Doyle's attempt to get Angel to put down his book and go out to a sports bar featuring online trivia gets sidetracked by the appearance of Cordelia, in elegant evening wear, who apparently arranged to meet her date, Pierce, at Angel's office. Cordelia enumerates Pierce's many attractive qualities, all of which seem to be material in nature. When Pierce arrives a little later, Angel interrogates the handsome young man until Cordelia manages to drag him out the door.
In some distress at the hopelessness of his own case with Cordelia, Doyle sits on the sofa and idly leafs through one of Angel's books. When a photo of a lovely blond woman slips from between the pages, Doyle picks it up and whistles, asking Angel if his old squeeze would date a man with an Irish accent. Seeing Angel's stricken face, Doyle immediately realizes that this is Buffy and gets up to apologize. Before he's able to say anything else, however, Doyle is struck by another vision, and the conversation is sidetracked again. At Doyle's report of a young guy captured by a band of vampires downtown, the two of them race to the rescue.
Meanwhile, at a posh, upscale restaurant, Cordelia, finding herself "bored silly" by Pierce and his futures trading exploits, entertains herself by imagining what her fellow team members might be up to. In fact, Angel and Doyle are in the midst of a bracing battle in the vampire nest, where they arrived just in time to save the weakened but still breathing victim. After they dust all visible vamps, Angel elects to take their charge home, and sends Doyle back to the office. As they leave, the single surviving nest-member, a large, mean-looking male vamp emerges from hiding.
Unaware that he's being hunted, Doyle lets himself in at the office, while the hunting vampire also observes Cordelia's arrival only moments later. Dropping Cordelia off early because she claims to feel unwell, Pierce makes a couple of last-ditch tries to spend the night with her. When the vamp suddenly shows his face, however, Pierce screams and runs in terror, leaps into his Mercedes convertible and burns rubber backing away. Now alone, Cordelia struggles with her captor in a futile attempt to break away. Suddenly, Doyle reappears on the front steps with a crossbow and an attitude. Taking his only shot, Doyle sends a bolt into the vamp's foot, then engages hand-to-hand as the enraged vampire throws Cordelia rolling to the sidewalk, yanks free and roars to attack. Outmatched, Doyle refuses to morph into demon mode (a reluctance Angel mentioned after the fight earlier), even though enhanced demon strength would be a distinct advantage at this moment of crisis. Even in human form, however, Doyle manages to retrieve the spent crossbow bolt and to dust the surprised vamp. Cordelia is impressed by his prowess and moved by his caring.
The next day, she talks with Angel about her evolving attitude toward men in general, and toward Doyle in particular, coming to the conclusion that Doyle, who might actually have some potential, at least deserves to be treated to a mochaccino as a thank-you-for-saving-my-life gesture. Finding Doyle in the outer office, Cordelia doesn't get the chance to extend the invitation. An attractive young woman opens the front door and stands at the threshold, smiling at Doyle, whom she calls Francis. Stunned, Doyle introduces his wife, Harriet, to an equally stunned Cordelia. Angel has just emerged from the inner office when another stranger pokes his head around the front door. Letting himself in, he goes straight to Angel and, introducing himself as Richard, enthusiastically shakes Angel's hand. After being set straight, Richard turns to Harriet and mentions the wedding, producing more surprised expressions all around. Angel firmly escorts Cordelia out of the room and Richard goes back outside to wait. When they're finally alone together, Harriet gently presents divorce papers to Doyle. Overwhelmed, Doyle says he'll have "his people" look the documents over, and Harriet quietly agrees to come back in a few days.
Later, declining Angel's offer of a shot of scotch, Doyle explains that his demon side, genes he inherited from a father he'd never met, didn't manifest until he turned twenty-one. At this point, he and Harriet were already married. Mentioning that Harriet left because she couldn't handle the fact that her husband was half-demon, Doyle quickly segues into speculation about the real story behind Richard's bland, friendly facade. Worked up and perhaps unaware of his actions, Doyle drinks off Angel's untouched shot. At his friend's request, Angel follows Harriet's fiancé and spots him making a clandestine exchange, then slipping into Straley's Steak House with the package. Inside the restaurant's kitchen, Richard hides the small package in the industrial-sized refrigerator. When Harriet arrives soon after, bearing stacks of department store boxes tied together with twine, Richard goes into a storage area, selects a bottle of sparkling wine, picks up a carving knife, and morphs into a demon. Just as Richard approaches an unsuspecting Harriet, Angel crashes through a plate-glass window and tackles the demon, landing several hard punches before he realizes that Richard isn't fighting back and that Harriet is shouting at him to stop. To Angel's extreme confusion and chagrin, it seems Harriet knows about and is okay with Richard being a demon, to the point of having obtained a degree in ethnodemonology. Richard is a benevolent demon, and the knife was for the box ribbons. Harriet further explains that, while she did freak initially, she quickly adjusted to the idea of Doyle's demon heritagemore quickly than Doyle did himself. When Harriet encouraged Doyle to explore that side of himself, however, Doyle refused. Harriet tells Angel that her first husband just shut down and withdrew, and became "pretty much a bitch to live with."
