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


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Forking With Gunn

 Episode 3.02: That Vision Thing. Original Airdate: 10.01.01

“Lilah coerces Angel to help her secure the release of a prisoner the Powers That Be have locked in a fiery prison.”

Zelda’s Thoughts:
  • We open with Wes and Gunn handling Cordy with kid gloves, worrying about how she’s handling the after-effects of her visions. Meanwhile, Fred’s downstairs with them eating Chinese takeout, but camped out under a table.
  • Oops I misread that—they’re worried about her because she hasn’t had a vision in a while. Also Wes and Gunn helpfully exposit to Fred (and the audience, because new season and the show’s not out on DVD yet) about how the visions work.
  • Hey y’all it’s Gavin Park again. Cordy starts schmoozing him and his expensive loafers until Wes identifies him as a W&H suit. When he spies Fred he says simply “New player?”
  • *snort* he’s filing a bunch of citations against the hotel. Gavin, love, this is not how you lawyer ex machina. Well, maybe it’s how you lawyer ex machina, but it’s not impressive, just annoying.
  • Cordy’s finally gotten a vision, but fuuuuuuuuck she’s got slices across her stomach from the five-clawed beast of her vision. That’s just … super unfair? Like, come on, Powers That Be. If you’re really all that powerful you wouldn’t do shit like this to a white hat. She doesn’t need stigmata to prove her heroism. She’s already proven that, over and over, without the extra punishment.
  • Jeez, she’s got extra slices across her back. And on her shoulder. This is bullshit.
  • Angel’s intuited enough that he knows Cordelia is suffering more than she’s letting on, but I have to ask why he doesn’t smell the blood from her wounds when he’s literal inches away and has enhance vampire nostrils.
  • Gunn, tired of chauffeuring them to the wrong herbalist shops, says “Next time we’re hitting the last place first,” and I love him.
  • Oh hey. This one’s the right place, I guess. They know on sight that Angel is a vampire.
  • Oh also they’re the clawed beasts. This was so obviously made in the wake of  Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’s popularity. They’re all flying martial artsy.
  • We don’t even kill them, we just take the coin from their unconscious bodies and leave.
  • And over at W&H, Gavin’s a transfer into Special Projects from Real Estate, which explains why his first sally at Angel Investigations after the attempt to buy the building is building code violations.
  • Cordy’s eyebrows look extra archy this season. Are they archier? Is it just me?


