Monday, June 29, 2009

Leave Them On

Lilah Morgan enjoyed probably her finest moment in Angel when she put on glasses and a short skirt, braided her hair, and role-played Winifred Burkle for Wesley's pleasure. ("Apocalypse Nowish").

I blogged about this scene earlier in my "Desperation Time" post.

The scene in "Apocalypse Nowish" where Lilah dressed as Fred (complete with glasses) also appeared to be a slightly desperate attempt by Lilah to keep the relationship going. As wonderful as the scene is, with all of the delicious power fluctuations of dominance and submission going on, I was still puzzled by a few aspects when I first saw the scene. First, Lilah always had a way of getting under Wesley's skin. She sensed his vulnerabilities and went after them, often quite cruelly. Most men would have forcefully shown her the door (as Wesley failed to do right away in their first encounter in "A New World".)

snip, where I talked about how Lilah's tauntings always seemed to be part of a game to get Wesley going and get him to take control

So, on thinking through all of the above, I came to realize why Lilah taunted Wesley and made fun of Fred during her little charade. Again, other men would have shown her the door. And indeed, I would have thought Lilah might have softened up a bit because she was trying to get back in Wesley's good graces. On first glance, it appeared that Wesley might not have been amused, but he had to smile because it was such a cute performance from Lilah. Wesley again came up with "You think you know me" using that deceptively soft, seductive voice of his. Lilah confidently answered "Better than she ever will", not knowing that she, once again, had crossed over the line.

Although the audience was rewarded with probably their hottest sex scene at that point, Wesley surprised Lilah by ordering her to "leave them on" when Lilah attempted to take off her glasses. Again, Stephanie Romanov's eyes told the entire story as she briefly betrayed her feelings of not only submission, but defeat, before she composed herself and settled into the groove of their lovemaking. This was not Wes simply imagining he was having sex with Fred. He wanted to humiliate Lilah and show her once and for all who was boss.

I can't help but think that after Wesley got what appeared to be the permanent upper hand, he might have gotten bored with the entire relationship. He had to know how important it was to Lilah, didn't he? Did the thought of settling down in a more conventional relationship where Lilah acted like she loved Wesley scare him or disgust him? Was he still upset with his own humiliation of unwittingly betraying his friends? These factors certainly set the stage for the final breakup in "Habeus Corpses".
When I first saw Lilah's role-playing scene, I thought she was being unnecessarily cruel to Wesley, making fun of a girl he was obviously in love with. I wondered why she would say those things when she was trying her hardest to keep him from leaving her. My husband, however, didn't think she was cruel at all. He took it as a gorgeous woman giving her man a wonderful present by dressing up for role-playing. He also didn't think Wesley was particularly bothered by it at all, but was perhaps a little too enthusiastic about the idea for Lilah's tastes. My husband hasn't been following the series nearly as closely as I have, so I welcomed the fresh perspective.

After reviewing the scene a few more times, I'm way less sure about my original opinion from last month. I'm not seeing Lilah as being deliberately cruel anymore. Indeed, she seemed a lot softer than her usual self throughout the scene. Wesley's version of "You think you know me?" seemed less cutting this time around, and her "better than she ever will" sounded more sincere and vulnerable. Maybe Wesley's sudden reaction wasn't so much that Lilah was wrong about him this time, but that she was right as usual. Lilah might have crossed over the line by telling him the truth? Perhaps her only fault was that she was a little too confident in her ability to be able to keep Wesley around. Like his first sexual encounter with her in the Series 3 finale, Tomorrow, he was possibly channeling a little bit of "rage, frustration and hate" into their lovemaking. Wes might have been reacting more in frustration with the entire situation rather than just Lilah herself.

Regardless, something must have been going on, since this scene marked their last love scene together. Wesley was still stinging from her betrayal shortly after her death, when he insisted that Lilah didn't love him, and denied that they ever had a relationship.

As usual, both Stephanie Romanov and Alexis Denisof were excellent in their performances. Stephanie Romanov was able to pull off starting the scene as being a strong, sexy confidant woman who became softer, then gradually turned self-conscious and somewhat humiliated by the whole process. I loved how Alexis started off wary and even somewhat stunned at the sight of Lilah, then couldn't help smiling because Lilah was putting in such a fantastic show. For a brief moment I think Wesley fully appreciated the effort Lilah put in for him. That moment lasted way too briefly, as his face once again turned to frustration when Lilah crossed over the line one more time by informing Wes that she knew him better than Fred ever would.

Update: Stephanie Romanov had her own thoughts on why Lilah dressed like Fred, which I included in my October 18, 2009 post, "In Their Own Words: Stephanie Romanov". Since she's an actress who puts a lot of thought into her roles, I'd have to say she gives the definitive explanation.

Idle Thoughts. According to this comment at the Whedoneque site, Stephanie Romanov, during her "nude" scenes with Alexis Denisof, supposedly put full-sized pasties on her breasts and wrote "Hi" "Alexis" across them. I also read or heard somewhere that she caught sight of one her scenes on TV and was shocked at how "naked" she looked. She was actually wearing the pasties and a half-slip pulled down lower on her hips.

This same Whedonesque commenter (who saw Romanov at a convention) reported that Romanov was more bothered with the scene in "Apocalypse Nowish" where Alexis ripped her blouse open than any of the scenes where she wore pasties.

Romanov & Denisov. I immediately think of Nicholas & Alexandra, but that would actually be some pretty lousy casting. (I would never want to see Alexis in that imperial beard!) How about Catherine the Great and, one of her merry men?

Angel and Lilah had one more great scene together in "Apocalypse Nowish", and it was one of their best. Sadly, in typical Whedonverse fashion, just when it looked like the two of them would finally start really working together, The Beast destroyed the Los Angeles offices of Wolfram & Hart, and Lilah died shortly after.

Weren't Alexis Denisof and Alyson Hannigan cute together in "Orpheus"? I particularly loved how Willow was gushing over Wesley the "Marlboro Man". And I naturally loved how they commiserated over their dark moments, where Wesley decided his chaining a woman in a cage came up short compared to Willow flaying a man alive and trying to destroy the world. Alexis was very definitely playing a very early version of Wesley at that scene.

I just loved that look Wesley and Willow gave to Fred when Fred said (about Connor and Cordelia) "Do you ever think their relationship is maybe a little bit...icky?" At that moment I saw a mature engaged couple thinking that the young girl needed to get out more in life. (For the record, put me in Fred's category. I still think Connor and Cordy's relationship was "icky".)

The first time I saw "Orpheus", I completely missed out on the fact that Willow was hitting on Fred! And, she thought Fred was hitting on her! Trust the Whedonverse creators to have Alexis Denisof's fiance develop a crush on the girl of Wesley's dreams.

I'll do a separate post on this later, but Charisma Carpenter must have really pissed someone off royally in order to make the creators treat her Cordelia character so badly Honestly, who in their right minds would take a real pregnant woman, whose hormones were already swirling around out of control, and make her portray an evil person giving birth to demon spawn? And then, turn around and put her in an endless coma? Come on! There are millions of better ways to put a pregnant woman into a story arc. If Charisma's kid ends up suffering from emotional problems, I'll put full blame on the producers!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meet the Real Lilah

Stephanie Romanov's Lilah Morgan really seemed to come into her own in her relationship with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in Angel's Season 4's "Supersymmetry". Previously, in "Slouching Toward Bethlehem", which I wrote about here, Lilah had blown any real chance of the two of them having any sort of meaningful relationship when she ordered her evil minions at Wolfram & Hart to tie up Lorne and painfully extract the part of his brain that held his psychic reading of Cordelia.

I had written that Lilah didn't realize how good she had it with Wesley until she realized that she risked losing him over her treatment of Lorne. (The fact that she opted not to have Lorne killed didn't impress Wes much.) She attempted to repair the damage by giving Wesley an expensive present in "Supersymmetry". Here's what I wrote previously about this scene in my "Domination & Submission" post,
In the very next episode ["Supersymmetry"] Lilah tried to "bribe" Wesley with the expensive gift while Wesley cheated me out of what promised to be a particularly steamy love scene with her as he scampered off to see Fred's lecture. Lilah tried to keep the relationship going throughout the rest of Season 4, but no matter how hard she tried, and no matter how hard she tried to re-assert her dominance, Wesley was in complete control from therein out.
and here's what I wrote about this scene in my "Desperation Time" post:
As I mentioned in my "Dominance & Submission" post, Lilah knew that she was in serious danger of losing a great thing (Wesley as a bed partner), so she went into full damage control mode after Wesley confronted her in her apartment. Lilah bought Wesley the expensive helmet from a suit of armor as a peace offering. Before opening the gift, Wesley wasn't terribly gracious about seeing Lilah again, but did seem genuinely touched after he opened the gift. Like I mentioned in "Dominance & Submission", I was terribly disappointed that Wesley had to rush off to see Fred's lecture. But, tellingly, he left Lilah alone in his apartment, indicating that their relationship had advanced to such a level that he had (and still had, despite their spat) a high level of trust in her. A part of me also wonders if Wes would have been so eager to rush off to see Fred if Lilah hadn't tricked him into getting the Angel crew to abandon Lorne.
In some ways, this scene featured some of Romanov's and Alexis Denisof's best acting. Romanov's Lilah was particularly poignant as she looked so nervous and hopeful as Wesley opened up the gift. This isn't the most romantic analogy in the world, but she reminded me of a young newlywed bride trying out a new recipe on her husband, waiting to see his reaction. Lilah was definitely at her softest and most vulnerable in this scene, and you could just see the look of bewildered frustration on her face when Wesley gave her the brush off. Lilah must have been thinking that it was one of the few nice and noble things she had done for anyone in her life, and see how far it got her?

