Wednesday, December 23, 2009

After the Fall Volume 1 and First Night - Part 2 - Working for the Senior Partners

(This is an ongoing series of posts where I discuss Angel: After the Fall Volume 1 and First Night Volume II. My first post is here.)

I've said in a few prior posts that I'm not convinced that Angel and his crew fully realized what they were getting into when they joined the evil law firm of Wolfram & Hart for Season 5 of Angel: The Series. Either that, or I was the one who was clueless. Regardless, Lilah, the deceased messenger for the Senior Partners, seemed to represent the arrangement as though the Angel Investigations team would have full control of the Los Angeles operations, with very few strings attached. It appeared they'd be able to carry on as usual, rent-free, at the LA Wolfram & Hart building, with the entire law firm's staff at their disposal. Lilah certainly de-emphasized the fact that they would in essence become an integral part of Wolfram & Hart, totally indistinguishable from any of the other parts of the organization.

In retrospect, it's painfully obvious that the AI team simply joined Wolfram & Hart in a naive attempt to reform from within. Of course it's equally obvious that doing any business at all with Wolfram & Hart is never a good idea. Yet for various reasons (and many of the reasons were quite good), the Angel Investigations team accepted the offer. They had gone through unimaginable horrors in Season 4, and were literally ill-equipped to continue on in their current state. This decision fit in quite nicely with Angel's philosophy (which was shared with varying degrees of acceptance by all of the other team members) that quite often the best course of action is to act now, and deal with the consequences later.

As any fan knows, the decision to join Wolfram & Hart had a lot of disastrous consequences, which became that much clear in the After the Fall comic continuation series. Because Angel and his followers decided to make their final stand against the Senior Partners in the final season of the TV series, Los Angeles became a literal hell dimension, demons ruled the city while most humans were turned into slaves, and, in something that was never revealed in the TV series, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce had signed the standard Wolfram & Hart contract where he agreed to serve the Senior Partners "in perpetuity."

I have only read the first two volumes of After the Fall, so my apologies for any errors that I make. However, the obvious questions include, why did Wesley sign the agreement? Did all of the other members of Angel Investigations sign the same agreement? And, for the people who signed, were they fully aware of what was in the contracts? I'm not sure if the answers to these questions were ever fully revealed.

(Just as an aside, I've finished writing a series of posts at my Wolfram & Hart Hall of Fame blog about mortgage industry practices that touch on being fraudulent. During my research, I found one lawyer who answered the holier-than-thou critics who state that "people who lost their homes should have read their mortgage contracts more carefully". The lawyer pointed out that nobody reads those contracts, even the free market fundamentalists who ardently oppose any restrictions on the mortgage industry.)

I quickly found out that in comic books, the creators don't go into a lot of explanation on the particulars of why things are happening. They state it, you accept it, and everyone moves on. In this way we found out Wesley (who died in the TV series finale) had signed the "standard perpetuity" contract, but we didn't find out anything else beyond that.

It would make sense if all of the members of Angel Investigations had signed the contract. Otherwise the Senior Partners might have never approved the final deal. Each member would have had his or her own reasons for doing so. Angel would have signed the contract to save his son Connor, just as other parents would do whatever was necessary to save a child.

Charles might have signed the contract because he was thrilled that he was undergoing the brain-altering procedure that would turn him into a great legal mind. Remember, Charles had a prior history of dealing with the devil, so to speak, when he signed away his soul as a 17-year old in order to buy his pickup truck.

I find it hard to believe that Fred would sign the contract just so she could have a state-of-the-art lab. Possibly, she and Lorne would have signed just because everyone else was doing so. With Lorne, I can't see him signing a "standard perpetuity" contract, particularly since he left his home dimension mostly because Wolfram & Hart were firmly in charge. You could make a case that Lorne signed the contract because he was in a particularly weakened state at that time. His drinking problem certainly wouldn't have been helping his decision-making processes either. Regardless, if everyone signed the contract, it might have been part of their "do it now and deal with it later" mindset.

That leaves Wesley, whose decision to sign probably made the most sense. He might have felt a lot of guilt and anguish for not being able to save ex-lover Lilah's life or her soul. (Here's the lovely "burning the contract" scene where he tried to release her from her eternal servitude with Wolfram & Hart). In his mind, joining Lilah in her fate would have served as atonement for his failures. It's tough enough for a man to operate when he has one woman in his life, but it becomes damned near impossible when he has two women to deal with. We have no idea when Wes signed the contract, which is crucial. If he had signed on when he first joined the firm, (which is my gut instinct), his feelings for Lilah would have been a huge motivation. Later on in Season 5 he lost Wini(Fred) Burkle, the love of his life, and as far as he knew her soul was destroyed when the ancient demon Illyria took over her body. Moving on to wherever good people in the Whedonverse move on after death would have meant nothing to him if he had no hope of ever joining Fred. Wesley might have felt that he might as well just sign the "standard perpetuity" contract with Wolfram & Hart after her death since he had nothing to look forward to. If he did sign the contract before her death, he wouldn't have felt much motivation to fight it at a later date.

As far as I know, Wesley never stumbled across Lilah in hell. I'm not sure she was even mentioned in After the Fall except possibly as a passing reference. If Wesley was expecting to meet Lilah in hell, or if he was disappointed that he never saw her, the readers never found that out. Wesley, who could be completely clueless at times, could be incredibly wise and intuitive at other times. I could imagine that Wesley would expect not to see Lilah, since it simply wouldn't be Hell if he was ever reunited with a "loved one".

Random Thoughts. In After the Fall, Wesley, because of the "standard perpetuity" contract that he signed, became a non-corporeal ghost messenger for Wolfram & Hart. I won't go into a lot of detail just yet, but part of his responsibilities was to report on Angel's activities and do his best to somewhat keep him in line. This is the part about working for the Senior Partners that I don't understand. In some ways they appeared to be omniscient and all-knowing. In other ways, it seemed characters could operate in secrecy from the Senior Partners as long as they weren't being spied on. My best guess is that the Senior Partners were way too busy keeping the world Evil, and they concentrated on different areas at different times. They probably checked in on Angel some of the time, but relied on Wesley and others to keep them informed as to what Angel was up to when they had their backs turned.

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