Angel

So on Tuesday, I spent a solid 8-10 hours watching Netflix in one go around. I think I watched 10 hour long episodes of Angel, just to finish the series off. I don’t care that I was up till 5 in the morning to do it, because it was awesome. Ya’ll know what it’s like to Netflix binge watch, and this was by far the most intense “session” I’ve ever done. 8-10 hours. That’s nuts, but now I won’t have to do it again any time soon! But anyway, what is the point of this post? Well dear friends, let me tell you! I’m done with Angel, and now I’m going to rant about everything I need to. It’s going to be a whole bomb of stuff from Buffy and Angel, and if you don’t care to read my stuff when I do this, exit now, because it’s only going to get more real from here. So here we go, why Angel was a magnificent television show, how uncomfortable I am now that it’s all done, why I want to but won’t read the comic books, and finally, why Angel is better than Spike because Spike is just terrible. I challenge you to read on.

I’ll start with the “sales pitch” for Angel and/or Buffy. First of all, there isn’t a genre in the world that Buffy and Angel don’t at some point encapsulate. There’s comedy, drama, romance, action, history, sci-fi, fantasy, the whole shabang. Buffy is told differently than Angel too. Buffy is about the girl moving through life and trying to balance it with her duties as the Slayer, plus there are clear villains that need to be defeated. Angel runs an investigation agency that “helps the helpless” of Los Angeles. It starts out kind of like a crime show, but as it progresses, it loses some of the crime show feel and it becomes a lot more, I’m gonna say “big picture oriented” in that it starts to have central plots and goals. I fell in love with Buffy almost immediately, and Angel took a little getting used to. Someone described it as “Buffy’s ugly cousin” which is pretty accurate in it’s first season. But trust me, it grows up fast once it finds its footing. I quit watching it after about 10 episodes, but then I picked at back up and didn’t look back, because the first 10 episodes have Doyle, and I didn’t like him. He was very boring to me, and it gets a whole lot better after he leaves. I cannot stress it enough, and I’ve made it abundantly clear in other posts as well: ANGEL AND BUFFY ARE THE TWO GREATEST SHOWS I HAVE EVER WATCHED. They’re super funny, even though they don’t operate like sitcoms, and they are surprisingly applicable to life. You’d think supernatural events and vampires and demons would be far-fetched, but in all honesty, it seldom is. Joss Whedon is a mastermind, a god among writers or directors or whatever he is. Remember The Avengers? Yeah, that’s Joss Whedon’s work. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Yeah, that’s him too. Give it a shot, and I promise you won’t regret it. You have to give it a FAIR shot though.

The next thing is the inevitable “What next?” feeling after a TV show is done. Only I think this is the worst one I’ve ever dealt with. Many TV shows have some sort of conclusion, a happily ever after, or everything is ruined. There’s a resolution to the series. It isn’t the case with Angel. Angel ended on a huge cliffhanger and because Joss Whedon tried too early to get renewal for it, it got cancelled early. If he’d waited until the season was nearly over like usual, there would be a season 6. It got left up in the air, and man I hate that! Buffy ended well. I of course wanted more and wanted different things to happen, certain people not to die and that sort of stuff, but it actually had a closing chapter. Of course more stuff comes after it, but if nothing did happen after it, it would feel complete. Angel not so much. It’s a spinoff/continuation of Buffy, so you know while watching it that Buffy is still doing things at the same time that Angel is doing his thing. The final season of Angel occurs one season after the ending of Buffy, so approximately a year after. It feels like a tease saying, “Here you go! More Buffyverse material, but we’re gonna have it end in the middle of a battle in the middle of an apocalypse after we’ve killed people off and introduced new characters! Yay!” (-.-) I just don’t even know what to do with myself. I loved those shows so intensely, some might say a little too much. But now it’s over. Done. Finished. But that leads me into my next point.

