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Recap / Angel S 02 E 21 Through The Looking Glass

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Angel, Wesley, and Gunn are shocked to see Cordelia has been crowned princess of Pylea. She jokingly demands their heads be cut off, but quickly clarifies she is joking. After she dismisses the guards, Cordelia recounts how, because she was "cursed with the sight", she was declared princess. Lorne confirms his people have a prophecy that a messiah who is cursed with "the sight" will come to restore their monarchy, which has been empty for several millennia. While Wesley, Cordelia, Lorne, and Gunn discuss how to leave Pylea, Angel discovers that he can see himself in mirrors, lamenting over the way his hair looks.

Lorne takes Angel to his family's house, where his family starts to chase Lorne away, as they consider him to be a traitor. However, his cousin Landok identifies Angel as a hero who saved his life, and the people celebrate Angel, who is made the special guest of their upcoming village feast. He then tells stories of his adventures to the people of Pylea while Lorne is ignored. Landok offers Angel the honor of "swinging the crebbil in the Bach-nal," and Angel agrees to take part. But when he arrives, he discovers that it means beheading a human so the people of Pylea can feast on her. Winifred "Fred" Burkle is brought forth, but Angel refuses to kill her. Instead, he grabs her to escape, and Lorne makes good the escape by singing "Stop, In the Name of Love," which causes severe pain to the Pyleans—theirs is a world without music.

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While perusing the castle library, Wesley discovers "the cursed one" will have to perform something called a "com-shuk" with a Groosalugg. He considers asking the priests to translate the book, until he realizes it is part of a three-volume book marked with a different animal on the cover of each volume. The three animals are wolf, ram and hart, meaning that the books (and therefore the priests) likely have some connection to the supernatural law firm that plagues them back in Los Angeles. Wesley concludes that they cannot trust the priests. Silas, one of the priests, arrives to inform Cordelia that the Groosalugg has been summoned and that the "com-shuk" is a mating ritual. Wesley, Gunn, and Cordelia try to escape through a sewer tunnel, but Cordelia is caught by the priests and dragged back to her throne. Heavily guarded, Cordelia worries about mating with the demon, until Silas introduces the Groosalugg, who turns out to be a handsome and muscular young male who looks fully human.

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Fred leads Angel to a cave where she has been hiding for a long time. Fred talks nervously as she crazily scribbles on the cave walls. Angel finds Fred's driver's license and realizes she is the girl from Cordy's vision, and that her scribbles are advanced physics, as she had been a graduate student in the field back in LA. She doesn't believe him when he tells her of her life in LA and how she got to Pylea, because she is too traumatized—she thinks she has been decapitated in the square, or has gone crazy. Angel convinces her that this is not true, and that he can rescue her. They make their way to the castle, but soon, they are attacked by guards. To fight them, Angel shifts into his vampire mode, but instead of his usual vampire face, he becomes a mindless demon, a green creature with spikes and ridges on his face, and brutally rips through the guard's body with his super-sized teeth. The other guard runs and Angel takes off as well, leaving Fred frightened and alone. Wesley and Gunn wander around lost, looking for Angel, until they are attacked by a green demon wearing Angel's clothes. The demon immediately attacks Gunn, and during the fight, Wesley recognizes Angel's tattoo. He tries to call to Angel, to see if he responds to his own name, but to no avail. A short distance away, Fred coats her hand in blood and is able to lure Angel away from his friends with the smell. Wesley helps Gunn with his wounds, and the former realizes that, as they're in an alternate dimension, the balance that Angel has in the human world has been disrupted. This means that he has accidentally revealed his pure, unaltered inner demon.

Back at Fred's cave, Demon Angel sees his reflection in water and is suddenly motivated to switch back to human form. The ordeal leaves him shaken. In the forest, Gunn and Wesley are surrounded and tied up by rebel humans who want to send a message to the castle—they believe that Wesley and Gunn are spy-cows. Wesley tries to convince the rebels that they know the princess and suggest they use them to contact her. The rebels agree, but their idea involves decapitating the men and putting a note in the mouths of their severed heads. Fred comforts Angel as he painfully deals with the aftermath of being controlled by the demon inside of him. He concludes that his friends saw what he really was and now he can never go back to them.

