Season 1 Episode 22

To Shanshu in L.A.

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 23, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
466 votes

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Episode Summary

Wolfram & Hart summon a demon and charge him with the task of separating Angel from the Powers That Be. While Angel is busy dealing with this threat, Lindsey and his coworkers are working on summoning something else which will make Angel's unlife a lot more interesting.moreless

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  • Terrific season ender


    The Good;

    My all time favourite moment in Angel is when he walks up to Lindsey clutching his stump, the music swells and Angel looks on him with ***all sympathy. Such a powerful scene, you realise how much Angel loves Cordy in that moment and would fight his way to hell on her behalf. CCs acting as stricken Cordy is also great and love the doughnut scene. And THAT ending!

    The Bad;

    Gunn's prescence seems a bit shoe-horned in, they're obviously thinking about making him a regular. Same for David Nabbit. Kate seems to want to make Angel hang around to make a statement which is weird as she's prepared to let him just walk away the rest of the time.

    Best line:

    "Don't believe everything your foretold, Lindsey" (why doesn't he just kick him in the head whilst he's at it?)

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    Severed hands. Voca's mask. Angel is also quite brutal with Kate. Lilah mentions a past WR&H employee who was made to eat his own liver as pennance for failing the senior partners.

    Apocalypses: 4

    Angel Cliches

    Damsel in distress; 15,

    Inverting the Hollywood cliche;

    In disguise; 4

    DB get's his shirt off; 7

    Cordy's tattoo;3

    Cheap Angel;


    Fang Gang in bondage:

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 8

    Wes: 2

    Fang gang knocked out: Wes by the explosion

    Cordy: 9

    Angel: 10

    Wes: 5

    Doyle; 1


    Cordy: 3 vamps, 1 demons

    Angel; 2 demons so 16 vamps, 12 and 1/2 demons, 3 humans

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 1/2 a demon

    Kate; 3 vamps

    Faith; 16 vamps, 6 demons, 3 humans.

    Fang Gang go evil:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 2

    Alternate Fang Gang:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 6

    Characters killed:


    Recurring characters killed; bye-bye the Oracles which is a shame as I liked them, I didn't think they COULD be killed


    Total number of Angel Investigations:

    3, Angel and Cordy and Wes

    Angel Investigations shot:

    Angel: 8,

    Packing heat;

    Wes; 2

    Doyle; 1

    Angel; 1

    Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:

    Cordy: 2 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Kinky dinky:

    Naked Darla in a box, bet you can't order that on Amazon!

    Know the face, different character; 2

    Parking garages;


    Buffy characters on Angel; 11

    Wetherby, Collins and Smith. Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes, Faith, Darla

    Questions and observations;

    Wes once again makes a biblical reference which Watcher's are wont to do. The promise of great things to come, Darla in the box. Interestingly you can bring a vamp back from the dead as they attempted to do in 'When she was bad', a technique often used in fanfic for bringing back Angel and souled-Spike if they've been killed in a story. Cordy refers to 'The old me' indicating personal growth. Of course we assume the 'Vamp with a soul' is Angel but it could just as easily be season 5 Spike?

    Marks out of 10; 9/10, very good ep with my all time favourite Angel scene.

  • 'You never want to be on time for a ritual. The chanting, the blood rites, they go on forever.'

    The last episode of the first Angel season, and it was amazing, filled with drama, horror and action.

    The episode begins with Wes working on the shanshu prophecy, he has the scroll and finds out that it means that Angel is going to die, but Angel doesn’t seem to care much. They get a visit from geeky David Nabbitt while the W&H lawyers summon some big demon named Vocah who is there to put out Angel.

    The storyline around Kate sort of ends in this episode, she and Angel stop getting along because she keeps blaming him for what happened to her father and after his building blows up she doesn’t want to let him leave but he does anyway and tells her that she should try him if she wants to be enemies.

    Meanwhile Wes and Cordy discuss Angel and that he doesn’t want many things in life, Cordy is determent to do something about it and when Angel comes back she tries to convince him to want stuff. she even goes to buy some paint and other stuff for Angel but then Vocah walks right behind her and touches her hand which leads her to pain with visions, they keep coming and she can’t close them so she falls on the ground and gets taken to the hospital.

