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Recap / Angel S 05 E 16 Shells

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Team Angel tries to destroy the being inhabiting Fred's body. Gunn's guilty secret is revealed.

  • An Axe to Grind: Wesley attempts to kill Illyria with an axe. It shatters on impact with her neck.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Illyria's response to Knox being gunned down in front of her.
    "It offends me... that you think he matters."
  • Battle Strip: No, she's not planning to breed an army...
    Illyria: This world... it's not how I left it.
    Knox: I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do about that.
    Illyria: But I can. (turns to face Knox, rips her shirt off)
    Knox: (Jaw Drop at Illyria's naked body) Oh...Okay.
  • Blade Catch: Illyria catches two swords in her bare hands, swung at her simultaneously from opposite sides; she grabs the blades and uses them to swing Spike and Angel against the walls.
    Illyria: Unimpressive.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Team Angel turning to Willow for help as they did when restoring Angel's soul. Spike says Willow was last in South America, as Andrew told him in "Damage". Though apparently she's now moved to The Shangri-La (or a higher plane). But Giles refuses to cooperate with Angel because he's still working at Wolfram & Hart, reflecting Buffy's similar suspicion in that episode.
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    • Wesley is packing Fred's items and takes a painted plate off the wall, from Fred's eBay incident.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Wesley says that Fred's curiosity prevented her from immediately placing the sarcophagus in isolation. "I think I hate her for that."
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Angel and Spike talk about how in "their world", dead doesn't always mean dead. But the trope is subverted as it's made clear that even though Fred's body is being used by the demon goddess Illyria, Fred can't be brought back by supernatural means as one might expect (the writers did plan on eventually splitting them apart though, had the series not been denied a sixth season).
  • Deader Than Dead: According to Dr. Sparrow, Fred's soul was "consumed by the fires of resurrection"; she's not only dead, but denied heaven.
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  • Despair Event Horizon: Illyria has one after seeing what's become of her kingdom, ruined and abandoned.
  • Destination Defenestration / Time Master: Illyria faces off with Team Angel, backed up by the Wolfram & Hart tactical operations team. She throws Angel through the window, then slows time, grabs Knox by the hand and walks out of the building before Angel even hits the ground — they actually pass him, suspended in midair, while they're leaving.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Even as Knox and Illyria declare that they can't stop them, Angel, Spike, and Wesley make it clear that they're not going down or letting Illyria win without a fight.
  • Dodge the Bullet: When you can affect time, you don't need to.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Lampshaded when Team Angel are looking at a drawing of Illyria in her Glory Days.
    Spike: What are these smaller bits?
    Wesley: (reading) Her Army of Doom.
    Spike: There's a shock.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Illyria refers to Fred's body as a 'shell', and the gang feel like empty shells after Fred's death.
  • Downer Ending: Fred won't be coming back.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Angel, Spike and Wes enter with a Wolfram & Hart Spec Ops team.
    Illyria: Two half-breeds and a band of primitives. Is this all that challenges me now?
    Angel: That, and a whole lot of bullets. (Goons cock their Heckler & Koch submachine guns)
  • Dramatic Shattering: After Giles hangs up on him, Angel hurls his phone against the wall.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Lorne at the end of the episode. Also, Spike tries to drown his sorrows on the airplane back from England. He complains that he can't even get drunk on the dinky little airplane bottles, although he certainly doesn't seem completely sober.
  • Due to the Dead: Spike chooses to remain with Team Angel in honor of Fred's memory.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Knox can't help but stare when Illyria strips naked in front of him.
  • The Empath: Illyria can sense the grief about her, and is repelled by it. Wesley uses this to try and convince her to leave Fred's body — turns out she's bound to it.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Illyria taunting Angel by asking if, since he values humans so much, he's willing to defend Knox — the man responsible for Fred's death. Angel sets his jaw and prepares a Patrick Stewart Speech.
    Angel: And if it comes down to a choice between you and him, then yes, I would fight for his life, just like any other human's. Because that's what people do. That's what makes us—- (Wesley shoots him) ...Were you even listening?
  • Eldritch Abomination: Illyria in her former form.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Given the size of Illyria in her natural form, it's expected her 'consort' would have to be.
    Illyria: My last Qwa'ha Xahn was taller.
    Knox: I—I may be shrinking a bit in the glory of your presence.
  • Flashback: The episode ends on Fred leaving the Burkle home for Los Angeles.
  • Flash Step: A dismayed Illyria is on her knees. Wesley is standing over her with a gun pointed at her head. He's distracted by a portal opening — Illyria of course has already passed through it.
    • Angel surprises Illyria for a moment when he pulls this stunt thanks to the Power Crystal. But only a moment.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Angel is trying to find out where Willow is.
    "Astral projection? Well, is there any way to get her astral over to L.A.?"
