"That Old Gang of Mine"
Episode # 47
Original Air Date: October 8, 2001
Review by: Anne
Angel clumsily tries to apologize to Merle, but it doesn't go well. Merle angrily says that he doesn't want to see any of them ever again, but he does need a ride home. Gunn drops Merle off and speeds away as Merle thanks him. Inside, unseen assailants attack Merle. Gunn is having nightmares about staking his sister. In response to a page he goes to Merle's and meets Angel and Wesley who are searching for clues. Gunn questions why they are doing that; his attitude is "A demon died: so what?" Gunn leaves and goes to see his old crew. He meets a new member, Geo, who taunts Gunn about "working for a vampire." Checking out suspects on a list of Merle's enemies, Wes and Angel discover another demon victim. Finding evidence that points to his old gang, Gunn goes back to see Rondell and learns that they are the ones killing the demons. Gunn goes to Caritas to see the Host; he finds Wesley, Cordelia and Fred there as well. Suddenly Gunn's old gang attacks. They kill a few demons and exchange harsh words with Gunn until they send Cordy to get Angel. Angel goes to Caritas where Gunn insists that Angel is not and could never be his friend because of what he is (i.e. a vampire). However Gunn refuses to kill Angel because "he's got the mission." After several tense moments a brawl ensues during which Geo's head is bitten off by one of the demon patrons. Later outside the club, Wes tells Gunn that he will be dismissed if he withholds information and endangers the others again.
Apparently, a lot has happened since the season premiere because only two episodes ago Angel and Gunn were getting along well: remember the hugging and "It's really good to see you guys"? Now there is suddenly bad blood (pardon the expression) between them.
I know that Gunn had/has some issues over losing his sister, but we haven't seen any recent indication of that. This chip on his shoulder is really coming out of nowhere. I was surprised by his extreme lack of concern over Merle's death. I didn't expect him to cry, but would he have really walked away without giving Merle a second thought?
Also on the subject of Merle's death, if Wesley and Angel hadn't known Merle and hadn't known that he was "harmless," would they have been so eager to find who did it? Or would they have dismissed the demon murders saying that the demons probably attacked first?
"He was what he was." That is how Gunn dismissed it; Merle was a demon, end of story. I think that is where Gunn's biggest dilemma was - in this episode anyway. He was trying to see everything in a very cut and dried manner. Maybe he needed for things to be that way to alleviate his guilt over staking his sister: she was a demon and killing the demon was the right thing. Wes said that there are shades of gray. When Gunn's old gang wanted him to kill Angel, Angel put on his vamp face to show Gunn what he (Angel) really is. At this point, Gunn recognizes that although Angel is a demon he's "got the mission."
When it was revealed that Gunn "couldn't be" Angel's friend but was still working with him because of the mission, I was reminded of the saying "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family." That especially describes the A-team; they didn't choose each other as much as circumstances brought them together. The sanctuary of Caritas being violated is symbolic of the violation of the family. We saw last week how they rally to help one of their own. This week, Gunn's hiding the truth about his old gang created a rift, as did revealing his feelings about Angel. I believe that Wes' promise to fire Gunn stems partly from a feeling of betrayal; we know that he and Gunn had bonded during the time they were without Angel. This episode ends with the three of them outside - symbolically not held together by anything - as they go their separate ways.
I wonder why Angel was on the list of Merle's enemies when two episodes ago Cordy assured him that he is a "good guy." That is quite an inconsistency; if she believed he was a good guy how could she think for a minute that he killed Merle?
This episode left me feeling unsettled; I would describe this as a "feel bad" episode. We lost Merle. Poor Fred may never leave the hotel again. The guys seem to be coming apart at the seams, especially since we know that Angel is hiding a big secret as well.
However, in the midst of all that badness, didn't David look really, really good in the scene where the old gang wants Gunn to stake him?