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Recap / Angel S01E16 "The Ring"

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“Tonight’s match features a new favorite in the ring—a vampire. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome for the second night in a row, and still fresh from his first kill—Angel!”
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Angel is forced to take part in a demon gladiator sport.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Decoy Damsel: Darin McNamara approaches Angel Investigations for their help in recovering his kidnapped brother. It turns out to be a ruse to capture Angel as a gladiator.
  • Divided We Fall: Angel can't convince the other demons to band together to escape.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Wes facing Darin.
  • Education Through Pyrotechnics: Wes tries to find the right conductor to open the bracelet using trial and error, and without the simplest of safety precautions, such as rubber gloves.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: Cordelia asks why Wolfram & Hart aren't mentioned on the demon website.
  • Explosive Leash: The bracelets worn by the gladiators disintegrate them if they cross the painted red lines.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: After declaring his intention to confront the loan shark, Wesley attempts to dramatically remove a crossbow from a drawer, only to pull out a tangle of weapons, holsters, etc.
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  • Finger in the Mail: Darin implores Angel to save his brother from loan sharks, verifying his story with a severed finger. However, when we finally meet Jack, all ten of his digits are in tip-top shape.
  • Finish Him!: The audience chants "KILLING BLOW" when a contestant is on the ropes. Angel refuses to do this to Trepkos; the more practical Trepkos simply attacks him again, but likewise, when he has Angel on the ropes, refuses to make the kill in turn.
  • Femme Fatale: There's a seductive quality to Lilah's attempt to make a deal with Angel.
  • Foreshadowing: Our introduction to Amoral Attorney Lilah Morgan. Her suggestion that Angel treat Wolfram & Hart as a necessary evil becomes significant in Season 5.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Hey, if anyone is wearing a push-up bra around here it's— [Angel walks in] Angel!"
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  • Gladiator Games: Using demons, and leading inevitably to a Gladiator Revolt once Angel gets involved.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Angel gets a sufficiently serious beating to leave Wesley and Cordelia basically carrying him home.
    Cordelia: Angel, you don't look so... well, it's a good thing you heal fast!
  • Hellish Pupils: Tom Cribb, a reptilian cage fighter.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The demons put one of Darin's own wrist-collars on him, then toss him into the disintegrating field.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Wes and Cordelia pose as undercover detectives to take the tickets from a couple attending the fight. When the man says he's a personal friend of the Chief of Police, Wes and Cordy use that to their advantage by telling him a raid is going down and they've been sent to warn him off.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Wesley gets dangerous when Angel is in trouble.
    Wesley: You should understand that the man I work for means a great deal to me. And I will not give you a single red cent. What I will do, sir, is beat it out of you if I have to. [pins informant's hand to a wall with a small, rather painful-looking crossbow bolt, and proceeds to twist it slowly] Where is my employer?
  • Loan Shark: Ernie Nellins
  • MacGyvering: Wesley struggles to locate a thread which is fine-yet-strong enough to break Angel's shock handcuffs. Cordy offers to use the horsehair wound around her bracelet—a memento from her IRS-impounded pony, Keanu.
  • Multipurpose Tongue: Cribb shoots out his tongue to steal another fighter's lunch, and later, Wesley's handcuff key.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Fang Gang are patting themselves on the back for having freed the gladiator demons; when one gives an Evil Laugh as he walks off, they realize that this might not have been a smart idea.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Cribb
  • Perp Sweating: Wesley does this to Ernie the bookie—he shoots a small crossbow bolt through his palm and gives it a twist.
  • Scary Black Man: Cribb - who, judged by his accent, probably is one under his rubber mask. In the context, he acts the part to a T.
  • Schiff One-Liner: Regarding the merits of freeing a pack of enslaved gladiators when they all happen to be demons.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Angel threatens to Neck Snap Darin's brother unless he lets them all go; Darin responds by pumping a couple of bullets into his brother's chest.
  • Simple Staff: Tired of watching Angel and Trepkos whale on each other, the guards drop in a couple of pointed wooden staffs.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Trepkos just stands there as Malish hits him in the head, then grabs Malish’s arm, twists it, grabs his neck with his other hand and breaks it.
  • Spirited Competitor: Trepkos, who warmly congratulates Angel on "a good fight."
  • Sound-Only Death: When the youngest runt in XXI is pitted against Trepkos in the next match, Cribb remarks, "That's not a fight, it's an execution." Trepkos ignores Angel's imploring him not to kill the kid, instead promises to "kill him quick." Indeed, the fight has barely begun before Angel hears a telltale Neck Snap sound.
  • Space Whale Aesop
    Cordelia: This is why I don't gamble. You place one small bet, and then another... and next thing you know, albino Beetlejuice guys are knocking at your door.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Angel looks down at his bloody hands after he kills Baker in the ring, despite having vowed not to.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ernie the loan shark and his minions aren't impressed by this prissy limey with a crossbow, until Wes shoots him in the hand, takes his Glock, orders the minions to throw down their guns and then starts twisting the quarrel to make Ernie talk.
  • Totally Radical: Wes says, "Something is going down with the Man" while Impersonating an Officer—Cordy snarks him later for it.
  • We Can Rule Together: Lilah Morgan offers to free Angel in exchange for his turning a blind eye to the gladiator fights, suggesting that he should learn to pick his battles. Angel chooses to return to the ring. Their attempt to "reason" with Angel having failed, Wolfram & Hart from now on take a more aggressive stance to his interference.
  • We Need a Distraction: Cordy asks a guard for the location of the ladies room while Wes slips in behind him.
  • White Shirt of Death: Angel's bloodsplattered singlet.

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