  • Ghost Memory: Illyria has Fred's memories, but not her soul.
  • Goddess Emperor
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: After Knox is gunned down, Illyria shows her lack of regard by kicking his corpse at Wesley.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Team Angel goes somewhat off the rails in their desire to avenge Fred. Even Wesley doesn't try to justify his actions afterwards.
  • Guns Akimbo: Wesley does his thing. For once the accompanying Slow Motion is justified as Illyria is slowing time so she can Dodge The Bullets.
  • Half Truth: Gunn desperately tries to fix things without coming clean about his role in Fred's death. When the truth comes out, he's alone in a room with Wesley and a trayful of sharp objects. Angel too is reluctant to admit that he had a chance to save Fred, but didn't.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather + Spy Catsuit: Illyria uses her powers to create a full-body leather covering, presumably so the audience will worship her too.
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: At the conclusion of the episode Spike admits to Angel that he doesn't really like him. And another two hundred years probably isn't going to change that. Nevertheless, Spike decides to honor Fred by staying on with the crew.
  • I Know Your True Name: Just like with Jasmine, Illyria is offended that such a low creature as Wesley speaks her name.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Angel says they need to find Illyria. Description Cut to Knox being pulled through an internal window by Illyria before a startled Harmony.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Wesley urges Illyria to leave Fred's body and sleep for another millennia or so, as the humans currently infesting the planet are stupid and will eventually destroy themselves.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Spike comments on his (off-screen) torture of Dr. Sparrow.
    Angel: What did you get out of him?
  • Just One Second Out of Sync: Vahla ha'nesh is Illyria's temple, which can exist in L.A because it's "out of phase with our timestream".
  • Killed Off for Real: Knox and Fred.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: A lethal variant when Wesley just plugs Knox in the middle of Angel's Patrick Stewart Speech.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Illyria, an ancient god-thing from the beyond, returning to find her armies long turned to dust, her powers gone, and herself stuck in a human body. That the pitilessness of the universe can brutalize Lovecraftian monstrosities themselves is somehow made to feel a little sad.
  • Marionette Motion: Illyria when she first takes control of her new body.
  • Meaningful Echo: Wesley says after stabbing Gunn, "I avoided the major organs." In "Release" Wesley tortured a junkie by stabbing her, saying afterwards, "I avoided the major arteries."
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Despite Angel, Spike, and Wesley's best efforts, Illyria successfully manages to get to her temple and army of doom... only to discover that in the intervening time, the temple has collapsed and her army has turned to dust.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Knox criticizes humans for being deceitful bastards. Illyria is surprised that a human can take a position like identifying against his own race rather than with it. Knox's reply amounts to agreeing that yes, he does identify with demonkind rather than humanity.
  • The Nicknamer: Spike calls Illyria "The Leather Queen" — the first of many disrespectful nicknames.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Knox tells Illyria he spent hours in his room as a kid staring at her picture. "My mother thought I was looking at porn."
  • The Nose Knows: Spike realises Fred has been Killed Off for Real when he can't pick up her scent on Illyria.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Harmony, who's normally bubbly and ditzy, spends this episode just as depressed and serious as the rest of the team, even comforting a heartbroken Gunn and providing a voice of reason to Wesley. Given how much she cared for Fred too, it's not unexpected.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Wesley apologising to Gunn for snapping at him earlier, saying he knows Gunn did everything he could for Fred.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Illyria looks like Fred with her whole body turned blue. Just as Fred has brown hair, light brown skin and brown eyes, so Illyria has blue hair, blue skin...and an unnatural shade of blue for her eyes. Of course, this use of blue eyes has the effect of making her look as eerie as possible.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Angel declares that he would fight, even for Knox, because that's what they do, that's— {Boom} Wesley shoots Knox.
    Angel: Were you even listening?
  • Percussive Therapy: Subverted — Wesley whacks the sarcophagus with a crowbar, but he's actually freeing a Power Crystal via rhythmic vibrations.
  • Person as Verb: Subverted.
    Gunn: It's like she was pulling a Barry Allen. (All the others just look at him quizzically.) Jay Garrick? Wally...? Like she was moving really fast.
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: As per "the ancient ways," Knox stitched a bunch of occult items just near his heart. The scar is messily stitched together.
  • Quizzical Tilt + Punched Across the Room: Illyria's reaction to seeing Harmony. It's understandable.
  • Really Dead Montage: The episode ends with one, from members of Team Angel looking sad to a Happy Flashback of Fred leaving her parents for Los Angeles.
  • Replacement Goldfish: With her kingdom turned to dust and her Qwa'ha Xahn dead, Illyria finds herself lost in this strange new world of humans. Wesley agrees to act as her guide on condition that she refrain from killing.
    Illyria: If I abide, you will help me?
    Wesley: Yes.
