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Angel 5x21 Power Play - Detailed Summary

By Persephonemoon

Saturday 8 May 2004, by Webmaster

Summary for Angel 5.21

The script is 55 pages long, which means about 10 minutes of this summary won’t air. I’m guessing (hoping) that most of it will come out the Angel/Nina scenes, which aren’t bad, but they’re not really important either. There’s also (as always) some exposition that could go. If the Illyria/Drogyn scene is cut down, I will be VERY put out, because it is wonderful and perfect and I love it.


Power Play


We’re in a dark stone room, lit by firelight, filled with cloaked and hooded figures, all wearing masks. In the center of the floor is a man with his head in a burlap bag, bound and shirtless, on his knees. A camera move reveals the symbol of the Circle of the Black Thorn.

In slow motion, a shape leaps out of the darkness and into the circle, landing deftly — it’s Angel. (Script says, "A little power shot, perhaps?") He pulls the bag off of the man’s head, and takes a moment (we do not see the man’s face) to take him in, just for an instant. The man whispers "Thank you..." just as Angel vamps out, and rips into the man’s throat with his teeth. Black out.


We see Angel lying in bed, post-coital (yes, the script says "post-coital") next to Nina. Both are shiny with post-coital sweat. Breathless, they talk about the fantastic hours of wild sex they just had. There is flirtatious innuendo galore ("You’re not perfectly happy, are you? Because I got my wooden stake right here and — that’s not a stake —"). Angel assures Nina that he wasn’t thinking about Buffy, because he hasn’t been able to think straight about anything for the past, oh wow, is it really that late? Nina tells him they should take a vacation together so he can relax, but he’s thinking about work now, and can’t stop. He’s worked so hard, for so many years to accomplish something, and he’s so close to it now...Nina says he’s her hero. He says he might not always be.

Back at the office, Illyria is wandering the halls. The other employees are used to her now, and don’t give her a second glance as they walk by, which Spike points out. Illyria tells him not to presume that she requires any creature’s attention. Spike tells her she needs to get out, stop haunting this place, a shadow of her former self. It’s no fun, and he would know. Illyria tells him that since her powers have been depleted, she’s grown more wary of the world, and now Wesley has changed towards her to. "He and I no longer have intercourse," she says. Spike does a double take, and she finishes, "He’s ceased any communication with me." Since she impersonated Fred, she says. No idea why that would freak him out so much. Spike explains that she may have lost most of her powers, but that one’s the most devastating one she’s got, to the people who knew Fred.

Hamilton catches Angel coming out of his office, and introduces him to Senator Brucker (a W&H client from back in the Holland Manners days), and her vampire aide Ernesto. Gunn is also present. Angel sends Harmony out for coffee for himself and the senator, and some human blood for Ernesto. Gunn and Harmony are both shocked by this — Harmony asks if she can get some for herself, Angel says no. Wesley interrupts to tell Angel that there’s been another murder in Funville (an abandoned amusement park), but Angel brushes him off, saying they can no longer concern themselves with "small stuff," and turns his full attention back to the senator. Wesley is joined by Spike and Illyria. Spike agrees with Wes, thinking that taking out the group of Boretz demons preying on runaways at Funville sounds like a worthwhile plan. Also, fun. Wes, taking great care not to look at Illyria (though she never takes her eyes off of him), tells Spike to go ahead, and call if he finds/needs anything. Illyria says "He showed no regard for my presence," after Wes goes. Spike reminds her that she doesn’t require any creature’s attentions, and, off her look, invites her to go out Boretz-killing with him.

Meanwhile, in Angel’s office, the senator is showing Gunn and Angel a campaign video of her rival candidate. He’s apparently doing very well, and taking away most of her women voters, so she wants W&H to hex him into thinking he’s a pedophile. Gunn is appalled, and tries to tell her that that’s not the sort of thing they do anymore, but Angel takes over the conversation and assures Brucker that they can get it done by the November election. Gunn tries to talk to Angel alone, but Angel won’t hear it. Harmony finally arrives with the human blood. "Who wants person?"

Back in his office (where he keeps his full-on crazy), Wes is researching Boretz demons. As he’s reading, the text fades and is replaced by larger letters which say "YOU’RE LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE." Soon, those words are replaced by the Circle of the Black Thorn symbol. Wesley squints, puzzled, as Gunn walks in. Wesley glances up, and when he looks back down, the symbol has vanished, replaced by the text that he’d originally called up. Gunn says that they need to talk about Angel.

