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"The Trial" is the ninth episode of the second season of Angel and the thirty-first episode overall. Written by Douglas Petrie and Tim Minear and directed by Bruce Seth Green, it was originally broadcast on November 28, 2000, on The WB network.


IN THE NAME OF LOVE — Angel is still haunted by flashbacks of his 150-year love affair with Darla and has Gunn help track her down, but he soon discovers that he is faced with an impossible choice: watch her die from a terminal illness or use his dark powers to turn her back into a vampire and give her eternal life.[1]


Cordelia and Wesley discuss Angel's obsession with Darla. He seems to be over Darla, telling them he can't dwell on her refusing his help and can only be there for her if she returns. Suddenly, Gunn charges into the Hyperion Hotel with the news he has located Darla at the Royal Viking Motel. Angel immediately resorts to his mission to save Darla, admitting he lied to Cordelia and Wesley so they would stop prying. Angel and Gunn leave for the hotel to find Darla.

Meanwhile, Darla sits at the vanity in her dingy motel room and removes her cross pendant. She applies lipstick but is dismayed by her sickly reflection. As she wipes her mouth in frustration, Darla hears a knock at her door. Before she can speak, the door opens; it's Lindsey.

Lindsey takes Darla to his office, where a solicitous Holland Manners joins them. Darla asks whether she has a choice about being there and whether they want her to contact Angel again, lamenting that whatever the two of them had is now over. Holland instead shows her the results of a medical report compiled when she was working for the firm. She looks over the papers, clearly disturbed. Holland tells her they are willing to deal with the "situation" any way she sees fit.

Meanwhile, Angel and Gunn examine Darla's motel room. Angel senses Darla was there not long before they arrived and that she was afraid.

France, 1765 — Angelus and Darla are on the run from a relentless vampire hunter named Holtz. At night, they take refuge in a barn, discussing their recent travels and Angelus' hate for France. Suddenly, a flaming arrow is shot into the barn, narrowly missing Angelus' head. As it starts to burn around them, Holtz and his mob close in. Angelus steels himself for a fight to the end, telling Darla they will go out as legends. Darla proceeds to hit Angelus in the head with a shovel and rides away on their only horse. Over her shoulder, she tells him that perhaps they'll meet up in Vienna if he makes it out alive. Angelus angrily watches as his sire abandons him.

In a L.A. dive bar, Darla convinces an awkward vampire to sire her. Angel stakes him in the alley behind the bar before he can bite her. Darla tells Angel she's only there because he refused to turn her himself. She reveals she is terminally ill, with only weeks left to live. Angel brings Darla to the Hyperion Hotel while he hunts for proof her illness is another lie perpetrated by Wolfram & Hart.

Angel kicks Lindsey's door open, and the young lawyer invites him to enter. Angel learns that Lindsey didn't believe Darla's diagnosis either and took her to see ten different doctors. They all confirmed the same thing; the syphilis that Darla was dying from 400 years earlier has been reactivated and is too advanced for modern medicine to cure. Angel realizes Lindsey has fallen in love with Darla but tells him he is incapable of true love — just as Angelus was. Lindsey tries to convince Angel to sire Darla, but Angel is adamant that is not the way to save her.

Angel returns to the Hyperion, where Darla again begs him to turn her into a vampire to avoid death. Understanding that Wolfram & Hart is using Darla's illness to set a trap for them both, Angel again refuses. He brings Darla to Caritas, where she sings for the Host. Reluctantly, he gives Angel an address to assist in his one last attempt at saving Darla.

When Angel and Darla arrive at the location, there is nothing but an empty swimming pool. Angel explains he is being tested and must literally "take the plunge"; he mounts the diving board and dives headfirst into the concrete. He passes through a vortex and arrives in a stone room where a master of ceremonies, the Valet awaits. He tells Angel he can see his faith, but it's time to test his valor.

Darla magically appears in the room, but Angel objects to her presence. The Valet explains that she is the prize and his "collateral." The contest is to the death — unless Angel passes all three Trials, Darla's life is instantly over. The Valet teleports her to the "antechamber," a waiting area with refreshments.

