Angel, Season 3 eps 7-9

23 Mar

Oy, I can’t believe my last review was in November, and now it’s March. But what can I say? I got busy. With fanfic. And it’s ironic that, when I got distracted for five months, the next episodes up for review were the first to feature my beloved Unholy Family. Darla shows up at Angel’s door with a “bun in the oven”, and Season 3 finally takes on its shape.

(Warning: spoilers to the end of Season 5 AtS)


After the original airing of “Home”, it took me a long time to rewatch seasons 3 and 4. Like, a year. Because through most of season 5, we had no clue what the gang remembered of either of these two seasons, if anything, and that made them seem a little pointless. Of course, the Scooby Gang misremembers seasons 1-4 of BtVS, but that didn’t bother me with the primordial power of the Fang Gang misremembering seasons 3 and 4 of their own history.

Eventually, ME made it fairly clear that the gang’s memories were pretty much “everything you saw on television, minus the Connor bits.”

O.K.

[rant] Except…the gang spent an awful lot of on-screen time (take these three episodes I’m reviewing right now, for example) reacting to Darla and the kid and the Nyazian Prophecies (and doing very little else, really). Which makes you wonder what their alternative memories in season 5 could have possibly been. It was established in “Origin” that they remembered Sahjhan. And presumably Holtz and Darla as well. But what were these three characters doing there in these alternative memories if the kid wasn’t there? And of course, in the end, season 5 didn’t give me the comforting resolution to the memory wipe that I wanted. Because the few characters who did get their memories of the original events back are probably dead now. Well, except for the kid in question. [/rant]

None of this changes the fact that Season 3 is my favorite AtS season. There are several reasons for that (and no, the stand-alone episodes would not be one of them).

Reason #1. The villain.

The vampires Angelus and Darla ravage Europe. The vampire hunter Holtz hunts them down. After fleeing him for a while, they decide to have a little fun with him, just for the audacious crime of trying to kill the killers. They murder his family–they killed his infant son, most likely raped and then killed his wife, and turned his daughter into a vampire.

Holtz manages to capture Angelus in Rome a few years later, but he doesn’t stake him. Death is too easy, too quick. Holtz wants to torment him, but how do you torment a demon as vicious as Angelus? You can torture him physically, but he’d never give you satisfaction. And you can’t torment him mentally, because you can’t make him feel the way you felt, and that’s what Holtz really wants. For Angelus to feel what he felt when he found his family tortured and killed.

Holtz, perhaps out of guilt for not being there to protect his family, can never get past his need for vengeance. So as Angelus and Darla disappear beyond his reach, he festers, growing older, obsessed with his need for revenge. Such a man is ripe for recruitment. A demon comes to see him. He wants to strike a deal. I’ll give you your vengeance. You just have to do it 230 years in the future.

After 7 seasons of Buffy and 5 of Angel, I can state with certainty that IMO, the best seasonal villains are personal. Angelus for Buffy. Holtz for Angel. This isn’t just about some random bad guy that you as the hero must put down to save the world or the city or whomever. This is a bad guy who is after you, or your family, or your friends, or your soul, because of some personal connection you have with him.

Angelus: “Shouldn’t we be killing Holtz?”
Darla: “I know, but it’s so much more fun ruining his life. He’s like family now.”

Maybe you save more people when you save the world, but it means more when you save those you love, or fail to save them. Season 2 of BtVS and Season 3 of AtS resonate emotionally with me because of the losses the main characters go through–Buffy losing Angel, Angel losing his son, both as an infant and as a teen.

Reason #2. Darla. DarAngel(us). Season 3 gave me the Angel-Darla resolution I was looking for, but didn’t get, at the end of Season 2.

Reason #3. Which resulted, quite unexpectedly, in, well, you-know-who.

Offspring

The episode starts with a prophecy (*oy*, another prophecy). In this case, we have the Nyazian scrolls, which speak of the “Tro-clon”–a series of events that are supposed to lead to the “ruinification and/or purification of mankind.” If it’s anything like the Shanshu Prophecy, it means mankind will be purified through being ruined. Or…something. Soon after, Darla makes her entrance on Angel’s doorstep, and she is once again an archetype–only this time, she’s not the the hopeful ex-wife, or the evil seductress, or the vulnerable damsel. This time, she’s the bitter dumped girlfriend, knocked up and abandoned. But she’s also a vampire. A pregnant vampire. So, understandably, the gang wonders if whatever is inside her might not be part of the prophecy.

