Season 5 Episode 21

Power Play

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 12, 2004 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
441 votes

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Episode Summary

Drogyn arrives in L.A., badly wounded, to point the finger at his attacker. Wesley discovers a strange symbol in one of his books which turns out to be the mark for an evil, secret society. The circumstances of Fred's death come into question, and as Team Angel tries to figure out who is responsible they begin to fear that their leader has become corrupted by the power Wolfram & Hart have given him.moreless

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  • Powerfully penultimate


    The Good;

    Drogan and Illyria play Crash Bandicoot. Angel reveals his devious side and Illyria starts to embrace her humanity.

    The Bad;

    When Angel arrives at WR&H's offices it's night but when he walks into his office it's day. Angel threatens Lorne with a neck hold but we know Lorne can be decapitated and survive? But maybe that's the point?

    Best line;

    Lindsey; "They're a secret socitey"

    Gunn; "Never heard of them"

    Lindsey; "That's because they're SECRET!"

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    Drogan tortured and killed is horrible. Also nasty to see Marcus pounding Illyria.

    Apocalypses: 5

    Angel Cliches

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche; Angel kills Drogan!

    In disguise; 8

    DB/JM get's his shirt off; 20

    Cheap Angel; 8

    Fang Gang in bondage:

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 15

    Wes: 8

    Gunn; 8

    Lorne; 6

    Fred; 5

    Spike; 6

    Fang gang knocked out:

    Cordy: 15

    Angel: 20

    Wes: 10

    Doyle; 1

    Gunn; 4

    Lorne; 8

    Groo; 1

    Connor; 1

    Faith; 1

    Fred; 7

    Spike; 5

    Kills; Illyria kills the demon, Angel kills Drogan

    Cordy: 5 vamps, 3 demons

    Angel; 48 vamps, 72 and 1/2 demons, 5 zombies, 13 humans, one werewolf and one cyborg

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 16 demons+5 vamps, 5 zombies, 4 humans, 2 cyborgs

    Kate; 3 vamps

    Faith; 18 vamps, 6 demons, 3 humans.

    Gunn; 11 vamps+ 15 demons, 5 zombies, 1 human.

    Groo; 1 demon

    Fred; 3 vamps+ 14 demons, 5 zombies

    Connor; 16 vamps, 5 zombies, 4 demons, Jasmine

    Spike; 21 vamps, 12 demons+1 human+one parasite

    Fang Gang go evil: we almost think Angel does

    Cordy: 3

    Angel: 3

    Gunn; 1

    Wes; 1

    Alternate Fang Gang;

    Cordy: 4

    Angel: 12

    Fred; 3

    Wes; 1

    Gunn; 2

    Connor; 1

    Lorne; 1

    Characters killed: 4 civilians plus Drogan


    Recurring characters killed; Drogan


    Total number of Angel Investigations; 5, Illyria goes hunting with Spike, starting to become one of the gang

    Angel, Gunn, Lorne, Wes, Spike

    Angel Investigations shot:

    Angel: 15

    Wes; 2

    Spike; 1

    Packing heat; Wes confronts Angel with a shotgun but Angel takes it off him

    Wes; 14

    Doyle; 1

    Angel; 5

    Gunn; 3

    Fred; 5

    Notches on the Scooby bedpost; Angel beds Nina, possibly the healthiest relationship he ever actually has?

    Cordy: 5 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast+Phantom Dennis+Groo+Connor plus possibly the Beast

    Angel: 7; Buffy, Darla, The Transcending Furies, Eve, Nina

    Wes; 3 definite; Virginia, the bleached blonde and Lilah, 2 possible, Justine, Fred

    Gunn; 2 Fred and Gwen.

    Fred; 1 Gunn, 1 possible Wes

    Groo; 1Cordy

    Spike; 3-Buffy, Anya, Harmony

    Kinky dinky:

    Nina rumages in her bedside drawer for her stake. She finds something similar in shape and size but declares 'That's not a stake'? (does it take batteries, perhaps?). She refers to Angel's Rome friend and worries he was thinking of her (another petite blonde with supernatural abilities). Angel has obviously rocked her world to judge by her remarks, she agrees with the Furies. Oddly she suggests that Angel makes love on the beach 'by himself'? Illyria states that she and Wes are no longer having intercourse which Spike misunderstands.

