The blippiest of verts takes us to the, uh, Physics Symposium. Or something. Did they explain what this event is and I missed it? Wait -- Fred spots a sign and races over to gasp that her speech has been placed "between Ed Witten and Brian Green" and by squinting at the sign, I can tell that this is the California Physics Institute. How generic. Fred explains what an honor her placement is by using a sports metaphor that I don't understand or care about. Fred panics at the pressure, Gunn reassures her, and things are finally interrupted before I nod off. Fred recognizes one Professor Seidel, and hurries to greet him. Seidel dismisses a blonde named Laurie, saying he'll meet her "back at the lab." Why was she there in the first place? Just escorting him to the door? Seidel says it's been "two years or so" since he last saw Fred, and Fred agrees, adding, "Heavy on the 'or so.'" Seidel explains that he's going to introduce her, and Fred burbles that he inspired her as she finally introduces Gunn and Angel. More physics talk and Gunn-humiliation ensues, and Angel finally excuses himself by insisting that he'd better go save them some seats. Good cover; I'll have to remember that one. Seidel asks Fred to stop by his office to chat sometime, and Fred plans to drop in for a visit tomorrow. They start inside, still talking, while Gunn watches, looking lost. Or maybe just bored.
Inside, Angel has no trouble at all claiming a few of the many, many empty seats. Heh. He surveys the crowd, and spots Wesley sidling in to take a seat near the back. "At least I got better seats than he did," Angel thinks. Fred, Seidel, and Gunn wander in. While Seidel introduces Fred to his colleagues, Gunn takes a seat and tells Angel, "I'm gonna need simultaneous translating on this thing. You know, like the president with the Russians, but just give me the highlights." Angel cheerfully agrees, then points out that he doesn't understand any of it himself. Gunn asks, "Will you tell Fred that? If she thinks we're both stupid, I won't stand out as much." Aw, poor Gunn. The lights dim, and Seidel and Fred approach the podium. Hang on, Fred just told us that she was going to speak in between two other bigwigs. And yet she's going first. Plus there's nobody else even on the stage, although there are several empty chairs. Is this all a big hoax, like the grant presentation in "Lisa Gets an 'A'" on The Simpsons?
Seidel introduces Fred, saying, "There have been many recent insights into string theory, but few have so elegantly tied together the disparate threads as the one you will hear tonight." Get it? String theory and threads! Physics humor! Yeah, you're not missing much there. Gunn and Wesley both look pleased by the compliments Seidel is heaping on Fred. Angel, already bored, looks around just in time to see Lilah entering the room.
Fred starts her speech. We watch Lilah watching Wesley watch Fred. Read that again and you'll understand it. Angel looks back just as Lilah pulls out her cell phone and leaves the auditorium. He ponders this development. As Fred goes on, and on, and on, the camera moves up to show us the morphy magic of a portal opening above the stage. The entire audience spots it pretty quickly, and begins gasping. Fred looks up just in time to see a bunch of long snakey things with pointy beaks reach through the portal and wave around. Seidel makes a run for it as a snake wraps around Fred. Gunn and Angel race to the rescue. Oh, and Wesley, too, I suppose.
Commercials. Johanna and I talk about how Cordy should have had a photo of Xander labeled, "Loser ex who broke my heart." The label might have just been my suggestion. Johanna is overcome with pity for Xander, and complains that mean everyone is to him. And then she's distracted by her new obsession with Eminem. Johanna is very comfortable with her inner teenager. In a good way.
When we return, Fred is being lifted off the stage, Gunn is trying to pull her down, and Angel is stabbing at the other snakes with the microphone. Good improvised weapon! Although not very good. By now you'd think that they would always bring a few weapons along. Given ME's ongoing fascination with serpentine monsters, I have to say that this may be the best job they've ever done integrating CGI and live action. I looked at it a few times and except for the close-ups of the rubber mouths snapping at people, it all looks pretty good. Wesley is still trying to get through the crowd so he can help. But it hasn't occurred to him to climb over the seats instead of going down the aisle. I'm just saying. Oh, and a geeky boy near the front is calmly taking lots of pictures of the action. Gunn struggles to help Fred as Angel gets grabbed and pulled into the air. And that's when Angel finally remembers that he did bring a weapon, after all. He pulls a very short knife out of his boot, and somehow manages to cut completely through the very thick snake with one quick slice. He also quips, but because I liked the effects so much, I'll ignore it. Angel drops to the stage just as Gunn pulls Fred free, and the snakes withdraw, snarling, as the portal closes. Wesley stares, knife at the ready, but nothing to do. Because nobody needs Wesley's help.