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"I don't get it. What is it, avant-garde?"
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August 29 2010

Joss Whedon interview with Australia's Sci Fi channel. In which we find out about Serenity being Firefly season 2, get some more insights into Buffy and Angel, learn what Joss thinks of Marvel's hands on approach with The Avengers and uncover who is the most fully developed character in the Whedonverse.

I have always thought that Spike was the best character ever on TV and the TRUE Champion, fighting for his soul where Angel fought to keep from getting his several times. THANK YOU JOSS for Spike...My Hero.
Much to his chagrin, it seems that vamps and only vamps is required to keep a show going.

Thank you, Joss, that despite it you gave us great vampires on your shows. The Fang Gang is irresistible.

And of course it was Spike :)
The thing is....I wanted a season 3 and 4....

Ah, if wishes were horses.
lol, even Joss has to compare Spike with Angel.

And yeah, this "Firefly stories I continue to think about but know we'll never see" talk recently from him has been pretty depressing.
Here's hoping that the 'fully developed Spike' vibe is maintained in Season 8. And, though I came to Firefly after it had aired (and after Serenity), I would have loved to have more of those stories and characters.
"Angel fought to keep from getting his several times"
Really? Sure, Angelus did everything he could to avoid getting his soul back, but Angel, as far as I know has always fought to keep his soul (except for that one time where he tried to lose it, but he was in a very dark place. I've always seen Season 2 as Angel hitting rock bottom. His depression, really). I thought that was the point of AtS: Angel trying to keep his soul and saving others'.

Doyle: "Itís not about saving lives; itís about saving souls. Hey, possibly your own in the process."

But I do agree that Spike is probably the most fully developed character. By the end of both shows I got the feeling that the audience, and Spike himself knew who he was, whereas some of the other characters could still use some learning (don't have any specifics in mind, just a general feeling). I don't think everyone is cookie dough just yet! :)

*moment of silence* for Firefly.
The thing is....I wanted a season 3 and 4....

Ah, if wishes were horses.

I could eat them ;)

As for the matter about the soul, I agree with Shep. Also, that Angel fought to keep his soul intact and resisted the almost overwhelming simplicity afforded by the Dark Place surely earns him brownie points as a champion. I do think that Spike's character arc did give a sense of closure though; he'd evolved in so many ways to become one of the most intriguing, fully fleshed-out characters.
When it comes to Angel and Spike, to me it's more honorable to have something thrust upon you, like what happened with Angel, and then rise above the hardships to make a difference. Yeah it took a very long while, but Angel fought to help others and make amends. That's heroic. With Spike, I'll never by that his intentions in getting a soul weren't for selfish reasons. So I see the reason's tarnishing his fight. Afterwards, yes he got the point of what having a soul really meant thanks to help from those around him (Buffy, Angel, Fred) but it doesn't ring true to being this supposed better champion. I don't know, to each their own I guess.
Nice comments about Spike from Joss. I feel slightly less anxious about Twilights Last Gleaming. Slightly. Very slightly. Nah, still worried.

And hopefully Joss will get some satisfaction about Firefly from Firefly comics. They're happenning right? Or have happenned?
There's no disconnect when Joss talks about Angel fighting against his soul every time -- because the idea of Angel and Angelus as truly two separate, metaphysically discrete entities is a fan thing, not a show thing.

I was actually thinking Joss would go a little less obvious with 'fully developed character' to a semi-regular character. Not sure who, but I remember when he said the most interesting character or the character he had the most ideas for was Anne (something to that effect), I thought he might bust out a Mr. Trick reference or something.
"There's no disconnect when Joss talks about Angel fighting against his soul every time -- because the idea of Angel and Angelus as truly two separate, metaphysically discrete entities is a fan thing, not a show thing."

I agree with you there, but most of the time when Angel had his soul, he wanted to keep it. (Though I suppose you could say as Angelus he literally fought against his soul in Season 4.)
He fought against it then in "Angelus" mode, but he also fought against it in Season 2, willfully and deliberately choosing a course to attempt to rid himself of it by sleeping with Darla.
I admire Joss for the way he himself evolved into a trickster sleek as an eel. I also admire the way he designed these little iconic outlines for his characters to keep the audience happy yet in the end say nothing definite - mind that this is not he first time he calls Spike 'most fully developed'. And while I understand that many have a taste for *fully done baking warm and delicious cookies-Spike*, I myself find the author calling his character fully developed worrisome, because it means the end of the journey. Fully developed is an apotheosis - but there is not much to do after that. Personally , I don't buy Spike's full development - while not stopping to admire Joss.
That too, KoC. As I said, I do see that as his Depression (I rather think that after he came to his senses, he was glad that he hadn't lost it). Maybe I should have italicised/underlined 'literally' - I merely meant that there was an actual demon vs soul fist fight, hence taking 'fighting against' to a literal level.
"There's no disconnect when Joss talks about Angel fighting against his soul every time -- because the idea of Angel and Angelus as truly two separate, metaphysically discrete entities is a fan thing, not a show thing."

I completely disagree with this point. Season 4 especially points to Angel and Angelus as separate entities. Think about The Beast. Angel had to lose his soul because ANGEL had no knowledge of the Beast, but ANGELUS did. When he got his soul back, everyone repeatedly assured him that he shouldn't feel guilty for the things he did because he isn't Angelus; he's Angel.

The idea that Angel and Angelus two separate entities is very much a concept explored in the show.
There is no better between Spike and Angel. They are two different stories and what you tend to think of them have more to do with who you are than anything about them. They are both exceptionally flawed.

I always responded to Spike, but the character REALLY worked for me after the origin story because they picked the perfect story for him. Being turned mere moments after rejection (I did always think that having Cecily turn out to be a vengeance demon lessened this however) was the absolute perfect way to explain EVERYTHING about him.

Angel on the other hand is not a man I would have liked in real life while he was alive. But at the same time, who he was in remorse was very powerful. I loved what he became and what he tried to be, even if on some levels it was too romantic (not talking Buffy here) a goal. Who he was in the series has everything to do with why I still have massive problems with S8, but I still haven't seen the end result so I try not to worry yet.

As for the "not a discrete entity" theory, I just don't see the show supporting the idea that they are not discrete entities. I think multiple times it was explained that parts of the person remained but that a demon was running the show. In fact, the entire concept was supposed to allow us to justify that vampires were killed every week, why it was OK for Buffy to beat Spike to make herself feel better, why Spikes attempted rape wasn't really William, or why Angel would suddenly feel remorse when he got his soul back, etc.

I think it wasn't an accidental line. It was a line that was drawn so the writers could indulge in dark story lines and come back from them. As well as originally give us a reason as to why Angel was somehow different than the vampires Buffy was killing every week. Without it, a lot of the story stops making sense.
Oh, the show makes no bones about the fact that the real, human guy born as Liam was different from the demon that morphed itself into his identity and later operated soullessly as Angelus and with a soul as Angel, but that's not the same thing as Angel and Angelus being anti-textually turned into completely separate and distinct forces. The fact that Joss in this appearance abjectly fails to make that distinction himself is just more evidence of it -- if, that is, the fact that no such distinction is attributed to Spike at any time, or that Angel's entire redemption motive makes no sense if he is not actually co-owner of Angelus' actions, weren't already enough to settle the matter.
KoC, I got it - 'Angel's entire redemption motive makes no sense' because he cannot possibly feel guilty while with his soul or possibly want to make up for what he did. This is a nice way to come up with discredit of the entire premise of Angel the show - and I just love how far away you get carried when you are into it.
Wow did you just flat out whiff on what I said. What I'm saying is that if Angel and Angelus aren't the same basic creature, and the soul and that whole "adult perspective" that comes with it (see the quote you schlepped around as a sig for a while) being the difference between them, than Angel can't seek redemption for any of that because Angel wouldn't have done any of it. I don't know about you, but personally I don't really spend a lot of time trying to make up for or atone things that other people who aren't me did wrong. If Angel and Angelus are completely discrete entities, then Angel needs a mission of redemption for what Angelus did about as much as Dr. Phil needs to go on a mission of redemption to make up for what Charles Manson did.

Only the folk who are trying to fundamentally divorce Angel morally from Angelus are discrediting the premise of the show. And whether they like it or not, this interview pretty much conclusively established that Joss doesn't share their point of view about the character.
See, from my perspective one does not have to actually be judicially responsible for the horrible things his body does while not under his control to feel guilty about them (by virtue of wearing the same face) and wanting to atone. The memory of the crimes is still there - even though the control was not. Reading your explanation it feels like - oh one should never overindulge in guilt trips when safely assured that he is in the right. Home free, wash your hands - feel the ensouled hero you truly are - guilt trips are for the Nancy boys who care too much about the actual people and the world - not about the effect it all has on their reputation.
The problem is that Angel and Spike are treated as having different relationships to their souls. Lots of fans treat Angelus as totally distinct from Angel, and so Angel had nothing to do with killing Jenny, giving Buffy the worst morning after a teenage girl could possibly imagine and torturing Giles. Spike is just always Spike and so even with the soul he's still 100% responsible for the AR and all the other nastiness of unsouled Spike.

