Season 1 Episode 14

I've Got You Under My Skin

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 15, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
449 votes

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Episode Summary

When one of Cordelia's visions shows a young family in trouble, Angel goes to investigate. Before long, he suspects that one of the family is suffering from demonic possession, but he must determine who is possessed and how to remove the creature without harming the host.

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  • Angel the Exorcist


    The Good;

    Nice counterplay at the end when the family get back together and Angel Investigations walk away as if they are a family too.

    The Bad;

    Rather an uninvolving story although a nice twist

    Best line:

    Wes; "It's for killing extinct demons"

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    The cross into Wes' neck, yeesh!

    Apocalypses: 4

    Angel Cliches

    Damsel in distress; 15,

    Inverting the Hollywood cliche;

    The dad is shown smoking cigarettes in front of his kids which is rare indeed nowadays

    In disguise; 3

    DB get's his shirt off;


    Cordy's tattoo;3

    Cheap Angel; 2

    Fang Gang in bondage:

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 5

    Wes: 1

    Fang gang knocked out:

    Cordy: 8

    Angel: 7

    Wes: 2

    Doyle; 1


    Cordy: 3 vamps, 1 demons

    Angel: one demon so 8 vamps, 5 and 1/2 demons, 2 humans.

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 1/2 a demon

    Fang Gang go evil:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 1

    Alternate Fang Gang:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 5

    Characters killed:


    Recurring characters killed;


    Total number of Angel Investigations:

    3, Angel and Cordy and Wes

    Angel Investigations shot:

    Angel: 6,

    Packing heat;

    Wes; 1

    Doyle; 1

    Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:

    Cordy: 2 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Kinky dinky:

    Wes owns a 2 thighmasters and a 'buns of steel' video

    Captain Subtext;

    Our first hints on Wes' relationship with his father

    Know the face, different character; 2

    Parking garages;


    Buffy characters on Angel;

    6; Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes

    Questions and observations;

    Cordy can cook, who'd have thought? Angel mentions Doyle in poignant moment. Cool bait and switch, we think the dads the villain. Also we have Kate in her middling phrase, aware that Angel's a vamp but not totally anti.The scenes with the circle are very reminiscent of classic Brit horror flick The Devil Rides Out (Christopher Lee as a good guy!) Ricks magic, the LA branch of The Magic Shop. Cordy puts her shopping skills to good use. A lot more christian than normal. 'Three blind mice' is actually about 3 bishops executed by Bloody Mary. Anyone know what rock-a-bye-baby is about? Lizzie Borden was actually found innocent but the circumstantial evidence against her was overwhelming.

    Marks out of 10; 6/10, ok ep but still supernatural threat of the week

  • Overall, this episode has some solid character development, hampered slightly by the stock horror concept at the heart of the story.

    After an episode that felt more like a massively flawed ratings stunt than a natural progression of the season’s character arcs, the writers get back to business. Oddly enough, they choose a rather pedestrian topic to continue their sweeps period episode run: a knock-off of “The Exorcist”, which just about every supernatural series eventually tries to do. This has a few interesting twists to it, especially in terms of Wesley’s character development and final act, but it’s still not the most awe-inspiring episode in the first season.

    The episode begins with a scene that almost suggests that the previous episode was inserted into the schedule out of nowhere; this could easily be the true follow-up to “Expecting”. Angel is back to hosting some “family” meal times, thus proving that his ability to connect with humans (even if just two of them) is improving. Wesley is still trying to demonstrate his worth, but not nearly as stridently as in the previous episode.

    The point of the scene, however, comes when Angel slips and calls Wesley “Doyle”. This is an especially painful moment, because it immediately plays on the insecurities of the entire gang. Angel reveals the depth of his loss, Cordelia is reminded of everything she might have had, and Wesley suddenly has every reason to question Angel’s acknowledgment of his individual contribution. It’s rather clear, as the episode marches on, that this initial scene is meant to highlight Wesley’s insecurities and how far he will go to overcome them.

    Angel’s reaction is to tighten his hold on the people under his care, because he still feels that Doyle’s death was his fault. He sees Cordy suffering like Doyle used to suffer, and he has to wonder at the point of it all. (It probably doesn’t help in later seasons, when he discovers that all this death and pain really was all about using him and his colleagues to bring about some diabolical plan!) This ultimately runs counter to Wesley’s desire to prove himself.

