Angel 3x20 Review: Wayward Son
“A New World”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Tim Minear
We pick up immediately after that “Hi, Dad” cliffhanger. Connor fires his stake-launcher at Angel as Groo hurls his axe at Connor. Angel takes one stake in the shoulder and another in the arm, and Connor easily blocks the axe with some kind of metal guard on his left arm. Angel is completely stunned by his son’s return, not least because he’s very much no longer an infant. Connor doesn’t feel like giving anyone time to react. He’s still in fight mode. He and Angel fight, and this kid is good. He does a one-handed back handspring, and fights Angel, Gunn and Groo all at once. Angel finally manages to subdue him, but Connor just sneers, as if he expected Angel to try killing him. Angel backs off and tries to help him up, which freaks Connor out. Connor gets up and runs out into the daylight. Groo and Gunn wrestle Angel back inside before he catches fire, then give chase.
Connor runs right out into the street, nearly causing a huge traffic accident. Then he jumps onto a bus and rides off on top of it. Everyone else immediately starts figuring out what to do next and how to find Connor. They’re all pretty bewildered and not sure what this means. Fred gets Angel a destination for that bus. Cordy starts dividing up other assignments, but the rift to Quor’Toth sparks again, reminding them of a more pressing problem. Groo thinks Cordy might be able to demon ex machina it closed, but nothing happens. Lorne has a contact he can use to maybe do something about the rift. Cordy and Groo will stay to make sure nothing else comes out (and survives). Fred realizes Gunn was able to save her because of advice from Wesley.
Speaking of Wesley, Lilah is paying him a visit. She mocks him a bit for the lack of “get well” cards and balloons. He already knows she’s there to offer him a job. He tells her to get out. She tries to tempt him by describing their awesome supernatural reference collection and their benefits. He still isn’t interested. She gives him a gift. It’s Dante’s Inferno. He tosses it aside. This is a very mean gift. She reminds him of the bottom circle of hell, which is reserved for traitors. On that note, she leaves.
Connor is still riding that bus, and he seems a bit overwhelmed by all this city life stuff he’s never seen before. He jumps off the bus and keeps running. Angel is in the sewers. Gunn and Fred are tracking Connor by pedestrian sightings. Angel has them keep following this trail. Whatever happens, he wants to make sure Connor stays alive now that he knows he’s not dead.
Connor ends up by a bridge. He leaps down like thirty feet to go check out a confrontation between a druggie and her dealer. She’s trying to buy drugs by trading him some CDs. He tosses them. She smacks him indignantly, and he tries to throw her in his car so she can “work off” that punch. Well this guy’s the worst. He notices Connor and finds his outfit amusing. Connor isn’t embarrassed; his clothes are made of things he’s killed. Drug dealer guy whistles and three of his goons come out. One hits Connor with a pipe.
After we return from commercial, Connor is still unconscious from that hit. Drug dealer guy yanks off his bandolier of animal bones and orders his men to kill him. But that’s going to be more difficult than they expected. He wakes up and starts fighting them. He’s winning, but druggie guy pulls a gun on him. The girl in the car makes his aim go off so that he shoots one of his own guys instead. He turns to shoot her instead, an dConnor attacks him. He body-slams him on the roof of the car. He throws a knife at one of the other guys and the guy totally does a Wilhelm scream! Ahahaha, so awesome. That scream cracks me up every time.
The girl takes advantage of the drug dealer guy being unconscious to steal his money and his product. Then she prevents Connor from finishing him off by slitting his throat. Connor settles for RIPPING OFF HIS EAR. To add to his trophy collection, which he reclaims. Gross.
Groo has been standing in the same battle pose under the rift all day. For him, this is nothing. He once did this for eleven days. A bit of Groo’s jealousy of Angel comes up again, and Cordy isn’t very perceptive or tactful about it. She tries to convince him that right now, Angel is going through something that means he needs a lot of sympathy right now; it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love Groo. She would like to make out now. He eventually caves, and of course, that’s when the rift starts acting up. It hits them with weird yellow lightning and blasts them apart.
