Episode # 26
Original Air Date: October 17, 2000
Review by: Dawn
This episode was really, in a word, incredible. It works on so many levels. It advances the plot arc of Wolfram and Hart, gives us a look at the workings of Angel's group in a time of stress, introduces a powerful new character, and deals sensitively with a real issue.
First, hats off to Daisy McCrackin as Bethany. She got to show quite a range in this episode and handled it beautifully. Also, kudos to Stephanie Romanov (Lilah). This is her best and most complex performance to date.
The issue of abuse was handled sensitively, without diminishing its weight. Bethany couldn't control her powers at first, and who better to counsel her in that respect than Angel? Angel taught Bethany a valuable lesson, that not all people are out to use or hurt her. Cordelia told her that she needed to take responsibility for the use of her powers. And at the end she was able to remove her abuser from her life, without killing him.
The inner mechanics of Wolfram and Hart are creepier than ever. Lilah seemed so sympathetic and friendly to Bethany, yet she hired rapists and kidnappers and eventually brought Bethany's own father to her. And when Lilah's "project" interfered with Lindsay's (namely, Darla), Holland didn't hesistate to threaten her. Someone on a posting board I visit remarked that Lilah ought to be picking out a nice Chianti about now. It's a rat race over at W&H, and devil take the hindmost. (That may be literal truth.) Lilah's standoff with Angel at the end was just perfect. He was smug because he had defeated her, but she knew that Lindsay and Darla aren't through with our hero. Angel and Lilah still have the excellent chemistry they showed in "The Ring".
The Darla scenes in this episode were few, but effective. Darla is clearly trying to unlock the "horrors" hidden in Angel's mind and bring him back to the dark side. But when Angel said "stop it" during the bedroom scene with Bethany, it's clear that he is resisting.
It was also interesting to see the effect of Angel's poor sleep on his whole group. I was pretty shocked when he threatened to fire Cordelia, but when she just stuck her tongue out at him, he relaxed. And even though she was arguing with Wesley early in the episode, she wasn't going to let Angel fire Wesley. It's nice to see the group sticking up for each other and diffusing tense situations.
Cordy was just great in this episode. Her talk with Bethany was the perfect mixture of honesty and kindness. And her quick reaction to the kidnappers was neat. Cordelia really knows how to think on her feet. And what would an ATS episode be without Cordelia patching Angel up? The part where she teases him about his "manly boob muscles", buttons up his shirt and pats him on the knee is adorable.
Gunn was back to his hilarious self after last week's grim outing. The part where Angel leans against the barrier to the man's apartment and then tumbles in to the tune of a wisecrack from Gunn is great. Gunn and Cordy seem more at ease with each other, without being as heavy-handed as last week.
Wesley's purpose was to reveal the cause of Bethany's trauma; after that Angel sent him off. It was pretty brash of Wesley to confront Bethany like that, but then, he has father issues of his own.
This episode was great both as a stand-alone and an arc episode. ATS just keeps getting better, and the season has barely begun.