There was less flashback than i had expected and yet some of it came off gratuitous. Am not really complaining, though.
First things first. Props to explaining away Darla in an absolutely plausible way. She and Angelus often did fight and she would leave him for her Master.
[Oh, and i really like Angelus's Irish accent. I know it's one of the things people bitch about -- though i've heard some people say tonight's was much better than it has been in the past -- so maybe it's just that i'm a whore for various accents including Irish, but i stand by my statement that i liked the accent tonight.]
Okay, so Angelus is all "Look what the cat dragged in" which is expected. Then he's all "Ya know, being around women all the time, sometimes I just want to share... the slaughter of innocents, with another man. Some people say this makes me a deviant. [insert pregnant pause]" That was The Big Gay Shoutout of the episode. What was up with the weird steaming? They burn when holy water or crosses touch their flesh so i thought Angelus was holding a cross in his hand and was being all "Prove you're a real man, suffer the pain," but then i didn't see a cross when he opened his hand and then William was being all "Look at me make my hand steam" and i was expecting Angelus to be all "What kind of weirdo ponce are you?" but then they did the big manly hug thing.
Oh, and Wes is written out plausibly as well. He must have taken time off to get married, so if he just killed his "father" it's understandable that he would want some personal time. And as Angel or whomever mentioned, he has a whole department.
Harmony's hair and outfit did nothing for her.
Tee, Spike drank all Angel's blood. ("Is that otter?" made me giggle but um, when has Spike ever tasted otter? I nitpick but you still love me.) Insert gratuitous pornographic readings here.
[And while i'm nitpicking, Gunn's "don't finger the robots"? Ew. First, it took me way too long to get. Also, could you please not remind us of the bad joke that was Spike and robot!sex last episode? k,thx.]
Oh, but speaking of shout-outs to previous episodes, Gunn's reference to Eve and Santa Cruz had to be a set-up for something. TBQ mentioned that that line wrecked her "How do you know I'm either of those things," and Gunn's reminder of it puts us more on alert about Eve (not like there haven't been sledgehammers, what with Spike and all them being all "Eve, we don't trust you" -- though her whole "I'm not the bad guy here" arc this episode was probably the best acting she's done all season, and one wonders if that was on purpose, because now that we suspect the gang actually does believe her it is revealed to the viewers that she is in fact not to be trusted at all).
Mail without a return address is never a good thing. Props to Angel for pointing out that the amulet also came in the mail. And dude, do they have no mystical mail checker thing? I mean, thinking about this now and thinking "Mail without a return address is never a good thing" i think "Unabomber" and i think about how W&H is super-secure (though people pointed out that last week a cyborg with a gun snuck in and was walking around without so much as a visitor name tag) but if you can send poison (esp. with magic such a given on this show) through the mail, all that security's nearly for naught.
Spike, you just have to want to open the fuckin' box. You can pick up coffee mugs and drop beakers, surely you can open mail 'specially for you. Okay, magic flash. My first thought is "Fall in love with the first person you lay eyes on spell." No, okay. Crazy phones, hmm, wonder what's up with that. Spike slams in to a door. Is he corporeal? Maybe he and Harmony have some sort of linkage thing where he can't move x far away from her. *remembers that ST:TNG episode with Crusher and Picard* Or maybe he's locked to a certain range of the box. He looks up at Angel. Hmm, maybe love spell after all? Oh, no, he is in fact corporeal. And hello Angel touching. Okay, the Harmony boinking is acceptable only because of the later-revealed "the universe is spinning off its axis" thing.
Interesting note, Fred tells Eve Gunn was "under the influence," [insert commentary on parallels to her failed consolation of Wes at the end of the last episode] but he was just being more vicious about what he had said earlier. Harmony totally has Spike issues, including Spike/Buffy issues. (Incidentally, seguing from William's "thine eyes offend" to the first bloody eyes of the ep was a nice touch of parallelism i thought.) TONER in blood was kind of a giggle, but it also had interesting parallels to OMWF, people going crazy about minor things (that's actually a nitpick about OMWF, that it's mostly about people singing the deep dark things they don't wanna say, but then for laughs and suchlike we have mustard stains and parking tickets).
Oh, and when they first say there's no connection to all the craziness, my first thought was that it had something to do with Spike directly, because he pushed the guy out of his office and then someone near the guy went crazy (yes, i know, totally stretching), then Harmony goes crazy... some sort of weird time lapse for Gunn?
Okay, the Shanshu. I liked Sirk (sp?). (Oh and Spike, yeah Angel might have thought the prophecy was a load of rubbish, but when your connection to the Senior Partners says it's for real and that it's part of the reason your universe is ripping apart, you brush up?) Loved the whole "You didn't read the prophecy, you read the Cliff's Notes." LOVED the comparison of KJV to Aramaic. KJV is pretty but so innacurate. "Recently translated?" You mean "recently REtranslated," right? Because an ancient prophecy which has been repeatedly said to be of great importance to your powerful multidimensional firm... you've had it translated and analyzed for centuries. Okay, the whole "weight of worlds... drink from the cup of eternal torment... bones burn and turn to powder... save or destroy creation..." um, hi, Spike in "Chosen"? (Yes, i know he said the cup was literal.) And whatever he said about being made flesh again? Hello box o' flash. Ooh, i liked the direct confrontation of "2 souled vamps existed before, why the big hoopla now?" And as tiresome as the word "champion" gets, i really loved the idea that Spike didn't fulfill the prophecy until he sacrificed himself to save the world, thus becoming a champion. (Oh, and jumping ahead to the big ole prolonged fight scene... Angel, you never sacrificed yourself to save the world. Buffy sacrificed you to save the world, and Doyle and Cordy make self-sacrifices of similar caliber. Except for the possible exception of the amulet o' ambiguity, you haven't come close to stopping any apocali. Yes, i'll accept an argument for the Jasmine thing as "saving the world.")
