Angel, Season 1 eps 16-19

The Ring

Season 4 of BtVS and Season 1 of AtS marked a new shade of gray as far as demons were concerned on the show. Where before demons and vampires were there as foes to be slain or metaphors for teenaged angst, this season often depicted demons as sympathetic people with problems of their own (Hero, She), and sometimes, victims themselves, enslaved and exploited by human beings. The Initiative story line drove this home on BtVS, and on AtS it was done in a large number of ways, The Ring being one of the more obvious attempts.

In the case of the Initiative story line and The Ring, demons were not the warm fuzzy half-bloods of Hero, but were morally ambiguous at best. We see this in the uncertain expressions on our gang’s face as they watch the newly-freed demon slaves walk off into the night: “Ummm”.

Of course, this meant that in some sense Mutant Enemy was mixing their metaphors – are demons symbols of angst and inner darkness and the evil in the world, or are they sympathetic minorities?

What any particular demon is a metaphor for for must be resolved on a case-by-case basis. ME was expanding their metaphors, rather than mixing them per se, but some fans just didn’t get this as they started accusing Buffy of being a mass-murderer or writing academic papers about how vampires were metaphors for non-white people.


This is why we have critical thinking in the college curriculum.

Let’s move on.

The debut of Lilah: We meet her in the fight club, but when Angel is dragged into her office at W&H, she just oozes “I’m the noir femme fatale!” Unabashedly sexy and unabashedly gray. Elements like Lilah are what put the spice in the gourmet meal that is AtS.

Tough-guy Wesley: Wesley bests a room full of bad guys by shooting their leader in the hand with a crossbow and then twisting the tiny metal projectile in the guy’s hand to wring information out of him.

At the time, this broke me out of my willing suspension of disbelief. Yes, he’d been learning, training, but I thought this victory was a bit advanced for him, in terms of both competency and bravery. Now when I watch it five years later, it just looks like Wesley being Wesley, “Here, let me ruthlessly torture a human for information in order to serve the greater good.”


Am I the only one who *loves* this episode?

I love it for a lot of reasons, but two in particular spring to mind:

(1) the gay subtext (not *that* kind of gay subtext, honestly, is that *all* you people think about?), and

(2) Rebecca Lowell is a classic example of what I call “the Character of Invitation.”

I’ll get to these two elements in a minute. In addition to being yummy, Eternity is also what I call a “headache” episode.

“Headache” episodes are episodes where, after I watched them for the very first time, I thought to myself, “I’m going to have to explain the metaphysics of this on my website, and I don’t have a clue!” The headache comes from the strong suspicion that a metaphysical plot element contradicts canon, and I’m going to be spending my weekend neck-deep in wank trying to figure out how it’s NOT in contradiction to canon. Other “headache” episodes were Carpe Noctem (which doesn’t contradict the more valid, well-supported interpretation of canon vampire metaphysics) and “Judgment” (a pregnant vampire threw me for a loop so dizzying, I didn’t recover until “Shiny Happy People”).

The metaphysical headache in “Eternity” has to do with how and why the drug made Angel go all Angelus on Rebecca. This confusion is an ancient non-problem at this point, and I’m not going to explain it or its solution here. I have a website. Go. (Eternity, Through the Looking Glass, Carpe Noctem).

OK, onto the gay subtext, and by “gay subtext”, I don’t mean Angel having subtle homoerotic vibes with some guy. By “gay subtext” I mean that vampirism, most particularly Angel’s more benevolent experience of vampirism, can be seen as a metaphor for the experience of being gay, at least as it is experienced by some: The desire that dare not speak its name, that you have to hide in “normal” society, that your close friends accept as long as they don’t have to *see you* “parading it around”.

Just as in “Somnambulist”, Angel unintentionally has his secret revealed to someone, and the episode is about the consequences of that. In Somnambulist, Kate rejects Angel. “You’re a vampire? We are no longer friends! No offense! I’m sure you’re a great guy for… what you are!”

In “Eternity”, Rebecca, on the other hand, is fascinated. She asks Angel questions about what it’s like. She’s aroused. She wants him to seduce her into that life. (Just watching that scene in Rebecca’s hallway gives me goosebumps).

Angel, though, who knows the *angst* of that lifestyle, tries to warn her off of it.