I don't think the text neatly splits Angel off from Angelus, at all. As King says, the whole idea of Angel having to atone means he's responsible. There's also the way the characters in AtS react to what he does as "Angelus". They officially don't hold him responsible, but they notice that Angelus is totally using Angel's information to stick the knife in where it hurts and they look at Angel differently afterwards. It's exactly the dynamic of a loving family dealing with the monstrous things their loved alcoholic says when he falls off the wagon. They know it's a truth about their beloved, but they'd rather keep it swept under the rug. We've got Buffy's reaction to Angel's surprising ability to perfectly mimic Angelus in Enemies. Lots of places where it's clear that the characters are maintaining an Angel/Angelus split mythology by willfully ignoring the evidence that Angelus is part and parcel of Angel and always will be.

Anyway, Angel gets props for not giving up on the project of becoming a champion even though he's got a 100% unrepentant demon at his core -- a demon who manifestly does not want the soul or anything to do with goodness. It's a hard road to hoe. I just don't see the logic, though, of thinking Angel is objectively 'better' than the demon who actually tried to be good without a soul, and then went and fought for one when he discovered he couldn't be a "kind of" a man without one.

Agree with Dorotea, though, that the corollary is that Spike's story is done in a way that Angel's is not. That's why that apart from wanting him to have a chance to finish up his unfinished business with Buffy, I've never felt much need to see a Spike on-going or anything like that.
and I just love how far away you get carried when you are into it.

I'd rather we didn't resort to insulting fellow posters. Play the ball, not the man.
KoC: "And whether they like it or not, this interview pretty much conclusively established that Joss doesn't share their point of view about the character."

Just playing devil's advocate here, but authorial intent doesn't really mean anything. Joss could have intended for Angel to be purple and have polka-dotted wings, but that's not what's in the "text." All that matters is what actually happened in the show. As an English major, I've had to take a lot of critical theory courses and the first thing you learn is to forget about what the author was trying to say and look at what the text actually says. The author is dead; his work is done. It's our job to interpret it. And if the author did his job well, then our interpretation will be similar to his intent. Think about Tara: Joss intended for Tara to come back, but that never happened. In his mind, Tara may be alive (this is, of course, disregrading the comics for the moment), but the fact remains that his intention wasn't realized. Joss may believe that Angel and Angelus are basically the same person, but my interpretation of the text suggests otherwise. In Buffy season 3 when Buffy is telling the gang about Angel for the first time, she mentions that after his re-ensoulment, he "wasn't the same" (or something like that. I believe it was in Revelations). And in Season 4 of Angel, there is considerable time given to differentiating between Angel and Angelus. So is there evidence on both sides? Yes. Does Joss' opinion really matter? No. He 'wrote' the piece, now it's up to the 'critics' to interpret it. Once he finished writing it, he, as an author, died. Now he's just another critic interpreting his own work.
"There is no discount for agreeing with me." And mea culpa - will try to stay away from personalizing my remarks here.
Jesse, I don't do the collaborative canon thing. The story is and the characters are what they objectively appear to be and where any of it is ambiguous it's what the person -- Joss -- whose in charge of it says it is. That may not always hew toward anything I think resembles any sort of sense, but that's not the point. Here, I'd say that both the text and the Joss speak in the same direction -- Finkel IS Einhorn. Angel is Angelus, and vice versa. If he's not, then the guilt, the mission, his entire pre-totalitarian dictator-paralleling path of villiany story are all pathological and ultimately meaningless.
I've just witnessed a miracle. Or a mirage. Too soon to tell.

I'm really enjoying all the Whedon commentary coming out recently. More, please!

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-08-29 19:26 ]
Personally I feel that Buffy is easily the most developed character in the Whedonverse, but Spike certainly competes for the #2 spot. :)
Wait, what was the miracle? Did I miss the miracle? Or was it just Miracle was at the event?
Maggie said:

It's exactly the dynamic of a loving family dealing with the monstrous things their loved alcoholic says when he falls off the wagon.

I really like that comparison! Personally, it bothers me that there seems to be a huge disconnect in the way that most people seem to understand Spike and Angel's souls. It makes sense, as Spike changes very little when he has a soul (on the surface), but personally I like to treat the soul as a constant. If I don't blame Angel for what Angelus does, I also don't blame Spike for things he did without a soul.
Well, this isn't the first time Joss has said he finds Spike a better-developed character than Angel, but it's nice to hear it again. :)
I thought James Marsters recently commented that Joss never really liked the Spike character and that he (James) had come to terms with that. Was he kidding? Else, how do we reconcile that with Joss's comment in this article?

Jesse, I don't do the collaborative canon thing. The story is and the characters are what they objectively appear to be and where any of it is ambiguous it's what the person -- Joss -- whose in charge of it says it is.

Nope can not wholly agree here. If you think so then you really believe Han shot second.
@Steve Did you mean this -
Q: Who was your favorite writer on Buffy/Angel?
A: That's a hard question because there were so many good ones. You know what? The best writer was Joss. He didn't like me! I knew if he showed up on set I had the week off. He wasn't into the whole Anne Rice thing. He got talked into the character of Angel by David Greenwalt. When I came on I was supposed to be dirty and dead. So the best writer was the one who didn't write anything for me! But it's ok, he didn't fire me!

I think he mean't Joss didn't like him initally, just as he wasn't keen on the idea of Angel being a good vampire initially.
I covered that with "That may not always hew toward anything I think resembles any sort of sense, but that's not the point."

Han did shoot second. The story doesn't belong to the Borg collective, it belongs to George Lucas, and what he wants to have happened, happened. The fact that he made it so that something that SUCKS happened has nothing to do with the fact that it is what happened.
Jesse's comment about throwing out the author's comments and focusing on the text assumes we are all New Critics. Granted I'm only a junior in high school, but my understanding is that in some schools of literary criticism, such as New Historicism, it is perfectly acceptable to take the artist's comments on the work into consideration.

Usually I would agree with Jesse, but today my own distaste for Angel makes me want to consider Joss's comment canon.
And let's recall all the evil that Spikelus did when he was unsouled and not responsible... oh wait... that was Angel to whom the get-out-of-jail-free card applied.
KingofCretins-I must totally disagree with you on that. Textually, Han Solo shot first. That's canon, no matter what ret-con Lucas decided on later.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-08-30 00:06 ]
I agree that Spike is incredibly developed but if Wesley had actually lived I would definitely be considering him. I haven't read the comics as of yet so this is based purely on the series.
Added... to the text, you mean? Han shot second, it sucks more, but res ipsa loquitur. There's a reason that only one version of the thing is even available as new retail anymore. Remember, the only reason we call something a ret-con is the "con" -- if it didn't actually affect the continuity, it would just be called... being wrong?

Besides, we do already concede this to Joss, why not George? Anybody actually spot anything that could be mistaken for Warren being teleported away in "Villains"? No. George Lucas could play it the same way and say that Greedo *always* shot first, but he shot left-handed under the table and missed, so it didn't come across to the audience, and the special edition just corrected that, and he wouldn't have done anything different than Joss did.
In season 2 of Buffy everyone refers to evil Angel as "Angel". Its not until Angel the series that they start referring to him as "Angelus". When Angel tells Buffy about the crimes he committed without a soul, he always talks in the first person. He says "I did", not "the demon in me" did it. He says I did it with a smile in my heart, yes?

[ edited by eddy on 2010-08-30 01:06 ]
Shep, yes that's what I was remembering. Thanks.
This kinda' reminds me of the "cavemen vs. astronauts" scenario. Oh, we all know that the cavemen would win. But, didn't a little piece of your heart ruth for the astronauts?

I've always love the underdogs, cheers to them!
KingofCretins-No, I said textually. Retroactive continuity (often shortened to retcon) refers to the deliberate alteration of previously established facts in a work of serial fiction.

Which is what Lucas did; millions upon millions of people saw that Han shot first for twenty years. So it really doesn't matter how many times and/or ways George Lucas alters the film itself or what version can only be purchased now because he cannot force fans to accept his alteration as canon.

ETA-Warren died. The First assumed his visage. Joss Whedon fucked up. Period. Despite what you might think, I could personally dismiss Season 8 as canon based on that massive screw-up alone.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-08-30 02:26 ]
So it is your position that Warren as depicted in Season 8 is a shared hallucination of some kind, and that Joss is actually mistaken about him having been teleported to non-obliterated-in-fire safety?

