Season 1 Episode 15

The Prodigal

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 22, 2000 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

Write A Review
out of 10
432 votes
  • Whedon's father


    The Good;

    Clever opening scene with Liam. Darla, yay! Her words about love infecting the heart always are just incredible. Some nice paralells with Kate and some nice comedy with the alarm system.

    The Bad;

    The head demon looks stupid and looks rather like the guy Cordy will save Gunn from in season 2

    Best line:

    Liam's dad; "I was never in your way boy" (the most tragic line in the whole of Angel AND Buffy!)

    Jeez, how did they get away with that?

    Cordy sawing up the demon. Angelus slaughters Liam's family, even his little sister which we thankfully don't see.

    Apocalypses: 4

    Angel Cliches

    Damsel in distress; 15,

    Inverting the Hollywood cliche;

    In disguise; 3 no Angel but love Cordy as a blonde, only in Hollywood would that mean you could blend in.

    DB get's his shirt off;


    Cordy's tattoo;3

    Cheap Angel; 2

    Fang Gang in bondage:

    Cordy: 5

    Angel: 5

    Wes: 1

    Fang gang knocked out:

    Cordy: 8

    Angel: 7

    Wes: 2

    Doyle; 1


    Cordy: 3 vamps, 1 demons

    Angel: 1 demon and 3 vamps for Angel so 11 vamps, 5 and 1/2 demons, 2 humans.

    Doyle; 1 vamp

    Kate; 2 vamps for Kate making 3 in all

    Wes; 1/2 a demon

    Fang Gang go evil:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 1

    Alternate Fang Gang:

    Cordy: 2

    Angel: 5

    Characters killed:


    Recurring characters killed; Trevor Lockley


    Total number of Angel Investigations:

    3, Angel and Cordy and Wes

    Angel Investigations shot:

    Angel: 6,

    Packing heat;

    Wes; 1

    Doyle; 1

    Notches on Fang Gang bedpost:

    Cordy: 2 ?+Wilson/Hacksaw Beast

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Captain Subtext;

    Trevor asks if Angel is 'West Hollywood', the term for LA's famous gay district

    Know the face, different character; 2

    Parking garages; yep, that's how Angel gets into the police station


    Buffy characters on Angel; Darla

    7; Angel, Cordy, Oz, Spike, Buffy, Wes, Darla

    Questions and observations;

    All the scenes between Kate and her dad are heartbreaking but pale compared to the tragedy of Liam and his family. We find that Trevor Lockley does care about Kate, he's on the take partially to provide for her (which explains how she can set herself up as a supernatural version of The Punisher in season 6). It seems that Angel(us) got the idea for his name from his sister.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10, the flashback scenes a lot better than the modern day stuff

  • Overall, this episode is one of the better installments of the first season, focusing almost entirely upon Angel’s relationship with Kate. It’s something of a cliché for characters to have issues with a father figure, but in this case, it places characte

    After a disaster of an “event episode” and a mediocre return to a more character-based approach, the writers returned to what might be considered one of the original plot threads of the first season: the evolution of Kate’s relationship with Angel. Up to this point, of course, it looked like Angel and Kate were headed for a tentative love connection. Kate’s discovery of Angel’s true nature got in the way of all that, but from there, the path forward was less obvious.

    The previous episode focused on a message regarding fathers and the effect they can have on their children. Wesley was the kind of young man who could never measure up to the lofty expectations of his father, and indeed, there were more than a few hints of psychological abuse. Wesley is still in the process of dealing with the fact that finding his own place in the world means ignoring his father’s wishes.

    As it turns out, Angel has more than a little in common with Wesley, which could and perhaps should have been used to give their partnership additional resonance. Angel’s father terrorized him in a similar yet oddly opposite fashion: he had expectations, but assumed that Angel could never meet them, to the point that failure became the expectation. As a result, Angel never had a sense of self-worth or accomplishment, something that fed into his demonic side when he became Angelus.

    Kate also has “daddy issues”. Her father felt that an emotional connection between father and daughter would represent weakness. Much of the reason behind that damaging psychology was outlined in “Sense and Sensitivity”. But Kate continues to strive for her father’s acceptance, even to the point of extremes. The underlying message of the episode is that such fathers maintain power over their children long after they are dead and gone.

    In “Somnambulist”, Kate discovered that there’s demonic activity in the world. Her initial reaction was very professional, and while she seemed stunned, she also seemed ready to deal with the new reality. Time, it appears, has allowed doubt to creep in. Now she’s not dealing with it so much as trying to return to that sense of blissful ignorance. Angel’s not sure how to deal with that, but he’s been around enough to know that Kate could get herself killed if she keeps putting reality at arms’ length.

