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Discussion of 4.10 "Awakening" - Aired 1/29/2003 (WB-US)

Mylie

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What was the true story, did Wesley's shaman successfully perform the ritual to extract Angel's soul or did he lose his soul sleeping with Cordelia?
What? Is there really any doubt that it was the ritual? I’m confused... or maybe I need to rewatch the episode?
 

telperion66

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What? Is there really any doubt that it was the ritual? I’m confused... or maybe I need to rewatch the episode?
In this episode, Angel sleeps with Cordelia and loses his soul. When this happens they cut back to the shaman's ritual for no apparent reason and its revealed as a time-lapse episode. Was his moment of perfect happiness the reason he became Angelus or was it some kind of dream sequence that never happened? There surely can't be two reasons for why he loses his soul.
 

Mrs Gordo

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In this episode, Angel sleeps with Cordelia and loses his soul. When this happens they cut back to the shaman's ritual for no apparent reason and its revealed as a time-lapse episode. Was his moment of perfect happiness the reason he became Angelus or was it some kind of dream sequence that never happened? There surely can't be two reasons for why he loses his soul.
The shaman says "The vision becomes reality. It is done." -- so he lost his soul because of the ritual performed by the shaman. I don't think there is any other way to read that. Angel didn't sleep with Cordy, and he didn't defeat the beast, and he didn't make up with his son or friends. The shaman fed him a vision.

This episode is so vague and confusing and I have no doubt the writers do this on purpose because Angel having another moment of true happiness was bound to get some feedback from fans. The way they structured it you can argue it from many different angles and this can make various sects of the fandom happy in their own headcanon. Differing opinions on what causes Angel to lose his soul: was it his dream or the shaman's vision or was it just the ritual itself notwithstanding the vision to what did Angel mean when he calls out Buffy etc. Is the vision something that Angel cooks up on his own or is it fed to him by the shaman. I think they want it to be vague because "perfect happiness" is a tricky son of a... yah know.

But I have been thinking about this line "the vision becomes reality." The shaman doesn't say the "dream" becomes reality. Whereas a "dream" is typically your subconscious dreams or desires a "vision" indicates an external message (like the visions Cordy gets from the PTB or the vision from The First slayer that Buffy gets in The Gift). This leads me to lean towards the theory that floats around occasionally that this is not Angel's subconsciousness formulating what we see in the episode but it is a vision fed to Angel by Wo-Pang that is meant to assist him in extracting Angel's soul. Further, Wesley introduces Wo-Pang as someone who has the power to "extract souls" not someone who has the power to "simulate perfect happiness" so that they can extract his soul.* The ritual is more than simulating perfect happiness, there is obviously something to the extraction procedure itself. The mechanisms of the extraction are unknown of course but it could be that the Shaman gives Angel a vision in which Angel could believe he would lose his soul and when the Shaman gives Angel a vision of his soul being extracted, he does some magic so that the soul is actually extracted in reality. (Again possibilities are endless).

But I am intrigued by this word "vision" rather than "dream" and whether it means anything. I know it only takes one moment of pure happiness for Angel to lose his soul but honestly, I just have a hard time believe that Angel is capable of achieving that moment anymore given that he knows he is always at risk of losing his soul.** Angel achieved his moment of true happiness with Buffy not just because of the perfection of the moment but the ignorance regarding any potential danger surrounding his curse. He didn't know he couldn't allow himself to be blissfully happy and that was the danger. But if the Shaman is feeding Angel a dream, Angel's subconscious would know and fear losing his soul just the same as real Angel would and that might interfere with his ability to achieve that moment of true happiness even if ALL of his life has just magically been fixed.

Other notes:

*Also - why do they want to take his soul and put it in a jar? In BtVS when he loses his soul, it doesn't need to be housed anywhere it goes off into the ether and comes back just fine when he is "re-cursed" why would they want to keep his soul around for "safe keeping" I found that weird. Just take the thing out and recurse him. We have seen it work just fine before. Or better yet - why not give him the doximal drug??

** Still I don't think that Angel or Buffy would ever risk finding out given the consequences of the actions the first time around.

**Incidentally, does anyone happen to know the translation of the soul extraction curse that Wo-Pang uses? That would help with this analysis.**
 

Mylie

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In this episode, Angel sleeps with Cordelia and loses his soul. When this happens they cut back to the shaman's ritual for no apparent reason and its revealed as a time-lapse episode. Was his moment of perfect happiness the reason he became Angelus or was it some kind of dream sequence that never happened? There surely can't be two reasons for why he loses his soul.
The whole thing, from the moment the shaman enters the cage and starts the ritual, is a dream sequence that only happened as part of the trick to make Angel lose his soul. He never actually slept with Cordy or made peace with Wesley and Connor. That was all part of a dream meant to bring him fake perfect happiness. Unless I missed something?
 

telperion66

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The whole thing, from the moment the shaman enters the cage and starts the ritual, is a dream sequence that only happened as part of the trick to make Angel lose his soul. He never actually slept with Cordy or made peace with Wesley and Connor. That was all part of a dream meant to bring him fake perfect happiness. Unless I missed something?
I think that's certainly one interpretation for what happened. I don't think they ever made it clear that the events never transpired and that it was just a dream sequence. As a side note, I thought it a real magic moment when Wesley and Gunn slapped hands and reconciled their friendship. It makes me wish they could have carried on with all the positive vibes within the group, being back together just like the good old times instead of all the stuff we actually saw for the rest of season 4. Having said that, there was massive allure at the prospect of bringing back Angelus so I can see why they did it.
 

EarthLogic

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This episode is so vague and confusing and I have no doubt the writers do this on purpose because Angel having another moment of true happiness was bound to get some feedback from fans. The way they structured it you can argue it from many different angles and this can make various sects of the fandom happy in their own headcanon. Differing opinions on what causes Angel to lose his soul: was it his dream or the shaman's vision or was it just the ritual itself notwithstanding the vision to what did Angel mean when he calls out Buffy etc. Is the vision something that Angel cooks up on his own or is it fed to him by the shaman. I think they want it to be vague because "perfect happiness" is a tricky son of a... yah know.
But then in the next episode Angelus mocks Angel's perfect day fantasy and how he had to have everybody pitching in, so...:confused:
 

Mrs Gordo

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But then in the next episode Angelus mocks Angel's perfect day fantasy and how he had to have everybody pitching in, so...:confused:
Yeah that’s true. But Angelus doesn’t know any better than Angel if it was a dream or a fabricated vision. He doesn’t know what the shaman did.
 

Mr Trick

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The whole thing, from the moment the shaman enters the cage and starts the ritual, is a dream sequence that only happened as part of the trick to make Angel lose his soul. He never actually slept with Cordy or made peace with Wesley and Connor. That was all part of a dream meant to bring him fake perfect happiness. Unless I missed something?
Interesting take on it:) But isn't the whole dream thing more to trick the audience than it was the shaman tricking Angel? Anyway I find the whole swerve all a bit cheap. Another thing that bugs me about it is it's an excuse to justify annoying whining behavour (looking at you Connor!:mad:) because it never really happened...

Oh and BTW my highlight of the episode is Gunn and the sword!:p
 

telperion66

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This is such an amazing episode.

I'm sure I'll write more about it in the future, but, for now, just the way Angel and Wes reconcile, and then Gunn and Wes reconcile is so moving and powerful.

This is a very special episode in the Buffyverse, as it has such a powerful narrative only to take it all away in a big twist at the end.. oh, what could have been!
 
spikenbuffy
spikenbuffy
Too good to be true though!
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