Buffyverse Wiki
Buffyverse Wiki

"Conviction" is the season premiere of the fifth season of Angel and the eighty-ninth episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on October 1, 2003, on The WB network.


Taking over the Los Angeles offices of the supernatural law firm Wolfram and Hart proves to be more challenging than expected for Angel and the gang, especially when their first case involves representing an evil client who threatens to destroy the city. As the gang settles into their new careers at the law firm, they meet new and familiar faces, including the mysterious Eve, who will act as Angel's liaison to Wolfram and Hart's senior partners, and the bubbly vampire Harmony who is Angel's new assistant. Most surprising of all is the arrival of Angel's old nemesis and fellow vampire-with-a-soul, Spike, who makes a miraculous appearance.[1]


A vampire attacks a woman in a dark alleyway, but Angel appears and saves her. He advises her to stay out of dark alleys, and he turns to leave. When she asks who he is, Angel responds it "doesn't matter." Suddenly, an operations team from Wolfram & Hart arrives. The man in command, Agent Hauser, introduces himself and explains they tracked Angel through a tracking device in his lapel. While the lawyers give the woman release forms to sign, Hauser tells Angel the vampire he killed worked for one of Wolfram & Hart's clients. He then asks Angel to pose with the woman for a few photographs. When she asks if he saved her for the publicity, Angel denies this, insisting he helps the helpless.

At Wolfram & Hart, the team starts to move in. As Fred gets lost on her way to her office, she runs into Wesley in the lobby. When Fred's assistant Knox stops to chat with her, Wesley appears to be suspicious of him. He eventually runs into Gunn, who admits to feeling completely out of place. However, they both agree that they can turn things around for the better, even if it takes a while to get comfortable. Lorne passes by, talking to a client on his cell, appearing to have seamlessly adapted to his new role. Meanwhile, Angel's liaison to the Senior Partners introduces herself as Eve; she tosses him an apple to drive home the irony of her name. She tells him that if he wants to use Wolfram & Hart's power to do good in Los Angeles, he will have to do some bad as well.

As the team sorts through files on the firm's clients, they get overwhelmed with how to make things right. Angel questions whether he has a secretary to help him sort through the documents, while Fred suggests they ensure there are no evil employees at the firm who are plotting against them. As they retire for the night, Gunn encounters Eve waiting for him in his office. She wonders if things were simpler for him when he was hunting vampires on the street with his old crew. She asks if he's ready for "the next step" and gives him a business card, promising he'll feel like a new man.

The next day, Angel is unhappy to learn his new secretary is Harmony, who almost got the team killed during their last encounter. She tries to convince him of her qualifications; she's strong, quick, sycophantic, and types like a superhero. Angel admits to liking the blood she brought him, and she reveals the secret ingredient is otter. Wesley arrives, explaining he hired Harmony because he assumed Angel would like seeing a familiar face. Harmony is excited to reunite with Cordelia, but Angel informs her that Cordelia is still in a coma and they don't know if she'll ever wake up.

Harmony brings in client Corbin Fries, who is on trial for smuggling in girls for prostitution and cheap labor. He readily admits he's guilty; when Angel says he has no incentive to keep him out of jail, Fries threatens to detonate a bomb that will destroy Los Angeles if he gets convicted.

In a conference room, Lorne has each employee sing so he can read them for potential evil. In the science lab, Fred explains Lorne's seer abilities to Knox; Knox tells her that, if she wants him to, he'll sing for Lorne so she can be sure he's not evil. As Fred sets up her new office, she has doubts about whether she's capable of running a whole lab.

In Angel's office, the gang wonders if the bomb Fries mentioned is mystical or a virus. Harmony gives Angel an address for a freelance mystic named Spanky, whose name has shown up in Fries' file. Angel heads to the garage, amazed at the fleet of expensive corporate vehicles. He chooses a yellow sports car and departs in search of Spanky.

Angel visits Spanky's apartment and notices the man's collection of puddles and whips hanging on the wall. When Spanky tells Angel he does not spank men, Angel says he is there to get information on Fries. Spanky admits to building Fries a mystical container that can hold anything until the container is dissolved by a magic word. Suddenly, Spanky places Angel in a chokehold, but Angel swiftly overpowers him. Angel grabs a cricket paddle from the wall and swings it at Spanky. As the man flies across the room, Angel tells him he has no problem spanking men.

Meanwhile, Gunn visits Dr. Sparrow's office. When he is led into the operating room, the doctor mentions Gunn's visit to the White Room. Gunn declines to talk about it, stating that it is between him and the "Big Cat." He asks the doctor if they are “going to do this thing," and the doctor smiles, asking Gunn to remove his shirt.

