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"The Prodigal" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of Angel and the fifteenth episode in the series. Written by Tim Minear and directed by Bruce Seth Green, it was originally broadcast on February 22, 2000, on The WB network.


FACE YOUR DEMONSAngel is haunted by images of his past as a young man in 1753 Ireland, his overbearing father, his vampire birth by his past lover, Darla, and his family's murder by his own hand. Meanwhile, when Angel spots Kate's father at a crime scene, his investigations may change Kate's life forever.[1]


In Galway, Ireland, 1753, Angel, at that point still known as Liam, is beckoning to a servant girl. She asks him why he won't come on into the light, and he tells her the sun hurts his eyes. Suddenly, Liam's father comes up behind him and pushes him out into the sun. His father tells him that he knows why he's so ill, it's because he's been out carousing again with drinking and whoring all night. He asks Liam why he must also corrupt the servants and Liam reminds him that they only have the one servant and that everyone gets corrupted. Enraged by his son's chronic fecklessness and current mocking demeanor, his father slaps him on 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, right in front of a train, in a L.A. subway tunnel. As Detective Kate Lockley arrives at the subway, an officer catches her up on what happened: a crazy homeless guy went nuts on the train and started tearing up the place. He says that one of the passengers pulled the emergency brake. Kate asks about the suspect, but the officer admits he got away. Kate questions that, since it was a hostage situation. The officer tells her they're still trying to get the story, but it's a little unclear. She points out that there are dozens of witnesses, and he says that they're all saying the same thing: the suspect went out the top of the train while it was still moving, something he knows is impossible. Kate questions him climbing out of a moving train, and the officer clarifies that the passengers are saying that he was pulled out. Kate wants to know what he was pulled out by, and the officer just shakes his head. As she storms off towards the train, Kate angrily tells him to just get statements.

Meanwhile, Angel is still battling the demon in front of the train. Kate comes running around the train with her gun drawn and gasps at the scene. She arrives just in time to see the demon clutch its chest, sink to the ground, and expire. Kate aggravatingly states that at least she can forget about reading him his rights. Kate assumes that it's not human and asks Angel if it's dead. Angel tells her it is, and she sounds relieved now that she's verified that demons, or other creatures, can actually die. Kate tells him she's still not used to the otherworldly stuff. Angel tries to clarify that demons were actually on Earth first, but Kate walks away, not wanting to hear it. Angel runs to catch up with her while she sarcastically wonders aloud whether she should call the coroner or Hazardous Materials. Angel asks her not to call anyone and says he'll have someone take care of it. When she asks what she's supposed to put in the report, Angel tries to convince her not to report the supernatural aspects of this case.

Later, an officer interviews the courier for Blue Circle Delivery who pulled the emergency cord after allegedly being attacked by "your average Joe-stink homeless guy." Kate questions his vague description of the homeless guy, since he described him entirely as average in every category, and she also wants to know why he pulled the brake. The courier points out that the guy was coming directly at him and says that it was an emergency. Kate tells the officer to circulate the description so they can find the criminal. Angel points out that Kate's father, retired police detective Trevor Lockley, is there, and Kate goes over to see what's going on. After she's done talking, she happily says that she thinks her dad was actually checking up on her. When Angel tries to talk to her about it, she suddenly tells he can't kill a demon in front her and then act like her friend. Angel wants to know how they're going to work, and she says doesn't know, they just have to be professional around one another.

In Galway, 1753, Liam is brawling in a pub. Darla takes notice of him and is highly interested. The barmaid warns her about him, saying his promises mean nothing come the next morning. Darla, amused, tells her that wouldn't be a problem for her.

At the Angel Investigations offices, Angel is dazed off when Cordelia brings his attention back to what they're doing. She tells him that they need a code, and he's confused until she clarifies it's for the security system. Wesley walks in holding some reference books and says he's identified the demon: a Kwaini demon, who are a female, inherently non-violent race. The AI team wonders what could set off this demon in that aggressive way. Wesley says there had to be something, but Angel thinks it could've been someone.

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 explains to Kate that the demon she saw dead in the subway is not an evil "evil thing." She questions if that's possible, and Angel replies: "Well… yeah." She apologizes for making the assumption that all "evil things" are evil. Angel asks for a list of the passengers, but Kate points out that everyone checked out. She's adamant that the creature just turned out to be plain evil and there is nothing going on. She reminds him that he told her to forget about it, so she says that's what she's going to do.

The AI team splits up to pursue their two leads. Angel follows the Blue Circle courier to an apartment building, where Trevor 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.

In Galway, 1753, 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 abandon, besting several men in quick succession. That night, luring the young man into an alley with promises of exotic experiences and places, Darla bites Liam then draws her blood for him to drink in turn, siring him.

Trevor invites his daughter to lunch, and he asks her questions about Angel. Trevor asks if they are seeing one another, and she says he's not her type, or she's not his. Kate answers him that Angel is a private investigator and a good one. She asks why Trevor came to this meeting to ask her about a guy he's seen with her once. Trevor said he didn't, he's just worried because she is alone.