At this point in my gay subtextual analysis of this episode, the metaphor sort of teeters off into a kind of 1950’s homophobic cautionary tale, “Nothing good can come of giving in to that desire!” and dips deep into the “vampires/gays are either lonely&sad or teh_ev0l” cliché.

Suffice it to say, at the end of the ep, Rebecca goes back to the straight and narrow and Angel stays in the fang-having closet. Let’s move on.

The second juicy element in this ep is Rebecca as the Character of Invitation. The CoI is a notion I came up with to explain one of my favorite themes in fantasy and (sometimes) science-fiction. It’s when a normal person from our normal world suddenly stumbles into a hidden sub-culture of the supernatural, one that’s been all around them all the time, but that they were never before aware of.

One minute, Rebecca is a has-been actress drowning in the harsh, fickle reality of Hollywood. The next minute, she’s staring into her mirror and not seeing the reflection of the man standing next to her. He is everything she’s been told doesn’t exist, right there, standing in her hallway. And of course it’s delicious (sorry, I am again having goosebumps from that hallway scene.)

That Rebecca tries to make Angel her ticket back into the world she is losing is her folly, of course, although the lesson gets taught in a muddled way because, let’s face it, it *is* possible to be a vampire in this world and get along pretty good (if you have a soul). If you really want to show Rebecca *why* she shouldn’t opt for the undead option, don’t show her Angel on a bender. Show her the next random vampire that walks down the street. Because that’s what she’s going to be.

Five By Five

I ask you, honestly, what is *not* to love about this episode? Is there anything? This is *the* best episode of season 1, and I would put it up there with the best of seasons 2 through 5 as well.

After this episode aired the first time, I moved Faith’s little Moral Ambiguity Bio on my website from the BtVS page to the AtS page. She belongs in *this* world. In the gothic noir world of AtS, she can be an anti-hero hero. The bad-girl with the good heart. On BtVS, she will always be the Other. The less perky one. Buffy’s “dark side” omgwtfbrrr!1!! What.Ever.

Back to my girl.

When she arrives in L.A., though, she seems to have lost her heart, because the Dark Side was just a whole lot nicer to her. It cracked funny jokes and told her she was pretty and fed her Tollhouse cookies. Coming out of her coma and having to deal with *Ms. Self-Righteous* again didn’t help any (I love Buffy. I do. I am not a Buffy disliker. But she really is rather clueless when it comes to handling Faith).

One thing you gotta admit, Faith makes an entrance. And her entrance into L.A. in “Five By Five” is one of the best moments of television ever. The young girl looking like a teenaged run-away steps off the bus in the big city, ripe pickings for some sleazeball pimp. So he moves in on her, and she plays the part he expects, and then Wham! Wham! The teenaged run-away mugs the pimp.

Sure, Faith is seriously over the edge at this point, and this is one symptom of that, but you gotta love it anyway.

And then Faith dances. There can never be enough dancing Faith.

The second reason to love this episode more than any other in S. 1: More Darlus! Now in retrospect we know that ME was building up towards the season-ending shocker of Darla’s return by using the flashbacks in The Prodigal and Five by Five to tell us *who* Darla was, besides Angel’s sire. She was Angelus’ mother/lover/mentor/companion.

She is the first person he runs to after his soul is restored, and when she appears, he throws himself into her arms. And why not? She is his family, or the closest thing he’s had to it for 150 years.

And being a vampire is the only life he’s known for 150 years. So naturally he tries to remain a vampire. But he can’t complete the act of draining the blood of an innocent woman. He can’t be the man he was without a soul, and Darla knows that.

Third reason: The LM Triumvirate. Lindsey McDonald. Lee Mercer. Lilah Morgan. How much do these three rock together? The original evil troika of comic incompetence. They hire Faith to kill Angel, because these were the days before they had–or had perhaps read–the Shanshu prophecy and decided to keep Angel around to stoke his moral ambiguity.

Their dialogue in “Sanctuary” is truly inspired.

Fourth reason: Lindsey/Angel. Here is where it starts. The true, tragic love story of AtS. The chemistry was dampened by the presence of Russell Winters in City Of, but here in 5×5, it sizzles. All that smirking and posturing, hands in pockets.

A couple questions that occur: did Lindsey have a name yet in City Of?


