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Angel: Shells

Angel: "Death doesn't have to be the end. Not in our world."

I found "Shells" to be... well, hollow.

Although it would appear to be about Illyria, this episode was more about Wes. He was on the verge of attaining true happiness, and he's lost everything; he's been emotionally hollowed out. His rage and despair alternated throughout with an almost inhuman calm as he stabbed Gunn, his former best friend, and outright killed Knox. And still, I was never sure what he was really thinking. Wesley is a complex guy. Has he really lost it, or does he have a plan? Knox mentioned extraordinary sneakiness; Wesley can be extraordinarily sneaky, after all.

Illyria is less a rampaging demon and more a leather bitch with an acute case of depression. Or is she also playing a game? When she saw Wesley killing and maiming right and left, she must have thought, hey, here's the high priest for me. Is that what Wesley wanted her to think? He figured out what the jewel did; his brain is still functioning. I can see him choosing to stay with Illyria because she looks like Fred and has some of her memories, but then again... I can't. The jewel has an effect on time. If Fred's soul is really gone, if Doctor Strangelove wasn't lying, is there a way to get Fred back that has to do with manipulating time?

Poor Gunn has also lost everything. He has been hollowed out by guilt, embodied by the knife Wesley put through him, which must have been nearly as emotionally painful as it was physically painful. I'm assuming those papers he signed mean that he no longer works for our favorite evil law firm.

That last flashback of Fred in Texas leaving her parents and driving toward a new life evoked more emotion in me than her death in Wesley's arms last week. I've always liked Fred. I really don't want this to be the end for her.

Bits and pieces:

— Amy Acker looks absolutely fabulous in those "spiffy new threads" and that cool blue makeup. The bad guys always manage to acquire such cool outfits.

— Knox didn't die in the last episode after all. He died in this one.

— So Knox did sing for Lorne. Poor Lorne. Spike and Lorne both tried to get drunk. Didn't look like either of them succeeded, although the little bottles were fun. "It's a play on perspective."

— Harmony seems more sympathetic all the time; she was consoling Wes that at least the girl of his dreams loved him. Her behavior is again blurring the lines; her soul is gone, isn't it? Are vamps evil, or aren't they? Can they learn compassion? And if so, doesn't that make Buffy a serial killer?

— I always enjoy crossover stuff, even when it's just inferred. "Never a witch around when you need one." So Willow is in the Himalayas, and not on this plane? Giles still thinks Angel is the enemy for taking on Wolfram & Hart? The music at the end ("A Place Called Home") was also very BtVS.

— Angel's header out the window reminded me of the vamp in "City of." That had to hurt.

— If Wesley's shovel had connected, he would have decapitated not one, but two of his dead girlfriends.

— Barry Allen was the Flash, right? Who were Jay Garrick and Wally whoever? [Yes, people wrote and told me. Thanks, everyone.]

— Angel mentioned that he's never seen Illyria's temple, the Vahla Ha Nesh, parked next to the Ralph's. For those of you who don't live in the area, Ralph's is a supermarket chain.

— The Gateway looked a bit like the lobby of the Hyperion. Same set, maybe?

— The skeleton key was a skeleton.

— Big gold acting stars to Alexis Denisof. Wes went from too calm, to grief, to fury, to utter despair. He kept trying to control his feelings, to bury them as Angel said, but he couldn't.

— Looks like Spike has finally made a decision; he wants to stay and help Angel. The two of them did some lovely tag team fighting here. Too bad the morons at the WB have put an end to it.


Spike: "Can't even get drunk. Why would anyone ever make a bottle this small? It's inhuman. ... It's like a bloody tease. It's like, 'Here's what a bottle of Jack would look like if you actually had one.' Or, 'Here's a drink, but it's very, very far away.'"

Illyria: "Your breed is fragile. How is it they came to control this world?"
Knox: "Opposable thumbs. Fire. Television. What they lack in strength, they make up for in extraordinary sneakiness."