    By the time that Angel saves Ryan from his apparent doom, the writers have established that something is Very Wrong. Certainly the early scenes try to establish that Seth is abusive, emotionally and possible physically. Paige comes across as a wife who looks to outside sources for psychological support (hence her belief in angels), and her constant hints to Angel suggest that she’s hoping someone will see the truth that she cannot bring herself to face directly. Unfortunately, as anyone who watches genre television knows, it’s always the innocent looking child that turns out to be the one with the demonic side.

    That doesn’t mean that Seth isn’t very controlling. There are still some abusive overtones to his personality. But in this particular situation, it’s more honest to say that Seth is forced to be more controlling and strict, because it’s the only way he knows how to keep the family together. Paige is clearly the type to internally understand the situation yet live within a fantasy where everything is just a huge misunderstanding, and that’s not going to keep everyone alive. Seth, for all his obvious faults, is trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.

    One inconsistency is the nature of Ryan’s evil spree over the years. Early in the episode, the “family friend” goes missing. Later, it’s clear that there’s a fire involved. Why would the news accounts from that incident exclude something as important as “presumed dead in a fire”? It would certainly paint a different picture than someone simply being “missing”. One might assume that revealing that plot point would take away from the end of the episode, but it would actually give the whole story a more focused perspective.

    It’s rather apparent from the dinner scene that one of the kids will be revealed as the demon, if only because Angel develops such a quick and human rapport with them. There’s a quick hint about the final plot reveal when Stephanie mentions that Ryan has always been “bad”, but that’s overshadowed by the revelation of the Ethros demon. Indeed, the treatment of the demonic manifestation is problematic from a plot element perspective.

    The writers clearly want the audience to believe that the Ethros demon is the one committing all the evil actions. The final reveal, however, plainly states that Ryan is inherently “soulless”, without a conscience, and that the demon is trapped and trying to get out. So if Ryan’s actions are not dictated by the demon possession, it’s a question of whether or not the depiction of Ryan’s exorcism makes sense in terms of the true source of Ryan’s evil. One can assume that Ryan begins acting out once the forced reveal of the Ethros possession gives him an excuse; the Ethros demon’s powers become his to exploit, but he’s firmly in control along the way, no longer forced to hold back.

    If the demon needs to be bound before the exorcism can begin, then it seems rather odd that Ryan doesn’t try to lash out and get away before he’s bound by the spell. He just sits on Mommy’s lap, and then lets everyone take him into Angel’s bedroom to be bound. Does the eucalyptus temporarily incapacitate the demon or something? Because that’s a lot of time for Ryan to play possum for no good reason.

    One of the best scenes of the episode takes place in a church. Vampires have sometimes been a bit too happy to run around places of worship in the Buffyverse, but Angel is definitely wary of this particular venue. It adds to the overall impression that Angel is forcing himself to face great personal discomfort, all for the sake of Ryan. It’s a display of his character. The scene is made that much better by the fearless nun that moves the story along, making it clear that Angel and Wesley are the ones who have to help Ryan.

    It comes down to Angel’s desire to take all the potential danger upon himself, in the name of protecting his friends, and Wesley’s desire to prove his worth and put to rest the personal demons that the case has resurrected. Both of them have the capacity to get over these issues rather quickly: Angel already knows that his friends have free will and can make their own choices, and Wesley has already defied his father’s wishes to do the right thing. But it all comes down to which one of them can more easily accomplish the task. Wesley’s method of communicating that point to Angel reveals a side of his character that would ultimately take hold in later seasons.

    The implication of the exorcism scene is such, in retrospect, that Ryan is the one using the demonic guise to implement his true nihilism. Thus he is the one who wants to kill his mother, and he’s using the demon as a means of doing so without penalty. The exorcism rituals sap away the demonic power, but the core evil remains; Ryan is just apparently very good at hiding it.

    The scenes with Cordy are used to lighten the mood somewhat, at least as far as the writers want the mood to be broken up. That’s a good thing, because as predictable as it might be at times, the exorcism scenes are creepy because of their character exploration. Wesley is forced to fight the demons of his father’s sense of discipline, which in and of itself is predictable yet still satisfying. When Ryan uses the strained dynamic between Wesley and Angel against them, Wesley pays the price. (The end of the third season makes this particularly satisfying, even if Wesley recovers far too quickly.)

    Ryan uses Angel’s guilt over Doyle against him. Ryan wants to have the Ethros demon out of him, because it was holding him back. But if the struggle was too easy, Ryan would be exposed. One has to assume that Ryan was intelligent and clever enough to know that using Angel’s guilt over Doyle would be a good enough trigger to get Angel to drive the Ethros out, thus freeing him to act once his innocence is assumed.

