Angel 4x22 Review: White Lies
Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Tim Minear
The team is reeling from Lilah being there. Apparently she’s on leave from hell. She assures Wesley that she felt nothing when he beheaded her, because she was dead. He’s still comforting himself with the notion that she never had real feelings for him. Anyway, she’s here to make the A.I. team an offer they can’t refuse.
After the credits, everyone is standing around super uncomfortably in the aftermath of Lilah making this mysterious offer. Finally, after a full minute, Gunn asks her to repeat herself. She’s offering them control of the L.A. branch of W&H. They get the building, the employees, and tons of resources. The Beast may have killed everyone, but they’ve restaffed and rebuilt! She claims the Senior Partners are doing this because they’re ceding L.A. over to them. And also as a reward for giving Jasmine the boot.
The team does not appreciate her putting such an unpleasant spin on their defeat of Jasmine. She heads out, telling them there’ll be a limo waiting for them before dawn. They’re all still a bit disgruntled.
Outside, where looting and general unpleasantness is still rampant, Connor is walking listlessly through the streets. He notices that a man is pacing around on the top of a building. He goes up to talk to him. He seems pretty unbalanced in the aftermath of losing Jasmine. The cop is pretty close to just killing himself. Connor stops him and tells him the horrible feelings are temporary. He tells him to go home, and the guy remembers that he does actually have a home, and he has a wife and daughter. Connor gets angry that he would just kill himself without thinking about how it would affect them. He starts to walk away, but then turns back and beats the crap out of the guy.
At the hotel, Wes and Gunn are trying to come up with a plan for finding Cordelia. Gunn feels that Wesley’s system with their current resources isn’t nearly as good as what they could have if they went for W&H. He tries to sympathize with Wes about LIlah, but Wes makes it a bit awkward with his morbid glibness. Lorne returns empty-handed. None of them have any leads on Connor or Cordelia. Gunn starts to point out they should consider W&H’s offer, but clams up off Angel’s expression. Angel is dead set against rejecting the offer, because he’s completely convinced it’s a trick to corrupt them. And he’s obviously right. He heads out to try tracking Connor by scent. Wait, how did he lose track of him in the first place?
Gunn heads to bed and Wes leaves for his flat. Early the next morning, Fred sneaks down into the lobby (holding her shoes so as to walk more quietly) to go for the limo without anyone spotting her. Wes is already waiting. He was sure he wouldn’t be the only one, but didn’t expect Fred. Gunn shows up. They debate going back inside, all while creeping closer to the limo. Angel is waiting to get in too. Lorne is already inside, enjoying music and drinks.
The team steps into W&H’s new offices. Everyone going past greets Angel as “Mr. Angel.” The place is enormous. LIlah leads a group of personal tour guides to the team. Angel doesn’t like the idea of them being separated for this, but the others, particularly Gunn, are fine with it. Lilah even offers them weapons to make them feel more comfortable during their stay. Fred picks some kind of machine gun. A very short dude is there to show Lorne around the entertainment division. All of his favorite entertainers are W&H clients. Wesley’s guide is a stuffy British dude. Gunn’s is a very attractive black lady. Fred’s is a scientist who definitely isn’t Holden Webster, the very dusted vampire from “Conversations with Dead People.” That leaves Angel with Lilah.
Gunn thinks this separate guides tour thing is their strategy for targeting Angel. His guide wonders why he doesn’t consider himself a priority. She says they all have skills W&H is interested in. They pass the security office, and Gunn thinks that’s what he gets, which bums him out. But he’s wrong. They keep going.
Fred and Knox head over to the science division, which Fred would be in charge of if she came here for real. He shows her their research and development lab, in which employees are conducting experiments for at least six completely unrelated branches of science. Knox shows her his palm pilot, which can hack into any device within a certain range and steal information off it. Creepy.
Sirk, the older English dude, shows Wes their ancient prophecies library, which consists of a couple dozen books arranged neatly on a table. He isn’t impressed, until Sirk demonstrates that these books are basically unlimited access mystical Kindles. Awesome. That’s the kind of thing you’d think they’d have thought of doing at Hogwarts. Turns out, Sirk is an ex-Watcher. Wes is a bit disgusted with him for choosing W&H over the good guys. He punches him out, then uses a grappling hook hidden up his sleeve to go exploring.
