Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by Vern Gillum
Gunn picks up his hubcap axe as Angel and Lorne come downstairs arguing about Cordy. Angel doesn’t want to interrogate Cordy about her time as a higher power yet, but Lorne wants to what with W&H brainsucking him for that very same info. In the meantime, they have a case!
Connor finds Cordy watching TV in his loft above the museum. He comes bearing junk food. She seems very tired and spaced-out. She enjoys her junk food and he’s very smug about making her happy. She gets so grateful for everything he’s done that she almost cries. She can’t sleep, because whenever she closes her eyes, she sees that freaky lava monster. She’s terrified, and she can’t seem to warn Angel, as much as she wants to. Then Connor turns into the lava monster, because she’s actually already sleeping. Well, she was. Not anymore. She sobs against Connor’s shoulder.
Lorne is taking a call from someone who has snakes coming out of his butt. Angel isn’t sure that’s their area of expertise, but even if the snakes themselves aren’t supernatural, it’s definitely not natural for them to be coming out of someone’s butt. Fred and Gunn are following up on that initial case, which is a haunting! There seem to be a strange number of close-ups of Gunn’s awesome hubcap axe.
The lady of the house points Fred and Gunn to a ridiculously huge bathroom. Gunn fantasizes about him and Fred living in a place like this someday, but Fred is ominously uncomfortable about anything resembling long-term planning about them as a couple. Uh oh. She would like to talk to him about that, but that’s when the haunting manifests in the form of rats. Everywhere. Rats are one of Gunn’s phobias, so they cannot get out of the bathroom fast enough. (Literally; it’s very difficult to get the door open.)
When Wes gets back to his apartment, Lilah is waiting for him, wearing glasses, pigtails, and a Texan accent in an attempt to give off a Fred vibe. I don’t think it’s very good, but whatever. Also, Wes just got back from working a case that involved a swarm of bugs. Ew. Lilah satirizes Fred for a bit, then tries to find out how much Wes loves Fred, then claims not to care, since she’s the one Wes is sleeping with anyway. She starts kissing him. He takes a while to reciprocate, but then things heat up fast. When she tries to take the glasses off, he stops her, which definitely hurts.
Fred and Gunn get back to the hotel. Gunn is still shuddering over the rats, and Fred wants to take a bath. But, by herself. Gunn wilts, and she awkwardly offers to share the tub if he wants. He declines, and it’s suddenly so uncomfortable that they have to actually address it. Everything’s been wrong since Professor Seidel. Talking about it doesn’t help. Fred runs off.
Angel is sorting weapons or something while Lorne takes more calls. The phone has been ringing a lot. Gunn takes over on the phone. Lorne advises Angel to organize the weapons by level of damage rather than in alphabetical order. Also, he thinks they could do with some extra help. Specifically from Cordy. Angel ignores him, and then Connor walks in. Angel and Connor have a semi-pleasant conversation. Connor wants Angel to talk to Cordelia. He calls Angel “Dad” for the first time, which cuts right through Angel’s worry that this isn’t a good idea. Awwwww.
Angel goes to the museum loft. Cordy is not happy, but Angel unleashes some dry humor until her anger evaporates. She tells him she loves him, but she didn’t just get her own memories back. As a higher being, she saw and felt Angel’s past as Angelus. All of it. It’s kind of soured her romantic feelings for him. At least for now. She starts shaking violently, and then her eyes go white. She can see the lava monster again. It’s coming.
Cordy tells Angel and Connor about the lava monster vision while she rests on the bed. Angel recommends she try to sleep while he goes to fight the lava monster. She thinks she knew more about this thing as a higher being, but it’s gone now.
The phones are ringing off the hook. Even with Gunn and Lorne both working them. Lorne pauses the phone answering to talk to Gunn about his relationship issues with Fred. They talk a bit about Professor Seidel, but before Lorne can guess what really happened, a bird hits the glass door. Gunn checks it, and a few seconds later, they have a full-on The Birds moment, a feathery hailstorm against every window. They’re starting to think the incessant phone calls might be connected.
