Episode # 76
Original Air Date: January 29, 2003
Review by: Anne
At the Hyperion, the gang listens to a newscast about the puzzling disappearance of the sun. In the office, Lorne is unable to glean any information from reading Angel, who insists that he remembers everything he did as Angelus. Joining the others, Angel tries to give them a pep talk, but Connor has another of his snits. He accuses Angel of working with The Beast and of being the reason his life sucks. Angel listens, then tells Connor simply to "get over it." Elsewhere, Wesley finds Wo Pang, a shaman, and brings him back to the hotel to extract Angel's soul. Wesley tells Angel that it's the only choice they have, but Angel refuses, declaring that bringing Angelus back is not going to happen. He storms outside and Cordelia follows. She says that she's on Angel's side, agreeing that bringing Angelus back is a very bad idea. However, when she casually remarks that Angelus is a genius who thinks like TB, Angel agrees to do the ritual. Down in the basement, the guys build a cage. They strap Angel to a table inside the cage and the shaman places a small glass jar nearby to hold the soul. As the ritual begins, the shaman tells Angel to close his eyes. The shaman starts to chant then suddenly attempts to remove Angel's head with a large knife. Angel manages to fight him off and get free, but when the gang surrounds the shaman he stabs himself. They discover that there is writing all over the shaman's body; the writing tells of a weapon that can kill TB. With a little more information provided by Cordy's vision, Cordy, Connor, Angel and Wesley go in search of the sword. Searching in an underground tunnel, they split up. Angel and Cordy find the sword, but removing it sets off a trap. Angel rushes to Cordy's rescue; when they're safe she tearfully admits that she's sorry for what happened with Connor. They both agree that what they've done in the past doesn't matter and they kiss. Back at the hotel, TB appears. Angel sends the others away while he fights, because when TB dies, a lot of power will be released and no human -- perhaps not even Angel -- can survive. TB and Angel battle, but TB breaks the sword and grabs Angel by the throat. Connor comes to the rescue, giving Angel a chance to use the broken blade to kill TB. The next day, Angel watches from his window as people enjoy the sunshine. Cordy is with him. She remarks that it must be hard to see others be in the light where he can't be; he replies that he'd rather be there with her. They kiss, but Angel pulls back. Cordy says that for once everything is as it should be and that they have waited long enough. They undress each other and begin to make love. However, Angel suddenly rolls onto his back, gasping, "Buffy . . . no!" In the cage, the shaman announces that illusion has become reality. Angelus opens his eyes. Cordy says his name and he begins to laugh as we see that the smoky light of Angel's soul has filled the glass jar.
When I first saw this episode, the ending literally took my breath away. I thought the shaman would just chant and spirit the soul away; instead he cheated a bit, using a cruel illusion to fulfill the conditions to cure the curse. Poor Angel. Talk about waking up into a nightmare.
Noticeably, he lost his soul much faster this time than he did with Buffy, but that could be attributed to the fact that it wasn't just being with Cordelia that brought him true happiness. As Cordy observed, everything was the way it was supposed to be. They killed TB and brought back the sun, plus the relationship between Connor and Angel seemed better than it ever had been. A cynic would have noticed that everything was too perfect.
The attempt in the dream world to use the sword to destroy TB could be compared to Angel's agreeing to let the shaman bring Angelus back. I don't think Angel promised to come back from being Angelus, but that was the plan, since Wesley assured him that the change was only temporary. To fight TB, he didn't want the others around, just like he wanted a limited audience during the ritual. In the dream world, they didn't know if he could survive the release of power when TB died; similarly, releasing Angelus could result in the team being forced to destroy him. If that happened, they would also destroy any chance of bringing Angel back.
The song Angel sang for Lorne had several connections to his current predicament. Besides the obvious one (the lights, i.e. the sun, going out) the main character in the song is cheated on then accused of a crime he didn't commit, and the chorus warns not to "trust your soul to no backwoods Southern" . . . shaman. Read the lyrics here - let me know if you need interpretation of some of the Southern terms. ;) The way the Lorne-reading scene was done was clever, too: it was okay to omit Angel actually singing. We know how the readings work; we *really* don't need for them to burst into song.
The scene between Angel and Connor when Connor declared that Angel was the reason his life sucks could be a scene between any teenage son and his father. Granted, the average family probably wouldn't accuse one member of being a puppet for evil, but then again, who knows? I loved Angel's response: "get over it." I'm sure he enjoyed getting to tell someone else that, but I don't think he meant it in a mean way. He knew that Connor was hurt and jealous, but there was really nothing Angel could say to change Connor's mind. Getting past it is something Connor has to do, and for the sake of the team, he needs to get past it pretty quickly.
* Was anything from the dream real? If so, does the Awakening refer to bringing Angelus back? Is there really writing all over the shaman?
* Angel asked Connor to kill him if anything went wrong: I don't think Connor could defeat Angelus. (Angel won when they were fighting in 'Spin The Bottle'.)