    The final twist is actually very clever, even if the execution leaves something to be desired. One can assume that the Ethros demon wouldn’t know how else to describe a child with no sense of morality, a “bad seed” that no amount of good parenting could control, but if taken as described, the explanation for Ryan is a little out of the usual Buffyverse bounds. How would a child be born without a soul? Then again, Angel and Darla later produce a child with a soul despite both being vampires, so anything is possible. It just doesn’t ring true.

    Seth and Paige also seem to accept Ryan’s recovery at face value. Sure, they would want to believe that Ryan is better, but that’s closer to Paige’s way of thinking. Seth seems like a far more wary individual at this stage of the game, and one would expect him to be more skeptical of the abrupt cure. It works well enough, but under the circumstances, Ryan doesn’t do quite enough to make it seem like he’s suddenly all happiness and light. Once Ryan’s attempt to kill Stephanie is repelled, it’s equally odd how quickly Seth and Paige hand Ryan over to the authorities. For that matter, one has to wonder what they expect the authorities to do for Ryan at this point.

    Beyond reminding the audience that Kate exists (very important for the next episode), the final scene drives home one of the themes of the episode. It’s not just an exploration of abusive fathers, potential or otherwise. It’s about what it takes sometimes to keep a family together and as intact as it can be. Angel needed to remember that, just as Wesley had to remind himself that he’s a man with his own sense of purpose now.

    In a sense, this episode was a return to the kind of character development that had been momentarily abandoned with “She”. And in fact, for all its faults, this episode is entirely in keeping with what the fans themselves had been looking for. After all, this episode is an analogue to the early episodes of “Buffy”, where standard plot elements were used to introduce and expand character elements that would become important later in the series. Indeed, Wesley’s character becomes much closer to the haunted and determined warrior that emerges here, a far cry from bumbling fool of the previous episode.

    Angel, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. This early in the series, his purpose is still unclear, his mission undefined. He knows that he should be helping people for the sake of personal redemption, but he hasn’t come to the point where he recognizes that it’s his ability to bring together resources in common cause that matters. This episode is one step closer to the more ensemble scope that would dominate the future of “Angel”.

  • Not My favorite Episode

    Although a two very intresting forshadowing plotlines begin to take place here, Wesley and his childhood trauma issues with his father, and Wesley and his extreme willingless to kill Angel for the common good, this episode is not one of my favorites. You know those common characters in both movies and tv shows that absolutely make you want to strangle them? Say for example the character of Lily in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, who gave you the sudden urge to punch her in the face for being so stupid. Well, the mother in this episode really made me wanna do that. She has no resistance to the evils that are clearly surrounding her child. And although i am not a mother and have not yet come to realize the intense bound between a mother and her child in pain, i have come to understand that if i see someone turn into a demon, i'm not gonna wanna go to them and hug them. In my opinion, crappy characters, nice foreshadowing.moreless
  • 'We can watch tv or play cards. You'll get caught up, won't even hear your son's pain.'

    ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ is a very powerful episode about exorcism and family issues.

    The episode begins as usual with Wesley and Cordy having a fight about something, Angel tries to stop them and accidentally calls Wesley, Doyle.

    When Angel stays behind alone Cordy walks up to him and confronts him about Doyle, he says that he misses him.

    Cordy soon gets a vision about a little boy and Angel was able to save him from a car accident. The boy had escaped even though his room had locks on. His mother believes in Angel and thinks that he is one and wants him to eat with them the next day, but the father doesn’t and tries to get rid of Angel.

    Wesley also found plasticize in the house which means that someone in the house is possessed by a demon. Angel has to make the family eat some sort of powder that will reveal the demons face, Angel puts it in the brownies and brings it to their home. Angel thinks that the father is the one being possessed but it turns out to be the little boy.

    Angel brings Ryan to his house because he is going to exorcist the demon out of the boy, but there is no and the problem is that after the demon is summoned out it jumps into the nearest warm body.

    Wesley is the one who is going to try to summon the demon out of the kid, but the demon is to strong and takes Wesley over the edge. Angel gets sick of it after the boy begins to talk about Doyle so he scares out the demon but it escapes because Cordelia didn’t bring the right box.

    When Angel and Wesley go after the demon in corporeal form it tells them that the boy was the blackest hell he ever knew, the kid is the one who did everything not him. They kill the demon and go to save the family from Ryan who destroys everything without any reason at all.