The Valet takes Angel's coat, shirt, socks, and shoes. For the first trial, he explains Angel will be unarmed against an armed opponent whom he must kill. When Angel presses for more detail, the Valet claims to have no idea what the remaining trials might entail because no one has ever survived the first. With a final farewell, the Valet disappears to join Darla, leaving Angel to face a large demon armed with chained hooks. Angel dodges several swings of the chains before being hooked through the calf and dragged toward the leering demon.

In the antechamber, the Valet checks his pocket watch and notes that Angel has survived an unprecedented 17 seconds. Distraught, Darla demands to see what's happening. The Valet agrees and touches her forehead. Able to feel what Angel feels and see what he sees, Darla flinches as she finds him enduring a succession of heavy punches and kicks. When the demon draws its sword for the killing blow, Angel escapes into a narrow corridor circling the challenge floor. He ambushes the demon, grabs its sword, and slices it in two at the waist.

Believing he's won, Angel shouts and pounds on the portcullis blocking the exit. Turning at a noise behind him, he watches the revived demon pull his body together and restart the attack. Avoiding the whirling chains, Angel retrieves the sword and chops the demon in half again, this time hooking its torso separately from its legs and chaining them to brackets on opposite sides of the room. The portcullis slowly lifts, and Angel moves on to the second trial.

As the gate slams down directly behind him, Angel faces a dark corridor. Above him, the stone ceiling grinds open to show the late night sky. Both walls and floors are covered with crosses. Knowing the sun will eventually rise overhead, Angel limps as fast as he can over the burning floor, stifling screams as his bare feet sizzle. When he reaches the door at the corridor's far end, it is locked. Looking over his shoulder at the fountain he passed in the middle of the corridor, Angel bolts back and sees a key lying at its bottom.

Still watching, Darla breathes, "holy water," just before Angel plunges his arm into the bowl. Screaming in agony, Angel fishes the key from the boiling water, then stumbles back to the door and opens it with the key. In the antechamber, the Valet again consults his pocket watch and meditatively says, "He's quite remarkable." With a faraway look on her face, Darla agrees.

As Angel enters the next torchlit room, manacles magically snake from the walls and attach themselves to his 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 tells the Valet: "No deal."

The Valet steps to the safety of the doorway, then turns back and wonders aloud if the world wouldn't be a better place having in it a heroic Angel rather than Darla. Determined to save Darla, Angel says, "Do it." The Valet releases the wall of stakes with a rumbling rush, and Darla shrieks in horror. She opens her eyes — Angel, undead and fully clothed, struggles to stand upright before her. Hearing that he has won the third trial by accepting death, Angel brushes aside the Valet's kudos and demands him to "pay up."

The Valet rests his fingertips on Darla's head and discovers she has already been restored to life by supernatural means; he is unable to grant the reward Angel has won. Angel protests that Darla has earned a second chance, but the Valet replies she is already living her second chance. The Valet manifests a brightly lit stairway, then disappears. Angel starts smashing the anteroom in anger as Darla watches.

In Darla's motel room, she perches on the edge of the bed while Angel mopes in a chair by the window. When he begins to mutter that maybe he could bite her after all, Darla declines. She explains her new understanding of how deeply he cares for her is truly enough for her. Angel questions how the Powers That Be could give her another chance at life just to take it away so cruelly. Darla tells him that perhaps she really is living her second chance. Angel asks: "To die?" and Darla replies: "Yes. To die the way I was supposed to die in the first place." Angel vows to stay by her side for as long as she is alive.

The next moment, four black-clad commandos break down the door and taser Angel. Following them, Lindsey yanks Angel's head back and asks: "How did you think this would end?" Drusilla wordlessly glides into the room, vamps, and bites Darla. A restrained Angel watches as Drusilla draws her own blood for Darla to drink in turn.


  • Cordelia doesn't trust Darla; they met when Darla handed her over to Luke to feed on in "The Harvest."
  • Holtz is mentioned for the first time in one of this episode's flashbacks. He will appear again in "Heartthrob" and become a major threat of the third season.
  • Darla notices the jasmine flowers in the garden of the Hyperion Hotel. Jasmine will take the name after noticing the same flowers in the episode "Shiny Happy People."
  • Unable to be used with Darla, the life Angel earns from the Trials will make her pregnant instead ("Shiny Happy People").
  • Angel theorizes that, because he has a soul, the siring process might be different. In "Why We Fight," we learn that Angel has already sired someone while ensouled, which did not affect the new vampire.



