Angel 5×13: Why We Fight

[Review by Brachen Man]

[Writer: Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard | Director: Terrence O Hara | Aired: 02/11/2004]

The fifth season of Angel could almost be considered an anomaly. Watching it in retrospect, one doesn’t get the impression that a grand story arc was planned out for it from the very beginning. This isn’t a bad thing of course, as more standalones often mean more variety in the writing, which is essential to holding the viewer’s attention. One of Season 4’s main failings was that it was basically a 22 part story. That was a big factor in Season 5’s popularity. It felt like a breath of fresh air from the never-ending plot of the previous year. Standalone episodes are a mixed bag however, and for every “Lineage” [5×07], there is an “Unleashed” [5×03]. (Apologies to fans of “Unleashed” [5×03].) One of the best qualities a standalone can have is a thematic connection to the larger goings-on of the season. Episodes that fail to have any connection to the themes and character arcs of the season or indeed the series itself are more often than not complete failures. If anyone has any idea what theme “Double or Nothing” [3×18] was trying to accomplish, I’d love to hear it.

This brings me to “Why We Fight”, which is in my opinion one of the most thematically connected standalone episodes of Season 5. We begin in World War II, which almost always makes for good drama. Angel is in the thick of his self-imposed isolation that began when he was cursed with a soul in 1898, and will end when Whistler finds him in the 1990’s to show him his destiny. This period of Angel’s life was explored only once before, in “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” [2×02]. The two episodes are interestingly similar, on a character level. Angel has flashbacks to past events that have come back to haunt him, and in the process he learns a lesson about himself and humanity. In “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” [2×02] it was about the inherent good and evil that lies in every human, and here it’s about the natural human need to have a purpose. Also in both cases, Angel somehow forgot said important lesson around eight episodes later. In “Reunion” [2×10] he completely forgot about how important it is to care about and understand humans, and in “Not Fade Away” [5×22] he completely forgot how important it is to have a real purpose, going out in a blaze of glory notwithstanding.

What else was “Why We Fight” about if not purpose? Angel has no purpose during the flashback sequences. He just wants to be left alone and let his sorrow consume him, instead of trying to do some good in the world. This somewhat factors into how he was acting in the first episode of Angel, “City of” [1×01]. He was fighting evil, but wasn’t making human connections, regressing to his self-imposed exile from 1898. That time, it took true love to help him become proactive and a better person. The second time around, it took the support of his friends to get him to stop his self-destructive detachment from people. Both times, he had to find a purpose in order to live. Yet, unbeknownst to Angel, he is sinking into the blackness yet again, because he has lost his connections to the Fang Gang. Who knows if he would’ve been rescued from this depression in the hypothetical Season 6, but we have to work with what we were given, in this case “Not Fade Away” [5×22]. More on that later.

Sam Lawson serves as a disturbing, yet accurate parallel to Angel. He lost not only his purpose in life and his connections, but his humanity. Lawson became a vampire, the very antithesis of what he once was, a soldier who fought for freedom. Angel himself became the CEO of Wolfram & Hart, the very thing he spent the last four years fighting. They are also both trapped, in a sense. Neither can be completely good, or completely evil. The differences come about when we look at how they handled the cards they were dealt, so to speak. Angel ultimately got the better hand because he has a soul. Not just part of someone else’s soul, but his own. Angel became more of a force for good as a result, while Lawson a force of evil.

As the story progresses in World War II, Angel takes command of a captured Nazi submarine on behalf of the U.S. government, (Don’t worry, it makes sense in context. Sort of.) and clashes with the crew, who understandably have some doubts about him. Lawson and Angel continually argue, with Angel being cold-hearted, wanting nothing more than to finish the mission. This is in part, I believe, why Angel sired Lawson. Just because Angel has a soul and doesn’t sadistically kill people anymore doesn’t mean that he actually cares about people. In fact, the only time he actually cared about someone enough to help was in “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” [2×02], and that resulted in a public hanging. Even if the siring was somewhat justifiable, as he had to save the crew and the submarine, and Lawson was the only one who could do it, what is unjustifiable is Angel not staking him afterwards. He knew full well that as soon as Lawson reached dry land, he would start a killing spree. He just didn’t care enough, and he doesn’t care now either. Angel is in a repetitive cycle that changes players every few years, but the dilemma is always the same.

