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The Unicorn Obsession

M

M

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Am I remembering correctly, but it seems that Harmony's unicorn obsession is only revealed after her transformation? If this is the case, then what might the unicorn be representative of in Harmony's life? Does it have greater significance than a girly bit of imagery? What deeper meaning might we gain from its importance in her vampiric afterlife? (I cordially invite @TriBel and @thetopher to this discussion).
 

Crossbow

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I may be wrong but the first time I remember mention of Harmony and her unicorns was episode 2 in Season 5. She had a collection of unicorns in her underground lair and one of her minions had stolen one for her, from the Magic Box.
 
M
Moggin
This is my recollection as well.
Joan the Vampire Slayer
Joan the Vampire Slayer
I think so. She loved unicorns way before she was turned.

AlphaFoxtrot

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Harm was a glorified extra prior to her last sunrise. Aside from selling Girl Scout cookies and playing a pilgrim and occasionally insulting Xander, she didn’t have a lot of characterization.
 

Taake

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Perhaps it is a representation of wish fulfillment? As in - Harmony wants to perceive herself as a unicorn - something magical and unique, because in her life she keeps repeating patterns of behavior that negates this self image and makes her feel ”lesser” than she wants to.

Basically, she had to play second fiddle to Cordelia as a human. We see her take Cordelia’s ”spot” in their clique when Cordy dates Xander, however, you never get the feeling that she is really as popular or as confident as Cordelia was. So in a way she kept playing second fiddle to Cordelia, even when Cordelia wasn’t there.

Turned to a vampire Harmony then comes from the emotional mixture of wanting to think of herself as popular and special, but with the nagging self-concious worry that she is not.

This pattern is repeated with Spike, a relationship where she plays second fiddle to Drusilla and is never respected for who she is or for the respect/love she gives. Even when Drusilla isn’t there, Harmony still has to compete with her ”ghost” and comes up lesser then for Spike.

When she has her own minions, again, Harmony seems to be trying to rise up and be the top dog (à la Cordelia or Spike) by assembling her own crew. Even if that doesn’t really pan out, the unicorn obsession emerging here could be a sign of Harmony reinforcing her inner ideal of self-perception, i.e. that she is the unicorn. She is unique, magical, beautiful, and coveted.

Basically, unicorns makes her feel better because they feed a positive ideal and build up her confidence. Human Harmony informing this need in Vampire Harmony.
 

thetopher

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Unicorns of legend are symbolic of things like freedom, innocence, purity and healing. Does Harmony want any of these things? Is this her drive?
Out of all of those we could say that Harmony wants freedom, she wants to be a vampire on her own terms but she has no idea how, she clings to whatever the previous idea of what she wanted; in high school she wanted a cool status symbol boyfriend, so she hooked up with Spike. Spike goes on and on about revenge against the slayer so Harmony kicks him out, but less than a year later she's doing what Spike was trying to do (incompetently) and then she fails. When she leaves Sunnydale she goes for another high school want; her bestie Cordelia to reminisce and gossip about boys and try and also copy what Cordelia is doing.
That doesn't work because well, Harmony is evil and betrays Cordelia for another, bigger idea, something more structured than the small business chaos of Angel Inc, and it also doesn't require much in the way of original thought.
That's probably the reason she found secretarial work at an evil law firm a nice fit for herself, but even then- as in high school- she wanted to be at the very top of the hierarchy.

So Harmony wants to be her own person and yet always gravitates towards and clings to some sort of external structure she is familiar with; to be part of something bigger than herself. Maybe her dream is to be the beautiful, magical unicorn leading that flock of sheep. But she can't/is unable. Which actually gives her a genuine internal character struggle. Which is interesting.

Or maybe she just digs unicorns. Unicorns are basically pretty, magical horses.
 

Antho

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Is she really obsessed with unicorn ? In Angel season 5 I don’t have a memory where we see that « obsession » 🤔

Also Harmony is a superficial girl. There is probably not a deeper reason to explain that interest for unicorn others than that she finds that pretty 😍.
 
M

M

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@thetopher What happened to your "soul residue" theory?

