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Recap / Angel S02E01 "Judgment"

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Directed by Michael Lange

Written by David Greenwalt, Joss Whedon, & Mere Smith (uncredited)This season opens with the individual members of Angel Investigations being called into action. Angel rendezvous with Wesley and Cordelia at an athletic gym, where they walk in despite the manager's protests to stop some demons trying to commit a human sacrifice. Quip of the week? "Steroids. Not good for you."

With their old office now a pile of driftwood, the gang is operating out of Cordelia's apartment - Hence the spiffy whiteboard listing all the cases they’re working on. Cordy and Wes are debating whether they've already killed the demon that was raised by Wolfram & Hart, while Angel is contemplating joining a gym. He may need to; he'll be human one day! Cordelia pauses, and Angel and Wesley lunge to catch her, greedily anticipating a vision. ACHOO! So much for that. She sneezes again, and is hit by a vision for real: a large, furry demon and a pregnant women.


At Wolfram & Hart, Lilah enters Lindsey's darkened office to find him fumbling with a CD case, no thanks to his prosthetic hand. He's not handicapped, he's handi-capable! Much snickering at Lindsey's expense. Lindsey tells Lilah that his visitor is a fan of Chopin. Their guest is revealed to be Darla, who has cleaned up nicely. Darla senses that Angel is nearby, and Lindsey expresses how anxious he is to make Angel for what he's done to them.

Wesley says he’s been "broadening the contact base", and knows an informant named Merl who hangs out at a popular demon hot spot, Caritas. Cut to a demon singing "I'm So Excited" by the Pointer Sisters to an audience of both demons and humans. Kumbaya, indeed. Cordy questions why a stool pigeon would ever feel safe in a Karaoke bar, and Wesley explains that it is a violence-free zone. Wesley sits next to Merl, a greenish demon who gets all nervous because he knows Angel's rep. Wes lays out an envelope with money and asks about the location of the Prio Motus demon from Cordelia's vision. Merl asks for more money, explaining that "Prios" are dangerous stone cold killers. Wesley obliges, and Merl tells them the Prio is probably traveling in the L.A. sub-tunnels.


On the way out, the green MC asks Angel to sing, but he flatly refuses. Angel is put off by him. Wesley explains to Cordelia that the host is anagogic — when you sing, you bare your soul, and The Host can then read it. The Host gives it one last try and gives Angel a warning: There's always that feeling of smooth sailing right before a fall. "There's three things I don't do:", Angel proclaims, "tan, date, and sing in public."

Angel rushes to the scene and sees a pregnant woman walking about. She is startled by Angel, who is equally-startled by the Prio demon appearing. A fight ensues and Angel breaks the demon’s neck. Angel gallantly reassures the woman that's it's dead - and is stunned when she starts to cry and kneels by the dead Prio's body, saying "he" was her protector. Angel realizes his mistake. She mentions a tribunal, but when Angel tries to help her, the woman storms off.

Back at the apartment, Angel gives Cordy and Wes the 411 on what happened. The demon had a change of heart and became a soldier, like Angel. Angel is determined to find the woman and help her, and declares the Prio's mission is now his. He asks Cordy and Wesley to find out more information. Angel heads out to find Merl, whom he suspects was being less than straightforward.

In a dark street, Angel manhandles Merl against a metal fence. Merl sings like a canary. There’s a price on the woman's head and the baby she carries, he explains. The baby girl is supposed to be very special, and the dark ones want her dead. Merl tells Angel the Prio lived somewhere in Boyle Heights, underground. Because Gunn knows the tunnels better than anyone, Angel asks him where the Prio might have lived. Gunn offers to play tour guide.

