PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on television spoiler-free ... good luck with that.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Couldn't They Have Just Done West Side Story?

Episode 1.16: The Ring. Original Airdate: 2.29.20

“Owners of an underground arena enslave Angel and pit him against powerful demons for entertainment.”

Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • Is the Demons Demons Demons site Cordy’s on one we also see on Buffy? Is it a geocities site?
  • Wes quips, “A name rife with single entendre.” Has he been reading our Veronica Mars Stats?

  • Cordy shaming Wes’s indoor kitty life, Wes shaming Cordy for her femininity and I hate them both right now?
  • Oh right, beat up business man. But I remember too much and know this is A TRAP A TRAP.
  • I was looking at my keyboard, did the little white box have an ear or a finger? Or a toe? Isn’t it a toe in Big Lebowski?
Narrator: It was a finger. // Zelda: Yuck.

  • Anyway we haven’t said it in a while but this is such a pretty credits music.
  • This Darin dude looks nothing like his brother Jack, not that it matters much, but I’m not investing in this exposition when I know it’s all a lie, so I may as well focus on something else.
  • So is Ernie the bookkeeper also part of the trap? This is a lot of steps to get Angel where they want him.
  • “There’s always slime. This is why I don’t gamble. You make a small wager one day, a bigger one the next, and before you know it—Beetlejuicy albino comes a-knocking!” I love her.
  • “Okay, first I say yuck and then I hit search.”
  • Oh the Beetlejuice albino Howler demons found Angel and they’re making all these yelpy sounds and I guess it’s nice to have an aural change of pace during a fight?
  • They say they sold Jack. Wait, am I wrong? I thought this was a trap. The dude who first came to the office runs the Demon Fight Club, doesn’t he? Or did he orchestrate a big thing to fuck with his brother, then trap Angel?
  • Oh right we don’t know she’s W&H yet, just that she’s a sharply dressed pretty lady.
  • Is this the first time we hear the term champion? Not to describe Angel, but describing one of the fightin’ demons.
  • Okay we spotted Jack, looking distinctly unimprisoned and also not seeming to be lacking any digits.
  • Confirmed TRAP of Angel. Okay so the Howlers were also play-acting? That’s just. That’s very complicated. That’s probably more complicated than it needed to be. That’s a lot, and it feels more like it was done to take us the viewers by surprise than to accomplish their goal of trapping Angel most efficiently. That kind of writing annoys me. It’s too proud of its own cleverness.
  • Cool, Jack the Villain is here to Villainsplain the rules to Angel while twirling his Villainstache.
  • Aw Wes went for the hero weapon draw and instead had a flail. I love Alexis.
  • Do … do they know Angel’s a vamp? (Jack and his bro) He’s not gonna eat the gruelstew. Give that boy some blood. They must know … why don’t they give him blood?
  • I guess the point of this episode really is to further push that moral greyness of the demons that is a big motif on this series. Here in LA, people can be as cruddy as, well, people. And demons can be sympathetic. Not just half demons like our dear departed Doyle.
  • WHOA Wes did a badass thing, crossbowing the bookie’s hand to the wall, then catching his gun. AND THEN twisting the bolt in a torturey way. Hints of Dark Wes to Come.
  • The brothers douche keep calling the demons either “girls” or “slaves,” just to make sure we really dislike them I guess? [Calling a boy a girl is the first rule of gross toxic masculinity - The MacNamara brothers]
  • Detective Andrews and Detective Yelsew! Crime fighting team of Cordy and Wes!
  • With Wes and bamfness, it’s one step forward, two steps back, as he tries to badcop the patsies with “Something’s going down tonight, something with the man.” Whereas Cordy shows us she maybe coulda had an acting career?
  • Snorting at how everyone hates Angel’s fight, with him refusing to properly engage.
  • I guess Angel only likes killing demons when he knows they’re up to no good.
  • Angel tries to get the strong fellow to refuse to fight, but he replies, with respect and dignity, “I’ll kill him quick.” And he does.
  • Wes says these fights, including the ancient cuffs, go back to the Roman Empire. Okay, sure. Shouldn’t Angel have known about it?
  • Seriously why don’t the demons just fling their bowls and spoons and projectiles and kill the humans?
  • Angel gets Jack beyond the red line, but none of the other demons will help him.
  • The slave narrative is edging on problematic territory, but I think that’s why they went with the Roman Empire shit. Romans enslaved anybody they conquered, so see guys? It’s not about Jewish slaves or about African slaves! No problematic stuff here, no racism allegory! Nothing to see.
  • Lilah bought Angel from the fight ring and hopes to buy his silence.
  • “I prefer to think of it as picking the battle you can win. There’s not one reason why we can’t work together,” she says. This seems to be implying she’s also on the side of good, but compromised, and like … that’s not consistent with Future Lilah, who mustache twirls with the best of them.
  • Eh, whatever, the writers were still feeling out how they wanted to use W&H, and who they wanted to be our recurring faces from it.
  • Did … did Cordelia just say “tick tick Wesley” instead of “tick tock”?
  • I do like Wes and Cordy collaborating to solve stuff. He got some of the science/electricity to unlock the cuff, but she had the idea of horse hair to be the key.
  • Angel v. Trepkos. How will this fadge? “I’ll kill you quick.”//  “I won’t let you.”
Two demons enter....two...come out I guess?

