In 1880 London, recently-sired William (not yet Spike) meets Angelus for the first time. Angelus accepts William into the group, saying he looks forward to killing with another man. In the present, Spike demands his own office (or Wesley's office during his leave of absence, while he adjusts to the shock of killing what he believed to be his father). Spike lacks sympathy for Wesley, since he himself killed his mother while she was hitting on him.
Harmony opens a package for Spike from an unknown source, producing a flash of light. When Harmony goes to answer the phone, she's greeted by electronic screeching. As phones start ringing off the hook, Spike heads for Angel's office, but when he tries to walk through the door, he quickly finds he is corporeal again, and immediately makes the most of his new body by taking away Harmony for sex.
Fred arrives, complaining that all of the atmospheric gauges in the science department have gone haywire and blown out the instruments. She is surprised to hear that Harmony and a re-corporealized Spike are, as Gunn says, "having a nooner". Eve arrives and announces that the whole universe is in turmoil Spike's existence is messing with the expected course of the Shanshu Prophecy, because after dying on the Hellmouth to save the world, Spike now qualifies as a champion. Although this hadn't been a problem before when Spike was a ghost, now he's flesh again the universe can't cope. Meanwhile, Harmony's eyes start bleeding and she bites Spike, screaming that he's using her and really wants his "Slayer whore". He returns to the group, and Eve says because there are two possible candidates for the Shanshu, "the wheel of destiny starts to spin off its axis."
Gunn returns with news that the White Room is gone, replaced with a howling abyss. Eve thinks the solution is in the Shanshu Prophecy, but Angel says he just read it and it wasn't helpful. Spike is surprised he has been reading the prophecy which he claims not to believe in. They decide someone from Wesley's department needs to look over the prophecy, and meet with Sirk, who tells them that they read a translation and therefore didn't get everything out of it. He re-translates: "The balance will falter until the vampire with a soul drinks from the Cup of Perpetual Torment". Sirk says that whoever drinks from the cup is the one who was destined to, and once the champion is decided the universe will go back to normal. Sirk says the cup is in a destroyed opera house in Death Valley, Nevada.
Back in 1880, Angelus and William celebrate a wedding massacre, until William leaves to be with Drusilla, whom William calls his destiny. Shortly after, William discovers Angelus having sex with Drusilla; the two laugh at William and Angelus taunts him with his earlier words. At the opera house, Spike and Angel battle it out for the cup with Spike saying that Angel has already chosen the side of evil by working at Wolfram & Hart. In the science lab, Gunn begins bleeding from the eyes, warning Fred not to trust Eve. He starts choking Eve, demanding to know who she really is. Fred tends to Eve, who starts crying and says that she knows what all the group think of her, but she's "not the bad guy." Back in 1880, William fights Angelus for sleeping with Drusilla. Angelus tells him that no one belongs to anyone, and William should take Drusilla if he wants her; William chooses to keep fighting.
As Angel struggles in their fight, Spike tells him he knows why Angel can't stand the sight of him; because every time he looks at him he sees the monster he created. As he repeatedly punches Angel in the face, Spike reminds him that every life he took and every terrible thing he did was because of him, and while Drusilla made him a vampire he always considered Angelus to be the one who made him a monster. At this point, Spike hits Angel with a cross despite it burning his hands. As he lands, Angel retorts that he didn't make the monster but just let him out. Spike isn't done, however, and believes Angelus tried to make Spike into another creature as terrible as him in the world, so that he could feel better about himself. Also, unlike Angel who had his soul forced upon him, Spike fought demon trials so that he could be rewarded with one so that he could be a better man. Angel retorts that Spike only did it to try and have sex with Buffy who never really loved him. Spike, furious, reveals to him that while Angel only had sex with Buffy once he did it plenty of times.
Provoked into a jealous rage by Spike's words, Angel quickly gains the upperhand, fighting more fiercely than before. Both furious, the fight continues more aggressively. However, for the first time in 100 years, Spike comes out the victor. He contemplates killing Angel, but stakes his shoulder instead, stating that he would dust him, but he also doesn't want her (Buffy) to "bitch" about it. Spike grabs the cup and Angel tells him that it's not a prize it's a burden: "Do you even really want it? Or is it that you just want to take something away from me?" "Bit of both," Spike replies, drinking from the cup. His expression changes . . . as he realizes the cup is filled with Mountain Dew. Angel returns to Wolfram & Hart with the news that the cup was a set-up; Sirk has disappeared. Gunn and Harmony regain consciousness.