While walking through tunnels, they spot a large, airless vent. The vent opens into a living place. They have a look around and Angel finds a strange metal disc hidden in a secret compartment of a wooden box. Angel gives the coat of arms to Gunn and tells him to deliver it to Cordy and Wes. He hears a noise and pulls out a samurai sword... on the pregnant woman. Batting 1000 there, Angel! She tells him she was once a stock clerk at a Costco and shows her frustration at her daughter's predicted future as a seer — a situation that she doesn't really understand. She explains that she needs to find the coat of arms and present it to an other-worldly court known as The Tribunal — maybe she'll have a chance and The Tribunal will protect her unborn baby. A cloud casts over Angel's face as he listens to the woman's description of the talisman: a metal disc. Drat, foiled again! Having lost her temper with Angel, the woman tries to leave but is waylaid by a mob of bounty hunters. Angel tells her to go to the address on his business card. She runs out and Angel stays to fight off the demons.

When Angel returns to Cordelia’s, he expects the pregnant woman to be there already, and becomes distraught that she's not there. Angel has a crisis and admits that he thought he'd had it made already. The promise of becoming human was within his reach, and he let it go to his head. Wes comes in with the background information. It's a medieval coat of arms needed to be presented before the ancient court that settles grievances with a fight to the death. Wesley points out that these events are mystical, and the location is not exact. Have gavel, will travel.

And at Caritas, presenting: Angel, the Vampire With Soul! Angel looks as pained as those watching him belt out an off-key version of "Mandy". The Host pulls him aside and starts to read him: Angel made an honest mistake, he says, but things don't look too good for the mother. After torturing Angel about his choice of song some more, The Host spills the location: 4th and Spring.

The expectant mother is walking down the middle of 4th and Spring when the tribunal rises from the ground. A fully armored knight rides up before the tribunal and throws the coat of arms on the ground as a challenge. The woman asks for asylum and is refused by the tribunal; she doesn't have the coat of arms and no champion, so she's out of luck. Just then, the other metal badge is thrown on the ground. Angel declares himself her champion. He mounts the horse and arms himself with a shield and a lance. Both champions joust with each other until Angel is thrown off his horse. Angel uses his sword to pull the knight onto the ground, where they duel. A sword plunges into Angel and he falls on his knees. The tribunal declares Angel defeated and declares that the woman now belongs to the knight. The knight is about to kill her when Angel removes the sword and cuts off the knight's head. The Tribunal overlook this poor bit of sportsmanship and declare that both she and her daughter are now under their protection.

At Cordy's apartment, the whiteboard is being mothballed by Angel. Wes realizes that it's about doing the job, not keeping score. Angel says he has somewhere to go: the women's penitentiary. In the visitor's room, Angel picks up the phone and on the other side of the glass, Faith picks up hers. Both Angel and Faith consider their rocky road to redemption, and whether or not they'll ever make up for their previous indiscretions.


