Season 1 Episode 20

War Zone

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 09, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
416 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Angel tracks down a nerdy millionaire's blackmailer, but gets caught in the middle of a gang war between street kids and vampires and meets the leader of the vampire hunters, Charles Gunn. Although Gunn is suspicious of Angel, he soon realizes Angel may be a valuable ally in the cleaning up of the City of Angels.moreless

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  • Here's Gunn


    The Good;

    Charlie Gunn, yay! David Nabbit too and some nice humour at the brothel (love the characterisation of the Madam, hard as nails but extremely streetwise as to the sensitive realities of her business)

    The Bad;

    Not much, good story although the slum allegory is laid on a bit thick.

    Best line:

    Gunn; "I don't need advice from some middle class white dude who's dead"

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    A nasty incestuous vibe between Gunn and his vamped-sister.

    Apocalypses: 4

    Angel Cliches

    Damsel in distress; 15, in this case it's the male characters who need help

    Inverting the Hollywood cliche; We expect a patrician speech from Angel to Gunn at the end. Instead Angel actually asks Gunn for his help in future, again recognising talent when he sees it. CC and Wes rescue Angel who forgets to use his mobile phone to get himself out of the meatlocker.

    In disguise; 4

    DB get's his shirt off; yep, Angel getting patched up so 7

    Cordy's tattoo;3

    Cheap Angel; A paying client for AI, Cordy must be so happy. Angel also wants to 'see the cheque'


    Fang Gang in bondage:

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 8

    Wes: 2

    Fang gang knocked out:

    Cordy: 9

    Angel: 10

    Wes: 4

    Doyle; 1


    Cordy: 3 vamps, 1 demons

    Angel: 3 vamps and 1 demon for Angel so 4 demons so 14 vamps, 10 and 1/2 demons, 2 humans.

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 1/2 a demon

    Kate; 3 vamps

    Faith; 16 vamps, 6 demons, 3 humans.


    Fang Gang go evil:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 2

    Alternate Fang Gang: no but Angel refers to himself as Angelus to intimidate the other vamps

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 6

    Characters killed: 2 of Gunn's people killed.


    Recurring characters killed;


    Total number of Angel Investigations: Gunn a long way from joining yet

    3, Angel and Cordy and Wes

    Angel Investigations shot:

    Angel: 8,

    Packing heat; no but one of Gunn's guys uses a flamethrowers which Wes will employ later to good effect.

    Wes; 2

    Doyle; 1

    Angel; 1

    Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:

    Cordy: 2 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Kinky dinky:

    Angel's entire visit to Madame Dorians and the David Mabbet stuff is just SOOO out there, especially the tail gag (this was the era of Madame Alex/Hedi Fleiss etc). That said of all the demon girls am I the only one to find Lina the only attractive one? One of the demons appears to be one of the girls from She, her Ko well and truly intact (hope she's still not burning people)Cordelia is once again tempted to prostitute herself to a wealthy man as she was in the pilot. Cordy says that David's name feels 'Good in her mouth'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I don't think even Faith would say that?)

    Captain Subtext;

    Not so subtle racial and social hints, even the vamps bemoan the sort of people they now have to feed on.

    Know the face, different character; 2

    Parking garages;


    Guantanamo Bay;

    Angel once again tortures a vamp

    Buffy characters on Angel; 11

    Wetherby, Collins and Smith. Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes, Faith, Darla

    Questions and observations;

    Gunn's strategy seems ok to me, taking the fight to the enemy rather than waiting until they come to you. By contrast Angel lets the vamps go at the end, to kill others? The vamps attacking Gunn's headquarters resemble the aliens in the War of the Worlds series. Both Angel and Gunn have killed their sisters.

    Marks out of 10; 6/10, an ok ep but one that's hard to watch at times, largely significant for the introduction of Gunn (and his truck) and his motivations.

