Written by: David Greenwalt
Directed by: James A. Contner
I have often observed in the course of these reviews, Angel is nothing if not a
trier. He does not always see the
way forward very clearly. But once
he understands what is required of him then he will do it regardless of the cost
to himself. Of course a simple
determination to succeed or to achieve you goals is not of itself an indication
of any great virtue. A person can
be single minded in the pursuit of purely selfish ends without eliciting much in
the way of admiration. Such resolve
is merely a function of the importance of the objective. The person concerned will have concluded that its
significance to him or her outweighs any risk or suffering involved in attaining
it. But the same willingness to put
aside your own interests and feelings in the service of others is admirable.
Indeed in many ways it is the ultimate test of a person’s claim to be
fighting the good fight because that goes beyond any rational calculation of
where your own best interests lie.
ANGEL as a series we have clearly reached a turning point where our eponymous
hero has redefined both himself and his mission.
His own redemption is no longer uppermost in his mind; instead his focus
will be on helping others – any others. The
only consideration will be that they need help.
But of course in this context the real question is whether Angel is
willing to help someone he actively doesn’t like and probably considers
doesn’t deserve it. And it is
really only when we see him doing so that we can be convinced about just how
serious he is in his new-found determination.
And this is where Lindsey comes in.
Since we first saw
Lindsey McDonald in “City of…” he has been portrayed in a
remarkably clear and consistent way.
In that episode, he was the legal adviser to Russell in "City of.."
and seems to have been at least aware of his feeding habits.
Indeed there is even a suggestion that he was involved in procuring
victims for him. He defended people
he knew to be guilty of murder and was probably implicated in "witness
tampering" (which seems to have included murder).
And, of course, he did plot to have Angel dusted in “Five by Five”.
Then in “To Shanshu in LA” he completed the ceremony to raise Darla
and tried to burn the scroll containing the secret to Cordelia’s cure. The common theme behind all of these actions was that
they were taken simply as part of Lindsey's job.
Even the attempt to kill Angel and to prevent him from saving Cordelia
does not have seem to have been undertaken out of spite but rather to avoid the
unpleasant consequences to his career of failure. In other words Lindsey was looking out for himself, no-one
else mattered. But in season 2 the
antagonism between Lindsey and Angel took on a far more personal edge.
For Lindsey the catalyst for this was the loss of his hand.
Because of this his desire to strike back at Angel was personal and he
was quite prepared to seek revenge even when this did jeapordize himself.
Hence his attempt to get Boone to kill him in “Blood Money”.
So now not only was he involved with Wolfram and Hart for the purpose of
obtaining for himself the security, wealth, prestige and power they could bring
him, he also relied upon them to help him strike back at Angel.
Indeed in “Dead End” the
fact that he felt this burning resentment for Angel and the reason for it was
emphasized in a number of different ways. First
we are taken through Lindsey’s normal morning ritual of getting up and
dressing and see how much of a difference not having his hand made to him. In this context we are briefly shown his regret that his
guitar is now lying useless and unused in a corner of his closet.
And then there is his little outburst against Angel:
“Angel. He's up, he's down, he's good, he's bad, he's a barrel of dead
for this Nathan Reed feels it necessary to give him a little reminder:
“One word of advice about your
attitude towards Angel. Now, I
realize what he did to you was heartless. And
naturally your attitude towards him would be complex.
But it’s not very professional to air your feelings around your
all of this the central preoccupation in Lindsey’s life was himself: whether
that was making his way up the ladder in Wolfram and Hart or striking back at
Angel for the wrong he felt he had been done.
And because of this self-centered outlook he was quite prepared (subject
to one or two personal boundaries) to sacrifice anyone and anything else.
Hence for example his willingness to see the death of the actor who
played Steven Kramer in “Dear Boy”. Hence
the quite cynical way he was prepared ignore elementary considerations of
justice or even the lives of colleagues. At
the beginning of this episode he makes a remark about Western Pacific Power
having looted $3.5 billion since deregulation.
At first this seems an ethical judgment on them but his real meaning
becomes clear very soon afterwards:
“Litigation is bad PR for a public
utility. We cut a deal now; they refund half a billion without
admitting fault and we take 20% off the top.
that is except Lilah who was on the losing end of this particular argument:
Lilah: “Could you stab me in the
back a little deeper? I still have
feelings in my legs.”