Harmony: "The girl of your dreams loved you. That's more than most people ever get."
Wesley: "I know. But it isn't enough."

I didn't like this episode much. I don't want Fred to be gone. But it was still well-written and very well-acted,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. I've been playing Angel in the background as I work on quite possibly the dullest job I've ever had. (It involves copying, pasting, and changing capital letters to lowercase. Lather, rinse. repeat.) Even with only half an eye on the screen, and just 42% of an ear, seasons four and five are still wonderful.

    Somewhere in season four, Fred mentions that she would hate to be just a shell, and would rather be dead. I've always loved that the writers pick up on that again. (Although, of course, I have forgotten when in season four she says it.)

    Poor, sweet Wesley.

  2. I've been re-watching the show with the TNT reruns lately. They just started Season 4 yesterday. I echo your "Poor, sweet Wesley" comment. I've been telling my husband how hard it is to watch his isolation from the group and his slow descent into darkness (even though scruffy, dark Wes is hot as hell). Plus, when he first expresses his interest in Fred I just wanted to cry.

    The reruns have really reminded me how much I enjoyed this show and the chemistry the little Angel family developed. I'm super impressed with how long-term the plot arc was. Seasons 3 and 4 are basically one giant plot arc. I know I was fairly irritated when the "baby plot" first reared it's ugly head, but it ended up paying huge dividends.

  3. Four things you need to know about this episode:

    1. I am the only person on this earth who likes Illyria more than Boy-Crazy Office Fred (as opposed to Boy-Crazy Hotel Fred). I don't think she came back to Wes because she sees a high priest in him. I think she sees a kindred spirit, a lost warrior who saw his whole world turn to dust. He can still go on for some reason, and she wants to know how.

    2. This is the only storyarc this season that's felt like pure, intensely melodramatic Angel instead of a new, lighter sort of Buffy-Angel hypbrid show.

    3. Wesley has now come full circle, becoming the ultimate Watcher, mentor to not just a girl with a fraction of the first power but a girl who is a first power. Take that, Giles and your Folgers coffee romance!

    4. If you take a shot every time someone says "Fred's gone" (or any variation thereof) in this episode, you will need your stomach pumped.

  4. (My original comment contained a pretty big spoiler so I'm reposting it spoiler free)

    Wesley is my favourite Buffy/Angel character and it always saddened me to watch him suffer again and again. I don’t think there’s any other character in the entire Whedonverse who endured as much torment as poor Wes.

    He was abused by his father, sacked by the Watchers, tortured by Faith, in the office when it blew up, sacked by Angel, shot by a zombie cop, lost the girl he loved to his best mate, betrayed his friends to save baby Conner, had his throat cut, nearly suffocated by pissed off Angel, abandoned by his friends, lost the will to shave, failed to save Lilah, killed his fake-daddy and then had to watch helpless as Fred died in his arms.

    Yeah, he suffered all right. But then again, as Jess pointed out, it did all make hot as hell.

  5. during their fight scene in the end, when Angel reveals he has Illyria's gem, she says "Sneaky," like Knox's line about humankind surviving due to sneakiness. I don't know if she can't tell he's a vampire or maybe she already knows, but I've just always liked that little line where he's included in 'humanity' to her, like maybe she somehow knows how he's special or what his future is.

    Also I got such a kick out of the Flash comment/question in light of the Super Legends of Flarrowverse (or something like that) being out there! I'm sure you're well-versed on those identities now.

  6. Harsh... about the destroyed soul. Couldn't they have just played it so that her soul escaped but it was forever lost to them in the ether of true afterlife? But maybe that means Wes would feel much less inclined to keep Illyria around, and that would be a damn shame.

    Loved Wes's completely vulnerable "...Yes" when she asked if it's all because she looks like Fred. Men are visual creatures, it is written

    Such a cool new addition to have, the team feels overpowered in a good way like when Faith finally hooked up with them again. I hope they don't become neutered somehow to compensate.


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