Was season 1 the only season where Angel smiled in the credits?

Anyway, back to Faith.

The moment Faith walks into Angel’s office with a loaded gun she already wants Angel to kill her, even if only on a subconscious level. If she simply wanted to kill him, she could have. But she wants Angel “in the game”. And what game is that? The fighting game. And Angel has her game figured out by the time he shows up to the pimp’s apartment. Faith has to beg for him to “fight back”–to really commit himself to battle, because she wants death and he doesn’t want to give it to her.

And of course, Faith kidnaps Wesley in order to lure Angel into her “game”.

The Faith-Wesley torture scene is one of the events that made Wesley into the man he became.

ME had to tear down the old Wesley–the naïve young Watcher from “Bad Girls”–and rebuild him piece by piece. Torture him (5×5), fire him (Reunion), force him into responsibility (Guise Will Be Guise, There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb), pass him over for another man (Waiting in the Wings) and yada yada yada until he is the person who will kidnap a child to save that child from his own father and go over the edge when the father doesn’t like that so much.

The Wesley we see throwing darts in “Sanctuary” post-torture is a Wesley we can recognize on this end of Season 5.

And Faith tortures Wesley, of course, to prove to herself that she is unworthy to live, to prove to herself that she is evil.


Watching Angel’s treatment of Faith in “Sanctuary” makes me see the point of people who argue that Angel has a double standard in the way he treats men and women. Would Angel ever have treated a guy who’d gone emotionally around the bend (cough::hisownson::cough) with such kid gloves? No, give’m the tough love. ‘Cause that always works (::cough::).

Still, what Angel gives Faith is what Faith needs, which is hope, and not insignificantly, hope out of the mouth of someone who’s been down a dark road himself. Because Faith CAN come back from where she’s been, but sometimes that’s hard to believe until someone tells you you can–someone you can believe because they’ve been there.

Buffy can’t offer that kind of understanding, partly because she’s never gone down that road, and partly because she has developed a huge effing moat in her eye when it comes to Faith. And Faith, in kind, I think, would rather go evil again to spite herself rather than let Buffy help her.

Of course, Buffy doesn’t make herself much of a help in this episode. She gets a big ambiguous eyeful at her entrance, and it’s all downhill from there (except when the machine gun bullets fly). She’s so unpleasant and manipulative and childish in this episode she makes me cringe. I wonder sometimes why Joss writes Buffy the way he does. Good characters are supposed to have flaws, but the flaw of coming to a conclusion and stubbornly sticking to it and lording it over other people because “it’s all about me”….

Well, there’s a thin line sometimes between complex&flawed and downright unsympathetic.

Angel, on the other hand, very uncharacteristically lets Faith her make her own choices, which isn’t his strong suit. He allows her walk out of his apartment if that is her choice (although one wonders what he would have done if she *had* walked out).

And in the end, it’s Faith who chooses her fate. ME made the whole salvage operation like a 12-step program, with Faith talking about being sponsored by Angel, trying to make amends to Buffy and choosing prison as a place she can start working on herself.

This episode also marks a big step for Wesley with the arrival of the Watcher’s Council special ops team. The Watcher’s Council and their philosophy and Daddy Watcher are of course the very ruthless bastards that made Wesley who he is in the first place. Their arrival gives Wesley the chance to formerly state his loyalty to Angel, and it’s not a big surprise. The boost to Wesley’s self-esteem alone since joining Angel’s team over his years as a Watcher makes the choice a no-brainer for him.

Of course, while you can take a boy out of the Watchers, you can’t so easily take the Watchers out of the boy.

93 thoughts on “Angel, Season 1 eps 16-19

  1. Re: bit that didn’t fit

    (Because Faith in coveralls and grease is hot, and I think it suits her personality.)

    Now I’m getting a fic plot-bunny. Or possibly something anatomically impossible. ; )

  2. I never saw the body switch as a “violation” in the way that you describe. I always saw it more as an interesting psychological study in envy and role-playing–more from a detached point of view than what it would feel like to those involved

    I always saw both the floor wax and the desert topping. It’s got many levels and I like that. Also – I tend to watch the show from the perspective of “what if my parents lived in that town” or “what if this stuff was happening in Real Life to Real People I know” so I tend to be particularly inclined to place myself inside the story rather than seeing it from that detached viewpoint.

