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|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Skip Schoolnik|
|Written by||David Fury
Steven S. DeKnight
|Original air date||November 19, 2003|
"Destiny" is episode 8 of season 5 in the television show Angel. Co-written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight and directed by Skip Schoolnik, it was originally broadcast on November 19, 2003 on the WB network. In "Destiny", when a mysterious package arrives at Wolfram & Hart that renders Spike corporeal again, Eve claims the universe is in chaos because the Shanshu Prophecy states only one vampire with a soul can be the champion of good. Angel and Spike duel over a mystical grail to decide which one will be the champion, as flashbacks show the complex relationship between the two vampires. Guest star Juliet Landau reprises her role as Drusilla, and Christian Kane makes an uncredited appearance at the end of the episode playing Lindsey McDonald.
The episode begins with a flashback to London in 1880, where recently sired William (not yet Spike) meets Angelus for the first time. Angelus accepts William into the group, saying he looks forward to killing with another man, and vows he and Spike are "gonna be the best of friends," sealing the friendship by allowing their clasped hands to be burned by sunlight.
In the present, Spike demands his own office (or Wesley’s office during his leave of absence, while he adjusts to the shock of killing what he believed to be his father). Spike lacks sympathy for Wesley, since he himself killed his mother while she was hitting on him. “Well…that explains a lot,” Harmony remarks. She opens a package for Spike from an unknown source, producing a flash of light. When Harmony goes to answer the phone, she’s greeted by electronic screeching. As phones start ringing off the hook, Spike heads for Angel’s office, but when he tries to walk through the door, he quickly finds he is corporeal again, and celebrates with Harmony. Fred arrives, complaining that all of the atmospheric gauges in the science department have gone haywire and blown out the instruments. She is surprised to hear that Harmony and a re-corporealized Spike are, as Gunn says, "having a nooner". Eve arrives and announces that the whole universe is in turmoil - Spike’s existence is messing with the expected course of the Shanshu prophecy, because after dying on the Hellmouth to save the world in the series finale of Buffy, Spike now qualifies as a champion. Meanwhile, Harmony’s eyes start bleeding and she bites Spike, screaming that he’s using her and really wants his "Slayer whore". He returns to the group, and Eve says because there are two possible candidates for the Shanshu, “the wheel of destiny starts to spin off its axis.”
Gunn returns with news that the elevator to the Senior Partners opened into a howling abyss. Eve thinks the solution is in the Shanshu prophecy, but Angel says he just read it and it wasn’t helpful. Spike is surprised he has been reading the prophecy which he claims not to believe in. They decide someone from Wesley’s department needs to look over the prophecy, and meet with Sirk, who tells them that they read a translation and therefore didn’t get everything out of it. He retranslates: “The balance will falter until the vampire with a soul drinks from the Cup of Perpetual Torment”. Sirk says that whoever drinks from the cup is the one who was destined to, and once the champion is decided the universe will go back to normal. Sirk says the cup is in a destroyed opera house in Death Valley, Nevada.
Back in 1880, Angelus and William celebrate a wedding massacre, until William leaves to be with Drusilla, whom William calls his “destiny.” Shortly after, William discovers Angelus having sex with Drusilla; the two laugh at William and Angelus taunts him with his earlier words.
At the opera house, Spike and Angel battle it out for the cup. Spike points out that Angel's soul was forced upon him as a curse, but Spike fought for his because it was the right thing to do. Angel says he only did it so he could sleep with Buffy. Spike says that Angel has already chosen the side of evil by working at Wolfram & Hart. Angel retaliates that it is a lot more complicated than Spike thinks, telling Spike that he (Spike) was always "a little simple". In the science lab, Gunn begins bleeding from the eyes, warning Fred not to trust Eve. He starts choking Eve, demanding to know who she really is. Fred tends to Eve, who starts crying and says that she knows what all the group think of her, but she's "not the bad guy."
