|Season 2, Episode 2|
|Air date||October 3, 2000|
|Written by||Tim Minear|
|Directed by||David Semel|
|J. August Richards|| Gunn |
|John Kapelos||Ronald Meeks|
|Tommy Hinkley||C. Mulvihill|
|Scott Thompson Baker||Actor|
|J.P. Manoux|| Frank Gilnitz |
|Terrence Beasor||Older Man|
|Julie Araskog||Over the Hill Whore|
|Tom Beyer||Blacklisted Writer|
|Eve Sigall|| Old Judy |
|Tony Amendola||Thesulac Demon|
"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" is the second episode of the second season of Angel and the twenty-fourth episode overall. Written by Tim Minear and directed by David Semel, it was originally broadcast on October 3, 2000 on the WB network.
Angel asks Wesley and Cordelia to look into the mysterious history of the abandoned Hyperion Hotel, which was built in the 1920's but is long since abandoned. Both wonder why Angel is interested in a seemingly random location, but he doesn't elaborate and simply tells them to start the research from the beginning up to the present day.
In 1952, when it was still a working and popular hotel, the concierge Ronald Meeks gets Frank, the bellhop, to deliver a bill to room 217. Frank feels uneasy, as the occupant gives him the creeps, but eventually complies. Heading upstairs, he nervously approaches the room and informs the occupant, before making a quick run for it as the door opens to reveal the occupant: Angel.
Angel lives his life in the hotel quietly, never interacting with -- or even acknowledging -- anyone, despite their seedy activities. One day, he leaves his room to get some ice and spots a salesman apparently talking to someone, failing to realize no one is actually there. He also notices a man asking questions door to door. Back in his room, Angel finds an unfamiliar woman inside claiming to be a maid but Angel knows she isn't: there was no cleaning trolley outside the door, his sheets are still dirty, and she is white, and the hotel employs no white maids. She confesses that the man Angel spotted going door to door is her boyfriend and he's after her. Angel isn't interested and starts to shove her out, but at the last second opens the door to the man and claims no one is there. When the man persists, Angel slams the door directly into his face and throws him into the elevator. He then returns to his room, ignoring the woman's -- who mentions her name is Judy -- gratitude and closing the door on her.
Fifty years later, Angel stands outside the door, remembering the incident. Wesley and Cordelia find that the hotel closed in 1979 when Ronald took a shotgun and killed every guest. Since then, the hotel was declared a historical landmark. The owners of the building have been trying to unload it for the last ten years with no luck. Wesley and Cordelia also find the hotel has a sordid and murderous history, dating back to the hotel's construction, when one of its roofers jumped to his death, taking some of his co-workers down with him. The two then begin to question the reason why Angel asked them to investigate the hotel, only to find a photograph with him in it, dating back to 1952. Now knowing he has a personal connection to the place, the two wonder why he didn't disclose this information.
In his room, Angel broods while drinking blood. Next door, a salesman is playing a jaunty Polka record as he takes the handgun and commits suicide. Angel hears the gunshots and the man fall, but barely acknowledges it. Later, Ronald and Frank discuss what's happened and it turns out this is the third suicide in three months. As Frank discusses when to call the police, Ronald hears a voice in his head whispering that if word gets out about the death, the hotel will be closed down. He then tells Frank that no one will be called, and instead to store the body in the hotel's meat locker. Later, as the guests discuss whether the suicide was actually a murder, another guest hears the same voice whispering in his head that someone killed the salesman.
Outside an observatory, Angel meets Judy and the two briefly talk about the suicide and the belief that it could have been a murder. Judy thanks him for helping her before leaving, and Angel starts to feel a small connection forming between the two, despite his attempts at self-isolation.
Wesley and Cordelia find information on when Frank was arrested, convicted and executed for the murder of the salesman from 1952 and note that he was bellhop when Angel was there. The two continue their now large project.
