"Ground State"
Written by Mere Smith; directed by Michael Grossman

It’s October of 1985 in Gills Rock, Wisconsin and a couple named the Raidens are bringing their daughter, Gwen, to Thorpe’s Academy. It’s her first time going to school, and in exchange for a generous donation from her parents, the school has made special arrangements for Gwen’s unique situation. Gwen’s parents say goodbye, not planning to see her again until June, and the headmistress takes Gwen inside, telling her that she has to stay away from the other students. Gwen starts to take the headmistresses hand but gets rebuked. Later, Gwen eats lunch outside while other children play nearby. She finds it difficult to eat while wearing her gloves, so she takes them off. A boy comes over and asks her if she’s a freak; she says she doesn’t know and the boy says she doesn’t look like one. He offers a toy car to her and the headmistress tries to stop her from taking it, but it’s too late. The boy gets shocked and knocked down, and the toy car melts. Back in the present, Angel, Fred, and Gunn pack up Cordelia’s apartment, planning to let the landlord rent it to someone else. Angel wonders if Phantom Dennis might know where Cordelia is. Fred and Gunn tell him that Lorne doesn’t know anything about her whereabouts and the police are sick of them trying to get them to help. Angel notes that something big must have happened on the night he and Cordelia were supposed to meet at Point Dume (see “Tomorrow”). Phantom Dennis unpacks some of Cordelia’s books and Fred yells at him that she’s not coming back. She realizes what she said and corrects herself, adding that she’s not coming back to the apartment.

Wesley and some random people fight a demon at a factory; they’re joined by Angel, who offers to help out but soon sees that he doesn’t need to. Angel thanks Wesley for saving him (see “Deep Down”) and Wesley gives him a file full of the only information he has on Cordelia’s disappearance. He says that he doesn’t think Cordelia’s dead, but he also doesn’t think she’s still in their dimension. He tells Angel about a demi-goddess named Dinza who might prove helpful, though she also might trap Angel for eternity. She might tell Angel where to look for Cordelia, but she’s not trustworthy. Angel heads to Dinza’s lair anyway and she starts flying around, telling him that she knows who he is and that he has a “lost love.” She says that Cordelia doesn’t need him anymore but he’s not willing to buy that. She sends him to get the Axis of Pythia, which bridges the dimensions and will lead him to Cordelia. Angel asks why he should believe Dinza and she replies, “Because I’d love to keep you…but you have so much more to lose.” A grown-up, red leather-clad Gwen (Alexa Davalos) enters a bar to meet with a man named Elliot who wants her to steal the Axis of Pythia. She accuses him of trying to cheat her out of her commission; she starts to touch his hand and he freaks out. Elliot says that he wants the Axis for his private collection, not for any profit he could get from it, and reminds her that he offered her a lot of money to steal it for him. He gives Gwen information about the auction house where the Axis is stored and tells her to deliver it to a private high rise. Gwen secretly grabs his watch and melts it like the toy car from her childhood.

From up on her higher plane, Cordelia watches the MoG in L.A. Fred gives a low-budget presentation on the Axis of Pythia to Gunn and Angel, a little jealous of Angel’s much more detailed drawing of it. She warns Angel that the auction house holding the Axis will contain a lot of security, but he assures her that he has building plans. She tells him about all of the security devices used, adding that there will be armed guards there. Gunn notes that the Axis is in an auction house and wonders if they can just “Ebay it.” Angel and Fred inform him that it costs $33 million and he chokes. Fred worries that they’ll wind up going to jail, but Angel tells her that everything will go fine. She heads off to come up with a plan and Gunn and Angel remark that she’s done a good job of taking charge. Angel lists some of the things he might need for the auction house heist as, elsewhere, Gwen gathers up these same things. However, she adds to the group a tube of lipstick. Wesley and Lilah get friendly (again) in his apartment; she tells him that she knows he was keeping Justine in the closet (again, see “Deep Down”). Lilah tells him that he did her a favor by saving Angel, since he kicked Connor out of the Hyperion (again, see “Deep Down”); she’s planning on tracking him down and basically offering to be his Mrs. Robinson. Wesley doesn’t want to hear her plans, so they go back to…well, what they were doing before. That night, Gwen scales the auction house and shorts a wire in the electrical system on the roof, then goes inside. Angel, Gunn, and Fred reach the roof via a fire escape (“man, this is so much harder than it looks on Batman,” Gunn comments) and Angel cuts the power in the whole building.

Inside, Fred studies the building plans and give Angel and Gunn their assignments, having to let them know that they’ve headed off in the wrong directions. Gwen watches Fred on a security camera and comments, “Yeah, that’s not good.” Fred finds the room that contains the main servers and whispers to herself, “Please, let my cellmate be gentle.” Gunn knocks out a security guard as Angel reaches the vault room and sprays an aerosol to see the laser beams in the room. Gwen surprises him by dropping down just outside the vault, leaving Angel on the other side of the gate. Fred messes with a computer but receives a message that there’s a problem with the vault system, indicating that someone has gotten into the system before she could. Gunn discovers that someone has already knocked out the other security guards. Gwen messes with the lasers, sending them away from her so that she can open the doors to the vault. She explains that she’s a freak and Angel tries to talk her out of stealing the Axis. Gunn arrives and Gwen grabs the laser from the vault, bidding the Angel. He tries to convince her to let him have the Axis, but she says it’s hers now. He and Gunn tell her that she can do whatever she wants with it after he gets to use it. Gwen learns that Angel is trying to find a woman, but she doesn’t believe him. On her way out, alarms go off. The gate goes up and Gunn goes under it, trying to grab Gwen before she can make her escape. Gwen pushes him away, shocking him. Fred runs in in time to see Gunn collapse from the shock. Angel feels for Gunn’s pulse and announces, “He’s dead.”

