In the nineteenth episode of the fifth season of Angel, Illyria proves to be a bigger problem to Angel’s team than they expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
This was a really weird episode, but I enjoyed it a lot. I think the first half of “Time Bomb” (GET IT GET IT OH GOD I NOW UNDERSTAND THE EPISODE TITLE oh god okay) is slow for a reason. We really needed to see how these characters were adjusting to the chaos around them. And for a few scenes, that chaos actually goes away. What does Gunn do now that he’s been removed from the hell dimension he’d been suffering in for two weeks? Where does Illyria fit in at Wolfram & Hart, and can she ever fit in? What’s the next move that Angel should make? And what the fuck is going on with Wesley?
Wesley’s ongoing obsession with Illyria takes up most of the story, and it’s scary to see how much he’s let himself go. But this isn’t like Dark Wesley from season three. It’s eerie how careless Wesley seems, almost as if he’s amused by what’s happened to him and this is the only emotion he can feel. He doesn’t seem like he’s mourning anymore; has he given up caring? Does he keep Illyria around because she is in Fred’s body? Why the detached interest? Like Angel says at the end of the episode, I don’t like where this is going. Fred is gone, Wesley, and you’re not going to find her within Illyria. Perhaps this is just the thing that Wesley latches on to, like it’s the only thing that keeps him from slipping away into nothing. I thought that might be the case, but then you see his behavior when he’s locked up in his office, and that‘s not particularly positive, either. So what gives?
I don’t think there’s an answer to this in “Time Bomb,” and that’s the case for all the characters. Gunn is left in a stupor of confusion and shock when he returns to Wolfram & Hart. How can you just go back to a job after an experience like that? Even worse, the entire environment has no appeal to Gunn. It’s bad enough that he’s got an ungodly stack of work on his desk, but where do you even begin? Everything about Gunn’s position reeks of moral ambiguity, of compromise, of adaptation. These very things which Illyria refuses to subsume into her existence are the same issues Gunn is struggling with. He is sick of adapting. He is sick of trying to find the exception to the rule, the one choice that makes him feel less gross than the others. I guess I appreciated the “slower” part of this episode because it so obviously paralleled Gunn and Illyria in a really fascinating. And both characters find no closure at the end of “Time Bomb.” They’re both forced to deal with the fact that other people in their lives have made decisions for them, leaving them without the power or confidence that they once had. In that sense, there in an even worse space than they were at the beginning of the episode. Both fought hard and viciously for their own survival and agency, and both lost. (And for the record, it does kind of bother me that there’s only one major “woman” character left on this show, and the writers take all her power away. Again. Come on, y’all.)
As thrilling, bewildering, and exciting the entire time loop sequence is (TIME TRAVEL ON ANGEL, SHIT YEAH), I feel like I’m mostly left with questions. Which is fine! It’s a little strange because I am so close to the end. (Oh god, there are only three episodes left ever, and it still hasn’t hit me.) First of all, there is one huge question I need to ask: WHO THE FUCK MADE ILLYRIA JUMP THROUGH TIME? I thought that the weapon Wes was holding did it, but nope! And Angel has no knowledge of ever authorizing this, so what the fuck is going on? Given that Marcus tells Wesley that the Senior Partners don’t want Illyria around, I wanted to propose a ~totally awesome theory~ about how they were behind it. Except something doesn’t fit: they refused to help save Fred. If they didn’t want Illyria around, why not stop her from taking over Fred’s body? I suppose it goes without saying that Marcus Hamilton is hiding something, but y’all… that fucker is hiding something.
I guess I’m still mystified by the Senior Partners. Who are they? Do they have a hand in the whole apocalypse scheme Lindsey was talking about? Where are Lindsey and Eve? I wouldn’t even let those two out of my sight, for the record. But that’s not the point. I guess I’m a bit frightened about the future. I know the answer is here, staring at me, but I cannot put these pieces together. It’s so frustrating! Bah, there are only three episodes left. Ugh, only three episodes left. I’m sad now, too.
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