Monday, July 6, 2009

The REAL End of Lilah

Angel's Season 4 finale "Home" marked an end of an era, where Angel and his gang left their innocence behind in their own little Garden of Eden at the Hyperion Hotel and stepped into the cold cruel world via Wolfram & Hart. The episode also acted as an epilogue to Wesley and Lilah's relationship, since it truly came to an end at the end of Wesley's axe.

You would think Whedonverse characters would stop being surprised when the dead make a comeback, since it happens on such a regular basis. Angel, having witnessed a similar moment when Holland Manners made his comeback in Season 2, recovered quite quickly after the initial shock at seeing Lilah at the Hotel, but the rest of the team was quite rattled with the whole event.

There were several little otherworldly aspects to Lilah that I thought were quite effective. For one thing, she walked quite awkwardly across the floor, indicating that she had to relearn how to walk in heels after re-corporealizing. Lilah also dressed rather atypically, having shed her power suit jacket. To be honest, with her white blouse and gray skirt, I thought she dressed as though most of her clothes were in the laundry, and those items were about the only things left in her closet.

Lilah's demeanor was also a definite throwback to her Wolfram & Hart corporate gal persona, where her primary attention was fixed on Angel rather than Wesley. Her attitude gave her a quality of having been thrown into her past personality (before she sought refuge in the Hyperion Hotel while The Beast was still on the loose) while being brought into the future. I was a bit disappointed the first time I saw the scene since, although Wes was throwing off these bewildered, somewhat hostile (but always sexy) vibes toward Lilah, she only focused on Wesley for relatively brief moments. Her primary concern was carrying out her duties as a messenger for Wolfram & Hart, which she did quite admirably.

I loved how Wes and Lilah carried out a not-so-subtle commentary about their relationship throughout the scene at the Hotel. When Wes insisted that Lilah was not really there, Lilah quickly picked up that he was commenting on her supposed uncaring attitude toward their entire relationship. She came right back at him by telling Wes that he carried a dollar bill around in his wallet that proved otherwise. (That was the comment that really threw me the first time I saw that scene, and led me to believe that Wesley really was talking to the real Lilah at some point just before he chopped her head off.)

Wesley, who apparently didn't learn a thing from his "dialogue" with Lilah before he cut her head off, still insisted that her appearance (and their entire relationship) was a "lie". A few moments later, Lilah finally got a good zinger in when (while pretending to talk about Angel) she hinted her relationship with Wesley was a one-way street. It certainly appeared that Wesley used Lilah during his hour of need, then discarded her as soon as he finished working his way through his crisis of faith. Lilah's characterization was a bit unfair, since she was definitely using Wesley for her own evil gains, and Wesley gave Lilah the wonderful gifts of making her more human and self-sacrificing. However, Wesley definitely got her message loud and clear.

Lilah then revealed the scar on her neck and tried to comfort Wesley (finally acknowledging him as a "lover") by telling him that she didn't feel a thing when he cut her off her head. Wesley, not one to be outdone, and not willing to cede his top dog position during their mutual power play grabs, cruelly insisted that he wasn't surprised that Lilah didn't feel a thing. (Just like during their relationship.) Once more we saw the definite hurt in her eyes. I've given my theory before that Wesley made cutting remarks to Lilah because that was the only way he could be confident he was bringing out her true emotions. Indeed, the sadness in Lilah's eyes did give her a human touch, which helped the audience believe that it truly was the "real" Lilah standing there in front of everybody at the Hotel.

I had complained in the past that Angel really should have discussed the resolution to his Season 2 crisis of faith with his crew since it was such a pivotal moment in his life. It appeared that he never said much about his encounter with the deceased ex-Wolfram & Hart attorney Holland Manners and the "standard perpetuity" clause. If Angel had been more forthcoming, Wesley certainly would have been more prepared when Lilah made her return. Angel was reticent to talk about the whole issue simply because his having sex with Darla was the key event that led to his personal Epiphany. If Angel had able to put his Puritan qualms aside and spoken more frankly with his crew, a lot of future problems could have been handled a lot more judiciously.