Angel returns to the hotel as the guests get more and more paranoid about the salesman's suicide/murder. Calling him into her room, Judy tells Angel that the suicide could have been a murder but Angel thinks it isn't likely. She explains that she's nervous; if the suicide turns out to be a murder, the police will be around, asking questions. Her reasoning for asking Angel to her room was to give him a "heads up" in response to his help dealing with her lover. Angel reveals that the man was not her lover, and actually a private investigator. Judy confesses that he's probably working for her former employer, a bank in Kansas. It emerges that, although she appears white, is actually mixed race; her mother is black, and her father, who she never knew, is white. Her life was destroyed when the bank she was working for found out about her heritage. When her boyfriend found out, he broke up with her, leaving her with no one. Upset and angry, Judy stole a large amount of money from the bank, which she claims she has never touched. Angel assures her that the bank fired her due to their unfounded fear and that in the end, blood is blood.
Cordelia finds a newspaper clipping about Judy, which reveals that after stealing the money from the bank she checked into the Hyperion in 1952 -- the same year the picture of Angel was dated -- and was never seen again.
Angel helps Judy hide the money in the hotel's basement, as she considers the idea of sending it back to the bank instead of going to jail. Wondering if the bank will forgive her, Judy asks Angel if he believes in forgiveness. During the conversation, Angel starts to hear whispering and realizes that something is in the hotel, and he tells Judy to go back to her room.
In the present, Angel finds the money untouched in the hotel's basement, but notices the whispering again. Back at Cordelia's apartment, Wesley realizes that some force was affecting the residents and staff; Cordelia stuns him by letting him know that it is a Thesulac Demon, also known as a paranoia demon. It feeds on its victims inner insecurities and preys on them through whispers. She got the information from Angel, who is on the phone. Angel thinks the demon claimed the land even before the Hyperion was built, and wanted Wesley and Cordelia to look into the hotel so they could track its whereabouts. However, he has discovered that the. Thesulac demon is still in the hotel, and he wants to raise and kill it. Angel asks Wesley to call Gunn to provide extra muscle, and when Wesley asks if Angel wants the raising ritual researched, Angel tells him it's already been done.
In a bookshop, its owner, Denver, is watching TV when Angel enters, asking for information on raising and killing demons. Denver realizes that Angel is a vampire, so he throws him a copy of the Bible, which burns Angel's hands. Suddenly, Angel disappears, and Denver, whose shop is on a busy street, tries to chase the vampire out while wielding a cross. Having not taken the owner's hostility well, Angel reappears and threatens Denver into helping, as he had heard that he had a reputation for the unusual.
Back at the hotel, Frank tells Ronald that he was forced to cut the body into pieces in order to fit it in the meat locker. Meanwhile, four guests are arguing, each convinced that the others are responsible for the salesman's murder. In her room, Judy hears whispers telling her she's going to prison.
Elsewhere, Angel and Denver make small talk, and Angel learns that Thesulac needs to be corporeal before it can be killed. To become corporeal, the demon either needs to feed on a large amount of paranoia, or be raised in a ritual. Although Denver warns that the raising is risky, Angel chooses to attempt the ritual anyway. He pressures Denver into giving him the supplies he needs for free, but is informed that killing the Thesulac is incredibly difficult to kill. Angel picks up a large ax and asks Denver to bag up his items. Denver doesn't understand why a vampire would want to slay a demon to help humans, and Angel can't explain it himself.
At the Hyperion, the guests are now openly accusing each other of murder with even Ronald and Frank taking part despite knowing the truth. The Private Detective approaches the people and asks after Judy, showing them her picture. When Angel arrives back, he finds an empty lobby.
In the present, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn arrive and the group prepare to start raising Thesulac while Wesley and Gunn engage in some petty bickering. Angel assumes it's Thesulac, only for Cordelia to tell him they were like that before arriving. Wesley begins to summon the demon.
