Angel, Season 1 eps 20-22

Oh, my head is swimming. I have many thoughts today.


War Zone

It’s interesting, in retrospect, that M.E. chose to introduce Gunn by doing a billowy-coat/sword/batman music fake-out thing that makes us expect to see Angel. Gunn’s tenure on the show would end up being defined by the question “What do I contribute to the gang that nobody else does?” The brains, well, that’s Fred and Wesley. And “the muscle”, well, Angel’s stronger than Gunn. Angel is also the leader of and surrogate father to a group of fighters, something Gunn had to relinquish to Angel when he joined forces with him.

So what’s the point of Gunn? The writers couldn’t figure it out, so they made Gunn unable to figure it out, either.

The truth is, Gunn was (and of course I’m talking pre-5th season magical knowledge up-grade) smarter than Angel, and he had a street smarts AND a practical detective kind of smarts that none of the gang had. And the writers wrote him that way, but they never did explicitly acknowledge that, except for perhaps a little in “Players”.

Season 1 Gunn is introduced as hot-headed and reckless and a little obsessed with the need to control his circumstances (his sister chides him on needing to “get a little death in” – provoke vampires into attacking them so they can kill the vampires). This makes perfect sense in his world, where he and his are victims of circumstance.

Season 1 Gunn is also a great deal less earnest than the Gunn we see later. Much less invested in anything beyond his own little world. All these aspects of Gunn disappear pretty rapidly in Season 2. Season 2 Gunn is presented as less reckless and more cautious and concerned about his fellow fighters. And he is invested in “the good fight”. That comes out pretty clearly in his reactions to Noir Angel in mid-season 2 and his reaction to Wesley in the Pylea arc.

I suppose this rapid change in character might have to do with Gunn having to slay his own sister at the end of War Zone. This action is presented in “That Old Gang of Mine” as one of the central reasons (if not THE reason) he leaves his own gang to fight with Angel’s. Maybe it was one of those painful epiphany moments where Gunn realizes that fighting for sheer survival means you have to be a certain kind of person that he doesn’t want to be, and that if he has the chance to get out, to fight evil on a more leisurely schedule and with the luxury of doing it for “principled” reasons, he should grab it.

On another note, I remember a review of this episode praising Gunn’s decision to kill his sister. Unlike the Scooby Gang with Angelus in Season 2 or VampWillow in Doppelgangland, the reviewer said, Gunn “knew” that wasn’t really his loved one behind that familiar face.

Were we really still believing that as late as Angel season 1? That the unsouled vampire wasn’t the same person as the souled vampire? That the soul was consciousness/memories/self rather than simply the conscience? See, I think Gunn “knew” that that was his sister standing there, soulless, due to his mistakes. And that’s what made killing her so jarring and life-altering for him.

Anyway. War Zone. You see the title “War Zone”, you think “Gunn!” You totally forget: David Nabbit!!

David Nabbit was a character who sounded good on paper, but didn’t work in practice. A billionaire who thinks you’re the coolest thing going? If they’d kept David Nabbit around, the 2nd season would have ended up like the 5th, with Angel driving one of a huge collection of muscle cars to help the helpless.

I suppose the point of David Nabbit was to show that Angel really does have an enviable life with dragons and swords and beautiful vampires and Slayers (that he can’t actually touch, but still…) and fighting by choice rather than necessity, while Gunn’s life was considerably less enviable.

Blind Date

This episode takes us once again back into the world of Wolfram and Hart, but deeper than we’ve been before. Where in “Five by Five” we see the firm through the lens of three almost comically clueless underlings, in “Blind Date”, we head up the corporate ladder a few steps and are introduced to probably the scariest individual ever to grace the show, Holland Manners.

I was listening to the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” shortly before I watched this episode, and Holland Manners just stepped right into the images that song invoked. The expensive suit in the halls of corporate power. His calm, reasonable smoothness. The way he sees Lindsey’s Achilles Heel and aims right for it with avuncular charm.

“It’s not about good or evil – it’s about who wields the most power.”

This is a man who appeals to and draws out the very worst in human nature, not out of a belief in evil or out of some uncontrollable psychopathic compunction, but because he knows that is how to have and wield power in the world, and he doesn’t care about the consequences.

He is certainly scarier than Vanessa Brewer, who is just your garden variety blind ninja psychopath. She’s working for Wolfram and Hart purely out of self-interest, because it gives her an outlet for her psychotic tendencies. I doubt she believes in anything. And Wolfram and Hart see in her somebody they can use. But they want more from Lindsey than pure self-interest. They want a company man. They want a believer.

“Blind Date” is the episode the spawned the “Can Lindsey be Redeemed?” debate. I always rather thought the answer was “Yes, he just had to *choose* to do it”. Apparently ME thought the answer was no, in the end. Or maybe they just wanted Angel and Lorne to go out with a morally ambiguous bang. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is in “Blind Date” that we first see Lindsey’s moral confusion. I think Lindsey honestly DOES believe “It’s not about good and evil, it’s about power, and those willing to use it” and so he grasps and claws for power. Wolfram and Hart is his chance to rise above a childhood of poverty and a lifetime of being a pawn of the powerful and he’s going to take it.

