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Discussion of 5.13 "Why We Fight" - Aired 2/11/2004 (WB-US)

Flannen

Flannix
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Lawson, a mysterious man from Angel's past, arrives at Wolfram & Hart and takes the gang hostage. Through flashbacks to World War II, it is revealed that Angel worked with the U.S. Navy to recover a captured German submarine with American sailors on board. The ship also has a secret cargo, a dangerous trio of vampires, including Spike, who were kidnapped by the Germans and forced to help the Nazis. When the sub comes under attack, Angel saves Lawson's life by turning him into a vampire. Now, sixty years later, Lawson has arrived at Wolfram & Hart seeking revenge.

Source: TV.com

Discuss this episode here!
 

Chosen Enemy

Losing my soul
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I hate this episode! It's sooo boring. You know what, I don't even remember what's going on in this episode because I always skip it. I've seen it maybe once and I wasn't even focused. And I've seen all of other Angel episodes about 30 times (more with Buffy).
 
Charmander
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Jules

Bite Me
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Black Thorn
I thought the opening scene was very confusing, seeing a flashback with none of our known characters in it had me wondering what was going on.

I keep seeing hints of the old Gunn, well, in the meeting he seemed to be loosing his knowledge, which ties in suspiciously with the sudden loss of the connection to the senior partners.

When those soldiers showed up to convince Angel to help I automatically thought of The Initiative.

I did enjoy the flashbacks. They were really interesting. So The Prince of Lies was as old as The Master, I originally thought he was just a demon. Poor Spike, if he only knew that that exact thing was going to happen to him, getting a chip in his head was almost like a destiny for him.

Angel's actions reminded me a lot of Giles. Giles is willing to kill one to save many and Angel did the same to Lawson.

I really liked the twist on Lawson that because he was turned when Angel had a soul he was different as well.
 

PassionBecoming

Minuscule Redheaded One
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Sineya
I didn't know Spike and Angel had crossed paths in more "modern" times. Should be interesting.

-Submarines freak me out. Submarines with demons that eat people are worse.
-I would think the SP aren't going to be very happy with Eve.
-Ut-oh, black cat is gone so Gunn's mind is going?? That can't be good. You would think the SP would send a replacement liaison right away.
-Did any of The Fang Gang really have that much of a social life even before W&H?
-Well, that guy in the lab is kinda creepy.
-Umm, so the US military is definitely aware of vampires...or maybe just of Angel in particular. Beginnings of the Initiative??
- Ahh, Demon Research Initiative then. Tracking Angelous/Angel...so, wouldn't they have known about him and having a soul in the later years? Interesting.
-Angel must not have made himself into a good fighter back in the 40's. Angel nowadays wouldn't have had a problem getting past three humans, one with a stake and one with a crossbow.
-German! And I still understand it! :p
-"What was that?" Probably Angel. No worries.
-Three short, three long, three short
-Ok, Angel peeking out of the torpedo tube and just moving his eyes around is pretty amusing.
-Hearing Angel talk military is kinda sexay...
-Spike with black hair?! Interesting travel partners he has.
-"We're undervater??" Hahahaha
-Angel wasn't really "suddenly" fighting evil...has been for about ten years...
-Spike wanting the captain's chair. Of course. Love the ugly vamp: "What should Iiiii do?"
-I feel like Angel shouldn't leave the other two alone too long with the crew...
-So...why is the Prince of Lies mad at the German?? Love the "I will such your brain through your skull and digest your thoughts" line, though. I liked that bad guy!
-Spike: "Does anybody here read Nazi?"
-Yes, Spike, they were going to pop your tops. The Nazis didn't get you, but wait about 60 years and the Americans will. ;)
-Aaaand then singing "God Save the King" followed by starting himself on fire. Oh, William.
-Gah! No one was watching the Nazi!!
-Ok, Angel made him a vamp to fix the sub, yes? But now he has another soulles vamp to deal with..
-Hahahaha. Sending Spike up the ladder. "Bollucks."
-I'm confused about the whole angry at Angel thing. Like, he didn't turn all the way demon so he doesn't enjoy evil?
-I wonder how many times that window has been replaced in Angel's tenure of that office.