Lilah shows Angel his office. It’s very large and swanky. He also gets twelve sweet cars and a penthouse suite. And, biggest bonus, the glass on every window in the building is tempered to keep the sunlight from hurting vampires. Angel definitely likes that, but he makes her close the drapes again. He turns to leave. She keeps trying to convince him that this is an opportunity he shouldn’t pass up. She repeats some of his own lines to Connor from the beginning of the season. She points out how many people he could save with these resources, then hands him a file on Sunnydale. It has an amulet inside that Lilah claims is crucial for Buffy’s final battle. He continues to refuse, so she adds Connor and Cordy to the pot. They can find them for him, easy. He still won’t bite. The phone rings. Lilah tells him he still hasn’t seen all the amenities. One of them is a widescreen TV behind a panel in the office, on which is a news report about Connor holding a bunch of people hostage in a shop.
After the commercial break, Angel has Lilah by the throat against the wall. He thinks W&H put Connor in that situation. Lilah says they didn’t. She says if he walks out the door, the deal is off. He tells her W&H is what’s wrong with the world and he’ll never be one of them. He has a different deal for her.
Gunn and his guide are on the elevator. They go to the White Room. Gunn is no longer having fun. In the White Room, it’s just Gunn and a large black panther. It’s gorgeous. He’s more concerned about its teeth and claws. But it doesn’t seem interested in eating him. He looks into its eyes as it sits down like a docile housecat, then roars.
In that sporting goods shop, Connor has rigged bombs to everyone inside. One of the hostages snarls at his whimpering daughter to shut up, and Connor yells at him to comfort her properly. He has a bunch of car batteries rigged together. He can sense that Angel has arrived. Sure enough, Angel is on the balcony of the second floor behind him. He leaps down to the main floor.
Wes sneaks and punches his way to the records hall. Lilah finds him there. She was expecting him to head up there. She thinks he’s there to steal information and use it against W&H, but he’s really there to find and destroy Lilah’s contract. She’s touched, but it doesn’t do any good. He burns the contract. She tells him to look in the drawer again. A perfect copy of the contract is in there. He can’t get her out of this.
Connor blows up one of the batteries, which sends merchandise flying. He warns Angel not to get any closer to the people. He has the bombs set to go off completely at random. Any of them, including Connor, could be the first to blow. Or the comatose Cordelia, who Connor has rigged up as well. Angel tries to talk Connor down. Angel thinks this is because Connor’s bummed over losing Jasmine’s love, but he reveals that he never felt it. Angel tries to apologize for not being there for Connor’s childhood, but Connor doesn’t want to hear it. Angel tells him he loves him, but Connor thinks it’s all lies. He blames Angel for letting Holtz take him. Connor thinks none of them deserved Jasmine because they all suck. Angel tells him they can start over, but Connor doesn’t believe him. Connor goes to detonate at least one of the bombs, but Angel stops him. They fight. Angel frees the customers, and he’s about to do the same for Cordy when Connor recovers and attacks again. Angel throws a hunting knife at Connor’s leg so he can’t detonate Cordy’s bomb. Then he holds Connor by the shirt, the knife held high. Angel tells Connor he’s going to prove he loves him. Then he appears to swing the knife down at Connor’s throat, before the scene sharply whites out.
Lorne is singing in the W&H lobby, which has excellent acoustics. Fred joins him. They dance a bit, and then he spins her out, right into Wesley’s arms. Gunn steps off the elevator and walks over to them. He’s much more serious than usual. And he wants in. Wes too. Fred’s slightly appalled, but Angel walks in, telling them he already took the deal. Wes and Fred are both surprised. In walks Lilah. She assures Angel that Cordy is safe and sound, getting top notch care while she’s in her coma. Also, Angel wants to see Connor. Lilah tells him that isn’t part of the deal, but he doesn’t care. She hands him the amulet and the Sunnydale file, then tells him where to find the limo that will take him to see Connor. The others watch him go, and Fred asks “Who’s Connor?” Oh boy.
