Five episodes in and this seasons still firing on all cylinders as it delivers Lorne’s best outing. That might not sound like much as his only other spotlight episode wasn’t that great but “Life of the Party” is an excellent episode, evoking the sort of anarchic Halloween special vibe of classic Buffy but rooting it solidly in Angel’s corner of the universe. Fun costumes abound as Lorne’s inverted empathy has everyone stepping outside themselves, but the best one is worn by the Host himself. Lorne’s not nearly as comfortable at W&H has he’s pretended to be and while everyone else just has to deal with some embarrassment, he’s falling apart.
Of all the AI crew, Lorne’s the one who’s seemed most at home in their new surroundings and I appreciated the early reveal confirmation that appearances can be deceiving. Props to Andy Hallett for the slightly creepy edge given to Lorne’s little pep talk with his reflection. The words themselves are precisely the sort of thing he’s offered to Angelcakes and Co. in the past but, in this context, they’re almost sinister. Seeing Lorne, the show’s unfailingly positive character, brought to this point is upsetting and all we can think is that he needs to stop doing this himself. Unfortunately, destroying his own image isn’t the metaphoric wakeup call and Lorne gets his gameface back on to the strains of “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”
But Lorne’s poor fortune is our good as he starts projecting his bad vibes outward and mayhem ensues. Yes, we’ve seen this sort of Halloween episode before from ME, but not in a long time and not quite this way. Rather than using the hijinx to explore different parts of all the characters, everything’s about Lorne. His compulsions may be based in offhand remarks, but he really does want everyone to loosen up, be positive, and make nice with the demons. The irony is that his own behaviour’s as forced as there’s. Lorne’s not in party spirit any more than Wes and Fred are, nor does he have a positive attitude or like the Archduke. But he acts that way for the sake of keeping things together, is it really so much to ask others to do the same?
“Yes” is the surprising answer. While we can understand Lorne’s frustration that others don’t share his pep, the real solution is for him to be a little less peppy. He’s not merely stretching himself too thin for the sake of appearances, he’s lying about how Wolfram & Hart really makes him feel. While everyone seems to assume that Hulk-Lorne is on some sort of rampage, he kills only two demons and somehow manages to do it discreetly. The one thing these two have in common is wearing the flesh of sentients. While both moments are played for comedy, it’s clear that even Lorne, for all his claims to universal tolerance, draws the line there.
Lorne may be used to rubbing elbows with the scum of the earth, but that doesn’t mean that he likes them and pretending otherwise, particularly to his friends, is a problem. The lack of sleep is merely this week’s flobotnam; the real reason Lornes breaks down is because he’s pretending to be someone he’s not. He’s trying so hard to be a team player that he ends up lashing out at the people he’s trying to help. Wolfram & Hart has a way of twisting such impulses.
Drunken Fred and Wes is an episode highlight. Anytime Denisoff does physical comedy is a welcome treat but the award for best moment has to go to Fred’s “You walk alone!”
Not Fred’s finest moment: asking Wes what he thinks of Knox. I suppose that alcohol provides some excuse but, considering how clear his feelings are, I’ll go ahead and call this insensitive to say the least.
Nice touch with the final uncomfortable look from Eve after she tells Angel their having sex was no big deal.
In an episode filled with great humour, my favourite moment has still got to be the Archduke’s slave taking off at the first sign of trouble.