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Discussion of 5.01 "Conviction" - Aired 10/1/2003 (WB-US)

Flannen

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Angel and the group are still getting used to their ownership of Wolfram & Hart when one of their clients threatens to kill all of L.A. if they cannot get him acquitted in court. Meanwhile, the Senior Partners' liaison, Eve, introduces herself, Harmony becomes Angel's secretary, the Senior Partners grant Gunn new talents, and a mysterious envelope has been delivered.

Source: TV.com

Discuss this episode here!
 

Jules

Bite Me
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Black Thorn
I had so not realised that T.J. Thyne who plays Hodgins in Bones was in the teaser of this episode. This started like a normal Angel episode with him swooping in to save the girl, until the S.W.A.T team showed up :)

So Eve is the new Lilah, I'm not a fan of her. I'm also not loving Angel's new hair do. I love that Harmony is Angel's assistant, she's so shallow. There's no difference between vamp Harmony and High School Harmony.

Its sad that Wes and Fred dont know why Angel is taking this so personal. The fact that the SWAT team would willingly kill kids shows that W&H still have evil employees. I really dont like super smart Gunn, he's way too arrogant.

I've listened to the commentary of Joss Whedon.

They started this episode the same way episode 1 season 1 started. Then they took it away from him when W&H showed up. This season was different from other seasons and raised some of the hardest questions asked.

Alexis had contracted Bell's Palsy two weeks before shooting, which paralyses one side of the face. So you'll notice through the scenes of Wes they only shows the right hand side of his face.

With Eve, Joss wanted to set up that evil is pretty and engaging and also introduce some chemestry between her and Angel. Her throwing Angel the apple represents the group being cast out from other heroes that they are joining the dark side.

W&H has a very business like agenda, when viewing a threat first they try to destroy it, then they try to do a merger. Harmony is just a funny unbelievably shallow person, that will never change.

The storyline with Gunn came about because they never know what to do with J's character. The relationship with Fred had come and gone because happy relationships make for boring TV. Gunn really felt out of place. It also shows how all the characters loose their conviction.

Knox represents those types of people that live in a imoral vaccum, they dont care about the moral questions they just care about the business.

Killing that SWAT guy was to show that Angel was going to deal with W&H on their terms.
 
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Interesting never heard about Alexis getting Bell's Palsy. Thankfully he seems to have recovered from it. The Eve experiment is one that didn't work.

Username

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yes, Angel's hair in the episode is.. gross. And I really hate it at the end when that SWAT guy says something about conviction and Angel is being a douche and says "no, there's one thing more powerful than conviction. Mercy. ".. vomit.
Whenever I do a rewatch of Ats, this episode makes me already tired of s5.
 

PassionBecoming

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Sineya
Well, I just lost the whole thing I typed, but I can sum it up as whhhhhaaaa???

-None of the Fang Gang really wants to take on a leadership role in that place because they don't get what it means. Understandable.
-Angel eating the apple in front of Eve. Imagry.
-Gunn is a lawyer now. Huh. Evil? Not evil? Remains to be seen I guess.
-Harmony working for W&H. Right. Sad when she mentioned Cordelia though. :(
-I really dislike Angel's hair.
-Glad Angel beat down the commandos. Big part of the employee problem right there!
-Not sure what to make of Eve. (Was she in Boy Meets World?) Is she like Lilah - someone dead, but going back and forth?
-Love the point Angel makes about mercy. Because it's true. :)

---------- Post added at 01:56 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:55 PM ----------

-And how did Spike end up in the amulet and mailed to Angel?!?!
 

Give Us A Kiss

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Sineya
Harmony working for W&H. Right. Sad when she mentioned Cordelia though.
I hate how they didn't tell Harmony about Cordy before, even though they probably knew that Harmony was Cordy's minion back in high school (Cordy was never one to shut up).

And I have to agree about Angel's hair.
 

Give Us A Kiss

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Sineya
Angel is still saving people at night :)

Angel has security now... :rolleyes:

This W&H thing is not working out...

Kid, the punisher is kind of violent IIRC...

Knoky ??? o_O

I don't get fung whatever either...

Angel has long hair :eek:

Eve, Angel doesn't take bribes...