And W&H thinks the same. Lilah is handing out orders about how to deal with this, and then she finds Angel in her office. He’s here to talk to her about brainsucking Lorne. He already beat up Gavin for information. Well, he barely started, and then Gavin spouted all the info he knew. It seems that every time the W&H analysts try to go through what Lorne saw when he read Cordy, their brains explode! Fun. That means Lilah can’t tell him anything. Angel thinks Lilah is probably just as afraid of what’s coming as the good guys, so why not team up? Lilah isn’t interested, but Angel helps her see how this can be advantageous to her. Either she helps him make sure a surprise apocalypse not planned by her bosses doesn’t happen, or she gets to watch him die spectacularly!
Cordy tries to head out of the loft, but Connor intercepts her. She tells him she’s getting pulled in the direction of where this thing will pop up. She talks about how she missed being human when she was a higher being. She doesn’t know why she went from being a higher being back to being human. Connor is pretty good at being encouraging. It would be cute if Connor/Cordy wasn’t so gross. Cordy heads out purposefully, and Connor insists on coming with her.
While they walk, Cordy talks about how she finally feels like she has a purpose, something she’s lacked since coming back. Connor keeps at it with the flirty talk, and Cordy half-chastens, half-validates him for it. They get to an alley...which is where Darla staked herself and Connor was born. The lava monster pops out of the ground at exactly that spot.
Connor tries to attack, but his sword merely glances off the thing’s rocky skin before it hurls Connor aside. Then it picks up Cordy by the throat. Connor takes another crack at it, but gets thrown again, by a vicious punch to the face. Cordy tries to back away on the ground, but it merely chuckles at her and leaps away.
Gunn is on the phone trying to track down Fred. Lorne is on the phone with more clients turning up apocalyptic portents. They’re about to leave to go look for Fred together, but Wes shows up. He and Gunn immediately start butting heads about Fred, but Lorne breaks it up. They have bigger problems right now. Wes offers to pool information with the A.I. team. Gunn isn’t interested, but Angel is!
Cut to later, when Wes is analyzing all the A.I. team’s data with them. Actually, it’s the data Lilah gave Angel—the stuff from Lorne’s head. Angel has Lorne start marking the locations of all the calls they’ve been getting.
Even later, they’re still working on the info. The pages from Lilah are scrambled lines of gibberish. Gunn notices that the pages don’t so much tell a story as form a puzzle. They make enough room in the lobby to lay them all out on the floor. They form the shape of an X encased in a square. Go Gunn! Apparently it’s an ancient alchemical symbol for fire. Also, the locations Lorne was matching make a similar shape.
Fred is at the diner she and Gunn go to all the time. She’s had nine cups of coffee so far. The waitress tries to get her to call Gunn. Aww. An earthquake starts. Connor and Cordy feel it at the loft too. She’s patching him up. He wants to go after the lava monster, but he has broken ribs and no idea how to fight this thing. These are his first broken bones ever. Dang. Cordy blames herself, because she thought she had to go find that spot. Connor disagrees. They’ll figure out how to kill this thing.
Angel, Gunn, Lorne, and Wes figure out where something scary is likely to be going down soon. There’s a club right at the center of the eye of fire on the map. Angel tosses Wes a crossbow. Awww, yay! Does this mean he’s back on the team? Please let this mean he’s back on the team.
They go to the plac, heavily armed. They find the lava monster there, having constructed that same eye of fire shape with dead bodies! Yikes. Angel jumps in with his broadsword. He lasts slightly longer than Connor, but then lava monster throws him through a pillar. Gunn throws his hubcap axe at it, and it crushes it like a soda can. Noooo, not the hubcap axe! That’s one of my favorite weapons in either show! Now I get why it got two close-ups earlier. Nothing the guys do has any effect on this thing, and that includes Wes emptying two handguns and a shotgun into it. Well, the shotgun makes it stagger a bit, but doesn’t kill it. It tosses Wesley aside just like Angel and Gunn. And there are way too many shots of lava monster sort of growling in a noncommittal way. Like, at least five so far.
Angel vamps in and goes for another round. He seems to have the upper hand this time, and comes about an inch from stabbing the lava monster through the eye with a stake, but he shoves the stake back through Angel’s neck and throws him off the roof after making a scornful comment about Cordy’s safety with Connor. Then he punches the ground in the middle of the square of bodies. They catch fire. The thing jumps away. Wes helps Gunn up. On the ground, Angel pulls the stake out of his neck and just lies there in agony while he watches fire shoot up from the roof into a pillar that strikes the clouds.
