|Season 2, Episode 14|
|Air date||February 13, 2001|
|Written by|| Jim Kouf|
|Directed by||Scott McGinnis|
|J. August Richards|| Gunn |
|Jarrod Crawford|| Rondell |
|Cory C. Hardrict||Ray|
|Darin Cooper||Police Officer|
|Geoff Koch||Street Cop|
|Jerry Giles||Desk Sergeant|
|Marie Chambers|| Mother |
|Tony Gracia||Runaway with Bandana|
"The Thin Dead Line" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of Angel and the thirty-sixth episode overall. Written by Jim Kouf and Shawn Ryan and directed by Scott McGinnis, it was originally broadcast on February 13, 2001 on the WB network.
Angel and Kate investigate a squad of zombie policemen who are assaulting homeless street kids and anyone in their path, a case also brought to the Gunn-Cordy-Wes trio by Anne Steele. The two groups do not know they are working on the same case, though. Wesley ends up getting shot by one of the policemen and Gunn, Cordelia, Anne and some street kids are forced to take refuge in Anne's homeless shelter while the zombie policemen try to claw their way in and kill them all.
In the hotel, Angel starts to feel the weight of his self-imposed loneliness and stands at the spot the team used to gather before and, in a flash of anger, shoves a pile of papers off the desk. He then goes to get some information regarding Wolfram & Hart out of Merl, who is leaving town, and is reminded of the fact he fired his friends and hasn't thought to check on them. A friend of Virginia brings her daughter to the soon-to-be-renamed Angel Investigations, asking them to remove the eye that grew out of the back of her head after she was attacked by an unseen assailant. Wesley assures the mother that they will find a way to get rid of the eye.
At a teen shelter, two teens show up after curfew in search of safety, and their fear convinces shelter administrator Anne to make an exception to the rules. Kenny explains that he and Len were unfairly attacked by a policeman, which has been happening to other street kids as well. Anne takes the problem to Gunn at Angel Investigations. He accompanies her back to the shelter and questions the kids about the incidents with the police. Angel, who has surreptitiously trailed Gunn, is attacked by a policeman while standing outside. Angel fights back, but the officer rises every time he's knocked down, until the vampire kicks the cop's head completely off and even then, the head keeps talking for a moment. Deciding to investigate this himself, Angel goes to Kate to look up the dead cop's badge, she finds that he's been dead for six months. More sleuthing reveals that someone is putting dead cops back on the streets as zombies.
Cordelia rants about Gunn's dangerous decision to call in several members of his old crew to deal with the police by filming the police assaulting them, but she and Wesley resolve to go back him up anyway. Wesley comes upon Gunn and his friends secretly filming their exchange with a police officer, to demonstrate that cops are reacting violently without just cause. Wesley tries to save Gunn, but the cop turns and shoots Wesley. A struggle takes place and George shoots the cop. The three men move Wesley to safety as the cop sits up, seemingly unaffected by the bullets. Gunn and friends get Wesley into an ambulance, but as they're driving away, several police cars get in the way. When the driver is shot, Gunn is forced to drive the ambulance. He eventually stops at the shelter and carries Wesley inside with the EMT, who warns that Wesley needs to get to a hospital fast. At the shelter, Cordelia sees a teen wearing some of her clothes and realizes Angel gave away the clothing she had left at the Hyperion. Cordelia helps Anne supervise barricading the shelter with everything they can find as an army of dead cops gather outside. The zombie cops force their way inside the shelter through the windows and doors, hurting several teens in the process.
Angel visits the precinct where the zombie cops were from. The police captain confesses that he has been using supernatural means to return good cops to the streets and protect previously violence-ridden neighborhoods. Angel finds an Idol of Granath and smashes it, returning all the zombie cops to their former dead, decaying states.
Kate and Angel discuss the ambiguous ramifications of their victory for the neighborhood, and Kate confides in Angel that the job is making her crazy. After hearing of Wesley's injuries, Angel attempts to visit him in the hospital, only to run afoul of Cordelia, who coldly tells him that Wesley doesn't need him and, since he walked out on them in the first place, he should just stay away from them. After briefly looking into Wesley's room, Angel obliges.
- It is revealed that Gunn and Anne had met off-screen during Anne's stay in LA.
- Wesley was shot in the stomach. He will later suffer a fatal stab wound in the same location in "Not Fade Away".
- The plotline of Stephanie Sharp's extra eye will continue in the next two episodes.
- Anne Steele makes her second appearance in the series. She will make one more appearance in "Not Fade Away".
- Cordelia meets Angel for the first time since he fired his entire team and tells him to "stay away."
- A zombie cop, beheaded by Angel
- Ambulance driver, shot by a zombie cop
- Zombie cops, destroyed when Angel broke the Idol of Granath
Behind the Scenes
- Outkast - "Ms. Jackson"
- Sucker Pump - "On A Mission"
- Seldom Seen - "Who's Got My Back?"
- Robert J. Kral- "Massive Assault"
- Robert J. Kral- original score
- German: Die Nacht der Zombies (The Night of the Zombies)
- French: L'ordre des morts-vivants (The order of the living dead)
Pop Culture References
- The episode title is a play on The Thin Red Line, a military action at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.
- The Jeffersons: When taunting Gunn for "moving up" in the world, one of his former cronies derisively quotes theme song: "deluxe apartment in the sky".
- The plot is similar to the horror movie series "Maniac Cop", directed by William Lustig in 1988, where a series of brutal murders are committed by a zombie police officer.