Buffyverse Wiki
Buffyverse Wiki
Season 1, Episode 4
Air date October 26, 1999
Written by David Greenwalt (teleplay and story)
Joss Whedon (story)
Directed by Vern Gillum
Episode Guide
In the Dark
Rm w/a Vu
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Glenn Quinn Doyle
Guest Starring
Elisabeth Röhm Kate
Tushka Bergen Melissa
Andy Umberger Dr. Meltzer
Carlos Carrasco Dr. Natpudian
Co Starring
Brent Sexton Beat Cop
Garikayi Mutambirwa Intern
Kent Davis John
Jan Bartlett Penny
Patricia Gillum Woman Patient
Christopher Hart Hand Performance
Susan Lee Hoffman Dr. Tyson

"I Fall to Pieces" is the fourth episode of the first season of Angel and also the fourth episode overall. It was originally broadcast on October 26, 1999.

One of Doyle's visions leads Angel to Melissa, a woman seeking protection from a man who is harassing her. The man is a surgeon capable of detaching limbs from his body and controlling them separately. This is the method he uses to watch her without her knowledge. Angel lets her spend the night at his place with Doyle and Cordelia protecting her, but that doesn't stop the man. In the end, Angel turns up at the last moment and saves the situation.


At Angel Investigations, Cordelia and Doyle are discussing the need for actual income to match the outgo from their business when Angel comes upstairs and tries a sip of the week-old coffee. Cordelia relentlessly reopens the subject of fees with a stubbornly resisting Angel. They both appeal to Doyle, who starts to weigh in with his moderate and wise view that paying for their rescue would actually give some clients a sense of closure. Before he can make his point, however, Doyle is wracked by a vision about a woman named Melissa Burns. At the office where Melissa works, she and her co-worker fiddle with a cake so they can wish a happy birthday to their supervisor, Penny. As Penny blows out the candles, another co-worker arrives with a flower delivery, but instead of being for their boss' birthday, the bouquet is addressed to Melissa. The message from "Ronald" disturbs her so much that she retreats to the bathroom to take tranquilizer pills, then leaves the office. Down in the parking garage, Melissa is startled by a dark-clad figure waiting near her car. Oddly, she seems relieved to see Angel, even though he is a stranger to her. Angel awkwardly tells Melissa that he knows she's in trouble, and he wants to help her. Not very reassured, she declines his services, but does take his business card.

At the ATM, Melissa is having trouble getting access. Ronald approaches and informs her that he changed the PIN on her bank account. He seems unaware of his arrogance, as well as of the inappropriateness (verging on delusion) of speaking to her as if they were in a lasting relationship. He also reveals that he knows she took the pills earlier, and this encounter scares Melissa enough that she calls Angel Investigations for an appointment. During their meeting, Melissa informs the team that Dr. Ronald Meltzer is an acclaimed neurosurgeon who performed critical surgery on an infected nerve behind her eye. He has also been stalking her for nearly seven months, ever since she allowed him to take her out—once—because she felt obligated to thank him. Melissa swears, moreover, that even when he's not around, she can feel Meltzer watching her and tells them that Meltzer knew she'd taken the tranquilizers despite there being no possible way he could have seen her. At home that night, Melissa gets ready for bed. Meanwhile in his own study, Meltzer sips a drink and seems to watch a framed photo of Melissa on his desk. When we finally see Meltzer's face, there is an empty socket where his right eye should be. Back in Melissa's bedroom, a disembodied eyeball floats behind her, following her every move.

Angel goes to ask Kate, his "friend at the police department," whether Melissa ever filed a complaint. Kate tells him that a report was indeed filed, but Meltzer's lawyers, Wolfram & Hart, took strong measures to protect their client, even going so far as to take out a restraining order against the plaintiff. Unaware of his dark past, Kate also tries to give Angel some insight into a stalker victim's mindset. She believes that even when Melissa is physically safe, fear will continue to haunt her, unless she can get angry and start to fight back, mentally and emotionally. Kate offers to detail a uniform to watch Melissa's place for a night or two, and Angel accepts. While Doyle plays bodyguard and accompanies Melissa to work, Angel breaks into Meltzer's office looking for leads. One of the books from Meltzer's shelf disappears swiftly and smoothly into Angel's jacket. When his unauthorized presence is discovered, Angel plays on Meltzer's megalomania, pretending to have a beloved wife needing emergency eye surgery from a topnotch neurosurgeon—price, of course, being no object. Angel gives Meltzer his undercover name and phone number as he leaves. In another part of the clinic, Cordelia interviews a colleague of Meltzer's who reports he has a well-deserved reputation for very difficult work with severed nerves and near-miraculous success in reattaching limbs. She goes on to tell Cordy, however, that Meltzer never shares his techniques and findings with the medical community at large.