Now we flash forward to the present, and Lawson decides that it’s time for payback. Angel however, couldn’t care less. Just look at the lack of guilt on his face when Lawson tells Angel that he did indeed kill many people. Sure, he flinched a little, but he wasn’t horribly inconvenienced or anything. Angel most likely expected it, but he is the reason for those deaths. He set loose the vampire he sired onto humanity. If you think about it, Sam Lawson is more of an annoyance to Angel than a tragedy he created. But now, completely the opposite of his optimistic ideology from late Season 2, he can’t be bothered with the small stuff, as he is too worried about the big picture. What he has yet to understand is that all the small stuff combined makes the big picture.

Angel eventually does kill Lawson, a major reason being that his friends were in danger, which is a vital component to his character. Even in his darkest times, Angel has always valued the lives of his friends, even somewhat during the ‘Beige Angel’ arc. After “Epiphany” [2×16] it should be near impossible for Angel to be completely sucked into depression again, because he has so much to work for, and work toward. A part of him still knows that, which is why he is able to understand Lawson’s mindset, and reflect on his own. He has enough knowledge to understand his own mistakes, but he isn’t really motivated to fix them yet. In the final scene with Spike. Spike asks what he wanted, and Angel responds “A reason.” Angel too needs a reason to go on living, but hasn’t found one yet, and won’t find one, even by “Not Fade Away” [5×22] when the best he can do is find a reason to go out fighting. That is truly a tragedy, in every Shakespearean sense of the word.

If this episode was completely devoted to being a character study, then it would have been near perfect. However, a plot has to enter into it somewhere. Grumble, grumble. Spike, while always a welcome character, feels out of place and simply there for comic relief. That’s not to say he doesn’t serve that purpose extremely well, because he does, just that it felt contrived to have Angel and Spike meet on the same submarine in 1943. Spike was a great addition to Angel’s main cast, and at his best he had episodes like “Just Rewards” [5×02] and “Destiny” [5×08] going for him. Yes, I consider “Just Rewards” [5×02] a high point for him in this series, what of it? At his worst, Spike was forcibly crammed into the A-plot of an episode when it clearly didn’t need him. There was not a single reason, from a storytelling perspective, to have Spike in the World War II scenes. Still, James Marsters is a great comic actor, and he clearly has fun in the role when in comedic situations. At least the plot accommodates his appearance, which is better than simply having him show up for no reason. Let’s all pause for a moment and give thanks that plot accommodation for characters is a given for a Joss Whedon produced series. It’s a scarce thing in television these days.

The plot itself is not bad. It won’t win a writing award, but it is far from horrendous. The idea of the US and Nazi Germany trying to make vampire soldiers in World War II isn’t touched upon a lot, which is probably for the best, because it isn’t the most serious of set-ups. Only having it mentioned briefly lets the willing suspension of disbelief stay suspended. In addition, it’s a fun B-movie sci-fi premise that can be enjoyed as the plot equivalent of set dressing. There are certain episodes that are hard to consider as a serious reviewer because the aesthetics are so… neat, for lack of a better word. I know that Spike saying he ate a Nazi and took his jacket is an odd joke with no real relevance to anything, but it made me laugh, and that has to count for something. That is why I won’t be too harsh on certain aspects of the plot. Yes, it wasn’t thematically important, but it was funny.

Something I won’t forgive however are cheap gimmick characters. Take for instance, Nostroyev and The Prince of Lies, two extraordinarily old vampires who are also lured onto the submarine to be experimented on. Instead of giving these characters an aura of mystery and danger, they are treated as comic relief, and literally nothing else. It’s not even that funny. Nostroyev is staked almost instantly, and The Prince of Lies doesn’t actually lie once, as his name would suggest. He’s basically a stereotypical sitcom grandfather, and that is not something a vampire should be.

Sam Lawson was intriguing in his own right, and it’s a shame that the ‘Vampire with part of a soul’ concept wasn’t explored in greater detail. I could see that being the main focus of its own episode. The side characters on the submarine are sadly less than one-note, but it really isn’t that noticeable. Angel and Lawson were the focus, and a good supporting cast can’t always be accomplished in episodes like this.