Lilah: “They’re going to
re-evaluate us and you know what that means.
They’ll promote one and cut the other.
Around here that’s a literal cutting.”
an even more striking illustration of Lindsey’s cynicism is to be found in the
scene where he creates a scenario intended to allow a chocolate manufacturer to
escape responsibility for using cheap, sub-standard containers that gave
innocent consumers cancer.
"How can you get cancer from eating chocolate?"
Irv: "But we didn't know that. How could we have known that? The Chinese screwed us. They sold us the tin."
Lilah: "Don't worry. If a jury ever hears this, and that's a big if, they'll be handpicked or enchanted by us."
Irv: "Why can't people take responsibility for their own problems? We didn't give them cancer, the Chinese did."
Lindsey: "Actually it was the Drizon company."
Lindsey: "It's an offshore corporation that split from your company, oh, let's say six years ago. They are solely responsible for the manufacture and sale of the tin containers your company merely fills with chocolate."
"The plaintiffs want redress, they sue Drizon. Unfortunately they're going
bankrupt this summer."
clearly thought he had no responsibility towards anyone else; all that counted
was himself and his prospect of advancement within Wolfram and Hart.
the shock he felt when he realized that he had an “evil hand” is a
reflection of this self-centered view of the world.
It wasn’t so much the fact that the hand wanted to kill that disturbed
Lindsey. After all he had no strong
scruples against a little killing. Rather
it was the fact that he had no
control of it. This led to the
uncomfortable thought that it might even want to kill him.
After all he had never had any illusions about Wolfram and Hart and he
probably realized only too well that this might just be part of some
Machiavellian plot to get rid of him quickly and quietly either because he had
harboured Darla or even simply because Lilah was to get the permanent promotion.
That is why he had to know the identity of the person from whom the hand
came – for his own protection. As
he said to the crooked parole officer:
is no game. This is about me."
his desperation, he turned to Caritas and the Host where he was promptly told
that the answer to his questions lay with Angel:
"Two enemies. One case. All coming together in a beautiful Buddy movie kind
"They supposed to work together on this?"
"Work with him? Work with him?"
I have already said we have by now been shown just what being without his right
hand has meant to Lindsey so, as he himself points out his feelings for the man
that cut that hand off can only be imagined.
And remember this is the same Angel with whom Darla committed what he
obviously though was an act of betrayal. So,
even though he is desperate to know the answer to his questions, Lindsey cannot
rise above his animosities. He
refuses point blank to work with Angel and leaves him in Caritas with this
“If I see you outside the club,
I’m gonna kill you.”
he cannot believe Angel would actually help him and even when he is forced
(essentially against his will) to work with Angel the thought that Angel will
kill him is never far from his mind. So,
when Angel rescues him from the crooked parole officer he is suspicious:
"What are you doing here?"
"Gee, I don't know. Saving your life?"
"I don't need you to save my life!"
"A little gratitude Lindsey goes a long way."
"You have no business…why aren't you trying to kill me?"
"Excuse me. I'm on a case here, Lindsey. Does everything have to be about
killing you all the time?"
reinforces Lindsey’s real outlook on the world.
He cannot see beyond himself, his wants and his narrow concerns.
And because Lindsey is so preoccupied with himself and his own concerns
he would naturally judge everyone else by the same standards. That is why he has such difficulty believing Angel doesn’t
want to kill him.
Of course there was
a time when he would have good reason to suspect Angel of wanting to kill him. In episodes like “Darla” and “The Trial”, Angel could
not set eyes on Lindsey without wanting to beat his head in. Heck he even seemed to enjoy it.
And in “Reunion” and its aftermath it was Angel’s avowed aim to
kill him…eventually anyway. And
we were forcefully reminded of this agenda by Lilah’s report on him at the
beginning of “Dead End”
back with his group, sir. According to *my* sources he's doing better, in
the sense that he's not currently spending all of his time alone on the warpath
trying to kill, well …us."
Here our attention
is drawn to the change that has come over Angel.
Although you could never fairly described Angel as being self-centered in
the way that Lindsey evidently is, in episodes like “Happy Anniversary” and
most of all “Epiphany” the writers explore the idea that by concentrating so
heavily on his own hopes for redemption, Angel had lost focus on those whom he
had been intended to help. The
“good fight” became a war against evil precisely because helping the
helpless had ceased to have meaning and instead the important point thing was to
wreak revenge on those who had destroyed what was precious to him.