But he still has a conscience. A conscience that he sees as a weakness, an impediment to having what he wants – real control over his fate. So he fights his conscience. But he doesn’t always succeed. And that still, small voice whispering in the background is what could redeem him if he’d just listen to it. If he’d just question his own assumptions about the way the world works.

Of course, the irony is that while allying himself with Wolfram and Hart gave him power, it didn’t make him any less a pawn. He figured that out in Season 2 and that’s why he left. And that’s what made him turn his former employers into a project. It’s all about control for him. “I won’t let anyone control me. No, I will control the people who used me.” That’s Season 5 Lindsey and his obsession with the Senior Partners.

I suppose if Lindsey had really wanted to rid himself of his conscience and become master of his own fate, he should have become a vampire. No wonder he was obsessed with them, with Darla and Drusilla. But he could never get himself to cross that line. And no wonder Angel drove him nuts. What should have been a soulless, self-actualizing creature of the night was instead a vampire utterly wallowing in conscience.

And no wonder Angel was, in Lindsey’s mind, Lindsey’s ultimate enemy and ultimate obsession. Because Angel was the very symbol of conscience winning over consciencelessness.

But I suppose ME wanted to use Lindsey to write a tragedy. A Greek Tragedy, where a person who could be a good man eventually falls because of a fatal flaw in his character.

Just a side note. I wonder what ever happened to those seer kids? Did anyone ever fic them?

To Shanshu in L.A.

In “Blind Date”, Angel finds the Shanshu Prophecy. He’s drawn to it. He steals it. Wesley translates it, eventually and roughly as, “the vampire with a soul once he completes all his battles, will become mortal.”

You know, I always wondered, from a writer’s point of view, “Why the Shanshu Prophecy?” I’ll give the writers credit they may not deserve and say they didn’t come up with it to be a carrot on a stick for Angel.

Of course, through the first half of Season 2, it *was* a carrot on a stick for him, and then in “Epiphany” they had him turn his back on it. As well he should. Because a hero needs to answer the “Why we fight” question with a response more complex than “’cause if I do, I get the toy surprise at the bottom of the box.”

Not that I objected to the idea of the Shanshu. I just didn’t want it to be Angel’s primary motive for doing good, and I wanted it happen to him a long, long time from now. Most likely as the curtain dropped on the last episode, or, at least have implied that it *would* happen eventually in that final moment.

As for where they actually went with the Shanshu, my thoughts are this. As I see it, a prophecy in the Buffyverse is like a literary promissory note to the viewers. It means, “Something will happen in a future episode that will be a plausible interpretation of the words of this prophecy.” That’s one reason I was so furious with “Home” and so delighted with “Origin”. You don’t have characters spouting prophecies without following up on them IN SOME WAY, AT SOME POINT, ON CAMERA. Otherwise, don’t drag a prophecy into the story at all (or very quickly show that it’s false, as they did with “The father will kill the son”).

That doesn’t mean Buffyverse prophecies need to be fulfilled quite as literally and unambiguously as “Origin” fulfilled, “The one sired by the Vampire with a Soul will grow to manhood and kill Sahjhan.” Prophecies, after all, are only as clear as the language they were written in, the translations of them you do and the power of the original seer. In other words, there’s wiggle room, but some wiggling breaks the promise implicit in bringing a prophecy into the story line to begin with.

OK, all this is a preamble for me to say that – I don’t believe that, within the literary practices and metaphysical rules Mutant Enemy established on both shows, they could simply have Angel “sign away” a prophecy, especially one that colored every season of the show the way the Shanshu did. Buffyverse prophecies simply don’t work that way.

The fact that Angel appeared to do just that in “Not Fade Away” is therefore either a disappointing mistake on the part of the writers, OR, a mislead, in which case one of the following must be true:

(1) Angel survived the battle in the alley at the end of Not Fade Away, and will some day become mortal. (I like this one)
(2) Angel is in fact, not the Vampire with a Soul in question, and Spike survived the battle in the alley at the end of Not Fade Away, and will some day become mortal.
(3) Neither of them is the vampire in question, someone else is. While this is a valid interpretation of the prophecy, in my mind it completely breaks the promise implicit in bringing the original prophecy into play. Who IS this hypothetical vampire, and why aren’t we ever told who s/he is?
(4) Wesley in fact translated the prophecy wrong, as did Wolfram and Hart. Wesley spends most of “TSiLA” thinking Shanshu means “death”, not “mortalness”. Eventually, he decides based on a historical-linguistic analysis of the text that it in fact means “mortal”, and the interpreters at W&H conclude the same thing. But maybe they all got it wrong. Maybe it just means “After all the battles, Angel will die.” This one is kind of interesting given what happened in “NFA”, but if it’s the case, why not just say so in “NFA”?

Oh right, because the series ending was supposed to be ambiguous. Pllfft. What.Ever.

or

(5) There is in fact some *other* interpretation of the prophecy that *did* come true, and NOT off-camera or later on. I have one idea on this. It’s not the interpretation I favor (I like (1) above), but here it is:

The part of TSiLA I find really interesting is the exchange between Cordelia and Wesley about why Angel doesn’t care if he some day will die as the prophecy seemed to predict on first glance.

