Season 5 Episode 13

Why We Fight

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 11, 2004 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
412 votes

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Episode Summary

Lawson, a mysterious man from Angel's past, arrives at Wolfram & Hart and takes the gang hostage. Through flashbacks to World War II, it is revealed that Angel worked with the U.S. Navy to recover a captured German submarine with American sailors on board. The ship also has a secret cargo, a dangerous trio of vampires, including Spike, who were kidnapped by the Germans and forced to help the Nazis. When the sub comes under attack, Angel saves Lawson's life by turning him into a vampire. Now, sixty years later, Lawson has arrived at Wolfram & Hart seeking revenge.moreless

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  • Far fetched

    I love this show, but this whole season is off...

    Angel is confused about who he is meant to be this season, and it was like the writers felt the same way. Some episodes are great, as usual (like: You're Welcome), but some are just bad, I'm sorry to say.

    Spike changed so much throughout the Buffy seasons, and now he's just the sarcastic guy. Funny, but still, he became a hero, someone who cared, and now it's like he's just there to keep the show funny.

    Season 1 and 2 of Angel were awesome, season 3, still pretty good, but now, it's nowhere near that good anymore.. Still better than most shows, but it's just not the same anymore.

    Hard for me to admit though, as this is still my second favorite show ever (Buffy is first, it just got better every year).

    This episode in particular is so farfetched... They forced Angel to go down to the bottom of the ocean and retreive a submarine???!! Come on!moreless
  • Angel wins WW2


    The Good;

    Another wonderful Spike and Angel scene at the end, just as we saw in Damage. Once again past deeds come back to haunt us but this time it's what Angel did rather than what Angelus did. Also love Spike's 'Heil Hitler' salute to Angel and I think Eyal Podell does a great job as Lawson, he really looks like the naive all American poster boy (you could imagine him in Everwood or One Tree Hill or something) who is graphically confronted with the harsh realities of life.

    The Bad;

    Considering what badasses they're supposed to be Lawson overcomes AI very easily. Why do Spike and Lawson have to reach the shore before sunrise, can't they just hide underwater until night?

    Best line;

    Angel; "Spike's not in the SS, he just likes the coat"


    Spike; (of his fellow vamp prisoners) "Got to warn you, they're a bit stiff"

    also like;

    Nostroyev; (of Angelus) "You had quite the reputation back in the day but I haven't heard much of you lately"

    Angel; "I haven't heard much of you EVER!"

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    Gunn speculates that Lindsey is 'boiling in his own filth'? YUCK!

    Fang Gang in bondage: Wes, Fred and Gunn all trussed up. Not Lorne though, because losing his head wouldn't kill him? Angel chained to a mess of weights

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 15

    Wes: 8

    Gunn; 8

    Lorne; 6

    Fred; 5

    Spike; 6

    Fang gang knocked out: Wes, Fred and Gunn

    Cordy: 15

    Angel: 19

    Wes: 9

    Doyle; 1

    Gunn; 4

    Lorne; 8

    Groo; 1

    Connor; 1

    Faith; 1

    Fred; 6

    Spike; 5

    Kills; 3 vamps for Angel several decades apart. Will he make the magic 150 total of kills by the end of the series?

    Cordy: 5 vamps, 3 demons

    Angel; 48 vamps, 62 and 1/2 demons, 5 zombies, 12 humans, one werewolf and one cyborg

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 14 demons+5 vamps, 5 zombies, 3 humans, 2 cyborgs

    Kate; 3 vamps

    Faith; 18 vamps, 6 demons, 3 humans.

    Gunn; 11 vamps+ 13 demons, 5 zombies, 1 human.

    Groo; 1 demon

    Fred; 3 vamps+ 2 demon, 5 zombies

    Connor; 16 vamps, 5 zombies, 2 demons, Jasmine

    Spike; 21 vamps, 7 demons+1 human+one parasite

    Characters killed: poor subs crew


    Total number of Angel Investigations; 6, from now on I really consider Spike to an inseperable part of the gang

    Angel, Gunn, Fred, Lorne, Wes, Spike

    Kinky dinky:

    Spike had been invited to a 'virgin bloodbath'...

    Captain Subtext;

    ...but when he got there the virgins all looked like Gobbels? Nostroyev was the lover of Rasputin. Hello sailor!