Fred, at least, talked like it was a child. But the others–Wes, Darla, Gunn, Cordelia–talked like it could be some sort of monster or bad guy. And at the time this episode first aired, it could have been anything. It could have been Jasmine! I was fully ready for it to be some skittery bad thing, although I hoped it wouldn’t be (and I suppose the jury’s still out on whether it *wasn’t* a skittery monster *g*).

At any rate, whatever it is that’s inside her, it’s making Darla ravenous, and she’s running around drinking everyone in sight, most especially human children. So Angel must kill her, and with her, the one thing he can never have even if he lives forever–his own child.

Oh, how I felt and related to his hope and pain. Angel has always been my point of view character on either show, for a variety of reasons. But now I could relate to him in a new way–as a single woman encroaching on middle age and starting to regret her decision to remain childless.

Quickening

Who doesn’t simply *adore* snarky!Darla in these pregnant Darla episodes? Julie Benz rocks as the confused, knocked-up evil vampire trying desperately not to become what must seem like the most hideous thing in the world to her–a madonna. Her anger at Angel, her why-me, how-could-this-happen confusion, and her primordial demonic repulsion at the thought of something so pure–a child with a soul–growing within.

If there was anything that could *truly* humble the great, arrogant, powerful demon Darla, it’s helplessness. I suppose that’s true for all of us. But here she is, scourge of Europe for centuries, and she is finally experiencing something that she can do nothing about. And it’s causing her pain and making her dependent on people she’d just as soon eat, and I think this is what starts getting to her, as much as the baby’s soul–how it REALLY feels to be helpless, to be a victim, to be used.

Holtz: The baby is just one part of the Tro-Clon. The arrival of Holtz is another. The demon Sahjhan comes to Holtz in the 18th century and tells him, “You’ll die a bitter old man and never lay eyes on Angelus and Darla again.” And then he invites Holtz to jump into the 21st century to wreak his vengeance. But you know what I’m wondering? What exactly did Sahjhan see that made him predict that? An alternate future where Holtz dies in the 18th century, a broken man? Or the *real* future from the episode “Benediction”, where Holtz dies at Justine’s hands a bitter man seventeen years older than when he appeared, who, incidentally, did *not* lay eyes on Darla during his 21st century adventure, nor on Angelus, technically (just Angel).

Like I said, just wondering.

Anyway, things that make me smile in the episode “Quickening”:

– During the ultrasound when Angel says, “I’m going to have a son.” After the episode “Home”, I stopped smiling during that moment. Because Angel’s son had become the son of someone else, and didn’t even remember Angel; in essence, Angel no longer had a son. “Origin” and “Not Fade Away” allowed me to smile again in that moment.

So sue me for schmoopy sentimentality.

– EVERYONE wanting that baby! Well, on the television, anyway. Wolfram and Hart. Vampire cults. His father. His father’s friends. When the vampires start bowing and worshipping the baby, I laugh out loud. Of course, it’s because I’m imagining them doing it in front of a very confused teenager who is looking down at them, getting that wrinkly-browed VK expression on his face.

Lullaby

In Lullaby, Darla starts having trouble giving birth, and the issue switches from “what is inside her?” to “should it be born?” They know it’s human, but human beings can be evil. Fred speculates it could be a messiah; but they worry it could also be the next Adolph Hitler. Darla settles the issue in her own mind. She knows the child is good, because she can feel it. Having the child’s soul inside her changes her, and she realizes that for the first time in her life and unlife, she has created something good. As she lies in the rainy alleyway feeling that child dying within her, she tells Angel that:

“This child–Angel, it’s the one good thing we ever did together. The only good thing.”

Then Darla kills herself to save the life of her child. And it’s a highly symbolic moment, because it was in an alley that she once damned her other darling boy.

