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Recap / Angel S01E15 "The Prodigal"

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In a flashback to Galway, Ireland, 1753, Angel—at that point, still known as "Liam"—is fighting with his father. Enraged by his son's chronic fecklessness 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 a 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.

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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 follows the Blue Circle courier 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.

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Trevor Lockley invites his daughter to lunch. He asks her questions about Angel. She tells him that Angel is a private investigator and a good one.

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. The drug not only made the normally peaceful Kwaini demon violent, but also enhanced its strength. Angel is concerned that the same drug might also enhance the strength of an already-powerful battle demon. Cordelia, who has been tailing the Blue Circle delivery driver, comes through the door. She has photographs that show the building from where the drug is coming, a business called Kel's Exotic Auto.

Trevor reports on Angel to the drug dealers. He does not know that Kel's Exotic Auto is in the drug business, believing he is helping them to transport auto parts that have been illegally imported into the United States so as to avoid import duties. He resents being asked to remove objects from a crime scene and to pump his daughter for information, which he had never agreed to do, and advises his employers to "dial back" for a while. After he's gone, the demonic head of the drug operation orders his lackeys to kill Angel and Trevor.

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, Angelus rises from his grave and is greeted by Darla. She watches as he morphs and kills his first human, after which he visits Liam's home and kills his family.

Two men in suits visit Trevor Lockley to make sure he hasn't said anything to his daughter. Angel arrives to warm Trevor of the danger in which he's involved, as the men in suits reveal themselves as vampires. Angel is unable to persuade Trevor to invite him inside in time, and is forced to watch helplessly as one of the vampires kills the old man. As soon as Trevor is dead the barrier lifts and Angel leaps into a fight with the two vampires, staking one but Trevor's killer gets away as Kate arrives to find her father dead. Devastated, Kate orders Angel to leave. Angel returns to the office and heavily arms himself for battle, this mission having now become personal.

Kate finds the money her father had been paid and the details for Kel's Exotic Auto. She turns up at the demon drug lord's base and 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 demon. Kate walks away, saying that Angel doesn't know anything about being human.

Back in Angel's past, Darla finds that Angelus has killed all of Liam's family. Although Angelus believes he had the ultimate victory over his father, Darla disagrees; Angelus went straight for the kill and didn't make his father suffer or respect him, telling her new love that he still has a lot to learn. Kate visits her father's grave while Angel watches from the safety of the shadows.


