How these things start/Potentials

Snagged from The Hooded Utilitarian, Ats, S5 screen shot.

* Becka H. – Hold up: Angel and Nina have sex, right? How is that possible again? Is it because he doesn’t love her? I’m trying to make a point that he only engages even in loveless sex when under duress in some way (the curse = Eve, straight up not giving a fuck = Darla). But… Nina!

* Jill McKenna Reed – I believe yes they do. At least there seems to be an “after” scene of them in bed. Yes, doesn’t love her. No true love. Like him and Eve. Nina is a poor man’s Buffy!!

* Becka H. – Nina sux, I kind of want to pretend she doesn’t exist in this essay. Because I’m trying to show how he kinds of trains himself into this asexual mode as a sort of restrictive safeguard against soul loss. And how he doesn’t date or have sex with people even when he doesn’t love them, because he takes his asceticism to such annoying extremes (this is also like how he extends the “true happiness” thing to be a reasoning for why he doesn’t get close to people in a platonic way either, etc.). At least with Darla and Eve there are explanations for his risky behavior, but Nina fucks it up.

* Jill McKenna Reed – Arguably, the move to WR&H empowers him somehow and makes him arrogant and cocky. I think he feels “entitled” to some spoils. He gets loose and messy. This is also when he gets shunned by Andrew and Giles as no longer being “good.” And really, Giles/Andrew/Buffy are right. AI can’t be as long as they are associated with WR&H.

* Becka H. – Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole scene with Andrew taking the slayers. I think you are right but I’m struggling because getting into the moral complications of WRH kind of derails things… it’s a rabbit hole I don’t think I can travel down with the scope I have. Maybe I will just leave Nina out (of my work). EVERYTHING AFTER CONNOR = RUINING MY LIFE

* Jill McKenna Reed – The way the show ends up, and the move to WR&H, in a lot of ways exhibits *that* Angel… The Angel that has a soul, but sits there and throws his smoking cigarette into the pool of gasoline that lights up Darla and Drusilla. He’s not a white hat, he’s not a black hat, but he sure as hell is a dark-shade of grey.

* Jill McKenna Reed – And season 8 (graphic novels) furthers that to some degree. Angel isn’t “good”. He sometimes is for a while (and Buffy motivates most of that), but he’s happy to get dirty (for fun and power partly) if he can do some mental gymnastics to justify it enough.

* Becka H. – IA. I think it’s really important just how straight up EVIL he is as Angelus (and beyond that, how generally shitty he was as a human). He’s not just a normal vampire when he’s bad… he’s really, really bad. I cited Spike when making that distinction. I think that’s why he takes such extreme steps in keeping his soul, because he worries that any small temptation will bring that back. And I do think it’s important that in moving to WRH, he’s giving up on some of that extremity, and look what happens.

* Jill McKenna Reed – I think his natural state is grey. We see that when he first sees/meets Buffy. She motivates him out of his previous ways of being, which weren’t good. All those years he had a soul, he didn’t do anything good for anyone, he just flogged himself and ate rats in alleys.

* Becka H. – Yeah exactly. It’s almost like… the chance for human recognition is what gets him out of his self indulgent homeless life (“You could become a person, someone to be counted,” etc.) and idk. Maybe when Connor comes into the picture and he feels like he has this family at AI and then the WRH thing happens, it’s like he’s getting too big for his britches and thinks he’s achieved that human status (even though he never really can).

* Jill McKenna Reed – Yes. And it always makes me wonder how much his subconscious “lets” his “family” die off… Fred…Cordy…Wesley… He can’t keep it up past a few years. He slinks back to his natural state.

* Becka H. – It’s very strange because he’s like… the word I use is asymptotic, to the normative sphere. So he like lets himself get within reach but always kind of knows that he can’t have what’s there. It’s infuriating the way it plays out but I kinda feel for him. Whistler warns him about it early on (the more you live in this world the more you see how apart from it you really are) but I feel like he has to learn it the hard way on several occasions.

* Jill McKenna Reed – I think he subscribes to it tho’, and wraps it around him, much the way that Buffy sees her friends as a burden, often. Angel believes nothing is for him so he lets everything “go away,” even people that he loves and could potentially save.

* Becka H. – I definitely agree that he subscribes to it

* Jill McKenna Reed – He figures he will lose everyone anyway, so what does it matter that much if it is sooner or later. (And this is why I often see Angel as namby-pamby, QQ, “poor me,” even though he is usually fostering it.)

(What I didn’t say to Becka H. and should have… I LOVE her point about Spike/Angelus… one is bad and one is *really, really* bad.

Spike’s scene in the church after gaining a soul, draped on the cross, burning and crying, shows that he has a wish to be rectified to God (‘We were young (innocent) once too…’). Angelus/Angel does not even broach the topic. The closest he gets is giving a watch to the PTB (Powers That Be). He doesn’t feel as if he could ever be/should ever be forgiven. But the pain of that fact doesn’t stop Spike from wanting. And that leads to my very long-believed/held/conceptualized & very deeply rooted essay on why Spike’s love is more righteous than Angel’s.

