Flash-forward to Angel's office: A frustrated Wesley shuts his Encyclopedia Demonica, having failed to dredge up any info on blind demons. Cordelia suggests he look up Helen Kellerus Homicidalus. It hits Wesley that maybe the woman isn't a demon at all—that perhaps she's merely honed her senses around her disability. Cordelia uses a search engine and pulls up one Vanessa Brewer, a blind woman who has been spotted fleeing the scenes of various homicides, and is currently on trial. It gets better: Wolfram & Hart is representing Vanessa pro bono, so she's probably working for them in some capacity.
At the trial proceedings, Lindsey MacDonald is delivering an impassioned speech on behalf of this poor, persecuted lady. Enter Angel, busting through he courtroom doors like Atticus Finch and flinging an object toward the front of the room. From her seat, Vanessa raises an arm and neatly catches her sunglasses, causing the attendees to gasp aloud. Lindsey looks less than pleased.
At the Wolfram & Hart building, Lindsey watches as Vanessa pals around with some bigwigs. Lee Mercer sneaks up from behind and offers his snide congratulations on getting Vanessa cleared on all charges. Finally, a bigwig (Holland Manners) notices Lindsey and waves for him to come over. Brief recap of how Lindsey erroneously hired Faith to kill Angel, along with a host of other screw-ups. Holland uses a plethora of menace-laden words to emphasize that the firm doesn't tolerate losers, but that despite this, he's grown fond of Lindsey. Gee, thanks. Smiling amiably, Holland pats Lindsey on the shoulder before mentioning that it would be a good idea if he invented a tragic and abusive sob story for Vanessa. Lindsey catches on that Ms. Psycho is about to commit another crime, and Holland explains that there are some children arriving in LA tomorrow that could pose a threat to them. Oh snap.
Angel is upset that Vanessa was acquitted and he can't legally testify in court. He tells Wesley he remembers living in a world like Wolfram & Hart's, where there's only power and no consequences; he misses that kind of clarity. But he doesn't miss the "killing your friends" part, Cordelia nervously chimes in. As if on cue, the door opens, and Lindsey steps into the office. He tells Angel that he "wants out" of Wolfram & Hart.
When Angel expresses skepticism at his "born again" attitude, Lindsey explains he grew up in abject poverty, and swore to himself that he'd never again— Angel acts like he's about to nod off from boredom, before snarking to Lindsey to get to the part about being evil. Lindsey reveals that Vanessa has been hired to assassinate children. Later, the group plans Angel and Lindsey's break-in at Wolfram & Hart. Lindsey plans to leave his security card for Angel to find, allowing Angel to slip into the demon-guarded vault. Lindsey suddenly remembers the firm's vampire alarms, which will go off as soon as Angel enters at the building, but Angel assures him it won't be an issue.
That night, Angel meets with Gunn, who is reluctant to help him. "Not really interested in some rich guy's heartbreak." Angel can relate, but says there are bigger things at stake. Gunn challenges Angel him to give one good reason why he should bother. Well, it'll be extremely dangerous! Gunn grins mischievously—he's in.
The next day at Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey leaves his security pass under a fire extinguisher then heads back upstairs as Angel waits for the right time to move. Gunn steps into the lobby carrying a burlap bag, distracting the guards with a hilarious rant against The Man. As the vampire alarms go off, Gunn cuts the cord holding the sack, revealing a captured vampire inside. The guards are too busy with the decoy vampire to notice that Angel is on the premises.
Angel uses the security card to open the vault, then blows some of Wesley's pink pixie dust into the guardian demon's face, causing it to stiffen into a board and fall over. He takes CDs labeled "restricted access" and is about to leave when he notices a scroll covered with symbols. Angel cannot help but feel drawn it and grabs it too. This activates another alarm and drops a grate over the door to the vault. Whoops. Angel makes like Indiana Jones and dives under it before it slams shut.