  • Okay, okay, before you start bashing me for calling this pivotal, think about it. It really is. This episode basicly set up Gunn's entire story line for the next four seasons.moreless

    I really liked this episode. Not because of the demons in bikini's, not because of David Nabett (although he was entertaining), not because of the 'mutual respect between worriors' seen between Angel and Gunn.

    It's the backstory.

    Close your eyes and imagin... well oviously your not gonna close your eyes cause then how would you read this? Anyways the point is, the thought of a war, hidden within the dark places of the streets. What most people blame as "Stupid black kids", is actually the same kids saving thier lives. The idea of not just a gang of vampire hunters, but a whole army of em, is well... cool.

    They roll out with thier crossbows, spears and stakes, in thier trunk with a harpoon launcher. And they go to war against an army of Vampires.

    Again, you may beat me black and blue for calling this pivotal, but if you stoped to think... and if you REALLY thought about it... where would Gunn be without this episode? WHO would Gunn be?

    The only thing I could have wished for is for Gunn's leadership quality to have been shown more in later seasons.moreless
  • 'I don't need advice from some middle-class white dude who's dead!'

    ‘War Zone’ is a very well written episode and way to introduce a new character to the show. But the episode is not perfect.

    The teaser features a girl on the street and some vamps following her, but then someone tough shows up but it’s not Angel ‘are you expecting somebody else?’ actually, yes.

    This case, Angel and his co-workers go to a party of a famous guy named David Nabbitt. David has been a bad boy and is a big nerdy millionaire. He has slept with some demon prostitutes and someone made pictures of it, that person is asking David for money or else he will give the pictures to the public and it would ruin David so he’s trying to prevent it. The storyline isn’t exactly exciting even though it added some hilarious lines of Cordy who is money freaked and they got a lot of money from David.

    Meanwhile the gang fights the vampires but one of the group dies. Alonna who is the sister of the leader Gunn, is afraid that Gunn might die as well but he tells her that it isn’t gonna happen. Both characters were immediately loveable especially because of the brother/sister bond they had.

    While Angel finds himself the guy who took David’s pictures, he threatens him a bit and makes him scared. On the second time when he brings the pictures the guy brings a demon to protect him, after Angel struggling he breaks the demons neck and the guy leaves the pictures. Angel stays wounded but before he knows it he gets attacked by Gunn’s gang. Angel escapes into some sort of tunnel that turns out to be filled with booby traps and when Alonna attacks him he grabs her, but he has no interest in her and dumps her on the floor and saves her from an arrow that gets shot on her. Gunn lets him go because of that but tells him that he will kill Angel if he shows up once again.

    He less interesting side of the episode was the vampire gang, they were a bit corny and eye-rolling. They set up a trap for Gunn and when Alonna tries to flee she gets kidnapped into a truck, Gunn tries to rescue her but it’s to late and they bite her and hit him away.

    The best part of the episode was when Gunn seeks Alonna, he finds her undead and she tells him how much better it is as a vampire. It was a powerful scene and the dialog was superb on how she talked to Gunn about their past and that he is falling now, when she reaches to sire him he says goodbye and stakes her.

    Gunn proved to be a worthy character and Angel tells him to stick around because he might need his help, that made it obvious that Gunn was going to play a bigger role on the series.

    The Cordy/Wesley interactions were also getting better and funner, the episode proved to be worthy except for the lame vampire gang.

  • Overall, this episode serves to introduce an important new character, one that has a massive impact on the future of the series.

    After a long first season with a general lack of direction, the writers had to take stock of what was working and consider how the series could be revised towards a more serial format. While growing apart from Buffy and getting more comfortable with his redemptive mission were very important, the series wasn’t quite hitting all cylinders without the familiar arc structure that had dominated “Buffy”.

    In particular, the writers began to focus on the idea of Angel as the “apocalyptic warrior”. Expanding the cast was important to that goal, because Angel’s actions had to be seen from an outside perspective in the second season. Wesley and Cordelia had already demonstrated an ability to rationalize Angel’s choices. Adding someone completely unrelated to Angel’s past was an important step, especially in the post-Doyle days.

