The Trial is without a doubt, in the top 10 all time Angel episodes. Every single scene screamed with excellence and there is no single fault with it whatsoever. The twist at the end is still shocking no matter how many times I've seen it. The whole episode is built around Darla dying but when she does at the end, it's entirely unexpected and takes a while to sink in. Darla hits rock bottom in this episode: the evil law firm that brought her back from the dead and have been most of the reason why her mental state is deteriorating fast tell her she's dying of a syphilitic heart condition. She's so desperate to live and to be free of her humanity, she goes to a vampire bar and picks the biggest loser there to sire her. This really gives us insight to how scared she is of dying- to have this disease is the worst thing imaginable for her as she hasn't had to fear disease for 400 years. But as the episode goes on she begins to accept her fate- evident when Angel is told he has to die to save her and she screams "No!" suggesting she'd prefer to die than watch him die. At the end of the episode, she's finally accepted it and decided to let death take her when her time is up. Darla has evolved so much since her first appearance as a human- to face death and accept it when you've been living for 400 years is a tough thing to do but she does.
Angel's quest to save her proves he does care about her on a deep level. Their connection is so deep that he sacrifices himself to save her- he doesn't die of coure but he's willing to. He feels that if Darla can achieve redemption, then maybe there's a chance he can too and by saving her, he's saving himself. Darla recognizes his feelings for her saying "No one's ever cared about like you have". Angel's anger when the man at the Trials refuses to heal Darla even though he passed is shocking. He's so broken that she's going to die- their relationship is so powerful. The Trials were a very unique way for Angel to win Darla's life. The first stage was a rather generic fight but the second stage is awesome. Watching Angel run across a floor of crucifixes and have to place his hand in holy water to get the key was intense. The set used was magnificent, giving off a holy, eerie vibe. The last stage was good also- the wall of stakes was a nice idea. Cordy, Wesley and Gunn weren't really central to this episode- a good thing as they don't really fit in to the Darla arc much and their role is sort of the same every episode: nag Angel about Darla. It does get tiresome after a while. The final scene is one of my favourite scenes of any TV show ever. Darla had finally accepted her death and at that pivotal moment, Lindsey burst in with armed guards who knock Angel out and Drusilla enters, turning Darla into a vampire. It's so shocking and gripping; it's near impossible to look away from the screen. Lindsey was annoying in this episode- I was glad Angel mocked him for loving Darla as he's blind to not see she has no interest in him. Drusilla was a welcome addition and the perfect vampire to kill Darla- it was an excellent idea to have her do it. Angel's face is so full of pain as he watches her die. It's an amazing twist. Also, the music in this scene is truly epic and flawless- it made that entire scene feel so much more intense and scary- especially when Drusilla bites Darla. It was standout.
The Trial is an episode that will leave you stunned. It's without a doubt the best so far and it's virtually flawless. A true gem.