Written by Jeannine Renshaw
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
We open on...plastic army guy toys that crawl? Okay. A street vendor is selling them to a couple of kids. (Why are these kids visiting street vendors at night in L.A.? Shouldn’t they be home? That doesn’t seem very safe.) A blind lady approaches, so the vendor very courteously moves the toys out of her path. The camera follows the blind lady past a warehouse.
Then we cut to Angel in some kind of warehouse (possibly the same warehouse), where he’s fighting vampires. He wins, then hears yelling from another direction and goes to investigate. He arrives on the scene too late; the man has already died. Then a woman attacks him. The blind woman. Seems she graduated from the same Handicapped Badass class as Toph Beifong and Matthew Murdock. And unfortunately for Angel, she’s not on his side. She beats the crap out of him and gets away.
At the office the next morning, Wesley has had no luck finding anything in his books about the Blind Weaponmaster trope, and sadly for him, TVtropes wasn’t a thing yet in 2000. He manages to get on the right track, though, abandoning his initial theory that she must be some kind of blind demon in favor of a theory that she’s found supernatural ways of compensating for her blindness. Cordelia thinks the lady’s assassin skills plus her blindness are likely to make her pretty easy to track down through the legal system, and she’s correct. She finds her online in about a second. Her name is Vanessa Brewer, and she has a pretty colorful resume. Lots of charges filed, but so far none have stuck, thanks to the fine work of her lawyers from W&H.
Specifically, Lindsey McDonald is her defense attorney. His angle in court is that there’s no way a blind woman could have killed those two people. Angel walks in and throws something at her. She catches the projectile (which turns out to be her sunglasses) without so much as turning around, and smiles a bit even though the court is now in pandemonium.
Wesley’s new theory is that Vanessa has figured out a way to see outside the ordinary visible light spectrum. Cordelia doesn’t really care how Vanessa’s sight works, since she thinks she’s about to get locked up. However, Angel informs them that W&H is representing her for free, which means they consider her a very valuable asset. They won’t let her go to prison without a very hard fight.
At W&H, Lindsey is watching Vanessa talk to some people from a distance. Lee comes up behind him to creepily congratulate him on winning the case. Also he finds the murderous blind lady super attractive. Lindsey would like Lee to get out of his face. One of the men talking to Vanessa calls him over to congratulate him. Vanessa does too. Lindsey seems a little creeped out by her. He stays to chat with the older guy after Vanessa and the others leave. This guy is Holland Manners, one of the higher-ups in the firm. He’s concerned about Lindsey, but he thinks he can go far, even after the fiasco with Faith. The reason he’s concerned is that he’s not sure Lindsey is feeling very committed to W&H. He’ll help Lindsey move up, but only if Lindsey can discover for himself that W&H is where he belongs. Also, regarding the case, he wants Lindsey to start preparing for the next case in which he’ll be defending Vanessa, because she’s about to perform another hit for them. A hit against three children. Lindsey is very thrown by this information.
Angel seems to have just learned that Vanessa got off, because when we return to his office, he’s throwing his desk phone against the wall. He’s very unhappy with the legal system. He doesn’t know how he can fight Wolfram & Hart when he can’t even enter the legal realm. He also knows exactly what they are, because it’s what he used to be. Pure, remorseless evil. Just when he’s at his bleakest about this, Lindsey enters the office to ask for their help. He wants them to get him out.
Alone with Lindsey in his office, Angel tries to figure Lindsey out. Lindsey is terrified—of W&H, not Angel. He feels cornered, like he’s gotten in too deep. He starts regaling Angel with his backstory of terrible poverty and how that’s why he ended up where he did. Angel isn’t interested in Lindsey’s backstory, he’s interested in the choices he’s making now. Once Lindsey mentions Vanessa’s job to kill some kids, Angel is on board. It seems like he thinks he can just hand this one off to Angel, but Angel disagrees. If they’re going to steal the vital information about Vanessa’s job from W&H, they’ll need Lindsey’s help. He reluctantly agrees.
The next scene is the A.I. team plus Lindsey outlining their infiltration plan so that Angel can get in and retrieve the files. For a law firm, it’s a very secure facility, but Angel seems reasonably confident in their chances (even if Cordelia isn’t). Next, Angel pays Gunn a visit. Yay! He’s trying to recruit him to help out with their plan while Gunn has some target practice with his stake launcher against a mattress. Angel convinces him pretty easily.
Lindsey enters the W&H offices the next day for work. Down in the sewers, Angel is using an acetylene torch to cut his way into the building from below. Lindsey runs into Lilah in the basement. She’s rather jumpy. They have a nice little professional frenemies moment in the doorway of the back records room. After she leaves, Lindsey continues on to the spot where Angel’s cutting his way in and leaves his security pass for him to find. Angel finishes his homemade trapdoor and changes into his lawyer suit, then waits.