Tropes in this episode:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Justified in the case of Darla, who's more evil than Liam ever could be—alive, anyway.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The henchvamps.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Angel, in 1753, coaxes a pretty female servant into the shadows... only to be pushed into the sunlight by his father. He doesn't burst into flame because he's not a vampire yet, just hungover.
  • Bar Brawl: Liam when he first catches Darla's eye.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Liam became a vampire as a result of a noisy confrontation with his father, which resulted in him getting kicked out. As Angelus, he later "triumphed" by killing his family, saving his father for last.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Kate is interrogating a delivery guy attacked by a demon on the subway.
      Kate: Why did you pull the emergency brake?
      Delivery guy: It was an emergency?
    • Also Cordelia's high-tech alarm system.
      [Kwaini demon bursts in the door]
      Security system: Door is open.
      Cordy: Yeah, thanks!
  • Destination Defenestration: Angel once again tosses a demon through his office window.
    Security system: The window is open.
  • Dirty Cop: Trevor, aiding the drug dealers.
  • Double Entendre: Liam's father is throwing him out of the house.
    Father: Who’ll take you in, huh? No one!
    Liam: I’ll not lack for a place to sleep, I can tell you that.
  • Fantastic Drug: A yellow-ish liquid is driving normally peaceful demons into a frenzy.
    Wesley: Well, it’s difficult to say under these primitive conditions—but what I can tell you is it’s synthetic. It seems to contain properties not unlike street PCP, though more metaphysical in nature of course. I did identify Eye of Newt as one of the ingredients, but one suspects added chiefly for taste, rather than kick.
  • Futureshadowing: The newly risen Vampire!Liam mentions his little sister Kathy believed he had come back to her "an angel."
  • Freudian Excuse: What Liam/Angelus thinks he has.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Liam was just a jobless, drunken, 18th-century Eurotrash lout before Darla sired him.
  • Get Out!: Kate, crying over her father's body, rejects Angel's attempts to explain what happened.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: His crooked cohorts ask Trevor if he's told his daughter about his dealings with them. Trevor is smart enough to realize where this conversation is going and reaches for a hidden gun, not realizing he's dealing with two vampires.
  • The Hedonist: Liam
  • He Knows Too Much: Trevor Lockley's fate, after he starts asking a few too many questions about his associates.
  • Hobos: The Kwaini are a peaceful species of demons who dress up in wool clothes and hats, causing several passerby to mistake them for hobos.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Wesley pompously says that women are even less prepared to deal with the dark demon underbelly of society, only to see Cordelia enthusiastically preparing to hacksaw apart a dead Kwaini demon.
  • Immune to Bullets: The vampires are hurt by Kate's bullets, which she uses to set one up for staking, but their demon leader barely flinches.
  • Ironic Echo: Angel warns Kate never to trust an evil thing. She doesn't.
  • Juggle Fu: Angel throws his fighting axe up in the air, stakes two vampires who come at him from opposite sides, then catches the axe, which he uses to decapitate the head demon.
  • Large and in Charge: The demon boss
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Inverted—a theme of the episode is that people can suffer terrible consequences from a wrong decision. Case in point: Trevor gets involved with drug dealers knowing exactly what they're up to, but that doesn't mean he deserves to die at the hands of vampires.
  • Meaningful Echo: The inscription on Liam's gravestone reads BELOVED SON, that on Trevor Lockley's reads BELOVED FATHER.
  • Must Be Invited:
    • After he was first made a vampire, Liam (not yet Angelus) tricked his own baby sister into inviting him in on the pretense that he was an angel taking the form of her beloved dead brother. Cue aversion of Infant Immortality.
    • In the present day, Angel watches helplessly as two vampires murder Trevor Lockley, who had invited them in earlier but refused to invite Angel in because he knew violence was about to ensue and assumed Angel was an Innocent Bystander. Angel unsuccessfully tries to deter the vampires by saying he'll kill them the moment Trevor dies and he can enter.
  • No Name Given: Neither the demon nor his henchvamps are named in episode or scripts. The demon is referred as "Head Demon Guy", while the leading vamps are "Vamp 1" and "Vamp 2."
  • One-Gender Race: The Kwaini are an all-female species of demon.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner
    Head Demon Guy: You're dead!
    Angel: I’m already dead. [beheads the demon] Welcome to the club.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kate and Angel, in response to Trevor's murder.
  • Rockstar Parking: Lampshaded by Cordelia when she mentions the difficulty of trying to find a parking space while tailing someone.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Liam makes the murder of his family the capstone of his run of terror on his village.
  • Ship Sinking: The death of Kate's father at the fangs of vampires kills off what little romantic potential she has with Angel after discovering his vampire nature in "Somnabulist".
  • Suspect Is Hatless: When interviewing witnesses to a demon assault on the subway, the best Kate can glean from them is suspect is of "average" height, "average" build, and "average" weight. Well, that was helpful.
  • Talk About That Thing: Kate doesn't like using the word "demon" inside the police station, and tells Angel to call it an "evil thing". Hilarity Ensues.
    Angel: It’s just that the ah, Evil Thing—turns out it wasn’t an evil Thing.
    Kate: The evil thing wasn’t an Evil Thing?
    Angel: Well, it was an Evil Thing in terms of that word. It just wasn’t an evil Evil Thing.
    Kate: There are Not Evil Evil Things?
    Angel: Well—yeah.
  • Time for Plan B: Angel is arming himself to the teeth—throwing star, knife at his waist, knife at his ankle, arm sheath stakes.
    Wesley: What happened to calmly, cautiously, and deliberately investigating before rushing in?
    Angel: That was Plan A. We’ve since moved on to Plan B.
    Wesley: And Plan B is?
    Angel: [twirling his axe] Do I really have to explain it to you, Wesley?
  • Tradesnark™: As Wesley is reading aloud from the owner's manual for Cordy's new security system, he actually recites the "TM" at the end.
  • Tough Love: What Liam's father seems to have been going for; he spends all his time telling his son he's useless and not a real man, and that if he leaves now he can never come back... And only realizes when Liam tells him to get out of the way that, well, it didn't really work the way it was supposed to.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When Kate says she's not dating Angel, her father asks if it's because he's from "West Hollywood" (the term for LA's famous Gayborhood).
  • Vertical Kidnapping: Off-screen; Angel pulls a Kwaini demon out of the top vent of the subway train.
  • Wall of Weapons: Angel keeps an assortment of blades in a cabinet. After Trevor's death he pulls many of them out in a Lock-and-Load Montage.
  • Weirdness Censor: It's not just in Sunnydale; the subway passengers all give deliberately vague descriptions of the demon.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: To Liam's confrontations with his father in 1753 Ireland, and the murder of his family as a vampire.
  • Welcome to My World: Darla's first words to Liam following his "rebirth" as a vamp.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Lampshaded by Darla when Liam thinks he's "won" by killing his father.
    Darla: Your victory over him took but moments. But his defeat of you will last lifetimes.
    Angel: What are you talking about? He can’t defeat me now.
    Darla: Nor can he ever approve of you—in this world or any other.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: Darla asks a newly-risen Angelus who in his village he intends to kill first. Angelus replies, "I thought I'd take the village."
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With
    Head Demon Guy: Do you know what walks this city? [Kate shoots him four times; he barely flinches] You have no comprehension! You do not understand what stands before you!
    Angel: [Axe Twirling Walk-In Chime-In] A big, ugly drug-running demon, who thinks he is a lot scarier than he is, maybe? Yeah. She knows.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Wesley calls what he is doing to the pieces of dead demon a "vivisection." Really hope not.
  • You Remind Me of X: Angel watches Kate Lockley, with her Buffy-like hairstyle, in the cemetery.
  • You're Not My Type: Kate's father suggests the possibility of Kate and Angel getting together. Kate responded, "He's not my type. Or I'm not his. There's definitely a type involved, and it's the wrong one."

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