The Groosalugg tells Cordelia that his human qualities make him unappealing to his people, so he battled with demons to end his existence, but instead of being killed by them, he defeated them, winning great honor as a warrior and earning the title of Groosalugg for his bravery and strength. Cordelia is, understandably, smitten. Lorne is brought before Cordelia for judgment and he is almost sentenced to death, but Cordelia pardons him and then kicks him out so she can be alone with her future mate. Cordelia explains to the Groosalugg that she is not a princess, but he doesn't believe her because he sees that she fulfills the prophecy. This emboldens her and she decides to start writing proclamations and laws for the people of Pylea. Silas tells his fellow priests that the princess has requested paper so she can write proclamations. He is angry at her independent will and goes into her chamber with a platter and kicks out Groosalugg. He tells her she and Groosalugg are just tools of the covenant and she will do what she is told. Cordelia refuses to accept that, until she is shocked into silence as Silas reveals Lorne's severed head displayed on the platter.


Tropes

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Averted for once — the sewer Wesley and Gunn invite Cordy to escape through is small and almost full to the top with, well, shit. Cordy dithers so long about jumping in that the priests recapture her.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Cordelia becomes princess of the demon planet Pylea, but is told she must com-shuck with the Groosalugg, recently summoned from the scum pits of Ur. After an abortive escape attempt she resigns herself to mating with the hideous Horned Humanoid who slouches into her throne room with a sack over his shoulder, only for the real Groosalugg — a handsome blue-eyed hero — to stride inside and tell the demon to just leave his stuff anywhere.
  • Alice Allusion: The title is a reference to to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In Alice Through The Looking Glass, Alice steps through a mirror into an alternate reality, which is a parallel to the Angel Investigations crew entering Pylea through a portal.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: When Lorne asks his mother if she noticed anything odd when he disappeared 5 years prior, she remarks "we noticed feasting and celebration" and that his brother Numfar did the dance of joy for 3 moons. She then has Numfar demonstrate said dance.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Cordelia is reluctant to leave her good life as a princess until the priests inform her she's expected to com-shuck with the Groosalugg, recently summoned from the scum pits of Ur. After an abortive escape attempt she resigns herself to mating with the hideous Horned Humanoid who slouches into her throne room with a sack over his shoulder, only for the real Groosalugg — a handsome blue-eyed hero — to stride inside and tell the demon to just leave his stuff anywhere.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Lorne's joyful reunion with Mum.
    "I've often prayed that I might look upon your face. (spits in Lorne's face) You have shamed our clan and betrayed our kind."
  • Beautiful All Along / I Am Not Pretty: The Groosalugg is a Half-Human Hybrid who's so convinced he's hideous (as he looks more human than demon) he became a Death Seeker, but was too good at fighting to get killed.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Fred has been living as chattel for five years: Her hair is messy and her face is a little bit dirty.
  • Beast and Beauty: Cordelia is expected to mate with the hideous Groosalugg. Fred lures Angel back to her cave even though he's in demon form.
  • Becoming the Mask: Subverted. Angel enjoys playing the hero, but what do you do when your demon face emerges? Cordelia knows she's not a real princess, but when the Groosalugg convinces her to act like one she gets an education in power politics. The trope itself is lampshaded by Lorne.
    Lorne: "They see you a certain way. You start to see yourself that way. You become that image. I get it. I do. Because I know how they see me!"
  • Big Damn Heroes: Angel is given the honor of executing Fred, who's been stealing from the demons food stores. He rides off with her on a horse instead. "Just like in a fairy tale," as Fred will say in a later episode.
  • Casual Kink: On catching a look at the hunky Groo, Lorne asks Cordelia if she wants to call his guards back so she can borrow their chains.
  • Cliffhanger: Cordelia pardons Lorne for helping Angel and Fred escape, then starts drawing up proclamations to ban slavery, polyester and other evils. The Covenant priests show her where the real power lies by presenting Cordelia with Lorne's head on a dish.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Cordy balks at jumping in the sewer, Gunn says that Cordy won't get her booty out the front door. Cordelia is indignant over the suggestion that her ass is too big until Gunn explains he's referring to the pile of treasure she's holding.