The biggest flaw in this whole episode was that it completely failed to stick with a tone. It was dark and contemplative one moment, and funny the next. Good shows have comedy moments along with the serious ones, but here, some, if not most of the comedy, felt undeserved and not funny. I stick by my comments above that non-relevant material is forgivable if it’s at least well written, but there is a line. This episode’s successes are worth focusing on more than its flaws though. Angel is at a point in time where the Wolfram and Hart setting is slowly but surely starting to crumble down around him, and the season would have suffered without this episode. Not terribly so, but we needed a detour into Angel’s past at this point in order to give us perspective on just what kind of downward spiral he is on.

That is also a major question to ask of any episode. Is it needed at this time? Does the content mesh with what the greater plot is trying to accomplish? If it does, it still has to be placed at the right time. “Why We Fight” is really a theme piece more than anything. Themes of purpose, belonging, and loneliness are all explored here to great effect, and in my opinion it comes at exactly the right time. During the calm before the storm, due in about two episodes. Other ‘theme piece’ episodes like this include “Darla” [2×07], “Deep Down” [4×01], and of course “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” [2×02]. Notice how close all of those are to the beginning of their respective seasons. If season five can be faulted for anything, it can be faulted for not starting a real plot arc until “Underneath” [5×17]. That was most likely a side effect of premature cancellation though.

The other nagging problem here is that it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that no one from the main cast was in this other than Angel and Spike. This wouldn’t be a problem if every other episode didn’t share it. I know the show is called Angel, but try showing off your magnificent cast once in a while. David Boreanaz and James Marsters complement each other greatly, and it’s not bad when intermingled with other character-focused episodes, but this is the fourth episode in a row that has focused mainly on either Angel or Spike. One of the things Buffy always did better than Angel was showcase the supporting cast more often, which is a shame since there were so many great characters here in need of spotlight. Lindsey, Lorne, and Wesley just to name a few. Still, that isn’t a problem of this episode in particular.

“Why We Fight” pulls off a great mix of standalone and thematically relevant material when it comes to the character interactions and basic set-up. The comedy is far from Whedon-level quality, but it was okay for the most part. Arc based episodes are great, but good characters are more essential to a good series than big, grandiose master plans and plot schemes. When an epic event happens like “Not Fade Away” [5×22], it has to be believable within the fictional universe the writers have constructed. It has to be built up to and not seem out of character. “Why We Fight” is just that: a building block to a larger goal that manages to be good all on its own as well.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ I love the meeting with the gang near the beginning of the episode. It’s the happiest they’ll ever get working for Wolfram & Hart. Plus, Jenga!
+ The government sponsored “Demon Research Initiative” is an obvious precursor to Maggie Walsh’s failed agenda in Season 4 of Buffy. I just love little continuity nods like this.
+ Angel and Spike each foreshadowing their troubled futures in one hilarious rant. See quotes section.
+ Angel not being surprised that Lawson managed to break into Wolfram & Hart.
+ The ‘Steve Rogers is Captain America’ joke, especially in light of Joss Whedon’s current project.

– The fact that no effort is made to include a period-appropriate style of speaking and slang in the flashback sequences.
– The Prince of Lies has no elaborate dusting sequence, even though he’s probably older than the Master, who left a whole skeleton behind in “Prophecy Girl” from Buffy.
– The submarine crew accepted Angel way too quickly. Knowing a secret code word doesn’t seem like enough of a verification process to me.


* Gunn has a bit of trouble remembering his legal jargon in the beginning, hinting at his implant failing, which can be easily fixed by paying with the life of your dear friend. See “Smile Time” [5×14].
* Angel sees in Lawson a disturbing possible outcome for his own life which, while not an entirely accurate portrait, does somewhat come to fruition in “Not Fade Away” [5×22].



39 thoughts on “Angel 5×13: Why We Fight”

  1. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 10, 2011.]

    Season Five was supposed to be mostly stand-alone episodes so the casual viewer could watch an episode without needing backstory.

    The Good:

    -Mention of the pre-Initiative setup.

    -Free virgin blood party. It sounds legitimate.

    -Spike onboard. There just for comedic effect.

    -Lawson as a vampire.

    -Angel making Spike scram for shore.

    The Bad:

    -Far too many TV, video game and movie plots regarding nazis.

    -The two vampires are useless. The Prince of Lies is kind of based on Nosterafu.

    Lawson: “Funny what goes through a man’s mind when his life’s hanging in the balance. Boys talked about that a lot back on the boat. Always figured it’d be the special moments you freeze in time. Your mom singing you to sleep at night. Sneaking into the movies with your best friend. The way your girl’s hair shimmers in the sun. But the truth is…the only thing that really goes through your head is..’wow, this really sucks’. And then you’re gone.”

