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February 12 2004

Herc's seen the 101th Angel episode. The Whedonesque discussion thread for 'Why We Fight'.

Didn't like it. How Herc can give it the same rating as the 100th episode is really beyond me. No mentioning of Cordelia at all, and a German who can't speak German properly :(
I really liked this episode, I'm just afraid that it's not going to be anywhere near as good on repeat viewings. The storyline is good, but it has no overlasting effect to it, but it does create the vamp rule that if a vampire is sired by a vampire with a soul(at this moment Angel and Spike) it will retain a part of it's soul in the vampiric state. Also notice how Gunn looked to be losing a little bit of the W&H knowledge gave to him in the first scene. Just a few things I noticed.
I don't know about anyone else but this struck me as one of the season's weaker efforts. It had stuff to like, some clever dialogue & pop references, the first time I've heard the word dick used in a network TV show and a nice change of pace for DB to play but it all just felt like filler. Not a bad hour but a serious step down from last week. Oh well, bring on next week.
I liked Angel tonight. It wasn't a great episode but still enjoyable. I think after the two great episodes in a row this one had a lot to live up to and if it had been shown before those other two, it would've seemed better than it was. Still, it had some really good moments like Spike's singing and him with dark hair. I also found it interesting the fact that because Angel had a soul when he sired that guy, he somehow still retained some of his soul and couldn't enjoy being evil like he wanted to. Also thought it was interesting that Gunn seemed to have a "glitch" in his programming and wonder what that means. Did he somehow damage his brain and now will have to pay the consequences or is he going to have to have another "session" and what will that do to him.

I also enjoyed the fact that they now have linked the Initiative to both Buffy and Angel and to see that it was a government program that far back where they were doing experimentations even back then to try and make more superior weapons. That was a clever idea and a nice nod to Buffy. Also the little mention of Spike about not wanting to be experimented on by some scientists was quite funny considering that is exactly what happens to him.
I ditto blwessels.

Or to put it another way, filler perhaps, but nice filler. They can't all be tours de force, but it really didn't suck.

Of course, as in season 4 Buffy (and even more so here), there was really no reasonable excuse for not staking Spike, or Lawson either. I thought Angel would have planned to stake Lawson after he served his purpose but that he escaped. Never imagined just letting him go like that.
I can understand why Angel let Lawson go. Lawson was dying and Angel damned him forever by siring him in order to save everyone. It isn't as if though Lawson deserved it. Also, Angel had a soul.

I'm just a bit skeptical about Spike not knowing Angel had a soul. I mean, they were together for decades. How do you *not* keep tabs? Or did he? Maybe I missed it. I only realized Angel was on by the time Lawson was talking to Fred.
It initially struck me as strange that Angel didn't just stake Spike and the rest of the "evildoers" in the sub but then again, in those days he was still pretty unhelpful in terms of saving people and doing good. The WWII events preceded "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" and remember how unwilling Angel was at that point to help anyone out. He certainly didn't stick around the hotel to smite the paranoia demon.

Like blwessels, I loved the nod to an earlier form of the Initiative. Does anyone remember what the guy in the trench coat (the creepy guy in charge) called the organization? Something with "human" or "inhuman research." Or something.

I found the episode enjoyable overall, but not thrilling. After the highs of "Damage" and "You're Welcome" I was chomping at the bit to learn more about Eve, Lindsey, etc. But what really actually pissed me off was the zero mention of Cordy. Here the Fang Gang is, sitting around the conference table and talking about the ramifications of that last episode and not even a subtle reference to, wow, Cordy. Dead. This was someone who was integral to their group for four years. I wasn't expecting a lengthy conversation -- didn't want that, in fact, because you've got to move on -- but a nice short reference or even single word plus glance(s) might have been nice. One of the things I've prized about the Whedon shows is their bow to continuity and history and this episode really dropped the ball. The heroine was freshly dead and nary a mention of it? Not even a sad shared glance around the conference table?

