A TV company make Angel their puppet.
Written by: Joss Whedon and Ben Edlund
Directed by: Ben Edlund
Fred is investigating a strange plague striking children in Los Angeles - one that leaves them comatose with a rictus-like grins on their face. Angel's happy to help - if only as a distraction from the revelation that werewolf Nina has feelings for him.
Lorne suspects that Smile Time, a puppet show on TV, may be behind the illness. When Angel breaks into their offices, though, he gets more than he bargained for - he's transformed into a puppet. Back at Wolfram and Hart his condition comes in for some comment, to say the least.
Gunn and Lorne go to visit Gregor Framkin, the man who runs Smile Time, but get nowhere. Once they leave, it becomes clear that the Smile Time puppets are really demons. They're controlling Framkin, and sucking the life-force from children through the TV screen.
Meanwhile, Gunn returns to the surgeon who gave him his lawyer implant - it's failing and he has to recover his skills. Back at Wolfram and Hart, Fred and Wesley work out just what Smile Time is doing - and realise that all of Los Angeles' children are in danger.
The gang head off to the Smile Time studio - and in a puppet to puppet confrontation, Angel takes down the leader of the demon gang.
Crisis over, Angel and Nina head out for a little breakfast, while Fred and Wesley finally make a romantic connection.
Quiz: - ten quick questions.
The real Cookie Monster: Smile Time is obviously based on long-running children's TV show Sesame Street, beloved of small kids and lazy students everywhere. First aired in 1969, Sesame Street uses puppets, songs, animations and games to teach children their letters and numbers. The best known of their many puppet characters include Bert and Ernie, Kermit the Frog, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, and a possible acquaintance of Angel, Count von Count.
Moonlight romance: Nina, the pretty werewolf we met in the episode Unleashed, is back. Looks like the rumours that she might bring a little romance into Angel's life were correct.
Hallo again: Gregor Framkin is played by Angel writer, producer and director David Fury - his fourth cameo in the Buffyverse. Previously he played a goat-sacrificing worshipper in Angel episode Reprise and as the Mustard Man in Buffy episodes Once More, With Feeling and Selfless.
Mental meltdown: The creepy doctor Gunn visits refers to Flowers for Algernon syndrome, after Daniel Keyes novel of the same name. It tells the story of a man with learning disabilities whose intelligence is raised to genius level by an experimental treatment, previously tested only on Algernon, a mouse. Eventually it fails, and he returns to his old intelligence, but aware that he has lost something.
The book was filmed as Charly in 1968, starring Cliff Robertson.
A real boy: Lorne yells "Is there a Gepetto in the house?" when trying to find treatment for the injured puppet Angel. Gepetto was the creator of Pinnochio in the well known fairy tale.
Cancelled!: This was the first episode of Angel to be aired after the shock news that The WB network would not be renewing the series after the end of season five.
Tim Minear wasn't joking when he told us to expect groundbreaking television from Smile Time - it's surely one of Angel's most inspired and laugh-out-loud episodes.
Star of the episode in undoubtedly the wonderful puppet Angel. Made from felt and with a removable nose, the knee-high hero leapt into battle with the promise to "take down some puppets," whilst wielding a sword in a shot that spoofed the show's title sequence. He even managed to pull a hot werewolf.
How such an innovative show can be cancelled after producing something like Smile Time is baffling. We demand they bring it back next year. And make toys of all the puppets too.