    Spike: “Bloody brilliant. Turn the poor sod to save the ship then make him dash for dry land before Mr. Sunshine scorches him a new one…you’re still a dick.”

    Angel: “Yeah, I am.”

    Spike: “…Bollocks.”

    Good review Brachen Man.


  2. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    Great review!

    This is one of those episodes that I always forget about, but then I’m pleasantly surprised whenever it comes around on my Season 5 rewatches. It doesn’t have any lasting impact on me, but it’s interesting and thought-provoking, and a nice change of pace from the rest of the season. Sam Lawson is a great character and I think he’s brilliantly acted by Eyal Podell. As a human, he’s very likeable, and as a vampire he manages to have that cold, dead look in his eyes while still somehow seeming a little ‘different’ from the other vamps we’ve seen before.

    I never really thought about how Angel should have staked Lawson. I guess you’re right, but I can also see why Angel wanted to give him a fighting chance. It wasn’t the guy’s choice to become a vampire, and I suppose sending him out shortly before sunrise was a gamble to try and satisfy Angel’s guilt – that way he could tell himself that Lawson probably burnt up in the sun, but also give him a chance to make it on his own. I also wonder whether ‘sires’ end up with any kind of paternal instincts towards their vampire ‘children’ which might make it harder to stake them.

    Another observation – I’m reviewing ‘Harm’s Way’, and while watching that it struck me that Harmony, as far as we know, never had her ‘sire’ take her under his wing and teach her how to be a vamp. The same can be said for Lawson. Angel had Darla, and Spike had Drusilla, but Lawson’s just sent off as a baby vamp to make his own way. I think that makes a huge difference to the way a vampire develops.

    I agree with you about the comedy being a bit misplaced sometimes, and about the two ‘other’ vampires on the submarine being complete wastes of space. It would have been so much cooler if the captured vamps had been Spike, Drusilla and Darla, I reckon.

    Just one small correction – in your quotes section, you have Spike saying ‘I’m wondering why all the virgins look like gerbils’. I’m pretty sure he actually says Goebbels!

    I hope you’re going to be doing some more reviews for the ACP. I’d love to read more from you.


  3. [Note: Anonymous posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    In the Cons section about the Prince of Lies dying with no elaborate dusting effect–I just want to point out that Kakistos (Buffy episode: Faith, Hope, & Trick) also didn’t die with any elaborate dusting effect or leave behind a skeleton and he was in the same age group as the Master and the Prince of Lies (as noted by the fact he always seems to be in vamp form).


  4. [Note: Brachen Man posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    Thanks for the feedback, Alex. I never thought about some sort of paternal instinct when it came to siring. I suppose that might have factored into Angel’s decision. Also, it did feel odd that Spike would say gerbils, but that was as close as I could make out when writing it.

    Nathan, I agree that season 5’s standalone nature was a tool by the writers to draw in new viewers. It worked out pretty well, in my opinion. (Not counting the cancellation of course.)


  5. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 11, 2011.]

    Great review, Brachen. I definitely agree with your points about the thematic relevance of the episode. I guess I just found the episode… a tad repetitive and a little boring, so I would have come in a little harsher on the overall evaluation. But your points about the episode’s strengths are well made.

    I do have a one quibble though:

    [quote]One of Season 4’s main failings was that it was basically a 22 part story.[/quote]

    I have to disagree with this. Season 4’s main failing was that it was a 22 part story that didn’t add up and, Wesley aside, had very little long-term character relevance. Season 4 felt more interested in telling a huge story with an epic scope rather than paying attention to the characters. And while they occasionally achieved that epic feel they were going for, when you look back on it all it really doesn’t connect together very well. I think that’s why Season 4 struggled so much — it was a case of failed execution rather than method, for me at least. The long plot-arc method can definitely work as long as the characters stay the central focus.


  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 12, 2011.]

    Great review, Brachen. It gave me so much more to think about and I´m sure that on my next rewatch, I´ll enjoy this episode much more. I also agree with you on the Prince of Lies, it felt off.

    And Spike says that he won´t get experimented by the government which is something that happens on season four of Buffy. Gotta love the continuity.


  7. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 26, 2011.]

    Nice review Brachen! Glad to see you’ve entered the ACP fold.