Denisof, for his part, could have easily played it safe by acting simply as the peevish lover throughout. Instead, as usual, he added layers of complexity to his performance. He portrayed Wesley as being genuinely annoyed when Lilah showed up unannounced just as he was rushing off to see Fred's lecture. Wes was sarcastic with Lilah as he acted underimpressed that she was giving him a peace offering, but changed to showing that he was genuinely touched that she had bought him such an expensive, thoughtful gift. Lilah started kissing Wesley, and he hungrily joined in on the kisses, until she informed him that she was staying the entire afternoon. Wesley, without explanation, firmly, but in his sexy understated way, informed her that he had to leave. With that, he left this particularly lovely version of Lilah alone in his apartment, where she immediately spotted the physics article he had been reading that had been written by Fred.

Throughout the scene, Denisof did a fine job of portraying Wesley's conflicting emotions as he wrestled with his still unresolved anger with Lilah, his re-emerging feelings for Fred, and his still considerable remaining feelings for Lilah. It seemed Wes wasn't quite ready to break up with Lilah, and perhaps didn't want to either. However, things weren't looking good for their relationship at that time, and Lilah knew it.

I couldn't help but think as I watched "Supersymmetry" and the remaining episodes of the Lilah/Wesley relationship that Wesley seemed to follow the textbook example of how to best conduct yourself when you're breaking up with someone. Be gentle, be firm, and don't look back. There's no need for prolonged explanations and tearful regrets that would only needlessly give the other party reason to hope that they could get back together again. This fit in quite well with Wesley's general "cruel to be kind" actions he exhibited throughout the Angel series.

Revealingly, Lilah went to the lecture in order to spy on Wesley and Fred. Although that was not a noble thing to do, it did further reveal her vulnerability. When a character, who has been working with her "game face" on throughout the entire series, starts showing some genuine human emotions, we enjoy seeing the process, even if she isn't technically doing the right thing.

I can't figure out how to write this without sounding slightly ridiculous, but I'll take a stab at it. Stephanie Romanov pulled off a very difficult feat, by acting as a woman who had been putting on an act all of her life, then having to deal with her own confusion as she realized that she couldn't keep her personal feelings from coming to the forefront. So, in a way, Lilah, at an advanced age, was painfully dealing with a first love.

I could make a very case for comparing Lilah with the ancient demon Illyria, and the difficulties Illyria had with handling human emotions after she took over Fred's body.

Idle Thoughts: The camera work was outstanding in the "Supersymmetry" lecture scene, as we looked through Lilah's eyes while she was looking at Wesley and Fred. I loved how we, through Lilah, saw little nerdy Fred on the stage, just before the camera switched to the glamorous Lilah. The contrast was delicious! Lilah was probably thinking, "I can't believe I'm losing out to this twig!"

Angel and Lilah had one more marvelous moment together, as Angel ripped the ragtop off of Lilah's Mercedes while she was driving out of the parking structure. I loved the look of relief on Lilah's face when she discovered, "Oh, it's just Angel." Angel and Lilah just acted so comfortable with each other.

I could do an entire blog post on this, but didn't Wesley blow it with Fred? He should have stuck to his guns (in his Wesley the Watcher persona) and tried to talk Fred out of killing Professor Seidel. But, no. He had to act like Wesley the working-too-hard-to-impress-Fred and enable her with her scheme. Didn't she give Wesley a good zinger when she informed him that Charles didn't have it in him to help her kill Seidel, and that's why she loved him? First Lilah "played" him, then Fred.

Why did Wesley always look sexier when he was mad at Lilah? He had a "you look cute when you're angry" thing going on, which always made it difficult for me to believe him whenever he told Lilah to get lost.

I thought Wes and Lilah's kissing sequence in "Supersymmetry" was one of their better ones. In an odd way, I felt like I was being abandoned when he left the apartment, because (as I mentioned above) I felt like he cheated me out of a wonderfully protracted love scene.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

$1.00 Relationship

I'm currently working on a series of posts about all of the special Wesley/Lilah moments in Angel: The Series Seasons 3 and 4. What an overwhelming task it is to talk about Season 4's "Slouching Toward Bethlehem", since it contains a microcosm of their entire relationship! Wes and Lilah's scenes portray love, commitment, domesticity, betrayal, absolute joy, sadness, and the realization that, in a way, their "relationship" started and ended at almost precisely the same moment in time.

When I first saw "Slouching...", I actually enjoyed their scenes because of the great emotional depths both Alexis Denisof and Stephanie Romanov brought to their performances. Now that I realize the full implications of their actions, I'm almost too heartbroken to watch this episode anymore.

I was astonished to find out that I had written extensively about their scenes in "Slouching" in three prior posts. If you're really interested in my thoughts, I recommend you read these first. I apologize in advance for how this particular post jumps around all over the place.

"What's Love Got To Do With It", April 23, 2009, where I talk about the landmines associated with the words "love" and "relationship". This also includes a fantastic YouTube video where Alexis Denisof discussed the differences between his relationship with Lilah and his relationship with Fred.

"Lilah & Wesley - Dominance & Submission", May 3, 2009. I discussed a lot of the power play fluctuations between dominance and submission in a lot of their scenes, including a few separate discussions on "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" (Keep scrolling through the post.).

"Desperation Time", May 5, 2009. I wrote about the latter part of Wes and Lilah's relationship leading up to their breakup. I started off with an in-depth discussion of how Lilah's actions in "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" doomed the relationship. I also discussed how I never cared for Lilah's justification for "playing" Wesley.

Here are some other helpful links.

"Slouching Toward Bethlehem" (Wikipedia entry)

"Relationship" Dialogue - Buffyverse clip

"No Rest for the Wicked" Dialogue - Buffyverse clip

"If I Thought You'd Ever Trust me" Dialogue -Buffyverse clip.

Random Commentary on "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"
I've read a fine essay or comment somewhere (and I apologize for not being able to locate it again) where the author seemed to think that when Lilah informed Wesley that Wolfram & Hart knew what they were up to, she was trying to warn Wesley that she would be expected to use him for the law firm's advantage. To "play him", in other words. I don't think I would have been able to have picked up on the "hint" any better than Wesley would have, since it was always implied that he had to be wary of her. "Jenoff" at Peripheral Visions had a particularly lovely interpretation of these scenes at Peripheral Visions.

In this episode, the audience was given clues that Wes and Lilah's relationship was still on a growth trajectory. Instead of the usual quickie sex scene, where Lilah had to rush out the door as soon as possible, we saw them both as being relaxed, drowsy and incredibly happy in each other's company. It even looked like they were going to spend the night together! It's not to say they never spent the night together in their off-screen encounters, but actually seeing them sleeping in the same bed added one more homey domestic touch to their relationship.

When Wesley uttered the forbidden word "relationship", it seemed as though a magical spell was broken, but in a good way. They no longer had to pretend that what they were going through was purely physical. Wes and Lilah could actually dare to hope, if only for a moment, that they might have had some sort of future together.

The fact that Wes and Lilah already had an off-screen conversation about "relationship" proves that they were trying their best to deny their feelings for each other.

I'm still trying to sort through my thoughts of the signed $1.00 bill left on the floor. Wesley's dejected look on picking it up was just too heartbreaking for me to even think about at first, and I still have a hard time watching that scene. I'm not sure Lilah deliberately left the dollar bill behind. Mistakes happen. Case closed? Either Wes was devastated because he felt Lilah never intended to keep the bill, or because Lilah didn't make the effort to tuck the bill safely away as soon as he signed it, or he felt it was a genuine foreshadowing of the end of their relationship. Wes, with all of his scholarly training in ancient myths and legends, was a firm believer in omens.

Alexis Denisof's acting was superb throughout the entire episode. What a range of emotions he had to go through, all with his unique, understated Wesley spin. The New Dark Wesley was becoming less brash, and more tender and vulnerable.

Stephanie Romanov was less sympathetic, but you could see that her character of Lilah was softening. Even though she must have been thinking of horribly evil things while she was in bed with Wesley, I'm convinced she was starting to really fall for Wesley.

I'm still working on figuring out what Lilah meant when she said "A drop by. That's a surprise." when Wesley showed up at her apartment. My best guess is that she showed up a lot more at his apartment. I speculated in the past that he had never spent the night with her at her place before, but now I'm not so sure, simply because there was an implication in "Ground State" that sometimes Wesley was the first one to leave.

Wes seemed to warm up to the idea of their "relationship" more quickly than Lilah did. When he delightfully arched his back and spread his arms in the "surrender" pose after he found out he lost the bet, he might have literally been fully surrendering not only his dollar bill, but himself into the relationship. I didn't think Lilah fully warmed up to the idea until she "won" their little argument at her apartment, after Wesley came over to confront her about the Wolfram & Hart security detail extracting some of Lorne's brain tissue. By then it was too late. Wes was already disillusioned. Lilah didn't fully appreciate what she had with Wesley until she lost it. From that point on, Lilah had to work pretty hard to try to keep her man.

In some ways, relationships are all about timing. Quite often, two people simply are not in the same place at the same time. I think early on, Lilah was more into Wesley simply because she was the pursuer and aggressor. I think Wesley was the first to really warm up to the idea of a real relationship, but then he started pulling away from her practically the moment she started to really fall for him.