Cut to a racquetball court (actually a close-up on a white wall, which is supposed to make viewers think we’re in the White Room at first, until a blue ball bounces off of it), where Angel is playing against Izzy (the Devil-looking demon from You’re Welcome). Angel is clearly holding back, but he’s winning anyway. Izzy tells Angel that he saw Ed the other day ("the Grand Potentate whatcha-whosit of the Fell Brethren") and all he can talk about is the baby, and it’s getting incredibly dull. But there’s apparently great "buzz" about Angel, and it won’t be long now. "Good," Angel says.

Spike and Illyria wander through Funville. Illyria breaks down Angel’s recent behavior as she understands it, saying that she’s seen it happen many times before with rulers — he’s been corrupted. The pattern is always the same, she says. "The ruler turns a blind eye to any dealings or battles from which he cannot gain...and turns a deaf ear to the counsel of those closest to him. And as his strength increases, so does the separation between he and his followers." Spike shrugs her warnings off, saying that if Angel was...different (i.e., soulless, though he doesn’t say it directly), he’d be able to sense it. Illyria says that he will soon have proof, that a ruler on this path sees betrayal and treachery everywhere, and "cannot suffer intimates and will eventually turn against them." Spike says "Guess I don’t have to worry about that, then. Angel and I have never been intimate. Except that one---" Illyria cuts him off with "Mark me. He will murder one of you." Behind them, something moves. Spike whips around to fight it — it’s Drogyn, pale and wounded. "Actually," says Drogyn, "he already has."


Spike introduces Illyria to Drogyn, and she doesn’t much like him at first. But there’s no time to argue about jailer vs. caretaker just then, because the Boretz is attacking. The Boretz grabs Spike from brhind and tosses him into a dumpster. Spike gets up, moves to hit it back, when Illyria grabs the demon’s arm, whips it around, grabs its lower jaw with her other hand, spin kicks it in the chest, knocking it waaaaaaaay back, through three support beams. Spike is impressed, in that quippy, macho way he sometimes is. But back to dying Drogyn. Spike asks Drogyn what he’s doing here, and tells him not to bother with the "ask me no questions I’ll tell you no lies" crap. Drogyn says he came looking for them, as he can always find one who has visited the Well. (Handy, that.) He says that he came to warn them. Illyria notices that he’s bleeding, and Spike asks if the Boretz did it. Drogyn says no...it was Angel.

Back at W&H, Harmony has noticed the Black Thorn symbol that Wes is carrying around, and tells him to put it on his calf, thinking it’s a tattoo design. Wes walks into Angel’s office to talk to him about the symbol, and finds Angel meeting with Hamilton. He tries to talk to Angel alone, but Angel tells him to come back later. Wes leaves, confused, but not wanting to argue with Angel looking like that. He runs into Lorne in the lobby, who tells Wes that Angel cut 6 of Lorne’s clients loose with no warning or reason given. They’re walking to Wes’ office as Gunn joins them and agrees that Angel’s been acting suspiciously evil lately. The phone rings (in the office now), it’s Spike...

In Spike’s apartment, Drogyn tells them all about the assassin who attacked him. Once he had defeated it, Drogyn tortured the demon until it told him everything, which was that Angel wanted Drogyn dead. Apparently he was afraid that Drogyn would uncover something in the Deeper Well that would prove Angel had been instrumental in bringing forth Illyria, and therefore in killing Fred. They all wonder why Angel would want to ressurect an Old One, but Drogyn believes that Fred’s death was the true goal. Gunn doesn’t want to trust the assassin’s information, but Drogyn assures them that "No one lies when they are at the mercy of my wrath." Gunn then acuses Drogyn of lying, but Spike explains that he can’t. Wes backs him up with a much geekier account of who Drogyn is (apparently he did a thesis on him at the Watcher’s Academy). Wes shows Drogyn the symbol, but Drogyn doesn’t recognize it. They decide that the only way to solve this is to confront Angel, but someone needs to stay behind to guard Drogyn in case Angel tries to kill him again. Spike suggests Illyria, since she doesn’t care about any of this. She agrees that "the intricacies of your fates are meaningless," and agrees to stay behind. Spike tells her she should feel free to watch television, or play some Crash Bandicoot if she gets bored. Spike, Wes, and Gunn leave. Illyria looks at Drogyn and says, "Crash...Bandicoot?" But Drogyn has no idea what that means either.

