Soulless

NOTE: This episode, just as awakening, should be analyzed as a whole because everyone is somehow connected. I did manage to get Connor out of the loop, so here you go. *But* if you want to read the complete analysis (more or less:)) I wrote for my blog, go here.

The episode opens with Connor battling off a group of vampires. It's obvious how his fighting technique has improved ever since he first came to earth. Back then, he was all about fighting, nothing on his mind except for to finish off his opponent thew old fashioned way. It's not the case anymore, he's grown as a fighter ever since and it's shown to us on every given chance. He's ver resourceful, for starters, while in the past al he could rely on were his own weapons. Now he doesn't need weapons at all, he feels very comfortable with nothing but a stake in his hand, for the rest he uses whatever comes along, whenever it comes, and he knows how to make the best of it. I guess it's safe to say this world's influence is growing on him because it doesn't show at all now that he only arrived here from a hell dimension several months ago. He's not all about the kill anymore (and the trophies;)), he's cunning, he's putting his imagination into battles, not only his muscles, he's synchronizing his muscles with his brain while in the past, again, all he relied on were his muscles. He wasn't asking himself, 'can I use this, will this help me,' nor does he now, because now it comes natural. Mind he's even using Angel's wrist-staking thingie on one of the vamps:).

Another thing that was overly obvious in that little fight scene was that Connor was fighting to – release steam. It was *to* obvious. I mean, okay, vamps in town, everyone heard about the permanent midnight thing by now, but believe me when I say judging by his attitude while fighting, ridding LA from vampires was probably one of the farthest things on his mind at the moment. If anything, his fighting reminded me of Buffy's when she's pissed off about something. She kicks major vampire ass to calm her nerves down and it's working. Now, I don't know if the same thing is working for him, but he sure as hell is trying to do exactly that. Loved that scene:).

Now we ask why? Simple. Daddy issues. His dad goes all evil when he finally started adjusting to the idea he's good. No, that's not an easy thing to take, I agree. If ass kicking is his ultimate cure for that, by all means, be my guest. He's clearly not completely down with everything that's been done to Angel, I understand that, he wouldn't be Connor if he were. I'm just not sure that keeping everything inside and taking it out on the unsuspecting vamps is the right solution.

When he returns to the hotel, everyone is watching him. Now, *we* know, why that is, we know what Angelus spilled just a moment ago to trigger that. Connor doesn't. Him being well… Connor, he thinks it's because they are all still suspecting him for being the bad guy, connected to the Beast. We learn about that later in his room, when he changes clothes just to go outside again.

Cordelia offers him a clean shirt and he notes it's Angel's, she suggests he could have Lorne's if that's what he prefers. He says it's fine as he slips it on though if you ask me, the fact alone that he *noticed* it was Angel's means something, question is - what.

Cordelia doesn't want him to go outside, but he refuses to listen to her as he has his mind set on going. He doesn't want to stay in a place where everybody's sending him the blaming vibes, because he's convinced that's what they still think and them staring at him as he earlier walked in was a proof of that. She tells him it's not the reason and reveals to him the real one – they all know they slept together, Angelus made sure of that. Connor looks at her for a moment, but reveals no particular emotion as a response to that revelation. He simply says that if Angel doesn't mind everyone knowing, why should he mind. Cordelia sharply reminds him that's not Angel, that's Angelus, and he just looks at her, not saying anything. The question is whether or not he understands the difference, and up until later the answer will remain unclear. It can be attributed to his own hostility towards his father, but I don't think it's as simple as that. I think it's much more complicated. As we learn later on, he *does* distinct between the two, only not I the way we'd want him to, the way he sees the difference, there might as well not be any difference at all.

The problem with Connor is that his hatred towards the *vampire* as a being, as one, as a whole, not only prevents him from seeing it's basically two beings and not only one that reside within that one body. He later says Angelus is his real father, that can only mean one thing – he *doesn't* see Angel. Oh, he sees the difference all right, but it means nothing to him, as though it's not even there, as though there is *no* Angel there, just Angelus. He says Angel is not his real father because Connor refuses to accept the fact he's there. For him, there is but *one* being – Angelus. Only Angelus, "Angel is something you are forced to wear," as he later tells Angelus. Taking from that, he accepts the fact the vampire is his father, but he accepts him as Angelus, not Angel. For him, they're the same one. Kinda springs Holtz back to mind. He didn't see that difference either…

As far as Cordelia goes though, he seems to have cut it clear and clean. "You don't want to be with me, that's fine, but don't tell me what to do." I liked that, I was actually smiling the first time I saw the episode and heard him say that. He got over her bitchiness pretty fast and that points on growth and stronger personality – in other words, either he really did learn from his mistake and sometimes life *is* the best teacher. Or…I seem to have underestimated him and I'm glad to be proven wrong, at least in that department.

While Gunn and Wes fight over Fred, Connor descends into the basement, unbeknownst to everyone. He wants to face Angelus on his own and he picks the opportunity when no one would disturb him to do that.

