"I Fall to Pieces"
Written by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt; directed by Vern Gilum

Cordelia opens the mail at the office, noticing that they’re receiving a lot of bills but no money to pay them. She’d like a raise, because “a person needs certain designer things.” Doyle agrees that Angel should start charging people for saving their lives, though he’d rather just walk off into the night like a mysterious hero, which he denies he finds attractive. Angel arrives and Cordelia and Doyle decide to stand up to him. However, they chicken out and decide to wait until he’s had his morning coffee. They begin complimenting him and Angel immediately knows that they want him to start charging for his services. Doyle has a vision about a woman named Melissa who works at Pardell Paper Products. As Angel heads off to save his damsel of the week, Doyle admits to Cordelia, “Maybe I’m a little attracted.” In Melissa’s office, the woman in question is dealing with a birthday cake with a misspelled message. As presents are given to her co-worker, a man delivers a bouquet of flower to Melissa. She freaks out when she sees who they’re from, surreptitiously grabs a bottle of pills from her purse, and heads for the bathroom. There, she takes some pills, then heads for the parking garage. Angel greets her, telling her that he’s in “private security,” and says that he though she might need his help. He gives her a card and tells her to call him. Back at the office, he worries that he scared Melissa off and encourages Cordelia to talk to her. He thinks that they should help her, even if she doesn’t pay them, and Doyle backs him up. Cordelia, however, is her regular material self.

Melissa tries to withdraw money from an ATM but finds that her PIN number isn’t working. A man named Ronald approaches and tells her that he changed her number to the date they met. She tells him to leave her alone, but he thinks he’s looking after her. He says that he saw her taking tranquilizers at work and asks if she took the supplement that he prescribed for her. Melissa tells him that they had one date and aren’t automatically in love. However, Ronald seems to be living out a fantasy in which he and Melissa are in a committed relationship. He gives her money from the ATM, tries to kiss her goodbye, and tells her he’ll see her that night. Cordelia answers the phone at “Angel Investigations” and tells Angel that Melissa’s on her way. Upon her arrival, she tells Angel that Ronald’s been stalking her for about 7 months. He was a surgeon who asked her out after operating on an infected nerve behind her eye. Angel assures her that they’ll help her and Cordelia can’t resist adding that they’ll do it for “a reasonable fee.” Doyle takes Melissa home and Angel wonders how Ronald can keep an eye on Melissa all the time. That night, as Melissa gets ready for bed, Ronald looks at a picture of her. He seems to make his eye disappear, and in Melissa’s house, an eyeball watches her.

Angel goes to the police station to see Kate (see “Lonely Hearts”, who thinks that he either wants a favor or a date. He tells her that one of his clients is being stalked and she agrees to help him out. Doyle tags along with Melissa, wanting to look out for her all day. They chat about taking risks, which she says she used to do, and Doyle assures her that once Angel has taken care of things, she’ll want to again. Kate informs Angel that Melissa filed a report against Ronald two months earlier but his lawyers took care of everything. She tells him that he hired counsel from Wolfram and Hart (see “City Of”), a law firm not known for its ethics. She promises to have an officer look out for Melissa, though she thinks that Melissa will continue to be afraid even after Ronald is out of the picture. Angel heads to a clinic and sneaks into Ronald’s office, where he finds a book called Anything is Possible. Ronald enters and Angel introduces himself as Jensen, telling him that his wife has a tumor behind her eye and needs surgery immediately. Ronald tells him that he can’t perform the surgery. Angel sees a picture of Melissa and asks Ronald what she means to him. Ronald says that she’s his fiancée and, after some prodding, admits that he would die for her. Angel uses this declaration to try to convince Ronald to perform the “operation.”

Cordelia goes to the Good Samaritan Hospital, pretending to be a reporter, and interviews a nurse about Ronald. She learns that he developed procedures to improve reattachments of nerves and blood vessels. Cordelia asks if he’s a nice person, telling the nurse that she thinks Ronald is a creep towards women. The nurse confesses that Ronald keeps a lot of his progress secret and claims to have done a few “radical” things. Back at the office, Cordelia tells Angel that Ronald has apparently reattached eyes, among other things. She wonders why Ronald is so obsessed with Melissa and Angel says that he’s more upset that he can’t have a normal relationship with a real woman. Instead, he creates a fantasy relationship, and when it doesn’t work out, he decides he has to hurt her. Cordelia wonders if Angel’s own experiences with this sort of thing might give him special insight into the psychos they’re going to be dealing with. Angel mentions a man named Vinpur who said that everyone is everywhere at once, since we’re all made of the same molecules. However, he then had a nervous breakdown and became something of a recluse. He later led some seminars, one of which Ronald may have attended. Angel e-mails Vinpur the message, “I hope you have the nerve to believe that I need help with Ronald Meltzer.” (Ha, ha.)

