Why I love Lineage

Lineage is the 7th episode of season 5 (the final season) of Angel the series. If you haven't seen it, stop reading now, as everything from here on in is a spoiler.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my first serious fandom. Feisty, feminist, fantastic in all senses of the word. I adored it. When the Angel spinoff started to air, I became happily addicted to that too.

I've seen and enjoyed all the Angel episodes multiple times, and of it all, only two episodes stand out for me now.

One was the first season episode, Hero; the episode where Doyle died, because it was so very sad. Especially with the death of the actor who played Doyle not long afterwards.

The other is Lineage.

At the time this episode first aired on Irish television, I was sharing a house with a French woman who was equally a fan. She and I had a tradition of lighting a fire and making popcorn and settling down to watch the latest Angel episode. So there we were, cosy by the hearth, all unsuspecting.

Lineage is the episode where Angel's offices are invaded by an android army on the day that Wesley's Watcher father comes to visit Wesley and evaluate him for possible re-acceptance into the Watcher ranks. It has amazing acting by all concerned, although for me, the standout is Alexis Denisof. And it has a plot that caters to the side of me that enjoys fantasy and science fiction. There are cyborg ninjas, irate vampires, and a member of the ancient order of Watchers. But it also caters to the side of me that savours good dialogue and characterisation. Wesley's painful relationship with his father is shown clearly and naturally. It's even more humiliating for Wesley, since his father is dressing him down in front of Fred, the woman he is in love with.

It is also the episode where Wesley shot (what he thought was) his father (his father!) without hesitation to save the life of Fred, the woman he loved.

That moment is the only moment on TV where I'm kinda embarrassed to admit it but I actually literally jumped to my feet and gasped aloud in shock. So did my French housemate.

I know Joss Whedon, maker of Buffy and Angel, loves to surprise the viewer -- there's a reason that to be "Jossed" is to have your expectations about a character completely blown out of the water -- but still, it was a shocking piece of television.

It's also a sublime piece of characterisation. The whole episode is about how Wesley's father doesn't think that his son is good enough to follow in his footsteps and be a Watcher. But in killing his father to save Fred, Wesley proves that he is ruthless enough to be the perfect Watcher. The irony!

Angel later underlines this by saying, "You do what you have to do to protect the people around you. To do what you know is right, regardless of the cost. You know, I never really understood that. You're the guy who makes all the hard decisions, even if you have to make 'em alone."

Simultaneously, Wesley's instant and lethal reaction to the threat to Fred shows the depth of his feelings for her.

I still think that Wes unhesitatingly killing his father to save Fred's life is the most romantic moment in fiction ever.

I know that's twisted.

But it's true.

Resources and information

About this site

This is the only fanlisting for the episode Lineage listed at the Fanlistings Network. The site was originally opened by Celeste, who was kind enough to allow me to adopt it in October 2008.

If you haven't come across a site of this type before, a fanlisting is a place for all fans of a particular author, movie, book, etc. to connect. To my mind, it's a great excuse to build a little tribute site. :) There are over 50,000 fanlistings in existence and the number is growing every day. Some are simple fanlistings and some are part of a much bigger website. Find out more about the fanlistings phenomenon at the Fanlistings Network.

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