One thing was nicely advanced: a glitch in Gunn's superized brain. Interesting. What is this glitch tied to? Eve's disappearance?
Simple. Angel didn't like killing ANYBODY. Demon or human back then, Angel was still conflicted. He killed when he felt he had to. Like the russian dude in this episode. Angel could tell this guy was not going to be controllable, but he knew if he killed one of the three baddies in front of the other two, THEN he could control the others. He tried to give that other guy a chance but when he started beating up on the Nazi... Angel's always thinking that if he can kill one person to save others that's a plus, but then he learns that he let Lawson go, and Lawson ran off and killed who knows how many. So in hindsight, he shoulda killed Lawson. Yeah. He shoulda killed Spike, but back in the 1940s Angel was trying not to kill anything, and only did so when he felt it was justified. He's never been all that good a judge at that.

I did not get the idea that Lawson had part of a soul. Ya cain't have just part of a soul. You either have a soul or you don't have a soul. At one point he plainly asked Angel if he had a soul. Angel said he didn't think it worked that way. Lawson as a vampire still has the same mind, but that mind couldn't handle the embrace of chaos. He lived half a century going around killing, but he had no mission. He had no real overriding purpose. He also knew right from wrong but didn't care; didn't feel any twinge of guilt over what he'd done wrong. Lawson had no soul.
I thought it was ok but only one problem - it's a filler and fillers are not for sweeps - granted Feb sweeps are not as important as Nov and May but still they do effect the pricing of advertising for the show and I think any new viewer may have been lost of this episode. I know they don't need a lot of gimics but still the last 3 episodes were more Feb sweeps material than this one. Don't know what they were thinking unless the WB scheduled this on purpose so their ratings would drop during sweeps thus giving them more of a reason to cancel the show. I don't know but the vibe of things lately coming from the WB doesn't feel right, as far as Angel getting another season.

On a side note - does anyone else seem to feel that the writers are turning Spike into a buffoon on Angel - I mean he's the second baddest vamp in history - so they say - but as of late you have to ask how did he survive all those years except by sheer dumb luck. This season he has only gotten a few moments of depth that doesn't even begin to counter the stupidity he seems to be showing. Don't get me wrong I love Spike I just wish they would stop playing him as the fool all the time and I hope they give him something more of a bite. Ok that was just my ranting thought.
Needless exposition....It was entertaining but why no mention of the newly dead Cordy? Such a loss would certainly hit Team Angel like a ton of bricks...I guess Joss has decided to cut and run when it comes to CC...Terribly unfortunate.
I think ME has a sad history of not honoring its dead with the exception of Joyce and Jenny. I felt the reaction to Anya dying was very lackluster especially on Xander's part. I also felt the reaction to Tara's death was very underestimated by everyone except Willow. Buffy had developed quite a friendship with Tara and had leaned on her shoulder and cried when confiding to her about her relationship with Spike yet Buffy didn't seem to react much at all about Tara getting killed. Then when season 7 started they didn't really talk much about Tara having been killed and their feelings. I guess maybe they felt they had done the whole death and grieving thing with Joyce but when a beloved character dies, it would be nice to have at least something said. I think a scene with Buffy, Xander, Dawn and Willow all just quietly standing at Tara's grave, with Willow in the middle of the group would've been sufficient.

I enjoyed the final episode of Cordy but at the same time I thought the reactions of Fred and Gunn were very timid with a basically "nice to see ya!" type of greeting and then "time to get back to work". At one time, Cordy, Gunn and Wesley had bonded quite well when Angel had turned his back on them and at least Wesley seemed very happy to see her but Gunn's reaction was like they only knew each casually.

So unless Angel made up some story about her not being there, again, it does make no sense that no mention was made. It would've been nice to at least start the show with them all being at a memorial service for Cordy and then because they were all sad, using work as an excuse to wander off to be by themselves. They could've still done the same scene with the discussion after the service so we could've seen that Gunn was now having trouble remembering and we could've all chalked it up to him being upset about Cordy to then later find out that something is wrong with him.

Sorry about the long rant but that has always been something that annoyed me when they truly didn't honor the death of an important character. I know Anya's death was quick and it was the last show but I would've preferred Xander seeing her body and trying to take her with them even though he knew she was dead and someone dragging him away because he'd die if they didn't and him reluctantly knowing he had to go. Just like Buffy knowing she had no choice but to leave Spike.
I would have thought that vampires would have been attracted to Nazi Germany like moths to the flame, both are evil, and I am sure for their willing services the Nazi's would have gave them as much human blood they would want or need.