Back at AI, Angel searches for information about Vinpur Natpudian, the author of Anything's Possible, the book he stole from Meltzer's office, then sends an email requesting a meeting. The author, a doctor himself, tells Angel that Meltzer attended many retreats with famous yogis, and was able to master a combination of psychological and physical techniques that make the neurosurgeon an expert in "psychic surgery" as well. That night while Melissa sleeps, Ronald's hands—just his hands—crawl across her apartment floor, then crawl under the covers of her bed. When the cop on patrol spots a man lurking in front of Melissa's building, he confronts Meltzer, but backs off when the apparently harmless gentleman reveals that he has no hands. Hearing screams a few minutes later, the cop rushes into the building and searches Melissa's room, but finds her apparently alone. Just as he lets down his guard, Meltzer's hands attack from behind and strangle the cop to death.

Frantic, Melissa runs outside, only to be caught and held before she can reach the street. Her panic subsides a little when she discovers herself in Angel's concerned embrace, and she begins to sob in reaction. Neither Melissa nor Angel sees Meltzer watching secretly from behind the bushes. The police arrive on the scene and Kate comes over to ask Angel how, given the lack of evidence, he thinks the stalker could possibly be the perp. Doyle also shows up, and confesses to being deeply unnerved by the idea of a stalker-turned-murderer (with AI staff between him and his victim), as well as by the crawling hands thing. Angel and Doyle take Melissa back to Angel's apartment and, while Doyle starts the job of taping up every vent and doorjamb, Angel counsels a newly-resolute Melissa over tea in the kitchen. Cordelia buttonholes Angel and then, as they take the elevator upstairs, tells him what she thinks of his plan to go after Meltzer alone. As Angel searches the phone book for a place to get steel boxes in which to keep various body parts separate, Cordelia answers a call from Meltzer himself on the special line. Meltzer instructs "Mr. Jensen" to bring $100,000 for his "wife's" operation. Unaware that his cover has been blown, Angel shows up, with a safety deposit box but no money. Having remained seated, Meltzer feints subtly to his left, then shoots Angel in the neck with a hand-held dart gun. Meltzer explains that he developed the injector device while working with wild animals and that the dart carries a paralytic drug designed to stop the heart. Picking up a scalpel, Meltzer stands as Angel convulses and falls to the floor.

Meanwhile, Cordelia and Doyle look after the sleeping Melissa, their traumatized client finally able to relax thanks to Doyle's special mixture of whiskey and tea. Despite the duct tape all over Angel's place, when Meltzer arrives, he sends an eyeball to watch from the landing as one hand sneaks in to open the door for him. Once inside, he pauses while both eye and hand reattach themselves. Meanwhile, Meltzer's left hand creates a diversion by loudly rattling the sewer grate in an apparent attempt to jimmy Doyle's security. When there's a sudden silence, Doyle opens the grate to see, and the hand grabs him and pulls him down into the sewers. Simultaneously, Meltzer grabs Cordelia from behind and wrestles her into a closet.

Awake, Melissa watches as Meltzer waits for his left hand to crawl back to him and climb his leg to reach his wrist, but she doesn't scream this time. Meltzer rails at her, accusing her of leaving him for a "vacuous L.A. pretty-boy." Melissa tries to run but Meltzer blocks her path. Tired of dealing with his psychosis, she begins to stand up to him, telling him he is the one who's afraid and that he gave up on love a long time ago. She stands up to her terrorizer, telling him she's through being afraid of him and that he can torture her and even kill her, but it won't change the fact that he's a loser. As Melissa berates him, his body starts rippling.

At that moment, Angel shows up, obviously not killed by Meltzer's drugged dart. Controlling his shock, Meltzer spits his teeth at Angel, who blocks the bite and tries to close with his opponent. When Angel comes within reach, Meltzer attacks with his scalpel, but Angel twists and the blade is embedded in his shoulder. As Angel backs up a few steps, Meltzer throws his hand at Angel's throat, but Angel breaks its grip and flings the hand away. Seeing it try to scuttle back to its owner, Angel reaches up to his shoulder, yanks out the scalpel and pins the wriggling hand to the floor. Meltzer's ears start to fall off and he tells Melissa that they could have been so happy. However, Angel rushes up behind him and knocks his head off.

The next day, the Angel Investigations team just finishes discussing the fate of Ronald Meltzer's parts being buried in twelve steel boxes under concrete, when Melissa drops by the office to thank everyone. After she gives them a houseplant, the conversation quickly winds down until, at Cordelia's insistent signal, Angel reluctantly brings up the matter of the bill. To Angel's relief, Melissa seems sincerely grateful for the reminder of her other reason for stopping by. She matter-of-factly takes an already-prepared check from her purse, gladly hands it over (to a very quick Cordelia), then earnestly tells Angel she hopes never to see him again. Bemused, Angel concurs.


