At a party in Cordelia Chase's beautiful new apartment, Wesley participates with unselfconscious enjoyment, but when Cordelia's friend asks Angel to dance, a mental flash of the wackiness that could ensue prevents him from saying yes. Angel mopes into retreat in the kitchen, where he finds he can converse comfortably with his silent friend, phantom Dennis, who offers him a cold beverage. Meanwhile, a man standing watch at an ice factory has just popped open and taken a sip from his own cold one, when he hears spooky voices crying from inside the coffin-sized crate he's guarding. Believing there is someone alive and suffering inside, he breaks open the box, then stands staring in shock at its contents.
In the office the next morning, Cordelia informs Angel that he wasn't any fun at the party and that Wes was "cooler." Oblivious, Wesley checks the office fridge for leftover canapés. Realizing his friend is short on cash, Angel offers Wesley a staff position at Angel Investigations, a move which Cordelia heartily approvesonce Angel reassures her that hiring the formerly rogue demon hunter will not entail a cut in her own paycheck. However, Cordelia's enthusiasm turns to agony as she suddenly receives a graphic vision of a man being burned alive from the inside. With no sewer access to the Jericho Ice Factory, Wesley's first job is to drive Angel to the scene indicated by Cordelia's vision. Inside the facility, Angel finds the incinerated corpse as well as the crate he was guarding, now containing only ice. Hearing a noise from another section of the factory, Angel discovers the presence of a humanoid demon named Tae, who reveals that he is from another dimension, sent to bring back the vicious demon, a "vessel of pure rage," which has escaped from his realm into an unsuspecting L.A.
Angel begins his search for more information by breaking into Wilkers' office and pulling the ice factory files. Jimmying open the desk's top drawer, Angel finds an envelope containing an invoice for Jericho Ice (which he pockets) and a large amount of cash (which he doesn't). Apparently not realizing he is being observed, Angel is surprised by the sudden appearance of an exotic-looking female demon who, belying her small size, effortlessly knocks him out of the way with a powerful blow that scorches his arm. Receiving a call on her cell phone, the demon hardly spares Angel another glance before leaving in haste, pulling up the hood and wrapping her calf-length cardigan around her before she climbs into her vehicle. Recovering quickly enough to give chase, Angel calls Cordelia on a bad cell phone connection and describes the demon's appearance so she and Wesley can begin their research. Angel follows the attractive demon to an art gallery but she makes him and sets museum security after him. As cover, Angel removes his black coat and begins to lecture about one of the paintings to a group of people who stand rapt. After the security guards move past, Angel sees his quarry head toward the back of the building. Wrapping up his presentation to the appreciative applause of his unsuspecting audience, Angel follows.
In a storage room at the back of the gallery, the demon stands staring into space, then turns when Angel comes in behind her. Realizing he is a vampire (a human would have remained unconscious for hours from the force of her blow), she impatiently, imperiously, orders him to leave, but clearly has no attention to spare to forcibly eject him. At that moment, wind and lightening and thunder spring from nowhere, and there is a disturbance in the air near the room's back wall. A swirling portal forms, the shrieking coming from it seeming to draw rapidly closer. A naked humanoid girl drops out of the portal and hits the floor hard. As Angel pulls over a tarp to cover her, he gets a brief but clear glimpse of the girl's smooth forehead and of the raised ridges running along her upper spine. At that moment, Tae and his all-male team break into the room armed with daggers that look like mini-sickles. The female demon and Angel battle furiously, but Tae abducts the newly arrived girl and drives away with her. Looking helplessly after the speeding vehicle, Angel asks the female demon what will happen to the girl and learns that she will be "unmade." The male demons take the frightened girl to their base where, without further ado, they use a special clamping tool to cut out the raised ridges extending down from the girl's nape to between her shoulder blades. Gone breathless with fear, the girl screams in agony at the first cut.
