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This here post will contain spoilers.
It’s impossible to talk about the villains of Buffy without discussing Angelus. Of all the show’s Big Bads, Angelus is is the one that never goes away. While the Master and Adam and Glory all go the way of the very dead dodo, Angelus is always there inside Angel. He doesn’t go away. So let’s explore this character and what gives him the power he has.
Angel was born human in the 1700s and turned into a vampire by Darla when he was in his mid 20s. After that, he quickly became one of the biggest, baddest vampires in all the land. He and Darla cut a swathe through Europe and left a trail of bodies behind them. He formed a design on a young seer woman called Drusilla, torturing her family and tormenting her until she fled to a convent — where he then massacred every other nun around her the day she was supposed to take her holy orders. He drove her insane, then turned her into a vampire. Drusilla then turned William, a young English poet in love with a socialite above his “level” in society. William became Spike, and the four of those crazy kids left a trail of blood across the world.
Until Angelus, you know, picked the wrong victim. He killed a young Roma woman, and her tribe cursed him with the one thing they thought would cause him to truly suffer: a soul.
While most vampires in the Buffyverse maintain a certain element of their humanity, Angelus did not. The other evils of the world even remarked on the purity of his nastiness. So much so that the First Evil wanted him on its team. But after his soul was returned, Angelus became someone else. And lost the crappy Irish accent. (Sorry, David Boreanaz.)
Angel as Angelus
When we first meet Angel, he’s a sort of broody, stalky type who hides in the shadows and looks handsome whilst doling out cryptic remarks. Throughout the first and second seasons, his relationship with Buffy develops into love until they consummate their union. Because fun fact: a soul curse is only good if you stay miserable. The second Angel experiences perfect happiness, POOF. He zaps back into sadistic-killer mode.
Bit of an oversight on the part of the curser, no?
Angel’s flip to Angelus is a whole gumbo of allegory, from the very basic “guy changes after getting sex” to the supernatural lens imposed on a less-than-ideal first sexual experience. But with Angelus, it always felt like more than that to me. Angelus’ first interaction with Buffy once he’s back in charge is not violent. It is, to quote The Princess Bride, NOT to the death. It’s to the pain. He deliberately causes her emotional anguish.
Angelus sets about tormenting Buffy and her friends, killing Willow’s goldfish and murdering Jenny Calendar. That moment, every time I watch it, is a picture of the finality of death. He breaks her and then uses her body to manipulate and terrify Giles.
Angelus as an Archetype
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about this character. And the conclusion I came to is probably not hugely popular. I look at Angel as an abuser. He goes through the honeymoon phase, where everything is full of blood and peaches. But then something makes him snap, and when he snaps, he becomes a tornado of pain and devastation. When he’s done, he feels really bad about it, and it’s back to the honeymoon phase. The cycles of his character are, to me, very archetypical of an abuser. Some people see Angel and Angelus as two distinct people, but I’ve never really subscribed to that. Angelus is always present within Angel. Angel even acknowledges this constant struggle, because as we see in his spinoff series, the demon inside him is a discrete entity even from Angelus.
It must be crowded in there.
It’s no secret that I’ve never considered Angel a good mate for Buffy. The biggest reason for that is Angelus. He’s always there, just beneath the surface. While Spike’s shift through the moral spectrum is organic (albeit in many cases, self-serving), Angelus was restrained only because of an external impetus. And there is always the possibility that he will reemerge. And while Angelus is a single-minded evil being, his “humanized” side still perpetrates some pretty atrocious acts (like siccing Darla and Drusilla on a wine cellar full of lawyers, not to mention his actions in the continuation of his story in the comics).
Angelus is a villain who can only be contained, and even his “good” counterpart makes morally abominable decisions on a regular basis. I could probably write a book dissecting this character more, but instead, I’ll leave you with an Angelus quote from the season two episode “Passion.”
“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping … waiting … and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir … open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us … guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love … the clarity of hatred … the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”
What do you think about Angel/Angelus? Does the fact that his soul was forced upon him negate or cheapen the good things he does? Is there any avenue to believe that without that magical muzzle he would have taken those steps himself? Do you see Angel and Angelus as two separate people or one man warring with his own darkness?
Today’s WordPress prompt got me thinking…
A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true, which five people would you like to spend your time with?
I could go with people from daily life, but this is a blog about fantasy (among other meanderings). So I thought I’d give this prompt a twist of the nipples and turn it into something more fun — the five people from fantasy worlds I’d want to spend my time with.
Not only does he have great taste in music, but he tends to see to the heart of whatever matter he stumbles into. I could write a whole dissertation on Spike (and apparently, one of the Watchers did a thesis), and I’ve blogged about him here and here if you’re craving a dose of this bad boy in black.
Spike has a good sense of fun. I’d like to run amok with him.
If for NO other reason (and there are plenty of reasons) than to see him side by side with Spike. That would be a quip-off to end all quip-offs.
Plus, Damon is just an interesting sort of fellow. Scorned by a woman he loved for a century and a half, drinking problem in more ways than one — I’d get drunk with Damon and Spike any day. And I rarely drink.
And there’s the abs. Great googly moogly.
3. Faye Chamberlain from The Secret Circle (the books!)
I always loved her character. Sure, she was bitchy and had a tendency toward cruelty. But she knew what she wanted and was very powerful in her own right, if misguided.
Spike, Damon, Faye, and Andrew in a room together? I would never stop laughing. Unless Damon snapped his neck, which is a total possibility. Remind me to get Andrew a Gilbert ring before planning this hangout.
Whoa. Just had a thought. Alter-ego Andrew after dying too many times with a Gilbert ring? EPIC.
