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


Monday, July 27, 2020

The 'Who Died Horribly Because Angel Screwed Up 50 Years Ago' Game

Episode 2.02: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been. Original Airdate: 10.3.00.

“In the 1950s, Angel aids a woman hiding from her past in a hotel with a long history of death and mayhem. In the present, Angel hunts a demon.”

Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • The Hyperion Hotel. 68 rooms, 68 vacancies. 68 opportunities to reuse and reset the same hotel room over and over.
  • Aw Cordelia put cinnamon in Angel’s blood. But … yuck.
  • Ooooh time travel transition! Back to when the Hyperion was an active hotel and Angel was a mopey souled vampire, not yet eating rats, not yet in love with a teenager.
  • “We cannot evict residents on the grounds of the heebie jeebies.” If they give us a wiggins, however, we totally can.
  • Anyway, the gum chewing bellman doesn’t want to deliver the weekly bill to, you guessed, it Angel! With combed hair! Gasp!
  • Seriously though why was Angel staying in a hotel. Hotel rooms have windows.
  • And why did the “Becoming” episodes of Buffy act like he went straight from souled vampire to living in alleyways for a century until the saviorness of seeing Buffy, and it turns out on this show he rattled around all over the continental U.S. with mysterious funds able to cover his living in a hotel. THE RETCON IS SO STRONG WITH THIS SERIES.
  • Anyway, this is a cool long tracking shot through the hotel lobby, as we see the McCarthy hearings, Angel not wearing a billowy black coat, and the hotel manager lying to a black family about vacancies in the hotel, cuz the 1950s were the best weren’t they?
  • I guess the implication, when we see the tail end of a (clandestine?) homosexual hookup, as Angel heads to his room, is that this hotel is a haven for all manner of covert activities, and that’s why Angel blends in?
  • Anyway, there’s a guy in the hotel hall with a suitcase, agreeing with whispering voices of nothing. Also another guy loitering and knocking on doors and it’s all very noir and mysterious.
  • Why did Angel get a bucket of ice? Does he like his blood chilled? Oh right, he has no fridge so if he does want to keep the blood, he would need ice. Okay fine.
  • Ah, random lady sneaked into his room and is (badly) pretending to be the maid, but Angel has no time or interest in suffering any of this.
  • Ah, mysterious loiterer has a gun and is looking for our mystery lady. So Angel punches him with the door, disposes of him in the elevator, and slams the door on a thankful Judy.
  • Meanwhile, back in the present, Wes and Cordy have researched a rather bloody history of the tail end of the Hyperion’s life as an active hotel. Ah, but Cordy finally figured out why Angel has them looking into it: there’s a photograph from 1952 and Angel’s in the background.
  • Gasp! 1952 Angel smoked! That’s how you know we’re not on Buffy anymore: if someone smokes on Buffy they're either evil or about to die. But here in LA, morality is greyer and souled-but-cynical vampires can smoke too.
  • Anyway, that dude who was agreeing with nothing just shot himself. Angel hears the gunshot, doesn’t react, and takes a sip of blood.
  • Hotel manager says he’s the third suicide in as many months. WHAT COULD IT MEAN.
  • And the whisperer says to him, “Three in three months. They’ll shut you down.” Manager agrees with the nothing, and instructs the bellman to cover up the death.
  • It’s weird seeing the Hyperion lobby with all these strangers in it. Since I’ve seen the rest of the series, I know what that lobby will become.
  • Anyway, the paranoia whisperer suggests to another hotel lobby patron that maybe it wasn’t a suicide.
  • Angel cracks that maybe it was the wallpaper that drove that guy to suicide and isn’t that sort of the plot of that story? The yellow wallpaper? Yes? Well, it doesn’t drive her to suicide but it does facilitate her mental collapse. Anyway. My point is we know Angel likes to read so he probably has read that story and therefore this is him being clever.
  • It is kind of fun, having present-day Wes and Cordelia trying to solve what happened in the past, as we also see the past unfold with Angel and this lady Judy. Tom Stoppard’s written several plays using that device.
  • Ah, Judy’s on the run because she pulled a Janet Leigh in Psycho and walked off with an overnight bag full of cash, eight years before Pyscho came out!

