Angel 5×20: The Girl in Question

[Review by Debisib]

[Writer: Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard | Director: David Greenwalt | Aired: 05/05/2004]

It is very easy to get excited about an episode like this just by reading the plot synopsis. It has all of the tools one needs to make a great Angel episode. At this point in the series, the characters are already fully developed (except Illyria), so the focus is more on the characters engaging each other and using their personalities, which we already love, to create new and interesting situations. It’s always great to see Spike and Angel interact, but, with the addition of a brand new backstory complete with flashbacks, a “Big Bad,” and the returns of Drusilla, Darla, and Andrew, it has the potential to be spectacular. It’s not, though. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable or worth watching. Unfortunately, those are the best adjectives I can use for this episode.

David Greenwalt, who directed this episode, once referred to it as “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Go to Italy.” First, I’d just like to say that I am a big fan of Buffy’s “The Zeppo” . The way the main plot – involving Xander’s wacky misadventures — is treated so seriously is what makes it work so well. The upbeat and comical tone contrasted with the serious moments to create an irony that added a whole new layer of intricacy. Both of these episodes bury the important plot in order to give focus to the humorous, secondary issue. We get an A-plot revolving around the Capo Di Famiglia needing to be retrieved from Rome so a demon civil war in L.A. can be averted. However, instead of concentrating on this catastrophe in the making, we have our heroes running around Italy, searching for a woman who, most likely, does not need or want them there.

There seems to be one primary theme represented throughout the episode, and a secondary theme that ties into it. The main one is specifically geared toward our Champion, Angel. This season has been heavily focused on the idea that he has lost track of his mission. This is clearly shown in the very first episode of the season, “Conviction” [5×01], when Angel saves the blonde in the alleyway. This is a call back to Season 1 when Angel first began his quest for redemption. Only, this time, his act of heroism comes with an asterisk called Wolfram and Hart. This law firm, which has been a thorn in Angel’s side throughout the entire series, has now manipulated its way into every aspect of his life. Angel had spent his time at Wolfram and Hart just struggling to not despise himself. Time and time again, he and his team have justified their business at the firm, stating that they are doing more good than bad. That’s not the point of the mission though, and until he sees Cordelia in “You’re Welcome” [5×12], he’s able to push that notion aside. Once she comes back, it all triggers in his mind. He hates where he is and what he’s doing. Everything this business represents is against everything he fights for. He spends the next three episodes feeling depressed, and trapped in the decision that he made to take over the company. Still, it is not until the death of Fred that he truly understands that he needs to get out, for good. Here in “The Girl in Question,” the whole concept of losing the mission is revisited and, in this case, is represented by the combination of chasing former lovers and regressing in personal relationships.

Let’s take a look at Spike and Angel’s relationship first. They obviously don’t like each other very much and therefore are probably prone to bicker. However, we have already dealt with this! In “Destiny” [5×08] we witness a brutal battle between Spike and Angel to see who gets the cup of Mountain Dew. They mess with each other throughout the episode while they chase down their own pride. Here in Italy, they do the same exact thing, but in a much more pointless fashion. In “Destiny” [5×08] they thought they were searching for something important, while here they are using this wild goose chase as an escape. That is not to say that Buffy is not important to them, because, of course she is; but she’s not what is important now. They are both using Buffy as a crutch. She was something that was stable and touchable to them. She saved them both from the darkness and they will forever put her on a pedestal, but, they are just using her as an excuse, in this particular situation, to avoid real life. The Buffy issue had to come up eventually but it should have been cleared up before “A Hole in the World” [5×15] when Spike decided he was going to stay and fight alongside Angel for the good of the world.

Speaking of Buffy, her being integrated into the story was a nice twist. So, the story is that Buffy is in danger at the hands of the morally ambiguous Immortal and the guys want to go to Rome so they can save her. They spend the majority of their time running back and forth between Buffy’s apartment and attempting to retrieve the Capo, all the while embarking on cartoon-styled adventures. The fact that Spike and Angel would get on a plane and immediately drop everything else for her is actually very believable, in my opinion. I’ve gotten the impression that some people that think it is far-fetched to believe that they would ignore their own responsibilities for Buffy with the amount of emotional and physical damage that had taken place over the last couple months in L.A. I dispute that with Angel by saying that the entire reason he went to L.A. was because he couldn’t trust himself to be around Buffy — in the Buffy episode “Amends” Angel admits that he is weak, and has always been weak. The entire premise of their relationship is that it is so powerful that it can’t exist without destroying everything they love. Regardless, he would still do anything for her because of those intense and passionate feelings. Spike got his soul for her. Then, he died for her (or at least partly for her). Not only that, but this is just one example of this episode portraying the characters as unable to let go and just move on, which will continue to shine through.