Angel phones Lindsey and tells him to get out. Unfortunately, Holland is herding everyone into a conference room for a surprise mind-reading. Lindsey fears that hes been caught, but Holland sidesteps him and announces that Mercer is planning to jump ship to a rival firm. Lee protests his innocence, but doesn't get very far before he gets a bullet to the head. Holland laments the sad task of terminating an employee and dismisses the others—but unexpectedly asks Lindsey to stay behind. D'oh. Lee's body is dragged out the door by some guards, leaving a bloody streak behind. Holland chalks up another ruined carpet and asks Lindsey if hes scared; Lindsey admits that he is. Holland says that's understandable, since he defected to Angel's camp, stole from the vault, tried to sabotage a case, and generally screwed Holland over. A jittery Lindsey insists that he didnt want to lie or betray the firm, he just wanted to leave. Cryptically, Holland decides not to have Lindsey killed, instead giving him a few vacation days to contemplate his future.
Angel returns to his office and is surprised that Lindsey isnt already there. Cordelia asks if Angel is going to go back for him, but he says that there's no point. The discs reveal that Vanessa is slated to murder three immigrant children—blind seers considered to be a powerful triumvirate. Lindsey wanders in as they mull over the details, apologizing for being late. Not bothering to glance at him, Cordy answers that they just figured he was worm food.
Vanessa arrives at a safe house, stabbing the man guarding the children with her cane. Angel tells Lindsey to get the kids out. After being thrown against a wall, Angel lies motionless on the ground and watches as for the first time Vanessa seems unable to detect him, since Angel lacks both a pulse and body temperature. Having finally realized her weakness, Angel pummels her for a bit, alternating between attacking and standing completely still, before grabbing the cane and skewering her with it.
Back at the office, Wesley tells Angel the parchment he stole from Wolfram & Hart contains the Prophecies of Aberjian (henceforth referred to as the "Shanshu Prophecy"), which mentions a vampire with a soul. Intriguing, no?
Lindsey returns to Wolfram & Hart with the disks Angel stole and apologizes to Holland, saying he did what he needed to. Holland mutters that his rescue of the children was noble, or whatever, and notes that Lindsey probably made copies of what was on the disks. He tells Lindsey that he stood up to the firm and won; the firm needs people with that kind of chutzpah. In fact, hes giving Lindsey his old office, since Holland is getting a promotion. He tells Lindsey that it's his choice, then leaves. After pondering for a moment, Lindsay closes the doors and takes a seat at the beckoning desk of power and evilness. Lindsey gazes out the window at the city lights as Angel does the same thing elsewhere.
Tropes in this episode:
- Achilles' Heel: Because Vanessa relies on her extremely sharp hearing to "see" her targets, Angel is invisible to her as long as he's standing still, since he neither breathes nor has a heartbeat.
- Affably Evil: Holland Manners seemingly went to the same villains school as Richard Wilkins, the Mayor of Sunnydale.
- Ambition Is Evil: Lindsey's ambition is to never be powerless again—like his destitute father, who stood there meekly while the repo men seized his foreclosed home, cracking jokes with them the whole time.
- Ascended Extra: Jennifer Badger, who plays Vanessa, has previously served as Charisma Carpenter and Eliza Dushku's stunt doubles on both Buffy and Angel.
- Bad Boss: Holland Manners orders Lee Mercer to be 'terminated' permanently for trying to join a competing law firm and take some of W&H's clients from them.
- Blind Seer: Vanessa and the seer kids all have cataract-eyes, and their powers increase as they mature.
- Blindfolded Vision: By removing her sight, Vanessa's other senses have heightened to the point of being able to 'predict' movement. Translation: she's unstoppable.
- Blofeld Ploy: Invoked. Lee Mercer is killed instead of Lindsey; at first this just looks like a Bait-and-Switch, but it turns out Holland knows all about his treachery.
- Blood-Splattered Innocents: Lindsey. He's hardly innocent, but he does look appropriately traumatized when the man next to him is shot and it is one of the rare occasions he's trying to do the right thing.
- Blood Knight: The reason Gunn agrees to help? It'll be extremely dangerous.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Holland notices his young protege Lindsey is dissatisfied in his job, and spends an entire scene lecturing him about life. He then segues into why Lindsay should get cracking on an abusive sob story for Vanessa, as she's preparing to do something messy which (on the slim chance she gets caught) would require a strong defense in court.
- Break Them by Talking: Holland, who can read Lindsay like a book, explains that life is not about "good or evil", only power.
