|Episode no.||Season 1
|Written by||David Fury|
|Original air date||Unproduced|
"Corrupt" was originally intended as the second Angel episode, but the production was abandoned, and instead "Lonely Hearts" was written and produced.
Prostitutes have been going missing for several months. When Doyle has a vision of a woman called Chrystal who may come to be linked to the missing women, Angel Investigations gets on the case. Angel befriends Chrystal for $300. Cordelia goes undercover as a prostitute called 'Cookie', and Doyle protects girls who might be in danger.
A cult of pimps have been worshipping T'Purok the Corruptor. The demon possesses the prostitutes and makes them commit violent murders. Kate Lockley is a drug-addicted undercover cop who is so angry with the cult that she tries to kill them. Angel saves her from committing murder and instead tracks down T'Purok for a debate about the nature of humanity.
Cordelia tries to convince Angel that they need to advertise, since they cannot just rely on Doyle's visions, or else they will not make rent. Angel is skeptical. Meanwhile Earl, a fortyish middle-management businessman, approaches a prostitute named Niki. The two get into a car and start making out. Unseen violence ensues.
Having made business cards, Cordelia continues her campaign with Angel to convince him of the necessity of becoming more business-friendly. Doyle has a vision; he sees a brothel called "the Bottom Bar", and a prostitute there, Chrystal. Doyle knows she needs saving by Angel, but from whom or what he is unsure.
Angel rushes to the bar and pays Chrystal's boss, Miggie, $300 for Chrystal's time. Chrystal tries to make the money worth his while, but Angel only wants to talk to her. He explains he thinks she's in trouble but does not know why. They are interrupted by frantic pounding on the door. Another woman, Janie, comes in and explains that Amber is dead and covered in blood at the Mercer Hotel. The three return to the hotel but the room is now immaculate. Janie's pimp, Billy, explains that Janie is a junkie and imagined the whole thing.
After they leave, Billy puts on a ceremonial shroud and returns to an elaborate shrine where others are already wearing their shrouds and kneeling. They are surrounded by animal bones, talismans, and small effigies, along with empty pint bottles, crack vials, and porn magazines. Miggie is the leading member and offers an unholy communion to the hooded members of a pill and a swig from a bottle of bourbon.
Back at Angel's apartment, Angel updates Cordelia and Doyle, telling them that he could smell that there had been lots of blood in the superficially clean room; he also says that there had been too much blood for just one body. He asks Doyle to look after Chrystal, and Cordelia to man the phones.
Cordelia is unimpressed and points out her acting skills may come in handy. She goes out onto the street dressed as a hooker, and calling herself 'Cookie', she attempts to gather information from the street.
Doyle follows Chrystal, but soon gets cornered by Rollo, a bookie to whom he is in debt. Rollo grabs Doyle's ear then pulls him up against a wall as he helplessly watches Chrystal leave "The Bottom Bar."
Meanwhile, Billy convinces Janie that she imagined the murder. He gives her a necklace and instructs her to go and get ready for her next client. Angel follows Billy to an abandoned store. Angel is surrounded by six pimps, menacingly wielding baseball bats. Billy asks him "So... Curious John. What are you doing following me? Who are you?" After a beat Angel says, "The Dark Avenger." The six thugs pause for a moment, unsure how to respond, giving Angel time to strike them by surprise. He fights off the men, then notices a symbol on the wall by the shrine, a cracked circle within an oval.
The necklace Janie is wearing has the same symbol. Janie is with a client, John. John is explaining that he likes it rough, when Janie transforms into a ravenous beast and rips John apart before ripping off her own face.
Angel rushes to the Mercier Hotel but only in time to find a bloody room. Abruptly, Chrystal enters the room and looks in horror at the carnage, and then at Angel. Detective Kate Lockley interviews Chrystal and Angel. She knows Janie is responsible but is puzzled as to how. Kate reveals that she was working deep undercover as a prostitute, and hints that she was friends with Janie. Angel is released. Detective Lieutenant Gabe Meleno enters "What's going on with you, Kate? Rumor has it you've been living in the jungle so long, you've gone native. That true?". He informs her that Janie had an abnormally high red blood cell count, and that this might explain her power. Kate assumes this must be a powerful drug that has been given to her.
The gang reconvene at Angel's apartment. Doyle tries to justify losing Chrystal, and Cordelia reveals that at least ten prostitutes have gone missing. They discover the icon is the "Sign of T'Purok". They then find out that T'Purok the Corrupter is a demon that can only experience sensations by possessing a host, usually through transmutory stones or crystals. Doyle explains about Janie's necklace.
Miggie and his cultists are gathered praising T'Purok with the necklace. Later Kate enters "The Bottom Bar." Miggie tries to give the necklace to Kate. He asks her, "Are you my girl?" She shoots him, then says "No... I'm not." Angel enters and tries to hold pressure on Miggie's wound, as he does not want Kate to become a murderer. Angel gets a reluctant Doyle to hold the wound while he chases Kate.