    Vocah tries to make Angel miserable by doing that, he kills Oracles whom are Angel’s link and then leaves a bomb at Angel’s apartment that explodes when Wesley finds it, leaving Angel truly alone, his office exploded and hi co-workers both in the hospital, Angel asks Gunn to take after them while he goes to the oracles to ask about a mark he finds on Cordy. But he finds them dead, only the female can still talk and she tells him that he has to kill Vocah and to cure Cordy they have to do a chanting spell.

    Meanwhile the lawyers gather around for a big ritual, they are going to sacrifice five vampires to bring back something that they have stuffed in a box. Then Angel jumps in and fights Vocah while Lindsey finishes the ritual which brings back something back to live and gets taken by the lawyers except Lindsey who gets unconscious when the something gets brought back.

    When Angel beats Vocah and kills his wormy face with his own sword, he goes to Lindsey who has the scroll an wants to burn it because the scroll has Cordy’s cure and without Cordy Angel is nothing. But Angel isn’t dumb and hacks off Lindsey’s hand making the scroll fall on the ground and Angel picking it up. Then Wesley brings back Cordy in the hospital.

    The episode was extremely well done, Wesley reads the scroll once again but he made a mistake, Angel is not going to die but instead become human. I really wish that Angel would have ever become one, but the episode was still amazing by all means. Good drama, good acting and a great script. A great way to close the first season. At the end of he episode they reveal that the thing that was brought back in the box was Darla, Angelus’ sire who was killed by Angel years ago.

  • Overall, this episode is a strong season finale, linking the original mission statement for Angel to the more epic plot concerns of the second season.

    With the first season ending, the finale needed to serve two purposes. First and foremost, it needed to complete the process of setting the stage for the second season, which would delve into the more epic aspects of Angel’s psychological and philosophical universe. Also very important was the need to tie the second season into the concepts introduced at the beginning of the series. This duty fell to Mr. Greenwalt, though most agree that Joss was heavily involved in the process of working the thematic connections.

    The writers do make another attempt at making David Nabbitt a worthwhile character, but this time around, it’s more from a conceptual perspective. Nabbitt points out how Angel’s mission is something worthy of remembrance, whereas his own accomplishments are pure materialism with ephemeral spiritual value. The message is simple: Angel cannot let himself forget why he fights. This is something Angel would struggle with throughout the course of the series.

    Angel is given two very different “rewards” for his service in the apocalypse. In this case, this early in the series, his role is largely noted as being on the side of the white hats. His apparent reward is death. Oddly, Wesley doesn’t hit upon one of the more obvious interpretations of the prophesy. Many images or references to death in ancient prophetic works and their modern extrapolations are meant to be interpreted as a sign of fundamental change, not literal death. Of course, that is also a possibility, since death is a rather fundamental change, but it’s not necessarily what the use of the term or concept mandates.

    The fact that Darla’s raising is tied directly to the Scroll of Aberjian suggests two possibilities, in light of the revelations at the end of the fourth season. One interpretation is that the prophecies are genuine, and that Jasmine, as a rogue Power, twisted the intention of the prophecies to her own purpose. However, since Darla’s resurrection was key to Jasmine’s plan, there’s every reason to wonder if the prophecies were adjusted to serve that purpose. Given that the prophecies were still referenced in the fifth season as being in force, it would be simple enough to assume that Jasmine could have simply added to what already existed, in terms of the destiny for the “vampire with a soul”.

    The fact that Wesley interprets “shanshu” as meaning “death” provides a way to connect his reaction to the prophecy to the initial mission statement of the series. Angel doesn’t react to the news that he is fated to die, in Wesley’s estimation, because Angel has once again become cut off from humanity and the world. As usual, this defines one of the central conflicts of the series: Angel needs to become connected to the world to find redemption, but in doing so, he gives his enemies a means of attacking him indirectly.

    The writers also bring Kate back into the picture, if only in a limited role, to complete the loop that began with Angel’s first encounter with her in the second episode. Kate is completely hostile towards Angel, very suspicious, but her presence doesn’t serve much of a purpose, other than to remind the audience that she’s still a player and someone who has every reason to question Angel’s claims.

    The theme of “isolating Angel” continues with Voca’s plan. First, he eliminates the Oracles, and then he strikes Cordy with an affliction that effectively eliminates her as a source of visions for Angel to use. Then Voca takes the Scroll of Aberjian and takes measures to destroy Angel’s support system (which is one of the more shocking moments of the first season). It’s all designed to place Angel in the worst position possible, to either kill or tempt.