    “Prodigal” had taken Kate’s involvement in Angel’s life in a completely new direction. In essence, his ability to use law enforcement contacts as a means of information retrieval disappeared in short order. Angel was forced further into the shadows. Yet he still needed to find a connection with real people. A close look at the series after the first season makes it clear that Angel has a wealth of blind spots that make him psychologically vulnerable.

    “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” also made it clear that Angel believes that he’s on the right track. He wants to believe that, because among other things, it makes Doyle’s sacrifice more meaningful. Giving Faith a chance at redemption, even at the risk to his own existence, was a way to tie up the larger themes of the first season.

    But in the wake of “Sanctuary”, the writers had to focus on the more obvious task of preparing for the second season arc, which meant setting up the new characters and solidifying the antagonism between Angel and Wolfram and Hart. The Faith situation was the first step in the latter process; this episode introduces two of the three characters that were meant to enliven the second season.

    Perhaps as a means of drumming up confidence and interest in the series during its critical growth phase (the series was still struggling to find its identity, after all), the producers were more than happy to trot out the new characters in the same manner that they praised Bai Ling and made her seem like a solid new addition to the cast. As it turns out, between David Nabbit and Charles Gunn, only one would ultimately be viable.

    David was meant to be a source of financial and technical support, if memory serves. It’s actually hard to be sure, because his character and his role never truly materialized as more than a momentary solution to larger problems. In retrospect, his role in the episode is a bit intrusive, given his later lack of involvement. But it does serve to place Angel in the right place at the right time to meet Charles Gunn.

    Gunn is a character that had equal potential for a quick exit, but the character fulfills a very important role: someone completely non-privileged with no connections at all to Angel and his past. In other words, someone with plenty of incentive to keep an eye on Angel. Such a character is more likely to view Angel and his allies with an objective point of view, at least initially, and as the progression of the series would demonstrate, change in that perspective can also be compelling.

    For that to be true, such a character needs to come at Angel from a position of strength. Spending so much time on Gunn and his world provides the necessary background. Gunn is also given a set of flaws, very important in the interests of keeping him grounded. Gunn lives with an amazing amount of fatalism, and he has just lost the one good thing left in his life. He has a death wish, something that changes as he finds hope as the season unfold. But for now, he is also someone in search of something to believe in, which makes him the perfect companion in Angel’s journey.

    Beyond the introduction of Charles Gunn, this episode is also notable for showing Wesley in a more confident position. Wesley changes after his experience with Faith, and while he never completely loses the awkward side of his nature, competency does finally arrive. In this case, he has a certain droll response to Cordy’s sarcasm that wasn’t present in quite the same degree in previous episodes.

    In fact, having faced down the temptation of doing what he was told to get some vague sense of reward in “Sanctuary”, Wesley has taken ownership of his alliance with Angel. The arrangement is no longer a temporary means of survival or self-confidence; Wesley made the choice to stick with Angel and be a true member of the team. As later seasons would demonstrate, Wesley’s sense of responsibility would make him a flawed leader at best, bringing out his dark side when his efforts aren’t so appreciated.

    Cordelia also shows signs of personal growth. Faced with David and the chance to be some rich man’s toy, she does little more than wistfully entertain the notion. She’s not nearly as serious as she would have been in “City Of…” or the episodes immediately thereafter. In terms of a character arc, it carries forward the process that the pain of the visions would ultimately complete: conversion of Cordy from self-centered to selfless.

    If there is one weakness in this episode, it’s Alonna. Not the concept of the character, since it is a simple way to get Gunn into the right psychological space, but the actress who plays the character. It’s never a good thing when the supporting character, slated to die by the end of the episode, actually acts as if they don’t have plans to be around. Alonna wasn’t very convincing in terms of communicating her own tragedy, and that was a slight miscue.

    But in terms of setting the stage for the second season, this is an important part of the process. Gunn would be an important character right until the end of the series (and beyond, in fact), and Wesley’s increased confidence is another step in a direction that makes the character far more interesting in later seasons. While this forces Angel into the background to a certain extent, the effect is minimal and the episode succeeds in its appointed task.