Kate tries to raid the pimp cultists, but her gun is knocked out of her hands and she is captured. Angel takes out the thugs, while Kate gets a hold of the gun once again and explains she knows the cultists deserve to die. Angel tries to persuade Kate that killing them would be giving in to her own hopelessness.
Angel kicks in the shrine and enters a hidden back room behind it. The T'Purok demon is living in the corner of the ceiling almost like mould. T'Purok tries to convince Angel that there is no point in fighting evil, that Angel can never overcome the corrupt nature of humanity, that evil is everywhere and thriving in people: "Kill me?! Kill a hundred of me! You are one, where I am a thousand!" Angel produces a battle axe and cleaves the demon into a messy corpse. He looks at the remains for a moment and says, "Nine hundred and ninety-nine to go."
Behind the scenes
David Fury commented:
"And along those lines the second episode that I'd written called 'Corrupt' - it was pretty much about junkie prostitutes. Not usually what you see on the WB. And Kate, the police woman character on the show... originally was an undercover cop who was addicted to cocaine and was sleeping with men for money, because she got a little bit too far into her undercover work.
Only two days before the episode went into production, shooting was ordered not to start because The WB Network believed that the episode was too dark in tone. The script was largely abandoned although elements of it became "Lonely Hearts". Parts of the "Corrupt" script were also reused in later episodes.
Tim Minear said a few words about the unproduced episode:
David Fury, who wrote this episode, had written a script called ‘Corrupt’ in which Kate was a police officer working undercover as a prostitute who was actually becoming a prostitute and was addicted to crack. That was originally the introduction of Kate. Obviously we were still trying to figure out what the show was at that point. This was the first episode after the pilot, and it was written before the new staff arrived. They just went incredibly dark with this thing and decided at the end of the day that it was a little bit too hopeless, a little too grim. After that episode was written it was actually being prepped when the network, too, had some concerns about it.`
It would seem that this was about the same time that the Internet ran rampant with rumors that the WB had shut down the show for retooling. You can’t really call it a shut down because we hadn’t really started,` Minear clarifies. `We just pushed back the shoot date for the first episode a week or two. It’s not like alarms went off and we had to pull plugs on everything. I’ve read on the Internet where people were saying the network freaked, and they told us to shut down, and that’s not true at all. We were still creating what the idea of the show was going to be, and basically we decided to rethink that first episode. The other thing that people don’t realize is that a lot of the other episodes that we’ve done this year were written much earlier and did not change significantly. It was really that first episode where we went back, rethought it, and we were lucky we had the luxury to do that.
- CORDELIA: "So, how's tricks, fellow hookers?"
- STREETWALKER #1: "Bitch, if you're living the life, I'm Julia Roberts."
- Cordelia proves her bad acting skills investigating under cover, trying to use her disguise to inquire what is happening on the street.
- ANGEL: "I'm sure when you started you were immune to the temptations. At first. Then maybe to protect your cover, you indulged once, twice. No problem. Cross one line, you draw another. Cross that one, draw another. Cross that, draw another... 'Til it's not even you doing it anymore. It's her. Then it becomes easy. You can do anything. You can't get close to this world and not have it rub off on you."
- Angel is also talking about his own desire/addiction for human blood. He drank Buffy's blood in "Graduation Day, Part Two," and in a scene cut from "City of" also drank the blood from a murder victim.
- Demon heritage
- CORDELIA: If we have to rely on demon-boy here to get one of his visions every time we need a client, we'll be broke in a month.
- DOYLE: Stop calling me "demon-boy."
- In this story, Cordelia already knows about Doyle's demon heritage. In the series she would not find out for several months until the episode "Hero."
- ANGEL (to Chrystal): I've run across evil before. Never once found any to be necessary.
- The series would later spend years delving into the need for balance between good and evil rather than the overwhelming control of one over the other. A world without evil was proposed by Jasmine. Many of the main characters would behave in more ambiguous gray areas rather than simply fight for the cause of good.
- Humanity corrupted?
- T'PUROK: You think you can make a difference? As long as there are souls -- weak, wounded, begging to be perverted - I'm everywhere and eternal. I'll be around when the last of humanity eats itself alive -- Oh, it's going to be beautiful!
- Angel raises the ax over his head.
- T'PUROK: (continuing; rising in pitch) Kill me?! Kill a hundred of me! You are one, where I am a THOUSAND!"
- Angel swings the ax. It lands (off-camera) with the appetizing CHUNK sound of something's head being cleaved in two. He eyes the demon's corpse for a moment...
- ANGEL: Nine hundred and ninety-nine to go.
- Angel later has similar conversations during Season 2, for example with the paranoia demon in "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been", and with Holland Manners in "Reprise."
The script is not considered canon. Events that take place in it are instead superseded by the canonical "Lonely Hearts", and other episodes. For example the teaser sequence featuring an advertisement from the mind of Cordelia is reused in "Hero".
Notes and references
- Interview with Tim Minear
- Fury, David, "Corrupt" (1999). The unaired script surfaced online.
- Hart, Maryelizabeth & Holder, Nancy & Mariotte, Jeff, Casefiles, Pocket Books (May 2002), page 43-44.