All season long we’ve witnessed continuous growth in the relationship between Spike and Angel, but this episode throws all of that out of the window for some laughs. Even if there were still issues between those two, they should have been dealt with a long time ago… not as a random nonsensical pit stop on the way to the Buffyverse finale. That leads to what is, by far, my biggest problem with the episode: its placement within the season. This is what brings this episode’s score down drastically for me. Everything involving Angel and Spike could have been copy-and-pasted straight into one of the first ten episodes of the season and still made sense. That is not a good feature when you are three episodes from the end of the entire series. We, as the viewers, are about to conclude this amazing 12 (7 Buffy + 5 Angel) season journey. Our anticipation levels are at their highest right now, and we’re taking a break for fun with the odd couple. The one scene that has any relevance when it comes to progressing the season’s plot is the very last one in Angel’s office. This scene, quite obviously, represents Spike and Angel letting go of their petty differences, and realizing that they have a job to do. These two will never be true friends, as is proven when Angel moves ever-so-slightly away from Spike when he sits next to the boss on his desk. It’s not about the friendship or the nostalgia; it’s about doing what is right for humanity. While it is nice to finally see them, so blatantly, acknowledge that they need to let go of their baggage and move on, it still feels like a repetitive statement. The only part of this episode wherein the placement didn’t bother me, were the Wesley/Illyria scenes.

Ah, some positive aspects finally take the stage. Every segment involving Wesley and/or Illyria has an aching notion of depression and heartache. Did I say positive? Well, negative for the characters usually equates to positive for us viewers. Now, the two of them have been able to convey this emotional tone since Fred had her amazing death scene while being held in Wesley’s arms in “A Hole in the World” [5×15]. However, once Fred’s parents enter the picture, it adds an eerie, almost disturbing aura. The Burkles are so friendly and upbeat that it just breaks your heart to know what they are about to hear from Wesley. They are from such a different world that even though they understand that there is a threat of death, I’m not sure if they ever fully understood to what extent it was. Just at that moment before Wes opens his mouth, it would be impossible not to have compassion for the Burkles, but Alexis Denisof had come so far as an actor at this point in the series that it’s hard to focus on anyone else. His expressions are so intense and beautifully portrayed. Post Fred, he was able to find this happy medium between emotionally tortured and socially apathetic. In this scene, you can see that he has obviously lost a lot of motivation to live just by how emotionless he is when confronting the problem at hand. As terrible as the situation was, he was still very blatant and less than welcoming. The irony is that his cold appearance is governed strictly by his overwhelming emotion on the inside. This episode is actually filled with very good acting, but I’ll get to that later.

Queue Illyria. Wes being obviously thrown aback and visibly heartbroken when he sees ‘Fred’ walk in is a great moment. The chemistry between Acker and Denisof was always good, but only got better when they proved they could give Acker a totally different character, and have just as much intensity, but in a totally different way. Illyria is a quality character. My immediate impression of her in “Shells” [5×16] was intrigue mixed with anger. The loss of Fred made me biased against Illyria, and with good reason, but I got over that pretty soon because of how interesting Illyria was. She had her own deep story which resulted in us being able to slightly sympathize with her; just enough that we don’t want her dead anymore. Once she found out her empire had been destroyed, she was no longer the same threat and, therefore, was more relatable. Also, she’s made it clear that she wants Wes to help her learn to live in this world. This is precisely why her morphing is so intense here. If Illyria was still just a big bad, appearing as Fred would be a nasty reminder of how evil she is. It would just be like kicking Wes while he’s down. However, because she has that hint of humanity left, appearing as Fred carries the whole idea that there may still be something left of her in there, somewhere. At the end of the episode when Illyria approaches Wesley, again as Fred, we start to learn a little about her humanity. Whether it is that Illyria is just adapting to the new world or that there’s still some semblance of Fred left in there, we know she’s feeling something. From that point on, Illyria was not only fierce and destructive, but a person as well.

Illyria’s morphing is also a perfect example of the secondary theme of this episode which I briefly mentioned earlier. Each character is dealing with their own separate issues, but they all deal with it in the same way. They all use the past in order to distract themselves from the issues they are dealing with in the present. For example, Wesley had the opportunity to take one step closer in moving on from Fred by saying what happened out loud to other people that cared about her just as much as him. Even though he is shocked by the appearance of Fred, he still allows it to happen. Sure, it was easier for him to avoid that awful conversation with the Burkles, but I also think he’s holding on to a small sliver of Fred by keeping her parents out of the know. In turn, Illyria is doing the same thing. Illyria can learn to integrate herself into society if she wants to fit in. She has proven that she knows how to act normal, or as normal as Fred ever was, when she poses as her. Instead of trying to create her own, new persona, she chooses to reference the past by posing as Fred again to convince Wesley to help her explore her feelings. Here, Wesley does the mature and rational thing by telling her to refrain from ever taking Fred’s form again, although, just keeping her around at all is an obvious sign of holding onto the past.

Spike and Angel take this whole concept to the next level. Not only do they use the whole Buffy-chase as an avoidance tool, but they also latch onto the past within their own personalities. It was as if they refused to acknowledge the recent events which they had to deal with, and instead, regressed to their 1998 relationship and acted like bickering little children. A lot of the time when people deal with traumatic things, they will lock themselves in their childhood room, in their parents’ house, just so they can remember that life wasn’t always this hard. All of this comes back down to the original theme of losing track of the mission.

In fact, I’ll even take it one step further and say that the theme extends past the characters and onto the writers, as well. Drew Goddard and Steven S. Deknight seem to have lost the mission and distracted themselves with nostalgia during this episode, too. Instead of moving further into the heart of the series, they want to take a moment to revisit the glory days. Darla and Drusilla, two of the most personalized villains on the series, get brought back to make some sex jokes and disappear. While it is absolutely hilarious to watch jealousy irradiate from our heroes, it seems like the writers bunted when we really needed them to swing for the fences. It just feels like a wasted opportunity to add a little more impact and emotional content to the end of the series.