    Topical politcal comment on the War on Terror? This ep really deals with the moral compromises inherent in warfare, Lawson seems unable to accept that the US would do things like torture, use the supernatural for it's own ends and make alliances with evil people (like Stalin?) for the greater good. And yet here we do, Angel siring him to save the crew and help the war effort and then letting him and Spike go, responsible for the deaths of all they killed in the meantime. An obvious but powerful allegory to AI joining WR&H. It's a tribute to the power of the writing that there is no easy answer to all this, we don't know who's right or wrong, sometimes there are no easy options.

    When Fred complains that Knox messed up an experiment Wes emphatically agrees that Knox is unreliable.

    Know the face, different character; 6 Camden Toy who plays the Prince of Lies was also Gnarl and the Turok-Han on Buffy.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Need info? Torture a Nazi! See Captain subtext. Lawson comments that you win wars by not doing whatever it takes but by doing what's right. Tell that to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or all those folks in Eastern Europe we sold down the river to Stalin.

    What the fanficcers thought; .

    Plenty of stuff regarding Angel's missing years as indeed we also see in the comics with Angel during the Great War also travelling on a German U-boat and bumping into a Watcher called Colonel Wyndham-Pryce on the Western front.

    Questions and observations;

    Maybe Buffy's theory about Rasputin wasn't so far off the mark after all? So if you get sired by a vampire with a soul you're still evil but you feel guilty about it? Does sound like a rough deal. Gunn begins to demonstrate his loss of his newly acquired abilities. Spike sings the contemporary British National Anthem 'God save the king' (which would be George the 6th). Good to see he and Angel are still patriots even if they are undead. It seems the Initiative have been around in one form or another for a long time (like Torchwood?). What a shame they couldn't have named some of the goverment men Mulder or called an agent who chainsmokes Morely cigarettes Spender, that would have been so cool. Like The Master and Khakistos the Prince of Lies seems to be gradually devolving into a Turok-Han, the older a vamp get's the more that seems to happen to them. Note when Spike is first captured by the Intiative in season 4 of Buffy he speculates that it's the Nazis who are behind it, stemming from his experience here. Note we have Angel still in his recluse phase (as we'll see in Have you now or ever have been?) and not yet a crusader against evil, he just wants to brood and only does the mission as he feels responsible for Spike. Spike's small boys delight in seeing a submarine once against casts him in the little brother role to Angel(us). No Harmony, who get's to clock off on time on a Friday night unlike the executives.

    What is it about the Nazi era that still fascinates us half a century later? History TV channels screen so many documentaries on the Nazis they may as well be called the Nazi channel. Practically every popular TV/film series will do some form of Nazi themed ep in it's time (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Last Crusade, The Boys from Brazil, Bear Island, The X-files, The X-men, Xena, Battlestar Galactica, Tarzan, Wonder Woman, The Odessa File, The Sum of All Fears, The New Avengers, The Tomorrow People, Dr Who, Lois and Clark, even Father Ted off the top of my head). Politicians and the media regularly hurl the term Nazi at each other as an insult. Even Quentin Tarantino feels the need to do a WW2 film with Hitler as a character. New books on the subject are published every week.

    Communism is arguably an even more repellent regime, Nazi Germany for all it's abhorent evil never had to prevent it's population leaving in peacetime. The individual in Nazi Germany actually enjoyed more freedom than they did under Stalin. And he certainly killed far more people. Yet you walk down the street with a hammer and sickle no one bats an eye. Try it with a Swastika?

    So what's the fascination? Is it that they are just so out and out the epitome of comic book bad guys? As Mitchell and Webb pointed out they even have black uniforms with skulls on them (communism is extremely humanitarian in theory, it just falls down in practice). WW2 is often referred to as the last good war, the clearly morally superior allies against the indisputibly evil axis (although with Stalin on our side you wonder if that's actually true?). Is it their larger than life villainy with hints of sci-fi and fantasy, inventing ahead of their time wonder weapons with extreme (mad?) science and fascinated with the occult?

