: Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Angel The Series News
Buffy and Angel Reviews
« Jailbreak | Main | Life's a Show »

With Enemies Like This?

Angel Episode 4.13 'Salvage'
Air Date: 05Mar03

There are two kinds of mystery, whether we’re talking book or movie. First there’s the kind where the killer’s identity isn’t revealed until the end and the audience is kept guessing and speculating. This is fun because you get to try and crack the case right along with the detective. Then there’s the kind where the audience gets to see who the killer is early on, and we then enjoy watching or reading as this cunning figure commits crimes, covers tracks, and plays everyone off each other.

Joss and his crew have now lifted the veil (at least one of them – maybe The First of several) and we get to be in on Evil Cordy’s twisted little joke. Seeing her sneers and smirks as they escape the other characters’ notice is sexy, funky fun (thanks, Xander – I can’t stop saying that). It was almost more fun than when Angelus was playing innocent in ‘Calvary’, because we expect it from him and it was a safe bet that it was coming. But who would’ve believed that Cordelia Chase would turn out to be the murderous wolf in sheep’s clothing? It’s a season where Angel is evil again, and Cordy is the Big Bad. What could be better?

How about the return of Faith? If you’d asked me last year I would have said that Eliza “Marry me, Ron” Dushku had permanently moved on from the Buffyverse, but miraculously, she’s back. Now send Oz rolling into Sunnydale before the series finale, and I will die a happy man.

Okay, so what went on in ‘Salvage’? Lorne was funny (“Birth of a notion” KILLED me), and what happened to Andy’s inclusion in the main titles? I could’ve sworn it was supposed to start with 4.13. Fer cryin’ out loud, Joss – the guy’s amazing! Let’s see his smiling green mug up there where it belongs. I like that Lorne has the Furies’ home phone number, and I couldn’t help picturing them as they appeared in The Sandman. Again with the Whedon / Gaiman cross-references, but trust me – it’s a big compliment to both of them.

Angelus is now out on the prowl, trying to figure out what’s what, who’s who, and what (or who) is for lunch. But Ellen (Goddess of Research and Allegories) raised a really interesting point about our man in black. This time out, he’s all talk! What’s he done since losing his soul again that will back up his reputation as a monster? In Buffy’s second season, he gave Jenny Calendar that unsolicited neck adjustment, and I know I mentioned it last week, but I need to say again how much that scene thrills and scares me every time I see it. If you think about it, it was our very first glimpse of what a connoisseur of brutality Angel is when he has no soul. In my opinion, it ranks with Willow’s flaying of Warren as the most terrifyingly vicious act we’ve seen on either show. Maybe throw in Linwood’s decapitation for the hat trick. In addition to Jenny’s murder, there was the gleeful way Angelus tortured Giles, and the fact that he was gung ho about conspiring with Drusilla and (initially) Spike to destroy the world.

My point, or Ellen’s point, since she brought it to my attention, is that Angelus isn’t coming close to that level of evil this time around. If you want the thought of his return to carry ominous weight, then people need to die in gruesome ways. This is the guy who used to torture whole families and murder them one by one so the others could watch, and as much as I don’t like to bring it up, there was that little matter of puppies and what he used to do to them.

So who’s dead so far this time? Lilah, but Cordy did it. Angelus just lucked out and got a taste of the leftovers before the white hats arrived, prompting his cool-as-hell dive out the window. He almost killed a helpless girl who thought she was being rescued, but then he overheard word that “the Slayer” was in town, so he let her go in favour of a quick call to Dawn (please, please, PLEASE let us see the other end of that conversation in an upcoming episode of Buffy!).

So who HAS Angelus killed?!? He dusted that vamp in the demon bar, and he killed The Beast. Bad guys. The only people he’s offed so far are bad guys. With enemies like this, who needs friends?