    The kid is mad at his sister because she got more marshmallows so he burns up her room but Angel was right ontime to save her. The kid will be taken to police where he will be judged, Angel tells the father that he was able to keep his family save.

    This episode is very strong because of the evil kid, he didn’t have a soul. The episode also introduced Wesley’s problem with his dad. The best scene was when Ryan almost killed his mother, I also liked that the writers decided to talk about the forgotten Doyle.

    It was a wonderful episode, one of the best so far.

  • episode so far.

    This episode is the most exciting and scariest one since the beginning of the series. I'm not easily scared by movies or series but this episode got to me (maybe only because demon-possession actually happens and therefor is realistic).

    I really like the fact that the exorcism wasn't easy and things got complicated. The best part of the episode, also the part that makes the entire episode so good, is the amazing plot twist: we found out the demon didn't make the boy 'bad', he doesn't have a soul and because of that is evil.

    I also like the fact that Wesley really puts in some good work, Angel is really gonna need him.

    One of the best episodes so far.

Will Kempe

Will Kempe

Seth Anderson

Guest Star

Katy Boyer

Katy Boyer

Paige Anderson

Guest Star

Anthony Cistaro

Anthony Cistaro

Ethros Demon

Guest Star

Elisabeth Rohm

Elisabeth Rohm

Detective Kate Lockley

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • When Ryan is trying to kill his mother in Angel's apartment, Angel runs down the stairs trying to conceal his laughter. When Wesley is holding a cross at Ryan and is spouting Latin, Angel bursts into laughter and tries to hide it by putting his head down.

    • Earlier in the episode Stephanie's windows have bars, but later when Angel rescues her from the fire, the bars are gone.

  • QUOTES (20)

    • Wesley: Angel, before we go any further, I just want to assure you, inasmuch as we'll be fighting side by side... what that demon said before--
      Angel: I know you're not planning to kill me, Wesley. But you're willing to, and that's good. Now come on.

    • Ethros Demon: I know you bring death. I do not fear it. The only thing I've ever feared is in that house.

    • Wesley: Hello, Sister? Good evening. Sorry to disturb your prayers. I hope we didn't make you lose your place.
      Nun: Not at all. How can I--(turns toward Angel) You would come into a place of worship?
      Angel: I'm not what you think.
      Nun: No? (moves her cross toward Angel's hand and he recoils)
      Angel: Okay. Yeah, I am.

    • (regarding Angel's brownies)
      Paige: What's your secret, Angel?
      Angel: I use... chocolate. Which why they're brown. Which gives them their name... brownies.

    • Seth: What are you laughing at?
      Stephanie: Angel's funny.
      Seth: Yeah? He hides it well.

    • Cordelia: Jeez, we got it! Circle, angry, kill-kill-kill! Go to church already.

    • Wesley: A little Silas Eucalyptus Powder ingested by the host...
      Cordelia: Then what? Dad goes "grrr"? Head spins around?
      Wesley: Essentially.

    • Ethros Demon: Do you know what the most frightening thing in the world is? Nothing! That's what I found in the boy: no conscience, no fear, no humanity, just a black void. I couldn't control him. I couldn't get out. I never even manifested until you brought me forth. I just sat there and watched as he destroyed everything around him. Not from a belief in evil, not for any reason at all.

    • Angel: (about the demon) It'll be looking for a hostile environment, somewhere damp. Probably returning to primordial volcanic basalt for its regeneration.
      Cordelia: Huh?
      Wesley: Sea caves.
      Cordelia: Why didn't you just say that?

    • Angel: You've never done this before. Look, it takes tremendous strength, mental strength.
      Wesley: Resistence to suggestion. Yes, I understand that. I like to think of myself as possessing a certain...
      Angel: Wesley, you don't even have sales resistance. How many thigh masters do you own?
      Wesley: The second one was a free gift with my Buns of Steel.

    • Paige: I'm not going to him, okay. I'm playing by the stupid rules.
      Cordelia: Good! We can watch tv or play cards. You'll get caught up, won't even hear your son's pain.

    • Wesley: You've heard of Lizzie Borden? She killed her parents with an axe.
      Cordelia: I remember the children's rhyme. And how come they're all full of death and cradles falling and mice getting tails cut off? Anyway, the whole thing needs a ratings system, don't you think?

    • Seth: This bother you?
      Angel: No.
      Seth: Lotta health nuts these days, you know. Like anyone needs to live forever.
      Angel: No one needs that.

