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Are You Now or Have You Ever Been

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Angel
Season 2, Episode 2
Angel 2x02
Air date October 3, 2000
Written by Tim Minear
Directed by David Semel
Episode Guide
previous
"Judgment"
next
"First Impressions"
Cast
Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Alexis Denisof Wesley
J. August Richards Gunn
Guest Starring
Melissa Marsala Judy
John Kapelos Ronald Meeks
Tommy Hinkley C. Mulvihill
Brett Rickaby Denver
Scott Thompson Baker Actor
J.P. Manoux Frank Gilnitz
Co Starring
David Kagen Salesman
Terrence Beasor Older Man
Julie Araskog Over the Hill Whore
Tom Beyer Blacklisted Writer
Eve Sigall Old Judy
Uncredited
Tony Amendola Thesulac Demon
Joseph McCarthy Himself

"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 revisits the Hyperion Hotel, a place he has not been to since the 1950s.

Synopsis

With his curiosity piqued following his recent visit, Angel asks Wesley and Cordelia Chase to look into the mysterious history of the abandoned Hyperion Hotel, which was built in the 1920s but is long since abandoned. Both are curious as to Angel's interest, 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 due to the occupant giving 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 for his bottle of blood and spots a salesman apparently talking to someone (but doesn't realize he's talking to thin air) as well as a man asking questions door-to-door. Returning, Angel finds an unfamiliar woman inside claiming to be a maid but Angel knows she's not a maid due to the lack of cleaning trolley, a still unclean room as well as the fact the hotel employs no white maids. She confesses that the man Angel spotted 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 thanks (as she says her name is Judy) 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 1972 when Ronald took a shotgun and killed all the guests one morning. Since then, the hotel was declared an historical landmark and the owners of the building have been trying to unload it for the last ten years with no interest. They also find the hotel has a sordid and murderous history, dating back to when one of the construction workers building it jumped to his death and took a couple of co-workers down with him. The two then begin to question the reason Angel wanted the hotel investigating only to find a photograph with him in it. Now knowing he has a personal connection to the place, the two wonder why he didn't tell them this fact.

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 the suicide and if it was truly that or 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 about the fact that the suicide could have been a murder but Angel, knowing it isn't true, tells that it isn't likely and reveals he knows that the man he saved Judy from earlier wasn't an ex-boyfriend but a private detective. She confesses that he's probably working for the bank which formerly employed her and tells him her tale of woe. It emerges that Judy, although she appears caucasian, is actually mixed-race having had a black mother and a white father who she never knew. As well as being hated by her mother's family, her life was destroyed when the bank she was working for found out about her heritage which also led to her boyfriend breaking up with her. As a result, she stole a large amount of money from the bank when she went on the run. Angel, whose long life has led to a rather enlightened view on the subject of race, assures her that the bank fired her due to their stupid 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 and was never seen or heard from again.

Angel helps Judy hide the money in the hotel's basement, as she considers the idea of sending it back to the bank in order to be forgiven, and asks Angel if he believes in forgiveness. During the conversation, Angel starts to hear whispering and realizes what he's dealing with.

In the present, Angel finds the money untouched since hiding it half a century earlier before hearing the same whispering again. He then calls Wesley and informs him a Thesulac Demon is at the hotel, having claimed the land even before it was built. Thesulac Demons whisper to people and feed on their insecurities, and Angel wanted Wesley and Cordelia to look at the hotel's history in order to find out where it went. However now he knows that Thesulac never left, and intends to raise it 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, Denver the owner is watching TV when Angel enters asking for information on raising and killing demons. Denver throws Angel a book, however it is the bible (Denver having realized that his customer is a vampire) which burns Angel's hands. He doesn't take this kindly, and threatens him into helping having heard that Denver has a reputation for unusual items.

In the hotel, Frank tells Ronald that he was forced to cut the salesman into pieces to fit him in the meat locker. Meanwhile, the guests are all convinced that the others are responsible for the murder of the salesman while in her room Judy hears whispering telling her she's going to prison.

