Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lilah's True Feelings?

Trust the Whedonverse to provide the most touching Wesley and Lilah moments as Wesley was just about ready to chop her head off with an axe.

I've written extensively about this scene from Angel's Season 4's "Salvage" where Wesley was having some sort of dialogue with the recently-deceased Lilah. (See"Denial"). While talking about the significance of the two different Lilahs, I tried out the idea that perhaps the "first" Lilah was the "real" Lilah, while the "second" was the "imaginary" Lilah. I'm not quite as convinced about this as I used to be, but I also concluded that it really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. As I wrote,
... perhaps the distinction as to who gives voice to Lilah's words in "Salvage" is not as crucial as it appears, since the two huge questions are, "Did they love each other?" and "Did they have a relationship?" And I might as well end the suspense (as if there is any) by insisting that the answers to both of these questions are "Yes"."
I also wrote in a previous post that I was "disappointed" the first time I saw the scene. I was not "disappointed" in the sense that I wasn't genuinely touched by the emotions being displayed, but I was disappointed that Wesley was denying the fact that he and Lilah enjoyed a loving relationship. I'll take it a step further now and say that perhaps Wesley wasn't denying his feelings toward Lilah. Perhaps, based on the constant cutting remarks he made to her when she was still living and when she reappeared after her death at the Hyperion Hotel, he was denying that she had any feelings for him. Tragically, Wesley never really gave Lilah the opportunity to show her true emotions.

If I start thinking of the first Lilah in "Salvage" as being part of Wesley's imagination, the dialogue starts making a lot more sense. The scene clearly shows how Wes was trying to sort out all of the turmoil swirling around inside his head. Lilah asked him, wasn't this what he wanted? To see her dead? Wouldn't things have been a lot easier for him with her out of the way? Wesley answered "I didn't want this." Of course, he didn't want her killed. I compare it to a time when my husband and I were on vacation and we overhead a conversation between a couple of ladies whom we dubbed "The Merry Widows". Both ladies, who apparently had just recently met, were discussing all of the travelling they had been doing around the world since they collected on their deceased husbands' life insurance policies. I naturally immediately had a picture in my mind of the Widow Miriam happily wandering alone through the lovely gardens of Versailles, but of course I didn't really want my husband to die.

Lilah continued:

Lilah: Come on, what are you worried about, Wesley? You hated yourself for being with me. Or maybe you just hated yourself for loving being with me. Hey, semantics. In any case, we both knew, sooner or later, it would come to a messy end. For one of us, anyway. So ease up on that furrowed brow. You're free now. No longer encumbered with the secret shame of our relationship.
I didn't really key in on this part of the dialogue the first time around, just like I didn't key in on Wesley's "self-loathing" the first time around either. As heartbreaking as it sounds, I simply can't ignore the fact that Wesley was probably greatly troubled by the fact that he had allowed himself to sleep with the enemy, He had every right to be bothered by this, since it would have been asking an awful lot for her sworn enemies (Angel and his team) to forgive Wesley for his possibly traitorous activities. My only consolation is that, once the news filtered out about their affair, everyone at Angel Investigations eventually, perhaps not so much forgave him, but at least accepted Wesley back into the fold.

WESLEY: It wasn't a relationship.

LILAH: There's a signed dollar bill in your wallet I think proves different. You knew how I felt.

WESLEY: You don't feel.

LILAH: The only true thing I ever—

WESLEY: You didn't love me. You couldn't.

2nd LILAH: We'll never know now, will we?
I've written many times before how shocked I was that Wesley denied the fact that he and Lilah Morgan had a relationship, even though his signing of the $1.00 bill was such a pivotal moment in their lives. Now that I'm thinking in terms of how he may have acknowledged the relationship, then couldn't believe that Lilah could have been taking their relationship all that seriously after she betrayed him by ordering the attack on Lorne, it makes more sense. Wes just couldn't get over how someone could love him and betray him at the same time. It became easier to simplify things and just pretend she never developed any feelings for him at all.

In a way, denying her feelings could have been a final act of revenge for Wesley, or a way to cope with his own guilt for never openly accepting her love while she was still alive. The fact that he was so upset with Lilah's death was also a sign that, deep down, he really did know how she felt about him. Wesley's constant denials betrayed his true feelings about Lilah.

Later on, the second Lilah seemed to hit the nail on the head when she informed Wesley that his real hang-up in chopping off her head (and perhaps regarding the whole issue of his unresolved feelings toward her), was that, deep down, he wanted to help her find redemption. I kind of pooh-pooh'd this idea in my post from last April, thinking that this gave Wesley an easy (and pretentiously noble) way out of his dilemma.

