Written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight; directed by Skip Schoolnik

Flashback time! It’s 1880 in London, and Drusilla and a recently-sired William (not yet Spike) are making out. William meets Angelus for the first time and Angelus explains that Darla has gone back to the Master. At first, Angelus seems disappointed that Dru sired William rather than bring him over to be food. He holds William’s hand in the sun, then puts his own out, telling him that he’d like to kill people with another man. Proving himself, William holds his own hand in the sun and the two vamps decide that they’ll be bestest buds forever. Fast forward to the present, where Spike and Angel, of course, hate each other. Spike wants his own office but Angel reminds him that he doesn’t work there. Spike wants Wesley’s office at least temporarily, since Wesley has taken a brief leave of absence in the wake of the events of “Lineage”). He doesn’t have much sympathy for Wesley, since he himself killed his mother while she was hitting on him (see “Lies My Parents Told Me” at your own risk). “Well…that explains a lot,” Harmony remarks. She gives Spike a package from an unknown source and he asks her to open it, since he can’t. She opens it and releases a flash of light. She looks inside, but the package is empty. 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 finds that he can’t pass through it. He quickly realizes that he’s corporeal again.

Spike starts reveling in his corporeality, touching Angel (who’s not a fan), drinking blood, and hugging Gunn. He notes that the package must have done something to him. Harmony tells Angel that the phones and computers all over the building are going crazy with the screeching. Spike grabs her and kisses her, which she doesn’t exactly enjoy. He tells Angel that he’s borrowing her for awhile; Harmony objects to doing anything with Spike but gives in when he compliments her. Back in 1880, Angelus and William celebrate a recent wedding massacre (they still have the bride with them). They talk about Drusilla, who William says is his “destiny,” and William heads off to find her. Back in the present, Spike kicks a guy out of his office so he can get friendly with Harmony. The guy complains to a co-worker named Jerry, who reveals that his eyes are bleeding as he growls, “Toner. Nobody…replaces…the toner!” (He might feel a little embarrassed about this in “You’re Welcome.”) Back in the lobby, Angel tells someone to shut off all the computers and phones until they can figure out what’s going on with the system. Gunn asks if they’re under attack again (see “Lineage”), but Angel isn’t sure. Fred arrives and announces that all of the atmospheric gauges in the science have gone haywire and blown out the instruments. Angel decides that they must be experiencing an electrical surge, but Fred isn’t sure. She’s also surprised to hear that Harmony and Spike are “having a nooner,” according to Gunn. Gunn wonders if whatever it was that made Spike corporeal again messed up everything in the building.

Eve arrives and announces that the whole universe is in turmoil. She says that everything that’s happening is a harbinger - Spike’s existence is messing with “the order of things.” Now that Spike is considered a champion, he’s back in the Shanshu prophecy game. Fred is upset that Eve didn’t mention anything to her when she was working on making Spike corporeal again. Eve asks if she succeeded, but Angel tells her that he received a package that did the trick. Eve notes that he received the amulet in the mail as well (see “Conviction”). Angel asks what Spike’s return to corporeality is a harbinger of; Eve says it’s of something “worse” and “dangerous.” Spike and Harmony’s nooner quickly turns both worse and dangerous when Harmony’s eyes start bleeding and she bites Spike. Harmony starts yelling that she doesn’t belong to Spike; he’s using her and really wants Buffy. He knocks her out and tries to figure out what’s going on. Elsewhere, Jerry is carted off to work on his anger management issues and his feelings for toner. Lorne apparently caught Jerry killing his inconsiderate co-worker and got knocked over the head for trying to help out. After hearing of another attack and death, Angel decides to seal off the building until they figure out what’s going on. Eve tells him that he knows - “this is just the beginning. The fabric of reality is starting to unravel.” Spike returns and tells Angel what happened with Harmony. Eve announces that the problem is that there are two possible candidates for the Shanshu, so “the wheel of destiny starts to spin off its axis.” Spike gets angry that he’s being blamed for everything and decides to go back to Europe. Eve tells him that the entire plane of existence has been affected, so leaving L.A. won’t do anything.