Angel learns that Thesulac needs to be corporeal before it can be killed, and to do that it either needs to feed on a large amount of paranoia or be raised in a ritual. Choosing to raise Thesulac, Angel gets the supplies he needs (which Angel has persuaded Denver to sell for free), however is informed that killing it is difficult as it would take a lightning strike or a massive blow to finish it. Angel picks up a large axe and asks Denver to bag up his items. Denver doesn't understand why a vampire would want to slay a demon to help humans, something which Angel can't explain either.

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 its Thesulac, only for Cordelia to tell him they were like that before arriving. Wesley begins to summon Thesulac.

Angel arrives in the hotel corridor to find all the guests assaulting Judy, now fully convinced she's a murderer due to her checking in under a fake name. He starts to approach her to help, when Judy breaks free of the grips of the others and starts towards Angel... only to turn on him and tell everyone Angel did it and tells everyone he has blood in his room. The fact that Angel is carrying a bag full of unusual items and a large axe leaves everyone convinced he did it. The PI knocks Angel down, and Angel can only look at Judy as he receives a beating from the other guests. Afterwards, they take him to the lobby and, grabbing a rope, proceed to lynch him. Unable to stop them, they suceed in hanging him and it appears he's dead. Suddenly everyone quickly comes to their senses and leave in disgust, except for Frank who is loving every second. As soon as everyone's gone, Angel stops playing dead and gets himself down. Behind him, Thesulac becomes corporeal having fed on a large amount of paranoia. He jokes that Angel stuck his neck out for a bunch of people, 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 and helped her to restore her faith in people and because of that, Thesulac can feed on her for a lifetime. He then tells Angel that the people in the hotel could still use his help, but Angel isn't interested in helping the people who turned against him and leaves Thesulac unharmed to feed on them to his heart's content.

The Thesulac is raised, and thanks Angel for bringing him more people to feed on... especially Wesley who he can tell is the most paranoid and insecure. 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 it by sticking one of its tentacles into the fuse box. As Wesley wonders what Thesulac meant by his comments regarding him, Angel heads upstairs.

Going into a room, Angel finds a now elderly Judy sitting in the centre where Thesulac has been feeding on her for the past fifty years while keeping her from harm. She is surprised to see Angel, still looking the same (although he assures her he isn't) and assures her that what happened to him wasn't her fault and that it is safe for her to go out. She happily gets up to leave, but feels tired and 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 then passes away in Angel's arms, promising to go out when she's rested for a minute.

Downstairs, Wesley worries about his paranoia when Angel comes down to tell everyone that their business with Thesulac is over. 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 any more".

Continuity

  • The flashback scenes reveal that in the 1950s, 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.

Body Count

  • Unidentified salesman, suicide by gunshot to the head
  • Thesulac demon, electrocuted by Angel
  • Judy Kovacs, died of elderly age

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • 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 retconning 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 1950s, 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 one 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 (since the money is never again mentioned in a subsequent episode). 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 that 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" (1993) (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 major themes in this episode.
  • A man in the hotel lobby says, "Ah, come on, honey! How do you think Lana Turner got started?"
  • Denver makes a reference to a "zany redhead" character (Lucy Ricardo) played by Lucille Ball.
  • Angel's room number (in the 1950s) 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. But 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

  • The $100 bills in Judy's bag appear to be of the style introduced in 1996, with the larger Ben Franklin head design, and not the style that would have existed in 1952.
  • A flashback to 1952 shows a woman who embezzled $11,000. When the money is shown, 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 from how it appears in the shot showing the whole photograph.
  • In the brief flash edit that shows the salesman after his suicide, a single frame shows two crew members.
  • When Angel electrocutes Thesulac demon in all the wide angle shots one of the crewmembers can be seen standing behind the desk.

International titles

  • German: Das Hotel Hyperion (The Hotel Hyperion)

Music

Other

  • Both Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt have cited this as one of their favorite episodes.

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