In her email, Ellen was wondering if this maybe implies that Angel really DID get his soul back in ‘Calvary’, and this is presently a big sham to fool everyone into thinking he’s still evil. I think that’s a really intriguing concept, although I’m not convinced because he’s still totally in character even when he’s alone and talking to himself. Until the writers prove me wrong, my position is that they’ve just gone soft on Angelus, and they don’t want soulless Angel to be TOO evil because the fallout will dominate the rest of the series. They need a situation they can fix and move past, so they’re using a lot of posturing and tough talk in place of actual barbarism.

Another possible explanation, though, is that the more noble Angel gets and the purer his deeds become, the weaker the demon gets. So even though Angelus is doing his best to prove that he’s his own man and a totally separate (and stronger) entity, the fact is that the good side of Angel’s personality is overpowering the dark side, and Angelus’ teeth just aren’t as sharp as they used to be. If that’s the case, I like it because it’s logical and believable, but either way I’ll mourn the loss of one of television’s best villains.

Speaking of fantastic villains, are you ready to talk about Lilah? I don’t think I can do justice to a eulogy, and even though I fumbled with a goodbye last week, it didn’t fill the void I’m feeling in the wake of her murder. There are villains you hate because they’re so evil, and you love them for the same reason. They’re well written bad guys, and the actor does a great job of bringing their badness to life. But Lilah was a villain that I came to care about. Stephanie Romanov’s performances were shot through with pain and insecurity teeming beneath Lilah’s Teflon exterior. I imagine not everyone’s going to agree with me on this, and some of you might say that I’m projecting subtext that wasn’t there. While I can’t offer you a prime example to support my case, it was something that I just felt when Lilah was onscreen. Was she born evil, or did she wind up conniving and power-hungry in reaction to a rotten life? Maybe I’d compare her to Spike in season two, when even as a confirmed villain and enemy of the people, in the face of the apocalypse he had to admit that his life was defined by this fleshy playground and he’d grown too attached to it to see it destroyed forever. Granted, we eventually learned that this was only the tip of Spike’s iceberg and his dead heart was capable of far greater love and honour than he was letting on, but who’s to say Lilah wasn’t headed in a similar direction?

Despite Wesley’s angry denial in the basement, I’m convinced that Lilah was in love with him. Despite her unapologetically dirty dealings and underhanded machinations, I believe that part of her heart was still able to care for him in a totally true and pure sense. This opens up a whole discussion on the nature of evil and how far it extends. Yes, I believe Lilah Morgan was evil (okay, now I feel like I’m at a church pulpit actually eulogizing her!). She served the dark side and she enjoyed her work. You can’t do the stuff she did and not call yourself EVIL. But does this negate any and all positive characteristics?

Can an evil heart still love?

Maybe her story was even more tragic because she was so corrupted by her deeds that she wasn’t able to process or handle her true feelings for Wesley. It’s like Spike’s attack on Buffy in her bathroom last season. He was driven mad by his love and the thought of losing her, so as a creature of violence and primal aggression he forced himself on her out of desperation. Maybe the whole season six arc for Spike and Buffy was about two people who were in love but they were also so emotionally damaged that they broke everything they touched. Wow.

But that’s a rant for another day, as we’re dealing with a different set of tragic lovers. I’ve had some bad break-ups, but I’ve never been faced with having to decapitate any of my former girlfriends’ corpses. Honestly (why – what have you heard?). The whole scene in the basement was powerful and touching and a MASSIVE nod to Six Feet Under. For the two of you who don’t watch it, the characters often have similar Conversations With Dead People, usually with the deceased’s corpse in the same room (the show is centered in a funeral home). Some of the most poignant moments occur in these scenes, and just like with Wesley & Lilah’s farewell, they have a way of drawing you into the dialogue and then pulling the plug, flashing you back to the fact that one of the people is dead, and all we’ve been privy to is the other person’s thoughts.

But here’s another angle. Is that REALLY all that was going on in the basement of the Hyperion? Was Lilah just a figment of Wesley’s imagination at that point, or was she something else entirely? Let’s see now. This isn’t The First time we’ve seen apparitions of dead people having conversations with the living, is it? And now that Angel has made faint contact with Dawn, and Faith’s attacker in prison wielded a Bringer’s knife, isn’t it time to start considering that these stories are a little more intertwined than we thought?