From whore to madonna. One might wonder if this whole story line is sending a not-so-subtle message that what a woman *really* needs for redemption and wholeness is pregnancy and motherhood. But I don’t think ME is sending that message, either on purpose or inadvertently, given that pregnancy and the maternal instinct were almost Cordelia’s undoing the very next season.

Darla’s end, of course, is just the beginning of the story, because that’s when Holtz appears in the alley, expecting to kill Darla and Angelus and finding instead Angel and his son. And it is in that moment, according to Tim Minear, that Holtz changes his mind about what he ought to do to get the vengeance he’s always wanted. It’s not about the quick death Sahjhan wants; suddenly, Holtz realizes he can have an eye for an eye–he can torment Angelus in just the way he was tormented.

Holtz is the most important villain of the entire series because he symbolizes the one thing Angel wants and is striving for–redemption, forgiveness from the victims themselves. And Holtz won’t give it to him. And ironically, or maybe not so ironically, Angel doesn’t want Holtz’ forgiveness, either; he doesn’t begrudge Holtz his vengeance. And not just because Angel is some mopey self-sacrificing lump.

In the first episode of season 3, when Angel starts telling the gang the story of Holtz, he cuts off his tale at the moment when Holtz and his men have their crossbows aimed at Angelus and James. And the gang, back in the present, are chomping at the bit to find out how Angel got out of that situation, as if Angelus were the good guy and Holtz was the bad guy. The Fang Gang, in that moment, were stand-ins for the AtS audience itself. We’re accustomed to being in Angelus’ point of view in the flashbacks, of being interested in his story, even when he behaves monstrously. And his victims are nameless and (sometimes) faceless for the most part, and we no longer feel the monstrosity. So with the appearance of Holtz, we’re being asked to feel it; because Angel, our hero, feels it. Holtz is his victims made flesh again, holding a sword at his throat. Angel not only sympathizes with his seasonal nemesis; he almost wants that nemesis to win.

Almost. Because of course Angel can’t throw himself on that sword. He might have, a year or two earlier, but now there is someone between him and Holtz’ vengeance–an innocent.

I think one reason people see the baby as a manipulative plot device is that it seems he was only created to give Holtz something personal to attack, tit for tat, eye-for-an-eye. I mean, that doesn’t quite work if Holtz goes after Angel’s family-of-choice–Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, or Fred. So ME gave Angel a biological child just in that season and just for that purpose, which is plot devicey, that’s true. But it’s a plot device with friggin’ layers, man. The humbling and redemption of Darla being just one of them, the creation of the deepest and most resonate villian being another (I’m going to set aside the layers that come with the effect becoming a father has on Angel for future reviews).

And the baby would be even more of two-dimensional plot device if Holtz were simply a sympathetic victim with a blameless claim on Angelus. But he’s not. He’s ruthless, annoying, cold. He has to be if he is to be the villain in a show where a monster has become the hero. He needs to be if he is going to be the sort of man who will go after a child to get vengeance on his enemy.

Over the course of the season, Holtz becomes almost Angelus-like himself, a mirror for the vampire to see his reflection. It’s often been tossed around in Angel fanon that mortal Liam wanted to be an artist, but his father wouldn’t allow it. As Angelus, though, there were no rules, no qualms, and he became that artist. Angelus was a performance artist of torment and pain. Killing and sadism were his medium–“a good kill, a real kill, it takes pure artistry.” Killing Holtz’ family was still life on canvas. Drusilla was his masterpiece.

Holtz, Angel’s mirror, had to be equal to that. And so we see him create his own masterpiece, a sculpture he molded and created out of hatred and vengeance. And it was called Steven. Holtz’ story is the story of a man who lets hurt and hatred twist him. He sells himself to evil because vengeance is all he has left. So much more interesting than forgiveness and heroics. Holtz does vengeance with his dying breath.

Still think the baby is a manipulative plot device?

