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Recap / Angel S 04 E 02 Ground State

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It is October 28, 1985. Mr. and Mrs. Raiden bring their young daughter Gwen to Thorpes Academy, a special school in the small town of Gills Rock, Wisconsin. Gwen is dressed in a body suit with gloves, so that only her face is exposed. Lydia Thorpe, the headmistress, thanks the couple for a recent and generous gift to the school and adds that a portion of the gift was invested in special accommodations for Gwen.

As Gwen and Lydia walk away, the heamistress reminds Gwen that she must stay away from the other students. She bats Gwen's hand away when Gwen attempts to hold her hand.

Gwen sits under a tree by herself eating lunch while the other children play. She removes a glove so she can eat. A boy walks over to her, asking, "Are you a freak?" She says she does not know. He offers her a toy car of his. When she reaches for it, a spark flashes from her hand. The toy car is blackened, and the boy is stretched on the ground unconscious.


Angel tours Cordelia's old apartment. The AI team is making it ready for the landlord to rent it, on the assumption that Cordelia will not be back. Angel asks whether Phantom Dennis knows anything about Cordelia. Fred says he is upset that Cordelia is still missing, but knows nothing.

Wesley has started his own para-military demon-fighting organization. He and several of his colleagues are fighting a demon in a basement. Angel enters just as Wesley kills the demon and retrieves a motel key, which opens the room where a man is being held prisoner.

Angel thanks Wesley for rescuing him, but Wesley remains silent. Angel says that, so far as he's concerned, he and Wesley are OK again however it becomes clear that Wesley has no intention of rejoining Angel Investigations or his former friends, and that he hasn't forgiven Angel yet for trying to kill him. Wesley opens a metal briefcase and finds a file folder, which he hands to Angel. It contains all the information he has gathered about Cordelia's disappearance. Wesley says he thinks Cordelia is alive but no longer in this dimension. Dinza, an ancient goddess, might have information, but only the dead can enter her presence.


Following Wesley's directions, Angel walks through the sewer looking for Dinza's lair. When he enters the right chamber, it magically transforms and he is face to face with the goddess. Dinza tells him that Cordelia is far away and no longer needs him. Angel replies that he needs her. Dinza says Angel should look inside the Axis of Pythia, an ancient power that bridges all dimensions. When Angel asks Dinza why he should trust her, she replies, "Because I'd love to keep you, but you have so much more to lose."

A man is waiting in a white-tablecloth restaurant. Gwen Raiden, now grown up, and dressed in a flamboyant and revealing costume, joins him at table. He is hiring her to steal the Axis of Pythia. She claims it is worth $33M, but he wants to pay her a commission based on a value of $6M. She reaches for his hand, which he withdraws in panic. She steals the watch off his wrist. When they are unable to reach agreement, she destroys his watch with her electrical power and walks away.

Cordelia, as a higher being, is watching events at the Hyperion Hotel, where Fred presents what the AI team knows about the Axis of Pythia. She says it was forged from the tripod fo the Delphic Oracle. It is a metal arch on a marble base, standing about two feet high and weighing eighteen pounds. Angel draws a detailed picture of it from memory, though he claims he copied the picture from a book. Fred says the Axis has the power to locate souls and entities across dimensions. The Axis is being held, under very tight security, at the Chandler auction house, which deals in black market objects. Angel is confident that he can steal the axis without anyone going to prison. The three make plans.

Gwen Raiden is preparing for a heist.

Lilah and Wesley are kissing at his apartment. Lilah knows that Wesley kidnapped Justine and raised Angel from the sea. Lilah intends to "befriend" Connor for the benefit of Wolfram & Hart.

Gwen Raiden lands on the roof of the Chandler auction house. She disables the building's security system and enters. Angel, Fred and Gunn climb onto the same roof shortly afterward. The AI team members pause to review their plans. They do not know that Gwen is watching them through a security camera.

While Fred tries to disable the security system and Gunn overcomes the armed guards, Angel finds the vault. A metal gate unexpectedly closes, blocking his way. Gwen enters the vault through the ceiling. Angel tries to talk Gwen into sharing the Axis of Pythia with him, but fails. As Gwen is about to escape, Fred defeats the vault security system, enabling Angel to open the gate. Gunn rushes Gwen, who electrocutes him. As Fred shows up, Angel announces that Gunn is dead. Gwen gives Gunn a second shock, restarting his heart. Angel and Fred seek medical help while Gwen escapes.

