Season 1 Episode 16

The Ring

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 29, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
439 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A routine missing person investigation leads Angel to an underground arena which uses captive demons for sport. When Angel is captured and forced to fight in the arena can he survive long enough to find a way to free himself and the other captives?

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  • "No, I am Angel!"


    The Good;

    Lilah! I know she's an evil bitch but I can't help loving her anyway. Cordy and Wes' police double act is also a highlight

    The Bad;

    Pretty much the rest, Angel as Spartacus, not bad but not very involving. The brother's plan to get Angel into the ring seems unnecessarily complex? Also Angel seems to be very easily overcome by their thugs considering what we know him to be capable off?

    Best line:

    Wes; Something's going down, something with 'The Man'

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    Wes pinning the guys hand to the wall with his crossbow bolt then twisting it. Fingers in a box One McNamara brother casually killing the other.

    Apocalypses: 4

    Angel Cliches

    Damsel in distress; 15,

    Inverting the Hollywood cliche;

    In disguise; 3

    DB get's his shirt off; no but he wears his vest top most of the time


    Cordy's tattoo;3

    Cheap Angel; 2

    Fang Gang in bondage: Angel in the cuffs

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 6

    Wes: 1

    Fang gang knocked out: Angel, twice

    Cordy: 8

    Angel: 9

    Wes: 2

    Doyle; 1


    Cordy: 3 vamps, 1 demons

    Angel: one demon. 11 vamps, 6 and 1/2 demons, 2 humans.

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Wes; 1/2 a demon

    Kate; 3 vamps

    Fang Gang go evil:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 1

    Alternate Fang Gang:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 5

    Characters killed:


    Recurring characters killed;


    Total number of Angel Investigations:

    3, Angel and Cordy and Wes

    Angel Investigations shot: yep

    Angel: 7,

    Packing heat; Wes for the second time

    Wes; 2

    Doyle; 1

    Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:

    Cordy: 2 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Kinky dinky:

    Wes states that Cordy wears high heels and a push up bra.

    Captain Subtext;

    Cordy insinuates that Angel cross dresses.

    Know the face, different character; 2

    Parking garages;


    Guantanamo Bay;

    Wes tortures the bookie

    Buffy characters on Angel;

    6; Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes

    Questions and observations;

    Cordy considers calling the police. Even if they believed her is demon fighting illegal? Cordy mentions her pony, Lilah's talk with Angel foreshadows him joining WR&H in season 5

    Marks out of 10; 5/10, an ep mainly notable for the introduction of Lilah

  • Overall, this episode was a far cry from the quality of the previous installment. Beyond introducing Lilah Morgan, this episode has little meaning in the scheme of things.

    If there’s a list of staple plot devices for genre television shows, the “illegal bloodsport story” ranks fairly high. This is especially true when the writers are looking for someone to play Spartacus within some engineered gladiator game. The success of such an episode is typically dependent on the level of subtext. Even when the story works well, there’s a feeling that the writers didn’t try so hard. Even shows like “Babylon 5”, hailed for their multi-layered storytelling, fail to make such episodes viable.

    In this case, the issue is one of an illegal fighting ring, where demons are forced to fight to the death for the pleasure of the upscale crowd. This is interesting on a few levels. Consider that this means that some of the biggest movers and shakers in the Los Angeles area are aware of the existence of demons and willing to use them to their own advantage. Wolfram and Hart is ostensibly the legal representative firm for the majority (if not all) of the clients.

    This being a Howard Gordon episode, the concern is whether or not there’s a strong enough execution of the concept. Gordon is, typically, a good idea man with a spotty track record in terms of implementing those ideas. This one wasn’t even his idea to begin with, so it would have taken a lot of effort and depth to overcome the familiar and well-trodden plot threads. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

    The whole set-up is just a little too obvious. Darin is obviously setting Angel up for some kind of fall. The real question is why Angel was targeted by the Macnamaras. It might have been interesting if Wolfram and Hart had decided that Angel might be an issue, and decided that the ring was a good place to either corrupt or eliminate a potential enemy. Unfortunately, the script wasn’t even that complicated.

    One aspect that works well (at least from a comedic perspective) is the website: “Demons, Demons, Demons”. That’s just simple enough to be inspired. The idea of a web-based demon bestiary is damned funny, and it probably inspired a lot of fans to check the web to see if there was a mocked-up webpage!

