Adaptation and Compromise   

Review of AtS, Episode 5.19: Time Bomb

“They always say time changes things
but you actually have to change them yourself.”

– Andy Warhol

Isn’t it somewhat ironic that Illyria rescues Gunn from having to repeat the same event day after day and then Angel (and team) rescue her from repeating the same events time after time? Wes really meant it when he agreed with her that they’d owe her one. Guess that makes them even steven.

This is probably going to be one of my favorite episodes of the season. Everyone played a part in the storyline and the more I watch it the more things I notice. So many references to everything that has been going on this season, you have to love the continuity factor.

What is that? You want me to point out some of the examples? You got it. At the beginning of the season, Eve was quick to point out that W&H is a business and to keep it, they’d have to bring in profits. Here we have Hamilton reminding our boys that they’ve spending too much time on their own interests and that profits have dropped drastically. And, at the beginning of this episode we have Angel, himself echoing Eve as he sarcastically cheers Wes on with a “Go Team!” Later Wes reminds us that he’s still adjusting to having his lost memories restored. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Moving on to our time bomb. Time warp episodes are nothing new but it didn’t bother me to see the technique reused. For one thing, none of the scenes were true repeats. The camera angle and character point of view was different for each giving us a new perspective each time. Since we also hear from each of our team members on where we stand at this point in the season, this technique of multiple scenes from different perspectives nicely parallels what is happening within the story.

Throughout this episode, Illyria is stuck in time. Trapped by her powers. Yet, she can’t see it. She fights to hold on to her power because she believes her power defines her. She preaches to Wes, Spike, Lorne, and Angel that she is a god among men, “the ooze that eats itself.” She’d rather die than to be their equal. Even when Angel warns her that she needs to accept what she has become rather than trying to hold to what she was because fighting the change is destroying her, she resists.

In the end, she has to compromise. She gives in because she must. She has to adapt or she will be obliterated. Change hurts but it’s necessary to survive. At the end of the episode, we leave Illyria curled up on the floor still smarting from the ass kicking time has given her. Yet giving up her god-like powers has actually gained her a place not only in this dimension but on the team as well.

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
- Janis Joplin

Illyria claims that adaptation is nothing but compromise. She says it with such contempt that Spike is moved to point out that adapting is actually about learning. And, in the end, Illyria does compromise. Compromise. This whole season has been about compromise. Angel and team have been compromising since they walked through the front doors at W&H. They came in expecting to use the firm for good only to discover they had to make concessions. In order to keep this powerful tool, they have to keep it profitable. That means working side by side with the demons and evil that W&H represent.

Sign a contract here, appease some demons there. All in the name of good, right? But, is it? Or, as Gunn asked, are they just “hiding the horror?” At what point do the compromises mean letting go of their morals and sinking deeper into the trap the Senior Partners have built? At this point in the season, each move counts. Each decision either makes a stand against evil or it helps further The Apocalypse along. Which is why the last scene leaves me wondering what exactly Angel is planning. He has been warned of the Senior Partner’s endgame. So, I have to hope he’s done compromising himself and getting himself positioned for the final fight. I won’t lie and say that Angel declaring to Gunn that they need to serve their clients doesn’t have me worried but, with only three episodes left, I am going to trust in Joss and Co. After all, they’ve chucked out great episode after great episode this season, I’m sure the next three are going to be just as memorable.

This and That

  • Vacation Sucks. Poor Gunn. That pile of work… that’s exactly how my desk looks when I get back from my 2 week “vacations” too.
  • Cyanide anyone? The Fell demons’ leader makes Jim Jones look like a Sunday school teacher? Now THAT is scary. Also, a nice subtle reference to a leader using mind control to get his follower’s that endangers their lives.
  • Nick Knack Paddy Whack Give A Person a New Name… Angel Ears, Secret Demon, Bluebird, Grandma, A Walking Obituary, Our Lady of the Blue Bummer, Babe of Blue Ox, Plucky Little Boatload of Good, Little Shiva, Leary, The Ooze That Eats Itself,
  • Talky Angel. Haha, Angel hasn’t been all that talky lately but he demands that Lorne use a walky talky to keep in touch? Then he proceeds to prove to use that he isn’t talky by not communicating back to Lorne on the walky.
  • Growing? Is it just me or has Amy Acker grown taller? It looks like those Illyria boots are platforms but Amy amazes me with the change in her body language. She just seems longer and taller as Illyria than she ever did as Fred.
  • Demonic Pacts. Gotta say, if you need advice on the pros and cons of demonic pacts, Angel and Gunn are the guys to give it. After all, they’ve got plenty of experience with the consequences of making pacts with demons.
  • He said, she said.
    • “I stabbed you. I should apologize for that but I’m honestly not sure how… I… think it’ll just be awkward.”
    • I: “When the world met me it shuddered, groaned, it knelt at my feet…” S: “Dear Penthouse, I don’t normally write letters like this but…”
    • “To never die and to conquer all, that is winning.”
    • “Oh god, don’t go in there! That’s where he keeps his full strength crazy.”
    • “It’s a business boys, not a bat cave.”
    • “Well, I’ll tell ya what. Still like him better than Eve.”
    • “I don’t want you dead. Believe me.”
    • “Don’t you worry. He will snap her like a pregnant twig.”
    • “You know what the worst part of that place was? It wasn’t the basement. At least there you knew where you stood. A demon was going to cut your heart out and show it to you. No, it was the fake life they gave you upstairs. Wife, kids, all the icings on the family cake but somewhere underneath it, there was the nagging certainty that it was all lies. That all the smiles and the birthday candles and the homework were just there to hide the horror. Is that all we’re doing here? Just hiding the horror?”
    • “The vampire plays children’s games.”
    • “Well, do you copy EVER?!”
    • “Wouldn’t be cost effective. I’m sure we make a lot from cancer.”
    • “She’s a walking nightmare. Isn’t she?”
    • “We’re motivated go-getters.”
    • “You caged me in this fractured time frame.”
    • “My God, the speechifying!”
    • “You are a paradox. You are impossible.”
    • “You’re a slave to an insane construct. You are moral. A true ruler is as moral as a hurricane. Empty but for the force of his gale. But you, trapped in the web of the Wolf, the Ram, the Hart. So much power here and you quibble at its price. If you want to win a war, you must serve no master but your ambition.”
    • “Change is constant. Yet things remain the same.”
    • “Oh guys… this isn’t good.”
    • “Oh a bit pessimistic, aren’t you?”
    • “It’s not murder if you say yes.”
    • “That’s just weird.”
    • “Serve no master but your ambition.”
    • “What we’re supposed to… server our clients.”

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