I watched the Wesley and Lilah scene again with this in mind. Yes, she touched him a couple of times, but it doesn’t mean he felt it. Even HE thought he was just imagining her, so a lack of physical contact was to be expected. But the part that really leads me to think this could have been a manifestation of the First is that Lilah put the idea of springing Faith into Wesley’s mind. You could see the light in his eyes when Lilah said “He, or SHE”, and when she said “redemption”, everything clicked (as was evidenced by the way he repeated the word out loud and the lightbulb that flashed over his head). If redemption has a name, it must be… Faith (say, what’s her last name, anyway?)!

If the First’s plan is to bring an end to the Slayer line, at some point it’s going to have to take out Faith. So if the Slayer’s in prison (I love referring to Faith as the Slayer), locked up tight and surrounded by armed guards, how’s it going to get to her? Easy – convince someone that the best thing to do is bust her out. Sweet.

So it was off to Stockton, hometown of Chris Isaak, Pavement, and baseball great Ed Sprague, to do just that. Corrado asked me a few weeks ago how I thought they’d spring her, and at the time my best guess was some kind of portal. I figured a mystic door would open in her cell, Wes would step through, fill her in, and the two of them would zip away without a trace. But as it stands, this violent breakout probably means her “twenty-five to life” just shedded the twenty-five part. That’s assuming she ever goes back, and as a gambling man I’d be willing to bet that this trip out of jail is a one-way ticket. We’ll see.

Now that she’s out (I cringed when Wesley used her “5x5” expression), there’s clearly a new sheriff in town. Faith’s calling the shots, and in ‘Salvage’, everyone but Connor seemed willing to follow her lead, and even he was convinced by the episode’s end. I’ve been thinking for a while that he’s essentially a male Slayer, and it’s fascinating that a being like that (stop saying SUPER!) is the product of two vampires, but I guess it lends itself to the revelation that the first Slayer was a human / demon cocktail. Does anyone know why Faith’s reply to Connor’s question about why Slayers are always girls seemed so familiar to me? I’m sure I’ve heard it before. Oh, wait. Did Buffy say it to Holden Webster in ‘Conversations’, or was it from a different episode? Serious déjà vu.

Speaking of things seeming familiar, it’s funny, but seeing Cordelia suck face with the Beast wasn’t half as revolting as seeing her in bed with Connor.

Anyway, back to Faith. Yes, she’s the Slayer. Yes, she’s a total badass. But when did she become an expert in tactical ops? I always thought of her as more of a loose cannon, ignoring strategy to charge in blindly. Now she’s suddenly Special Forces? Okay, I’m just going to accept that as a model prisoner, she’s been reading and taking a lot of courses, and some of them have been in guerilla warfare.

One of my favourite scenes in The Wizard of Oz (and there are many) is when the foursome looks up in the sky and the Witch is flying around on her broom, cackling and screeching, and she’s skywriting “SURRENDER DOROTHY”. Just as you’re feeling all in control and up for the challenge, you look up and see a massive, intimidating sign telling you that this is not your game by a long shot. When I saw Angelus’ big “WELCOME FAITH” sign. I immediately thought of the Wizard of Oz. But instead of soaking the Witch and getting a ride home, Dorothy got trounced six ways to Sunday by a seven foot tall hellbeast, then she sat on her bee-hind as Angelus, who’s supposed to be EVIL, killed the Beast, uncovered the sun, and generally saved the day.

So now the whole gang at Angel Investigations is celebrating, with the exception of the covertly evil Cordy, who continues to do a good job of hiding those sneers & smirks. So what’s a girl to do in the wake of such a major victory by the good guys? How about drop the bomb on young Connor that their (not so) wild night has left her with a bun in the oven, and Angel is about to be a Grandpa!! Big bizarre news that I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reaction to, but in the meantime I have a question: Is everyone else at the hotel BLIND?!? She’s so clearly pregnant it’s ridiculous! When she did her little fainting routine to keep Connor from going after Angelus, her big mommy-tummy was extremely visible, and I’m not too willing to forgive the lack of acknowledgement on everyone’s part. Do the writers think the CHARACTERS are stupid, or the AUDIENCE?