And the symbolism of this change was his decision to lock the lawyers in
the wine cellar with Darla and Drusilla. In
doing so he had arbitrarily decided that these people were not worthy of
consideration. The revenge he
wanted on Lindsey and Lilah was simply an extension of this basic outlook.
It seems to me that
the parallels between Angel’s outlook here and Lindsey’s view of Angel are
clear. Both had a very narrow focus on their own concerns.
This warped their outlook as a whole.
It meant they could neither see nor think straight either about the other
as individuals or even about where their real concerns should properly lie.
outlook was now no longer the same. We
had already had a hint of this in “Epiphany” when Angel, even as he was
beating Lindsey up, actually made an attempt to connect with him:
sorry Lindsey. I really am. I'm
sorry she'll never love you. I'm sorry you're gonna have to live with that. I'm sorry I didn't try harder to help you when you came to
me. I'm sorry you made the wrong choice."
This was not the
start of a friendship. Indeed one
thing this episode made pretty clear was that Angel doesn’t like Lindsey one
little bit. The best example was
his open contempt when he heard Lindsey sing at Caritas:
"Lawyer's got some pipes."
And let us face it
Angel does have some very real grievances against Lindsey, especially over
Darla. But the interesting thing here is that he doesn’t let that
prevent him from helping Lindsey. It’s
not only the fact that he saves his life or that he is far more willing than
Lindsey to work with him on the same case.
Most significantly of all Angel tries to reach Lindsey, to save his soul.
There are striking similarities between some of
the conversations between the Host and Angel in “Happy Anniversary”
and the following brief exchange:
“It's none of my business, but you don't seem all that happy."
"You know, I know you're Mr. Save-a-Soul now, but at least you used to
throw down your enemies. What do you want to do now? You want to share?"
Angel: "I guess it's a lot to carry. I
mean, losing Darla. And even losing me in a way, as a place to focus your rage.
It's ironic. I mean, here you are young and healthy, good job, new hand. Seems
like the more you get, the less you have. Am I getting through here? You just
keep on moping. You're good at that.”
Just as we saw Angel
listen to Cordelia in “Disharmony” here too we saw promise of “Epiphany” in action. First
of all Angel was trying to help Lindsey, the same person he would have
cheerfully seen dead. But more
importantly what Angel is getting
at in the last little exchange is the fact that, like himself, Lindsey has
allowed his first person singular perspective to warp his perception of life. The give away was the “You just keep on moping” bit.
In this context it is significant that Lindsey in his preoccupation over
the “evil hand” was really only concerned about what it meant for him.
He hadn’t really given a moment’s thought to how the hand was
obtained or what it might mean for the donor.
It requires Angel to point that out to him:
Lindsey: "What is this?"
"You know what this is. Spare parts… for guys like you.
You got your before and your after. More like during, I guess. Your firm
in action, Lindsey. A lot to be proud of, huh?"
It would be going
too far to say that the sight of the organ bank produces a change of heart in
Lindsey. Indeed I think it is significant that the crucial moment for
him comes when he recognizes Bradley Scott as the donor of his hand:
Angel: "Your hand? I think it belonged to that guy over there. Or what's left of him anyway."
: "Oh God. I know him. I
didn't get the name before. We
worked in the mailroom together. Brad?"
would hardly be human if he didn’t feel some compassion for his former
colleague. And certainly he does
help him as best he knows how by doing what he wants and killing him.
But the crucial aspect for him seems to have been the recognition that
there but for the Grace of God went he. At
first sight providing him with a new hand seemed a very thoughtful gesture from
Wolfram and Hart. Certainly Nathan
Reed seems to have meant it as being for his benefit.
And such a gesture could only promise future advantage for Lindsey.
As Nathan Reed said:
look up to you around here.”
as the doctor confirmed, Wolfram and Hart does think the world of Lindsey and
that is why they moved him to the top of the transplant list. It was because they had already decided who would succeed
Holland Manners. It wasn’t for
Lindsey’s benefit it was for their own. And
if it subsequently suited Wolfram and Hart to have him kept for spare
part surgery than that was what would happen too.
was the irony of the scene in which Lindsey effectively spurned the promotion
and terrorized Nathan Reed and the others with his “evil hand”:
just can't control my evil hand. Nathan, I'm so proud that you chose me.