  • Important episode, but definitely far from a favorite.

    When I first started watching "Angel" on TNT, this was one of the first season one episodes I saw. I hated it. The second time I watched it was when I bought the season one DVD. I liked it a lot better than I did the first time around, but I wouldn't consider it a fantastic episode by any means.

    This episode introduces the character of Gunn, the leader of a street gang of teenagers who fight vampires. Gunn will become a part of the cast, and becomes a very important character later on, but frankly, I don't like him here, nor do I like him in season two, and only a little in season three.

    This episode had some pretty good moments. The early action scenes are very cool and entertaining, and the moments between Gunn and his sister are nice, but I was a little bored with the A story beginning with the time we really get to know the vampire gang and their leader. I hate the Slayerverse vampires so episodes revolving around vampires rather than demons and such are not that entertaining to me.

    I did like the B story, with Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley being hired by a billionaire to recover pictures of him in a demon brothel. The scene where Angel goes to the brothel and is hit on by the demoness was pretty funny. There were also some nice Cordy moments, as always, and Wes continues to become a more likeable character.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When Angel breaks the demon's neck, the demon's shirt lifts in the back and the stuntman's back safety pads are clearly visible. Then, he drops the demon to the ground, face first, but when the shot changes the demon is on his back.

    • Angel has no wound in his hand when Cordy is patching him up, although he caught a crossbow bolt through it earlier. Since Angel has displayed bruises and cuts for long periods in other episodes (such as "The Ring"), it's not clear why the hand wound would have healed so fast.

    • When Cordelia is patching up Angel, she bandages up the hole in his chest, but there is no hole in his back (where the stake went in).

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Angel: Here's the deal. You can go.
      Vamp: What?
      Angel: If you go now, and I never see any of you again, you get to live.
      Vamp: Are you high?
      Angel: L.A.'s my territory. You want to stay out of it for the rest of your eternal lives. These kids, my town, off limits from now on.
      Vamp: Who the Hell are you? You know who you're talkin' to, you fool?
      Angel: Name's Angelus. (stakes him) I wasn't actually talkin' to you.

    • Alonna: Remember when we were kids in that shelter on Plummer Street, hmm? Second floor was all rotted out. You used to dare kids to cross, and of course you were the best at it, because you were the, you were the bravest. I wanted to be like you so bad, so I went up, and the floor gave out. I would have broken my neck, but you'd been watching me the whole time. You were standing right below, and you caught me. Ever since I can remember you've been looking out for me. But you don't have to any more, because I'm good, and it's my turn to look out for you now.
      Gunn: How?
      Alonna: Look at you. You're running and hiding, cold and hungry. You call that living? You're the one that's falling now. Let me catch you. Don't you want to stop falling? I'm gonna fix it. Oh, say goodbye to everything you ever knew.
      Gunn: Good-bye.
      (Gunn stakes her)

    • Cordelia: You know - there is nothing like riding in a convertible - with the top down to make you see the sun and the sand. Mmm - smell that salt air!
      Wesley: That's not salt.
      Cordelia: I don't think it's air either, but reality is a choice, Wesley. You see what you wanna see and I see what I wanna see.
      Wesley: A man exiting an alley pushing a shopping cart.
      Cordelia: No. I see a very tan life-guard type with large...
      Wesley: No, over there. These kids must have got electricity into their building. They might have tapped into one of the power lines and run it illegally. If I could spot the tap, that would tell us where their hide-out is. You go ask this gentleman if he's seen anyone that fits the description of our young vampire killers, while I check the power line for any taps.
      Cordelia: Uh, why don't you ask him and I check for taps?
      Wesley: Because you can imagine him as a scantily clad, buff, young stud, while I am stuck with the naked truth.

    • Cordelia: I like David. It's such a strong, masculine name. Just feels good in your mouth.