I liked how the writers did a clever little nod to the small comment by Spike when he was in the initiative (Buffy season 4) about who has them, and he mentioned Nazi's this episode would explain him bringing them up.

The episode was ok, nothing great, a shout out to Captain America by the M.E. writers who always shown they were big comic book fans, I would have been more impressed if they showed this happening at some sort of top secret Nazi base, and why they were transporting Spike and the vamps on a U-Boat? They captured them in Europe, and in 1943 the Germans had most of Europe why not fly them or truck them? Quicker and safer, opposed to the North Atlantic where the British fleet still ruled the waves..Oh well..love them plot holes.
**Sigh** Now becoming even more depressed over the fact that this may be the last season of Angel, just this week the WB announced 2 more dramtic pilots they have picked up, one is from a writer for "The OC" and the other comes from another former producer of the "West Wing" Tommy Schalmee. Anyone else noticing a strange trend here - the WB has picked up at least 3 pilots of show writers and producers who are in direct competition with Angel on Wed night.

Sorry just had to add that news. **sigh**

And this is the episode they have on against them for sweeps. **sigh** Am I that thinks the WB is stacking the odds against Angel for another season.
Finally a reason to love that stupid Harmony episode - it's the only one keeping this stinker from being the worst of the season.

Oh well, there's hope the next one will take that prize. No spoilers, but jeeeeesus. I don't even want to watch.
Haven't seen the episode yet but I notice that the WB are calling the episode '1943' instead of 'Why We Fight', anyone know why?
Just about to watch it, not as excited about it as I have been the last few weeks though. About the name, maybe the WB thought they could come up with a better name than Joss, like last year with them renaming "Apocalypse Nowish" to "Rain Of Fire"
I got quite a 'Somnambulist' feel from this episode. The sired child come back for revenge.

I can't decide if I really liked this episode. It wasn't horrible, but it was certainly filler. And at least there were small things that moved the story along or just proved interesting. Like Gunn's powers fading - he made a comment about the white room being empty, wonder why it would be? - and the story of DRI. I remember the letters were DRI, and I'm fairly certain it stood for Demon Research Initiative. The possible soul transferal thing was interesting, and we got a 'Baby's First' moment when we saw that was his first person sired after he gained his soul. Only person, maybe?

Just before Spike's reference to not wanting the government putting anything in his head, Angel makes a remark like 'I don't want to be stuck at the bottom of the sea'. Spike's comment immediately followed Angel's, and I found it hilarious that what each person said they didn't want, at that moment, later happens to them. Connor shuts Angel in a cage and tosses him to the bottom of the sea, and Spike gets his chip.

As far as the mention of Dead Cordy - we saw maybe twenty minutes of their day. Technically, five minutes before Lawson came in and shifted everything around. During the time with him, it's obvious why they would be distracted and not thinking of Cordy. Of course, that tape on their mouths also helped in not allowing them to talk about it, even if they'd wanted to. Otherwise, it makes complete sense that in the five or ten minutes that they were trying to focus on work, they wouldn't be thinking of or talking about Cordy. You do what you can to distract yourself, and work is their distraction. Being that this was one small moment during the coping process, it didn't have to be about Cordy and doesn't mean they won't allow for some mourning in the next episode. I seriously doubt they'll just move along without even the slightest mention of her loss. We'll see them mourn, I just know it.
Like most, I enjoyed the episode, but wasn't ""moved" by it. I thotoughly enjoyed brunette Spike and "Demon Research Initiative". I wasn't to keen on the plight of Lawson...maybe because the "let's bring someone whom Angel did wrong and have them wait and brood UNTIL the 21st century" plot is getting a bit old to me.

And as far as the non-Cordy talk, yes, I was disappointed, but I was also thinking that this could just be one of ME's M.O.s --

'Let an intense moment drop until we can bring it into the story dramatically in in later ep.'