    Captain Subtext;

    Spike empathises with Illyria and they develop quite a nice relationship so late in the day. Is the demonic female senator aiming to be president in 2008 a parody of Hilary Clinton? Angel refers to him and Spike being intimate once but he may be referring to the events of 'Just Rewards'. Spike refers to frat boys paddling each other's behinds to prove their manhood.

    Know the face, different character; 7

    Parking garages;


    Guantanamo Bay;

    Drogan tortures the demon assassin whilst Angel sacrifices him for the greater good. Angel says that Lorne was amoral in his running of Caritas, he has a point. The gang want to torture Lindsey again but don't have to.

    Buffy characters on Angel; 17

    Wetherby, Collins and Smith. Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes, Faith, Darla, Dru, The Master, Anne, Willow and Harmony. POSSIBLY The First Evil, Andrew.

    Questions and observations;

    Stacey Travis who plays the Senator was in a great old low budget Brit sci-fi movie called Hardware along with a pre-Hamburger Hill/The Practice Dylan McDermmott. Did Marcus Hainsley install her in that body? Drogan is apparently over 1000 years old and linked to the Watcher's Council. According to the comics Nina does stay in LA for the apocalypse. Nina says that Angel is a bad liar but as events prove he's actually brilliant. Illyria wishes she was still in the Deeper Well. Marcus and Drogan are old acquaintances. Flashback to CC the last we'll see of her. Did you notice the Senator's election rival is Joss Whedon?

    The Circle of the Black Thorn very Halloween 6. They're an obvious convenient story twist to give the series some closure in just a few eps but it's a fascinating invention. Do they represent the executive board of the WB? Does Marcus buy Angel's act or is he always suspicious?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • Power Play

    Power Play was a perfect episode of Angel. This episode was fun to watch as Angel was pushing the gang away from him while seemingly becoming more dark. This disturbing behavior was only the begining as an old friend shows up accusing Angel of attacking him. I really enjoyed the mix of characters in this episode and learning who is a part of the Black Thorn. This episode had great action, drama, intrigue, and character. I also thought it was funny when Illyria was playing Crash Bandicoot with Drogyn. I thought the scene at the end was great where Angel tells the gang what is really going on. I look forward to the series finale!!!!!!!moreless
  • Leading up to the end.

    Of course, as I previously thought, Angel's strange behavior continued to get even worse as it may appear that he has turned his back on all of his friends. I love how each member of the the team was slowly coming to grips with the possibility that Angel had been playing them for a long time, even having a hand in Fred's death, but I knew for some reason that this could not be, staring with the fact that Spike would probably know, or the fact that the writers just couldn't do this to the viewers.

    The episode may have been a bit confusing in the first few minutes, but the ending more than made up for it. I was very surprised to learn that it was Cordelia who gave Angel her vision power before she died, and it all tied to nicely to the ending that it feels like poetry. I just adore the fact that Cordelia had a big hand in what's happening this season, even though she's no longer around. I also love the fact that it was explained that Fred's death wasn't planned, that it was something that just happened.

    I also loved the scene in which Drogyn and Illyria played a video game... it was just too hilarious for words. Now I've got to prepare myself for the very finale.moreless
  • The beginning of the end.

    Power Play is an excellent episode that was shocking and sets up the next episode nicely. It isn't amazing or the best episode this season but was still brilliant.

    This episode really only serves the purpose of setting the finale. It shows Angel seemingly turning evil and how the rest of the gang cope with this. The teaser set up the episode well and I liked that the episode is 19 hours earlier, building up to the events of the teaser. It was about the journey this episode rather than the destination and worked very well.

    I was quite worried that Angel was seemingly going bad. While I didn't fully believe it, I was sort of wondering. We've seen this sort of attitude lots of times before in S2 when he reverted to Dark Angel and it seemed as though history was repeating itself. The making us believe he killed Fred was shocking and really made me begin to hate him but the end speech thankfully took away that concern. The last scenes all played homage to our three dead regulars- Doyle by playing his musical score from "Hero", a flashback to Cordy and the whole Fred thing. It was nice to remember them all as we get so near the end of the series and made me reflect on them and what they brought to the show. Looking back on Season 1 is weird, as we've come so far since then and it's almost like a different show. This episode and the next really brought the original mission statement back.

