Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S01E15 – The Prodigal

In the fifteenth episode of the first season of Angel, good lord, this is bleak. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

I can sort of see people not liking Angel, nor being that into the character of Angel. I might also get not liking “The Prodigal” either. I think that there are plenty of people who aren’t into dudes angst-ing their lives away about their daddy issues. It’s been interesting to me to watch this show because it has the entire emotional history of three seasons of Buffy behind. Basically, I’m still in the process of trying to appreciate it as its own thing. “Hero” certainly helped in a weird way. That episode couldn’t have happened on “Buffy.” And even though I have been begging for more of Angel’s history for a while, I’m glad that it was given its own space here on this show. It was also interesting to see bits of “Becoming, Part One” used in tandem with new footage to give us a horrifying context to Angel’s life.

I’ll always have father issues because it’s now impossible for me to get closure on them. My dad isn’t here anymore, and I never got to tell how I felt about my childhood with him. In a way, I find something remarkably similar in the situation we see with Liam. Actually, wait, do I have to call him Liam? It’s really distracting because he’s Angel, not Liam. I know, I know, it’s his real name, but when I was born, I was named Kevin until I was adopted. So I don’t exactly go around telling everyone that little fact! Wait… I just did. Fuck. Don’t tell anyone.

I suppose it’s also easy for me to enjoy this episode (aside from the SADFEST, I mean) because I seriously adore Kate. I’m getting very nervous about saying that, because that means she can’t last much longer, but ALLOW ME THESE RARE MOMENTS. I just can’t believe how well she’s written, and how much respect the writers give her. It would be so much easier for her to come around and trust Angel, but I find it so much more fascinating and rewarding that she doesn’t. She makes her decision, and the writers don’t torment her for it. Instead, what we get is an exploration of her issues trusting other people. Why should she have to deal with Angel’s world? She shouldn’t, plain and simple.

The events that are happening in the present are also contrasted with the past, and my brain started imagining Angel as an episode of LOST because the framing device for “The Prodigal” reminded me of how LOST operated. Let’s not go there right now. I think Angel saw himself in Kate because of the dynamic she had with her father. Both of them wanted approval and affection from their fathers, and neither got them in any satisfying way. I admit that I had totally forgotten that Angel had eaten his family, and I may have felt all weird and unsettled after watching him do it. You know what comforted me? Darla. Because I really like her and I really like Julie Benz and I know it’s probably asking too much, but I’d be down to see more of her. I shouldn’t say that, should I? Well, she was already killed off, so it can’t get worse, can it??? WHY AM I ASKING THESE QUESTIONS HAVE I LEARNED NOTHING.

The point I was trying to get to was that Darla helps Angel realize something about who he’ll always be. You know, it’s telling that upon being turned into a vampire, Angelus’s first thought is to go after his whole family. He didn’t just torment his father, even though it was his father that drove him to drink. (I suppose that’s a questionable assumption, but I’m thinking about how hard it is to live up to the expectations your parents set, and I could see that being a damn understandable reason why he would act out.) He had to destroy everyone else in his family first in order to make his father suffer. This wasn’t about a simple chance to get back at his father, but a deep, disturbing act of revenge. Darla makes a fine point about this: it’s proof that Angel’s father got under Angel’s skin. How is killing his father going to solve anything? He’ll still believe forever that he was never good enough for his father. Guess what, Angel? She was right. Here you are, hundreds of years later, and you know you weren’t good enough for your father because of what you did to him.

Darla, please come be insightful near me. I need the therapy.

I have too many other thoughts. Deal with it.


  • I actually think it’s kind of a big deal that Cordelia is so hands-on these days. This is not something she would have ever done in season one of Buffy.
  • Also her wig was kind of neat?
  • I have taken it to be rather charming in an extremely campy/terrible way to witness this show (and Buffy) attempt period pieces. David Boreanaz’s accent is still awful. And Julie Benz JUST DID NOT HAVE ONE AT ALL. I laughed. I’m pretty sure Liam’s father had a different accent than his son? Just bless this show for not even trying.
  • Look, I’m trying not to be Sassy Gay Friend all the time, but Kate’s hair looked SO GOOD in this episode.
  • So, remember when I praised the premiere of season three of Buffy for replicating the atmosphere of downtown Los Angeles quite faithfully? I’d like to rescind that compliment because that is the worst attempt at using a Metro station ever. First of all, I’m not even sure they used a real one. I know this because I did not own a car in L.A., and I have been to practically every stop on all the rail lines. L.A. Metro doesn’t have big helpful signs hanging overhead telling you which side to take downtown. That would be sensical. Then it made me think about The X-Files episode “Medusa” in season eight, which utilizes the MacArthur Park station (WHICH I LIVED DOWN THE STREET FROM FOR LIKE 3.5 YEARS OMMMMGGG) to double as Boston, and even that did a better job than this episode did.
  • Let it be said that I think that while Angel had good intentions, he kind of fucked this one up.
  • Kate staked two vampires. Yes, please.
  • I thought the delivery guy was Danny McBride for a second.
  • I entertained the thought that Angel would save Trevor’s life for about five seconds. That was a mistake.
  • Christ, this episode is supremely depressing.
  • More Darla, please.

Mark Links Stuff

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– I now have a Lulu storefront, where you can purchase physical copies of all of my previously released books, including a full Mark Reads Twilight book that includes all four sets of Twilight reviews.
– I am going on tour in the following cities this month (click the name for the Facebook RSVP page): San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. I still need venues/spaces in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and Portland. Even if it’s your house, I don’t care. I’ll show up! Please let me know if you have any ideas. I can also be reached at markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com.
– I am presenting for three days at Ascendio 2012! Come hang out and have the best weekend ever in July!
– Mark Watches The Two Towers will happen most likely on Sunday at 1pm PDT, which is the same as this past weekend. Y’all better break the comment record again.
– I finish Mark Reads The Princess Bride on April 13th, and then Mark Reads Sandman begins on Monday, April 16th. I will split up reviews by issue, and I will be reading the extra books/volumes. IT SHALL BE GRAND.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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