Seeing Andrew in Buffy’s apartment was a nice addition to the episode. He was used a bit more appropriately than the vampire girls were considering he actually had a purpose more than random laughs. He didn’t say anything profound, per se, but he did confirm what was already in the back of Angel’s mind. Andrew was here to show that Buffy has moved on, and that the guys need to do the same. That idea seems to be the final motivation for the guys to realize they are being foolish and that they need to stop chasing the past. I have no issue with Andrew’s message, but I’ve got to say, I’m not too fond of how his own personal changes are portrayed. So, because he has two women on his arms, he has now changed for the better? The only reason this bothers me is because Andrew Wells has clearly been represented as a homosexual in the past. It seems a little judgmental and maybe even insulting to insinuate that Andrew has gone through some positive life changes, and then show us that those life changes seem to represent him being straight. Why is the fact that he is now into women a positive change? Apparently, the original script called for one man, and one woman, on Andrew’s arms but, for whatever reason, that idea was nixed. Interestingly enough, Tom Lenk was actually just a fill-in for this episode as they were unable to get Michelle Trachtenberg to come back, so it is interesting to speculate on what the scene would have looked like with her in it instead.

The entire Rome plot is very mediocre to me. It is an interesting idea, and the comedy parts were executed pretty well, but there were definitely times when it just felt flat. Ilona, the C.E.O of Wolfram and Hart: Rome is forgettable aside from her one (or two) gypsy line. The car and scooter chase scene was not only ridiculous, but had terrible dubbed over dialogue between Spike and Angel. Although, the good parts were top notch, grade-A, character driven comedy. I would like to mention that my absolute favorite part was when Spike and Angel were debating who had saved the world more times. The entire conversation was a comical masterpiece. The dialogue between them on the airplanes is also brilliant. From Spike making fun of Angel’s relationship with Nina to the admission that Angel is still stalking Buffy, only from a distance. Everything feels real and true to the characters. This is not only because of the dialogue, either, but also because of the acting. David Boreanaz got a lot of heat in Buffy for being an extremely ‘green’ actor, but I watch his interactions with Spike here and feel proud. Marsters was good from the beginning, but the chemistry they have here seems flawless. Marsters is definitely playing a more in-your-face version of his previous self, but that only makes Angel’s demeanor seem that much more justified.

The most interesting part of the entire Rome plot has nothing to do with Buffy or the Capo, though. Spike and Angel both lose their personalized coats in an explosion! When I first watched this episode I saw this as nothing but a comical way to move into the next scene. However, a friend of mine clued me into what this change in attire actually symbolized. First, Spike is immediately distraught over losing his coat. He stripped this coat off the body of a dead slayer, which he killed! In Buffy’s “Get It Done” [7×15], he refused to fight until he had retrieved his coat — it was his ‘mojo,’ in a sense. Keeping that in mind it’s interesting to note that he refers to his coat as a “jacket” here. The word ‘coat.’ in many cases, refers to a covering which can meld with what is underneath, such as a ‘coat of fur’ or a ‘coat of paint.’ A jacket typically refers to “an outer casing,” and always remains a separate object such as a ‘dust jacket’ for a book. With the theme of finally moving on still strong, it’s not surprising that Spike would be so okay with his new, replacement, identical ‘jacket.’ That old coat was, and always would be, tainted with the blood of the innocent, but his new one symbolized something of a fresh start.

Angel, on the other hand, is presented with the most ridiculous alternative one could imagine. At first glance, this jacket looks like a random jacket chosen to look as foolish as possible. However, upon further evaluation, the pattern on it (not the colors) bears a striking resemblance to Number Five’s mask from “Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco” [5×06]. Wolfram and Hart have been using Angel as a puppet all season, both literally and metaphorically. Could the similarities in the jacket and the mask represent how Angel is not considered a real hero outside of his circle? Could this imply that Angel, himself, does not feel like a real champion? No matter how you look at it, though, he’s obviously still conflicted. While he wants to move on, he knows he can’t while he’s still under the roof of Wolfram and Hart. It’s very interesting how much a visual prop gag can have so much underlying thematic meaning.

If this episode had taken place earlier in the season, I would give it a higher rating. The Wesley and Illyria stuff was at the right point, but the Spike and Angel scenes were very hit-or-miss. The only part of that storyline that seemed necessary at this point in the season was Angel’s increasingly bad attitude. With only two episodes remaining after this one, it feels like the time for one-off comedy episodes is long gone. However, judging this on what it is, it’s very funny. If I had a trophy for second-funniest episode of Season 5, I would give it to “The Girl in Question.” It actually has quite a few endearing qualities. Interesting continuity-based conversations are always good. As Whedon fans, we expect our characters to remember the past and this episode does a good job of that. Angel’s “cookie dough” reference and the aforementioned world-saving conversation are good examples of that. Unfortunately, some (extremely) funny segments are not enough to recover from the terrible seasonal placement or the underuse of Buffyverse favorites Darla and Drusilla. This all results in a funny, yet underwhelming episode, which sets up very little in regards to the end of the series.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Spike still playing video games.
+ The musical score, especially in Rome, is very good.
+ The slow motion fight scene.
+ Getting the Buffy stuff out in the open, finally.