    Unlike Nabbitt, who serves an indirect and minor purpose in this episode, Gunn is once again a resource that Angel finds important to have. More than that, Gunn gets to see first-hand how important Wesley and Cordy are to Angel, which helps Gunn see another example of how Angel is not the typical vampire.

    The ritual used to raise Darla is interesting because hidden within the Latin is the core principle of the episode and the prophecy for Angel: life and death are simply aspects of the same thing. One could argue that Angel is stuck between life and death, and thus to die in some future moment, he must first be restored to life. As a metaphor, however, it works even better. Is it life and death in literal terms, or the restoration of Angel’s humanity within his soul, the final defeat of the demon within?

    It’s also interesting that Lindsey doesn’t bother to think things through. Yes, the prophecies might say that Angel’s connections to the Powers would be severed, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be restored immediately thereafter. That’s the problem with prophecies, as evidenced in the first season finale for “Buffy”. Prophecy says you die? Never says you can’t come back to life!

    In this case, Angel does lose those connections, but they are quickly restored. In fact, Cordy comes out of it with a renewed sense of purpose (possibly Jasmine-induced). She’s willing to go through the pain and discomfort of the visions, if it means that they can help the helpless a little while longer. In a sense, this is the mid-point for Cordy’s character: the moment that the old Cordy transforms completely into the new Cordy.

    One more comment on the “shanshu” concept. Wesley reads it to say, as noted above, that in order for Angel to die, he must first be restored to life (assuming, as usual, that he is the vampire mentioned in the prophecy). But how does that directly lead to the assumption that Angel will be restored as a human being? That seems to be something the writers wanted to establish, as a nice way to point to a possible ending for the series, but it’s a massive assumption, given their line of work!

    This also sets the stage for Angel’s fall in the second season. The problem with hope is that it may never die, but it can be broken, and Angel becomes a bit too confident in his eventual victory. Hope can be twisted, and that’s why Darla is the perfect weapon to use against Angel. Darla is something that he can try, against all odds, to redeem, ala Faith, which gives him hope, which gives Wolfram and Hart a weapon.

    It’s in the process of setting up Angel for failure, at least in partial measure, that the episode succeeds as a season finale. Angel’s original mission is brought into a wider context, hinted at here and there in earlier episodes, and a reward is dangled in front of him. How does he react to that knowledge, and how does he try to be worthy of it? And in essence, that is a very human question, because there’s the general belief in a reward at the end of great lifelong adversity. That’s exactly the kind of question that Joss likes to pose in his work.

  • end of season 1

    after 21 episodes the first season of angel ends and with a BANG! possibly the best episode of the first season. stunning!

    a demon named vocah is brought to this world by wolfran and heart to destroy angel and he is going through ange;s friends. he unleashed all visions on cordy leaving her in pain and crazy and tries to blow up wesley and blows up the office. the demon also killed the oracles and is after angel now.

    angel eventually beats vocah and then cuts off lindesys hand to get the scroll and brings back cordy to normal. angel also learsns that the shanshu prophecy might make him human after the upcoming battles. sadly that never happened!

    the episode was still fantastic! especially the end when darla is brought back in a box.moreless
  • end of season 1

    after 21 episodes the first season of angel ends and with a BANG! possibly the best episode of the first season. stunning!

    a demon named vocah is brought to this world by wolfran and heart to destroy angel and he is going through ange;s friends. he unleashed all visions on cordy leaving her in pain and crazy and tries to blow up wesley and blows up the office. the demon also killed the oracles and is after angel now.

    angel eventually beats vocah and then cuts off lindesys hand to get the scroll and brings back cordy to normal. angel also learsns that the shanshu prophecy might make him human after the upcoming battles. sadly that never happened!

    the episode was still fantastic! especially the end when darla is brought back in a box.moreless
Todd Stashwick

Todd Stashwick


Guest Star

Carey Cannon

Carey Cannon

Female Oracle

Guest Star

Randall Slavin

Randall Slavin

Male Oracle

Guest Star

Elisabeth Rohm

Elisabeth Rohm

Detective Kate Lockley

Recurring Role

Christian Kane

Christian Kane

Lindsey McDonald

Recurring Role

Stephanie Romanov

Stephanie Romanov

Lilah Morgan

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Time Index 36:35 - In Cordy's apartment, the boom mic is visible over Wesley's head just as he says "Oh, wait, that's due to arise in 2003...".