The creator is the arbiter of canon. The fans "acceptance" of it is no more material to what the canon of a creator-owned story is than their "acceptance" of the rules of arithmetic has on the answers to their math quiz. Canon belongs to the storyteller -- it's intuitive from the sense of offense one feels the first time they try to tell a story around a campfire and someone says "no, that's not what happened, what really happened was...". It stops being your story and starts being theirs and has absolutely no bearing on the truth of your story.
No Spike is better!
Noooo, Angel is better!
But Joss said Spike!
But Angel is so dreamy and heroic.
Pssh. Spike.
Jacob! I mean Angel!
No, my position is that Joss Whedon forgot things that happened in his own story and he screwed his own canon up.

And the creator stops being the sole arbiter of canon the minute his/her story goes public.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-08-30 02:46 ]
No, it's always the creator's. Anything the fan decides the creator is wrong about is actually just a new and separate story that belongs to the fan. The only Star Wars canon that has any objective weight is the one that belongs to its creator; the only Buffy canon that has any objective weight is Joss'. All else is fanon; weightless and meaningless outside that person's subjective mind.
And that would be your opinion; mine obviously differs from yours.
It's also my opinion that 2+2 is four whether it's been shown to the public or not, whether all parties agree or not. Some things are questions of objective fact. That I am the sole voice in determining what is true of a story that I have created is one such objective fact. If I tell my story and you say "no, this happened instead", you're not talking about my story anymore, you're talking about your story. Only I decide the canon of MY story. "Buffy" is Joss' story. You have no input, neither do I.
This was another great example of Joss speaks and we all stop to listen...then disect. I love to listen to Joss's thoughts on these characters that he created. I happen to be in full agreement with him (as usual) on this topic.
Since Angel fights for his soul everyday and Angelus wouldn't be caught dead in pursuit of one, this statement makes perfect sense to me. :) Spike DID seek a soul and succeed, no doubting that, while Angelus never ever did and Angel never ever could. What I find the most interesting in the wording here is the "fully developed" bit. Cause like someone up stage already mentioned, what is left for a character that is fully developed? Thankfully, we don't have long to wait before we find out.
If we could shelve the canon debate and get back to the interview, that would be great. It's gotten entirely too off topic and personal.
Of course I have no input in how he tells it; but I do in how I view it. And if I choose to dismiss season 8 as canon, who's to tell me I'm wrong? No-one, that's who.

eta-So noted, Sunfire. Won't mention it on this thread again. :)

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-08-30 03:08 ]
I don't think fully developed means finished by any means, just a character with many dimensions and layers that have been explored. I don't think it's meant to imply there's no material left for further development.
Probably not Sunfire but you have to admit that it does make you go hmm. Fully developed kinda implies finished, at least in my mind, although with Joss's brain it could mean a million different things, lol. That's why he gets paid the big bucks.
Um, maybe Warren died for a second - allowing the First to say, "Okay, dead person, suitable for impersonation" - then was revived by his amazing whisk-away? *Or* he's a revived corpse. Work with me here, canon folks. :)

What Joss Whedon says about the end result of the characters he created is a creator's opinion on his work. That carries as much or as little weight as another person chooses to give it (I personally give it great weight, but I don't think there's a mandate from the universe to do so). What I don't think can be argued with is a statement by Joss Whedon, or any other author, saying, "Here's what I intended to do." Whether or not that intent was achieved effectively is another matter. However, if Joss Whedon says, "My intention with this character was X," even if you feel the intention didn't come across in the final production, I believe the stated intention *was* the intention. He is, after all, the best and most reliable arbiter of what is in his own mind.

ETA: Posted this between what was the last post and a bunch of other posts that appeared while I was composing this. I would actually be interested in how Joss Whedon interpreted "most developed" - would that be, went through the most transitions from first introduction to end of series? Spike is certainly a strong contender for that designation; in my opinion, so is Wesley. If what was interpreted was "most nuanced" (and by the follow-up remarks, I don't think it was), that might be a whole other discussion. However, again, Joss's pick on this is indeed his pick on this.

[ edited by Shapenew on 2010-08-30 03:31 ]
I agree, i don't think fully developed means no more stories about said character. There will always be stories to tell about any character, fully developed or not. Spike is what i consider to be a true champion, he again comes to the Scoobies's rescue, helping because he wants to. Even when Buffy has seemingly made her choice(just like it was in season7 with the bangel kiss), Spike rides in a champion. He is a champion because he wants to be and it's a role which i think comes much natural to Spike. Compared to Angel where i find it forced and always in conflict. Even now, just like in season 5 i find his methods vile an unheroic.

At first i felt bad that Spike got so screwed over when Buffy chose to lose half her braincells and boink evil Angel, now not so much anymore. It still sucks big time for Spike but i would rather have a fully developed character then a character that is defined by shipping. To have the courage,strength to go at it alone is much harder then with a partner.

Another reason why this news makes me happy is because from the nearly 5 years of Angel comics we got from Idw, while there are some really good ones in that list, the portrayel of Spike has been less then stellar. Mostly the Angel as the golden boy,perfect hero in everyway, never fails,ect compared to Spike's constant of being less then Angel, can't measure up,second-rate champion. No thanks, i'm looking forward to the return of the real Spike this week. And hopefully DH will split these characters up, i'm sick and tired of the where ever Angel goes Spike has to follow. Spike is much better then just being reduced to an Angel secondary character, as the creator himself said, Spike's is the most developed character in the Whedonverse, can't get any better praise then that.
Thank you, I was about to reach for my barrel of fruits & various meats.

So, is there a problem with a character progressing on? I fail to find an issue here.
Are you talking to me? Ducks behind the desk to avoid flying objects...

I can't speak for everyone but I don't think "problem" is the right word although maybe it is? Time will tell. Just not sure what you do with a character that is fully developed...I'm sure Joss knows. I found the choice of wording interesting and it caused me to start the dissection process. It happens a lot when Joss speaks. :)
I don't think fully developed in a character sense is meant the same way as say biological development, where there are definite stages and there's a predefined endpoint. "Fully developed" just means we've seen a lot of Spike's traits and he's proven to be very dynamic, not that he's now done becoming Spike.
So you think "fully developed" doesn't mean that Spike will stop becoming something more, or changing? Spike has been the character that has undergone the most changes in the series, from where he started, so maybe that is what he meant. It's just that wording that is tripping me up. I wonder if Joss knows that we go crazy and analyze every word that comes out of his mouth, lol.
Exactly Sunfire, i fail to see the bad in being the most fully developed character. Joss didn't say that Spike is fully developed in that he's at the end of his fictional journey,life. And just as Spike's journey didn't end when he became an evil vampire, nor do i think his journey is over now that he's a heroic vampire. There are millions of things that Spike can still do and thankfully Joss is still interested in telling stories about this character.

It was because of his journey on the shows that Joss deems Spike the most developed character. More in praticular compared to Angel. Even tough we don't hear it a lot in the verse on how amazing it was for Spike to willingly get a soul(for some reason the cursed one always gets the shock and awe), it still feels nice having Joss stress how amazing it was for a soulles evil demon to do what he did.
This probably doesn't mean anything, but when I read the phrasing "literally earned his soul", I found myself interpreting Spike's journey in a way I never have before. If you take the word "literally", uh, literally, and not in the emphatic sense for which it's often misused (when I'm queen the punishment for this will be ruthless), it puts the attention on what it really means to earn a soul.

It doesn't happen in real life because everyone capable of earning one already has one, and maybe that's precisely the point. Souls are not something that can be earned, and Spike did it anyway. It's like saying, "she literally gave birth to herself" or "the rock is literally starving". The rules of the game have been broken (although not changed), and Spike is now outside of it.

Since I know Joss is a fan of The Matrix I can't help drawing the comparison: when Neo had his revelation and left the game at the end of the first movie, he became a fully developed character. It's pretty rare to see that happen all at once, but it made sense in the context and it makes sense in Spike's, too. Accomplishing what's (literally!) impossible is about as formative as you can get.

The magic of Joss, of course, is that he can improve on this formula. Neo's character was finished when he turned into The One. (Sequels? What sequels?) Spike, on the other hand, may very well be able to live on as a fully developed character. It's such a relief that breaking the rules didn't make him into a demigod.

(Cheryl, I'm particularly amused by your comment about how we analyze every word coming out of Joss's mouth, because here I am fixated on the word "literally". One word. So I'm doing that literally.)
The only reason that Angel and Angelus suddenly became distinct in angel season 4 (before that, they were very much one and the same) was so the writers could have their cake and eat it too.
cheryl, I think Wesley kinda gives Spike a run for his money in the "character that has undergone the most changes" department (although you did say "in the series", so if you're only talking about Buffy and not the Buffyverse as a whole, then yeah, Spike). But that's just what I saw. I'd say the two characters are kinda neck and neck, but...

Personal preference comes into play. I like both characters a lot. Wesley's arc was perfect. Spike's was marred by a lot of what was done with him in Season 7 and his lame resurrection and lack of use in Angel Season 5 (although maybe not doing a ton with him, sort of having the character tread water developmentally for the most part, was okay because it still very much remained Angel's series. Spike didn't eat the show, the way he kinda did on the final season of Buffy).