Charlie! If I would have been in your shoes I would have chosen Lilah. Let
me tell you why. Do you have any idea of the hours this chick has logged
in? Huh? The files she has on you guys? Deep stuff. Ronnie,
your stock manipulations, Nathan's little offshore accounts... Can you imagine
if something were to happen to this girl and those files got back to the senior
partners? They'd eat you alive! She's been working overtime, boys. She's
everything you ever dreamed off. Lilah is your guy. Me… I'm
unreliable. I've got these evil hand issues - and I'm bored with this
crap. And besides, I'm leaving. So,
if you wanna chase me, be my guest, and remember - evil.”
He recognized that the hand
wasn’t evil. It was just from a
soul in pain because he had been ruthlessly sacrificed for Wolfram and Hart’s
interests. Bradley Scott had been
“unreliable” because he had defrauded the company.
But then so too it seemed had everyone else.
And Lindsey himself had already proved he could defy the firm. He was as
unreliable as any uncontrollable “evil hand”.
Bradley had been sacrificed arbitrarily. Lindsey too realized that he was being promoted over Lilah
(and therefore given the hand) equally arbitrarily.
He didn’t leave Wolfram and Hart because of any moral scruples.
Indeed the one thing missing from his entertaining little speech was
moral blame for their actions. And
he certainly doesn’t seem to have entertained any conscience about keeping
Bradley’s hand. So
Lindsey had had no epiphany equivalent to Angel’s. As he said himself
hope you're not waiting for me to tell you that I learned some kind of a lesson.
That I had a big moral crisis, but now I see the light.”
All that had really changed
was that he learned how his ambition on the one hand and his
rage and frustration at
Angel on the other had blinded him to the realities of Wolfram and Hart and that
he wasn’t safe with them.
But in the end the failure of
Lindsey to change was never the point. Because
once again the important point the writers were keen to demonstrate was the
change that had come over Angel. In
the parallels we see between Angel of the period before “Epiphany” and
Lindsey and in the contrasts between the Angel to today and Lindsey we see just
how much he has changed. And we are
struck forcefully by the way that this has affected his personality. This is an Angel no longer intent on self-flagellation.
This is an Angel who smiles, who jokes (about Cordelia singing
“Stairway to Heaven”) and who even carries out juvenile practical jokes.
His whole attitude is relaxed, at ease with himself and what he is doing. This is in marked contrast to Lindsey, as shown by the
following exchange over the parole officer:
Lindsey: "That's my lead! You're choking my lead!"
Angel: "'He's *my* lead! He's *my* lead!' What, are we on the schoolyard here? Look, if you wanna get to the bottom of this, you got to learn how to play with others. Look, I'm gonna loosen the rope and you're gonna tell me everything about your parolee, Bradley Scott. "
Angel: "The guy who's hand you're wearing. You might want to listen up."
Lindsey: "You don't tell me what to do."
"He's so immature."
This is wonderfully well done both in concept and in execution. From “To Shanshu in LA” onwards there has been a feeling that Lindsey and Angel’s animosity fed off one another. But here I think the writers have gone much further in showing the parallels between the attitudes that underlay their anger. And of course after “Epiphany” they can show the contrast between Angel’s new found attitude and Lindsey largely unchanged one to really highlight how different Angel now is. And I not only find this very satisfying thematically and from a character perspective. I am bound to say that as someone who appreciated the quiet intensity that was Angel’s hallmark, we are now getting great fun out of his liberation. It is probably not too far off the mark to say that now he doesn’t seem to feel; the need to dwell so continuously upon his guilt Angel is able to allow the old sense of joie de vivre that was the hallmark of Liam and (in a rather different sense) Angelus to resurface. And there is no doubt that this gives the scene such as the one between himself, Lindsey and the parole officer an added punch.
Neither Wesley nor
Gunn get very much of a look in this week.
But it would be remiss of me not to spend some time dealing with the
treatment of Cordelia. The
first we see of any of the members of Angel Investigations in this episode is
Cordelia reeling with the vision of Joseph Kramer stabbing himself. And
the writers have certainly not spared the horror of the scene.
