Angel/Recap/S02/E02 Are You Now or Have Your Ever Been
At Cordelia's place, Angel is explaining their new assignment: researching the Hyperion Hotel. There's no client involved, but Wes is clued in that it's personal for Angel. Flashback to 1950s: The hotel in its prime, and Angel's a guest. He's surprised by a young woman named Judy hiding in his room. Angel's about to throw her out when someone tries to pick the lock. Angel opens the door to discover a P.I. kneeling at the door. The man flashes his gun and is about to invite himself in when Angel instead slams the door into the man's nose and then shoves him into the elevator.
A salesman next door is talking to thin air as he handles a gun. A shot rings out. The hotel manager and Frank go to check out the suicide - the third one in three months! Down in the lobby, the residents of the hotel are discussing the suicide. An older man sits apart from the debate. He hears a voice whispering to him. Within minutes, everyone is aboard the paranoia bandwagon. Angel reveals to Judy that he knew her "boyfriend" was actually a private investigator. She finally comes clean: she stole some cash from the City Trust Bank in Salina, Kansas. She was angry because the bank fired her being part African-American.
More cutting between the present and 1952. Wesley and Cordelia find a history of murder and death leading up to the hotel's closing in 1979. Wesley deduces that something in the hotel was making people crazy, something which Angel also begins to suspect in 1952. Angel is at a bookshop to do research on the Thesulac, a paranoia demon that feeds on people's fears. Denver, the owner, gives him the 411: If it becomes corporeal after a big feed, this offers an opportunity to kill it. Denver is surprised that a vamp is trying to help humans—so is Angel.
Angel arrives back at the hotel but the lobby is deserted. When he arrives on his floor, he discovers why. The mob is swarming Judy, accusations flying. She announces that Angel's the murderer. Why, he even keeps blood in his room! The angry mob turns on Angel. They him out into the lobby and hang him from the rafters. As Angel hangs there, the fervor dies out and they all flee to their rooms. Angel reaches up and undoes the noose. The Thesulac, now fully sated and corporeal, gloats that Angel really did reach Judy. And she turned on him anyway. Angel scornfully tells the demon to "Take 'em all."
Present Day – The ritual complete, the Thesulac appears before them. He speaks of how he's been feeding all these years and it just gets better with age. Angel grabs one of its tentacles and stuffs it into the fuse box, electrocuting the demon. Angel walks up the stairs to Judy's room. She's still there, aged fifty years. She recognizes Angel and asks him for forgiveness. A deeply-shaken Angel grants it. Finally at peace, she dies of old age. Angel returns to the others downstairs. They can't wait to be getting out of there. Not so fast, Angel says. Angel Investigations is moving in.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Judy hints at having been disowned by her mother's side for not looking black enough.
- An Axe to Grind: Denver suggests that a lightning strike would be useful to kill the demon; failing that "something really big to hit it with" and takes an axe off his shelf.
- Armoured Closet Gay: The lantern-jawed actor who resides on Angel's floor is spotted entertaining a male youth. His appearance and mannerisms are reminiscent of the legendary actor Rock Hudson, who came out of the closet after transmitting AIDS.
- Bond One-Liner: "He's goin' down."
- Also, "Kitchen's closed.", right before frying the Thesulac.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Subverted; Judy's stolen money is played up as a major plot point, with Angel stashing it between the piping in the hotel basement. Nothing comes of it. In the present, Angel revisits the site and discovers the rotted briefcase sitting right where he left it.
- Broken Record / Soundtrack Dissonance: The salesman blows his brains out to the sound to Perry Como's "Hoop-Dee-Doo".
- Chekhov's Gunman: Denver will appear again in "Reprise".
- Combat Tentacles: The Thesulac is an armless, robed creature who is mostly composed of green tendrils.
- Comically Missing the Point: As Cordelia is leafing through old photographs, she comes across a familiar face: Angel. Wesley is astonished; Cordy less so.
Cordelia: It's not that vampires don't photograph, it's that they don't photograph well.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: An African-American family from staying in the hotel by its manager, who claims that "the sign is wrong" and that he really has no vacancies. Sure.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Lampshaded by the bellhop re Angel. "Ever look into his eyes? There's nothing there."
- Dramatic Irony: In the midst of Angel's flashbacks Cordy and Wesley come across an old press clipping about Judy. The manhunt for her was called off and she is presumed dead. She disappeared in 1952 after staying at the Hyperion.
- Emotion Eater: The Thesulac.
- Empathic Environment: When Angel recovers the money briefcase in the present day, there is graffiti on the right side on a wall. The letters appear to spell "Angel" vertically, but if you look carefully it actually spells "Angela."
- Et Tu, Brute?: Angel repeatedly glances over at Judy as the tenant prepare to lynch him. Though she's clearly distraught, Judy does nothing to intervene.
- Everybody Smokes: Even Angel. And he can't breathe!
- This is the first time we see Angel smoking on his own show, though he previously lit up on Buffy.
- Evil Laugh: The Thesulac cackles heartily when Angel leaves the tenants to their deaths.