Back in the office, Angel is working on a document with Harmony when the gang walks in, dead serious. They confront him about Drogyn, but Angel says he doesn’t know a thing about it, where is he? Safe, says Gunn. Okay, says Angel, so can we all get back to business? Wes asks what business, exactly, are they in. "The business of business," Angel says. "Oil, software, World Wide Wickets — the product doesn’t matter. It’s the game that matters. Get to the top. Be the best. Have the most. Win." Gunn says that sounds more like Angelus talking than Angel. Angel smiles and says that if it were Angelus talking, half of them would already be dead, just for fun. "One of us already is," says Spike. Angel then launches into a very long, very good speech about power. The tinfoil hat Lorne brigade will be both pleased and disappointed by the beginning of it, in which Angel uses Lorne as an example of someone who never let the boundries between good and evil get in the way of his life. He never judged. "Good, bad, Angel, Angelus — it doesn’t make any difference. I wish it did, but an ant with the best of intentions or the most diabolical schemes is still just exactly that, an ant. Ther is one thing in this business, in this apocalyse that we call a world that matters. Power. Power tips the scales. Power sets the course. And until I have real power, global power, I have nothing. I accomplish nothing." He goes on to admit that how he gets that power isn’t pretty, but "They’ve been calling the shots from day one, and all we’ve done is get shot at. I have a chance to change that." Lorne points out that power corrupts, but Angel says he can’t worry about "the small stuff." Harmony interrupts them to say that "that important phone call from that guy about the thing is on line three." Angel kicks them all out of his office to take the call, but not before Wes says, "The small stuff. That you can’t worry about. Would that include Fred?" Angel looks at him and says "I loved Fred." "That’s not an answer." "Then I guess you don’t get one." Angel shuts the door in Wes’ face.


Inside a W&H interrogation room, Wes and Lorne are arguing. Lorne thinks Angel’s gone over to the dark side, Wes thinks it doesn’t make sense, what he said in there. Angel’s never cared about power...Lorne says he’s never had any to care about until now. Gunn and Spike walk in, dragging Lindsey, in shackles, behind them. Lindsey raises his shackled arms and says "Boys look like you could use a hug."

Outside an art school, at night, Angel meets Nina and gives her three plane tickets so that she, her sister, and Amanda (who?) can get out of town before things get too bad. Nina is upset, thinking that Angel’s just breaking up with her, but he says no, he just wants her to be safe. She says that if there’s trouble, she wants to be with him. He says he’s the thing that will hurt her. He promises that when it’s over, he’ll come for her, and they’ll have time, but she’s not buying it. "Go. I am not asking," he says. "I’ll go," she says. "Why on earth would I stay?"

Back at Spike’s place, Drogyn and Illyria are concentrating, hard. "It is a test," says Drogyn, "a task of some kind. You must collect those crystals. And fruit." "Why?" asks Illyria. Drogyn has no answer. (By now we have panned back to show them playing Crash Bandicoot.) They pause. Drogyn, addressing Illyria as "Old One," tells her that she has no right to walk the Earth, that her time has passed. She agrees, wishing she’d never been brought back. He asks if she really means that, and she answers, "I don’t know. I play this game. It is pointless and annoying. Yet I’m compelled to play on. Does that not—" Her deep thought is interrupted by the door being kicked in by Hamilton. There’s a beat as Drogyn recognizes him. They’re old acquaintances. (Hamilton: "So, I hear you’re living in a tree now?" Drogyn: "It’s not a — the three is just the entrance to the Deeper Well. I live in a cave. (half a beat) It’s really quite pleasant.") After the pleasantries are over, Hamilton takes a threatening step towards Drogyn. Illyria tries to step in, but her blows have no effect on him, and Hamilton easily throws Drogyn against the wall. He teases Illyria about her diminished strength as he pummels her. She puts up a good fight, but eventually is knocked to the ground, unconscious.

