CBS’s Strange Angel
Season 2, Episode 3: “The Lovers”
Directed by Mark Heyman
Written by David DiGilio
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Magus” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Wheel of Fortune” – click here
Soundtrack note: The classical piece heard throughout this episode is better known as “Habanera” from Carmen by Georges Bizet
In the Tarot, The Lovers are linked with growth. If upright, the card can predict a future relationship, of any kind, and above all it signifies commitment to a crucial decision— it suggests exists conflicts will be resolved. If reversed, the card dignifies difficulty in a relationship, and warns of temptation leading to future regret— it suggests there’s a failure to recognise the true nature of a situation / relationship.
The members of the Agape Lodge are quite a site to behold in Los Angeles, bringing their bohemian lifestyle to the streets. Susan (Bella Heathcote) is with the Grand Magus Alfred Miller (Greg Wise). She runs into Mrs. Van Buren who talks about “easing peoples‘ minds” re: what’s been going on at their mansion lately.
At the lab, Jack (Jack Reynor), Gui Chiag (Keye Chen), and Richard Onsted (Peter Mark Kendall) are hard at work trying to beat the Nazis and their V-2 rocket. Jack’s troubled. His notebook is missing. He worries about its contents getting out into the world.
More glimpses of Ernest Donovan’s (Rupert Friend) time abroad. He and a man called Omar (Junes Zahdi) were together romantically. They’d fallen in love Something bad happened. He was believed to be an American spy, tortured for information, and later on in the episode we finally see Omar was murdered in front of him.
It continues to haunt Ernest. He struggles to “see the angel” and stay off heroin.
A troubling obsession’s grown in Jack for Patty (Laine Neil). He knows one of the soldiers has been fucking her. He’s sneaking around at home, listening to those tapes of everyone’s dark secrets, including Patty, who speaks about him in a sexual way. While he’s trying to avoid being caught— seeing his wife and the Magus getting much closer— he’s noticed by Ernest. The old friends have new secrets to share.
The next day, Jack tries to talk to somebody about Private Fischer (MacCallister Byrd) likely stealing his notes. He’s given no help. This sends him straight to Crowley (Angus Macfadyen). They meet secretly in a theatre, watching propaganda of Adolf Hitler. They speak of what to do about a potential spy. The Great Beast has his own plans, and Jack remains sceptical, going to Ernest for further help.
At the lab, MPs harass Gui. They call him “nip” and ask why he hasn’t reported “to the camps.” It takes Richard to show up for them to calm their racist attitudes. The MPs make a distinction between who they see as “normal Americans” and the Other. A disgusting moment of American culture at a time when so many were wracked with xenophobic fear, directing their hate towards all the wrong places.
Have things really changed that much? Sadly, no— not in the ole U.S. of A.
Susan has to Agape’s embrace to attend a Christmas event at Mrs. Van Buren’s place. She’s brought Alfred along. He fits in like a sore thumb, not even wearing shoes. Virgil’s (Michael Gaston) there and wants to interrogate the Magus, as well as Susan. They’ve surrounded the two cultists. It was never an invitation to a party. Virgil questions their supposed tenants, from black jazz musicians to a transgender German. Lots of racism and xenophobia(etc) from the bourgeois whites. They’re quite stunned when Alfred chastises them for “religious persecution.”
“Do you enjoy toying with the forbidden?”
Jack is with Ernest, keeping an eye on Private Fischer. The torture Ernest experienced on his travels is pushing him near over the edge. Or, near pushing the private off a bridge. He thinks the military man is a “goddamn Nazi.” We later see Fischer’s in league with the dickhead giving Jack a hard time— he’s then sent to the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama as his next posting, which is interesting for history nerds.
At home, Jack hears about the Xmas party. Neither he nor Susan / the Magus realise the man they let back into the Agape is causing their problems— Virgil has got his inside man working overtime, too. The Lodge plans on going the route Scientology would later take, by attempting to get the IRS to acknowledge Thelema as a religious institution, making them tax exempt + allowing them the “full protection of the First Amendment.” More than that, there’s a division, yet again, between husband and wife.
Ernest confronts Jack. He believes one of them must die as a sacrifice. He’s going to try and murder Jack to see his angel. The rocket man’s able to get away, running off into the night. When he’s found by Ernest he cuts his chest open in the symbol of Thelema, speaking with great confidence: “I am the truth.” He appears to his friend as the fiery angel. Well, with phosphorous trickery, anyway. (Also, has Aleister figured out Mr. Donovan is the spy among their ranks?) Meanwhile, the Grand Magus is back at the lodge tying a naked Susan in bondage ropes while they do more strange Thelema rituals together alone to conjure their will or some shit.
“We can do anything—
love is the law.”
What a wild episode! Season 2 has upped the game, in every way.
So much intrigue. So much tension. It’s all going to get so much crazier.
“The Wheel of Fortune” is next time.