Connor walks by himself near a hobo village. Lilah observes him through binoculars. Angel surprises her. He tells her about theft of the Axis of Pythia. He offers to ignore, just once, the fact that she was observing his son if she will find out who was responsible. Before he leaves, he reveals that he can smell Wesley's scent all over Lilah and vice-versa, working out that they've been sleeping together.

Gunn are Fred are in a room at the Hyperion Hotel and while Gunn attempts to laugh off the fact that he died, Fred is far more reserved about it. Eventually Fred sounds off on how tired she is of carrying so much responsibility and how scared she was when Gunn briefly died before breaking down in his arms.

Angel catches up with Gwen in a hotel lobby. She notices that he casts no reflection in a mirror. The two fight. She takes off her gloves. The two tumble into an elevator. Gwen opens Angel's shirt and puts her hands on his chest. The electrical shock starts Angel's heart beating for the second time in two hundred years. The two kiss.

The elevator door opens to reveal the man, Eliot, who hired Gwen to steal the Axis of Pythia. He upbraids Gwen for being indiscrete and unprofessional. The elevator door closes while poison gas is pumped in. While Eliot talks to his wife Molly on a telephone, Angel and Gwen break out. Gwen wants to kill Eliot with her electrical power, but Angel stops her. Gwen is now convinced that Angel wants the Axis for reasons of love. She walks away, letting him have it.

Gunn and Fred wait anxiously outside a room at the Hyperion Hotel as Angel uses the Axis. When Angel emerges, he tells his friends that he found Cordelia is now a higher being working for the Powers that Be. The three resign themselves to never seeing Cordelia again, but take comfort in the fact she's clearly in a place of joy and love that she is where she belongs.

Cordelia, watching, despairs and wants nothing more than to leave the higher realms.