Is she really obsessed with unicorn ? In Angel season 5 I don’t have a memory where we see that « obsession » 🤔

Also Harmony is a superficial girl. There is probably not a deeper reason to explain that interest for unicorn others than that she finds that pretty 😍.
She has a repeat of unicorns in the comics. I'm inclined to agree, and that they only made her fond of unicorns because they wanted her to like something for its cuteness, and no deeper meaning is attached. She is a shallow girl, after all, but it's a fun topic to explore.
 

thetopher

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What happened to your "soul residue" theory?

It's not exactly my theory. I first heard about it on @POTN YouTube channel as an explanation for 'differing levels of evil' in the Buffyverse among vampire. I never beleive it so I guess my reference was me being a tad sarcastic.
My theory- vampires are all evil, if you turn a child into a vampire its going to eat/kill people, even if those people are those they love. It's part of the tragedy of vampires and why I consider Liam and William victims who got a second chance after being damned. When turned good or even normal people are stripped of all their positive aspects and the demon-informed by the host memories- takes over.
 

Priceless

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Is she really obsessed with unicorn ? In Angel season 5 I don’t have a memory where we see that « obsession » 🤔
I am sure I remember a shot of her desk at W&H and it has unicorns on it. Does anyone else remember this or am I making it up? We also see her apartment, and there may have been unicorns there too.
 
Joan the Vampire Slayer
Joan the Vampire Slayer
Absolutely she has quite a few unicorns on her desk at W&H.
Antho
Antho
Apparently you are right according to the others. Either I didn’t pay attention to that or I don’t watch season 5 of Angel very often 😅
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I am sure I remember a shot of her desk at W&H and it has unicorns on it. Does anyone else remember this or am I making it up? We also see her apartment, and there may have been unicorns there too.

Yes - when Fred has turned into Illyria and we get the requisite gang looking sad while isolated montage, we see Harmony at her desk and there are unicorns all across it. Plus her thermos is covered in unicorn stickers and ... most importantly, the thing that gives Harmony the edge in her fight in Harm's Way is the anger she feels when Tameka says 'the first thing I'm gonna do when I get your desk is smash all those ugly ass unicorns!'

The reason extratextually she likes unicorns is because of the visual joke in 'The Real Me' when the gang go over the inventory to see what is missing from the magic box and discover the last item is a cheap unicorn figurine and Giles says something like 'what kind of unholy creature fancies cheap, tasteless ornaments?' and the scene changes to Harmony holding her new unicorn... and after that they stuck with it.

Writing wise I doubt there was ever any more to it than that ... however as this is the Buffyboards and we must dig deeper into Every. Single. Thing. And. Give. It. Meaning (because otherwise what would we talk about? 😛) I think @thetopher has nailed the explanation.
 

Priceless

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Writing wise I doubt there was ever any more to it than that ... however as this is the Buffyboards and we must dig deeper into Every. Single. Thing. And. Give. It. Meaning (because otherwise what would we talk about? 😛)
I'm one of those people who think there is meaning in every single thing, whether is was conscious or not, whether it pertains to the show or how society sees things, especially over time. That's why I love Buffy, the show is chock full of meaning, and of course it's all in the eye of the viewer and in many ways we are seeing different things and reading different meanings into what we see, that's why discussing it is 'fun'.
 

TriBel

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(I cordially invite @TriBel

LOL! No good inviting me to the discussion. My form of analysis is reliant on close (perhaps obsessional) reading and I haven’t given Harmony the consideration she warrants. I usually spend years thinking about things and I’m only responding now for two reasons: First, because her totem animal is fantastical and she becomes a reality TV star (to quote Freddie Mercury: "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?" - which is the question I'm asking myself at the end of S12). Second is the fact one of the first uses of unicorn in literature was Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, which has this line: “Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” Compare with this (Harm's Way):

"SPIKE Fred... I want you to know... uh, I mean, all that work you put in trying to, you know, cure me of the ghosties... FRED (smiles shyly, looks down) I didn't do anything. SPIKE Oh, you did. You—you believed in m... I mean, you tried. I won't forget that. FRED You're welcome. (walks away) Spike turns to go, without having even noticed Harmony, who's crying at her desk.

And this (NFA):

ANGEL (walks slowly, painfully toward her) You betrayed me. You are betraying me now, even as we are talking. HARMONY (raising her voice) Because you never have any confidence in me. ANGEL No, because you have no soul. HARMONY I would if you had confidence in me.