It was interesting how Lilah didn't allow Wesley's betrayal of her (when he kept Justine in the closet and rescued Angel) interfere with their relationship. However, Lilah's betrayal was a real relationship-killer for Wesley. I refuse to think of Lilah's evil deeds and Wesley's good deeds on equal terms, and I think Wesley felt the same way. Both sides didn't deserve equal consideration.

Idle Thoughts. I thought Fred's character progressed quite nicely through Season 3, then started falling apart in Season 4, particularly when she had to start shouldering a lot of Wesley's work. Fred became flighty and more juvenile. I thought this scene really brought her lack of sophistication home, when Wes informed her that relationships are not always about "holding hands". Wes (as Wesley the Watcher) and Fred were mentor and pupil at that point more than ever, showing that it would have been inappropriate, if not disastrous, if the two of them had gotten together in Season 4.

When Wesley first started falling for Fred in Season 3, he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly around her. That was the Wesley Fred remembered when she was missing him in Season 4. When Dark Wesley started making his moves on her in Season 4, Fred didn't quite know what to make of it. He came on way too strong. Dark Wesley was still trying to figure out how he fit in his new world, and unfortunately he made some of his mistakes with Fred. But can I really say he made mistakes? He was a different person by then. If he would have acted in a way that didn't scare off Fred, then he would have been putting on a performance, which is never a good way to start off a relationship.

There was a lot of potential for the electric sparks to start flying around Wesley and Fred, particularly as they started acting on their feelings for each other while they were still at least nominally attached to Charles and Lilah. I know a lot of people adored the two of them together, but Fred and Wesley as a couple never did much of anything for me. I find that confusing because, from everything I've read, Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker reportedly got along quite well with each other.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Domestic Bliss

Moving right along on my checklist of Wesley and Lilah scenes in Angel: The Series, we have that delicious phone sex sequence in "The House Always Wins".

This is one of my all-time favorite Alexis/Wesley scenes. (Incidentally, how many ways are there for me to say that he looked hot?) Luckily for me, I've already blogged about this. In my "Thoughts on Season 4", I came up with:
Incidentally, "The House Always Wins" also featured Wesley's marvelous phone sex scene which producer Joss Whedon reportedly wrote because the show was running a little short. The equally marvelous Lilah wasn't in the scene, but I hope Stephanie Romanov got paid all the same, since the scene just would not have worked without us thinking about what she was doing. And couldn't you help but love how Wesley's voice changed from his "Lilah's lover" voice to Wesley the Tough Guy when he accepted his business call during his conversation with Lilah? I thought having Emile's middleman sitting there reviewing the plans during most of Wesley's phone conversation (before Wesley kicked him out) was a nice added touch, so in essence, both Wesley and Lilah were performing out in the open (with Wesley ordering Lilah to take off her panties at her desk while she was in the middle of a meeting).
Knowing the history of this scene, where it was presumably written quite quickly, I wonder how much thought was given to how the scene fit within the overall framework of Wes and Lilah's relationship. Did the phone sex represent any sort of growth or turning point for them? Or was it simply a nice little diversion? I would like to think that since Joss Whedon himself wrote the scene, he might have wanted to bring certain aspects of their relationship into the forefront.

The beginning wording in the scene, "Sorry to disappoint, Lilah, but I am not waiting at the door with a scowl and burnt pot roast" was really quite charming. Wesley seemed relaxed and comfortable with Lilah while he was talking to her on the phone, even joking about "her lot" having "the world destroyed by midnight." He certainly seemed to be in a good mood! The "burnt pot roast" was a nice touch that added just a little hint of domesticity to their relationship. Wes and Lilah might not have actually been in the "burnt pot roast" stage, but they might not have been totally averse to the idea either.

You guessed it. One more time, I'll pull out Lewis Call's Slayage article for his thoughts. He states, "Lilah is unsurprisingly kinky. Like many professionals, she switches her toppy professional persona for a submissive one in the bedroom." He added a little later on, "In fact, Lilah turns out to be remarkably service-oriented. She has phone sex with Wes, and he is firmly in dominant mode: he orders her to take her panties off while she's in a meeting."

So, from these statements, we surmise that Lilah could be fitting the stereotype of the busy executive who likes to relax from a hard day of making difficult decisions by taking orders from someone else for a change. Except, we also know that Lilah didn't like to make things too easy for Wesley. Instead of coming on to him all meek and mild, she enjoyed challenging him and making him work hard to take control over her. This phone sex scene marked the first time that she seemed to acquiesce very early on.

In my last post I wrote that their rather wild foreplay scene in "Ground State" may have marked a beginning to an end to their relationship, since Lilah was not happy that Wesley was sneaking around and working on behalf of Angel behind her back. I noticed that she did seem to cut Wesley a little bit of slack by telling him he might have done her a favor by bringing Angel back from the ocean's depths. Clearly, Lilah wanted to keep things going with Wesley, and the phone sex scene could have been the first signal that she might have been willing to change her ways somewhat to keep the man she was obviously falling in love with. (Or lull him into a false sense of security? I hope not.)

Idle Thoughts: Alexis Denisof always seemed to do quite well with telephone scenes, and "The House Always Wins" was no exception. I would have loved to have heard what he was going to say after he finally got rid of the middleman and started relaxing on the couch. I just hope that the guy who was supposed to call him back with the details in 20 minutes didn't call too soon.

Yesterday I saw Season 4's "Salvage" and "Release" again. The first time I saw the Season 4 Angelus arc, I really hated David Boreanaz' performances. I notice that I'm really appreciating his acting a lot more this time around.

I know I repeat myself a lot, but didn't Faith and Wesley/Eliza Dushku and Alexis Denisof work great together in the Season 4 episodes? Although there was nothing remotely overt going on between the two of them, there certainly was an erotic electrical discharge taking place. There was nothing in their history (please note, I have not actually seen any Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes) that would indicate to me that they would get along so famously in Angel's Season 4. I was hoping for some additional insight this time around, but, nope, nothing. Was it simply Faith's redemption, courtesy of Angel, that mellowed her out? Was it also Angel's influence that changed Wesley's behavior toward Faith? If so, these were exactly the two best people for the job of bringing back Angelus alive.

(Afterthought: I can't help but add this. Faith, while still in prison, noted that Wes was "looking good". She couldn't help but notice that he had toughened himself up considerably. Do you think that might have helped her changed her attitude toward him? For his part, Wesley would have had to have been brain dead not to appreciate Faith.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mrs. Robinson

I'm surprisingly ambivalent about the Wesley/Lilah love scene in the Angel Season 4 episode, "Ground State".

Although I love the wild rambunctiousness and heavy breathing of their foreplay, I thought the segments where they kept flinging themselves on top of each other were too abrupt and too well-choreographed. If they flung each other around in mid-sentence once in a while the scene would have looked a lot more realistic.

I talked about this scene once before in a prior blog post, which I wrote about in the context of their joyous power plays for dominance:
The steamy love scenes were filled with these fluctuations of power, as witnessed in "Ground State" where the two were engaged in heavy panting foreplay around Wesley's apartment, passionately flinging each other around on the furniture and the floor. (As a side note, for whatever reason, most of the acting in this scene did very little for me, except for at the very end.) The dialogue was a delicious hodgepodge of each trying to outdo each other for domination. Towards the end, Lilah was on the floor, with Wesley on top. Wesley told Lilah to "shut up" about her evil plans. Lilah said, challengingly, "Make me!" Wes said nothing, but raised his eyebrows, then lowered himself down the length of her body, out of view of the camera. Lilah suddenly started laughing in delight, since Wesley was obviously performing oral sex on her.

Oral sex is always an interesting case when it comes to the subject of domination. Who's the dominant power? The giver or the receiver? Lilah offered a direct challenge to Wes to shut her up, where she was giving a clear invitation for him to take charge. Wes rose up to the challenge, so to speak, by taking on the possibly submissive role of offering pleasure."
First, I'll contradict what I wrote last month and say I really enjoyed the acting. (Not to mention that they were both looking mighty fine.) What I love about re-watching a series is being able to pick up on little things that I missed the first time around. There was a lot more going on in this "Ground State" scene than I originally thought. Their love scene possibly marked the beginning of the end for Wesley and Lilah as she, playfully, but nonetheless, challenged Wes for hiding his slave girl and rescuing Angel. The first time I saw this episode, for whatever reason, I didn't think Lilah minded Wesley's actions that much.

Another difference was, although Lilah (as always) was still acting like she was putting on a role-playing performance (as sex partner), you could really tell the difference in Alexis Denisof's performance between the very beginning of the scene, as he went from passionate lover, to later on when he became someone who had to answer for himself. What was even more impressive was how he could go from the real Wesley having a discussion with Lilah to Wesley the sexy role-playing partner almost within mid-sentence! He knew he needed to justify his actions, but he didn't want that to interfere with a chance for hot sex! Damn Alexis for his fine nuanced characterizations that defy my ability to describe them!

When Lilah revealed that "I just want you to know why I'm going first tonight", we found out that, off-screen at least, there were times when Wesley was the first to leave. Did Wesley ever leave Lilah's apartment? As far as we know, they always had sex at his place. Did Wesley ever kick Lilah out of his apartment when he had to leave, or did he let her stay? I made (kind of) a big deal out of it in a previous post when Wesley ran off on Lilah in order to see Fred's big lecture event, and he trusted Lilah enough to leave her alone in his apartment.