- Canis Latinicus: Cordelia's "Helen Kelleris Homocidalus".
- The Caper: Break into Wolfram & Hart and steal their files on Vanessa's hit!
- Chekhov's Gun: The artifact Angel steals from the vault will become important in the next episode, and set Angel's Story Arc for the rest of the series, and even the franchise.
- Continuity Nod:
- Lindsey gets snippy after Angel tells him he "sold [his] soul for a 5th-floor office and a company car." He says Angel doesn't know a thing about him, then demonstrates that he knows a lot about Angel: his father was a linen merchant, fairly well-to-do? Had a couple servants, until Angel killed them? "Just the one," Angel corrects him, a sly smile appearing on his face. "The Prodigal" had a flashback of Angel (under his human identity, Liam) trying to seduce his father's serving wench.
- Cordelia calls up Willow to enlist her help in translating the encrypted discs. "Guess what they've been doing all week?" Actually, the Scoobies have been busy decrypting Adam's files (a plot point in the Buffy episode "Primeval", which aired concurrently with this one).
- Creepy Twins: Most American companies have drug tests. Wolfram & Hart has random mind-sweepings. Lindsey and his colleagues—including Lilah Morgan and Lee Mercer—are lined up against the conference room wall (in a scene highly reminiscent of a firing squad) while a pair of Grace Joneslike identical twins dressed like PsiCops of Babylon 5 pace around the room menacingly.
- Damsel in Distress: The Holy Triumvirate, a trio of blind children from different parts of the world who, according to the Scrolls that Angel collected, would one day be able to "see into the heart of all things" and thus pose a threat to Wolfram & Hart.
- Dark Action Girl: Vanessa.
- A Day in the Limelight: For Lindsey MacDonald.
- Deadpan Snarker: Just because he has a soul doesn't mean Angel can't bring it, as he shows when Lindsey is trying to justify his actions.Angel: zzzzzzzz... I'm sorry. I nodded off. Did you get to the part where you're evil?
- Defector from Decadence: Lindsey, a man of stout stomach, draws the line at ordering a hit on children. Subverted when Holland dangles a bigger paycheck and a promotion over his head.
- Disability Superpower: According to her Wolfram & Hart dossier, Vanessa wasn't born blind; she blinded herself at age 21 and spent five years in India studying with cave-dwelling monks.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Angel suits up to impersonate a Wolfram & Hart's lawyer. This is the second time he's waltzed right into their headquarters with nothing but a suit and briefcase—the first instance was in "Five by Five".
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Vanessa was previously under the tutelage of monks who believed seeing with the heart instead of the eyes was the way to truth—thus explaining her Matt Murdock superpowers. The irony of somebody becoming a serial murderer and Psycho for Hire because she found enlightenment is not lost on Cordelia.
- Evil Mentor: Holland may as well be named "Mammon".
- False False Alarm: Team Angel gets past the vampire detectors by having Gunn deliver a captive vampire in the lobby, at the same time Angel is breaking into the basement.
- First-Name Basis: Lampshaded by Holland; he notes that Lindsey calling him by his first name instead of "sir" means his confidence has increased after getting one over on Wolfram & Hart.
- Foreshadowing: Subtle ones. Angel's frustration at how Wolfram & Hart plays the system to subvert justice and further their goals, his manipulation of Gunn's Blood Knight Death Seeker tendencies, later both mocking Lindsey's past and refusing to extract him from W&H, and culminating with his killing of human Vanessa - instead of capturing her to turn her over to the authorities - all are early signs of his turn to darkness in Season 2.
- Freudian Excuse: Born into a dirt-poor dysfunctional family in the southwest, Lindsey worked hard to overcome his beginnings. He grew up alongside five siblings, two of whom died of the flu and later his house was taken by his father's creditors.
- Glass Cannon: Angel opens the vault and is jumped by a Preggothian demon. He merely blows a powder in its face and the demon collapses. "Thank you, Wesley."
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Lindsey chats up the security guard in Wolfram & Hart's surveillance room, distracting him from the monitors. He oh-so-casually glances at another camera, which spots Angel swiping the building pass, and switches the monitor off.