– The “Jeeves” butler-type demon and the little old lady demon. Silly, but not really funny.
– The cartoon-like explosion.




58 thoughts on “Angel 5×20: The Girl in Question”

  1. [Note: Brachen Man posted this comment on February 28, 2012.]

    Great review, Debisib! I couldn’t have phrased it any better myself. While I do have many a problem with how this episode talked about Angel and Spike’s relationships with Buffy, (It almost felt like they were trivializing the previous seriousness that made their respective relationships work) there were funny parts, and the Wesley/Illyria plot was gold.


  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on February 29, 2012.]

    Good review. This episode is one of my least favorites of the season and the series and aside from the wonderful Wesley/Illyria scenes and some scenes between Angel and Spike, this episode doesn´t do much for me but you did a good job illustrating the negative and positive aspects and I´m sure that I will see this in a different light, and a bit more positive light thanks to your review. Thank you.


  3. [Note: Alex posted this comment on February 29, 2012.]

    This is a great review, Debisib. I don’t hate this episode like some people do, but I definitely do have some issues with it and, like you say, most of them stem from its placement within the season. This would have been a pretty good episode if it had come earlier in the season, I think, while the Spike/Angel rivalry was still a major plot point. But after all the growth they’ve had as characters this season and after everything that’s happened (including Cordy and Fred’s deaths), it doesn’t seem to fit quite right and just feels like stalling before the season finale.

    Brachen, I found your comment about ‘trivializing’ the relationships very interesting. I was never bothered by that and I think it’s because it’s a fairly accurate depiction of what happens after a relationship breaks down, and of the way that people tend to talk about their past relationships. A lot of people talk about ‘the ex’ in quite a trivial way, even when what they had with that person at the time was pretty intense. I think I’d have to watch the episode again to decide whether or not that applies here, though.

    I have to confess that, having not seen the episode for a while, I’d completely forgotten that the Wesley/Illyria part of the story took place in this episode. If you asked me what ‘The Girl in Question’ was about, I would have said ‘it’s the one where Angel and Spike go to Rome’ and I wouldn’t even have remembered the other part of the story. That story is clearly much, much better than the Rome one and it’s almost a shame that they ended up in the same episode.

    One thing that always bothered me, though, was the fact that nobody had told Fred’s parents before now. I’ve complained before about how Fred’s just about the only character with two nice, normal parents, and yet the writers usually seem to forget all about them. I understand that Wesley would have been too overcome with grief to call them himself, but I’m disappointed that Angel, Gunn or even Lorne didn’t think to do it. Yes, it would have been incredibly tough (I’ve been in that situation before myself, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do) but that’s not a reason not to tell them.

    Finally, on Andrew’s last scene – I read a quote somewhere either from Whedon or someone else on the team, who said that they essentially just messed up there. They said that the ‘people change’ line was suited to Dawn, and wasn’t changed when the character switched to Andrew, and that Andrew was meant to be meeting with a mixed-sex group of people rather than two hot women, but the casting people only came up with those women (or something like that). So the combination of the two ended up accidentally implying the whole ‘gay guy turned straight’ thing, which it wasn’t meant to. I can’t believe that nobody would have piped up and said ‘hang on, this kind of makes it sound like we’re saying Andrew’s not gay any more – we’d better change that’. But I think they were probably going for ‘Andrew’s cool and popular now’ and just missed the mark a bit.


  4. [Note: Runawaymarbles posted this comment on February 29, 2012.]

    Does anyone else want to point and laugh at Angel when they rewatch Becoming and notice that Angel had his eyes closed when he was stabbed?


  5. [Note: Brachen Man posted this comment on February 29, 2012.]

    I like to think that he motioned her to do it before he closed his eyes. Just kidding of course. I think he was just trying to impress Spike. He knew that was a lie when he said it. It was a joke.


  6. [Note: Debisib posted this comment on March 1, 2012.]

    Thanks for the kind words guys! I don’t hate it either, Alex. It’s pretty damn funny most of the time. The one thing about Fred’s parents not knowing about her death already is true but it holds the same for others too. They never went through the formality of telling Cordy’s family, either. It BtVS, they never spoke to Tara’s parents. The only death in the series’ which encompassed all of the aspects of someone dying was probably Joyce. They dealt with her funeral, tried to get in touch with Hank, and made all of the necessary adjustments to deal.


  7. [Note: Alex posted this comment on March 1, 2012.]

    Debisib, I don’t mean that I necessarily needed them to show Fred’s parents being contacted on-screen. I believe that Cordy and Tara’s families would have received he news from someone, at some point, even if it wasn’t shown. It could even have come from hospital staff rather than from any of the other characters. But Fred’s parents actually show up and make it clear that nobody’s told them, even off-screen. And then to have them leave, thinking that their daughter’s still alive… I don’t really know how I feel about that.

    I think to tell them the truth at that point would have taken more strength than Wesley had at the time, and I guess someone could have given them a call after that to break the news, but it still leaves me feeling very uncomfortable. It also kind of leaves me with the impression that the writers are so used to writing dysfunctional families and broken homes that they just can’t quite handle a character having nice, normal parents! I said something similar in my Shiny Happy People review – I thought that Fred’s parents were kind of conveniently forgotten then too. But this is me getting distracted and going off-topic, so I’ll leave it there!


  8. [Note: StakeandCheese posted this comment on March 1, 2012.]

