I've Got You Under My Skin (Angel)
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|"I've Got You Under My Skin"|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||R.D. Price|
|Teleplay by||Jeannine Renshaw|
|Original air date||February 15, 2000|
"I've Got You Under My Skin" is episode 14 of season one in the television show Angel. Just as Cordelia succeeds at opening Angel up about Doyle and the events surrounding his death, she suffers a vision about an ancient Ethros demon, which turns out to have been possessing a young boy, Ryan Anderson, for years. Angel, Wesley and Cordelia perform an exorcism that expels the demon from the child, but it escapes the trap they set and roams free to possess once more. Even worse, they learn that the mass-murdering Ethros demon does not pose the biggest threat to the Anderson family's well-being.
Cordelia finally gets Angel to talk about Doyle's death when she suddenly has a vision. Angel and Wesley go to the envisioned house in the suburbs when a boy named Ryan from the house walks out onto the street. Angel saves him from an oncoming car, and he talks with the parents, Paige and Seth. Noticing that something is off but not sure what is going on, Angel takes advantage of Paige's overflowing gratitude and takes her up on a dinner invitation about which Seth clearly disapproves. Outside, Wesley finds glowing goo called "plakticine" (similar to ectoplasm) oozing from the foundation all around the house and they realize someone in the house is possessed by a powerful mass-murdering Ethros demon. Angel suspects the father, but the only way to be sure which family member is possessed is to have each ingest eucalyptus powder, which will force the demon to manifest. They mix the powder with brownies that Angel brings to dinner, where Angel watches Seth carefully and it isn't until the daughter Stephanie screams that he sees the demon horrifically manifesting in Ryan before the boy falls unconscious. Paige is frantic and accuses Angel of poisoning her son, but Seth supports Angel, reminding Paige that something has been truly wrong with the boy since long before Angel's advent. They agree to attempt an exorcism and take the boy and his parents back to Angel's place for preparations.
Cordelia establishes a magic circle of protection around the bed to bind Ryan there. Stressing that Ryan is not himself anymore, Angel warns Seth and Paige, particularly Paige, that they risk being killed if they break the barrier or go anywhere near the boy. Angel and Wesley try to make contact with the priest reputed to be professionally trained to perform exorcisms but find that he has died and they must attempt the exorcism themselves. Meanwhile, Ryan has seemingly regained consciousness and commences tormenting Paige with guilt at leaving him abandoned and alone in the dark. Her resolve breaks, and when she rushes to his side he begins strangling her; after a tense few minutes, Wesley and Angel rush into the bedroom and manage to pull Paige from Ryan's choke hold, but their efforts send the demon deeper, and the boy again lapses into unconsciousness. Upon learning from Cordelia's research that expelling the demon will send him to the nearest "warm body", Angel sends her to procure an Ethros box from Rick's Magick & Stuff, which is supposed to hold the Ethros demon. Rick's, however, does not have an Ethros Box, so Cordelia instead buys a box intended for another type of demon. While Cordelia shops, Wesley attempts the exorcism. He manages to raise the demon far enough to animate the boy once more, and the Ethros cruelly taunts him about his inadequacies as a youth and as a Watcher until Wesley grows visibly more distracted and vulnerable. He fails. Someone or something telekinetically uses marbles on the table to write the words, "Save me". The demon taunts Angel and he wraps his hand with a length of cloth, grabs the cross and Wesley's small volume of incantations, and strides into the bedroom. Holding the cross pressed to Ryan's chest, Angel ignores the pain of his hand sizzling through the protective layers and begins to chant, his voice growing louder and more commanding as he repeats the ritual phrases until, finally, he shouts, "Now get the hell out!" With an invisible rush, the demon is expelled from the boy, but the box Cordelia bought is unable to contain the demon's energy and shatters.
Some time later, after sending the Andersons home, the AI team tries to determine the demon's current whereabouts. They realize the Ethros demon will need to take corporeal form to recharge itself after expending so much energy to escape. Leaving Cordelia behind, Welsey and Angel search the sea caves and find the Ethros demon. They are surprised when the evil being reveals that the boy Ryan is soulless. The demon had been inside the boy, but unable to manifest because of Ryan's naturally evil personality until Ryan ate Angel's brownies. They realize that the "save me" message was from the demon, and the boy walking in front of the car on the first night was the demon sleepwalking Ryan to kill him. Angel kills the demon swiftly, and he and Wesley realize that the Andersons are in even greater danger now that they believe themselves safe at last.
