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Vampire with a Soul: Angel vs. Spike

Do you think that Angel and Spike are Affected differently by a Soul?

  • Yes

    Votes: 12 75.0%
  • No

    Votes: 4 25.0%

  • Total voters
    16

theslayerettes

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As far as we know, (based on the show) Angel and Spike are the only vampires with souls. When Spike got his soul we assumed that it worked just like Angel's does. But it seems to me like the soul affects them differently.

With Angel, it is made clear that he and Angelus are separate entities. Angel being the soul and Angelus being the demon. They share a body and memories, but they have different personalities and morals and etc. You can clearly identify between them.

With Spike, we are lead to believe that he is the same person as before but with a soul. The is no new entity introduced and he has the same personality. You would not be able to clearly tell apart season 6 Spike from Season 7 Spike.

When Angel gets his soul, he spends about a hundred years agonizing over the things he did as Angelus. He is continually remorseful and will never forgive those actions.

We only ever see Spike feel remorse for what he did to Buffy (something we saw before he got his soul), and for things he did after he got his soul. Spike doesn't seem to be affected by the things he has done previously. Or at least not to the same extent that Angel is.

When The First torments Angel, it haunts him with his past victims. When it haunts Spike it tells him that he's pathetic and worthless. The First doesn't use Spikes soul against him like it does with Angel.

For Angel, a soul changes who he is. For Spike, a soul is like a guide for right and wrong, and promotes remorse.

Do you agree? Why do you think a soul works differently for each of them?
Do you disagree? Do you think that Angel and Spike are affected the same?
 

Fool for Buffy

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Sineya
I could probably talk for 48 hours straight on this topic. But I'm not going to I'll keep it brief. First of all they are definitely affected differently. I'll provide a few reasons.

Spike's personality shields him from being overcome with guilt. Yes, he feels bad, but the soul doesn't destroy him with guilt like it did for Angel.
Angel's attitude changes with the soul. Spike still has a conqueror, love driven mentality, soulful or soulless. Angel on the other hand is very outgoing and confident as Angelus, and, although he evolves, he is definitely more reserved as Angel.
The soul acts as a conscience for Angel, while Spike actually developed one during the chip era.
The soul gives Angel reason for the first time, while it gives Spike consistency of reason instead.
The soul acts as a heart (emotionally, not stakely) for Angel, allowing him to feel love and grief, while Spike was always able to feel both.

The basic summary is that the soul is more for Angel. Spike was so much more human soulless that he was never going to undergo such a complete change like Angel.
 

theslayerettes

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I could probably talk for 48 hours straight on this topic. But I'm not going to I'll keep it brief. First of all they are definitely affected differently. I'll provide a few reasons.

Spike's personality shields him from being overcome with guilt. Yes, he feels bad, but the soul doesn't destroy him with guilt like it did for Angel.
Angel's attitude changes with the soul. Spike still has a conqueror, love driven mentality, soulful or soulless. Angel on the other hand is very outgoing and confident as Angelus, and, although he evolves, he is definitely more reserved as Angel.
The soul acts as a conscience for Angel, while Spike actually developed one during the chip era.
The soul gives Angel reason for the first time, while it gives Spike consistency of reason instead.
The soul acts as a heart (emotionally, not stakely) for Angel, allowing him to feel love and grief, while Spike was always able to feel both.

The basic summary is that the soul is more for Angel. Spike was so much more human soulless that he was never going to undergo such a complete change like Angel.
I completely agree! We saw this in season two when the Judge couldn't burn Angelus but said that Spike "stinks of humanity".
 

Fool for Buffy

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Sineya
I completely agree! We saw this in season two when the Judge couldn't burn Angelus but said that Spike "stinks of humanity".
That's one of the best moments of contradiction with the two both evil. And the final scene in Damage is also a great insight into both of them.
 

Mylie

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Spike is really a one of a kind vampire
Or rather Angel/Angelus is...

The Judge was able to sense humanity in other vampires as well, but somehow not Angelus. We also see James in Heartthrob love very passionately and feel grief so it's not just Spike. So if there's one vampire who's unique then I'd say it's Angel :)

I'm actually kidding, I don't think any of them are more unique than the other.
 

theslayerettes

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Or rather Angel/Angelus is...

The Judge was able to sense humanity in other vampires as well, but somehow not Angelus. We also see James in Heartthrob love very passionately and feel grief so it's not just Spike. So if there's one vampire who's unique then I'd say it's Angel :)

I'm actually kidding, I don't think any of them are more unique than the other.
Good point though... I almost forgot about James. He actually reminds me of Spike lol.
 

thrasherpix

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Good point though... I almost forgot about James. He actually reminds me of Spike lol.
I think James was originally meant to be Spike (reacting poorly to Buffy's death, and to contrast how Angel was dealing with it), but the writers were told they weren't killing off Spike so they had to invent 2 new characters in the rewrite of it.
 

theslayerettes

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I think James was originally meant to be Spike (reacting poorly to Buffy's death, and to contrast how Angel was dealing with it), but the writers were told they weren't killing off Spike so they had to invent 2 new characters in the rewrite of it.
Probably, they didn't really fit in with what we knew about Angelus and Darla's past.
 