Lindsey pops into the security room to distract the guy watching the monitors with a conversation about home security systems. They watch Gunn arrive through the front doors. Cut to the front of the building, where Gunn is being hilarious, making lots of noise about evil white people and pretending the guards standing several yards away are assaulting him.
Also, throughout this whole thing, there’s been a lot of watch-checking from all members of the infiltration plan. Some of Gunn’s friends bring a vampire into the building, tied up in a tarp. At the same moment, Angel climbs up through his trapdoor. The demon in the security room who’s there to sense vampires on the premises immediately starts making noise. The ruse worked. It seems the demon can’t tell them how many vampires there are. The security guards in the front deal with Gunn’s vampire, and Lindsey switches the monitor showing the hall where Angel’s grabbing the security pass to something else.
Angel makes it to the vault where the files are, then uses some kind of paralyzing powder (courtesy of Wes and his research) to take down the demon guarding it.
Upstairs, Lindsey runs into Lee again. He’s clearly very stressed, but doing an okay job of downplaying it.
In the vault, Angel gets the files, but on his way out, his attention is drawn by some kind of artifact on display. The background music is rather heavenly chorus-esque. Interesting. He tosses it into his briefcase too. Cue the alarms. He manages to make it out before the grate slams down, then calls Lindsey and tells him to get out.
Lindsey doesn’t make it far, because it’s time for a random mind reader sweep. Lilah is annoyed because she had an appointment that she’ll definitely miss now. Lee doesn’t seem too keen either. All the lawyers on that floor line up in a conference room while the mind readers slowly move down the line. They take a long time on Lindsey, then move on. Then move back. Then step away to talk to Holland. Seems there’s a traitor in their midst! And the traitor, surprisingly, is not Lindsey, but Lee. Who has been courting a position with a rival firm. Klein & Gabler. I’m pretty sure this is the only time we hear about K&G, but this has me so deeply curious about them. Are they also an evil law firm run by powerful, ancient demons and with their fingers in lots of evil pies? Lee tries to talk his way out of it, but the security guard shoots him in the back of the head before he can finish. His blood gets all over Lindsey’s face. Holland asks him to stay behind a minute.
Angel gets back to his office. Lindsey still hasn’t showed up. Angel doesn’t feel his safety is enough of a priority to look into it. He gives Cordelia the files he stole. Wesley asks about the artifact. He opens it. It’s an ancient scroll. Angel still isn’t really sure why he took it; he was just drawn to it. Wesley doesn’t need any more reason to start translating. Aww. But things won’t be easy with those files. The disks are encrypted. Oh hey, haven’t we just dealt with a plotline involving encrypted disks?
Security guards drag Lee’s body out of Holland’s office. Holland isn’t happy about the blood stain on the carpet, but utterly remorseless about Lee’s fate. Also, he knows pretty much everything about Lindsey working with Angel. Dang, Holland is terrifying. I think I’m actually more afraid of him than of the Mayor. He has this warm, fatherly air at times, but also an undercurrent of cold, absolute, unyielding conviction. And he wants Lindsey to share that conviction. He’s like Emperor Palpatine, only minus the over-the-top acting. Instead of ordering the armed guard in the room to shoot Lindsey like he did Lee, he gives Lindsey a few days off to think about his priorities and what he wants for his future. Lindsey can’t believe he’s being allowed to walk out the door.
Hooray for cross-series continuity! Cordelia is now on the phone with Willow, who is talking her through the process of decrypting the W&H files (possibly at the same time that she’s decrypting the Initiative files, based on what Cordelia says about it). Also, I wonder if they threw in the bit where Cordelia replies to Willow’s unheard question with “Oh, no one, just Wesley,” followed by Wesley’s chagrined expression because Alexis Denisof and Alyson Hannigan were already dating. With Willow’s help, Cordelia succeeds in getting into the files. They open Vanessa’s personnel files. She deliberately blinded herself and studied the ways of cave-dwelling monks. Okay, so she’s slightly more like Toph than like Matt. Except for the part where her blindness was voluntary. Her next assignment will be to murder three children who are blind seers. As the kids grow up, their power will grow stronger, especially while they’re together. Enter Lindsey! Oh hey, does that mean he’s made his choice? He thinks they need to move fast, because W&H will be on their tail soon.
They find the address of the guy who’s supposed to be the blind kids’ mentor, but their plan to get to him before he meets the kids so that they can move him somewhere W&H doesn’t know about doesn’t work. Vanessa is already there, and mentor guy gets the walking stick right through his heart. The kids are all sitting there, white-eyed like Vanessa. She closes in on them, but that’s when Angel arrives. Angel tries to distract her long enough for Lindsey to get the kids out, but she’s still way better than Angel. She can see all his moves coming before he makes them, and she also stops Lindsey from helping the kids.