    Of course, earlier in the season, Kate might have entertained some interest in Angel. He was already a part of her world. Even if she can turn a blind eye to the demons all around her, she can’t dismiss the fact that Angel isn’t just a dark and brooding private investigator. His nature is all too real for her, and she’s terrified to allow him to remain so far within her defenses.

    With so much emphasis on Angel’s past and Kate’s present, there’s not much else for the rest of the cast to do. Wesley plays a critical role to keep the plot moving forward, but Cordy is more or less window-dressing. In some respects, this keeps the episode from hitting all cylinders, since some of the later seasons meshed a larger ensemble cast in far better fashion. But the scenes that do include Cordy feel contrived as it is, so perhaps more would have been equally painful.

    One very interesting discussion between Kate and Angel picks up on one of the more intriguing questions regarding the Buffyverse. Initially, all demons were soulless and evil creatures, the original denizens of the Earth before the Slayer drove them out. But since that point, coming into “Angel”, there were hints of demons with a more neutral, even non-aggressive way of life. This would continue to be explored in the future, but in this case, it becomes a benchmark for Kate’s psychological state. Angel tries to get her to understand that not every demon is evil; Kate, however, needs to see things in black and white at this point.

    Angel’s decision to meddle when it comes to Trevor Lockley’s activities, however justified by the circumstances, is something that comes back to haunt him. He does it, it seems, out of consideration for Kate’s feelings. It might have been better if he had given her some information that would let her verify his discovery independently. By going behind her back, it gives Kate reason to think Angel can’t be trusted, which is not his intention.

    It’s also hard to imagine how Trevor would miss the rather obvious fact that his associates are conducting illegal activities. Does he really believe that something a little illegal is any better for a former law enforcement officer than something completely illegal? Trevor’s motivations are hard to pin down, and they seem designed simply to ensure that his life will be forfeit in the worst possible scenario for Angel and Kate.

    Kate’s peace gesture becomes the impetus for Angel’s attempt to protect Trevor from himself, all in the name of trying to protect Kate from being hurt. Of course, when the time comes, Trevor’s choices deliver consequences before Angel can do anything but watch it happen. He seems to forget, in the interests of taking revenge, that he called Kate and tried to get her to warn her father. In the end, however, the whole situation is designed to make it look like Angel stood by and watched her father be murdered.

    That’s not at all consistent with the fact that Kate armed herself with very specific information in “Somnambulist”; she would know that Angel has to be invited in, regardless of the circumstances. So Kate’s anger towards Angel is really a way of transferring her own sense of blame onto Angel’s shoulders. Kate blames herself, on some level, because she had been trying to ignore the reality of demons. Angel is the one that opened her eyes to that, and so all that self-loathing is given direction.

    This does, however, give Kate a direction that isn’t contrary to the expectations of the fans, who were still hoping for an Angel/Buffy reconciliation. That would be crushed to pieces soon enough, but in the meantime, the audience got a good look at what might have been, had the Slayer been less in love with the vampire with a soul. Kate makes a nice enough Slayer stand-in, despite the inexperience, and that parting shot to Angel is just vicious.

    The theme of the episode, however, is one of tragedy. Angel and Kate are both left without closure, though of course, Angel’s situation is far more damaging in the long run. Kate wasn’t directly responsible for her father’s death, but Angelus definitely murdered his entire family with a smile and a few witty remarks. Angelus thought he was defeating his father, but as Darla points out, he was delivering final victory to Liam’s da without a second thought.

    This brings up an intriguing side to the whole “vampire” concept in the Buffyverse. According to the Watchers, vampires utterly replace the human with a demonic personality, thus eliminating the human entirely. The mechanism of Angel’s curse made that unlikely, and as time marched on, more details emerged. In this episode, Darla puts into words what the totality of the Buffyverse continuity clearly indicates: the demon within a vampire is essentially an invading parasitic entity that comes in, locks onto a person’s psychological obsessions, and heightens them to a massively damaging and violent degree.

    In terms of Angelus, it’s rather complicated. This episode establishes that at least part of Angelus and his deviousness originated with the heightened obsession over living up (or down) to the expectations of Liam’s father. Thus Angelus has an appetite for elaborate destruction, even to the point of self-destructive madness, as per the second season of “Buffy”. Angelus prefers to torture his victims psychologically, and this episode suggests that his methodology is based in the complicated and bitter mental anguish of Angel’s youth.

    This blurs the fine line between the human and demon within a vampire. Most vampires are ruled completely by the demonic persona; indeed, they become the cannon fodder of nearly every “Buffy” teaser sequence. But there seems to be a significant population within the vampire horde that operates on a more substantial level. Spike is ruled by obsessive love (thanks to mommy issues), Angelus is ruled by a need to display the full depth of his cleverness, Drusilla is ruled by her visions and accentuated madness, and so on. The real question is Darla and her motivations, which are explored in more detail later in the series.