    I think a lot of the problems people have with TGIQ is that the humor doesn’t work for them. Luckily I think a lot of it is very funny so I agree with pretty much everything in the review; especially the analysis of the new jackets they receive. I’d never thought of that before, but it fits really well.

    On Wesley, I think that he was definitely about to tell Fred’s parents the truth when Illyria walked in all Fred-y. But it’s horrible to think that no one had told the Burkels when it had been at least a month since Fred’s death. Angel at least should have manned up and told them; it was his fault after all.


  9. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 2, 2012.]

    My problem with the comedy in this episode is that it seems forced and too cartoonish. I admit that I love that flashback of Spike and Drusilla in Rome (that always cracks me up, don´t know why) but the rest seems too forced.


  10. [Note: Alex posted this comment on March 2, 2012.]

    Exactly. It put Wesley in a horrible position, as he was put on the spot and forced teo tell them himself – or would have been, if Illyria hadn’t walked in.

    I always thought that Illyria’s actions were her own twisted way of trying to help Wesley. She says it’s for purely selfish reasons, because she can’t stand any more human grief, but I always thought she was doing it because she could see that telling them was going to be really difficult for Wesley, and wanted to spare him from it.


  11. [Note: Alonzo posted this comment on May 1, 2012.]

    I love this episode for the Wesley/Illyria scenes. I mean, that storyline from the begging was just heartbreaking, and Illyria posing as Fred was just painful to watch. It almost gives a sense of longing.

    I really think that this episode moves the Illyria character really forward. Until this point, she has been “I do as I want” “I go because it suits me” but at the end of the episode, when Wes asks her to stop, she says to the empty room “A you wish”. The whole experience finally making Illyria consider other people’s feelings, like a spark of empathy.

    Completely agree about the placing of the Seeking Buffy storyline. It was funny, but it would have definitely worked better in the first half of the season when the stakes weren’t so high. To close to the end of the season, and to wrapped in nostalgia to have more value of its own. I would have loved if they had went with a more emotionally charged story with Spike and Angel about change and letting go. They could have kept the funny, but it would have been great if they had made the realization more obvious and the characters more aware of how they had got there. Instead of being about nostalgia, more about looking the road taken from where you are now. A mood like the BtVS “As you Were” would have worked so much better in my opinion.

    But still, the bits work if you take them apart, as you said, it’s mostly about the placement. But for me, just the Westel/Illyria plot make this episode one of my favorites.

    Can’t wait for seeing more reviews!! I really want to see the Shells/A Hole in the World


  12. [Note: wytchcroft posted this comment on June 24, 2012.]

    I think it’s Fred who can’t stand the grief and it’s Fred who is forcing her way to the surface to reassure her parents (and later still to console both Wes and herself).

    I have no idea where Illyria is in the comics post Angel 5 but i always got the sense that Illyria is weakened by personal grief (first experienced in the ruins of her temple). As the nightmare loving God-King, such an emotion in others would previously have been a delight. Almost the first words out of Illyria’s mouth are “I’m tasting grief it’s like offal in my mouth.” So, no delight there then. For why? Because the grief is Wesley’s and Fred feels it. I always figured (in Timebomb) Illyria’s meltdown is because of the pressure from Fred on some weird quantum molecular level that Fred would explain and the writers would hand-wave come season 6. And that even Illyria had ‘hollowed out’ Fred, that Fred herself would (on some level) claw her way back. And that Acker would get double pay!

    I like Illyria (and her scenes in this ep almost make up for the comedy i don’t enjoy), the caged movements and the emotional learning curves – so it would be a shame for that character to go. But a two-fer-one? (Down Spike!) THAT would be kinda cool.


  13. [Note: MrPrez posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    I would’ve given this episode a F-. Utterly horrible and utterly stupid! Keep Buffy where she belongs; far, far away from this show!


  14. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    Firstly, that comparison to Numero Cinco was absolutely brilliant, thank you!Secondly, if I may offer up some points that help me enjoy this episode just a little bit more (and it really did need help):1) Andrew was lying to Spike and Angel about Buffy/Immortal to troll them, and my favorite part of the comic book seasons was them reminding us that Andrew is a notorious liar. I also don’t remember the Immortal’s servants mentioning his/Buffy’s “relationship” ($1) until after they found out that Spike/Angel were already riled up about it, so they were probably just going with it to troll Spangel for their employer’s purposes “concurrently” with Andrew’s.2) I keep telling myself that Andrew and the women were wing-manning instead of dating, or something like that. If you have conclusive evidence to the contrary, that he was definitely their date instead of the three of them looking for guys together, please censor it forever. It must be forgotten.3) Maybe Angel was completely exhausted with the stakes involved with the Circle of the Thorn, was at a place where he couldn’t get anywhere with them for a while anyway, and was absolutely desperate for a distraction until he could do something else important again? I also don’t remember the exact stakes involved with the resurrection job: maybe he thought that it would be a plus if the clan collapsed without a leader?


  15. [Note: Debisib posted this comment on October 19, 2012.]

    I have my friend Rachel Hughes to thank for noticing the comparison to Numero Cinco! Very bright girl.


  16. [Note: Dave posted this comment on November 10, 2012.]

    And again, lost part of my post:Amy Acker is *incredible* at switching between Fred and Illyria. Her and Wesley’s scenes save this episode from being completely ridiculous.


