Angel and Wesley are attending a rehearsal for a play in which Cordelia Chase has a part. They want to escape, but see no way to do it. Afterward, the three of them are walking together when Cordelia spots Oliver Simon, a well-known talent manager, and a famous actress, Rebecca Lowell. When Rebecca crosses the street, a parked car pulls into traffic and accelerates toward her, as if the driver intends to murder her. Angel pushes her out of the car's path, saving her life. Oliver offers Angel a reward, but he refuses to accept it. Cordelia gives Rebecca a business card for Angel Investigations.
The next day, the papers report on the rescue, but Angel is not mentioned in the story. Rebecca and two boydguards come to Angel Investigations, asking for Angel's help with a stalker fan. Angel declines to take the case. This infuriates Cordelia, who sees it as a chance for her to network with Hollywood people. Wesley explains that Angel cannot take the case because he likes Rebecca and is afraid of getting close. Angel remains silent. When Wesley says he agrees with Angel's decision not to take the case, Cordelia pretends to have a vision about Rebecca being in danger, but Wesley and Angel are not fooled.
At her house, Rebecca's esthetician is waxing her face, while the two discuss plastic surgery, which Rebecca is considering. That night, she hosts a party, and after her guests leave, a masked man breaks in. Angel, who has evidently been watching the house, breaks through a sliding glass door to protect Rebecca. The masked man escapes. Rebecca notices that Angel has no reflection, and in the heat of the moment, Angel disappears. Rebecca's bodyguards arrive soon after, saying that they have called the police. After the police leave the house, Rebecca calls out Angel, knowing he hasn't actually left. She knows he is a vampire, but is not frightened. She asks Angel to stay in the house for the night.
The next morning, Angel phones Wesley to say he is taking Rebecca's case. Cordelia is worried that Angel might have sex with Rebecca, revoking his soul and turning him back into Angelus. She goes to Rebecca's house with three lattes and a large wooden cross, and Angel, who answers the door, tells her that Rebecca knows he is a vampire.
Rebecca has lunch with Oliver, who tells her that she did not get a part she was hoping for. Oliver says the producers want to hear her read.
Back at her house, Rebecca tells Angel that she is not used to reading for parts. Her career is in decline, after more than a year off the air.
That night, Rebecca attends a premiere, with Angel as her bodyguard. After making their appearance on the red carpet, Rebecca leads Angel out the back door, as she never watches the movie. As they walk down the alley behind the theatre, an attacker in evening dress shoots at them, but Angel is able to fight him off. Rebecca recognizes the attacker as a stunt man whom Oliver once represented. When Oliver appears at the scene, he confesses that he arranged the attacks on Rebecca to get publicity for her. Rebecca guesses that she did not get the part she was hoping for, and Oliver explains that she is now too "mature" for some roles. When he mentions that no one can stay young forever, Rebecca glances at Angel.
Back at Angel Investigations, Wesley and Angel discuss how the shooter was using blanks, and conclude that it was a hoax. Angel is worried that Rebecca will be hurt if she learns that no one cares about her enough to stalk her.
Rebecca invites an excited Cordelia to go shopping with her. As the two walk the streets of LA, Rebecca pumps Cordelia for information on Angel.
Rebecca comes to Angel Investigations uninvited. Finding Angel in his basement apartment, she offers him a bottle of champagne as a gift. She spills some of her wine on Angel, who leaves to change his shirt. Meanwhile, she pours a powder into his drink. When he returns, she offers a toast and the two drink, Angel none the wiser.
Cordelia pages Wesley to her apartment. When he arrives, she tells him that Rebecca was curious about Angel and confesses that she told Rebecca much about him, including intimate details on how one becomes a vampire. Cordelia has guessed that Rebecca wants to be a vampire herself in order to be young forever.
