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Cunning Plans

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I have been watching Power Play and Not Fade Away and I have two observations to make.

The first is that, whilst I have always believed they all died in the alley, it has to be said that Angel clearly had something up his sleeve. The reason I say this is because he was obviously trying to fetch something from his apartment in Wolfram and Hart. The sequence of events is as follows:

  • Angel leaves W&H for the final planning meeting.
  • He then returns to W&H.
  • He checks with Harmony that Hamilton is in the building.
  • He then goes up to his own apartment at the top of the building, which is where Hamilton finds him.
  • They fight.
  • After the fight Angel then goes to his office. He sees Eve there and goes straight back out again.

Now a few points can be deduced from all this. When Angel left for Spike’s apartment he had already long before set on course the death of Archduke Sebassis, so he knew that his task was to be killing Hamilton. And he knew that Harmony was not to be trusted so his plan to deal with Hamilton was clearly not dependent on him actually being occupied. In other words, it is not credible that he went back to his apartment to fetch a weapon just to deal with Hamilton – he would have taken it with him when he first left or stashed it somewhere he could get at it more easily. Besides, we know what he went up for – a pair of long curved knives in a wooden box – and at no point does he attempt to use them against Hamilton. My conclusion is that those knives were never intended for Hamilton.

After the fight with Hamilton, the building is falling down around his ears. Having ensured that Connor is safe we could decently expect Angel to leave, but instead he returns to his office. The conversation with Eve barely lasts a second before he is out of there. It is as if he has changed his mind. But why did he go in there in the first place? The obvious answer is that he was trying to get to the elevator back up to his apartment, and I can only assume that what he saw in the office to make him turn round so sharpish was that the collapse of the building had rendered the elevator useless. It had to be something that he saw in the office, because there was no time for anything else.

So, the fascinating problem that now faces us is what was so important about those knives that Angel was willing to spend time in a collapsing building going up to his apartment for them. It clearly wasn’t just that he wanted a weapon – the office was hung with weapons that he showed no interest in. Besides, we later saw him with a sword which he presumably had in his car or somewhere. He wanted those knives and only those knives.

Knives in the Jossverse often have special powers or significance. There was the knife in I’ve Got You Under My Skin that was the only thing that would kill a Kek demon. There was Faith’s knife and all the emotional resonance it held. What power did these knives have for Angel?

They weren’t to kill Hamilton but he didn’t mind letting Hamilton see them – otherwise he would have left going for them until after the fight (bearing in mind that he hadn’t foreseen the collapse of the building). My conclusion is that he wanted to taunt Hamilton with them, to throw him off balance in some way. So I would suggest that the knives were in fact something that could be used as a direct threat to the Senior Partners.

In which case Angel was certainly not going into the alley with the notion of only killing the demon horde.

My second observation is a little Christmas present for Shapinglight who worries all the time because Angel calls Spike stupid. However, in Power Play Angel refers to Lindsey as a pathetic halfwit. Now Lindsey may be many things, but stupid isn’t one of them, not by the normal definition of the word. He is one of the smartest people on the show. I therefore think that Angel tends to give a different definition to stupidity than most people – I strongly suspect that his definition of stupid is ‘someone who disagrees with Angel’s opinions.’

We can even see this in the occasions when Angel calls Spike stupid. In Destiny, Spike and Angel disagree on the phone about whether or not Spike should be driving to The Columns, and Angel’s response is idiot. Newly turned William disagrees with Angelus about whether or not Dru can be his, and he is a bit dim. And in Fool for Love, when Spike has the temerity to disagree with Angelus over the value of a good brawl, it is his intelligence that Angelus immediately calls into question – saying with heavy irony That’s a brilliant strategy. Really – pure cunning.

There is no question that for Angelus and hence Angel the most stupid thing a person can do is to disagree with him. So by Angel’s definition, of course both Lindsey and Spike are the stupidest of the stupid. But it is a definition that bears absolutely no relationship to their actual intelligence. And I suspect that on some level even Angel knows this.