Meanwhile, at the library, Willow, the Slayers, and Giles are discussing the situation. Willow is wearing far too much light purple. She looks like a jellybean. Giles explains the finer points of the world-into-hell-sucking process. Buffy tells Willow that she should try to re-curse Angelus. Kendra pipes up that she "tend[s] to side with your friend Xander on dis one." Buffy reassures everyone that she is willing to kill Angel, but wants Willow to be the backup plan. Kendra produces a sword that was blessed by the aforementioned pesky virtuous knight. Giles becomes about fifty times more animated as he inspects it. As they work out the nitty-gritty details of the soul restoration, it turns out that Willow needs an "Orb of Thesulah, whatever that is." Giles fetches one from his office, where it had been employed as a paperweight. Willow reminds Buffy that she won't be able to help Buffy prepare for finals, but Buffy reassures her, saying, "Ah, I'll wing it. Of course if we go to hell by then I won't have to take them." "Or," she continues with an ominous realization, "I'll be taking them forever."
Drusilla goes to fetch Spike in preparation for the ceremony. Angelus spouts some ritualistic verse blah blah blah. Just like in every vampire ceremony, from the one performed before going to the dry cleaners to pick up the leather duster to the pre-opening of hell, it requires a human sacrifice. "Everything that I am, everything that I have done, has led me to here," intones Angelus ominously. Although I almost typed "monotonously," which describes David Boreanaz's version of ominous almost as well.
So now we go back in time to a 1996 Manhattan. I guess Manhattan is TV shorthand for dark, dank, and depressing. A filthy Angelus hungrily watches a rat scurrying across the alley. He attempts to catch it rather ineffectively, crashing into the trashcans and making a big racket. That's pathetic. He's been cursed for almost a hundred years now and we're supposed to believe that this is the best he can do? A man, who looks like a lost Beastie Boy but whom we know as Whistler, enters the alley and begins to heckle Angel about his appearance. Angel angrily orders him to leave him alone. Whistler gasps in mock horror that Angel, as a vampire, might bite him. This causes Angel to gape with surprise. Which isn't saying much, really. So Whistler continues, "But you wouldn't bite me on account of your poor tortured soul." Angel asks Whistler to identify himself, but instead Whistler invites him for a walk. They come to a street, and Angel almost gets run over while crossing because he's not paying attention. Again, I have to say that this whole dazed and confused act of Angel's is really hard to buy. Not to belabor the point, but he's been cursed for 98 years now. You'd think his coping skills would have kicked in at some point. But I guess that would make the whole Buffy and Angel saga that much less poignant if she weren't the major impetus for Angel to turn his life around. Whatever. Whistler explains that he's a demon but "not a bad guy," because "not all demons are dedicated to the destruction of all life." Whistler tells Angel that he can either "become an even more useless rodent or [he] can become someone. A person. Someone to be counted." Or heck, someone who can count without using his fingers. Angel asks Whistler what he wants with him, and Whistler replies that he wants to show him something, because that's what all characters sent to provide some sort of divine intervention do.