People were up-in-arms about no mention of the "Connor-thing". But lo and behold in 5.12, Connor IS addressed dramatically with Cordy. And let's not forget Xander's "Kick his Ass" line that wasn't revisted untli, what, 5 seasons later.
I loved this episode, not sure why, but I really did. It's a flashback episode that can rank up there with "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been" and "Darla".
How the Initiative or "Demon Research Initiative" (or whatever they called it) knew about Angel's soul puzzled me a bit, I didn't think too many people knew about it, the Gypsies were mostly killed, Darla wouldn't have told them, Wolfram & Hart might have known so maybe that's how they knew.
I'm not sure if it was the point of the character but the Prince of Lies was hilarious, from his Nosferatu-esque hand movements (never seen the film, just the Fast Show sketch, so I might be way off about that reference), to his voice. Was he supposed to be an ubervamp, or just a vampire even older than the Master?
I liked that a bit of Angel's soul was passed on to Lawson, so he couldn't relish in the kill, yet he didn't have enough of it to want to seek redemption, nice reference back to "The Trial" where Angel wondered if Darla would be any different to regular vampires if he sired her.
Spike finding out about the army of vampires was good too and all his ranting about how no ones going to fiddle around in his brain, and Lawson's "Our government wouldn't do that".
Anyway a great episode, if I was rating I'd have given last week a 5 and this week a 4.5 star rating. Next weeks looks brilliant, but Nina's in it so it could be dissapointing.
Just realized..about the non-Cordy talk...
Remember at the end of "Your Welcome" Cordelia said.."Explain [my leaving] to the others WHEN you understand it yourself."

So that could be a reason why there's no mention of her yet...
I didn't mind this episode...but I did notice three things I found kind of odd.

1. Spike's hair. It just looked purposefully tackily done...
2. The whole interaction between Spike and Lawson once they found out about the German plan could have been played for a little more comedy, especially with the foreshadowing of Spike's comments (see Ghost Spike's comment above).
3. The last shot. I noticed this back in Season 4 of Angel and in some episodes of Season 7 of Buffy, but is the directing rather inconsistent? I didn't like the last shot being done with a moving camera and the cut off...it looks like the scene might have been longer, but was cut for length.

On a completely random sidenote, the guy who plays Lawson is an alum from my school, so I was pretty psyched to see him. But I felt that the episode fell kind of flat.

[ edited by mchan on 2004-02-12 17:08 ]
Prince of Lies. I think they were going for Willem Dafoe in Shadow Of The Vampire. It was pretty spot-on there.

Cordy's death and lack of mention. First, as they want this season as open to new viewers as possible, not mentioning Cordy's death does just that this episode. We won't be seeing Cordy again this season. Second, they're talking about/trying to deal with the possibly pressing dangers, Eve, Lindsey, Senior Partners possibly. Different responses to grief, they're throwing themselves into work. I think I would have been disappointed if they had just mentioned it in passing.

The next episode. I'm gonna wait and see before I judge it. They've tried a lot of different things on Buffy and Angel, and most everything they've tried has been great. Usually if an episode fails, it's just a bad story, not because they tried something different.
Mchan - he was quite good. In fact, some of us decided that if Tom Cruise and Mark Harmon were to have a love child, he would be it. Too bad he got dusted.
One more thing - for a "filler" episode, it did generate a lot of commentary, didn't it?
A whole bunch of 'meh' with some good bits. It would have worked a lot better if they'd cast a more compelling actor in the role of Lawson. (You know who could have done it? Sean Maher.)

I missed the continuity stuff (initiative, chip foreshadowing, etc) while it was going on, but it's cool in hindsight.

Not!feratu and the camp vamp were hi-larious, wish they'd got a bit more screentime.
"Angel, Prince of Lies; Prince of Lies, Angel" Genius.