    Seeing Illyria get smashed about by Hamilton was shocking to say the least. In every fight she's in, Illyria usually throws one or two punches and she's won, whereas here she actually bleeds here! Poor old Lyrie. Power Play is an excellent episode that sets up Not Fade Away and reminds us where the series started and how far it has come. It is pivotal and really can't be missed.moreless
  • Corruption's The Name of the Game

    Power Play-Drogyn arrives in L.A., badly wounded, to point the finger at his attacker. Wesley discovers a strange symbol in one of his books which turns out to be the mark for an evil, secret society. The circumstances of Fred's death come into question, and as Team Angel tries to figure out who is responsible they begin to fear that their leader has become corrupted by the power Wolfram & Hart have given him.

    Well, kiddies it's the beginning of the end and gang must prepare for the Mother of all Apocalypses. But unfornately, the leader has gone all Tony Montana and switched sides without the gang realizing it. Him and Hamilton are buddies, he doesn't care about innocent people losing their lives and his hair is too perfect!...wait, it was always too perfect! But Angel's mysterious new behavior is shocking and the rest of the gang have no choice but to stop him. What's great about "Power Play" it plays out like a penultimate episode of the series should be. The storylines are finally coming together as Drogyn returns as he was attacked by Angel's assassin no less and believes Angel was behind Fred's death/Illyria's release. You're really wondering throughout, has Angel really been corrupt afterall? And could it come at a worst possible time. Other scenes that bring up questions are how come a primordial demon god and an immortal warrior can't play a simple game on Xbox?! LOL, that scene was priceless though:

    Illyria: "I play this's pointless, and annoys me, yet I'm compelled to play on."

    It was nice seeing Illyria and Drogyn connecting but than Big Bad Hamilton burst through. But Hamilton's no match for God King Illyria....ohh wait...Wesley zapped out half her power. Jeeze, it was brutal watching blue badass get owned by brute. He even stepped on her, the bastard! Also, the Angel killing Drogyn was unexpected as well as the revelation of the Circle of the Black Thorn. So these are the ones who have connecting the Senior Partners to this realm. Hard to believe the blonde senator is the scariest member though, maybe it's because she's the Buffyverse's version of Hilary Clinton. Hey, I love her by the way. The episode ends with one of the strongest moments of the series. Angel reveals it was just an act all this time and waht his been doing these things to join the Black Thorn so he can destory them. The dialogue is great as Angel asks his friends to join him for one final fight and as each person raises there hand just as Hamilton watches a fake glamor through Angel's office window, we know the big finish is here. "Power Play" is a fantastic episode that leads into Angel's unforgettable farwell perfectly!moreless
Jenny Mollen

Jenny Mollen

Nina Ash

Guest Star

Elimu Nelson

Elimu Nelson


Guest Star

Alec Newman

Alec Newman


Guest Star

Christian Kane

Christian Kane

Lindsey McDonald

Recurring Role

Adam Baldwin

Adam Baldwin

Marcus Hamilton

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Members of the Circle of the Black Thorn include: Senator Bruckner who was introduced in this episode, Cyvus Vail from "Origin" (5x18), Izzy (the devil) from "You're Welcome" (5x12), the Fell Brethren Leader from "Time Bomb" (5x19), and Archduke Sebassis from "Life of the Party" (5x05).

    • Senator Brucker: Oh, I go way back with this firm, back when Holland Manners was in charge.
      Seemingly, Holland was never in charge of the entire Wolfram & Hart law firm. He was head of the "Special Projects" division.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Illyria: (about Wesley) My recent reversion to the Burkle persona disturbed him. And he will not tell me why.
      Spike: You don't know? You may not think you're as powerful as you were, Highness, but looking like Fred, for some of us, is the most devastating power you have.

    • Lorne: Oh, so this whole Evil Angel thing's been a big scamola. Huh. I smell Oscar.

    • Angel: This isn't a keep fighting the good fight kind of deal. Let's be clear on this. I'm talking about killing every ... single ... member ... of the Black Thorn. We don't walk away from that.
      Lorne: Do we crawl away at least?
      Angel: We do this, the senior partners will rain their full wrath. They'll make an example of us. I'm talkin' full-on hell, not the basic fire-and-brimstone kind that we're used to.
      Gunn: We know the drill.
      Angel: No, you don't. Ten to one, we're gone when the smoke clears. They will do everything in their power to destroy us. So ... I need you to be sure. Power endures. We can't bring down the senior partners, but for one bright, shining moment we can show them that they don't own us. You need to decide for yourselves, if that's worth dying for. I can't order you to do this. But I can't do it without you. So ... we'll vote as a team. Think about what I'm asking you to do. Think about what I'm asking you to give.
      Spike: Kill 'em all, right? Burn the house down, while we're still in it.
      Angel: Something like that.

