“Slouching toward Bethlehem”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Skip Schoolnik
A couple are attempting to get their car going in a shady part of L.A. Their teenage kid is being a jerk about it. Connor comes walking up, weirding them out. They think he’s a mugger or something, but he’s there to save them from the vampires posing as tow truck drivers. Which seems like a pretty clever way to get access to people who are stranded. After Connor kills the vampires, the family hug each other while they recover from the shock. Connor seems a bit wistful at the sight of them.
He sneaks into the hotel, giving us the credits shot of him creeping through a hallway. Nice. He peers into the lobby in time to see the team discover the amnesiac Cordelia. She’s very skittish about Angel, Gunn, and Fred. She remembers absolutely nothing about herself and the people in her life. She doesn’t want to go to a hospital...yet. Fred’s not sure that would work anyway. In comes Lorne, so Angel rushes Gunn out to intercept him before she can catch a glimpse of the obvious non-human, and then pulls Fred into the office for a word. This general shiftiness does not inspire great confidence in Cordy. Nor does the scary-looking knife poking out from under a couch. She starts to edge towards a door, but then the phone rings. It goes to voicemail, and the message was recorded by her! That calms her down a bit. Until the message the client leaves is about demons. Fred leaves to go deal with the case (with Gunn) while Angel helps Cordy.
Cordy wants to go home, but unfortunately she no longer has her apartment, so “home” for her is one of the hotel rooms now. She pokes through the boxes of her things, Angel trying to prompt her to remember something. She’d rather be alone for a while, but she appreciates his kind helpfulness. Later, she’s sitting in front of a mirror, having changed clothes, and she’s practicing introducing herself as Cordelia Chase. She’s not used to her name yet. She finds her high school yearbook, which is full of messages from her friends about the school burning down and the giant snake. She also finds pictures of herself in her various hairdos, and then a picture of her holding baby Connor.
She heads out into the hall and hears singing. She follows the sound to Lorne’s room. He’s doing a reading for a really creepy humanoid demon. She hears him talking to the guy, then scampers away before he can spot her. Down in the lobby, Angel is hurriedly moving things around so she won’t notice anything weird, but he misses a drop of blood on the counter. She’s getting more and more freaked out. Fred and Gunn come in talking about killing demon babies, dropping a bloody axe on the counter, behind which Cordy is hiding. It drips purple goop next to her, and she jumps up, startling Fred and Gunn. She backs away, accidentally knocking the weapons cabinet open, spilling weapons everywhere. Next, she runs into Angel, then flees out into the night.
She doesn’t get far before some black-clad dudes attack her, but she fights back on pure muscle memory, and with Angel’s help, subdues them both. She thinks this means they’re all spies. Angel is finally willing to tell her the truth. But it might be too little too late. He promises her that the person she was is very much at home and among friends. His puppy eyes eventually work on her.
Angel continues the explanations up in Cordy’s room. She asks about the picture of her holding Connor. Is she his mom? No. She’s slightly disappointed to learn that she and Angel weren’t a happily married couple with a baby. She wonders if they were at least together, and they almost kiss before she wonders if she was a nun. Wow, random. The reason she wondered that is because she found a ton of crosses in her stuff, which she dumps in Angel’s hands. He vamps out. She screams and runs...right into Lorne!
Cordelia is officially done with half-truths. Angel apologizes for lying. Cut to later, when they’ve apparently explained everything. It’s all rather overwhelming. Angel suggests that Cordy sing for Lorne so they can find out how to get her on her path. She sings the exact same song she sang in “Puppet Show.” Nice! Her singing really rattles Lorne. He cuts her off and anxiously leaves the room without explaining. Angel runs after him just as awkwardly.
Cordy storms after Angel and Lorne, shaking off Fred and Gunn on the way. Angel is demanding details from Lorne, who is extremely reluctant to say anything. He saw jumbled flashes of serious evil.
Cut to Wes and Lilah snuggled in bed. She tells him W&H knows about them. And so does Angel. Wes claims not to care, but she thinks that’s a big lie, considering that he saved Angel from the ocean. Wes slips and calls their thing a relationship. Apparently they had a bet about who would say that first. She makes him sign a dollar bill as proof. She might just be falling for him.
Cordy is wandering around, still trying to find Angel. Instead, she finds a lot of creepy empty hotel and then that scary demon dude from Lorne’s room! Who has a super horrifying expanding mouth. Fortunately, Angel has vamp hearing and knows she’s in trouble. And so does Connor, who is closer. He kills the demon. Cordy would like his help leaving, and he holds out a hand without a word. They leave together.
Angel, Gunn, and Fred find the dead demon and the no Cordy. Angel starts panicking. He thinks this could be the start of what Lorne saw. Lorne disagrees. Also, he doesn’t want to go poking around about what he saw from Cordy. Angel gears up to go look for her.
Connor shows Cordy around the place he’s staying at. Seems to be some kind of abandoned storage facility, with things like giant taxidermy bears in it. He’s not overly talkative. She realizes that he’s Angel’s baby all grown up. He leads her to a somewhat grungy loft area where he sleeps. He tells her about sinking Angel to the bottom of the ocean and about that one time he tried to kill her. She finds his blatant honesty refreshing, and she sits down by him on his bed and touches his hand. Yeeeeah, probably not the best way to show your appreciation to a kid as messed up as this one.