  17. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on November 19, 2012.]

    Very interesting and thought-provoking review. I particularly liked the mention of Angel and Spike reverting to their previous personas since when I watched this recently myself it made me think of how my brother and I tend to regress to teenagers around one another.I actually only just watched season five for the first time recently (I went to study abroad for a few years when it aired and I somehow never got round to it till now) and I’m quite surprised that there seems to be a lot of negative reaction to it. Personally, I loved it. I found the humour and the Boreanaz-Masters chemistry brilliant. The only major point I’d disagree with the review on is the positioning in the series. With all the heavy that had gone previously (and indeed carried on with Illryia and Wesley in the ep itself) and the drama to come, it was nice to have a humorous break. The wroters seemed to be having a bit of last hurrah fun with some much loved Buffyverse characters and I’m all for that as well. Spike and Dru’s ‘Ciao’ scene is up there with the funniest in either Ats or BtVS.The only thing I didn’t like about the episode was us seeing ‘Buffy’ and her overhanging things as much. I’d like to have had a more ‘Pangs’-like storyline with Angel and Spike both trying to protect her without actually trying to interact with her. Something about Buffy’s presence just felt like it could overpower the ‘Angelness’ of the ep. I remember reading that buffy would have appeared in Not Fade Away had it not been for conflicts in SMG’s schedule, and me thinking what a shame that was at the time. But having watched it recently, I thought it was probably a blessing in disguise. Although AtS makes great use of Buffyverse characters, I somehow felt that a post BtVS series finale Buffy could possibly overpower AtS by her mere presence. AtS was much more than a mere spinoff and definitely stood on its own two feet and I’d have liked TGIQ even more if the writers had somehow managed to keep in line with that. Having said that, I still love the episode. I’d probably give it an A-


  18. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on November 19, 2012.]

    *Where I wrote ‘I’m quite suprised that there seems to be a lot of negative reaction to it’, I meant the reaction to this episode, not to the series as a whole.


  19. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on January 3, 2013.]

    Do you know what’s a really weird thought? Whilst it’s okay for Angel to be chasing after Buffy now, at this point in the Buffyverse he is supposed to be the same age as he was in Buffy in season 1. That means the head of Wolfram and Hart was in a relationship with someone in High School…I know he wasn’t the head of Wolfram and Hart at the time but he was still supposed to be the same age and I find that kind of disturbing…


  20. [Note: Craig posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    I actually like this episode a lot and find it to be underrated, but honestly other than the Wesley/Illyria stuff it hardly even feels like a *real* Angel episode. It feels to me like unusually good fanfiction.


  21. [Note: Danny posted this comment on March 5, 2013.]

    The only thing really bothered me about this episode is that all the suspense built by the final scene of “Time Bomb” is completely destroyed. We go from Angel letting the baby get sacrificed and shutting the door on Gunn to a comedic Spike vs. Angel episode. Other than that, it swung hard for the comedy and made the less interesting plot forgivable.

    Also, you have to wonder if the writers would have ever revisit the Burkles in Season 6. It would’ve been interesting to see Wesley in that situation.


  22. [Note: Markichin posted this comment on October 17, 2013.]

    Having been familiar with „Buffy“ for many years, I only finished watching „Angel“ yesterday and was very happy to see that the show got a marvellous final arc despite its unexpected cancellation. However, when I watched “The Girl in Question”, I felt very disappointed, almost offended. To me, it is easily one of the worst episodes in the entire Whedonverse – for two reasons apart from its awkward placement within the season (and series as a whole).

    Firstly, I strongly dislike the caricature depiction of about every Italian character in the episode, which is at times plain racist. I was honestly shocked to see such a shallow form of “comedy” in a Whedon show.

    Secondly (as Brachen Man wrote in comment #1 and Alex in #3), Angel and Spike’s trivialisation of their respective relationships with Buffy is almost unbearable to watch. The way they talk about Buffy as if she were some sort of prize which was to be claimed by one of them is genuinely sexist, even disgusting at times. Of course the two of them are competing at many levels, and one of them is their affection for Buffy, but even under the extreme circumstances following Fred’s death I found their behaviour very out-of-character, which makes the episode’s placement so close to the end of the two series all the more deplorable. Spike’s behaviour might have been believable in his Buffy-Bot days of BtVS S5’s “Intervention” (when he objectified Buffy in the truest sense of the word), but he has become a new man by now.

    Racism and sexism are very sensitive topics to me, which is why I felt so particularly disappointed with this episode. The Rome plot is completely unnecessary in my eyes and I wished this episode would have been used in order to apportion the dense plot of the finale over at least three instead of only two episodes.

    I was not even sure about the Wesley/Illyria plot when I watched the episode for the first time as I did not know yet in which direction the final episodes would go for them. Looking back, it truly is a redeeming factor for “The Girl in Question”. I like how you wrote that “negative for the characters usually equates to positive for us viewers”, Debisib. The final arc for Fred/Illyria and Wesley is one of my most favourite plots in the entire Whedonverse and although I have a lot of love for both (or all three) characters, I was hoping for a sad or at least bittersweet ending for them, an ending that would grieve me. Illyria’s ability to impersonate Fred was painful to Wesley and to me as a viewer, but despite his imperfections (and no character on this show is perfect, which makes them realistic and relatable), I felt happy for Wesley that he got the chance to look into Fred’s eyes one last time in the moment of his death, even though it is not real…
    (Wow, the Fred/Illyria/Wes arc made me cry a lot during the last couple of episodes. This is why I love this show: the strong way in which it can affect me emotionally; which is also why I have such a negative reaction to most other parts of “The Girl in Question”).

