|Season 5, Episode 3|
|Air date||October 15, 2003|
|Written by|| Sarah Fain|
|Directed by||Marita Grabiak|
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 says that there are two more nights in which the werewolf can be wolfy. Angel says that they need to find the woman, since she won’t know what happened to her. Gunn says that McManus, the werewolf Angel killed, has been leaving trails of dead people; Angel thinks that he felt that he was alone, but the woman doesn’t have to be.
Spike pays Fred a visit in her office, 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, like something’s trying to pull him over to the other side. Fred suggests that Spike let Wesley help him, but Spike says that he and Wesley have a history stemming back to when Wesley had just graduated from the Watcher’s Academy. Fred doesn’t believe him, so Spike admits that he just doesn’t want anyone else to know what’s going on with him, especially Angel. Fred assures him that they’ll figure things out, since she has a lot of resources. Later, Angel complains to the others that the firm is useless since they can’t find the woman from the park. He sends them out to try to get more information. A man named Dr. Royce studies McManus’ body, noting that he’s a rare breed of werewolf. Spike brags about a long battle he once had with a werewolf and Fred tells him that Angel killed McManus with a pen. At her place, Nina wakes up after a restless sleep and heads to the kitchen, where her sister Jill and niece Amanda are cooking. Nina discovers that her hearing is a little improved and she doesn’t remember getting the bruise on her neck. She closely studies hamburgers cooking on the stove and imagines slashing Amanda’s neck. Back at the science lab, the gang try to follow some leads. Gunn finally gets access to traffic camera feeds, getting Nina’s license plate number, address, and name. That night, Nina baby-sits Amanda; she starts feeling sick and goes upstairs, where she begins to turn into a werewolf.
Angel heads to Nina’s and pulls her out through her bedroom window to the ground. Wesley stops Nina with a tranquilizer dart. The next day, Nina - back to being human - wakes up naked in a cell. Angel pays her a visit and tries to tell her that she’s safe. He shows her a video of herself as a wolf in the cell the night before. She’s upset with her new condition and the fact that she wanted to hurt Amanda. He tries to tell her that it wasn’t really her, but the monster inside of her; he confides that he’s a vampire (with a soul) and isn’t evil, just as she isn’t. Nina asks if he can cure her and Angel says that he can’t, but he can protect her. Angel meets up with Fred and Royce, telling them that Nina agreed to stay in the holding cell again that night. Spike appears, excited to be able to observe a werewolf. Royce warns that Nina might hurt herself, but she might be okay if they take her back to her place so that the familiarity will calm her. Spike says that Nina is a killer now, and sooner or later, she’ll get out of her cage and kill. He adds that she’ll feel guilty afterward, since she has a soul. Angel finally agrees to let Nina go home and Fred offers to take her. Fred and Nina head to Nina’s place; Fred tries to tell her that her life doesn’t have to change too much, since she’s only a werewolf three nights out of the month. She talks about how Angel saved her from Pylea and Nina notes that he saves a lot of women. She asks if he and Fred are dating and Fred says that Angel doesn’t date.
Angel meets with Gunn in Gunn’s office; Gunn tries to cheer him up by reminding him that he saved Nina’s life. Angel says that that doesn’t change the fact that Nina has to deal with being a werewolf. Lorne arrives as Gunn leaves and tries to get Angel to sing for him. He notes that Angel has been cranky ever since Spike came back, adding that he’s letting it affect his work. As Fred and Nina are about to enter Nina’s house, Nina says that she’s changed her mind because she doesn’t want to have to face Jill and Amanda yet. Inside, Fred introduces herself and makes up a story about Nina leaving suddenly because Fred needed her help. Nina and Jill fight and Nina leaves while Fred grabs some familiar 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 as she pulls out her tranquilizer gun, but a guy knocks her out and grabs Nina. Nina is taken to the basement of a mansion and chained up. A woman cuts off her clothes and scrubs her down. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Royce sings "Jessie's Girl" for Lorne, who confirms that he’s clean. Next door in Angel’s office, the others try to figure out who might have grabbed Nina and why. Fred criticizes herself for going near the van when it was obvious that something was wrong; she also worries that Spike hasn’t materialized for a while. As Royce arrives with some info, Fred spots Spike in the hallway and goes out to talk to him. She tries to follow him, but he doesn’t seem to hear her. She winds up in an office and sees something strange in a trash can, but is interrupted by Royce. She babbles for a little while, then knocks Royce out with a lamp.
Fred explains to the group that she found an empty vial in Royce’s trash can which contained Calendula; Royce must have suspected that he would have to sing for Lorne, so he took a drug that would make him appear to be clean when he wasn’t. She reveals that Spike led her to the vial. Gunn discovers that Royce’s desk has a false bottom which holds photos, papers, and a knife. Angel beats up Royce and demands to know where Nina is; Royce doesn’t want to tell him, thinking that the guy he’s be betraying is scarier than Angel. Angel would like to prove otherwise. Fred, Wesley, and Gunn search through Royce’s private stuff and find a paper that contains something shocking. They give it to Angel, who’s figured out where Nina is. On the paper is a menu, and come moonrise - in about 15 minutes - Nina (who’s tied up at a banquet hall in a mansion, fully conscious) will be the main course.
The gang head to the banquet hall. Wesley says that Nina's captors will keep her alive because, even after moonrise transforms her to wolf-form (in which form her captors intend to eat her), she will revert to human form after death, meaning she will be eaten alive, although Nina, whose human identity would be submerged beneath the wolf persona like before, would have no awareness during the actual feast. Angel starts to rescue Nina, who tells him to just let her get eaten. She doesn’t think that she can ever go home and is resigned to being what wealthy restaurant entrepreneur John Crane and his guests consider her to be, a livestock animal. Angel frees her anyway, but before the gang can leave, they’re surrounded by men with guns. The fighting and shooting starts, and Nina turns into a werewolf, providing some unexpected help to the group. Gunn hesitates before shooting Nina; Wesley shoots her with a tranquilizer dart to save him. Angel announces that they’re taking Nina home, but the guy hosting the party says that he promised his guests a werewolf. Werewolf Nina (motivated by bestial instinct, not Nina's submerged human consciousness) bites Royce’s leg and Angel says that in a month, Royce will be a werewolf and they can eat him then. Royce is understandably unhappy about this development.
Later that night, Fred returns to her office to find Spike. He tells her that he wasn’t sure he would return from the netherworld this time. She notes that he led her to Royce’s office, though he probably didn’t do it on purpose. She wants to tell Angel what’s going on with him, but Spike refuses. Fred tells him that she’s going to find a way to keep him in the world for good. Angel drives Nina home and, even though she made no conscious choice to kill anyone at the mansion, she asks how he can live, knowing that he’s killed people. Angel tells her that fighting back wasn’t bad for her to do, since the people were going to eat her. He says eventually she’ll accept being a werewolf as a part of her. She doesn’t want to tell Jill and Amanda and Angel says that she doesn’t have to, but she can if she wants to. “If you separate yourself from the ones you love, the monster wins,” he tells her. She tells him that she’ll see him in a month, then gets out and reunites with her sister and niece. That night, the gang meet up in Angel’s apartment (which has a nice view) and have some drinks. They decide to order Chinese food again and Angel offers to buy, which shocks 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.
- David Boreanaz as Angel
- James Marsters as Spike
- J. August Richards as Charles Gunn
- Amy Acker as Winifred Burkle
- Andy Hallett as Lorne
- Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
- 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.'"
- Dr. Royce sings "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield to Lorne to prove his innocence in Nina's kidnapping.
- 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.