“The Girl in Question”
Written by Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard
Directed by David Greenwalt
Angel and Gunn are having an argument in the lobby. Gunn wants to be more cautious about something, and Angel doesn’t appreciate his attitude. Angel decides Spike can do whatever it is. But Spike is lounging on one of the chairs in Angel’s office, playing a GameBoy Advance, so screw whatever Angel wanted him to do. The job is retrieving the body of a demon Mafia clan. They have twenty-six hours to get the body back in time to do the regeneration ritual or else a demon clan war breaks out, with tons of collateral damage.
Gunn is extremely irritated that nobody wants to take this seriously. Angel gets a phone call. He suddenly gets very serious. The call was about Buffy. Now, suddenly, Angel’s very keen to go to Rome to take care of the problem. Not Gunn’s problem, mind you. He’s concerned about Buffy being tangled up with some dude called the Immortal, whom he and Spike agree is just the worst. Gunn points out that the body of the capo is in Rome too, and Angel thinks the Immortal must’ve killed him as part of an elaborate plot to get Buffy and Angel both killed and start a demon clan war while he’s at it. Spike asks Angel if he thinks they can take him down, but Angel was planning to go by himself. They have a brief petty argument about it, and Spike wins by sheer force of not caring what Angel says and Angel not being annoyed enough to physically stop him from boarding the jet.
On the jet, they’re still arguing. Angel’s convinced Spike’s only coming because he wants to swoop in and save the day for Buffy. Spike throws that right back at Angel, who reminds him he’s seeing Nina (but she’s not his girlfriend, so it’s okay for him to fly around the world to see Buffy). Spike obnoxiously reminds Angel about his happiness clause. Angel tries to make things civil, and they both grudgingly agree they’ll put aside their differences until they’re sure Buffy’s safe. Oh and that they complete Gunn’s mission. Next they drink all the mini bottles on the plane. Still not enough to get drunk. Spike’s curious about how Angel even heard something was up with Buffy. Yeah…Angel has someone tailing her. He knows it’s not an awesome thing to do, but his need to make sure she’s safe is basically compulsive. She spotted the guy, though, and put him in the hospital.
They’re getting close to Italy, so Angel starts reminiscing. Spike does too, but with the wrong flashback. He and Dru were in Italy in the ‘50s, just standing around and being cool and saying “ciao” over and over. Angel record scratches that flashback and switches it to the one he meant, which was 1894, when he and Spike spent a lot of time getting tortured by the Immortal. Cut to them both shackled to the ceiling. Dangit, why is Spike the only one shirtless? Not cool. They talk about how much they’re going to kill the Immortal when they get loose, but then they fail to get loose.
In comes a team of the Immortal’s goons. One of them swats Angelus on the face with his glove. Wait, so did he just challenge him to a duel or was he just scolding him for insulting the Immortal in the prissiest way ever? They unlock the shackles, and the goon politely informs them that the Immortal was here first, so they need to leave. Angelus responds by snapping his neck and making a horrific threat to the other two so they flee. Angelus and Spike find the rest of their clothes and get dressed while discussing what to do about the Immortal. First they want to visit their ladies. But that might be a problem, because Darla, at least, is sprawled on a bed, unconscious.
Back at W&H in the present, Illyria is walking slowly by some of the indoor plants, mourning her ability to converse with them. Behind her, Wes explains to Lorne about her decrease in strength. She gets pretty sulky. She considers the reduction in her power a form of death and definitely hasn’t come to terms with it yet. Lorne offers her a drink and she snarls at him. Wes offers to help her do more tests in the lab to learn more about how she can function from now on, and she decides it’s her idea to return to the lab. She heads off. Wes thinks she’s trying to make up for her decrease in power by increasing her posturing. Behind him, Fred’s parents, Roger and Trish Burkle, get off the elevator, excited to see Fred and her new workplace, because they’re on a layover on the way to Hawaii. Crap, did nobody tell them what happened? Wes invites them into his office. Illyria observes this exchange from the walkway above.
Angel and Spike are in Rome now, and they go straight to Buffy’s apartment. A very sleep-tousled Andrew answers the door. He gives Spike a warm Italian greeting and pretty much ignores Angel. Apparently Andrew’s own place burned down, so Buffy and Dawn are letting him sleep on their couch. Wait if he’s only staying there temporarily, how can he invite vampires inside? That’s not how the invitation rule works. Or if you’re technically homeless, is wherever you happen to be sleeping, so long as it’s an actual building, as good as a home? No, still doesn’t work, because then Angel wouldn’t have been able to get in Faith’s motel room in “Consequences.” Bah.