However, there is a flaw to her method of seeing. While she can see 360°, she can only see things that are moving. As a vampire, Angel doesn’t need to breathe and has no heartbeat. Humans would always be visible to her even while holding still, but Angel can disappear and catch her by surprise if he only moves in short bursts. Which is how he takes her down. He impales her on the walking stick, and they successfully get the kids to safety.
Huh, apparently the old guy Vanessa killed before Angel and Lindsey arrived wasn’t the mentor, because according to Wes, the kids are now with him. The reason W&H knew about those kids and that they were a threat to them was because of the text on that scroll Angel stole. But that’s not the only thing on there. There’s also a passage about the vampire with a soul. Angel, strangely, isn’t surprised. Wesley believes there’s a design, and that Angel has a place in it. It’s a comforting notion, especially after how helpless Angel felt against W&H the day before.
Some dudes are clearing boxes out of Holland’s office when Lindsey comes in to apologize and face the music. Strangely, Holland doesn’t seem angry. Lindsey returns the stolen files, but he admits he made copies for his own protection. And holy crap Holland just dropped the most classic villain line ever. “It’s not about good or evil, it’s about who wields the most power.” Don’t fall for it, Lindsey! Holland is very impressed that Lindsey had the nerve to stand up to W&H, and he offers him a promotion. A big one. And wow, his word choice. Basically the same words Satan uses while tempting Christ. Holland picks up his last box and leaves to head up to his own new office. Lindsey can either walk away or stay in his shiny new corner office. He goes to the door...and closes it, with himself still inside. Then he sits down behind the desk, pulls the phone off the hook, and looks out at his view. Uh oh.
Elsewhere in the city, Angel is perched on a roof somewhere, also taking in the view.
“Blind Date” is a story about a blind lady trying to kill some blind kids, but it’s really a story about Lindsey finally going all in on his deal with the devil. Which is great, because the surface story isn’t terribly interesting. Vanessa seems rather underdeveloped, and we never hear anything about those three seer children again in the show. I don’t know if there would have been time to be more effective with Vanessa and still get in all the great stuff with Wolfram & Hart, but if one of the two storylines had to lose out, then I’m glad the W&H side was the one that won. This is fascinating stuff, and it has some of my favorite things in it, like that classic “it’s about power” villain rhetoric and Angel not giving a crap about Lindsey’s tragic backstory, because it doesn’t justify his career of shielding monsters from the law. (And Angel doesn’t let his own tragic backstory justify anything for himself either.) Also, Gunn is already a recurring character, and his scenes are fantastic. “War Zone” did a pretty good job of introducing him, but his role in “Blind Date” adds a lot of fun and humor to a character who could have become extremely grim after the loss of his sister. I’m thinking more about the blindness/truth motif in the episode. The villain is blind, as are her marks, but they can all see in a much truer way than with ordinary sight. Holland claims that Lindsey is someone who can “see things as they are.” Angel seems to see through Lindsey—he may have reservations about some of the things W&H does, but he wants the things they offer too much to actually turn away from them. And I just love Holland’s masterful manipulation. He always emphasizes Lindsey’s freedom to choose, and he praises him for being willing to stand up to W&H. Lindsey can’t work for them if they’ll make him help them murder children, but what if he could stop them from murdering children and not only not get fired, but get a huge promotion? By suggesting that Lindsey is the one with the power, Holland successfully worms his way past his doubts. The contrast between Lindsey looking out on Los Angeles from his office and Angel looking out on it from an open rooftop is striking. Because in the end, Holland was still manipulating Lindsey. He may have more power, but he’s also trapped. Angel, on the other hand, is free, because he is unwilling to sell out.
Angel’s attitude towards Lindsey fascinates me. He worked so hard to convince Faith that she could find redemption, but now he barely humors Lindsey’s seeming change of heart, only going along with it for the sake of the kids. Why would he be more willing to help Faith than Lindsey, when Faith personally tried to kill him on multiple occasions but he barely even knows Lindsey? Is it that he’s seen enough of what Wolfram & Hart does that he’s skeptical of someone who’s worked so hard for them since the beginning of the season? Lindsey is the first W&H lawyer Angel ever encountered, which makes him Angel’s first impression of them. Would Lindsey have had a genuine change of heart if Angel had been more welcoming, or was he going to choose his promotion and the big corner office no matter what Angel did?
Cordelia doesn’t do much, but I like the way she’s fully on Angel’s side about Lindsey. Her seeing nothing wrong with Angel’s cold reception of him goes a long way towards making it not seem unreasonably harsh. And the phone call with Willow was a nifty little touch. I like how friendly they seem to be in their occasional phone conversations. It would’ve been a shame if they still hated each other.
Wesley’s loyalty to Angel continues to be incredibly endearing. If Angel was drawn to that scroll, then that’s all he needs to know before diving into the translation process. And he’ll do all the research and magical chemistry required to arm Angel with the right tools for taking down demon guards. I just love him so much.
“Give me one good reason.”
“It’ll be extremely dangerous.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.