    As one would expect, once Angel is in the clutches of the evil Macnamaras, a couple of clichés are trotted out: the brutal champion (Val Trepkos), the bully (Cribb), and the meek victim (Malish). Angel quickly defends the victim against the bully, as every would-be Spartacus must. The victim gets angry at Angel for fighting his battles, even though it’s obvious that he can’t fight his own. When the victim is matched against the champion, of course, even the bully has a measure of sympathy.

    This episode at least continues the evolution of Wesley as a character. He’s still occasionally bumbling in his choices, but he’s developing an edge. He does a great job with the bookie, for instance, employing some down and dirty methods to get the information he needs. It’s a welcome change, especially since it presages his more casual violent side in the later seasons.

    Angel’s decision not to fight his opponent is a convenient way for the writers to toss out the rules of the game. It also gives Wesley and Cordy some time to arrive on the scene and demonstrate how well they are beginning to gel. It’s not so much the bickering of a married couple as the sparring between siblings. Angel makes for an interesting father figure, but in essence, that’s the role he’s taken. That said, one has to wonder how Wesley knows about the ongoing demon pit fights when they were a complete surprise to Angel; exposition, it seems, can be a cruel mistress!

    If there is one scene that actually breaks away from the conventional, it’s the scene where Angel takes Jack hostage. Angel is shocked to discover that the demons aren’t willing to fight for their freedom. The suggestion is that they are willing to kill to be free, and that the “live and let live” alternative doesn’t hold much weight. Equally surprising is Darin’s decision to kill Jack rather than let the demons go. The Macnamaras were already on the same level as the demons they enslave, but in that moment, Darin sets himself apart.

    This represents the first real attempt by Wolfram and Hart to subvert Angel’s crusade to their own devices. Taken in retrospect with the fifth season and its explanation for the goals of the firm, this makes perfect sense. If Angel were to agree to the arrangement, then he would effectively be allowing the apocalypse to continue unabated. This is why it would have made more sense for Lilah to be the one behind Angel’s capture from the beginning, rather than someone taking advantage after the fact.

    There is, however, a completely predictable result: Angel is scheduled to fight the champion (as he surely must), and of course, it’s the champion’s last fight towards earning his freedom. Thus it boils down to what one would expect: will Angel be able to convince the champion to risk his life for others, or will the champion stick to what he knows? The answer is not exactly original, since it always turns out that the champion initially sticks with the rules, until something happens to convince him (during the fight, of course) to change his mind.

    Equally predictable is Angel’s apparent victory, wiped away when he refuses to kill Trepkos, unwilling to give in to the demands of the game. Trepkos, of course, regains the advantage, only to find himself unwilling to deliver the killing blow when his victory is assured. Just at that moment, Wesley and Cordy’s lock-pick triggers a mass revolt. Darin is dealt justice through his own method of discipline, and the crisis is over. There’s even time for a moment of comic reflection, but by then, the audience is wondering whether it was worth it.

  • 'Someone ought to create an intra-demon dating base. You know like, where the lonely and the slimy connect'

    ‘The Ring’ is one of the best episodes of the first season. It has a lot of cool make-up and fight scenes plus it develops the characters.

    The episode begins with Wesley and Cordelia fighting over nothing. They behave like little children throughout until they have to work together to solve something and end up respecting each other towards the end of the episode. I don’t think that Wes was a good replacement for Doyle, but this episode had a lot of chemistry between him and Cordy.

    Anyway, the case in this episode is from a man who says that his brother has been abducted and that he received a finger of him. But it turns out to be a set up and Angel gets trapped and put into some fight club for demons. Every demon has to fight against one another and the one who reaches 21 deaths gets free. They also have these bracelets that prevent them from escaping and if they cross a line they explode into dust. One of the demons is called Trepkos that has almost killed 21 but he doesn’t really want to be doesn’t see another way to escape.

    It was hilarious to watch Wes and Cordy work together, they steal a bracelet and find a way to create a key.

    Angel also came through big time. He had to kill a demon because he would have been killed instead. He also sacrifices himself for the rest by grabbing the younger brother but nobody helped him, the older brother shot his brother and then Angel got electrocuted. When he woke up he was in an office and met a lawyer named Lilah Morgen who bought him and set him free but he doesn’t listen and decides to go back just to find out that he has to fight Trepkos and will be it’s 21st kill.