Wesley: “Angel’s cut off. Death doesn’t bother him because there is nothing in life he wants! It’s our desires that make us human.”
Cordy: “Angel is kind of human. He’s got a soul.”
Wesley: “He’s got a soul, but he’s not a part of the world. He-he can never be part of the world.”
Cordy: “Because he doesn’t want stuff? That’s ridiculous. (Wesley takes her doughnut away from her) Hey! I want that!”
Wesley: “What connects us to life?”
Cordy: “Right now? I’m going with doughnuts.”
Wesley: “What connects us to life is the simple truth that we are part of it. We live, we grow, we change. But Angel…”
Cordy: “Can’t do any of those things. Well, what are you saying, that Angel has nothing to look forward to? That he’s going to go on forever, in the world, but always cut off from it?”
Wesley: “Yes.”

I don’t know if, at this point in the series, Joss and ME had any thoughts about allowing Angel to join the cycle of life (that as a vampire he is cut off from) by making him a father.

But a year later they did just this, and he became a father. Perhaps the idea behind fatherhood was simply to give Angel something more personal and concrete to tie him to the world beyond just “a noble love of humanity” or a some-day Shanshu. Or perhaps they made him a father just to torment the hell out of him.

But it is one possible interpretation of the Shanshu prophecy that Connor is in fact Angel’s Shanshu. If you see “mortality” as simply meaning, “being tied into the cycle of life”, then fathering a child who survives and goes on to father his own children is one way of answering the literary promise of the Shanshu prophecy. And probably why they have this father-son exchange near the end of NFA:

Angel: Go home…now.
Connor: They’ll destroy you.
Angel: As long as you’re OK, they can’t.

If you don’t buy that Angel can sign his destiny away, then hey, maybe he’s already fulfilled it, and he did so ON CAMERA.

Anyway, there’s more than one prophecy about the Vampire with a Soul and W&H have read them all and TSILA marks the end of W&H’s attempts to kill Angel and the beginning of W&H’s big plan to separate him from the Powers that Be and corrupt him. This is in fact the Big Plan of Season 2 and it continues right into Season 5, when W&H believe they have finally succeeded because they have Angel in their clutches.

Their first volley is trying to kill Cordelia and Wesley. Their second is the revivification of Darla. And ME did their job with 5×5 and The Prodigal very well, because when I saw Darla in that box, Wow! I was on the edge of my seat, chomping at the bit for Season 2 to start.

66 thoughts on “Angel, Season 1 eps 20-22

  1. So what’s the point of Gunn? The writers couldn’t figure it out, so they made Gunn unable to figure it out, either.

    There is another aspect of Gunn, but it’s something the writers chose not to go with. He’s a part of LA, the not-pretty, poor, ugly, disenfranchised part of LA in a way none of the other characters are. And in a few of his early episodes (particularly with Anne) you see this aspect of him. Until the point where this just disappears from the story. Though I find it hard to believe Gunn ever really left it behind. When you get these scenes where you start to wonder if the Group has lost their connection to the helpless folks they’re supposed to be fighting for, and gotten too wrapped up in what they’re fighting against… I’m not so sure that anything shows it better than Gunn’s near complete estrangement from his own background. Not that I think this was ever really all that intentional, given how it seemed like the writers (with the exception of Shawn Ryan) had little idea what to do with him.

    And I commend Gunn’s ability to kill his sister, not because “she isn’t his sister anymore” (not that she’s really the exact same person, because isn’t quite) but because he loves her still, but knows the cost to others of not killing her.

    David Nabbit was a character who sounded good on paper, but didn’t work in practice.

    He didn’t work for me the second time around either, when they called him “Andrew Wells”.

    I always rather thought the answer was “Yes, he just had to *choose* to do it”. Apparently ME thought the answer was no, in the end. Or maybe they just wanted Angel and Lorne to go out with a morally ambiguous bang. I don’t know.

    And there’s the other corollary. Just because it’s possible that you can, doesn’t mean it’s likely that you will. Redemption requires a lot of hard work, and given Lindsey’s motivations, flaws, and failures, come NFA it seems that Angel and Lorne decide not to invest in him (investments are risky!) to sell him short and cash out. Which I think is definitely morally ambiguous.

    (3) Neither of them is the vampire in question, someone else is. While this is a valid interpretation of the prophecy, in my mind it completely breaks the promise implicit in bringing the original prophecy into play. Who IS this hypothetical vampire, and why aren’t we ever told who s/he is?

    I not so secretly hoped it would be Harmony.

  2. I want this for both the Connor site and the new part of StA I’m working on, which is a resource section.

    I love your squishy brain.

    And Connor? Was totally Angel’s redemption.

  3. OK, maybe you can explain this to me, ’cause I just don’t get it. WHAT is the appeal of Harmony?

    Is it because she’s blonde? Is it because she’s (allegedly) pretty? Is it because she’s dumb as a post? Is it because she’s a femme-bot? Is it because she’s (allegedly) funny? I just don’t get the Harmony worship. She’s barely a blip on the radar to me. Neither annoying enough to bother me nor interesting enough for me to bother with.

    I don’t hate her. I just have absolutely no use for her. So I don’t get people (invariably men) who are just gaga about her. The thought of her gracing Season 6 makes me shudder, because *someone* would invariably try to put her center stage, which baffles the hell out of me.

