"Heartthrob"
Written and directed by David Greenwalt

Fred is skittishly hanging out at the Hyperion, hiding when she hears Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn entering. They discuss the demon worshippers they just dealt with and the fact that they don’t have social lives. Gunn wonders if anyone has seen Fred lately; she’s mostly been hiding out in her room during the three months since the MoG returned from Pylea (see “Belonging,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Through the Looking Glass,” and “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb”). Wesley notes that Fred hasn’t been dealing well with Angel’s departure for the summer; she’s attached to him because he rescued her from Pylea. Cordelia remarks that she misses Pylea, obviously, and Wesley says that Fred doesn’t because she was a slave. Cordelia notes that Fred traded her cave in Pylea for a cave in L.A. The MoG start to discuss Buffy and the fact that Angel is mourning for her (see “The Gift”), which they know he’ll take a long time doing. Gunn thinks that Angel should have skipped out on a spiritual retreat in Sri Lanka and gone to Vegas instead. (Thus begins Gunn’s obsession with Vegas; he’ll finally get to go in “The House Always Wins.”) In a Sri Lankan monastery, Angel fights demon monks, then tells a man that he should have gone to Vegas instead. Back at the Hyperion, Cordelia tries to get Wesley and Gunn to set mousetraps in the basement. (Thus establishes Gunn’s fear of rats.) Angel returns and has a happy reunion with the other MoG. He tells them about the demon monks and Gunn repeats that he should’ve gone to Vegas. Cordelia is happy to receive presents from Angel’s trip. Angel asks about Fred and heads up to see her; Wesley tells the others that he seems better than he was when he left L.A.

In Fred’s room, she’s writing “listen” on the walls over and over. She hears a knock at the door and yells that she’s okay and doesn’t want to be bothered. When she learns that Angel is there, she quickly lets him in (he has to be invited, even though he owns the hotel, because she’s made the room her own). He tells her that he’s sorry he left L.A. so abruptly and assures her that he’s back for good. Angel looks at the writing on the walls and asks what Fred is listening for. She tells him that she’s listening for a “click” that indicates that things make sense. He tries to convince her that she’s safe in L.A., but Fred is still stuck on formulae and theories. Angel tells Fred again that she’s safe and is close to getting Fred to come downstairs to join the others when they hear Cordelia scream. Angel runs downstairs to find Cordelia having a vision of vampires crashing a college party. As Angel, Wesley, and Gunn run out to the party, Cordelia tells them that the vamps will take hostages and warns them to watch out for “the blond.” The guys arrive at the college too late; Angel decides to chase after the vamps, who have already left. A convertible carrying four vamps and two humans drives through L.A. The male human begs the vamps not to hurt his girlfriend, but changes his mind when a blond vamp, Elisabeth, tells him that they could kill her and let him go. Angel drops down onto the car, followed by Wesley and Gunn in Angel’s convertible, and Angel sends the humans off as he starts fighting the vamps. As Angel grabs Elisabeth and stakes her, she looks at him and says, “Angelus?” After she’s dusted, he looks down at her heart-shaped locket.

Cordelia heads home, where takes pills and lets Phantom Dennis tend to her while she recovers from her vision. Time for flashbacks! Angelus, Darla, Elisabeth, and a guy named James are in Marseilles in 1767; Angelus and Darla are talking about how Elisabeth and James’ relationship won’t last. They’re trying to stay away from a guy named Holtz, who’s chasing them. James complains that all of the shops are closed and he wanted to spend “the count’s gold” on Elisabeth. Darla and Angelus want to keep running from Holtz, but James isn’t afraid to face him. They talk about how Darla abandoned Angelus in France and took off on her own (see “The Trial”); he apparently did catch up to her in Vienna. Elisabeth spots a heart-shaped necklace in a window, so James breaks the window and steals it for her. He sends her and Darla off to their ship, wanting to fight some French soldiers with Angelus. Unfortunately, they get surrounded. In the present, Angel is telling the MoG the story; Cordelia says that if James is still around, he’ll want revenge for Elisabeth’s death. Wesley and Gunn head out to talk to sources. In a garage, a vamp tells James that they couldn’t stop Angel from killing Elisabeth. James doesn’t understand why Angel would kill vampires; the vamp tells him about the gypsy curse. Upset that the vamp run, James throws him into some sunlight. Back at the Hyperion, Cordelia tells Angel not to blame himself for Buffy’s death. She knows that he doesn’t want to talk about it, so she asks him what happened with Holtz.