  • Fred compares Cordy to Lassie, because she’s the mission messenger, but Cordy’s not wild about the dog comparison. Hey she can bond with Willow, reliable dog geyser person!
  • Damn, a second vision. And this one comes with boils she can’t hide from the gang, as they’re all over her face. She’s taken her hair down to hide as much of it as she can.
  • She’s also now incredibly hoarse, in a way that doesn’t sound faked, so I’m wondering if Charisma was really sick and they were like “use it!”
  • “This must be a mistake. The Powers wouldn’t do this to me on purpose. I mean, I’m a part of their team. Why would anybody do this on purpose?”
  • Fred suggests asking the Powers what’s up. Why didn’t Angel think of this earlier? He used to speak to them in S1 … though I guess they got mildly slaughtered in the S1 finale...
  • They don’t want to leave Cordy alone while she’s suffering but I say she’s got Phantom Dennis, he’s got access to the landline. He can call them. Sure he can’t speak, but he do something.
  • The show’s already planting seeds for Gunn and Fred’s romance.
  • But the flirting is interrupted when they find a fumigator gassing up the hotel lobby. Slash planting surveillance for Gavin. (spoilers, spoilers, my notes are full of spoilers this week)
  • Aw Wes called in Lorne to come help. They’re hoping he can use his connection to help track a message back to the PtB.
  • Cordy’s resistant to help because she doesn’t want to lose the visions. “I wouldn’t be able to help you anymore. You wouldn’t need me.” Angel: “That’s not why I need you.” I’m fine, I just have a few feelings.
  • Hey y’all Lilah’s got Kal Penn in a Fez working for her. Last time we saw him in the Buffyverse he was a cavebro! But this version of him levitates, removes the fez, and reveals an exposed and pulsating brain. And he seems to be sending more torturous visions to Cordy, scorching her skin and sending her into convulsions, as Lorne is thrown back against the wall by the force of it.
  • So here’s my question: are Lilah and Kal Penn in a Fez also causing the intense physical torture, or did they send only that vision? Is this a combination of the Powers being shitty and W&H being even shittier?
  • Cordy’s breaking down. “I’m scared all the time. I mean, look at me. What could be so important that the Powers would do this? I don’t understand.”
  • Oh, the show’s here to answer my questions. Thanks show! Lorne’s figured out that they’re not coming from the Powers. So the coin and the key they’ve collected … they’re pieces Lilah needed him to fetch for her evil plot of the week.
  • I don’t really believe that recruiting Angel was the only way for Lilah to retrieve Billy (spoilers) from his demon prison, so this is probably still a piece of W&H’s long goal of turning Angel, making him undertake missions he knows aren’t for the good. Either he burns with guilt (win for them) or it numbs him to doing bad things and he keeps doing bad things (win for them). Keep moving the line until there is no line, right?
  • Anyway Wes confirms that the demons they fought to get the key and the coin were on the side of good, so it’s lucky we didn’t kill them after all!
  • Oooh the key and coin combine to form a spinny top that opens the portal. I dig it. Nice design.
  • I hope they return them to their rightful owners after this.
  • Also Angel lost all his weapons when he went through the portal. Whoopsy. “Sure. Cuz it’d be too easy if I could actually defend myself.” I mean. You are a vampire, my dude. “At least I got the key,” he says helpfully in case the viewers are unobservant.
  • Oh right, it’s Skip! Skip of the Confusing Arc of Whose Side Are You On (Spoilers!)
  • It’s fun, because he looks so otherworldly creepy and then his conversational style is so informal and unmenacing. And his name is Skip (named after one of the series’ director/producers, Skip Schoolnick)
  • “You’re a vampire, right? How come it smells like you work for the Powers That Be?” See, he can smell stuff. Get with it, Angel.
  • They’re both casually talking about the fact that they’re on the same side and yet it’s fighty time, and I think it’s supposed to be reminiscent of Dread Pirate Westley and Inigo Montoya.
  • Aaaaaaand Billy’s fire prison stops being fire and prisony once Skip is knocked out. Oooh is this a deathless episode? That’s cool.
  • Cordelia’s vision side effects fade when Kal Penn in a Fez removes the mojo, and Billy is handed over to Lilah and the suits.
  • I have to ask, knowing the future and all, did none of our team touch Billy during this? Someone had to bind his wrists with rope. And the car isn’t that roomy.
  • Oop, we’ve got one dead body after all. Angel launches a rebar like a knight’s lance, impaling Kal Penn in his squishy exposed brain.
  • Angel threatens to kill Lilah if she comes after Cordelia again. For some reason, I thought this happened at the end of S1, when they were bombarding her with nonstop visions. Oh well, time is a flat circle.
  • Cordy, though grateful to no longer be as tortured: “What if that guy you freed is someone or something that’s truly terrible? Wolfram & Hart won this time and it’s all my fault.” // “It’s not about winning, Cordelia, it’s about what’s at stake. And in this particular scenario you were way more important than winning.”
  • Angel pulls a Scarlett O’Hara, saying they’ll deal with the consequences when they happen. So of course we segue cut to pregnant Darla still looking to get rid of her impossible fetus.
  • So in the comments for the episode where Angel tried to save Darla  Travis pointed out that because Angel won a life through the trials but it couldn’t be used to save Darla, the Powers gifted them with the impossible baby. I can’t remember if they officially acknowledge that in canon, but I really love that read, and it makes me okay with the macguffiny stuff behind this plot arc.
Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • Wes & Gunn are talking over Chinese food.  They’re discussing how to handle Cordelia.
  • Fred is also there, eating Chinese food, under a table. 
  • Now I want Chinese Food. [Dude, me too. - Z]
  • Speaking of Chinese food.  Why do TV show characters always eat Chinese food out of the box?  Does no one put it on a plate?  Putting the Chicken or whatever over the Rice?  Man, I really want Chinese Food.
  • Cordelia doesn’t want the gang to fuss over her visions.   She’s fine!  Sure, you are, Cordelia.
  • And Gavin Park is back.  I'm glad he wasn't a one-hit wonder. He's looking handsome as  ever in expensive suit and loafers.