Montage of the limo driving along highways, beginning in the afternoon, ending at night. Angel steps out. They’re in a heavily wooded country neighborhood. He looks through a dining room window to find a happy family eating dinner, including Connor, who’s picking a college to go to, possibly with his girlfriend Tracey. The dad tries to give a toast to Connor, but Connor interrupts and makes it himself. To family! He’s all happy and well-adjusted, with a sense of humor and everything. Definitely better off. Angel smiles a bittersweet smile and walks away.
“Home” might just be the biggest game-changer of the entire series, and I tend to be a fan of game-changers. I’m also a fan of course-corrections (though I’m a bigger fan of not making horrible plot/character choices in the first place), which “Home” does by fixing Connor and then leaving him happily offscreen. Season four has been about overcoming seemingly overwhelming foes and asserting humanity’s right to free will. The team was cornered and clinging to survival by a thread. Season five will be the exact opposite. They’ll have everything they could possibly want, and they’ll have to avoid becoming corrupted from it. So this finale doesn’t really answer any questions, but it raises a ton. I like it. It’s really the perfect way to promise the viewers that the next season won’t be anything like the gloomy grind of season four. It’s vaguely similar to the last moments of Buffy S6 in that way, although minus the sample platter of upcoming intrigues and threats. Also, Wesley’s storyline was a lovely coda to the Wes/Lilah saga. Equal helpings of closure and pain.
It’s interesting how at least one of the themes has to do with the value of lies. Angel essentially saved Connor with a massive lie, and now he really is happy and normal. I’m not a fan of how Angel had everyone else’s memories wiped of Connor’s existence without their knowledge, but we clearly saw that Connor’s, Cordelia’s, and possibly dozens of other lives were at stake. It was probably the best solution that didn’t involve Connor being killed or imprisoned. I’ve had arguments with people who find Angel absolutely despicable for doing this, but another important thing to remember is that he had probably twenty minutes tops to come up with a plan to save Connor and protect all the hostages. He didn’t even know what Connor was doing until Lilah showed him the live news feed. Given more time, he certainly could’ve come up with a more ethical solution, but he wasn’t afforded that luxury.
Gunn’s rather positive attitude about the W&H offer would’ve been wildly out of character if it had happened in an earlier season, but his discontentment with his role has been growing steadily ever since he realized he couldn’t hold an intellectual candle to his girlfriend way back in “Supersymmetry.” He’s in a prime position to hear a job offer that would put him in a more prestigious role than merely being the team’s bruiser.
I love that Fred feels more comfortable while carrying an automatic weapon. Very consistent with her earlier characterization. It did seem, however, like her side of the tour got somewhat shortchanged in favor of Angel’s and Wesley’s. We didn’t really see what happened to make her go from highly intrigued to clearly hoping one of the others would put his foot down and say they were all leaving.
Connor hasn’t been the worst thing about S4—that’s definitely the way they destroyed Cordelia’s character—but Passion of the Nerd is right about how out-of-place Connor is in a Whedonverse show. He’s a humorless ball of negative emotions in a pair of shows that are famous for their wit. It’s a bad sign for a character when one of the most satisfying moments in the season that prominently features him is him getting soundly thrashed by Faith. The only good thing he really brings to the table is cool fight scenes. And none of this is to say that it’s impossible to understand why Connor acts the way he does. But just because I feel bad for him doesn’t mean I enjoy having him, his angst, and his revolting relationship with evil Cordy onscreen.
Maybe Lorne is comfortable taking the W&H tour because he feels like he won’t be easy to trick, given his empathic powers. So why not have fun trying all the free samples?
I think Wesley did love Lilah. I doubt they ever could’ve made it work, barring a massive redemption arc for her, but he cared about her and didn’t want her to have to be in W&H’s clutches forever. It’s a really nice twist in the episode that rugged, badass Wesley wasn’t just selling out to the enemy, he was merely trying to get close enough to save someone who mattered to him. Which is a nice parallel to what Angel was doing, now that I think about it, except that Angel succeeded but Wesley had to accept that there was no way to save Lilah.
“She was eating people.”
“They knew what they were getting into.”
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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.