They continued on as comic books! Yay! Right? Well not yay for me. I’m not a comic book guy. Who’da thunk right? Well I don’t like comic books. I find them kind of dorky first of all, and you have to pay for each individual part of the story, and the animations are silly, and they become overwhelmingly complex. I tried to read a synopsis of the X-Men comics and got so lost. People are being resurrected every which way, someone dies and then turns out to not be dead, soooo many characters, and sooo many editions. There isn’t just an X-Men comic book series. There are dozens of different “lines” of comic books that deal with different characters and times and plots and somehow they’re all supposed to fit within one universe. So when it comes to the Buffy/Angel comics, I’m scared of that being the same case. So many different editions of Buffy and Angel. Plus, even for a fantasy show, the comic books tend to open up opportunities to go above and beyond. The television series seemed to have some realistic limitations of what could be done and what couldn’t be done, or what characters would or wouldn’t do. I read an entire summary of what happens to Angel after the series finale, and I found myself saying, “Yeah, like that would happen in the TV show.” Plus, half the magic is in the acting. If somebody dies in the comic book, it’s just a drawing. In the TV version, you have emotion and facial expressions and body movements and sound and dialogue to add effect. The comic book lacks all of that. The acting on Angel and Buffy was spectacular and I fell in love with so many of the characters, with the exception of a few (I’m looking at you Spike and Connor and Doyle and sometimes Xander). It’s like reading a text message. You can’t hear the tone or the speed or see the face of the person sending it. All the magic is gone. So I won’t be reading the comics, even though I desperately want to know what happens. I want to write my own endings, but I can’t simply do it in my head because like I’ve mentioned, what I say or think is only as good as how other people perceive it. I have to have it written down and authenticated, and others have to agree with me. That’s how my mind works, I don’t know about yours. It’s such a shame, because I care so deeply for these characters, and now it feels like they’re half of who they used to be when being played by some of the best actors I’ve ever seen.

Now for the juicy stuff. I’m hopping on the anti-Spike train, which isn’t the popular train either. Here’s my entire argument for Angel and against Spike.

First of all, I’m going to differentiate my views of Spike and Angel, because both of them have been vampires with and without souls. Spike even has a third layer of having a chip in his head that causes severe pain whenever he tries to do harm to humans. So, I’m going to base my arguments most of the time on this: Angel is an entirely different entity from Angelus, even if they share a body. It’s a drastic enough difference that I think one is not responsible for the other, marked even further by their distinction of a name. Spike on the other hand doesn’t change much from soul to soulless, so I’m going to (for the most part) include Spike’s actions while soulless as part of his character, even after he regains his soul. You may think that’s unfair, but I can change it up if need be. That’s how I’m going to look at this though.

Now let’s move into why I like Angel. Many people, from the forums I’ve browsed, think Angel is a terrible character. In rankings, I see Angel consistently ranked in the middle rather than on the upper end, like Spike. Someone even dared to say that Spike had more impact on the Buffy universe than Angel did, which is laughable, but I’ll explain that later. Angel is a very compelling character every step of the way, and is never really boring. I’m not going to talk about specific events yet, but rather talk about his personality and arch, which some people think is nonexistent. Angel has clearly defined views about ethics and morality. There is a little gray area, but most of the time something is evil or it’s not. It’s good or it’s not. I love that. When it comes down to it, while there are certainly different levels of evil and good, evil is still evil. It doesn’t truly matter who’s the most righteous or the most evil. It all depends on which side of the fence you’re on, not how close to the fence you are. Angel is determined to stay on the good side to the best of his abilities. His decisions aren’t often selfish. He considers what’s best for the greater good and for those around him. He is very driven. He does good for the sake of doing good. He starts out doing good split pretty evenly between his own salvation and for others, but by the end of Angel, his only care is doing what’s right, no matter what his fate is. Good for the sake of good. That is immensely admirable. He’s a lover and he’s loyal. I’m pairing these together because even in his dark times, he knows what he’s done and he stays true to his friends. He loves Buffy no matter what happens. Everything he does in Buffy is for her, in her best interest. On Angel, all Angel does is love those around him. Of course, his character is a little more uncomfortable with love because he never received it ever before Buffy. He needs it in the same way we do, and he’s pretty awkward about it, like we are, but he still does it. When his friends are in trouble, he doesn’t hesitate to help them in any way he can. He’s broody. I think this is why he is seen as boring, because he typically isn’t very jovial and he wears a frown a lot and he keeps to himself sometimes. He doesn’t often laugh or have fun. He stays broody for the whole series, which gives the appearance of a static character. But his changes are all internal. His motivations change, his experience and wisdom changes. His feelings change. I love to see Angel smile and laugh even when it’s seldom. But that’s his position. He is one of the primary champions of the world. There is so much on his shoulders, and his brooding is a product of all that stress, and his conflict between his own desires and what he knows to be right and good. Is it repetitive? Maybe sometimes, but aren’t we the same way? A lot of us would like to think we wouldn’t hesitate to do the right thing if it conflicts with our desires. Angel doesn’t hesitate sometimes, but sometimes he does. Like turning back into a vampire, he has that internal struggle of what he wants and what’s best for Buffy. In the end, he does what’s right.