Back in Angel's office, Eve tells everyone that the Senior Partners temporarily fixed things. She says that they don't know anything about Sirk's trick and are as angry as Angel is. He is soon seen brooding over something, and Angel confesses that even though the cup was fake, Spike beat him for the first time ever and was the one that managed to drink from it. As a result, Angel is starting to believe that this is proof that Spike is the vampire for the Shanshu Prophecy as not only was he stronger, but he "wanted it more".
Elsewhere in L.A., Eve enters an apartment and undresses, gloating to someone that Angel and Spike fell for the cup story and Sirk disappeared without the Senior Partners knowing anything. In addition, the gang are wondering if they can trust the Senior Partners. She crawls into bed with a tattooed Lindsey. "Well... it's a start," he replies.
- Always Second Best: Spike's longtime resentment of Angel comes to the fore here. We even see how it started (Angelus having sex with Drusilla after Spike called her his One True Love). Subverted in the end, however; for the first time in their long history, Spike definitively wins a fight with Angel.
- Amusing Injuries: Spike discovers he's no longer an Intangible Man when he walks into a door while trying to walk through it.
- Ax-Crazy: Random employees of Wolfram & Hart start weeping Tears of Blood and venting all kinds of frustrations through violent behaviour towards their co-workers.
- Bait-and-Switch: It's not the hero of the series but Spike who wins the Cup. Which turns out to be Mountain Dew?.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Angel asks Spike if he really wants this destiny, or if he just wants to win the Cup from Angel. Spike pauses to consider this... then shrugs. "Bit of both."
- Blood from the Mouth: Our two heroes get thoroughly thrashed.
- Break Them by Talking: Angel and Spike do this to each other, constantly. For example...Spike: You had a soul forced on you, as a curse. Make you suffer for all the horrible things you'd done. But me... I fought for my soul. Went through the Demon Trials. Almost did me in a dozen times over, but I kept fighting. 'Cause I knew it was the right thing to do. It's my destiny.Angel: Really? Heard it was just to get into a girl's pants.
- Spike gives one right back in reference to Angelus.Spike: Come on, hero. Tell me more. Teach me what it means. And I'll tell you why you can't stand the bloody sight of me. 'Cause every time you look at me... you see all the dirty little things I've done, all the lives I've taken...because of you! Drusilla sired me... but you... you made me a monster. Too busy trying to see your own reflection... praying there was someone as disgusting as you in the world, so you could stand to live with yourself.
- Spike gives one right back in reference to Angelus.
- Brief Accent Imitation: A trace of 19th century Angelus's Irish accent comes out when Angel says, "I didn't make you, Spike. I just opened up the door."
- The Bus Came Back: Lindsey McDonald, last seen in Season Two's "Dead End", is conspiring against Team Angel.
- Harmony accuses Spike of thinking of Buffy while he's having sex with her, which happened in BtVS "Family".
- Spike driving along singing to rock music, like he did at the end of BtVS "Lovers Walk".
- Angel catching the rebar as Spike thrusts it at his face is similar to Buffy's Barehanded Blade Block when fighting Angelus in "Becoming, Part II".
- Cock Fight: Despite their mutual love for Buffy, Spike and Angel don't hesitate to use her as a blunt instrument to humiliate each other during their Snark-to-Snark Combat.
- Continuity Nod:
- Spike asking if Angel's blood contains otter ("Conviction").
- The references in the flashback to the events of "Darla" (Angelus getting beaten up by the Master), BtVS "Fool for Love" (Drusilla siring William the Drunken Poet) and BtVS "Lies My Parents Told Me" (Spike staking his own mother).
- In "Hellbound", Angel worries that the moment Spike got corporeal he'd run off to see Buffy. Spike's first reaction when things start going to hell is to run off to Europe...where Angel told him Buffy had gone.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: TONER is written on the wall in blood.
- Cut Himself Shaving: When Angel shows up bloody and bruised, Fred asks, "What happened?!" His response is, "I fell down some stairs. Big stairs." When Spike shows up later looking very similar, Fred's response is, "Stairs, huh?"
- Double Entendre: Harmony tells newly-corporeal Spike to "Get off!" when he grabs her. Spike replies, "That's the idea."
