Asta 2

Run For Your Lives! My Thoughts on 'Shells'.

Two firsts tonight. At least firsts in a very long time. I was spoiler free this week - relatively speaking. I saw some promo pics which didn't tell me anything I didn't already know from the previous episode. And I read a brief description that was only slightly more detailed than the TV Guide. For me, this qualifies as unspoiled.

I've also avoided all discussion of this ep. Even after seeing it for myself, I didn't rush to read others opinions. I have no idea if it was universally loved or hated or fell somewhere in between. So, without further adieu,

The show starts out with several discussions about the current state of Fred. They address others having come back from the dead (Buffy). Even without benefit of a 'shell' (Spike or "Flash fried in a pillar of fire saving the world. I got better" Hee :) Then there is this exchange:

Angel: "Then we'll figure out a way to fill it back up"
Spike: "The thing only took over her body. It's the tip of the theological"
Angel: "It's the soul that matters. Fred's soul is out there somewhere."

What's my point? I made all these points last week. It's official. I can write an episode of Angel. :) Now that I've self aggrandized, I shall continue.

I think my thoughts can be summed up as uh...huh...what?...but....ah...yeah...sooo....What the Frell?!?!

I'm confused. In some respects I think this was the most confusing episode ever. Not in terms of plot because there wasn't much, but in terms of character.

Was Wes' behavior disturbing? Oh, yeah. Though more disturbing for me was I found him incredibly annoying (Gunn and Knox too, but more on that in a moment). Wes annoyed me to the point I didn't like him. To the point I lost sympathy for him. I don't think that's what Deknight intended. This isn't just DarkWes, this is how the Hell do we save Wes?

Actually, I'm pretty damn sick of seeing him whip out his gun to shoot people. It's lost shock value. And I don't care how upset he was, shooting Knox does not only show his moral bankruptcy, but utter stupidity. At that point who knew more about Ilyria than Knox? Um, no one. So you kill him?

Anyone else envision the 11 year old Knox as a brilliant but lonely, isolated, picked on kid who came across something/someone that would let him get even with the world? Mentally unstable with delusions of grandeur I believe. Pure evil needing to be executed I con't. Does Wes even realize he just became his pupil, Faith. He just killed a human and didn't care.

Let me not forget that Fred was Wes' reason for living. I could theorize that with Fred, Wes had his moment of happiness and has now lost his soul because of it (hey, that ain't bad!). Yet, all I could think was pathetic loser. It's a tie as to which Wes I like less - this one or the Wes we saw on Buffy.

Speaking of pathetic, let's talk about Gunn. Actually, who were these people I watched tonight? Angel and Spike seemed OK. But the rest? Harmony was insightful and intelligent. Lorne couldn't deal so he gave up and hit the bottle. (Get thee to an AA meeting Lorne.) And while I get that we are suppose to see how Gunn has been corrupted by W&H, all I saw is a dupe - a coward with no self-esteem. He couldn't go back to being just 'the muscle'? Sweetie, you were always more than that to your friends. ME I think you missed your mark.

And what about our newest edition to the Angel family - Ilyria. Family you say? Yes, I say. Because after Wes teaches her to be a good little girl and fit into modern day society, I'm sure she'll want to jump in and help fight for truth, justice, and the American way. The (current) oldest living source of evil walking the planet goes from 'I'm getting my minions together and destroying you all' to 'Will you help me fit in?' AND HE AGREES!!!!! Because she has Fred's face. I feel like that woman in Aliens. No, not Ripley. The one hanging from the wall with the chestburster about to spring forth going "Please, kill me.". This just makes no sense. Yeah, fine, maybe it's an act, all part of some grand plan. I don't think so.

Believe it or not, I did actually like parts of this episode.

Need a soul restored? Call Willow! And Spike's mention that it "Won't be the first time she rattled the dead". Hmmm, I don't think he's still completely forgiven her for bringing Buffy back - disturbing her peace.

Giles gets a mention too! "No...no...Don't put me on hold." LOL. Anyone else wonder if Giles may have had Buffy on another line asking what he should do? Especially because of the next comment from Angel...."Yes, I'm still at Wolfram & Hart, what does that have to do with anything?" It also serves as a nice confirmation that Andrew wasn't just blowing hot air - they really don't trust Angel. To the point they aren't eager to help rescue one of his people. (In fairness, how do they know Fred wasn't evil?)

