"Waiting in the Wings"
Written and directed by Joss Whedon

Wesley pretends to do research at the Hyperion, but he’s really thinking about Fred. Cordelia encourages him to ask Fred out so that he’ll stop talking about doing it. Angel arrives and announces that he’s bought everyone tickets to something. Fred and Gunn arrive at the Hyperion together, having gone out to breakfast, and demonstrate how comfortable they are with each other. In the lobby, Gunn thinks that Angel has bought tickets to see a band; he soon learns that Angel bought tickets to the Blinnikov World Ballet Tour. Angel says that the ballet is only in town one night and they’re doing their signature piece, Gisele. He saw them in 1890: “I cried like a baby. And I was evil!” Fred says that she’d like to go to the ballet and Wesley agrees. Gunn isn’t happy, but Cordelia tells him to get over it, since they get to dress up. Backstage at a theater, Kurskov, the director of the ballet corps, assures someone that Gisele will be “the performance of a lifetime.” Cordelia takes Fred to a fancy store, teaching her about the custom of “buying a dress, wearing it once, and returning it the next day.” Fred asks if she can ask Cordelia something and Cordelia automatically responds, “I think you guys are perfect for each other.” Fred isn’t sure that “he” (meaning Gunn) has feelings for her, but Cordelia assures her that “he” (meaning Wesley) does. Fred says that Cordelia needs to find the perfect dress to impress Angel, since he’ll be trying to impress her as well. Back at the Hyperion, Lorne helps Angel get ready and reveals that he read him while he was singing Connor a lullaby. He knows that Angel has feelings for Cordelia and brings up kye-rumption, which Fred told Angel about in “Offspring”. Angel is in denial about their kye-rumption and wonders what he has to offer Cordelia. Lorne tells her it doesn’t matter and urges him to just go after her.

Cordelia arrives all dressed up and says that she’s excited for a night out. Gunn shows Fred his tux and she proclaims him “pretty.” Wesley brings Fred her stole but Fred apparently fails to realize that he has feelings for her. On their way out of the hotel, Cordelia encourages Wesley to go after Fred again. The MoG settle in at the ballet and, though Cordelia quickly falls asleep, the others enjoy the performance. Wesley can’t help looking at Fred, and Gunn finds himself mesmerized by the ballet. At intermission, Wesley asks Angel if the choreography has changed since he first saw the piece. Angel says that it hasn’t - in fact, the dancers are exactly the same, too. The MoG wonder if the dancers are vampires, but Angel says they can’t be, or he’d sense it. He sends the others back to the theater while he goes to check things out. Cordelia decides to go with him since she’s been so bored. Downstairs, they encounter a security guard in front of a door and try to decide how to get rid of him. Cordelia offers him a bribe to let her go backstage, but when he doesn’t accept, Angel knocks him out. They enter a hallway that appears to go on forever and decide that they would be smart to go get the other MoG before they head in. Unfortunately, the door is gone and the corridor goes on forever in the other direction as well. They head to the prima ballerina’s dressing room and start to feel the effects of something supernatural. Cordelia asks Angel to undress her, saying, “It’s just another costume. I want you to see who I really am. You’re the only one who can.” Before things can go too far, Angel wises up and realizes that they’ve been affected by some sort of spell. They succumb to the spell again and Cordelia says that she’s afraid “he” will find them. Things get very friendly between the two anyway.

Cordelia and Angel come out of the spell and they force themselves to leave the dressing room before anything can happen. In the hallway, Angel says that there are spirits “trapped in time” in the room. Back at the Hyperion, Lorne sings Connor a lullaby and tries unsuccessfully to mask his bitterness over not being asked out with the MoG. He hears something outside the room and goes to investigate. Angel and Cordelia wander around the corridor, noting that Cordelia, as the prima ballerina, said something about being afraid of someone. Angel says that the ballerina must have had a secret lover and Angel thinks that he’s the reason they’re stuck there. Cordelia wants to go back into the dressing room to play out the scene and find out what happened, but Angel isn’t thrilled with the idea of possibly going too far. Cordelia notes that she has the ballerina’s cross necklace in case things get out of control, but Angel is still reluctant. Back in the theater, Wesley and Gunn each put a hand on Fred’s leg, but she’s too busy worrying about Angel and Cordelia to notice. Angel and Cordelia head back to the dressing room and try to get themselves back into the spell. (It takes a little longer this time.) Fred, Gunn, and Wesley head backstage as two barely-seen creatures wearing white gloves tell Kurskov what’s going on. In the dressing room, Cordelia tells Angel that Kurskov has “unnatural” power and is very protective of her. Angel asks her to run away with him, assuring her that she’ll still be able to dance. “Help me not be afraid,” she says. Fred, Gunn, and Wesley find themselves in the never-ending corridor, watched by the gloved creatures. They hear Angel and Cordelia’s friendly behavior nearby. Cordelia and Angel are interrupted by a gloved minion, whom Angel fights. Out in the corridor, Gunn is stabbed by another minion.