    I skipped this episode when I rewatched Angel recently, so I believe it’s actually the only episode in the Buffyverse that I’ve only seen once. Your review makes me look forward to rewatching it when I have the chance. 🙂


  8. [Note: Odon posted this comment on July 31, 2012.]

    According to the DVD subtitles, it’s “Goebbels”.

    Though saying “gerbils” seems to fit Spike character somehow…


  9. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 23, 2012.]

    That’s the most insightful comment I’ve read in years! You’ve really added to the discussion! Thanks!


  10. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on October 23, 2012.]

    Lol, I actually opened this up ’cause I was like, “Wow, Mike has high praise for this comment. I better check it out!”


  11. [Note: Dave posted this comment on December 17, 2012.]

    I cannot seem to enjoy this episode considering its placement in the season. Right after “You’re Welcome.”


  12. [Note: VincentR posted this comment on January 4, 2013.]

    “The fifth season of Angel could almost be considered an anomaly. Watching it in retrospect, one doesn’t get the impression that a grand story arc was planned out for it from the very beginning.”The reason for the more standalone episodes in Season 5 was a network condition of renewal, I believe. The entirety of season 4 takes place over about 2.5 weeks (according to one of the DVD commentaries), and as you say, is a 22=part story. Say what you will about Season 4 (as many of you have), but I think it has the same Season 4 curse as Buffy, specifically Charisma’s pregnancy needing to be written into the storyline. Yes, Cordy sleeping with Connor is icky, but I do LOVE the concept of Jasmine, as she is unique in the Whedonverse – a character that brings peace to the universe. Also, the run of Faith episodes is brilliant, and we finally see Angel & Angelus fight.Personally, I think the writers had burned every subplot they had left in Season 4, and that everything leading up to Season 5 is a rose stem, while Season 5 is the rose itself. And while I think Season 5 would have lent itself well to a Season 6 (a Wesley/Fred/Ilirya triangle would have been brilliant) or a more overarching plotline, the simple fact is they were making the network happy & for that, they were cancelled & replaced with some crappy reality series, probably titled “So You Think You Can ____?”


  13. [Note: Wallflowerbitca posted this comment on January 22, 2013.]

    I really didn’t enjoy this episode, I know season 5 was all about the ‘standalone episodes’ but I’m sorry, Cordelia JUST died, JUST DIED. The woman they were all best friends with, who Angel was in love with… Why with the happy? Why does she get no mention? I would have thought she’d be a rather poignant thing to bring up with all the inspirational speech-making and advice-giving. This episode was re-affirming her message of ‘we take what we get, and we do our best with it’ that she left us with in You’re Welcome. It just bugged me that everyone forgot her so quickly. I mean, it took us longer to get over Kendra’s death than that… Tara got a three-episode arc of badness after her death, Joyce had a season arc devoted to it, Jenny got episodes of grief, Lilah got whole episodes of Wesley agonising over her death… Cordelia was a bigger character than any of them and this episode just shoved the nail in her ‘we’re pissed at Charisma, so let’s forget Cordelia’ coffin.This episode had potential, but it was wasted.


  14. [Note: MrPrez posted this comment on April 18, 2013.]

    The measure of my insightfulness depends on the episode. I gave as much as I received from this episode, which is nothing. And for that, you’re welcome. 🙂


  15. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on April 18, 2013.]

    Wow. I wish I had thought of that philosophy when I reviewed “Just Rewards”.

    It would’ve saved me a lot of time.


  16. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on August 5, 2013.]

    I also enjoyed the thematic relevance of this ep, but at the same time found it a damn shame they didn’t explore the results of an ensouled Angel siring someone more. I always thought this would be fascinating from S2 onwards, when Angel wonders whether him siring human Darla might be different due to his soul. The result, with Lawson being neither one thing nor the other, ties in perfectly with the ‘grey area’ theme that AtS explored so well throughout its run so I’d have loved to have seen it as the main issue in Why We Fight. They could have done something a la Penn in Somnabulist and looked at Lawson’s past MO. But instead we only really had the one bit of dialogue towards the end, where Lawson says he committed evil acts but couldn’t take enjoyment in it, and asks, doubtfully, whether he himself has a soul. Lawson cuts a tragic, and fascinating, figure here and dwelling on that further could have made Why We Fight a classic….


  17. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 22, 2013.]