    Angel and Trepkos have to fight to the death but Angel wins, he doesn’t kill him and when he doesn’t look, Trepkos attacks. But same with Trepkos when he comes to his senses, the older brother gets mad and makes his men kill them but at that time all the other prisoners had already escaped because of Wesley’s key and they come to kill the guards. The older brother then gets a bracelet and thrown over the spot and he turns into dust and dies, so Trepkos really did kill 21 after all.

    ‘The Ring’ is very underrated and misunderstood. The demons and fights were excellent and it was probably the first time Wesley was actually tough.

  • This episode is definatly one of my favourite episodes in angel and is my favourite from series 1. some great characters interaction and some great action combined to make one of angels finest episodes.moreless

    This episode is definatly one of my favourite episodes in angel and is my favourite from series 1. some great characters interaction and some great action combined to make one of angels finest episodes.

    Overall this was a great episode with lots of action and a great script.

    Definatly a perfect example of series one.
  • angel as a slave

    season 1 really has some great episodes and this is one of those! wow!

    angel is put in a trap and then in a cell with other demons who have to fight each other. at their 21th murder they will be left free. angel does not want to kill but he has to or else he will be killed. we meet lilah who is the fame fatale from wolfram and heart and does a very good job! at the end wesley finds a way to free them all but they realise they did not a good thing by letting all the demons free. brilliant!moreless
Douglas Roberts

Douglas Roberts

Darin Macnamara

Guest Star

Scott William Winters

Scott William Winters

Jack Macnamara

Guest Star

Chris Flanders

Chris Flanders

Matthew Winslow

Guest Star

Stephanie Romanov

Stephanie Romanov

Lilah Morgan

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • When Ernie the bookie is being threatened by Wes, he pulls a gun from behind his back with his right hand, however, in the following shot, that hand is empty and conveniently placed against the wall, ready to be impaled by Wes' crossbow bolt.

    • During the fight with Trepkos, there are several clear shots where you can see that it's David Boreanaz' stunt double in the shot (and if you look closely, you can tell in several other shots, since David Boreanaz has his chest and underarms shaved/waxed; the stunt double doesn't).

    • The three main Wolfram and Hart lawyers have the same initials: Lilah Morgan, Lindsey McDonald and Lee Mercer.

    • Angel's Language Skills:
      This episode establishes that Angel speaks Spanish, Italian, and Russian (at least enough to hold a conversation); future episodes will reveal that he speaks even more languages.

    • Wesley: "These Octavian matches date back to the Roman Empire."
      Saying "Octavian" and "Roman Empire" is redundant. Octavianus changed his name to Augustus when he became the second Emperor of Rome in 27 BC. Octavianus, like many Romans, enjoyed Gladiator matches. I believe Wesley is comparing the fights to Gladiator matches, where many of the participants were slaves and some even earned their freedom by being very good at what they did. Octavianus was not famous for enjoying gladiator matches, though, so I'm not sure why Wesley refers to the matches as Octavian at all. Julius Caesar loved Gladiatorial entertainment and often bet on the games, which meant he owed many of his friends money. It would have, perhaps, been more appropriate to call these matches Julian than Octavian if one wanted to assign a famous name to them at all, or even Caesarian in honor of both Julius and all the Emperors who called themselves Caesar in his honor.

    • During the fight with Trepkos, Angel's wounds change places and vanish at various times throughout the fight. Then when he leaves the club his shirt is clean and he only has a bullet wound and a little dirt. Even if he changed shirts we would see blood from the stab wound.

    • Why do Wolfram & Hart let Angel out of his contract so readily?

    • It's been established that Angel has a tattoo, but it is absent from several shots where it should be visible, based on previous episodes.

    • After Angel declines to kill Trepkos, he moves away and there is no sign of the wound in his side that he just took.

    • While fighting Trepkos, Angel is knocked to the dirt and has a lot of blood on the right side of his mouth. Then he gets up and the vast majority of it is gone.

    • Angel's metal cuff and Trepkos' metal and leather cuffs switch sides several times in consecutive shots during his fight with Angel.

    • The bullet hole in Angel's shirt switches sides several times in consecutive shots.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Lilah: I prefer to think of it as picking the battles you can win. There's not one reason why we can't work together.
      Angel: You're right... there are about a thousand.

    • Lilah: How do you feel?
      Angel: Like I was hit by lightning after the truck ran me over.

    • Angel: Someone needs to put you in your place. You... and your brother.
      Jack: Someone may. Someday. But not you. And not today.
      Angel: Why put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today?

