"Why We Fight"
Episode # 101
Original Air Date: February 11, 2004
Review by: Anne
In 1943, the crew on a submarine flees from an unseen terror. Lawson, one of the crew, tries in vain to save the captain before he and the others barely escape behind a solid steel door. In the present, Angel and the crew are working late into the night, discussing how Eve has disappeared. Gunn tells them that the White Room is also gone, but he seems distracted as he speaks of another way to reach the Senior Partners. As the gang returns to their departments, Lawson, who hasn't aged at all, steps from the elevator and smiles. Fred finds Lawson in the lab, looking at files. Seeming very friendly, Lawson inquires if she likes working at Wolfram and Hart. As Fred answers, she moves toward the door, and Lawson suddenly turns menacing, warning her against trying to escape. Fred asks what he wants: he's come to see Angel, whom he met during Angel's "patriotic phase." Another flashback reveals how the Government - aware that Angel is a vampire - forced Angel to join the war effort by sending him to board the sub and fight whatever was attacking the sailors. Angel gets on board through a torpedo tube, and ventures out into a hall, ordering the crew to lock the door behind him. He finds Spike, who explains that the Nazis put him and two other vampires on the ship. Entering another compartment that is littered with corpses, Spike introduces Angel (as Angelus) to Nostroyev and the Prince of Lies. Angel asks if anyone else is alive, and Spike says that they just finished the last of them. Angel says that people are in the torpedo room, but they are not to be killed, because he isn't getting trapped at the bottom of the sea. Nostroyev challenges Angel on this, and Angel stakes him, saying again to the others that they won't kill the humans yet. In the present day, Lawson enters Angel's apartment, and Angel recognizes him instantly. Lawson rambles a bit, saying that he's kept track of Angel; Angel suddenly attacks him. Breaking a nearby table, he grabs a piece of wood and prepares to stake Lawson. Lawson asks if he would have come in there without a backup plan. Dropping the wood, Angel asks what he's done. Lawson and Angel go to Angel's office where Lawson has Fred, Wesley, and Gunn tied up and standing on chairs, with wire wrapped around their necks like nooses. In another flashback, as the sailors work to steer the submarine, the Prince of Lies suddenly attacks the German prisoner; apparently, the Prince of Lies found evidence of research on how to control vampires. Angel stakes the Prince of Lies, and the crew returns to work the sub. Lawson goes to the engine room, but he is mortally wounded when the German stabs him. Angel finds him, and, since Lawson is the only one who can repair the engine, Angel turns him into a vampire. Lawson does repair the sub, and Angel sends him and Spike swimming for the nearest shore. In the present day, Angel says that killing his friends will not change the past, but Lawson retorts that it will hurt Angel, and maybe that's enough. Angel says soberly that it never is. Lawson seems to relate, explaining how in sixty years of doing evil, he's felt absolutely nothing. Soon Lawson attacks Angel and they fight. Angel knocks Lawson into the hall through the wall of windows; getting to his feet, Lawson picks up a stake. He tries to use it on Angel, but Angel turns it toward Lawson, who pleads, "Come on, Chief. Give me a mission." Angel drives the stake into Lawson's heart. Later, Spike finds Angel in his office, staring out the window. Spike remarks that it took Lawson long enough to come for revenge. Angel corrects him that Lawson was simply looking for "a reason."
According to an ad from years ago, "inquiring minds want to know." Lawson was certainly full of questions. What are those monsters? Why don't we kill them? Then later, Do you like what you do? How can you work for W&H? Did you care about any of it? And he's still trying to understand why we do what we do. Hasn't he ever heard that ignorance is bliss?
Speaking of which, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't realize that Lawson was a vampire until Angel was about to stake him. I kept wondering how he could possibly have made it to the present; the fact that he had not aged should have been a dead giveaway. Perhaps the lesson here is: sometimes the answers we seek are blindingly obvious.
When Angel said that Lawson was the only one he vamped while ensouled, my mind raced through the show's history to see if it was so. (I had clearly forgotten that I'm watching the product of skilled writers at work.) I remembered that when Angel tried to save Darla in The Trial, he halfway offered to vamp her, suggesting that it might be different, since he has a soul. That was the question with Lawson - was he different, somehow affected by Angel's soul? I couldn't decide. It seemed that Lawson was already searching, even as a human. However, if unborn Connor's soul could affect Darla, it's certainly possible that Angel's could affect anyone he sired.
Lawson's being made a vampire could be compared to Angel's working for Wolfram & Hart. Both sacrificed for the greater good: Lawson being turned saved the crew and the valuable information contained on the submarine, and Angel accepting W&H's offer provided a better life for Connor and gives Angel new resources with which to help others. As a vampire, Lawson continued to search for a purpose, but at W&H, Angel had given up, saying that the reason didn't matter as long as the work is being done. When that wasn't enough, Angel wanted to quit, and Lawson decided that he was looking in the wrong places. The Powers sent Cordelia to remind Angel why he fights, and Lawson came back, seeking either answers or an end to the questions in the fulfillment of Angel's promise to kill him.
Another parallel can be drawn between Lawson and Lindsey. Both had previously needed Angel's help; Lindsey chose to return to dark side, but Lawson was put into it by Angel. As with Lindsey, Angel remained a major concern of Lawson, who admitted to checking up on him every few years. Like Lindsey, perhaps Lawson returned because he believed that Angel had found what he wanted for himself. Like Lindsey, Lawson had a backup plan, although it was smaller in scope and it was more about hurting Angel than destroying him. However, Lindsey had made himself stronger, but Lawson seemed the same as when Angel and he parted ways. The biggest difference between them is that Lindsey's motivation was revenge, whereas Angel thought that Lawson just wanted a reason.
Although Lindsey had a purpose and worked hard to achieve his goal, he still lost. On the submarine, Lawson declared that a reason would make losing worth the effort. Did Lawson finally find his mission? I'm not sure, but somehow, given the tone of this episode, the uncertainty seems rather fitting.
* Am I crazy, or did the WB also refer to this episode as 1943?
* When exactly did Spike learn that Angel had a soul? I was a bit surprised that he referred to him as Angelus when they met on the sub.
* Angel wouldn't have been trapped on the sub: he could've escaped through the torpedo shoot and swam away, yes?
* Angel told Lawson not to move, but then pulled him to his feet.
* The Demon Research Initiative must be the predecessor of The Initiative from Buffy's season four: did you notice that the vampire research wasn't completely burned?