|Season 5, Episode 3|
|Air date||October 15, 2003|
|Written by|| Sarah Fain|
|Directed by||Marita Grabiak|
|J. August Richards||Gunn|
|Alexis Denisof|| Wesley |
|John Billingsley|| Dr. Royce |
|Braeden Marcott||Jacob Crane|
"Unleashed" is the third episode of the fifth season of Angel and the ninety-first episode overall. Written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft and directed by Marita Grabiak, it was originally broadcast on October 15, 2003 on the WB network.
A young woman named Nina gets bitten and undergoes a transformation into a werewolf for the next three nights. Angel tries to help Nina, unaware that she is being hunted by an exclusive club which specializes in exotic meals.
The gang are in a park, having a nighttime picnic with Chinese food. Fred scans everyone for bugs, since the gang are trying to meet without Wolfram & Hart listening in. She tries to tell the others that not everyone at the firm is evil; Wesley wonders if she can really trust Knox. Angel points out that the Senior Partners are evil and have put them in this position for a reason they still don't know. Fred wonders if Gunn knows more than the rest of them do, since the firm put a bunch of knowledge in his head (see "Conviction"). Gunn says that they all made deals and everyone got something out of it. Angel got "fear, mistrust, a great motor pool," and Lorne got "the Nancy Sinatra collection." Wesley got a nice pen. Gunn accuses the others of thinking that he's a spy for the Senior Partners; Angel replies that they just need to be prepared. As the others talk about Spike (see "Just Rewards"), Angel asks Wesley if he can borrow his pen. Nearby, a young woman named Nina is attacked by a werewolf. The werewolf bites the woman, then gets attacked by Angel, who shoves Wesley's silver pen into his chest. The werewolf turns back into a human and the woman runs off. At Wolfram & Hart the next day, Angel has a sketch of the woman from the park and tells Gunn that the werewolf bit the woman. Gunn notes that there are two more nights in which the woman will transform into a new werewolf. They need to find the woman, since she will not know what happened to her.
Spike pays Fred a visit, asking her to consider his condition a priority over the woman from the park. He tells her that his disappearances "to the netherworld" are lasting longer. Fred suggests that Spike let Wesley help him, but Spike says that he and Wesley have a history. Fred does not believe him, so Spike admits that he just does not want anyone else to know what he is going through. Fred assures him that they will figure things out.
At her home, Nina wakes from a restless sleep and heads to the kitchen, where her sister Jill and niece Amanda are cooking. Nina discovers that her hearing is improved and she does not remember the bruise on her neck. She studies hamburgers cooking on the stove and imagines slashing Amanda's neck. At the science lab, the gang tracks down Nina's address. That night, Nina baby-sits Amanda; she starts feeling sick and goes upstairs, where she begins turning into a werewolf.
Angel pulls Nina through her bedroom window and Wesley tranquilizes her. The next day, Nina wakes up naked in a cell. Angel tries to tell her that she is safe, and shows her a video of herself as a wolf in the cell the night before. She is upset with her condition and the fact that she wanted to hurt Amanda. He tries to tell her that it was the monster inside her that caused the violent impulses, and tells her that she can control herself - he does it every day. Nina asks if he can cure her and Angel admits that he can not, but says he can protect her. Angel meets with Fred and Royce, telling them Nina agreed to stay in the holding cell that night. Royce warns that Nina might hurt herself, but she might be okay if they take her back to her place; the familiarity will calm her. Angel agrees to let Nina go home; Fred and Nina head to Nina's place. Fred tries to tell her that her life does not have to change too much, since she is only a werewolf three nights out of the month.
As Fred and Nina are about to enter Nina's house, Nina says that she is not ready to face Jill and Amanda yet. Inside, Fred introduces herself and makes up a story about Nina leaving because Fred needed her help. Nina and Jill fight and Nina leaves while Fred grabs some things for her. They head back to the van they came in, but Fred notices that the door is open, then sees that the security guards are dead. She tells Nina to run before a man knocks her out and kidnaps Nina. Nina is taken to the basement of a mansion and chained up, and a matronly woman cuts off her clothes and washes her. At Wolfram & Hart, Royce sings "Jessie's Girl" for Lorne, who confirms that he is clean. In Angel's office, the others try to figure out who might have grabbed Nina. Fred criticizes herself for going near the van when it was obvious that something was wrong; she also worries that Spike has not materialized for a while. As Royce arrives, Fred spots Spike in the hallway and goes to talk with him. She tries to follow him, but he does not seem to hear her. She winds up in an office and sees something in a trash can, but is interrupted by Royce. Fred babbles for a little while, then knocks Royce out with a lamp.
Fred found a vial in Royce's trash that contained Calendula; Royce suspected that he would have to sing for Lorne, so he took a drug that would make him appear clean. Gunn discovers that Royce's desk holds photos, papers and a knife. Angel interrogates Royce for Nina's location as Fred shows the others her discovery, a menu for a banquet hosted by restaurant entrepreneur John Crane, whose employees abducted Nina after Royce informed him of her availability. Crane has rapidly assembled several like-minded gourmets willing to pay top dollar to dine on werewolf meat. At moonrise, in about 15 minutes, Nina, chained to a serving platter, will be the main course.