In the aftermath we see her sickened, confused and obviously in pain.
In “Epiphany” Wesley told Angel about the changes that Cordelia had
don't know her at all. For months now you haven't cared to.
Otherwise you might have realized that our Cordelia has become a very solitary
girl. She's not the vain, carefree creature she once was... Well,
certainly not carefree. It's the visions, you see. The visions that were
meant to guide you. You could turn away from them. She doesn't have
that luxury. She knows and experiences the pain in this city, and because
of who she is, she feels compelled to do something about it. - It's left her
little time for anything else.”
At the time I wasn’t very
happy about this description. First
of all it came from nowhere; certainly there had been little in the scene of
Cordelia we had seen to justify it. Secondly
it did seem at odds with her preoccupation with the way that Angel had hurt her
feelings. But here for perhaps the
first time the writers make a big effort to show just how the visions could
affect her. And whereas previously
(for largely humorous purposes) the emphasis was on the physical pain, now the
emphasis is very much on the way Cordelia feels the fear or pain of the victim.
And no more so than here.
This seems to be a clear
piece of foreshadowing for a major crisis involving Cordelia’s visions.
And certainly if there were any doubts at all about that the following
exchange between Wesley and Gunn would lay them to rest:
Gunn: "Is it me or are these vision hangovers getting longer and longer? It's like she can't rest in there until it's done."
"I know. She inherited these visions from Doyle, but he was half
demon. I'm not sure the human body can carry...
Last year a demon unleashed a slew of these visions on her. She
wound up in a hospital out of her mind.”
But for the purposes of the
present episode there is a much more immediate importance.
And it lies in the way she reacts to them.
As I have already said the physical and emotional impact is obvious but
Cordelia’s response is to ignore the pain and instead try to keep up her work.
This is nowhere better demonstrated than when Angel has to turn to her
for more information:
Angel: "We need help. We're not getting anywhere."
Cordelia: "I'm sorry. He's probably dead by now."
Cordelia: "I wish it would stop hurting. What do you want me to do?"
Angel: "I'm not exactly sure. Maybe you can look again? You know, inside."
"That's all I've been doing … all day. A guy in a kitchen. A normal guy.
And he picks up a knife and... Oh, god. I think he had kids."
Cordelia: "Cereal bowls …on the table, and, uhm, there was a book bag. It has a name of a school on it. Ah, D-something. Delaney, or, uh… Delancy Schools."
Angel: "That's good. That's great. Anything else?"
"I just keep seeing it."
Here we see her
willingness to put herself through more discomfort just to help.
And in the face of her friends concerns for her welfare she downplays
what she is going through:
Angel: "How is everything in your head?"
Angel: "Any vision aftermaths?"
Cordelia: "I…it's better."
"It's just - they're starting to take their toll. It's part of the job,
Cordelia’s attitude here is entirely consistent with the central theme of the episode: that the white hats are in this for the service of others. They do not look to see how they can get any personal gain; indeed they are prepared to set aside their own interests and desires in the name of helping those who need it. And in this respect the contrast to Wolfram and Hart and even to Lindsey is very marked indeed.
This is yet another
episode that is heavily character and theme driven.
The plot is really quite thin. And
that I think is a pity because there was a very clever central idea.
First of all I like the way we were introduced to the mystery that became
the central story: the all American family that suddenly, unexpectedly and
shockingly became the victim when the father for no discernable reason stabbed
his own eye. Not only was that a
great way of grabbing our attention right at the start, it kept it because for a
long time there was no obvious connection between that and anything else we saw.
It was really only when we saw the transplant that the shape of the
storyline became apparent. But even
then there were surprises in store for us.
ANGEL as a series is
well known now for taking hoary old concepts and giving it a new twist.
And there is no idea more elderly than the transplant of a body part from
an evil person which then takes on a life of its own and forces the new
possessor to commit evil actions. And
for a long time it looked as if that would be the story here as well.
An “evil hand” that writes “kill, kill, kill” on a notepad all by
itself is perhaps the ultimate cliché in the context of this type of story.
But, as it turned out, this was a very clever piece of misdirection.
And, as with all the best examples of this kind of trick, it was one that
was pulled off while being entirely fair to the audience.