I don’t think that really discussed his arch to much, but examine Angel from HIS earliest moments (as a drunk human in the 1740s, not his first episode) to his final moments in the series and he is a completely different person, and he’s been everywhere in between. Now here’s why I don’t find Spike compelling. People say he’s always a lover. From his obsession with Cecily, to his creepy (though honestly pretty touching) relationship with his mother, to Drusilla, and then to Buffy, and in some ways to Fred. Even as a vampire, he “loved” Drusilla, though I’m not sure if you can call that love. The Judge one time sensed humanity in the two of them because they loved each other. In Angelus, he sensed no humanity. First of all, I think the Drusilla and Spike relationship was fun, but it resembled Angelus’ relationship with Darla. I’m only using Angelus as a comparison to Spike, not as a comparison to Angel himself. The point is, Spike wasn’t that much of a lover. He loved Buffy? He loved slayers not as people, but for what they stood for. He loved the idea of devouring slayers because they were seen as unattainable; something to be feared. But not for Spike, because he always felt he had to prove something to someone else. When he got the chip in his head, lets remember he tried to kill Willow. Willow would be dead if not for that chip. Also with the chip in his head, Spike consistently attempted to do evil for his own selfish purposes. He was domesticated, but the second that chip gets taken out, it’s dead Buffy and all her friends. He says it frequently too. Then there’s the whole issue with Spike’s getting a Buffy sex robot, attempting to rape Buffy, and then “seeking his soul.” I don’t think he was looking for a soul, he was looking for an end to his pain. I presume a way to kill Buffy since she was a slayer, and the one slayer he couldn’t do in. All that tension of not getting what he wanted he released in the form of sexual aggression, which Buffy unhealthily went into because of other matters that aren’t too important right now. The main point is that she didn’t love Spike, he was her sex robot. Sex =/= love. It is possible to have sex without love. Angel’s sex with Buffy is love, as evidenced by his curse. He had sex with four different women throughout the series (Buffy, Eve, Nina, Darla) and only sex with Buffy gave him true happiness. That’s love right there. Back to Spike. He wanted Buffy gone, but instead he got his soul back. Let’s just pretend he did seek his soul. What was his motivation? Selfish. “To get into Buffy’s pants,” as Angel put it. On that note, all Spike ever did was selfish. I didn’t interpret his sacrifice in Chosen as love for Buffy as much as I saw it as him being jealous of Angel. He saw Angel and Buffy kiss and then Angel giving the necklace to Buffy, and his wearing it (not knowing what it would do) was an attempt to one-up Angel, not save the world. Everything Spike ever did that can be construed was good was for selfish reasons. I’m not going to say it has no merit, but good for selfish reasons doesn’t compare to good for goodness sake. His arch was entirely out of his control, resulting primarily from his chip and Buffy’s fluctuating treatment of him. Can I also say that Spike with a soul was just as big a d*** as he was without a soul? Sure he wasn’t killing humans, but man he treated everyone like crap. He was only nice to people he felt obligated to be nice to, while Angel was genuinely thoughtful and caring to everyone, whether they were nice to him or not (Connor). I guess I can see why Spike is more popular because he dished out what people deserved while Angel generally showed people mercy. Sounds a little like Christ vs. the world to me. That’s right, I’m comparing Angel to Christ and Spike to the world. Of course Christ is a better person than Angel because Angel is imperfect, but still.