EarthLogic

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I think James was originally meant to be Spike (reacting poorly to Buffy's death, and to contrast how Angel was dealing with it), but the writers were told they weren't killing off Spike so they had to invent 2 new characters in the rewrite of it.
I think Spike's inclusion would have made a far more interesting episode(and made more sense), but I'm glad they didn't use him. I think having him dusted in one episode would have done a disservice to his character, given how prominent he was on 'Buffy' and frankly, been a bit of an anticlimactic ending to his story considering the complex history he has with Angel. The story could have worked, however, as a two or three-parter. That would have given them space to explore Angel's conflicted feelings on killing another member of his 'old family' as well as allowed for a proper exploration of his grief over Buffy's death, and given Spike a decent ending (not that he didn't eventually get a good ending, but that was much later, obvs).

Ooh, now I'm wondering if there's a fanfic that's done this...?
 

Mrs Gordo

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Do you agree? Why do you think a soul works differently for each of them?
Do you disagree? Do you think that Angel and Spike are affected the same?
Unfortunately the soul works very differently for both vampires and the logic of it confounds. Honestly we all know what happened, Joss just up and changed his mind. He went about building a world, telling us the rules only to what can only be considered retconning.

The soul acts as a conscience for Angel, while Spike actually developed one during the chip era.
Spike was so much more human soulless that he was never going to undergo such a complete change like Angel.
I feel like we (not just you and I but so many others) have this same argument time and time again, and round and round we go. But I can't help myself so here I go.

A demon with no soul cannot develop a conscience. What Spike did was motivated by purely selfish purposes, mainly to get on Buffy's good graces. As Buffy says, he is a serial killer in jail.

It is cannon that a demon with no soul has no conscious. Joss says that the soul is your conscious. But the world building he did tells us more than that.

Season 1 Giles and Angel tell us that when you become a Vampire the demon gets your body but it doesn't get your soul. The soul is gone, bye bye - somewhere in heaven or hell or paradise or the ether etc. That is the essence of the person. Liam died in 1753. His soul or his essence was out there floating around until it was returned to him in 1898. And that is why Angelus/Angel are two different people. One is a demon, the other one is a soul (who's undead body is animated by the restrained demon). The world building taught us that the soul is a distinct entity from the demon. We see Angel right before he got his soul and right after he got his soul twice. Once in Season 2/Becoming and once in Five by Five. Both times, you can tell that ensouled Angel acts completely different from Angelus. How they carry themselves, how they talk, how they dress.

If we apply this same logic to Spike, when he regained his soul he should have exhibited different qualities when he was ensouled. William's soul was returned to him and yet there was no difference on top of a little guilt and a bit of craziness. He was still Spike, just as in love with Buffy and obsessed with her as before. There is no cannonical explanation for this, except that Joss et al decreed it so. Perhaps Spike is the special exception. But this is bad story telling and bad world building. The writers wrote themselves into a corner and decided to hell with it and made up new rules for Spike. Spike acts the same, dresses the same, there is no difference in his personality when he regains his soul. And this is never even addressed in the narrative. If they wanted to make Spike special or the exception they should have made it a point to discuss the distinctions between the ensouling between the two vampires.

While I don't pretend to understand how a demon can have degrees of humanity (nor do I necessarily agree with it), I honestly hope that Spike did not have more humanity in him than the average demon because if he did Seeing Red is all the more disgusting.
 

Fool for Buffy

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Unfortunately the soul works very differently for both vampires and the logic of it confounds. Honestly we all know what happened, Joss just up and changed his mind. He went about building a world, telling us the rules only to what can only be considered retconning.

I feel like we (not just you and I but so many others) have this same argument time and time again, and round and round we go. But I can't help myself so here I go.

A demon with no soul cannot develop a conscience. What Spike did was motivated by purely selfish purposes, mainly to get on Buffy's good graces. As Buffy says, he is a serial killer in jail.

It is cannon that a demon with no soul has no conscious. Joss says that the soul is your conscious. But the world building he did tells us more than that.

Season 1 Giles and Angel tell us that when you become a Vampire the demon gets your body but it doesn't get your soul. The soul is gone, bye bye - somewhere in heaven or hell or paradise or the ether etc. That is the essence of the person. Liam died in 1753. His soul or his essence was out there floating around until it was returned to him in 1898. And that is why Angelus/Angel are two different people. One is a demon, the other one is a soul (who's undead body is animated by the restrained demon). The world building taught us that the soul is a distinct entity from the demon. We see Angel right before he got his soul and right after he got his soul twice. Once in Season 2/Becoming and once in Five by Five. Both times, you can tell that ensouled Angel acts completely different from Angelus. How they carry themselves, how they talk, how they dress.