After Cordelia and Wesley locate 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 has properties akin to PCP, but it has a more mystical formula. Wesley found eye of newt in it, but he thinks that was just added for taste. The drug not only made the normally peaceful Kwaini demon violent, but it 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's wearing a short blond wig with large glasses. She has photographs that show the building from where the drug is coming from, a business called Kel's Exotic Auto.

Trevor reports to the drug dealers about Angel. 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. Trevor 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 he advises his employers to "dial back" for a while. After Trevor is gone, the demon head of the drug operation orders his lackeys to kill Angel and Trevor.

In Galway, 1753, Liam's family attends his funeral. His father stands firm until the coffin is completely buried. Later that night, Liam rises from his grave and is greeted by Darla. He tells her that he could hear the heartbeats and smell the blood of the people above him while he was being buried. Darla watches as Liam morphs and kills his first human, a a groundskeeper, after which Liam says he has to go and do something. Darla smiles in glee as he rushes away.

After Cordelia sets the new alarm code, Angel comes in and says he's going to do recon. Wesley says he's going with him, but Angel tells him no because he wants to be conspicuous and doesn't want to make a move until they have to. Kate suddenly comes into their office without setting off the alarm, and Cordelia angrily grabs the directions from Wesley. Kate asks Angel if she can talk to him for a moment. As soon as they get into his office, she hands him a paper with the list of names he requested before. He asks why she changed her mind, and she says it's because of something her father said: he asked if Angel was good, and she said he was. Kate realizes she has to face this at some point. Angel tells Cordelia and Wesley that he's going out again.

As soon as he leaves, Cordelia sets the alarm again. A few seconds after, two Kwaini demons burst in. The alarm goes off saying the door is open and the window is ajar, to which Cordelia is aggravated at it telling them something they already know. Cordelia and Wesley each try to fight off a demon, but the demons strength is something they can't battle. Suddenly, Angel appears from his office holding the vial with the drug Wesley extracted from the first demon. He taunts the demons and tosses the vial into his office. Once both demons jump inside to try to grab the vial, he tosses one out of the window and interrogates the other one.

Angel calls Kate and tells her to get ahold of her father as he is in danger and he needs to get out of his apartment. He also makes a point of telling her that the ones who are going after Trevor are vampires and she will know the danger, but her father won't. Meanwhile, two men in suits visit Trevor to make sure he hasn't said anything to his daughter.

In Galway, 1753, Liam has returned to his father's home. He's taunting him about trying to keep the demons out of the house by boarding up the windows and rubbing garlic on the door frame. His father can't understand how he got into the house since he wasn't invited. Liam says he was invited and indicates towards the door where his sister's body lies. Liam's father attacks him, calling him a murderer, but Liam is able to throw him aside, sending his father back against the wall. Liam muses how he could have ever let such a tiny man terrorize him in the way he did. He tells his father that he has made something of himself, despite all of his claims otherwise. Liam walks to his father, who is praying as Liam bites him.

Angel arrives to Trevor's apartment warn him 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, so he can only watch as one of the vampires kills the 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.

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. The demon who runs the operation comes out, and Kate tries to shoot him. Angel shows up and helps her fight. He puts his axe to the head demon's throat and makes a deal for them to walk out. The demon agrees, but they only take a few steps when one of the vampires grabs Kate again. Kate stakes it as Angel, throwing his axe into the air, uses his stake bracers to take out the other two vampires. He catches his axe and swings it, chopping off the head of the demon in charge.

Angel asks Kate if she's okay, then makes a quip about never trusting an evil "evil thing." Kate, however, doesn't look at him. Angel starts to try to console Kate about her father, but she turns to him and says her father was human. She tells Angel he doesn't know anything about being human before walking away.

In Galway, 1753, Darla finds that Liam has killed all of his family. Although he believes he had the ultimate victory over his father, Darla disagrees; Liam went straight for the kill, which took mere moments. He tries to point out that his father can never have a victory over him again, but Darla clarifies, saying that Liam can also never get his father's approval now, in this or any other life. She calls Liam very young and then explains that who they were always shapes who they are and who they will become in the future, and that the love of the kill is what's important. Liam questions that, trying to clarify what killing his entire family had to do with love. Darla tells him that he still has a lot to learn, but that he will get there.

Angel, hiding in the shadows, watches over Kate as she places flowers on her father's grave. He waits for her to walk away before he too turns and leaves.


  • Liam standing in shadow and coaxing Anna closer is reminiscent of a soulless Angel standing in Sunnydale High School hallway's shadows luring Willow closer in "Innocence."
  • This is the first appearance of Darla on Angel. She'll 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's response in "The Harvest": "People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't."
  • Darla's line to Angel, "What we once were informs all that we have become," stands in direct contrast to Buffy's insistence in "Doppelgängland" that "a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was." In the same episode, Angel almost corrects Buffy on this point, but he decides better of it.
  • Some of the 1753 scenes are originally from "Becoming, Part One."
  • It is implied in this episode that Cordelia had her 19th birthday two weeks earlier; in "Birthday," her birthday is set about the second week of January.