Angel and Spike try to go in at the same time and get stuck until Angel shoulders past him. Andrew hastily tidies up and offers to show them around. They just want to see Buffy. Andrew says she went to meet the Immortal, and Angel and Spike are horrified. Andrew rambles on about how Buffy and the Immortal are very snuggly. Yeah, apparently they’re dating. Angel and Spike are even more horrified.
Resume flashback! Angelus rushes over to Darla. He’s never been this romantic with her, but when he kisses her, he can taste the Immortal on her. Spike feels very sorry for Angelus. Darla waxes poetic on why the Immortal is so appealing. Angelus is very indignant. Spike points out that Darla’s glowing. Darla agrees. Spike calls Angelus a cuckold, and then Drusilla saunters into view, equally tousled as Darla. Yeah…they had a threesome with the Immortal. Apparently they don’t even let Angelus and/or Spike do that, so the guys are even more indignant now. Darla and Dru head off to have a bath so the guys can sulk. They swear blood vengeance, of course.
And for some reason, they think that’s grounds for them being admitted into the Immortal’s swanky party. What? That’s absurd. Why on earth would the Immortal even know they’d sworn blood vengeance, let alone invite them to his party and put that in the notes on the guest list?
Come on, Angelus and Spike aren’t that stupid! At least, Angelus isn’t. They try to force entry, but they get repelled by an invitation barrier. They’re super annoyed, and this isn’t even the first time the Immortal has interfered with their affairs. Look, dudes, if you want to get access to the Immortal via a party so you can kill him horribly in front of all his admirers, then you need to dress like the other guests. Angelus didn’t even bother to put on a jacket over his waistcoat, and his shirt is all rumpled. Even if they were on the guest list, I wouldn’t blame the doorman for crossing them off when he saw them. They skulk off.
In the present, Angel and Spike are both very bummed about Buffy/the Immortal and how apparently neither of them has a chance with her anymore. Angel tries to make himself feel better by upgrading Nina to girlfriend status in his dialogue.
A demon butler is eavesdropping in the background. Angel and Spike switch from being bummed to being loudly annoyed, ranting about how Buffy would never fall for someone like that. She must be under some kind of spell. A demon housekeeper comes in and thanks them for attending to this delicate matter. She’s brought the head of the capo. *snort* Well, that’s all they need, they can fly back to Los Angeles n—yeah, no, they’re back at Buffy’s apartment. Andrew is still the only one there. They ask where Buffy is.
The Burkles are in Wesley’s office, talking about how much more they like this building than the hotel (Shut your mouths! The hotel is PERFECT.), and Wes musters everything he’s got and starts to tell them what happened to Fred, when…Fred…walks in, delighted to see her parents. What? She rushes over to hug them while Wes stands there, frozen.
Angel and Spike go to a pulsing nightclub, because apparently that’s where Buffy went. Angel describes her to the lady at the bar. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Um, what? Is this just because you’ve mostly only ever seen her in poor lighting? Her eyes are green, dude. See?
SEE? Green. (Okay, yeah, it’s actually ridiculously hard to tell. Maybe her eyes are hazel, and they just look green on camera but blue in real life, so all the actors and writers see blue eyes but the audience sees green eyes.) ANYWAY. *cough* Why the crap did they bring the bag with the demon head to this club? The bartender spots Buffy. Well, she spots a girl with long blonde hair across the dance floor, dancing. That’s not Buffy. (And in fact, that’s canonically not Buffy. According to the season eight comics, that’s another Slayer posing as her to throw her enemies off. Which means the writers decided this episode was really dumb, so they retconned it. Good for them. Too bad they didn’t realize that BEFORE THEY FILMED IT.)
Spike starts heading over to “Buffy,” but Angel gets all annoyed and they have another very stupid argument. Spike knows he has no shot with her (well, that’s something), but he thinks he and Buffy had a relationship because they slept together so many times. Ugh. Angel says the most agonizingly cheesy line about him and Buffy.
Oh, also, Angel left the bag with the head on the bar. They turn around in time to see the demon butler from earlier trying to make off with it. They catch up to him, but now there are a bunch of mafia goons there. They get into a really stupid slow-mo fight. Yeah, it’s really easy to retcon this so that “Buffy” wasn’t actually Buffy. There’s no way she wouldn’t have noticed a huge brawl happening in the same club as her. Spike accidentally hits Angel instead of the guy, and then they start fighting each other instead of the goons.
The demon gets away in the wholly unnecessary confusion. Also, he takes their car. Not to worry, though! Spike has hijacked a moped. Angel very irritably climbs on behind him. He’s having just about as fun as I am.
A car chase ensues. The demon driving the car thinks it’s an exciting one, but the moped doesn’t have that kind of horsepower. Angel and Spike use a shortcut, but the moped loses against the car, which drives off. They agree they’re going to really focus on getting the had back. But then they’re just in the club asking about Buffy again.