Back in Fred's office, she and Knox research Fries' history with the law firm and realize a lab technician he worked with specialized in saran gases and viruses. Angel calls Fred from Spanky's apartment and tells her he knows where Fries has placed the bomb; his son, Matthew.

Meanwhile, in Sparrow's office, Gunn is being shocked violently by a metal contraption strapped to his head. As Gunn gulps water, Sparrow asks him if he wants to stop. Covered in sweat and gasping in pain, Gunn tells him to finish the procedure.

At the law firm, Fred tells Wesley she has no idea what strain of virus Fries might be using. Eve pays Angel a visit in his office; she finds it ironic that Angel is dealing with a man who put a virus in his own son when Angel recently lost Connor. She reminds him that Connor is happy now and the gang no longer remembers him. When Angel tells her to keep his son's name out of her mouth, Eve remarks that, if he takes every case this personally, he won't last long.

Fred and Knox spend the night looking over files and photos while eating Chinese takeout. Back in the lab, Fred yells at her crew for not working hard enough to find a the strain and possible antidote.

The special ops team enters Matthew's classroom and begin to throw in gas canisters. When the smoke clears, they realize the room is empty except for Angel, who is sitting at a desk. Angel declares them all fired, and a battle ensues.

Back in the courtroom, Gunn arrives in a nice suit and gets Desmond Keel to cede to him. Gunn moves for a mistrial and announces the judge should remove herself from the case because, according to her tax records, she holds stock in a company owned by another company owned by Fries. The judge claims to be unaware of the connection, but Gunn says he discovered it a mere six hours ago. The judge quickly calls a recess and holds an urgent meeting with the lawyers present.

As Angel and the special agents battle in the school hallway, Hauser calls him a "pathetic little fairy" who doesn't have conviction like they do. Angel replies he has something more powerful: mercy. He demonstrates the last of his by kicking the gun in Hauser's hand, causing it to shoot himself in the head.

Later in Angel's office, Eve explains that Gunn agreed to let the firm implant his brain with legal knowledge. Angel questions if Gunn is sure nothing else was done while undergoing the procedure, but Gunn insists the conduit would not lie to him. Eve tells the group they needed a lawyer and Gunn had the most unused potential; unlike Angel, he saved the day without using violence. Wesley mentions they have enough time to disable the vessel, ensuring Matthew's safety. Fred wonders if they will be able to save the world working at the firm, noting they returned a boy to his father, who was willing to use him as a weapon. Angel assures they can use the law firm for good, and will eventually find out why the Senior Partners chose to put them in charge.

As Angel tells the gang they'll handle whatever comes next, he opens an envelope and an amulet falls out. As it hits the floor, it begins to glow, to everyone's surprise, suddenly resurrects Spike.


  • Fred suggests vetting the staff to "make sure we don't have any die-hard evildoers plotting against us." Ironically, her own assistant, Knox, was doing just that: plotting to use Fred as a vessel for Illyria ("Shells").
  • Angel threatens to kill Harmony because she betrayed the team in their last encounter ("Disharmony").
  • Harmony is excited to work with Cordelia, but Angel tells her that Cordelia is in a coma. They'll meet again when Cordelia wakes up in "You're Welcome."
  • Harmony says that Cordelia was her best friend all her life; they were together since Harmony's first appearance in "The Harvest."
  • The Amulet that falls from the envelope is the same Lilah gave Angel in "Home" and he gave Buffy in "Chosen."
  • Spike reappears in Los Angeles after dying in the Hellmouth in Sunnydale ("Chosen").
  • Harmony calls Spike "Blondie Bear," the nickname she had for him during their relationship ("The Harsh Light of Day").



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • A vampire, staked by Angel.
  • Lopez, burned by Wolfram & Hart (only mentioned).
  • Hauser's henchmen, shot by Hauser.
  • Hauser, forced by Angel to shoot himself.

Behind the scenes[]


