"The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"
Written and directed by Jeffrey Bell

A security guard is checking out the basement of a warehouse when he runs into a plumber. Something attacks the plumber, then kills the guard. At Wolfram & Hart the next day, a mail clerk wearing a colorful mask decorated with the number 5 delivers mail. Lorne stops him and asks for his opinion on a birthday card. Lorne then spots Fred and asks her opinion instead, going back to ignoring the mail clerk. In his office, Angel signs a contract with his own blood, which Gunn assures him is okay. He tells him that he just helped a bunch of people, but Angel isn’t thrilled, since, as Gunn determines, he’s not helping people out on the streets. Gunn says that he’s excited to go to work now, since he’s using his own super powers for once. Spike appears and asks to trade powers, since all he can really do is walk through walls and pick up mugs. Gunn assures Angel that, even though he may not see it, they’re helping people by being at Wolfram & Hart. Angel says that he feels disconnected, which Spike doesn’t understand, since he has all sorts of material stuff and Spike has nothing. Gunn, however, understands, since he also misses getting out there and physically helping people. Wesley arrives and, as the mail clerk eavesdrops, announces that three people have been found in the area with their hearts cut out. As the MoG start to investigate, Gunn notes that the mail clerk forgot to pick up something Angel wanted to mail. Angel goes after the clerk, who throws him throw the window of his office. “I really hate this place,” Angel remarks.

As the MoG regroup, Spike is surprised that “Number 5” threw Angel through the window, since he’s old. Gunn calls security to make sure the clerk doesn’t get away and Wesley wonders why the clerk attacked Angel. Fred arrives and Spike happily fills her in that Angel attacked the clerk. Gunn finds out that security is taking the clerk away and asks Angel if he wants to fire him. Angel just wants to get on with things and focus on the case Wesley has presented. Wesley announces that a fourth was just found in a church after an All Souls’ mass. Ironically, it’s the Mexican Day of the Dead. Angel, Spike, Wesley, and Gunn head towards the church, though no one’s happy that Spike has tagged along. Angel stops the car suddenly and goes into an alley, where the MoG find a body with its heart cut out. The group spots a demon nearby and fights it, but it gets away. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Fred studies the demon’s blood, but says that it might take awhile to figure out what kind of demon it is. Spike appears and complains that Angel is grumpy. Fred says that he should know what that’s like, since it’s not easy being a champion. Spike doesn’t consider himself one, despite the fact that, as Fred points out, he helped save the world by sacrificing himself to close the Hellmouth. He says that it wasn’t heroic, since all he did was stand there. Fred reminds him that he saved her life (see “Hellbound”), so he’s a champion in her book.

That night, Wesley gets someone to sketch the demon from the alley and tells Angel that he thinks they’ll figure out what it was. Angel tries to engage in the issue, saying that once they find the demon, he’ll stop it. After he leaves, Spike appears and tries to casually ask about the Shanshu prophecy. Wesley tells him that the prophecy states that a vampire with a soul will play a big role in the apocalypse and may be rewarded with mortality. Spike asks if the Hellmouth battle (see “Chosen”) counts as the apocalypse, but Wesley says that the prophecy doesn’t specify. He adds that he doesn’t think Spike can be considered for the prophecy because he’s a ghost now. Spike replies that he doesn’t believe the prophecy anyway, and neither does Angel. Wesley finally gets some information and tells Angel that the demon was an Aztec one called Tezcatcatl. The last time it was in L.A. was exactly fifty years ago, also on the Day of the Dead. It killed a bunch of people but was finally defeated by five brothers who were “the champions of that time.” However, all of the brothers but one were killed in the battle. Angel decides that they need to talk to the remaining brother, who turns out to be the mail clerk. Number 5 isn’t happy to see Angel; he says that he thought Angel was going to drag him into finding Tezcatcatl. Angel says that he just wanted to give him some mail, but now he does want his help to find Tezcatcatl. Number 5 refuses to give him any information, and Angel points out that he still wears his mask. Number 5 says that he wears it to remind himself that “only a fool would want to be a champion.”

Number 5 says that he and his brothers were luchadores (Mexican wrestlers) known as Los Hermanos Numeros (the number brothers). Angel sees a shrine nearby and looks at a picture of the brothers together. In a flashback, we see one of the brothers wrestling as Number 5 says that everyone loved the brothers. They never lost any fights, but they also had to do battle outside the ring. No one else cared about Hispanic people, so the brothers protected them. They also fought demons and vampires and “helped the helpless.” Angel says that he can relate. Number 5 says that those were the best days of his life; he and his brothers always got along and were always together. They also never took off their masks, because they always had to be ready to go fight evil. Number 5 asks if Angel has heard about the brothers’ victory over the devil’s robot; he’s not familiar. “Nobody remembers the good stuff,” Number 5 complains. Angel asks about Tezcatcatl, but Number 5 claims not to remember how the brothers defeated it. After his brothers died, Number 5 tried to continue to fight evil, but he didn’t get much business. One day, he was contacted by a lawyer from Wolfram & Hart and went to work for them. Every year, on the Day of the Dead, he makes an altar for his brothers, but they never come back. He says that he’s not worthy and should have died with his brothers. Angel tells him that he’s not worthy because he gave up and stopped caring. Number 5 takes him to a wrestling arena, where midget wrestlers put on a fake fight, playing the brothers. He wonders what difference they made, since Tezcatcatl is back.