Angel just never has a good choice. In this case, turn someone into a vampire to save the boat/other men, or let him die and the other men die. Jeepers. :(
 

Firstina

Angel's Little Avenger
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I just don't get why people choose to skip this episode. The script is like the essence of whole 5 season.
Where do I start?
The main genius line: We figure we strap enough weight to you, you will sink, regardless of your interests. Brilliant!:)
And all submarine stuck under the water metaphor in the season dedicated to the "falling angels".
The whole parallels between Lawson's death and Fred - make the inevitable death matter in the time of war.
Corporation which got two (3,4) vampires to do their dirty work. Does that ring any bell?
We don't kill the humans 'til we reach land.
Slogan of Angel's life.:p
You don't need to know why. We gotta bring this sub in. Those are our orders. Isn't that the point? Following orders?
Oh, Angel you got a lesson to learn.
We got a job to do. That job is gonna help us win the war. I don't need you to understand every detail, but just know we're fightin' on the same side. I need you to trust that I'm gonna get us all through this... safe and sound.
...and end up with no one alive from original AI team.
Safe and sound. Guess now's not the time to argue semantics, is it? Did you care about any of it— The ship? The mission? The men? Or were you just in it to save your own ass?
Great question for Angel.
I'm playing nice with the anchovies, like you asked. At least let me have a go at the wheel.
Spike wanting to be a captain.:D Nothing ever changes.
Come on, chief. Give me a mission.
Yeah, Angel, what's yours exactly?

Very insightful episode for my taste.
 

Silverspike

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Personally I think metaphor had very little to do with this story sadly. I wish it did.

Imo this episode had the potential to be incredible. I mean a sub with a human crew and Angel stuck under the sea with a group of powerful vampires, one of which he knows. It could have been the Buffyverse equivalent of Aliens as one by one the crew get bumped off by the vampires as Angel tries to defend them.

Instead we got 'carry on up the vampire' with a bunch of silly comedy villains and hardly any tension. The only interesting bits being Angels past actions literally coming back to bite him on the arse and the founding of the technology that will end up being used by the Initiative.
 
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Firstina

Angel's Little Avenger
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Imo this episode had the potential to be incredible. I mean a sub with a human crew and Angel stuck under the sea with a group of powerful vampires, one of which he knows. It could have been the Buffyverse equivalent of Aliens as one by one the crew get bumped off by the vampires as Angel tries to defend them.
We definitely don't need that cause Joss sucked (rumor has it - on purpose) at writing an Alien movie.;)
 

Silverspike

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Oh I think we did need that. It could have made for very tense scenes, and Whedon probably would have had bugger all to do with it.

And nobody goes out of their way to present a poor script, because that way madness lies.
 

GraceK

Grr Arrg
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I felt very bad for Sam Lawson, and I have to admit I soured on Angel a little bit in this episode. He DOES have things to atone for. A lot of people think he shouldn't have to pay for Angelus crimes, and maybe that's true. But he definitely has to pay for his own. How many people suffered and died at Lawson's hands? Those victims are on Angel.

He damned Sam Lawson, a young, genuinely good guy. And he doesn't seem to feel any remorse for it.

Also it makes no sense that he wouldn't kill Spike. Letting him go?? I highly doubt it.

All in all, a very good episode.
 
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white avenger

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Well, on the positive side, it did give some insight into the origins of the Initiative and their earlier attempts to manipulate vampires to do their work for them. Lead weights aren't as sophisticated as an electronic brain implant, but it's a start. The story, while rather, or, rather, totally predictable, and undoubtedly a rip off of an old 1950's sci fi movie called "It, The Terror From Beyond Outer Space."

We do get see just how reluctant Angel was to make any attempt to help humans or seek any kind of redemption for his past crimes before seeing Buffy. No real shock there, since that was one of the major themes of the series.

I loved the part where the Navy was able to drop Angel right onto the submarine from the surface, at that depth, when sonar, primitive as it was at that time would not have had any way of locating the vessel, and they would not have been able to anticipate any currents that might cause the sinking vampire to drift off course. And wasn't it lucky that Angel knew Morse code and that one of the few surviving crew members could read it? We won't even go into the fact that opening a torpedo tube at that depth in order to allow him access to the submarine would have likely flooded the whole thing before they could get him in and close it back off.

On the technical side, submarines in World War 2 ran on batteries when submerged, not their engines, because the toxic fumes produced by running the diesel engines underwater would have killed the entire crew. They ran on batteries when submerged, then surfaced, usually at night, to recharge their batteries with their diesel engines. Also, their air supply wouldn't have allowed them to stay under for prolonged periods without resurfacing. 48 hours would have been just about their limit. No problem for vampires, of course, because they don't breathe, but the human crew would have been dead long before the Navy could have located the boat, came up with the plan, located Angel, transported him to the site, dropped him overboard, and managed to get to safe harbor.

Luckily, "Angel" is, first and foremost, a fantasy show, so they can get away with all that stuff.
 

thetopher

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He damned Sam Lawson, a young, genuinely good guy. And he doesn't seem to feel any remorse for it.

Of course Sam Lawson- although damned- seems to have a to more options than any other vampire before him. He doesn't derive any pleasure from doing evil and yet does it anyway. But he was actually searching for a purpose to his existence and yet it never occurred to Lawson to maybe try and do good, he just goes to get revenge on Angel.

And lets not forget that Angel actually did save lives here- the rest of the crew (3 guys I think), killed bad guys (two despicable vamps), and helped the allies in WW2 by giving them access to the super-secret submarine.
And its not like he let Spike and Lawson go in a manner to how say, Buffy would do; he dumped them in the ocean and there was a better than even chance that they'd die.