  • Abusive Demon Parents: The species of the demon singing "I'm So Excited" tend to eat some of their young during hatching season.
  • All There in the Script: The name of the pregnant mother is Jo.
  • Anything but That!: Angel visits Faith in the clink, and the pair swap war stories. The Slayer talks about fighting off an inmate with a shiv, only to get pummeled by the guards. Angel talks of singing Barry Manilow. No one ever said redemption was easy!
    Faith: [Trying not to laugh] And here I am talking about my petty little problems!
    Angel: Just wanted to give you a little perspective.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: The episode begins with the Power Trio at Angel Investigations dropping their various off-duty activities to stop a Human Sacrifice. A sign of Character Development is Cordelia walking out of an acting class to do so, just after she's been paid a compliment (in the first season her desperation to get into Horrible Hollywood despite her Bad "Bad Acting" is a Running Gag).
  • The Big Board: Between last season's finale and the Season Two premiere, Angel and co. have set up a whiteboard to track their cases. It is promptly discarded.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The useless gym employee stops in the middle of threatening to call the police when he notices that Angel's reflection is absent from the mirror in front of them. Angel says, "I'll fix that," and kicks through the mirror.
  • Bond One-Liner: "I move to amend that ruling!"
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Host to his audience, between sets.
    "In this city you better learn to get along. Because LA's got it all: The glamor and the grit, the big breaks and the heartaches, the sweet young lovers and the nasty, ugly, hairy fiends that suck out your brain through your face. It's all part of the big wacky variety show we call - Los Angeles!"
  • Brick Joke: The blonde at the bar is a setup for a joke in "Dear Boy". For the record: yes, Wesley got lucky.
  • Call-Back: Darla reiterates that Angel killed her - it didn't take. Actually, he staked her all the way back in Episode 7 of Buffy Season One (entitled "Angel"). She continued to appear in flashbacks, however.
  • Carry a Big Stick
  • Cat Scare: Cordy pauses in mid-sentence and wrinkles her forehead. Angel drops a glass figurine to the ground as he and Wesley, shouting "Vision!" in unison, rush to her side. Cordy sneezes. Angel apologizes for the figurine, and Cordy grumbles, "Why can't we work out of Wes's?" Zig-Zagged when she feels another sneeze coming on - this one triggering a real vision.
  • Character Development: Cordelia is doing really well in her acting classes for a change. No sooner does her instructor pay her a compliment, however, then Cordelia's pager goes off. "Duty calls.", she says, and leaves. Plainly, Season Two Coredlia is a far cry from the previous year's.
  • Close-Up on Head: The episode begins with a horned demon glaring off-camera with blood red eyes — right before he starts singing "I Will Survive" into a microphone.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Lilah. Justified because Darla and Lindsey recently discussed Chopin. When Darla suddenly exclaims "He´s here!", Lilah concludes that Darla meant the composer. Lindsey corrects her.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Played for Drama in case of the mother-to-be. Angel has just spotted the pregnant woman from Cordelia's vision when, out of nowhere, a crazed Prio Motu demon appears. A fight ensues and Angel breaks the demon’s neck. He reassures the woman that's it's dead. She starts to cry and kneels by the dead Prio's body. Whoops.
    • Gunn and his posse approach a yuppie who's about to get into his parked car. The guy immediately takes off running, shrieking, "Just take the car!", but runs head-first into a vampire. Gunn and his stake come to the rescue. Poof. Terrified, the yuppie scampers away, with Gunn shouting, "Uh, you're welcome?" after him.
  • Continuity Nod: The demon singing "I'm So Excited" belongs to the same species as Tom Cribb, one of the slave fighters in "The Ring"
  • Damsel in Distress: The preggo lady.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Wesley is winning a game of darts, with a comely blonde lady looking on admiringly. Wesley casts a smiles in her direction, throws one last dart at the board without looking, and hits somebody offscreen.
  • Duel to the Death: The Tribunal settles matters this way: trial by combat.
  • Foreshadowing: When Lilah greets Darla in the darkened office, she remarks on the "beautiful day" before being interrupted by Lindsey. You will note that Lilah was about to invite Darla outside in the daytime.
    • While being pursed by the bounty hunters, Angel and the pregnant woman briefly find refuge in a derelict hotel. Enthralled by what he sees, Angel takes a gander at the lobby, and his companion notes he's been there before. The hotel (Hyperion) comes into play in the following episode.