Re: Angel/Angelus

Isn't it enough to have the memories of what your body did under the control of a demon, be able to relive them in your mind as if you yourself did them (and remember what it felt like to enjoy murdering and torturing, and be disgusted/horrified by that), but still essentially be a separate entity ? I know the two shows often treated souls as makeshift consciences, but the lore of the Buffyverse heavily implies that it's a lot more clear-cut than that, separation-wise (person ---> person dead and completely gone with vamp demon in full control ---> ensouled vamp = demon still there but in absolutely no control over the vamp body, possibly somewhat dormant, and presumably the original human personality in full control, albeit with memories of what the demon did incorporated).

Angel wanting (or going so far as feeling obligated) to make up for the atrocities of Angelus is no less meaningful with the distinction assumed. Ben said he became a nurse to make up for the bad that Glory did, it's the exact same situation (except Ben doesn't remember what Glory did while she was in control of the body. Geez, Ben's almost more of a stand-up guy than Angel for wanting to make up for wrongs he doesn't even remember committing--though obviously found out about somehow throughout his life--that is, until he gives up and turns Dawn over).
Neo's character was finished when he turned into The One. (Sequels? What sequels?)

What was that upthread about fanon vs. canon? ;)

And Kris, that's a great comparison between Angel and Ben - I'd never picked up on that before. It actually makes Ben's descent into the dark side at the end of season five a lot easier to swallow.
I think the series did a good job in convincing me that Angel and Angelus are entirely different folks, so in that respect, it would be impossible for Angel to fight for his soul when he loses it. He's gone, enter Angelus...who would rather die than have a soul.

Wesley, yes, you are 100% correct, Wesley is the character who underwent the biggest changes and was most certainly fully developed as a I miss Wesley. *sob* I will change my original stance to Spike being the second or third even as I think Cordelia also underwent a huge transformation in the development arena. The very noticeable attributes of two of the three other fully developed characters..they are dead. Maybe we are about to find out that Spike is still a Ghost after all.

Kairos...LOL, yes. I know what you mean. Joss says something and we go over it and over it, knowing that is HAS to mean something..more than meets the eye.
It's the video out?

From the whole Whedonverse only Wesley gives Spike a run for his money? Anyhow, taking back the license for AtS characters...we can have the Buffy/Firefly cross-over, like a 2-3 pages web-comic version!
Buffy is certainly an interpretive text where the viewer/reader has a lot of freedom to negotiate their own meanings ... BUT when the creator/writers make a definative statement about some aspect of the show then, for me,'my' personal interpretation (when different)completely gives way and in essence, stands corrected by the superior understanding of the Author and the insight he has into his own creation. If Joss says somethng is meant to be taken in a certain way, then who am I to contradict him?
RE: "fully developed"

As a writer/storyteller/someone who makes shit up, I use the term somewhat differently than how it is being debated here. To me and my writing group, "fully developed" has nothing to do with how much a character changes or their arc--except maybe as a side effect. People are inherently complex, with many facets to them that don't tend to fit in a tidy comprehensible packages. They surprise all the time. As a writer, the term "fully developed character" reflects this idea.

When a writer begins to make up a character, they generally start with very little. Backgrounds have to be made up. Jobs have to be made up. Relationships have to be made up. You don't know what a character finds funny. You don't know why a character would compromise their principles. You don't know what they value. Heck, you don't know what they do on Friday night, let alone who they will let push them around or how far they can be pushed before "losing it." You certainly don't know what intimidates them, embarrasses them, or shames them. And when the writer does figure these things out it does not necessarily mean they were learned because the character changed over time or that they had an arc. Although it is likely they might be revealed during an arc, it is not necessary to employ an arc to do so. These types of things can be revealed by just having characters interact. This is how I interpreted Joss's use of the term.

The writer's used Spike is so many different ways that he was bound to develop and flesh out as a character. I can't speak as to Wesley's development. I've only seen S1 and S5 of Ats.
I love the deconstruction of 'most fully developed'. Looking at the phrase in context (eg from low to high and in comparison to Angel), I can see two interpretations. First, in the sense of most evolved; not necessarily as 'highest' or 'best' but as most changed internally by the journey. Second, in the 'writery' sense that BreathesStory discussed - Joss and the mutant enemy writers got to 'know' Spike better or in a more intimate sense because of the path they travelled with him. Maybe if they had spent that 100 years post-soul with Angel ...
Thank you Joss. :_) It seems obvious to me that Spike "ultimately became the most fully developed character", doesn't mean that he's "finished", in the sense that there's nowhere left to take the character.
Becoming is an endless process, unless you achieve some sort of enlightenment.

I don't like comics as a medium and only follow the Buffy comics by checking out the online previews and sometimes reading the comments here, but Joss's remark about Spike is sweet validation for someone who has always considered his development the apex of character development on TV ever, not just in the Whedonverse.

I also like knowing that if there had been a season 2 of Firefly, it would have followed the same arc as Serenity. River's story was my favorite part of the series.
In his interview with Jeffrey Berman, Joss used the word 'evolved' to make the point about Spike getting his soul as opposed to Angel being cursed with his. Spike learned from his mistakes unlike Angel who was the classic Letstat puffy shirt. (This is his explanation for why he's always liked Spike a bit more than he liked Angel).
I love the reader response posts above!

But hey, lookie here: "See, from my perspective one does not have to actually be judicially responsible for the horrible things his body does while not under his control to feel guilty about them (by virtue of wearing the same face) and wanting to atone."

Consider Dollhouse- was Echo responisble for what she did when she was programmed to be someone else? Should she feel bad about what she did when she was not herself? Isn't this the same question?
The question was not 'should she' but rather 'would she'. There is a subtle difference between the two. The first is mostly how we outside viewers feel about it, the second is mostly about character's inner set of values and degree of empathy/compassion projected on the outside world.

And speaking of Lestat-puffy-shirtedness... it strikes me that it is used here as negative denominator. But really, what is the first thing you associate with Lestat, all the melodramatic showiness aside? Intensity of emotions and never ending search for self-definition, sense in the unlife and dissatisfaction. 'Brooding' unhappiness with the status quo and desire to redefine things. If you look at Buffyverse duo from this perspective, then truly Spike is the 'most evolved' of the pair, because he is so easily adaptable to his changing statuses, never giving much thought about 'why' and 'what's the point'. Human, vampire, vampire embedded with a chip or en-souled vampire, Spike quickly evolves and develops new protective patterns of behavior after each transformation, and easily settles into the new situation without feeling much remorse over either his responsibility for the past killed ones, or brooding much over his new objectives as a hero. Some find this quick-on the feet evolution adorable.

[ edited by dorotea on 2010-08-30 20:35 ]
Were an Active arrested in an imprinted state and the truth of their circumstances known, a good attorney would try to have them deemed incompetent to stand trial, or alternately defend them on the basis of insanity. That's what imprinting is; a created mental disorder, basically. "Dollhouse" was a good show, but it wasn't actually as deep as it thought it was on those questions of identity. It's not "The Turnabout Intruder", hell, it's not even "Freaky Friday". There is no actual transfer of the "I" involved.

I don't find there to be much of a parallel to Angel in "Dollhouse" though. Certainly not in the illusory metaphysical distinction between Angel and Angelus, and the human/vampire distinction is pretty much the opposite of imprinting. An imprint is the programming of the self to identify as an Other; siring is basically the programming of an Other to identify as the (former) self.

And, really, the idea that the imaginary "Angel" self wants to atone for the imaginary "Angelus" itself's actions because bystanders -- who, over a couple centuries, are mostly dead anyway -- may mistake the two is pretty damn flimsy. In fact, it makes Angel sound either stupid or insane. Either he is part of the self that did those things and has something to atone for or he's not and he doesn't.
Well, I absolutely agree that feeling remorse when one is not obliged to feel it by law enforcement or by virtue of somebody actually accusing you - but because you feel inner need to make up for the evil done in your name might appear as insanity to some. Feeling responsibility where no punishment or reward is due is very impractical...
But if they are different people, AND if Angel himself actually understood and believed that, none of it was done in his name. It doesn't even hold up to conversational scrutiny, let alone the actual text. The whole notion is essentially anti-textual from how the character is presented. One of my favorite laughs I get from this ongoing debate is how incoherent the episode "Eternity" becomes, where the "two person" theory requires that we believe that a pharmaceutical high and nothing else convinces Angel that he is this entirely separate and distinct person, Angelus. "You walk a fine line, Angel," Wesley said, "I don't envy you." Uh, no he doesn't, Wes. If Angel is Angel and Angelus is Angelus just as distinctly as Angel is Angel and Wesley is Wesley, he's not walking a line at all.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-08-30 20:50 ]

The whole premise of Angel's curse is based on the idea of him immediately feeling remorse upon receiving a soul - whereas Angelus could not feel a fig and did his killings with a 'song in his heart'. Looking from your PoV the whole gypsy curse thing makes no sense at all - because why would a conscious being suffer for something they did not commit? And why all the suffering all of a sudden if A/A are one and the same? If you re-watch Becoming the newly ensouled vampire does not even remember his kills until a few minutes pass - so what's the point anyhow? To convince us all that yes responsibility should be assigned and the ensouled one is the same type monster than one without a soul? Technically - yes. Except for remorse part that actually works better than the embedded chip - because it applies moral punishment where the chip applies electrical shock.