- Handicapped Badass: Vanessa is blind, yet manages to easily out-fight Angel.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: During his second fight with Vanessa, Angel discovers a way to become invisible to her sense: remaining absolutely still. Once he's close enough, Angel uses Vanessa's own walking cane (her signature weapon) to impale her in the stomach.
- Holding the Floor: Gunn standing in the center of Wolfram & Hart's lobby playing Malcolm Xerox and declaiming, "Damn, here it is! Evil white folks really do have a Mecca!" It really needs to be seen to be believed. Funny Moment.
- Hope Spot: Lindsey almost squeaks by unnoticed during the mind scan—or so he thinks. Lilah offers him a brisk pat on the shoulder after Holland calls back him over. Uh oh.
- I Like Those Odds: Angel recruits Gunn for his caper by emphasizing how suicidal it is. The prospect of offending untold numbers of rich lawyers in their own house probably holds some appeal, too.
- Ignored Epiphany: Lindsey decides he can't let Wolfram and Hart kill some kids and so helps Angel and company save them. Naturally, his bosses were aware of it, but they know him, and with the offer of a promotion, a raise, and "ungodly benefits", he ends up joining them again.
- Improvised Weapon: During the Batman Cold Open, Angel is about to stake one of the vampires when a second one suddenly attacks, causing the stake to roll away. Angel grabs a chain from the conveyor belt overhead, wraps it around his neck, hoists him to the ceiling, and sends him swinging into a convenient stack of wood planks. Poof.
- Instant Sedation: Wesley's handful of pink sleeping powder sends an enormous guard demon to the floor.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: In the original promo for this episode, Vanessa is humming "Three Blind Mice" when she is preparing to murder the children (nice), but in the actual episode she doesn't.
- It's All About Me: Holland shakes his head with regret as Lee's bloodied corpse is dragged out of the conference room. "What a pity. You can't get that out of the carpet. Believe me, we've tried."
- Killed Off for Real: Lee Mercer. He will not be missed.
- Large Ham: Gunn goes to town when posing as the distraction.
- Leave No Man Behind: Subverted, as so often happens on Angel. When Lindsey fails to rendezvous back at the office, Wes and Cordy suggest that Angel double-back for him, but he flatly refuses. If Lindsey's been caught, he's as good as dead anyway. Despite the malice they bear Lindsey, the pair of them are surprised by Angel's coldness.
- Living Lie Detector: Holland's mind-reading amazons.
- Living Motion Detector: The camera switches to Vanessa's perspective to demonstrate her ability to "see" movement. The crew couldn't afford a special effects shot for this episode, so someone came up with the "crazy idea" of painting the actors in glow-in-the-dark paint and then shooting the scenes in the dark.
- Logical Weakness: Vanessa's Disability Superpower works by detecting energy sources, heartbeats, and breathing around her. As a vampire, Angel is faster than her, and also doesn't have a heartbeat or need to breathe, so he moves in lightning-fast spurts to attack and then holds still so she can't sense him.
- Long Speech Tea Time: Angel feigns disinterest in Lindsey's Freudian Excuse speech.
- Nerves of Steel: Lindsey demonstrates his skills as a defense lawyer during the heist by fast-talking his way out of many sticky encounters. Lilah's suspicion is aroused when she catches him snooping around the records room, since Lindsey usually makes his assistants do research for him. Recovering quickly, Lindsey jokes that he won't tell anyone if Lilah doesn't.Lindsey: If the amoebas find out you're willing to read, they lose all respect for you.
- Oh, Crap!: Lindsey upon learning that his entire department is being swept up in a random mind-reading test.
- Professional Killer: Vanessa works as a freelance assassin for some of Wolfram & Hart's biggest clients and for the firm.
- Prophet Eyes: Vanessa and her quarry each have milky white eyes.
- Psychic Radar: Among the security measures at Wolfram & Hart are demons shamans who monitor the threshold of their office building for vampire intruders. They squeal when they sense a vampire, but they can't pinpoint a location or sense numbers. The system's poor performance record is lampshaded throughout the series.
- Psycho for Hire: Vanessa Brewer is a sociopathic hitwoman in Wolfram & Hart's employ. Some of W&H's security guards are also these, as exemplified by Phil, who coldly executes Lee Mercer at Holland's orders without any hesitation.