The conversation begins like I knew it would. First – Connor smiles.

Remember the last time he smiled like that? Just about when he was standing at the head of the stairs, telling Angel he was willing to 'give it a try' (that, to remind you, happened before said try resulted in Angel being drowned to the depth of the ocean by his son). That only points one thing, even before any words are said – Angelus found a worthy rival.

No, I'm *not* saying Connor can overthrow Angelus' cunningness, his wit or his intelligence, there is a reason why that vampire is mythic. Connor can never rise up to that. But as he says in the beginning, "everyone's afraid of you," he basically points out that he is *not*. He's not afraid of Angelus, *that* is where his upper hand lies. Yes, Angelus can and *will* play Connor to his advantage, simply because he *can*. But the difference between Connor and anyone else, is that whatever Angelus will make him do is exactly what Connor *wants* to do. They have the same goal. While everyone else *afraid* of Angelus and admire him and everything he's capable of (with the exception of Buffy, whose fear wasn't actually fear, but she was holding back due to pure love for Angel, whose face the demon was wearing). Connor is not afraid of him, and he's showing him that the first chance he gets. His smile pretty much says – "take me on, I dare you, because in so many ways, I'm just *like* you." Angelus sees it. He's not impressed, because he saw it coming, but he is glad it's the case and he doesn't need to work for that, too.

As they continue talking, Angelus notes Connor is wearing his shirt, and Connor replies it's not *his* anymore. Kinda bring Cordelia to mind, don't you think?:) I guess they really do compare her to a shirt. Well…:) but my love towards Cordelia aside, for real, I love the interaction between Angelus and Connor, it was the best scene of the entire episode, in my opinion. Connor plays cool perfectly well, as Angelus at the beginning goes out of his way to rub salt on certain wounds (such as calling him *son*), before he realizes they got the same way of thinking and he doesn't have to. They're not like a predator and its prey, they remind me of two guys fighting over a chick, and throwing insults at one another, wanting to see who gets the upper hand eventually, lol. As Angelus points out the shirt looks good on him, Connor says so did Cordy, and Angelus retorts saying she looks good on everybody:).

Connor says Angel warned him about Angelus, to never listen to anything he says, to remember he's not his real father. Angelus notes it was a nice speech, he also remembers Connor promising to kill him. Connor smiled at that, and Angelus said it wouldn't be necessary, with his track record, he'd stake himself by the end of the day. Connor still maintains the smile, saying he's fine with that.

However, the smile is gone, once Angel points out Darla felt the same way – she staked herself only to not hear Connor's first whiny breath. Now, that hurt. That hurt even the impenetrable Connor. Look at that, he's not only at peace with his both parents being vampires, but now apparently even the soul thought of his mother, a vicious vampire, who *never* had a soul, unlike his father, not wanting him, can cut. And judging by the expression on his face, cut pretty deep. Has he really grown that much or has he just buried that so deep it's imperceptible unless in circumstances like this when it surfaces? Personally, it took me by surprise, I didn't see it coming. The way the smile just vanished from his face at the mention of that… I almost went 'wow'. Literally. 1:00 for Angelus, is all I can say:).

He also mentions Holtz. Another button he knows he should press with Connor. As he does, Connor almost accidentally calls Holtz 'father', Angelus notes that, as his expression changes slightly when he catches Connor in mid sentence, as though he's saying 'be careful', 'decide on whose side you are'. He was aiming just for that little slip and he got it.

Connor corrects himself quickly, saying Holtz was a good man, all he wanted was for Angelus to get the punishment he deserved (Angelus said he disappointed Holtz when he obviously didn't execute said punishment but instead teamed up with the vampire Holtz wanted to kill). Connor promises Angelus he's make sure he got punished and that Holtz' plan will be carried out as planned, he'd get what he deserves. That's another one of Connor's weaker spots – Holtz' thirst for vengeance that he infected Angel's son with. Now that Connor has the chance, he's willing to do nearly anything to take his revenge on Angelus. And when the vampire's soul is stolen eventually, my impression (before the whole Cordelia thing, and personally I cling to it even after) is that Connor is responsible. He's the only one who would do it – he *wants* to keep *Angelus*, he *needs* him to carry out his (Holtz' revenge). And that is exactly what Angelus wants – he wants to be in charge, instead of Angel, and he wants to be freed. Connor is up for grabs and willing as the key to both.