Btw Angel's curse was unique - because it was tailored to him in particular - meaning whoever designed it knew the guy was prone to guilt trips and would feel responsibility forever where other vampire would not or would get over it quickly.

[ edited by dorotea on 2010-08-30 21:02 ]

[ edited by dorotea on 2010-08-30 21:04 ]

[ edited by dorotea on 2010-08-30 21:06 ]
Angel feels guilt because "Angel" is Angelus, giving the moral capacity to feel guilt for what he did as a vampire as if he had done it as a man. That's just... the least complicated premise ever.

Do I care if he doesn't remember right away? No. The same effect could be achieved by clubbing him very hard in the head. Which, given his reaction, is not far off from what the spell amounts to.

There's not actually many to convince on this -- in my travels about the fandom, I could count on both hands the number of fans I've encountered who actually think that Angel is as distinct of Angelus as David Boreanaz is from Joss Whedon.

Y'know, I missed the text on that Ritual of Restoration being specifically tailored to Angel and his propensity for guilt trips, which episode was that in? In fact, I don't remember them having established a propensity for guilt trips directly, or if they did, sure as hell not in any context where the damn gypsies knew about it. I'm sure it's me misremembering, though; I'll rewatch as soon as you mention where it's brought up.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-08-30 21:12 ]
KoC, how do you define {Angel is Angelus} statement , please? The same personality ? The same capacity to do evil without remorse? The same set of memories or all of the above? Because I think we are comparing apples to oranges here. As for 'propensity to guilt trips' - it is kind of obvious from the way the curse is presented from the start. Why would gypsies design something that would not make one cursed suffer forever - when they in particular declare 'you will suffer forever'? And when we know the other ensouled example did not ( suffer forever that is) ?
There is absolutely no evidence, none, anywhere in the text, that the Ritual of Restoration is designed specifically for Angel. Just to be clear... none. Completely fan-made concept, what you've said. The translation of the curse in any of the on-screen versions makes no reference to the target by name nor to any unique attribute about that target's personality or background. So, once again... none. At all.

As for Angel being Angelus... it's just what it says on the tin. There is one, continuous entity; the vampire that took over Liam's body. He was known as Angelus for a long time and killed gleefully. He was cursed by gypsies with a soul and gained a human guilt for his actions and was forced into hiding and hunger. At some point he adopted the name Angel; the reason for this is never textually established, but it is at least plausible that it was deliberately to further distance himself from the past of which he feels guilt. Eventually he is motivated to become a champion of the blah blah blah. One guy. One character. One story.

It's no accident that the only episode that gives even a fingernail scraping of an argument for separate personhood is an episode that takes place mostly in a shared dream state (a state which, incidentally, we've seen no fewer than three, maybe four Buffys running around the same shared dream -- or are they all separate people, too?). It does not strengthen the argument that the premise of that encounter -- a fight for "control" -- was more or less a straight lift from "Superman III" in which, for what it's worth, Superman and Clark Kent are also actually the same man.

You are not answering my questions or maybe not understanding them.

In your opinion does the ability to feel remorse vs complete lack of thereof makes a being a different entity or not? Because this is the difference between Angel and Angelus, obviously. A serial killer can be talented artist, brilliant planner and powerful leader - but it is the lack of remorse ( or empathy) that makes him what he is.

Assuming that the curse was not even tailor made and is generic works even better for my case actually, because it means that it relies on the personality's being cursed innate ability to feel guilty when technically no guilt is due. Why curse somebody with ability to feel remorse if you know they don't take such things seriously and will get over it in a month ? Moreover, why pompously declare 'you will suffer forever' if you know they don't feel any discomfort over others' pain or if they do they get over it quickly?

Once again what is in your opinion 'separate personhood'? Please clarify because the way you put it it is not clear.

[ edited by dorotea on 2010-08-30 22:02 ]
Moreover, why pompously declare 'you will suffer forever' if you know they don't feel any discomfort over others' pain or if they do they get over it quickly?

dorotea I did ask you not to insult other posters earlier in this thread, it seems you chose to ignore that. So your posting privileges have been revoked for a bit.
Simon, I'm just glancing at this thread (these endless canon discussions bore me), but dorotea wasn't saying KoC pompously said anything. She (or he) was saying the gypsies did.
Separate personhood is what I'm talking about when I say that you and I are different people. Angel and Angelus are not "separate people" in the way that any two people are, they are not body-swapping alters in one body where one is driving and the other is literally a helpless observer (illustrative language in "Orpheus" notwithstanding). They are one, continuous, ongoing character going through different phases of life.

Saul was a butcher by all accounts, found God, and changed personally and took a new name. That fact didn't make Saul a prisoner in Paul's mind, nor did getting a soul create two divisible selves out of the one vampire. Angel can lose the "-us" to symbolically shed his past the way Paul did, if that was the motive, but the only reason for him to feel guilt and strive to atone at all is because he is the person who did those things.

Dorotea, the curse does not or need not rely on a particular tendency toward guilt for the gypsies to rightly declare that the target would "suffer" -- it speaks of returning what separates man from animal. Unless you don't think the capacity for guilt is actually part of that distinction, the curse speaks for itself as to why Angel would suffer. They could have said the same thing about Darla had they cursed her instead. AND, in point of fact, we saw that play out -- Darla, not an excessively guilty-minded person, also suffers immensely under the guilt of what she's done when she experiences her soul again, both in Season 2 when she is human again and in Season 3 when borrowing Connor's.
but dorotea wasn't saying KoC pompously said anything. She (or he) was saying the gypsies did.

You're right, I do apologise.
Well, since the discussion makes everybody a bit jumpy I am (courteously) withdrawing.
Wasn't it established that the human Liam was a drunkard and a layabiuy and a rogue? How did this gypsies suss out he would be Penelope to guilty brooding?
I have no dog in this show, and am not invested in the answer, but I have to say, I have never considered this issue before and it is kind of fascinating. I never paid much attention to the curse on Angel, but the question is a good one. Why make Angel pay for what Angelus has done, if Angel is not the same entity- they only share a body? Why not make Angelus suffer? Otherwise, how does the curse make sense? Angel does good and ends up suffering, for what his evil Other does while evil. Seems punishment of the wrong person. Which brings me back to the Echo question- sure, there are some differences here, but it is the same question: should Echo pay for what she did when she was programmed to be someone else and had no control nor memory of what she did? Do we put people with multiple personalities into jail for what they did? Or do we try to help them?
Which brings me back to the Echo question- sure, there are some differences here, but it is the same question: should Echo pay for what she did when she was programmed to be someone else and had no control nor memory of what she did?

Spike wanted to die for what he had done as a result of The First controlling his actions. Dunno if Caroline/Echo would feel the same way.
I don't concede the similarities to Caroline/"Echo" or the dissociative personalities because, ultimately, we see pretty clear evidence that Angel and Angelus don't have those kinds of walls between them. They have shared perceptions, shared memory, shared emotional response (recall Angel's recollection of Giselle). What you have is the difference in a man when he cares, and when he doesn't. When he values life and when he doesn't.

And, no, "Echo" or Caroline or however you feel like identifying her wouldn't have to answer for those things, at least not that way. If she was found guilty by insanity she'd be committed, and that's what would be most likely and most just, since that's basically what's happened to the idealistic young college student-turned-amateur criminal activist when she went into that hellhole; extensive psychological torture and brain damage, such that she thinks and remembers untold amounts of lives.
Just to confuddle things more, I'd separate out Caroline and Echo.

And the curse in Angel never made much sense to me. I seem to remember on the commentary joss mentions it was a writing... challenge.
I separate Caroline and "Echo" all the way out -- there is basically just Caroline. "Echo", combo-"Echo" with all the imprints, individual imprints... these are all things chemically and electrically done to Caroline. Like I said, it's not "Freaky Friday". There is no Other, no external self that is being imported from somewhere else and swapped out. Even the "original" wedge by nature cannot be anything other than, well, a blueprint of how to put all her bits back so she is left where she's found. But ultimately, it never stopped actually *being* Caroline, no matter what she does or doesn't remember, or even what she does or doesn't prefer.