At Wesley’s flat, Lilah gets a call about Cordelia returning and currently staying with Connor. Wesley eavesdrops and manages not to get caught. Lilah orders an extraction team. When she picks up her purse to leave after snagging one last kiss, the signed dollar drops to the floor.
Connor needs to head out for some reason, but Cordy doesn’t want him to. She’s scared. The amnesia makes her feel extremely vulnerable. She doesn’t know anything about her family or her own preferences. She’s so lonely. He tells her what he knows about her. Which isn’t much, but it’s something. He manages to give her a pretty decent pep talk, but she’s still really afraid that something awful will happen. She trusts him, though. He takes up a guard position rather than leaving.
Fred and Gunn are trying to figure out likely places for her to have gone. Angel is a bit panicky still. In comes Wes. His reception is a somewhat hostile one, but Angel fills him in on what happened with Cordy. He tells them W&H are going to try to nab her. And that she’s with Connor. Angel is immediately less worried.
Cordy is asleep at Connor’s place, and he’s next to her. Then he sort of gropes her, but that only lasts a second before he covers her mouth, because W&H’s next batch of ninjas have arrived. One gets caught in a booby trap Connor made, but more come bursting in through windows. Cordy and Connor fight. Lilah watches the proceedings on a handheld screen. Just when Cordy and Connor nearly get overwhelmed, in comes the A.I. team. For some reason, Lilah is pleased with this turn of events and tells her men to retreat. Uh oh.
Once all the ninjas are gone, Angel tries to get Cordy to return to the hotel with him, Fred, and Gunn, but she opts to stay with Connor. She likes him better right now because he didn’t lie to her. Angel isn’t happy about that, but Cordy’s safety is his priority, so he’ll let her stay whre she feels safe.
Wes finds the signed dollar on his floor. He seems broody. That’s the entire scene.
Angel, Fred, and Gunn get back to the hotel, discussing the Cordy situation. They think they handled the situation as well as they could, and that Cordy will eventually come round. But then they find Lorne tied to a chair in the office, with a bloody wound on his forehead. W&H lured the A.I. team out so they could get to Lorne. For all Angel, Fred, and Gunn know, Wes did that to them on purpose.
Wes goes to Lilah’s apartment to confront her about using him to take advantage of the A.I. team. She’s unabashed. Maybe Lilah’s not the one falling for Wesley. She claims she didn’t kill Lorne for that information out of respect for his friendship with Wesley.
Connor is back in guard position while Cordy sleeps. At the hotel, Angel is sitting in a windowsill just like Connor, and he glances over to his bed, which, unlike Connor’s, is empty.
Maybe it’s just because I’d much rather be watching “Spin the Bottle” already, but “Slouching towards Bethlehem” wasn’t awesome. I mean, ugh, seriously? A love triangle involving Angel, his son, and Cordelia? I’m not a fan of love triangles as a rule, but I don’t like either of those pairings! The intrigue with Wesley and Lilah gets more fascinating every episode, though, so that’s something, and Lilah’s gambit was very clever.
I can understand Angel screwing up and not immediately telling Cordelia he’s a vampire. Even if the romance angle makes no sense, she’s still the closest friend he’s ever had, and the idea of her fearing and mistrusting him because of what he would naturally be unbearable. Then again, this is Cordelia. The first time she found out he was a vampire, it threw her for all of two seconds. But I guess Angel wasn’t present for that revelation, since it happened in the middle of the day in the Sunnydale High girls’ bathroom. The best approach would’ve been to show her pictures of the A.I. team together, then tell her about herself, then tell her about all of them, including the supernatural stuff.
I’m not sure I would’ve expected amnesia Cordelia to behave the way she does. I think I would’ve expected her to be assertive and demanding, not plainly vulnerable and jumpy. I mean, the assertiveness and demands would be a cover for the vulnerability she felt, but still. It does make sense that she would value honesty over all, as someone who is so blunt herself, and that song choice was seriously an amazing touch. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter, because we’re in S4 now and Cordelia is back on earth, so Jasmine is officially the one steering her actions.
Despite Gunn’s insistence to the contrary, he does pretty much seem like a sidekick. All summer, he and Fred apparently barely found any clients, and he appears to have gone completely out of contact with his old crew. He’s been consistently attempting to take the initiative so far this season, though, so maybe all of this is building up to an arc about his dissatisfaction with his current role.
Fred really does seem to have stepped up to the position of Angel’s lieutenant with Wesley off the team and Cordy not herself. I approve. She’s good at it. She’s very observant and she knows when to be the devil’s advocate and when to be supportive.
Was Connor’s return to the hotel at the beginning of this one his way of indicating that he’s starting to regret what he did to Angel and wishing he could have a home and family? That would be interesting. Too bad Cordelia came back at exactly the worst moment so that any inklings of wanting to bury the hatchet with his dad were completely forgotten. And holy crap he is already being creepy with Cordelia. What the heck was with that boob grab? Has nobody taught him appropriate behavior around women?
Wesley thinks he has the drop on Lilah, but he’s the one who called their thing a relationship first, being slightly put out that she has to leave, and being hurt that she would use him against the A.I. team. He might not want to admit it, but he definitely feels something for her. Hopefully her making him her patsy won’t sour things between him and the team even further.
“Have you been caffeinating your blood again, or is there something you’re not telling us?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.