  • Absentee Actor: This is the only episode of the fourth season, and the last episode of the series, not to feature Andy Hallett as Lorne.
  • Anachronism Stew: In the 1985 flashbacks, Gwen is seen wearing a puffy pink Old Navy jacket, as indicated by the brand name on the zipper. Old Navy was not founded until 1994.
  • Aloof Ally: Lilah calls Wesley on his supposed indifference to Angel's fate.
    Lilah: And all this time, you're lying through your teeth. Wes is so apathetic. Wesley doesn't care.
    Wesley: I had to raise him. Angel is...necessary.
    Lilah: For what?
    Wesley: Fighting people like you. (leans in for a kiss)
  • Apologetic Attacker: Gunn sneaking up on a guard.
    Look out! [punches guard] Tried to warn ya.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Fred draws an adorable "Boo!" ghost on her flipchart, and is rather put out when Angel produces a detailed sketch of Cordelia.
  • Big Blackout: Gwen just takes over the security cameras — Angel yanks out the cords from the same junction box, killing the lights.
  • Braids of Action: Gwen has a Lara Croft-style ponytail while carrying out her heist.
  • Bridal Carry: Angel carrying a gassed Gwen from the lift.
  • Celibate Hero: The opportunity for two characters who can't normally have sex to get some much-needed relief is averted because Angel thinks it would mean being unfaithful to Cordelia. Come on Angel, you're supposed to help the hopeless!
  • Captain Obvious: Thick bars trap them in the elevator, and Gwen's client appears on the other side.
    Angel: It's a double-cross.
    Gwen: I'm not slow. I know it's—- Shut up!
  • The Caper: The classical heist: Angel Investigations and Spark Woman are both after the same MacGuffin Hilarity Ensues
  • Card-Carrying Villain
    Lilah: Look, Angel, I know you've been out of loop for a while, but I'm still evil. I don't do errands unless they're... [grins] evil errands.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Angel mentions how Fred seems to have stepped into Cordy's Team Mom role, but Gunn's near-death causes her to start venting.
    Fred: I am so sick of holding everything up around here. First Wesley leaves, then Angel, and Cordy. I-I'm sick of taking care of everything and paying bills and making peace and plans and keeping my chin up -— God, I am so sick of my chin being up!
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Gwen will reappear in "Long Day's Journey" and "Players".
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Averted with Dinza, despite Wesley's warning. Played straight with Gwen's client, though he does have his reasons other than not wanting to pay her.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Angel assuming Cordy must be happy in her Fluffy Cloud Heaven, when actually she's bored to tears.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Worn so Gwen can't touch anyone.
  • Continuity Nod:
    Angel: A heist like this, I've done it a million times. [beat] OK, maybe twice, but I'm good at it, I swear.
    Gunn: Uh, you're not counting the time we stole the crazy-making death shroud that nearly killed us, right?
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Averted — Gunn is playing it lightly, then Fred breaks down in angry tears.
  • Death Trap/Deadly Gas
    Elliot: Professionals are discreet, young lady. You, on the other hand, are a freak. A dangerous freak. Which is why I had them remodel the elevator you're standing in. More of a retrofit, really. Low-teched the whole thing with six inches of Plexiglas separating you from any available current. (Gwen goes for the bars, but they don't conduct) Tempered Lucite.
    Angel: He's gonna seal us in and turn on the gas.
    Gwen: [to Elliot] What are you, Lex Luthor?
    Elliot: What do you think, I'm gonna stand here and duke it out with Electro Girl? No, don't worry. Uh, I'm told that the gas is very fast-acting. You'll be dead within... [Looks down at his wrist, where his watch was until Gwen fried it] uh, whoops. Where does the time go?
  • Dies Wide Open: Gunn, though he gets better.
  • Distant Prologue: Gwen as a young girl being dropped off a a private academy in Wisconsin in 1985.
  • The Exit Is That Way: Angel, Gunn, and Fred are breaking into the auction house. Fred has just explained the plan in detail. The men boldly head off, one to the left and one to the right... at which point Fred shouts "Guys!" Embarrassed, they switch directions.
  • Expy: Gwen Raiden seems to have the same problems with physical closeness as Rogue of the X-Men franchise.
  • Eye Open / Astronomic Zoom: Cordy looking down from Fluffy Cloud Heaven.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "We could have gone to Vegas." Which they do in the next episode.
    • Dinza says she could keep Angel with her for eternity, "but you have so much more to lose."
  • Flashback Echo: Gwen Raiden electrocutes and kills Charles Gunn. She immediately flashes back to an event in her childhood in which she accidentally kills a boy she was making friends with. Shocked with herself, she revives Gunn within twenty seconds or so.
  • Flash Step: Dinza enjoys playing with Angel.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Lilah and Wes, Angel and Gwen.
    Wes: I don't need to hear your evil plans.
    Lilah: No, it just turns you on, knowing I have 'em.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: The reaction of any red-blooded human to Gwen.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Before meeting Angel, Gwen knew she was a mutant with strange powers, but was completely unaware of vampires and demons.
  • Immodest Orgasm: Lilah has discovered that Justine was being held prisoner in Wesley's apartment.
    Wesley: So, you finally heard about that?
    Lilah: I heard. [whispers in his ear, then nibbles it] I'm betting she heard a few things, too.