    • Angel: The powerful control everything, except our will to choose...

    • Lorne: It's like Angel suddenly started channeling Leona Helmsley.

    • Drogyn: No one lies when they're at the mercy of my wrath.
      Gunn: Then you're the liar, Aragorn.
      Spike: He has to tell the truth. It's a curse or something.

    • Harmony: Sorry. We have a no human blood policy. I can offer you something in a rodent. We have some fruity, unassuming vole—
      Hamilton: Oh, I think we could make an exception to our policy this time for the senator. Couldn't we, Angel?
      Angel: Harmony, the lab might have something in the blood bank. Why don't you go check it out?
      Harmony: Okay. You're the boss, Boss... Could I maybe just have a teeny, weeny—
      Angel: No.

    • Lorne: And what if he's skipped too far down that evil brick road?

    • Spike: (referring to the Circle of the Black Thorn) There's plenty of these cabals about. They usually spend a lot of time in basements paddling each others bums to prove their manliness.

    • (Drogyn and Illyria are playing Crash Bandicoot in Spike's apartment)
      Drogyn: It is a test. You must collect these crystals. And fruit.
      Illyria: Why?

    • Wesley: The small stuff that you can't worry about. Would that include Fred?
      Angel: I loved Fred.
      Wesley: That's not an answer.
      Angel: Then I guess you don't get one.

    • Bruckner: I didn't claw my way up from Hell and get installed in a human body just to have some pedophile steal my Senate seat.

    • Lindsey: It's a secret society.
      Gunn: I've never heard of them.
      Lindsey: That's 'cause they're secret.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The flashback to Cordelia, Doyle's musical score from "Hero" (1x09), and seemingly misdirection of Fred's storyline are all nods to the three dead regular characters on the show. In the final episode, Hamilton mentions them, but this episode pays tribute to each one.

    • Both the Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer penultimate episodes end with the same camera shot--something happening in the center of a room, and the camera panning out to someone watching from the side, unbeknownst to the others. In this case, Hamilton was watching Team Angel, while in the BtVS second to last episode "End of Days," Buffy and Angel are kissing, and Spike is watching from the shadows, being taunted by the First Evil.


    • Spike: (about Illyria) I haven't had a decent tussle since the blue meanie and I stopped sparring.

      The Blue Meanies were villainous haters of music in the Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine.

    • Lorne: These are very pretty people I'm talking about here, Wes, four of them getting in shape for Young Guns III.
      Young Guns is a 1988 action/western film; its stars include Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko as famous (or soon to be famous) young outlaws. As of the airing of this episode, there were only two films in the series.

    • Spike: So you tacked up a sign on your tree, waved bye to the Keeblers, hopped the puddle...
      The Keebler Elves are the animated mascots of the Keebler company. Commercials show them making all of the Keebler crackers and cookies in their hollow tree.

    • Angel: Software, oil, World Wide Wickets, the product doesn't matter.
      World Wide Wickets is the name of the company in the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

    • Gunn: (to Drogyn) Then you're the liar, Aragorn.
      Aragorn is the name of a character in The Lord of the Rings, played in the movie version by actor Viggo Mortensen.

    • Spike: Play some Crash Bandicoot.
      Crash Bandicoot is a video game series that stars an anthropomorphic bandicoot of the same name who usually has to collect 25 purple crystals in order to stop the plans of his creator and nemesis Dr. Neo Cortex. Crash also collects such items as gems, relics, and wumpa fruits. The series started in 1996 on the PlayStation (which Crash is often considered to be the mascot for).

      Given the time in which the episode takes place, and the fact that Spike owns an XBox, the game is almost certainly "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex". Also, the box on the TV appears to be for "Wrath of Cortex" and the music that is heard is consistent with that idea.

    • Lorne: And what if he's skipped too far down that evil brick road?
      This line refers to the yellow brick road in L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz novels and the movie they inspired. The road led through the land of Oz to the Emerald City, home of the eponymous Wizard.