    Overall, however, I wished that most of this episode did not exist. Personally, I would give it a red-colour grade, probably a low D because of the redeeming Illyria/Wes scenes. Without them this episode would be worse than “Provider”.


  23. [Note: none posted this comment on October 17, 2013.]

    Just forget this episode. I did)
    When i think about 5.20 i prefer to remember Wesley/Illyria scenes. Acker really proved that she can amazingly play Illyria even without blue stuff.


  24. [Note: Biggus Rickus posted this comment on November 13, 2013.]

    The problem with the episode is not so much the placement. A light episode prior to heavier episodes is pretty standard in the Buffyverse. The problem with the episode is that for the sake of humor the tones of the characters are changed. Angel and Spike bicker about stupid things, sure. They do not have farcical adventures with broad Italian stereotypes. The scene with Darla and Dru is painful for the same reason, none of the characters behave as their established personalities would dictate. They behave as the script dictates.

    It’s a shame too, because the Wesley/Illyria scenes are phenomenal. I’d rather have spent the entire episode there.


  25. [Note: Grt2001 posted this comment on June 27, 2014.]

    I wonder if I have poor vision because I don’t see that Buffy’s eyes are blue.
    I always thought they were hazel. Her eye color changed on certain episodes, but they never looked blue.
    Most of the time they looked either dark green or dark grey, sometimes they looked brown.


  26. [Note: Dobian posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    Spike and Dru in the Feliniesque scene was priceless. I always smile when Drusilla pops up out of nowhere in an episode. I enjoyed the episode a lot. Rome Wolfram and Hart and Ilona were hilarious, and I liked the sly remark by Italian Jeeves about how the Americans always have to resort to fighting to resolve something. And then sneakily blows them up. It was a clever commentary by the writers on how tv shows tend to be written and plots resolved in unimaginative ways. The illusive Immortal was also funny in how in both the past and the present he consistently foils Spike and Angel, though you never actually see him. I would have enjoyed it if he was introduced earlier in the series and used as a recurring McGuffin character. Even Andrew was enjoyable. On Angel he isn’t annoying the way he so often was on Buffy. The Wesley/Illyria subplot was very good for a different reason and balanced out the episode. Wesley’s reaction to Illyria’s masquerade was very believable, and watching Illyria change personalities from Fred to her real self was unnerving.

    My only issue was the placement of this episode so close to the big finale, it was definitely a mid-season kind of episode. But I understand they were rushed because of the cancellation.


  27. [Note: GottaLoveTheScoobies posted this comment on November 2, 2015.]


    Firstly, I strongly dislike the caricature depiction of about every Italian character in the episode, which is at times plain racist.

    “Italian” is NOT a race. (If it were, then the comments about all Americans solving problems with violence would also be racist, no?) “American” is not a race. Italian, French, British, German, Russian, Spanish, Mexican, etc… are not races, therefore the word racism does not apply.

    Racism and sexism are very sensitive topics to me

    If they’re such sensitive topics to you, you should really know and understand the definitions of the words.


  28. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 2, 2015.]

    At the very least he has one of the more memorable names out of all of us. And at the very least if Jeremy ever gets that level of egotism he won’t be able to use initials.


  29. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 2, 2015.]

    Ok, I’m laughing that FV apparently took me seriously enough to write the full name out this time.


  30. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 2, 2015.]

    Lesson learned. Don’t f**k with Other Scott. I might have to get around to watching Rectify now.


  31. [Note: FV posted this comment on November 2, 2015.]

    Oh, I’m not Freudian Vampire. That guy’s a dick who comes and joins in arguments.

    Don’t be too quick to leap to assumptions, OS.


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

    A good review, and watching it again, the following occurs to me.

    1) Ilona is played by an Italian speaking actress, and the mannerisms are spot on. Notice, both Angel and Spike are looking at her eyes, when the camera is looking, elsewhere… The other Italian accents are less convincing!

    2) The two threads of this episode are “The girl in question” being both Fred and Buffy? Ilyria reverting to Fred, can be seen as both selfish (its perception of grief) as well as experimental for Illyria. “Isn’t it what you desire?”

    3) Setting something in Rome makes it cool for *all* English speakers – if you visit it sometime you’ll understand the phrase “La Dolce Vita”, which is pretty much what is portrayed here…IMHO

    Oh and the Angel “Cookie dough comment”. Priceless!


  33. [Note: SpoiltBoi posted this comment on April 24, 2016.]

    Angel was talking about the actual character Joss Whedon intended Buffy Summers to be, not the actresses. American, naturally blonde, blue eyed, Valley girl. Sarah Michelle Gellar has green eyes with natural brunette hair who had to dye it blonde for the role, and also ask Joss how to act like a valley girl because she didn’t know how to. One thing she forgot was blue contact lenses, Kristy Swanson who first played Buffy had brown eyes and she too forgot.


  34. [Note: SpoiltBoi posted this comment on April 24, 2016.]

