A young woman, Rachel, runs down a dark alley, looking frantically over her shoulder for signs of pursuit, but no one is there. Puzzled, she stops and hides, then stands, looking back the way she came. Suddenly, a man grabs her from behind, threatens her, and slaps her to the ground. Telling her he can't take it anymore, Rachel's strung-out boyfriend Lenny points a gun at her head and starts to pull the trigger. Appearing out of nowhere, Angel grabs Lenny's gun hand, knocking his arm up and sending the shot high. Angel effortlessly disarms Lenny, then knocks him unconscious with one brutal punch. Standing on the rooftop of a neighboring building, Spike watches Rachel thank Angel in the alley below and improvises a cheesy narration for their gestures.
Listening to an L.A. radio station, Oz parks his van in front of Angel's building. Inside, Cordelia gleefully prints up an invoice for Rachel, their first paying customer. When Oz opens the door and walks in, Cordelia is thrilled to see her old Sunnydale friend. After Angel and Oz's laconic greetings, Oz holds a ring out to Angel. "The Gem of Amarra," he says quietly. Doyle explains that the ring is a priceless talisman which "renders the wearer one hundred percent unkillable, if he's a vampire." Oz tells Angel, "Buffy wanted you to have it." While the others leave, Angel stays behind to hide the ring under a loose brick in one of the sewer tunnels.
The next morning at the office, a tearful Rachel phones during Angel's Tai chi practice to say that Lenny has been released on a technicality. Angel promises to be right over. Before he can get into his car, Spike springs an ambush in the parking garage and the two vampires fight. Cordelia and Doyle rush in just as Angel defeats Spike. Spike recognizes and greets a flustered Cordelia, then threatens Angel one last time before running away from his grandsire. Angel tells Cordelia she must stay with Doyle in case Spike decides to make her a target. Angel meets Rachel at her apartment, where he listens with empathy to her story, then tries to encourage her to leave Lenny permanently. Slowly, Rachel responds to Angel's compassion, unaware of the many parallels between her circumstances and his.
On a tip from one of Doyle's unsavory contacts, Angel chases and corners Spike in a dead end blocked by a chainlink fence. Hands locked behind his head, Spike doesn't even attempt to leap the fence, but turns and surrenders with a strange air of smugness. Suddenly, a white-shirted figure whirling a long chain overhead appears from around the corner. Angel finds himself, abruptly, on his back on the ground, with the end of the heavy chain tightly wound around his neck, completely at the mercy of Spike's smiling henchman.
Cordelia and Doyle worry that Angel hasn't checked in. Little do they know, their friend is suspended by long, manacled chains from the ceiling of a large warehouse. Spike introduces him to his captor, Marcus, a master torturer with a taste for (eating and torturing) children. Accompanied by the strains of Mozart's Symphony #41 (which Spike mistakes for Brahms), the eerily reserved vampire prepares his instruments while Spike recites highlights from Marcus' gruesome curriculum vitae. To begin, Marcus inspects Angel, inside and out, then asks, "What do you want, Angel?" When Angel is defiant, Marcus steps over to the brazier and returns with a red-hot poker which, abruptly, he rams through Angel's bared abdomen. Time passes as Marcus works into a rhythm of hurting Angel, then asking what he wants, then hurting him again, but it is Spike who cracks first. Breaking off a stake, he threatens to dust Angel then and there if he doesn't talk, until Marcus calmly points out that, knowing Spike won't kill him before learning the ring's location, Angel therefore also knows that Spike is bluffing. Disgusted, Spike tosses the stake to the floor. Angel takes advantage of the reprieve to tell Spike he's an idiot for believing that Marcus, a vampire, has no interest in obtaining the Gem of Amarra for himself. Unperturbed, Spike dismisses Marcus as a threat, deeming him too single-mindedly obsessed with the art of torture to care about anything else. In the sudden silence of the symphony coming to an end, Spike then taunts Angel about his own obsession with "Slutty" the Vampire Slayer, recounting news of her recent rebound disaster. Marcus begins the Mozart record again and Spike, rolling his eyes, leaves "to get some air." Marcus, who had covertly reacted to Angel's earlier insinuation, plunges another hot poker into his captive. Listening to Angel's strangled screams, Spike smiles and says, "Now that's music." Marcus shoots holes in the building's ceiling so that Angel, agonized by any movement, must stretch and hold himself at the limit of his chains to avoid the pencil-thin beams of sunlight.