There was also a running theme throughout their relationship that someone always had to rush off for some reason or another. Did they ever get to spend the night together? I actually thought that aspect of their relationship was pretty realistic, in that, both of them had to put in a lot of crazy hours in order to make a living. I know first-hand how plans can change, so it made perfect sense to me that Lilah would think ahead of time that she could stay for several hours, only to find out at the last minute that she couldn't stay very long.

I thought Lilah's reference to how she could act as Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate for Connor was quite interesting, particularly in light of a certain passage in Lewis Call's "Sounds Like Kinky Business To Me". Call set it up by talking in terms of Lilah offering Wesley a sensual and consensual alternative to Wesley's bondage activities with Justine. Call continued on "She [Lilah] teaches Wes how to play safely, sanely and consensually—for somebody who's "evil," she actually gives him a tremendous boon."

(Interestingly enough in this scene, we finally do see an actual prop for kink, which occurred when Lilah slid Wesley's belt off, wrapped it around the back of his neck, and brought his face down to hers. I suppose some people could make a case that this marked a "next step" in their relationship, but I think of it more in terms of a continuance of what they were already doing.)

Call's ideas serve up a lot of food for thought in the realm of "experience" versus "maturity". I think we've been given clues in the past about how old both of them should be. Wasn't Wesley supposed to be a brand new graduate from the Watchers Academy when he joined Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1999? He could have still supposedly been in his 20's when he met up with Lilah, which I find that as hard to believe as Cordelia celebrating her 21st birthday. Lilah might have been a little bit older than Wesley, but not by much.

Despite all of this, I'll just say I might reasonably be able to assume that Lilah is a little bit older than Wesley.

I've said many times in previous posts that I thought Wesley might have been having a wilder, more active sex life than he was letting on to his friends at Angel Investigations. I always point out to this BBC link where Alexis Denisof himself (in an interview conducted before his relationship with Lilah) acknowledged the same possibility.

So, Wesley might have had more technical experience than Lilah (I've written before that she probably didn't have much of an active sex life unless she was really skilled at keeping it hidden), but she definitely had the upper hand in the maturity category, becoming Wesley's very own Mrs. Robinson. Who knows what Wesley was up to. He might have been frequenting S&M parlors (Mistress Spanks-a-Lot?), or just spending time with inexperienced or uninterested girls where his encounters simply devolved into a series of emotionless one night stands. Lilah provided him with a gloriously exciting monogamous relationship that he didn't seem to fully appreciate. Call himself hints that Wesley might not have fully appreciated everything that Lilah provided for him in their bedroom playground until she was already dead. Wesley loved his bad girls (Lilah correctly knew he was turned on by the thought of evil plans), but even after Lilah's death I don't think he allowed himself the possibility of even thinking about entering into a lasting relationship with another partner in kink. (I hope I remember to talk more about this after I review Wes and Lilah's scene in "Salvage".)

Idle Thoughts: Sadly, one of the last true Angel/Lilah scenes showed up in "Ground State". I really felt that by this point, Angel and Lilah were really starting to enjoy their still-deadly serious encounters with each other. Their little "Lilah, I'll kill you if you don't give me the information" routine was almost a lovely role-playing ritual in itself.

Naturally, what really interests me is the part where Angel told her he could "smell you and Wesley all over each other". Although that's kind of an "oops" moment for Lilah, I didn't get the sense that Angel was horribly upset about it.

One advantage of Angel's advanced age was that he had seen everything, and he had developed a higher understanding and tolerance for human frailties. Angel didn't get all ballistic over the idea that people were having sex, (unlike Cordy and Fred). Good grief! The man smelled sex on people probably every day of his life and he couldn't have cared less. Angel knew exactly what Wesley was going through and could perfectly understand why his best male friend (who kidnapped his child, then rescued Angel from the ocean floor) could start sleeping with his sworn enemy. Angel knew all about dichotomy, and secret lives, and nuances in character, and the need to sometimes live your life outside the box. Someone who shows a human weakness is not necessarily Evil.

More on Justine

(This is a continuation from my previous post, "Lilah and Justine". Justine's and Wesley's dialogue sequences from Angel's "Deep Down" are here, here and here.)

My first thoughts when I first saw Justine bound and gagged in Wesley's closet in "Deep Down" were, how long had she been there, and was she always bound and gagged? Unless I'm totally wrong, I would guess she had been kidnapped by Wesley about three months prior, (Wesley made reference to knowing whose door to kick in as soon as he heard Angel was missing), and that, yes, she did spend most of her time in the closet. (Justine had made her own reference to having nothing better to do than to fill her bucket.)

Did Wesley just bind and gag Justine when he had visitors? Otherwise she'd hardly be able to move when it was time to take their "boat rides". Did Wes let her out to take showers? As soon as he found out that Angel disappeared, did Wes go to Home Depot in the morning, build the cage and install the soundproofing in the afternoon, then kidnap Justine in the evening? Wesley was perfectly capable of taking on Justine in hand-to-hand combat, but it still must have been difficult to grab her, transport her back to his apartment and then stuff her in a cage, unless Wes used associates and/or chloroform to help him with his scheme.

In fact, I see so many logical flaws to the whole slave-girl thing, I still find it very hard to take the whole idea seriously except as some sort of huge metaphor for her being a slave to her overwhelming desire for revenge. The only redeeming value to the whole Justine-as-slave thing was that finally Wesley got to take his own revenge for getting his throat slit and being left to die by Justine.

I made a reference in my last post to how the writers seemed to compress a lot of events that happened a few months prior to Season 4's premiere episode, "Deep Down", into just a few short minutes of dialogue.

To back up a bit, I'm under the impression that Wes and Justine had been combing the ocean floor for quite a while (close to three months?) looking for Angel. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Just like Wes and Lilah's bedroom conversation in "Deep Down", I thought a lot of Wes and Justine's dialogue would have been more appropriate if it would have occurred a few months earlier. You would think that they would have been beyond the tit-for-tat about "justice" versus "revenge" by that time. And didn't Justine seem to overreact when Wesley let her know it was time to dive again? She acted as if it took her by surprise! However, the dialogue scenes did provide the valuable service of bringing the audience up to date.

There were two aspects of the whole Wesley/Justine sequences that interested me. First, Wesley didn't seem particularly bothered by Justine's constant needling. Listening to Lilah yammering for the last few months about losing his friends and his soul must have toughened him up. He might have also realized that it was a valuable release for Justine to be able to speak freely and pour out her frustrations about the situation. Better to let her talk than have her go all wildcat on him.

Another thing that interested me was, despite the fact Justine tried to hit Wesley on the head with a wrench, she seemed remarkably acquiescent to his demands. One example was how quickly Justine acted when Wesley needed her help getting the lid off of Angel's coffin. She also didn't try to escape by jumping overboard, or swim away from the boat when she dove into the water. And why didn't Justine lie to Wesley about finding Angel's coffin? She could have said something like "Just an old cargo box" and went on her way.

The key to Justine's seemingly compliant behavior was that she probably tried very hard to escape in the beginning, but was unable to do so. Wesley was just too cunning and too skilled a fighter to let her get away. The whole sequence where Justine tried to sneak up on Wesley and hit him over the head with a wrench was probably inserted just to show that no matter how hard she tried, Justine just couldn't escape. It served her best interests to find Angel as quickly as possible so she would be released.

I'd also like to think that, although Justine hated her situation, she wasn't fearful. Perhaps deep down she knew Wesley was a good man and could be trusted to do the right thing.

I thought the end of Wes and Justine's "relationship" was quite effective. Wesley had just handcuffed Justine to the dock, (again, that would have been tough to do if Justine was fighting with all of her strength). Justine, defiant to the end, and not at all impressed with the TLC Wesley was providing Angel, taunted Wesley by saying that Angel would turn on him, and all of his friends.

Wesley responded with a simple, "You can continue being a slave, Justine, or you can live your life. Your choice." He tossed her the keys to the handcuffs, and with that, he drove off with Angel.

We'll never know what happened to Justine. Presumably she got home and possibly hooked up with some of her old revenge buddies. Did she learn anything from Wesley's "guidance"? Would anyone ever change her ways and become a perfect person if someone kidnapped her and kept her locked in a closet for three months? If nothing else, Justine learned to not mess with the wrong guy.

I would have liked to have have seen at least one little sign that there was hope for Justine, but I'm also glad that the series avoided the cliche of having the victim starting to identify with or even start falling in love with her captor. Justine remained strong throughout the entire ordeal and remained true to herself, repulsive as she may have been. Maybe that independent streak would have served her well if she ever started down the road to recovery.

Idle Thoughts. Although the whole concept of having Justine locked in a closet while Wes and Lilah were making love just a few feet away sounds pretty kinky, I think we can safely assume Wes had no desire to use Justine for sex. My take on it is that Wesley's life had been turned completely upside down and he was busily re-examining his entire world. Rather than just taking what was being given to him, Wesley decided he would take an active part in creating his new world. In essence, Wes was trying new things to see if they worked before discarding them.