Cordy and Connor watch the same phenomenon in horror. Once the pillar goes up into the clouds, it starts raining fire. Connor wishes he’d tried harder to stop it. He thinks the monster might be connected to him, since it came out of the ground right where he was born. What if he’s evil? Cordy tries to disabuse him of that notion. Unfortunately, she does so with her lips. Ewwww no. She’s decided that since the world seems to be ending, Connor deserves to have something good before they all die. Or something. They sleep together. It’s a load of crap. Wes and Lorne watch the fireballs raining down (Gunn is still unconscious—Wes dragged him to safety), and Fred watches from the diner after failing to reach anyone on her phone. Lilah watches from inside her office.
Cordy and Connor keep shagging. Angel, afraid for Cordy’s life after what the lava monster said, reaches a rooftop near the loft, from which he has an excellent view of the gross pseudo-incestual sex going on in there. His face is frozen in anger.
“Apocalypse, Nowish” has some pretty intense buildup and payoff, but it also has some of the most nauseating stuff in the series. On the whole, I think the good manages to outweigh the bad, but barely. Connor/Cordy is gross, aborted Angel/Cordy manages to be annoying even as it disqualifies itself as a threat to Buffy/Angel, and Wes/Lilah and Fred/Gunn are two different flavors of depressing, but all the crazy stuff happening around Los Angeles is really interesting, the Beast is a very formidable foe despite his limited range of facial expressions, Angel working with Lilah is fantastic, and Wes might be back in the group! The only problem with the Plot A stuff is that it seems like the A.I. team were a bit slow on the uptake about how all of the portents were connected. I mean, Giles and Jenny figured that out in “Prophecy Girl” pretty fast, and with far fewer signs.
I feel kinda bad for Angel, and not just because of the rejection, the multiple stab wounds, the getting thrown off a tall building, and the witnessing of the gross sex. If it wasn’t for the horrific love triangle, he and Connor would probably be patching things up by now. They got along better this time than they ever have.
Cordy comes across as a completely horrible person who takes advantage of a very messed up eighteen-year-old less than two days after telling Angel she can’t be with him because she spent all her time in Higher Power Land reliving his time as Angelus. This is the kind of behavior that should go with a Regina George type attitude, and yet Cordy is just somber and apologetic the whole time. Which makes it all worse, because it makes her a total hypocrite. And she clearly doesn’t even have feelings for Connor. She was just giving him end-of-the-world pity sex. Whyyyyyyy. Couldn’t she have used Angel’s curse as the reason she doesn’t feel comfortable about starting a relationship with him? Seriously, how come no one’s mentioning that? But once again, ranting about how little Cordelia resembles the character she used to be doesn’t do much good, because she’s definitely Jasmine’s puppet now. And that’ll only get more pronounced from here on out.
Gunn is not good at dealing with relationship problems. He tries to act like nothing’s wrong, even though it’s been just a few days since he murdered Professor Seidel for Fred’s own good. That’s not the kind of thing they can just shake off. The old status quo of their relationship is gone. If he tries to get it back instead of looking for a new one, Fred’s only going to keep pulling away.
I love that Fred has gone to that diner so many times that she’s basically friends with the staff, as evidenced by the waitress feeling comfortable enough to give her relationship advice.
There are glimmers of how good and awesome Connor could’ve been if he’d had a better childhood. When he isn’t running on mindless teen aggression, his instincts are to protect and comfort. He puts aside his differences with his dad for Cordy’s sake, which is probably the most mature thing he’s ever done. Aww. And then Cordy had to freaking ruin it by initiating a physical relationship.
Could there be hope for Wes and Gunn’s friendship after all? If there is, it may be more on Wesley’s side than Gunn’s, since Gunn has been growing increasingly belligerent towards Wes ever since it became clear that the biggest connection Wes still felt to A.I. was through his feelings for Fred. There’s certainly hope for Wes and Angel’s friendship, though. The test will be if he continues to associate with them when there isn’t an immediate apocalyptic threat.
“I don’t think that much mucous is ever a good sign. Please, again, describe it in detail.”
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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.