  • But also she was fired and dumped because she’s mixed race (but passing). The actress is mixed race, but she's of Italian and Chinese descent, not African. Anyway isn’t racism fun.
  • And Angel says he’ll help her hide. Is this the awakening of his white knight? Of his *gulp* champion complex?
  • Judy, wondering if she can just return the money, asks Angel, “There is such a thing as forgiveness, right?” Hello, theme!
  • Also, present-day Angel found the case full of cash where he hid it. Judy, whatever happened to her, never left with the cash and never returned it. But hey, now Angel Investigations has money?
  • Cordelia, badass, figured out which demon haunts the hotel: a Thesulac, a paranoia demon. Oh, never mind, Angel told her. Still, it was a cool moment when Wes is all “it’s something, but idk what” and she just namedrops it.
  • Ooops Past Angel tried to visit a bookstore fellow for some research but he threw a bible at him.
  • Ah, the four lobby patrons who actually have lines are deciding one of them had to have killed the suicide. This kind of device works better if the hotel has 8 rooms, not 68, but whatever.
  • And the Thesulac is whispering to Judy too.
  • See, like, this isn’t cool. Angel clearly has some money, to keep him in the hotel and keep him in blood. But he’s extorting the bookstore owner, demanding the things he needs to get rid of the demon for free, instead of paying for them. Come on, Angel. Support your local independent bookstore.
  • Gunn’s here! About damn time. He wasn’t asked to help with the research, but he’s in for fighting the demon.
  • *snort* and he’s bickering with Wes and future me will miss their sibling bickering when it gets replaced by a love triangle.
  • Past Angel gets back to the hotel with the tools to expunge the demon, but everyone’s been whipped into a frenzy, and Judy, cornered, in tears, outs Angel to the crowd and they literally pounce on him, sfx punches and kicks landing as he squints at her from the ground, betrayed.
  • Wow, they’re actually lynching him. Literally stringing him up in a noose. Which is beyond fucked up and also troubling in an episode that’s also barely touching the racism feeding so much of American culture and paranoia.
  • Angel, hanging by his neck, and suddenly the mania disperses, everyone (but the sociopath bellman) ashamed and emptied.
  • But, well, that doesn’t kill a vampire, so he’s fine really. Just, you know, super disappointed and betrayed. He tried to help someone and she was the one who turned him over to the mob. Of course he leaves the hotel to rot. Present Angel would recognize that it was the demon, not the people, and still try to save them. Past Angel? “Take ‘em all.”
  • Thesulac demon’s accent sounds very … old south. Louisana maybe? I’m assuming that’s no accident either.
  • It’s a cool metaphor anyway for the extensive paranoia that flavored this era in history, and it worked back when this episode aired twenty years ago (fuck I’m old), but these days … the paranoia and conspiracy theories all but dominate the narrative over rational thought, the doxxing and vigilante monsters we see on the internet who will ruin a person’s life if they have the audacity to not be a white cishet bro. Like we’re living in that again, now, and we can’t blame a demon for stoking that paranoia and fear and hate (though I guess we can blame Russian trolls?).
  • Basically everything old is new again.
  • Except Judy, who is now old, who stayed in the room, and who’s been feeding the Thesulac for the past fifty years. Angel comes upstairs to release her. “Am I safe?” // “Yeah, you’re safe.” // “Can I go out now?”
  • But she lies down to take a rest first, and we know this is her final rest.
  • “I’m so sorry I killed you. Can you forgive me?” // “Of course.”
  • “I’m just going to rest, just for a minute, and then I’m going to go out.” Fuck, I’m crying.
  • Angel, a peaceful half-smile on his face, looks around the Hyperion and says “We’re moving in.”
  • I know Wes is being adorably neurotic about paranoia, and normally that’s my favorite thing, but I’m still kind of … feeling the heaviness of how much things have changed and how much they’ve stayed the same, seventy years on.

Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • Hyperion Hotel!  They have an old black and white picture of it.
  • Cordelia has made Angel coffee with blood.  And she made Wesley Tea.
  • Oooh, flashback to the 50s!  The Hyperion is up and running and why does this remind me of the opening to the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride
  • The bellhop’s gotta deliver a bill to room 217…where a certain creepy resident stays. “Ever look into his eyes?  There’s nothing there.” I WONDER WHO THAT COULD BE.
  • Rooom 217, not to be confused with room 237 of the Shining.
  • It’s Angel!  [Annngeell, Indeed. -Tom Collins.]  And he’s all 50’s clothing style.
  • Fast forward to the future:  The Hyperion is a mess; abandoned – and a great looking set.
  • The title of this episode of course refers to the McCarthy trials accusing Americans of communism, witnessed on the tv in the lobby. Also an allegory for this episode.
  • We also see the prejudice of the 50s – a hotel turning away a black family, a gay couple being less careful than they should be.
  • And something not common for the 50s, a guy talking to…..someone who’s not there.
  • Angel catches a woman in his hotel - and quickly saves her from someone. Even back in the 50s, he’s helping young maidens.  But pouty Angel just wants to be left alone!
  • Meanwhile Cordelia & Wesley are researching the hotel.
  • "It’s not that vampires don’t photograph, it’s just that they don’t photograph well!"  - Cordelia
  • Meanwhile, back in the 50s, Angel’s neighbor – who was talking to…someone – kills himself with a gun.  According to the manager, this is the 3rd suicide they’ve had.
  • The bellboy uses the word ‘depressed’ which I don’t think was a term widely used back then, at least so lightly.
  • Ahh, but now the manager is hearing the voice.  It’s telling him his worst fear -that the hotel will be shut down.
  • And another resident hears a voice making him wonder if it’s safe to even be there.
  • And Angel in James Dean gear is hanging outside the planetarium like some kind of rebel without causality. 

  • I like this back and forth. In the future, we find out the bellhop was arrested for the murders.  But we haven’t seen anything like it in the past.
  • Now everyone – all the actors and screenwriters – speculating that all these suicides were actually murders.
  • The woman that Angel saved reveals that she worked as a teller in a bank – and she stole money and now is hiding out in a hotel…which of course is an homage to Psycho.
  • “It’s just blood, Judy.” Angel says – but he doesn’t finish with, “It all tastes the same.” [If you close your eyes. - Mimi]
  • In the future, Judy was never heard from again after staying at the Hyperion.
  • “There is such a thing as forgiveness, right?”  Judy asks Angel, thematically.
  • I love this scene with the book seller who knows immediately who Angel is.  He knows the lore, too, threatening to make his residence there, so vamps can’t just walk in.  I guess he has a some experience.
  • And now those actors and screenwriters are all accusing each other.
  • “Don’t you dare use alliteration with me, you hack!” - Actor Fella to Writer Fella.  
  • “So you were about my age when you were made?” “I don’t know, how old are you?” “Just north of 30?” Angel offended: “No!”
  • Cordy, Wes & Gunn join Angel at the Hyperion to conjure the demon to corporality.
  • Everyone on the 2nd floor is now attacking Judy.  Angel is about to help when…Judy turns the tables and accuses Angel.  So the mob turns their hatred towards him instead.
  • And they’re actually fucking lynching him which holy shit.  And laughing.  Again…not uncommon in the 50s. Everyone disperses except for the bellboy who’s kinda really awfully gleeful about it. He's arrested later, so that's good at least. (We don't actually see that; just a newspaper clipping - but we assume lots of bad things happened to the rest of the patrons here.)
  • Meanwhile, Angel, who cannot be hanged, gets himself off of the rope and jumps to the ground and meets the demon.
  • The demon face just looks kinda old manish, but he’s floating on tentacles which is pretty awesome.

  • Angel, fed up with people, tells the demon to ‘take ‘em all’
  • But 50 years later, Angel corrects his mistake…
  • He goes up to Judy’s room.  She’s been there the whole time.  What…has she been eating?
  • The article had said she’s been missing.  Did…they check the hotel? Ah, she narrates that the demon kept them from that door.  But it seems she hasn’t left her room.  Seriously, what’s she been eating?
  • “I’m going to rest just for a minute.” – which in Hollywood means, she gon’ die.
  • Cordelia & Gunn can’t get wait to get out.  So naturally, Angel wants to move in.  Welcome to the new headquarters of Angel Investigation.  Shit loada stuff gonna happen here.

Favorite Lines:
Zelda: “There is such a thing as forgiveness, right?” – Judy
Daniel: Denver, the Book Seller: “So you were about my age when you were made?” Angel: “I don’t know, how old are you?” Denver: “Just north of 30?” Angel offended: “No!”

Generally Known TV Face: Brett Rickaby, J.P. Manoux, Tony Amendola.

Angel! In! History!
In 1952 Angel combed his hair with a side part, lived in the Hyperion Hotel, smoked, and tried to mind his own cynical business.

Cordelia’s Hair – parted down the middle, loose
Dead Humans – 1
Dead Undeads – 1
Dead Flashbacks – 1
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 0
Wesley Prat-falls – 0
Lawyered Ex Machina – 0
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 0

1 comment:

  1. The aesthetic of being in a creepy abandoned hotel is just the coolest idea for a vampire show. I dig it. There were things I really did want to like about Angel, it just never grabbed me the way Buffy did.