- Eye Awaken: Angel's eyes snapping upon being hanged.
- The Fifties
- Foreshadowing: The Thesulac gleefully points that Wesley is the most paranoid one among Angel's teammates. Played for Laughs for the time being, but Wesley's suspicious nature plays a dark role in Season Three.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Whatever Cordy mistook "tentacles" for.
- Going Postal: . Wesley says there is a history of deaths at the hotel since its early construction, culminating in its closure in 1979 after the concierge, Roland Meeks, performed his routine wake-up calls with a 12-gauge shotgun.
- Hannibal Lecture: The Thesulac, enjoying his moment of triumph, taunts Angel over his failed effort to restore Judy's faith in people. The demon offers him a final opportunity to save the tortured souls in the hotel. Angel says, "Take 'em all" and walks out of the Hyperion, leaving the tenants to their fate.
- Hate Plague
- Hell Hotel
- Hikikomori: Overwhelmed with guilt over what she did to Angel, Judy holes herself up in her hotel room and becomes a paranoid hermit, providing the Thesulac with endless "room service" for nearly fifty years.
- Holy Burns Evil: Angel goes to Denver's bookshop, asking for books on Demonic Possession. Denver chucks him a book—it's the Holy Bible, causing Angel to vamp out.
- Hollywood Exorcism
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Despite forming a bond with Judy, Angel ultimately slides back into his original opinion that humans aren't worth saving.
- Hypocritical Humor / I Resemble That Remark:
Wesley: I've been accused of a great many things in my time, but "paranoid" has never been one of them. [glances up warily] Unless people have been saying it behind my back.
- Improvised Weapon: The shop owner supplies Angel with the ingredients he needs to raise the Thesulac. To really kill it, however, a bolt of lightning would be helpful. Fifty years later, Angel makes do with a fuse box.
- Jerkass: The bellhop, Frank Gilnitz, plays this trope hard. When the lynch mob disperses back to their rooms, Gilnitz is the only person left who is still cheering Angel's execution. "Yeeaah! Swing, ya freak!"
- Let Them Die Happy: Angel tells a dying Judy that he forgives her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Echoed by the hotel manager right when the sight of Angel's hanging body snaps everybody(however temporarily) back to their senses.
- Never Suicide: A scriptwriter resident in the hotel convinces everyone the salesman's suicide was a murder.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
- Obligatory Joke
Thesulac: See what happens when you stick your neck out for 'em? They throw a rope around it! [chuckles at his own joke]
- Pass Fail: Judy got fired after it was discovered that she's biracial. This fact was brought to the attention of her fiancé, who promptly dropped her like a hot potato.
- Power Glows / Dramatic Wind: The exorcism.
- Pretender Diss: Angel tells Denver to knock of the "van Helsing jr. crap".
- Private Detective
- Product Placement: Averted - The Apple Logos on Cordelia's iBook are covered up with pink post-it notes.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The salesman.
- Pyrrhic Victory
- A Shared Suffering: Judy can pass for Anglo, but her blood is considered "tainted." She can't fit in either place. Angel can relate. (He is an ensouled vampire who can't flock with his own kind anymore, but finds no solace among mankind, either.)
- Shout-Out: Angel's room no. in the Hyperion was 217, which fans of Stephen King will recognize from the The Shining. That is to say, the novel, not the Kubrick movie: the owners of the Timberline Lodge (used for exterior shots in the movie) asked that the room number be changed to 237, because the hotel had no 237 and they were sure no one would stay in room 217 after seeing the film.
- According to Tim Minear, the private investigator, Claude Mulvihill, was named after a private investigator in the film Chinatown (hence the bandaged nose).
- The observatory scene is a reference to Rebel Without a Cause. Angel is toting a red jacket, much like James Dean's, while the lead female character's name is Judy in both.
- While watching his black & white TV, Denver grumbles, "They keep calling her a "zany redhead." Could be a brunette for all I can tell." The "zany redhead" in question is Lucille Ball.
- Slasher Smile: The Thesulac is fond of showing all of his teeth.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Wesley starts the ritual, amid bickering with Gunn. Angel warns them not to pay attention to the demon's whisperings, but Cordy steps in and explains that they were like this during the entire drive.
- Throw It In: Tony Amendola, who plays the Thesulac, came up with the idea of speaking with a southern accent. This ties into the Thesulac's theme of exploiting fear and bigotry.
- Title Drop: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?" During the opening credits crawl, one of the hotel's tenants (a screenwriter) is shown watching a broadcast of Senator McCarthys congressional hearings. As well as taking place during this era, this episode is thematically about the paranoia which characterized the McCarthy trials.
- Torches and Pitchforks
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The hotel manager and bellboy barely register surprise at the salesman's dead body.
- When Angel hears the shot, he doesn't even react.
- Verbal Tic: The gum-chewing bellhop tends to abbreviate his words with, "Whaddaya call" while he's searching for a word.
- What the Hell, Hero?
- Witch Hunt
- Whole-Episode Flashback
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Denver to Angel—he's not impressed.