Gunn has hair :eek:

Angel can eat now :eek:

So W&H have been dealing with presidents too ??? o_O

Eve :eek:

Harmony :eek:

Harmony...:rolleyes:

Wes, why ??? :confused:

Harmony, Cordy is in a coma :(

You do the crime, you do the time...

Lorne's holding mind readings :p

Angel has a lot of cars to choose from :eek:

He sure loves to spank...

Waiting room music, the kind of music you don't want...

Gunn will be getting law knowledge Now...

He put it in the kid :mad:

Eve... :mad:

Fred, you need to sleep...

Those kids are going to die and they have no idea :(

Didn't work, Angel's here ;)

Gunn really knows his stuff now...

Fairy ??? o_O

Ouch :eek:

Eve is annoying...

Spike :eek:

Next time: Spike is back, now what ???
 

Mrs Gordo

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Black Thorn
I had so not realised that T.J. Thyne who plays Hodgins in Bones was in the teaser of this episode.

I just realized this too!! I can't believe I never noticed this before I've seen the episode a few times before but I just caught this LOL.
 

spikenbuffy

"Hi honey, I'm home"
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Angel seemed pretty severe in the end, I think it's because of the question "Will the AI be corrupted " He seemed severe also in Unleashed, he let people eat a new werewolf guy.
 

Mr Trick

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Solid set up for the season. I do like the twist with Gunn becoming a lawyer. Though it feels a bit forced just for a sake of a twist how easily he got a miss-trial. Also if the client killed every living person in LA wouldn't that include himself? Pretty sure most people would take a prison sentence over death.

Eve is the weakest part of the episode. The actress just doesn't have the charisma or range to carry the part. They should have just kept Lilah as a contact or just drop that role.
 

tripdastati0n

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ugh i dont like this. This is like the initiative in buffy but way more people. yuck. But ooh Spike!
 
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Lovetheearth

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Well, well. It's a man's world!
Like how the episode is back in working environments though. That's what I liked about the first 2 (/3?) seasons. It took the supernatural into a place BtVS couldn't jump to.
 

thrasherpix

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You're minuscule. A dust mote on the shelf of that great institution. Now, you think I'm just a trigger-happy jerk who follows orders, but I am something you will never be. I'm pure. I believe in evil. You and your friends, you're conflicted. You're confused. We're not. That is why you are gonna lose, because we possess the most powerful thing in the world... Conviction.

I got curious about Hauser's devotion to evil, not as a self-serving interest or pragmaticism (most of whom would not call think of themselves as evil but as realistic or even holy in the name of good), or as a garden variety corrupt sociopath, but as a transcendent ideal (which to me seems the antithesis of evil, unless it's so fantastic that it's trying to take as many with you into death for the sake of ending them as opposed for any religious or political reasons that they define as good).

It sounded very much like a champion in being uncompromising and unconflicted in purpose, which Hauser said Angel could never be. (Strange then that the goal of W&H was to make Angel exactly that, at least before corrupting him entirely.) Likewise, it was a type of self-sacrifice that he didn't think Angel was up to. He was willing to sacrifice his own soul, at least in a manner of speaking, to prevent disasters like that, making them more of an anti-apocalypse team (even if it was to safeguard the more slow burn of the W&H apocalypse).

I forgot upon first viewing but remembered on the second that this wasn't explained, which was a disappointment to me.


D&D Planescape would have an answer to this (which Joss could've been aware of), but it would take paragraphs to explain, and may not be relevant anyway.



But back to the show itself. I see the Higher and Lower Beings as much like the Order vs Shadows/Chaos of Babylon 5, though it didn't fit much because W&H (chaos) is a law firm with one conduit saying she hated chaos. But as my friend points out, it's the perfect mockery of law to always find and exploit the loopholes, and encouraged homicidal competition within their very firm in addition to facilitating such violence and evil outside of it. As Lilah says, she's a lawyer, she doesn't care about the law.

It's comparable to the Black Mass of legend which mocks and perverts the Catholic Mass.

As my friend points out (true enough for the most part), high functioning psychopaths tend to rise in power. Because it works, they don't hesitate over guilt (only strategy), and aren't afraid of the responsibility for even unpopular decisions (though they'll manipulate "sheep like" qualities in others and find a sacrifice for when they screw up really bad) while those with a strong conscience can hesitate, and while preach from their armchair, refuse to take responsibility for what their hesitancy will cost.