    But again, I’ve got that INTJ engineer brain type…

  3. Re: bit that didn’t fit

    More than that. Dana would have to understand the wrongness of what she did on an emotional level, and if ANYONE was “Non-compis mentus” (sorry my Latin spelling sucks), it was Dana. She had no *clue* what she was doing, and a little Haldol isn’t going to make her realize that. Years of therapy and Haldol, maybe.

    And then and only then would the healing begin, because only then would she be mentally fit enough to feel guilt.

  4. Re: in which I say “yes” a lot

    You’re off the caffeine? I am both thinking you’re nuts and highly envious!

  5. Re: bit that didn’t fit

    And a lot of those mechanics tools can be improvised as pretty good weapons. And she can be all salty around the other mechanics… And they will drink beer and watch football.

  6. Re: Yes, they were NOT psychopaths.

    Man, I’ve got to get to seasons 3 and 4 fast. I have some serious Connor research to do for essays and fic and I haven’t watched either of those two seasons in over a year (post-memory wipe trauma. Long story)

  7. Re: Yes, they were NOT psychopaths.

    Oh! Didn’t realize you were paying that much attention.

    Well, we all have issues.

  8. Re: bit that didn’t fit

    The Patriots are a Boston team. Faith has only recently started to pay attention to them, because finally, in her lifetime, a Boston team is actually winning a title. (She is too young to remember the Celtics glory days.)

    The team Faith really goes by, is most assuredly the Red Sox. I have generally assumed that ME has a pretty shallow “those are the HS jocks and we nerds do not interact with them” worldview, and are clueless when it comes to the world of sports, and sports-fandom. They probably made Faith be from Boston becase ED was. But Faith’s persona absolutely reeks of bitter and weary Red Sox fan. (there are almost no other kinds, BTW)

  9. Re: in which I say “yes” a lot

    Then i won’t feel guilty about the diet coke I snapped open after your first mention of the “caffeine” word. ; )

  10. I always thought Wes came up with the Orpheus plan

    Not because I think Faith’s stupid, but because it had that special Wes air of self-conscious moral ambiguity and thinly-veiled sadism. But my theory, as I’ve mentioned before, is that Wes and Faith clicked wonderfully during that mini-arc because they both believed that Faith deserved to die in an agonising and degrading way.

  11. Re: I always thought Wes came up with the Orpheus plan

    I think some of the Faith-planning competence redredshoes is referring to is how, when Faith first arrived, she planned and carried out the Angelus hunt. She put Connor in his place when he didn’t follow her plan, she took charge the minute she walked in the door, telling each person how they would contribute and then doing it.

    1. My point was not that Biblical criticism is suroiper to Buffy crystal ball criticism. My point in the paper is that unlike Buffy crystal ball textualism in general, which is heavily text centred, Biblical criticism does engage in extra textual analysis on occasion, archaeology and empirical research on urbanism and writing, for instance. To move from Buffy to the history of Biblical criticism (which was not central to my paper) let me make one point: The JEPD hypothesis and the Q hypothesis are purely textual like so much Buffy textual criticism. There is not, as far as I know, any extra-textual empirical evidence for either hypothesis. Personally, I prefer to think less of documents and more of oral tales when it comes to the composition of the Torah text. On the other hand: One thing the JEPD hypothesis has going for it is that it does make sense of the numerous doublings in the Tanakh (the two creation stories, for instance).A sociology of knowledge point: perceptions of the Biblical text, be they those of higher biblical critics or fundamentalists, tell us perhaps more about cultural life and ideologies in the 19th and 20th West than the ancient contexts of the Tanakh/Bible. Higher Biblical criticism certainly tells us much about the impact of Darwinian notions of evolution on Western intellectual culture.By the way my specialty is modern comparative history and Settler society history not Biblical Studies.

    1. I’m aansgit it. 100% aansgit it. The fans have been waiting for a movie since the show ended. To write the show off, and base the movie on something that has pretty much nothing to do with the show, would make a lot of fans incredibly angry. I know I would be. We’ve waited years for the possibility of a movie with all of our favorite characters in it. We’ve wanted to see where they might end up. This new concept has nothing to do with that and it’s upsetting. Why make a movie at all if it’s not what the fans wanted? It’ll be a failure without Buffy in it.