Fred panics as Gwen remembers the boy she hurt when she was a child. She pushes Fred aside and shocks Gunn to restart his heart. Angel fights Gwen and is interrupted when Fred tells him that they should get Gunn to a hospital. Angel heads over to help them and Gwen makes off with the Axis. Later that night, Angel catches Lilah spying on Connor. Lilah notes that Angel is using the “guilt is its own punishment” tactic with Connor; she thinks that he’s waiting for Connor to come back on his own. Angel tells her that the Axis was stolen that evening and he suspects that Gwen has connections to Wolfram & Hart. He gets her to agree to find out who Gwen is by ignoring the fact that she was spying on Connor. As he leaves, he comments that he can smell Wesley on Lilah. Back at the Hyperion, Gunn studies his EKG, finding humor in the situation while Fred is still jumpy. She’s afraid of what might have happened if Gwen hadn’t saved him and finally breaks down, saying that she’s tired of having to hold everything together. She thought that things would get better when Angel came back, but she’s still responsible for so much. Fred cries over the fact that Gunn was technically dead and left her alone, and he comforts her. Gwen arrives in the lobby of a building and Angel sneaks up on her, taking advantage of the fact that he has no reflection. They fight and she tries to shock him, quickly realizing that she can’t. She takes off her gloves and they continue fighting, winding up on the ground with Gwen on top of Angel. She rips his shirt open and shocks his chest, causing his heart to beat. When he feels it, he sits up and kisses her.

The kissing stops when Angel and Gwen become trapped in the elevator by bars. Angel remembers that he’s supposed to be looking for Cordelia and starts to leave, but is stopped by Elliot. Angel notes that Elliot has double-crossed Gwen; Elliot calls her a freak and tells her that he’s had the elevator modified so that she can’t use any currents. Angel realizes that he’s going to seal them in with Plexiglas and turn on gas to kill them. “What are you, Lex Luthor?” Gwen ask Elliot. The doors shut and the gas starts coming through a vent. Angel pushes Gwen down low, telling her that he doesn’t breathe as he looks for a utility panel. He starts punching through the Plexiglas, trying to reach it. He finally breaks through it and Gwen sends a charge through the panel, opening the elevator doors and retracting the bars. In the lobby, Angel fights Elliot’s minions and Gwen blasts Elliot for calling her a freak. Angel stops her from shocking him, remarking, “So you’re a freak. Boo hoo. So what?” Angel hits Elliot instead and he and Gwen banter a little. She seems a little disappointed that he’s using the Axis to find the woman he loves. At the Hyperion, Angel uses the Axis, then leaves without telling Fred and Gunn what he’s learned. Later, he tells them that he saw Cordelia and that she seems to be a higher being. He confirms that this seems to be a permanent situation. “Too bad,” Gunn comments. “Could’ve all gone to Vegas.” (He’ll finally get his wish in “The House Always Wins.”) Angel says that he feels like Cordelia is still on his side, even though she’s not physically there. He adds that he thinks Cordelia is where she belongs. Up on her higher plane, Cordelia begs to differ: “What are you? Deficient? Get me out of here!”


GRADE: B+ Gwen is awesome.


MEMORABLE QUOTES: Fred: “Banished to the ocean’s depths by your ungrateful snot of a son.”
Gunn: “Not that she’s bitter.”

“I think my lungs…have coffee.” - Gunn, after choking

Fred: “We’re still working on a plan, but so far it involves being sent to prison and becoming somebody’s b%$@#.”
Angel: “Nobody’s going to jail, Fred. I told you, a heist like this, I’ve done it a million times. Okay, maybe twice, but I’m good at it, I swear.”
Gunn: “Uh, you’re not counting the time we stole the crazy-making death shroud that nearly killed us, right?”
Fred: “Okay. I’m just gonna take these and go over the details and see if I can, I don’t know, whip something up…. Say, a plan. Okay.”
Angel: “I’m really strong, if that helps.”

Angel: “Who are you?”
Gwen: “Who are you?”
Angel: “I asked you first.”
Gwen: “What are you, seven?”

“I’m fibbing. It’s lying, only classier.” - Gwen

“Look, Angel, I know you’ve been out of loop for awhile, but I’m still evil. I don’t do errands unless they’re…evil errands.” - Lilah

Gwen: (after Angel punches Elliot) “Hey! I wanted to do that.”
Angel: “You were gonna fry him.”
Gwen: “Was not.”
Angel: “Don’t fib.”
Gwen: “Fine. Did you at least break his nose?”

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