. If it was just for her own sake, she’d go home to Texas, but she cares too much about these people to leave them behind. My only complaint about Fred/Gunn at this point is that neither of them has interacted with any of the other characters much. Gunn and Wesley’s friendship is just sort of fading away, Gunn and Angel haven’t gone on an assignment together in ages, and it’s been several episodes since Angel hung out with Fred. It’s like Fred/Gunn is siphoning off and monopolizing the affection of the entire group.
I was going to give Lorne a character analysis spot since Cordy’s not around to analyze, but he didn’t show up either, so oh well.
“Love the whole chained undead look you’ve got going on. Really sets off your fern.”
Leave a Reply.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.