Cookie Dough Part 1: Buffy and Angel

The first time I ever watched through Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I inadvertently started mid-way through season five. In some ways, I think that affected how I think about several aspects of the show. I thought Dawn was obnoxious but grew to love her, and I’ve always been firmly in the “Buffy belongs with Spike” camp. There’s probably a book in this discussion, but as I’m busy writing fiction at the moment, I’ve decided to tackle it here.

So here we begin. At the start. At Buffy’s first love.

The Basics

Buffy and Angel meet in a dark alley, with Angel following her to warn her of the Master’s imminent plan to escape from his underground lair and, well, take over the world. Their chemistry is quickly evident, and by episode seven, they share their first kiss — a kiss that reveals Angel’s rather bumpy fangy side. Aside from the obvious irony of a slayer and a vampire falling for one another, Angel happens to be the quintessential vampire.

Born with the name Liam in 1727 in Galway, Ireland, Liam was sired by Darla in 1753 and changed his name to Angelus. He was notorious as the single most dangerous and brutal vampire in the world — he and Darla cut a swathe through Europe until Angelus murdered the prized daughter of a Roma tribe in 1898 — and the gypsies cursed him with the one thing they thought would make him suffer for his crimes. A soul.

For a hundred years, Angel wandered until a demon named Whistler showed up and pointed him on the way to his redemption — and toward a tiny blonde cheerleader who was about to be called as the new slayer. When Angel arrived in Sunnydale, he’d already been bitten by the big lovey-dovey bug, and it didn’t take Buffy long to reciprocate.

The "mrow" factor is a little dampened by the whole "after this, I'll try to eat your friends" thing. Image via

The Blossoming

As Buffy puts it, it’s tough to date a guy when he only shows up once a month and says, “Honey, there’s a big evil a-brewin’!” In spite of that little hiccup, they form a relationship. Despite the underlying warnings we see from Jenny Calendar that Buffy’s presence threatens the curse that keeps Angel ensouled, Buffy doesn’t know it, and their relationship becomes more and more physical into season two until the inevitable occurs.

Buffy and Angel make love, which turns out to be the catalyst for Angel to reach a moment of pure happiness — and lose his soul. When Buffy wakes in the morning, Angel is gone, reverted to Angelus. In what can only be described as one of the worst possible scenarios for losing one’s virginity, Angelus doesn’t just dump Buffy. He begins to terrorize her friends, her family, and he murders Jenny Calendar before trying to raise the demon Acathla and destroy the world.

Not the best step forward in a relationship, sending your boyfriend to a hell dimension. Image via

Buffy is forced to kill the man she loves moments after Willow succeeds in returning Angel’s soul. When Angel is miraculously returned to Earth in season three, Buffy hides his return from everyone — including from Giles, whom Angel tortured nearly to death. When the secret comes out into the open, Angel and Buffy resume their relationship only to realize that they cannot be together.

Buffy reacts like…well, a teenager. At least at first. But she soon realizes that Angel is right — they have no future together. Over the next few seasons, they have a few tumultuous interactions, including one where Buffy crosses over onto Angel when he becomes human. For one day, they are able to explore their relationship until Angel realizes that he has to sacrifice his happiness if he wants to be a champion and asks the Powers That Be to take back the day.

In season seven, they have a conversation right before Buffy takes on The First, where she says she’s cookie dough. Not done baking yet — but that she does sometimes think about who she might end up with. Angel acts like he thinks he and Buffy could be together, even though at that point his love (Cordelia) is in a coma. This dynamic of “maybe we could be together” continues into season nine, but Buffy is the one who finally makes the definitive choice — realizing that she and Angel could never work out.

One of the sweeter scenes in the entire series. Image via

The Bones

There are heaps of people who are hardcore believers in Buffy and Angel’s relationship. Even when I first watched it, I couldn’t hold to it. There are many factors that make this relationship prohibitive, as deep and affecting as it is. There is nothing that compares to a first love, but few people ever end up with that person. More than anything else, that’s what I feel is the core of the Buffy and Angel relationship. Angel is Buffy’s first love, but while normal people have more mundane reasons for first loves not working out (distance, growing apart, college), for Buffy and Angel their reasons had wide-ranging effects.

They cannot have sex. For the vast majority of people, sex is an integral part of a successful romantic relationship. If Buffy and Angel ever have sex, he loses his soul and goes more evil than Darth Vader without his fuzzy Anakin side.

For all his age, Angel has severe difficulties letting go of Buffy. Though he removes himself from her life, he keeps nosing back in when he thinks it’s appropriate — something that causes more than a few problems for Buffy’s relationships and her own emotional state. She tries to move on, but he doesn’t let her. Granted, there are moments when she does the same, but their interactions take it beyond romanticism into the proverbial kicking of a dead horse.

Ultimately, the 800-pound gorilla in the relationship is the fact that Angel has been cursed with a soul. While he is what’s on the outside, Angelus is always within wanting out. Angelus wants Buffy dead. Angel is a walking duality, and half of his being wants to kill the woman his other half purports to love. That is the biggest and most compelling reason they can never work. There is always the risk that Angel can lose his soul and turn evil.

Angel’s goodness is forced upon him, and even ensouled, he tends to make decisions that not are not only self-serving but often downright malicious, such as when he locks Wolfram and Hart’s lawyers into a wine cellar with a very pissed off Darla and Drusilla. Even with a soul, Angel has a darkness that prohibits him from having healthy relationships — and he is virtually incapable of having any fully realized romantic relationship because of the risk of him losing his soul.