If we apply this same logic to Spike, when he regained his soul he should have exhibited different qualities when he was ensouled. William's soul was returned to him and yet there was no difference on top of a little guilt and a bit of craziness. He was still Spike, just as in love with Buffy and obsessed with her as before. There is no cannonical explanation for this, except that Joss et al decreed it so. Perhaps Spike is the special exception. But this is bad story telling and bad world building. The writers wrote themselves into a corner and decided to hell with it and made up new rules for Spike. Spike acts the same, dresses the same, there is no difference in his personality when he regains his soul. And this is never even addressed in the narrative. If they wanted to make Spike special or the exception they should have made it a point to discuss the distinctions between the ensouling between the two vampires.

While I don't pretend to understand how a demon can have degrees of humanity (nor do I necessarily agree with it), I honestly hope that Spike did not have more humanity in him than the average demon because if he did Seeing Red is all the more disgusting.
Yes, Spike is an exception. Yes, it defies logic we knew about vampires. And I believe that is supposed to be the case. His character is meant to be different from everything we know and from what is in the history books. For some reason, Spike had aspects of humanity. Destiny (the concept, not the episode) is a difficult subject to talk about with him because he did spend 100 years killing people, but it makes sense that he had humanity because some higher power intervened and gave him a purpose.
If we do what you suggest and "apply this same logic to Spike" I think it's dishonoring his character. Spike is not Angel. And he is not a regular vampire. Humanity remains a substantial part of him, showing up in different ways but always showing up. So when he gets a soul, less should change.
As far as a conscience goes, I understand that people believe that everything soulless Spike does is selfishly motivated. But there are some moments (Fool for Love, Intervention, The Gift, Bargaining) that I just can't understand being selfish. I have to believe he had a conscience.
 

theslayerettes

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It is cannon that a demon with no soul has no conscious.
A demon with no soul cannot develop a conscience. What Spike did was motivated by purely selfish purposes, mainly to get on Buffy's good graces. As Buffy says, he is a serial killer in jail.
I don't believe that spike ever had a conscience before the soul, but he was clearly capable of love and had feelings and emotions. Somehow even without a soul he had a decent amount of humanity in him.

Angelus/Angel are two different people. One is a demon, the other one is a soul (who's undead body is animated by the restrained demon).
you can tell that ensouled Angel acts completely different from Angelus. How they carry themselves, how they talk, how they dress.
If we apply this same logic to Spike, when he regained his soul he should have exhibited different qualities when he was ensouled.
What stood out to me, was that when William became a vampire he was still a lot like his human self whereas Angelus is nothing like Liam. Spike was still a momma's boy who nobody liked. He was always screwing things up and it took him a while to build his bad boy persona. Vampire lore in the buffyverse states that even though the soul is gone, the demon still has the person's memories and personality. We saw this when Harmony became a vampire. So I feel like it's possible for Spike to still be Spike even with a soul. 'Evil' Spike had enough humanity to even go out looking for a soul.

And I think it's worth pointing out that if the Spike that fans loved was completely changed, we would not be happy.

William's soul was returned to him and yet there was no difference on top of a little guilt and a bit of craziness. He was still Spike, just as in love with Buffy and obsessed with her as before.
I think this might have to do with who Spike/William is as a person. Many humans, although not murders, have a low sense of guilt. Spike places all his guilt on the demon part and his evil impulses.

You make really good points, all of which could be absolutely true. I guess we won't know unless Joss tells us. As of now it's basically open to interpretations.
 
As far as a conscience goes, I understand that people believe that everything soulless Spike does is selfishly motivated. But there are some moments (Fool for Love, Intervention, The Gift, Bargaining) that I just can't understand being selfish. I have to believe he had a conscience
I think a lot of the 'good' things that Spike did though was, at least mostly, out of love for Buffy. It comes off as selfish because we assume that he did these things in hope to win over Buffy. But throughout season 5 it is clear that Spike doesn't expect Buffy to love him back. He also shows that he would sacrifice himself for Buffy and her loved ones, which again stems from his love for Buffy.

Spikes humanity allows him to love, but before Buffy he only ever loved Drusilla. She wanted violence and as a demon promoted evil. She loved Spike most when he was at his peak evilness. His love with Drusilla was built and depended on evil. So when he fell for Buffy, the opposite of Drusilla, everything he knew about love and good and evil changed. Being in love with Buffy allowed him to know the difference between good and evil. The problem was, he still didn't technically have a soul and the demon in him gave him evil impulses, which I believe lead to the attempt at rape. It became an internal struggle between his humanity and the demon.
 