- Dub-Induced Plotline Change: Sirk mocks Angel for thinking this.Sirk: You didn't read the prophecy.Angel: I didn't?Sirk: You read a translation of the prophecy, it's like comparing the King James Bible with the original Aramaic or Hebrew. Much of the flavor, the subtlety of usage, the historical context has been stripped away. 'Read the prophecy'. You may as well have read a twelve year old's book report on the subject.
- Emerging from the Shadows: Angelus introducing himself to William the Bloody.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Somewhat delayed.Angel: We've had our hands full dealing with the glitch in the office system... which just so happens to coincide with Spike being back, and I can't believe I'm just getting that.
- Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: When Spike gets his body back, it takes a matter of hours for him and Angel to come to blows (though the bad guys helped arrange it). The clear winner is Spike, which doesn't much help the confidence issues Angel was going through.
- Evil Is Petty: Angelus sleeps with Drusilla, knowing that Spike thinks of her as his One True Love.
- Evil Laugh: Spike and Angelus share a good one when they team up for the first time, then Angelus and Drusilla have one at Spike's expense when he catches them shagging.
- Evil Mentor: Angelus to William the Bloody.
- Fake Static: Spike pulls this on Angel after stealing his car to drive to Nevada.
- Felony Misdemeanor: A W&H employee standing by a photocopier starts beating his co-worker with a fire extinguisher.
- Flanderization: Spike trying to jump Harmony's bones, contrary to his post-soul behaviour in BtVS Season 7.
- Flashback: To 1880. We see William/Spike meeting Angelus for the first time, and the origin of their rivalry over Drusilla.
- Funny Background Event: Eve and Gunn are arguing in Gunn's office — through the window we see a literally Ax-Crazy employee stalking towards them holding a fire axe. Just as he's about to swing it at the window, a guard rushes in and tackles him to the ground. Eve and Gunn turn and see no-one there, so go back to their conversation.
- Futureshadowing: When William claims that he and Drusilla are "forever", Drusilla replies with a surprised "are we?". As seen in Buffy, their relationship is destined to fall apart.
- Game Face: "All right...let's finish this."
- Grievous Harm with a Body: William the Bloody compliments Angelus on beating the groom at a wedding they crashed to death with his own arm.
- Good Versus Good: Two (sort-of) heroes beating each other to a pulp over which of them gets to be the star. Not a high point for their maturity.
- Holy Grail: The Cup of Everlasting Torment is just a shiny cup full of Mountain Dew.
- Homoerotic Subtext: On first meeting Spike, Angelus says that while he likes the company of women, he's been wondering what it'd be like to share the slaughter of innocents with another man. "Don't think that makes me some kind of a deviant, hmm?" Lampshaded in the DVD Commentary.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: After the night's events Spike decides to celebrate his new corporeality by getting plastered.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Both Angel and Spike, in different ways. Angel thinks all his angst and repression makes him better, but he's scared that Spike is the true hero, not him. Spike meanwhile keeps trying to justify himself as better than everyone else because he's been the whipping boy in both life and undeath.
- In-Series Nickname: Eve refers to the gang as "Team Angel".
- Innocently Insensitive: "Innocent" is probably the wrong term to describe Drusilla, but she seems genuinely oblivious to the fact that her having sex with Angelus causes William considerable anguish.
- Interrupted Intimacy: William grins as he walks in on Angelus enthusiastically coupling with Dar...Drusilla?
- It's All About Me: Subverted when Spike challenges our hero over whether this series should be called Spike.Angel: What if I'm not the one?
- Kick the Dog: Angelus' response to William's belief that his and Drusilla's relationship is true love is to sleep with Dru right in front of William. A more subtle example comes when Angelus makes a remark about Drusilla being "a little dotty and brain-addled"; she's only that way because he tortured her into insanity and turned her into a vampire to ensure that she'd never know peace again.
- Kubrick Stare / Death Glare: William gives a furious glare when Angelus taunts him one too many times.
- Let's You and Him Fight / A House Divided: Lindsey was hoping that Spike would kill Angel, though doesn't show any disappointment when Eve tells him this didn't happen — he says "It's a start" that Spike and Angel beat each other to a pulp and Team Angel think the Senior Partners are plotting against them.
- Ludicrous PrecisionGunn: 6 more cases. That's what — a 30% increase in the last hour?
Fred: 32.4, but who's counting?
- Macho Masochism: William and Angelus holding their hands in the sunlight. 120 years later, Spike demonstrates his determination by using a huge cross to bludgeon Angel with.