Interrogation room. After a bit of banter, they all decide it would be faster to skip the beating phase and have Lindsey just tell them what’s going on with Angel. Wes shows him the symbol, and Lindsey recognizes it. "Where did you get that?" he asks. Wes is encouraged that they finally seem to be getting somewhere, but Lindsey doesn’t get it, saying, "No, no way they’d take Angel..." He explains who "they" are — the Circle of the Black Thorn. The Wolf, Ram and Hart’s agents on this plane. (LINDSEY: It’s a secret society. GUNN: Never heard of ’em LINDSEY: ’Cuz they’re secret) Spike says so what, there’s tons of demon cabals around, but Lindsey says no, this one is different. They’re not about controlling evil, they’re about controlling power. They control the Apocalypse for the Senior Partners, since the SP’s are on another plane. The Circle are the ones who actually do the Apocalypse making that the SP’s are behind. Lindsey was trying to get accepted into the Circle. Gunn says it looks like Angel’s succeeded where Lindsey couldn’t, but Lindsey still doesn’t believe Angel could do it. That he "probably wouldn’t even get in the Circle’s radar until he’d killed one of his lieutenants." Fred, they all realize. "Angel killed Fred?" Lindsey is surprised. "When am I gonna learn? Never underestimate a man’s capacity to change." Slowly, they all come to understand just how skillfully the SP’s have manipulated Angel into this position. Wes is convinced they can still bring him back, though, or at least make sure he dies a hero’s death (at their hands).

We’re back at the teaser now, in the Eyes Wide Shut orgy scene sans nudity, only this time we see the reverse angle. The man in the center of the circle is Drogyn. We see Angel’s look of resignation and acceptance before he drains him.


The Circle is completing their initiation ritual, in which Angel is marked with the Circle’s symbol. The formality breaks up, and the after-party begins. Every big name demon we’ve met all season is there — Izzy the devil-demon, the Archduke and his Pee Pee Demon slave, Vail, a few of the Fell Brethren, even Senator Brucker. (Even Izzy comments on how good the turn-out is.) The Archduke congratulates him, calling him "Angelus," but Angel corrects him, saying "It’s still just Angel." Vail shakes Angel’s hand and says "Your son kills very well."

The party has lasted through the night, and it’s dawn when Angel reaches his office again, coming in through the elevator. As the doors open, Spike punches Angel in the face, knocking him down. Angel looks up to find himself surrounded — Wes has his shotgun, Gunn has a sword, and Lorne a crossbow. He rises, carefully. Gunn tells him to give up what he’s been doing, and ticks off a list of all of Angel’s recent evil deeds, ending with "And for what? To get into bed with the Circle of the Black Thorn?" "So, you figured it out," says Angel, a little tenser now. "What I do is my business. You don’t like how I conduct it, you can leave. Before I kill you." Wes and Angel have a moment of facing off, and then the fight breaks out. Angel has trouble fending them all off at once (Gunn and Wes keep coming up with hidden weapons), but he manages to grab Lorne and use him as a shield. In the pause, he pulls out a crystal, says "Now let’s finish this," and throws the crystal to the ground, smashing it.

He then explains that the glamour (making it look like the fight is still going on to anyone watching) will last six minutes, which should give him time to explain everything. Angel tells Wes that he sent him the message in the book, telling him to look for the Circle. He also sent the assassin with the false story about Fred because he knew Drogyn could defeat it and bring the information back to them. He needed the Circle to believe that he had killed Fred in order to admit him, and he knew that the Circle would never believe it unless all of them did. Spike asks when it all started, and Angel says "Two months ago...with a kiss." We flash back to the end of You’re Welcome, this time seeing a flash of blue light pass between Angel and Cordy’s lips, just like Doyle’s vision-kiss way back then. But Cordy didn’t give him the power of the visions, she could only give him one — a vision that showed him the Circle of the Black Thorn. The real powers. Angel then launches into another great monologue about power (if only Buffy’s S7 speeches had been like this — to the point, and not appearing until the last two eps), and how they don’t have any, but they can get a little bit. They can’t stop the machine permanently, but they can bring the gears to a halt for a moment. They can show the Senior Partners that they have the power to make things difficult for them. They can kill every single member of the Circle. The catch being that this will likely make the SP’s incredibly angry, and result in their own deaths. Basically, it’s Theoden’s plan from RotK — we can’t win, but we can die pissing off the enemy. Yeah, that’ll show ’em. I love this ep, and this scene, but it’s really such a very dumb plan. It fits perfectly into the "heroes don’t accept the world the way it is" theme, and of course the School of Dumb Planning at Angel University, and as such is a fantastic way to end the series, but...it’s such a dumb plan. Really.