Doyle finally understands that it wasn't his demon half that broke him up with Harriet, it was his own personality flaws. In a rush of regret and resignation, Doyle signs the divorce papers, then hands them over to Harriet as Richard looks on. When she excuses herself to go make photocopies, Richard takes the opportunity to invite Doyle to his bachelor party. He explains that his clan has a tradition of asking the first husband of a remarrying divorcée to give his blessing to the new union. Meanwhile, in Angel's office, Harriet invites Cordelia to her shower, explaining that Richard's family is very sweet and "into good vibes." Later, at the Straley home, the family assembles at the dining table for dinner where, passing around a bucket of chicken, they finalize plans for Richard's party. Although the beverage choices go without saying, there is some discussion about what food (Buffalo wings vs foie gras) and activities (stripper vs stripper and charades) to provide that would best complement the Ritual of Eating the Ex-husband's Brains.
Doyle brings Angel along to the bachelor party. Richard begins softening Doyle up, hoping to eventually elicit his "blessing," Doyle's symbolic consent to become a ritual sacrifice. Meanwhile, Harriet fills Cordelia in a little more about Doyle's past, alluding to, prior to their relationship, the qualities that first attracted her to Doyle. Cordelia is astounded to learn that Doyle got his teaching credentials at a young age and taught third grade while married to Harriet. She is less surprised to hear that Harriet met Doyle when both were volunteers at a homeless shelter. Back at the bachelor party, Angel leaves Doyle unattended to investigate why Richard's clansmen, Ben and Nick, are retreating into the back room. He overhears Uncle John performing some kind of blood rite and phones Cordelia to ask Harriet for a translation of the Aratuscan incantation. As Angel hangs up and turns away from the phone, Nick deliberately incites a brawl. Four demon kin thrash Angel and toss him out a second story window, where he lies unconscious in the alley below.
After the dancer finishes her routine, Richard rejoins Doyle at the bar and asks him whether he's given any thought to blessing the proposed union. Doyle generously finds it in his heart to not stand in the way of Harrie's new chance for love and happiness and gives Richard his blessing. Hearing the announcement that "consent" has been given, the rest of the guys swarm Doyle and lock him in a wheeled box, shaped like a squat armoire, with doors that enclose his body from the neck down. The hole in the top of the box allows just Doyle's head to be exposed. Uncle John quickly gives Doyle an injection to numb his head and then draws a dotted line across his forehead. Doyle shouts for Angel, but the ritual proceedings continue uninterrupted. Meanwhile, Harriet and Cordelia discover what could possibly be a very disturbing translation of Uncle John's ceremonial knife-purifying incantation, only to have it confirmed by Aunt Martha. The girls leave the bridal shower without a second thought. Out in the alley, Angel regains consciousness and, furious, immediately vamps up. He crashes into the restaurant through another window and Richard's relatives mob him en masse. Richard, just about to cut Doyle's skull open, turns to attack Angel with the ceremonial knife, but Angel kicks it out of his hand and punches him in the face. Doyle finally morphs into his own demon form, breaks out of the box, and joins the fray. At that moment, Harriet and Cordelia arrive and Harriet shouts at the boys to stop. When she confronts Richard about his intention to eat her ex-husband's brains, Richard admits that his family won't allow the marriage unless he performs the ritual, tacitly admitting that he'll abide by his clan's wishes. Harriet looks into Richard's eyes and takes his hands into her own for a few moments, then deftly returns her engagement ring, turns, and leaves. With a small smile, Doyle turns away as well.
Angel and Cordelia watch Doyle mope in the darkened outer office until Cordelia goes out and cheers him up. All of a sudden, Doyle has yet another painful vision. This time, he recognizes the blond woman from Angel's bookmark photo, apparently fighting for her life against multiple foes. When Angel asks, wide-eyed, what he saw, Doyle hesitates to speak Buffy's name.