Mrs Gordo

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And I think it's worth pointing out that if the Spike that fans loved was completely changed, we would not be happy.
No, you are exactly right, and at the end of the day I think it all boils down to this. The character became more important than the story.
 

sk

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Sineya
My short version is that different persons with different personalities, different experiences, etc will handle and act differently when both loosing and regaining a soul.

/SK
 

EarthLogic

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I feel like we (not just you and I but so many others) have this same argument time and time again, and round and round we go. But I can't help myself so here I go.
*limbers up* I have a masochistic tendency to get drawn into these debates too. Can't help myself. :D

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently and I think the best way of answering this is an in-verse explanation and a extra-verse explanation. I'll start with the latter as its much easier.

The extra-'verse answer is that yes their souls work differently because, to put it simply, the writers cocked up. The rules of the mythology were pretty much made up as both shows went along in order to suit the stories they wanted to tell. This is why Spike is always Spike whether he has a soul or not. The character the writers and the fans loved was that of the original demon and so to keep him on as a recurring - and more importantly, a relevant character they had to maintain and develop that particular personality. This meant that they had to find ways for Spike to be involved with the gang that wouldn't result in him just killing them all. He had to fight alongside them instead of against them, which means they end up developing much more human-like emotional bonds with various characters for him, to the extent that the demonic elements of him sometimes fall by the wayside. With S6 they realise eventually that he is still a demon and lacking a soul and so to get across the message that the relationship he and Buffy have is definitely not healthy, the AR happens to drive him to get a soul. With a soul, he has to be remorseful but he still also has to resemble the Spike we know. He can't have a drastically different personality because that's not the one that was developed over three seasons. The soul then just has to work as an added layer of self-control and understanding.

This of course ends up retrospectively contradicting everything we see with Angel. Angel is different because the personality we first meet and get to know is the souled one. Through him, the show's initial mythology firmly established that a vampire is not the same person as the human and that the presence of Angel's soul is what determines his humanity*, not just his conscience. The demon is something inside him, but it is not what controls him. This way a romance between him and Buffy becomes acceptable because not only does he feel remorse, but he has the ability to truly love - this makes him different enough from the 'evil' vampires Buffy goes around staking on a nightly basis. He's basically one of the good guys. The problem here is that when Whedon decided he was going to go evil, that plot twist only really serves its metaphorical purpose in that one episode. Angelus is drastically different because the real-life experience he represents initially is that guy who turns into a complete bastard after you sleep with him. The metaphor stops working after that because there isn't really real life parallel of a guy who spends half a year trying to kill all your friends after you sleep with him. So Angel's story after he becomes re-ensouled is that of a man seeking redemption for his crimes, and struggling to control the darkness within him. However, given the stark behavioural differences we see between Angel and Angelus, the issue of whether he can be considered responsible for his crimes becomes tricky, because his soul was shown not to be the one in control when he is evil. It seems like it's the soul which is repentant while the demon inside is just being kept in check. Everything Angel experiences is imposed on the demon as punishment rather than as a means to change it.

*Will get to the tricky question of 'humanity' later.

With Spike they end up doing the complete opposite. They develop the demon to the point where you almost forget he is one. The development of his human-like qualities are a problem because how can a soulless demon develop a conscience if he doesn't have one (seeing as soul=conscience, as established via the writing of Angel) in the first place? It totally contradicts the basic show tenet of: vampires=evil b/c no conscience. So I think ultimately the writing issues with these two characters isn't really with the soul, but the demon. I think that Spike was given too much consistency between his souled and soulless selves - because fans liked him, and consequently Angel then seems like he perhaps wasn't given enough. I would have actually liked to see a greater degree of conflict in Angelus that builds on what we see in season 2. Not something that changes him drastically, but a story arc that draws out the issues that are rooted in his human self.

All of the above is then what makes the in-'verse explanation problematic because I have yet to find one that satisfies me to the point where I feel comfortable enough to disregard the influence of the writing decisions and just take to story as is. The best theory I have for the disparity between the two vampires' is that their differing human personalities before they were turned significantly influenced the strength of the demon. Liam, we see is a work-shy drunkard who indulges his baser appetites. This doesn't make him necessarily bad, just an idiot. Encouraged by Darla, these hedonistic pleasures he enjoyed are also amplified and perverted to horrific levels as a vampire. But he is also caught in a deep conflict with his father, who treats him with constant disapproval (if he loves his son, he certainly doesn't show it) and in turn Liam's resentment 'causes him to act out. It's hard to know which came first, the father's anger, or the son's rebellion. There are a lot of issues there for the demon to work on. The demon feeds off his hatred of everything that connected him to humanity (primarily through his father), because he believed what made him human also made him worthless. The newly-turned Angelus isn't that much different from Liam. The first thing he lashes out at is his family. It's not necessarily that he can't feel/understand love -as Darla says, it affects him whether he wants it or not - it's just that he does everything he possibly can to reject it and shape himself in opposition to it.