Gossi, I personally think it was a mistake -- I don't know if it was Greenwalt's or Joss' -- to hook Angel's "good vampire" schtick to a phlebotenous proof through the curse and having a soul. They didn't have to go there. They could have just... had him be the surprisingly unlikely and rare instance of a vampire who reformed. It certainly would have made Buffy more daring for the relationship, albeit probably less sympathetic in Season 2 when he turns on her, but I still think it would have been stronger if they'd just done something else.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-08-30 23:43 ]
Oh, I totally disagree about Echo and Caroline. They're completely different to me. Also: hated Caroline. Loved Echo.
Oh, they are absolutely different. But only one of them is the genuine article. One of them is a person, and the other is something that was done *to* that person. "Echo", or any version thereof, is no more a "real" person than a dissociative's alters are. "Dollhouse" is really the only part of the Jossverse where the multiple personality comparison is very accurate. The "patient" is and always only will be Caroline. It's Caroline's brain that gets mucked with to make her forget her native identity and think she's an assassin, or a flirtatious college girl, or a hostage negotiator. It's Caroline's genes. It's Caroline's birthmark, or scar, or filling.

If it was some old psycho-thriller war movie and we were talking about conventional stare-at-a-movie-screen brainwashing, I don't think that half the identity debates about "Dollhouse" could have ever propped themselves up for so long.
Caroline isn't a genuine article under that point of view. We're all programmed. Echo was real.
I would say that Echo and Caroline are separate entities, because Echo is not organically part of Caroline; she is an engineered concept given a brain and a body that belong to someone else, but are not Echo's own. Angel is Angelus demon + soul. I can see Angel feeling guilty about Angelus' actions whether he feels *consciously* responsible or not - the expression "not in my name" is used by many political causes that want to distance themselves from what their elected representatives may be doing - but Angel is a sobered-up, reprioritized Angelus. Angelus is capable of deep feeling - he gives that whole passion speech in "Passion" - he just doesn't feel many of the same things that non-homicidal maniacs feel. As for the gypsy curse, even the gypsies sort of acknowledged it wasn't rational - it wasn't about justice, it was about vengeance. If it was rational, it never would have come with a clause that let Angelus free of the curse and endangered every innocent life in the vicinity (maybe somebody should give those gypsy cursers a curse of their own on behalf of Jenny).
But Echo and Caroline started to bleed together. Sort of like Angel/Angelus in that regard...
We're not "all programmed", not like that. That's one argument that, to be honest, I just completely shrug off. It has no weight whatsoever with me, the notion that because one could call genes, and parenting, and socialization a species of "programming" that it is therefore the moral and metaphysical equivalent of being shoved into a chair and having every part of your persona redesigned by someone else.

We are agents in our own social "programming", after all. We choose our associations, we choose our roles, our goals, etc. An Active doesn't -- an Active, once they've given nominal 'consent', has no more role in forming the persona that they'll be stuck with some or all of the time.

If both kinds of "programming" were truly of equal merit, I am forced to ask -- what, precisely, is Rossum's crime? To turn that technology loose and let governments and corporations and who knows what else just randomly alter people? What does it matter who they originally might have been through their own experiences and choices? It's all just programming, no?

When I watch "Man on the Street", the interstitials have people I really like, like slavery lady (who may be the smartest person depicted in either season of the entire series), and people like doe-eyed penelope moonbeam who thinks the brainwashing can be "beautiful", who -- with apologies to Kim from Scott Pilgrim -- if her life had a face I would punch it.

Anyway, back to Angel -- shapenew, the gypsies weren't concerned with the curse's rationality in terms of whether it was just, or whether it would hurt more people later if it was revoked... but c'mon, they surely were concerned with whether or not it actually punished the target. That was, textually, *all* they were concerned about. I like how you described Angel -- a sobered-up, reprioritized Angelus. Goes along well with Maggie's earlier AA reference.
I think what people try to, want to or just DO forget, concerning Angel and his soul is that Angel is cursed to never be allowed a moment of peace or contentment, which is a pretty good reason why he lets the memories of the demon affect him in such a way. He isn't SUPPOSED to forget or become complacent, the moment he does, hello Angelus.
Angelus is the demon who doesn't have a drop of humanity in him, which reaffirms that Angel isn't there. The Demon does get his memories, just like Angel gets the demons but the essance of Angel, who he is, is gone and all shiny and glowy in a jar somewhere.

Angel/Angelus are one of my personal all time favorite aspects of the series. It's the place in the story where Joss's creative genius is revealed. It was the place in the story where I found my true loyalty toward Buffy, despite being a B/A fan, and it was the point that I recognized just what an amazing actor DB is.

I agree with Gossi on Echo and Caroline, nothing alike and one is much better and more favored than the other,imo. The curse really didn't make sense in the aspect that the gypsies made a mistake but wasn't that half the point? Acting in Vengeance isn't usually the most productive avenue to take and probably why Joss devoted an entire line of demons to that subject.
Cheryl, it still doesn't wash, and it will never wash. They're either HIS memories and affect him or they are someone else's and they won't.

Angelus lacking humanity is what you get when he doesn't have his soul. That scene in "Innocences" does not speak to the idea that Angel is a separate, distinct metaphysical person who has simply lost control of a shared body.

I want to bring this back to what Joss said in this talk -- that Angel had "fought against his soul". Cheryl, how do you make sense of that amidst this notion that Angel and Angelus are as much separate entities as you and I are? Angel can only fight against his soul two ways, metaphysically speaking -- he can be Angel, trying to get rid of it, or he can be Angelus, trying to keep it out. We've seen both in "Angel". And BOTH of them eliminate any possibility that "Angel" and "Angelus" are as separate and distinct as Wes and Gunn are.

If Angel is fighting against his soul -- well, do you interpret "Release" as a full on suicide attempt? That Angel was trying to cease to exist altogether? That's the only possible interpretation of what he tried with Darla if he just "goes away" when he loses his soul. And it sure isn't what Angel said on the subject, he is very clear he wasn't trying to go away, he was just trying to stop caring. It was the exact same motive that Spike had when he tried to "cut it out". Neither vampire was laboring under any (textual) delusion that losing their soul meant ceasing to exist.

And if Angelus fighting against the soul is what Joss was referring to... nothing could more conclusively say that he's not talking about two different characters.
So if there is such a complete and utter 'disconnect' (like a dissociative syndrome) between Angel and Angelus, is that because the soul was forced on him or some other reason? I ask because we didn't need a Spike/Spikelus as there really wasn't that much difference in his core personality pre-chip, post-chip, or post-soul. Sure, he was a remorseless killer (for feeding) before and still loved his 'spot of violence' after (not quite sure after the soul), but he was the same guy having cocoa with Joyce, telling Buffy that he was thankful she treated him like a man even though he was a monster, caring for Dawn after her death, and hanging around to help Angel after he regained his body. Also had a lot of the same snark and impulse control problems too! Not seeing the dramatic disconnect here. So why does Angel get two (or perhaps more, if we consider Liam yet another) personalities/entities? My 'take' has always been that it would be damn hard for him to have his own show and for us to identify with him as a hero/champion unless he had that get-out-of-jail card; since there were no other vamps with their own shows ME didn't need to have that hedge. I think someone upthread stated when we first got the 'us' added; I'd love to see the precise timeline as I think it would help to put these arguments in context; was there an implied retcon to make his spin-off more acceptable?
KingofCretins, I agree with you about the gypsies - I meant they kind of acknowledged the curse wasn't rational :)

Dana5140, actually, Echo and Caroline don't *always* bleed together - Caroline was, in the ten-years-later finales, in the separate body of a little girl, who certainly was not Caroline. Caroline was separate enough to be put into a separate body. I don't think the Dollhouse personas function the same way as the Buffy/Angelverse souls do.
There's no "putting" involved in "Dollhouse", never was. All they did was take the proverbial playdoh in that little girl's head and mold it into a Caroline shape.
King...We have been over this and I doubt we will ever agree, so why keep trying after all these years? lol

Baxter...why do the two vamps have to be the same? They haven't been remotely the same, souled or unsouled, the entire series run.

Angel was cursed to suffer and Angelus doesn't have an ounce of humanity in him.
Spike pre soul reeked of humanity yet Spike with a soul didn't give a piss about atonement, per his own confession. These characters aren't the same. At all. I like it that way, personally. Angel and Spike are as different as Buffy and Faith and if they wern't, it would be pretty dang boring, imo.

Bowing out now too as it appears to be creeping into mine is better than yours or an Angel bash.
It's not bashing Angel to agree with Joss as to his essential nature -- one vampire who has been on a journey through both good and evil.
Cheryl, I thought these discussions were about the epistemology of vamps and souls, not on whose vamp was better.
Joss also spoke about Spike, who he felt ultimately became the most fully developed character in the Whedonverse ...

