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(Review) Angel 6.03 'After The Fall'

17th January 2008 (18:49)

Gobsmacked. That was me after reading the last page of 'After The Fall' #3. There may even have been a few words of incredulous profanity uttered... It certainly wasn't a development I was anticipating; but with hindsight it's perfectly logical, as all the best surprise twists are.

So, on with the review.

I was a bit confused by the voiceover on the first page: I was actually thinking it might be Spike talking until I realised it was Angel. From the state of the Playboy Mansion it seems that Spike is still, as Buffy once called him, a pig. I was also amused by the fact that there's not one but two bras hanging from the light fittings in his bedroom.

So 'Primordial' Sanskrit is apparently the language spoken by the God-King of the Primordium and her subjects, rather than, say, the language spoken by the Aryan invaders of India in the second millennium BCE. Okay. And the plot reveal in this episode is that Angel had decided that either Illyria killed the people in Westwood, with Spike's help, because she's emotionally unstable - or that a person or persons unknown faked the scene to implicate them. My only question now is whether that was indeed Gunn's plan, to make Angel suspect Spike - or if he's pulling some sort of double bluff that's yet to be revealed. We also learn in the final scene of this issue that the other demon Lords of LA really have jumped to the conclusion that Illyria is the one who killed Kr'ph - so Gunn's scheme worked there at least.

With hindsight, when Illyria tells Angel he's "half of what you were" and Angel replies "Tell me about it", that's a big clue to the reveal on the final page. I'm not sure why Angel thinks a pistol will be more effective than stabbing her with a big steak-knife... and I'm wondering if the 'click' was him discovering the gun was empty, or him actually pulling the trigger but learning that Illyria is once again fast enough to even dodge bullets.

They used the Mutari generator (thanks, Brian, for the reference to save me looking it up!) to suck away Illyria's time-control powers in 'Time Bomb'; but it's suggested here that they're returning now she's in Hell. Hence the uncontrolled jumps through time during the fight. I assume the different colored text boxes indicate the thoughts of present-day Angel (the ones in white) and alternate-history Angel (the ones in blue, yellow, green and blue again). In order, the timeslips seem to be:
1. 18th century Angel - is this Liam or Angelus? He has no clue who Illyria is here.
2. Angel from the episode 'Smile Time'. He now thinks the woman in front of him is Fred.
3. Angel in some sort of futuristic plant room or even a spaceship corridor. He remembers Illyria as a face from his past.
4. A baby. I assume from context that this is baby Angel/Liam and not, say, Connor. His thoughts are those you'd expect from a baby remembering the womb. The only confusing thing is why this timeslip is the last one, when the others were in chronological order. Unless Angel is going to be reborn as a newborn infant at some point in the future?

And Angel notices Illyria hesitates to kill him, and leaps to the conclusion that there may be something of Fred left inside her. Which we've all been suspecting too, of course. :-) Interesting that he's having moral qualms as to whether he should exploit this against Illyria. I wonder if Illyria's comment about when Angel's gone "we move forward" is significant? Would killing him break the barrier around Los Angeles? And when Spike casually answers Angel's question about 'when is this?' with 'still now', does that mean he's accustomed to Illyria's uncontrollable time-slips already?

If Illyria were a human male, I'd say she was engaging in testosterone-fuelled showing off in her attempt to defeat Angel's dragon. But the motives of godlike demonic rulers of the primordial age before humanity are unfathomable to mere mortals. :-) She doesn't appear to actually hurt the dragon at all, but she's pretty much invulnerable to anything it does to her too. The fight scene reminded me of a couple of things, actually, though I don't know if they were conscious influences: the battle between Tok, Beck and the giant monkey in 'Shadow Puppets' (which was an equally irrelevant battle while the main character had a plot-related conversation); and the scene in 'Fray' where Melaka is swallowed by the Gateway (though that might just be two people having the same idea independently).

'Fred Sonja' is a highly amusing pop-culture reference. :-)

And we get the reveal of what Spike was really up to. Again, 'After The Fall' really isn't stringing us along with big multi-episode mysteries. The fact that Connor was working with Spike as well as Angel was an interesting twist... and from Angel's perspective, I bet that's 'twist' as in 'knives' and 'wounds'. And Spike's 'harem' is actually a vigilante army - I wonder if all of them are scantily clad demon babes, or if the more modest or more male members of his army are simply not invited to his after-work parties?

