Season 5 Episode 21

Power Play

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 12, 2004 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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out of 10
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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!!!!!!!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • It's all leding up to the big finale...

    This episode was awesome. everyone thinks Angel has gone bad and it really does seem that way. It is all part of a plot to join the Circle of the Black Thorn he eventually joins The Black Thorn but he had to kill Drogyn in the process. He explains to everyone that he did it so they can find out who the members are and kill them. Angel's plan is a very good one but I am surprised no one else found out about it. If you want to understand the finale you need to watch this episode. Later. . .
  • Forget everything you thought you knew

    This was the beginning of the end, sadly. But boy did it ever deliver. It seems Angel has suddenly turned to the side of evil. All of his crew are questioning his moves from beginning to end. They begin to wonder if he hasnt turned to the dark side and if he is completely doing the Senior Partners bidding. Angel played his part to perfection as the hero who slips over to the bad side and is leaving his faithful team by the wayside. The rest of the gang react predictably, they are ready to stage an intervention and that is exactly what they do. Stay tuned
  • angel gone bad?

    i did not enjoy this episode to much. but it was not bad at all!
    i did not like angel going bad and how he was against everyone. nobody trusted him anymore because he was with hamilton all the time and only doing evil things.

    the episode was a little boring and annoying to see angel that way but i was surprised at the end! i could not believe it was all a lie and that angel was actually trying to look evil because he had a big plan. go out fighting. the end was truly good and makes up for the rest of the episode.
  • Go out fighting...

    I had completely forgotten about the visions passing on with the kiss of true love deal. The come back was quite a surprise plot twist- at least to me anyway. And despite all the decisions Angel had been making, the team still believes in his plan, which shows how connected this team has become throughout their years of fighting and how devoted they are to the cause. The final scene where they take a vote under the mystical veil of being at each other's throats was so powerful because it is indeed coming apart-- just not in the way that Wolfram and Hart thinks it is.
  • When you try to save everyone ...

    Drogyn joins the ranks of people Angel cannot save.

    After engineering his arrival, Angel accomplishes his execution. "I had to make them believe someone that good and that pure was my enemy."

    In fact, had he become Angel's enemy?

    Unwittingly, perhaps. Or more to the point, he became the means by which Angel could save the world.

    With the transfer of the Visions to Angel, in Cordelia's dying moments, the Powers That Be set out a long, thudding warning bell -- to wit: These are the people who are bringing about the Apocalypse.

    Sadly, however, the Powers That Be couldn't manage to transmit an image of them without their masks.

    So the only way for Angel to track them all down was to infiltrate them.

    And how is a simple, garden variety vampire with a soul going to manage that?

    Well, how did he manage to plant whatever evidence it was that Drogyn found in the Deeper Well?

    Angel's actions transferred meaning to the deaths of Cordy (by acting on the Visions) and Fred (by claiming entre to the Circle of the Black Thorn, a secret society).

    Gunn: I've never heard of it.
    Lindsey: That's because it's secret.

    The reveal of the Circle -- ultimately, powerful baddies Angel has encountered throughout the season -- gave a nice justification for Lindsey's reappearance: Trying to be part of the Circle.

    Good, bad, they're past all of that. They're interested in Power. Power to bring about wholesale destruction.

    And we heard an echo from "Conversations With Dead People," where Cassie is taunting Willow -- "I'm done with the whole good, bad thing, I'm over it." -- nota bene for the purists -- all quotes are from best recollection: I'm at my parents' house and it's dialup so I'm not looking all of this stuff up.

    It's sad they wouldn't consider amassing their great powers to end world hunger or to build communication between the races. But Lord Acton's axiom -- as partially quoted by Lorne -- rang true: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A recent rerun of "Law & Order" cited "The Third Man," in which Orson Wells looks down on a fairground from a Ferris wheel and refers to the people as "dots." And if one of those dots were to stop moving, what would you care, really?

    "An ant with the best intentions or the most diabolical schemes, is, in the end, no more or less than just an ant."

    Angel's rant belied his true nature, which he outlined in an earlier season: "If what we do doesn't matter, the only thing that matters is what we do." Or something like that.

    Anything to break the stranglehold of W&H's insidious hold over people -- "The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Angel does something. In a whole world full of good people doing nothing, he wants to do something. To look out for the downtrodden, to hear the voices of the dispossessed -- he rejected the Gem of Amarra specifically to stay connected to the people who needed him the most.

    To help the hopeless.

    So ... enter Drogyn.

    Well, in order to help the hopeless, to turn the tide against evil's all-but-inevitable triumph (given the attractive corruption of power), Angel needs to be in a position to blunt the most direct attack, the agency of the apocalypse, the Circle of the Black Thorn in everyone's side. Against the Senior Partners' relative holding pattern of "keep fueling man's inhumanity to man until everything falls apart," he can bring down their functionaries in this dimension.

    And we hear an echo of Wesley from Pylea: "If you try to save everyone, you end up saving no-one."