40 Responses to “Angel, Season 3 eps 7-9”

  1. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 12:35 am #

    OK, can I just say…
    YES…YES…YES!!!
    Holtz is the most important villain of the entire series because he symbolizes the one thing Angel wants and is striving for–redemption, forgiveness from the victims themselves.
    Absolutely. I keep making this point. This was the whole turning point for me in the series. Its one thing to wish for something you know you can never have, the forgivness of your victims, because they all died over a hundred years ago, its quite another to wish for something you can never have, the forgiveness of your victims, because the victim themself finds what you did unforgivable. In that scene in S1 when Angel is being tortured and he’s constantly asked “what do you want?”, the answer is not redemption, its forgiveness. Then along comes Holtz to say “sorry mate, never gonna happen.”
    But then of course by this time Angel has more to worry about than his own ‘personal journey’, his own needs and wants are superceded by the needs and wants of a baby, his baby. Speaking as a member of the ‘unexpected and unplanned’ population I can see to this day the effect of my untimely arrival on the lives of my parents. It was completely devastating to the course of both their lives, and speaking objectively it would have been better if I have not been conceived, but hey…shit happens and you have to deal with it. So, not a plot device but a life defining event that brings out depths in all the characters that you would not expect to see.
    I could go on (ad nauseum) but I won’t, thanks for for review, I’m now having flashbacks to those wonderful evenings spent jumping up and down in front of the TV screaming WHAT? WHAT? WTF? *hugs*

  2. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 2:51 am #

    Gee, I hope your parents came to love you the way Angel was in love with that child.
    I’m not sure if what Angel wants above all else really *is* forgiveness–it’s asking a bit much, I think. I think what he wants is a way to make up for the things he did, which is a more reasonable desire, even if it’s not something he can ever achieve. I think real redemption is neither one of these things. I think it’s to stop living the way you were living, and to strive day to day to be a better person–something Angel did do, although he faultered quite a bit.
    I think the importance of Holtz is that he embodies the victims themselves, reaching out from the grave. And it’s Angel’s reaction to that–to Holtz and what he represents–that’s really the important thing.
    I think fans were more likely to see the baby as a plot device while Season 3 was going on than they do now, but I suppose there are some who just *never* saw the point of him, even after NFA. That’s as much a function of how Connor was written than anything else–they could have taken that story line a hundred different places than they did. Me, I saw all kinds of potential, in the way he wasn’t written, and in the way he was written.

  3. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 10:05 am #

    Firstly can I offer assurance that much love was and is received from the parental units, and I’m thankful for it.
    I’m not sure if what Angel wants above all else really *is* forgiveness–it’s asking a bit much
    He certainly never expected forgiveness, for that very reason. Yet I do pick up on a subconscious yearning from time to time in the way he reacts when the lack of any possibility of forgiveness or absolution is reiterated. Not just forgiveness from his victims, but forgiveness by God. Darla’s line in Dear Boy “god doesn’t love you” when holding the cross to him, echoed by Spike in Destiny when Angel is burnt again by the cross. These two characters had a real insight into Angel’s character and in both these instances they used that insight to hurt Angel in the most profound way. All indications are that Angel and Angelus had a deep connection to the Church (nuns?, cross carving?), and this informed him in his beliefs. His friends keep talking about his own need to be ‘saved’, but in the absence of absolution is salvation even possible? Is this why he believes he is damned to hell no matter what he does?
    I think the importance of Holtz is that he embodies the victims themselves, reaching out from the grave. And it’s Angel’s reaction to that–to Holtz and what he represents–that’s really the important thing.
    Absolutely, that scene in the motel, very powerful moment.

  4. londonkds March 24, 2005 at 10:45 am #

    Makes me want to order the AtS3-4 DVDs, despite the fact that I have loads of other stuff to watch and no money…
    But what were these three characters doing there in these alternative memories if the kid wasn’t there?
    It is still my theory that it makes most sense if Wes went Necessary Thing and killed Darla before Connor’s birth, thinking that the baby would be the Antichrist or something.