  • Hanging Judge: The Tribunal is not in the business of passing verdicts, per se. But they are awfully keen to let somebody else skewer the defendant if their demands aren't met.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Wesley thinks an athletic gym is a tad public for a ritual sacrifice, but Angel reminds him that the demons they're looking for (Carnyss) are known for their love of two things: muscles, and mirrors.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: David Boreanaz hamming it up while singing "Mandy" over the credits.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Wesley has trouble believing that a Prio Motu, a species renowned for its bloodlust, would be playing bodyguard to a pregnant human. "What, we're supposed to think a creature like that can suddenly change its modus operandi overnight, turn into some noble protector and defender of—" [weary look by Angel] "Oh."
  • Improvised Weapon: During the gym fight, Cordelia smashes one of the weights on a demon's head.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Sadly averted; Angel briefly examines a katana in Kamal's old lair, but quickly replaces it as a sign of respect. It is notable how Gunn made a beeline for the katana, though.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Subverted; Angel picks up the Coat of Arms required to seek audience with the Tribunal — and promptly gives it to Gunn. It's not until the next scene that Angel realizes he just mailed his urgently-needed MacGuffin to the opposite side of town.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Wesley asks Cordelia if she's feeling alright following a painful vision, she mutters, "I will survive."
  • Neck Snap: Sorry, Kamal.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Angel is the obvious one but Kamal is at least as much at fault, blindly attacking Angel without confirming he's a threat to his ward. To be fair the Kamal is aware of the massive bounty on his ward's head and could tell Angel was a vampire so reacted accordingly. Unaware that like himself Angel was a former multiple murderer turned champion.
  • Obligatory Joke: Gunn commiserates with Angel for the first time since last season. "Look at you, dawg! You haven't aged a bit."
  • Off with His Head!: The Tribunal announces that the demon knight may do what he wants with Jo, and the knight proceeds to pull a knife when Angel suddenly rises and beheads him with a single sweep.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Let's give a big to Mr. J. August Richards, now appearing in the Season Two credits! He doesn't formally join Angel Investigations until later, however.
  • Prophecy Twist: Courtesy of yet another opaque vision from the PTB.
  • Refusal of the Call: The pregnant lady declaims that she was perfectly happy working as a register girl at Costco before this all happened. She repeatedly tries to skip town rather than face The Tribunal.
  • Secret Path: Gunn escorts Angel to the L.A. sub-tunnels where he and his crew previously cleared out a vampire nest. Once there, Gunn notices a vent which wasn't there before. The grating conceals Kamal's old hangout.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: The Tribunal has been summoned to determine whether Jo's unborn baby is eligible for asylum. If Jo passes the trial, they will grant protection to the child until it "comes of age".
  • Smash Cut:
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Cordelia's description of the demon in her vision boils down to, "Nasty Demon, Unknown Origin". No shortage of those. Wesley unhelpfully jots down "NDUO" on the whiteboard.
  • Take Up My Sword: Angel is much aggrieved at having killed Kamal. "Whatever his mission was, it's mine now."
  • That Came Out Wrong: Cordelia consoles Angel about his mistake. "You're just a vampire, like everyone else! —That didn't come out right."
  • Throw It In! (In-Universe): During her readthrough, Cordelia takes an alternative view of her character and decks her acting partner, to the instructor's delight (and her co-star's annoyance).
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • Phantom Dennis makes his triumphant return in this episode, lobbing textbooks at high velocity toward Wesley.
    • Quoted by Angel's unwilling client, after he admits that he misplaced the item she desperately needs to save her life. He's a professional, really! (Also, Angel probably shouldn't have mentioned his old office blowing up.)
  • Unwitting Pawn: Merl intentionally led Angel to believe that Kamal was a threat, thereby removing the obstacle preventing other demons from collecting the bounty on the unborn baby and seeking to profit from it. Keeping this in mind, Angel's mistreatment of Merl throughout the season seems justified.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crime: Angel kills the last defender of a pregnant woman, who was a Buddhist monk to boot. Until he takes up the role himself (protector, not Buddhist monk).
  • Villain Team-Up: Wolfram & Hart and Darla.
    • Unholy Matrimony: In particular, Lindsey and Darla seem headed in this direction.
  • Visible Boom Mic: When Angel is snapping Prio Motu's neck, you can see a microphone at the top of the screen.
  • Wicked Cultured: Lindsey soothes Darla by playing Chopin's Prélude no. 20 in c minor, and the pair of them shoot the breeze about classical music. Lindsey tells Lilah that she's nuts about Chopin and Brahms, but isn't "too fond of the Russians".
  • You Remind Me of X:
    Angel: Kamal's mission is mine now.
    Woman: [scoffs] You sound just like him. You guys with your missions, and ancient laws, and medieval codes of honor! Well, I'm not interested. I'm just trying to protect my baby.


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