"City Of" is the series premiere of the first season of the Angel television show and the first episode in the series. It was written by Joss Whedon and also directed by him and David Greenwalt. It originally broadcast on October 5, 1999 on The WB network.
Angel moves to L.A., unaware of his purpose in the City of Angels. There, he meets Doyle, his half-man, half-demon spiritual advisor, who gives him much-needed direction. Doyle leads Angel to Russell Winters, a rich and powerful vampire, preying on aspiring actresses. When Winters sets his eyes on Cordelia, Angel must spring into action and rescue her.
Angel slumps at the bar of a dive in downtown Los Angeles, growing maudlin about a who he misses, when he notices three guys leave the bar with two girls. Sliding seamlessly from blithering to dangerous, Angel unobtrusively follows them out. With the aid of stake bracers, Angel dusts the guys, who happen to be vampires, in a dark alley. The frightened girls, one of whom is bleeding from a minor head wound, try to thank their rescuer, but Angel warns them harshly to get away from him, as he is attracted to the blood. He turns and strides down the dark alley.
Angel makes his way to his new home, a basement apartment beneath a ground floor office, where he finds Doyle waiting for him. Doyle introduces himself, explaining he's half human, half demon, then recaps the story of Angel's life, ending with his recent, painful breakup with the Slayer and his subsequent move to L.A. Doyle explains that Angel's isolation, combined with the fact that he recently drank human blood, puts him at serious risk of relapse. Doyle gets visions from the Powers That Be (accompanied by debilitating headaches) regarding people whose lives Angel must touch; true redemption lies not just in saving lives, but in saving souls as well. Doyle concludes by handing over a scrap of paper on which he's jotted info about a young woman named Tina. When Angel asks why Tina needs him, Doyle replies that getting involved in her life enough to figure that out is Angel's first order of business.
Angel finds Tina during her shift and manages to persuade her to meet him after work. Waiting by his car, Angel is surprised to see her in elegant evening dress, and even more surprised when she pulls pepper spray from her purse. Tina accuses Angel of being employed by someone named Russell Winters, but he slowly convinces her to accept his offer of a lift to the "fabulous Hollywood party" she plans to attend. When they arrive, Angel runs into Cordelia Chase, who tells him she is now a successful actress who lives in a condo in Malibu. Tina returns to Angel saying a man named Stacy was hassling her, and that she's ready to leave. On their way into the parking garage, Angel fights off Stacy and his goons.
Meanwhile, in her dingy apartment, Cordelia hangs up her one dress and eats food she smuggled out of the party, while listening a discouraging phone message from Joe, her talent agent. It's clearly the only food she has and she sits, trying to encourage herself with positive thinking, as she tries to convince herself she doesn't want to eat anything. After Tina falls asleep, Angel spends the night on the public library's computers, searching for information about Tina's friend Denise, who disappeared after becoming involved with Russell. The next morning, Angel tells Tina he believes her friend Denise was murdered. As she listens, Tina suddenly spots Doyle's note listing her name and workplace, and, convinced afresh that Angel has been running some scam for Russell, panics and runs. Angel tries to grab her at the building's entrance, but sunlight burns his hand, causing him to vamp reflexively. In stark terror, Tina flees.
Russell finds Tina when she returns to her apartment to pack. She allows herself to be drawn into his arms; Russell vamps and bites her. Angel races to the rescue, only to find Tina beyond his help, marks of vampire bite livid on her throat. Russell meets with a young lawyer from Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey McDonald, to discuss his airtight (if fictitious) alibi in the matter of Tina's unfortunate demise, and orders the lawyer to bring him Cordelia, whom he has selected as his next victim.
Angel tracks down Stacy and interrogates him until he reveals Winters' location, then persuades a reluctant Doyle to help him avenge Tina's death. Excited by her limo ride to meet the Russell Winters, Cordelia is impressed by his ornate mansion. After the butler ushers her into Russell's den, Cordelia promptly spills the story of her life to her seemingly sympathetic host — until she notices the unusually heavy drapes and lack of mirrors, and concludes aloud that Winters is a vampire. Winters vamps and reaches for Cordelia, who pivots toward the door. Angel has scaled the wall at Winters' estate, and blown out a junction box, causing the lights to go out just as Russell captures Cordelia at the top of the stairs. Shielding Cordelia with his body, Angel takes several bullets from Winters' guards as he picks her up and jumps over the rail to land in the foyer below. Evading more gunfire, they stagger out to the convertible and Doyle, who had (stupidly) crashed the convertible into the front gate while trying to help after hearing the gunshots, squeals them all away. At the apartment, Doyle extracts bullets from Angel's torso while Cordelia dresses the wounds.
