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.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the French refer to orgasms as a "little death". But it doesn't mean Lilah wasn't getting choked, considering the amount of neck references during the course of their relationship.

Miriam said...

Well, shucks, I'm just a Midwest farm girl, so I don't know much about these things. :-)

I appreciate the info., though. I can imagine I'd end up at some pretty weird online sites if I were to try to find it out on my own.