  4. Just a side note. I wonder what ever happened to those seer kids? Did anyone ever fic them?

    I was wondering the same thing when I rewatched the episode recently.

    Wesley:  “The children are with their mentor.  They’re safe.”
    Angel:  “Good.”
    Wesley:  “They have an important role to play.  (Lays the parchment on the desk and sits down)  I believe this is how Wolfram and Hart knew of their coming.”
    Angel picks up the parchment:  “You know what it is?”
    Wesley:  “If I’m right, the Prophecies of Aberjian – for centuries thought lost.  I translated some of the text.  As I said, it mentions the children you saved today.  –  But that’s not all.  I – I also believe I know why you were drawn to it.  –  There is an entire passage – about you.  –  It doesn’t call you by name – but it tells of a vampire with a soul.  –  This doesn’t surprise you?”

    I think that the kids are part of the promissory note you mention. That’s a big plot teaser to dangle and then never return to. I can’t say I’ve seen any fics on the subject, but I’m thinking Season 7 🙂

    For me, the hardest part of watching TSiLA is the death of the oracles. I don’t know why I loved these characters as much as I did, but I was really dissappointed when they were gone. In retrospect, however, I wonder if it could be argued that this episode was just the first step in the Senior Partner’s long-term plan to get Angel to where he was in Season 5. I mean, they cut off his alternate (other than visions) connection to the PTBs.

    The whole episode is filled with little gems of character development – Cordy’s reaction to being opened up to “all the pain” in the world, the exchange between Kate and Angel (gloves are off, kids), when the doctors ask if Angel is Cordy’s family and he just says yes… I believe this is my favorite season finale of Angel (story-wise), especially because of the Darla surprise finish. It kind of has a “Spike gets his soul back” last minute twist to leave us guessing all summer long.

  5. WHAT is the appeal of Harmony?

    It has nothing to do with Harmony having any particular appeal to me, and everything to do with how Spike and Angel would both react if (1) Harmony somehow blundered into getting a soul and (2) wound up shanshuing into a human. After reading post after post fighting over Angel vs. Spike, can you honestly tell me that this wouldn’t be at least a little funny?

  6. I’m bein’ contrary again.

    the reviewer said, Gunn “knew” that wasn’t really his loved one behind that familiar face… Were we really still believing that as late as Angel season 1?

    I think it always was true, even as late as season 5 Angel. True, the resulting vampire almost always seems to have a fair number of the qualities and quirks of the original human. But, one thing that was always hammered home by ME, it’s not the human any more. How many times did Angel say it? What are Buffy’s “Lie to me” and Angel’s “Eternity” about? Isn’t it people making the mistake of thinking becoming a vampire is just another form of being the same person? … No, vampires are not the same old people deep down. It’s the demon. Angel is a demon inflicted with a human soul, not a human with it’s soul restored.

    Put it in survival terms. What better way to deceive living friends and relatives of the recently deceased human, and keep them from attacking a new vampire, than have it have some of the qualities and memories of the human to work on them with. Usually the best these demons can express continuing love and admiration of a human is to try to turn the person as Spike and Gunn’s sister both tried to do.

  7. I think Harmony is one of those fake pretty women. She “appears” to have it all, all of the cultural stereotypes (see Masq’s descriptions above) of what makes a woman pretty. Individually these items add up to what should be pretty, but I think fails in that regard. It is like seeing a sexy woman from behind, great shape, great hair, great clothes, great walk, and she turns around and you realize she is 97. Impressive, but not the package you were expecting. I think this is a high school thing Harmony never got over, for vampire-y reasons.

    OTOH, Mercedes McNab does not come across that way, a testament to her fine acting.

  8. Yeah, I totally think that Connor was Angel’s shanshu. Remember that thing about evil people always telling the truth? And then think on to Destiny. To live and die, to spring forth, to appear. To be born, in the absolute sense of that word. Shanshu.

  9. Unlike the Scooby Gang with Angelus in Season 2 or VampWillow in Doppelgangland, the reviewer said, Gunn “knew” that wasn’t really his loved one behind that familiar face. See, I think Gunn “knew” that that was his sister standing there, soulless, due to his mistakes. And that’s what made killing her so jarring and life-altering for him.

    And this was Holtz’s worse fear as well I think. And we see where that fear took him. At least Gunn took that pain and used it well, something Holtz wasn’t able to achieve.

    Who IS this hypothetical vampire, and why aren’t we ever told who s/he is? Because then we would have an answer and I am not sure Whedon believes there is “one”. We need to find it for ourselves certainly. Therefore there are many ones. As many as there are us.

    And I think you had it right about the Shanshu. When Angel looked at Connor for the first time, this declared the prophesy null and void as he had perfect happiness (for a second or two at least) and didn’t revert.

    I like when you think your thoughts 😉

  10. Just because it’s possible that you can, doesn’t mean it’s likely that you will. Redemption requires a lot of hard work, and given Lindsey’s motivations, flaws, and failures, come NFA it seems that Angel and Lorne decide not to invest in him (investments are risky!) to sell him short and cash out. Which I think is definitely morally ambiguous.