With Spike the demon doesn't have as much to go on. He loved and was loved by his mother. He had a comfortable life. So soulless Spike's nature largely comes from his issues with class and status. His demon rebels against the ordered social structures that rejected William, and so is more focused on mayhem and destruction. As for love, yes he can still love, but his relationship with Drusilla is co-dependent just as it was with his mother - a constant desire to please her and receive approval through that affection. His love is ultimately inward and self-serving because he is still playing out that Oedipal desire.

But like I said, this explanation still doesn't cut it for me because it can't account for why Spike seems to somehow 'grow' the ability to make decisions in seemingly selfless ways. Because one thing the vampire rules make clear is that, physically, vampire = dead body + demonic spirit (with memories). There's no such thing as being able to 'retain humanity' because the human soul is lost in the aether. And whatever imitation of human emotions it retains, it should not be able to morally care enough about its actions to change them because it fundamentally lacks the very means to do so.

Sorry for the essay-length rambly post. I just have so many thoughts on the topic, some of which still haven't fully been able to work out. There might be a few loose threads or contradictions in what I've written, but I'll try and address them at some point.

but it makes sense that he had humanity because some higher power intervened and gave him a purpose.
Uh, did it? When?o_O

But there are some moments (Fool for Love, Intervention, The Gift, Bargaining) that I just can't understand being selfish. I have to believe he had a conscience.
Except that he physically doesn't have one. Hence the problem.
 
Mrs Gordo
Mrs Gordo
I pretty much agree with all of this! Well said.

EarthLogic

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@dcai0830 I'm glad you agree, because I have a feeling that I might end up disagreeing with some of it by the end of the day, lol! I have a love-hate relationship with this topic because, frankly, it does my head in!
 

Mylie

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@EarthLogic loved your post and definitely agree. It also made me realize one thing... Spike's seeming growth also goes against the show's premise that vampires can't grow and that buffy killing them is a metaphor for her growing up. I know that SR goes in that direction because it shows Spike's limits at that point, but I still think there's something there. Maybe someone smarter (and more eloquent) could make something of it?
 

NileQT87

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Something I wrote in answer to tinysnapdragon123′s IMDb post about Liam’s soul:

Time and time again we see that vampires retain the traits of the humans they kill, as mentioned by Angel. They are largely just soulless, evil versions of their human selves.

The thing that never made sense to me was Liam. Yes, Liam is a cad and not a good person, but he never came across in flashbacks as a horrible sadist either. So, did Liam have a hidden, sadist streak that resulted in Angelus being the worst recorded vampire? Seems like there would have to be…

Also, who’d soul does Angel have? We know Spike got back “his” soul, i.e. Williams. But do we know for sure Angel has Liam’s soul or just “a” soul. If he just has “a” soul it might explain things. I don’t remember if that is ever clarified.

Sidenote: Doesn’t Spike getting William’s soul (or Angel getting Liam’s soul, if he does) totally screw over William and Liam, who presumably are dead and in a merry afterlife? One second there in heaven playing a harp, then next they are jammed inside an evil vampire? Ouch!
You’re severely misunderstanding Liam.

The idea that Angel isn’t Liam doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny, though I’ve seen Spike fans suggest it before.

Angelus isn’t also quite as void of his human traits and weaknesses as people love to claim.

There’s a whole scene where Darla preys on the fact that Angelus still wants his father’s approval that he’ll never now get. The usual Spike fan response of the Judge actually isn’t saying what they want it to mean. Drusilla is the least capable of love of all, as she’s habitually fickle, though needs constant protection. Drusilla believes that acts of contrition/more Hail Marys/torture will finally get her approval from God, her mother and “Daddy” Angelus, which is why Spike knows that torturing Drusilla will bring her back to him. Spike’s understanding of love isn’t love at all, but obsession, lust, selfishness and wanting respect and constant approval (especially from women and mothers). Angelus’ hatred for humanity and his rejection of it, along with his association with love (and the own love he felt denied to him) being the murder of his own family (“Is this the work of love?”–though this is notably looking at his sister Kathy, who is the person we very much saw as the person Liam loved most) is why Angelus registered as having gotten humanity of his system by flushing out with as many brutal murders as he could. Darla created much of what Angelus became and Angelus was entirely in response to that teaching, preying on Liam’s problems with never being good enough for his father and disgust with humanity.

Darla, however, has some major weaknesses with never having been loved or cared about in her human or vampire lives and being afraid of death as both a mortal and immortal, causing her to always surround herself with the biggest, baddest Alpha around for protection, but also wanting their love even if they’re incapable of giving what she’s never experienced. Both of her redemptions come when Angel shows her feelings of being cared about, loved and worthy that she’d never experienced before–and she was finally able to love something more than herself and her own survival (the greatest act of true love is sacrifice in the Jossverse). Angelus’ obsessive hatred of Angel is even more than his hatred of Buffy, because both cause him to have to suffer in a cage while experiencing love, humanity and other human feelings and wants (see his response to being infected by love when possessed by Grace Newman).