Back in 1880, William fights Angelus for sleeping with Drusilla, whom he says belongs with him. As they trade blows, Angelus tells him that, among vampires, "There's no belongin' or deservin' any more. You can take what you want, have what you want, but nothin' is yours." He adds that William should take Drusilla if he wants her; William chooses to keep fighting.
At this point, the fight has become very personal for both vampires, and both do whatever they can to hurt the other (physically and emotionally). Spike lashes out at Angel, saying that even though Drusilla sired him, it was Angelus who made him a monster, that Angelus just wanted something in the world as bad as him, and goads Angel about his (Spike's) sexual past with Buffy. In turn, Angel laughs off Spike's claims that Spike is a hero, points out that Angelus simply opened the door to let the real Spike out, and dismisses Spike's past with Buffy, telling Spike "That's why Buffy never really loved you. Because you weren't me." Spike stakes Angel’s shoulder, saying he would have dusted Angel but he doesn’t want to hear Buffy complain. Spike grabs the cup and Angel tells him that it’s not a prize - it’s a burden: "Do you even really want it? Or is it that you just want to take something away from me?” “Bit of both,” Spike replies, drinking from the cup. His expression changes as he realizes the cup is filled with Mountain Dew. Angel returns to Wolfram & Hart with the news that the cup was a set-up; Sirk has disappeared. Gunn and Harmony regain consciousness, back to normal.
Back in Angel’s office, Eve tells everyone the Senior Partners temporarily fixed things. She says that they don’t know anything about Sirk's trick and are as angry as Angel is. Angel confesses to Gunn that Spike beat him because he wanted it more. "What if it means that…I’m not the one?" Angel wonders. Elsewhere in L.A., Eve enters an apartment and undresses while gloating to someone off-camera that Angel and Spike fell for the cup story and Sirk disappeared without the Senior Partners knowing anything. In addition, the gang is wondering if they can trust the Senior Partners. She crawls into bed and it is revealed that she is with a tattooed Lindsey McDonald. "Well...it’s a start," he replies.
- Angel tells Eve that a mysterious package was responsible for re-corporealizing Spike, much like the one that arrived in "Conviction" that caused Spike to materialize.
- This episode reveals the first time that Spike and Angelus actually meet. This was never done in the previous seasons of Buffy or Angel as any other time they are on screen together, they already know each other.
- Given Wesley's absence, this is the only episode of the series not to feature any of the members of Angel Investigations from the first season with the exception of Angel himself.
- After Spike hits Angel across the room with the cross, he stands holding the cross as his skin burns and says, "You've never met the real me." This is the same thing he tells Buffy in the Season Seven episode "Never Leave Me" when he asks her to kill him.
- Lindsey McDonald returns in the final moments of the episode, having not been seen since the Season Two episode "Dead End". He will go on to play an important role later in the season, and will appear in the series finale.
- Spike regains corporeal form, courtesy of what will be revealed as Lindsey.
- The Music Man: Eve's comment, "We've got trouble with a capital T, that rhymes with P, that stands for prophecy," is a nod to one of the songs from this musical.
- Superman: Spike says that Angel is fighting for "Truth, Justice, and Soccer moms" in reference to Superman's "Truth, Justice, and The American Way".
- In the Mouth of Madness: The dialogue between Gunn and Eve while a crazed man is coming towards them from behind a glass, carrying an axe, mirrors a similar scene in John Carpenter's movie.
- Dead Kennedys: When Spike drives off toward Death Valley he is both seen and heard singing along to the single Too Drunk to Fuck in the car.
Although credited, Alexis Denisof doesn't appear in this episode. This was due to his and Alyson Hannigan's wedding at the time of filming. This is the only episode from which he is absent following his first Angel appearance in Season One's "Parting Gifts".
In the season retrospective, Joss Whedon says the battle between Angel and Spike in this episode is the highlight of the final season. That battle, Scott McLaren argues, "succeeds in portraying an almost perfect balance between the concepts of the soul as existential metaphor and ontological reality." Since the Shanshu prophesy destines the ensouled vampire to a pivotal and dangerous role in the ultimate battle between good and evil, Spike and Angel's souls function both as "heavy burdens and precious baubles."