THIS ISN’T FUNNY, WRITERS. Buffy and the Immortal are gone, and the bartender wants them to relax. Wait, I actually want to hear the story about how the Immortal got Spike thrown in prison for tax evasion. That sounds way more interesting than this nonsense. They both rant about how the Immortal is only one step ahead of them because they’re on his turf. If they had their resources—oh like how there’s a W&H Rome. Yeah.
They go there. It’s the same set—I mean, the same floorplan. The only difference is everyone’s speaking Italian and smoking indoors. The very cleavage-y Roman CEO greets Spike and Angel with cheek kisses. She thinks Spike is gorgeous and Gypsies are filthy, particularly for giving Angelus a soul. She is extremely stereotypically Italian with the expansiveness and the enthusiasm. Angel and Spike are a bit nonplussed.
Back in L.A., “Fred” is giving Roger and Trish the tour. Wes is still a bit catatonic over Illyria’s performance. Trish wants to know if Wes is dating anyone because she ships him with Fred. “Fred” begs Roger to make her stop it. She offers to show Roger and Trish her office (which…didn’t Wesley clean it out already?). After they go ahead, Wes grabs her and demands an explanation. She drops the act for a second. She’s doing this because she can’t stomach the idea of feeling their grief as well as Wesley’s. Changing her appearance is as easy as blinking for her. Yeah, okay, but that still doesn’t explain why nobody told Roger and Trish what happened to Fred in the first place. Ah, okay, her office is still cleaned out. Trish marvels at Fred’s horrible decorating job. “Fred” continues the act, and Wes pretends nothing’s wrong.
The Roman CEO is delighted to help Angel and Spike with their problem, finding the capo’s head. Oh, wait, they’ve only told her about Buffy/the Immortal so far. How are there still fifteen minutes left in this episode? I just want it to stop! She tells them the Immortal definitely hasn’t done a love spell, because those are beneath him. He doesn’t use magic. She reminds them that the capo’s head should be their priority. And she knows about a drop where they can retrieve it, if they bring money. And she has the money ready!
So they go to make the drop. And they have yet another stupid argument about which of them is better, this time about the apocalypses they’ve faced. They both think they’ve beaten more.
They aren’t even good at remembering the legit apocalypses they legit averted. Why is Angel mentioning Acathla instead of whatever that thing was in “The Zeppo,” in which he was instrumental? Or stopping those demons from pausing time? And yes, stopping Jasmine freaking counts. Angel has saved the world at least three times, but it’s kind of the point of the show that the smaller cases are important, that every life matters. Anyway, the demons finally show up for the drop, which puts an end to that.
The Burkles are ready to leave for Hawaii. Trish thinks Fred’s different, but she can’t figure out how. They go. Illyria immediately drops the act again. Wes snarls at her to never do that again. She watches him stalk off with a disdainful glare.
The demon with the Capo’s head admires the Immortal a lot, which annoys the crap out of Angel and Spike. They start fighting all the mafia gooms, who play keep-away with the head. The demon laments the violent nature of these Americans. Uh…what Americans? You’ve got an Irishman and an Englishman here.
The demon points his gun at the bag with the head, and Angel and Spike back off and make the trade as planned. The mafia guys leave, and Spike opens the bag. Which contains a bomb. Oops. Cut to post-explosion, when Angel and Spike are walking irritably down the street. Their clothes are covered in holes, yet they are remarkably unscathed. Spike is whining about how Nikki Wood’s coat got shredded. Uh, wait. It already got shredded in “Underneath.” He wasn’t upset then. He feels like the coat is irreplaceable.
Cut to the Roman CEO giving Spike an identical new coat. Also she sent ten more to L.A. And she gave Angel the most obnoxious looking motorcycle jacket ever.
It’s horrible. Especially because he has it zipped up like a dweeb. They tell her about the bomb thing. She doesn’t want them to go charging in, as much as they want to. She tells them to relax while she and her team handles it. She shuts her office door against them, and they stand there banging on it like toddlers who got sent to a time-out.
They decide to go back to L.A., but they go back to Buffy’s FREAKING APARTMENT AGAIN.
She’s still not there. Even Andrew is annoyed now. He tells them Buffy got with the Immortal of her own free will, so they need to get over it. Angel rants about how Buffy’s still cookie dough and this is bullcrap. Andrew says the Immortal does have flaws, but they need to stop obsessing. They possibly realize they’re being absurd. Then Andrew strolls out of the other room wearing a dapper tux. And there are two pretty ladies at the door for him. He leaves with them. Angel and Spike, weary of all the nonsense, head out.