  5. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 1:29 pm #

    I’m trying to wrap my brain around the subject of Liam and religion at the moment, because I’m speculating in the Season 6 episode I’m writing right now that Liam’s family was Catholic, but “converted” to Protestantism to maintain their social standing. But I’m also speculating that it happened later in Liam’s mortal life, so that his earliest memories of religion are of Catholicism and its beliefs. And I’m thinking the move to Anglicism came more from his father than his mother, who is still devoutly Catholic.
    Liam, I’m thinking, has given up going to church altogether in protest to his father’s hypocrisy (it’s not a “true” conversion, but an opportunistic one), but while you can take the boy out of church, you can’t necessarily take church out of the boy. I haven’t quite figured out what his connection to Catholicism should be in my little fan-wank, though, but it obviously remained ingrained in his obsessions as Angelus, and in his guilt as Angel.
    Maybe God is akin to the Father, and he wants God’s approval the way he wanted his father’s, but just as he can now never get the approval of a dead father, he fears that, as a vampire with his track record, he can never get the approval of God, either.

  6. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 1:35 pm #

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    Reading your thoughts?

  7. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 1:41 pm #

    But the baby can’t be there at *all* in the alternative memories, because presumably the baby is still Angel’s, and that raises too many questions about what where when how. I’m thinking in the alternative memories that a non-pregnant Darla simply returned to L.A. to follow-up on her previous visit and torment Angel, and Sahjhan brought Holtz into the 21st century to kill THEM (instead of Connor). Because, hey, it never made any sense to begin with that Sahjhan had to bring Holtz to the time of Connor’s birth anyway. Just kill Darla or Angel or both at any point in the timeline before W&H gets interested enough in Angel, and bingo, Connor will never be born.
    And Jasmine is the offspring of posessed!Cordelia and the Beast. Hee.

  8. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 2:07 pm #

    What, are you kidding? The more you natter, the more my comment count goes up!
    ; )

  9. superplin March 24, 2005 at 2:30 pm #

    Maybe God is akin to the Father, and he wants God’s approval the way he wanted his father’s, but just as he can now never get the approval of a dead father, he fears that, as a vampire with his track record, he can never get the approval of God, either.
    I think that works perfectly, and also adds layers of complexity to his own role as a father and relationship with his son–especially if you think about what happened in early season 4.
    I’m always surprised at how many fans dislike season 3. I think it’s terrific, and not just because I adore Holtz and am fascinated by Darla and Connor. But then, I don’t hate any season of either show, and am a card-carrying Pollyanna, so perhaps I just lack perspective. đŸ˜‰

  10. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 2:36 pm #

    Season 3 had some real stinker stand-alones. But in my mind, the arcy episodes more than made up for them.
    How do you think God-the-Father works for Angel and Connor??

  11. superplin March 24, 2005 at 2:44 pm #

    Season 3 had some real stinker stand-alones. But in my mind, the arcy episodes more than made up for them.
    Oh, arc is way more important than standalones, absolutely.
    How do you think God-the-Father works for Angel and Connor??
    I was thinking more of his own feelings of never being able to obtain forgiveness from his father(s)–quite possibly not just for things he did after he became soulless–and how that feeling conditioned his relationship with his own son. Their relationship is so beautifully conflicted during Season 4, like a poisonous mix of love and resentment and disappointment, etc. etc. Obviously he never sent his own father to the bottom of the ocean, but he must have been reminded of what it felt like to be on the other side of a turbulent relationship.
    I’m having a hard time articulating how I think the God-thing plays into it, probably because my head is too full of Italian corporate by-laws at the moment. Maybe I can let it percolate and come back to it later.

  12. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 2:49 pm #

    Definitely the father-son dynamic of Liam’s father-Liam plays out with Angel and Connor, which is part of what I’m trying to capture in this episode I’m writing by exploring the ways in which Angel is like his father and Connor is like Liam.
    I imagine Steven Holtz was brought up with religious beliefs, although I’m not sure what religion Holtz followed. He would have been an 18th century Anglican man, one assumes, and yet he refers to Rome as “the seat (center?) of all that’s holy” and has Cardinals for friends.

  13. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 5:31 pm #

    Because, hey, it never made any sense to begin with that Sahjhan had to bring Holtz to the time of Connor’s birth anyway. Just kill Darla or Angel or both at any point in the timeline before W&H gets interested enough in Angel, and bingo, Connor will never be born.
    Didn’t say it was Angel’s child did it? Sahjhan would have had to have got Spike killed as well, just in case. Probably figured it was easier to wait and see where the baby came from first than try to find someone who hates Spike with the same venom as Holtz hates Angel. Just a thought.