Also, while some of the women are clearly demonic, others are apparently human... so I wonder if this is the solution of the mystery about where Los Angeles's Slayer population ended up? [Trivia Alert: 2,000 Slayers out of a population of 6 billion means one per three million people - so five from Los Angeles if they're evenly distributed. They may not be, of course - or for that matter, the 2,000 Slayers Buffy knows about may be mostly from the Western world, and she's never been able to track down or contact the thousands of Slayers who were called in China and India.] It's also interesting to compare Spike's army of women warriors with the very similar force Buffy has put together - although of course Buffy's troops wear Kevlar jackets and combat boots, not skimpy bikinis. I imagine Buffy would have a few Words to exchange with Spike if they ever get to compare notes. :-)

A small revelation: Wesley doesn't know about Illyria. And Angel's not telling him, in order to spare his feelings.

Now we get to meet the remaining Lords of Los Angeles. Is it just me, or is the Lord of Santa Monica either the loan-shark demon from 'Tabula Rasa' or one of his close relatives? Also, note that the Lords consider Illyria, not Spike, to be the true ruler of Beverley Hills. Looks like he was just spinning stories last issue.

I don't know if Angel's declaration of war and battle with the Seven Lords is going to be the mainstay of the arc or just the first stage of it, but it certainly kicks things into high gear. Angel seems to be making it up as he goes along here, but I wonder if he does have something special planned, that Wesley doesn't know about...

And then the big reveal: Angel isn't a vampire anymore. OMG. The casual mention of him 'not being half of what he used to be' earlier on falls into place now, as does why he was using Wolfram & Hart's healing resources so much in previous issues. And why we've never seen him vamping out so far. Everybody else in LA seems to assume that he's still a vampire, though, so he's clearly keeping it secret - perhaps to hide his weakness. That invites the question as to what abilities he has now; obviously not vampiric healing. He's still an extremely competent fighter, however - and he managed to put Spike on the floor with a single punch (though admittedly Spike was drunk at the time). That kind of implies he's still got more than human strength - although unlike 'Buffy', 'Angel' tended to downplay the physical differences between vampires and humans. Of course, Angel says he's not a vampire, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he's human - that's only an assumption.

So is this the Shanshu? "The vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, survives the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and the fiends that will be unleashed, will Shanshu.  Become human." It seems to fit. Angel supposedly signed it away in 'Not Fade Away', but I've always been a bit dubious about that... a prophecy is not a contract, and traditionally, attempting to avoid a prophecy only makes it even more likely to come true. "I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra." If it's true, it's deeply ironic that what was supposed to be Angel's reward has in fact been twisted into part of his punishment.

However, it's not necessarily the Shanshu. In 'Asylum', Brian Lynch introduced a type of demon - a Ringel - which can drain away other demons' powers in its presence - including Spike's ability to go into gameface and (presumably) to use his other vampiric powers. It's possible that a similar kind of effect on a larger scale is at work here, rather than that Angel is actually human.,

I'm sure we'll find out soon...

Comments

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 19:52 (UTC)

Thanks! And you wouldn't believe how long it took me to find the right quote, because I couldn't remember the source and I wasn't even sure which cities were involved - I vaguely remembered that one of them was Baghdad, but of course Googling "death" and "Baghdad" is going to come up with 9,343,342,564,242 results about events of the last ten years...

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 19:35 (UTC)
Comic book Spangel

From the state of the Playboy Mansion it seems that Spike is still, as Buffy once called him, a pig. I was also amused by the fact that there's not one but two bras hanging from the light fittings in his bedroom.

No fair. Spike's crypt was always pretty tidy until Riley blew it up. Is it his fault if these girls - let alone the who knows how many people in the basement, don't clean up after themselves?

As for whether or not Angel's human, I think he probably is. It would be so typical of W&H to trick him with the Shanshu and give it to him when it's about the last thing he wants. Also, note that the demon lords were saying to each other that W&H had warned them not to kill Angel. There must be a very good reason for that. Maybe, if they do, HellA will revert back to the normal world?

Wonder what this means for Angel eventually?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 19:56 (UTC)
angel-dragon

I seem to remember Spike and Buffy trashing the crypt several times, though...

And I think you're right that killing Angel would break the spell on LA; it's been brought to Hell as his punishment, so if he's not around to be punished, no need for the barrier...