    • Lenny: Look, pal. You're obviously not from around here. But trust me, you do not want to see my bad side.
      Angel: You show me yours, (vamps out) I'll show you mine.

    • Lenny: What do you want?
      Angel: Good question. What do I want. Love, family, place on this planet I can call my own. But you know what?
      Lenny: What?
      Angel: I'm never going to have any of those things. And unless these few minutes go exactly the way I want them to, neither are you.

    • Wesley: You went to Madame Dorian's?
      David: Just once.
      Wesley: It's a demon brothel.
      David: Or twice.
      Wesley: In Bel Air, I believe. The Watcher's Council is rife with stories about it.
      Angel: How many...
      David: Twelve times.
      Angel: ...people knew about you doing it?

    • David: I used to play a lot in high school. You know, it was pretty cool. Get to be someone else for a while -- a wizard, a warrior, you know, whole world is magic, and you're fighting troglodytes and romancing exotic demon princesses. You know, it's a rush.
      Cordelia: Did someone find out you were a big nerd?
      David: No, that's actually public record.

    • David: I've always said that I would make a billion dollars in the software and learn to talk to girls. I'm still working on step two.

    • Wesley: You should've tried to call us on your cell phone. You probably forgot you had it.
      Angel: These things hardly ever work. Besides it was a lot easier and quicker to just -- Look, I'm the boss here, I say when we use the cell phones and people are gonna die and I have to go.

    • Gunn: How come you do it? How come you're out here?
      Angel: What else are we gonna do? I'll be around.
      Gunn: I don't need no help.
      Angel: I might.

    • Gunn: What you doin' here?
      Angel: Skulking. Professionally.

    • Cordelia: I think, perspectively speaking, I might want to prostitute myself to billionaire David Nabbit.
      Wesley: Cordelia...
      Cordelia: What I mean is...he's a nice guy who wants companionship. I could use some security. So when I say "prostitute", what I mean is...
      Wesley: Prostitute.
      Cordelia: For instance.

    • Gunn: I don't need advice from some middle-class white dude who's dead!

    • Cordelia: (bandaging Angel) You should rest. You look —
      Angel: Like I've been beaten and stabbed?

    • Cordelia: Ahh, I've missed that smell.
      Wesley: Camembert, I believe.
      Cordelia: Ah, what? No, money. I like to smell a little money once in a while.
      Angel: She's not just saying that. Hide some in the office some time and watch her. It's uncanny.

    • David: Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons?
      Angel: Yeah, I've seen a few.
      Wesley: You mean the role-playing game?
      Angel: Oh, game. Right.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Music:
      At David Nabbit's party -- "Para Lennon & McCartney" by A Friend From Rio

      At the demon brothel -- "Hellfire" from The APM Music Library

    • This episode scored a rating of 4.7/7 in the overnight Nielsen ratings, ranking 3rd out of 16 WB shows airing for that week.

    • David Nabbit, geeky software billionaire is introduced in this episode, and was intended to become a recurring character on the show. Unfortunately, scheduling didn't really work out with actor David Herman and the Nabbitt disappeared soon after.

    • The score music heard during the scene where Angel is running through the warehouse from Gunn and his crew is the same as heard in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Becoming Part 2" (2x22) during the Buffy/Angelus sword fight. That same score can be heard in previous episodes, such as "Five by Five" (1x18) and "I Will Remember You" (1x08), because Christophe Beck, who co-composed the first season of Angel, composed these same scores for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and recycled them. Old scores from the show's 2nd and 3rd seasons can be heard throughout the first season of Angel.

    • This episode marks the first appearance of Charles Gunn.

    • Gunn was named after actor Sean Gunn (who guest starred in the previous episodes "Hero" (1x09) and "She" (1x13)) and his brother writer James Gunn, who, like Joss Whedon, is a comic book afficionado. James also wrote the film Scooby-Doo which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy).


    • David: Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons?
      Dungeons and Dragons is a massively popular role-playing game where people pretend to be heroes in a made up world. The game involves dice, rulebooks, and can be highly addictive.