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Who’s Your Daddy?
Angel Episode 5.7 Lineage
AirDate: 12th Nov 03
Don’t give me any crap about how long it took to get this written, or the fact that I’m still behind after nearly a month without a new episode. The fact of the matter is that the holiday season descended on us and I suddenly found myself swamped like Pogo with end-of-the-year work related stuff, gift-shopping, and a shiny tidal wave of Christmas parties. I also had a number of good friends in from out of town, so the bottom line is that my dance card was full, and the Angel reviews slid down several priority notches. But I’m writing it now and I’ll hopefully also get the one for ‘Destiny’ finished before this week’s NEW episode. Boy, it’d be nice to be caught up when the new one airs. So here goes…
What’d I tell you? After a string of so-so episodes and a season that hasn’t been living up to its potential (will that word forevermore remind me of a house full of teenage girls?), along comes Goddard (this review was almost titled ‘Waiting For Goddard’), blessing us with a hair-raising tale rife with his trademark blend of suspense, comedy, intrigue, and the show’s heaviest climax since the night Connor was conceived (oh yeah – I’m back).
Every beat in a Goddard-penned episode screams FAN, and ‘Lineage’ was no exception. It started early with the arms dealer (played by friend-of-a-friend Treva Etienne) mentioning that he used to provide Wesley with collapsible swords (remember that hilarious bit in ‘Spin the Bottle’? “Nobody scream! Or… touch my arms!”), and continued through Spike’s references first to the Buffybot, and then to staking his vamped-out-and-kinky mom, as we saw in ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’.
Something else that Ultimate Drew does really well is script a tense and believable argument. Buffy & Xander’s fight about her moral obligation to either kill or spare Anya back in ‘Selfless’ (Drew’s pro debut) ranks as one of season seven’s most poignant moments, and we learned that night that Mr. Goddard knows his way around a tiff.
In this case, the conflict was over Wesley’s decision to take Fred to the meeting with the arms dealers – a decision that, thanks to the unexpected arrival of the cyborgs, nearly got her killed, and Angel did NOT take it lightly. A few very important details in this young season’s plot were advanced here. For starters, I don’t think Wesley is entirely comfortable being Angel’s “employee”, and it’s moments like this, where Mr. Broody has to put on the boss hat (often at Eve’s urging) and kick some ass that remind us who’s in charge. Don’t forget that I’ve publicly predicted a major power struggle in the months to come, and I won’t be at all surprised if Angel and Wesley end up on opposite sides of the resulting rift.
It spoke volumes about Angel’s shifting perspective when he chastised Wes and referred to Fred as “one of MY people”. Wes’ raised eyebrows also indicated how he feels about the way Angel is currently viewing the group dynamic. Will Wolfram and Hart have to corrupt the Fang Gang through devious means, or will they destroy themselves now that they have all this extra responsibility?
Which brings us around to our miniskirted liaison to the Senior Partners. The layout of this discussion also gave us some deeper insight into Eve’s role in things. Little by little she’s positioning herself as advisor and confidant to the individual members of the team. She’s trying to assure them that she’s not the bad guy, and while no one is even close to trusting her fully, it seems that they’re gradually letting their guards down. She’s in Angel’s office telling him that he needs to bust Fred for overspending, and then she’s in the lab telling Fred to let her know if she needs anything further for her research. She’s flirty with Gunn and she helped him get his big legal brain, and as we saw in ‘Destiny’ (which, I realize, I haven’t written about yet), she’s not above turning on the waterworks and playing the “I know you all hate me” card to generate some sympathy. She even found a way, after the argument in this episode, to make it seem like she was sticking up for Wesley while still planting seeds of doubt in Angel’s mind about his loyalty and reliability. Crafty little vixen.
Lorne seems to be having a ball regardless of his working relationship with Eve, and Spike may or may not figure heavily into her agenda, but she’s playing her cards pretty close to her perky chest. Let the record show that he trusts her less than any of them. Typical -- the guy who is usually beneath their notice is the one with the best sense of what’s going on.