Gunn returns and reveals that he went to the white room to talk to the panther again (see “Conviction”), but the room’s no longer there. Therefore, the MoG are left without their link to the Senior Partners. Angel asks Spike to stay until they figure things out, though Spike is reluctant that Angel can fix anything. Eve wishes that they could figure out who the Shanshu prophecy is about, but Angel mentions that he just read it (see “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”) and it wasn’t helpful. Spike is surprised that he read the prophecy, since he claims not to believe it. Gunn and Eve agree that they need someone from Wesley’s department to look over the prophecy, though Angel is adamant that it doesn’t contain anything that they need. Angel, Spike, Gunn, and Eve meet with Sirk (see “Home”), who tells them that they read a translation of the prophecy and therefore didn’t get everything out of it. He announces that a new translation states that “The root of the tree will split in two. And each thing will seek nourishment from the buried river…. Storm unleashed. The balance will falter until the vampire with a soul drinks from the cup of perpetual torment.” Spike isn’t thrilled to drink from that cup. “He will have the weight of worlds upon him, binding his limbs, grinding his bones to meal until he saves creation…or destroys it.” After that, the vampire’s past is wiped clean and he receives mortality. Gunn sums up that if Angel finds the cup and drinks from it, everything will go back to normal. Spike protests that he could be the vampire mentioned, but Angel thinks he’s ridiculous for thinking that. Sirk says that whoever drinks from the cup is the one who was destined to. He reveals that the cup is in Death Valley, Nevada, and Angel figures out that it’s in a destroyed opera house. Despite Gunn’s reluctance, Angel decides to head over and hope that the prophecy is true. He suddenly realizes that Spike has disappeared.

Spike has managed to snag Angel’s viper and is on his way to Death Valley already. Angel, who’s not too far behind him, calls him and blasts him for being selfish when peoples’ lives are at stake. Spike taunts that Angel can’t accept the possibility that after all these years of feeling important, he might not be anything special. Spike pretends to lose the connection and hangs up. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Gunn takes control and notes that Eve is always around when things go haywire. He suspects that there’s more to her than she lets on. Spike and Angel arrive at the opera house and both head in to find the cup. Back in 1880, William discovers Angelus getting friendly with Drusilla; they start laughing at him. At the opera house, Spike and Angel start to battle it out for the cup. As they fight, Spike points out that Angel’s soul was forced upon him as a curse, but Spike fought for his. He claims that it’s his destiny and Angel taunts that he thought it was just so he could sleep with Buffy. In the science lab, Fred, Gunn, and Eve try to figure out why certain people at the firm are experiencing certain effects. Gunn, suddenly bleeding from the eyes himself, tells Fred not to trust Eve. He starts choking Eve, demanding to know who she really is; Fred has to fight him off of her. At the opera house Angel and Spike keep fighting. Spike says that according to the prophecy, no one knows which side the souled vampire will fight on, but Angel’s already chosen the side of evil by working at Wolfram & Hart. Angel tells him that it’s more complicated than that. Back in 1880, William tries to fight Angelus for sleeping with Dru. Angelus tells him that no one belongs to anyone, they just take what they want. He tells William to take Drusilla if he wants her; William chooses to keep fighting.

At the opera house, Spike tells Angel that Dru sired him, but Angelus made him a monster. Angel replies, “I just opened up the door and let the real you out.” Spike says that Angelus made him into who he is so that he could have someone else in the world just like him and he could feel better about himself. Angel says that Spike is less than him, which is why Buffy never really loved him. Both of them vamp out, ready to finish the fight. Back at the firm, Fred tends to Eve, who starts crying and says that she knows what all the MoG think of her. She denies that she’s “the bad guy” and leaves. At the opera house, Spike and Angel taunt each other with wood and Spike stakes Angel’s shoulder. He says that he should have dusted Angel, but he doesn’t want to hear Buffy complain about it. Spike grabs the cup and Angel tells him that it’s not his prize - it’s a burden. “So ask yourself,” he says, “is this really the destiny that was meant for you? 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. Angel tries to stop him, but it’s too late. Luckily for Angel, there was no perpetual torment in the cup - it’s Mountain Dew. Angel returns to Wolfram & Hart, where Fred tells him that things are getting worse. Angel tells her that the cup was a set-up; Spike arrives from Sirk’s office and says that he’s disappeared. Gunn and Harmony regain consciousness, both back to normal.

Back in Angel’s office, Eve tells him, Gunn, and Spike that the Senior Partners stepped in and fixed things temporarily. She says that they don’t know anything about Sirk’s trick and are as angry as Angel is. Eve starts to leave and Gunn tries to apologize, but she brushes him off, telling him to focus on the Shanshu prophecy. Spike decides to go out and get drunk, since he hasn’t been able to for awhile. Angel tells Gunn that he’s upset that Spike beat him to the cup. Gunn says that it doesn’t matter, since it didn’t mean anything, but Angel says that Spike beat him in a fight for the first time. He was stronger and wanted his mortality more. “What if it means that…I’m not the one?” Angel wonders. Elsewhere in L.A., Eve heads into an apartment and starts undressing. She gloats to someone that Angel and Spike fell for the cup story and Sirk disappeared without the Senior Partners knowing anything. In addition, the MoG are wondering if they can trust the Senior Partners. “Oh, and by the way,” she says, “Spike didn’t kill Angel, but they did beat each other to bloody pulps.” She crawls into bed and we see that she’s with a tattooed Lindsey (last seen in “Dead End”). “Well…it’s a start,” he replies.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Mountain Dew has no mystical properties.

GRADE: B+ The ending’s the best part.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: “Perpetual torment? Just know that’s not gonna taste very good.” - Spike

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