  12. Oh, I think Angel had reason to apologise… but I don’t recall Buffy apologising back. She gracefully and affectionately accepted his apology, but I don’t recall either of them acting like she had anything to apologise for.

    And I do understand her being totally pissed at Faith, and of course the shock of seeing her with Angel. I understand the way she behaved; I was proud of the writers for taking a chance and writing them both that way–confused and hurt and unable to understand each other.

    …I think that in a way, Angel didn’t think it was his task to take care of Buffy. Maybe he forgot that she was hurting a lot or maybe he tried not to see it… and maybe he just didn’t think he could do anything useful about it. Angel had no purpose and then tried to devote his entire life to Buffy, which went badly. Then he goes off on his own and discovers a place helping people who are dark, broken, alone–like he was. Buffy had been through something utterly terrible with Faith. But Buffy has a large support system and Angel had been expelled from that support system already. He wasn’t expecting her to come. He was just trying to do the things he can do now–and those are unique things. And Buffy didn’t really understand those things. At one point she snaps something like, “Right, I can’t be a part of your club, I’ve never murdered anyone.” And she’s right to be pissed that he’s dismissing her because she’s not done immoral things. Yet her statement was also mostly true–she really can’t understand. She can try, and when she’s in a totally good place she can accept that Angel and Faith have this in common and that he can help her in a way she cannot.

    But here’s an interesting thing: Buffy and Angel had broken up, painfully, and they were never successfully good for each other in the first place. Buffy came to Angel to make sure he was OK, but she also expected his support and sympathy for what had happened to her, at least a little. Angel was instead giving support and sympathy to Faith–who also needed it. Buffy already has a big support system, and Angel is no longer a part of it. Faith has nobody, and Angel is in a unique position to help her. With that in mind, I think Angel did consciously choose Faith over Buffy. He felt like he had to choose completely and so he did–so he gave no sympathy to Buffy. For somewhat reasonable reasons. And she was hurt and pissed–also reasonable.

    But while I understand her being hurt and think it a gem of writing, she acted much worse than he did. I thought that should be acknowledged.

    Angel certainly believes that if Buffy believes Faith isn’t worth saving, then he isn’t either.

    Now that’s interesting. I thought that about Angel, especially in season 1, but hadn’t put it together like that with that scene with Buffy. Hmm so if that’s the case then maybe Buffy is slamming on as many nerves as Faith and Angel did. Maybe she’s not the only one deeply hurt.

  13. Hmm I just did a big reply to someone else in this thread which I think you get anyhow. But I hadn’t looked up the episode, and yes, Buffy did acknowledge that she had no right to barge in. Yet she didn’t apologise for how she acted, just for coming and screwing things up. She didn’t apologise for saying things like, “It’s not what you and I had. It’s different. You know how it’s different? I trust him. I know him.” which totally shocked me at the time. I mean, I guess with their season 2 history it’s a valid statement. But it deeply hurt him, especially since saying she had a new boyfriend in the first place deeply hurt him. And she just said it so cruelly–she started it as if she was just talking about someone new, just talking. The barging in, the pigheadedness, those I kind of understand. But when she lashed out at him she was cruel. I thought an apology was in order, not just “you weren’t entirely wrong.”

  14. I don’t recall Buffy apologising back. She gracefully and affectionately accepted his apology, but I don’t recall either of them acting like she had anything to apologise for.

    From TYF
    Buffy: I had no right to barge in on yours and make judgments.

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with your sentiment.

    But Buffy has a large support system and Angel had been expelled from that support system already.

    By whom? Angel isn’t a part of Buffy’s support system by his own choice. He notes that Buffy could have called him, but he could have called her too. And judging by Buffy’s behavior, her support system isn’t particularly adequate at that point in time.

    But here’s an interesting thing: Buffy and Angel had broken up, painfully, and they were never successfully good for each other in the first place.

    Please rewatch the scenes with the two of them in “Ted” and “Gingerbread” and get back to me. On balance, that couple needed to separate for a list of reasons as long as my arm. But to say they were “never successfully good for each other” is something of an oversimplification and does neither of their characters much justice.