At Angel's apartment, Angel is more relaxed and it seems the drug is taking effect. In a seductive manner, Rebecca suggests that Angel make her a vampire. Angel refuses, saying she doesn't know what she is doing. In sudden rage, he takes blood from his refrigerator and sprays some of it into her mouth so she will have a taste of what she is asking for. Surprised at his own feelings and actions, Angel guesses that she drugged him. She admits it, saying she wanted to lower his defenses a little by slipping him a 'happy pill'. However, the pill has caused Angel to feel perfect bliss, reverting him into Angelus, who bites her shoulder and takes on his demon face. She strikes him with a candle stick, then escapes into the elevator.
Rebecca's elevator stops between floors, so she attempts to escape from the bottom of the elevator into Angel's office, where she finds Wesley and Cordelia. She admits that she gave Angel a drug called Doximall, a powerful tranquilizer that induces bliss. Wesley is "reasonably sure" that the effects will wear off, as the happiness was only synthetic, and hopes the good Angel will return once the drug wears off. The lights go out as Angelus cuts the power, and he enters the office, where he mocks Wesley for his inferiority complex and Cordelia for her bad acting. She threatens him with a bottle of water, which she claims is holy water. Angelus says she is bluffing, but Cordelia insists she knew there was a chance Angelus could return. When Cordelia splashes it on him, he recoils, only to discover it is just normal water. However, Wesley takes advantage of the momentary confusion and pushes Angelus down the elevator shaft, rendering the vampire unconscious.
When Angel wakes up, he is chained to his bed. After confirming that Rebecca is gone and, unsurprisingly, will no longer be using his services, he apologizes to Cordelia and Wesley for what he said. Wesley accepts, telling Angel he understands what a fine line he walks. Cordelia is still angry, though not for what he said as Angelus, but for the fact he didn't tell her the truth about her acting. She notes that at least when he doesn't have a soul he's honest. However, she eventually agrees to put the incident behind her, though still leaves Angel chained to the bed for the time being.
Tropes in this episode:
- Acronym Confusion: Cordelia pointing out the arrival of "ET" (Entertainment Tonight).Wesley: [glancing around hopefully] Emma Thompson?
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Angel in a tux, posing as Rebecca's bodyguard.
- Bad Actor, Good Liar: The episode opens with Angel and Wesley being forced to sit through Cordelia's horrible performance in a A Doll's House. In the episode's climax, she is able to distract Angelus by tricking him into thinking she has a bottle of holy water. In a later episode, she successfully impersonates a cop.
- Bad "Bad Acting":
- Cordelia's screechingly awful performance in A Doll's House.Angel: And I thought I knew eternity.
- She also attempts to fake a vision:Cordelia: Oh no! Not now! God! What's this I see in my vision? Oh. It's a figure—a woman. Its Rebecca. She's in danger. Teeerrible danger.
- Subverted when we find Cordelia can put on a good performance when her life is on the line. Because Angelus knows Cordy is a lousy actor, she fools him.
- Cordelia's screechingly awful performance in A Doll's House.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: As Rebecca's drug takes effect on Angel, he realizes she's trying to get him to relax so that he'll be more receptive to the idea of siring her. Furious, Angel grabs a blood pack from his fridge and sprays it into her mouth to give her "a taste" of what she's in for. Naturally, once Angelus is in control, Rebecca flees in terror from the murderous nutcase she just let loose.
- The Beautiful Elite: Rebecca is among them, and wants to remain so.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: An alarmed Cordelia confides to Wesley that Rebecca has been "real gabby, asking questions about Angel". Wesley asks what sort of questions.Cordy: Oh, you know, where does Angel hail from, whats his favorite color, what kind of aftershave he wears, the exact specific details on how someone could make themselves into a vampire.
- Big Damn Heroes: Angel smashes his way through Rebecca's plate-glass window to fight off a masked man in her house.
- Break Them by Talking: Angel does this to Rebecca, and Angelus does this to Wes and Cordy.
- Brutal Honesty: Angelus as always; lampshaded by Cordelia at the end, who points out that she deserves such honesty from her friends too.
