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Conviction

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Angel
Season 5, Episode 1
ConvictionMain
Air date October 1, 2003
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
previous
"Home"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Chosen"
next
"Just Rewards"
Cast
Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
James Marsters Spike
J. August Richards Gunn
Amy Acker Fred
Andy Hallett Lorne
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Guest Starring
Sarah Thompson Eve
Mercedes McNab Harmony
Jonathan M. Woodward Knox
Dane Northcutt Hauser
Jacqueline Hahn Judge
Marc Vann Dr. Sparrow
Michael Shamus Wiles Spanky
Rodney Rowland Corbin Fries
Co Starring
Peter Breitmayer Desmond Keel
T.J. Thyne Lawyer
Keli'i Sam
Jordan Garrett Matthew
Marissa Tait Woman
Daniella Kuhn Notary
Chris Eckles Special Ops Guy
Susan Slome Cindy Rabinowitz
Uncredited
Christopher Leps Vampire
Jeffrey Bell Número Cinco

"Conviction" is the season premiere of the fifth season of Angel and the eighty-ninth episode overall. Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on October 1, 2003 on the WB network.

Wolfram & Hart C.E.O. Angel and the rest of the group cope with their new, morally ambiguous lifestyle. Their client—an unsavory, violent gangster—threatens to unleash a virus if they fail to keep him out of jail. Biological warfare is averted when Gunn uses the knowledge of the law that Wolfram & Hart mystically bestowed upon him to prevent the gangster from being incarcerated.

Synopsis

In a dark alley, a woman is attacked by a vampire; however, Angel easily manages to save her. He advises her to stay out of dark alleys and when he moves to leave, she asks who he is. He simply responds that it "doesn't matter..." when suddenly an operations team from Wolfram & Hart turn up. The man in command, Agent Hauser, introduces himself and explains that they tracked Angel through a homing device, while lawyers get the woman to sign release forms. Angel then learns that the vampire worked for one of the law firm's clients, before he and the woman he saved are put together for photos. The woman asks if he saved her for the publicity, but Angel (who is offered coffee by an assistant) tries to assure her he helps the helpless... Despite it looking entirely to the contrary.

At Wolfram & Hart, the gang start moving in to their new setting, which turns out to be far different from working out of an abandoned hotel. Fred gets lost en route to her office. Wesley finds her and she tells him that her lab is "giganormous" and she's unsure of the function of most of the machines in it. Her assistant Knox catches up to Fred; Wesley tries to make conversation by asking him how long he's been evil. After Knox leads Fred to her office, Gunn meets up with Wesley, who complains that Fred called her lab assistant "Knoxy". Gunn admits that though he feels completely out of place, they can turn things around and make them better even if its going to take a while to get comfortable... Only for Lorne to pass by talking to clients on his phone, showing he's already more than settled in. Meanwhile, Angel's liaison to the Senior Partners introduces herself as Eve; she tosses him an apple to drive home the irony of her name. She points out that if he wants to use Wolfram & Hart's power to do good in Los Angeles, he will have to be prepared to do some bad too, saying "In order to keep this place running, you have to keep it, well, running."

In his office, Gunn encounters Eve, and says that things were a lot simpler when he was just hunting vamps on the street with his gang. She wonders if he's ready for "the next step" and he confirms that he is; she hands him a business card and says "You'll feel like a new man."

The next day, Angel is unhappy to learn his new secretary is ditzy vampire Harmony Kendall who tried to have the gang killed during their last encounter; she tells him, "I'm strong, I'm quick, I'm incredibly sycophantic—if that means what that guy said—and I type like a superhero… If there was a superhero whose power was typing." Angel notes that the blood she's brought him tastes good; she tells him that the secret ingredient is otter. Wesley arrives, explaining he picked Harmony from the pool because he thought Angel would like having someone familiar around. "You turned evil a lot faster than I thought you would." Angel replies. Harmony's happy to be reunited with the group, especially Cordelia, until Angel breaks the news that Cordelia is in a coma and they have no clue if she'll ever wake up.

Harmony brings in client Corbin Fries, on trial for smuggling in girls for prostitution and cheap labor. He readily admits he's guilty; when Angel says he has no incentive to keep him out of jail, Fries says "Either you get me off, or I drop the bomb."