  • This is Kate's second meeting with Angel, who she still doesn't know is a vampire. She is also unaware of the mystical component to the LAPD cop's death (literally at Ronald Meltzer's hands) and won't learn about L.A.'s supernatural side for several more weeks ("Somnambulist").
  • This is not the first time that Cordelia finds herself locked in a basement while her companion duct tapes around the door to prevent pieces of the bad guy from crawling underneath. In season two of Buffy ("What's My Line, Part One"), Cordy and Xander barricade themselves in the Summers' basement to escape an assassin demon able to take human form, but who is actually composed entirely of thousands upon thousands of mealworms. The two later kill the assassin by trapping his mealworm form in glue and stomping on him.
  • Dialogue between Cordelia and Doyle suggest that (part of at least) this episode takes place a month after "City of", more specifically, Cordy mentions that she has been working for Angel for a month.
  • Doyle has his first vision since "Lonely Hearts"; this is confirmed by Cordy when she refers to the events of that episode, as the result of his previous vision.
  • Angel now drinks coffee, presumably having taken it up after the events of 'The Prom' where he tells Joyce he doesn't.
  • This episode is unique in that Cordelia actually tries to 'Scully' Angel as he tries to figure out how Meltzer is constantly watching Melissa, suggesting a non-supernatural explanation, that he may have an accomplice or be using hidden cameras. Angel is actually open to the idea although he points out that it is unlikely as The Powers That Be sent Doyle a vision for them to help her. 



Organizations and titles[]



Weapons and objects[]

Death count[]

  • An unidentified cop, killed by Ronald Meltzer
  • Meltzer, killed by oxygen deprivation caused by Angel

Total: 2 Humans

Behind the Scenes[]

Production Information[]

  • "I Fall to Pieces": The episode shares its name with this Patsy Cline song. This song was featured in the Buffy season one finale "Prophecy Girl."

Deleted Scene[]

This dialogue was cut from the original script:

Penny: I sent my husband a bouquet the day the divorce was final.

John: And they say there’s no romance left in the world.

Pop Culture References[]

  • Johnnie Cochran: Kate remarks that Wolfram & Hart is "the firm that Johnnie Cochran is too ethical to join," referring to the famously inventive lawyer who defended O. J. Simpson at his murder trial.
  • O. J. Simpson: Cordelia makes a reference to the famous football star and accused murderer when she asks Angel, "What is it about Melissa that's got him going all O.J. on her?"
  • "People": While they keep watch over the sleeping Melissa, Cordelia wonders aloud what precisely is the point of dating, and Doyle responds by speaking some of the lyrics from Barbra Streisand's signature song.

International titles[]

  • German: Die Maschen des Dr. Meltzer (The meshes of Dr. Meltzer) 
  • French: L'étrange Docteur Meltzer (The strange Doctor Meltzer)



  • Andy Umberger, who plays the doctor in this episode, also guest starred as D'Hoffryn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He is one of five actor to have appeared in all three Joss Whedon series, having also guest starred on Firefly.
  • The building used for the exterior shots of the apartment building was the same building later used for the exterior shots of the Hyperion Hotel, the Los Altos Apartments in Los Angeles.


Doyle: "He likes playin' the hero. Walkin' off into the dark, his long coat flowin' behind him in that mysterious and attractive way."
Cordelia: "Is this a private moment? 'Cause, I could leave you alone."
Doyle: "No, I'm not sayin' I'm attracted ..."
[Later, Angel walks off]:
Doyle: "Okay, maybe I'm a little bit attracted."
Melissa: I do feel better having you all on the case. I guess Angel has handled a lot of cases like this.
Doyle: Dozens. Hundreds. Dozens of hundreds.
Melissa: Wow, it happens that often?
Doyle: Well, exactly like yours? Not quite so many. But protecting young women such as yourself? Yeah, there's been – ah – 4. And 3 of them are very much alive.
Cordelia: "What did you put in her tea?"
Doyle: "Enough whiskey to drop my Aunt Judy. That woman had some girth."
Cordelia: "What's the point?"
Doyle: "Well, it tastes good, and it relaxes ya."
Cordelia: "No, I mean of ever going out with anyone."
Doyle: "Well, people need people. And people who need people ... are the luckiest p..."
Cordelia: "Either you like them, and they don't like you. Or you can't stand them, which just guarantees that they're gonna hover around and never go away."
Doyle: "Uh, I hate guys like that."
Cordelia: "It's just so unfair. I mean, this poor girl, she hooks up with a doctor. That should be a good thing. You should be able to call home and say, 'Mom, guess what? I met a doctor.' Not, 'Guess what? I met a psycho. He's stalking me and, oh, by the way, his hands and feet come off and he's not even in the circus.'"
Cordelia: "We need more of these."
Doyle: "Eh, we'll have more soon enough."
Cordelia: "Well, we need them now. Have a vision."
Doyle: "I just can't perform on demand."
Cordelia: "We need the clients. Have a vision."
Doyle: "That money's corrupted you."
Cordelia: "If I hit you in the head, would you have a vision?"
Doyle: "Get away from me. You're insane."