    Illyria: Because I look like her?
    Wesley: (tears in his eyes, whispers) Yes.
    Illyria: (looking at her sarcophagus) We cling to what is gone. Is there anything in this life but grief?
    Wesley: There's love. There's hope...for some. There's hope that you'll find something worthy... that your life will lead you to some joy... that after everything... you can still be surprised.
    Illyria: Is that enough? (looks at Wes) Is that enough to live on?
  • Revenge: Gunn confesses to Wesley what happened. Wesley puts aside his shotgun and says he understands the desire not to return to the kind of man you once were. But the fact that Gunn kept quiet while Fred was dying he can't forgive. Then he stabs Gunn with a scalpel.
    Wesley: What I had to.
    Angel: I don't remember seeing "Stab Gunn" on the agenda this morning.
  • Sealed Army in a Can: Illyria attempts to conquer the world by raising her invincible demon army that has waited underground while she was sealed away dead. However, it has since crumbled to dust due to the passage of time.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Illyria wearing Fred's meatsuit is not just the usual Demonic Possession.
  • Shaped Like Itself
    Wesley: I've been unreasonable... because I've lost all reason.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Knox is grovelling away as usual when Illyria tells him curtly, "Be silent." He doesn't have to be told twice.
  • Smash to Black: Wes swinging his axe at Illyria. Cut to Title Sequence.
  • Staking the Loved One: The moment Wesley realizes Fred is truly gone, he doesn't hesitate to swing an axe at the back of her head. The blade shatters on impact with her skin — Illyria doesn't even notice.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Knox is a slavish follower of Illyria.
  • Take Me Instead: Gunn begs Dr. Sparrow to take back the brain upgrade, even turn him into a vegetable if it brings Fred back. The Mad Doctor tells him it's too late, as Fred's soul has been consumed.
    "For better or worse, you made a deal, Mr. Gunn. I suggest you learn to live with it."
  • Take That!: Knox's manliness comes into question when Harmony discovers his Rick Springfield screen saver.
  • This Cannot Be!: Illyria's reaction to the remnants of her army and temple.
    Illyria: No... It can't be! It's gone. (falls to her knees) My world is gone.
    Wesley: (*Click* Hello) Now you know how I feel.
  • Time Stands Still: Illyria has the power to slow down her perception of time, effectively moving at super speed compared to everyone else.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Illyria was aware of the original Wolf, Ram and Hart in her own time, but they were minor demons barely above vampires in the social scale of evil. It's pointed out to her that things have rather changed in the intervening aeons.
    • Also Humanity
    Illyria: I thought the humans would have long died out by now. Instead, you've grown bold.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Illyria is topless from the back before she puts on her "armor".
  • Tranquil Fury: Wes stabbing Gunn.
  • The Triple: Knox cites fire, opposable thumbs, and television as the reasons why humanity has conquered the world.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Spike knows something bad is brewing, and Team Angel will need his help.
  • Verbal Backspace:
    • Harmony offers to torture Knox. Gunn claims he wants to do it himself as It's Personal. It's actually because he's worried about what Knox might reveal, but Harmony whines, "Why do you think I want to help? Because I've got some kind of blood lust?-—well, OK, that too..."
    • "I mean, who did he think he was fooling? Besides all of us."
  • Vigilante Execution
    Wesley: If I were to help you find your way... you have to learn to change. You mustn't kill.
    Illyria: You killed the Qwa'ha Xahn in defiance of your leader.
    Wesley: He murdered the woman I love.
    Illyria: And that made it just.
    Wesley: No. It wasn't just...I'm probably the last man in the world to teach you what's right.
  • Villains Never Lie: Averted — Wes is the only one who believes there's no chance of getting Fred back, and only because he felt her die in his arms.
  • Walk-In Chime-In
    Illyria: I'm ready to begin.
    [Enter Team Angel and W&H tactical squad]
    Angel: Or we could just hang out.
    • Illyria opens a portal to her Army of Doom.
    Knox: Showtime.
    Spike: (from the door) Any seats left?
    Angel: If not, we could just stand in the back.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Lampshaded In-Universe; Gunn was prepared to have something terrible happen in exchange for Dr. Sparrow fixing his brain upgrade, as long as it wasn't to anyone he knew.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Wesley stabs Gunn, Angel is understandably pissed and quickly calls him out on it.
    Angel: I don't remember seeing "Stab Gunn" on the agenda this morning!
    Wesley: I avoided the major organs. He’ll probably live.
    Angel: That’s supposed to make it all right?!
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Illyria pushes the outer bounds of why immortality might not be all that great. Nearly every Required Secondary Power imaginable including reincarnation — and her main reward was outliving even her presumably immortal army and Pocket Dimension temple.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Illyria calling Wesley by his name when asking for his help (as opposed to Puny Earthling).

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