    Absolutely morally ambiguous, because as a corollary to the corollary, just because it’s unlikely you will redeem yourself (due to your character) is no guarantee you won’t. Angel played the odds with that smidge of uncertainty and passed ultimate judgment on Lindsey, which I find pretty disturbing. There are a lot of people in the world who will go on, like Lindsey might, to do a lot of bad things. Would Angel have taken them out, too if he’d survived?

  11. Cool.

    I’ve been doing the other Season 1 episodes as well (links here, at the bottom). And now I’m moving on to Season 2. Feel free to nab anything you like and post with credits.

    The Connor site sounds like it’s going to be rockin’!

  12. IMO, following up on the kids isn’t quite so important a promissory note as ones that deal with main characters. The kid in “Judgment” (ep 2.1) is also supposed to be a great warrior or something, but we’ll never see her story short of fan-fic because she had 18 years yet to get to that point.

    I had a whole thing on Cordelia’s character growth in this episode that I didn’t include in my review because I figured I’d go into it when I get to Season 2. TSILA pretty much marks the death-knell of the hermetically insensitive Cordelia. She stays somewhat candid and tactless, but she’s never high school Cordelia again.

    I had some stuff on Kate, too, but I covered it all in my ATPo Kate character essay.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who liked the Oracles. Most people found them annoying, or plot devices, or found their moral ambiguity troubling. I thought they were a great little head-tilt by ME to the more ambiguous supernatural religious figures of the Greek myths and other non-Christian traditions.

  13. Funny, perhaps, but I’m not a big appreciator of that kind of funny becoming canon on a show that has written the kinds of literary promissory notes AtS did.

    Now if someone were to write that as a fan fic, I’d laugh my ass off.

  14. It is like seeing a sexy woman from behind, great shape, great hair, great clothes, great walk, and she turns around and you realize she is 97.

    That actually happened to me once. I must have been 12, 13, 14–old enough to be interested in seeing what a woman looked like from the front after seeing how good she looked from the back.

    It was a jarring moment, to say the least.

  15. Because then we would have an answer and I am not sure Whedon believes there is “one”. We need to find it for ourselves certainly. Therefore there are many ones. As many as there are us.

    Can I just say I find that to be a bit of a cop-out? There are some places you leave the interpretation up to the viewer. There are other places where ambiguity just means you’ve just broken a promise to the viewer. And I think in the case of resolving the Shanshu, you resolve it, or you’ve broken a very big promise.

  16. I should, again, point out that I don’t particularly care about Harmony – beyond the ironic-humor value of seeing Redemptionistas priase Spike to the high heavens and vilify Buffy’s treatment of him, all the while still being as dismissive of Harmony as Spike himself was. But.. getting afield.

    Really – the appeal of Harmony for me is in her shallowness, and how other characters react to it, rather than in Harmony herself. If it were her, I’d prefer to see her get a soul, Shanshue, and not grow a single bit during the entire thing.

    Now if someone were to write that as a fan fic, I’d laugh my ass off.

    Are you sure we can’t joke about it in S6. Harmony shows up claiming “I totally got a soul from this box of crackerjacks” wherein Angel and Spike contemplate the nightmarish possibility of Harmony shanshuing, after which point she admits she doesn’t have a soul, and is working for one of the minibosses of LA. And then runs out of town… It’ll take up about half a scene and we don’t have to use her again.

  17. Perhaps. But if Connor was the shanshu, or represented it, then Whedon breaks the promise because when you have children, all promises for the future are broken because the child becomes the center. It was made null and void, despite the build up because bearing a child, your future is its future. In Angel’s journey, the promise of the shanshu is put aside because it is not about Angel anymore. It is about the son. When you have children, truly have them in your heart, it isn’t about you.

  18. Speaking of slashing the Angel, I was watching the scene in TSiLA where Angel and Lindsey are talking about Lindsey’s renewed committment to W&H and where Angel then cuts off Lindsey’s hand, and I’m like, “You know, the long war between Wolfram and Hart and Angel is really just a fancy frame around what is actually all-important here: the Lindsey/Angel subtext.”

    I mean, seriously. In Five By Five, Blind Date and TSiLA, those two boys together? Mmm-hmm.

    Season 5 and Not Fade Away pretty much *seals* that romance in stone.

    I’m all excited now to jump into Season 2, better known as the Lindsey/Angel/Darla threesome season.

  19. As I told Masq, I don’t find Harmony interesting at all, in and of herself. On the other hand, what I do find funny is how people react to her. More particularly, with Angel, there’s a bottomless well of humor in his discomfort. And with Spike, everytime he wants to complain about how he’s been treated, we have to also consider how he’s treated her. That pretty much ends the value of her character for me.

  20. That is the thing about these fantasy projecting characters, they say more about the viewer than themselves. Projection. Marilyn Monroe sort of thing. So I think it says more about us than her. A mirror of sorts for others. Buffy saw weakness, Spike saw another object, not respected at all like himself, Cordy saw the fall, Angel saw the dork within. She is put to good use by all. Just like fantasies are.

  21. Yeah, I’m just worried if we give those Harmony fans an inch they’ll take a mile. First, it’s “half a scene”, then it’s “Let’s have a Harmony episode”, then it’s “Let’s make her a recurring character for the season”, then it’s “let’s blow off Season 7 and do a Harmony spin-off!”