Which reminds me - it was refreshing to see the editor of this comic - unlike Scott Allie - deal with the question of "does Buffy know what's going on in LA?" up front and honestly by choosing that particular letter to print, and then giving a nice straightforward answer to it.

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 21:36 (UTC)
Comic book Spangel

Excuse my French but Scot Allie is a bit of an arse IMO.

You may think this bizarre, but I thought I'd read the letters page properly and I don't remember that. I do remember Chris Ryall (I guess it was him) saying they didn't completely rule out Buffy turning up at some point, though I really don't think it will happen.

I'm sure Spike and Buffy did trash the crypt but I think Spike tidied up afterwards. When Buffy called him a 'pig' it was because of things he said, not because he lived in squalor.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2008 01:42 (UTC)
buffy-S8

Perhaps it's just my interpretation: but there was the letter asking why Buffy and the Slayer Army haven't turned up in LA to help - and Chris Ryall mentions the "supposedly impenetrable barrier keeping Angel and company trapped", so Buffy wouldn't be able to get there "even if she wasn't busy in her own title". It just seems more upfront - the same way Brian Lynch jumps in to clear up any non-spoiler plot points that people are getting confused about.

Much as I like season 8, I wish Joss and Dark Horse took the same approach...


And maybe it's Illyria that's not houseproud, then? :-)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 20th January 2008 22:34 (UTC)
Pyjama Spike

And maybe it's Illyria that's not houseproud, then? :-)

More likely, it's just the very large number of people in the house. It does tend to lead to untidyness, as I know from bitter experience. And after all, it may not be the Bikini Brigades' job to clear up after Spike but it's not his job to clear up after them either.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 19:48 (UTC)

I was a bit confused by the voiceover on the first page: I was actually thinking it might be Spike talking until I realised it was Angel.

I really liked that first page; shades of Buffy fighting the vampire at the beginning of "Prophecy Girl", sailing through the air in slo-mo... (Also, in addition to the two bras, there are three wine glasses on the table. I'm sure the Spuffangel=OT3 fans will find a wank for this. ;-) )

Unless Angel is going to be reborn as a newborn infant at some point in the future?

Three words: Angel/2001 crossover.

He now thinks the womean in front of him is Fred.

Is that a misspell, or an intentional play on Illyria's double nature? ;-)

Connor was working with Spike

Good thing that they said that was Connor; from the art, I almost thought it was Faith at first. Should have known it was a man by the fact that he was wearing clothes. ;-)

is the Lord of Santa Monica either the loan-shark demon from 'Tabula Rasa' or one of his close relatives?

I really hope it's him; the idea of there being TWO of him is not a pleasant one. Nice callback, though.

Here's a thought: what if Angel died in the alley and is back under his W&H contract? Didn't he say back in #1 that that thingy Wesley used to heal him was the only thing alive in the room...?

Though if he IS human (one in surprisingly good shape - but hey, if Robin Wood could beat up Spike...) that would make him the only real human of the bunch. Spike's a vampire, Illyria's an elder God, Wesley's a ghost, Nina's a werewolf (sort of), Gwen's a "freak" and Connor is whatever the hell he is... which means that if Angel really does take on the demons, he's essentially fulfilling his speech to Lindsey in NFA.

Good issue. I just wonder what they're going to do once they're out of Shocking Last-Page Revelations™...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 20:06 (UTC)

Angel/2001 crossover
"Open the pod bay doors, Spike"... no. Not going there.

Is that a misspell
All my posts have at least one typo. It's a rule.

Should have known it was a man by the fact that he was wearing clothes.
And the lack of boobage. Although he does seem to be hitting the eyeliner pretty hard...

In Hell, everyone's a goth.

I just wonder what they're going to do once they're out of Shocking Last-Page Revelations
I suspect that the reason it's a 12-issue series is because Joss and Brian managed to come up with exactly 12 shocking revelations. :-)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 21:00 (UTC)
swimming

I really hope it's him; the idea of there being TWO of him is not a pleasant one. Nice callback, though.

I also hope it's him. Just imagine the wealth of embarassing situations for Angel and Spike: "Hey, Angel, your blonde minion thought he's a vampire with a soul when the Slayer was straddling him! She thought it was a lame idea, though". :)

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 20:45 (UTC)
ComicA Angel Connor heads

I just read the issue now(twice), and loooved it. Wonky time/weird stuff is a fave of mine. Also, in the spaceish warp,is it just me, or does Angel's hair look like it's gray. To me, it looks like he's older, but that can just be the art, or a way to mislead us. So happy to see Angel not mention Illyria to Wesley, still the scene I'm looking forward to the most, when Wes and Illy meet up again *rubs hands in anticipation.

