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War Zone

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Angel
Season 1, Episode 20
1x20WZ0064 thumb
Air date May 9, 2000
Written by Gary Campbell
Directed by David Straiton
Episode Guide
previous
"Sanctuary"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"The Yoko Factor"
next
"Blind Date"
Cast
Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Guest Starring
Michele Kelly Alonna
Maurice Compte Chain
Mick Murray Knox
Joe Basile Lenny
David Herman David
J. August Richards Gunn
Co Starring
Sean Parhm Bobby
Sven Holmberg Ty
Rebecca Klingler Madame Dorion
Kimberly James Lina
Ricky Luna James
Uncredited
Chris Stephens Homeless Boy

"War Zone" is the twentieth episode of the first season of Angel and the twentieth episode overall. Written by Gary Campbell and directed by David Straiton, it was originally broadcast on May 9, 2000 on the WB network.

While Angel is helping David Nabbit, a software millionaire, in tracking down a blackmailer, he gets caught up in the middle of a gang war between a group of street kids, led by Charles Gunn, who is an amateur vampire hunter battling vampires who have settled in Gunn's South-Central neighborhood. Angel offers his assistance to Gunn and his gang to track down a vampire nest whose members have abducted and turned Gunn's sister, Alonna.

Synopsis

A girl named Alonna walks down the street, followed by a group of vampires, but when the vampires turn around, Alonna's brother Gunn and many others are there, armed and ready for a fight. Several are killed on both sides and in the end the vampires run off leaving the humans to deal with the wounded.

Cordelia Chase, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and Angel meet multi-billionaire and prospective client David Nabbit at a party, who explains he is being blackmailed by Lenny Edwards for going to a demonic brothel called Madam Dorion's. Angel tracks down Lenny Edwards, and makes him promise he will hand over the incriminating photos the following night. Gunn, after receiving news that a vampire is near by, witnesses Angel intimidating Edwards from afar, and plots to kill Angel. David pays Angel Investigations with a very large check, and promises more when the job is done.

The next night, Angel meets with Lenny, who brought the photos and a demon security guard. Angel kills the demon and gets away with the photos. However, he gets staked in the chest by a couple of the human gang members. He is chased and forced to run through a gauntlet of vampire killing weapons. When confronted by Gunn and the others, Angel tries to explain that he is fighting for good.

Cordelia dresses Angel's wounds while they look at the graphic pictures that were being held for blackmail. Angel is still in pain, but goes off to find the nest of vampires before the gang of kids find it. Gunn questions Angel and his motivations for supposedly helping them. The vampires throw smoke bombs into the humans' hideaway, forcing them to escape to the surface. Covered in heavy clothes and wearing gas masks, the vampires capture several of the teen gang members, including Alonna.

Angel offers his assistance to Gunn and the others, but Gunn refuses and locks Angel in a meat locker. Angel tries to punch his way out of the locker, only to have Cordelia and Wesley open the door for him. Searching for the vampire's lair, Gunn finds a newly undead Alonna, but at first can't bring himself to kill what used to be his sister. When she offers to make her brother a vampire, he stakes her.

Angel kills the vampire gang leader and arranges a truce with the rest of the group: he'll allow them to live if they leave town and never return. Cordelia considers getting involved with David for his money, but ends up talking herself out of it. Angel tells Gunn he may need his help in the future.

Continuity

  • This episode features the first appearance of Gunn, who will go on to become a major character. He will appear in every episode for the rest of the series.
  • One of the demons at the brothel is from Oden Tal, Jhiera's home dimension/world in the episode "She".

Body Count

  • Two vampires, dusted by Bobby
  • One vampire, dusted by Gunn
  • One vampire, dusted by Chain
  • Bobby, killed by Ty
  • Mofo demon, snapped by Angel
  • Ty, dusted by Knox
  • Alonna Gunn, sired by Knox and later dusted by Gunn
  • Knox, dusted by Angel

Total:

  • 7 Vampires
  • 1 Demon
  • 2 Humans

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • Creator Joss Whedon wanted to introduce another character who would be very different from both Wesley and Angel, and when writer Gary Campbell pitched the idea of street kids battling vampires, the character of Gunn was conceived.
  • While Angel is running from Gunn and the others, theme playing throughout the chase sequence is the same one that was previously used in the Buffy episode Becoming part one when the gang attacked in the library.
  • Director David Straiton suggested to Michele Kelly that in the scene where Alonna pushes Gunn onto the ground, she should "enjoy that more" - "and that's when a laugh came out," Kelly says. The actress explains that the director knew at that point, her character was "relishing in all this new-found strength and freedom, even if it was for evil."
  • Special Effects Supervisor Loni Peristere refined the dusting effect used when a vampire is killed, showcased by Gunn's "fly-through dusting" in the opening scene of this episode. This technique, which costs $5,000 per use, depends upon a CGI skeletal frame surrounded by simulated dust, carefully matched to a projection of the live action footage. This allows for a "complete organic transition" from vampire to dust, says Peristere.
  • Producer Tim Minear liked the concept of an "entire subculture living under Los Angeles that you don't really see," which is a metaphor for the wealth stratification in LA: "You'll have upper class neighborhoods and a block away poverty... The upper class people sort of don't notice the poverty, or choose not to." He also liked the scene in which Angel is rescued from the meat locker by Wesley and Cordelia, who ask, "Why didn't you call us on your cell phone?", because it turns the concept of the action hero "on its head a little bit." The defining moment of the episode, Minear thinks, is when Angel - rather than offer his help - instead indicates he may later need Gunn's help.
  • Michele Kelly, who played Gunn's sister Alonna, said she "literally shouted" with excitement upon reading the script. "Getting to play someone as unrestricted as a vampire is a thrill," she says. Kelly found the vampire make-up and prosthetics uncomfortable, but the most difficult aspect of the role was Kelly's pre-existing friendship with J. August Richards, which "made a part of me not want to hurt him." Kelly explains she twisted that connection by imagining the isolation and "raging despair" her character would feel after being made a vampire: "All I wanted is my brother... that's where I got the impetus to go into that ugly space - it was just the other side of loving."
  • David Nabbit was originally intended to be a recurring character, but only appears in two additional episodes. David Herman had difficulty fitting Angel into his schedule, and so the writers stopped writing scenes for him.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continunity Errors

  • In the scene where the vampires raid Gunn's hide-out, one of the vampires is wearing a gas mask. This would be unnecessary, since vampires don't breath.
  • At the vampires' nest, when the lead vampire is talking about Gunn's team, the vampire wearing the green sweatshirt and leather vest doesn't have yellow eyes like the others do.
  • The previous Angel episode, "Sanctuary", is set directly before the Buffy episode "The Yoko Factor" and the following Angel episode, "Blind Date", is set directly after the Buffy episode "Primeval". However, only a day passes between Angel's departure from Sunnydale in "The Yoko Factor" and the end of "Primeval", and "War Zone" takes place over several days.

Music

International Titles

  • German: Der Bandenkrieg (The Gang War)

Other 

Quotes

David Nabbit - Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons?
Angel - Yeah, I've seen a few.
Wesley - You mean the, uh, role-playing game.
Wesley - You should've tried to call us on your cell phone. You probably forgot you had it.
Angel - Those things hardly ever work. Besides, it was a lot easier and quicker to just - Look, I'm the boss here. I say when we use the cell phones... and people are gonna die and I have to go.
Gunn - Every body dies. I'm just trying to make sure that when we die, we stay dead.

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