"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been"
Written by Tim Minear; directed by David Semel

In Cordelia’s apartment, Wesley looks at a photo of the Hyperion Hotel, which Angel came across in “Judgment.” The two of them and Cordelia aren’t sure how long the hotel has been empty. Angel thinks that his mug of blood has gone bad; Cordelia explains that she put cinnamon in it. Angel asks her and Wesley to look into the hotel’s history, telling them that it’s not for a client but not explaining anything more. Angel tells Wesley that he’ll have to look at police files, including homicides and missing persons cases. Wesley confirms that Angel thinks something was living in the hotel. We see the photo of the hotel, then blend into a real shot of the hotel, sometime in the 1950s; it’s a pretty busy place. The manager sends the bellhop upstairs to give the guest in 217 his weekly bill, but the bellhop is nervous, saying that there’s nothing in the guest’s eyes. He goes up anyway and tries to make his delivery and run. Before he goes back downstairs, he sees the occupant of 217 open the door and pick up his bill. It’s Angel. In the present, Angel goes to the Hyperion and looks around. We hear snips of the McCarthy hearings on a TV and head back to the 1950s. Angel heads through the lobby, passing various guests and the bellhop. The manager turns away an African-American family, telling them that, despite what their sign says, the hotel has no vacancies. Angel exits the elevator on the second floor and passes a man in a suit in the hallway. On his way to his room, he also passes two men who try to pretend that they’re not having an affair. Angel drops off some things in his room, including a bottle of blood, and heads back out to fill a bucket of ice. He passes a salesman talking to someone unseen around a corner and another man banging on someone’s door.

When Angel gets back to his room, a woman is there, pretending to be a maid. Angel calls her bluff and tells her that he has nothing for her to steal. She tells him that she can’t leave and he says that he’ll help her. She says that her boyfriend is jealous and she doesn’t want him to find her. The guy who was banging on a door picks the lock to Angel’s room and Angel pushes the woman out of his sight. He tells the guy, who seems to be a PI, that he’s not coming inside, then notes that the PI has a gun. Angel physically gets rid of the PI and goes back to tell the woman that she’s safe. She introduces herself as Judy, but he’s not interested in small talk and heads back into his room. In the present, Angel heads upstairs to room 217 as Wesley tells Cordelia that the Hyperion officially closed in 1979, after the concierge went around shooting a bunch of people. Cordelia discovers that the property is a historical landmark, but no one has bought it. Wesley notes that strange things have been happening since the building was built in 1928. Cordelia wonders why they’re supposed to be doing this research, then suddenly finds a photo from 1952 with Angel near the hotel. Wesley realizes that Angel has a personal connection to the Hyperion. Cordelia wonders why he didn’t just tell them and Wesley says that he may have been ashamed to. In 1952, Angel smokes a cigarette in his room. Next door, the salesman listens to a record, talks to someone unseen, and looks at his gun. Angel pours himself some blood as the salesman sits on the floor and puts a pillow to his head. From his room, Angel hears a gunshot and the record skipping. He drinks his blood without reacting.

The manager and bellhop, having heard about the salesman’s suicide, head to his room and mention that this is the third death in as many months. As the bellhop talks, the manager hears a demonic voice whispering, “Three in three months. They’ll shut you down.” The manager tells the bellhop not to call the police, announcing that they’ll put the salesman’s body in a meat locker. In the lobby, a handful of guests discuss the salesman’s suicide and the fact that no one’s going to the cops. An older man sitting nearby hears the demonic voice whisper, “Maybe this wasn’t a suicide. Are you sure you’re safe here?” That night, people head for an observatory, where Judy encounters Angel. She tries to make small talk, but he’s not very receptive. Judy thanks him for helping her out, but he’s still not very talkative. In the present, Cordelia and Wesley find newspaper reports of the bellhop’s arrest for the salesman’s murder. In 1952, guests again discuss the salesman in the hotel lobby, wondering if he really committed suicide. Upstairs, Judy summons Angel into her room and tells him that she thinks the salesman was murdered. She tells him that the police will probably be called and she wants to warn him in case he has something to hide. “Everyone here’s got something to hide,” he replies. Judy wonders out loud if they would look suspicious if they left now. Angel brings up the PI and she confirms that he wasn’t her boyfriend. She explains that he probably works for a bank she once worked for and stole a ton of money from. Judy says that her real boyfriend broke up with her and she was fired after everyone “found out about” her. Angel asks what she means and she admits that she’s always passed as white but is actually at least part African-American. “My blood isn’t pure,” she says. “It’s tainted.” Judy finds it hard to believe that she actually stole something and Angel replies that “fear makes people do stupid things.” She laments her decision and he explains that he was talking about her employers. She’s afraid that the cops will find the money she stole, but Angel assures her that he’ll help her. In the present, Cordelia and Wesley find an article about Judy with the headline, “'Search Called Off - Fugitive Woman Believed Dead.’”