Also real glad they decided to go with Spike and Connor buddying up. hehe

Only boo I have is no Gunn in this issue, but by next issue's cover I don't think that'll last :)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 20:55 (UTC)
Angel

does Angel's hair look like it's gray. To me, it looks like he's older, but that can just be the art, or a way to mislead us.

I've got the impression that it's future!Angel as he says he didn't think he'd see Illyria again.

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 21:03 (UTC)
ComicA Angel doorway powerwalk

Oh, me too. Just mentioning it, as it implies Angel won't get vampy again. This is permanent.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 22:13 (UTC)

Well, theoretically he could become a vampire again at the end of 'After The Fall', and at some even further date in the future get the real Shanshu instead of this cheap W&H knock-off he's been given. :-)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 10:35 (UTC)

I wonder if it has something to do with Joss having a future film with Sarah and David in mind.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 11:21 (UTC)

I'm sure I've heard somebody (maybe Joss himself, maybe James Marsters, or someone like that) say that the only way a film with either Angel or Spike would be credible now is if the backstory included "they were human for a while, aged ten years, and then became vampires once more". :-)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 11:42 (UTC)
Hee

I believe it was Joss

http://www.vh1.com/movies/news/articles/1551700/20070206/story.jhtml

In terms of a Buffy movie, both David [Boreanaz] and Sarah [Michelle Gellar] have pretty much got swinging careers and have never really wanted to revisit the characters anyway. It's doubtful that would happen. I never say never, and it would be fun to do it with them. I would be willing to overlook certain discrepancies. Ultimately, a movie would have to pick them up later in their lives anyway. I would have to fudge it with David, like "He got his mortality back for five years and then he lost it again," or something like that. I don't think anybody's going to mind that much if they get a movie.

But I've got the impression that it's more than five years that has passed here. Angel looks much older. Then again he's pictured in a hi-tech environment. maybe he's there to get a rejuvenation pill. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 13:59 (UTC)

Thanks! I remember that quote now. Joss is saying that he'd be willing to fudge the storyline a little if it made the film make more sense (like he did with 'Serenity' and 'Firefly') and people were interpreting that as "OMG Joss admits that S8 isn't canon after all!!!1!!eleven!!!"

Speaking of Firefly, maybe that scene in AtF #3 is foreshadowing a crossover? Angel vs Mal?

Edited at 2008-01-18 14:00 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 15:29 (UTC)

maybe that scene in AtF #3 is foreshadowing a crossover? Angel vs Mal?

Who knows? To continue quoting...

http://actionadventure.about.com/od/celebrityinterviews/a/aawhedonS.htm (the link is broken, but it was there recently, I swear!)

Fred Topel: Could Serenity take place in the same universe as Buffy but the monsters were taken care of long ago?

Joss Whedon: I think you could make an argument for it, but I wouldn’t. The only thing we ever thought of doing is having a drunken and very miserable Spike at a bar just sitting there going, ‘Nothing changes. Trust me, nothing changes.’ That would’ve been in our decadent era. That would have been like season six. But no, I have to think about them as totally separate because they have different sensibilities and they have different sets of rules. It’s very important that Serenity be grounded. I had to go into outer space to come back down to earth but Buffy was a fantasy, a metaphor for rites of passage of our lives and Serenity is something else.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 23:50 (UTC)

people were interpreting that as "OMG Joss admits that S8 isn't canon after all!!!1!!eleven!!!"

I don't see who would do that, since according to Joss the target audience for a movie would be completely different and Joss fans don't mind about continuity anyway. ;-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2008 01:47 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 19th January 2008 11:28 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 20:52 (UTC)
Duster_by_awmp

Great review, a lot of food for thought.

It certainly wasn't a development I was anticipating; but with hindsight it's perfectly logical, as all the best surprise twists are.

Interestingly, Joss has shuffled spoilers and foilers when he was talking at Kerry rally in 2004

Не said: "Gunn pretty much dies, Illyria lives, Spike got the Shanshu, Angel gets his arm cut off, and Xander loses another eye which is weird because he wasn't even there."

