I heard somewhere (the director’s commentary?) that the original plan was for Lorne to sing “Over the Rainbow” during his “last day” segment but it fell through due to rights/money issues. Much as I appreciate the bittersweet second choice of “If I Ruled the World,” I can’t help but bemoan how perfect the first option would’ve been. Season two’s final arc is one best forgotten, but callbacks are always welcome in finales and, much as we might’ve hated it, Pylea was the most extended concentrated look at Lorne we’ve ever received. More importantly, the song would’ve brought home the most important element of Lorne’s character: for him, our world is OZ; a wondrous, magical place where anything can happen. Earth offers Lorne more than he ever dreamed possible, a fact that goes a long way to explaining his sunny disposition and near-bottomless tolerance. Contrasted with this, his exit from the series is all the more tragic and enough to make me hate Angel just a little.
Taking things from the top, I’ll point out that Lorne’s the last person to raise his hand for Angel’s kamikaze mission; Spike’s the first (of course) and gets his hand way up. Wesley’s second and equally decisive. Gunn is silent but unambiguous. Lorne’s tentative, barely raising his hand at all; “in,” but clearly not happy about it. The doubts don’t stop there as he keeps questioning the plan after everyone’s mind is made up. Not just the plan, but Angel himself, “I think that our fearless leader has seriously LOST IT.” The character best able to roll with whatever life throws at him is the only one not able to accept the suicide course they’re all on. Why? Because he’s the only one who doesn’t belong on it.
Lorne’s alone among the surviving members of Angel Inc. in having no need for redemption. The worst thing he’s ever done is cause a ruckus at a party and kill a couple of demons who had it coming. That’s a far cry from the kidnapping/murder/mass murder/god-level mass murder weight that his compatriots are carrying. The gap’s certainly pronounced here, but it’s nothing new. Lorne was introduced as ancillary character and, even as he grew more thoroughly a part of the team, he didn’t accumulate baggage the way everyone else did. This fact leant him perspective where others (particularly Angel) lacked it and made him a natural fit for the role of moral compass. It’s the role he’s still trying to fulfill here, but it’s too little too late.
If Lorne has anything to feel guilty about it’s his decision to join Wolfram & Hart along with the rest of the crew. It’s what lead them all to this point and this shared culpability may go a long way to explaining why he doesn’t bail when no one will listen to him, but I think that there’s a better explanation. Fellowship has always been a big part of what brings everyone together on this show, but for Lorne it’s the only thing. With no bad deeds he needs to make up for, no mission from on high, and no real damage to speak of, Lorne’s not in this for his own sake; he’s in it for his friends’. While clearly a good guy, the Host never expressed much enthusiasm for Angel’s mission, even tried to rein him back on occasion. It was only as he and Angel grew closer that Lorne got more involved with the team. This friendship’s too important for Lorne to betray it, even as he recoils at where it’s leading. If only Angel held it in the same regard.
I’ve said several times before that Angel’s kind of a prick but this betrayal, and it is a betrayal, goes beyond that. Lorne’s not a fighter. He’s sure as hell not a murderer. He’s an innocent; at least as much a one as this series will allow. His world isn’t harsh and cruel and dark; it’s bright and colourful and magical. But Angel doesn’t need a demon with a heart of gold right now. So he gives his friend a gun and tells him to go kill someone; knowing full well what this will do to him. Lorne knows it too. He agrees to help out of loyalty, but that’s as far as his loyalty goes. Is it any wonder he has no desire to see the gang again after it’s all over? Not that this fact is enough to make Angel balk after everything he’s already sacrificed, but we certainly wish he had.
While I think that, overall, the finale was a positive sendoff for our heroes, this was never a series to give us unambiguous virtue and Lorne’s exit serves as a necessary counterpoint to the otherwise glorious end that Angel makes. Even if we agree with the alleged necessity of Lindsey’s murder, there’s no way for us to take any satisfaction in it. Good as the character was, he’d lost all heat as a villain after his midseason defeat and so his end can’t serve as a payoff to anything. Angel’s final epic battle is (appropriately) with Hamilton while Lindsey gets unceremoniously gunned down by a flunky. It’s grim, ugly, and pathetic, to the point that we could almost feel sorry for the guy if it wasn’t juxtaposed with the look on Lorne’s face. He’s now just as lost as anyone else on the team; more so, since he doesn’t think he belongs with them. It’s a tragic exit devoid of the redemption that offsets everyone else’s. And it was Angel’s plan.
It’s purely coincidence, but Wednesday marks the sixth anniversary of Andy Hallett’s death. His vocal chops were obvious but, for anyone with any doubt, his final scene on this series proved there was a very talented actor lurking under all that makeup.
Despite the Lorne portion and the final shot, I really do that Angel’s finale was a positive one, and I’m not of those entertain the idea that they somehow survived. Yes, there are comics (they may even be worth reading if you’re curious) but Angel the series ends at “Not Fade Away” and it’s not a cliffhanger. Everyone in that alley dies. I’ll expand on this a bit more in the other finale posts, but the whole point of Angel is that evil can never be defeated; the best anyone can hope for is to fight it. Our heroes died doing that, which we should all count as a win.
If you ever have the good fortune to watch this series with someone who’s never seen it before, be sure to look at their face when Lorne pulls out that gun.
“I’ve heard you sing.”
Naturally, Lorne did more than one song in that final set, so let’s all imagine him singing “Over the Rainbow.” And “Lady Marmalade.”
We can, and perhaps should, imagine that Lorne was able to find his way after leaving Angel’s mission behind. I’m actually (mostly) a fan of the Angel “Season Six” comics, but their glossing over of this event was pretty unforgivable. Yes, we all wanted to see happy-go-lucky Lorne again, but that really needed to be earned.
“Good night, folks”