You’re forgetting about Liam’s father issues (Liam, Angelus and Angel all have huge Alpha paternalistic streaks and struggle to not be the boss in control–this is explicitly explored with Liam never feeling like he was good enough for his father), issues with Catholicism (he specifically refers to his father’s hypocrisy) and Catholic guilt (Angel is obsessed with his damnation, being unwanted by God and wanting cosmic forgiveness rather than a shortcut that only looks like it), a lot of evidence that he was unfulfilled (some very distinct wishes for what he wanted in his life that both Angelus and Angel share–starting with Liam saying, “I always wanted to see the world, but…” and all the shared artistic, travel, multilingual aptitude, eidetic memory, fine arts, art/book collecting, etc… traits between Angelus/Angel that have to be Liam’s stifled interests) in a life he didn’t want (his father being a silk/linen merchant in Galway) and a place he didn’t want to be, he had low opinions of humanity’s intelligence and humanity’s inhumanity to each other (which is why he looked for “interesting” women in all the wrong places, which put him in Darla’s embrace–until Angel got that out of his system and saw Buffy as the goodly heroic template because of her wanting to help humanity and seeing the humanity in her–seeing her life falling down around her and still wanting to help–he wanted for himself), talks about Buffy restoring his faith in humanity and this turning into his obsession with helping humanity, etc…

Holland Manners actually exploits Angel’s former issues with humanity’s inhumanity to each other, as does Jasmine. And of course, Angel is deeply insecure about what he is, and through Buffy, this desire for humanity as the ultimate reward via cosmic forgiveness is what he wants most in the world, though he will always sacrifice himself (seeing his own life and happiness as far less worthy, no matter how many lives he is capable of saving, than even a 400-year-old ex-vampire syphilitic prostitute) for the sake of others. And of course, his curse specifically denies him something he very much associates with the best of what humanity means: love.

Liam, Angelus and Angel also all share a weakness for liking interesting, intelligent, powerful women. Angel makes comments concerning “dumb as a post” and “simpering morons” that make it very clear he’s got some issues with particularly dumb people, who are both Angelus’ victims he’s mocking towards and the sorts of noblewomen who were considered the proper women of Liam’s time period. This points to a very real trait concerning his liking of intelligence and high culture. Liam actually mocks his father for eating with his hands and calling him a pig while discussing stealing the silver he never uses. He mocks his father for only having one servant (Anna), despite his middle class pretensions of stating “servants” in the plural. Darla was all too happy about sharing the finery she never had in life and this was the reason why Angelus insulted the Master living in the sewer, while commenting that Darla always likes the view, staying in the best hotels, etc… And you can certainly see this in how the former syphilitic prostitute is a veritable fashion show of finery. Angel likewise has a taste for large, extravagant living spaces (the Hyperion is even compared to a castle by both Bethany and Fred with hundreds of rooms he has to himself) and cultured interests. However, in times of self-flagellation, he takes it to the extreme (the homeless stink guy in the alley feeding on rats he struggles to catch). Angel’s bloodlust being more of a problem for him is also an allegory for addiction, which is also shown through Liam’s drinking.

If you were right, the father/son story would have no meaning if it weren’t Angel dealing with a reverse of his own relationship with his father when he has his own out-of-control son that he desperately wants to save, but is self-destructive. Both Liam and Connor literally had to die and be reborn, while dealing with an onslaught of horrible past memories, to be saved. The parallel isn’t random coincidence, but intentional.

Angel isn’t a hero because heroism was forced on him. Getting Liam’s human soul forced back into his body that parasitic demon Angelus stole from him and perverted using his own human feelings, memories and weaknesses into something horribly monstrous didn’t make him a hero at all. What it did was emotionally shatter him into a no-self-esteem, self-hating social cripple whose attempts to rejoin either the demon or human worlds ended in complete failure until a certain little human learned about what he was and still loved him. It was only what he chose to do with it (an act of human free will, despite constant cosmic and prophetic interference in his life out of his control) that turned him from being a neutral force to one who is a champion of humanity and keeps trying, no matter how many times he falls down and suffers.

Liam is most certainly Angel.
JSawyer44 and I also had an interesting conversation about Liam's continuing personality in Angel and Angelus:

You are pretty spot on with your character descriptions except for one. Yeah Angel was the Champion but he also had tons of experience for living over two and a half centuries, as well as speaking and reading many languages, and a near perfect memory. So once Angel learned something he would never forget it just like he never forgot a single one of the evil deeds that Angelus was responsible for. Which is why many of his opponents underestimated him. Wesley had the most formal education and seemed to do very well at applying his knowledge.