Lewis Call, in his essay that I'm constantly quoting, "Sounds Like Kinky Business to Me", had some interesting ideas (which influenced me quite a bit) on the whole Justine/Lilah/bondage situation.
Dark Wes has a girl in a cage, and her name is Justine. Season Four of Angel (which corresponds to Season Seven of Buffy) represents a late Buffyverse narrative moment. The kink is textual; the Sadeian system is expressed in its own terms and with its own name intact. Dark Wes has no concern whatsoever for Justine; she is, at most, an animal to him. (He also claims, at this point, to have no feelings for Lilah, though this is belied by affectionate subtextual gestures and his later textual affection for her.) Dark Wes experiments with the Sadeian system of ethics and finds that this system, with its utter lack of interest in consent, lacks eros. He releases Justine. His experimentation immediately resumes (this time with Lilah) in a consensual, erotic mode.
I watched Season 4's "Calvary" last night, where Wes and Fred were this close to getting together, before Angelus ruined everything by revealing Wes had been "banging Lilah for the past six months."

What was it with the ladies of Angel Investigations? First, Cordy got upset with Angel for banging Darla (in hindsight, that did set up an awful chain of events for her, didn't it?), and then Fred got upset with Wes for banging Lilah. Did Fred really expect Wesley to be taking cold showers the entire time she was with Charles Gunn? Why did these ladies expect perfect chastity from their beloved menfolk before they agreed to start going out with them? Did they really want all of their guys to be unspoiled virgins?

Season 4's "Awakening" was absolutely heartbreaking. As I told my husband, I'm not sure if it's a favorite or least favorite episode of mine. I was really fooled and drawn into it the first time I saw it, and I was absolutely crushed to find out that all of the wonderful things that were happening was just part of a dream sequence that Angel experienced before Angelus emerged.

I should add that Alexis Denisof pulled off another fine performance in "Deep Down", where he was successfully able to tie together the threads of being both a potentially unsympathetic slave-owner and a heroic and noble friend. As badly as Wesley was treating Justine, Denisof let the audience know that Wesley was still doing what he thought was right in order to help out the Good side.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lilah and Justine

I have a tendency to gloss over or completely ignore certain unpleasant plot developments in TV shows. Season 4's premiere episode of Angel, "Deep Down" gave me a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain.

I had to not only deal with the unlikely occurrence of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce being able to afford to (and know how to fully operate) a salvage trawler (or whatever they're called), but I also had to deal with the even more unlikely scenario of Wesley keeping Justine locked up as a slave girl in his bedroom closet.

I think as an audience we were supposed to go, "OMG!!!. Wesley, you're pure Evil!" when he opened the closet door. But my reaction was more like "Whatever." A couple of months ago, when I knew I eventually wanted to do separate posts about each and every Wes and Lilah encounter, I thought I'd just toss in a short paragraph about the Justine plot wrinkle in "Deep Down". Imagine my surprise when I discovered while doing a post a few weeks ago about Laurel Holloman/Justine ("The Trouble With Justine") that I was actually warming up to the topic!

But first.....

Lilah Morgan. Wes and Lilah seemed a lot happier in bed this time around. Presumably they'd been at it for 3 straight months and it was easy to tell that their relationship was progressing quite nicely. There were several moments in this episode where I didn't think the events quite fit in with the 3-month time frame between the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4, and the Wes/Lilah scene contained a few of those moments. Presumably, if you've been sleeping with each other for 3 months, you should probably have gotten past the "What makes you think there will be a next time?" routine. Also, the whole "Where's Angel?", "I don't know and I don't care", and "Wow, you're cold" dialogue exchange would have seemed more appropriate a few months earlier.

I recognize that these slightly delayed-reaction events were put in by the series creators as plot devices to compress what had happened over the last 3 months into a few minutes of dialogue. In Wes and Lilah's bedroom sequence in "Deep Down", we found out that: the two of them were meeting on a regular basis, Lilah was still pumping Wes (pardon the pun) for information (though not as strenuously as before), and she still seemed to naively believe that Wes was "losing his soul".

I noticed that the whole "taunt Wesley and pump him for information" routine had softened by that time. Lilah was still doing her job, but she seemed to be just going through the motions. Wesley was used to Lilah's techniques by that time and had even developed a sense of humor about her actions. His "Wouldn't think kidnapping his son would have such a negative effect on our friendship" showed that he'd developed a gentle deflection technique to defuse any potential friction that her on-the-job activities could have caused between the two of them.

A lot of Wesley and Lilah's encounters have at least subtle references to kink, and this scene was no exception. I've mentioned before in my "The End of Wes and Virginia" post

One thing that fascinated me was how Wesley seemed to have this thing with both Virginia and Lilah where he would take a handful of hair and maybe give a gentle tug and squeeze, kind of like a very subtle caveman power play for dominance. This gesture seemed a little more pronounced with Lilah, and much more innocent looking with Virginia. Regardless, it does seem fun to pretend that such a harmless little quirk can give us just a little more insight into Wesley's character.
Lilah's reaction to his gesture was quite pronounced. When Wesley gave her hair a gentle squeeze when he informed her " can't resist me", Lilah playfully but quite overtly snapped his head backwards with "I think you have that backwards".

Then, if anyone had any doubts in their mind as to the existence of kink in that bedroom, as soon as Lilah left, Wesley opened his closet girl to reveal his bound and gagged slave-girl! Presumably, those mysterious handcuffs that Wesley almost told Angel about in Season 2's "Over the Rainbow" finally showed up on our TV screens.

The scene where Lilah informed Linwood that she wasn't sleeping with Wesley ("the chiseled jaw") for information seemed to be one of the more revealing dialogue sequences about the state of their relationship.

Lilah revealed to her audience that, far from gritting her teeth and thinking of her next promotion at Wolfram & Hart every time she hopped into bed with Wesley, she was viewing their relationship as a mostly social activity. If she had achieved the big breakthrough and found out where Angel was located, of course she would have submitted a report to Linwood right away. However, we were definitely witnessing a moment where she was actually protecting Wesley from her superiors. Linwood, kind of like a parent who knows everything, astutely observed that, rather than Lilah taking advantage of Wesley, it was Wesley who was taking advantage of Lilah!

Then, just to prove that Lilah wasn't getting too soft and sentimental, she had Linwood beheaded in their staff meeting and gave herself that promotion.

I mentioned in my last post that I still found it hard to believe that Lilah truly felt that Wesley didn't know and didn't care about Angel's whereabouts. I know, like any good employee, she was still on the lookout for clues from Wesley, but I think she was really starting to put her guard down. Although Lilah briefly acted like it didn't bother her that much later on, it quickly became obvious that she was quite upset with the notion that at the precise time she was starting to relax with Wesley, he was lying to her about his feelings for Angel and was secretly working behind the scenes to try to rescue him.

Justine Cooper. I don't steal from my same old post twice very often, but here's a different passage from my "The End of Wes and Virginia" post link above, I mentioned:
I've also noticed that when Denisof was delivering his most dramatic short lines, particularly during his love scenes, all traces of his English accent could suddenly disappear. (For example, "leave them on" during the famous scene where Lilah attempted to take off her glasses while she was role-playing Fred.) (Also, when he confronted a bound and gagged Justine in his closet and informed her it was time for a boat ride. Not exactly a romantic moment, but,.....)

.....I would also like to think that his American accent was occasionally used for dramatic effect, as an indication that it was a really important moment that needed to stand out. His accent, in other words, could have been used to startle the viewer!
You certainly couldn't get more dramatic than "Let's go for a boat ride"!

I had complained in my "The Trouble With Justine" post mentioned above how Justine seemed like a thoroughly repulsive character with no redeeming values whatsoever. Even Wesley noted in this dialogue sequence that both she and Holtz had a "....deep seated lack of anything approaching humor".
I also acknowledged that
Oddly enough, some of her [Justine's] later appearances seemed to bring out the best in Alexis Denisof's portrayal of Wesley. I plan to blog more about this later on, but I will say that she seemed to bring out some of his best tough guy qualities along with some of his always fascinating latent Watcher tendencies. I'll also discuss how, in one particular circumstance, her unsympathetic character actually seemed to work in her favor."
I still feel guilty about being somewhat less than flattering about Laurel Holloman's acting abilities in that post. If Justine had been remotely attractive or likable, or if she exuded even just a glimmer of erotic energy, her slave-girl sequence would not have worked at all. The scenes would have seemed cheaply exploitative and our sympathies would truly have been directed toward Justine. By making her character almost animal-like, the audience could almost get over the fact that Wesley had turned her into a slave. We could then more easily understand the larger picture that the scenes were trying to convey, in that, the whole sequence was a metaphor for Justine being a slave to her own deep-seated desires for revenge.

I had tried (somewhat unsuccessfully, I felt) to describe my feelings in a previous post about Wesley the Watcher, where he seemed to have an innate need to act as a protector and guide for young women. This went far beyond what he seemed to have trained for at the Watcher's Academy.

In many ways, his dealings with Justine seemed to have been the most fully-fleshed version of his Wesley as Watcher role. I noticed that almost from the moment they first met, Wesley was trying to point out to her how her one-track desire for revenge was ruining her life. In "Sleep Tight" alone, he sympathized with her for the loss of her sister, he told he respected her as a soldier for a cause and warned her against Holtz, then seemed genuinely upset for Justine when he thought she had been attacked by Holtz.

Although Wesley had a habit of exuding hostility towards women (bordering on mysogyny) in a lot of these situations, it actually seemed like more of a shock technique to get their attention. In other words, if he wasn't beating you up figuratively or literally, he didn't care for you!