Back at Angel's apartment, he brings his wary guest a bandage for the shallow cut on her arm while she drapes her cardigan over a railing and takes a look around. In response to her challenge that vampires are known killers, Angel tells her he was cursed, then evades her skeptical theory that he's been "cursed to help people," focusing the inquiry on her situation instead. The exotically beautiful demon accepts Angel's invitation to tell her story and introduces herself as Jhiera, a princess from the Oden Tal dimension, dedicated to helping other female refugees escape her home world to the relative safety of L.A. Jhiera tells Angel that for the women of Oden Tal, the personality is located in an area of the body called the "ko," the source of their desires and passions. At this, Jhiera turns her back to Angel and shows him the raised ridges running for several inches along her spine. Angel, who found Jhiera attractive at first sight, is now deeply aroused by her nearness and bends his head closer to her vulnerable neck. Resisting his own desires, he listens as Jhiera tells him that the men of her dimension control the women by cutting out the ko, thus removing their "physical and sexual power," their volition. "We give up dreaming," she tells him bleakly. Feeling herself at the center of his intense predator's focus, Jhiera begins to circle Angel as she explains that young women of Oden Tal must learn to control the raw power of their maturing ko, to which men of this world respond involuntarily. She tells him of her own struggle, with the help of the frozen water, to contain the "heat under her skin." Jhiera proceeds to demonstrate her power to arouse them both, as well as her iron control of that power. Angel, fighting on several levels for self-control, moves a few steps away and asks pointedly about the incinerated corpse at the ice factory, and about the other four men crisped to death over the past year. Jhiera grows defensive of her manifesto and starts to storm off, but Angel blocks her path. Her power flashes to the surface and they are almost irresistibly drawn to each othera connection lethal to Angeluntil Jhiera damps the intensity of her radiant heat. Telling him again to stay out of her way, she escapes, leaving him wrung out, barely able to stand.
While Angel and Jhiera fight Tae's team at the gallery, Wesley continues his research and discovers that the men of this demon species are called the Vigories of Oden Tal. Reading from an ancient volume, he tells Cordelia that the Vigories are said to be fierce warriors, and "the women live enslaved to them." Also learning that the Vigories are herbivores and must eat half their weight in partially rotted vegetation each day, Cordelia and Wesley leave the office to go looking for compost. They find Tae's team headquartered in a large plant nursery and overhear a briefing about their plans to capture Princess Jhiera, cut her and take her back to Oden Tal to signal the end of all rebellion. Jhiera, meanwhile, returns to the sanctuary she has created at the Palm Ridge Spa, where the other young women are being kept, rendered safe by lying in whirlpool tubs filled with ice. Jhiera informs the spa's proprietor, Mars, that this sanctuary has been compromised and the girls must be moved to another, safer location. However, unaware that Tae is right on her tail, Jhiera tells Mars they will leave the following day. In the meantime, unable to raise their boss by cell phone, Cordelia and Wesley barely escape detection at the Vigories' base and return to Angel's apartment both to locate him and seek his help. They find him, apparently unharmed and unconcerned, just emerging from the shower. Upon hearing their report that Tae's group plans an assault on an undisclosed location that recently started receiving large shipments of ice, Angel remembers the address listed on the invoice he lifted from Wilkers' office. Grimly determined to get there first, Angel gathers his team and heads to the Palm Ridge Spa.
Arriving at the spa, Angel leaves Cordelia and Wesley (who falls down getting out of the car) to act as lookouts. Angel brushes past Mars and, finding Jhiera with the still-somnolent girls, tells her that Tae is closer behind than she thinks. At that moment, Cordelia frantically rushes in to report Tae's approach. While Cordelia and Wesley are still rousing the girls and trying to get them moving toward the back exit, Tae and his team burst in. Cordy and Wes continue with the evacuation, while Jhiera and Angel engage Tae and his men in battle. The two demons manage to hold their own until Wesley and Cordelia, returning to the fight after securing the girls, are suddenly taken hostage. When presented with Tae's ultimatum to hand over the refugees or see the humans die, Jhiera, hardly hesitating, says, "Then they die." As she wheels for the exit, Cordelia and Wesley seize the initiative and break away from their captors, who seem momentarily stunned at the failure of their ploy. Outside, Jhiera makes her way towards the cab of the truck loaded with crates of ice-packed refugee girls. She is just steps away from freedom when two of the Vigories grab her from behind and restrain her for Tae, making sure that her ko is exposed. Jhiera's nemesis holds up the cutting tool and prepares to mutilate the Princess of Oden Tal to bring her under immediate control. Appearing out of nowhere, Angel grabs Tae in a headlock and, giving him couple of demonstrative squeezes, threatens to snap their leader's neck unless the Vigories holding Jhiera release her. As soon as they do, Angel tells Jhiera to get the girls to safety. Giving Angel a slight nod, she climbs into the cab of the truck and drives away. As soon as Jhiera is out of sight, Angel releases Tae and tells him to go back to Oden Tal, morphing into vamp face to let the Vigories know he can make good on his promise of mayhem if they continue their war in this dimension.