Angelus continues talking about Cordelia and he taunts Connor's 'great love' for her. He never hesitates to bring to his attention (as he never hesitates to speak the truth *ever*, that's why I love him:)) the first woman he boned was the closest thing he ever had to a mother. Connor remains cool, unimpressed. He says again that Angel warned him not to listen to anything he'd say, that he's not his real father. Angel mocks him, saying he's gonna cry, but he's completely off the mark, as Connor soon says, "and he thought I believed him." That's when everything's becoming obvious. Connor tells Angelus *he* is his real father, while Angel is just something he's forced to wear, and rightfully, Angelus thinks he won, he *knows* he did, and he did. The only twist in it is that they *both* come out winners. Just as Angelus wants Connor to get him out, Connor wants him out, he wants Angelus free, he wants to fight what he despises the most. He wants to fight and eliminate what causes him to hate his own father, what he's been taught for the first 18 years of his life is an animal, a vicious creature whose only deserving fate is death and suffering, and *that* is Angelus. What's interesting here is that not only Connor walks right into Angelus' trap, but in one way or another, the other way around also applies (not that Connor actually has a trap, but you know what I mean).

Angelus' response is that Connor wouldn't be able to take him anyway. Yes, it looks *just* like the typical 'I dare you' comeback. But in this case, it's not. Angelus already knows he doesn't need to work for that goal because they want the same thing. He's just teasing Connor now, and Connor knows that. The challenge grows to close for comfort until… Cordelia walks in. Who else…

She asks Connor to get out and at first he refuses, but for the second time, he agrees and leaves, as Angelus continues to taunt him as he goes for backing out. But it's either Connor shows strong character or he simply doesn't mind the missage of that opportunity, knowing he'll have others, or he'll *make* others while he's got his mind set on that. So does Angelus. Again – that taunting has no particular point, imo.

After Cordelia 'negotiates' with Angelus and 'convinces' him to give away everything he knows about the Beast, all the gang assemble in Angel's office to decide what they should do next. Nothing is special about that scene Connor-wise, except for one thing, you might wanna pay attention to the little detail that Connor is sitting in Angel's chair, while everyone is surrounding him. Now, do your own math:).

When they get to the Svea family home, they find all the family slaughtered, the parents, the children and even the grandmother, all bodies lying in the kitchen. All are shaken, at first not even understanding how the Beast could be so ahead of them in thinking, but none like Connor. He notes the body of the little boy, with the stuffed animal lying next to him, he notes the calendar with 'daddy's birthday' marked on it, and I don't think for a moment he even remembers the Beast anymore or why they arrived to that house in the first place. A wave of nausea is overcoming him as he takes the sight in and while Cordy and Wes continue investigating the place, he runs outside to throw up.

When Cordelia catches up with him, he's pale and shocked – nothing like the Connor I'm used to seeing. He flinches from her when she lays a hand on his shoulder and refuses to accept her comfort or whatever she's trying to offer him. He doesn't need that. I think this incident revealed a human side of him we were never shown before, a side it was hard to believe was even there. *I* would never believe something could touch him like that. A person whose pretty much seen everything in his 18 years, who has spent most of them in a hell dimension reacting like that? Frankly, it's still unbelievable.

When Cordelia suggests his shock is a result of it being a human slaughter, human victims, he declines the suggestion, saying it's not it. He starts saying something about the family, it being a family, but he never gets to finish because they're attacked by a bunch of vampires.

It leaves what he had to say hanging and it really bothers me, because I want to know what he meant by 'family', what he wanted to say. I don't know, I'm curious:). My theory is that the concept of family was what touched him like that. The entire dead *family* – a *father*, a mother, children… He's used to things being taken away, he's taught himself to grow in a world without love and dependency, but now that he sees a world *with* these things being bloodily butchered in front of his eyes, his take on that is unexpected. Something tells me he'd require more time to process that.


Memorable

Connor: Everyone's afraid of you.
Angelus: Is that my shirt?
Connor: Not anymore.
Angelus: It looks good on you. Son.
Connor: So did Cordy.
Angelus: She looks good on everybody.
Connor: Angel warned me about you. He said I should remember you're not my real father.
Angelus: Yeah. That was a nice speech. Touching. I think it ended with you promising to kill me.
Connor: I remember.
Angelus: Kinda unnecessary, don't you think? I mean, with your track record, I'd be staking myself by the end of the day.
Connor: It's fine by me.
Angelus: Darla felt the same way. You made her sick. You squirming inside her. So... she jammed a stake through her own heart. Just so she wouldn't have to hear your first whiny breath.
Connor: You don't know anything.
Angelus: And there was Holtz. You disappointed him so much, he stabbed himself in the neck.
Connor: My fath- Holtz, was a good man. All he ever wanted was for you to get the punishment you deserve. And you will.
Angelus: And now my boy is in love. All hearts and flowers. But... doesn't it freak you out that she used to change your diapers? I mean, when you really think about it, the first woman you boned, was the closest thing you ever had to a mother. Doing your mom and trying to kill your dad... there should be a play.
Connor: You think I care what you say? Angel told me, how you'd try to hurt me, how you weren't my real dad, just... some animal, in a cage. Angel's my dad.
Angelus: I'm gonna cry.
Connor: That's what he told me. And he thought I believed him. The truth is, Angel's just something that you're forced to wear. You are my real father.
Angelus: I'm right here. All you have to do is come and get me.
Connor: You'd like that.
Angelus: You couldn't take me anyway.
Connor: We'll see.

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