One gets the idea that Spike won’t rest until he finds a peace with God (however Whedon interprets God, arguably Christian), any kind of peace. Angel on the other hand won’t let the redeemer/God do his/her work because he cannot get over himself enough. His pride and self-punishment always require more (addiction)… and this backs DIRECTLY into Heathcliff/Cathy/Wuthering Heights… Oh man. I need some wine…)

In conclusion, I wish I could go back to the days before I searched Spike/Angel Google images… sigh…

4 thoughts on “How these things start/Potentials

  1. I will say that I think I am a lot more sympathetic to Angel than you are (basing this off past conversations). I definitely agree that Angel feels like he should never be forgiven, but I think this is WHY he is always pushing people away and, as you put it, “can’t get over himself.” He occupies such a bizarre status that I think none of us can fully relate to, and there is a part of me that feels like it’s unfair for us to hold him up to our (inevitably human, extremely moral) standards. It’s like my arguments about why Buffy and Angel are inherently different and the complications of what I call “soul politics” (I wrote a thing about it, which I am happy to share with this blog if you’d like). I will not deny that his actions, inactions, the consequences of his range of affects all have serious consequences for the people around him — this gets to your points about him constantly pushing away and perhaps even killing those closest to him. But I think, even though he occupies a serious gray in-betweenness, and even though we can agree that Angel is not “good” in the strongest sense of the word, that his guilt and shame truly consume him because he WANTS to reach that level of goodness. Whether he is capable of it or not isn’t really the point — I think he knows that is not a good man, and used to be a completely vile man-pire, and I think that plagues him because all he truly wants in the world is that Hegelian sense of human recognition. The fact that he cannot get over it and truly feels that he doesn’t deserve to get over it, those are the things that make me feel sympathetic toward his character. He has a lot of moments where his morals waiver, but particularly in the beginning I think he is so weighed down by the horrors he has committed that he thinks he does not deserve happiness. It certainly doesn’t help that if he is ever happy, he will become a criminal mastermind again. One way I have been thinking about it in terms of Angel’s queerness is this: typically, those who occupy the queer sphere aim to disrupt the status quo so as to assert their own identity; Angel is put in a position where he must do the opposite and disrupt or deny himself so as to preserve the “status quo” (read here as safeguarding the future and protecting to world from demonic apocalypse).

    • I know my viewing/thoughts of Angel are currently extremely jaded (will come back around), but I view all of this through the JW concept that all the characters are just exsisting stereotypes, but to the Nth. Angel is the ultimate terrible boyfriend/wrong guy… “Look how misunderstood I am, You can never understand me, QQ.”

      JW is trying to sell that to us, and he does. But that doesn’t make Angel any more palatable to me… Boo-hoo; toughen the f- up, Angel! We are all damaged/misunderstood! we all occupy places of extreme isolation and “other.” I am not willing to forgive or smooth over (currently) his extreme narcissism (and that’s really how I view him and how I believe he is constructed, purposefully, by JW) just because he has had a tough-go. So has Spike! And he manages to get the f- up every day and find joy and passion and giving, even if it is through cynicism and snark.

      I’m not currently aboard the Good Ship Angel/Angelus. He can go fly a damn kite…

      • I think the major difference here is that most of my opinions on Angel and the things that intrigue me about him have very little to do with his relationship with Buffy. When I look at him as an individual (which he is for most of the time he is on air — he is really only constantly there as her main love interest for two seasons, and even then I have a lot of issues with their relationship but that’s a song for another day). I think he is so much more than “a bad boyfriend stereotype,” because he is so much more than a boyfriend. He is only a “boyfriend” for like a season and a half. I am much more interested in examining what his liminal state does to complicate understandings of queer theory, the queer/normative divide, and how everything about him demonstrates the shortcomings of dualistic paradigms. I guess because I don’t typically thing of him in terms of his relationship to Buffy — I only take her into account when I am comparing/contrasting them as figures who face a very difficult moral and existential dilemma. Really, I think I am less sympathetic to Buffy — but like you, I think it will pass. I don’t doubt that I could do a total 180 on all this with another re-watch, but my feelings about Angel as they relate to queerness and normativity probably won’t change.

        I really think my thoughts on soul politics would be illuminating here, because I think it does a bit to account for that “You’ll never understand me!” angsty attitude. Not necessarily justify it, but thinking about him in those terms has softened me to him quite a lot.

  2. I can’t separate him from his relationship with Buffy *because* the characters and shows are so *entirely about* (and written to/for) how human experiences shape us as people and how we psychologically age.

    With the exception of Connor, no experience comes close to rivalling Buffy for Angel. He is nearly useless before her, and gains a purpose because of her. Wherever he is, she is there as well (even when not physically present) and vice versa (though to a lesser extent for her because she has a “family” system). Even the dialogue written for them is nearly interchangable, often. In many ways they are the same person or at least a nearly perfect pair, even in their tragedy and isolations.

    If we assume their love really is that big/great/tremendous (and I’m willing to buy it because the evidence tells us that *they* believe that about each other and are experiencing it), then all they are post relationship, really, is without each other, in a certain way. And I think that’s partially why their lives are hollow on a certain level after they separate.

    We know Buffy will go on to do great things, but she will never love like she loved Angel (and that’s not even her purpose any longer), which is too bad because Spike is really the better partner for her (post-souling). And Angel, eventually, is just passing days, alone.

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