Angel getting tossed out the window. Nice continuity moment that takes us back to the series premiere.

Ilyria returning to her Temple expecting to find her "army of doom" still there worshipping her, ready to destroy the world for her and finding it.....empty. A 'shell' of it's former glory. Her image destroyed, the temple in ruins. It's a great visual and, thanks to AA, I actually sympathize with Ilyria. She's been abandoned and forgotten. She's alone in the world.

"That's what I want." There's an OMG moment for audience *and* Spike. He's made a decision based on what he wants, not to please someone, not to get something out of it, just because it's what he wants to do. About damn time!

"The fight's coming Angel....and it's going to be a Hell of a lot bigger than Ilyria". *If* SMG opts to make an appearance on Angel (no spoilers folks, just the same old talk we've heard for months) I can see a glimmer of a reason now if Joss is opting to go with some huge epic good vs evil battle for the finale.

I'm going to reiterate a comment I've made a few times before, Angel just may be the Big Bad this season. All of this we are seeing now - it's his fault. He did chose one life over many when he decided to save Conner. And let's look at what has happened since. Fred's dead. One of the oldest living embodiments of evil is walking around loose. Gunn's a broken 'shell' of a man. Wes is a murdering, borderline sociopath. Hell, Angelus couldn't create this kind of devastation and destruction on a good day.

One last thing - can anyone tell me what the song was that played at the end? I think it may have been Aimee Mann singing, but I'm not 100% certain. Thanks.

Now, off to read what the rest of you had to say. :)
  • Current Mood: confused confused
Hmmm, a lot of people felt indifference for this episode. I've already forgotten most of it a day and a half later (with an additional viewing to boot) which doesn't bode well. The only two things that really struck me while watching was 1) That Amy Acker can actually act and not just do that annoying baby voice she does as Fred (I hate baby voices!) and 2) Wes' final "yes" in response to Illyria's question of whether he's helping her because she looks like Fred was some of the best acting I've ever seen.

And now you don't have to read my post because that was all I said. *g*

The reason I posted was the song. Don't actually remember who sang it, but stronglikemusic put it up for sharing after the episode so the answer can be found there.
1) That Amy Acker can actually act and not just do that annoying baby voice she does as Fred (I hate baby voices!)

I don't think I mentioned enough how impressed I was with AA's performance. She really was quite good. She made me believe she was a completely different person. No traces of Fred what-so-ever and that has to be a difficult thing to pull off after playing a character for three seasons.

Oh, and thanks for the heads up on where to find the song - I downloaded it last night. :)
Giles gets a mention too! "No...no...Don't put me on hold." LOL. Anyone else wonder if Giles may have had Buffy on another line asking what he should do?

No, I didn't, but thank you, now it makes sense! LOL I'll bet Buffy is calling the shots, and truly worries that Angel cannot be trusted. "You can't fight evil by being evil."

It's interesting that Angel thinks of Willow when he want to retrieve Fred's soul - who was the real Big Bad of BtVS season 6? Someone who tried to control things, make them to her liking. Angel's pretty much done the same thing, and everyone's life is in ruins.

Except for....Spike! Who has finally figured out that he has a mind of his own, independent from the woman of his affection. This just means Buffy's faith in him was justified - "He can be a good man, Giles, but we'll never know if we don't give him a chance." He's the only one who's even remotely thinking clearly.

Wes is by his own admission a lost man. Self awareness doesn't make it all right, though. Same with Gunn. Why is Lorne there again?

Illyria looks to me like a pulp comic book character as imagined by some fanboy, aka Steve DeKnight. She's Anya without personality or humor. See, this is what happens when you don't have a strong woman influence in the storytelling. Where are Marti and Jane when you need them?

In short, color me confused as well. I still can't figure out what they mean to say with this episode.
He's the only one who's even remotely thinking clearly.

Did we ever think the time would come when Spike would be the stabalizing influence? Something is definitely very wrong here. ;)
Indeed, Angel is behind so much of what's gone on. I can't wait for that all to come to light. It's not going to be pretty. (I'm unspoiled, but it's gotta happen.)
Wes annoyed me to the point I didn't like him. To the point I lost sympathy for him. I don't think that's what Deknight intended. This isn't just DarkWes, this is how the Hell do we save Wes?