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • A Kwaini demon, killed by Angel.
  • Angel, sired by Darla in 1753 (in flashback).
  • The unidentified groundskeeper, killed by Angel in 1753 (in flashback).
  • Trevor Lockley, bitten by a vampire.
  • Three vampires, staked by Angel.
  • Liam's sister, mother, and father, killed by Angel in 1753 (in flashback).
  • Two vampires, staked by Kate Lockley.
  • Dealer head demon, killed by Angel.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Tim Minear explains the problem with filming on location: "They shot the graveyard stuff at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, which is right behind Paramount. That was a real cemetery, and it was very cold that night. We could see our two vampires' breath, which is a little bit of a problem, but they couldn't afford to take it out."[2]
  • At Liam's funeral, the eulogy given by the priest is presumably much longer, but we hear only a few phrases, such as: "Taken too soon from the bosom of his family, a man of just 20 years and 6, Liam was well-loved by everyone he met. Receive this your humble servant. We pray that you may take his eternal soul into your care, Father." Liam was turned into vampire Angel in 1753; not long before that, funeral orations were philosophical and theological in nature, along the lines of: "Now, the rest of you, try to avoid the sins of this sinner," but they began to focus on praise and memory of the departed in the late 18th century.
  • Bob Fimiani, the actor who portrays the unidentified groundskeeper, also portrays Mr. Ward in "The Yoko Factor" and "Primeval" and Glith-roo in "Heartthrob."
  • Mark Ginther, who portrays the head demon in this episode, returns as Lasovic in "The Ring" and Jonathan's demon form in "Life Serial."


  • "The Prodigal" had an audience of 3.3 million households upon its original airing.[3]


  • The cemetery groundskeeper recites the Lord's Prayer improperly, omitting the phrase "on Earth as it is in Heaven."
  • When Angel's father is the last mourner present, he is shown breaking down and crying as the camera zooms down on the grave. When the camera pans back up, he is suddenly stoic with no evidence of tears.
  • Wesley states that he has performed a "vivisection" on the Kwaini. Vivisection surgeries are performed on living subjects; as the demon was deceased, the procedure is called instead a dissection or an autopsy.
  • The tip of a boom mike can be seen when Kate and Angel are in her office talking about "evil evil things."
  • Trevor's eyes blink when Kate is crying over his dead body.


International titles[]

  • Czech: "Marnotratník" (Prodigal)
  • Finnish: "Tuhlaajapoika" (Prodigal)
  • French: "1753"
  • German: "Vaterliebe" (Paternal Love)
  • Hungarian: "A tékozló fiú" (The Prodigal Son)
  • Italian: "L'amore non muore" (Love Never Dies)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Filho Pródigo" (The Prodigal Son)
  • Russian: "Расточительность" (Prodigality)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "El hijo pródigo" (The Prodigal Son)
  • Spanish (Spain): "El hijo pródigo" (The Prodigal Son)
  • Turkish: "Tutumsuzluk" (Wastefulness)


Promotional stills[]


Kate: "Look, no offense. I think you're probably a pretty decent guy for a... you know... what you are."
Angel: "Ever since she ran me through with a two-by-four, things have been different."
Wesley: "I think you'll find most people require some period of adjustment after being confronted with the dark forces which surround us. Women in particular..."
Cordelia: (kneeling over a demon with a hacksaw in hand) "Found it!"
Wesley: "...struggle with it."
Darla: "Who is he?"
Barmaid: "Who, that one?"
Darla: "Yes. He's magnificent."
Barmaid: "Oh yeah, God's gift, all right."
Darla: "Really! I've never known God to be so generous."
Barmaid: "Oh, his lies sound pretty when the stars are out, but he forgets every promise he's made when the sun comes up again."
Darla: "That wouldn't really be a problem for me, actually."
Darla: "This contest is ended, is it?"
Angel: "Now I've won."
Darla: "Are you sure?"
Angel: "Of course. I proved who had the power here."
Darla: "You think?"
Angel: "What?"
Darla: "Your victory over him took but moments."
Angel: "Yes?"
Darla: "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. What we once were informs all that we have become. The same love will infect our hearts, even if they no longer beat. Simple death won't change that."
Angel: "Love. Is this the work of love?"
Darla: "Darling boy. So young, still so very young."


  1. "Angel- Season 1 Episode Guide." Lol's Site. Retrieved on August 17, 2021.
  2. Edward Gross, "ANGEL: Season One, Episode By Episode with Tim Minear - Part 4." TimMinear.net 5.0, September 26, 2000. Archived from the original on July 30, 2018.
  3. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's First Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 18, 2008.