Eh. Some decent acting (and next week looks to be a lot of fun...but while not actively painful, this episode was pretty much useless.
The modern day story (ie, the actual story content, aside from flashback):
1. Vamp shows up.
2. Vamp catches most of the cast in the midst of story-driven incompitence (why didn't he get Lorn, anyways? Has Lorn overdone his quota of incompitence for the season, or is he just rationing it for later episodes? Or is there just no tension in seeing a demon who can survive without his body just fine in a "hanging" position, so the writers decided to leave the concept out?)
3. Vamp approaches Angel, who doesn't stake vamp, with no good reason for so doing (he did not, as it turned out, have any sort of "ace"; the correct response to "I have your friends tied up with piano wire and hanging from the ceiling" is to stake him and then release them -- they certainly weren't in any imanent danger that his presence as required for).
4. Vamp gives a speech. This is good, because it means the episode is almost over.
5. Angel stakes vamp, who was apparently asking for it. Given his other actions this episode, this comes as absolutely no surprise (I mean, you could have predicted pretty much the entire episode from the moment Angel picks up a piece of wood in his office -- including most of the flashback).
The episode was complete filler, and damned well could have been better.
Certainly, the flashback was entertaining and reasonably well done, with a lot of neat bits (the initiative, even angel being forced to vamp a guy as the only way they could live through this, though I get real tired, real fast at the trope of keeping around a pack of vampires because angel is a wimp and "they could be useful" -- if the two extra vamps didn't have "marked for death" stamped on their heads -quite- so throughoughly (one of them even had a red shirt! :), this might have had -some- suspsense in it) though I think it could have been done better in terms of the episode as a whole...but the fact that Nothing Happened, and the modern plo
The easiest way to rescue it would have been to actually have a plot for the modern sequence -- having the vamp show up as an actual "monster of the week" would at least be interesting; allowing for some active moments among the cast intercut with the backstory -- in the, oh, 10-15 minutes they accorded to the modern frame, there could have been something going on.
Even better would to be to actually have -some- surprises in the flashback sequences/combination (you know, what flashback sequences are -for-; to have a broken narrative where one part gives you new information for the other one?) -- maybe have Bad Boy turn out to, instead of having been vamped on the sub, come back as a ghost, or be a demon of some sort, or being a sorceror working with the Initiative, or...well, anything except what you could predict in the first 10 minutes or so.
Watchable episode, with some well done scenes...but it -so- screams "waiting for sweeps week".