- Meaningful Echo: "You've never met the real me." This is the same thing Spike tells Buffy in BtVS "Never Leave Me" when he asks Buffy to kill him.
- Modesty Bedsheet: At the end, when Eve crawls into bed with Lindsey, with both clearly naked under the bedsheets.
- The Mole: Eve turns out to be in bed with Lindsey, in both senses of the word.
- Moment Killer: Spike is shagging Harmony when she starts bleeding from the eyes, vamps out and chomps on his neck.
- More Hero than Thou: Angel and Spike shared one of these when they were told of some cup that a vampire with a soul had to drink in order to save the world, the cup is known as "The Cup of Perpetual Torment". They were arguing over which one of them was the prophesied vampire and, because it's Spike and Angel, ended up having one of the most brutal fights ever seen on the show to drink from it and prove themselves the true champion. Effectively, punching each other while shouting "I'm more of a hero than you!" Spike wins, but the cup turned out to contain Mountain Dew and be made in China.
- My Girl Is a Slut: Drusilla not only shares her favours with Angelus, she actually finds it amusing when William walks in on them. And it only takes a compliment on her dress and a smile from Sexy!Spike to get Harmony to make out with him.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Cup of Perpetual Torment.
- The Nicknamer: A W&H employee dubs Angel "Mr Goodfang".
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Angel and Spike spend a good chunk of the episode beating the ever-loving crap out of each other.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Angelus sure likes touching and grabbing a newly turned William.
- No Sympathy: Despite his poorly-considered attempt at consoling him in the previous episode, Spike is now rather lacking in consideration for Wesley's shock over killing a facsimile of his father.Spike: Oh, boo hoo! Thought he killed his bloody father. Try staking your mother while she's coming on to you!
- Not Named in Opening Credits: :Christian Kane as Lindsey McDonald.
- Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: Lampshaded by Eve.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Gunn going to the White Void Room to find a Pantherless Howling Abyss.
- One True Love: Unfortunately not a concept recognised by vampires. Or at least, not by Angelus.Angelus: Let me explain to you how things are now. There's no belonging or deserving anymore. You can take what you want, have what you want... but nothing is yours. Not even her.
Angel: That's why Buffy never really loved you: Because you weren't me.
- Spike gets his revenge centuries later when Angel tries throwing this in his face re Buffy.
Spike: Guess that means she was thinking about you... all those times I was puttin' it to her.
- Professionals Do It on Desks: Spike's first act on becoming corporeal is to throw a lawyer out of his office so Spike can do it on the desk with Angel's Sexy Secretary.
- Properly Paranoid: Although he's been driven to supernatural insanity when he says it, Gunn is absolutely right that Team Angel can't trust Eve.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Angel's first exchange of punches with Spike.
- Punctuated Pounding: Spike's famous I Hate You, Vampire Yoda moment.Spike: You see me! [punch] You see all the nasty things I've done! [punch] All the lives I've taken! [punch] Because of YOU! [punch] Drusilla sired me! [punch] But you! [punch] You made me a monster! [punch]
- Put on a Bus: Sirk has done a runner at the end of the episode, and the series ended before the writers had a chance to bring him back.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Yes, Spike won. He also got the holy hell beat out of him winning the fight, and it was clearly NOT a cake walk for him. Gunn himself even comments (to Angel): Looks like you gave as good as you got.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spike gives one to Angel after defeating him in battle, explaining that Angel only does good when he has a soul, a soul forced on him as a curse. Spike was willing to do good even without a soul, and even then, he eventually fought to get one because he wanted to be a good person again. Of course, Angel also pokes holes in that speech and gives him a speech - which, just like Spike's speech, is essentially fan opinions used by shippers in the great Spike/Angel war.
- Reset Button: The Senior Partners fix everything off-screen. Or so Eve says
- The Reveal: At the end of the episode, we see Eve entering a bedroom and starts undressing while gloating about manipulating Angel and Spike to someone in the bedroom. Once she's fully undressed, she crawls under the Modesty Bedsheet into bed, with a Reveal Shot showing none other the Lindsey, revealing they were both in cahoots the whole time.
- Right Through His Pants: Angelus bonking Drusilla, and Spike shagging Harmony.
- The Rival: Angel and Spike's rivalry gets a lot of focus here. In the past, they competed over Drusilla (although Angelus was mostly interested in screwing with Spike), and in the present, they beat each other absolutely senseless over the right to be The Chosen One for the Shanshu Prophecy (their mutual jealousy over each others' relationship with Buffy gets dredged up as well).
