The Prodigal (Angel)
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Bruce Seth Green|
|Written by||Tim Minear|
|Original air date||February 22, 2000|
|List of Angel episodes|
"The Prodigal" is episode 15 of season 1 in the television show Angel. Written by Tim Minear and directed by Bruce Seth Green, it was originally broadcast on February 22, 2000 on the WB network. In this episode, Detective Kate Lockely learns her father has been spending his retirement as a mule for a syndicate of demon drug-runners. In response to investigative pressure from Angel, the demon drug lord orders Kate's father killed. Flashbacks show the human Angel struggling with his own father in 1753, incorporating scenes first shown in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Becoming (Part 1)", and remind viewers that Angelus killed his family after being turned into a vampire by Darla.
In a flashback to Galway, Ireland, 1753, Angel - at that point, still human and known as "Liam" - is fighting with his father. Enraged by his son's chronic recklessness and current mocking demeanor, Liam's father slaps his son in the face, shouting that he'll always be a layabout and a scoundrel. In the present, Angel is fighting a demon that is dressed like a homeless person on the train tracks in an L.A. subway tunnel. As Detective Kate Lockley arrives on the scene, the demon clutches its chest, sinks to the ground and expires. Forced again to deal with L.A.'s dark side and Angel's place in it, Kate ironically wonders whether she should call the coroner or Hazardous Materials, while Angel tries to convince her not to report the supernatural aspects of this case. Later, as an officer interviews the Blue Circle courier who pulled the emergency cord after allegedly being attacked by "your average Joe-stink homeless guy," Angel's instincts are immediately aroused when he spots Kate's dad, retired police detective Trevor Lockley, take a package from the crime scene.
At Angel Investigations, Angel identifies the demon in one of Wesley's reference books as a Kwaini demon, an inherently non-violent race. Angel visits Kate at the precinct, but as he explains that something must have set off the Kwaini demon in the subway, Kate interrupts, preferring that he say "evil thing" instead of "demon." He is unable to convince Kate that the demon she saw dead in the subway is not an evil evil thing. Kate is reluctant to admit that his news means that this case is not as routine as they initially believed. The AI team splits up to pursue their two leads. Angel, suspicious that the Blue Circle courier was on a train during his shift, follows him to an apartment building, where Trevor Lockley opens the door to the courier's knock and shoves a brown-wrapped package into the man's hands. Once the courier leaves, Angel confronts Trevor about the exchange, theorizing Trevor was returning the parcel he removed from the crime scene that morning. Intending to discover who Trevor is working for, Angel gives Kate's father a chance to come clean so they can take care of the problem without further police involvement. Taking umbrage at Angel's angry implication that he cares nothing for his daughter, Trevor tells Angel that he can't possibly interpret a father's actions, and slams the door in his face. After locating the Kwaini's body in the subway tunnel, Wesley performs an autopsy which reveals the demon was on drugs, and attacked the train because someone on board had more of the drug.
In Galway, Liam tearfully bids goodbye to his mother and younger sister, and exchanges more harsh words with his father. Making his way back to the pub, Liam spends the remainder of the day carousing wildly. An elegantly dressed Darla watches in fascination as a very drunk Liam brawls with beautiful abandon, besting several men in quick succession. That night, luring the vulnerable young man into a dark alley with promises of exotic experiences and places, Darla sires Liam, first biting him, then drawing her own blood for him to drink in turn. That night, Liam rises from his grave and is greeted by Darla. She watches as he morphs and kills his first human. Liam adopts the vampiric name 'Angelus' when his younger sister sees him coming home and mistakes him for an angel. Angelus subsequently kills the entire population of his village, including his sister, mother, and father.
Two men in suits visit Trevor Lockley to make sure he hasn't said anything to his daughter. Angel arrives to warn Trevor of the danger in which he's involved, but before he can convince Mr. Lockley to invite him inside, the men in suits reveal themselves as vampires and kill Trevor. Kate arrives and finds her father dead. She trails the vampires to the demon drug lord's base, then stakes the vampire who killed her father. Angel shows up and helps her fight and kill the remaining vampires and finally chops off the head of the lead demon. Kate walks away, saying that Angel doesn't know anything about losing a human father. Back in Angel's past, Darla finds that Angelus has killed all of his family. She reminds him that even though his father is dead, his memory will always haunt him. Kate visits her father's grave while Angel watches from the safety of the shadows.
When Angelus rises from the grave, his breath (and Darla's) is clearly visible. Because vampires have no body heat, they are always at air temperature. Without a temperature differential, vapor cannot condense. Producer Tim Minear explains it was cold while they filmed this scene, shot on location at Hollywood Forever Cemetery behind Paramount Pictures, and there wasn't a large enough budget to remove the actors' breath digitally.
- This is the first appearance of Darla (Julie Benz) on Angel. Darla will become a key figure in the series, beginning with "To Shanshu in L.A.".
- Before Kate questions the delivery guy witness, Angel tells her, "People have a way of seeing what they need to." This recalls Giles' response to Xander's shock, near the end of the season one Buffy episode, "The Harvest", regarding the lack of public reaction after the previous night's showdown with the Master's minions at The Bronze. Giles tells the three friends, "People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't."
- In the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is repeatedly asserted that a vampire is an entirely different being from the person it once was. However, this episode reveals that a vampire may still be bound by things that it wanted as a human. The idea that a vampire is influenced by its previous persona is implied in the Buffy season 3 episode "Doppelgangland", where Angel begins to explain that a vampire's personality is relevant to who it used to be before being stopped by Buffy, and in the Season Seven episode "Lies My Parents Told Me" when Spike, who had been sired by Drusilla only days earlier, sires his mother because she is terminally ill.
- While not made explicitly clear, a line from Cordelia Chase suggests that her birthday is in eleven and a half months as of this episode. This was suggested in the scene in which Cordelia and Angel discuss a passcode for the new security system, and that the installer recommended using Cordelia's birth date, which Angel did not know and had apparently missed two weeks earlier.
- PCP: When Wesley tells Angel that the "metaphysical" demon version of this street drug enhances a non-violent Kwaini's strength by a factor of twenty, Angel immediately wonders what effect it would have on an already strong battle demon.
- West Hollywood: Kate's father tries to guess what's "wrong" with the "tall, good looking" guy she brought to the retirement party, alluding to the city's homosexual population.
- Fools rush in: Wesley uses this phrase from Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism."
- Gross, Edward (August 14, 2000), ANGEL: Season One, Episode By Episode with Tim Minear, Part 4, retrieved 2007-09-27
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