I always head-canon that Faith and Angelus witnessed some of this during S4 Orpheus- since overall it qualifies as a good deed- we just didn't get to see it. Angelus screaming at Spike 'can't you see this isn't me you dumbass!' and Faith impressed by 'secret agent-commando Angel' (but also upset about Lawson).

This episode is generally a bit dull but it does echo the themes of the season; a search for purpose, sacrifice, moral ambiguity, no easy answers. For that reason alone I think its worth a watch even if the execution is mostly bad.
 

GraceK

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And lets not forget that Angel actually did save lives here- the rest of the crew (3 guys I think), killed bad guys (two despicable vamps), and helped the allies in WW2 by giving them access to the super-secret submarine.

Your right :) and Lawson was going to die anyway. I get why Angel did it. It just rubs me the wrong way I guess. Could just be the episode.
 

thetopher

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Your right :) and Lawson was going to die anyway. I get why Angel did it. It just rubs me the wrong way I guess. Could just be the episode.

I think its supposed to rub us the wrong way; Lawson was going to die and Angel- to save other people and 'complete the mission' damned Lawson by turning him.
Now clearly Angel didn't know how much he damned Lawson; he'd never turned somebody whilst in possession of a soul before and maybe he though or believed that Lawson would adjust, would learn and change. But Lawson didn't; he did everything vampires do but didn't get any joy out of it; he had no purpose.
But anyway in Angel's eyes he'd created a monster- for a good reason but still- and so unwilling/able to kill him he gave him a chance to flee and find his own way.
I suppose the episode does ask us whether doing something bad/wrong in the service of good/for the mission is morally permissible, which is the theme of the season.
 

RomanticSoul

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An episode that was hastily thrown together because Whedon stormed in the writers room and said 'You have 3 days to write a story about a submarine.' Did anyone actually expect a masterpiece?

And I agree with a lot of what @thetopher said. It's not like Angel let them go Buffy-style, where she just stands there and watches the bad guys walk off. Dumping those guys in the middle of the ocean is a death sentence, even for vampires. And Lawson (like Spike) had the choice not to do evil, unlike most other vampires, and use his powers for good but he decided not to.
 

Foxy

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While this episode makes very little sense to me and is kind of wacky I did find myself enjoying this episode quite a bit. I loved all the references to Captain America and the likeness of Lawson to the current Captain America. Very odd.

Loved the moral ambiguity of Angel in this episode!
 

Give Us A Kiss

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Sineya
WWII was an awful time...

Eve left :D

Who is that ??? o_O

How does he know Fred's name ??? o_O

Angel had a patriotic phase :eek:

How would a vampire help in a war ??? o_O

Help him :mad:

Angel :eek:

Poor Fred :(

He didn't know that Steve Rogers is Captain America ??? Someone educate him...

Spike is a Nazi :(

Glad to hear that he's not a Nazi after all :D

Spike, it's pretty hard...

W&H is kind of like a bus station...

Does the Prince of lies have a name ??? o_O

Who sired Lawson though ??? o_O

Spike doesn't look so good with black hair...

He's old, but strong :p

Angel punched a Nazi :D

Spike, eat the Nazi please :D

Spike, you jinxed it for yourself back in 1943 as the government experiments on you in 1999...

Ouch...

More ouch...

If I were Angel, I would have sired him too...

Angel, why didn't you kill him yet ??? o_O

This has to be one of my least favorite episodes ever...

Next time: Angel turns into a puppet.
 

Stake fodder

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This was a strange episode to be a one-off. Lawson was a very interesting character, and more interesting was whether Angel had given him part of his soul. But they didn't have enough time to develop that. Lawson was certainly different from any other vampire we've seen, and I think he's the only vampire we've seen sired on either show.

I know it's not a popular episode, but I liked it. Lawson was unique, and the Prince of Lies was hilarious. Just the way everyone kept calling him that, as if it were a normal name, was funny. And I always like a flashback in general. I also liked the callbacks of the Demon Research Initiative, and how the Germans were planning to mind-control vampires, which obviously the DRI built on.

I guess it's any leather coat in a storm for Spike. Apparently, he didn't hold it against Angel that he chucked him out the escape hatch, since Spike greeted him joyously the next time they saw each other, in School Hard.

It always seems wrong when Angel or anyone in the Buffyverse lets a vampire go. But it's especially odd with Lawson, considering that he was prepared to die from the start. And then Angel just dusts him when he wants a mission. One is left wondering if Lawson could also have chosen to do good instead of evil.

Lawson at one point says, "You don't win a war by doing whatever it takes, you win by doing what's right." This echoes in Angel's turning of Lawson, and also for Angel's taking over of W&H.

That was Mikey Day, now a Saturday Night Live cast member, in the background as one of the crewmembers.
 
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