Sometimes I hate Angel and Spike. Doesn't Angel "go through the looking glass" in S5? I think it's significant in Harm's Way that we have this:
When she walks up to the sink, she looks in an empty mirror on which flowers and the text "be your best" are painted. She brushes her teeth, spits in the sink, and when she looks up again, she's in vampire face brushing her fangs. Harmony doesn't go through the looking glass...she's her own mirror.

Harm’s Way: what does it mean? Out of harm’s way (marginalised, dealt with, can be ignored) or Harm “doing it her way” - treading a different path. In NFA we have this: "Out of the loop? That's where I live". Telling since she's the one who seems to avoid repetition in the comics.

Perhaps it is a representation of wish fulfillment? As in - Harmony wants to perceive herself as a unicorn - something magical and unique, because in her life she keeps repeating patterns of behavior that negates this self image and makes her feel ”lesser” than she wants to.

I’d say yes…except I don’t know what she’s wishing for. Every other character is characterised by wish fulfilment…which gives them a psychological depth. Harmony doesn’t have the depths…or rather her superficiality is her depth. What you see is what you get…Seems to me that she always bounces back. She’s the proverbial reed ("anyway the wind blows"...Freddie Mercury again). I suspect this sums her up (because of the fantasy/reality pairing). "The simulacrum is never that which hides the truth - it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true." (Read it but can't always spell Baudrillard)

Strictly speaking unicorns aren’t legendary…they’re mythic: "In common usage the word legend usually characterizes a traditional tale thought to have a historical basis, as in the legends of King Arthur or Robin Hood. In this view, a distinction may be drawn between myth (which refers to the supernatural and the sacred) and legend (which is grounded in historical fact)". I think the difference might be significant...but I'm too thick to suggest why.

Writing wise I doubt there was ever any more to it than that ... however as this is the Buffyboards and we must dig deeper into Every. Single. Thing. And. Give. It. Meaning (because otherwise what would we talk about?

It's tame here compared to what I'm used to...if it's on screen it has significance and underscores meaning. If not, why put it in the shot?
 
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I'm one of those people who think there is meaning in every single thing, whether is was conscious or not, whether it pertains to the show or how society sees things, especially over time. That's why I love Buffy, the show is chock full of meaning, and of course it's all in the eye of the viewer and in many ways we are seeing different things and reading different meanings into what we see, that's why discussing it is 'fun'.

I'm all for reading things into things - it's when people then give credit to the writers for purposefully putting it in there that annoys me. Especially as - while metaphorically fellating the writers for genius level cleverness - they are also (perhaps without realising) establishing that therefore their meaning is the correct one - because it was definitely included on purpose. Passion of the Nerd is really bad for that.

It is fun to talk about what we read into things - but it's also worth bearing in mind that there is no real answer, or no answer at all, because the writers just didn't give it that much thought.
 

Priceless

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I'm all for reading things into things - it's when people then give credit to the writers for purposefully putting it in there that annoys me. Especially as - while metaphorically fellating the writers for genius level cleverness - they are also (perhaps without realising) establishing that therefore their meaning is the correct one - because it was definitely included on purpose. Passion of the Nerd is really bad for that.

It is fun to talk about what we read into things - but it's also worth bearing in mind that there is no real answer, or no answer at all, because the writers just didn't give it that much thought.
Even if it's unconsciously done by writers, designers, actors etc, as @TriBel says, if it's on screen its worth discussing its meaning. I think people can be clever without even knowing it and can, say, include things in the script or on the set, without understanding their own reasoning. We as an audience can read meaning into it. I think Whedon and his writing staff were clever, so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt :)
 
Myheadsgonenumb
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I'm afraid I'm a purist - to be 'clever' you have to be knowingly so - otherwise it's just dumb luck.

Ethan Reigns

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Unicorns are mentioned nine times in the Bible in the books of Numbers, Deuteronomy, Job, Psalms and Isaiah. But in all of these cases, unicorn means rhinoceros. Somehow over the centuries, it morphed into a horse with a narwhal tusk sticking out of its forehead. The narwhal tusk is straight but has a spiral pattern on it that is sometimes included in the imagery. Narwhals are arctic whales, so the story of the Biblical era did not change until Christianity reached northern regions where people lost track of the story and created an imaginary creature because they didn`t know what a rhinoceros was. It remains a popular decoration, especially with pre-pubescent girls, and I have no question that this is intended to show that Harmony has never psychologically graduated from this age.
 