Their relationship is a metaphor for many abusive relationships — the abuser is kind and loving, romantic and passionate until something sets him or her off. In their case, it’s sex. Suddenly a switch is flipped, and the abuser becomes a completely different person. Jealous and angry, unpredictable and violent. You cannot be with a person that has those two sides — it doesn’t work for anyone.

Buffy and Angel’s relationship is the epitome of a first love, with all the pain and and passion that entails. It also shows how much people yearn for that love, how strong the desire is to make it work even when everything screams that it can’t. As much as both of them wish it could work, there are too many reasons that Angel and Buffy can never be together. Their relationship is often unhealthy and plagued with distrust on both sides. And so Buffy’s words to Angel in season seven remain true: she’s still cookie dough.

I want to know what you think. Do you think Buffy and Angel have a legitimate chance to one day work it out? If so, have you read season nine? Who do you want to see Buffy end up with?

Stay tuned for Cookie Dough Part 2: Buffy and Spike!


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on March 10, 2012, in Buffy, Salacious Saturday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I actually liked the whole Buffy and Spike thing 😀

  2. Great post. I’m Team Spike all the way. Angel was Buffy’s first love, not soulmate. I’ve never read/seen anything beyond the season 7 finale so I don’t know if they had any interactions after that.

  3. An award for you! Stop by to collect…
    🙂 Kana

  4. I am Team Spike all the way. I didn’t start that way, but when he started showing his true colors I quickly switched sides. He is much more interesting. Great post Emmie! I have to say, though, my heart broke when Buffy had to send Angel to hell. That really sucked the big one.

  5. I thought the evolution of Buffy and Angel’s relationship was great, even though it was painful to watch them come to the place where they had to let go. I think I shared the wistful feeling that came from realizing they had to move on, but I agreed with that conclusion.

    I didn’t realize there were “camps” around this! I haven’t read (or even heard of) season nine, so my comments are based only on having watched both Buffy and Angel. If I had to choose between Angel or Spike as the “one” for Buffy, I’d go with Spike. But I’m not so big on the idea of The One, so I’d say I’d want Buffy to end up with whoever she chooses that will be a good partner for her — even if it’s someone we never met in the show.

    By the way, your post reminds me of two things not completely related to the topic. First, I found the gypsy curse incredibly ill-conceived. That it had a clause to have Angel’s soul leave (freeing Angelus) under any circumstances was stupid on the part of the gypsies.Second, in the beginning I was not impressed with David Boreanaz’s acting, but his transition from Angel to Angelus was really well done and it was great to see his acting chops develop over the course of those two shows (and later in “Bones”).

    Thanks for another thoughtful (and thought-provoking) post!

  6. I’m going to buck the trend here, and state my alliegence to team Angel. (I’m generally resistant to change!) Not that I’m saying their relationship was healthy, but neither was Buffy’s relationship with Spike. For me, Angel was more Buffy’s soulmate than Spike, although for many of the reasons you’ve cited they would probably never have made it as a couple.

    I never bought the curse thing. I was always irritated by the fact that a moment of “pure happiness” translated to sex with Buffy – and nothing else. Seemed a little one-dimensional to me.

    • In Angel’s show, they pretty much made the curse into sex with anyone he loved. In one episode when he’s in love with Cordelia, they used an illusion of him sleeping with her to bring out Angelus.

      I know a lot of people who are gung-ho Angel fans to the end, but I’ve never been able to get behind it. He has such a dichotomy within him that makes him truly lethal, and for that I could never accept that Buffy and Angel should be together. The one and only reason Angel (as described by the inhabitant of that body) loves Buffy is because of a curse that restrains his nature. Angelus is incapable of love, and I don’t think I could ever commit to someone who had that part of them so wholly destructive even if it were compartmentalized. Additionally, Angel’s character underwent some massive changes in the comics that only strengthened my beliefs about his character as a whole. His arc is really interesting, if painful. If you have a chance to read season 8 (and season 9, which is ongoing right now), I would highly suggest it. Also the Angel and Faith series going on right now is killer — and I still need to read After the Fall, which takes place after Angel season 5.

  7. The scene where they dance at her prom is one of the saddest moments in all of television, maybe only surpassed by the episdoe “The Body”, where buffy’s mother dies. And, I’m actually Team Neither, because I’d like to see Buffy end up with someone who has experienced the darkness but is human, sorta like Wesley after about Season 3 of Angel. (Not Wesley – although he’s pretty cute – but someone who’s on the same page she is.)

    • I could get behind that, although I wonder if she could manage to find someone human who could deal with her preternatural strength and calling. Riley was her only long term human boyfriend, and he couldn’t handle her being so much stronger than him and constantly put himself in danger to assuage his flagging ego.

      But…in my forthcoming posts on this subject, I will explore Buffy’s side of things. 🙂

  8. Great post! Angel is certainly an enigma, in the truest sense of the word, and I think you hit the nail on the head when you said his ever-present duality of nature prevents him from having a healthy relationship with anyone, let alone Buffy. But there has always been a place in my heart for Angel.

    I’m really glad you mentioned Buffy’s crossover into Angel Season 1. That episode is, in my opinion, one of Joss Whedon’s crowning achievements. Of course I love all of the musical/silent/alt universe episodes in the Buffyverse, but there is something so heartbreakingly HUMAN about that episode that never fails to bring tears to my eyes. How beyond even just wanting each other, Buffy and Angel just wanted to be normal. Eating peanutbutter in bed and talking about the future. And in the moment Angel got everything he ever wanted, he sacrificed it all for a greater good. To me, that was more evidence of a soul than anything he did before or after that moment.

    Even if that meant paving the way for Riley. Blugh.

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