Written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft
Directed by Skip Schoolnik
Angel is sitting alone at the head of a conference table. He buzzes Harmony to find out why nobody else has showed up yet. Wes is busy with Illyria, Gunn’s in the hospital, and Lorne hasn’t come to work since Fred died. But Spike’s here! With…a briefcase? Spike asks what the team is called. Are they the Scoobies? No, according to Angel, they don’t have a name. (Pfft, I’ve been happy calling them the A.I. team all five seasons.) Spike thinks that’s a good thing, because it’d be really lame if they were Angel’s Avengers or something. From Angel’s expression, he’d actually kind of like that. *snort*
Spike pops open a beer can and Angel gives up on the meeting altogether. Angel thinks about The first and last thing Fred said to him. He deeply regrets letting Fred come to W&H. Spike reminds him that she chose to come there. Angel wants to get the jump on the Senior Partners. So they go see Eve where she’s still hiding in her apartment. She doesn’t want to help them. The building starts shaking, and she thinks it’s because they ratted her out to the SPs. She offers to tell them anything if they’ll protect her. Then Adam Baldwin in a suit breaks down the door. Well hello there, Opposite Day Jayne. He’s too late; Angel and Spike have already gone out the window with Eve.
Lorne is at…Caritas? A demon is singing to her to find out if his girlfriend is going to say yes when he proposes. She will! But Lorne can’t muster any enthusiasm. He’s been drinking pretty much nonstop since Fred died. But he does still want to help Angel.
Angel, Spike, and Eve get back to W&H. Angel has Harmony up security on all the entrances, and then he tells Spike to kill anything that comes for Eve. Meanwhile, he’ll be visiting Gunn. He goes to Gunn’s room and asks about the protocols surrounding Eve. Gunn doesn’t want to use his lawyer knowledge, but Angel reminds him what that upgrade cost; he’d better make the most of it. So Gunn tells him there is provision in his contract to protect someone like Eve. Angel tells Gunn should feel bad about his part in Fred’s death for the rest of his life, because he’s a good man. If he wants to atone for what he did, then he needs to get up and do something.
Wes is at Fred’s apartment, and Fred pops up behind him and kisses him. She asks him to tell her a joke. He tells a rather bleak little story about two men in a bar, one of whom is in agony but keeping it to himself. He wakes up and finds himself possibly in his own flat, very hungover. Illyria is there. She’s a bit impatient with him. He says he had a nightmare, and she talks about how nightmares used to be living things. They amused her. She wonders what nightmares did to get themselves trapped inside human minds.
Eve is not impressed with the idea of using W&H as her hideout. Angel returns to his office to announce she’s under his protection. He asks what her deal is anyway. She says she’s a child of the SPs, created to do what they need. She’s immortal. She only knows what the SPs want her to know, when they want her to know it. She can’t access any of it. According to her, Lindsey would be much more helpful to them than her, because he spent years researching the SPs. She’s convinced he’s still alive, but in a horrific hell.
…Or he’s having morning kisses with his wife in a suburban house, and getting interrupted by his adorable blond son. Hell! He walks out the door to get his paper, and this neighborhood is incredibly creepy in its cookie-cutter picturesque-ness. Every other husband on the block is walking out to get his own paper at the exact same time. There’s an ice cream truck and mailman. Lindsey goes back inside.
The team is trying to figure out where Lindsey might be. Spike is unhelpfully listing possible types of hell. Lorne has checked to make sure Eve was telling the truth about Lindsey. Apparently “If You Like Piña Coladas” is a foolproof song for reading people. Spike agrees with Angel that it’s important to get Lindsey, he just thinks whatever Angel’s plan was to do it is very stupid, because they don’t know which hell he’s in. But actually, Gunn does! He walks into the office, dressed in his old clothes. Aww. I liked the suits.
Lindsey is helping his kid with his homework. Then his wife asks him to go get a new oven light from the cellar. He’s strangely reluctant to do it, but she passive-aggressively insists. Ominous music plays and he keeps hesitating, but eventually he goes down. We don’t find out why he’s so scared of the cellar yet.
Angel, Gunn, and Spike are on their way to Lindsey while Gunn explains exactly where W&H stuck him. They have a holding dimension for employees they haven’t decided how to deal with yet. The way they get there is by taking the Camaro in Angel’s motor pool. It drives itself. Bahaha, Spike is in the back seat. The car drives them through a tunnel. It was night when they went in, but it’s glorious daylight on the other end. They are now in the eerie cookie cutter neighborhood.
Wes tries to tell Illyria that she could leave this dimension if she wanted. She describes the other worlds she used to walk through. Including the shrimp world! That one was boring. She doesn’t appreciate Wesley attempting to trick her into leaving Earth. She’s very claustrophobic in in this body, and she kind of has a panic attack. Wes wants to show her something.