  14. arethusa2 March 24, 2005 at 5:48 pm #

    It works very well. I read an article discussing how people’s view of God tend to be based on their relationship with the authority figure in their life. Someone with a judgmental, demanding parent (especially father) will tend to see God as judgmental and demanding also. His father’s criticisms of and disappointment in him are conflated with God. So by rebelling against God he is also rebelling against his father, and in seeking forgiveness from others Angel is seeking forgiveness from God (and his father) for being a bad person. Which is what he thinks becasuse his father told him so.

  15. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 5:50 pm #

    Kill Angel and Darla before Spike (or Penn, or Lawson, or anyone *else* who conceivably could be “the one sired by the vampire with a soul” who could “grow to manhood”) comes along.
    Hey, I’m not usually a nit-picker like this. I always found it amusing that Sahjhan basically created the very problem he was trying to avoid by waiting until after Darla got pregnant to make his move, and then thinking Quortoth was enough to kill Connor.

  16. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 5:55 pm #

    The definition of a self-fulfilling prophesy, very MacBeth. Always figured there must be two kinds of prophesy, the true kind that can’t be changed and the forked kind that could go either way. But then the subject of prophesy, destiny and fate always has my brain dribbling out of ears

  17. midnightsjane March 24, 2005 at 6:13 pm #

    I imagine Steven Holtz was brought up with religious beliefs, although I’m not sure what religion Holtz followed. He would have been an 18th century Anglican man, one assumes, and yet he refers to Rome as “the seat (center?) of all that’s holy” and has Cardinals for friends.
    I think Holtz was probably what is called a “High Anglican”. I was raised an Anglican, and the high Anglicans are those closest to the Catholic church views. They endorse much of the Catholic doctrine, with the pomp and ceremonies. So I can see him feeling that Rome would be a holy city.
    On the other hand, he seems to have a very strict Calvanistic view of justice, and morality, and his view that the righteous are meant by God to smite the sinners among us on God’s behalf. He certainly convinced Connor of that in regard to Angel(us).

  18. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 6:25 pm #

    I personally love the topics of destiny, prophecy, etc, because I’m not afraid of determinism and not so deeply wedded to some unworkable notion of unfettered free will that some folks (fans) are. IMO, we are the sort of people that we are, we have distinct personalities and the choices we make are an outgrowth of the kind of people we are + the challenges our environment puts in front of us. So while we create our own fates, in many ways, those fates would be somewhat predictable to anyone who had a good, strong knowledge of our personalities, and knew what kind of challenges we were going to face.
    Sahjhan was arrogant and impatient and a bit of a control freak. He thought he understood and could control Holtz, he didn’t, and he couldn’t. He thought he could manipulate Lilah; he couldn’t. He opened a door to Quortoth thinking it would scare people into doing what he wanted them to do. But he *knew* Holtz was half-crazy, and capable of single-handedly fighting off a Wolfram and Hart black ops team. And it didn’t worry him when that man leaped into a dimension where time runs faster, with a vampire’s child.
    I suppose he was playing his bets, thinking they’d never get back from Quortoth, because *he himself* could open a door to there only once. Putz.
    Arrogance is as arrogance does.
    Plop, thud, thud, thud. There goes Sahjhan’s head rolling across Vail’s dining room floor.
    ; )

  19. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 6:27 pm #

    And actually? The self-fulfilling prophecy is very Greek. All their tragedies are like that–the main character’s greatest personality flaw leads inexorably to the character’s final fate.

  20. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 6:39 pm #

    Thanks, that helps.
    ; )

  21. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 6:43 pm #

    Oooh, this is really starting to come together. I hope I’m up to the subtleties of it!

  22. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 7:59 pm #

    I love your take on the subject of fate. But as you then go on to say, human’s are very unpredictable, so predicting someone’s fate is very tricky, too many variables, then that does put the onus back on the individual and how the choices they make dictate their fate.
    On the subject of destiny there is a great quote:
    Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
    (W.J.Bryan)
    Its good to take a pro-active stance on matters of destiny and fate, but as Sahjhan shows, doesn’t always work out on matters of prophesy. Perhaps he should have got himself a lawyer and signed it away, a lot simpler.