In 1952, Angel leads Judy to the basement of the hotel and hides her bag of money near some pipes. Hearing the whispering, he sends Judy back to her room and tells her to stay put. He says that there’s something in the hotel that’s making people crazy. Judy wonders if she can be forgiven if she returns the money, since she didn’t spend any of it. In the present, Angel finds the bag of money in the basement and hears the whispering again. Wesley thinks that there’s a pattern to everything that happened to people at the Hyperion. Cordelia points the finger at a Thesulac demon (no word on whether it’s related to the Orb of Thesulah), which “whispers to its victims, feeds on their innate insecurities.” Wesley is amazed that she figured it out, but she reveals that Angel is on the phone and brought it up. Angel turns the lights on in the hotel as he tells Wesley that they might be able to track the demon by tracing the events at the Hyperion. He tells him to get Cordelia and Gunn and come to the hotel so that they can raise the demon. He explains that, in order to kill the Thesulac, they first have to make it corporeal. Wesley notes that he’ll have to research the raising ritual, but Angel says that he already has. In 1952, Angel goes to a bookstore and asks the owner, Denver, for information on demons. Denver tosses him a Bible to prove that he’s a vampire, then tries to chase him out of the store. Angel intimidates him and gets the info he needs. The bellhop returns to the hotel lobby after stashing the salesman’s body in the meat locker, worrying that he’ll be found out. The guests have all turned on each other, accusing others of murdering the salesman. They vow to find out who the real murderer is. In her room, Judy hears the whispering: “They know about you. They’ll turn you in.”

Angel asks Denver how to kill the Thesulac demon; Denver advises him to run away instead. He says that the demon can become corporeal after it’s had a “big feed” or after it’s raised. He’ll need an orb of Ramjarin, which Angel gets for the low price of free, and something heavy to hit it with, which Denver provides in the form of an axe. Denver remarks that he doesn’t understand a vampire wanting to kill a demon in order to save humans. Angel replies that he doesn’t quite get it, either. At the hotel, the guests are still accusing each other of murder. The PI returns, announcing that he’s looking for Judy. In the present, Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn arrive at the Hyperion and start the raising spell. Wesley and Gunn give each other some trouble and Angel tells them not to let the whispering influence them. Cordelia tells him, “They were like this all the way over here in the car.” Wesley holds up the orb of Ramjarin and begins the ritual. In 1952, everyone has discovered Judy’s secret and has turned on her. She spots Angel and turns the crowd on him, announcing that he has blood in his room. Everyone attacks Angel, except Judy, who starts to cry. Angel is dragged into an open hallway with a railing and a rope is tied to a rafter. His head is put into a noose and he’s forced up onto the railing, then pushed over the edge. The crowd cheers, then slowly wonders what they’ve done. Everyone leaves and Angel stops playing dead, pulling off the noose and letting himself drop into the lobby. On the stairs, the Thesulac demon becomes corporeal.

The Thesulac joyfully talks about all of the people he was able to feed off of, thanks to the marathon of fear. He tells Angel that Judy was his friend, which made her betrayal better for him. “There is an entire hotel here just full of tortured souls that could really use your help. What do you say?” the demon asks. “Take them all,” Angel replies, walking out the front door. In the present, the Thesulac becomes corporeal and says that not as many people there are as paranoid as the 1950s group, though Wesley is. (Wesley’s confused by this.) The fighting starts and Angel electrocutes the Thesulac with the exposed wires of the fuse box. Angel heads upstairs and finds Judy, now old, in her room. She says that she doesn’t hear anyone anymore. She tells Angel that she killed him and he assures her that everything’s okay. Then she dies. Whatever. Back downstairs, Wesley is still stuck on the demon’s comments that he’s paranoid. Angel returns and Cordelia and Gunn tell him that they’ll be glad to get out of the hotel. “We’re moving in,” Angel announces. Cordelia quickly decides that she can redecorate and make the place better. Wesley reminds Angel that evil things have happened in the hotel, but Angel tells him that all of that is in the past.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Prejudice is bad. So is fear. And blame. And whispering.

GRADE: A- The metaphor is heavy-handed and the ending is dumb, but the 1950s stuff is kind of fun.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: “It’s not that vampires don’t photograph, it’s just that they don’t photograph well.” - Cordelia

“It’s kind of like a puzzle. The ‘who died horribly because Angel screwed up 50 years ago?’ game.” - Cordelia

Wesley: “Orb of Ramjarin.”
Gunn: “‘Orb of Ramjarin, please’ makes it happen.”

Cordelia: “So, what horrible thing do you suppose he did?”
Wesley: “Other than using the heads of his victims as decorative planters?”
Cordelia: “What? No, not psycho slasher 1935. Angel.”...“So, what kind of plants you gonna keep in a human head?”
Wesley: “Well, ferns, one assumes.” (from the original script)

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