    Sarah Michelle Gellar’s eyes are green, Kristy Swanson’s eyes are brown. Buffy Summers’s eyes are blue. The way Joss Whedon intended them to be, so Angel saying that was not a writers error. He was describing her character wise, not by actress.


  35. [Note: SpoiltBoi posted this comment on April 24, 2016.]

    Sarah Michelle Gellar’s eyes are green, Kristy Swanson’s eyes are brown. Buffy Summers’s eyes are blue. The way Joss Whedon intended them to be, so Angel saying that was not a writers error. He was describing her character wise, not by actress.


  36. [Note: Pandorita posted this comment on May 10, 2016.]

    I have to say that after watching AtS entirely and starting to read the comics (season 8 of BTVS), it was really a joy to find out that Buffy at Rome wasn’t Buffy at all, nor was she dating The Immortal, and that Andrew was just messing with Angel and Spike. It made me laugh out loud and made this episode far more enjoyable.


  37. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on May 13, 2016.]

    I have to disagree Buffy and spikes relationship didn’t,t break down , he died when they were at their closest. And you really don,t get over these things that fast we are talking months here ,not years .I felt spikes character became a mere parody in AS5.Disappointing ,but I was still happy to see him back in the buffyverse I wish they had just developed the character more from Buffy series 7 , where there was a lot more of William in him


  38. [Note: Samm posted this comment on May 13, 2016.]

    I disagree that Spike’s character was a mere parody in S5 of Angel. I think we actually see a lot of development for Spike, that he would help others at the cost of his own well-being. Like when he saved Fred instead of becoming corporeal. We also learn a lot more of his motivations and beliefs this season, mainly through his scenes with Angel.

    We see him become more of a hero and starts to find a purpose outside of Buffy or any one girl of what sort of man he will become/is. And this is more continuity of the character, but he’d go down fighting if he believes its the right thing to do.

    The only time he doesn’t grow that much is when he is ghost, as he was trapped and essentially could only mess with Angel. But he still had some important moments as a ghost or whatever happened to him.


  39. [Note: Doyden posted this comment on May 18, 2016.]

    Sorry Sam have to disagree , spike already gave his life/unlike to help others after he was ensouled. ,he,s behaviour here is a continuation of this. The fact he puts others first here is not development
    Is consistency , an interesting argument here I feel would be spike got HIS soul back ,a kind decent caring person ,Liam go his soul back a selfifish , wanton person , going further ahead I don’t feel spike would evere kill an ally just to look like he was on the other side ,can you imagine him killing dawn or willow for the supposed greater good .angel does when he kills drogyn


  40. [Note: Samm posted this comment on May 20, 2016.]

    But character development doesn’t need to be learning new things about the character, it can be in the consistency of their actions. While i am not going to say his development was better on Angel than Buffy as it wasn’t, apart from when he was a ghost, i am very pleased with the development Spike got on Angel.

    Lindsay when he sent Spike to save that girl when he got a vision, summed it up perfectly that it was different, Spike has never helped anyone if it doesn’t benefit him. And that is what they show best in Angel for me, they showed the change in his actions, and finally not being dependent on one person. S7 Spike would have gone back to Buffy without a seconds thought, but now he stays, he wants a purpose.


  41. [Note: Flamepillar112 posted this comment on September 14, 2016.]

    I agree with the score. I guess I had a similar reaction to this episode that Alex had to “Harm’s Way”. I recognize its flaws, but I can’t stop laughing when I watch the episode. Though I guess if you don’t buy into the humor it would probably suck horribly. It’s definitely a turn your brain off type of episode. I didn’t think Spike’s characterization was super out of line with his established character, though. His lines in this episode reminded me of Out. For. A. Walk. Bitch. Still though, I can’t dislike it:

    Spike: It’s like a part of me.
    Angel: Get over it. Buy a new one.
    Spike: It’s my second skin. It’s who I am. It’s just one more thing he’s taken away that I’ll never get back!

    Spike (Next scene): Yeah this is good.


  42. [Note: josy posted this comment on September 23, 2016.]

    I don´t realy like this episode, i know that the message is that Angel and Spike have to move on, but for me since the moment Angel left Sunnydale he knows he has to move on and in the moment Spike decides to stay in L.A in somehow he also is moving on.

    The other part is, well i´m not saying Spike and Buffy have to be together again, but the fact that Spke never even bother to call her to say: “hi, i´m alive” or that Buffy knows he is alive and never call him even just to say “thank you/hi” or something like that, i just don´t believe it.

    I just don´t like the “presence” of Buffy here, i mean the cookie speech for me is “i´m 21 years old and in this moment i need to figure it out a lot of things in my life before staring a relationship with someone” and 3 months later she´s deeply in love for the immortal what?

    And then you´ve got Angelous a strong vampire who´s now fettered cause the immortal.

    The only thing i enjoy is Fred/Wesley/Illyria. The other was unnecessary and it could have been handle better.


  43. [Note: Samm posted this comment on September 23, 2016.]

    It definitely is irritating how the regress the characters completely in the aim to get a few laughs, which was just one of many issues this episode.

    But i understand why Spike didn’t call Buffy, well actually why the writers didn’t make Spike call Buffy. Because there is no way, that if they have a conversation in which Spike won’t want to go and see Buffy again or vice versa. And since she didn’t want to be in this season they had to keep apart all contact.

    Which is just another character issue in S5 which is full of them.


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