    I couldn’t stand this episode. I definitely credit some of that to the fact that it could have been an episode that consisted of reeling from Cordelia’s death, but instead became a Spike/Angel centric mediocre standalone. It felt out of place in my opinion, and I didn’t think the flashback was very inviting, and left me bored the entire time. I spent most of the episode waiting for it to be over.

    I’m clearly not a fan, and consider it one of my least favorite episodes of the series. It just didn’t sit right with me.


  18. [Note: Biogirl posted this comment on August 22, 2013.]

    I agree that thematically this episode fits very well into mid season 5, but echo the idea that it jars the viewer to have this immediately following ‘You’re Welcome’. Perhaps it would have been better placed right before.

    A few minor plot quibbles
    -If Angel had just killed Lawson right away, then Fred, Gunn, & Wes would have been in zero peril. Angel could just walk in and untie them, right? That whole ‘ace’ up Lawson’s sleeve wasn’t anything Angel actually needed to keep Lawson alive for in order to resolve.

    -Why does Angel keep Spike and the Prince of Lies alive at first?
    -I know it would have complicated things, and I know the main story was between Angel & Lawson, but if they had Spike the vampire in the sub, it seems a shame not to have Lawson meet him at WR & H with Angel.

    Also, am I the only one who kind of likes Spike with black hair, and who found his ‘deck swabbing’ comment a tad dirty?


  19. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 18, 2014.]

    In the hundred years Angel had his soul, he nonetheless drank human blood at various points. One example is when he fed on the diner-owner in the 50s as we saw in “Orpheus.”

    I don’t recall if anybody ever said he hadn’t had any blood in a century, but if they did they either were wrong or it was retconned later.


  20. [Note: Aaron posted this comment on January 25, 2014.]

    To chime in again, the first quote is wrong. Spike wondered why all the virgins looked like Goebbels, one of Adolph Hitler’s closest associates, and not why they looked like gerbils, adorable little hell-beasts that they are.


  21. [Note: Rose posted this comment on April 9, 2014.]

    I’m out of the few people that really dislike this episode and actually, find it quite boring. Firstly, It was kinda gloomy and repetitive, and secondly, it comes right after some really great episodes, like “Destiny” and “You’re Welcome”, Mostly, I’m pissed about the fact that there’s no continuity over the fact that Cordelia’s dead. Angel was his usual broody self but it would have been nice to see some more acknowledgement from the rest of the Fang Gang, I would’ve appreciated seeing their reactions to her death. But no, it’s almost like that episode never happened. Another thing that pisses me off is the villain, he’s not very interesting and nor are those other two ridiculous vampires. This is a thing I’ve always disliked–Most of Angel and Buffy’s villains and demons fail to captivate or scare, in fact, I find psychological villains like The First in Buffy’s CWDP or the crazy psychopath slayer Dana in Angel’s ‘Destiny’ much scarier–and they seem to leave a lasting impression, unlike the funny-looking ‘demons’ that look more like Halloween costumes than actual spooks.

    Also, why the hell was Spike on board of that ship? And why was he acting like Angel’s lacky? Also, why didn’t he figure it out–that it wasn’t Angelus, knowing Spike, he’s smart, and he knows Angelus very well, it was surprising that he didn’t figure it out that it wasn’t how Angelus behaves. Another thing, WHY was Spike acting so fond of Angel? In the last flashback, he was agitated, and he despised Angel for sleeping with his Drusilla, so I would’ve just like some backstory–something to make me understand why the hell Spike was suddenly behaving that way. Andd, I also agree on the fact that Angel should’ve tried to devote more episodes to the supporting characters, Fred, Lorne and Gunn certainly deserved some more attention this season. Although, maybe Wheden did have things planned for S6. I wonder why so many of his shows like Firefly, Dollhouse and AtS got cancelled despite being so popular? Was BTVS his only really successful TV show? Can someone explain this?

    Anyway… However, I did like the main theme, and the idea, and the message that this episode was trying to convey, I also liked the way it plays into the overall theme of the season.

    But if I were to give this episode an overall score, I’d be slightly harsher than you were, because it was a slight disappointment in an otherwise well-done season, and the episodes were just getting so good!


  22. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on August 10, 2014.]

    ANGEL: Spike, we need them! I’m not getting trapped at the bottom of the sea!
    SPIKE: And I’m not getting experimented on by his government!


    “The Initiative”.

    Gotta love continuity.