Now I realize that, as much as this got him off the hook as far as his thoughts about "love" and "relationship", her redemption really was a huge motivating factor for him. I've mentioned many times before that Wesley was a true Watcher, a guiding force who acted way beyond his formal Watcher's training. As soon as his Wesley the Watcher personality kicked in, he realized his purpose in life and had no problem doing what he had to do to save Lilah from turning into a vampire. (Indeed, a bit earlier in the episode, Wesley the Watcher quickly agreed with Connor's suggestion that Lilah might have been turned and even volunteered to perform the final deed.) Wesley the Watcher might have done the right thing, but it was Wesley the Lover who motivated him into action. He never would have been able to care about Lilah's salvation if hadn't have fallen in love with her.

Idle Thoughts. I'm hoping "Salvage" was rewarding for Stephanie Romanov, since it finally gave her an opportunity to show that Lilah was capable of a great deal of love and warmth.

We have the obvious problem that, if Lilah was really talking to Wesley in "Salvage", why didn't she inform him that Cordelia murdered her?

I'm now well into Season 5 while watching Angel on TNT. Last night I just watched Alexis Denisof's excellent acting in "Lineage", which marked his first great performance in Season 5. I was shocked to discover that Eve, whom I still cannot stand, actually said a few profound things in a dialogue sequence she had earlier in the episode with Angel.

To back up, I was always annoyed with Eve for being way too obvious with her explanations, as though she was over-explaining things for the benefit of the feeble-minded. However, I really appreciated what Eve said in this episode because she keyed in on what I think is a key facet of the differences between Angel's and Wesley's personalities, and that was the treatment of the individual within the group.

Quite frankly, if I belonged to Angel Investigations, and I was trapped somewhere and it was of the highest importance that the rest of the group make it out safely, at that moment I'd rather have Angel leading the group than Wesley. I know Angel would double back to save me, whereas Wesley would be concerned with the safety of the rest of the group and abandon me to my fate. Eve really nailed it when she said that Wesley focused on the big picture and appeared to overlook the people involved. Angel would always be wondering if Wesley had Angel's personal interests in mind when dealing with him. I've written extensively on this facet of Wesley's personality (which I happened to admire) in "Character Turning Point" and other posts tagged "dichotomy".

Angel admitted later in the episode that he was just beginning to realize that Wesley was the one who made the hard decisions. Angel did not state this per se, but just like individuals need to strive for balance in their lives, groups need the same balance. Angel Investigations floundered quite badly after they banished Wesley from the group. Wesley provided the key ingredient necessary to keep everyone focused on big picture and on achieving their overall goals. Although Wesley's decision to kidnap Connor in Season 3 was a huge mistake, Angel realized Wesley was acting from the purest of motivations.

On the other hand, Fred, through her conversation with Wesley a few minutes later, showed that, like always, she was either truly naive, or she tended to deny the truth in mistaken attempts to make people feel better.

Fred tried to absolve Wesley of his guilt by insisting that he knew deep down that his father was a cyborg, Wesley knew better, of course. I know of other instances where Fred would gently refuse to face facts, including the moment in Season 3's "Billy" where she insisted that Wesley "wasn't himself" when he tried to kill her, (Wesley correctly knew that he was acting on an instinct buried deep inside), and when she was convinced that Angelus was lying when he let on that Wesley was having an affair with Lilah. I know Fred acted this way with other people, but I'm only remembering her moments with Wesley off of the top of my head. Regardless, it was just one more example of how Fred sweetly and genuinely liked to think the best of people. Perhaps Fred knew better deep down, but her actions did show that she had her own problems in dealing with the shades of gray that exist between the Black and White of Good and Evil.

When Wesley insisted that Fred go off with Knox, I think he was not only gallantly stepping away from Fred's friendship with Knox, but also signallying that perhaps he and Fred weren't quite right for each other at that time.

Season 5's "In Harm's Way" is one of the best TV episodes out there as far as portraying the subtle indignities and intrigues that low-level office grunts have to suffer through on a daily basis.

Finally, Blogger's spellcheck function is falsely tagging a lot of words as being misspelled. (For example, "relationship" and "conversation" and "explanation".) I apologize in advance if you start seeing more typos in my posts, since I'm starting to ignore a lot of Blogger's "typo" flags.

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