|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Michael Lange|
|Teleplay by||David Greenwalt|
|Original air date||September 26, 2000|
"Judgment" is episode 1 of season 2 of the television show Angel, broadcast on September 26, 2000 on the WB network. The episode was written by David Greenwalt, with a story from Greenwalt and series creator Joss Whedon, and directed by Michael Lange. In this episode, when Angel accidentally kills the demonic protector of a pregnant woman named Jo, he takes over as her champion. She is seeking protection for her unborn child from the mystical Tribunal, which requires her champion to defeat a challenger in single combat. Meanwhile, Wolfram & Hart have resurrected the long-dead vampire Darla to seek revenge against Angel.
Cordelia is at an acting class until she gets a "911" message on her beeper and has to leave. Wesley is throwing darts to impress a young woman when he also gets a message on his beeper. The two meet Angel at a gym where they put an end to a demon performing a sacrificial ritual in a room behind one of the gym mirrors. Meanwhile Lilah visits Lindsey's office where Darla is enjoying classical music. She talks of how she can feel Angel, and slowly her memory begins to return.
Back at Cordelia's apartment, the gang try to figure out what Wolfram and Hart might have been trying to raise, when Cordelia has a vision about a Prio Motu demon. At Wesley's suggestion they go to Caritas, a demon karaoke bar and safe haven, to find Wesley's demon informant Merl, who knows where to find the Prio Motu. Lorne, the Host of the bar, is introduced - an Anagogic demon who can see into the hearts and read the future of those who sing, he tries to convince Angel to do a number, but Angel refuses, saying there are three things he never does: tan, date, and sing in public. Angel finds the Prio Motu demon along with a pregnant woman, Jo. He kills the demon, only to have Jo tearfully inform him that the demon was her protector - mentioning something called the tribunal. Angel tries to offer help, but she runs away from him. Back at the apartment, Cordelia and Wesley's attempts at comfort only make things worse. Angel, feeling guilty for having killed an innocent fighting on his own side, declares that he intends to take over the dead demon's mission, charging Wesley and Cordelia to find out what the Tribunal is. Angel tracks down Merl and roughs him up. The demon tells him there is a price on Jo, or more specifically, her baby - a daughter who is supposed to become something powerful and benevolent. The price is tempting, but with the Prio Motu defending her, no one could get to her. Angel picks up what Merl knows about where the Prio would have been living - not much - and leaves.
Angel finds Gunn hunting vampires in a bad part of town and asks for help in finding the Prio Motu demon's hideout. Angel explains what they're looking for, and tells Gunn that the demon was on their side, and he killed it. When Gunn realizes the vent they just passed hadn't been there the last time he'd patrolled there they open it like a door to find a tidy . Angel asks Gunn to deliver the talisman to Wesley and Cordelia, leaving him to wait for Jo. When she appears Angel offers his help, and she tells him all she wants is to protect her daughter - she doesn't care about his 'holy mission'. When he persists she asks him to help her find the "Coat of Arms" which might convince the tribunal to call off whatever they're doing - the talisman. When he confesses he already found it and sent it off to his friends, she tells him in exasperation to stop helping and turns to leave, only to find a demon coming through her door. Angel kills it, and they escape through the tunnels. Jo compares the tribunal to a court, and says the dead Prio Motu was going to be her champion, but doesn't understand enough to explain, and before they can get into the subject Demons attack, and the two are separated.
Angel arrives at the house, Gunn having already delivered the Coat of Arms and left, but Jo never showed. He and Cordelia talk about how they got cocky - treating the news that Angel had a chance to become human as if it meant the fight was over. Wesley interrupts with more information about the Tribunal, including the fact that it's a fight to the death. To get more information, Angel is forced to sing karaoke in front of the Host; he mangles "Mandy", for which the Host tells him the Trial will be wherever Jo is - though he offers no conclusive answer to whether or not Angel will be able to save her. As he sets off to find her, the trial begins and with no Champion and no Coat of Arms, Jo is told her life is forfeit, but Angel arrives in time and throws down the Coat of Arms, declaring himself her champion. In the ensuing fight Angel is stabbed, and the Tribunal declares his opponent to have won, but Angel pulls out the sword and cuts off the other champion's head. The Tribunal grants Jo and her daughter protection until the child comes of age.
Angel returns to Cordelia's apartment and removes the board they had been keeping track of their kills on. Wesley agrees that keeping score was a mistake - it's a job, not a race. Angel goes to visit Faith, now serving a long prison term, and they talk about redemption.
- Eliza Dushku's name was displayed in the closing credits to keep her appearance a surprise.
- EJ Gage, who plays Mordar the Bentback, also played one of the movers in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Buffy vs. Dracula", which aired immediately before this one on their original broadcast.
- This is one of the first episodes on Angel in which demons are shown of being capable of doing good. Angel experiences guilt after killing Jo's demon protector because he killed "an innocent being" and "a soldier like [him]self", and because it never occurred to him that a demon could be either of those things.
- This episode introduces the "champion" aspect of the show that stays until the final episode. The ideals of a champion are introduced and are explored for the rest of the series.
- The rest of the season focuses on the complexities of Angel's and Darla's relationship before Angel was cursed. Their relationship goes more in depth than it was during the first season of Buffy, which was fleeting at best. The season focuses on how they interacted, lived, and their loyalties (or lack thereof) toward each other.
- J. August Richards joins the regular cast and is billed in the opening credits as of this episode.
- This is also Andy Hallett's first appearance as The Host, later known as Lorne. Hallett is a regular guest star from this episode on, and eventually joins the regular cast during the fourth season.
- Angel's rendition of "Mandy" is the first indication that he is familiar with contemporary American pop culture; throughout his appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he was consistently depicted as a "cultured" sort, collecting highbrow art and reading centuries-old literature, in direct contrast to thoroughly modern Spike. Angel's love of Manilow songs would also go on to be an occasional running gag during the rest of the series' run. As seen in "Orpheus," "Mandy" was playing on a diner's jukebox when Angel, circa 1976, fed upon a dying man's blood; Angel felt such self-loathing from the act that it sent him on a twenty-year downward spiral, ending with him living as a derelict, feeding on rats. His use of the song on this occasion can be interpreted as self-recognition of how far he has come in his quest to redeem himself and how much farther he has yet to go.
- Angel discovers the abandoned Hyperion Hotel, which will become the new headquarters for Angel Investigations. Although Angel confirms to Jo that he has already been in the Hyperion Hotel before, it won't be revealed until the next episode what Angel's link with the Hyperion actually is.
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