Five by Five
Written by: Jim Kouf
Directed by: James A. Contner
Air Date: April 25, 2000

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Oof. OOF. What a damned episode. After leaving Sunnydale in “Who Are You”, Faith makes her way to L.A. and into Angel’s stomping ground. I don’t know at which point she jumped from the train to a bus, but who cares. She makes her arrival have an impact by immediately taking a guy apart and robbing him, making her presence known to Wolfram & Hart, those seedy little no-goodnicks that hate Angel more than Faith does, maybe. At least the same amount. Particularly after Angel mucks up their shady dealings in a trial by saving a key witness AND convincing him to testify. This makes the Three L’s (Lilah, Lindsey, and Lee) angry and they pay Faith to kill Angel. And things get dicey real fast.

As I’ve said before and I’m almost certain I’ll say again, “Angel” is a far darker program than its parent show. That isn’t to say that “BtVS” can’t be full of grit, it just isn’t the show’s primary nature. This episode cements “Angel” as a show that isn’t afraid of the shadows. Through and through, almost every scene, though some have bits of comedy present, it goes to great lengths to show the underbelly of the Buffyverse, and it makes it look effortless. Never once in this episode does it feel like the writing staff are trying to say “look how edgy we can be!” – take the entire torture sequence between Faith and Wesley. It is exactly as Faith says: fate. This is the only place these characters could end up after everything. Even if the act is just to piss Angel off, Faith wants to hurt him. She feels that he is at least partially responsible for the way she is and, after her last run-in with Buffy and friends, she really doesn’t like the way she is and will hurt anyone associated.

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This is why the ending is presented the way it is – throughout the episode, Faith toys with Angel; attacks him in public, tosses him a gun with blanks to do her right then and there, and even the act of torturing Wesley. She wants the kill to be energetic and worthy of her time, her skill. Or at least this is what she tells everyone, including herself. The bottom line is that she despises herself so much, she is trying to drive Angel to kill her in their climactic brawl (in the rain, no less!). She’s practically begging for it and, in the end, literally begging for it. But Angel will not comply.

During the events of this episode, we are shown more about Angel’s turn post-ensouling. Darla surprised Angelus with a gift: a young gypsy girl and in a weird sexual way, watches as Angel eats her. Well, we all know how this ends and Darla can’t deal with the new type of creature before her and give him the boot. The crushing weight of all the damage he’s done gets to him, so much so that – even starving – he can’t drink someone and he has to learn to live with himself and his actions. And, as we’ve seen up to this point, he also has to begin redeeming himself and separating himself from the monster he’d been before. These flashbacks show the parallel between him and Faith and how aware he is of the hard road ahead if she chooses to take it. And there, crying in his arms in the rain, a beaten and battered Wesley looking on, this is the decision they have made together.

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Its a powerful moment in an episode full of great production values. The fight sequence in that beat-up dudes apartment is brutal and they each take a huge amount of punishment, using fists, kicks, and the environment to their advantage at every given chance. The music is good if not extremely over-the-top. But the rest of the episode makes up for it. Dushku again brings it, this time abandoning reason for madness in full effect and she nails it. Her interactions with every cast member is great. Tension mounts beautifully against all the major players – watch the scene in Cordelia’s home. You know Dennis isn’t trying to keep Wesley out, but both of them. Watch the first scene between Faith and Lilah – with the odd lesbian vibes (paired with the sexual innuendo of their meeting at the W&H offices, later). Watch the scene with the gun at Angel Investigations. Its all amazing and tense and perfect.

But the best scene of the whole episode (aside from that ending – pow. Amazing stuff) is Angel strolling into Wolfram & Hart in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase. Angel Investigations has ONE actor on staff. He just casually lies his way through a conversation with some low-level, no-name doofus and later manages to walk into Lindsey’s office to rummage through his stuff. This leads to my favorite interaction of the episode: the first real verbal sparring between Angel and Lindsey. And it doesn’t disappoint. Taunting, lying, threatening, and spite fill the room. Lindsey isn’t even scared. Compare that to Lilah’s expression after her initial interaction with Faith. Lindsey is the real deal. He wants to get shit done, son. And he’s willing to see it through. Bet he won’t be happy next time, when he learns his plans failed. But first…!

Episode Rating: 91

Additional Notes:
-LIVING DEAD GIRL
-Darla rants about killing kids and hearing them scream, then says she isn’t insensitive. Good juxtaposition, guys
-That crossbow-in-public scene is badass as hell
-Best line? Wesley telling Faith to remember that she’s “a piece of shi–”
-Giles doesn’t say specifically what happened between Faith and Buffy, just that it was rough.
-Hilarious when Cordelia tries to stick up for Wes because she’s stupid and doesn’t have a very good memory

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