The Trial (Angel)

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"The Trial"
Angel episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 9
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Teleplay by Doug Petrie
Tim Minear
Story by David Greenwalt
Production code 2ADH09
Original air date November 28, 2000
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Angel episodes

"The Trial" is episode 9 of season 2 in the television show Angel. The episode was written by Doug Petrie and Tim Minear with a story from David Greenwalt and directed by Bruce Seth Green, this episode was originally broadcast on November 28, 2000 on the WB network. In "The Trial", Darla discovers that she is again terminally ill with syphilis, which was killing her before she was made a vampire in 1609. She begs Angel to turn her back into a vampire to halt the disease's progress, but instead he engages in a series of mysterious trials to attempt to win Darla a second chance at life.


Cordelia and Wesley become worried when they learn that Angel has enlisted Gunn to locate Darla. The former vampire is in a seedy hotel, where she has also been located by Lindsey McDonald, who has fallen in love with her. He takes her back to Wolfram and Hart, where she is told that the syphilis that nearly killed her 400 years ago has been resurrected with her and she has mere months to live.

As Angel seeks out Darla, he has a flashback to them in France in 1765. Angelus and Darla are on the run from a relentless vampire hunter named Daniel Holtz. When they take refuge from the swiftly approaching daylight in a dilapidated barn, their pursuers surround them and begin shooting flaming arrows at them. Angelus steels himself for a fight to the finish, but - unwilling to go out in a blaze of glory - Darla knocks Angelus out and rides away on their only horse. Over her shoulder, she calls to him that perhaps they'll meet in Vienna. Angelus furiously watches her ride away.

In a dingy L.A. dive, Darla finds a dimwitted vampire who she manipulates into turning her into a vampire, but Angel kills him, desperate to save Darla's soul and set her on the path of good. Darla tearfully confesses that she has only months to live as a human, and that fuels her current desperation to be turned. Understanding that Wolfram & Hart is using Darla's illness to set a trap for them both, but unable yet to see exactly what it entails or how to avoid it, Angel refuses to turn her.

Angel brings her to Caritas and Lorne provides Angel with an address where he might find help. It leads them to a stone room occupied by a master of ceremonies—the dapper Valet. Darla has magically arrived as well and the Valet explains that Angel will be tested with three trials; unless Angel passes all three trials, Darla's life is instantly forfeit. The Valet teleports her to the "antechamber," a waiting area where they can view the action.

For the first trial, Angel battles a large demon while Darla watches, distraught. Darla flinches as she watches what Angel is willing to endure to save her life and soul. Angel defeats the demon and proceeds through a doorway for the second Trial. Above him, the stone ceiling slowly grinds open to show the late night sky. Both walls and floors are completely covered with crosses. Angel dashes painfully over the floor. The door at the other end is locked--he must return to the basin at the center of the room, where a key lies beneath holy water. Painfully, he grabs the key and goes through the door.

As Angel cautiously enters the next torchlit room, he is manacled at the wrists and ankles.The Valet arrives, congratulating Angel on his prowess while a wall of spring-loaded wooden stakes materializes. Angel learns that the third trial requires his life in exchange for Darla's. Passing the first two trials has earned Angel the choice of whether or not to undergo the final ordeal. At this point, if he so wishes, Angel is free to leave. Upon learning that Darla would die instantly were he to forsake this last test, Angel unhesitatingly tells the Valet, "No deal." The Valet steps across to the safety of the doorway, then turns back and proceeds to wonder aloud if the world wouldn't be a better place having in it a heroic Angel rather than Darla. In his vulnerable state, Angel is unable to conceal his doubt and uncertainty, but is nevertheless determined that Darla live at any cost. Struggling for composure, Angel says, "Do it." The Valet fractionally nods, the stakes release with a rumbling rush, and Darla shrieks in distress.

However, Angel is not dead--by being willing to trade his life for another's he has won the third trial. When the Valet proceeds to heal Darla, he discovers that she has already been restored to life by supernatural means and that he is unable to grant the boon again. The Valet leaves and Angel is filled with rage that despite everything he's done, Darla is still going to die. He smashes up the antechamber in a blind fury.

In Darla's motel room, the two mope. When Angel begins to mutter that maybe he could bite her after all, Darla cries "No!" with alarm. She explains that the trials have given her a new understanding of how deeply Angel cares for her, which is enough for her and she is now glad to be alive. She has come to believe that perhaps she really is living her second chance. "To die?" Angel asks hoarsely. "Yes," Darla replies. "To die the way I was supposed to die in the first place." After a moment, Angel seems to grasp that his wrenching sacrifices have not been entirely in vain. At that moment, four black-clad commandos break down the door and taser Angel. Lindsey follows, brutally yanking Angel's head back. "How did you think this would end?" he hisses. Drusilla glides gracefully into the room and bites Darla, then completes the siring by drawing her own blood for Darla to drink in turn. Silent and immobile, Angel watches in agony as Darla's precious, newly-saved soul is lost forever.

Production details[edit]

Production designer Stuart Blatt says, "The long hallway we built with the crosses emblazoned on the floor and embedded on the walls was one of my favorite sets we'd ever done."[1]


Actress Julie Benz says she suffers "horrible stage fright" when trying to sing. Executive Producer David Greenwalt convinced her she could do it; she claims it "took a lot of courage for me to go in and do it, 'cause I am not a singer."[2]


Arc significance[edit]

  • Holtz is mentioned for the first time in a flashback shown in this episode. He will later appear in episode one of season three, and become that season's major threat.
  • In the fourth season episode "Shiny Happy People," Jasmine claims that Angel is actually in these trials winning the life of his son, Connor, not Darla's.
  • Darla becomes a vampire again.
  • Angel is invited into Lindsey's apartment. However, Lindsey moves out of his apartment in the next episode, rendering the invitation useless again.
  • Drusilla comes to Los Angeles.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Survivor: Cordelia tells Wes she thinks it's high time Darla got "voted off the island," not realizing that Angel can hear every word.
  • Space Oddity: When Lorne gets a glimpse of Darla's aura, he immediately says, "Ground Control to Major Tom!" This is a line from a David Bowie song.
  • Anne Rice: The 1990s vampire conversing with Darla is familiar with the famous "fictional" chronicles of the undead who tend to find companions who are also lovers.


  • In the first trial, after Angel cuts the demon in half, as he drags the top half across the floor, the bottom portion of the actors torso, clad in bright green, is visible—it was not removed via CGI.


  1. ^ Ritchie, Jeff, Angelic Designs for the Undead: an Exclusive Interview with Stuart Blatt and featuring Andrew Reeder, retrieved 2007-10-21 
  2. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 14, 2006), IGN Interview: Dexter's Julie Benz,, retrieved 2007-09-22 

External links[edit]