    I can understand that Angel prioritizes Faith – and we certainly know that Angel is deeply hurting. And he furthermore will undermines the moral authority of his stance in TYF with his self-righteous treatment of Lindsey MacDonald in the next episode, “Blind Date”. Angel can claim that he doesn’t get to pick which souls to save, but he certainly does.

    And his motivations are even more complicated than that. He left Buffy and told her to move on, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t resent the fact that she’s actively trying to do so. And he certainly resents when she claims to trust a Riley whom they both know slept with Faith, though and Angel does not know of the body switch. It’s quite obvious that Buffy’s jealousy of Faith clouds her judgement. It clouds Angel’s too.

    “Sanctuary” isn’t about Angel choosing Faith over Buffy, though it coincides. It’s about Angel choosing Angel over Buffy. (Part of the reason the episode needs Buffy to be portrayed as negatively as she is.) And he does so in ways that are both good and bad. The good, represented by Faith’s eventual recovery. The bad, represented in his hypocrisy when presented with the opportunity to try to save Lindsey MacDonald’s soul.

  15. Yes, it wasn’t just that Buffy had issues with Faith that Angel wasn’t listening to that she insisted on bringing up, which was valid, it was the mean-spirited and cruel way she kept digging at Angel that bugged the hell out of me.

  16. Re: I always thought Wes came up with the Orpheus plan

    It’s interesting. Faith, having observed Buffy in action, goes out and does with Connor what she wishes Buffy would have done with her in S3. (And handles the group as Buffy handled them in “Graduation” with the battle plan, though Faith is a bit more authoritative)

  17. Re: bit that didn’t fit

    And also keep in mind the Kendra aspect on another level. When Angel looks at Spike, a part of him feels guilty, not just because he mentored him, but because he made Dru, who made Spike.

    When Buffy sees Faith, it’s a reminder of Kendra’s death. And I wonder how often Faith wondered if Buffy didn’t wish Kendra was still the other slayer, and not Faith.

    Granted, Kendra is a topic that never gets discussed (particularly egregious when S7 is so heavily about Slayerness) so I could be projecting from nothing.

  18. Indeed, Angel seems to have a different policy concerning female repentants than the male ones, blah, BadAngel. (I’m an Angel fangirl, but that thing just makes me like him a bit less… We’ll have to blame that on Angel’s own father issues ;P)

    I blame it on Angel having a little sister, but not a little brother.

  19. Made much more interesting because Angel knows Riley slept with Faith, knows Buffy knows it too, but doesn’t know that Faith was wearing Buffy’s body at the time.

    Here’s the root. Angel left town, and told her to move on. She’s doing what she wanted him to do, right? Except he doesn’t actually want that – what he really wanted was them together, and failing that, her to be happy. And what her outburst really shows, past the venom, is that she’s really not happy. Because if she were really so happy and content, then she wouldn’t have needed to lash out. It’s not just about digging at him.

    Isn’t that one of Angel’s big understandings. That he felt so much pain that, not knowing what to do, he tried to drown it out by making others suffer. Isn’t that what he sees in Faith when he chooses to help her?

    That’s as big a stab from Buffy as the actual words. It’s not entirely unlike Faith picking the fight with Angel by torturing Wesley. And Buffy gets Angel in the game with her. You don’t think Buffy’s not tearing herself up inside either? She’s not so different from Angel or Faith. Angel just doesn’t want to have to see that in her.

  20. I think Angel had reason to apologise… but I don’t recall Buffy apologising back. She gracefully and affectionately accepted his apology, but I don’t recall either of them acting like she had anything to apologise for.

    A nifty irony, as Angel gets a parallel experience to how all of her friends treated her in “Revelations” when they learned that she was trying to help Angel.

  21. See, my wank is that Fergus (my name for Liam’s father) laid down his idea of morality not only on Liam, but on Liam’s mother and sister as well. Liam of course felt judged and pressured and unloved by his father and reacted through rebellion, but he identified with his mother and sister and their suffering as a result of this and took a more protective stance when it came to them.

    Later on, Liam would come to treat men the way his own father treated him, but still have a protective spot where women were concerned.

  22. Re: I always thought Wes came up with the Orpheus plan

    Buffy is to Faith as Faith is to Connor

    Is absolutely right. And it’s interesting.