In a conference room, Lorne has each employee sing so he can read them for potential evil. In the science lab, Fred explains Lorne's skills to Knox; Knox tells her that if she wants him to, he'll go up and get read so that she can be sure he's not evil. Fred is still unsure that she'll be capable of running the whole lab. In Angel's office, the gang wonders if the bomb Fries threatened is mystical. Harmony says she has the address for a guy named Spanky, a "freelance mystic" whose name has shown up in Fries' file. Angel heads to the garage, which houses a fleet of expensive corporate cars, and takes one out to pay Spanky a visit. Spanky reveals he built a mystical container which can hold anything until the container is dissolved by a magic word. Back in the science lab, Fred and Knox look through Fries' file and discover he is linked to a cult which specializes in "quick-fire disease scenarios." When Fred tells him that Fries may be messing with a virus, Angel says that he knows where the bomb is: inside Fries' son.

Meanwhile, Gunn is enduring a stressful procedure at the doctor's office. Back at the firm, Fred tells Wesley that they've had no luck figuring out what virus Fries might be using. Eve pays Angel a visit in his office; she finds it ironic that Angel's dealing with a guy who put a virus in his own son when Angel just lost his son. She reminds him that Connor is happy and he's the only one who remembers him. Angel tells her that he doesn't want her to say Connor's name, and Eve says that if he takes every case this personally, he won't last long. Fred and Knox spend the night looking over files and photos while eating Chinese takeout. Frustrated, Fred accuses her crew of not working hard enough to save people. The next day, Fries' trial continues; Lorne calls Angel from the trial and says that he thinks they should isolate Matthew (Fries' son); as Agent Hauser listens in, Lorne tells Angel that Fries has no chance of getting off. Hauser tells his agents to take out the kid and anyone within 50 yards of him, and as Angel heads for Matthew's school, Harmony tells him that the special ops team are already on their way and they called for the cleaners. However, when the special ops team gases Matthew's classroom, they realize it's empty except for Angel. "So it turns out" he says, "with this new deal and all, I own a helicopter."

Fries' trial heads into final summations as Wesley reveals to Lorne that he's smuggled a gun into the courtroom, preparing to use it to stop Fries if necessary. Suddenly Gunn arrives in a nice suit and gets Desmond Keel to cede to him. Gunn moves for a mistrial and announces that the judge should remove herself from the case because, according to the judge's tax records, she holds stock in a company owned by a company owned by Fries'. The judge claims not to know about the connection, but Gunn says he discovered it in only six hours. The judge quickly calls a recess and holds an urgent meeting with the lawyers present. As Angel and the agents fight, Hauser calls him a "pathetic little fairy" who doesn't have what they have—conviction. Angel replies that he has something more powerful than that—mercy. He demonstrates the last of his by making Hauser shoot himself. Later, Eve explains to the group that Gunn agreed to let the firm "enhance" him with legal knowledge (and "Gilbert and Sullivan" for elocution). Angel wonders how Gunn knows for sure that nothing else was done; he said that he was in the White Room and is sure. Eve tells the group that they needed a lawyer, and Gunn had "the most unused potential"—and that he, unlike Angel, just saved the day without using violence. Wesley notes that they did disable the vessel and Gunn says that Fries has to lie low until the trial comes up again, and when it does, he can drag it out for a long time. Fred wonders if they're actually going to do good while they're there, since they've not only helped save a criminal but also returned him to the son he was willing to kill in order to gain revenge, but Angel thinks that they are. He opens an envelope he received earlier and the amulet he brought to Buffy in "Chosen" drops out. The amulet activates and Spike materializes in the office.

Continuity

  • Fred suggested vetting the staff to "make sure we don't have any die-hard evildoers plotting against us." Ironically, her own assistant, Knox, was doing just that: plotting to use Fred as a vessel for Illyria.
  • This is the only season premiere not to feature Cordelia Chase.

