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Angel
Season 3, Episode 12
Provider Main
Air date January 21, 2002
Written by Scott Murphy
Directed by Bill L. Norton
Episode Guide
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"Birthday"
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"Waiting in the Wings"
Cast
Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Alexis Denisof Wesley
J. August Richards Gunn
Amy Acker Fred
Guest Starring
Andy Hallett Lorne
Laurel Holloman Justine
Jeffrey Dean Morgan Sam
Eric Bruskotter Brian
Sunny Mabrey Allison
Tony Pasqualini Harlan
Keith Szarabajka Holtz
Co Starring
Allen Henry Brown Lead Nahdra
David Ramírez Pizza Chef
Brett Wagner Nahdra Prince
Benjamin Benetiz Tat Vamp #2
Uncredited
Jake Tupen Connor
Connor Tupen Connor
Trent Tupen Connor

"Provider" is the twelfth episode of the third season of Angel and the fifty-sixth episode overall. Written by Scott Murphy and directed by Bill L. Norton, it was originally broadcast on January 21, 2002 on the WB network.

Angel is now looking for money to raise, feed and educate his son. Angel Investigations begins to advertise; Fred builds the Angel Investigations website while Gunn distributes fliers all over LA. Angel Investigations now has more cases than they can handle, and three of these turn out to be more effort than they expected.

Synopsis

Now that Angel is a father, he is much more concerned about making money than he was before. He pushes the team to develop Angel Investigations into a profitable business. Fred designs and launches a website, while Gunn posts fliers all over town. Despite the excitement, Cordelia reminds Angel that he and the rest of the AI team work for the Powers That Be and asks him not to forget the mission. While the team waits for the phone to ring, a vampire finds their flyer and rushes to the nearest payphone. However, a pizza place, rather than Angel Investigations, answers the phone, and Fred points out that the phone number on the flyers isn't actually theirs.

The next morning, Wesley reports that 6,000 new flyers have been distributed all over L.A. Cordelia checks the website to see that it already has a few hits, and the phones begin to ring.

At his hideout, Holtz is scolding Justine, who, against his orders, dusted two vampires. Her hand is pierced by an awl and fastened to a table. She could remove it at any time, but Holtz would take that as proof that she was not committed to his cause.

The lobby of the Hyperion Hotel is full of Angel Investigations clients, both human and demon. Lorne uses his special skills to communicate with various non-humans, like Mr. Bleeshusengrung. A group of Nahdra demons wants to hire Wesley, as they read some articles he wrote about demons. Gunn takes Allison, a human client who is being stalked by her ex-boyfriend, to a private office to discuss her case. She says she's gone to the police, but they think she's crazy, and Gunn sympathizes with her, mentioning that sometimes the police don't take cases seriously until someone ends up dead. Allison then mentions that Brian is dead, which leaves Gunn thoroughly confused.

The Nahdra Demons meet Wesley, and request to borrow Wes's mind: they want him to solve a puzzle that they can give to their prince. Fred comments on the geometric shapes on the demons' tunics, which happen to be arranged in a specific mathematical order that fascinates her. After Lorne translates what she's said to the Nahdras, they excuse themselves to consult with the prince.

Angel visits Harlan Elster, a businessman, in his office. He says a group vampires of are extorting money from him, and asks for their nest to be destroyed. Elster shows Angel a case file, mentioning that the last guy on the case was "mussed" before he could finish the job. After offering him $10,000, half of which the company will receive beforehand, Angel takes Elster's check and leaves. Another man enters from a back office, who turns out to be the real Harlan Elster: the man who talked to Angel is an impostor.

Holtz returns to find Justine still at the table, albeit weak. After ordering her to go find other humans with the same rage she has, he removes the awl and throws her a bandage. When she finishes nursing the wound, she punches Holtz in the jaw and leaves.

At the Hyperion Hotel, Angel returns from Elster's office, excited that he's being offered so much money for such an easy job. Cordelia reminds him that they shouldn't be taking on so many cases at once, but Angel dismisses her comments. Then, Lorne, drunk, walks in the lobby, returning from a consultation with his Gaw-wawk snitch. He says Holtz is no longer using Grappler demons, but looking for humans instead. The Nahdra Demons come in, and Lorne says they now wish to hire Fred instead of Wesley. They live on a barge at the marina, and estimate the job would take one to two days, depending on how long Fred takes to solve it. They offer $50,000, which Angel accepts with enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, Wesley and Gunn are at Allison's house to protect her. She wonders how Brian can stalk her if he's dead, and while Wesley is explaining how such a thing could be possible, Brian, who is a zombie, tries to break in. Luckily, Gunn and Wesley are able to keep him out.

Lorne accompanies Fred to the houseboat where the prince of the Nahdra demons is staying. They take the duo's picture, offer them hors d'oeuvres, and Fred gets to work on the puzzle.