  23. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 8:06 pm #

    Don’t even get me started on the issue of Angel being able to “sign away” his own destiny.
    Actually, the more I get into my reviews of the episodes, and the more I explore the story line ME gave us vis a vis Angel and Connor, the more convinced I am that Angel shanshued in season 3 when Darla gave birth to his human son. Did you read my thoughts on that from my “To Shanshu in L.A.” review?

  24. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 8:35 pm #

    Just read it (thanks for the pointer by the way). Yeah, I’ve explored the ‘Connor is Angel’s Shanshu’ theory and it has a lot of merit, for all the reasons you stated. But I also like the idea that the Shanshu is less about become physically human and more about becoming psychologically and emotionally human, and Connor’s existance plays a large part in that, Connor being his major connection to humanity.
    There is a wonderful analysis contained in:
    http://www.chiefseattlereviews.net/the_cautionary_tale_of_numero_cinco.
    (wish I could directly link for you but that is beyond my skills so far) anyway, well worth a read when you have time.
    As for the signing away, huge problem for me too and I tend to see it more as an important symbolic act than anything that would hold up in court.

  25. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 8:39 pm #

    Bloody hell, I did it, this computer is an instrument of magic. *kissing the hardware*.

  26. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 8:57 pm #

    As for the signing away, huge problem for me too and I tend to see it more as an important symbolic act than anything that would hold up in court.
    As a symbolic act, it’s very important, because I was never comfortable with the idea that Angel was doing good “for a reward”. He should do good because he believes it’s the right thing to do. OTOH, when To Shanshu in L.A. first aired, I was enamored of the idea of him getting to be human someday.
    I think the Season 5 tussle between Angel and Spike over who the Shanshu was about is kind of a poke at fans like me who were each equally enamored of the idea that “MY favorite will Shanshu, not *yours*.” Lots of hair-pulling over the toy at the bottom of the box making both Angel, Spike, and their fans look like immature numbskulls who’ve lost touch with what the point of being a hero was in the first place.
    (not that ME didn’t encourage the attitude sometimes!)
    ; )

  27. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 9:00 pm #

    Yes, LJ links links for you automatically.
    ; )

  28. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 9:07 pm #

    Never got the whole Spike v. Angel fandom thing. Seemed peculiar when in my head there was always the option of having both!!! *sighs contented and draws on cigarette* Sorry, where was I…
    ; )

  29. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 9:16 pm #

    You and many other wise fans.
    I’ve felt estranged from Spike as a character for long enough now that I’m devoutly in the Angel camp. Well, except for when he’s being a rat bastard to his son!!1!

  30. starryniteshade March 24, 2005 at 9:21 pm #

    All of which makes me wonder about Joss’ relationship with his father as he refers to god as the “big bully in the sky” and hardly shows a single healthy father-son relationship, if any at all.

  31. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 9:25 pm #

    There are folks who know more info about Joss’s father, who was also a Hollywood script writer. I’m not one of them, but I remember discussions of this topic at ATPo.

  32. starryniteshade March 24, 2005 at 9:43 pm #

    Hi…I appreciated you comments on “Breaking with the Past” and will take some of those ideas further in a non-Angel review post.

  33. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 9:59 pm #

    Yeah, I can understand why you would judge Angel harshly for the way he mis-handled the situation with Connor. Not exactly a role model for perfect parenting, but I have a personal view on this based on the situation I mentioned in my first reply. To say that my parents were totally unprepared for the challenges of unplanned parenting is an understatement. Mum coped pretty well, she wasn’t really conventional and mostly focused on what she thought she ‘ought’ to do (feed, water and love) rather than what was needed at the time, which made her responses to things pretty confusing, but poor old Dad didn’t have a clue. The challenges of parenting were completely contrary to everything he had experienced in his brief life and he pretty much lost the plot after baby number three came along. Anyway, that brief disclosure was intended to explain my sympathy for Angel because it is the hardest job in the world and if you are not prepared it can go very wrong. The trouble I found is that adults who are not natural parents often relate to their children as other adults. (When I say natural parents I am simply acknowledging a belief I have that producing a child does not switch on a parenting gene) Doesn’t work, Connor may have been able to fight and kill things much bigger than him, but he was still a child. Connor needed more than Angel knew how to give, but if children came with a set of instructions it would all be a lot simpler.