The episode where Fred is giving a talk on her article that appeared in a Physics Journal Angel was sitting in the audience. Afterwards he was able to pinpoint from memory where every person was sitting or standing in the auditorium. I don’t know if this is because he was born with a great memory or whether it is something that he got through becoming a predatory creature like a vampire. I don’t remember any of the other vampires displaying this eidetic memory. Usually Angel didn’t show off this ability maybe because he didn’t want the humans to know how acute his senses and perceptions were. It might freak them out as it would make him so different from them.



Thanks for the vindication. So many fans like to underestimate the value of Angel’s experience and intelligence. I don’t know how he could stand being in Sunnydale and having to play second fiddle to the teenagers of the Scooby Gang, when he probably knew more than Giles did about so many dangers they faced. But since he could only travel around during the nighttime, they told much of the story during their school hours and this left his character out of the loop.

Then season one of Angel we find he knows how to research using the Internet as he haunts the public library that is until Wesley joins the group and does the research instead. This is totally better than what Giles was doing as he is actually adapting to the modern world better than the Watcher who remains a total bookworm. Willow has to use the computer for the Scoobies as Giles won’t touch that infernal machine.

I also maintain the opinion that saving souls as well as lives is a higher purpose than just saving the populace from vampires. I believe that TPTB knew through prophecies that Liam becoming Angelus than Angel would provide them with the perfect Champion when it came time for the Final Days.
Your posts on Angel are amazing. :D

I say many of the same things, but you said it very eloquently. I hate how much Angel’s intelligence is frequently overlooked. Angel was one of the smartest characters along with Wesley (who was miles ahead of Giles) and Giles. Fred and Willow’s intelligence was a bit more specific to math/science and computers and had less wisdom. In fact, besides Buffy, Angel was most able to connect to Giles before Angelus destroyed that.

Angel was also one of the wisest characters (Spike had a lot of experience, but didn’t have nearly as much self-awareness–Angel was perfectly aware of how doomed his future with Buffy always would be long before the curse added to his problems). That brooding nature of his resulted in him doing a lot of thinking (even his brooding time reading material about existentialism lead to one of his most famous speeches in Epiphany). Angel was a bit of a nerdy bookworm himself, which made Wesley and Giles some of the easiest characters with whom for him to connect to. They were also all lonely men denied love, as well as the figures used to making hard logical decisions that other people weren’t willing to make because emotions get in the way.

And yes, Angel’s eidetic memory is really underestimated and underrated, despite some very blatant examples of him using it (Supersymmetry, but also the sheer number of human languages he’s conversational in or able to understand). His knowledge of history and demonology was probably only bested by Wesley’s.

One thing that always pops out at me is that Liam says “I always wanted to see the world, but…” Liam wasn’t only the drunk womanizing idiot that so many non-fans of the character consider him to be.

Guess what Angelus and Angel both did a lot of? Fulfilling Liam’s wishes to get out of Galway and see the world. There’s a further hint of Liam having been severely unhappy with his time period, what was expected of him by his father (being a linen and silk merchant?) and surroundings in Halloween. The drinking, brawling, the intention of theft (interestingly, he insults his father as uncultured) and looking for unusual women in less respectable places (Angel definitely gets the bad girls out of his system and idolizes Buffy’s purity and goodness) might have been a symptom of that unhappiness. Angel tells us that he hated the sorts of dull women common in his time and was looking for someone intelligent and interesting (he ended up being seduced by Darla with promises of seeing a different world).

Angelus and Angel both have art collecting, drawing skills, interest in the fine arts such as ballet and poetry, travel, learning languages and the eidetic memory in common. These have to have been Liam’s unfulfilled interests and abilities that were being wasted. Liam wasn’t dumb, just unfulfilled. The demon might not be the human person, but he has that former personality, interests and mental capabilities that the human had to work with and expand on. Angel is Liam being horrified at what was done in his body, proving that Angel’s goodness was in Liam all along after he had a rude awakening and a shock to his system.

Thanks. Your posts on Angel and Buffy are also written very eloquently. Liam is a very misunderstood character in the Whedonverse. I can see someone intellectually gifted and artistic to boot being smothered in a mercantile atmosphere.

Your comments about his father and how Liam believed him to be uncultured and a boor are so true. When his father complained about him trying to seduce the servants and he answers that they only have one, you can see the contempt for his father’s pretensions. No doubt Liam wanted to pursue a career utilizing his artistic talents which his father in all probability denigrated as women’s busywork rather than a career as a silk merchant. It’s possible that his father was no more than a shopkeeper living beyond his means.
Lindsey is the one who mentions the linen and silk merchant factoid and “middle class” is used. In fact, the merchant class was indeed history’s original middle class after the collapse of the feudal system. It’s a class where a decent education and families with upwardly mobile ambitions would be possible. After the Bubonic Plague, the merchants became incredibly powerful. I know (my medievalist background is kicking in) that merchants would learn foreign languages in order to conduct business. Most of the upward middle class or well-educated individuals I’m aware of from the 18th century seemed to be highly self-taught. The nobility, mercantile and professional classes had access to education and literacy. A lot of education was religious.