Angel invades the vampire nest he is hired to clean out and easily defeats the three vampires inside. He returns to the office, looking for Harlan Elster. The actual Harlan Elster tells Angel that the man who hired him was an impostor, so the check he received was no good. Elster explains that the man pretending to be him was Sam Ryan, an ex-employee who was fired six months prior. After Ryan's friend died, he tried to convince Elster to hire someone to clean out the vampires' nest, but Elster thought Ryan had gone insane and didn't believe him. As Angel is leaving, he learns, thanks to an off-hand remark by Elster, that there might be some kind of treasure in the vampire lair.

At the houseboat, Fred makes progress toward solving the puzzle. When a sick Lorne leaves to visit the restroom, he accidentally overhears the prince and his minions, and learns that they intend to cut off Fred's head and sew it on the prince's shoulders once she has completed the puzzle. Before he can sneak away, however, he is caught, and one of the Nahdra demons knocks him out.

Back at the hotel, Cordelia is tending to Connor, trying to demonstrate that she can levitate. When she is unsuccessful, she explains the history of her visions, and then reminds the baby how much his father and "Aunt Cordelia" love him.

Angel returns to the vampire lair he just cleaned out. The man who fraudulently hired him, Sam Ryan, shows up and picks up a watch, which Angel takes from him. It turns out the watch has only sentimental value, as the vampires at the lair killed his friend. Angel also learns there were seven vampires in the lair; since he only killed three, there are still four to deal with.

Cordelia is about to lock the $50,000 from the Nahdra demons in a safe when she has a vision that shows her what is about to happen to Fred. She attempts to call the rest of the team to no avail.

Meanwhile, Gunn, Wesley, and Allison wait at her house, with Allison getting impatient: she has plans that evening and wants to leave. Brian gets in through the kitchen skylight, which is the one entrance Wesley and Gunn had not secured. The two knock Brian out, and, along with Allison, retreat to her bedroom. Brian makes his way in, and he and Allison talk. It turns out that Allison was fed up with Brian and poisoned him. Despite the issues between the couple, they make up and get back together.

At the vampire lair, four vampires are beating on the door, but Angel refuses to fight until he is paid.

At the houseboat, Fred finally solves the puzzle. The Nahdra demons immediately drag her into the presence of the prince, where she sees Lorne tied up on the floor. The demons bind her to a chair and prepare to cut off her head. Before they are able to, however, Cordelia appears, carrying Connor. She offers to return the Nahdra's money in exchange for Fred. When Lorne translates, he adds the message that the houseboat is surrounded by killer warriors.

At the vampire lair, Angel relents, kills three vampires while one flees, and then leaves without being paid.

Angel & Cordy Connor

Angel and Cordelia discuss their plans for the money.

Wesley, Gunn and Angel appear in the nick of time to rescue Fred and Lorne from the Nahdras' houseboat. When the battle is over, Angel apologizes for getting carried away. He now knows that family and the mission are the most important things. Although he is willing to leave behind the $50,000, Cordelia surprises everyone by declaring that, considering the demons nearly cut off Fred's head, they deserve every penny. Therefore, Angel Investigations takes the large sum of cash and leave.

Safely back at the hotel, Angel and Cordelia lie on a bed with Connor between them and talk about what to do with the money.

Continuity

  • Cordelia, formerly the most materialistic member of the team, is now the least materialistic. This is a dramatic switch from the first season, when Cordelia focused on finances, and Angel felt it was more important to "help the helpless" for moral reasons.
  • Angel Investigations suddenly becomes quite well known when a website is created and the team starts handing out flyers.
  • Taken together with "Doublemeat Palace" (aired a week later), this explores both Buffy and Angel dealing with the suddenly critical issue of money.
  • Fred again would be considered "worthy" for sacrifice in Season 5, this time for the demon Illyria.
  • Cordelia can identify with Fred's situation in this episode. In "Some Assembly Required", Cordelia was going to have her own head removed in a Bride of Frankenstein-type scenario.
  • Cordelia makes a reference to Angel not knowing how to check the voicemails on his phone, a recurring joke about Angel being bad with technology.

Body Count

  • Jack, killed by vampires (before episode)
  • Brian, poisoned by Allison (before episode)
  • Six vampires, dusted by Angel
  • Nahdra Prince, beheaded by Angel

Behind the Scenes

Pop Culture References

  • Lorne describes the style of the Nahdra demon barge as a cross between Jules Verne and Leona Helmsley.
  • After being saved from the Nahdras, Fred says, "If you can keep your head as those about you are losing theirs..." which is from the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Spanish Inquisition: Angel's speech about priority mimics the Inquisitions speech on weapons.
  • When the Nahdra demons arrive at the Hyperion, Cordelia mentions that all she hears is "snap, crackle, and pop", which is a reference to the slogan of Rice Krispies cereal.

International titles

  • German: Rätselraten (Guessing Game)
  • French: Soutien de famille (Family support)

Music

Quotes

Cordelia - "They tried to cut Fred's head off. We earned every penny."