Angel meets with Vinpur, who teaches that “the mind is the single most powerful force in the universe.” Ronald apparently wanted the ability to use all of his brain, rather than the 20% he was taught people normally use. Ronald lurks outside Melissa’s house but is caught by a police officer. He puts his hands in his pockets, and when the officer tells him to put his hands in the air, he reveals that he doesn’t have any anymore. In Melissa’s room, two severed hands creep towards her as she sleeps. The cop outside lets Ronald go and the hands give Melissa a rude awakening. The officer hears her screaming and runs inside to help her. She points him towards the bathroom, where he’s grabbed by the hands. Melissa skedaddles, running into Angel, who promises to keep her safe. Ronald, still outside the house, gets his hands back as he watches Angel with Melissa. Later, Doyle comforts Melissa with coffee as Angel and Kate discuss the case. He tells Doyle that he thinks Ronald is losing control and will kill anyone who comes between him and Melissa. He thinks that if Ronald’s body parts go too long without oxygen and blood, they’ll atrophy and he won’t be able to reconstruct himself. Doyle wonders if breaking him into pieces and boxing the pieces separately will do the trick. (Well, it worked for the Judge.) Until they can test their theory, their main priority is protecting Melissa.

At Angel’s apartment, Doyle and Cordelia seal up the vents and share an awkward moment when he doesn’t want her to touch him. Melissa expresses disbelief at what she saw and Angel explains that there are some things he can handle that the police can’t. Cordelia and Angel head up to the office, where Cordelia worries that Angel is getting into something too dangerous for him to handle. Angel searches the yellow pages for steel boxes, a concept which makes Cordelia realize again what a strange job she has. A call comes in on the “special line” and Cordelia answers it for “Jensen International Holdings.” Angel talks to Ronald, who tells him that he’ll perform the “operation,” but they’ll have to leave the country and he’ll need $100,000. Angel says he’ll bring the money right over, then heads out. When he arrives at Ronald’s with steel box in hand, Ronald tells him that he’s on to him, then shoots him with a tranquilizer dart. Angel slowly becomes paralyzed as Ronald vows to keep him from getting between himself and Melissa. Angel passes out and Ronald leaves to get to Melissa. At Angel’s apartment, Melissa falls asleep and Doyle admits to Cordelia that he put whiskey in her tea so she would sleep. Cordelia wonders why she should ever date again, since relationships never seem to work out. As Doyle tries to convince her that not every relationship ends horribly, fingers poke through the duct tape over a vent.

Cordelia and Doyle hear something rattling and decide to grab some weapons as they’re watched by an eyeball. Suddenly, other body parts begin making their way into the house until Ronald appears. He grabs Cordelia and throws her out the door as one of his hands pulls Doyle through a trapdoor and slams it shut. He advances on Melissa, wielding a scalpel, and tells her that he’s disappointed in her. She stands up to him, calling him a freak and taunting that he’s weak. Angel comes to the rescue and Ronald realizes that, since he’s not dead, he must not be human. Ronald’s teeth bite Angel, but Angel slams them into a wall, causing Ronald pain. There’s some stabbing and throwing of body parts and more stabbing, and Angel finally takes Ronald’s head off. The next day, Cordelia makes coffee at the office while Angel explains that Russell was placed in a dozen boxes and buried under a subway station. Melissa arrives with a thank you gift of a plant and Angel awkwardly tries to ask her for money. She willingly offers him a check, thrilling Cordelia, and tells Angel that she hopes she never sees him again. Cordelia points out that Angel can save people and make money without feeling bad. On their way to the bank to deposit the check, Cordelia and Doyle banter about him having another vision so that they can make more money. For the first time, Angel looks pleased with the way things are going.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Doctors can save your life, but then they might turn evil and stalk you.

GRADE: B+ A good balance of creepiness and humor.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Doyle: “He likes playing the hero, walking off into the dark with his long coat flowing behind him in a mysterious and attractive way.”
Cordelia: “Is this a private moment? Because I can leave you alone.”

Angel: “I’m not comfortable asking people for money.”
Cordelia: “Then get over it! I mean that in a sensitive way.”

Melissa: “I guess Angel has handled a lot of cases like this.”
Doyle: “Dozens. Hundreds. Dozens of hundreds.”
Melissa: “Wow, it happens that often?”
Doyle: “Well, exactly like yours? Not quite so many. But protecting young women such as yourself? Yeah, there’ve been - uh - 4. And 3 of them are very much alive.”

Melissa: “Bungee jumping.”
Doyle: “I’ve always meant to do that, but I intensely don’t want to, so I haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

Cordelia “What is stalking nowadays - the third most popular sport among men?”
Angel: “Fourth, after luge.”

Angel: “He’s in 12 steel boxes buried in 20 cubic feet of concrete in the floor of L.A.’s newest subway station.”
Doyle: “That ought to bring in the tourists.”

Doyle: “Let’s march down to the bank and deposit this beauty.”
Angel: “You guys go ahead. I think I’ll stay here and not burst into flames.”

Cordelia: “Have a vision.”
Doyle: “I can’t just perform on demand.”
Cordy: “We need the clients. Have a vision.”
Doyle: “That money has corrupted you.”
Cordy: “If I hit you on the head, will you have a vision?”
Doyle: “Get away from me. You’re insane.”
Cordy: “Am not. Now will you have a vision?”

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