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My Darling Boy: Exploring Darla & Angel

E

EffyStonem

Guest
Darla and Angel have one the most fascinating and complex relationships in the Whedonverse, a relationship which combines hate, love, lust, violence, dependency, anger, responsibility, selflessness, selfishness, darkness, power and patience.

First and foremost, Darla is Angel's sire. She made him which means he will always be linked to her. She chose him because she saw something great in him, a darkness she could share. Together they were a near-unstoppable force of evil, pushing each other to greater heights of sadism. If Angel had never been re-ensouled he would have stayed with her. Even when he has been re-ensouled he tries to return to her, because she is his constant. They do not love each other but there is a deep connection there. They are each other's "mate" for all intents and purposes. Darla represents Angel's darkest place and she will always be the person who will tempt him the most. Wolfram & Hart recognises this which is why they choose to use her as a weapon against him.

When she returns as human Angel recognises why Wolfram & Hart have brought her back. He understands instantly why they chose to deliver her to him because he knows how dark he can and has been around her. He tries to stay away from her but once her soul kicks in he finds it impossible to resist trying to help her. In a way his helping her is selfishly motivated; he wants to see her through the adjustment of having a soul because no one was there to help him. Through her he can offer the support and understanding that he never had. He also feels responsible for her because he is truly the only one who can completely appreciate what she is going through. He wants to help her but he can't help her in the manner which she wants "“ he refuses to turn her, as it goes against everything in his nature. He also knows that if he did turn her he would unleash a monster, one who could tempt him even further than before.

However as soon as he finds out Darla is dying the dynamic changes. Now he truly is selflessly helping her. He recognises how Wolfram & Hart have manipulated her, how cruel and vicious they have been towards her, all to get to him. Once more he feels responsible for her as she would not be going through the hell she is if it weren't for his battle with Wolfram & Hart. He looks for ways to save her and in his search he finally fully sees her as human and his feelings for her start to change. In his eyes she becomes someone he could love and someone he cares for enough to try to save. In his most selfless gesture he offers up his life in exchange for hers, wanting her to have the chance that he feels he never will; the chance to lead a normal human life, completely uninterrupted by supernatural forces. He wants so badly for her to become human, to experience her life the way she was meant to. When they are informed that nothing can be done for her, his breakdown is in equal parts about her and about himself. He is devastated that Darla will now die but he is also devastated because he sees that there is no redemption, no second chances for her and by extension, himself. The greater forces will never allow them peace and in that moment he realises that.

This is perhaps why he offers to turn her. He so desperately wants her to be given a second chance that he contemplates siring her, saying that it might be different given that he has a soul. However, by this point in time Darla has realised that she has been given a second chance. Not the one they were both hoping for but a second chance nonetheless; the chance to die the way she was meant to. Through Angel's sacrifice, through his caring she has accepted her fate and made peace with herself and with him. She recognises how much he truly cares for her, how much he was willing to give up for her. She asks Angel to make peace with her fate and he embraces her and says that she won't be alone in it. This is probably the most touching moment in their relationship as together they accept the inevitable.

This connection is only allowed a few minutes before it is brutally ripped from them, once again courtesy of Wolfram & Hart. As Angel watches helplessly, Darla is sired by Drusilla. This event has a profound effect on Angel. Darla is no longer the evil counterpart he needs to stay way from. She has now become someone real, someone human whom he cares for deeply and was willing to give his life to save. To be forced to watch her die and then turned into a monster again is more than Angel can take at that point. He is left devastated that he was unable to save her. When he returns to the hotel he is babbling incoherently, remembering the details of his own siring and thinking over what Darla just went through. He gathers his senses enough to try to save her again. He doesn't want her to rise, however this time it's less about the monster she will become and more about her. He has finally come to genuinely care for her and he doesn't want her to go through existence as a vampire again. Yet when he comes face-to-face with her, these feelings are ultimately his downfall. As she looks up at him and asks "Angel?" he hesitates. He doesn't see her as a demon anymore and in that one moment he is unable to distinguish between Darla the human and the demon that now wears her face.

Being re-sired has a huge effect on Darla as well. Given her four-hundred-plus years of living as a vampire she had all but forgotten what is what like to be human, to have human wants and needs. As a vampire she couldn't appreciated the good in people and was revulsed at the mere idea of Angel having a soul. As a human, struggling with vampire memories, she begins to appreciated Angel, to appreciate the goodness in him and the sacrifices he is willing to make. She comes to care for him, to love him with human emotions. When she is re-sired she has to deal with the remnants of those feelings. As Drusilla points out she misses him "like a heartbeat". She misses him as something vital and strong in her world and as a vampire she struggles with the leftover human emotions, emotions she has not had to deal with for centuries and is certainly not used to.