    • Time Index 25:38 - The boom mic is visible as Angel is summoning the Oracles, just after he says "I come before thee Oracles for guidance and direction."

    • Late in the show Cordy takes out a bottle of pop, takes off the cap and holds it. Then in the next shot she claps her hand - the bottle is on a table nearby with the cap on.

    • Angel knocks off Vocah's mask, but it reappears on his face and then disappears again in successive shots just before Angel kills him.

    • When Wes and Cordy are sharing a donut, watch carefully: in continual shots it goes from whole to ripped in half to missing a bite to a complete break to just missing a bite again.

    • When Angel opens his weapon locker, there are three sais hanging on the left-hand door. When Vocah opens it shortly thereafter, there is only one sai and a slim dagger.

    • During Cordy's vision at the outdoor market, one of the shots of her is reversed - her bracelets switch from her left wrist to her right wrist, and her purse strap switches shoulders as well.

  • QUOTES (21)

    • Cordelia: I saw them all, and they're in so much pain. We have to help them.
      Angel: We will. We will.

    • Cordelia: Well, he's going to have to start wanting things from life, whether he wants to or not!

    • Cordelia: Well, what are you saying Wesley? That Angel has nothing to look forward to? That he's going to go on forever, the same? In the world, but always cut off from it?
      Wesley: Yes.
      Cordelia: Well, that sucks. We've got to do something. We've got to help him!
      Wesley: I'm not sure we can.
      Cordelia: What is your deal? You go around boring everyone with your musty scrolls and then you say there's nothing we can do!
      Wesley: He is what he is.
      Cordelia: He's Angel. He's good and he helps the helpless. And now... he's one of them.

    • Wesley: What connects us to life is a simple truth that we're part of it. We live. We grow. We change.

    • Wesley: The fact that his death is prophesied, which isn't good news, doesn't concern me nearly as much as the way he took that news.
      Cordelia: What? He didn't scream like a girl as some of us would have? Angel's cool.
      Wesley: Angel's cut off. Death doesn't bother him because... there's nothing in life he wants. It's our desires that make us human.
      Cordelia: Angel's kinda human. He's got a soul.
      Wesley: He's got a soul, but he's not part of the world. He can never be part of the world.

    • Cordelia: It's just a prophecy. It's not like it came from on high.
      Wesley: That's what a prophecy is Cordelia.

    • Cordelia: What's taking so long?
      Wesley: Gee, I don't know Cordelia. The Prophecies of Aubergion were only written over the last 4,000 years, in a dozen different languages, some of which aren't even human! Why don't we just get a Phalangoid Demon in here? Suck the brain out of my skull. Maybe that would speed things up.

    • Lilah: (to Lindsey) Remember when Robert Price let the senior partners down and they made him eat his liver? I don't know what made me think of that.

    • Gunn: You've done God's work here. If God was a bus boy, he'd look just like you, Jesus.

    • Kate: Never a dull moment with you around, is there.
      Angel: I have to go.
      Kate: Who the hell do you think you are? You are a major witness to a major crime scene. You are not going anywhere.
      Angel: You want to try and stop me, Kate?
      Kate: I'm glad we are not playing friends anymore. And I'm real sick and tired of your attitude. There is a thing called the law!
      Angel: This isn't about the law, this is about a little thing called life. Now I'm sorry about your father. But I didn't kill your father. And I'm sick and tired of you blaming me for everything you can't handle! You want to be enemies? Try me.

    • Cordelia: Morning. - Want some coffee?
      Angel: No, thanks.
      Cordelia: How about a doughnut? Chocolate...
      Angel: No.
      Cordelia: Creamy fillings?
      Angel: No. I don't want anything. Am I supposed to know what this is about?
      Wesley: We - were just discussing how you don't want that many things.
      Cordelia: You're cut off. But don't worry, I'm gonna help you with that.
      Angel: Oh. Good.
      Cordelia: We'll start small. Keep it simple. How would you like a puppy? Right. A Ficus? They're low maintenance... Ant farm?

    • Holland: The scroll was stolen from our vault.
      Vocah: The raising can not be performed without the scroll.
      Lilah: We understand that.
      Lindsey: It was my mistake. I'll rectify it.
      Vocah: You will do nothing. I will retrieve the scroll myself. Who stole it?
      Holland: Angel.
      Vocah: Angel! I am summoned for the raising - the very thing that was to bring this creature down to us, tear him from the Powers That Be - and he has the scroll?
      Lilah: We're not unaware of the irony.