    Could it be as simple as how they dress? As Gabrielle once said 'Some guys (and girls) just love the leather'. Certainly Spike seems to think so. Lost count of the number of fanfics (and even lovingly crafted fan art web comics) where Wonder Woman becomes a Nazi sex breeding slave, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. An essential part of each fic is the modification/fetishfication of her outfit, red, white and blue, stars and stripes, go-go boots and lasso becoming lots of black and red leather/PVC, swastikas, spike-heeled black thigh boots and whip (don't worry she always overcomes in the end, her children rebel and rescue her or everyone falls in love with her and let's her go etc. My favourite is where she turns around at the end and goes "Well actually I'm jewish" and that's pretty much the end for the third reich, the regime is dismantled and she and Hitler set up house in rural Austria where he quietly lives out his life as an obscure painter). Is it just the power of their instantly recognisable iconography (kinda tough on the Swastika which is used in Hinduism, Bhudism and even by the ancient Greeks, actually makes sense for Amazon Wonder Woman to have them on her outfit). Think of Star Wars with it's serried ranks of identical 'stormtroopers' and Darth Vaders blacker than black futuristic Gestapo gear or the Daleks with their screeching hysterical voices and obsession with racial purity.

    Or is the idea that it could ever happen again, all those Nazis who fled to South America or Southern Ireland with their stolen fortunes and technology, just biding their time for their revenge.

    Why are we still obsessed with it all? Will we ever put it behind us? Or is it similar to our fascination with vampires? Power, seduction and the purity of evil? Do we find them sexy? (certainly Max Mosely does) Of course Angel gives us Nazi Vampires so we have both combined not to mention The Scourge with all their Nazi imagery.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10, a good ep, pretty much 'In the bottle' or should that be 'In the sub'. With Angel's reduced budget this year they tend to go for a lot eps just confined to the WR&H set (Harm's Way, Life of the Party) or other stuff that's lying around the studio.

  • A trip to Angels past helping the government

    i despise this episode it was an ok episode but it came up at the worst time in my opinion i mean cordelia just died his pretty much best friend and love interest i think they should have shown at leat 2 minutes of him mourning her death and what they could have had together but nothing.they were together for a long time it seems like the writer would have shown him a tiny bit depressed.moreless
  • Why Should We Care?

    Why We Fight-Lawson, a mysterious man from Angel's past, arrives at Wolfram & Hart and takes the gang hostage. Through flashbacks to World War II, it is revealed that Angel worked with the U.S. Navy to recover a captured German submarine with American sailors on board. The ship also has a secret cargo, a dangerous trio of vampires, including Spike, who were kidnapped by the Germans and forced to help the Nazis. When the sub comes under attack, Angel saves Lawson's life by turning him into a vampire. Now, sixty years later, Lawson has arrived at Wolfram & Hart seeking revenge.

    Now, when it comes to Angel's past, it's always interesting as 200+ years of backstory lies literally endless opportunity for the writers. But somewhere along the line, "Why We Fight" becomes a BIG blur! Well, first off, while the 1940's World War 2 underwater submarine adventure sounds good on paper, but comes off as more like a morbid mess from Angel's past that feels out of place and is resolved in the blink of an eye. Eyal Podell who plays Lawson does a good job but his character comes off as a whinny old vampire who should have staked himself years ago. Kinda like that whinny vampire from Season 3's "Heartthrob" who removed his heart! The flashbacks are just dull and the story just drags. Lawson's crew are useless characters and as for Lawson himself, who you don't feel bad for him or understand his situation like the viewer should have. You also don't understand as a viewer why Angel would sire him. Yes, to save them all, but why let him go and not just dust him afterwards. Doesn't seem like the post-Angelus Angel that we know, but hey, why bother at this point when we've seen so much from Angel's past. The only good points are Spike sporting his Nazi wear and his jet black hair on the submarine. His vampire buddies were funny, especially the Nosferatu-esqe vampire. All and All, "Why We Fight" is a backstory bomb with nothing interesting and you don't feel connected to the story at all. You're just waiting for it to be over as you dose off into space.moreless
  • Why We Fight

    Why We Fight was an interesting episode of Angel which side steps the main story lines yet is touched by them as well. This is not one of my favorite episodes to watch, but I feel that there is some good character development in this episode for Angel. I thought the Nazi war time story was interesting and the demons on a submarine made for a little horror humor. I liked how the guy from Angel's past came back and caused a lot of trouble. I certainly look forward to the next episode and seeing more about the main story lines!!!moreless
Scott Klace

Scott Klace

Initiative Man

Guest Star

Lindsey Ginter

Lindsey Ginter

Cmdr. Petrie

Guest Star

Bart McCarthy

Bart McCarthy


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • When showing the gang tied up and in nooses Lawson says they have double aught wire around their necks. Wire gauges get bigger as the numbers get smaller with 00 gauge being .365 inches in diameter. What is around their necks looks to be about 18 gauge which would strangle them and would make it hard to cut them down but is too thick to cut their necks like a garotte.