  23. Liam would come to treat men the way his own father treated him, but still have a protective spot where women were concerned.

    I think it’s both, though. He resents his father, but I think his image of masculinity is such that he doesn’t want to see himself as a victim. Which will eventually move him past mere resentment to the point where he believes the gutter really is where he belongs.

    But this is still Angel. He has a little sister (as do I) and there’s an instinctive feel to see yourself as her protector. If he had a little brother, he may well have seen that young boy as suffering as much as he saw the sister suffering.

    I don’t want to overlook that family dynamic.

    In my case, I know that part of my image of what women are capable of being was shaped by having an older sister who was an excellent athlete. When I see Buffy, I’m not as wowed by the ‘women can kick ass’ element. Of course they can – I grew up watching my sister (and her friends) star in state playoffs.

  24. There’s also the interesting parallel here from “Revelations”. Buffy gets excoriated by the gang for protecting Angel (the argument begins with being about her keeping the secret, but quickly moves to question the act itself.) To the point where Buffy must intervene fight Faith to save Angel’s life.

    And then in “Sanctuary”, Angel’s the one who must defend Faith from Buffy – and he’s in the position where he’s not given the trust. I think the closest Xander or Giles come to apologizing to Buffy (or Angel) for leaping to the wrong conclusion is when they helps research in Amends.

    I love Sanctuary as an episode. The more context you add to it, the more parallels it has, and the deeper and deeper into characterization you can fall.

  25. Understandable that…

    …viewers would see Buffy as bitchy. In particular, I thnik it’s how she switches subjects, during her and Angel’s last argument, from Faith to Buffy’s new boyfriend, Riley. In workshops on couple’s communications you learn about “fighting clean”. You’re told to not bring up other issues, but to stick with the one at hand. So, it appears that Buffy is fighting dirty in a very mean way by attacking Angel’s most vulnerable point.

    However, on thinking about the posts above I’d say that it’s the first time in the episode that Buffy and Angel DO discuss their issue. Buffy didn’t come to LA for vengeance. If she wanted that she’d have followed Faith. No, when it comes to Angel, Buffy is very likely to go unconscious (and vice versa); and in particular when it comes to the Buffy-Angel-Faith triangle. During Buffy’s relationship with Angel, Faith is the only time that Buffy really questioned Angel’s faithfulness. Heck, even Angelus was fixated on Buffy. I suspect that when Buffy heard that Faith was in LA supposedly to kill Angel, she went unconscious. She was probably more worried about Faith screwing Angel than killing him….and, voila, who is in Angel’s arms when she arrives. Unfortunately, Angel’s goes unconscious too since he’s only just been made aware that Buffy has a new boyfriend and is likely screwing him too. The last person he needs to see walk through the door is Buffy; and he really doesn’t care what Faith has done to Buffy – i.e. he doesn’t care if Faith has screwed Riley.

    When it comes to the final argument, Buffy switches the subject because she probably knows that she’s lost the Faith argument. She turns to the real question on her mind…does Angel still love her? Mind you it’s not put exactly that way due to the rampant emotions, but she gets her answer…yes, he does with such a blast that Buffy’s blown clear out of LA. There really wasn’t any response that Buffy could give without going down a path she knew she couldn’t go. Tricky things emotions.

    The same question is also on Angel’s mind, but he doesn’t get as clear an answer. He doesn’t know if Buffy still loves him or if she now hates him. So off to Sunnydale he goes to find out, but if he gets a chance to thump Riley – well so much the better. At least they finally did some emtional clearance.

    I don’t criticise either character for having their emotions. Emotions just are; and those of the characters are very understandable. An ex-partner often gets jealous when the other finds someone else; even if they don’t want to get back together – never mind forced apart. On the otherhand I can criticise their techniques in expressing those emotions, but both Buffy and Angel have had a history of not doing well there.

    As for the mutual apology, it’s not important after fighting to specifically apologise for every wrong word in the argument. If you do that you stand a good chance of starting up again. The apology is mutual and genuine; and it allows Buffy and Angel to depart as friends. Interestingly, Angel reaffirms that he loves Buffy with his “I don’t like him” remark about Riley. Buffy’s “thanks” can be taken two ways – one, that she’s glad Angel’s jealous and therefore she still has feelings for him – or, two, it’s a sarcastic thanks (e.g. thanks for judging my choice in men). Likely it’s the former mixed with a little sarcasm along the lines of “thanks for keeping me mixed up emotionally”. Poor, poor rebound Riley; if only Buffy hadn’t squelched dealing with her Angel breakup by editing it out. Did you ever notice in Btvs S4-7 how often she deals with it? You hardly need the fingers of one hand to count.