  22. Well, like I said, I’m not wed to the Connor interpretation, and you’ll get no argument from me about Angel’s self-centeredness as a parent.

    I do think he loved Connor, though.

  23. Aw. There’s nothing cuter than a born again slash fan. *G*

    Seriously, yea. That season was so the L/A show that when Sisabet made a vid around it, I showed it to someone who’d never watched the show. And she said “that’s so cool that a prime time show has those two leading men having sex in it.”

    Yea.

  24. Aw. There’s nothing cuter than a born again slash fan. *G*

    I haven’t watched any pre-season 5 episodes in over a year, since “Home” aired. Which means I haven’t watched any of these episodes since I’ve been on Live Journal. I’m not really the type who catches subtext on my own (slashy or otherwise). But after more than a year of reading you guys, suddenly the sexual energy between these two characters is leaping off the screen.

    I won’t be writing any Angsey pr0n (’cause penises? ew), but I definitely having the A/L ‘shipper lurv right now!

  25. Oh hey, I was in no way making fun of your new found lurve. We slash fans are kinky so the more the merrier. *G*

    The subtext is pretty much text, man. In the shooting copy of “Reunion”, the blocking directions call for Lindsey to “eye fuck” Angel while Kate puts the cuffs on him. And DB spent the weekend at the Chicago con referring to Lindsey as “my bitch.”

  26. I didn’t think you were making fun.

    For me, it’s Lindsey’s death scene that makes it canon (or “text”). He’s so completely stunned that Angel isn’t his final destiny in one way or another (either by redeeming him or killing him or whatever-else-ing him), that you just *know* he spent the years between seasons 2 and 5 obsessing over Angel.

    Eye-fucking, huh. Suddenly it gives a nice walk down the street on a summer’s day watching the pretties walk by a whole new level of meaning. Will have to add that phrase to my repertoire.

  27. Sark, yes, possibly.

    It’s imperative that I not flist whilst under the influence. I become strident. In RL this is usually charming and hilarious. Online it is merely confusing.

  28. War Zone – You make a lot of excellent points. I agree with the all. I think there is a reason we lost street Gunn (and the grunge that comes with it, and Anne too until NFA. I was thrilled to see her again)and it’s a cynical reason that might irritate some. My thought has more to do with the writers than the character. For the most part the writers are white males and there’s well established difficulties writing convincingly cross-race, cross-sex (darn, wish I could remember the studies on this). This can be combatted by the writer doing his/her homework and talking to people of various background but there’s not always time and in recent talks with an insider in the teleplay business (not for ANgel) the writers often have very little time to do anything, so they tend to stick closer to their own experiences. Most of them have never been or even known a street kid regardless of race so we marginalize that background for Gunn.

    Gunn most certainly could have changed fundamentally when he had to kill his sister. In fact, I was very disappointed when we never really revist that. She seems rapidly forgotten as Gunn loses his edge. And later in S4 when he suddenly starts worrying about being smart (prelude to Stepford Gunn of S5) that just didn’t work for me. Gunn, as you pointed out, is very bright. I could see it working, him worrying, in that he isn’t in Fred’s intellectual league or Wesleys but that’s more from a lack of formal education. I’ve been there. As a doctor, holding multiple degrees, I’ve had very intellegent boyfriends feel highly insecure and eventually leave. What I didn’t buy in this scenario with Gunn is him thinking everyone thought of him that way and Players didn’t work for me at all. It was disruptive to the narrative flow of the arc and Gunn WASNT smart in this. He’s busy falling over his own dick lusting after Gwen (and again in Home with whatever her name was that lured him in).

    David Nabbit, yeah he just didn’t work. Maybe if he hadn’t been rich…money restraints etc became a constant background noise for AI and if they had this rich Xander replacement as comic relief it just didn’t work.

    Oddly enough I’ve been dealing with these issue in two of my stories – Hyperion’s Son deals with the idea of living on the street, and the real horrors Gunn had to deal with will be touched on now that connor remembers who he is after years of living homeless. And the Box of Crayon series revisits David and his demon loving ways when he marries Harmony (why? I had this perverse thought about what Harmony’s wedding might be like and I have no idea why. I’m not even a Harmony fan)

    okay my response is too long so I have to break it up.

  29. Blind Date – I had never thought about it until this but you’re right, Holland is scary. SOmetimes the scariest thing isn’t demons. Those aren’t real enough but a manipulative, cold heart bastard, yeah, you could meet this man some day. He’s like the child abuser or the wife beater, common enough to be next door, frightening in his reality. And the times that Holland seems the most human, the fact he obviously likes Lindsey enough to act almost fatherly, sparing him even when he knows Lindsey betrayed him, is chilling because you’re wondering ‘what does he want?’

    I don’t even want to get into S5 Lindsey. I loved Lindsey. I was content that Angel finally reached him and Lindsey was off somewhere living a better life. To suddenly bring him back as evil didn’t work for me. Worse, his death at Lorne’s hands was horrid. I have trouble seeing Angel ordering a death (and don’t ask me why, Angel can kill easily when needs be), I have trouble seeing Lorne shooting any one. and that Shakespearean melodrama at the end, it was like oh just shut up and die. No one is going to hanging around bitching and moaning with that many bullets in the body regions hit. It’s like Desdemona reviving for that last soliquy after being strangled.