    Speaking of Darla, it’s no mistake that the audience was reminded of her role in Angel’s past. By this point, the writers were beginning to see where the series should be going, at least in terms of the second season. One could even assume that the first season itself was seen as something of a loss, given all the outside pressures; the focus was on establishing new characters, clarifying the situation with Kate and later Wolfram and Hart, and then getting the series to the point where a story arc could be firmly established for the second season. Showing Darla in all her glory (and incredibly tight period attire) was a good first step, though hearing David’s version of an Irish accent is hardly a treat.

    Thus this episode marks a turning point for the first season. The rest of the season would have serious highs and lows, and the apparent theme of the series would be lost in the shuffle. It’s not so much that the effort was no longer being made to make the first season meaningful, but when one looks back on the series as a whole, the first season serves as an extending opening chapter to a much more interesting tale to follow.

    “The Prodigal” is one of the season’s better episodes, because it defies expectation by setting Angel and Kate against one another. At this point, there was still an attempt to make Kate and the more darkly rendered “real world” concept for the series work. But the seeds for the more epic, mythological aspect of the series had already been established in “I Will Remember You”. Kate never fit into that side of the story, and so while this episode sends Kate in an interesting and more complex direction, it was closer to a holding action than a strong step forward.
  • 'Ever since she ran me through with a 2 x 4, things have been different.'

    ‘The Prodigal’ is one of the best episodes so far dealing with daddy issues and introducing the flashbacks to the show.

    The episode begins with Angel as human, Liam who was usually drunk and wanted to corrupt the servant, his father mistreated him and says that he wished he had a son because Liam was a terrible disappointment.

    Kate is also back and once again she got daddy issues. Some homeless-looking demons that were usually peaceful are starting to attack people and Kate’s dad happens to be at the crime scene, Kate believes because he was checking on her but Angel knows better. When some suspicious delivering guy leads to Trevor Lockely, Angel for sure knows that he is involved into something.

    The flashbacks were fantastic. We see how Liam got made into Angelus (they use the scene of Buffy’s 2x21) and include some others, like Angelus coming out of the earth and being picked up by Darla. He also goes back to the father that used to make his life so hard and gets invited by his sister who thought he came back to her as an Angel. Then he kills his own father.

    The funny part of the episode was Cordy putting an alarm in the house but then realising it didn’t do much good at all and unplugging it again.
    They also discover some kind of drug in the demons that were supposed to be peaceful, the drug makes demons a lot more stronger and these ones are after it.

    Trevor then gets himself into trouble, he tells the demons to lay back but when he’s gone the boss tells them to kill Lockely and Angel. Angel finds out about this and calls Kate, on his way over to Trevor he finds out that he is already to late and gets killed infront of his eyes, when Kate arrives it’s to late because her father is then already dead.

    Kate wants revenge and goes to kill the main demon but they are to strong, Angel comes to help her and after he saves her she begins to hate vampires including him and doesn’t want his help or to talk to him.

    This episode had a wonderful daddy issues storyline, I felt very bad for Kate because she never truly got along with her father but still she loved him.
    I also loved the flashbacks and Darla telling Angelus that what he did was of love because killing his family took but moments.
    The episode was brilliant, the only weak thing about it was actually that demon-drug storyline.

  • daddy issues

    a very interesting episode that shows us how angel was created by darla and angel as a human having problems with his father. that really made the episode very good and was very well writtenn but what did no work were the demons that used some drygs or something and felt stronger by it. that was kind of dumb.

    at the end kate looses her dad and she had issues with him too. it was sad for her but i hated her dad so i did not care for his death. the last scene was sad and pretty but it turned kate into a vampire hater which is a shame because angel is a vampire.
  • Sins of the Father

    This was a very good episode for those of us who wanted to get more of a glimpse into the dynamic of Angels relationship with his Father. They didn't have much of one; his Father thought Angel (Liam) was pretty much a loser. Angel was the typical rebellious layabout who did what he could to prove his father right. We also got to compare/contrast that relationship with Kate and her Father. Kate did everything she could to make her Father proud, never faltering, and he still couldnt say a kind word to her. We do find out he was looking out for her future, but he was doing it illegally. Angel's Father dies at his hand after he was turned. Kates Dad also dies at the hand of a vampire, and Angel tried in vain to save him. Their relationship is never the same after this.
  • great!

    the greatest episode in this show, after "the trial"!

    to see Angel's relationships with his father, while he was still human... great idea. to see his little sister before she murdered by "him" (actually, it's the demon that controlled his body and made him vampire. but Ketty didn't know it). to call him "angel"? nobody tought her that who that rise from graves are vampires, and not angels? and why nobody in Gallaway noticed that the dead William had a vampire's bitemarks? nobody there knew about vampires? so how his father knew what happened to the grave? even the gravekeeper didn't know...
  • On Today's Oprah, Fathers and The Sons Who Kill Them