Tropes in this episode:
- Affably Evil: The Ano-movic, mainly because they've assimilated into human society. Specifically Richard Straley—a chipper, suburban-dwelling restauranteur who just happens to be a shapeshifting demon.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Loads of this, usually involving the stripper.
- "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Angel gives one to Cordelia when Doyle and Harry meet.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Ano-Movic demons are a very peaceful race formerly a violent race of nomadic demons, they blended into Western Society and gave up their more gruesome traditions. On the flip side, not all of their old customs have been abandoned the family seen in the episode are shown discussing the wedding plans just as easily as they discuss the ritualistic eating of the former spouse's brains. While this sounds gruesome, to the Ano-Movics, it is a gesture of love their belief is that by eating the brains of the old spouse of their wedded-to-be prior to the wedding, the new spouse will incorporate all of the love and affection from the previous relationship into their new marriage.
- Brain Food: Richard tries to eat Doyle's brain as part of a ceremony before said demon marries Doyle's ex-wife.
"I'm sorry. I'd be honored to eat your brain."
- This has an ironic basis in scientific but politically dangerous fact. Human Female Microchimerism. https://davissciencesays.ucdavis.edu/blog/nevertheless-foreign-dna-persisted A similar pattern follows with mare, female horses, which is why in horsebreeding its considered very important to keep a mare from breeding until you have the right stud, and ONLY the right stud.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Doyle's ex-wife Harriet prepares to marry into a family of apparently humanized, peaceful demons who nonetheless make, um, unusual wedding preparations. Harriet's prospective father-in-law reads from the to-do list: "First we greet the man of the hour. Then we drink. We bring out the food. Then we drink. Then comes the stripper, darts, and then we have the ritual eating of the first husband's brains, and then charades." The demon family, of course, objects to the charades.
- The Bride with a Past: Doyle's ex-wife visits with her new fiancé, who turns out to be a demon. The ex-wife is informed, but already knew. In this case, it's Played for Drama in a different wayDoyle is half-demon himself and assumed that this was why his ex-wife left him, but this proves that no, it was his reaction to the news that ultimately ruined their marriage. (Oh, and also, the new beau wants to eat Doyle as per his species' tradition, though the ex-wife doesn't know that part).
- Brutal Honesty: And sometimes not so brutal.Doyle: You think I'm a nice guy?Cordy: I think it, I say it. That's my way.
- Cannibal Clan: Doyle finds himself on the menu for a family of demons (quite Affably Evil) whose traditions state that it's proper to eat the bride's ex-husband's brain for dinner at the bachelor party.
- Description Cut: Cordelia is being bored senseless by her date's tales of his financial wizardry. "I mean in November they were trading at 6 cents. So, you know what I did? I sold at 6 and 1/8 of a cent! 6 and 1/8. Can you imagine anything more exciting then that?" Cut to Doyle and Angel fighting a nest of vampires.
- Destination Defenestration: Angel gets beaten up and thrown out of a window by the demons.
- Dirty Coward: Cordy's rich date Pierce; when a demon attacks them, he wastes no time screaming, and running off, leave Cordelia alone to face it. Cordelia even lampshades this.Cordelia: All I could think about was if this wimp saw a monster he'd probably throw a shoe at it and run like a weasel. Turns out the shoe part was giving him too much credit.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Doyle for Harriet. The demon family has their own way of getting around this problem.Dad: The accursed books tell us all very plainly that ingesting a priorly married prospective bride's former primary mate's fresh brains will insure a happy second marriage. This way, Richie can incorporate all the love you and Harry shared, making their union whole. It's an Ano-movic thing, don't ask.
- A Fête Worse Than Death: Doyle attends Richard's bachelor party. He knows in advance that the man is a demon, but his family has assimilated into human society. Then he finds out that they have a custom whereby they eat the brains of the previous spouse to ensure a happy marriage.
- Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Doyle's wife shows up with her new fiancé so that she can finalize their divorce. Doyle is naturally mopey, since the only reason she left him was because he found out he was half-demon. Except that it turns out the new guy is also a demon, forcing Doyle to confront the fact that no, it was his own angsty reaction to the news that drove her away. And then it's inverted as Doyle finally comes around to blessing the new union, only for Harry's fiancee to try to eat his brains.
- Doyle finds a picture of Buffy hidden between the pages of the book Angel is reading.
- Doyle laments that he and his ex-wife were too young to break things off amicably, instead fighting each other non-stop until one of them broke; in doing so, he inadvertently forecasts what will happen to Angel and Buffy later on.