M

M

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I'm all for reading things into things - it's when people then give credit to the writers for purposefully putting it in there that annoys me.
[. . .]
It is fun to talk about what we read into things - but it's also worth bearing in mind that there is no real answer, or no answer at all, because the writers just didn't give it that much thought.
At what point was there anything to suggest that anyone here was doing more than just having fun? I thought that was the point of joining an online community, having fun and discussing things in detail for fun.
 

TriBel

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It is fun to talk about what we read into things - but it's also worth bearing in mind that there is no real answer, or no answer at all, because the writers just didn't give it that much thought.
Why are writers thick (asking on behalf of my writer friends)? One of my friends writes "romantic novels"...she's also a specialist in Shakespeare and has a PhD in collaborative women's writing. By her own admission her academic knowledge makes its way into her fiction.
It remains a popular decoration, especially with pre-pubescent girls, and I have no question that this is intended to show that Harmony has never psychologically graduated from this age.
It's also popular with the gay community (apparently because of its fluidity). Does the same comparison stand? Is she associated with unicorns before she's turned?
 

Joan the Vampire Slayer

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Does it have greater significance than a girly bit of imagery? What deeper meaning might we gain from its importance in her vampiric afterlife? (I cordially invite @TriBel and @thetopher to this discussion).

What a cool thread idea.

I think that may appeal to Harmony about unicorns specifically goes beyond them being fun to collect and decorative. The mythology of the unicorn probably appeals to her. Unicorns are, magical being with special powers, right? Perhaps this is how Harmony sees herself? Or wants to. We know she dislikes being called a "killer" and considers herself a "good" vampire.

It's also possible the writers meant for it to be ironic. The unicorn is a symbol of purity and grace, at least in the Middle Ages, and well, that's the opposite of a vampire, which is what Harmony is, of course. Now, in modern culture, the unicorn is used as a symbol of fantasy, and not so much associated with it's original origins however.
 
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Why are writers thick (asking on behalf of my writer friends)? One of my friends writes "romantic novels"...she's also a specialist in Shakespeare and has a PhD in collaborative women's writing. By her own admission her academic knowledge makes its way into her fiction.

Where on earth did I say writers were thick? Talk about reading something into something someone wrote...

What I said was 'things get included that the writers didn't put that much thought into' - such as, in this discussion Harmony and her unicorns. The writers wrote a joke for a funny cutaway and then continued to make that part of Harmony's ongoing personality - probably as a joke. They enjoy callbacks - and a vampire who likes unicorns is funny. @thetopher has come up with an wonderful explanation as to why Harmony might like unicorns ... what I'm saying is that is @thetopher's cleverness not Mutant Enemies. They were just going for a joke. And I dislike it when people give writers (specifically the ME writers because fans have their tongues jammed up the ME collective rectum and after 20 years it is a little wearing) credit for including meaning which is actually something they themselves developed and came up with - the credit should be theirs. And I particularly dislike it because when specific meaning is attributed to be being purposeful on the part of the writer it essentials says 'my interpretation is correct because this is what the writer purposefully included (even though they didn't) and therefore it is factual that my interpretation is part of the narrative.' Where is if it's 'the writer has done this - and this what I am reading into it' then it's an interpretation that is up for discussion - which is sort of necessary on a discussion board.

Your friend's Shakespeare expertise - while I'm sure is used very effectively in romance novels - has precisely squat to do with this discussion or whether or not the ME writers were really meaningfully and knowingly imbuing deep thought and subtext into every cutaway joke, line, prop or pop culture reference. Sometimes a joke is just a joke. Read meaning into if you want - but don't give the credit to the writers for that meaning, the credit is yours.

At what point was there anything to suggest that anyone here was doing more than just having fun? I thought that was the point of joining an online community, having fun and discussing things in detail for fun.

I wasn't having a go at you, I was just responding to @Priceless' post about finding meaning in everything, like I said - I'm all for reading things in, i just like to remain aware that any deeper 'meaning' isn't necessarily intentional and therefore there are not any 'right' answers - sorry if it came across as me belittling you.
 
thetopher
thetopher
My 'what unicorns say about Harmony's character' was just a thought experiment to see if I could make anything out of it. But thanks for the compliment. :)

nightshade

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I don't think it's up to you what people discuss and if you don't want to discuss something you don't have to post, others are free to read into it however they like, afterall this is a discussion board.
 
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