    • Everyone in the throne room starts filing out the door when Cordy exclaims, "Get Out!!" (because she's impressed with the Groosalugg's tales of heroic deeds)
    • And once more:
    Cordy: "Where I come from, who I really am - is so far from being a princess, you have no idea. (Sighs) I'm an actress."
    Groosalugg: "I do not know this word."
    Cordy: "Actress? It means - when I'm finally lucky enough to get the gig, other people tell me what to do, where to stand, how to move, what to say..."
    Groosalugg: "You are the concubine of your village."
  • Continuity Nod: Angel entertains the demon children with tales of the sorcerer who could remove his limbs and reassemble at will, and how he chopped off the evil lawyer-beast's hand. Cordelia gripes over how she always ends up impregnated by demon spawn.
  • Cool Chair: Cordelia's throne. It could do with some more cushions but hey; it's a throne!
  • Curse Cut Short: Lorne's impromptu performance of "Stop In The Name Of Love"
    Lorne: Think it ooooover (sees chariot driving towards him with men waving clubs) Think it ooooOOOOO SHIIIIII- (unconscious)
  • Don't Look at Me!: Angel's reaction to being seen in his demon form.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The Wham Shot at the end of the episode - a head that looks a lot like the Host's is presented to Cordy.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Cordelia is too busy looking at the Groosalugg to notice her Bound and Gagged friend Lorne is going to be executed; fortunately she looks just as they're hauling him off.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Cordelia does this to the Groosalugg, so much she almost misses her friend Lorne being hauled off to be executed.
  • Eats Babies
    Mom: [re: Lorne] Your father was right, we ate the wrong son.
  • Exotic Equipment: Averted to Cordy's relief.
    Groosalugg: "For my people to be part cow is to be less than whole. I was incapable even of performing husbandly duties with any of the females of my tribe."
    Cordy: "You mean you are..."
    Groosalugg: "Anatomically equipped to mate only with a human."
    Cordy: "Good to know."
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Inverted; the 'devil' Angel has to execute is a terrified Fred. The hideous Groo is a handsome champion.
  • Funny Background Event / Creator Cameo: Joss Whedon as 'Numfar', doing the Dance of Joy and the Dance of Honor.
  • Game Face: Vampires' demonic faces become much worse (and the advantages and drawbacks both get amped up) in the dimension of Pylea, due to its unique metaphysical properties causing hybrid species such as vampires to manifest as either fully human or fully demon. When Angel changes his face during a fight, he ends up turning into a ferocious demon called a "Van-Tal", the Pylean name for vampires, with green skin, red eyes, and horns. His strength and durability massively increase, but he can barely control his bloodlust in this form and nearly kills all his friends, and when he finally changes back to his human form, he's horrified. It's explained that in Pylea, the demon fully manifests, which means that's the true form of Angelus.
  • Gilded Cage: Cordelia discovers she's a prisoner in her own palace, and the real power is held by the Covenant of Trombli.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Lorne's mom has a beard and speaks with a deep voice (played of course by a male actor).
  • Group Hug: Averted; after being freed from their bonds, Cordelia's friends rush past her outstretched arms and tuck into the food.
  • Happy Dance: "Numfar! Do the Dance of Joy!"
  • Humans Are Ugly: The demon residents of Pylea consider humans repulsive. The Groosalugg is respected for his warrior prowess but shunned for his human-like looks (he's Mr. Fanservice by our standards, Lorne describes him as the lovechild of Fabio and Keanu Reeves).
    The Groosalugg: (confused that Cordelia finds him attractive) Don't you see this strange curve in my mouth? (points to his mouth) This strange bulge in my arms? (points to his biceps) This My heart... beating in the wrong place? (puts Cordelia's hand over his heart)
  • La Résistance: There are (naturally) rebels in the forest. Equally inevitably, Wesley and Gunn are Mistaken for Spies.
  • Literal-Minded: Unsurprisingly, the Pyleans are not familiar with the figurative meaning of "Get out".
  • Literal Split Personality: Angel becomes more human in Pylea — he can walk in the sun and see his reflection — but when Angel vamps out he becomes a savage demon who's barely in control of his urges. Wesley speculates that this is his pure vampire form.
  • Missing Reflection: One of the vampiric weaknesses that Angel doesn't have in this world. Angel happily looks in a pool of reflected water in Fred's cave, but flees from the reflection when he's in his demon form.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Inverted; Lorne's demon relatives grab their ears in pain when he starts singing (music being unknown on their world) giving Angel a chance to escape.