Cut to a repeat of the sunny synchronized morning in Lindsey’s neighborhood. *shiver* It might even be the same footage over again. Except that the Camaro with Angel, Gunn, and Spike in it is pulling up to his house. Angel and Spike debate the merits of putting their coats over their heads and sprinting for the door, but Gunn just steps out, flooding the inside of the car with sunlight. They don’t burst into flames. Because this is a pocket dimension, so its sun is different. They try (and fail) to play it cool.
Lindsey’s fake wife opens the door. They’re rather confused, but Angel asks to see Lindsey. She calls him down and offers coffee. He doesn’t appear to remember any of them. He really just seems like the cheerful suburban dad all the way through. He doesn’t know about W&H or anything. They try to convince him he’s under a spell, but he just thinks it’s a practical joke from a friend. Then he decides he wants them to leave.
Eve is panicking. She doesn’t think Angel’s protection is worth crap, but she fails to instill any sense of urgency in Lorne or Harmony. The alarms succeed, though. Adam Baldwin emerges from the lobby elevator. Harmony isn’t impressed. This guy is what Eve’s terrified of? Then he punches straight through a guard’s torso. All three of them scream in sync. It’s great.
Angel tells Lindsey he’s there to help. Lindsey still isn’t buying it, so he grabs him. If he has to drag him out of there, he will. But then he notices the weird pendant Lindsey’s wearing. He rips it off. It works! Lindsey falls to the floor. He sees Angel and assumes he’s there to kill him. Yeah, not so much. Lindsey’s fake wife comes back into view, with a machine gun! She opens fire. Angel, Spike, and Gunn dive out of the way. Angel has Spike take Lindsey to the car while he handles machine gun lady. He takes quite a few bullets to the chest before he reaches her, and she isn’t going to be easy to disarm. Outside, the Camaro seems to be gone, but here comes the ice cream man, with more machine guns! Also the mailman. Spike gets shot all over his back (so adios to Nikki Wood’s coat, then). Angel has defeated machine gun lady, but then the kid comes downstairs with yet another gun. Wow.
Hiding behind the couch again (which is a completely inadequate form of cover, incidentally), they try to figure out what to do. They notice that Lindsey is oddly averse to going into the cellar, so that seems like their best bet. They shove the couch into the kid and race for the cellar.
Adam Baldwin goes into Angel’s office. Harmony jumps on him and tries to snap his neck, but he doesn’t budge. Eve and Lorne flee to the elevator, and Adam Baldwin tosses Harmony across the office. The elevator door closes just in time to stop him catching up to Eve and Lorne.
Turns out, the cellar of that house is a torture chamber, complete with a pile of hearts. Lindsey’s been having his cut out of his chest every day he’s spent there. Even Spike finds this place creepy. Angel finds a disproportionately ominous furnace. That’s probably the exit. But they won’t be able to just go through it. It’s locked, and there’s a giant torture demon living down there. Angel and Spike try to fight it. It beats the crap out of them, shrugging off their blows. Then Gunn puts on Lindsey’s weird spell necklace. He tells them this is how it works: in order to spring Lindsey, someone has to take his place. He’s volunteering. The furnace door will only be open as long as Gunn still remembers everything. Reluctantly, Angel and Spike get Lindsey and leave. Gunn falls under the memory spell.
Lorne and Eve are trying to escape in one of Angel’s cars, but there are so many of them that it takes them a while to match a car with a key. Just as they start driving out, Angel, Spike, and Lindsey materialize and come crashing down on the hood of the car. Eve hugs Lindsey. Lorne notices the absence of Gunn. Angel tells him he stayed behind. He and Spike are both rather solemn about it.
Adam Baldwin kicks the door to the stairwell off its hinges. He comes towards them rather menacingly, but then all he does is pull a pen out of his jacket, followed by a contract. Eve gives up and signs it. Adam Baldwin’s character is Marcus Hamilton, the new SP liaison. The thing Eve’s signing means she forfeits her immortality to Hamilton. Angel is very annoyed that she had his whole team on red alert, because he thought the threat to her life was rather more immediate than old age. Hamilton makes pleasantries, including welcoming Spike to the team. Then he leaves.
Wes has taken Illyria to a roof. It’s only helping a little with her claustrophobia. She’s having a rough time adjusting to her standing in this world. She doesn’t even know if she could leave. She’d be vulnerable in her current form in any other world. She thinks the humanity is tainting her. Wes thinks that’s amusing. She marvels at how humans living in such a small world shut themselves in small rooms and routines.
Lorne is pulling bullets out of Spike’s back. Eve and Lindsey are sitting together on Angel’s couch. Angel comes in with a new shirt to inform Lindsey that he’s his warden. So Lindsey had better tell him everything he knows about the SPs’ plan. About the apocalypse they’re cooking up. Lindsey rolls his eyes and tells him it’s basically just all the petty, corrupt crap humans constantly do to each other. The SPs’ apocalypse isn’t flashy, it’s subtle. So subtle that it looks like everyday life. And they’re in the middle of it, becoming part of it the more comfortable they get at W&H. They’ve lost Cordelia and Fred, and possibly Gunn, without realizing.
Gunn is now doing Lindsey’s homework scene from earlier, with the little boy. The fake wife asks him to go get a new oven light from the cellar.