    The Prodigal-Usually docile demons are flying into violent rages, and innocent humans are paying the price. The realization that Kate's father is somehow involved brings up a lot of painful memories about Angel's own father. This episode has a moral theme throughout which is father issues. The episode splits itself into 2 storyline, one in the present with Kate and her father and the other with a pre-vamped Angel and his father. The problem is both storylines don't blind together. The plot with Kate's father being invovled with a bunch of demons who are hustling drugs to other demons just drags and isn't interesting. The only scene that's good is the one where Kate and her father bond for once. I mean you do feel bad that Angel wasn't able to save her father, but can't help but want to slap the hell out of Kate. She had no reason to be cold toward Angel after her father was killed. She knows the rules of the vampire and why he couldn't same her father, stop being ungrateful! But the flashback scenes are what make the episode decent where we see Angel as he was before his vampire era. It kind of sad how Angel was a drunk and his father saw him as a disgrace. J. Kenneth Campbell and David Boreanaz are both wonderful and truly capture the essence of father and son. Julie Benz returns to Whedonverse as Darla, the femme fatale vampire who sired Angel. She is great as usual as we see more into how she came about to sire Angel. All and All, an uneven episode with one great plot and one dull one.
  • Angel's period hair and "Irish" accent come out to play...

    Fun words to learn and know: Angel: Well, it was an Evil Thing, in terms of that word. It just wasn't an evil "Evil Thing".

    Dialogue to lose inside the sofa in Hell: Cordelia: Maybe it was just having a bad skanky rag day.

    Another solid outing by the always exemplary Tim Minear. I thought the scenes between Angel and his father particularly moving. I even found myself thinking "Hm, maybe Kate's not so bad." Believe me, no one is more shocked than I am! The parallels between Liam and Kate and their disapproving and overbearing fathers were nicely drawn. It's interesting that while the viewing audience sees these traits in both fathers, neither man is aware of his failings. We're left with the realization that while the men may come off as boorish, each genuinely feels that he is acting in his child's best interest and doesn't view himself as having held said child back in way. Somewhat less entertaining were the Roid-Demon, his circle of minions and the drug-running scheme. This episode is a prime example of one in which the aspects of characterization stand head and shoulders above the action/demon of the week facets of the episode. As always, Angel's period hair and "Irish" accent leave something to be desired. It's a shame the writers didn't choose a locale whose accent David Boreanaz might have had greater mastery over.
  • Parental issues?

    This episodes is all about parental issues.Fatherly issues to be more precise.
    We ve got Angel's flashbacks from his home country, Ireland, and we ve got Kate and her father in present day.
    (side note: Actress who plays Kate should have some acting lessons or something, the scene where she cryes is beyond bad from acting perspective)

    Main plot of this episode is not too interesting, and thus such a "low" score.The real meat of it are the flashbacks, and that we learn more about Angel's past and familiy, and his almost non existant Irish accent :) All in all, an above average ep. but nothing more.
  • Kate's father gets involved with demons.

    The Prodigal is a good episode from Season One, marred by the fact it's main storyline isn't as interesting as it's secondary one. The storyline with Kate and her father only gets interesting 30 minutes in leaving the rest of the storyline slightly boring. The secondary story, in flashback form is excellent though, telling us of Angel's parental issues and his first night as a vampire.

    The main storyline was surprisingly uninteresting because I usually like Kate related storylines but this fell a little flat to me. I didn't like the whole demon- drugring concept and the idea that Mr Lockley was involved was actually quite ludicrous and never really explained in the episode. It did get much better when he died and Elisabeth Rohm was great in her breakdown scene. The actions scenes weren't great and also boring which is also another dampner.

    The secondary storyline was much better, telling us of Angel's deep parental issues with his father and how it is he came to be sired and of how he killed his family. Julie Benz makes her first appearance as Darla here, which is probably the best thing about the episode, as Darla is a fantastic character and her introduction into the show was a great and necessary decision. She truly steals every scene she's in and adds so much to the show. Cordelia and Wesley were downright boring in this episode and none of their witty dialogue is there. No one liners or anything- it definitely detracts from the episode.

    The Prodigal is a solid episode marred by its uninteresting primary storyline and lack of good dialogue.
  • The Prodigal

    The Prodigal was a really good episode of Angel. I really enjoyed watching this story unfold. Angel stumbles upon evidence that Kate's father is on the take with forces he doesn't understand. This episode is a real look at the relationships between father and child. I really think a lot of viewers could relate to the dynamic relationships that the characters had with their fathers. I really enjoyed the flash back scenes getting to know more about Angel and his after life origins. The story of the episode was good, the acting superb, and there was plenty of drama and intrigue to entertain. I can't wait to see what happens next!!!!!