  • Cordelia playing dumb, looking gorgeous, and distracting guards while Wes sneaks by.
  • Fighty stick fighty etc etc
  • Aw dang, Angel got impaled with giant wooden stick, but only through his liver, he’s fine.
  • And he refuses to deal the killing blow to Trepkos.
  • Man, the 90s hairstyles on all these suits watching the fight. What? I’m not distracted, you’re distracted, guys it’s MAY.
  • Anyway Trepkos also won’t deal the killing blow because he had deep soulful eye contact with Angel, all sweaty and vulnerable. People wrote slashfic about these two, didn’t they.
  • Aaaaaaaaaaand it’s rebellion time! All the demons freed and beatin’ up their oppressors.
  • Time for Lilah to make a sneaky exit.
  • And we end with our trio watching a bunch of violent demons walk free. “We set the captives free.” // “Well, actually, didn’t we set a bunch of demons free?” // “Oh. Well, technically, yes.”

Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • Is this the Gem of Amara one? Nah, I think we did that one already.
  • Man, this badly done website: demons, demons, demons

  • Why is Cordelia looking up Wolfram & Hart? When was the last time we heard from them?
  • Today’s client comes in asking for Angel.  He heard of Angel “around”.  Which is pretty cool, I guess – that Angel is starting to get a reputation to…help the helpless.
  • Oh! Stephanie Romanov is in this!  I didn’t realize she was introduced so early.
  • Cordelia’s got our demon: A Howler Demon.
  • They’re blue & very alien looking.  And they….howl.  Good name for them, I guess.  I mean – they sound more like yelps or screams.  Or shrieks?  Shrieking demon might have been more appropriate.

  • Some club – I guess?  The bouncer is asking for tickets so I guess it’s a special event.  Ah, right. This episode.
  • Lilah!  I love her so much.  It’s too bad that Romanov hasn’t done much since this show.  And nothing since 2012.
  • Ah.  So that’s what “The Ring” refers to.  Not one you put on your finger.  Or what you see seven days before you die.
  • It’s an underground fight to the death…but for demons.
  • OH NO IT WAS A TRICK.  I  guess that’s the bad part of having his reputation.
  • The guy who plays Jack.  He has such a familiar face but I can’t really place him.  I checked out his IMDb – I think I know him from Oz.
  • “Cop lady hasn’t heard from him?” SHE HAS A NAME, CORDELIA.  HER NAME IS DETECTIVE KATE SOMETHING.
  • Angel’s the only human looking demon there.  I guess cause he’s half a demon.  And he can morph when he gets angrified.
  • A lot of different types of demons here.  Great make-up jobs.

  • The arm bands the demons wear that disintegrate them when they cross a certain line remind me of the necklaces in Battle Royale.
  • I can’t tell if Wesley being clumsy one moment & being really good with weapons when it counts is inconsistency or a cool character trait.
  • There are no female demons.  That’s sexist.
  • The way Wesley shows the “badge” is so silly.

  • Cordelia’s actually really good and quick thinking with the fake detective work, considering what a bad actress she is.  I guess she's a better liar than an actress?
  • Oh know, they threw him a knife! Cheating!
  • Wow, that was quick….Mellish died so promised.
  • None of the other demons are helping Angel. 
  • “As soon as you let us go.” “Who do you think you are, Moses?”  I mean – if you’re going to compare yourself to pharaoh, maybe you're on the wrong side?
  • And there’s the trope where an evil boss kills one of his henchmen.  I really hate that trope. How do the bad guys expect to win if they always kill their allies? Of course…this is his own brother.  They’re taking it one step further.
  • And the whole dance between Lilah and Angel starts.  Did I mention how much I love Lilah?
  • It’s kinda convenient that Lilah was able to get Angel out of there…so that he could help from the outside.
  • Oh.  Wait.  Why did Angel willingly come back?  What?  I mean what was the purpose of Lilah getting him out for him to just go back in? He could have maybe thought of a better plan from the outside.  Or…the writer’s could have just had Angel meet with Lilah in the prison place.  This feels unnecessarily complicated. [This whole episode. - Z]
  • Seriously what was Angel’s plan?  Now he’s just in another match.
  • I mean this is all awfully naïve of Angel to think that he can just convince the other demon to not fight, especially since none of them came to his rescue before.
  • I mean, I guess it worked.  It’s just still awfully naïve.  It’s just a good thing Wesley was able to find a way to unlock the bracelets.  But for all Angel knew, Wes & Cordy had no idea where he was.  He could have at least checked in with them?  I won’t call shenanigans on this…just lazy writing, I guess? 
  • Oh well. We got Lilah out of this episode and that’s all I need.

Favorite Lines:

Zelda: “There’s always slime. This is why I don’t gamble. You make a small wager one day, a bigger one the next, and before you know it—Beetlejuicy albino comes a-knocking!” – Cordelia
Daniel: “We set the captives free.” // “Well, actually, didn’t we set a bunch of demons free?” // “Oh. Well, technically, yes.”


First Appearance: Lilah Morgan
Recurring: the offices of Wolfram & Hart
Generally Known TV Face: Douglas Roberts, Markus Redmond, Scott William Winters
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Markus Redmond (second role on Angel), Marc Rose (Mellish on Angel, Josh on Buffy), Mark Ginther (second role on Angel)

Angel! In! History!

  • Angel speaks Spanish, Russian, and Italian. Also this wasn’t his first kill. Or his twenty-first.


Cordelia’s Hair – parted down the middle, big looping curls one day, blown straight another day
Dead Humans – 3
Dead Undeads – 4
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 0
Wesley Prat-falls – 1
Lawyered Ex Machina – 1 (Lilah buys Angel’s contract)
Evil Reveal – 1 (the brothers are baddies)
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 0


  1. Unnecessary and complicated is a thing a lot of shows tend to do. It's like they want to be clever with the twists and turns but then forget what they're doing halfway through and give up. Or work themselves back around to where they were in the first place which makes for a frustrating watch.

    I think the bumbling stuff was leftover from Wesley's Buffy days as he was super inept but the badass stuff is where they wanted him to go and so they kind of fought through the two sides of him until they got comfortable? My rambling theory.