So, Bangel or Spuffy? Clearly Bangel. I know that’s a dumb couple name, but it’s the “official” one. What was Spike and Buffy’s relationship? Fight, anger, hatred, sex, occasional help, but only in a pragmatic way (because they were needed). Buffy and Angel’s relationship? Love, care, fight, eternal, help (because of need and desire btw), and I’ll even throw in some of the bad stuff. Mainly miscommunication/deceit. Buffy and Angel didn’t always communicate well because they thought they knew better than the other. Still, I’m a believer in soul mates. No relationship is perfect, but every good relationship is just that. Good. Angel and Buffy had a good relationship, one where they jointly consented to love each other and save the world together. They had plans for marriage and a life together. Spike and Buffy used each other to relieve tension (at the expense of their trust with their friends by the way). There was never any plan for marriage or a future, or any love for that matter. There is a difference between unhealthy and flawed. Spike and Buffy were unhealthy. Angel and Buffy were flawed. Plus Angel is just a sweetheart. Need I say more than the final moments of “The Prom?” No, I don’t think so.

I’m also going to bring in a few more points. One of them is Xander. Generally I hate Xander’s judgment of Buffy’s relationships because they’re so inaccurate. He HATED Angel, he liked Riley. Riley was an enormous douchebag by the end of his appearances on that show, and then he went and shouted at Buffy because she told him off! For Xander, Angel had everything Xander wanted. Looks, strength, purpose among other things. Plus I can’t even describe how pissed I got after Buffy kept Angel secret and Xander acted like the voice of reason. Or when he scolded Angel for drinking from Buffy. “Well it’s nice to know you’ll eat your girlfriend to save your own ass,” Xander said. Dude, you’re such an idiot. Buffy made him do it! Wanted him to do it! Angel didn’t want to risk it, and what was the first thing he did after? Rush her to a hospital and defend her from the Mayor. Dude, Xander, just back off. The one thing he did get right though was Spike. Spike was terrible for Buffy. The fact that she kept HIM secret for so long violated everyone’s trust. The difference between hiding Spike and hiding Angel is also important. Have sex with the enemy who is shown to be a wild card only serving his own wants and needs, or bring a tortured soul who spent hundreds of years in hell back to health, maybe a little kissing because of their LOVE? Xander’s assessment of Spike is accurate because he only sees vampires as vampires. Like I said earlier, Angel and Angelus are entirely different. Spike with a soul is just like Spike without a soul, just a little less blood sucking. To compare the two of them with/without souls isn’t a fair assessment, especially for Xander to make. I do however support Xander’s assessment of Spike, because Spike, while being good for comic relief and occasional muscle, isn’t good for Buffy or anyone else. Except Drusilla. I can accept Spike and Drusilla. I love Drusilla by the way.

I also have to quickly mention again that Angel’s human life is so tragic to me. Read my post “What’s a Human” to see more on that. Spike’s life was also pretty sad, but not like Angel’s. I just thought of something though. Why do vampires only seem to have one name? Angel, Darla, Spike, Drusilla, Dracula, Luke. I can’t think of more named vampires, but I bet they only have one name. So, I think I’ve said all I need to say. I’m going to update my “End of an Era” post to include the series Angel. Besides that, thanks for making it all the way through, and go watch Angel and Buffy if you haven’t!

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