Why We Fight (Angel)

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"Why We Fight"
Angel episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 13
Directed byTerrence O'Hara
Written bySteven S. DeKnight
Drew Goddard
Production code5ADH13
Original air dateFebruary 11, 2004
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"You're Welcome"
Next →
"Smile Time"
Angel (season 5)
List of Angel episodes

"Why We Fight" is episode 13 of season 5 in the television show Angel. Sam Lawson, a mysterious man from Angel's past, arrives at Wolfram & Hart and takes Wesley, Fred and Gunn hostage. In a flashback to 1943, it is revealed that Angel was forcibly recruited by the Demon Research Initiative to recover a captured German U-boat with American sailors on board. The ship also has a secret cargo of three vampires: Spike, the Prince of Lies, and Nostroyev, who were kidnapped by a Nazi team. The submarine is damaged, and Lawson, the only surviving engineer, is mortally wounded. In order to save the rest of the crew, Angel makes Lawson a vampire (seemingly the only one he sired since 1898) and forces both Lawson and Spike out of the submarine to swim to shore. Sixty years later, Lawson seeks out Angel for revenge.


In 1943, a submarine crosses the Atlantic Ocean as its crew begins to panic. An officer named Lawson issues orders to the crew as an unseen creature kills their captain.

In the present, Angel's team discusses Eve's disappearance. Wesley is concerned about her threats of revenge, but Gunn thinks that the Senior Partners will take care of her for them. Angel wants to make sure that Lindsey is being punished as well, but Gunn notes that the white room is still empty, so they no longer have a link to the Senior Partners. The team is surprised that Angel lets them leave early, but, since they all still have work to do, they agree to meet again in a few hours. They split up as Lawson arrives in the building. Later, Fred encounters him in the science lab and is disturbed that he knows her name. After he dissuades her from fleeing, he claims to be an old friend of Angel's.

Back in 1943, a new agency, the Demon Research Initiative, presses Angel into joining the war effort to recover a German prototype submarine commandeered by the American military. After becoming trapped in enemy territory, the sub requires a vampire's assistance, as no human soldier can reach it. Though initially resistant, Angel realizes he has no choice. Lawson and his surviving men, who have barricaded themselves in a small section, recognize Angel's Morse code and let him in.

In the present, Lawson captures Wesley as he attempts to help Fred. On the submarine, Angel gives a verification code and confronts the creature, who is revealed to be a dark-haired Spike, dressed as a Nazi; Spike says he merely ate a Nazi and took his jacket. Spike introduces Angel to two other vampires, Nostroyev and the Prince of Lies. Though Spike wants to kill the remaining humans, Angel disallows it, as they need the humans to steer the ship. When Nostroyev insists upon killing all but one of the crew, Angel kills him. In the present, Lawson confronts Angel in his office. Angel recognizes him and learns that Lawson has been keeping tabs on him. On the sub, Angel introduces the vampires and crew to each other. Though Lawson dislikes working with Spike, Angel reminds him that they have orders and must work toward winning the war.

In the present, Lawson asks Angel if his actions on the sub were motivated by selfishness. Angel attacks Lawson, reminding him that he said he would kill him next time they meet; however, Lawson reveals Angel's captured friends. Back on the sub, Spike demands to be called "Captain", and Angel assures Lawson he can control Spike. Angel must stake the Prince of Lies after he attacks a captured Nazi, revealing the Prince as a vampire. After Angel and Spike interrogate him, the Nazi admits to having performed mind control experiments on vampires. Enraged, Spike again threatens to kill the entire crew, but Angel and Lawson stop him. Lawson insists the Americans have no similar plans. Angel orders the Nazi's report burned. Believing that Angel is playing both sides, Spike expresses both surprise and respect.

Distracted by an explosion, Spike sets his clothes on fire instead of burning the whole report. The crew spots enemy destroyers, and the sub is rendered motionless. As Spikes notes the Nazi has disappeared, the Nazi stabs Lawson. To save the sub, Angel turns Lawson into a vampire. Lawson repairs the sub, thanks Angel, and suggests they eat the crew. Angel forces him to leave the sub and swim 20 miles to dry land, warning him that he will kill him if he ever sees him again. Spike laughs but becomes irritated when Angel also forces him to leave.

In the present, Angel tells Lawson that he never wanted to sire Lawson, but Lawson notes that it seems fair to sacrifice his life to help the Americans. Angel tells him that killing his friends will not change the past, but Lawson settles for hurting Angel. They fight, and before Angel kills Lawson, Lawson says, "Go on, Chief. Give me a mission." The next day, Spike suggests Lawson was there for revenge, but Angel says that he came there for "a reason".


This is Alexis Denisof's 100th Buffyverse episode as "Wesley Wyndam-Pryce," dating back to Buffy's third season.

Camden Toy, who plays the Prince of Lies, previously appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer on several occasions. He portrayed one of the Gentlemen in the season four episode, "Hush" and the flesh-eating demon Gnarl in season seven's "Same Time, Same Place." He also had a recurring role throughout season seven as the "Ubervamp."


Arc significance[edit]

  • At the beginning of the episode when everyone is discussing Eve and Lindsey, it is hinted that Gunn's brain upgrade is starting to fade away. This will play a major part in the next three episodes.


  • Contrary to Lawson's insistence, a significant portion of the Initiative's work eventually involves capturing vampires and demons and experimenting on them, attempting to develop a race of supersoldiers to use as military tools. When Spike is captured by the Initiative in "The Initiative", he asks a fellow prisoner the identity of the captors who mean to conduct experiments on them, specifically guessing that either "the government" or "the Nazis" are involved.
  • After the incident on the submarine, Spike and Angel won't meet again until Spike comes to Sunnydale in "School Hard".
  • During the episode, Angel says, "I'm not getting trapped at the bottom of the sea," and Spike says, "I'm not getting experimented on by his (the American) government." In "The Initiative", the Initiative place a chip in Spike's brain, and in "Tomorrow", Connor traps Angel in a box and sinks him in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Gunn's "brain upgrade" begins to wear out in this episode, evident in the beginning of the episode where he stammers during the meeting.
  • Angel states that Lawson is the only vampire he sired after getting his soul.


During the flashback sequences there is little or no attempt to use the language of 1943. Anachronistic phrases like "back in the day," "hold it together," "don't lose your cool," a joke that assumes everyone is familiar with a melon-baller, etc. abound.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Why We Fight: The episode title is taken from the name of a famous series of American World War II-era propaganda films produced by Frank Capra, explaining the reasons the US was involved in the war.
  • Captain America: One of the sailors mentions the patriotic comic book character. Captain America was first introduced in 1940 and was popular throughout World War II. The sailor is quite surprised upon finding out that Steve Rogers and Captain America are the same person.
  • The Prince of Lies' appearance, including his posture, movement, and dress, is modeled on that of Count Orlok in Murnau's Nosferatu, the first film (albeit unauthorised) adaptation of Dracula.


Noel Murray of The A.V. Club wrote that the episode "combines suspense, action and comedy in entertaining ways".[1] David Johnson of DVD Verdict wrote that the episode "seems promising, but falls flat in the execution".[2]


  1. ^ Murray, Noel (2012-04-20). "Angel: "Why We Fight"/"Smile Time"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  2. ^ Johnson, David (2005-02-21). "Angel: The Complete Fifth Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-09-15.

External links[edit]