This was basically how I felt as well. I like DarkWes up to a point, but in this episode he jumped right off that point and kept going. I wonder if they realize how unsympathetic he came off as being? And I agree about him whipping out the guns as well. It used to be kind of thrilling, but now that he does it in every other episode it's lost its appeal.

The (current) oldest living source of evil walking the planet goes from 'I'm getting my minions together and destroying you all' to 'Will you help me fit in?' AND HE AGREES!!!!! Because she has Fred's face.

No, that didn't make any sense at all.

I thought AA did a terrific job embodying a completely different character, and I liked the scenes between Spike and Angel, but otherwise this episode left me cold.

He did chose one life over many when he decided to save Conner. And let's look at what has happened since. Fred's dead. One of the oldest living embodiments of evil is walking around loose. Gunn's a broken 'shell' of a man. Wes is a murdering, borderline sociopath

I love the way you've laid that out so concisely. I hope the show drives home the point that this has all come to pass because of Angel's decision to save Connor.
When watching Harmony act all reasonable and sane I'm reminded of Xander's words to Anya and Giles in Bargaining when they were fighting like children:

"Okay, when I'm the one acting like a grown-up, be scared!"
Space is in the middle of S2 reruns, and OH MY GOD, did I love those characters. Angel with the stupid grins, Wes with the womanly screems, Cordelia with the fashion commentaries, and Gunn with strategy.

I still love my show, but the first half of Season Two is my baby. And there's no way that *that* Gunn was just 'the muscle'.

Also, I forgot how much Liliah annoyed me then. I don't think I found her compelling until she got with Wes. Now that was a mind fuck.

Yeah, fine, maybe it's an act, all part of some grand plan. I don't think so.

I think they're both acting. She's obviously got something else brewing, and I think he wants to keep an eye on her. He's certainly drawn to her because of her connection to Fred, but I don't think that's blinding him to the bigger picture. Or at least not totally ;) He's a sucker for women, but not totally stupid.
I love season 2 as well. Lately, I'm feeling compelled to go back and watch some of the eps to remind me how much I adored these guys. :)

Also, I forgot how much Liliah annoyed me then. I don't think I found her compelling until she got with Wes. Now that was a mind fuck.

Lilah never annoyed me, but it wasn't untill she hooked up with Wes that she really began to become fascinating to me. This was a merciless, cunning, powerful woman who was willing to chuck her self-esteem out the window and dress up like another woman to keep her 'boyfriend' happy. Twisted.
Wes annoyed me to the point I didn't like him. To the point I lost sympathy for him. I don't think that's what Deknight intended. This isn't just DarkWes, this is how the Hell do we save Wes?

Lol. So true. But then, I haven't been feeling the Wes love for quite a while now – not since Lineage, really. The character is intriguing, and I love watching him in that same way I'm absorbed by reading transcripts from nasty criminal law cases, but I no longer really care for him. He's just too far gone.

I saw is a dupe - a coward with no self-esteem. He couldn't go back to being just 'the muscle'? Sweetie, you were always more than that to your friends. ME I think you missed your mark.

Hmm...could be my insecurities coming into play, but I really understood where Gunn was coming from. It's not a healthy place at all, and he's got a powerful lesson to learn about self esteem and identity, but I can imagine him not wanting to go back to what he was, and taking the most desperate of measures to ensure that he wouldn't. That he knew someone would get hurt is disturbing, but I find the more corrupted and conflicted Gunn's become, the more my interest in him has grown.

"That's what I want."

Definitely one of my favorite moments of the season. Love Spiek finally taking some control of his life. Wohoo!

Loved your thoughts on Angel as the big bad. Given your rather impressive track record, you could very well be right!
he's got a powerful lesson to learn about self esteem

Self-esteem is for everybody, self-esteem is for everyone...

ugm, sorry about that ;)
I agree with many of your points, except one.
Who says that Illyria is evil?

No I'm not saying (s)he just wants to cuddle (then again...), but (s)he's not necesserily evil.
Just because (s)he has no respect for humanity, because (s)he sees humanity as primitives, animals, probably as a plague of locusts, doesn't make him/her evil.

Illyria was a monarch in a time before man. (s)he just lost his/her entire world, so (s)he's lost.
Which is what the conversation with Wes was about.
The art for Wes (which might eventually save him as well) will be to make Illyria see humans not as a pest on this old world, but as persons, or at the very least as acceptable pets.

