This was an interesting season finale, in the sense that half of it felt more like a season premiere. The episode spent half of its time wrapping up the plot lines of this season, and the other half on setting up the events which will dominate next season. And let me tell you that those are some damn spiffy events.
Episode 4.22, "Home"
Written by: Tim Minear
Directed by: Tim Minear
Picking up from the conclusion of last week's episode, the crew is stunned to find that Lilah is back. They're even more stunned when they hear the offer that Lilah presents them with. Apparently the Senior Partners are delighted with Angel's actions in ridding the world of Jasmine, as world peace would have been exceptionally harmful to their earth based plans.
Fred is defensive of this, stating that killing Jasmine was a good thing. Playing devil's advocate, Lilah points out that Jasmine truly would have brought about world peace. Free will would have been stripped from us all, but the upturn to that would be perfect happiness. Not the illusion of happiness, but true and utter contentment. It would have been an end to violence and hatred and loneliness. And though Jasmine would continue to consume dozens of people every day, thousands more would live due to her actions. So the fact that Angel ended her power and ended this potential utopia has officially put Angel in the good book of the Senior Partners.
As a reward, they are offering Angel full control of the LA branch of Wolfram and Hart. The company has been restaffed and rebuilt in the wake of the destruction created by The Beast. All its resources and personnel would be given to Angel to do with as he saw fit, and the Senior Partners would promise to steer clear of the events that occurred in Los Angeles. Naturally the gang is highly suspicious of all this, but Lilah offers to take them on a tour of the company tomorrow to show them what they have to offer. Angel rejects this out of hand and his concern lays with finding Conner after the events of last episode.
With good reason, as poor Conner is a bit addled in the head in light of everything that has happened to him lately. Killing his own daughter has proved to be too much for the young man, who feels dead inside. As he's wandering around an LA now deep in riot (a fairly common occurrence out here sometimes), he spies a loan cop pacing around a roof nervously. Conner goes to see the man, who is in a state of despair over the sense of loss he feels from Jasmine's departure. The police officer pulls his gun and Conner stops the man from killing himself by talking him down. Conner reminds the man of his home and the officer begins to gain a sense of composure as he remembers his wife and child waiting for him. Unfortunately the revelation that this man had a family who have been abandoned if he had killed himself doesn't sit well with Conner. Proving that his mind is a fragile thing indeed, he snaps and starts beating the crap out of the man. Welcome to Looneyville, population: Conner.
Back at the hotel, the crew is mulling over Lilah's offer after her departure. Angel is adamantly opposed to even considering the option, while Gunn's curiosity is honestly peaked. He's curious to see how this scenario could play out and the option to upgrade to a state of the art complex and truly make a difference appeals to him. It makes sense, because for Gunn it has always been about the mission. It's the reason he left his old crew behind to join up with Angel, because he felt he could do more good working with the vampire against greater enemies. So now that the option to upgrade has come his way again, Gunn is receptive to it. Wes appears to agree with Angel, while Fred is indecisive about everything.
Curiosity gets the best of them all though, as Fred, Wes, and Gunn stumble into each other outside of the hotel waiting for the limousine from Wolfram and Hart. They're even more shocked to find Angel there as well, who has returned from a wasted night of searching for Conner. He agrees to join them, to see exactly what's being offered to him and how he could possibly use it to his advantage. The four of them already find Lorne inside the limo, having the time of his life.
At Wolfram and Hart, the five of them are each given their own guide and escorted to the section of the company that they will be in charge of. Lorne is given the entertainment division, Fred the science division, Wes is given free access to all mystic tomes and research of the company, Angel is shown to the presidential office, and Gunn . . . well Gunn's purpose is the most mysterious and intriguing of them all.
Fred enters R & D heaven when she visits the science complex. The state of the art equipment in every scientific field and the crack team of scientists at her disposal is overwhelming. This is Fred's dream come true. She even has a geeky MacGuyver employee to pal around with (who incidentally was on Buffy this year playing a vampire in the episode "Conversations with Dead People").
Wes's guide happens to be a former watcher who defected to Wolfram and Hart, and he takes Wes to the library of Wolfram and Hart. Here we receive the first of several continuity nods to Buffy this year when both men acknowledge the destruction of the Watcher's Council. Feigning interest, Wes knocks out the older man and works his way to the archive room of Wolfram and Hart. When Lilah confronts him about his actions, Wes reveals his real reasons for taking this trip. He came to destroy Lilah's contract and free her from her servitude to the Senior Partners. Unfortunately, such a contract is not within his power to destroy. Lilah is truly touched by Wes's desire to help her though.