But seriously. The man can cook, draw sweet übervamps, and tell a grand story. His stories might even amuse Damon enough to head off that whole neck snapping thing.
5. Buffy. Of course. This is ME we’re talking about.
Not only is she my biggest fictional hero ever, but Buffy parties always end up with super badass shenanigans. Like zombie cats called Patches and arms in boxes.
Plus, I know what she’d say if she saw Damon and Spike side by side: “We could let ’em wrassle it out. There could be oil of some kind involved.” If she said it about Angel, she’d be halfway to the massage oil after seeing Damon. I’m sure Andrew would be happy to prepare the ring for that match.
But for real. Buffy’s one of the most loyal friends one could want. Die multiple times for the people you love? Sure. Slap down the First Evil? Take that, The First.
That’s my mix. Buffy, Faye, Spike, Damon, and Andrew. Not a bunch you’d put together under other circumstances, but we’d have a hell of a time.
Who do you want to hang with in fantasy?
Spoilers, spoilers, GIANT SPOILERS. So go away if you haven’t seen last night’s TVD episode yet. Seriously. This is your ten foot neon warning sign.
If you’re anything like me, you spent the last two weeks in squirmy anticipation of last night’s post-Thanksgiving Vampire Diaries episode. And if you’re anything like me, the last ten minutes filled you with joy that was quickly stomped under Caroline’s heel.
I’ll be honest, I felt like the floor fell out from under me.
I’ve been waiting over three seasons to see Damon and Elena finally get the chance to explore their feelings for one another. And there are feelings on both sides — even before Elena turned.
This whole week, I’ve felt that the writers of my favourite shows have been betraying my trust in them, sometimes even extending into my suspension of disbelief. From the sexual assault on The Walking Dead to a pretty horrific rape scene in American Horror Story on Wednesday, both of those instances were triggery and violating. But what the writers did with The Vampire Diaries this week was a different kind of violation.
Here’s the crux: Elena is sired to Damon.
My first gut reaction was absolute fury. Three years of intermittent tender moments that slowly became trust, then affection, then caring, then reliance, and then mutual attraction got foisted off on one statement: that the love scene we were watching wasn’t real. And worse, even though Damon and Elena are both clueless about this development, that makes Damon look pretty nasty.
Not to mention the dudes on Twitter who were calling Elena a whore. I’m not even going to go into that hunk of bullshit. Suffice it to say that people who throw that label around get on my bad side faster than you can get one syllable out of your mouth.
All that said, I feel like this plot twist was just really lazy writing. It felt slapped on, and there are several reasons why I think that.
Ready? Here they are.
There are instances where Damon has told Elena to do something and she has said no.
The entire basis of the sire bond is obedience — at least the way they’ve portrayed it with Klaus and his hybrids. Earlier in the season, Damon told Elena point blank to bite a girl, and she didn’t do it. The reasoning Caroline points to in her little not-at-all-transference-y rant to Stefan (Elena picking the red dress, Elena trusting Damon that Jeremy was fine) all felt fake-y to me even before the end of the episode. It felt like the writers were sitting around the table and one of them said, “OOH I KNOW. This episode, let’s make Elena sired to Damon!”
It’s not particularly believable.
Also, am I the only one remembering that Elena upchucked the blood bag before Damon told her she needed blood from the vein? Damon was the one who brought her the damn thing. I don’t see this sire bond as believable. At all. That it became the season’s biggest plot twist so far is making me annoyed.
Elena’s feelings for Damon were strong before her turn.
I haven’t forgotten how Stefan has a tendency to go all super-evil when he doesn’t get his way. He’s very like Angel in that regard, soul or no soul. This episode was a good reminder — out of pure anger, Stefan goes and plucks a murderer out of a hospital, changes him, and forces Jeremy to kill him. Good. He’s using the one remaining human bond Elena has to manipulate events to his liking, regardless of the consequences to, you know, Jeremy’s mental health and survival.
Stefan is always rather volatile. And Damon, oddly enough, has been the steady one when it came to Elena. He stuck around, respected her choices most of the time, and generally was just there for her. Her feelings were growing all last season, and her choice at the end was a necessity sparked by a life-or-death situation.
They’re not going to convince me that Elena’s feelings for Damon are just due to a sire bond they clearly pulled out of their asses.
Elena said something I’ve been waiting for her to say for ages.
…and I don’t think it had bugger all to do with being sired. She told Stefan that he kept trying to fix her. And she is absolutely right. Stefan is trying to fix her. I mentioned it before, but the Elena of season one, the Elena Stefan fell in love with — that girl is gone. She’s been gone since before she went off Wickery Bridge again. She’s been gone since before she transitioned. And she’s not coming back. Vampire or not, Elena has changed.
She doesn’t need to be fixed. What she might need is a bit of space to figure out who she really wants to be now. But that’s not for Stefan to decide, and his methods this episode were utterly abominable.
So, in quasi-conclusion, they better fix this. And by fix, I mean if they’re going to make this sire bond between Elena and Damon a thing, they better do a much better job of shoring up the crumbly bits they’ve let slip so far.
Also, Caroline is clearly transferring her confusion about having fun with Klaus onto the Elena-Damon relationship. Klaus is a thousand times the bad mo-fo that Damon is, and she’s having warm fuzzies when he talks about hummingbirds. And she needs someone to break the rose-coloured goggles she seems intent to wear whilst looking at Stefan. He’s no saint, and he never has been.
EDIT: Someone else pointed out another instance of Elena disobeying a direct imperative statement from Damon — he said to call Stefan in “We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes,” and she refused. Another hole in this plotline.
What were your thoughts on last night’s episode? Is anyone else really concerned about Jeremy? Am I the only one who thinks Stefan’s turn-and-stake plan has already started to backfire enormously? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?