Episode # 105
Original Air Date: April 14, 2004
Review by: Anne
Trying to learn what the Senior Partners are planning, Angel and Spike visit Eve, who is still hiding in her apartment. Knowing that someone is after her, she begs Angel for help, and they escape just before a very well-dressed man appears. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Spike guards Eve, and Angel goes to see Gunn, who is remorsefully quiet. Angel tells Gunn that he should feel bad about what happened to Fred, but he's still a good man. Angel adds that part of atonement is taking the chances that you have. Elsewhere, Wesley tries to drown his sorrows in whiskey; he urges Illyria to go to a new dimension, but she says that she can't. Noting his despair, she asks why he doesn't leave the world himself. Eve tells Angel that Lindsey could have told him about the SP; Gunn enters the office and announces that he knows where Lindsey is. Gunn, Spike, and Angel take a short drive into a W&H holding dimension that looks remarkably like the suburbs. They find Lindsey's house and a polite blond woman lets them in. Lindsey enters the room, but he doesn't recognize them. They take him aside and try to explain the situation, but he thinks one of his friends is playing a joke. Angel finally pulls off Lindsey's necklace, and he collapses on the floor as his memory returns. His "wife" walks in carrying a machine gun, and the guys escape into the cellar, where they find a wide array of torture devices that have apparently been used on Lindsey. A powerful monster appears; Angel and Spike fight it, but it keeps fighting back until Gunn puts on the necklace that Lindsey was wearing. A metal gate on the wall opens, revealing the way out. Gunn says that he has to stay because a void is impossible; Angel tries to argue, but Gunn reminds him about atonement. Angel and Spike leave with Lindsey. A portal drops them in the garage at W&H where they find Lorne and Eve fleeing from the well-dressed man. Angel prepares to fight the stranger, but the man simply pulls out a contract that terminates Eve's W&H privileges. She signs it, and the man introduces himself as Marcus Hamilton, their new liaison to the SP. Later, upstairs in Angel's apartment, Angel questions Lindsey about the Partners' plan. Lindsey says that The Apocalypse has already started, and Angel's team is already two soldiers down. Back in the holding dimension, the blond wife asks Gunn to go to the basement for light bulbs, and he looks very nervous, knowing what will happen there.
I'm not sure, but this episode may have set a record for the number of references to an episode's title. They mentioned it directly by using the word itself - of course - and by using words or phrases with very similar meanings, such as "deeper" and "below the surface." They included it more indirectly with repeated talk of layers and the Earth. They also showed it symbolically in Wesley taking Illyria up to the roof to make her feel less trapped, and by Lindsey's situation where the bad stuff happened in the cellar, beneath his seemingly normal world.
"Underneath" is a term that indicates an object's position, and I'm sure it is no coincidence that in Wesley's dream, Fred observed that he always knows where he is. He called that a skill, but since he couldn't even escape from the pain of reality in his dreams, it sounds more like a curse. Illyria said that nightmares have been reduced to being trapped inside people's heads, but she obviously wasn't paying attention, because Wesley *was* living in a nightmare, having lost the woman he loved.
Perhaps that was part of Lindsey's punishment: every day they gave him a perfect life only to take it away. The Senior Partners treated him much like they did Angel by keeping him distracted from what was really happening. Perhaps they didn't want him to know the truth because then he could have done something to fight them.
Hopefully, for Gunn's sake, there is a way out of that holding dimension. However, the situation does seem pretty grim; even if Gunn somehow realized where he is - and maybe his souped-up brain could help him do that? - he said that a void is impossible. He would need someone to take his place. If there's a bright side to all of this, at least with no memory of his real life, he can forget about his part in what happened to Fred.
As Lindsey said, "It's all in how you look at the glass." Maybe Gunn decided that physical torture and living a lie would be preferable to the mental anguish of his guilt. Similarly, Illyria remains in this strange new world rather than venturing into another dimension, and Eve had chosen to stay behind the symbols in her apartment. As Angel told Eve, "You're not trapped: you're hiding."
Since we were shown how W&H deliberately withholds information to their advantage, maybe now that Angel has a clue about what's happening, he'll be able to do something about it. After all, knowledge *is* power.
* Did Lorne just tell the bartender what he wanted to hear?
* When Gunn returned to the office after leaving the hospital, he was wearing his old street clothes - proof that it's what's underneath that counts.
* When Marcus enters Eve's apartment, I wrote in my notes, "In walks ... Ben Affleck?!"
* In a season four Buffy episode, when explaining how someone could wish and make the whole world different, Anya used the example that a person could wish for a world with nothing but shrimp. Obviously someone made that wish, and Illryia found that world.