The next day, Angel arrives in the office first and squeezes a bag of whole coffee beans to test Cordelia's theory that he can effectively grind the coffee with his "vampire strength." The bag bursts, scattering coffee beans everywhere, just as Cordelia and Wesley come in the front door. Wesley immediately slips and falls, then starts to sweep the beans up with his bare hands, apologizing distractedly for making a mess. In what appears to be a natural segue for him, Wesley also apologizes, as he carefully regains his feet, for being taken hostage by Tae's men. Angel tries to reassure his friend and compliments him on a job well done, which prompts Wesley, in turn, to express his sincere regard for Angel. Cordelia is just teasing Wesley for turning groveling into an art, when Jhiera walks in. Cordelia opens verbal fire on the warrior demon, asking if they can offer her anything, such as a couple of hostages to kill. Angel firmly shows Jhiera into his office and closes the door. After ascertaining that the other women are safe, away from the city, Angel again tells Jhiera that he'll stop her if she crosses the line and endangers people of his world while trying to protect people from hers. The sexual and political tension thick between them, Jhiera looks at Angel, then agrees with his terms. She hesitates, clearly torn, clearly having found a "desirable mate," and Angel grows even more breathless. With the harsh discipline of an abnegation as rigid and as necessary as Angel's, Jhiera turns toward the door, away from the object of her desire. As she walks away from him, Angel sees what he has already inescapably sensedJhiera's ko glows red hot. Raging desire at war with self-preservation, Angel stands desperately immobile until She is out of range.
Tropes in this episode:
- Another Dimension: "Demon dimensions" are used as an excuse to bring aliens into the Buffyverse without worrying about the attendant issues like First Contact or Faster-Than-Light Travel. It also handwaves all those demons with their own unique societies living among us without being noticed.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Wes is distracted by a rare Nancy Petticoat rose.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: When the art gallery security guards are searching for him, Angel averts suspicion by briefly pausing to lecture on a painting of the French poet Baudelaire, suggesting that Baudelaire's poem "The Vampire" was based on an encounter with a real vampire (possibly Angel himself, as he tells his audience that Baudelaire was actually "a little taller and a lot drunker" than he appears here).
- Cell Phones Are Useless: Angel is trying to talk to Cordy on the new cellphone she got for him; first the battery is running low, then the reception is bad so he keeps misunderstanding her Buffy Speak. Eventually he loses patience and tosses it in the back seat.Angel: These things were definitely cooked up by a bored warlock.
- Comically Missing the Point: Wesley can't tell that the hot girl complimenting his sweater is trying to flirt.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jhiera was meant to be a recurring character, complete with some Belligerent Sexual Tension with our lead, but we don't see her again. One of the Oden-Tal females, however, will show up again as an extra in the demon brothel in "War Zone".
- Corpsing: The episode took far longer to shoot than usual since the cast kept breaking up in laughter. The set had to be shut down for an hour and a half because David Boreanaz (Angel) and Alexis Denisof (Wesley) couldn't stop laughing. It got to the point where David and Alex resolved not to look at each other to avoid cracking up. But as Joss Whedon pointed out on the DVD commentary for the episode, there are still points where David can't keep a straight face.
- Credits Gag: The Wes and Angel dance scenes are played during the credits.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ko removal = female circumcision.
- Eureka MomentWesley: [looking at a book] Aha!Cordy: That better be an "Aha!" of triumph.
- Exact Eavesdropping: Wes and Cordy overhear the Vigories talking of their plans.
- Facial Horror: Along with exploding eyeballs.
- Facial Markings: Jhiera has a black lightning-bolt tattoo over her left eye and cheek.
- Fanservice Extras: The Oden Tal runaways don't speak; they just look good in little clothing.
- Fantastic Arousal: The Oden Tal females' spinal ridges (called "ko") glow red-hot with their arousal. Jhiera can channel the heat into a forceful palm-strike attack.
