Why We Fight (Angel)

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"Why We Fight"
Angel episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 13
Directed by Terrence O'Hara
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Drew Goddard
Production code 5ADH13
Original air date February 18, 2004
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"You're Welcome"
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"Smile Time"
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.


It is 1943, and a submarine is moving through the Atlantic Ocean as its crew begins to panic. An officer named Lawson issues orders to the crew as their captain is suddenly grabbed and killed by an unseen creature.

In the present, Angel's team discusses the fact that Eve has vanished. 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 is letting them go before midnight on a Friday, but, since they all still have work to do, they agree to meet up again in a few hours for another discussion. 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. She casually backs away, but he warns her that if she runs, he will have to stop her. He tells her that he is an old friend of Angel from "back when he was in his patriotic phase."

Back in 1943, a brooding Angel is sitting alone in a New York City apartment when a group of military officers armed with stakes burst inside. One of them represents a new agency, the Demon Research Initiative, and their goal is to recruit Angel to join the war effort. They need his assistance to rescue a German prototype submarine that has been commandeered by the American military (the submarine seen earlier). The crew ran into trouble on the way home and is now trapped in enemy territory. No human soldier can reach the sub because of the extreme cold and pressure at the bottom of the ocean (conditions that pose no threat to a vampire). Angel is initially resistant to participating, but it soon becomes clear that he has no real choice.

In the sub, Lawson and his surviving shipmates are barricaded into a small section of the submarine, temporarily safe but unable to control the submarine. As they evaluate their options, they are alarmed to hear a clanging sound in the tubes until Lawson recognizes it as Morse code: an SOS signal. They open the tube and discover Angel inside.

In the present, Lawson captures Wesley as he attempts to help Fred. On the submarine, Angel asks for the captain and is informed that he is dead and that Lawson is now in charge. Angel issues an order and provides a verification code to assure the crew that he is on their side. He heads for the hatch to confront the creature and comes face-to-face with a dark-haired Spike, clad in a black leather Nazi jacket. "Angelus," Spike remarks. "They'll let anyone in here." Angel disbelievingly asks Spike if he is a Nazi; Spike says that he just ate one and took his jacket. Spike assumes that Angel was grabbed by the S.S. the same way he was - at a "free virgin blood party."

Spike introduces Angel to the two other recently freed prisoners, vampires named Nostroyev and the Prince of Lies. When Spike learns that several humans are still alive, he wants to kill them; Angel forbids killing the humans because they need the crew to get back to the surface ("We're underwater?" asks a confused Prince of Lies). Spike tries to prove that he can steer them out, but he just sets off an alarm. When Nostroyev insists upon killing all but one of the crew, Angel kills him. When Angel reiterates his demand that no humans be killed, Spike gives him the two-fingered salute and a "Heil Hitler."

In the present, Lawson confronts Angel in his office. Angel recognizes him and learns that Lawson has been keeping tabs on him over the past 60 years. Back on the sub, Angel introduces the crew to Spike and the Prince of Lies, telling them to put the vamps to work. Angel and Lawson move the dead crew members out of the way as Lawson says that he is not sure how to feel about Spike being there, since he killed the captain. Angel reminds him that they have to follow orders and bring the sub in. Lawson replies that "there's a difference between orders and purpose." He can handle dying, as long as it is for a greater purpose. Angel tells him that the job they do will help win the war, so they need to work together.

In the present, Lawson asks Angel if he only did what he did on the sub for himself. He wants to understand "why we do what we do." Angel attacks Lawson and starts to stake him with a coffee table leg, but Lawson asks if he really wants to do that. Angel reminds him that the last time they saw each other, Angel promised he would kill Lawson the next time they met. Lawson says that he would never come to Angel without having something up his sleeve. He takes Angel to a conference room, where Angel sees that Wesley, Fred, and Gunn are all tied up and standing on office chairs. Lawson explains that the gang have wire around their necks, so if they get knocked off their chairs, they will be decapitated.

Back on the sub, the crew takes command of the submarine while Spike complains to Angel that he wants to steer the sub and be addressed as "Captain." Angel puts him to work and tries to assure Lawson that he can control Spike. They two hear screaming from the next room and rush over to discover that the Prince of Lies is beating up the captured Nazi. He and Lawson try to get the Prince of Lies away from the Nazi, but Angel has to stake him to stop him. Angel has to explain to Lawson that the Prince of Lies was a vampire. Spike points out that the Prince of Lies was holding a report in German and demands that the Nazi tell them what it contains. Lawson translates an impromptu interrogation while Spike "menaces" the Nazi officer, who reveals that the Nazis have been doing experiments on vampires, trying to learn how to control them. The Nazis eventually plan to use the controlled vampires in the Nazi army. Spike is furious about what the Nazis are doing, and assumes that the Americans have similar plans. Accordingly, Spike reiterates his desire to kill the crew, but Angel and Lawson stop him. Lawson insists that the Americans would never experiment on vampires or try to control them, saying: "You don't win a war by doing whatever it takes. You win by doing what's right." Angel tells Spike to burn the report, which he does (while singing "God Save the King"), much to the dismay of the Nazi officer. By this time, Spike has figured out that Angel is playing both sides, and expresses both surprise and respect for the move.

They hear an explosion, and a distracted Spike accidentally sets his clothes on fire instead of burning up the whole report. Enemy destroyers are spotted and the crew tries the submarine, but after more explosions the sub is rendered motionless. The sub starts taking on water and Angel helps fix the pipes to stop the flow. As Spike notes that the Nazi has disappeared, Lawson looks for his screwdriver. He turns around and the Nazi stabs him in the stomach with the missing screwdriver. Angel tries to get the dying Lawson to tell him how to get the sub home. Lawson says that he is the only one who is capable of doing what needs to be done. Angel vamps out and bites Lawson, then makes Lawson drink from him. Angel heads back to the main room and tells the crew to get ready to surface. The newly-sired Lawson repairs the sub and thanks Angel. However, he now wants to eat the rest of the crew, since he and Angel do not need them anymore. Angel takes Lawson to the main room and forces him to leave the sub, and swim the 20 miles to dry land. He warns him that the sun will come up in 8 hours, and tells him that if he ever sees him again, he will kill him. As Lawson leaves the sub. Spike laughs at Angel's actions, telling him that he is "still a dick," and is 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 the gang will not change the past; Lawson says that it will hurt Angel, which might be enough for him. "It never is," Angel replies. They fight, and Lawson accuses Angel of making him nothing because Angel gave him a little bit of his soul. Lawson tries to stake Angel, who turns the stake around so it is pointing at him. "Go on, Chief. Give me a mission," Lawson says. Angel stakes him. The next day, Spike goes to Angel's office, explaining that Fred filled him in on the events of the previous night. He thinks that 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.

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.

External links[edit]