Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Tim Minear
Angel still hasn’t been in touch with the rest of the team, so they’re on the verge of panicking now, especially because they haven’t found out if anything else came out of the portal yet. Cordy is already bossing Groo around in a curt fashion and it’s barely ten seconds into the episode. Boo. Angel arrives. He still has buckshot in his back and looks rather beat up. He tells them a bit about Connor (including that he goes by Steven). The team tells him about the rift. Fred is worried something might’ve come out of it and gone after Connor, but Angel thinks Connor will be more than a match for anything; he wants to let Connor come to him.
Yeah, that might not happen how Angel hopes. Elsewhere in town, Connor is paying for a motel room for him and wrinkly old Holtz. The next morning, Connor sees someone use the vending machine and is intrigued. He can’t figure out how it works, but that’s no hindrance to someone with super strength who doesn’t understand Earth economics. He returns to his and Holtz’s room with an armload of vending machine food. Holtz is shocked to find from the newspaper that they’ve only been gone from Earth for a couple weeks. Connor doesn’t like Earth. Holtz reminds him that Earth is home, not Quor’Toth.
Holtz thinks the reason Connor went to such great lengths to make it to Earth was so he could see his real father. Connor doesn’t like that idea. He wants to kill Angel and is ashamed that he couldn’t. Holtz raised him to believe God gave him to Holtz to raise and protect. Holtz tells Connor to go to Angel so he can learn what they have in common, the better to fight against Angel and those parts of himself. Also, as much as I don’t trust Holtz, I do like how he phrases things sometimes: “The devil will show you bright things. Many colors.”
Lorne has obtained an enchanted crystal that is full of mystical energy, which Fred will now use as a power source for what is essentially a repurposed Geiger counter that tracks Quor’Toth radiation. She can use it to find out if anything else came out of the rift. Cordy asks about Angel and then heads to talk to him, leaving Groo all abandoned with the rest of the team. She finds Angel beating up his punching bag. He’s not feeling chatty, but he admits he’s worried Connor won’t come back.
Lorne finds Groo brooding in the courtyard. He doesn’t get why Angel isn’t doing anything about Connor right now, since he was trying so hard before and Connor is actually within reach now. Lorne thinks sometimes it’s best not to try forcing something. Groo is actually being very sneaky, using Angel and Connor to represent himself and Cordelia. Groo is clearly despairing of his and Cordy’s future. He heads out for a walk and asks Lorne to only tell Cordy about him if she asks. Booooo, no. This is definitely following the Buffy/Riley pattern.
Angel is telling Cordy how he feels like Connor is farther away from him than ever. He sort of expected Connor to grow up to hate him, but he thought he’d be able to enjoy a lot of time with him before they got to that point. Cordy is confident he’ll come back.
Cut to Wes, the other estranged member of this family. He’s about to have dinner by himself in his rather unnecessarily dimly-lit flat when he gets a message on his computer. Um...I can’t really remember how email worked in ’02, because that was before I had my own account, but I’m pretty sure it never worked like this:
That’s TV bullcrap, isn’t it? Messages have never just popped into existence as files in the middle of your desktop, right?
Fred is leading the team along the path of the Geiger counter’s readings, which leads her right to Connor, who just came in. This is a very awkward encounter. Angel introduces Connor (as Steven) to everyone there. Connor seems less than thrilled about Lorne. Fred wants to recalibrate the Geiger counter so they can keep looking for other stuff. Cordy and Lorne leave Connor and Angel alone. They’re both standing there with their arms crossed, not saying much. It’s kind of hilarious. Then Cordy starts shouting as if over a noisy club—because that’s where her vision is set. Vampires are about to attack at a club. She keeps shouting until the vision ends. Angel invites Connor to go fight the vampires with him.
The club is one of those places with music that’s more beat than anything else. Wesley is there, and Lilah meets him. She mocks him some more about being alone. She points out Justine sitting at the bar. It seems Lilah arranged for Justine to get dogpiled by vampires (by sending her an anonymous tip that she’d find vampires to fight at this club), and she thought Wesley would want to enjoy the show. Wesley basically rolls his eyes and turns to leave. Lilah wonders if he’ll go straight home or warn Justine, and the mere fact of his hesitation is all she wanted to see. She doesn’t think she’s wasting her time with him.