Once Darla has been turned things become much more complicated for Angel. Where once he could easily see Darla as demon and not hesitate to kill her (as he has done to protect Buffy) he now knows what it is for Darla to be human. He has feelings for her now and has seen the true Darla, the one he never encountered as Angelus. This makes it infinitely harder for him to kill her. In order to do so, he needs to access his darker urges. He needs to become darker in order to eliminate someone who has become important to him, whom he now cares for. It will cause him pain to kill her, some of which he experiences when stalking her and Drusilla. He admits that he is too close. He has felt her heart beat, he has smelt her human scent and he is still too close to those feelings. He cannot kill her directly so he chooses instead to set her and Drusilla on fire before turning his attention towards Wolfram & Hart, seemingly forgetting about Darla in the process.

By the time Darla resurfaces Angel has lost himself so completely in his own darkness that any feelings for her human side have all but disappeared. She has reverted back to being his dark place, to being the demon that turned him and fed his darkness urges. This is why when he loses faith in humanity he automatically turns to her. He has just been torn down by Wolfram & Hart and made to face all the evil that exists in his world. He wants nothing more than to forget the world, to "feel something other than the cold". In the moment he decides to sleep with Darla it is not about losing his soul (which he knew would never happen with her) it is about a complete escape from his good side. He wants, in that moment, to completely give into darkness and Darla has and always will provide him with that. With her he is allowed that darkness, soul or not. He uses her for his own selfish reasons but he would only do this with her. She understands his darkness, she will always encourage it and with Darla he can completely give himself over to it.

Darla, by her turn, is looking for an opportunity to bring Angelus back. Perhaps because she is lonely, perhaps because she knows that she can achieve more with him at her side. Whatever the reason, she believes that sex is the key and she willingly succumbs to him. Once she realises that she has not managed to strip him of his soul she is horrified. She wants him back with her and takes it personally when he doesn't lose his soul. She screams at him for the betrayal, for knowing that he wouldn't lose his soul. She realises that he has used her and she cannot stand that thought.

Ironically, by sleeping with him Darla provides Angel with another important event; his epiphany. He recognises this and even thanks her for it, although she in turn is disgusted by the turn of events. The gratitude that Angel feels for whoever provided him with his epiphany is transferred to Darla and he once again decides not to kill her, warning her to stay away as the next time he will not be so lenient. He then leaves her in his room, leaving her and everything she represents behind him.

When Darla returns Angel is able to distance himself from her. Possibly spurned by the memory of what happened the last time he felt compassion for her, he keeps himself aloof and refuses to engage her in any way. It is only after he has heard the heartbeat of the child she is carrying and comes to the realisation that it has a soul that he allows himself to feel for her. As her pregnancy unfolds Angel is unwittingly drawn closer to her, especially once the child's soul starts to affect her. In one of their most beautiful scenes Darla confesses how much she loves her child and in that moment she and Angel are bonded together deeper than they ever have been before. They have created a child with a soul, something no one thought possible. They both love him more than anything in the world and will do anything and everything to protect him. This bond is one that no other woman will ever share with Angel. Darla is the mother of his child and as such he will always be connected to her at the deepest level.

In the hours that follow Darla's condition worsens and as she starts to feel the child's soul more she starts to realise what she needs to do. The revelation that Holtz is in their time allows her to realise all the evil that she and Angel did and for the first time fully feel and appreciate what it means to have a soul. As she collapses outside Karatos and tearfully tells Angel that they can't make up for anything they have done, they both see each other completely for the first time. They both recognise what they have done together and apart and what they have gone through as vampires with a soul. Angel tenderly holds her hand and kisses her fingers and in that moment they love each other.

Long after staking herself, Darla will remain a part of Angel and a part of his life. She lives on in his son. Theirs is a complex, rich, complicated and deep relationship. Darla will always hold a part of him. She will always represent his darker half yet at the same time, through Connor, she also represents the good in him. She will always be connected to him and in the end, he loved her. Darla will always be a part of Angel.
 
SMG14Fan
SMG14Fan
Great post :)

SMG14Fan

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Joined
Jun 27, 2003
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I love the relationship and story between Darla and Angel. It is definitely one of my favorites in Buffy and Angel.
 
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