  34. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 10:13 pm #

    It’s quite evident he treated him as an adult when he kicked him out of the house, and in all their subsequent interactions, he seemed to act towards him like a parent acts to an adult child who has moved out. “Oh, like your place.” “You don’t need to sneak in when you stop by, Connor.”
    But it was *so* painfully obvious to me that Connor wasn’t an adult, that he *needed* Angel despite trying very hard to act like he didn’t. And, to do my own disclosure, I mention above that I related to Angel in Season 3 because he was never supposed to have children and then suddenly had one, I had chosen not to have children but was regretting that, and so I was sort of vicariously living out parenthood along with Angel. And he had so much love for that baby. To see him treat Connor the way he did in Season 4 felt like a personal betrayal. Like, “Hey, I’m living parenthood through you, buddy, you’re supposed to act like *I* would in this situation!”
    We all bring ourselves to the text, don’t we?

  35. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 10:29 pm #

    We all bring ourselves to the text, don’t we?
    Oh yes, but its that connection that makes fiction meaningful. Otherwise why would we care? The problem is then that if we ‘connect’ with a character and their situation and the writers don’t follow our wishes and hopes it presents a cause for confliction (I know that probably isn’t a word but I hope you know what I mean).
    I’m going through that ‘could it-should it ever happen’ thing right now (33 – clock’s ticking) don’t have the answer yet. Damn that bloody clock.

  36. neshaffer March 24, 2005 at 10:57 pm #

    It was around the age of 33 I made the choice not to have kids. I believe it was the right decision, but that doesn’t stop the instincts from flaring up and having their say. I can see it in the kind of stories I’m drawn to. In the past few years, all my favorite characters and storylines have been about families, specifically, the relationship of parent and child. I can see it in my reaction to my baby nephew. I’m fairly nutso about him, as if he were my own, and we’ve only met once (for a week at Christmas).
    The problem is then that if we ‘connect’ with a character and their situation and the writers don’t follow our wishes and hopes it presents a cause for confliction.
    You’ve coined a new word for a common phenomenon! Fandom is rife with “confliction”. At one extreme, I’m thinking of those times, since fandom moved to the internet, that fans have actually interacted with the writers and verbally taken them to task for not writing the story a certain way. Or, you know, just bitched about it in their LJs. ; )
    As for myself, I held out hope that Connor and Angel would find some common ground all the way up to the near end of “Home”–and then when Angel gave him away and invoked the memory wipe, I was so surprised and disappointed I actually went into a depression for several months. And people wonder why I had to get drunk to watch “Origin” the first time! Or maybe they don’t wonder, they just shrug. We all have our issues, and literature is one place where we project ourselves into a medium where we really have no control–someone else is telling the story.

  37. ninerva March 24, 2005 at 11:36 pm #

    We all have our issues, and literature is one place where we project ourselves into a medium where we really have no control
    Confliction again. Literature (whatever the medium) allows us to tap into our deepest emotions and reactions, reflected back through another, the author, giving the comforting illusion/reality of common experience. For common experience is both an illusion and a reality. Our experiences may be common, in a general sense, hence our ability to relate to each other and gauge our ‘normalness’ against another’s experience, but ultimately our experiences are all unique, and so the incongruence between what we expect to see in literature, based on our own perception, and what we see, based on the authors perception, which is necessarily based on their own experience. But then again, sharing and appreciating another’s perspective on a common experience is called learning, and offers a fresh perspective which can be enlightening. I guess it depends on the author and how open the reader is to a new perspective. Rambling now, excuse me, will stop!

  38. neshaffer March 25, 2005 at 12:02 am #

    And then there’s the whole related issue of Authorial Intent, in which what is written is ambiguous, allowing the reader to interpret an event differently than the writer intended it.
    But let’s not go there, shall we?

  39. ninerva March 25, 2005 at 12:13 am #

    Let’s not.
    ; )
    *grins*

  40. neshaffer March 25, 2005 at 12:28 am #

    Can O’ Worms, dude.
    ; )

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