Take care, everybody.


About Ron : Email Ron
Back to the main review page»
Latest Comments

About Angelus' eating habits, the original question was whether Angelus now is less vicious than Angelus before. I don't think he is. In both cases, we assume he is feeding off screen--he has no reason not to. And once this has been established in season two, there is no need to repeat it now just to tell us that he is evil.

Posted by: chloe on March 19, 2003 09:27 AM

Just because we aren't seeing Angelus rack up a body count doesn't mean he isn't killing. He is obviously feeding or else he'd be all uggie. The fact of the matter is that there is so much stuff going on on Angel now that do they really have time to shoot scenes of Angelus just hunting. Also from season 2, Angelus killed several people.. including as some of you have mentioned, Jenny, Theresa, the owner of the heart... also there was the girl smoking who Angelus killed and then exhaled the smoke, and another girl in the alley outside of the Bronze (i think it was in Passion) and probably more we could find by going through season 2 again. Angelus has great style. Also, as far as the why are Slayers girls question, I think there are two reasons - 1- a young pretty girl seems to be the favorite and most obvious target for a vampire... thus having the Slayer be one is just flat out logical... second, in the anceint world, women or the female aspect were often linked with nature and power, they often functioned as shamans and seers, and (i don't mean to be vulgar) menstration was seen as a profoundly powerful force and was often treated as taboo and women who were menstrating were separated from the rest of the community during their menses (eg the Torah expresses this notion). Perhaps in the often mysoginistic patriarchal societies of the past women were often viewed as "expendable." Hey is everyone aware that there is a web site up now putting together a campaign to promote a 5th season of Angel? Oh and I have to complain that UPN and the WB are being jerks and showing Orpheus (Angel ep) on the 19th, while the Mar 25th episode of Buffy actually takes place before Orpheus becuz Willow gets the phone call from Fred to come to LA in that ep.... but of course Orpheus is supposed to be the follow up of that.... pricks. I think Skip should get his own show... I hope he isn't evil, seeing as Cordy is all evil and he is the one who "ascended her" and turned her into a half demon. Anyway, enuff ranting.

Posted by: SKIP on March 15, 2003 09:05 PM

Yeah, people are talking about it, including people like Jane Espenson & Marti. If it's Joss' plan, he sure hasn't tipped his hand yet. But it's definitely an appealing idea.

Posted by: Ron on March 14, 2003 07:27 PM

Just a thought: You know how everyone is talking about a spinoff to buffy since SMG won't be coming back :( Wouldn't it be cool to make a show about a past slayer like Nikki or one from a long time ago. There's been so many slayers, it'd been interesting to see another one's (from a different time period, maybe) story.

Posted by: Ro on March 14, 2003 06:06 PM

Hey, don't forget about the heart Angelus gave to Drusilla as a present in season 2 as well.

Posted by: Ro on March 14, 2003 04:38 PM
Full list of comments (44) »

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?

Privacy Policy | Copyright © 1999-2004 All rights reserved.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" TM and © (or copyright) Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication or distribution of these materials in any form is expressly prohibited. This web site, its operators and any content on this site relating to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" are not authorized by Fox.
Home | Reviews | Articles | Buffy Episode List | Angel Episode List | Trailers/Promos | Spoilers | Official Buffy Site | Videos, DVD's | Advertise on | Buffy Merchandise | Search | Join Slayage The Mailing List | Contact is free to use, but not free to run. All donations are appreciated.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
Show your to or if you buy this stuff through the site it helps out with running costs:

anything from blackstar, including:
NEW DESIGNS! t-shirts, mugs, mousepads. Got a suggestion?
Syndicate articles (XML)
Syndicate reviews (XML)
anything from amazon, including:
NS, DS, KM, VL, CF, ES, SR, AF, SJ, CB, AA, JH, RG, LH, GF, DK, EC, LM, SH, CK, AE, EB, XW, DB, MC, MR in other languages
Italiano, Deutsch, Espanol, Francais, Português