Angel, Fred, and Gunn are at the spot where Connor beat up the drug dealer and his goons. Gunn and Fred are a bit grossed out by the ear thing, but Angel feels like they shouldn’t judge a kid raised in a hell dimension.
Connor is still hanging with the druggie chick. She brings him to an abandoned building with a lot of squatters. She seems nice. She tries to learn more about him, like what he does for fun. Seems like the only thing he ever does is hunt stuff. They find an empty room. She lights some candles and invites him to crash there for the night. She finds some clothes left by other squatters that will probably help him keep a lower profile than the animal skins. He changes, totally unembarrassed to be naked in the same room as her. She’s glad he didn’t kill the drug dealer, which he doesn’t understand. She gives him a Twinkie or something, which he likes a lot. He tries to use her drug spoon as an actual spoon, which prompts her to awkwardly explain what drugs are, then distract him with more food.
Gunn and Fred find Cordy and Groo still unconscious in the lobby. Uh oh. Wesley is in his apartment. He picks up Inferno and flips to an illustration of the Devil chewing on Judas.
Connor and the girl are still hanging at that abandoned building. Connor says he came to L.A. to find his father. She came to get away from hers. She thinks people who suck should get sterilized. Connor thinks they should be killed. She likes that. She kisses him. He’s clearly never done that before, but he likes it. She leaves for a minute. He falls asleep, then wakes up abruptly. He goes looking for the girl, whose name is Sunny. He finds her dead in a bathroom, a needle in her arm. He’s quietly upset, but when he turns around, Angel is there. Angel sees Sunny and then panics, thinking she gave Connor some of the drugs too.
Angel tries to talk to Connor, but Connor walks away, not looking at him. He picks up a jacket—the drug dealer’s jacket. He wants to get his scent so he can track and kill the guy. Angel won’t let him. He throws Connor against the wall, trying to force him to listen. Connor pretends he will, then tries to run. Angel stops him. Also, Connor doesn’t like being called Connor. Holtz raised him as Steven.
Cordy and Groo are awake. They have no idea if anything came out of the rift while they were out. Lorne still isn’t back with his contact. Fred wants to try Wesley. Cordy stamps on that idea, and Groo grumbles some more about how she always defers to Angel. (Not actually. But his usual earnestness seems forced, which is as good as grumbling.) Fred thinks it’s ridiculous to not use all the resources available to them when they have an interdimensional fissure in their lobby.
Enter Lorne, with the coolest-looking minor character ever.
It clearly gives Angel a pang to call Connor anything other than the name he gave him, but he’ll do whatever it takes to get Connor to talk to him. He asks Connor what it was like in Quor’Toth. Did he have friends? He tells him he tried to get him out. He should’ve tried harder. He thinks maybe this is their second chance, that Connor’s back. He wants to know everything. Connor finally reveals why he’s so hostile towards Angel. Holtz raised him to hate Angel. He told him everything Angelus and Darla did to his family. Connor knows all the ways to kill vampires. He wants to see Angel’s vampface. Angel doesn’t want to show him, but Connor won’t drop it, hitting him. Angel vamps out.
Enter the one-eared drug dealer and his goons! He’s looking for Sunny. Angel tells him she’s dead. He stops Connor from attacking and tries to negotiate a non-violent solution, but the one-eared dealer punches him. He wants his jacket and his stuff back, at the very least.
The awesome blue-haired lady is running mystical diagnostics on the rift. She keeps vanishing and reappearing at random other places in the lobby, which is hilarious. She can sense that the rift was opened by something punching its way through. She can close it up, no problem. She does a brief little ritual, and the rift sparks a bit, then closes. All done! She can’t be sure if anything else came through, and she doesn’t feel like staying to find out.
Angel and Connor end up fighting the drug dealer and his goons. And here come the cops. One-ear grabs Connor to use as a shield. He fires in the direction of the police, prompting them to open fire into the room. Angel gets Connor to the floor while the room gets shredded by bullets around them. Angel tries to get Connor to escape out a window, but a policeman tries to shoot him. Angel takes the shotgun blast in the back. Connor is stunned, but Angel gets up and jumps out the window with him.