Angel and Connor have arrived. Wes has already pointed Angel out to Lilah. Justine has spotted Angel too. Some of the vampires in the club show their game faces and grab her. Angel starts dusting vampires. Connor jumps in to help, focusing on the ones about to kill Justine. Wes is the first one to figure out the kid is Connor. They kill enough vampires for Justine to escape. Connor is actually having fun fighting alongside Angel. Wes leaves, to Lilah’s surprise. Connor pursues a fleeing vampire, and Angel...doesn’t dust the ones curled up in pain on the floor?
Out in the alley, Connor looks for the vamp who got away and almost stakes Angel, who crept up silently behind him. Angel punches Connor’s stake-wielding fist around to dust the other vampire. Nice. Angel tells Connor he’s impressed with his fighting skills. He fake-attacks Connor to test his reflexes. Connor smiles and attacks back. They start sparring in the alley. Aww. Holtz watches from a balcony nearby.
Connor is back at the motel room, eating Oreos. Holtz comes back. He doesn’t seem happy with what he saw. But that’s a misdirect. Holtz wants Connor to go back to Angel, for good. He thinks it’s time for him to give Connor back to his real father. Connor’s angry.
Angel is at the hotel, telling Cordy about fighting alongside Connor. He’s much more optimistic now about how things could go for him and Connor. Cordy got to watch them fighting together by going back into the vision. She’s really happy for him.
Fred’s Geiger counter has led her and Gunn to the motel where Holtz and Connor have been staying. Connor and Holtz are still arguing, and Connor storms outside, unwittingly tipping off Fred and Gunn to where he’s been staying. Then Holtz comes to close the outer door and they spot him too. Dun-dun-dun.
Lorne is having a drink when Connor comes back to the hotel. He offers to show Connor to Angel’s room, but Connor is being extremely anti-demon. Lorne is very indignant, considering he was the one who always babysat Connor when Angel and the team had a case. Cordy comes downstairs just as Lorne is losing his temper a bit with Connor. She pulls Connor aside to talk to him. She tries to explain about how demons aren’t always evil on Earth. She uses herself as an example. That was not a good idea. He pulls a knife on her.
When we get back from commercial, Cordy is holding Connor’s knife-wielding arm at bay. She starts glowing. The knife blade disintegrates. The glow spreads from her to Connor. We hear weird screaming noises. The glow intensifies around Connor, then goes out. He starts crying and lets her pull his head down to her shoulder. Angel is standing on the second floor overhang, and he saw the whole thing.
Later, Angel, Cordy, and Lorne are in the office together. Lorne believes Cordy was able to use her power to flush Quor’Toth out of Connor’s system. Angel is very grateful. She apparently got a glimpse of what Connor’s childhood was like, and how he grew up believing he belonged in Quor’Toth.
Angel goes to talk to Connor, who’s sitting in the lobby. Connor feels bad about trying to kill Cordy, and he wants to bail. Angel tries to convince him not to. The hotel could be home. Connor doesn’t think he has a home. Angel tells him this was his home. It could be again. Connor starts talking about Holtz, revealing that Holtz came back too. Cue Fred and Gunn returning with about the same news.
Justine finds Holtz at his motel room. Back at the Hyperion, Angel has Fred and Gunn take Connor somewhere for a couple hours while he can go confront Holtz. Cordy thinks this is a terrible idea. The lying to Connor part, not the possibly killing Holtz part.
Justine and Holtz are talking. She tells him how much he meant to her. She still thinks he betrayed her, but she’d do whatever he wanted anyway. They discuss love and hate. They’ve both lived off hate, but in Quor’Toth, Holtz realized that love is more powerful. He has one task he wants Justine to do before he’s finished with vengeance.
Fred and Gunn take Connor to the beach. It’s night, so it’s not as fun as it could’ve been. Connor’s never seen an ocean before. He thinks it’s pretty bleak, but Fred tries to explain about the world under the surface. She tells Connor about her time in a hell dimension and coming back, thinking he feels a similar way. Even after what Cordy did, he’s still pretty surly and difficult to talk to. He walks off to stand closer to the waves while Fred and Gunn stay back, discussing how weird it is keeping Connor distracted while Angel deals with Holtz. Yeah...this kid has super-hearing. Talking about that was a huge mistake.