No more big cat? Sadness. No more white room? Doors open onto howling abyss? I feel like that was a Star Trek episode or something. Teleporting to somewhere that no longer exists. Why does this feel familiar?
When Fred is tending to Eve, offering her water, i thought that the emotional toll must be what was hitting Eve the worst, because she's just the connection to the Senior Partners so without them she's nothing, and, as she pointed out, "my universe too;" she doesn't want to die. [And yes i know of course all this is scrathed by the end scene revelation, but good writing nonetheless.]
Interlude for "Becoming Part 2" (BtVS 2.22)
BUFFY: What do you want?Hmm, first Dru was Spike's destiny, then the Cup of Torment is -- symbolic of his progression from paragon of bad to paragon of good?
SPIKE: I told you. I want to stop Angel. (snickers) I want to save the world.
BUFFY: Okay. You do remember that you're a vampire, right?
SPIKE: We like to talk big. Vampires do. "I'm going to destroy the world." That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got . . . dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Picadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?
Incidentally, i was really troubled by Dru's non-attachment to William given their later history on BtVS, but thinking on it, Dru's flighty; Spike was always more devoted to her than she was to him; she did leave him, more than once; Angelus and Dru always had a mega-bond; the flashbacks do make sense. One just has to fanwank a bit of middle history -- William keeps trying to prove himself, to win both Dru and Angelus; he remains hopelessly devoted to his woman, a situation made easier when A&Darla split. Oh, and the whole "she's mine" thing had parallels to what Harmony said when she was all possessed.
And yes, Spike has always been trying to prove himself to Angelus just as much as to Dru. Whether it's sexual or no depends on how you wanna read it.
The fighting seemed way too prolonged to me (also, vampire-as-Matrix annoys me and, as Meredith pointed out, if it's prophecied, destined, absolutely will happen, then the wrong guy can't drink the cup and make it happen, so you both go and drink, or you both go and try -- maybe we have a sword in the stone thing where only the real one can touch the cup... worst case scenario is that if the wrong guy drinks the whole place turns into a giant sinkhole... and could that have been more obviously "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"? i think not) but as it went on it became more and more apparent that they were working out their issues. When they were talking about Buffy and Dru of course i was remembering "triangulation of desire" from Queer Studies.
Spike spent 6 weeks moaning in a basement and was fine? Hmm, when he was talking about Angelus teaching him, trying to make someone else as disgusting as himself (and Angelus definitely canonically was the baddest of the bad) so he wouldn't feel disgusted (which hearkens back nicely to Angelus' whole "I want to share the slaughter of innocents with another man")... i definitely think Spike is still working out his guilt about all the bad stuff he did. [Interesting that one of the bits about the Shanshu -- think it was Eve, so of course that's hardly reliable -- was about all his past deeds being washed away. That's what these guys need more than any kind of physical humanity. They need absolution... forgiveness... grace.] (And yeah, way to lay the smack down on the whole "I chose my soul so I'm better than you" with the obvious "thought it was just to get in a girl's pants" - and no, i'm not being sarcastic.)
"I fell down some stairs." Dunno if it was intentional or not, but that is the absolute classic line for when someone is being abused and hiding it. So yes, my brain went "they have an abusive relationship" because they are so a couple (only not, of course).
Eve's whole "We'll find Sirk and find out who put him up to this"? Not if they kill him first. You never let people who know incriminating stuff live, especially not when you're evil.
[edit: Hmm, do we think Eve had a hand in the whole cyborg thing? I mean, the faux Cup O' Shanshu would have been much harder to pull off with Wes there. They said the cyborgs appeared to be doing a lot of good, so perhaps Lindsey&Eve aren't quite uber-bad? The possibilities are intriguing.]
thebratqueen wrote a lot about Eve right after the season premiere, and i think either mpoetess or jennyo actually like Eve but i'm not gonna go through the past month and a half of their postings. I expect mutant_allies will have linkage to essays soon. That last scene makes me want transcripts (hook me up, anyone?) so i can reread everything Eve has ever said or done onscreen.
She's obviously working outside of the Senior Partners. Is she double-crossing them? Did the Partners give up the LA branch wholesale and haven't been involved at all? It'll take good writing to make this all work out in a plausible fashion, but of course i have faith.
Okay, i wasn't super paying attention to the guest credits, don't even remember seeing "Juliet Landau" though of course it must have been there. And i'm sometimes bad with names -- for example, "Jonathan Woodward" never rings the correct bells for me (whoa, he was on Firefly, too? Joss really is good to his people -- or all about the recycling, however you wanna put it), but i would have registered "Christian Kane" if it had been there, right? Or Meredith would have. So props to them for actually leaving the suprise guest a surprise.
Meredith told me to use this icon, by the way. You are shocked, i know.
P.S. Why was i not informed that Eve is Dana Poole? No wonder she seemed oddly familiar (but not mega-familiar as i definitely didn't watch that entire story arc).
What kind of powers did Lindsey have to get with to break contract with W&H? As Gunn has been emphasizing, contracts are a major theme this season.
Tattoos creep me out. (In this instance i'm thinking some kind of mystical branding.) Hello spikey hair and an earring. I liked grey Lindsey moving toward good, but bad boy can be done well. Am looking forward to learning what our boy has been up to for the past 3 years.
[My immediate aesthetic judgement, however, is that i liked non-creepy Lindsey better, but that's personal preference.]
As i mentioned after "Hellbound," Lindsey’s parting advice to Angel in “Dead End” (2.18) is: “The key to Wolfram and Hart: don't let them make you play their game. You gotta make them play yours.”