The hotel guests continue bickering when a private investigator named C. Mulvihill enters, holding Judy's picture and asking where she is. Angel arrives on his hotel room floor to find the guests assaulting Judy, now fully convinced she's a murderer after discovering that she used a fake name when checking in. He starts to approach her to help, and she breaks free of the guests' grips, moving toward Angel, only to turn on him. She calls him a monster, mentioning that he has blood in his room. After they find the ax in Angel's back, the guests turn on him. Mulvihill knocks Angel down, and Angel can only look at Judy, who is fading in and out of view, as he receives a beating from the other guests. Afterwards, they take him to the lobby and, grabbing a rope, proceed to lynch him. Their crime is successful, and Angel is, by all accounts, dead. Everyone, except Frank, who is gleeful, quickly comes to their senses and leave in disgust. As soon as he is alone, Angel stops pretending and removes himself from the rope. Behind him, Thesulac becomes corporeal, as he has just fed on a large amount of paranoia. He jokes that Angel stuck his neck out for a bunch of humans, and asks him where it got him. He then tells Angel that, despite her turning on him, he really had made a friend in Judy. He had also helped her to restore her faith in humanity, and because of that, Thesulac can feed on her for a lifetime. Although Thesulac mentions that the rest of the guests could use his help as well, Angel isn't interested, leaves the demon to feed on those who turned against him.
The ritual is successful, and Thesulac thanks Angel for bringing him more people to feed on -- especially Wesley, who, according to him, is the most paranoid and insecure of the group. Angel tells the demon he had his last meal long ago, but Thesulac's comments about paranoia aging like fine wine makes Angel realize he's still feeding. The gang then engage in battle with Thesulac and after a brief scuffle, Angel destroys the demon by sticking one of his tentacles into the fuse box. As Wesley wonders aloud what Thesulac meant by his comments, Angel heads upstairs.
Going into room 214, Angel finds a now elderly Judy sitting in a chair, reading. Thesulac has been feeding on her for the past fifty years, while simultaneously keeping her out of harm's way. She is surprised to see Angel, who still looks the same, and he assures her that everything is okay. She repeatedly apologizes for killing him, but he easily forgives her. She happily gets up to leave, finally able to go outside, but asks to lie down for a little while before going out. As she lies down, Judy asks Angel to forgive her for 'killing him' which he does. She soon passes away in Angel's arms, promising to go out when she's rested for a minute.
Downstairs, Wesley is still worrying about Thesulac's comments when Angel comes downstairs. As Cordelia notes how happy she is to leave the hotel, Angel announces Angel Investigations is moving in. Everyone is shocked, as Wesley reminds Angel that the hotel played host to not only a demon but some of the worst examples of humanity. Angel tells Wesley, "Not anymore."
- The flashback scenes reveal that in the 1950's, Angel bore "a contempt for humanity that is reminiscent of Angelus but without the sadism". His decision to allow Thesulac demon to feed on the hotel residents foreshadows his decision later in the season to allow Darla and Drusilla to slaughter the Wolfram & Hart lawyers. Both times Angel deems that the humans in jeopardy aren't worth saving.
- Denver will make a reappearance in "Reprise" as an old man in the present.
- In this episode, we see that Angel drank human blood (albeit from a bottle and not live victims) in the '50s, instead of pig's blood as he does in the present day. This could explain his less than moral decision to leave the residents of the hotel to the Thesulac demon. Later, in "Sleep Tight", we see that drinking human blood again results in a less empathetic Angel.
- Unidentified salesman, suicide by gunshot to the head
- Thesulac demon, electrocuted by Angel
- Judy Kovacs, natural causes
Behind the Scenes
- This is another episode by writer Tim Minear that explores Angel's background. "He's cynical, I-don't-get-involved guy, and I thought that was a very interesting place to be," says Minear. "Although he does reach out to help someone in the episode, it doesn't take much to push him out of that light." When fans point out the flashback scene in Buffy in which Angel is living on the streets of New York City, Minear deflects the accusation of employing retroactive continuity by saying, "I don't believe he was thrown out of that room in Romania by Darla in 1898 and has been on the street ever since... In the 1950's, that was the beginning of his descent into the streets."
