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!

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