I didn't fully appreciate when I first watched the series how, like Angel, Wesley also seemed to have a highly-developed noble desire to bring redemption to other people's lives and to save their souls. (Which, coincidentally, seemed to impress Lilah the most about Wesley very late in the series.) If Wesley didn't care deeply about Justine, he wouldn't have treated her so shabbily and made her a slave girl. Far from taking revenge on her for slitting his throat, this was the only way Wesley could figure out how to get her to turn her life around.

This is also a good a time as any to point out one of the things that attracted me to Wesley, which was the dichotomy of his character. He could seem so gentle and kind at times (where it seemed he could be taken advantage of), but could become being cold and ruthless when he truly couldn't see any other alternatives.

I'll talk more about Justine in my next post.

A Few More Idle Thoughts. I seem to be enjoying Season 4 a lot more this second time around. It's too bad I can't spend two hours a day watching Angel anymore, so I'm having to be more selective in my viewing, and use the scan forward button a little more often than I'd like. That's too bad, because I'm losing out on my chance to figure out what the hell was happening in Season 4!

I'm also really enjoying Wesley as the outsider joining forces with Angel Investigations. It's too bad the audience never saw any of his informants or learned more about the inner workings of his own operations.

Wasn't Alexis Denisof impossibly hot when he put on his jeans and opened up the closet door to reveal Justine? I'm sure there's a great screen capture here somewhere - I just don't have time to look for it.

With all of his steamy moments with Lilah, it was ironic that I think Wesley revealed his best look of the series with one of my least favorite characters. Like I mentioned above, Justine seemed to always bring out the best in Wesley!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Wasn't Thinking About You When You Were Here

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce really put a unique spin on the "(grunt).... Get Out" school of lovemaking in the opening moment of this sequence with Lilah Morgan from Angel's Season 3 finale, "Tomorrow".

This scene was obviously quite important because it marked the very first time Wesley and Lilah ended up in bed together. It must have caused quite the stir when the episode first aired back in 2002!

One thing that absolutely shocked me was that I didn't realize until just a few short days ago that Lilah, when she got dressed after their encounter, was wearing a different blouse than the one she wore in the bar earlier in the episode! (Delightfully for me, I didn't get a chance to see what Wesley was wearing.) I had always assumed that as soon as Wes and Lilah had their moment of foreplay in the bar (when Wes grabbed her by the throat), after what must have been an incredibly intense conversation, they went straight to his apartment. Jackie_Oh has a pretty good online version of how Wes and Lilah could have gotten from Point A to Point B.

So, was there some sort of mistake in the continuity? Or did they actually land in bed together some other night? It's a big deal to me, since it opens up so many other possibilities as to how that night in the bar could have actually ended and what their next encounter must have been like. For the Angel series itself, it's not that crucial, since we can assume that the next encounter (if there really was one) was the same as all the others, with Lilah seductively continuing on with her cruel taunts, and Wesley continuing his tortured soul routine.

Regardless, it seemed it was a purely physical act that Wesley performed with Lilah. He quite effectively channeled his "rage, frustration and hate" on her, while Lilah got to mix in a little bit of pleasure with business.

I am going absolutely crazy trying to interpret Alexis Denisof's ultra-cool, emotionless state. (I like to compare Wesley with the Man With No Name stock character). Notice that, like their encounter in the bar, Wesley was still trying to avoid eye contact with Lilah the entire time. The only time he would look at her was when he was delivering a cruel verbal blow. What was going on inside Wesley's brain? Was he back to self-loathing?

Was Wes literally thinking it seemed like a good idea at the time to sleep with Lilah Morgan, but he regretted it the moment he completed the act? Was his brain working 100 miles per minute trying to sort out his new world of Good and Evil, how he fit into this new world, and all of the complications that Lilah could bring?

Since Wesley and Lilah eventually did have a "relationship", one can't discount the possibility that he was actually enjoying their encounters. Wes could have had a hard time justifying continuing on with Lilah if she was so firmly on the side of Evil. Lilah made it totally obvious that she was trying to seduce Wesley into not only working for Wolfram & Hart, but over to the entire world of Darkness. In the meantime, she could try to determine whether Wesley was still in contact with Angel Investigations. Wesley himself might have been working on the possibilities of providing Lilah with false information and gleaning his own information from her. In short, they were both working the whole Enemy Lover Spies routine.

With so many things to think about, no wonder Wesley seemed disinterested in Lilah after they had sex!

Lilah mentioned, while they were still in bed, the "several" deaths. Lewis Call certainly noticed her choice of words, since he mentioned it in his "Sounds Like Kinky Business..." essay. In fact, the "several deaths", which I assume is a reference to autoerotic asphyxiation, seemed to be a direct tie-in to Wesley's strangulation threat to Lilah in the bar. Lilah had been sending clear signals that she was into kink, and her gesture across the throat could have confirmed a lot of things in Wes' mind. Looking at the bar scene from that angle, it becomes more obvious (in my mind, at least), that Wesley's act was not a threat of violence, but an attempt to find out just how far Lilah was willing to go! With all of the power plays for domination the two of them had going on, Wesley's "disinterest" in Lilah could have been a part of the game and an attempt to gain the upper hand. (A variation of "playing hard to get".) Even Lilah seemed to sense something of the sort when she mentioned Wesley's "dirty looks" that got her "going in the first place".

I should also note that throughout the series, Wesley showed a tendency to act hostile toward women he truly cared about. Sometimes the hostility was deliberate, which he used for a higher purpose. His treatment of Bethany in Season 2 was a good example, along with his treatment of Faith in Season 4.

Sometimes the hostility was a lot more real, but his intentions were still honorable, like in his treatment of Justine (of whom I'll blog about in the near future). I think the audience (and his women) could really misinterpret his battle-hardened look at times. When Wesley rescued Lilah from The Beast at Wolfram & Hart, and when he tried to burn her contract a little later on at the new Wolfram & Hart offices, Wes had that same hostility vibe going, but what he was doing were clearly acts of love.

That Dark Wesley persona Alexis Denisov adopted was quite a versatile look for him. He was able to get a lot of mileage from that sexy steely gaze. Sometimes I wonder if it was simply a matter of using "the look", as I heard John Wayne describe in a John Ford documentary that I recently saw on TCM. Wayne said that, at times, John Ford would instruct his actors to do nothing but look straight ahead for several seconds. The actor wouldn't have to do much of anything, but the audience could give "the look" any interpretation it wanted.

Back to the bedroom scene. When Wesley ordered Lilah to "get out", I was surprised at how quickly she jumped out of bed. Although she joked about the "no sweet kisses", it became pretty clear as the scene went on that she was clearly hurt by the rejection, rather than just suffering from a mild case of wounded pride. When Wesley, to drive home the point, told her he "wasn't thinking of you when you were here", I think even Lilah was surprised at how she was taking things so personally.

I have a hard time believing Lilah could be so naive, but I have to think that she really believed Wesley really was starting to lose his soul, just because of the way he was treating her. Lilah could seem surprisingly unsophisticated at times. But perhaps Wesley was starting to think Lilah was starting to regain her soul, just because he was starting to draw out some genuine emotions from her? Was this another one of his "cruel to be kind" tricks?

More Idle Thoughts. I forgot to mention in my previous post how chilling it was to see, just before Wes and Lilah's bar scene, Connor beheading the already deceased Holtz in order to save him from becoming a vampire. Wesley performed the same act on Lilah in Season 4. Ironically, neither Holtz nor Lilah were in fact killed by vampires.

It's getting harder for me to write about each of Wesley and Lilah's early encounters when they've already broken up on TNT!

I always suspected that Wesley correctly interpreted his infection with the misogyny virus in "Billy" as a violent manifestation of something that was already deep and dark inside him. I think Wes really did like to play these domination games with women, but as Lewis Call pointed out in his essay, it had to be consensual. That's why it really tore Wesley up inside that he tried to kill Fred. First, he was trying to kill the girl of his dreams, and second, she was not the type of girl he wanted to play these games with. So, by playing that protracted cat-and-mouse game with Fred, he was revealing a little too much about himself, something he desperately wanted to keep hidden from her. Lilah, on the other hand, was the perfect playmate.

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying Vincent Kartheiser's Connor as I'm watching Angel on TNT the second time around, particularly since I know that Connor will continue to betray his father and the rest of Angel Investigations. Kartheiser has this creepy vibe that is actually quite appealing to me. It's too bad that the episodes I will deliberately be missing will be some of the late Season 4 Connor-centric ones. The show's creators did Kartheiser a horrible disservice by making his character so repulsive. Or, to take it a step further, they really didn't need the Connor character at all. I hope to blog more about this later on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On Many Levels and With Great Intensity

It's hard to pick out my favorite Wesley Wyndam-Pryce/Lilah Morgan encounter, but the one that occurred at the seedy bar in "Tomorrow" comes pretty close.

Stephanie Romanov was at her most alluring self in this scene. The camera started in on her long legs as she swiveled her way up to Wesley, then panned up to show that she had unbuttoned the jacket to her power suit. That, along with her slightly relaxed hair and makeup stylings, gave her a softer look than when they had met at the nightclub earlier in the evening.

Wesley himself appeared to be totally self-absorbed, mixing his whiskey and beer as he catatonically stared straight ahead. Most of the time he avoided eye contact with Lilah, almost as though he was trying to pretend she wasn't there. When he did look at her, it was only to give her one of his steely "dirty looks". Of course, the audience knows better, since he was obviously on edge, ready to pounce at any second.