As soon as the identity of the former owner of the hand became clear, we
should have realized that we were not dealing with anyone inherently evil and
that should have put us on our guard for some sort of twist to the normal story. And the twist we got was that the hand was simply responding
to the pain of its former owner and his wish to die. And I thought that this was an especially powerful twist
because the scenario we got was more horrific and far more demonstrative of
human evil than any psychopathic killer out for revenge.
In its cold blooded contemplation of human suffering and the suggestion
that the victims included former colleagues of Nathan Reed we see a depth of
depravity that is truly inhuman. A
device like this gives great dramatic focus for any theme which dealt with the
idea of human beings helping one another as opposed to treating them as if they
didn’t matter at all when compared to our own interests.
The real problem,
however, is that while there was a basis for a very powerful plot, for much of
the time it was left in the background in favor of the interaction of the
characters and the development of theme. And
the best example here is the way in which the story of Joseph Kramer and his
family was relegated to a sideshow. There
were a lot of unanswered questions here. Was
Mr Kramer connected to Wolfram and Hart? Where
did he get the eye from? Why did he
stab it? What happened to him and
his family afterwards. Did he die
and was there a cover-up or did they all escape to the Seychelles to elude
Wolfram and Hart. The unraveling of
this mystery would first of all have made the plot much more coherent.
As it was Cordelia seems to
have been shown Mr Kramer simply as a way of alerting her to the existence of
the evil. And that doesn’t make
sense either from a dramatic point of view or thematically.
We had been introduced, however briefly, to the Kramers as a normal all
American family. Something of an
archetype yes but as victims they were a recognizable face, someone to
sympathize with. Almost any form of
evil will be more real and more threatening if we can identify some specific
harm it will do. Yet ultimately the
Kramers were never used for this purpose. Indeed from the point of view of the
story they were distracting. For a
long time we were waiting for some news of them and then they were simply swept
under the carpet with no really satisfactory explanation for the sudden loss of
interest in them. And as if this
wasn’t bad enough the treatment of them did seem hard to reconcile with the
idea that because Cordelia was
forced to feel their pain she feels compelled to help.
In such a case then shouldn’t the fate of the Kramers become the
important thing rather than the defeat of the “big bad” that made them its
victim? Really, if more time had
been given to the development of the plot (and a little less to the singing)
some of these problems could have been resolved much more neatly.
One thing I did
appreciate though was the way in which the final resolution of the Lindsey/Lilah
rivalry was built into the main plot in this episode instead of being made the
subject of a separate sub-plot which would just have looked too artificial.
That is not to say that the story was without problems.
The biggest one was that the writers entirely failed to give an adequate
basis for Nathan Reed’s preference for Lindsey.
Certainly he was way ahead of Lilah on the “unreliability” count and
did his help for Darla in “Epiphany” really go unnoticed?
But aside from that the internal politics of Wolfram and Hart are always
a joy to watch and the jockeying for position between Lindsey and Lilah was very
well done. There was nothing too
obvious but the scoring of small points and the desperate digging for any
information that might help all rang very true of almost any form of office
politics. The fact that the
consequences for the loser were that bit more serious than normal simply lent
the dealings between them added sharpness.
Thematically there was nothing new or particularly profound here.
The idea of Cordelia accepting that suffering is part of the deal is
admirable but a little clichéd. Much
more interesting was the idea of using a comparison between Angel and Lindsey to
examine the changes that the outlook of the former has undergone.
Of course even here we are simply seeing the working out of ideas that
were introduced principally in “Epiphany” but for ideas to be a reality we
have to see them in action. And the
way we did so here was both intelligent and very satisfying.
In particular we are now seeing a whole new dimension to Angel as a
character and I for one cannot wait to see where we go with him from here.
The plot benefited from a strong central idea but it was for my money
underdeveloped. I though the
failure to properly mesh the story of the Kramers with the story of Lindsey’s
transplant was a fairly serious failing. It
gave the plot an almost unfinished feeling.
On the positive side there was a very skillful intermingling of the
humorous and the serious. The
subject matter could hardly have been more grim.
Yet the exchanges between Angel and Lindsey about his attitude towards
the evil hand and the scene in which the same “evil hand” scared the life
out of Nathan Reed and the others were vastly entertaining, even funny.
Just like “Happy Anniversary” this is a very good example of the
power of humor to make us think about something very serious indeed.