- Sarcasm Mode: Default mode for Sirk, being an ex-Watcher and all.Sirk: It's a metaphor... please tell me I don't have to explain metaphor to you people.
- Sequel Episode: To "Lies My Parents Told Me", in which we see Spike being sired by Drusilla. We see a flashback to Spikes first meeting with Angelus and back in present time, Spike references the events seen in that episode when he says:Yeah, right. Boo-hoo. Thought he killed his bloody father.Try staking your mother when shes coming on to you!
- Shirtless Scene: Lindsey in bed with a prominent tattoo on his chest.
- Slow-Motion Drop: Spike dropping the Cup after drinking from it.
- Smash Cut: From Angelus and William laughing their heads off over their newfound friendship, to Angel and Spike bickering in the present day.
- Stake over Head: Spike raises a stake to dust Angel...then jams it into his shoulder instead, on the excuse that Buffy wouldn't like it.
- Tap on the Head: Gunn goes insane and starts strangling Eve. Fred loads up a tranquiliser pistol, and when that doesn't work clocks him with a fire extinguisher.
- Temporary Substitute: Wesley is absent because Alexis Denisof was on his honeymoon with Alyson Hannigan. He is replaced by another expert on occult lore, with the explanation that Wesley was taking some well-deserved time off after killing a robot that he believed to be his father.
- This one is unusual in that Joss Whedon probably knew about this months in advance, enough time to not only set up the reason for Wesley's absence, but write an episode that would not have worked if Wesley had been present - a major plot point was that the Substitute Expert was evil, and deliberately mistranslated a text, where Wesley would have given a faithful translation.
- Tempting Fate:
- Angelus and William initially assume that they'll be BFFs. Their present-day animosity aside, Angelus proves it wrong within a few days by banging Drusilla and taunting a lovesick William over it.Angelus: (on meeting William) You and I are going to be the best of friends.
Angel: Get the hell away from me, Spike.
Spike: Would that I could, you big ape.
- William maintains that he and Drusilla are "forever". Drusilla asks "are we?"
- Angelus and William initially assume that they'll be BFFs. Their present-day animosity aside, Angelus proves it wrong within a few days by banging Drusilla and taunting a lovesick William over it.
- Terms of Endangerment: Eve addresses the various members of Team Angel as "kids", "princess" or "sweetie".
- Testosterone Poisoning: Loads and loads between Angel and Spike.
- There Can Be Only One: Reality is breaking down because there are two champions. Subverted in that it's actually Lindsey and Eve causing it.
- This Explains So Much: As Spike demands an office at Wolfram & Hart:Spike: At least give me Wesley's office, I mean, since he's gone -Angel: He's not gone, he's on a leave of absence.Spike: Yeah, right. Boo hoo. Thought he killed his bloody father. Try staking your mother when she's COMING ON TO YOU!Harmony: Wow. That explains a lot.
- Tom the Dark Lord: William, or "Willy" as Angelus mockingly calls him.Angelus: You know, you really should find a new name for yourself. It just doesn't strike the right note of terror.
- Title Drop: Every time the word "destiny" is mentioned.
- The Triple: According to Spike, Angel is fighting for "Truth, justice and soccer moms."
- Waxing Lyrical: Eve's comment "we've got trouble with a capital T, that rhymes with P, that stands for prophecy" is a reference to one of the songs from The Music Man.
- Wham Shot: The Reveal of Lindsey as the mastermind of the episode's events.
- With Friends Like These...: Within a few days of knowing him, Angelus slept with Spike's girlfriend in front of him, mocked him about it, then slapped him around. Why Spike willingly spent any time with Angelus after that is a question for the ages.
- Written-In Absence: Although credited, Alexis Denisof doesn't appear in this episode, ostensibly due to Wesley being given leave of absence following the events of "Lineage" — actually because of Denisof's wedding to Alyson Hannigan at the time of filming. This is the only episode from which Wesley is absent following his appearance in Season One's "Parting Gifts".
- You Can't Fight Fate: Invoked by Sirk.Sirk: The drinking of the Cup is predestined. That can't be changed. Whoever drinks from it was meant to. When one is confirmed as the central figure of the prophecy, the universe should realign itself.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Spike vs. Angel? Naturally.Spike: Used to hit a lot harder, gramps.
Angel: No, your head's just gotten thicker.