I wrote at length about Wesley's personality during this time in my previous "Man With No Name" and "Lone Wolf" posts. Alexis Denisof himself said that Wesley was,
"...flirting with and investigating the dark side of himself. He's looking at his relationships with all the people and with Angel, and he's definitely looking at his whole purpose and trying to figure out how he wants to be...."
This fine essay (or recap of Wesley's "Dark" episodes) from "Watcher Rogue's" LiveJournal profile gives us another term I've been studiously avoiding for way too long, and that term is "self-loathing". I am constantly struggling with the concept of why Wesley put up with, and, at times, even seemed to accept Lilah's cruel tauntings about his plight. Here are some key excerpts from Watcher Rogue's "Bio":
The most fascinating aspect of this visit [Lilah's first visit to Wesley's apartment] is [the] seductive manner of Lilah's derision. She doesn't try and hide her motives, but attempts to use Wesley's own self-loathing to show him that he belongs with her kind. For his part, Wesley clearly understands what she's trying to accomplish, but is struggling with his own view of himself.
(I wrote previously about Lilah's first visit to Wesley's apartment here.)

This paragraph not only describes Lilah's first contact with Wesley, but several of her subsequent visits. I myself would respond more to someone trying to inflate my ego rather than trying to drag me down. If I was Lilah, I would be focusing on how Good and Evil aren't really that far apart, and how much more he'd be able to accomplish at Wolfram & Hart. The only way I could describe the reasoning for a lot of Lilah's tactics was their similarities to Marine Corps boot camp training, where the drill sergeants completely break down the recruits in order to build them back up.

To back up a bit, Lilah was starting to follow a different line of tactics in the bar, by talking about the moral implications behind different ways of dealing with Connor, and Wesley's "great big brain" going to waste. When Lilah stated that she "cared" about Wesley, as "one human being to another", I died laughing when, after Wesley gave her one of his deadly sexy dirty looks, she said "Just kidding." That feline smile on her face was absolutely priceless!

I can understand Wesley beating himself up over how his actions caused Connor to be kidnapped. I can certainly understand Wesley thinking of at least briefly heading over to Wolfram & Hart to spite his former friends for abandoning him. However, I can only superficially understand the concept of how his low self-esteem could make him think that he was permanently cast out from the forces of Good, with Wolfram & Hart being the best he deserved. The best analogy I can think of is how T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) had such a poor opinion of himself, he reportedly put himself through all sorts of flagellation rituals, both literally and figuratively. I can acknowledge that certain people can respond to this sort of playing on their emotions, but I'll never be able to understand this behavior on a gut level.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add that Wesley's lifetime of verbal abuse from his father, along with his less-than-brilliant career as a Watcher, could have had a lot to do with his feelings of abject failure.

Watcher Rogue states later on (after describing Wesley and Lilah's encounter at the nightclub):
While Angel deals with the return of his son, Wesley still remains alone... except for Lilah. Once again, she pays him a visit, this time catching up with him in a pub ("Tomorrow"). By now, the tone of their encounters has been well established, characterized by biting sarcasm with an undertone of sensuality. She asks if he'd mind if she joined him. He replies, "On many levels and with great intensity." (This line is a pretty good summation of the way these two relate to each other.) This time, she tries to use Connor to get under Wesley's skin, implying that if Connor actually proved to be dangerous, Wes' former friends wouldn't be prepared to handle it. She wonders if Wesley would be prepared to kill him, in spite of the fact that he was Angel's son? She twists the knife by implying that Connor might harm Fred, and says she's glad she doesn't have a conscience. Wesley remains silent, but then she goes one step too far, asking what it felt like when Justine slit his throat. Wes reacts by grabbing her by the throat and asking if she really wants to know."
This paragraph is actually the one that attracted me to Watcher Rogue's site, which I found while doing a Google search for Wesley's brilliant line (when Lilah asked if she could join Wesley), "On many levels and with great intensity." Watcher Rogue correctly states that "This line is a pretty good summation of the way these two relate to each other." Wesley delivered his line way too quickly, as though he was fully expecting Lilah to join him at any second. Indeed, Wesley seemed to often exhibit an "eyes in the back of his head" trait, and I'm sure he could sense her as soon as Lilah walked into the bar.

Excuse me for turning into a stark-raving nympho every time the subject of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce comes up. But honestly, am I not suppose to think joining Lilah "On many levels and with great intensity" is a double entendre? Lewis Call, in another work that has greatly influenced me, "Sounds Like Kinky Business: Subtextual and Textual Representations of Erotic Power in the Buffyverse", talks about Wesley's violent reaction to Lilah when she seductively asked what it was like when Justine slit his throat:
She seduces Wes by asking him what it was like when Justine cut his throat. By way of reply, Wes grabs Lilah's throat. [Wesley replies] "You terribly anxious to find out?" ..... The punchline is that yes, she is anxious to find out. These intense negotiations land Wes and Lilah immediately in bed.....
I hope to do a post on this some day, but throughout their dealings, Wes challenged Lilah with several variations of the line "You think you know me?" Sometimes she does, and sometimes she doesn't. However, I can't help but think that Lilah somehow recognizes Wes as a kindred spirit in more ways than one. Perhaps Lilah is(was) filled with self-loathing and knew how to exploit that character trait to the fullest. Lewis Call himself describes Lilah Morgan as being "unsurprisingly kinky". It takes one to know one, and Lilah may have been one of the few people to recognize that the quickest ways to seduce Wesley was by exploiting domination/submission tactics. By pushing Wesley to the breaking point, (in this case, by capitalizing on his self-loathing), Lilah knew he would eventually snap and go into full erotic power play mode.

Wesley obliged Lilah (when she asked about how it felt when Justine cut him) by abruptly leaving his self-absorption and shooting his arm across to grab her by the throat. ("You terribly anxious to find out?) At that point, Lilah finally had his full undivided attention. I'm convinced that he caught her totally by surprise, but I'm also convinced that she quickly recognized this moment as an important breakthrough.

I'll still maintain that part of his seeming acceptance of her tauntings was, on perhaps an subconscious level, a recognition that her continuous advances on him was a form of extended foreplay. The fact that he eventually did sneak out on Lilah at the nightclub could have been a tactic to prolong the foreplay. Part of his self-loathing could have even come from how much he hated himself for enjoying Lilah's attentions!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flirting with Evil

Of all of the marvelous Wesley/Lilah encounters in Angel: The Series, the one that occurred in the nightclub in "Benediction" was probably the least satisfying for me. Lilah Morgan most clearly had the upper hand in this episode, while Wesley seemed to be the most unsure of himself.

I actually liked how the scene was set up, where Wesley first received the email message, "782 W. Palm Terrace. 8:30 p.m. Come alone." I laughed at the incongruity of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce carefully pouring out a glass of wine just after he burned himself trying to tear the plastic covering off of his frozen dinner. As a sidebar, I noticed he had quite a display of (mostly filled) liquor bottles in the background. This fit in with a notion I had that he was probably hitting the booze a little too heavily, which Wesley had a tendency to do whenever his character hit some sort of low point.

The email itself intrigued me, because I'm used to the classic Microsoft Outlook-type varieties. Was it's way-too-simple appearance a typical example of bad computer graphics that always appear on TV shows and films? (By "bad computer graphics", I mean, whenever a character works with some sort of computer, what appears on the monitor usually looks like it was coded 20 years earlier.) Or was it some sort of nod to AOL? (I never had AOL. It seems like whenever I run into some sort of web-based home computer application that looks unfamiliar and out-of-date, it seems to have some sort of association with AOL.)

How come the email didn't indicate the sender or recipient? Was there any way Wes could have looked into the properties to try to trace the sender? Would the return path have indicated some sort of Wolfram & Hart server? (Pretty unlikely).

Anyway, Wesley dutifully showed up at 782 W. Palm Terrace at 8:30 p.m. I would never show up some place just because an anonymous email message told me to do so. However, Wesley had a few extenuating circumstances. First, he's a male who can handle himself in a fight, and the whole concept of being set up to be slaughtered by a crazed stalker was somewhat diminished. Second, Angel is filled with references to Wesley and his "contacts", so he might have been half expecting someone to show up with some sort of tip. Also, presumably he was establishing his own business at this time, so Wes probably would have been anxious to get things moving.

I don't think this was likely, but I need to at least mention the possibility that Wes was hoping some girl he had previously hooked up with sent him the message. Indeed, while he was looking down at the dancers from the upper level, he clearly gazed at two female dancers somewhat appreciatively before scanning the crowd for more clues. Based on his mildly disgusted reaction on hearing Lilah Morgan's voice, I'm convinced he was not expecting her to be there. (Either that, or he was hoping it wasn't Lilah who sent the email.)

Wesley clearly showed that he was seriously ready to bolt from the premises when he realized it was Lilah. Her snide sexually suggestive remark about how he could only "come alone" obviously didn't help her cause. In fact, she had to act quickly to keep him by her side, by making physical contact and telling him not to rush off. This is in contrast to their first encounter in his apartment, where Wes took only a few token steps to get her to leave right away. Wesley's more serious genuine attempts to leave Lilah at the club before she was finished with him somewhat blows a hole in my theory that Wesley was, on a certain level, actually enjoying these encounters.

Back to the scene. Lilah pointed out Justine, the woman who slit his throat a few episodes earlier, sitting down below at the bar. Again, Wesley tried to quickly leave. Lilah was in no position to physically stop him, so she had to rely on voice commands to get him to stay. Wesley wasn't wimpy enough to stay just because Lilah ordered him around. But he was intelligent enough to know that when a representative of Wolfram & Hart is talking to you, it behooves you to listen.