- Game Face: It's confirmed that showing your demon face makes you stronger, but Doyle refuses to do so (when he finally does so, Cordy attacks him with a silver tray). After the initial bar fight Angel's clearly says, "Toss me out a window will you?" and he heads back less as a Big Damn Heroes moment and more that he wants payback.
- Gender-Blender Name: Harry = Harriet.
- Given Name Reveal: As some of Doyle's past is finally revealed, so is his full name: Allen Francis Doyle.
- Half-Truth: Richard Straley neglects to tell Doyle that his 'consent' to their marriage meant agreeing to have his brains eaten.Harry: I'm only going to ask you this once, Richard, and I expect a straight answer: were you or were you not intending to eat my ex-husband's brains?
Richard: [sheepishly] In a way.
Harry: And when were you planning on telling me?
Richard: I thought maybe I wouldn't have to.
Harry: You were going to start out our life together with deceit?
Doyle: [to Angel] Sort of missing the point, isn't she?
- Hidden Depths: Doyle worked as a teacher and a volunteer in a soup kitchen.
- I'm Standing Right Here:Cordelia: Hi Doyle. Are you gonna become Loser Pining Guy like, full time? 'Cause we already have one of those around the office.
Angel and Doyle: Hey!
- Last-Name Basis:Harry: It's good to see you again, Francis.
Doyle: It's Doyle, now. It's just Doyle.
- Man Hug
- Moment Killer: "Cordelia, this is Harry—my wife."
- Nasty Party: One in which ritual brain-eating is slotted in right between darts and charades.
- Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Doyle was married to some woman, which he neglected to tell Cordelia because they had seperated due to Doyle's issues with his half-demon status. Said woman came looking for a divorce as she found a new husband. She called off her new engagement though, because her demon fiancé's family would only approve of their marriage if he performed an obscure ritual that involved eating Doyle's brain. Presumably the divorce stuck since she's never seen again.
- "Open!" Says Me: Angel busts the double doors off their hinges taking half the frame with it.Angel: The party is over.
Nick: You brought a vampire to my brother's bachelor party?
- Parrot Expo What:Cordelia: That's funny, for a moment I thought you said one of Doyle's students?Harry: It wasn't fun being treated like a third grader, believe me.Cordelia: Grade third taught Doyle?!? ... Doyle taught third grade? The kind with children?
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: When Harrie calls out Richard's family for attempting to cannibalize Doyle's brain, his siblings indignantly shout "Racist!" She then calls them out on the hypocrisy of picking and choosing the 'sacred rituals' they want to keep doing and then acting pious when called on it.
- Required Spinoff Cross Over: At the end of the episode Doyle has a vision of Buffy in danger, leading Angel to go back to Sunnydale for the episode "Pangs".
- Rescue Romance: Cordy warms to Doyle after her rich but boring date flees and leaves her at the mercy of a vampire, which Doyle polishes off.
- Right Behind Me: The morning after Doyle's rescue of Cordelia from a pack of vampires, she catches him reenacting his gallantry in front of a mirror.Doyle: Fangs for the memories, vamp-man!
- Sour Grapes: When Harry gives back the ring and leaves, one of the demons at the party comforts him."Who needs a wife whose knees bend only one way."
- Stab the Salad: Angel is spying on Doyle's ex-wife's fiance and sees him taking on a demon aspect and drawing out a knife. One Super Window Jump later, it's revealed that she knew about him being a (harmless) demon, and that the knife was to cut the strings on a parcel.
- Stages of Monster Grief: Doyle coped poorly with the revelation of his demon side, and his marriage to Harriet soon crumbled. However, the point is made that is demonic heritage probably wasn't the only reason their marriage broke up. Upon learning about demons, Harriet found the thought of studying an entirely new set of cultures and pastimes intriguing, whereas Doyle just wanted to pretend his demonic side didn't exist.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Regarding Cordy's reasons for dating a rich businessman:Cordelia: I'll have you know that Pierce has a lot more than money. He has a house in Montecito, he has a Mercedes CLK 320 and a place in the hills with a lap pool.
- And later...Aunt Martha: Well, they're certainly not going to eat your ex-husband's brains... for instance.
- Regarding Cordy's reasons for dating a rich businessman:
- Super Window Jump: "Now they own a number of restaurants with pretty expensive windows."
- That Man Is Dead: "It's Doyle now. Just Doyle."
- Twerp Sweating: Angel giving the third degree to Pierce, a day trader and Cordelia's date.