We know Liam was heavily influenced by his father’s Catholicism (he viewed him as a hypocrite). Angel’s character is dripping in it when he discusses ideas of redemption, cosmic forgiveness and damnation. Being a demon unwanted by God and damned to Hell means something to him. He’s obsessed with God. Darla pushes his buttons with it. Angelus mocked God and targeted convents, nuns and virgins. Angel looks fearfully at Jesus on the cross when he goes into the church. Angel might be a vampire in a multiverse that is seemingly polytheistic, but he didn’t stop being Catholic. Interesting for a series where the creator is a devout atheist.

Angelus and Darla definitely had a taste for finer things and Angelus looked down on the Master living in the sewer and being disfigured from being able to hunt among the human pestilence. Darla always liked “the view” (she’s also a veritable fashion show). Her background of being a prostitute in 1609 would explain her love of finery and wanting to live with things she didn’t have before (there were exactly two English women in Jamestown that year and both graves are accounted for–interestingly, two women are shown in that flashback, which leaves stowaway, erased from history or Roanoke for her origin). Angelus was all too happy to oblige. They traveled in style and in finery. This seems to flow with Liam’s seeming views of his father.

His obsessions with travel, human languages (he never seems to know any demon ones, unlike Spike or Wesley, though he tries to learn a demon language at W&H), fine arts (ballet, poetry, his drawing skills, drawings he has on walls, classical music on a record player, mostly likes old music from classical up through the oldies period, etc…), collecting antiques (statuary, Ming vase, misplaced books of prophecy, etc…), reading old books in foreign languages, preference for extravagant living spaces despite his team being always broke (we know he was notoriously cheap with a buck–perhaps he just is very reluctant to dig into Angelus’ stash of probable blood money–he pulls out a big wad of cash to get rid of Cordy and Groo, though), etc… is present in the character from the first time we see his apartment and is with him to the end. Shame Joyce and him never really got to discuss art antiques, though she mentions the things in his mansion in passing.

Interestingly, Liam is talking about stealing cutlery that his father never uses. It wasn’t until the 18th century that multiple sets of provided cutlery became common in wealthier homes and the fork was the last to catch on. Prior to this century, people often carried their own utensils in pouches called cadenas and used their personal knife they carried. I read some interesting stuff recently about how some frowned on using the fork well into the 19th century, as they could use their hands. Some deemed it unmanly when the fork arrived in Italy (they needed it for pasta) from the Byzantine Empire. Countries other than Italy took centuries for it to catch on. The four-tine fork design didn’t exist until the early 19th century (two or three-tined forks were used prior).

Now, of course, Liam was no saint and not helping the situation with his father by living down to his low expectations after feeling that he was a disappointment no matter what he did. Interestingly, we later see this dynamic turned on its head where Angel becomes his father to an out-of-control son who has to also have an extreme intervention to save him from self-destruction (a complete rewriting of memories in Connor’s case, while Angel needed Angelus’ horrific actions to wake Liam’s underlying morality up). Angel walked a mile in his father’s shoes in an intentional echo of his own past. Liam saw nothing but the bad in his father, while Connor saw nothing but the monster who killed Holtz’s family in Angel. By Connor reconciling with Angel, Angel may have found peace with his own father.

Liam’s biggest flicker of goodness and humanity had been with his sister Kathy; the very sister who gave him his name when he “returned to her an angel”. Thus, the demon with the face of an angel was born. Noticeably, after the crimes of Angelus, he doesn’t return to being Liam, but something altogether new resulting from the combination of minds: Angel.

The misdated Watcher’s Diary entry (1775, my rear, that’s supposed to be 1745) is supposed to be him at 18 dating the fancy noblewoman. But that entry seems kind of ridiculous given the errors. If you try to read it, the name looks like “Sarah Goodfried”. Halloween makes my inner fashion history nerd cringe. Buffy’s costume has an excuse of being a modern costume, but the drawing in the book has a bustle and no pair of chest-flattening stays. It resembles Victorian. LMAO.

Granted, these same Watchers’ Dairies told Giles that Spike was barely 200. And then Spike says he’s 126 in The Initiative (he’s 119!). Spike sounds like he tries to get people to think he’s older.

At least the exact line with Angel is “240 years or so”, not exactly that (243-244).

I have to mentally just headcanon that Angel liked shaving off a few years when Buffy rounded down his age and kept it going. Unlike Spike wanting to boost his cred., Angel’s age mostly served to make him feel old.
 
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