Derek’s Review – 1.15 “The Prodigal”

The Good:

This was Kate’s best episode so far. It is hard denying the fact that she isn’t a likable character. She’s cold, not exactly charismatic and sort of humorless. In short Kate doesn’t have a lot of likable qualities. Yet there is something really engaging about her. There’s no character quite like Kate in the Buffyverse, no matter how brooding Angel gets he is still a total dork, she feels different. You could say she doesn’t even belong but there is something very interesting in her story.

Daddy issues are nothing unique, as if this episode 80% of the cast has them, but I thought the Trevor/Kate story was suitably sad. It’s not quite day-ruining despair but there is something about Kate desperately wanting her father’s approval and never getting it that’s quite sad. Kate’s whole life has been destroyed in a period of a month. She found out there were demons, which forever changes the way she handles her job. Then her father, her hero, dies and she learns he wasn’t quite the hero after all. It makes sense that she lashes out at Angel at the end of the episode. I don’t like Kate more than Angel but I can’t dislike Kate for her reaction to the situation.

The Liam flashbacks were particularly fascinating though. Simply because Liam’s father, while not winning Father of the Year awards, is not that bad of a guy. Liam is every much of a lay about and drunk that his father accuses him of being. Liam is merely using his father berating him as justification for his actions. It’s really interesting decision to show that even before Angel was Angelus he wasn’t a sympathetic guy.

The Bad:

Nothing really but…

The Unknown:

Even with Trevor dying this feels like a huge set-up episode for something down the line. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Darla on the show but what did her presence actually add to the flashbacks. I love her speech to Liam/Angelus in the final moments of the episode. Especially the haunting music that accompanies it. But it is really just an interesting layer of vampire mythology that shows that the audience has as much to learn about these demons as Liam.

This also marks a new direction for Kate’s story. Even if she’s justifiable (sort of) for blaming Angel for her father’s death they still have to make her story interesting. Kate hasn’t been exactly likable but there is a difference between ambivalence to a character’s emotional journey and out-right hating them. I’ve been engaged by Kate but if they take her irrationality and hatred of Angel to new outrageous levels, it doesn’t matter how good Elisabeth Rohm is, the character will be irritating.

Favorite Moment:

Obviously I knew going into this episode that it would be Trevor’s final. So I found myself to be really emotional in what I knew was Kate and Trevor’s final conversation. As an audience we know he is blatantly pumping her for information but Kate has no idea. Seeing Kate get emotional at her father’s interest in her life only to know how betrayed she is about to be is really sad stuff.

Bottom Line:

Despite the atrocious wigs and accents of 1753, there was nothing in this episode I found to be lacking. I’m emotionally connected to Kate but she is certainly a tragic figure and this episode opens up a lot of interesting stories. Hopefully it will capitalize on them.

66 out of 100

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