On another note did anyone else notice the theme of Angel being used by others (ie inititive) popping up again? Plus the paperwork about Nazi research into demon control didn't get entirely burned up. Did Spike's chip perchance come from that research?
Good call, Rootboy42. I love the idea of Spike ineffectually not burning up the Nazi research somehow coming back to haunt him in the form of chip in his brain. Love it. Also loved the Prince of Lies. And the blurted line from that pompous Russian vamp, "Rasputin was my lover!" I bust a gut on that one.
In terms of analyzing long-term continuity issues in Angel and Buffy (as discussed in this thread and many others), I've found in the past that the official shooting scripts contain intriguing info that didn't make it to the final stage -- the episodes themselves. I apologize if this is a bit off topic, but does anyone know how to access the psyche site that used to carry the Angel shooting scripts? The web address still exists (http://www.studiesinwords.de) but the page always comes up blank for me. It's frustrating as hell, since this site always used to be such a great resource.
Re: the title changes: 'Why We Fight' and 'Apocalypse Now' are both movie titles that are still under copyright protection. Parody falls under acceptable use, but homage does not; I think the title changes are just an effort by the WB to avoid lawsuits.
"Haven't seen the episode yet but I notice that the WB are calling the episode '1943' instead of 'Why We Fight', anyone know why?" - Simon

It's called a promotional title. The WB does it all the time, like every week for "Charmed." (This week's promo title for "Charmed" is surprisingly the actually title, but I guess that title more pomotable than "Why We Fight.") As Ghost Spaike said, it's the same the the WB did with "Apocalypse, Nowish," calling it "Rain of Fire."

My thoughts on "Why We Fight:" second-worst episode ever (after "Peace Out"). A 5 out of 10. Boring, although there a few good lines and a few clever moments. Take out the flashbacks and the episode's only ten minutes long. Mindless filler, expect for the second scene, which has important references to Eve. And no mention of Cordelia at all? WTF?!

Although this ep did have thematic continuity: Lawson couldn't find a reason for living. Previously, Angel has felt the same way.
Remember at the end of "Your Welcome" Cordelia said.."Explain [my leaving] to the others WHEN you understand it yourself."

I'm assuming that after the phone call, Angel does "understand it". I'm cool with the idea that either some time has passed since "You're Welcome.

I found this an interesting episode, overall. I'm not at all sure they're implying that a soul (or part of one) can be transmitted by blood, vampire to vampire. Thought this could just be a guy who, without a soul, really did't have a sense of direction.

One final note: was it just me, or is the color and lighting of the next-to-last shot -- the sun (!) on Angel's face as he looks at the cityscape through the curtains -- look extraordinarily like a color WWII movie scene? The color and texture just reminded me of the kind of shot you'd see in The Caine Mutiny or something like that.

Yes, I'm crazy.
I had always rationalized that "rapists and murderers, thieves and scoundrels" didn't count as real people, but after this episode, Angel's line "I haven't fed on a living human being since that day" seems like nothing but a lie.
He fed off Buffy.
Oooh! Sean Maher! How perfect would that have been? Love it!
I can't get on board with the objections I see being raised against "Why We Fight" on this discussion thread. From what I read, people have raised relatively few points that engage the episode itself. Mostly, people have just criticized it comparatively, i.e., "It's not as good as last week" or "It's not good enough for sweeps." Or they just say "Meh" -- which is fair, but doesn't say anything about the quality of the episode: it only speaks to an individual reaction to the experience of watching the episode.

I loved the continuity. I loved the flashbacks. With Spike as a full cast member, there're lots of opportunities to mine his history with Angel, and I'm glad to see the writers taking advantage of that.

Also: I'm watching Season 5 of Buffy with my girlfriend, and two nights ago we watched "Checkpoint," where Buffy stands up in history class to suggest that Rasputin was perhaps more than human. I'm sure that Drew Goddard was thinking of that when he had the Russian vamp say, "I was Rasputin's lover!" Three years later, we learn that Buffy was, of course, correct: Rasputin was a vampire, and that pedantic history prof was full of it.
"I loved the continuity. I loved the flashbacks. With Spike as a full cast member, there're lots of opportunities to mine his history with Angel, and I'm glad to see the writers taking advantage of that."