  26. I shall also continue to respecfully disagree about the apology. 🙂

    I considered Angel’s expuslsion from Buffy’s life to be a kind of mutual thing… or maybe entirely Angel’s decision, but not one that can be retraced. And as for Buffy’s support system at the time… hmm, mid to late season 4, that’s true there wasn’t a lot of useful help right then. (after all, she got back together with riley because of Jonathan.) But it still doesn’t seem comparable to how alone Faith was.

    Ok the comment “never successfully good for each other” was quite dumb and I probably knew it at the time. And it’s not just examples from seasons 1-3–look at “Forever”. He can come back into her life and still help a lot in a short term way. I’m not sure what I was trying to say. I was thinking of those reasons as long as your arm and wondering if in the end they hurt each other more than they help each other. But I think that’s not true. THey needed to split but I don’t think the relationship itself was a mistake.

    “Sanctuary” isn’t about Angel choosing Faith over Buffy, though it coincides. It’s about Angel choosing Angel over Buffy. (Part of the reason the episode needs Buffy to be portrayed as negatively as she is.) And he does so in ways that are both good and bad. The good, represented by Faith’s eventual recovery. The bad, represented in his hypocrisy when presented with the opportunity to try to save Lindsey MacDonald’s soul.

    That’s interesting. Still–does he have to be perfect at it? I mean to be choosing himself. Maybe the actual choice was to follow his own path instead of following Buffy’s. If he hasn’t got that path nailed down correctly yet, that’s another story. He still trying to do it his own way, instead of an adjunct to Buffy’s way. That’s interesting.

  27. I shall also continue to respecfully disagree about the apology. 🙂

    That’s fine. We’ll put her inadequate apology up there with the non-apologies Buffy got from Xander and Faith over their erroneous judgements of her character concerning herself and Angel in “Revelations”. Buffy, in general, spends far more time apologizing to people than they do to her, and also spends far less time calling in the “you owe me for…” chits than most people would.

    He still trying to do it his own way, instead of an adjunct to Buffy’s way. That’s interesting.

    Of course it is. I think “Sanctuary” is a great episode because it goes where it does. But the way he apologizes to her afterwards doesn’t bother me. Angel has self-image issues that Buffy steps on by not giving him the benefit of the doubt over Faith. And Buffy has self-image issues that he steps on by not really recognizing how deeply hurt she’s been. (Not just for what Faith did, but for what it must tell her about herself that none of her friends could tell that she was different.)

    He certainly doesn’t have to apologize – that he does shows that he still cares about her. Because while he may have meant to say: “Faith needs me more right now”, what Buffy heard was “you’re nobody / get out of my city”. Which is not what he really means. He’s trying to do something very tough in build a life of his own, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want a place for her in it. (Not that he ccan have what he wants…) So he has to go apologize to her, to correct the dismissive impression he’s left on her.

  28. I just want to say, we totally share a brane when it comes to Faith. Though I’m probably the only person in the known universe who actually has a certain amount of sympathy for Buffy in Sanctuary. I mean, Faith *did* steal her body and fuck her boyfriend. It’s understandable that she wouldn’t be all that…understanding. I’m not saying what she did was right, but I do understand it.
    And no, there can never be too much dancing Faith.

  29. I get where Buffy is coming from, too. She *totally* has a point. She’s just so darned hostile about it, as is true to her personality. I’m sure that was off-putting to many fans, as Buffy is in general when that side of her personality is showing.

  30. Buffy sets the bar high for herself the rest of the time, being the “good girl.”
    How fun is it to have someone reading my reviews after all this time?!

  31. So you’re saying that the audience’s standards are higher for her because her own standards for herself are higher than Faith’s? Interesting.
    Haha, it’s fun reading them too. I get far more into the analytical/picking things apart side of fandom than the shipping/fanfic part. Which seems to make me a minority.

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