  • He’s there to let them know there are 57 citations with the Hotel.
  • Cordelia has another ferocious vision.
  • Oh shit.  This vision physically attacked her like Freddy Krueger.  She’s got 5 slices across her abs.
  • Fred’s starting to help with the research. She’s also being weirdly flirty with Angel.  It’s a bit cringe.
  • Cordelia also has claw marks on her back and shoulder and I’m not sure why she doesn’t want to share this info with the rest of the crew when they could help.
  • “I’ve asked Fred to take you home”  Does she…drive?  Even if she acquired a car in the last few months which I very seriously doubt.
  • Wesley: “One of the unwritten laws of being a dick.”  He clarifies that he means detective or gumshoe. But then Gunn is all: “You use the word dick again and we’re gonna have a problem.”  What?  Why? I want to be offended if this homophobic in a way I don’t realize but I don't think it is? Does he just not like using the word dick? What?  I don’t.  What strange dialogue.
  • Wes Angel and Gunn get to the Chinese herbal shop and the old couple who run it turn out to be demons who fight them.  Fun!
  • Meanwhile at Wolfram & Hart, Lilah has bangs.
  • Gavin informs Lilah that he’s working on something regarding Angel Investigations & would like her on his team.
  • Meanwhile Cordy is trying to get rid of Fred.  Again, how did she take her home?  Eh, whatever.
  • Fred wants to know what it’s like to have a vision. Cordelia wants her to go.  And then Fred compares her to Lassie.  
  • But before Cordy can get rid of Fred, she has another lethal vision.  This time she passes out and grows…boils?
  • Interestingly in the next scene, presumably filmed later, Cordy’s voice is very hoarse like Charisma came down with a cold or something.  Good timing.  Either that or Charisma is good at making her voice sound hoarse.
  • Angel goes searching for the key in Cordelia’s vision & ends up fighting the boil demon.
  • Wes stays with Cordelia & Gunn walks Fred home…where there are exterminators.  Oh!  I guess Fred walked...Cordelia to her apartment?  Does she live that close to the hotel?  Anyway, Gunn flirts with Fred but it's very blink and you'd miss it.
  • Wes invites Lorne over to help to trace the visions.
  • Cordy doesn’t want to lose the visions because she doesn’t think she’ll be able to help Angel without them.
  • So Lorne does a mind meld with Cordelia. [Um,  - Spock]
  • Hey, it’s Kal Penn!  He’s doing some sort of floaty thing and his brain lifting out of his body and it’s gross.
  • Cordelia is having her third vision of the episode (are these things connected?) – and she gets literally burned.  So yeah, these two things are connected.  It’s Lilah who’s causing this – not the powers that be.
  • Cordelia thinks bad things are happening because she’s a bad person.  And it’s very heart-breaking.
  • Lorne figures out that the visions aren’t from the powers.  They figure it out pretty quickly – that this is due to Wolfram & Hart, specifically Lilah Morgan.
  • She wants Angel to free a guy who is imprisoned. In exchange, she'll stop sending lethal visions to Cordy.
  • Wes prepares Angel for his mission but wants to accompany him.  Angel says he needs Wes to stay there.
  • The objects Angel has collected from Cordy’s vision creates a top that opens a portal (because of course it does.)  Once Angel goes through, his weapons are left behind. Almost like the Terminator portal…. unlike the Terminator portal, his clothes stay on.
  • Angel sees the guy imprisoned.  It feels like some hell dimension with the prisoner literally burning in a cube for all eternity.  Yikes.
  • And this demon with a lot of weird armor – there’s like a set of teeth on his shoulder.  The make-up and costume is incredibly impressive.  
Where did those teeth come from??

  • But the best part?  His name is Skip.  And he talks like he’s from California.  Love Skip.
  • Time for the grand fight.  Angel pushes Skip toward the flaming cube but then saves him weirdly?  Then knocks him out? Okay.
  • And then the flaming cube disappears and the guy that Angel is supposed to be saving is just…a bit sooty I guess?
  • So Angel meets Lilah at what I’m assuming is the place James Dean drag raced at in Rebel Without a Cause? Maybe?
  • They get Fred on the phone to make sure the spell is reversed.
  • Kal Penn does his creepy brain thing and the boils disappear from Cordy’s face.  It worked.
  • So who is this guy?  So evil that he was tortured by burning forever.
  • And Angel kills Kal Penn so that it never happens again – essentially saying, “don’t fuck with Cordelia.”
  • The next day Cordelia is feeling perky and very thankful.
  • “It’s not about winning, Cordelia.  It’s what’s at stake. And in this particular scenario, you’re way more important than winning.” I love that attitude.  It’s fantastic,  And very sweet.  Angel says it so matter-a-factly.
  • Meanwhile in the Yoro Mountains:  Darla seeks a shaman. He knows exactly what she is.  She is seeking answers.
  • He does a blood spell. But he says he can’t help.  Then Darla: “Time to go visit Daddy.”

Favorite Lines:
Zelda & Daniel: “It’s not about winning, Cordelia, it’s about what’s at stake. And in this particular scenario you were way more important than winning.” – Angel
First Appearance: Skip, Billy Blim
Recurring: Lorne, Lilah Morgan, Darla, Gavin Park, Phantom Dennis
Future Famous Person: Kal Penn
Generally Known TV Face: Frank Salsedo, David Denman
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Justin Shilton (Billy Blim in Angel, Munroe in Buffy), Kal Penn (Young Man in Fez in Angel, Hunt in Buffy)
Lorne’s Nicknames: His Royal Badness (Angel), Princess (Cordy)
Cordelia’s Hair – low ponytail, down to hide the boils, two low pigtails
Dead Humans – 0
Dead Undeads – 1
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 3
Wesley Prat-falls – 0
Lawyered Ex Machina – 0
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 2 (the two groups that Angel fought to get the key and the coin)
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 0
Champion Called – 1 

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