Wesley and Fred fight minions in the corridor as Angel and Cordelia continue to fight them in the dressing room. Fred tends to Gunn, worried about him, though he assures her he’s fine. He’s touched by her concern and they share a kiss, which is spied by a jealous Wesley. Angel and Cordelia meet up with Gunn and Fred in the corridor and fill them in on the prima ballerina, Kurskov, and the secret lover. Wesley returns, explaining that Kurskov was a wizard and pulled the ballerina “out of time” when he found out about her lover. He forces the girl to dance for him for eternity. He thinks that if they can overload Kurskov’s concentration, he won’t be able to keep the ballerina in the temporal shift. Unfortunately, the MoG soon realize that no matter how many minions they kill, Kurskov will create more. Wesley sends Angel to the stage and tells him to destroy Kurskov’s power center, whatever it might be. He and Gunn think that if they can keep killing minions, Kurskov will keep creating them and eventually drain his own power. Wesley reluctantly tells Gunn and Fred to stick together while the three of them and Cordelia fight minions. Angel finds a wavering wall (a gap in reality) and jumps through, winding up in the wings of the stage with the prima ballerina. She tells him that she’s become complacent with her destiny of always dancing; she should have left when she had the chance, but now it doesn’t matter. She says that there’s a point in the dance where her foot slips, and that happens in every performance, because it’s the same performance echoing over and over. “Can you make it stop?” she asks Angel.

The other MoG continue fighting minions, believing that they’re splitting Kurskov’s concentration. Angel tells the ballerina that he can help her, but she has to change something about the performance. She’s reluctant but does what he told her, making Kurskov mad. Angel goes up to Kurskov’s box and smashes the jewel in his necklace, destroying his power center. Backstage, the corridor and minions disappear, and onstage, the ballerina dissolves. Back at the Hyperion, Wesley tends to Gunn’s wounds as Fred and Gunn continue to make eyes at each other. Cordelia and Angel decide to pretend that their friendly encounter that night never happened. Angel starts to possibly express his feelings for Cordelia, but they’re interrupted when she realizes that Groo (last seen in “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb”) is at the hotel. As Cordelia and Groo catch up, Lorne explains to Angel that after Cordelia declared freedom in Pylea, things got “sketchy” and Groo was deposed. Groo then decided to come to L.A. to find Cordelia. Fred tells Wesley that she’s surprised, since she thought Cordelia was meant to be with Angel. Wesley is also surprised, not telling her that he thought she wanted to be with him.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: The ballet is evil.

GRADE: B+ Not as good as “I Only Have Eyes for You,” but still good.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Cordelia: “So, you went with the dark clothes today.”
Angel: “Ask me why I’m smiling.”
Cordelia: “I will, because it’s scaring me.”

“You got ballet on my Mata Hari tickets.” - Gunn

Angel: “Guys, seeing real ballet live, it’s…it’s like another world. Gunn, these guys are tight, and you’re gonna be trippin’ out.”
Gunn: “Don’t be usin’ my own phrases when we lost the trust.”

Lorne: “Can’t fight kye-rumption, cinnamon buns. It’s fate. It’s the stars. Kye-rumption is….”
Angel: “Stop saying that. And stop calling me pastries.”

“Back in the day, I’d always get box seats. Or I’d just eat the people who had ‘em.” - Angel

Cordelia: “Hey! Do you like bribes?”
Guard: “Do I ever!”

“Go to sleep, lullaby
You’ve been fed and you’re sleepy
You’ll be with Uncle Lorne
Who in no way resents not being asked to go to the ballet
And is certainly not thinking
Of selling you to the first vampire cult that makes him a decent offer….” - Lorne to Connor


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