    Wesley should've understood intuitively what Angel was up to. Using the strategems of The Senior Partners against them -- attend to the raft of "projects" that breeze in through the front door -- The Fell Brethren's sacrifice, Senator Bitca's opposition, etc. -- to lull them into a false sense of security while he uses his position as the head of the L.A. branch to shove a gigantic spanner in the works.

    Yes, Angel took Drogyn's life to accomplish his ascension. Drogyn was one of those dots that stopped moving around so much.

    But to get to the place he needed to be -- to save everyone -- Drogyn became a person Angel couldn't save.

    Nina was a person he could.

    And despite the way that scene was written, I believe that an post-shoop Angel joining her on the beach would hardly be unwelcome.

    Angel knows full well that if the apocalypse comes and he can't stop it, Nina could be a few blocks over from it or she could be in Switzerland. The end of the world is the End of the World.

    But at least her last hours would be spent with her family enjoying the day.

    He couldn't tip his hand too much, or the final moments of the episode wouldn't have had as much meaning for us. Such a different vibe from the earlier meeting, Angel lets them in on it.

    But never mind a mildly confused Hamilton standing outside Angel's office. Wouldn't the Senior Partners see right through a glamor?

    Well -- they can't be everywhere at once.


    And now, a word about Hamilton.

    He's been a good liaison to the Senior Partners. He's been working their will throughout his appearance -- something we can't say with as much confidence about Eve.

    Hamilton tells Angel about the Partners' displeasure with Illyria's wake of destruction (without so much as referencing Angel's). Along with the bail the Partners are apparently out concerning the bail-jumping nunkiller, it seems like Angel is falling in line, which is good -- for them. Because if Angel is focused on putting out all the little forest fires, he won't be so concerned about the fact that they're killing the forest.

    So Hambone shows up and he puts his fist through a guy's chest and he wanders about, bothering Gunn in the holding dimension and Wesley in the lab.

    We're never going to get much insight on what prompted his conversation with Gunn, but Illyria's a different story.

    I don't think Hamilton's so very concerned about the stability of the continental shelf, or about Drogyn's safety. I think in the grand scheme of things, he's reacting specifically to the resurrection of an Old One, and the Senior Partners' displeasure.

    How can he communicate that displeasure without tipping his hand?

    Well, he can show Wesley the chaos that will ensue if Illyria continues with her little space-time adventures.

    Wesley sees the readings and he intuits what needs to be done. Much like Buffy destroying the Judge with a bazooka, improved technology (with a mystical upgrade) can counter ancient power.

    Drawing it away harmlessly.

    End result: Illyria is now someone Hamilton can probably take.

    Which I'm fairly comfortable saying is what the Senior Partners had in mind since she showed up.

    Which is why I'm also fairly certain that Illyria's rise when and where she did -- L.A. in 2004 -- is Knox's little obsession and not theirs. When Gunn went to the White Room for answers, he gave himself a beating. I think Illyria's rise -- her Kwa-ha'Zahn conspiring to gain a hold over a W&H executive to ensure the sarcophagus would get from the Deeper Well to where he needed it to be ...

    ... can you imagine the FedEx people showing up at Drogyn's tree? They must've gone mystical for at least part of the delivery.

    ... was all Knox and Sparrow.

    So I wonder what Knox did for Sparrow to get him to agree to making the brain boost temporary. We'll probably never know, but ultimately, regardless of what Sparrow told Gunn, I don't believe Illyria (in any form) was something the Senior Partners wanted bouncing around this dimension any more than Angel did.

    When you're in the business of consolidating power, a powerful x factor you have no hope of controlling is not something you want to see.

    As Wesley said, "She is monumentally self-possessed."


    To my understanding, Drogyn became the Season Five version of Tina.

    In "City Of," the Powers That Be sent Doyle a vision about Tina, a girl in trouble who Angel tried to save from a powerful and very connected vampire who'd been victimizing a string of young naive girls for his own nefarious purposes.

    He couldn't save Tina from Russell Winters, which I choose to see as a motive force throughout the series.

    But his efforts put him in touch with Cordy. Who did grow to care about him enough to reach out with her last efforts to show him who the Big Bad was.

    He had respect for that objective. He had no illusions of doing anything so prosaic as winning. But as the only being with insight into the Circle with knowledge of what they were up to and with a will to put a stop to it, he knew he had to try.

    And no time like the present. His loyalty to the Circle is confirmed by his associates' fears and suspicions of him. The tattoo is on his chest and the plan is set.

    Angel has seen the enemy.

    He's got a big sword and knows where to point it.

    Let the slashing begin.
  • Angel joins the Black Thorn, and Team Angel starts to question which side he's on. Then he reveals his motives to his team, and his plan for a final confrontation with the Firm.

    Well written episode. You're wondering if Angel has really thrown in with the bad guys. Then when he reveals what he's really up to, and what they're going to do. It's a great way to build up to the finale.
    Angel gives up on the prophecy and it's promise of becoming human, but he's still going to fight the good fight no matter what. He finally realized what it was all about.