Episode # 109
Original Air Date: May 12, 2004
Review by: Anne
After coldly dismissing Wesley's report of a demon attack, Angel stuns Gunn by agreeing to brainwash a crooked Senator's opponent. Spike and Illyria go to stop the murderous demon that Wesley mentioned; they also find Drogyn, who says that Angel tried to have him killed. At Spike's old apartment, Drogyn explains that he tortured the would-be assassin until he confessed that Angel wanted to hide his part in Illyria's escape from the Deeper Well. Gunn doesn't believe this, but Wesley explains that Drogyn can only speak the truth. Spike, Wesley, Lorne, and Gunn go to confront Angel, leaving Illyria to guard Drogyn. The guys note that Angel has changed; he says that he needs global power before he can accomplish anything. He sends the guys out to take a call, and they go to question Lindsey. Wesley asks about a mysterious symbol that someone sent him, and Lindsey answers that it refers to the Circle of the Black Thorn, whose powerful members work for the Senior Partners. Lindsey says that before the Circle would even notice Angel, he would have to kill one of his team, and the gang is alarmed, recalling that Angel may have sacrificed Fred to free Illyria. Elsewhere, Hamilton bursts into Spike's apartment and effortlessly defeats Illyria to get Drogyn. Angel walks down a dark tunnel and enters a room where the members of the Circle are beating a man. They step back, and Angel helps the man - Drogyn - to his feet. Drogyn thanks him, but Angel vamps out and bites him before breaking his neck. Angel is allowed to join the group; the head demon welcomes him, and the members remove their masks. Back at Wolfram & Hart, the guys confront Angel again, this time with their weapons drawn. He fights them back and takes Lorne hostage, causing a stand-off. However, he grabs an amulet from his pocket and chants. A flash of light covers the room and he releases Lorne saying that they only have a few minutes before the glamour spell he's cast falls. He explains quickly that two months ago after he kissed Cordelia, he had a vision of the Circle, but he couldn't see their faces. So, he started acting like he did to win their trust, and it worked. He wants to hurt the Senior Partners by taking out every one of the Black Thorns, but he warns that the SP will do everything they can to seek revenge. He asks the guys to decide if this is worth dying for, and one by one, each raises a hand to show that they're in.
Finally! Angel was able to use people's tendency to think that he's turned evil to his advantage. Previously, even the gang has been quick to assume the worst, but this time they repeatedly defended him. Spike declared that he would know if Angel had turned evil. Gunn refused to believe what Drogyn reported from the assassin, and Wesley kept trying to find a reason to explain Angel's peculiar behavior. Even despite evidence that he's gone bad, they finally know him well enough to trust him.
Many of Angel's dark-side decisions can be undone by accomplishing his goal of eliminating the members of the Circle. The baby can be saved from the Fell brethren, and the Senator's worthy opponent can go on to win the election. However, it appears that the final step of Angel's evil act - killing Drogyn - was the worst. I'm optimistic that Drogyn's gift of eternal youth will somehow return him to life, but if his death was reversible, Angel probably wouldn't have been deemed worthy to join the Circle.
It's hard to know what to think about Angel's remarks as he explained about the vision that Cordy gave him. It almost sounds like he's giving up: "We can't ever win, but we can die taking on a hopeless mission." Then again, maybe his plan is not one of defeat but of doing what he can, playing his part. Did he really need to ask if the gang would join him? They've fought before not knowing whether they would make it out alive: heroes do that sort of thing.
* The way this episode started with an odd scene then told the back story, I was reminded of Alias.
* Why didn't the guys just ask Angel to sing for Lorne?
* Was Lindsey really trying to join the Circle? It seemed like he had his own agenda.
* The vision thing was really sudden, but believable with what we've seen so far.
* I can't believe that Illyria honestly doesn't know why Wesley stopped speaking to her.
* I liked how Spike called Illyria "Highness," showing her a bit of respect while she was feeling ignored.