It's also interesting to compare Spike's army of women warriors with the very similar force Buffy has put together - although of course Buffy's troops wear Kevlar jackets and combat boots, not skimpy bikinis. I imagine Buffy would have a few Words to exchange with Spike if they ever get to compare notes. :-)

The attire partially depends on the climate I suppose, it's colder in Scotland than in Hell. ;)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 22:12 (UTC)

Spike was definitely in vampfae in issue 2, wasn't he? (When he attacked Angel). That was my impression, although it wasn't completely clear from the artwork.

And even when she lived in Southern California Buffy didn't run around in the sort of stuff Spike's Bunnies are wearing...

(I call them Bunnies because a) They're based in Hefner's Playboy Mansion b) Bunnies are by far the scariest creatures in the Buffyverse...)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 17th January 2008 23:40 (UTC)
Hee

Spike was definitely in vampfae in issue 2, wasn't he? (When he attacked Angel). That was my impression, although it wasn't completely clear from the artwork.

That was my impression too.

And even when she lived in Southern California Buffy didn't run around in the sort of stuff Spike's Bunnies are wearing...

It's because it wasn't so hot in Los-Angeles in the pre-Hell days. ;)

I agree, it's unfair. Spike trains hot babes. Buffy should train hot hunks.

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 00:37 (UTC)
Angelmobile

Just because Joss said something doesn't mean he'll follow it, I mean, he is "Ooops, forgot Warren was dead!" guy.

Maybe Spike couldn't afford the good stuff because all the banks had already been robbed. :D

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 10:32 (UTC)
Duster_by_awmp

Just because Joss said something doesn't mean he'll follow it,

I agree. It's just interesting to trace the development of his ideas re season 6.

Maybe Spike couldn't afford the good stuff because all the banks had already been robbed.

You mean Buffy has robbed a bank where Spike has been keeping his money? That it's Buffy's revenge to Spike for not running to her when he has got resurrected? :)))

Posted by: MrTeufel (mrteufel)
Posted at: 18th January 2008 00:29 (UTC)

Ok, I see I'd better put this comic on my list. If nothing else, for my sister - who loves this stuff even more than I do.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 20th January 2008 18:07 (UTC)
angel-dragon

Thanks for the comments...

Point taken that Spike is trying to disguise his activities - but I don't think that would stop Buffy making a pointed comment or two about the particular disguise he chose... And Kr'ph was training an army of gladiators, so I don't see why another Lord training an army of bikini avengers would be a problem.

And Spike does call himself a Lord in #2, and so does one of his guardians. It's only in #3 that we discover that the other Lords consider Illyria, not him, to rule Beverley Hills. There's no real evidence that Spike feels himself subordinate to Illyria - although of course she considers that everyone in the world is her subordinate. :-) He calls her 'lady' - not 'my lady' - but he also calls her 'love' and 'psycho'.

As far as I gathered, the shanshu was a simple prophecy about the future, that the vampire with a soul would become mortal. The idea that it was a 'reward' or a sign of redemption was what Wesley, Cordelia and Angel read into it, not something inherent in the thing itself. It's certainly ironic if it turns out to be a punishment after all...

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 20th January 2008 21:34 (UTC)
angel-dragon

Spike and Angel spent a heck of a lot of time in the comics and Buffy series with their clothes off, more so than the women did. Interesting. Usually it is the opposite. Not that I'm complaining.
Brian Lynch apparently understands his target audience quite well. :-)

I missed Spike's comment about Illyria being "in no condition" - interesting. Is this part of her punishment, or something else entirely?

As for their relationship, my assessment is something along these lines: Illyria has the raw power, but Spike understands the politics and does the thinking. The other demons - who only respect power - see Illyria as the unchallenged leader. Illyria herself thinks she's the natural-born ruler of everything, but begrudgingly admits that she doesn't really understand the modern world so is willing to accept advice and guidance from Spike, as long as he shows proper respect. (And maybe, secretly, she's also got more of Fred's personality inside her than she'd admit, and actually quite likes Spike). And finally Spike sees Illyria as an exasperating, uncontrollable force of nature that has to be gently pointed in the right direction to make sure she damages the right people.(And likewise, maybe he's secretly a little bit fond of her).


A while ago, I remember somebody complaining that with Cordelia dead, Fred dead, and now Gunn a vampire and Wesley a ghost, there were no humans left on the show. Irony, right? :-)

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