I guess it's just a matter of perspective.
And before you say anything, taking over Fred's body is bad from our pov, because we see Fred as a person. But for something like Illyria, a human would have been no more than the deer that Willow killed in Bargaining, maybe even less. An acceptable sacrifice for his/her ressurection.
That still doesn't make him/her necesserily evil
I agree that Ilyria sees humans as beneath her (hell, she even referred to Angel and Spike as "half breeds") and now she's faced with, essentially, having to live as one - fitting into a world of what she would consider pests.

Is she evil? I think from our perspective she is. Then again, I'd say the same for Wes at this point. The man has been shooting people and now killing Knox in cold blood. He's abandoned societies rules of conduct as much as anyone. Now he's going to show Ilyria right from worng when he himself admits he's not the best teacher.

I think I lost the topic here...is she evil? I think she was. Can she change? Absolutely. Spike was changing for the better before the soul. Faith lived in the same dark place Wes is in now and recovered from it. There's always hope, there's always redemption. We'll just have to see where Ilyria will fit within the grey tones of Joss' universe.
Actually, I'm pretty damn sick of seeing him whip out his gun to shoot people.

*nods emphatically* I completely agree. It got to the point in this episode that he'd whip his gun out from under his coat and I'd just roll my eyes. Okay, the Wes with guns thing was hot, but let's not beat it into the ground, people.
The guns and the slow-mo Matrix style fight scenes are two things I can live without ever seeing again on Angel. Knowing my luck, that will make up about half of the finale. :p
Hmmm
"Let me not forget that Fred was Wes' reason for living."

I didn't quite take it that way. I think Wes very desperately needs to be loved by somebody. He had a horrific childhood and has fairly low self-esteem. Even before she fell in love with him, Fred provided him with an anchor, and when she *did* love him, it was validation. He was worthy of being loved by someone who represented everything good and pure for him.

He reminds me of ImmatureSpike. It's only very recently that everything for Our Boy stopped being All About Buffy. He still loves Buffy, but he's finally managed to separate himself from his love and stand on his own.

As for everything being Angel's fault, I'm a little unclear. Yes, he did the mindwipe on the gang. Did that compel them to take the W&H deal? Or did they do that on their own? Were they incapable of saying, "Thanks, but I don't want to join an evil law firm. See ya."
I planned to comment before, but got distracted, so I am back now.

The call to Giles bothered me for a while – Giles is nothing if not pragmatic, especially about saving the world. So, simple distrust issues with Angel at W&H, shouldn’t have mattered if question was in saving the world from the Old One, decided to reclaim its kingdom. And I re-watch the episode and realise: we can see the whole picture, but what kind of information Giles actually had? Angel called him and demanded Willow – “it’s an emergency” on-screen Fred wasn’t even mentioned. And if she was mentioned off- screen – how? (Fred is dead, we need Willow to bring her back?) So, it is not just Giles’s and Buffy’s distrust of W&H, it is a gap in communication.

He's made a decision based on what he wants, not to please someone, not to get something out of it, just because it's what he wants to do.

This was the moment I was waiting for a long time. I am glad that spike has grown enough to make this choice, and, I think it brings him closer to Buffy, not from her.
While I find it interesting that the lack of trust was brought up again, I also agree that there was a lack of communication going on. I got the impression that Angel, perhaps with the thought of saving Fred his primary focus, neglected to mention the little detail about one of the Old Ones being let loose. Is Giles even aware of the existence of the Deeper Well? Shouldn't he be since it's located in England?

So, I can't really fault Giles for not offering help. I don't believe he had the full story either.
It also serves as a nice confirmation that Andrew wasn't just blowing hot air - they really don't trust Angel. To the point they aren't eager to help rescue one of his people. (In fairness, how do they know Fred wasn't evil?)

I was reading this part and thinking, "but Buffy knows Fred! I mean, they've been emailing each other and all-- oh, wait." Hee. Alanna is truly evil. ;-)

And I agree with everything you said about Wesley. I feel the exact same way. I just hope this is all part of proving the point that history's repeating itself in the worst possible way because of the mindwipe.
I just hope this is all part of proving the point that history's repeating itself in the worst possible way because of the mindwipe.

Me too. I have to believe that considering how many direct and indirect references we've seen to it this season.

And is it important that Spike wasn't a part of the mindwipe? Sure, Willow may have mentioned his existence to Buffy and the gang, but removing that info would not have changed anything for them. Funny, seems Spike may be the 'pure' one in all this. ;-)