    • Jack: (to Angel) Well, that was the most exciting match I've ever seen. My favorite part was when you stuck Baker with the knife. Kind of put a damper on the whole brotherhood spiel.

    • Cordy: Angel, you don't look so . . . well it's a good thing you heal fast.
      Angel: It's also a good thing you guys found me in time.
      Cordy: We weren't going to let anything happen to you.
      Wesley: No.
      Cordy: Well, I mean, beyond the slavery and the severe beatings and stuff. Wesley came up with the key!
      Wesley: But Cordelia came up with the key to the key! In a clinch moment.
      Angel: You both did great. And I think we did a good thing here tonight.
      Wesley: Yes. We set the captives free.
      Cordy: Well, actually, didn't we set a bunch of demons free?
      Wesley: Oh. Well. Technically, yes.

    • Angel:(right when he wakes up after being captured) And I asked for a room with a view.

    • Wesley: (discussing a demon) He wrote "claw-like hands."
      Cordelia: Could be a mixed breed. Smell?
      Wesley: Sulfuric.
      Cordelia: Add a Porsche and hair plugs and I've dated this guy. A lot.

    • Wesley: These Octavian matches date back to the Roman Empire. I'd heard rumors of a revival.
      Cordelia: Couldn't they have just done West Side Story?

    • Cordelia: Someone ought to create an intra-demon dating base. You know like, where the lonely and the slimy connect.

    • Cordelia: You'd think people would get enough gratuitous violence watching Jerry Springer.

    • Cordelia: I was just joking, Mr. Grouchy pants. When was the last time you had a dating base?
      Wesley: For your information, I lead a rich and varied social life.
      Cordelia: Oh, I know. Every night it's Jeopardy! followed by Wheel of Fortune and a cup of hot cocoa. Look out, girls, this one can't be tamed.
      Wesley: I'll admit, it may not be as intoxicating as a life erected on high-fashioned pumps and a push-up bra ...
      Cordelia: Hey, if anyone is wearing a push-up bra around here, it's...(Angel enters) Angel.
      Angel: Do you two need to see a counselor?
      Cordelia: No, I'm way too single entendre to benefit from therapy.

  • NOTES (6)

    • This episode was nominated for the 2000 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Makeup for a Series".

    • This episode scored a rating of 5.4/8 in the overnight Nielsen ratings, ranking number 2 out of 15 WB shows airing that week.

    • A character named Colonel MacNamara appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "New Moon Rising" (4x19).

    • This is the first appearance of Wolfram & Hart beauty Lilah Morgan.

    • The X-Files episode "Firewalker" also featured a character named Daniel Trepkos. That episode and this one were both written by Howard Gordon.

    • The sketches of demons in the database are from Joss Whedon, who used them to give his ideas to the make-up folks on both Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They include the demons from "Gingerbread" (B-3x11) and "The Wish" (B-3x09), a Kaliff from "Rm W/a Vu" (A-1x05), a Kawaini from "The Prodigal" (A-1x15), and a Brachen demon from "Hero" (A-1x09).


    • Cordelia: Oh, I know. Every night it's Jeopardy, followed by Wheel of Fortune and a cup of hot cocoa.
      Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are both game shows that air sequentially on ABC.

    • Cordelia: You'd think people would get enough gratuitous violence watching Jerry Springer.
      Jerry Springer is a show where people argue out their problems on television.

    • Jack MacNamara: (referring to Angel) What about Captain America here.
      Captain America is a comic book character sometimes drawn by Jack Kirby. He was a military reject who took a serum to give him super strength. He embodied the virtues of America and fashioned his costume to resemble an American flag.

    • Cordelia: Couldn't they have done West Side Story?
      West Side Story was a musical adaptation of the story of Romeo and Juliet. It was later made into a movie starring Natalie Wood.

    • Cribb: Idiot, thinks he can get out of this by pulling a Gandhi.
      Mahatma Gandhi was a believer in Hinduism and a leader of the Indian people. He lead a revolt against the British rule of India. He practiced non-violent means and preached passive resistance. Eventually, his efforts help India gain independence from Britain. Many of his teachings are still followed today.

    • Darin MacNamara: (referring to Angel) Who does he think he is, Moses?
      Moses was a figure in the Bible. He was born a Jew but raised as a Prince of Egypt. Eventually, he lead a Jewish uprising and gained freedom for the Jewish slaves in Egypt.