The next day, Angel stalks into a top floor conference room at Russell Winters Enterprises, where Winters is conducting a meeting with Lindsey and other reps from Wolfram & Hart. Not impressed by Winters' claim that he can do whatever he wants in L.A., Angel asks the CEO if he can fly, then forcefully kicks his executive chair through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Exposed to direct sunlight, a screaming Winters bursts into flame and disintegrates to dust in mid-air. The chair, scorched and empty, smashes to the sidewalk below. As Angel calmly departs, Lindsey uses his cell phone to report that, although the Senior Partners needn't be disturbed just yet, there seems to be a "new player in town."
Back at home, Angel despondently calls Buffy, but when he hears her voice, hangs up without speaking. Later, Cordelia proposes that the three of them get a sign out front and go into the business of saving souls as a team — at least until her "inevitable stardom" materializes. Doyle observes many people in L.A. need help and asks Angel if he's game. Angel stands alone atop a skyscraper, looking out over the bustling L.A. nightscape, and responds, "I'm game."
- In the opening sequence, a female demon is seen in a hidden place with a man; the episode "War Zone" will feature a call girl of this same species.
- When Angel asks Doyle how he got in, he remarks that he doesn't need an invitation to enter someone's home. However, even if Doyle had been a vampire, he still wouldn't have needed permission to Angel's flat because this rule does not apply to demon dwellings, as seen in the episode "Angel" and established in "That Old Gang of Mine."
- As Doyle tells Angel's story, the flashbacks include scenes of Angel as a soulless vampire in "Amends" and "Surprise," his ensoulment in "Becoming, Part One," Buffy fighting in "Anne," their relationship in "Revelations" and "Bad Eggs," their shared dream in "Amends," and Angel leaving Sunnydale in "Graduation Day, Part Two."
- Doyle mentions Angel's being ensouled a second time ("Becoming, Part Two") as well as deciding to leave Buffy ("The Prom").
- Angel tells Doyle that the last time he drank human blood, it was from Buffy ("Graduation Day, Part Two").
- When Angel asks Doyle "Why you?," he replies: "Well, we've all got something to atone for." Angel later follows up on this lead-in to Doyle's history in the episode "Rm w/a Vu," and Doyle makes good on his promise to open up in "The Bachelor Party" and "Hero."
- Angel tells Cordelia that "there's not actually a cure" for vampirism. In fact, before the year is out, he discovers that there exist at least two cures, a Mohra demon's Blood of Eternity ("I Will Remember You") and a summoning ritual recorded in the scrolls of Aberjian ("To Shanshu in L.A.").
- Angel phones Buffy but hangs up as soon as she answers. Buffy's side of the call is shown in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Freshman."
- Angel, pretending to be drunk, mentions that Buffy has great hair. Spike will later say the same thing to her in "Gone."
- Doyle is the second demon guide sent to Angel by The Powers That Be. The first was Whistler, who set Angel irrevocably on the path to his destiny ("Becoming, Part One").
- Angel and Lindsey later reminisce about Angel killing Russell Winters in "Not Fade Away."
- Besides Angel, Lindsey is the only character to appear in both this episode and the series finale ("Not Fade Away").
- Mr. Chase (Only mentioned)
- Mrs. Chase (Only mentioned)
- Cordelia Chase
- Christina Clarke
- Daniel (Only in flashbacks)
- Allen Francis Doyle
- Franklin (Only mentioned)
- Joe (Only voice)
- Margaret (Only in flashbacks)
- Lindsey McDonald
- Jaclyn Paul (Only mentioned)
- Denise Perkins (Only picture)
- Billy Price (Only mentioned)
- Oliver Simon
- Amanda Smith (Only mentioned)
- Buffy Summers (Only in flashbacks)
- Russell Winters
- Kalderash woman (Only in flashbacks)
- Unidentified vampire I (City Of)
- Unidentified vampire II (City Of)
- Unidentified vampire III (City Of)
- Unidentified woman (Innocence) (Only in flashbacks)
Organizations and titles
- Dublin, Ireland (Only in flashbacks)
- Factory dimension (Only in flashbacks)
- Los Angeles, USA
- Missoula, USA (Only mentioned)
- Romania (Only in flashbacks)
- Sunnydale, USA (Only in flashbacks)
- Meditation for a Bountiful Life
- Orb of Thesulah (Only in flashbacks)
- Soul (Only mentioned)
- Stake bracers
- Four unidentified vampires, dusted by Angel.
- Christina Clarke, killed by Russell Winters.
- Russell Winters, kicked into daylight by Angel.
Behind the scenes
- The episode title is a reference to "City of Angels," a nickname for Los Angeles.
- The vampire prosthetics (except Angel's) had a design used only in this episode.
- In the original script, the scene in which Angel finds Tina's dead body ends with him cradling her, then licking her blood from his fingers. Although Joss Whedon claims that moment was the point of the episode, as it shows how Angel is struggling in his goal of redemption, it was ultimately cut. "It was dark enough that he didn't save this girl," says supervising producer Tim Minear. "I don't think you needed him licking her dead body."