Gunn is honestly curious what Wolfram and Hart have planned for him. He understands exactly what everyone else brings to the table, but doesn't understand what he does. He even refers to himself as a lesser version of Angel. He also relentlessly hits on his tour guide, cementing the end of his relationship with Fred and the fact that his tryst with Gwen was a one night stand. His guide promises that they have big plans for Gunn, and when he gets on the elevator he finds himself transported to the White Room. Gunn panics at being here at first, and with the death of the little girl he finds the new occupant of this room, a black panther. Yet as the panther stalks towards him, there appears to be some kind of rapport between them. Exactly what this signifies is never explained. Gunn could possibly be the new medium between the Senior Partners and Wolfram and Hart. The blank panther could have been symbolic of his own soul and spirit. Perhaps Gunn let himself be changed into something else, because Fred does comment later that he looks bigger. Whatever the change, it definitely signifies that Gunn's role as a fringe player in the world of Angel has officially come to an end. I'm looking forward to where they take this character now.
Angel gets Lilah as his guide, and remains unimpressed at the office he's taken too. What Lilah shows him though, is the resources that would now be available to help him, including a file on Buffy and an item she'll need to win her battle against The First. Angel doesn't budge though, insisting that Buffy can take care of herself. Lilah next tries to tempt him by opening the windows. Angel is shocked to find that he hasn't burst into flames. Lilah tells him that all the windows have been specially treated to filter out the harmful qualities of sunlight to vampires. Angel resists this personal temptation and starts to leave when Lilah receives a call from the Senior Partner. They play their trump card and have Lilah turn on the television for Angel. He sees a news report about a hostage situation occurring in a mall. And it seems that the one behind it is Conner. Lilah tries to tempt him again, but Angel cuts her off and proposes his own deal.
He arrives at the mall to find that Conner has taken refuge in a sporting goods store and has strapped himself to a homemade bomb. What's worse is that Conner has strapped a bomb to everyone else's chest, including the comatose body of Cordelia. What follows is a powerful acting scene between David Boreanaz and Vincent Kartheiser. Conner is in despair over what has happened to his life, and as result has simply given up. He knows that his father loved him, but it's not enough. Too much has happened to him, and his scars run too deep. He can't feel love any more, all he can feel is his own pain. Angel pleads with him to reconsider, but Conner can no longer be reached by logic.
As Conner prepares to kill himself, Angel disconnects the battle and a fight begins between the two. As normal, Angel does get the upper hand and manages to free the other hostages. Conner then throws Angel into a glass case where he gets his hands on a knife. Planting it in Conner's legs, he looks into his son's eyes and sees nothing but pain and a desire for it to stop. So Angel proves his love for his son the only way he can, he slits Conner's throat.
Back at Wolfram and Hart, the crew has gathered back up and all seem to have made up their minds regarding taking control of the building. Yet they're stunned when Angel comes to them and says that he's already agreed for all of them. Executive decision. Since all of them were leaning that way anyway, there are no hard feelings. Lilah then lets everyone know that Cordy's body has been recovered and is being pampered. She will receive the best physical and magical help there is to wake her from her coma.
Cordy is actually another character with massive potential for next year. Now that Jasmine's influence has been cleansed from her, hopefully that saintly mother figure she had been transformed into will be gone and Queen Bitch will return with vengeance. And a bitchy Cordy with the full power and wealth of something like Wolfram and Hart behind her can only lead to fun.
Angel asks Lilah to let him see Conner, and she reluctantly agrees. As he leaves, Fred wonders who Conner is. Driving up the coast, Angel comes upon a log cabin where he find his son having dinner with a family. Conner's new family.
Back in Season One of Angel, there was an episode called "I Will Remember You," which featured Buffy. In this episode Angel became human and he and Buffy got to spend one day as the lovers they always wanted to be. However the knowledge that his being human will eventually lead to her death one day drove him to strike a deal with the Powers That Be to turn back the clock and stop him from becoming human. Nobody would remember that day existed or what had happened except Angel. He had to live with the knowledge that he had experienced a perfect day of love, and was the only one who remembered it.
It appears that Angel struck a similar deal with the Senior Partners. They rewrote history so that Conner grew up in a normal loving family and knew nothing of his past life. Only Angel will remember that he had a son whom he loved more then anything else, but his sacrifice lets Conner live the life he always wanted. The only life where Conner could be happy and free of the pain which haunted him. It was actually quite touching.
Needless to say I loved this episode. It has me excited for all the potential that next year's season of Angel possesses, while at the same time giving me a bittersweet conclusion to the relationship between Conner and Angel. Angel's sacrifice is the definition of her, and all the continuity referencing brought a smile to my face. If there's a downside to this episode, it's only that it was Tim Minear's last episode of Angel. He'll be leaving to head Fox's new show "Wonder Falls." But with Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt at the helm, I have nothing but high expectations for Angel. I just hope that Angel comes out of his upcoming Buffy crossover with his dignity intact.
Episode Rating: 10 out of 10