In short, evil is more willing to get things done while those of good heart are better off working at the individual level rather than social level, because the sharks will eat them alive if they try to change the system from within (as Angel and friends tried to change W&H from within before realizing their folly--though we also talked of alternative strategies they could've pursued that would've given them a chance to do so, but that's a completely different topic).


One thing the show didn't focus on was if that boy was activated, countless other children like him would also die. It mentioned them, but did not show, so our sentiment is on this one boy rather than everyone else.

Rather than focus on the consequences, they were willing to risk that happening to millions of children. I can see why Hauser would hold that in contempt, and why evil is necessary for civilization (which has almost always been the strongest, most clever, and charismatic to shape more than those who can't handle the burdens of tough choices). Angel was allowed by the writers to save the boy but we're not shown the other children that were also at risk. It was more important to focus on what was immediately before him than the big picture.

And yet later Fred is allowed to die to prevent a major plague (calling back Illyria's essence). Angel came close to taking the chance (as he did once with that boy), but ultimately he didn't.

Hauser might've told him there was hope for him yet.


We considered how other scific characters might react, from Riddick to Spock ("the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"), and between us we came to the ironic conclusion that Riddick, if he involved himself at all (either out of some sense of personal obligation or even just to show, as Angel would at the end of the season, that no one owns him or dictates his actions), would probably be more likely than Spock (limited to 20th century tech) to try to save the boy.


But over the series, something that especially comes out when he's in Pylea, Angel favors himself a champion. And so I thought of this from "Legends" Star Wars (the real Star Wars to me rather than Disney) where the Sith Lady Lumiya would describe Angel in s5 ep 1 as she did the Jedi:

"…Taking the life of an innocent is always harder even than taking your own, if you're sincere. This is the ultimate test of selflessness—whether you're ready to face unending emotional pain, true agony, to gain the power to create peace and order for billions of total strangers. That is the sacrifice. To be vilified by others, by people you know and care for, and for your personal sacrifice to be totally unknown to those billions you save, to do your duty as a Sith. To do your duty for the good of the galaxy. It's easy to be a clean-cut hero slaying monsters. There's always a little bit of vanity in it. There can be no room for vanity or pride in being despised."


As a final note, I want to point out that I'm not debating about what should've been done about the boy, but rather I wanted to better understand Hauser's embrace of evil as a transcendent ideal rather than self-serving corruption.

It makes me so curious about the politics of the Higher and Lower Beings and where the Senior Partners exist in that field...and if they see Higher Power as the real bad guys (much as Magneto did Charles Xavier).
 

Stake fodder

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They said they wanted a reset of the show, and this does start off just like the first season, with Angel hanging out on rooftops, saving the helpless. There is also a slight introduction for all the other characters, explaining Lorne's gift, how Fred is the scientist, showing Wesley's jealousy over Fred, etc.

I've noticed that Angel has become less vampiric over the course of the show. Of course, a vampire who doesn't kill for blood loses the main thing that makes him a vampire, but he has even been shown less and less in his demon face. And now, he can drive around in the sunlight with the "necro" glass. It's almost like they had to bring Spike in to remind us that Angel even is a vampire.

Harmony has been re-tooled somewhat, but I like her, so I'm fine with that. However, if they wanted to keep the end reveal of Spike a secret, why did they put him in the opening credits?

Gunn has been complaining of being "the muscle," so I'm glad they are trying out something new with him. And he looks good in a suit, and with hair.

This first episode sets things up well, with the gang clearly in over their heads. But the main plot doesn't make much sense. It seems contrived that the baddie's threat is to release a virus, when before today nobody at W&H would care about that. Secondly, the commandos would have no purpose outside of working for W&H, so it doesn't make sense that they would act in opposition to Angel, nor if they're evil, that they would prevent the virus from being released. So that seemed nonsensical.

I'm vague about the circumstances in which Charisma Carpenter left the show, but it seems obvious that Cordelia could have been revived by some W&H magic if they had wanted to do that. It's too bad, as it would have been interesting to see how she handled being at W&H - better than some of the others, I think.
 
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