- Foreshadowing: Our first mention of portals to other dimensions, which will become important in later seasons.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Cordy at her party telling someone off-camera: Diego, pants on!
- Angel, in a Shirtless Scene, explains he had to take a shower after meeting Jhiera—a cold one, presumably.
- Wesley (under the influence of a scantily clad Oden Tal girl) mentions how tight his clothing seems, and asks her to have a feel.
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Residents of the Oden Tal dimension live in a patriarchal society where the women are all enslaved. The male warriors, known as Vigories, remove the "ko" from each female to temper their sexual energy and make them more pliable.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: Fired Guns Akimbo by Angel and later used as an Improvised Weapon.
- Horny Devils: When females of the Oden Tal come of age, they goes through a period where their "ko" supercharges their sexual urges, which manifests as intense heat and Super Strength. At first they can't control this power, and need to be cooled constantly in baths of ice. They also can affect men when they're in sexual heat; Angel and Wes are both shown struggling with this.
- I Can't Dance: Angel is at a party Cordelia is hosting. He's trying to fit in, chatting with a girl, when she asks him if he wants to dance. We have an Imagine Spot of Angel flailing around wildly, a big grin on his face, while the girl looks on in horror. Cut back to a closeup of Angel as he deadpans, "I don't dance." You can see it here. Wesley also can't dance, but appears to be oblivious to this fact.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: Jhiera sees that Angel is tailing her and tells a security guard at the art gallery that a strange man in a black coat is following her; Angel realises this, slips out of his Badass Longcoat, and poses as an art expert.
- Indy Ploy: "Here's the plan: I walk in, hit people in the face hard, we see how it goes from there."
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: The Vigories refer to the Oden Tal females as "it" in clearly dismissive tones.
- Knight Templar: Both Jhiera and the Vigories have elements of this—they both regard humans as expendable in their conflict, and Angel has to make it clear that if innocents are killed as a result, they'll have to deal with him.
- Man Hug: Angel rejects Wesley's offer of a grateful hug.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jhiera is buxom and wears a black leather Sexy Backless Outfit with a Cleavage Window... She's hot, OK?
- Mundane Utility: Cordelia accidentally orders coffee beans for the office instead of ground coffee, and suggests that Angel grinds them by squeezing the packet with his vampire strength. He tries it and manages only to burst the bag, sending coffee beans all over the office, which Wesley promptly slips in when he arrives.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Angel warns Jhiera that while he supports her cause, if she ever crosses the line and endangers the people of his world, she's in for a world of hurt, Sonny Jim. Angel has a bit of trouble spitting it out since he's reeling from Jhiera's sexual aura. When she turns to leave, Jhiera's "ko" is burning red, signaling that the feeling is mutual.
- Naked on Arrival: Gi, one of the Oden Tal women, tumbles through the portal sans clothing.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Mars, the health spa guy. His first appearance has him pondering a sand garden.Jhiera: Where are the girls?
Mars: And "namaste" to you too.
- Power Tattoo: Jhiera sports a black facial tattoo over her left eye.
- The Pratfall: Wesley falls over the car door as he tries to leap out of Angel's convertible, and later slips on the coffee beans.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Wesley, according to Cordelia.Cordy: Wow. Groveling isnt just a way of life for you, its an art.
- Sarcasm Mode: Cordelia to Angel.Cordy: Im so glad you came. You know how parties are. Youre always worried that no one is going to suck the energy out of the room like a giant black hole of boring despair. But there you were—in the clinch!
- Sunglasses at Night: Jhiera, to hide her purple eyes.
- Suspiciously Specific DenialGirl: Nice sweater. Hand knit?
Wesley: Certainly not by me!Girl: I didnt mean—I mean its a great sweater.Wesley: Oh, well, I-Ill pass that on then—to the person who knit it. I—I mean, I would, if I knew who did—but I dont. So I wont pass it on to anyone, will I?
- Sand In My Eyes: Wesley, when Angel offers him a job at Angel Investigations.
- Signed Up for the Dental: Averted, as Angel Investigations doesn't have that coverage. Wes says he'll floss.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Angel and Jhiera. Never to be resolved thanks to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. Besides, Angel Can't Have Sex, Ever because of his curse.