The dialogue between the two of them established that Wolfram & Hart informed Justine and a bunch of vampires that both would be at the club that night. Presumably, Justine, embittered because vampires murdered her twin sister, would be outnumbered and set up for easy slaughter. Wesley again attempted to leave, but Lilah stopped him in his tracks with this piece of dialogue.
Lilah: Like, will he go straight to his car, (as Wes was leaving) or will he stop to warn her first?

(Wesley paused, obviously kicking himself for being caught in a "gotcha" moment.)

Lilah: He has to think about it. That's good. That's all I really needed to know. You can go.
In one of the few moments where Wes tried to assert somewhat of an upper hand, he asked somewhat sarcastically, "A 'test', Lilah?" Like he was saying, "That's not very imaginative."

Lilah somewhat angrily assured Wes that her people would have pulled Justine out just in time so he wouldn't beat himself over whether he made the right decision to leave. That all became a moot point pretty quickly when Angel and Connor suddenly arrived and saved Justine from the vampires.

Clearly, Lilah was trying to recruit Wes to join Wolfram & Hart by trying to create doubt in his mind as to whether he was as firmly on the side of Good as he believed. By the expression on his face, he seemed quite bothered by the idea that, yes, he was ready to leave and allow Justine to be slaughtered! He misunderstood the nature of the test and thought he was being judged on whether he would actually enjoy witnessing her extermination. It didn't occur to him that perhaps he could have stopped the battle altogether. Lilah was being quite clever, and I could understand how Wes could have fallen into the trap.

What I didn't like was how Wesley appeared to be showing doubts as to whether he himself was still on the side of Good. The whole Dark Wesley story arc seemed to be set up to convey his "flirtation with Evil", so this episode with Justine at the club somewhat validated that concept. I never liked the idea that Wesley was, in fact, in danger of being turned to the dark side and was seriously considering the possibility that he might have been more Evil than Good. He should have realized that having serious doubts about your motivations and values can be a clear symptom of being "Good"! If you're too morally sure of yourself, you're probably closer to Evil even if you profess to be fighting on the side of Good. (Like Holtz and Justine.)

I've read numerous write-ups and articles that all clearly stated that Wesley was leaning towards Evil at that time of his life. Indeed, it makes a nice neat little story line, doesn't it? First he was Good, then he turned Bad. I say it's possible for someone to turn all Dark and get depressed about feeling the need to re-examine the very definitions of Good and Evil, and how the two sides are connected, without actually thinking he's turning Evil. Wesley might not have wanted to be part of the Angel Investigations family, but he could certainly branch out and fight Evil on his own terms. Even though I can honestly examine the scenes and state that I didn't see much evidence that Wesley was actually thinking of joining forces with Evil, I have to admit that the nightclub scene seemed to fit in with the "flirting with evil" meme.

When I first started this blog, I talked about how much I enjoyed Wesley's dichotomy, where, despite the fact that he fully represented the forces of Good, he was willing to be "ruthless" and make the hard decision that could possibly cause someone to suffer.

I know I also wrote somewhere how I always hated Wolfram & Hart for constantly trying to "prove" their point that if you do anything bad to a human at all, that's evidence that you're Evil. Good grief! You're surrounded by a bunch of humans who are trying to kill you and your loved ones, you can't go to the police for help, and you're not allowed to make preemptive strikes to protect yourself? Nice try, but I'm not buying into it.

As far as Wesley seemingly being willing to allow someone who tried to kill him get slaughtered? Well, excuse him for having a typical human reaction! Jesus Christ himself recognized that Evil was a part of every one of us. He even regularly chose to have dinner with sinners and tax collectors rather than with the good and the pious. Christ taught us that even the worst of us are capable of salvation and redemption as long as we truly believed in and trusted in God. Only someone associated with Hell would try to convince you that once you become Evil, there's no turning back.

Idle Thoughts. Alexis Denisof and Stephanie Romanov were again both outstanding in this episode, proving once again that their performances, although always quite good, were that much better when they appeared together. The erotic tension was just as palpable as ever. Romanov's Lilah clearly had the upper hand, although Denisof's Wesley gave a few hints that he was just temporarily ceding control, in kind of a "pick your battles" sort of way.

This clip about "And if a thing is not meant to be?" coincidentally features favorite Groo and Lorne dialogue sequences for me. I found myself doing a lot of scanning through the late Season 3 episodes, but I always stopped to see what Groo was up to. Once again, some of the best scenes in Angel involved favorite characters dealing with personal tragedies. This scene where Groo and Cordy broke up was absolutely heartbreaking in its beauty.

Were the casting directors of Angel even capable of casting a weak performer, particularly in their one-time only character parts? Deborah Zoe was absolutely hilarious as Mistress Meerna in "A New World"! I particularly liked the incongruity of a sorceress specializing in time dimensional magic donning safety goggles before performing her magic spell. I've attended parties filled with Mistress Meerna types, and they all looked at me as if I was the weird one.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lilah Morgan: Ready or Not

Here's a blunt question. Did Lilah Morgan have much of a sex life before she hooked up with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce? Gavin himself said it best with "From what I've heard, bumping uglies with an old man that body-jumped into a vampire is the closest thing you've had to a meaningful relationship in years." The audience was never given any clues that suggested otherwise.

There are a few websites out there that feature a Stephanie Romanov interview where she gave her thoughts about Lilah's love life. Unfortunately, every time I clicked on those sites, I started getting a bunch of annoying pop-ups warning me that I needed to download certain virus-scanning products. So, in good conscience, I can't link to those pages. However, I do remember reading that, before Lilah "bumped uglies" with Angel/the Old Man and before she hooked up with Wesley, Romanov had resigned herself to the idea that Lilah would never have any romantic scenes. I also remember her mentioning something about being surrounded by her "young boys" (Cyril from the mail room?) In an odd way, I was under the impression that, although she might have been somewhat annoyed by the advances made by the "young boys", she might have been secretly happy she was at least getting some attention. Or rather, it's fun to have people make advances on you so you can reject them.

There were several scenes sprinkled throughout Angel where Lilah seemed to enjoy dressing to the nines and drinking in bars. Specifically, I can think of when she was drinking at a table in Season 1's demon fight club episode, and when she rejected the fellow who tried to sit next to her in "Loyalty" before she met with Sahjhan for their rather unusual assignation.

Lilah also met Angel and Sahjhan in "Sleep Tight" when they both tracked her down at the same bar as in "Loyalty"(?), and she met with Wesley twice in drinking establishments before they finally ended up in bed. In each instance, we're under the impression that she certainly knew how to handle herself in bars, and would have had no trouble picking up someone for the night. However, in most of these instances, a case could certainly have been made that she was working on the time clock, and showing up at the bars in the line of duty. I also can't help but think that these visits were the closest thing Lilah had to an independent social life. She probably couldn't help but mix in business with pleasure once in a while.

We're reasonably certain that Lilah didn't have many (if any) meaningful relationships with men in her lifetime. I hate to bring up the possibility of her being a lesbian, simply because I hate it when someone gets labelled as being gay simply because he or she sometimes does things slightly outside of the box. For example, we know Wesley liked to drink tea from nice china tea cups. Big f*uckin' deal! On the other hand, I feel as though I'd be guilty of the sin of omission if I didn't at least mention a few lesbian undertones in some of her dealings with Bethany, Faith and Darla. And remember. Lilah was a master manipulator who would do whatever it took to get the job done. If it entailed a little bit of big sisterly love, so be it.

It's pretty obvious that Lilah was an accomplished femme fatale, but chose not to follow that route too far. Double standards are alive and well. If news got out that Lilah had an active sex life, the news would have been all over Wolfram & Hart the moment her head hit the pillow, possibly jeopardising her career. The topic of conversation at the water cooler would have centered more on her latest romantic exploits than what she might have accomplished in difficult contract negotiations. To take it to more of an extreme, the highest she might have climbed on the corporate ladder might have been Vice President of the Mata Hari division (which would have been about as prestigious as Vice President of Human Resources). The thought of reviewing weekly printouts of how her employees fared in their STD tests would have been just way too depressing for anyone. (Not to mention what she would have had to do in the field before she made her way to the VP spot.)

I'm thinking that Lilah made herself gorgeous and perfected her femme fatale act as an erotic thrill, kind of like a substitution for sex. (Perhaps similar isn't the correct word, but somewhat like my theory of Wesley getting a certain amount of sexual satisfaction when he went into his Watcher mode.)

If Lilah couldn't end up in bed with someone on a regular basis, she could at least go through the motions of the early stages of the ritual by casting her alluring glances and making sexually provocative statements. Any thought that she was not interested in completing the sex act disappeared when Lindsey, while playing a trick on her, almost kissed her, and when she and Angel/The Old Man, came this close to having sex on Wesley's desk at the Hyperion Hotel. In both instances, Lilah practically jumped at the opportunity for sex, showing that 1) she probably wasn't getting anything on a regular basis and 2) all she needed was just a little encouragement from the right men. (Who wouldn't jump at the opportunity for sex with Christian Kane and David Boreanaz?)

So, when it came time to seduce Wesley into working for Wolfram & Hart, sexy role-playing Lilah was probably more than ready to go a few rounds with Wesley and his handcuffs.