We’re back to 1767, where Daniel Holtz (Keith Szarabajka) and his men have surrounded Angelus and James. Holtz demands to know where Darla is, since she and Angelus killed his family. His life threatened, Angelus tells Holtz that Darla is with Elisabeth at some docks. James blasts Angelus for putting Elisabeth in danger, but before they can fight, Holtz orders his men to kill them. Angelus and James manage to escape on horseback, but James is still furious that Angelus mentioned Elisabeth. Angelus reminds James that he just saved his life; James threatens to tell Darla that Angelus gave her up, then rides off on his own. In the present, James heads to a doctor’s office and tells Dr. Gregson that he needs “the cure.” Dr. Gregson confirms that James has paid “the price,” then performs some kind of surgery on him. Gunn and Wesley head to Caritas, where Lorne is singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and meet with Merl. He tells them that James is in L.A. and knows what Angel did to Elisabeth, so “he’s out for blood.” Gunn calls Angel at the Hyperion to relay the information; Angel tells Cordelia that he’s sure James will come there looking for him. He sends Cordelia home, but she refuses to let him face James alone. He starts to go to the basement to get some weapons and runs into James, who immediately starts fighting him. Fred picks this moment to try to venture downstairs; Angel quickly sends her back to her room. Merl tells Wesley and Gunn that James was at Dr. Gregson’s earlier that day; he tells them that Gregson is a Slod and a collector. They call to tell Angel, but he’s too busy fighting to answer the phone. Angel tries to get Cordelia to leave, but she attempts to help him instead. James tells Angel that he’s never loved anyone; Angel manages to stake him, then makes sure that Cordelia’s okay. Unfortunately for them, James pulls the stake out of his chest rather than turning to dust.

Angel manages to kick James outside into the sunlight, but he doesn’t catch on fire. Cordelia and Angel run through the basement and head towards the sewers; James follows them. Angel throws James off the track by spilling his own blood in a tunnel he and Cordelia didn’t take. Elsewhere in the sewers, Cordelia wonders if James got his hands on the gem of Amarra (see “The Harsh Light of Day” and “In the Dark”). Wesley calls on Cordelia’s cell phone; Cordelia relays info to Angel that James had his heart cut out, so he’s invincible, but only temporarily. Angel decides that they should just wait James out; they head up to a subway station as James looks for them there. Cordelia and Angel manage to get on a train before James can, but he just jumps onto the back, then climbs up to the roof. He comes through a window and threatens to kill the woman Angel loves, aka Cordelia. Angel tells him that the woman he loves is already dead. James is surprised that Angel actually loved someone and thinks that Angel should be out killing whoever killed her. The fighting starts up again and Angel gets the upper hand, knocking James to the ground. “You think you won just because you’re still alive?” James asks. “I lived. You just existed.” Then he suddenly turns to dust. Back at the Hyperion, Angel tries to explain things to Fred. Cordelia tells Angel that she knows James must have opened some wounds for him, but he’ll be okay. Angel says that he is okay, and that’s the problem - he survived losing Buffy and feels like he’s betraying her by still being alive. She tells him that he’s not, because he’s still doing good work; therefore he’s honoring her. Wesley and Gunn return and the four MoG head off to keep working. In a cabana in Puerto Cabazas, Nicaragua, a man gives Darla (last seen in “Epiphany”) information on a shaman, then offers her a drink. She takes him up on the offer by biting him. “Life’s full of surprises,” she says on her way out of the cabana, revealing to us that she’s pregnant.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: The past can come back to stake you.

GRADE: B- Enough with the parallel storylines!

WELCOME TO L.A.: Holtz

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Angel: “You don’t have to write absolutely everything down.”
Fred: “Oh, right. …I should write that down.”

Fred: “Angel? I thought I heard company. I came out of my room. Small steps, like you said.”
Angel: “Go back to your room and stay there!”
Fred: “Okay, then.”


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