- Christian Kane, who plays the unnamed lawyer later known as Lindsey McDonald, was close friends with David Boreanaz before joining the cast of Angel. "It was the first time David and me ever got to act together and there was just a chemistry," Kane recalls. "He was a badass and I was trying to be a badass and that right there was just a defining moment. You could tell the tension but you could also see the easiness of how we just flowed into each other. It's very easy to act with Boreanaz and I think he feels the same with me."
- The building used as Russell Winters Enterprises is the same building later used as the Wolfram & Hart building.
- This episode is the first to crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- The episode received a Nielsen rating of 4.8 upon its original airing.
- "City Of" was one of the pilot episodes of several popular series (along with Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek) that were featured in The WB's farewell broadcast on September 17, 2006.
Pop culture references
- Doyle refers to the Batcave, Batman's secret hideout beneath his mansion.
- Doyle says he wants to go out and get some "Billy Dee," a reference to the alcoholic beverage known as Colt 45, which ran a popular ad campaign featuring Billy Dee Williams.
- Angel mentions having passed through Missoula during the economic period known as the Depression.
- Angel tells Doyle that he's been in 14 wars, not counting the Vietnam War because the U.S. "never declared it."
- Angel says that the American football team the Minnesota Vikings is playing to lull the guard at Winters's gate with false camaraderie.
- Angel drives a Black 1968 Plymouth Belvedere GTX convertible.
- As Angel walks down the alley at the end of the first scene, his reflection can be seen in a puddle. This appears at the end of every opening credits for the rest of the show's duration.
- As the vampire Russell falls to his death via sunlight, he casts a reflection in the windows of the building he was pushed out of.
- When Angel calls Buffy, he dials only seven numbers, though Sunnydale, situated a couple hours north of L.A., would likely have a different area code, requiring an 11-number dial.
- Disney+ and Hulu have the episode titled as "City of Angels."
- Gus Gus — "Ladyshave"
- Gus Gus — "Teenage Sensation"
- Howie Beck — "Maybe I Belong"
- Wellwater Conspiracy — "Right of Left Field"
- Christophe Beck — "I'm Game"
- Czech: "Město andělů" (City of Angels)
- Finnish: "Enkelten kaupunki" (City of Angels)
- French: "Bienvenue à Los Angeles" (Welcome to Los Angeles)
- German: "Licht und Schatten" (Light and Shadow)
- Hungarian: "Az angyal városa" (The City of Angels)
- Italian: "Los Angeles"
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Bem-Vindo a Los Angeles" (Welcome to Los Angeles)
- Russian: "Город Ангелов" (City of Angels)
- Spanish (Latin America): "La Ciudad de los Vampiros" (The City of Vampires)
- Spanish (Spain): "La Ciudad de los Angeles" (The City of Angels)
- This episode was adapted into the novel City Of, the only Angel episode directly novelized. However, the book contains several scenes not in the episode, including flashbacks of Angel's backstory that are similar to later flashbacks in "The Prodigal" and "Darla." Apparently, Angel's human name, Liam, had not been established when it was written, as he is referred to as "Master Angelus" during the flashbacks.
- This episode is included in The Vampire Anthology: Cordelia DVD collection.
- Christophe Beck's original score was included in the series soundtrack album Live Fast, Die Never.
Behind the scenes
|Angel: "Los Angeles. You see it at night and it shines; a beacon. People are drawn to it. People and other things. They come for all sorts of reasons. My reason? No surprise there. It started with a girl."|
|Doyle: "I've been sent by The Powers That Be."|
|Angel: "The powers that be what?"|
|Angel: "Why would a woman I've never met even talk to me?"|
|Doyle: "Have you looked in the mirror lately? No, I guess you really haven't, no."|
|Cordelia: "I finally get invited to a nice place with no mirrors and lots of curtains... Hey, you're a vampire!"|
|Russell: "What? No, I'm not."|
|Cordelia: "Are too!"|
|Russell: "I don't know what you're talking about."|
|Cordelia: "I'm from Sunnydale. We had our own Hellmouth. I think I know a vampire when... I'm... alone with him... in his... fortress-like home..."|
|Russell: "Angel. We do things a certain way here in LA."|
|Angel: "Well, I'm new here."|
|Russell: "But you're a civilized man. We don't have to go around attacking each other. Look at me: I pay my taxes. I keep my name out of the paper, and I don't make waves. And in return I can do anything I want!"|
|Angel: "Really. Hmm. Can you fly?"|
- "Angel- Season 1 Episode Guide." Lol's Site. Retrieved on August 21, 2021.
- Edward Gross, "ANGEL: Season One, Episode By Episode with Tim Minear." TimMinear.net 5.0, August 14, 2000. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016.
- "Return of the Spirit Boy". CityofAngel.com. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012.
- "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's First Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 18, 2008.