... and that somehow says more about the quality of the episode, exactly how? If you're going to critisise our, um, critique, you're going to have to do better than that!
Oooh, delavagus, that's a good catch about Rasputin. It is continuity stuff like this that I love. And last week, with Sebassis's slave being caught living off the toner fluid of one of W&H's copy machines. Heh heh -- hilarious in the context of that W&H employee who went mental in "Destiny" because no-one ever seemed to replace the toner (which had apparently been running out a lot...because of Sebassis's slave?)
This episode's flashback, in 1943, was well before when Angel fed off the person in the other flashback episode, so his statement about not feeding off a human being is still true by my interpretation.
I was talking about the episode "Angel" from the first season of Buffy. He was telling Buffy about how he came to have a soul. He said, "I haven't fed on a living human being since that day." That means from about 1898 (when the gypsies gave his soul back) to 1997 (when the episode aired). He fed off Buffy (and many others) after that time, but this flashback falls in within that timeframe.
Well, Lawson was close to death at the time. It is not like Angel killed him to feed, maybe that's what he meant by "living soul." Lawson was basically dead.
That's a stretch, but I can accept it.
I agree with RootBoy42. Angel didn't kill Lawson for his blood, therefore, Angel didn't lie in "Angel."
Well, if Angel didn't lie, then he was certainly stretching the truth a lot. While I wouldn't condone this, it is certainly understandable, if I was telling something like that to a vampire slayer I was in love with. I wouldn't be too keen to divulge that info either. Plus, in a way, his lying, if you want to look at it that way, makes him more interesting, more complex, more human.

In more practical terms, isn't it more interesting to sacrifice perfect continuity for the more dramatic and/or interesting presentation of the 100 years of pre-Buffy Angel? You Angel drinking because he wants to fit in as a vampire, even though it's nearly impossible ("Darla"); you got Angel siring Lawson because he is left with no other choice if he is to complete his mission and save the rest of the men ("Why We Fight"); and you get a struggling 70s Angel who drinks from the body of recently deceased young man ("Orpheus"). Much, much more interesting and complex than sitting around and eating rats for a 100 years.
But if your going that route, there are flashbacks from Angel season 2 (I believe it was Darla, it was the tie in to the Fool for Love crossover)Where Darla said he was drinking from hoodlums and criminals. And there's also the time when Angel had his soul and he fed off that aristocratic woman but then stopped halfway after having second thoughts, not to mention Buffy in Graduation which was already said. I guess some of this you have to take with a grain of salt like how old Angel really is right now... and blunders like that. As long as it doesn't change the plotlines or stories, which it hasn't, it's fine.
Like I said earlier, I could rationalize Darla's comment and Angel didn't drink from Buffy until after he made that comment, so that can't be held used against him. I had no problem at all with Orpheus, because he was already dead.

In fact, I don't see it is a continuity violation for him to have vamped Lawson. It just means that he had lied way back when (a little white lie, perhaps, but still a lie). Like Shroomy said, that just makes him more interesting and complex.
Not to get too geeky about it, but where in the Whedonverse cannon does it say that human souls are eternally damned for the evil committed once the vampire demon non-soul moves in?

Of course, they never fully answer the question of what becomes of a human soul once the vampire demon-essence or whatever arrives, but it seems awfully unfair. (Of course, the Whedonverse isn't exactly known for fairness!)
About Lawson having a soul... Didnt Spike sire a few vamps after he got his soul? In "Conversations" the guy who now plays Knox is a Vamp that mentions that he was sired by Spike. Even though he was under the influence of the First, if Spike had a soul the Knox Vamp should have had one also. So yeah, like Angel said, it doesnt work like that.
How come with the exception of pre-soul-Spike, and possibly Harmony, vampires are one of the few types of demons on these shows that are always regarded as evil, that must be killed. There's never any gray area, or good vampires that don't have souls (or good reasons to behave, or like Harmony, are just crap at being evil), Lawson wanted a mission yet Angel wasn't willing to give him any chance. There are and have been demons on the show that are everything but evil, Lorne, Doyle, yet vampires always are. True, Spike and Angel would lose some of theire uniqueness. Rambled a bit there, it's just Lawsons lost between good and evil that got me wondering.
Haven't read the comments of others, but Herc's nuts. This was a brutally stupid affair and shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as ep 100.

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