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There were a lot of good reasons to enjoy The Price: The surprise return of Connor at the end, the use of Cordy’s powers, and According to the A.V. Club review:
“The Price” is a better episode all around. The title (sort of) refers to the reckoning that Angel is facing for all the dark magic he called on in his quest to find Connor. The reckoning appears to come in the form of a translucent slug that slips down the throat of a would-be AI customer, turning the poor man into a ravenously thirsty fiend. Before the dried-up man collapses into dust and the slug slithers away, he points a finger at Angel and says, “This is all your fault.”
While our heroes go on a slug-hunt throughout the hotel, Angel asks Fred to hit the books and research their foe, which isn’t something she’s good at. Making matters worse, more slugs begin to materialize, and one slithers its way into Fred. Soon she’s busting open a snowglobe to guzzle the liquid inside, and she’s warning Angel that the slugs have come from another dimension, sent to torment Angel by a being known as The Destroyer.
“The Price” is exciting and creepy, with multiple turns of fortune. (Hooray! The slugs glow in the dark and are thus easier to spot! Boo! There are a boatload of slugs living in a pool below the hotel.) Even the ending is a good news/bad news situation. Cordelia’s demon side manifests and wipes out all the slugs in the building in a blinding flash of white. But the real threat remains: The Destroyer. This sets up the sudden twist ending of “The Price,” which sees a monster drop from a dimensional warp into the lobby of the hotel, followed immediately by Connor, who slays the beast and then says, “Hi, Dad.” (Did I see that coming? No, I did not. I knew Connor would be coming back as a teenager at some point, because I’m aware of Vincent Kartheiser’s controversial stint on Angel. But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, or in quite that way.)
I said “The Price” is “sort of” about Angel’s bad karma, because there’s actually something else afoot. When Cordelia warns that “stuff we’ve done in the past comes back to bite us in our respective assi,” she also chastises Angel for not calling her back from vacation when all the trouble with Wes and Connor went down, because she could’ve helped. Similarly, Angel and Gunn bicker over what to do about the possessed Fred and whether they should trust what she/it says. And in a tangential subplot to the episode, Wolfram & Hart’s Gavin feeds Lilah conflicting information about whether their boss wants Angel alive or dead. In short: All these people are dealing with what Wes went through. Which information is the right information? Which choice is the right choice? They’re all fumbling their way through, trying to own their destinies.
That’s why I think that these two episodes—and the second one in particular—are really about Wesley, not Connor. In “Double Or Nothing,” Fred goes to see Wesley and lets him know that she understands what he did but that he should’ve trusted his friends enough to confide in them. (And here’s where I have to give it up to Angel’s writers, because I’m sure one major reason why Wesley didn’t trust Fred or Gunn enough was because of their love affair, which broke his heart. That reason remains unspoken in the episode, but it’s there in the way Gunn is so quick to push Wes out of his life. Gunn surely feels some guilt for stealing a girl he knew Wes liked, and in a classic move, he’s shifting that guilt back onto his friend.) In “The Price,” meanwhile, Gunn goes to Wes and asks for his help saving Fred from the slug, which Wes reluctantly provides but only after letting Gunn know that after this they’re done, professionally.
Do I want to see an older gentlemen take possession of Angel’s body and gallivant it around town? No. Do I also want to Marcus Roscoe in Angel’s body boink Lilah Morgan? Even less so. According to the A.V. Club review:
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s Angel, which was entertaining in spots but largely struck me as a missed opportunity—one that was over before it really began. The main purpose of the episode seemed to be to defuse any growing romantic feelings Fred might have for Angel, by letting her see why Angel’s not the relationship type. At the start, Fred’s excited by the prospect of going out with Angel to see a Charlton Heston double-feature at the Nuart, but later, when he asks her to go out clubbing and she sees him making a move on Lilah, it breaks her heart. Now, she knows that Angel’s unreliable as a potential boyfriend, if for no other reason than that he can turn evil at a moment’s notice.
Of course it wasn’t really Angel who asked her on a real date, and not really Angel who hit on Lilah. No, for that, blame Marcus Roscoe (played by Rance Howard), an old man who uses a conjuring orb to swap souls with studly young men so that he can party with sexy ladies. The problem is that Marcus burns out those young bodies quickly and has to retreat into his frail old one, with its bad ticker. When Marcus meets Angel, whose body doesn’t wear out, he’s ready to make the soul-switch permanent.
I know it’s probably too early in the season to introduce a long-range arc, but I couldn’t help thinking that the Marcus/Angel body-switch story had enough potential for at least a two-parter. As it is, the actual mystery of Roscoe and his crimes isn’t that difficult for our heroes to solve, and the scenes with him in Angel’s body—while funny—don’t last very long. (And I could’ve done without the pat conclusion to the story, which sees the gang forcing Roscoe to switch back, so that Angel can insult him with, “I’ll tell you why you have a weak heart; you never use it!”)
Still, those Rocoe-as-Angel scenes are amusing, as he gradually learns who and what Angel is, all while scarfing down food and chasing down skirts. (“Wes or Gunn … they’re a great part of our investigating team … Working here with us in this old abandoned hotel.”) And the storyline does what it’s supposed to do, which is to give the team an excuse to explain “Angelus” to Fred and to warn her away from getting too close to their champion. Poor Fred. Everyone’s so eager to draw her out of her shell, so she can be just as miserable as they are.