    Wesley: The walls are soundproofed. Though she did call you "impossibly loud."
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The Gwen/Angel fight leads to them snogging when Gwen restarts Angel's heart while trying to zap him.
    Gwen: I don't usually enjoy the hand-to-hand this much.
  • Laser Hallway: Angel uses his aerosol spray to reveal the beams, only for Gwen to enter via the roof and bend the beams using her power.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others
    Angel: What should I do, then? Send [Dinza] a gift? Sacrifice? [beat] Unholy fruit basket?
  • Lecture as Exposition: In which Fred keeps getting upstaged by Angel's intricate sketches.
    Gunn: Hey baby, I liked your... ghost guy.
    Fred: I haven't slept, Charles.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Gunn asks what type of equipment they'd need for the heist. Angel suggests repelling hooks, flashlights, aerosol spray — all during a montage of these items being prepared. "What else?" Lockpicking tools, rope, a knife and...lipstick? Turns out it's Gwen gearing up for action.
  • MacGuffin: The Axis of Pythia, which Angel can use to find out what dimension Cordelia is hiding in.
  • Mandatory Line: Averted with Lorne, who doesn't appear.
    Cordelia: What are you? Deficient? Get me out of here!
  • Magical Defibrillator: Thankfully Gwen has learned not only how to stop a heart but how start it again since back in elementary school.
  • Mind over Matter: Unhappy that the gang are packing up Cordelia's stuff as they can no longer afford the rent on her apartment, Phantom Dennis teleports her books back onto the shelf, causing Fred to lose her temper and shout that Cordy's not coming back.
  • N-Word Privileges / Berserk Button: Gwen says she's the only person who can call herself a freak.
  • The Nose Knows: Angel tries to pick up Cordelia's scent in her apartment, but mainly smells lemons from Fred's vigorous scrubbing. Later he smells Wesley's scent on Lilah.
  • Operation: [Blank]: Gunn asks what they'll need for "Operation Chance in Hell".
  • Papa Wolf: Angel catches Lilah watching Connor, and explains that if she tells him who hired Gwen he'll "ignore the fact that you were within 50 yards of my son. [beat. whispers] Just this once."
  • Perp Sweating: Angel says he beat the building plans out of a snitch who thought he was no longer around to do so.
  • Person as Verb
    Gunn: Angel would've picked me up and Flash Gordon'ed me to the ER.
  • Power Glows: Angel using the Axis is shown via a golden glow under the door.
  • Prison Rape
    Fred: We're still working on a plan, but so far, it involves being sent to prison and becoming somebody's bitch.
    • Later during the break-in...
    Fred: Please, let my cellmate be gentle.
  • Punny Name: Gwen RAIDEN
  • Put on a Bus: Phantom Dennis makes his presence known for the last time.
  • Quit Your Whining / Bait-and-Switch Comment
    Angel: So you're a freak. Boo-hoo. So what?
    Gwen: Excuse me?
    Angel: I think you've already figured out I'm not the poster-boy for normal. Sometimes, you gotta let go. [Punches Elliot]
  • Repeat After Me
    Angel: Who are you?
    Gwen: Who are you?
    Angel: I asked you first.
    Gwen: What are you, seven?
    Angel: Tell me you're not here for the Axis.
    Gwen: I'm not here for the Axis.
    Angel: You're lying.
    Gwen: I'm fibbing. It's lying, only classier.
  • Sexy Walk: Gwen makes her entrance into the restaurant to meet her client while doing a sexy walk to his table, while also wearing a red skintight Hell-Bent for Leather Bare Your Midriff outfit that makes every man in the room gape at her. Her client is actually less than pleased, as he wanted a discreet meeting.
  • Shadow Archetype: Wesley now has his own demon-fighting team; it's not clear if they're ex-followers of Holtz or what. Especially since they're never seen again after Wes returns to the fold later in the season.
  • Shout-Out: Gwen melts Elliot's watch.
    Elliot: Gwen, that is a twelve thousand dollar watch.
    Gwen: Now it's surrealism.
  • So Much for Stealth: Adult!Gwen is first seen entering the restaurant to meet Elliot in a red leather Bare Your Midriff outfit with a Sexy Walk that makes every man in the room gape at her. Elliot is not impressed as he wanted a covert meeting. The chaos caused by Angel's clumsy attempt to steal the artifact only convinces him that Gwen isn't a professional, so he decides to have her killed instead of paying her.
  • Spy Catsuit / Cleavage Window: Gwen's stealing outfit.
  • Spit Take: When told the Axis of Pythia is being kept in an auction house, Gunn suggests just buying it, only to choke on his cup when told it's worth 33 million.
    Gunn: I think my lungs [cough] have coffee.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Angel's still got it.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Angel and Cordy
  • Stripperiffic: Justified for a woman who Can't Have Sex, Ever, so Male Gaze is the only sexual attention she can receive. Not as justified for a professional cat burglar who should avoid bringing attention to herself, as Elliot points out.
  • Title Drop: Though you could be excused for missing it.
    Gwen: I'm exciting the subatomic particles with electrical energy and then bouncing 'em off each other before they hit ground state.
  • Touch of Death: Getting touched by Gwen sans gloves is usually not a good idea... unless you're a vampire, of course.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Angel tries making up with Wesley, but realizing his true agenda Wes just hands over his file on Cordelia's disappearance and walks off.
  • Who Are You?
    Angel: What are you?
    Gwen: I'm a freak.


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