- This episode introduces the Hyperion Hotel, which will be Angel's main set until the end of season 4. Production designer Stuart Blatt explains that after blowing up Angel's cramped office in the season 1 finale, he had the opportunity to create a bigger, more "film-friendly" set that the crew and cameras could move through freely. Creator Joss Whedon suggested an abandoned hotel, something similar to the hotel in Coen Brothers' Barton Fink. The exterior shots of the Hyperion are of a historical building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles called the Los Altos Hotel & Apartments, which Blatt had previously used in the episode "I Fall to Pieces". The Los Altos was home to many Hollywood celebrities — including Bette Davis, Mae West, and William Randolph Hearst — before the Great Depression, similar to the fictional history of the Hyperion featured in this episode. Blatt says the front doors of the Hyperion are "exact duplicates" of those at the Los Altos, and the back garden closely resembles the back garden in the apartments, which allows the crew to film the characters entering and exiting the building on location. "Then we cut to the interior of the hotel," Blatt says, which is on a sound stage, "and it all works fairly seamlessly".
- The nighttime scenes between Angel and Judy were filmed on location at the Griffith Park Observatory, which overlooks Los Angeles.
- The close-up of the article about Judy shows the first paragraph is about Judy, while the rest of the article contains generic sentences not specific to any event and appear to repeat.
- Tim Minear, the writer of this episode, says that he often gets asked about what Angel did with the stolen money that he recovered from its hiding place fifty years after stashing it in the hotel. Minear says that as far as he is concerned, Angel did not keep the money or use it to buy the hotel - instead, Minear says, Angel sent it back to the bank in Salina, Kansas, from which Judy stole it in 1952.
- Cordelia and Wesley mention that the hotel bellhop's name was Frank Gilnitz. "Gilnitz" is a name that was often used for incidental or unseen characters on The X-Files, usually with the first name John; it became a running joke on that show. The name was an amalgam of the names of longtime X-Files writers John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz. The writer of this Angel episode, Tim Minear, was a writer and story editor for The X-Files.
- When Angel enters the store, the shopkeeper throws a Bible at him and when Angel catches it, it burns him. This is the first instance where it is shown that Bibles are also harmful to vampires.
Pop Culture References
- The episode's title is based on the questions posed during the trials held by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations associated with Joseph McCarthy, the most famous question being: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" Footage from one of these hearings features in the episode, and themes now commonly associated with McCarthyism and the era (such as paranoia and fear of 'the other') are present in this episode.
- A man in the hotel lobby says, "Ah, come on, honey! How do you think Lana Turner got started?" Lana Turner was a well-known actress and model at the time.
- Denver makes a reference to a "zany redhead" character (Lucy Ricardo) played by Lucille Ball.
- Angel's room number at the Hyperion was 217, the same room number used in Stephen Kings The Shining. People had a feeling that the room was bad, similar to what the bellboy feels about room 217 in the Hyperion Hotel.
- There are several references to the film Rebel Without a Cause, including Angel's red jacket outfit, a leading lady named Judy, and the conversation between Angel and Judy about the "End of the World" show outside the planetarium.
- The character of Judy has a connection with the leading lady in Vertigo. Her name is also Judy, and she used to live in Salina, Kansas.
- A reference to Psycho: Angel says "68 rooms, 68 vacancies". Later we meet Judy, a young woman who stole a lot of money from a bank and regrets it. However, she never leaves the hotel, that is host to evil, alive.
- A reference to Chinatown: The PI in this episode is named C. Mulvihill, a reference to the corrupt PI and former cop Claude Mulvihill. After being hit by Angel, he wears a bandage on his nose similar to that worn by Jack Nicholson.
Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors
- When the stolen money is shown in Judy's bag, it is in the new $20 bills that weren't issued until 1996.
- Angel's position in the old photograph is different in the close-up shot of the same photograph.
- In the brief flash edit that shows the salesman after his suicide, a single frame shows two crew members.
- When Angel electrocutes the Thesulac demon, in the wide angle shots, one of the crewmembers can be seen standing behind the desk.
- German: Das Hotel Hyperion (The Hotel Hyperion)
- French: L'hôtel du mal (The hotel of evil)
- Both Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt have cited this as one of their favorite episodes.