I always felt Angel, as a character, was at a decided disadvantage next to Spike, and that was due to the disparity in acting ability between the men who played them. Don't get me wrong, I came to love Boreanaz as much as Marsters, but that love took time to earn. Even Boreanaz admitted he learned on the job, but did he learn. Joss is quite fortunate he had the savvy to hire James because he brought all sorts of incredible colors to Spike; the humor, the venality, the brutality, the flashes of cowardice, all mixed together. It was a perfect pairing of ultra-talented actor to ultra-talented writing. I've often wondered how the show would have gone had another actor played Spike.

But JM paid back Boreanaz with the lovely compliment perhaps in his Q&A and posted here, I can't remember right now, about DB's scene in Power Play when he reveals his plan to eliminate The Black Thorn. Said it was some of the best acting he'd ever seen Edited for clarity: (disclaimer: or words to that effect).

Note to self: don't post when worn out.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2010-08-31 03:49 ]
I want to bring this back to what Joss said in this talk -- that Angel had "fought against his soul".

Joss didn't say that Angel fought against his soul. He said Angel's soul was thrust on him. Here's the quote...

Joss also spoke about Spike, who he felt ultimately became the most fully developed character in the Whedonverse, coming from the lowest rung in Season Six (when he forced himself on Buffy) to someone who literally earned his own soul, as opposed to Angel, "who had a soul thrust upon him for a hundred years and moped about it."

We've been given evidence twice that indicates that the human soul is the essence of a person. First with Buffy, and then with Fred. Again, if this is not what we are to believe, then why do the writers give us this information? If I choose to ignore this information then I have to come up with an idea of my own for why Angel and Spike, two souled beings, don't know what they're talking about. Or I have to come up with my own reason why the soul is the essence of Buffy, but not for Angel. I would have to pick and choose when I was going to believe what a character says.

One of the first things we ever learned was that a vampire was a demon that has set up shop in the dead persons body. That they walk, talk, and have the memories of the dead person, but that they aren't the dead person. We are warned not to be fooled into thinking it is still the same person, because that person is gone and has been replaced by a demon. This information about vampires is first given by Giles, and repeated in other episodes by Buffy, Wesley, and Angel. So right away in order to believe that Angel/Angelus are the same person, we must start to ignore text that the writers have repeatedly given us, and come up with an alternate reason for Giles, Buffy, Wes, and Angel to say such a thing.

If I'm going to believe that Angel is really a Jeckyl/Hyde, and that he is has been fooling himself all along, then I must also believe that he has fooled Buffy, Willow, Giles, Jenny, Faith, Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne, Jasmine, and the Beast. I don't believe that was ever the writer's intent. The writers showed us that all these people think of Angel/Angelus as separate beings because that's what they expected us to think too.

The demon Angelus, an entity in his own right had complete control of Liam's body until Liam's soul was returned to that body. It only makes sense that it was Liam's soul that was reunited with Liams body. If not Liam's then who's? It wasn't the demons soul because the returned soul wasn't evil, and it's shown in the text that the demon already had a soul of sorts.

The Master says to Luke "My blood is your blood". "My soul is your soul". And Giles explains how vampires came to be..."The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul".
Agree with the Angel/us being one person, if they are not one and the same then a lot of the show doesn't work.

I find it funny how that one early scene of the Judge saying there is no humanity in Angelus makes it absolute truth forever. The same Judge that thought he was invincible yet low and behold Buffy took care of that 21century style. He could have been telling the truth about current Angelus. But pre-Buffy Angelus clearly had some humanity in him. When first turned he confronted his father and took out all of Liam's frustrations and anger out on him and his family,village. Angel didn't say "Ah so you are Liam's father ect!". No he clearly viewed him as his father. Pre-Buffy Angelus seemed much more human, perhaps surpressing your demonic nature for +100 years does that to you.

I don't think the gypsy's curse was anything special. Their pathetic attempt at vengeance almost got their whole clan wiped out. It was also a shot in the dark for them assuming the curse would work on Angelus the way it did. It is all dependant on how good of a human Liam was. As we saw, not very good at all. He tryed to rejoin the gang, still killed and after his final rejection he moped for a 100y.

I think his actions these last couple of years show clearly that Angel isn't that different from Angelus. If anything, with a soul Angel is a much bigger threat.

I don't think that Wesley and Cordelia developed more then Spike. Spike is the only character to have gone from what looked to be unredeemable evil to good. Outside of Faith but she wasn't a main character and i think it's much easier to find redemption for a humanbeing then a soulles demon. Anyway the getting of the soul only got him halfway there. Having a soul does not make you good or evil, just neutral, then Spike chose to be a champion,hero and that took him 180 degrees from where he had come from.
Wesley and Cordelia(and many others) only did 90 degrees. Wesley was young,naive and pretty dumb but he had a good heart. Same for Cordy, she was shallow,vain and could act very bitchy but at the core she had a good soul.
Spike had to take the long trek of -90(evil) to 0(neutral) to +90(good,champion,hero). Angel has travelled the same path(almost) except he didn't earn the rites of passages. He didn't earn his soul, it was forced upon him. He didn't choose to become a champion on his own. First it was Buffy that put him on this path and then the Ptb's had to help him out big time.

Wounded Dwarf, none of that makes it final.
And can easily be explained on why it could be false. Giles and Wes were watchers, watchers are not known for their free-thinking spirits. They have to keep it simple for their slayers. Just imagen how diffecult it would be for slayers to kill vampires if they started doubting on the justness of their cause.
Buffy well she was simply a sponge, taking any information she got as absolute truth, it's also this dogma she clings on too when Angel loses his soul.
But most importantly, those were the early days. Long before Spike arrived on the scene and shook up the whole universe's laws.
Why bother challenging those theories if you(Angel) are the only souled vampire in excistance.
There are very few truths that hold up true by the series's end. The true origin of demons,slayers is also being unveiled now in season 8
I always love it when a corrected reference still makes my point for me.

If Joss said "Angel had his soul thrust upon him", how is this still a conversation"? That right there is as bold and bright and clear and explicit a reference to Angel being the recipient of said soul, not just something that showed up when the soul did.

At some point, the reason for the story element to even exist has to be a factor here. The only reason Angel "has a soul" was so that there would be some applied phlebotinum behind the idea that Angel was different than other vampires. That vampires, generally, were bad but that Angel, generally, was good. That Angel, unlike other vampires, felt bad about being a vampire and wanted to do better.

Now, take that principle and do some exegesis -- what possible logic is there about creating applied phlebotinum to accomplish a goal that, once applied, it explicitly contradicts? Because if the phlebotinum of having a soul in the first place is meant to give Angel a remorseful backstory, then it serves no purpose at all for that character not to actually BE the vampire.

I'm also puzzled by why you think Angel would be "fooling himself"? Angel is very consistent in NOT distinguishing between himself and Angelus, and in the very rare instance where it sounds like he is, it's done in a way consistent to how normal, non-vampires talk about the person they used to be vs. the person they are. And of all the supporting characters, ONLY Buffy has ever really seemed insistent on this metaphysical distinction. Nobody shares it. Not Wesley, who thinks Angel "walks a fine line". Not Giles, who doesn't want Angel to be comfortable with his existence. Not Cordy or Gunn who both separately promised to watch and kill Angel if HE needed killing (not if some mysterious other took over his body).
Angel in fact doesn't support the notion that vampires are totally different than their pre-vamp human selves. When Buffy is trying to console Willow in "Doppelgangland" that nothing of Willow's personality is in VampWillow, Angel starts to correct Buffy with, "Well, actually ..." He stops himself to avoid creating bad feelings, not because a correction isn't warranted.
"You don't have a soul; you are a soul. You have a body." --C.S. Lewis

That is exactly my problem with the idea that Angel and Angelus are the same person. Now, I know C.S. Lewis has nothing to do with Buffyverse canon outside of an essay Willow wrote in a dream sequence, but the way Buffy described heaven leads me to the same conclusion drawn by the quote anyway. The part of her that went to heaven is presumably the same part that leaves every human being when they die: the soul. Because she remembers heaven, she is the Buffyverse's lone authority on what existence is like as soul alone, and there's no reason not to take her word for it. Her first-hand account trumps any conjecture from Giles, Wesley, Angel, or Spike. Consequently, what separates Angel from Angelus is much closer to the presence or absence of a self than merely a conscience. However, they still canít be two completely separate people the same way Xander and Giles are completely separate people, because without the soul, Angelus (like any soulless vampire the good guys are able to slay without a second thought) isnít a complete person.

How can a soul be blamed for what took place in its absence? It canít. But how can the soul not blame itself anyway if thatís all it remembers? If left to its own devices with only negative reinforcement, it would be extremely difficult. Angel has photographic first person memories of everything Angelus did, including how much he enjoyed doing it. It doesnít help that he still has the demonic instincts encouraging him to keep doing it, nor that he still gets burned by religious artifacts and sunlight like any other demon. Everything that constitutes Angelus is still in Angel all the time, so it makes perfect sense that Angel has trouble rejecting the guilt. He's too close to be able to appreciate the distinction that is obvious to almost everyone around him. Removed as we are in the audience, we can tell Angel and Angelus apart with a brief glance, even when they're impersonating each other. They move, speak, and dress differentlyóthey even carry themselves differently. Long before I saw Angel season four, I saw them as separate. Even when Angel is making very worrisome choices, he doesn't approach them as Angelus would.