“Underneath” is another one of those “meh” episodes that’s hard for me to figure out whether I like it or not. The last several episodes have all been very strong, but this one seems fairly average. Where Illyria’s army turning out to be dust didn’t feel anticlimactic, Hamilton only wanting Eve to sign a contract does. Also, Eve has never really been a compelling character—not like Lilah was—so an episode that focuses so much on her isn’t going to be particularly gripping. And the Wes/Illyria subplot doesn’t seem very connected to everything else, or even very productive. They pretty much just go from Fred’s apartment to the roof of their building, having philosophical conversations the whole time. However, I do quite like the main plot, with Angel, Spike, and Gunn rescuing Lindsey. The W&H holding dimension is super creepy, and Gunn tricking them and staying to get his heart cut out in Lindsey’s place is a great twist. Also, it’s super weird seeing Jayne in a suit.
I really like what Angel says to Gunn. He’s remarkably good at forgiving people, even when they can’t forgive themselves. In S1, he did that with Faith, in S2 with Wes, and this season, it’s Gunn. And Spike, though in a different way. He respects people who’ve done horrible things as long as they genuinely regret it and want to make amends, because that’s what he’s doing too. Also, I’m not sure how much I buy that the Senior Partners’ plan to bring about the apocalypse is just to encourage the worst in human society. That’s basically what Holland told Angel…in the same episode where Angel tried to kill one of the SPs. Angel’s back to wanting to target the SPs, and once again, he’s getting diverted with this “hell on earth” concept. Is that because it’s true, or is that just what the SPs want him to believe so he won’t gun for them? What Illyria said about them implies that they aren’t all-powerful.
Spike feels more like a part of Angel’s team than he ever felt like part of the Scoobies. Losing Fred was an experience that united all of them, and I’m not sure he ever really had something like that with the Scoobies. Not while he had a soul, anyway, so any camaraderie they extended would’ve been hedged with suspicion and mistrust. I’m impressed by how cooperative he’s being with Angel. Maybe I’ve made Spike into something worse than he is in my head, but I would’ve expected him to be more belligerent about following Angel’s orders and working with him. But he actually seems keen to be on the team. Even Hamilton implying that the SPs have plans for him because he’s on the team isn’t making him change his mind about helping.
Gunn changing back into the type of clothes he used to wear was a really nice touch in this one. He’ll use his law knowledge to help Angel, but apart from that, he’s no longer remotely interested in looking like W&H’s golden boy. It’s also rather poetic that he would be the one to take Lindsey’s place in that holding dimension, because his law upgrade kind of had him taking Lindsey’s place in W&H. He managed to use what W&H gave him against them. They probably didn’t expect him to do something that would hurt himself so much.
It’s interesting that Illyria would wait around for Wesley’s help even as he’s drinking himself to unconsciousness. Is she actually afraid to explore the world? She’s easily more powerful than most things wandering about in it. She talks about humans being ridiculous for shutting themselves up inside rooms and routines, but isn’t that what she’s doing by shackling herself to Wesley?
Dangit, why is Harmony in the intro credits? How am I supposed to analyze her? She’s a soulless vampire who’s so shallow and high maintenance that she’s bad at being evil and willing to go without killing and drinking human blood in return for a steady paycheck that gets her the type of lifestyle she likes. She’s also very extroverted, so she latches onto any group that’ll have her. Boom. Analyzed.
Lorne finally has more to do in an episode! He’s an interesting combination of depressing and inspiring. Reading people’s futures and giving them advice has lost its appeal for him, but he’s able to get himself out of his bender without help, because he still believes in what Angel’s doing. Go Lorne. And his music-themed sense of humor is still there, even without his characteristic enthusiasm.
Wesley can’t seem to decide if he wants Illyria around or if he wants her at the opposite end of the multiverse. That weird, sad little dream sequence he has of Fred makes me wish he hadn’t given up so completely on trying to get Fred back. Seriously, he’s not even going to try to verify if what the evil doctor said about her soul was true? Anyway, dream Fred said “Don’t you wanna see how deep I go?” That could’ve been an interesting jumping-off point for Wes trying to recreate Fred out of everyone’s memories of her. They could’ve explored the idea that we give away pieces of our souls to people we love, which I think would’ve fit with the show’s lore (even if it’s not really how I think it works). Maybe that’s more the type of hypothesis Fred herself would’ve come up with, but still. Wes could’ve tried to bring Fred back from those pieces, and I’m imagining it working, but with the side-effect of costing all of them their memories of Fred. So she’s back, but they don’t know her or why it was so important to get her back.
“What? I’m listening. With beer.”
“I walked worlds of smoke and half-truths, intangible. Worlds of torment and of unnamable beauty. Opaline towers as high as small moons. Glaciers that rippled with insensate lust. And one world with nothing but shrimp. I tired of that one quickly.”
“I’m trapped. On a roof. This one roof. In this time and this place with an unstable human who drinks too much whiskey and called me a smurf.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.