  • The episode title "Conviction" is a pun; the Team Angel is trying to get someone off at trial while they are all losing theirs in the process.[2]
  • This episode begins the same way as the series premiere "City Of" began. Joss Whedon described: "Angel in a dark alley saving a damsel in distress from a vampire. We did this deliberately because we really wanted to call back what the essence of the show was. Angel is the kind of guy who goes into a dark alley, saves the woman, doesn't say what his name is and takes off. [...] We are going to work for Wolfram & Hart, the evil company we've fought all this time, and it simply means we can't be what we were, so all of his heroism is falling by the wayside and he's a little bit pathetic."[2]
  • James Marsters joins the regular cast as of this episode, receiving the second billing behind David Boreanaz in the opening credits, while Charisma Carpenter and Vincent Kartheiser have been removed.
  • Production designer Stuart Blatt says Whedon asked him to build the new Wolfram & Hart large enough so he could "walk all around with a Steadicam and never have to cut"[3] then did exactly that; the second scene after the credits is a single, three and one-half minute shot introducing all the main characters in their new setting. According to Whedon, it took 27 takes to get this one long shot: "Inevitably one actor is always going to have trouble with their lines, and it's usually going to be the one who's at the end of the take, because that's just my fate."[2]
  • Alexis Denisof had a case of Bell's Palsy that caused the left side of his face to be paralyzed. Almost all the shots in this episode show Wesley from the right side or a three-quarters right shot.[2]
  • Whedon explains the decision to bring in Mercedes McNab as Harmony was because "she has been tirelessly funny, and engaging, and sexy, and delightful and it was very nice to bring her into the fold. She was long overdue to get into the mix, and we needed a blond, let's face it."[2]
  • Whedon, a fan of Law & Order, wrote Gunn's court scene using made-up legal jargon. However, when the scene was sent to a legal consultant, they only made a few tweaks. They thought McCraken vs. the State of Maine was a real referenced case, but it never happened.[2]


  • "Conviction" had an audience of 3.4 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Pop culture references[]

  • Sam tells Matt about comics of Punisher and the X-Men.
  • Lorne describes a project as a combination of the sitcom Joanie Loves Chachi (1982) and the documentary The Sorrow and the Pity (1969).
  • Eve offers an apple to Angel to get the irony of her name out of the way, in reference to the biblical story in which Eve shares the forbidden fruit with Adam and the two are expelled from the Garden of Eden.
  • Lorne reads that the politician Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. (1888–1969) apparently was a client of Wolfram & Hart, but the former president George H. W. Bush (1924–2018) read the "fine print."
  • One of the members of staff Lorne is interviewing sings "There Once Was a Man" from the musical The Pajama Game.
  • Fred hangs up a Dixie Chicks poster in her office.
  • Lorne mentions he had a scheduled lunch with the fashion designer and then actress Mary Kate Olsen, and that she would talk about her twin Ashley's new piercing.
  • Spanky explains he is a fan of the Our Gang comedy film series, which features a character also named Spanky.
  • Lorne says the jury is looking at Fries like he's O.J. Simpson, due to his highly publicized murder case in 1994.
  • Gunn says that, in addition to knowledge of the law, Wolfram & Hart also filled his mind with Gilbert and Sullivan works. He then offers to sing for Lorne one of their operas, The Pirates of Penzance (1879).


International titles[]

  • Czech: "První případ" (First Case)
  • Finnish: "Vakaumus" (Conviction)
  • French: "Conviction" (Conviction)
  • German: "Adieu, Kalifornien" (Goodbye, California)
  • Hungarian: "Kezdeti nehézség" (Initial Difficulty)
  • Italian: "Convinzione" (Conviction)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Convicção" (Conviction)
  • Russian: "Приговор" (Sentence)
  • Spanish (Latin American): "Convicción" (Conviction)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Convicción" (Conviction)
  • Turkish: "Mahkûmiyet" (Conviction)



Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Knox: "Do you know how to get to your office from here?"
Fred: "Why? Did somebody eat my breadcrumbs?"
Wesley: "Pretty powerful position for a young woman."
Eve: "How exactly can you be sure I'm either of those things?"
Angel: "You know that won't kill me."
Hauser: "It'll hurt. That part's fun."
Angel: "Agent Hauser, I'm honestly beginning to suspect that you're not part of the solution."
Hauser: "You really think you can solve the problem? Come into Wolfram & Hart and make everything right? Turn night into glorious day? You pathetic little fairy."
Angel: "I'm not little."
Hauser: "That's exactly what you are. You're minuscule. A dust mote on the shelf of that great institution. Now, you think I'm just a trigger-happy jerk who follows orders. But I'm something that you'll never be: I'm pure. I believe in evil. You and your friends, you're conflicted. You're confused. We're not. That's why you're going to lose. Because we possess the most powerful thing in the world: conviction."
Angel: "There's one thing more powerful than conviction. Just one: mercy." (Angel kicks Hauser's gun up and Hauser shoots himself)
Special Ops Guy: "What happened to mercy?"
Angel: "You just saw the last of it."
Wesley: "Spike?"
Angel: "Spike."
Harmony: "Blondie Bear?"


  1. "angel: Conviction." TheWB.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2004.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Joss Whedon. Angel Season Five on DVD; audio commentaries for "Conviction." 20th Century Fox, February 2005.
  3. Jeff Ritchie, "Angelic Designs for the Undead: an Exclusive Interview with Stuart Blatt and featuring Andrew Reeder." CityofAngel.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  4. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's Fifth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008.