The gang heads to the banquet hall and Angel starts to rescue Nina, who tells him to let her get eaten. She does not think that she can go home and is resigned to being an animal. Angel frees her anyway, but before the gang can leave, they are surrounded by men with guns. As a confrontation begins Nina turns into a werewolf, providing some unexpected help to the group before Wesley tranquilizes her. Angel announces that they are leaving, but Crane declares that he promised his guests a werewolf. Werewolf Nina bites Royce's leg, and Angel points out that in a month, Crane will have another werewolf to eat: Royce, in whose welfare Angel has no interest. Crane considers this an acceptable resolution for both groups, although Royce is understandably less enthusiastic.
Fred returns to her office to find Spike. He tells her that he was not sure he would return from the netherworld this time. She wants to tell Angel what is going on with him, but Spike refuses. Fred tells him that she will find a way to keep him in the world. Angel drives Nina home as she asks how he can live with knowing that he has killed people. Angel tells her that eventually she will accept being a werewolf. She does not want to tell Jill and Amanda and Angel says that she does not have to, but she can if she wants to. The gang meet up in Angel's apartment and order Chinese food again, which Angel offers to buy, shocking the others. Gunn wonders if Angel has a shot with Nina; Angel says that she gave him "a look". The gang settle in to spend a laid back evening together.
- This is the first appearance of werewolves in the Buffyverse since "New Moon Rising".
- When Angel Investigations talk about Jacob Crane's men, Wesley says "an underground monster-hunting military organization... it's happened before," referring to The Initiative.
- In this episode, werewolves are said to regain their human forms once dead. However, in "Phases", werewolf hunter Gib Cain claims to catch werewolves so he can sell their pelts. This is explained by introducing the idea of different species of werewolves with different characteristics, Nina's type considered very rare in North America.
- When Gunn asks the man hosting the party if leprechaun soufflé is next, the man replies scathingly that leprechauns don't exist. This mirrors a scene in "Double or Nothing", wherein Gunn compared the appearance of Skench Demons to that of leprechauns, only to be chided that leprechauns don't exist. Buffy also once asked Giles if leprechauns were real, to which he replied that he didn't think so.
- This episode features one of the few occasions where we see Gunn deliberately using a firearm, bringing a pump action shotgun to help rescue Nina.
- Wesley is suspicious of Knox being evil. Though this turns out to be true, as seen in "A Hole in the World", Wesley's suspicions arise mainly out of jealousy and paranoia.
- Spike says something is trying to hold on to him when he vanishes. "Hell Bound" will reveal what is trying to drag him to the netherworld/hell.
- Angel is obviously attracted to Nina, and vice versa. This is followed up on in "Smile Time".
- McManus, killed with a Sterling pen (in silver) by Angel
- Crane's henchmen, deadly bitten by Nina in werewolf's form
- Evan Royce, bitten by Nina and eaten in werewolf's form by Crane's guests
Behind the Scenes
- Producer Jeffrey Bell says, "Nina is not becoming a regular, but there was good chemistry so we've talked about bringing her back. There are no master plans for Angel and werewolf girl but we're always open to the possibility."
- The werewolves were designed by Robert Hall, of special effects agency Almost Human, and were an intentional departure from the werewolf costume worn by Oz's character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "They were saying Oz looked like a gay possum," Hall says. He decided to design the werewolf with sparse hair so that the muscles underneath were clearly visible. "The script wanted a big, bad wolf," he explains. "I think it literally said, 'Don't make it look like a gay possum.'"
Pop Culture References
- Lorne references the novel Atlas Shrugged and the mythological Atlas.
- Dr. Royce sings "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield to Lorne to prove his innocence in Nina's kidnapping.
- Rick Springfield – "Jessie's Girl" (sung karaoke by Dr. Royce)
- Ryan Adams – "La cienega just smiled"
- Douglas Romayne – "The Hellmouth"
- Robert J. Kral – original score
Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors
- When Angel is in his room after he comes out of the shower, his tan lines are noticeable—his arms are darker than his body—despite the fact that he is a vampire and cannot be out in the sun. Although possibly this is reference to the specially made glass which allows him to see sunlight though it.
- German: Werwolf Nina (Werewolf Nina)
|Angel - "I'm not gonna sing."|
|Lorne - "Couldn't bear it if you did. No, it's talking you need. Or maybe a shoulder to..."|
|Angel - "I'm not gonna cry either."|
|Lorne - "I was going to a leaning place. Okay, Atlas. How 'bout a shrug?"|
|Spike - "Hey, I'm a situation, remember? I'm a bloody phantom. And you and your serious girl spectacles were gonna help me with my bloody little problem."|
|Winifred 'Fred' Burkle - "I know, and I bloody will."|
|Spike - "I had a wee spat with a werewolf myself once. Fought for over an hour. Brutal, vicious. Almost lost my..."|
|Winifred 'Fred' Burkle - "Angel killed him with a pen."|
|Nina Ash - "So, you're like a family?"|
|Winifred 'Fred' Burkle - "Yeah, a demon-hunting, helpless-helping, dysfunctional family."|