"The Girl in Question"
Episode # 108
Original Air Date: May 5, 2004
Review by: Anne
The leader of a powerful demon clan dies in Rome, and Gunn tells Angel that they need to retrieve his body before a war starts. Angel receives word that his old nemesis, The Immortal, also in Rome, is after Buffy. En route to Italy, Angel and Spike recall a visit in 1894 when The Immortal was, as always, one step ahead of Angelus and Spike (then William the Bloody). In the present, Andrew is staying at Buffy's apartment; he tells Angel and Spike that Buffy and The Immortal are dating. Convinced that Buffy is under a spell, Angel and Spike pick up the demon leader's body - that is, his head - and track Buffy to a crowded night club. They see her dancing across the room, but before they can reach her, someone steals the bag with the head. They chase the thief, but he escapes. They go to the Rome branch of Wolfram & Hart for help, and Ilona, the CEO, welcomes them. When they mention The Immortal, Ilona explains that he doesn't use spells to attract women. She then reminds them of their mission to retrieve the head; the thief sent a ransom note to the office. Ilona gives Spike and Angel the money for the exchange, but they are double-crossed by the kidnapper. They return to W&H, and Ilona ushers them out, saying that her people will handle it. Back at Buffy's apartment, Andrew is getting ready to go out. He tells Angel and Spike that Buffy loves both of them, but for now she's got to live her life, and they should move on. They return to LA to find that The Immortal has had the demon leader's head delivered. Meanwhile, Fred's parents arrive for a surprise visit. Before Wesley can explain what happened, Illyria greets them, looking and sounding exactly like Fred. As they show the Burkles around, Illyria says that she didn't want to see them grieving like Wesley does, so she thought it would be more convenient to pretend to be Fred. He ask how she does it, and she explains that she can appear as she chooses. After Fred's parents leave, Illyria goes to Wesley's office. Still looking like Fred, she says that she wants to further explore his feelings. He says that she sickens him like that, and tells her to not ever be Fred. He storms out, and she reverts to her blue self, saying, "As you wish."
From the description in TV Guide, this episode had a lot of potential. The guys working together in Italy to save Buffy: it sounds like the perfect showcase for romance, drama, and adventure. However, if TV Guide rated shows the way they do movies, this particular hour would likely have received one star - and barely that. For starters, I barely recognized Angel and Spike as they fumbled about, emulating the Two Stooges; even Angelus and William the Bloody showed no hint of their usual confidence or strength. We can only hope that their awkward unattractiveness - in both the present and the past - was embellished to show the effect The Immortal has on them.
Another mark against this ep was that it was largely discontinuous with the rest of the season to this point. Not long ago, Andrew haughtily told Angel that no one trusts him; now Andrew's ever-so-helpful offering to show them the city. This story must have been hurriedly written in, because the writers are usually much better at making the characters behave more consistently. Even without considering Andrew's earlier appearance - which made me *really* not like him, btw - one of the less comedic Buffy cast would have been a better choice to talk to Angel and Spike. No matter what he wears or how many dates he has, Andrew is the last person that I want to hear spouting attempts at wisdom.
I suspect that the misadventures in Rome were added to "resolve" the Buffy/Angel/Spike love triangle, but my suspicions may very well be wrong because the question of who Buffy loves wasn't really answered, was it? She loves both of them - what a supreme non-answer that is. The situation would have been better left without another mention. Much like this episode.
* Andrew speaks about how people change and then leaves with two girls: VERY subtle.
* Just how does Andrew know that Buffy loves both Angel and Spike? Does she regularly confide in him, or something?
* Happily the subplot with Wesley and Illyria did not disappoint; their interactions remain one of my favorite parts of the show.
* If Illyria can appear as she chooses, could she make herself look like another person? Or like another demon?