“The Shroud of Rahmon”
Written by Jim Kouf
Directed by David Grossman
A couple of detectives are standing outside an interrogation room. Someone’s been murdered and someone else is close to death. They go inside. The person sitting at the table turns out to be Wesley. He’s very upset and a bit out of it. He’s not answering the detectives’ questions. Then we cut to Angel wearing really bad colors, dropping a blonde woman. He has blood on his mouth and is in vampface. Uh oh.
Wesley is still in the interrogation room. He couldn’t stop whatever happened. He didn’t know the important information in time. It occurs to him that he doesn’t know what happened to Cordelia.
Cut to before any of this happened. Wesley is just now noticing Cordelia’s haircut, which happened ten days ago. Thank goodness those ridiculous extensions are finally gone, but she could still lay off on the volumizing spray. It’s so poofy! Wes is still dating Virginia Bryce. Angel has spent all of his time lately brooding about Darla, but now he’s helping Gunn with some scary thing his cousin got tangled up in.
Gunn is introducing Angel to his cousin. He took a driving job for a rather scary crew that wants to rob a museum. There’s a vampire on the crew, which is why Gunn’s cousin wants their help. The job is to steal something supernatural. Angel’s heard of the vampire who’ll be on the crew, who’s coming into town the next night. Angel decides he’s taking over the job. Gunn doesn’t appreciate that.
When Angel gets back to the hotel, he finds Kate lurking in his room. She’s been tracking Darla but hasn’t been able to find her. Angel doesn’t know where Darla is and probably wouldn’t tell Kate if he did. He advises Kate to stay out of this because she’ll probably get herself killed if she keeps sticking her nose in. Kate is still in belligerent mode, so she doesn’t think much of his advice. He grabs her and makes his point a little more threateningly. She shoves him away, then leaves.
Cordelia comes storming back into the hotel, followed by Wesley. He spilled cocktail sauce all over the blouse she wore to the premiere, right in front of Chow Yun-Fat. Angel notices her ten-day-old haircut too. Cordelia changes shirts while Angel explains about the mess Gunn’s cousin is tangled up in (and doesn’t this guy have a name?). Wes is very happy that Angel’s on an actual case. So is Cordy. They’re rather unsubtle about it. Angel’s going to be taking the place of Jay-Don, the vampire coming to town to be in the crew. It should be fun. Jay-Don is a gregarious, flashy type. Just like Angel!
Jay-Don’s bus arrives. Angel shows up acting like a fanboy. He gets him to tell him there’s no password, and then he stakes him and steals his signature sunglasses before they dust with him. A demon shows up looking for Jay-Don and Angel comes up to him. Angel’s doing a pretty entertaining easygoing (but vain) mobster act.
They drive out to meet the rest of the crew, a very jumpy museum guard and a big, spiny, red demon. This demon doesn’t seem like someone whose bad side you want to be on. He also doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a good side. They’re still waiting for a Lester, though. That would be the driver. Oh, so Gunn’s cousin is Lester. Angel starts looking at the security guard like he’s lunch, just to help sell his act. Lester shows up, only he’s actually Gunn. So much for Angel handling this without him.
The item they’re going to steal is the Shroud of Rahmon, which is worth millions on the black market. The leader demon explains the plan, using a map of the museum. They need a vampire to steal the Shroud from the museum’s vault because it’s sensitive to temperature changes. Angel and Gunn start squabbling, and Angel punches Gunn and tries to take him outside (probably to convince him to stay clear of the job), but boss demon objects. The job is going down tonight, so everyone had better fall in.
Wes and Cordy are trying to find out what the crew is likely to steal. They find out about the Shroud on the website of the Museum of Natural History, and they start researching. They don’t know Angel and Gunn are now stuck doing the job.
Angel continues to try to find a way to keep Gunn out of it. Gunn punches him back for the one at the meet-up, and they head into the museum through the back. The security guard lets them onto the freight elevator. They’re going to have to subdue Earl, another guard. Bob (the guard on the team) thinks they can subdue him in a non-fatal fashion, but the spiny red demon has other ideas. Luckily, Angel steps in before he can do more than toss him against the wall. Bob tapes Earl up, and they continue towards the vault, which they get to work cracking open.
Elsewhere, police are zeroing in on the heist. They know about Bob the security guard meeting up with the boss demon (who looks human enough from a distance that nobody gets too worried about him just from seeing his picture). They also got a picture that includes Angel. Which is why they’ve brought this to Kate. She’s very interested.
Bickering amongst the crew almost causes the boss demon to drop a tube of nitroglycerin on the floor and blow everyone up. Angel takes care of that part, and they successfully blow the vault’s locking mechanism.
Wesley has found out some stuff about the Shroud, which was originally crafted to keep the madness-inducing demon Rahmon from rising. Or, at least, that’s what the insane priest thought he’d be doing with it when he sacrificed seven virgin women and dyed the Shroud in their blood before he covered Rahmon’s body with it. Instead, he made a death-blanket that absorbed Rahmon’s madness-inducing power. Which means Angel is about to come in contact with a thing that makes you crazy (and homicidal). Cordy and Wes also realize Angel probably isn’t back from the meeting yet because they’re already stealing the Shroud. They run to intercept him before it’s too late.
Angel goes into the vault first to disable the security system, but getting close to the Shroud is already screwing with his head. His eyes go yellow for a second. Outside the vault, the rest of the crew seems to be having some trouble too. Angel vamps out, then goes back to normal. His tone of voice is a bit worrying. He rips out the wires in the security system, and then the others come in and help him lift out the casket. Everyone starts arguing. Then they lift the casket.