    TSILA – Very interesting thoughts. Again I don’t even want to get started ranting about how stupid it looked to have Angel sign away a prophecy. To me that’s not something you CAN sign away. Its like signing away fate. I think prophecies can be altered, I suppose, like Sajahan sending Connor to Quor-Toth but I just can’t see it being signed away. It’s not a contract. It’s something that might be fulfilled in some vague way. I liked the idea of Shanshu and it never occured to me that it would be the only reason Angel was doing good. He was doing good for years before that so that thought never popped into my head. Hmm, was Connor the fulfillment of the Shanshu? Well, he IS the normal type of immortality we all have, propagating our genes. Jasmine stated that Connor was the life Angel won when he tried to save Darla. I missed that the first time out but it makes sense to me. Home pissed me off for a lot of reasons beyond it’s deus ex machina approach which we’ve done some many times (It’s just a different take on how Dawn was made in reverse or rewinding the day and bang no one remembers a thing, it’s hackneyed) was that Angel forgot the prophecy. His son was here to destroy something (though I thought it was to either save or destroy the world which I meant to look back at after Origins) Angel forgot that. Hell Angel forgot Connor is the Messiah to a vampire cult who could find him whether or not he knew who he was. He forgot Wolfram and Hart have been trying to dissect Connor since day one.

    I’m not sure killing Sajahan was Connor’s only purpose (I’m also not sure I buy Jasmine’s claim that she manipulated events so that Connor was born for the mere purpose of fathering her). It seems too easy a thing to have a prophecy about. Maybe the problem is they never established Sajahan as a convincing villian.

    Oh and the seer children, you know I just saw that eppy a month or so ago and thought, that’d make a good future fic. I’ve never seen anyone attempt to use them though.

  30. Somehow, I couldn’t think of neither Angel or Spike shanshuing. As they even discussed it they couldn’t remember what it was like to be human. (Of course, Angel having that one day with Buffy was an exception.) Angel had been a vamp for so long, if he’d become human with his memories intact, I don’t believe he could have turned off the superhero switch, it had become part of what Angel was. As in I will remember he chose to become vamp again.

    The mere becoming human again just doesn’t seem like much of a price, personally, I like the ´Connor as Angel’s shanshu` theory. Actually, I read an essay/review on the subject after NFA (darn, I can’t remember where)and, somehow, it just made sense to me.

  31. On Lindsey and a little bit of Gunn

    (I wrote two posts so I could use different icons :D)
    Gunn may not have the book knowledge of Wes or the physics geniusness of Fred, but he wasn’t stupid, not in a long shot. Indeed, many times he seemed like the only one having practical detective kind of smarts needed to run Angel’s Investigations. Btw, I’ve never understood the appeal of Fred/Gunn. Two completely different people.

    And on Angel/Lindsey :D. Thank you for the analysis! It’s very helpful, ’cause right now I’m writing a fic with A/L (besides S/C) and I’m kinda stuck with it. I’m trying to write angsty slash with their history and the complicated web of rivalry, lust, envy and powerplay between them in mind.

    I suppose if Lindsey had really wanted to rid himself of his conscience and become master of his own fate, he should have become a vampire. No wonder he was obsessed with them, with Darla and Drusilla. But he could never get himself to cross that line. And no wonder Angel drove him nuts. What should have been a soulless, self-actualizing creature of the night was instead a vampire utterly wallowing in conscience.

    And no wonder Angel was, in Lindsey’s mind, Lindsey’s ultimate enemy and ultimate obsession. Because Angel was the very symbol of conscience winning over consciencelessness.
    I so agree with you on that! And the A/L tragedy icon. I think killing Lindsey and mindwiping Connor are the two BIG shameful stains on Angel’s champion mantle. But he is capable of ordering Lindsey’s murder, ’cause he hasn’t anything to loose anymore, it goes also well with Angel’s season5 getting lost from the champion track phase.

  32. Oh, I absolutely agree about the writers and Gunn. It was just so painfully obvious that they didn’t know what to do with him, and they wrote that uncertainty into his character, and it was an insecurity that just didn’t ring true for me, either. Gunn had a lot of unique talents that made him indispensable to the gang. His decision to leave his old gang and join Angel’s was never fully explored and so never quite convincing. And that whole, “Angst! I’m just the muscle! Angst!” thing made me uncomfortable in its borderline racism.

    Well, I have friends who do much better analysis of the racist subtext on AtS than I do. I’ll have to poke around for their essays on the subject some time.

  33. The thing about Buffyverse prophecy is, you can’t get around it by the choices you make. Sahjhan thought he got rid of the Connor problem when Holtz jumped into Quortoth. Instead, it sealed the very fate Sahjhan was trying to avoid, because Quortoth is where Connor learned the fighting skills he relied on to kill Sahjhan. It turned him into a demon-killing machine, and when he got those memories back in “Origin”, Sahjhan was a dead demon.

    I love the irony of that – in trying to thwart prophecy, Sahjhan fulfilled it.