Illyria, still as Fred, comes to visit Wes. This is the first time her Fred act has sucked. Fred does not say things like “Are you, like, mad at me or something?” Illyria wants to know why Wes is so upset about her pretending. She tells him part of him still loves what’s left of Fred, and she’s curious about how this might play out. He hates that idea. Even if he’s still attracted to Fred’s body, he isn’t confusing Illyria for her. He demands that he change back, and he leaves. She closes her eyes and turns back into her normal self.
When Angel and Spike get back, they’re ready to do hasty damage control about losing the head, but it’s already in Angel’s office. Courtesy of the Immortal. He jerkily shreds the note, and he and Spike rant about Buffy’s deteriorating taste in men.
There is one exchange I find amusing, though. “Doesn’t exactly have the best taste in men, case in point.” “Hey! I think I turned out all right!” “Yeah, once she got through with you.” That’s actually true about Spike’s character development. Then Spike comes up with the horrible suggestion of locking Buffy in a box like Pavayne so she can’t date anyone other than one of them. Or maybe a mind control spell. Instead of reacting with anger like you’d expect, Angel just kind of figures it wouldn’t work because she’s too clever and strong. They resolve to move on. Yeah, they won’t be going far.
“The Girl in Question” is freaking stupid. And insulting. Like “Underneath,” it’s an episode where the main plot and the Wesley/Illyria supblot are completely disconnected from each other, but unlike “Underneath,” the main plot of this one is obnoxious and terrible. Angel and Spike might be capable of being incredibly petty when it comes to their rivalry over Buffy, but you can only take that about as far as they did in “Chosen” before it stops being funny and starts being painful to watch. Especially after so many episodes of them actually working well together and almost managing to get along. Now, suddenly, they’re going to shirk their legitimate responsibilities in order to attempt to badger her? What happened to Spike being too insecure to want to even tell her he’s not dead anymore? What happened to Angel being all grumpy and hurt because of Andrew’s claims that she doesn’t trust him? The Rome plotline should’ve happened before “Damage,” or preferably not at all. “Time Bomb” got us started on a really interesting final arc in which Angel is apparently becoming corrupted by a lust for power thanks to working at W&H, and instead of building on that, this episode derails everything to make fun of Angel and Spike in really dumb ways. The Wesley/Illyria scenes are actually great, and I really like them, but they only make the rest of it worse by contrast. This episode is the “Where the Wild Things Are” of Angel. I would recommend skipping all the scenes that aren’t about Wes, Illyria, and the Burkles. Including the flashbacks, and I usually love flashbacks! Also, I think my hatred of this episode is part of why I used to dislike Andrew so much. I kind of channeled my feelings about the episode into him, which is made easier by the fact that he hasn’t been this unfunny since…ever. Dang. Yeah. I'm going to go eat all the ice cream my roommate forgot to take with her when she moved out now.
I don’t even want to analyze Angel or Spike in this one. The writers turned them both into complete morons, both in the present with souls and in the flashbacks still soulless. I don’t even like Spike and I’m offended on his behalf, but the treatment of Angel is just infuriating. I’m gonna see if I can find some brain bleach and then I’ll resume character analysis of them next time.
Last time, Gunn was extremely done with the way W&H does things. Now, he’s suddenly really concerned about how this demon mafia thing goes down? I mean, I get that it’s objectively the best and least violent outcome if they can get the capo’s head back in time to regenerate him, but I would’ve expected the newly disillusioned Gunn to be a bit more grudging about it, at least. And how come he doesn’t get to react to Illyria pretending to be Fred?
I think Illyria wants to feel like she’s still in control. She discovers that she can powerfully influence Wesley’s emotions if she pretends to be Fred, but in the end, she has even less control than before. The humanity in her is getting stronger, or she wouldn’t admit to wanting to explore Wesley’s feelings for Fred (which, I think, is code for her feelings for him).
Lorne is really only in this one for Wesley to explain Illyria’s behavior to him. It seems odd that he’d be more focused on being nervous around Illyria than mournful about Fred. Her death hit him so hard, but now it seems like the only one who still cares is Wes.
Harmony gets in a surprisingly good insult at Spike. Points. Once again, though, her involvement in the episode is extremely minimal.
Wesley really should’ve told Fred’s parents what happened to her. It’s been at least a month now. What’s going to happen when they never get phone calls from her? They’re going to find out, and waiting will just make them furious with him on top of grief-stricken. But I like how he reacts to Illyria’s performance. It’s agonizingly painful, because it’s what he wants more than anything but he knows it’s just a façade. Of course he doesn’t want to explore it further, Illyria, you dolt.
“Spike, this is a delicate matter that needs to be handled with finesse!” [to Angel] “And why the hell are we talking to him?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.