    • Wesley: A knife with that mark is the only way to kill a Kek demon. It could be very useful.
      Angel: Especially if Kek demons weren't extinct.
      Wesley: They are? Oh dear. Well, perhaps there's one out there hibernating, ready to awaken at any moment and embark on a grisly rampage.
      Angel: I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    • Wesley: Well, then I guess you have to do it. (throws cross at Angel, who catches and quickly drops it as it burns his hands)
      Angel: That was vulgar.

    • (Angel is reading a book)
      Cordelia: Pretend to read any good books lately?
      Angel: Cordelia. I thought you went home.
      Cordelia: You called him Doyle.
      Angel: It just happened. I hope Wesley is okay with it.
      Cordelia: Oh, who cares about him! This is about Doyle. You never say his name!
      Angel: I say it.
      Cordelia: No, you don't. Look you don't have to be Joe Stoic about his dying. I mean, I know that you have this unflappable vibe working for you, but... you don't have to do that for me.
      Angel: I'm not unflappable.
      Cordelia: Great. So - flap.
      Angel: I miss him.
      Cordelia: Me, too.
      Angel: I've been around death before... a lot! - I've lost people. I've killed people.
      Cordelia: And you are dead. Sorry.

    • (Cordelia makes bad brownies)
      Cordelia: The recipe was handed down to me from my mother who got it from her housekeeper. Plus I improvised a little. You're gonna love 'em.
      Wesley: Me? Doesn't Angel have to... get to try any?
      Cordelia: They're brownies, full of nutty goodness, not red blood cells.
      Wesley: Oh, I wasn't thinking. More of a drinker than an eater, I suppose.
      Cordelia: Maybe, if he'd branch out into the solid, he'd keep a decent knife around.
      (Picking up Wesley's extinct demon killing knife)
      Wesley: That is not appropriate; it's for killing extinct demons. Angel, make her stop. That blade is very old. Who knows what kind of corrosive effect her cooking may have on it.
      Cordelia: Corrosive effect?
      Angel: Cordelia, just put down the very sharp knife.
      Wesley: Well, they don't smell right.
      Cordelia: I think "Mister too much cologne" is the pot calling the kettle stinky.

    • Cordelia: What is this stuff anyway? It's kind of pretty.
      Wesley: Uh, it's the bodily excretions of an Ethros demon.
      Cordelia: No one could have said 'demon poo' before I touched it?

    • Cordelia: Hi, I'm Cordeila, sorry about the possession and everything.

    • Angel: She's making brownies.
      Wesley: Oh, is that what I smell. I thought I'd tracked something in.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Wesley: A father doesn't have to be possessed to terrorize his children.
      This episode foreshadows the events of "Lineage" (5x07) in which Wesley finally confronts his father. In this episode, several references to their relationship are made. The demon, while posessing the boy, goads Wesley with references to his poor relationship with his father.


    • Title: I've Got You Under My Skin
      An obvious allusion to the Cole Porter song of the same name, first performed in 1936 and which has been recorded by a huge number of artists. The title is used a little more literally here!

    • Angel: I made brownies.
      The brownies laced with "eucalypsis powder" which invoke demon conniptions are surely a reference to the popularity of brownies containing everyone's other favourite herbal product, as famously described in the cookbook of Alice B. Toklas (and further referenced in the Peter Sellers movie named after her).

    • Cordelia: I'm wondering if I should put plastic down. Angel, are you expecting any big vomiting here? Because I saw the movie.
      The movie is The Exorcist starring Max Von Sydow and Linda Blair. There are numerous scenes in the movie where Linda's character spews copious amount of vomit during the exorcism.

    • Wesley: You've heard of Lizzie Borden? She killed her parents with an axe?
      Lizzie Borden was the daughter of Andrew Borden and the family was quite wealthy. In August of 1892 Andrew Borden and his wife were brutally murdered with an axe. Lizzie Borden became the prime suspect and was sent to trial. The case against her was circumstantial and she was acquitted.
      Most people in the town felt that she had done it but was acquitted because of her status and the belief that no lady could be capable of doing such a thing.

    • Cordelia: ...The whole thing needs a rating system.
      (When referring to the violence in children's nursery rhymes) A campaign lead by Al and Tipper Gore in the 80s created the Parental Advisory labels for music. Years later another battle was waged on Capital Hill to label all television programs with a rating system. At the same time some fanatical people began demanding ratings for websites. Now some advocates are complaining that certain books are too violent for children, and should contain a rating system. Cordelia's comments are an obvious lashing out (by the writers or producers) at the overuse of the rating system.