Angel says that they made a difference to the people they saved, and it matters because they did what was right. “Nobody asks us to go out and fight, put our lives on the line,” he says. “We do it because we can, ‘cause we know how. We do it whether people remember us or not, in spite of the fact that there’s no shiny reward at the end of the day…other than the work itself. I think some part of you still knows that, still believes in being a hero.” Too bad Number 5 has taken off. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Wesley and Gunn investigate the people whose hearts were removed, wondering why Tezcatcatl passed over a bunch of others in order to get one of the victims. Wesley asks if Angel seems all right and Gunn mentions that he feels disconnected. Gunn remembers that one of the victims was a Gulf War veteran and had a Bronze Star; another victim worked with gangs and another was a fireman who saved his crew from a fire. Wesley and Gunn decide that Tezcatcatl is removing the hearts of heroes. Out on the street, Angel spots Number 5 on a bus and is attacked by Tezcatcatl. The demon starts to remove his heart, then leaves him instead. Angel returns to the firm, where he tells Wesley and Gunn that their theory makes sense, but Tezcatcatl passed him over. Wesley tells him that Tezcatcatl wants hearts for their substance, not for the metaphor of having a hero’s heart. Angel says that he can be killed if someone stakes him through the heart, so he doesn’t see the difference. Gunn wonders if Tezcatcatl made a supernatural deal in order to be resurrected after fifty years.

After Gunn leaves, Wesley tells Angel that his heart isn’t in his work anymore: “You blame your melancholy on your new position, but I don’t think it’s about the type of work. I think it’s because you’ve lost hope that the work has meaning.” He mentions that Spike told him Angel doesn’t believe in the Shanshu prophecy anymore. Angel replies that prophecies aren’t always correct, citing, “The father will kill the son” (see “Loyalty”). Thanks to his amnesia over Connor, Wesley has no idea what he’s talking about. Angel says that it doesn’t matter what he believes as long as he keeps doing good. Wesley disagrees, saying that hope is what matters and will keep him from ending up like Number 5. Angel, Fred, Wesley, and Spike meet up in the science lab, where Angel learns that the blood from the heroes’ hearts sustains Tezcatcatl. Fred says that it makes him almost invulnerable. Spike says that every creature has a weakness, and he bets that Tezcatcatl’s weakness is its heart. Gunn arrives and says that that will stop the demon for the time being, but Tezcatcatl has a contract with Wolfram & Hart that resurrects him every fifty years. When he comes back, he searches for a talisman, which was given to “a great hero in charge of protecting it.” When Tezcatcatl gets the talisman, it becomes truly invulnerable. Gunn describes the talisman and Angel remembers seeing it in Number 5’s shrine to his brothers. He heads to Number 5’s apartment, but it’s empty. The shrine has been moved to the cemetery where the brothers are buried and Number 5 is waiting for Tezcatcatl to come to him.

Angel arrives and says that Number 5 might want Tezcatcatl to kill him so he can be with his brothers, but it won’t work. Angel asks for the talisman and Number 5 says that he doesn’t have it. As Tezcatcatl approaches, Number 5 says that he swallowed the talisman, so the demon will have to cut it out of him. Tezcatcatl starts fighting Number 5, but Angel stops the demon from killing him. Tezcatcatl stabs Number 5 in the stomach and he falls on his brother’s graves, bleeding as Angel fights the demon. As Tezcatcatl starts to get the upper hand, a hand reaches out of one of the graves. The brothers emerge from their graves and the five of them work together with Angel to defeat Tezcatcatl. Angel tells Number 5 that his brothers came back because he showed that he was worthy. Number 5 says that that might be true, but Tezcatcatl still didn’t want his heart. He tells Angel that the talisman is in his coffee cup - “I may not be a hero, but I am not a fool.” He dies, and his brothers carry him off. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Angel gives the talisman to Wesley for safekeeping and tells the MoG that he got the job done. Fred asks if Number 5 helped out and Angel assures her that he died a hero. Later that night, after everyone else has left, Angel goes to Wesley’s office and looks up the Shanshu prophecy.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Hearts, heroes, champions, blah, blah, blah.

GRADE: B+ Who knew Mexican wrestlers could be so entertaining?

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Lorne: “Hey, Fred, sweetie, you’re sorta like a woman.”
Fred: “Oh, that’s…not a compliment.”

Wesley: “Yeah, remind me again how you ended up in the front seat.”
Spike: “Called shotgun, mate.”
Wesley: (looking at his shotgun) “Oh. I thought we were doing a weapons check.”

Angel: “Wes, did you ever hear that the devil built a robot?”
Wesley: “El Diablo Robotico. Why?”
Angel: “Nobody ever tells me anything.”

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