    As for “Home”, I hated that episode with a passion when it first aired. Not only did it take one of my favorite characters off the show, it wrote him OUT OF the show, essentially, like he’d never been there. I pretty much decided to stop watching ‘Angel’ after that, which was a big decision for me, because i always found that “I hate this! I’m not watching anymore!” attitude a tad over the top.

    After the 5-month hiatus I got over it and gave season 5 a chance. But it just struck me that Angel’s choice in Home was so incredibly self-serving. In real life, where we don’t have magic spells, we have to take care of our troubled children, nurse them back to health. I don’t know if you’ve seen “The Unsaid”, but the end of that movie is incredibly Home-like and there’s no magic spell to take Tommy’s memories away. They put him in the hospital, where they should have put Connor (with restraints, in his case but still). People tell me that ending to “Home” would have made for a boring season 5, though. One where Angel doesn’t get to go back to his Big Champion-Man lifestyle having wiped his hands of his son.

    Anyway, I’ve ranted about this many times, it’s an old discussion.

  34. Well, that’s kind of why I saw the Shanshu thing as something that would happen a long way down the road after Angel got the whole Champion thing out of his system and grew weary of the vampire within and just wanted to have a regular life and die.

    But yeah, when he signed it away in “NFA”, although I had a problem with the idea of signing away fate, I had no problem believing that Angel would sign away the chance to become human from a psychological character motivation POV. I don’t think becoming human someday was all that important to him, especially after he knew that his son was alive and well and off living his own life.

  35. Re: On Lindsey and a little bit of Gunn

    The way I understand Lindsey, the way they did his season 5 return actually makes a lot of sense.

    Btw, I’ve never understood the appeal of Fred/Gunn. Two completely different people.

    Even though we have the same brain, I am noticing we definitely have ‘shipper differences! I thought Fred and Gunn were cute together, and kinda hot. Sometimes it’s the differences that really pull you to a person.

  36. Uhhhh I had a lot to say but got distracted by reading your icon. 🙂

    Ok. I love your posts. Not a lot of time, here, though.

    I never really saw the Shanshu as a carrot for Angel. I saw it more as changing the rules a little so that there was at least some hope. So that it doesn’t just go on forever and forever, with Angel knowing that he can’t die naturally and knowing that it will never, ever end until he loses a fight someday. This way there’s at least some uncertainty to the story.

    I Love your interpretation of the Shanshu where it in fact does come true because Angel loves his son. Comes true right on camera there in the last episode.

    Ok no time at all crap

    I also kind of liked Sajahn’s fake prophecy, the way people were talking about it in season 5: the father DID kill the son. It was shown to be a fake out…. yet… in a way he really did kill who Connor was. The improved version that was created is kind of the same person, but … well a life was destroyed that day.

    ok I really have to go I might make more sense later.

  37. Re: On Lindsey and a little bit of Gunn

    That’s why I like reading your reviews: you review and things start making sense :D.

    As far as Fred/Gunn goes: my disliking of the pair comes probably from my indifference towards Fred as a character. And btw I don’t much care for Harmony either.

  38. I also kind of liked Sajahn’s fake prophecy, the way people were talking about it in season 5: the father DID kill the son. It was shown to be a fake out…. yet… in a way he really did kill who Connor was. The improved version that was created is kind of the same person, but … well a life was destroyed that day.

    After “Home” aired, I listened to an interview with Tim Minear in which he was chortling in a self-congradulatory way about making the prophecy “The father will kill the son” true even though it was a made-up prophecy. At the time, I didn’t find anything clever in that at all. The events of “Home” that wrote Connor off the show and changed his memories and gave him a “normal life” seemed to guarantee that the TRUE prophecy about Connor killing Sahjhan had been blown off and forgotten, thereby breaking the promissory note of the whole Nyazian Prophecy arc of Season 3 in a big way that Minear somehow found very humorous.

    During my first viewing of “Origin”, I was like, “You’re DAMNED RIGHT only Connor can kill Sahjhan!” I could have kissed M.E. for the conscientious follow-up. And having it so that Connor could *only* kill Sahjhan by getting his memories (and hence something of his old life/self) back? I cried like a pathetic TV-obsessed geek.

    So you can imagine that during post-Home discussions of, “Ooh, hey, the father DID kill the son! Kewl!” I mostly sat in the corner and growled at people.

  39. Re: On Lindsey and a little bit of Gunn

    Fred’s never been a favorite, but the geek in me did relate somewhat to her. At least she had a brain in her head, unlike Harmony, who just irks me. I really don’t *care* that much about Harmony, but when I see my men fan friends drooling over her, I’m like, “WTF? She’s a complete BIMBO!” I mean, these are BtVS/AtS-watching men. Would they really date someone like Harmony in real life? I.Don’t.Think.So.

    That’s why I like reading your reviews: you review and things start making sense :D.

    I am da queen of Wank. I won’t stop wanking until *everything* in show canon makes sense to me and all plot holes disappear. It’s a compulsion. ; )

  40. Darth Vadar! The ultimate daddy-angst!

    Luke, I am your father!
    No!!!

    The original, “here, let me cut off your hand to show you how much I *love* you!” moment!

    And, OK, Ki’, you know me well enough now, and I *know* all my ATPo pals know me well enough. that they can all *assume* where there’s a Connor, there will be an Angel.

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