Organizations and titles[]





Death count[]

  • One vampire, dusted by Angel.
  • Darla, sired by Drusilla.

Behind the scenes[]


  • The exterior shots of Darla's motel are of the real Paradise Motel, located at 1116 Sunset Blvd, in Los Angeles.
  • The name of guest star Juliet Landau is reserved to appear only in the end credits, making sure the audience is surprised when Drusilla shows up at the end of the episode.


  • "The Trial" had an audience of 3.2 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Pop culture references[]

  • Cordelia says that, after 400 years of death and destruction, "you get voted off the island," a reference to the reality TV show Survivor.
  • Lorne quotes David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" when he says: "Ground control to Major Tom. We may not be able to save this bird."


  • When Cordelia says the first line, "Don't you think we should check on him?" her lips doesn't move.
  • When Darla and Angelus are chased by a vampire hunter in 1765, he says that he hates France and they should go to Romania instead. In 1765, Romania did not exist, it appeared as a state in 1859 as a result of the unification of two Romanian provinces: Moldavia and Valachia.
  • When Angel drags the creature's upper half away from the lower in the first trial, it frames the green suit the actor is wearing to make the lower body invisible.
  • When Angel bisects the demon during the trial, the stunt harness used can be clearly seen.
  • Angel burns his right arm to fetch the key in the holy water and uses the same hand to unlock the door. However, the close-up shows him unlocking the door with his left hand.
  • While Angel's arms and legs are chained during the third trial, the frame is raised high enough to became visible that his left arm is not chained.
  • When Dru scratches her chest at the end, her finger is actually about an inch below the line of blood.


International titles[]

  • Czech: "Zkouška" (Test)
  • Finnish: "Koettelemukset" (Trial)
  • French: "L'épreuve" (The Trial)
  • German: "Auf Leben und Tod" (For Life and Death)
  • Hungarian: "A próbatétel" (The Trial)
  • Italian: "Diagnosi mortale" (Mortal Diagnosis)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Inquérito" (The Inquiry)
  • Russian: "Испытание" (Trial)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "La prueba" (The Test)
  • Spanish (Spain): "La prueba" (The Test)
  • Turkish: "Duruşma" (Trial)


Promotional stills[]


Darla: "And in all this time you've never considered making yourself a mate?"
Vampire: "How do you mean?"
Darla: "Well, isn't it true that some vampires choose a mortal, someone they can sire, someone who, too, can walk those lonely nights, hunting with them, feeding with them, joining with them?"
Vampire: "No! That'd just be weird."
Darla: "Weird? It's mythic!"
Angel: "So you really want to be made by some creep in some filthy alley?"
Darla: "I wanted you to do it."
Angel: "That'll never happen."
Darla: "So I do what I have to do. Anyway, you were made in an alley, if I recall."
Angel: "That's not the point."
Darla: "You can't force me to stay here."
Angel: "You're not a prisoner."
Darla: "I've been hearing that a lot lately."
Angel: "Just give me a chance. Okay?"
Cordelia: "So, first up: you are a prisoner."
Wesley: "I'd have to concur with that, yes."
Cordelia: "See, you've got our friend all in knots."
Wesley: "Can't say we like you much."
Cordelia: "So, sorry about the dying, but if you try to escape, we will hit you."
Wesley: "On the head."
Cordelia: "With very large and heavy objects. Okay?"
Angel: "Well, he said I had to take the plunge."
Darla: "Into an empty pool?"
Angel: "Sure. Cause if you had water, you'd get all wet and miss out on all that skull crushing."
Valet: "I've never given information to a challenger before."
Angel: "How many of them have asked?"
Valet: "Well, in theory, the first test is child's play. Once that gate opens, all you have to do is walk through it."
Angel: "That's it? What's the catch?"
Valet: "Yes, well, uhm, that would be telling, wouldn't it?"
Angel: "Okay, that's one. What's two and three?"
Valet: "Oh, I really wouldn't know about the last two tests, sir. I've never seen anyone survive the first one. Best of luck."


  1. "EpisodeGuideSeason2." Geocities.ws. Retrieved on January 10, 2023.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's Second Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008.