- Cordelia bluffing a vampire also happened in the BtVS episode "Homecoming."
- Angel ends the episode chained to his bed to prevent him from doing any damage while still under the effects of the drug. Wesley and Cordelia had previously resorted to this so that they could prove he wasn't killing anyone while sleepwalking in "Somnambulist".
- Chekhov's Gun: This episode confirms that Angel's famous curse has loopholes, including the idea that faked happiness is enough to temporarily remove the soul until it wears off. Wesley will utilize a similar strategy to unleash Angelus in season four: make Angel experience a false vision that tricks him into having his perfect happiness.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Oliver Simon, the talent agent who gave Angel his card in the premiere episode "City of" in the belief that he was an aspiring actor, reappears representing Rebecca.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: Averted; Angel can tell instantly that the stalker's letter isn't written in blood.
- Crazy-Prepared: Cordelia for Angelus's return; she has the water in her drink bottle blessed by a local priest at regular intervals. Turns out she's bluffing, but it sounds good.
- Curse Escape Clause: Wesley reasons that as Angel's "happiness" was induced by a drug, he'll be back to normal once it wears off. He's proven correct.
- Darkness Equals Death: Angelus kills the lights like he did in BtVS "Innocence" before making his appearance before Cordy and Wes.
- Decapitation Presentation: Angelus worries that no one will believe he's killed someone famous; he suggests cutting off Rebecca's head and putting it on a pike like in the olden days.
- Diving Save: Angel introduces herself to Rebecca by taking the hit when a car nearly runs her over.
- Dramatic Shattering: Angelus exuberantly breaks the wineglass on an overhead beam.Angelus: Oh, God. I love this stuff! Wow! Remind me to get the name of your dealer—before I kill you.
- Evil Costume Switch: Worried that Angel might have slept with Rebecca, Cordelia turns up at her house the following morning wielding lattes and a huge cross.Cordy: Well, judging by the outfit, I guess its safe to come in. Evil Angel never would have worn those pants.
- False Reassurance: Wes and Angel try to avoid mentioning that Cordy's acting sucks.Wesley: You took the role and made it your own.Cordelia: Really? Thanks. Angel, was I good?Angel: I wouldnt say it if I didnt think so.Cordelia: Thanks... you didnt say it.
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Which causes problems when your soul is artificial.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Cordy wears tight red leather pants, but unfortunately Angelus doesn't have a chance to change into his famous Leather Pants of Evil.
- Horrible Hollywood: Rebecca is facing the end of her career in her mid-20s, and is being pressured to take drastic measures to turn things around. Becoming a soulless creature of the night starts to look like an acceptable price to pay.
- "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't."
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Angel plays down the news article reporting on his rescue of Rebecca Lowell. "We ran into an actor. It's Hollywood. It happens." When Wesley remarks that there's no mention of Angel, however, the high-minded vampire suddenly does a double-take. "What?!"
- At the end of the episode, Angel wakes up to find himself chained to a bed, being stared at by Wes and Cordy, who inform Angel they don't hold the comments made by Angelus against him. They are in fact willing to move on. And they do—by walking off and leaving him there.
- Immortality Immorality: Rebecca Lowell, an actress who hopes to revive her flagging career by becoming an ageless vampire. Only in Hollywood...
- Lonely at the Top: Rebecca Lowell engenders sympathy in the first half of the episode, which explores the darker side of celebrity. To Angel's disappointment, she later turns out to be just as self-absorbed and superficial as everyone else.
- Missing Reflection: Rebecca realizes Angel is a vampire when he doesn't appear in a wall mirror.Rebecca: When I looked into the mirror and you werent there, I didnt scream. I didnt run. I understood.
Angel: No. You werent afraid. You looked into that mirror and all you saw was yourself. Thats all you ever see, Rebecca, and thats what really frightens you.
- Must Be Invited: Angel is able to window-crash into Rebecca's house because she invited him over when they were in his office.