That night in the Andersons' home after everyone is asleep, Ryan, his door unlocked for the first time in a long time, steals matches from Seth's bedstand, then locks his parents' door shut with a toy block. Ignoring his now-awake parents as they struggle to open the door, the boy sloshes gasoline over his sister's toys and furniture, then lights a match and tosses it down. The room ignites with a whoosh, cutting Stephanie off from the door by a wall of flame. Seth and Paige finally burst out and find Ryan staring entranced at the roaring flames while Stephanie screams from behind them. Angel suddenly crashes through the window opposite and scoops Stephanie into his arms as Wesley hustles Ryan and his parents down the hall to safety. A little while later, Angel and Seth stand outside while firemen contain the blaze. Behind Seth, Paige and Stephanie huddle together near the front door. Detective Kate Lockley comes over to inform Seth that Social Services is taking custody of Ryan, and that they can see him in the morning, but that there won't be anything to report until after the evaluation. Angel redirects Seth's attention from the son he cannot save to the wife and daughter he has already protected. Almost imperceptibly nodding his thanks, Seth turns to embrace his welcoming family. Angel makes his own way out to the sidewalk.
This was "one of the very early scripts that we wrote before Doyle was killed," says writer Tim Minear. He struggled with the story until coming up with the idea that Angel should accidentally call Wesley "Doyle", which gave the script a cohesive theme about the pain of losing a family member. At the end of the episode Seth Anderson loses his son, and at the beginning Angel has lost someone like a son; Minear says both are "desperately trying to keep their family together, and through no fault of their own, they can't."
Joss Whedon came up with the twist that Ryan Anderson was more evil than the demon who possessed him. He also cut the priest who, in the first draft of the script, performed the exorcism. Whedon questioned why Wesley couldn't perform the ritual, and Minear says, "Suddenly it makes perfect sense, because Angel's problem at the beginning of the story is, 'I let Doyle die... because he did something that I couldn't do.' Now you have Wesley saying, 'I can perform this exorcism; you can't.'" When Angel later saves Wesley's life, Minear says "he's sort of atoning for the Doyle thing."
- Cordelia squabbling in the kitchen with a coworker-turned-friend is so reminiscent of past episodes (e.g., "Rm w/a Vu"), that Angel actually calls Wesley 'Doyle.'
- When Ethros speaks with Doyle's voice, he refers to events in "Hero," also discussed earlier the previous day by Cordelia and Angel.
- Just as he indicates to Cordelia at the end of "Somnambulist," Angel here tells Wesley that being prepared to kill him if he turns evil again is a good thing.
- Angel and Wesley each seem to possess a double-bladed Bavarian fighting axe. Cordelia asks Buffy about Angel's in "I Will Remember You" when, believing Angel Investigations is closing its doors forever, she begins tagging items for inventory. Wesley brings his new one into the office in "Expecting," prompting Cordelia's friend Serena to remark, "nice ax."
- When Angel, Cordelia and Wesley initially suspect that the father is the possessed person, Wesley says that a father "doesn't need to be possessed to terrorize his children," then quickly stops talking. This is one of the earliest hints at Wesley's issues with his own father.
- This episode marks the second instance of a human being fully or partially soulless; the first was Buffy in "Living Conditions."
- I've Got You Under My Skin: This episode shares its title with a song that became a signature of Frank Sinatra.
- Lizzie Borden: When Wesley mentions the famous Massachusetts woman accused of murdering her parents with an axe, Angel explains that the Ethros demon possessing her was only an adolescent.
- The Exorcist: During the discussion about how to determine which Anderson family member is possessed, Cordelia asks if the demon will manifest by spinning its host's head around. Later, she asks whether Angel wants to protect his bedroom floor, in case there's "any big vomiting." These phrases both refer to the film The Exorcist. (Incidentally, Cordelia previously referred to The Exorcist in "I Only Have Eyes for You".)
- Thighmaster: When Angel cites Wesley's lack of resistance even to sales suggestion, Wesley protests that his second Thighmaster was a free gift.
- Blessed be: Rick the Clerk's greeting to Cordelia is a common Wiccan greeting.
- Nestlé Bunny: Paige tries to coax Ryan out of his sulk by invoking this advertising mascot.
- Gross, Edward (August 28, 2000), ANGEL: Season One, Episode By Episode with Tim Minear - Part 3, TimMinear.net, retrieved 2007-09-17
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