    Lorne: [as the demons rush at Angel] STOP! in the naaaame of loooove...
    Landok: What sorcery is this?
    Mom: [clasping her ears] It burns! It burns!
  • Narcissist: Angel can't stop checking himself out in the mirror.
    Lorne: Come on, Gorgeous, you can stare at yourself in my grandmother's glass eye.
  • Oh, Crap!: Wesley casually notes that a 'hart' (a male deer) is on the cover of one of three spellbooks. Suddenly his face gets serious and he rearranges the covers so they display, in turn — a wolf, a ram, and a hart, i.e. Wolfram & Hart.
  • Off with His Head!: Our heroes expect Cordelia to free them, only for her to proclaim, "Off with their heads!" When the guards pull out their swords she quickly says, "Just kidding!" When Wesley tells the rebels they're friends of the princess who can deliver their demands personally to her, the leader of the rebels orders his men to draw up a list of demands, place them in Wes and Gunn's mouths and leave their heads outside her window. Not Played for Laughs when the priests get annoyed with Cordelia's independent attitude and show her Lorne's severed head on a tray.
  • Power Incontinence: Angel can't control his vampire side.
  • Religion of Evil: The Covenant of Trombli. They have ties to W&H and very well may be the Pylean branch of the firm.
  • The Reveal/Foreshadowing: The real meaning behind the name "Wolfram & Hart" is revealed, and the thus giving the first hints to the true nature of the Senior Partners; The Wolf, The Ram, and the Hart.
  • Rescue Romance: Angel saves Fred, then Fred stops Angel from killing Wesley and Gunn. This is the beginning of a beautiful Love Triangle.
    Fred: "Handsome man saved me from the monsters."
  • Room Full of Crazy: Fred writes her physics equations on the cave walls, trying to figure out how to get home. The problem is she no longer remembers Earth, so it's uncertain whether the words have any meaning to her.
  • Self-Deprecation
    Landok: Angel! You must again tell the tale of the sorcerer who could remove his limbs and reassemble at will!
    Lorne: Right! Right. Because that's a good one.
  • Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: Had Wesley simply used the term "hart" or "stag" in the layman fashion (to refer to any male red deer regardless of its age), it might not have been accurate but it wouldn't have been comment-worthy. Unfortunately, he goes into detail saying a hart is "a male red deer or staggard" indicating the script-writers may have attempted to research the proper naming convention that exists for male red deer (that or they thought a "stag" and "staggard" meant the same thing). A staggard is a male red deer in its fourth year of life. A stag is a male red deer in its fifth year of life. A hart is a male red deer over five years old (i.e., in its sixth year of life). The picture itself shows a 10-point deer (5 tines on each antler) which is a "great hart" (a stag over six years old, i.e., seven years old or older with 10-16 tines). By using generalised layman terms, it all could have been handwaved as an ordinary conversation or at least the "hart" being a contraction of "great hart" where the picture itself was concerned. The attempt to be clever by referring to "staggard" simply emphasised the writers had failed to do their research.
  • Spiky Hair: Spoofed when Angel, who can now see his reflection, is shocked by his hair and keeps trying to brush it down.
    "Why didn't anybody tell me about this?"
  • Spiteful Spit: After years of absence, Lorne returns home and has a touching reunion with his mom.
    "I've often prayed that I might look upon your face. (spits in Lorne's face) You have shamed our clan and betrayed our kind."
  • Stripperiffic: Cordelia's royal outfit.
    Cordy: "Last job I had you should have seen the horrible thing they made me wear! It was this tiny, skimpy, exploitative... (Looks down at her present, tiny, skimpy outfit) Uh, nothing like this!"
  • Super Mode: Angel vamps out to fight a mounted knight because he doesn't have weapons, only to turn into a red-eyed, green-skinned, spiky-faced demon.
  • Talkative Loon: Fred the Broken Bird
    Angel: "So, ah... So, you don't wanna talk to me?"
    Fred: "I can't, huh?"
    Angel: "Why won't you?"
    Fred: "Because...you're not real. Or I'm not real. Somebody here isn't real and I suspect it's you. So if you're not real, that means that my head came off back there and that I'm dead now. Dead. And with me being dead and you not being real I can hardly be expected to have some big conversation with you at the moment, because it's just a little too much pressure, alright?!"
  • Twisted Echo Cut
    Silas: "I think it's time to send our princess a message."
    [cut to forest rebels] Rebel: "I know how we send a message to the princess. We storm the palace."

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