- Not So Dire: Wesley and Angel are panicked that there's no escape from the horror. The "horror" in question being Cordelia's acting.
- Oblivious Mockery: Wesley expresses doubt that the Angelus curse could be invoked in a relationship with a mere actress—to Cordelia.Wesley: Angels moment of true happiness occurred because he was with Buffy. You realize how rare that is—true happiness? And what are the odds hes find that with an actress?
Cordy: Whats that supposed to mean?
Wesley: I was— I meant TV-actress.
Cordy: Save it.
- Playing Possum: Wes after being knocked down by Angelus; he just waits for Cordy to distract him before pushing Angelus into the elevator shaft.
- The Power of Acting: Angelus tries to get under Cordelia's skin by ridiculing her total lack of acting ability. Cordy gets the last laugh when she bluffs Angelus into believing her thermos is full of holy water, resulting in his defeat.Cordelia: And the Oscar goes to...
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Angelus to both Wesley and Cordelia.Wesley: I dont wish to resort to drastic measures, but unless you listen, I warn you..Angelus: You warning me? What happened, Wes? - Did you suddenly grow a pair? Well, thats it, isnt it? I mean, thats the whole root of your inferiority complex. Well, good news, Wes, old boy! You dont really have an inferiority complex. Youre just simply inferior.Angel picks Wesley up and tosses him into a corner, knocking him out.Cordelia: Wesley, no! (Swallows, turns to Angel) Well, oh, why dont you juss-ss..Angelus: Juss-s? Line? 'Of course a time will come when Torvald is not as devoted to me. - You were really, let me tell you, bad.Cordelia: Stop it.Angelus: Why? You didnt. I mean, Ive been to hell but *that* was so much worse! (To Rebecca) You had to be there. I mean, there wasnt a dry eye in the house, everybody was just laughing so hard. (To Cordy) Heres a thought. Maybe you can get Raven here to coach you, then youd actually suck!
- Rescue Romance: Angel and Rebecca; he saves from a car, and continues to show up when bad things happen around her.
- Right Behind Me: Cordelia is griping at Angel for missing his chance for some free publicity. She says that Rebecca's star is on the wane and so they need to exploit it while she's still famous; Rebecca has just entered their office.
- Single Tear: David Boreanaz squeezes one out during Angel's "date rape" at the hands of Rebecca.
- Shout-Out: When Rebecca says, "Listen to me. Poor little rich girl," she is quoting Rose from Titanic (1997).
- Slipping a Mickey: Rebecca slips Angel a tranquilizer drug to make him lose his inhibitions; unfortunately this allows Angelus to resurface.
- Squee!: Cordy keeps giggling like a madwoman after being invited out shopping with TV actress Rebecca Lowell.
- Stalking Is Love: Angel turns down Rebecca's request to investigate her stalker, but we later discover he has already reverted to his Mysterious Protector act.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: "He does that."
- Tabloid Melodrama: According to The Inquirer, Rebecca Lowell once slept with Ernest Borgnine, and is bulimic.Angel: [supportively] I hear Borgnine is a very skilled lover.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension
- Vampire Vannabe: Rebecca Lowell sees vampirism as a means to keep her movie star looks for eternity. The "demon takes over your body" aspect is not adequately explained to her.
- Walking Out on the Show: Angel and Wesley want to walk out of A Doll's House because Cordelia is doing a horrible job as Nora, but can't/don't because they knew Cordelia would be upset if they did.
- You Got Spunk!: Rebecca hits Angelus with a heavy candlestick.Angelus: Now that I respect!
- You're Insane!Rebecca: Youre crazy.
Angelus: Oh, no. Im a vampire.
- Your Vampires Suck: After Angel confesses to being a vampire, Rebecca reacts in true Hollywood fashion: by listing off famous actors who have played Dracula (Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman). Angel remarks under his breath that "Frank Langella was the only performance I believed..."