The next day the entire Angel Investigations crew showed up at Wolfram & Hart for the grand tour. Again I was disappointed on how most of Lilah's attention was centered on Angel. However, I did like the looks Lilah and Wesley exchanged as Wesley explained (in response to the hint that Angel Investigations might have fallen into some sort of trap) "She's [Lilah's] right. We've made deals with them before. They are honorable in their way. I doubt we'll be in any danger." For me, that was the first hint that Wesley might have been somewhat thawing in his attitude toward Lilah, and Lilah seemed to appreciate his vote of confidence.

Finally, we get to one of the most touching scenes in the entire Angel series, when Wesley "die-harded" his way into the Wolfram & Hart secret records room. At that moment in time, Wesley wasn't sure if he'd be working at Wolfram & Hart, so he had to seize this opportunity to try to release Lilah from her "standard perpetuity" contract. In fact, I wonder if that was his plan all along, and I wonder if that was his primary reason for accepting the limo ride into Wolfram & Hart in the first place?

Wesley, in spending his entire life suppressing his feelings, was a very difficult character to read. Lilah, who, in many ways, really did know Wesley more than most other people, correctly knew that he would find his way into the records room. It was touching that she was waiting for him, symbolizing that even though she was giving most of her public attention to Angel, she still wanted some quality alone time with Wesley. Wesley was actually surprised Lilah was waiting for him, but certainly didn't act disappointed. In fact, he seemed quite pleased when Lilah gave that double entendre about how he always did like to take his time.

Wesley, still firing off his inscrutable, sexy, always borderline hostile looks, then absolutely astonished Lilah by attempting to burn Lilah's contract and release her from Wolfram & Hart's hell dimension. Alexis Denisof gave us the perfect blend of Wesley the Lover and Wesley the Watcher as he performed that wonderfully unselfish and noble pure act of love. Stephanie Romanov herself did a nice job portraying Lilah as being genuinely touched by Wesley's slightly naive but very sweet attempt to try to save her. "But it means something that you tried."

The scene came to an end, but I hope we can leave it to our imaginations that Wesley and Lilah spent a few more moments together and told each other just how much they meant to each other. I find it very hard to accept that the Connor mind wipe that occurred later on could have severely altered Wesley's memories of his relationship with Lilah. What Wesley went through from mid-Season 3 through the end of Season 4, although tragic, was also a hugely important period of growth and discovery for him. Wesley became a better person after all of his suffering, and it all went to waste after the mind wipe. It's only fitting that he played a part in destroying the mind wipe magic spell a little later on in Season 5.

Idle Thoughts. What was it like for Lilah to be in Hell?

I'm really enjoying the return of Lindsey and his interactions with Spike while I continue to watch Season 5 on TNT. I think everyone has their own reasons for enjoying Spike, but I like him because he acted as a catharsis for all of the madness swirling around Wolfram & Hart, somewhat how Lorne used to lighten up the mood at the Hotel. Spike might not have come across as having the noblest intentions, and he was definitely selfish to a great degree. However, he always did the right thing in the end, and most of the time his motivations came across as being the purest of anyone's. It was a tremendous gift to see his character grow so quickly through Season 5 to the point where, instead of being the wise-cracking outsider, he became a loyal friend to Angel and an integral part of the team.

Season 5 really could have used a genuine kick-ass female character to help move things along. Fred seemed to get even more ethereal as the season went on, and seemed to exist solely as someone (in incredibly short skirts) to be adored while standing atop a continuously-growing pedestal. Whenever Amy Acker delivered a good line, I couldn't help but think that someone had re-written the script to make sure she had her fair quota of meaningful dialogue. Harmony, although she was a delightful dumb blonde who gave me one of my favorite episodes of the entire series, hardly blazed new territory. Eve was thoroughly repulsive with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. She was the only person in the world who could ruin a love scene with Lindsey McDonald.

Cordelia and Lilah were thoroughly missed in Season 5. As a matter of fact, Charisma Carpenter's farewell appearance only seemed to emphasize the fact that she was desperately needed to help sustain the series. Tragically, Illyria made her appearance too late in the series run to really make a difference.

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