Abandoning his fruitless search of Angel's apartment, Spike is confronted by Cordelia and Doyle, armed and waiting behind the door. Unperturbed, Spike tells them that if they want Angel to live, they must find the ring and turn it over before sundown. Angel, meanwhile, endures the abrupt removal of two pokers and makes Marcus believe he's about to break. He lures his tormentor closer by whispering, truthfully, that what he most wants is forgiveness. Entranced, Marcus draws near enough for Angel to make his move. Holding Spike's discarded stake between his booted feet, Angel brings his legs up high enough to plunge the jagged wooden point into Marcus' heart. Appearing out of nowhere, Spike grabs Angel's feet and disarms him. Enraged, Marcus punches Angel before Spike solicitously moves him out of Angel's reach. Selecting a pair of needlenose pliers, Spike chips in as Marcus resumes his interrupted torture session with a vengeance.
Having no more success than Spike had, Cordelia and Doyle conduct their own search for the Gem of Amarra in Angel's apartment. When Cordelia complains to Doyle that her list of cliched hiding places has inexplicably failed to yield results, it finally occurs to them both to search the sewers. They have no luck there either, until Doyle, letting Cordelia turn into the next tunnel ahead of him, quickly and surreptitiously uses his demon senses and immediately locates the ring under the brick where Angel hid it. Now all they need is a plan. Before sundown, they meet with Spike at the appointed spot and demand to see Angel before they reveal where they've stashed the ring. Spike reluctantly agrees and takes them to where he and Marcus are holding the now barely-conscious Angel. When Spike gloatingly admits he has no intention of going through with the trade, Doyle pulls the ring out of his pocket and throws it across the warehouse floor. Just as Spike reaches for it, he is forced to duck and roll when Oz smashes his van through the warehouse wall. From the driver's side window, Oz holds Spike and Marcus at bay with twin crossbows until Cordy and Doyle can get Angel into the back of the van. Once they're safely inside, Oz floors it in reverse and the van peels away. To Spike's intense dismay, the ring is no longer where Doyle tossed it. Angel's prediction was accurate - under cover of Angel's rescue, Marcus has pinched the Gem of Amarra for himself.
Knowing Marcus' predilection for children, Angel believes the vampire won't have gone far. In fact, a joyous Marcus makes his way along the boardwalk, clearly bemused by modern day beach wear, until he spots a cub scout troop clustered around a vending cart. While Marcus focuses on the children, Oz drives straight down the middle of the boardwalk, using the van's speed and bulk to knock the invincible vampire flying. Angel leaps out of the van, bursting into flame the moment sunlight touches him, and tackles Marcus off the pier, falling with him to the water below. In the shade under the boardwalk, the two vampires fight. Angel impales Marcus on a beam, but the Gem of Amarra protects him - until Angel yanks the ring off his finger and Marcus crumbles to dust. Angel slides the ring onto his own hand, then steps out into the sunlight for the first time in more than two hundred years.
That evening, enraptured, Angel watches the sun set in an ordinary, smoggy, southern California sky. To Doyle's extreme dismay, Angel has decided not to keep the ring. Angel tries to explain his feeling that the Gem of Amarra only appears to be the redemption he seeks, and that keeping it would somehow make him forget about the many people who need a champion to defend them from the powers of darkness. Doyle is unconvinced, but sees that Angel is determined to do what he believes to be the right thing. When the last sliver of sun disappears, Angel removes the Gem of Amarra and, deliberately, smashes it flat with a chunk of brick. After recovering in silence for a moment or two, Doyle remembers that Rachel called to say, "thanks, and that she found a little faith." Angel absorbs this and slowly begins to smile. "I don't know about you," he says to Doyle, "but I had a nice day." When Doyle doesn't seem to know how to respond, Angel adds, "You know - except for the bulk of it, where I was nearly tortured to death." Angel continues to joke with his friend as they leave the rooftop and head down the stairs together.