    • Wesley: It's probably years off, ah, after the coming battles.
      Cordelia: My raise?

    • David: What did I do today? Spun off my digital pager network, made a few more million... Alright several. Big whup. What does that mean?
      Cordelia: No more shopping at a Penny Saver?

    • Wesley: Ah - oops. I may have made a tiny mistake. The word Shanshu that I said meant you were going to die? Actually I think it means that you are going to live.
      Cordelia: Okay, as tiny mistakes go, that's not one!
      Wesley: Shanshu has roots in so many different languages. The most ancient source is the Proto-Bantu and they consider life and death the same thing, part of a cycle, only a thing that's not alive never dies. It's- it's saying that you get to live until you die. It's saying... it's saying you become human.
      Cordelia: That's the prophecy?
      Wesley: The vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, will "Shanshu." "Become human." It's his reward.
      Cordelia: Wow. Angel a human.
      Angel: That'll be nice.
      Cordelia: Wait. What's that thing about him having to fulfill his destiny first?
      Wesley: Well, it's saying that it won't happen tomorrow or the next day. He has to survive the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and some, uh, several (not that many) fiends that will be unleashed.
      Angel: So don't break out the champagne just yet.
      Cordelia: Yeah, break out the champagne, Pinocchio. This is a big deal!
      Angel: I guess it is.
      Cordelia: Typical. I hook up with the only person in history who ever came to LA to get older.

    • Wesley: Cordelia it's an ancient prophecy, not a Magic 8-Ball.

    • Wesley: Here's something.
      Angel: What is it?
      Wesley: The beast of Amalfif, a razor-toothed, six-eyed harbinger of death. No, wait. That's due to arise in 2003 in Reseda.
      Angel: I would have guessed Tarzana.

    • (after a headache-inducing vision)
      Cordelia: Pain... Killer.
      Wesley: Painful Killer Demon?
      Cordelia: Pain killer!

    • Lilah: Aren't we going to be late?
      Holland: You never want to be on time for a ritual. The chanting, the blood rites, they go on forever.

    • Cordelia: Angel's going to die?
      Angel: Anything else?
      Cordelia: He certainly took that well. Is this that opportune time to talk about my raise?

    • Angel: Don't believe everything you're foretold.

  • NOTES (8)

    • Darla is the last face we see in this Angel season one finale episode, she was the first face we saw in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's season one premiere episode, "Welcome to the Hellmouth".

    • The name of the demon in this episode is "Vocah" which are the letters in the word "havoc" rearranged.

    • There have been some references to Season 1 of Buffy. Both Season 1 of Buffy and Angel make a reference to Spider-Man 2. In Buffy, Season 1, when Xander is moping in his room, he is listening to "I Fall To Pieces". And in Angel, Season 1, there is an episode titled "I Fall To Pieces". Also in both shows' first season when Cordelia has a deflated ego, she refers to herself as Buffy.

    • In the DVD commentary for this episode, Producer David Greenwalt revealed that Angel Investigations was blown up during the episode because the sets were too cramped to film in. The crew opted for a much roomier hotel set in season two. David Greenwalt also admitted that he just likes to blow things up.

    • The title of this episode literally translates: "To Live and Die in L.A."

    • Julie Benz is not credited in the opening credits, instead she is credited with "Special Guest Star" in the closing credits in order to keep her "re-introduction" a suprise.

    • Lilah mentions Wolfram & Hart lawyer Robert Price who betrayeyed the firm and had to eat his own liver, Robert Price is the associate producer/director on Angel.

    • This episode is the final appearance of both the Angel Investigations office and Angel's house.


    • Title: To Shanshu In L.A.
      Since we eventually learn that "shanshu" means both life and death, the title of this episode would translate to "To Live and Die in L.A." which is also the title of a 1985 film directed by William Friedkin about a cop who's willing to do anything to avenge his partner's death, breaking the law and risking his own life to catch the killer.

    • Cordelia: (after hearing that Angel may eventually gain his humanity) Yeah, break out the champagne, Pinocchio.
      Pinocchio was a story about a wooden puppet brought to life who longed to become a real live boy. Eventually his wish becomes true. Walt Disney made an animated feature from this tale.