  23. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on August 10, 2014.]

    Angel almost drained Buffy in season 3 of BtVS. It may be Slayer blood, but she’s still human too.


  24. [Note: Random posted this comment on July 22, 2015.]

    I recall this episode not being widely loved when it aired, but I always found it an interesting character study. Not brilliant, but interesting. Rewatching has given me more appreciation for it, much of which coincides well with this review. One interesting thing I’d never noticed before, or at least never really given much thought to, is that this episode helps (in a very small way) address a nagging inconsistency from way back in S2 BtVS “School Hard.” Later backstory on the Fanged Four of Angel/Darla/Spike/Dru made Spike’s initial reaction to Angel’s appearance seem unlikely — Angel clearly thought he could fool Spike, and Spike, for all his suspicion, didn’t seem immediately hostile. Given what happened to the group in the aftermath of the re-ensouling, I found it hard to believe Spike didn’t know that Angel wasn’t on the side of the demons anymore. At the very least, he’d have learned enough from Darla, and from the fact that Angel suddenly disappeared again after the Boxer Rebellion, to know Angel wouldn’t be strolling in with a live human as a present and, being something of a mindless violence sort of vampire, wouldn’t have had the patience for the facade. But look at the events in the sub from Spike’s perspective. To the outside observer, Angel was self-serving, willing to double-cross anybody to save his own existence, willing to turn an innocent human into an evil vampire in service of that goal, and summarily kicked them both out in a plan that Spike interpreted as mean and probably sadistic…all Angelus traits. We know Angel simply felt guilt about his actions and didn’t want to stake the man summarily, but Spike has no such insight, and given everything he knows about Angelus, this seems perfectly in keeping with his expectations. Hell, he probably figured Angel kicked him out so he could have the remaining crew all to himself…once they were safely close to shore, of course.

    Yeah, a bit longwinded, but I found the (probably unintentional) character development explaining an old plot point interesting.


  25. [Note: Summer posted this comment on October 22, 2015.]

    This is such a boring episode and so overrated considering the scoring. I guess the scores on this site here are entirely subjective. Angel had annoyed me to no ends eversince the start of season 5. His constant moping, abeit justified given how his life filled with tragedy, is getting harder to watch. Strangely enough, I now only look forward to the episodes that devoted to the supporting characters as I find their stories are much more interesting to watch. With Angel its the same old angst that I’ve grown tired of.


  26. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on October 22, 2015.]

    Actually the scores on this site are 100% objective and have been calculated by scientific quantification which analyses every frame and assesses its quality before averaging the results.


  27. [Note: GottaLoveTheScoobies posted this comment on October 31, 2015.]

    At his worst, Spike was forcibly crammed into the A-plot of an episode when it clearly didn’t need him. There was not a single reason, from a storytelling perspective, to have Spike in the World War II scenes.

    Umm… the fact that Spike was on the submarine is what convinced Angel to accept the mission. (Implied, of course, but am I the only one who saw that?)

    Also, nice continuity: Spike taking the SS uniform – much like taking Nikki the Vampire Slayer’s leather duster (“I like the coat.”)


  28. [Note: OffHandComment posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    Awesome review, not much content from me now, but some possible spelling corrections.

    1) I think Spike says Goebbels, not Gerbils. Saying “all the virgins looked like some old Nazi”, makes more sense (and is funny!)

    2) It is Kraut not Krout. It is English slang for German.
    3) It is “Führer” not “fuehrer” – German for leader, and strongly coupled with Hitler.

    Just one comment. Spike with no-soul is opportunistic and practical. In fact, quite cleverly they use the Nazi uniform so Angel can say “you’re a Nazi?” and we get the “No I ate one” gag 😉


  29. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    I’m surprised no one has made any allusions to Nosferatu in the comments or the review itself. It seems so obvious.

    Incidentally your name is pretty cool.


  30. Louis, it was mentioned.

    Really, Angel should have staked both Lawson and Spike rather than letting them go. All the deaths they committed therafter are on Angel’s head, and he has a soul now! But I like the insight that at that point Angel didn’t care.

    I’m not sure Angel and Spike having been on a sub together is believable for me. I know, I can believe demons, vampires, slayers, witches, but Angel and Spike on a sub in WW II I have trouble with. But Lawson was interesting and perhaps deserved more episodes to analyze what it means for a vampire to have part of a soul.


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