Outside, Wes and Cordy find the door the crew entered through, which has duct tape on it to keep it from locking. As soon as they step inside the building, they get hit with the Shroud’s power and promptly get kind of spacey. They agree splitting up is a bad plan, but then immediately split up. Oh boy. Kate is at the museum now too. By herself, but she’s requesting backup.
As the crew carries the casket down the hall, they keep arguing. Gunn in particular is losing it. He’s ready for a fight with Angel, and he lets go of his corner of the casket. Angel drops his corner too and they start fighting, and the casket crashes down. The glass window breaks and smoke starts curling up inside it. Angel gets Gunn to back off. Or not. Gunn pulls a stake on him. Then boss demon pulls out his gun to remind them of what he’ll do to anyone who makes trouble. They come back to the casket. The next part of the plan involves tying up Bob to make it look like they had to subdue him to get the Shroud. Bob feels like he needs some bruises in order for it to be really convincing. This was an unfortunate thing to say in front of the spiny red demon. He rips Bob’s head off. Very convincing.
Kate is inside the museum now. She sees someone moving. It’s Wesley. She almost shoots him. Wesley is very confused, but he manages to fight through it enough to remember he has to warn Angel about the effects of the Shroud. Kate starts getting affected too, and then Wesley vanishes on her. Elsewhere in the museum, Cordelia is admiring her reflection in a display case. She steals a turquoise necklace from a display dummy.
The four remaining crew members continue hauling the casket. They’re past the freight elevator now. Then the boss demon gets overcome with paranoia about fingerprints and dashes back to wipe them all away. Gunn can’t deal with it anymore and drops the casket again. Angel’s eyes go yellow again. And then Wesley finds them. He delivers his message: the Shroud makes people crazy and dangerous.
Angel, still with yellow eyes, seems about ready to prove Wesley right by harming him when Kate arrives with her gun. Angel is very impressed, in a crazy, sarcastic way. He walks towards her with his hands up, talking about how she needs to quit obsessing about her father’s death already. Wesley tries to get him to calm down, and Angel slams him into a door, dazing him. Then he vamps out the rest of the way at Kate. She fires at him, but that of course has little effect. He grabs her and bites her. Holy crap! Gunn and Wes see it.
A SWAT team comes rushing in. They find Wesley crouching over Kate, who is unconscious on the floor with a big old bite mark on her neck. The crew has gotten away with the shroud. They’re back at the warehouse where they had the initial meeting. Gunn is disgusted with Angel for what he did to Kate. The boss demon wants to open the casket now and get the shroud out. Angel really appreciates having to carry the entire casket this whole way if all they needed was the death blanket. Each of the four crew members suddenly decides he wants it for himself. Boss demon starts shooting, but gets knocked over. He manages to shoot the spiny red demon before it can hurt Gunn or Angel too bad.
Angel suddenly regains enough lucidity to remember the goal of this whole thing was to destroy the shroud, so he takes it outside and burns it. A wave of power goes out of it, and then hopefully everything is back to normal.
Now we’re back in the interrogation room from the beginning. The detectives are ready to arrest Wesley when Kate comes in. She’s extremely pale, but she’s still alive. She has them let Wesley go.
Kate is standing at the window behind her desk later. She’s remembering what happened at the museum. Angel bit her, but he did it to save her from getting shot by the boss demon. He told her to play dead so he wouldn’t shoot her. It worked. She might have to reevaluate her opinions of Angel.
Wesley is pacing the hotel lobby. Then he sits next to Cordy. They’ve been waiting for Angel. They don’t think this was a particularly helpful side-quest. Also, Cordy is still wearing the necklace she stole, but she’s very insistent that she returned everything. *snort* Wesley is particularly worried about the fact that Angel fed off a human.
Angel is up in his room. He remembers the museum, and the part he focuses on is how tightly he was holding onto Kate as he was feeding off her. Maybe Wesley’s worries aren’t unfounded.
“The Shroud of Rahmon” is a pretty pointless episode. It advances neither the main arc of the season nor the emotional arcs of any of the characters. It isn’t a turning point for Kate or Angel despite the emphasis placed on that bite. No consequences ever come of Angel and Gunn participating in a museum heist. It’s pretty much a filler episode, and filler episodes are particularly unwelcome in a season as good as Angel season two. If I can get past my obsessive-compulsive need to watch every single episode when I do rewatches, then this will definitely be on my skip list for future Buffyverse marathons. Some parts of the episode are amusing, like Wesley and Cordy after the Shroud effects them, and Angel’s Jay-Don act, but on the whole, it’s not really worth it.
It’s kind of funny how good Angel is at pretending to be a boisterous, outgoing guy when he needs to for a case. That manager guy Oliver from S1 might’ve been onto something when he thought Angel was an actor. His ability to act doesn’t make me any less convinced that his normal personality is genuine, though.
Cordelia is apparently a secret kleptomaniac? There’s really not much else I can think of to say about her in this episode. It’s a dumb episode.
Wesley seems to be getting more and more wary about talking to Angel when Angel’s behavior scares him.
From the way the Shroud affected Gunn, it seems like he does still have some issues about his sister’s death, but it hasn’t even been a year yet since she died, so that’s understandable. And he clearly won’t take high-handedness from Angel.
“That’s funny. You’re funny. You’ll be even funnier when I crush your head.”
“Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.