Before we get to the recap proper, I have to ask a question. Now, I don't watch Angel on a regular basis because my tolerance of televised stupidity does have its limits, but from Strega's most excellent recaps, I've learned that last week's lame episode featured Joss Whedon's version of Furies, and this week's lame episode featured his version of body-switching. Coincidence? Or proof that Whedon and Brad Kern are really a single crack-smoking hack who uses two different names?
For an episode that ends up being such a steaming pile of manure, this one does start off well enough. Cole, shirtless and glistening in a pair of black track pants and matching sneakers. So much for the good part of tonight's episode. Cole whirls around with his fists at the ready, and with a couple of manly hoos and hahs proceeds to land a kick into Phoebe's stomach. Apparently, they're practicing martial arts techniques. They're in some sort of barn-like dungeon with rough stone walls, within which are contained numerous pieces of gym equipment and various weapons. With Phoebe doubled over from the kick she's received, Cole instructs, "Don't be tense. Be ready. If you see me expand --" And here I start snickering like the dirty little Catholic schoolboy gone horribly wrong I am, and have to pause the tape to let the filthy thoughts run their course. Because my filthy thoughts could easily double as triathletes, it is quite some time before they've exhausted themselves and I am able to hit play. So, Cole continues with "contract" -- and look at that. They're off and running again. The worthless little bastards. Cole, with more of the tutoring: "If I contract, you expand." Anything you say, pal. Anything you say.
Phoebe, who is also in this scene but makes nary a mark on my memory of it, nods her head, and the two continue with the hoo-ing and the hah-ing and the spinning and the kicking and the sweating and the parrying and this is going to be a really short recap if they don't return to their normal, talky selves sometime soon. Cole finally flips Phoebe onto her back and squats over her with a coiled fist ready to make its acquaintance with her jaw. Phoebe smirks and pants out, "If you wanted to be on top, all you had to do was ask." Oh, fine: Hee. In the background, someone joins me in the tittering, and the camera swings around to reveal Rose indulging in a bit of voyeurism from her seat on the basement steps. Wait. The basement steps? This little gym they've set up is in the basement? What happened to all the stowed-away holiday decorations and discarded bed linens and china and furniture and stores of bottled water and canned goods and preserves on the shelves and all the other crap they kept down there? And they set all of this up -- when, exactly? In the two free minutes they've had out of the time spent planning Prue's funeral, interring her remains, holding the wake, thwarting the investigation into her death, finding Rose and saving her from the dark demonic forces sent from the flaming maw of Hell to destroy her, accompanying Piper on her ill-conceived headlong rush into the destruction of all said dark demonic forces, and exorcizing the Furies that subsequently possessed her? Pull the other one.
Phoebe darts to her feet to chide Rose for slacking off. Seems Rose should be "studying for Piper's quiz" on "potion basics," but Rose has bailed in hopes of "go[ing] a couple of rounds with a demon first." Get in line, sister. The demon in question meanwhile has risen to his feet to display his sleek, slick build to the viewing audience, and the viewing audience finds itself overwhelmed with gratitude for this selfless gesture on his part. Over at the stairs, Phoebe's babbling something about Piper taking her "witchcraft quizzes very seriously," and yes, one may easily argue that this point of Piper's characterization has no canonical precedent in the text of the series to date, but good goddamn -- did you get a look at Cole? Phoebe attempts to impress upon Rose the immediacy of the need to get her up to speed as quickly as possible, as their "lives may depend on it." Rose snipes about this "appeal" to her "conscience" being "a low blow" (snort), but rises to comply with Phoebe's request. She sighs, "I just want to know when the fun starts," then eye-rolls her way up to the kitchen.