Body Count

  • A vampire, dusted by Angel
  • Lopez, burned by Wolfram & Hart (only mentioned)
  • Hauser's henchmen, shot by Hauser
  • Hauser, forced by Angel to shoot himself

Pop Culture References

  • Fred hangs up a Dixie Chicks poster in her office.
  • Lorne mentions that he had a scheduled lunch with Mary Kate Olsen.
  • Lorne says the jury is looking at Fries like he's OJ.
  • Gunn says that, in addition to knowledge of the law, Wolfram & Hart also filled his mind with Gilbert and Sullivan.
  • Gunn offers to sing The Pirates of Penzance for Lorne, one of the musicals written by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • For the first time since the show's inception, creator Joss Whedon could now devote his attention exclusively to Angel. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly both ended their runs the previous year.
  • This episode begins the same way "City of"—the series premiere of Angel—began: "Angel in a dark alley saving a damsel in distress from a vampire," Joss Whedon says. "We did this deliberately because we really wanted to call back what the essence of the show was. Angel is the kind of guy who goes into a dark alley, saves the woman, doesn't say what his name is and takes off." However, the new structure of the show means that, as Whedon says, "all of his heroism is falling by the wayside and he's a little bit pathetic."[1]
  • Production designer Stuart Blatt says Whedon asked him to build the new Wolfram & Hart large enough so that he could "walk all around with a Steadicam and never have to cut"[2] then did exactly that; the second scene after the credits is a single, four and one-half minute shot introducing all the main characters in their new setting. According to Whedon's DVD commentary, it took 27 takes to get this one long shot because "inevitably one actor is always going to have trouble with their lines, and it's usually going to be the one who's at the end of the take, because that's just my fate," Whedon says.[3]
  • Set designer Andrew Reeder was pleased to explore a different architectural style from the previous season's Art Deco hotel, saying "it's contemporary, it's sleek... Much more about someone like Charles Eames. Simple shapes, proportions, space light and form: it was very Japanese in the approach."[2]
  • In the DVD commentary, Joss Whedon reveals that Alexis Denisof had a case of Bell's Palsy that caused the left side of his face to be paralyzed. Almost all the shots in this episode show Wesley from the right side or a three-quarters right shot.[3]
  • Joss Whedon explains the decision to bring in Mercedes McNab as Harmony—who has "worked for us for as long as I've worked on the show"—was because "she has been tirelessly funny, and engaging, and sexy, and delightful and it was very nice to bring her into the fold. She was long overdue to get into the mix, and we needed a blond, let's face it."[1]
  • For fans who didn't look for any announcements about upcoming events, seeing Spike listed in the credits somewhat spoiled his return at the end of this episode. It was, however, general knowledge that Joss Whedon announced Spike's return on Angel, so this was mostly not an issue with most fans.
  • Joss Whedon, a fan of Law & Order, wrote Gunn's court scene using made-up legal jargon. However, when the scene was sent to a legal consultant they only made a few tweaks. "We didn't often know what to do with J.'s character." Whedon confessed. "He had a real sense of feeling out of place, so I wanted to show something from J. that people hadn't seen. Plus he looks really good in a suit."[1]

Music

  • Lorne interviews staff by making them sing "There Once Was a Man", from the musical The Pajama Game. Though it's in a different verse than the one sung here (which is a reference to Romeo and Juliet), the song mentions the biblical Eve—one of several references to her in the episode.
  • Christophe Beck's "I'm Game" is used once again.
  • Robert J. Kral - original score

International titles

  • German: Adieu, Kalifornien (Goodbye, California)

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • The Wolfram & Hart building is very different in appearance from what it looked like in "Home".

Quotes

Knox - "Do you know how to get to your office from here?"
Fred - "Why? Did somebody eat my breadcrumbs?"
Wesley - "Pretty powerful position for a young woman."
Eve - "How exactly can you be sure I'm either of those things?"
Angel - [Agent Hauser points his gun at Angel] "You know that won't kill me."
Hauser - "It'll hurt. That part's fun."
Angel - "Agent Hauser, I'm honestly beginning to suspect that you're not part of the solution."
Hauser - "You really think you can solve the problem? Come into Wolfram & Hart and make everything right? Turn night into glorious day? You pathetic little fairy."
Angel - "I'm not little."
Hauser - "That's exactly what you are. You're minuscule. A dust mote on the shelf of that great institution. Now, you think I'm just a trigger-happy jerk who follows orders. But I'm something that you'll never be: I'm pure. I believe in evil. You and your friends, you're conflicted. You're confused. We're not. That's why you're going to lose. Because we possess the most powerful thing in the world: conviction."
Angel - "There's one thing more powerful than conviction. Just one: mercy." [Angel kicks Hauser's gun up and Hauser shoots himself]
Special Ops Guy - "What happened to mercy?"
Angel - [walking off] "You just saw the last of it."
Wesley - "Spike?"
Angel - "Spike."
Harmony - "Blondie Bear?"

References

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