"Waiting in the Wings"
Episode # 57
Original Air Date: February 4, 2002
Review by: Anne
Angel, Fred, Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn go to the ballet, where Angel recognizes the troupe as the same one he watched in 1890. Snooping backstage, Angel and Cordelia find themselves in an unusual place/time. In the prima ballerina's dressing room, they are overtaken by the spirits of young lovers, and they act out a scene between the lovers. This is how they begin to realize what is causing them to be trapped: Count Kurskov, a powerful wizard, loved the ballerina who was in love with someone else. Observed by the Count's goons, Fred, Gunn and Wesley go backstage to search for Cordy and Angel. The bad guy, Count Kurskov, who is watching the ballet, sends his henchmen to take care of them. Gunn is stabbed by one of them, and Fred is extremely upset because she's been finding herself attracted to him. Angel and company come up with a plan to weaken the "temporal displacement." Angel finds the prima ballerina and tells her to dance something different to break the Count's weakening focus. It works enough for Angel to attack and break the Count's power center. At the hotel, Wes is pained watching Fred and Gunn who are now together as a couple. Angel is talking to Cordelia who wants to forget what they said and did while acting out the young lovers' scenes. Before Angel can really express himself, Cordelia runs over to embrace the Groosalugg, who came searching for her after he was overthrown in Pylea.
The thing about a love triangle is that it probably won't end well. In this episode we saw three such cases and three different reactions. First, when Count Kurskov was rejected by the ballerina - I'll call her Giselle - he wanted revenge; he wouldn't accept that she chose someone else. When Wesley found out that Fred chose Gunn he was hurt but he put on a brave face and suffered in silence. When Angel saw Groo reunited with Cordelia, he simply left.
Not surprisingly, Giselle is a story about love triangles and tragedy. Read a summary of the ballet here.
The other theme in this episode was a warning against waiting to act, which connects to the love triangle theme. Giselle didn't leave when she had the chance and she was trapped for over a hundred years. Wesley didn't express his feelings for Fred, and she chose Gunn without even realizing how Wesley felt. The people that were waiting didn't realize that the window of opportunity to act was rapidly closing.
When Angel found Giselle, the shot of her literally waiting in the wings visually told how she's spent the last century. She says that she "hesitated and lost everything that matters," but he encourages her that it isn't too late and she can change it. Do I detect some hope there for the Angel and Cordy situation?
The plot involving the temporal shift leaves me with several questions. Did no one else in a hundred years realize that it was the same company performing the same ballet? Did the audience see the troupe disappear? Was there really an audience? Was the troupe really in LA in 2002, and if not how did Angel and the others get involved? What purpose did the creepy henchmen serve: was it common to have people trying to snoop around backstage?
* I really liked the scene where the gang was leaving for the ballet. They were all so well dressed and the night had such promise.
* Angel mentioned being possessed by the spirits of old lovers before: that was in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" from Buffy's second season. What a great episode that was!
* I didn't buy Fred's mistake of the year 1990 for 1890. She's supposed to be a genius, for Pete's sake; if anyone would get a number right, it would be Fred.
* I hated Angel's line: "You love her that much, start a website." Note to Joss: it's just rude to diss people who give you so much free publicity.