Back on the subject of Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, though. can I just say that he’s the baddest son of a bitch on television today? Is there ANYTHING this guy won’t do to get the job done? Torture, kidnapping (remember Justine bound and gagged in his closet?), stealing Connor from Angel, spearheading the move to bring Angelus back, breaking Faith out of prison and leaving her jaw on the floor at how ferociously ruthless he’s become, and despite a life of being a clumsy intellectual, he’s gotten more than capable with his fists. And let’s not even START with the way he wields two guns like he’s the nastiest Yakuza death machine in a John Woo flick. He out-colded Lilah Morgan on a number of occasions, and time and time again he’s proven that he doesn’t let his feelings interfere with his agenda. When the situation calls for it, Wesley steps up as the number one enforcer at Angel Investigations. WESLEY!! Who would have believed it?
This is unless, of course, his domineering prick of a father pays him a visit. Then Wes almost immediately regresses to his nerdy former self – bumping into things, making mistakes, fumbling for what to say… Even his voice went back up a few notches once Dad was on the scene.
And now we come to Roger Wyndham-Pryce. We’ll have to assume, based on the way Wesley got suckered in, that the Daddybot did a first-rate job of impersonating the real RWP. At the end of the episode they explained it as being a cyborg disguised by a fancy glamour, but am I the only one who’s having a hard time believing that? I mean, I believe that’s what it was, it just requires a sizeable suspension of disbelief. Someone can cast a spell on a cyborg so you’d believe it was your own father? REALLY?!?
Unless, of course, Roger was in on this and co-operated fully in the transferal of his thoughts and memories onto the cyborg. Maybe he really IS involved in some plot to steal Angel’s will. Maybe there’s a reformed Watcher’s Council, and maybe they’ve got some very shady plans on the drawing board. Desperate times, as they say.
Or maybe they’re the good guys. Think about this: Wolfram & Hart are pretty much the industry standard of evil and skullduggery. They’ve operated for millennia as agents of the darkest dark side, and now Angelus (okay, sure – he SEEMS nice at the moment) is running things. If you were a Watcher (and you probably aren’t) and there were now so many Slayers in the world that you didn’t have much hope of lining them all up for sorting, you’d probably feel the time had come to take matters into your own hands and stop all the Watching. Maybe you’d assemble an army of cyborg ninjas and send them in to attack Wolfram & Hart. If you were Roger Wyndham-Pryce, would you use your son as an entry point to strike the evil law firm right at the top? Maybe.
If I’m right and this is what happened, I don’t know if it was a difficult decision for Wesley’s dad to make, because we still haven’t been properly introduced to Roger as a character. But something that MIGHT fall under the category of Difficult Decisions for some people would be the episode’s ending standoff on the roof of Wolfram & Hart. What do you do, Wes? Your dad wants you to hand over the staff, and Angel’s freewill contained therein, in exchange for Fred’s life. Think fast – what’s it going to be?
And in true Wesley fashion, the decision was easy. His loyalty to his own father didn’t cause him to hesitate for a second as he plugged several shots into Roger’s chest in order to protect Fred – the same person whose life he’d gambled with at the beginning of the episode, and he wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. I read a quote once, and I’m presently stumped on where, that said “Rarely do members of a family grow up under the same roof”. Get me? When it really came down to it, the man who gave Wesley life was in no way as much a family member as this woman he’s only known for a few years. Wesley has grown up feeling blindly obligated to love and respect his father, but Fred has earned it time and time again. So as those fateful shots rang out on the rooftop, Wesley finally made the choice to sever his old ties.
Then, once the deed was done, everything sunk in and of course it left him puking his guts up at the thought of it.
I’ve discussed this moment with a few people, and some believe that it was a cop-out on Drew’s part to have Roger end up being a cyborg. They feel it let Wesley off the hook. Personally, I think this is much better. As he said after, there was no part of Wes that suspected that he wasn’t killing his father, and he lived that moment and went through every bit of turmoil related to it in the seconds surrounding the shooting. But now that he knows his father is still alive, he has a lot to think about, and a chance to evaluate their relationship and fix it before it’s too late -- Again. Don’t think for a second that this memory is ever going to fade for Wesley, and I’d say he’s going to dwell on the significance for a long time.
And now, since we still don’t know who engineered this cyborg attack, we finally have the first taste of a Big Bad for season five. Could there be one central figure behind it all? Could it be someone with an old score to settle both with Angel and Wolfram & Hart? Who could that POSSIBLY be?!?
Take care, everybody. I’ll try and get the review for ‘Destiny’ in soon.