They make it away, hiding behind a car when a police cruiser goes past. Connor is still surprised Angel would take a bullet for him. Angel invites him back to the hotel. Connor says he has to go. Angel makes sure Connor knows he’s not alone before he leaves, and then he watches him go.
Connor runs to some graffitied hovel of a neighborhood, where a wrinkly old Holtz comes out of the shadows to greet him. For the second time in a row, the episode ends on Connor saying “Hi, Dad,” only this time, he’s smiling.
I like “A New World.” Whatever momentum we lost in “Double or Nothing,” it’s back now. Connor, at least in this episode, is fascinating. He clearly has a very firm set of beliefs about the way things work. His brief, tragic friendship with Sunny seems to confirm those beliefs, but Angel shakes them. His life in Quor’Toth was obviously kill or be killed, so law and justice on Earth is going to take some getting used to. Also, despite what the doctors said in all his infant checkups, Connor is clearly not a normal human boy. He definitely has enhanced senses, and anyone who can take on Angel, Groo, and Gunn all at once must have super strength. Mistress Meerna (the awesome blue-haired lady) only has maybe forty seconds of screentime, but she’s fantastic, and the gag about how she always pops to different spots unexpectedly (even to her) is hilarious. Lilah targeting Wesley is a fascinating new development. The weak link in the episode is once again the completely unnecessary angst between Cordy and Groo. Groo seems to be incapable of understanding the concept of Cordy having strong friendships, or that Angel would need particular attention in this time when he’s going through all this stuff with Connor. It actually feels kind of similar to the way Riley was acting with Buffy in early S5. Groo is dedicating his entire life to Cordelia, and when she has to divide her energy between him and other parts of her life, he gets jealous. Either he needs to find some things he can do when Cordy can’t be with him (like Buffy, I think Groo could find success as a self-defense teacher) or Cordy needs to tell him he needs to accept that she has more going on in her life than just him or they’re not going to work out.
I love how by the time Angel has realized that this is really Connor (so, like, two seconds), he’s already shifted right back into dad mode. He doesn’t need time to adjust to Connor being a teenager rather than a baby. All that matters is his son is back. Connor is his entire focus, to the point where he tries to run after him, not even noticing that he’s running into direct sunlight. It’s a nice call back to “Dad” when Angel stuck his hand in the sunlight to prove to Cordy that he would do anything for Connor. For some reason, I found the moment when he freaks out at the thought that Sunny gave Connor heroin particularly touching, because it was so instinctive. How long will Connor be able to hate Angel when Angel is being so relentlessly fatherly?
I’m getting irritated with Cordelia. Why is she keeping Groo at arm’s length? Does she feel guilty for having a fun, romantic vacation with him while everything was going horribly wrong at the hotel? Because she never says anything like that, and it would actually explain a lot. Instead, she just kind of stays on this personal one-track Protect Angel’s Feelings mission, which is slowly driving Groo insane. Of course, the only time she doesn’t keep him at arm’s length is when they’re supposed to be guarding an interdimensional rift to the worst hell dimension ever. Which doesn’t help.
Wesley may be alone, but his morals haven’t been compromised. He betrayed Angel because he thought it was the only way to save Connor’s life. Now here comes Lilah, trying to twist that into a more sinister betrayal because she wants him at W&H. So far, I don’t think she’s been very successful at anything other than making Wesley feel worse about his actions (and therefore less angry at the team for abandoning him).
Gunn doesn’t do a whole lot except help find Connor and agree with Cordelia about not contacting Wesley. It is interesting how he reacts when he hears what Connor’s been up to. Unlike Angel, he doesn’t seem to make allowances for where Connor grew up and how that was likely to screw up his personality.
Fred keeps pushing that they need Wesley, but she’s still doing that with all the wrong characters. Angel doesn’t exactly have a moment to talk to her about that, though, so I can’t really blame her for not bringing it up with him yet. However, now that Connor is back, they at least know Wesley isn’t partly responsible for getting Angel’s son killed. Wesley cost Angel Connor’s childhood, not his life. Maybe he’ll be able to forgive him for that, and Fred could potentially mention that during a quiet moment.
“We can make this right.”
“You can get me a new ear?”
“Well...maybe you can wear a hat.”
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.