- Psychotic Smirk: Vanessa's response to jabbing her way into the safehouse and detecting the sound of three tiny heartbeats.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Y'all can cater to the demon, cater to the dead man, but WHAT! ABOUT! THE BLACK! MAAAN?!"
- Redemption Equals Death: Lindsey gets a case of Wouldn't Hurt a Child when he is tasked by his law firm to prepare a defense for a contract killer set to kill some innocent children. He runs to Angel Investigations in an attempt at a HeelFace Turn but balks at the idea of returning to the highly secured law firm to help Angel stop the assassination since it could mean his death. Angel then accuses Lindsey of being more worried about self preservation than changing for the better and tries to invoke this trope.
- Lindsey: I can't go back there, they'll kill me!
Angel: That's what we call an acceptable risk. You're panicking right now, you can't believe how bad you've let things get. That's not change. See, you have to make a decision to change, that's something you do by yourself. Most people they never do.
Lindsey: I get myself killed that'll convince you I've changed?
Angel: It's a start.
- Shout-Out: Gunn's "WHAT ABOUT THE BLACK MAN?" speech is probably a shout-out to the famous "black skins" speech in Green Lantern. Since it is later revealed that Gunn is a superhero comic fanboy, it may be a shout-out in canon as well.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Angel dismisses Lindsey's backstory as nothing more than Freudian Excuse.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Lindsey starts to have doubts about his job. He gets lectured at by Holland, an older attorney, who reminisces about harboring the same ennui that Lindsey is currently feeling. It's a very jovial yet deeply unsettling speech.Lindsay: Sometimes you...question things, but—
Holland: (interrupting) Yeah, I did a lot of crazy things when I was your age. Searching and all. Took me a while to realize how the world was put together and where I belonged in it. And actually the world isn't that complicated: It's designed for those who know how to use it.
- Step into the Blinding Fight: Being a vampire Angel doesn't have a heartbeat and doesn't need to breathe, so Vanessa can't detect him if he stands still.
- Suicide Mission: Cordy, ever the optimist, foresees doom.
- Super Reflexes: When Lindsay dismisses the allegations against his blind client as "childish, if they weren't so sad," Angel hurls an object directly over her head. Vanessa instinctively jerks her arm up and snags the glasses, exposing her super-awareness for all to see. Despite all this, Vanessa is acquitted thanks to Lindsey's maneuvering, much to Angel's frustration.
- Surprise Witness: Angel showing up at Vanessa's trial to return her sunglasses. Such a nice guy!
- Tantrum Throwing: That poor phone. Angel picks it up and smashes it against this office wall after hearing of Vanessa's acquittal.
- Tuckerization: The names of the investigating officers on the arrest record for Vanessa Brewer are those of crew members who worked on the series: Will Batts - Set Designer, Sandy Struth - Set Decorator & 'David M Burns' - Assistant to Kelly A. Manners, Second Unit Director.
- Two Roads Before You: Lindsey is faced with a choice of either taking Holland's bribe, or walking out the door. In the end, Lindsey shuts the doors in front of him.
- Walk-In Chime-In: As Wesley goes into detail about how the Holy Triumvirate is in seriously hot water, Lindsey appears in the doorway to finish his thought—revealing himself to be very much alive.
- We Need a Distraction: Gunn strolls into the lobby of Wolfram & Hart and starts making a scene, slowly attracting more and more attention from the guards. Then when the time is right, he brings a vampire into the lobby setting off the vampire detectors. Angel enters at the same time, and the detector apparently can't signal when more than one vampire enters. Everyone focuses their attention on the one they see, and Angel goes unnoticed.
- Worthy Opponent: Far from ordering Lindsey to be killed (or at the very least firing the thieving twerp), Holland offers Lindsey a promotion—anybody who can outmaneuver Wolfram & Hart could be a valuable asset. Holland's reasoning here is analogous to the Senior Partners' plans for Angel.Holland: You stood up to us and won. Do you know how many people have that much nerve? I can count 'em on one hand. I need people like that working for us.
- Would Hurt a Child: Vanessa's latest target are a trio of children.
- You Remind Me of X: Holland hints at having an Ignored Epiphany of his own when he was Lindsey's age.