Cordy is walking through the dark lobby when she sees who she thinks is Angel. She’s delighted, thinking this means he listened to her after all. But it’s actually Groo, who now has even more reason than before to think Cordy doesn’t care about him. Ugggggh.
Holtz is putting a letter in an envelope when Angel comes to the door. He can come in with no invitation. Angel shuts the door behind him and slams Holtz against the wall. Holtz reminds him that Connor survived Quor’Toth because of him, whereas Holtz’s own son died at Angelus’s hand. That stops Angel’s attack cold. Holtz can see now that Angel feels remorse. Angel doesn’t think actually apologizing could be worth anything, but Holtz disagrees. So Angel apologizes. Holtz is talking like he understands he was after vengeance all along, but no longer wants it. Angel didn’t expect that. Holtz gives him the letter, which is for Connor. He doesn’t intend to ever see Connor again, so he wants Angel to give him that. Angel leaves without another word.
Connor is running as fast as he can to the motel. Angel is sitting in his car, reading the letter as Connor runs (Holtz said he could read it). The letter is about the importance of Connor letting Holtz go. At the motel, Justine is there with Holtz. Apparently, the last favor he asked of her was to kill him and make it look like Angel did it so that Connor would hate Angel forever because of his love for Holtz. Ah, so all that talk about love and hate was hiding something incredibly nefarious. That’s horrible.
Connor reaches the alley too late. Holtz is dead, his head on Justine’s lap as she cries. She doesn’t need to say a word; Connor takes one look at the “bite marks” and assumes this was Angel’s work. Craaaaaap.
“Benediction” is at least as good as “A New World.” Holtz executes one of the most diabolical and manipulative (and effective) revenge plots ever, and it unfolds in such a way that we, Angel, and even Connor were tricked into believing he’d let go of his hatred. That’s brilliant. And super messed up. I love Fred’s Geiger counter device. The Cordy/Groo stuff is still getting increasingly irritating, though. Groo is supposed to be an extremely selfless warrior, so why isn’t he asking for ways he can help instead of moping that Cordy won’t pay attention to him? And why is Cordy paying no attention to him? It’s so frustrating because Groo is hilarious and I don’t want him to leave (or be sad). On the other hand, the stuff with Wes and Lilah remains incredibly intriguing. Lilah clearly never paid much attention to Wesley before this—they barely interacted, so it’s not surprising. But now instead of going after Angel directly, she’s focusing all her efforts on Wes.
Angel is showing a remarkable amount of patience with Connor, considering Connor’s attitude. I love that. He’s doing such a good job. He waits for Connor to come to him (even though it freaks him out to do that), he invites Connor to join a big brawl against vampires, and he loosens up a little and has fun with him. But yeah, definitely a bad idea not to tell Connor he was going to go visit Holtz.
Cordelia is barely recognizable as the character she was at the beginning of the season. Brushing off Groo, being totally fine with the idea of Angel killing Holtz, and being super gentle and patient with Connor. The old Cordelia (and by that, I mean the Cordy of late S2, who had already undergone an impressive amount of character development) would’ve done the opposite of all those things. This doesn’t feel like character development. It feels like she’s a completely different person who is definitely not merely 21-years-old. (*cough* Jasmine theory. *cough*)
Lilah is playing such twisted games with Wesley, but I think she’s met her match. I like watching the two of them interact so much more than just watching Wesley be miserable and alone.
Gunn mostly tags along with Fred again, which makes the problems with Cordy and Groo even more irritating by contrast. All Gunn can really contribute to Fred’s work is to provide a ride to get her around town with her Geiger counter, and he’s totally fine with that. They’re very good at playing to their strengths and supporting each other. Cordy and Groo should take notes.
As much as I love the way Fred can combine science with mystical stuff, I was a bit saddened that she didn’t bring up Wesley a single time. Maybe I was wrong when I said Fred has appropriated some of what used to be Wesley’s area of expertise. True, Wes did do a few science-y things in the first two seasons, but he never built anything like that Geiger counter. Could Fred have helped them solve some of their earlier cases more effectively, with fewer civilian casualties?
“It could be dangerous. There’s a lot of killing and violence. You wanna come?”
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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.