    • Angel's language skills: This episode establishes that Angel is relatively fluent in German; previous episodes have shown that he speaks Russian, Romanian, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese (all at least on a conversational level) as well -- thus, Angel can communicate in at least seven human languages.

    • SS man wearing black uniform: The SS man, a Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) is wearing a black uniform aboard the sub in 1943. A common Hollywood mistake: After the beginning of WW2 in September 1939, the regular SS began wearing grey uniforms. The black uniforms were only worn on special occasions, like public state funerals but not during regular duty.

    • In "The Trial", Angel briefly entertains the idea of turning the dying Darla, with the theory that perhaps she'll keep her soul since he has one. This logic doesn't fly thanks to the existance of Lawson.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Lawson: We all need a reason to live, even if we're dead. Mom, apple pie, the Stars and Stripes... that was good enough for me. Until I met you. Then I had this whole creature-of-the-night thing going for me -- the joy of destruction and death -- and I embraced it. I did all the terrible things a monster does. Murdered women and children, tortured fathers and husbands just to hear them scream, and through it all, I felt nothing. Sixty years of blood drying in my throat like ashes. So what do you think? Is it me, Chief, or does everyone you sired feel this way?

    • Angel: Spike.
      Spike: Captain.
      Angel: What?
      Spike: I wanna be called Captain. I mean hell, I did eat him.
      Angel: Check the torpedoes before I stuff you in a tube and send you for a swim, "Captain."

    • Spike: Really ought to do something about security. They'll let anybody in here, won't they? Fred gave me the Cliff Notes. So sailor boy finally came back for a yo-ho-ho, did he?
      Angel: Finally came back...
      Spike: Took him long enough... I know revenge is a dish best served cold but his must've been frozen solid.
      Angel: I don't think that's what he was after.
      Spike: No? Then what was he looking for?
      Angel: A reason.

    • Lawson: Come on chief, give me a mission.
      (Angel stakes him)

    • Angel: We need them. I'm not getting trapped at the bottom of the sea!
      Spike: And I'm not getting experimented on by his government!

    • Spike: Sneaky bastards, the SS. Don't ever go to a "free virgin blood party". Turns out, it's probably a trap.
      Angel: You were captured at a "free virgin blood party"?
      Spike: I know. Who'd'a thought?

    • Angel: You're a Nazi.
      Spike: What? Oh! No, I just ate one.

    • Spike: Bloody brilliant. Turn the poor sod to save the ship, then make him dash for dry land before Mr. Sunlight scorches him a new one. You're still a dick.
      Angel: Yeah. I am. (Moves aside, giving Spike a clear path to the ladder)
      Spike: Bollocks!

    • Nostroyev: I will tear you open and play "Coachman, Spare Your Horses" on the lute of your entrails!

    • Lawson: Aren't you going to ask how I got in here?
      Angel: Nah. You'd be amazed how many people break into this building on a regular basis.

    • Angel: Spike's not in the S.S. He just likes wearing the jacket.

  • NOTES (4)

    • This episode is the first (and last) time we see Spike with black hair.

    • Lawson is the only vampire Angel sired while having a soul.

    • The name "Prince of Lies" originated in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lies My Parents Told Me" (7x17), which was also written by Drew Goddard. In the episode, Drusilla suggests nicknames for a freshly sired Spike, one of the names being "Lucien, Prince of Lies." However, director David Fury cut it out, and Drew was excited to finally be able to use the name in this episode.

    • WB used the promo title "1943" for this episode.


    • Spike: Yeah let me know how that works out for you, Popeye.
      Popeye the Sailor is a famous comic strip character. He gains strength by eating spinach.

    • Hodge: He's some sort of super soldier like Steve Rogers, or Captain America.
      Steve Rogers aka Captain America was a comic book hero introduced during World War II. He was a genetically altered super soldier who fought the likes of Nazis, Japanese and other threats to America during the war.