Nancy Holder says this episode marks the transition from Spike's characterization as it was in the seventh season of Buffy to a new, "never-before seen" version, defined by his relationship with Angel instead of Buffy. When Angel tells Spike that "Buffy never really loved you, because you weren't me", and Spike responds with "Guess that means she was thinking about you all those time I was puttin' it to her", Holder says that Spike is "betraying all the soft emotion he had for her in his eagerness to deal Angel a blow." Rather than reacting out of love for Buffy, the new Spike cares only about putting down Angel.
Adam Ward, the first assistant/focus puller, says the scenes at the abandoned Opera House were unexpectedly difficult to film. "It's one thing to see it on camera and another being on location in this theater that hasn't been used other than for film shots for decades. You get in there and the matter that floats around looks great on camera but you just don't want to breathe it in."
Christian Kane returned as Lindsey McDonald in the last moment of the final scene of this episode, which Sarah Thompson describes as "a secret scene" that didn't appear in the original script. She says, "I heard rumors there was going to be a big reveal, but I didn't know what was going to happen. David Boreanaz was like, 'Maybe you're going to turn out to be a lizard.'" She received the scene in an envelope marked 'confidential' shortly before filming, with strict orders not to reveal Kane's return.
Juliet Landau, excited to return to Angel, says, "this is a particularly fun episode... There are so many different colors and dimensions. Even though [Spike and I] are the villains and we are evil, there always has been this very sweet love story between us."
The Parents Television Council filed a complaint against a WB station for the flashback sex scene in which Angel's hips can be seen "moving back and forth." The PTC was also disturbed by the "heavy breathing" in an earlier scene between Darla and Drusilla. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) later ruled that the scene was not indecent, as it was "brief, contained no nudity and was not sufficiently graphic or explicit to render the program patently offensive."
This episode, which ran during sweeps, was praised by TV Guide for the writers' decision to finally make Spike corporeal again. Reviewer Matt Roush says this episode stands with "the best of Buffy." Author Peter David agrees that the producers had perfect timing: "Just when we're getting sick of Spike as a ghost, suddenly, just like that, poof, he's not anymore."
- O'Hare, Kate (January 20, 2003), Hannigan and Denisof Find Love in the Whedonverse, archived from the original on 2003-04-16, retrieved 2017-02-27
- Whedon, Joss. "Angel: The Final Season," Angel Season Five, 20th Century Fox DVD, Disk 6, 2004.
- McLaren, Scott, "The Evolution of Joss Whedon's Vampire Mythology and the Ontology of the Soul", Slayage, 18, archived from the original on 2014-11-02, retrieved 2017-02-27
- Holder, Nancy (2004), "Angel by the Numbers", in Glenn Yeffeth, Five Seasons of Angel, BenBella, p. 162, ISBN 1-932100-33-4
- DiLullo, Tara, Through the Lens: An Exclusive Interview with Adam Ward, CityOfAngel.com, archived from the original on 2007-11-05, retrieved 2007-09-20
- O'Hare, Kate (December 31, 2003), 'Angel's' Sarah Thompson Just Wants to Sing, archived from the original on July 13, 2009, retrieved 2007-12-20
- O'Hare, Kate (November 18, 2003), Landau Is 'Angel's' Queen of Flashbacks, archived from the original on July 13, 2009, retrieved 2007-12-20
- FCC Absolves 'Angel' of all Sins, Zap2it, February 27, 2005, archived from the original on July 13, 2009, retrieved 2007-09-20
- Kirby, Kathleen A. (April 2005), Indecency Update, Wiley Rein LLP, retrieved 2007-09-20
- Roush, Matt (November 19, 2003), "Roush Dispatches", TV Guide, retrieved 2007-09-18
- David, Peter (November 22, 2003), COWBOY PETE'S TV ROUNDUP, VOLUME II, PeterDavid.net, retrieved 2007-09-20
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