Ironically, Spike demonstrates comparatively few changes in behavior and mannerisms with his soul versus without, yet he is the one who is able to quickly acquit himself of the horrors he committed while soulless. Unfortunately, he is rather hypocritical about it, because he doesn't hesitate to pass the blame to Angel, who, by Spike's own logic, shouldn't even be held responsible for Angelus's actions, let alone Spike's. Also, he can't claim the credit for the good things he did without a soul if he isn't willing to accept the blame for the bad. Therefore, "earning" his soul gets him no points once he has it, and the fact that Angelus had his soul forced on him takes no points away from Angel. While I subscribe to Spikeís logic (pre-hypocrisy), Angelís strikes me as the much more natural and admirable one to have for someone actually in that position. Spikeís generally cavalier attitude about his soulless past is appalling.
"Spikeís generally cavalier attitude about his soulless past is appalling."

Ah, but actions speak louder then Spikes attempts at bravado imo. I mean how helped Buffy save the world in Chosen, even when Buffy gave him a way out by asking him to leave with her, so does that account for nothing?

IMO trying to make any logic from Whedons views on vampires and souls is just asking for trouble as I feel he didn't think it out all that well when he started this whole venture off, and probably didn't think in the thousand years that his vampire characters would go on to be so popular with his audience.
Buffy's journey into the beyond can not be used as an example for when one becomes a vampire. Buffy died, she did not become a vampire.
The only one i can think of that used to be a really evil vampire and came back redeemed was Darla. And when she was a vampire she never seperated herself into two people. Evil Darla with Connor's soul said that Connor was the only good thing she and Angel ever did. In season 4 when she came back from the beyond to try and stop Connor, she accepted her vamperic life as her own and not as seperate.
So going by Darla being the only vampire that truelly dusted and came back from the beyond only supports the one person theory.

Buffy as a vampire in Nightmare also supports that theory. She did not call herself Buffylus, she was still our Buffy but a Buffy with a bloodlust. Same goes for Holden.
Illyria called vampires half-breeds, they are not pure demons. And if going by Illyria's transformation, it is what should happen to every vampire when newly born if that outdated theory was correct. A demon sets up shop in a human body. That's exactly what happend to Fred, her soul was cast out,destroyed. And Illyria took place. Eventually Illyria was taken down by feelings,emotions,memories that remained in the shell. Where as with vampires, they simply role with it and have no trouble dealing with the supposed feelings,memories of their shell. Probably because it is theirs unlike with Illyria she was a totally foreign body.

I think Spike's actions speak more then loudly enough about his moralities and goodness. Just like Buffy, Spike defines himself by actions. Unlike Angel who always talks big but ends up failing.
Taaroko, that's a rather disingenuous attempt to take away all credit from Spike, for his ensouled heroism, not to mention a dubious use of the word hypocritical.

In Sleeper, as Spike's memories of killing again begin to come back, he's utterly despondent. And when confronted by proof positive of the reality of those memories, in the form of someone he turned, he is appalled, and promptly stakes her. At the end of that ep, when the memories come flooding back, he's ready and willing for Buffy to stake him, with no desire to put up a fight - the moral equivalent of Angel's desire to die, in Amends.

In Never Leave Me, when Spike begins to realize just what a danger he represents to everyone, he tells Buffy "you have to kill me". In the face of her reluctance, he then tries to anger and disgust her to the point that she actually will kill him, and is only dissuaded by Buffy telling him that she can see the changes in him, and that she believes in him.

You can run this narrative all the way back to season five, when as yet unsouled Spike allowed Glory to torture him, rather than give up Dawn's identity, and all the way forward to Chosen, when he chooses to stay and be destroyed, rather than leave with Buffy and risk not seeing through the final destruction of the hellmouth.

Just because it isn't Spikes nature to brood and feel sorry for himself, like Angel, doesn't make him less of a hero, just a more interesting character.
A lot of the widespread perception of Spike being the most fully developed character in the series, comes from the fact that you have to observe his actions and the nuances of his mostly concealed emotional suffering, played to such perfection by Marsters.
"Now, I know C.S. Lewis has nothing to do with Buffyverse canon outside of an essay Willow wrote in a dream sequence, but the way Buffy described heaven leads me to the same conclusion drawn by the quote anyway."

This is why I love this site. Who would even remember this at all, except someone here?

In the end, the realpolitick of this sitch is that no matter how we can parse Angel/Angelus/Liam, the story itself sets up the scenario that Angel is different from all other vampires. That it may not make a lot of sense is simply what happens when the story is more important than the internal logic. But I have to say, this entire series of posts has been really interesting and well presented.

(PS. Sorry for the Caroline/Echo issue- that is a different story and different show and does not have to be logically consistent with ATS).
I was going to weigh in on this a while ago but I didn't have time, and now I've just read through a few dozen comments where some of my points might have already been made, I'm not sure, but ah well...

Firstly, concerning the disparity between the two vampires regarding guilt, I think that it's just because they are two very different people. Two different souls. Spike does feel remorse and then is eventually more easily able to accept that he could not control his actions and can move on (LMPTM, Damage - 'Well, I didn't have a soul back then, did I?' Although in the last scene of Damage, we get a sense of remorse again when Spike reflects on his demon - my favourite scene of the ep). However, Angel just cannot stop reflecting. It's just the way he is. He feels guilt because he has the memories of what his soulless body did, the demon is still inside him and he remembers the pleasure it took in committing those crimes. He sees everything from the point of view of the demon. Even though his soul couldn't control it, it was the same body, the same hands. I think everyone would cope in a different way: some people would be able to accept it, others wouldn't. I, for one, might go the broody way (when I was a kid, I once kept hold of a small plastic toy thing that my friend had stolen from school. Felt guilty for 2 years before I finally threw it away as I couldn't stand the sight of it).
Furthermore, Angel's past is always being brought up in front of him - the First posing as his victims, W&H bringing back Darla. In a way, he is never being allowed the chance to move on. Not to mention the curse (which is ridiculous as it's making the soul suffer for what the demon's done) which reminds Angel that he has to suffer or else risk losing the soul and letting Angelus wreak havoc. And then of course, he's trying to make up for what he's done with his soul. In relation to this, I also think it was easier for Spike to cope because he immediately had Buffy to help him. She helped him in those instances you pointed out, Shey, and this was in the first year(?) after he got his soul. For a very long time Angel had no-one: the only person he ever seemed to care for as human was his sister. He's not the old Liam anymore and he's not Angelus either so he doesn't know who he is, which is why he goes to the only person he knows, Darla, for help. He tries to be a vampire because, well, he still is a vampire and even though Angelus was a psychopath he knew what he was, what he was about - in a sense, he had a purpose. Angel is completely lost.

As for why Angel is so different from Angelus while Spike is pretty much the same with a soul, I think it links back to their human selves. We know from Dopplegangland that a part of the human does determine what the vampire becomes. I've always thought that when the demon takes over the body, as well as being inherently evil, it amplifies those certain traits to a huge degree. Liam was a drunken whoring good-for-nothing, he hated his father, if his father loved him, he certainly didn't go about showing it (so it's difficult to see what came first: the son's rebellion or the father's disapproval. It was a constant vicious circle). So the demon had a lot to work on. With Spike however, there wasn't much of anything to go on. I think the fact that Angel is so different from Angelus is that the gypsies didn't just give him back a soul, they gave him back his soul. Liam's soul. Which suggests that whilst Liam was a scoundrel, he wasn't a completely bad man. The memories changed him completely. It also explains why Angel would feel constant remorse: he isn't Angelus but his soul in part informed who Angelus was.

With Spike. however, there wasn't as much to go on. William loved his mother and was clearly loved by her (possibly a bit too much!). He had a good life. So where soulless Spike's nature comes from is the rejection by Cecily and the treatment of the rest of his class. When he becomes a demon, the degree of humanity is there - his love for Drusilla stemming from the frustration at being rejected. Spike's destructive nature comes from being laughed at and mocked: as a demon, Spike embraces a rebellion against that ordered society, adopting a working-class accent and generally destroying things. The evil of the demon is also encouraged by Drusilla and Angelus, just as Angelus' was by Darla.

I'm not trying to discredit either vampire, I'm just trying to point out that maybe it's a bit unfair to say one is better than the other because they both had very different experiences. I'm not saying don't compare, though! It's obvious there are parallels and it's interesting exploring them.

And now I'm tired! Sorry for any typos I may have missed!

[ edited by Shep on 2010-08-31 14:11 ]
Shep, that was an excellent comment. Bravo!
The 'soul' in the Whedonverse is NOT the soul CS Lewis is talking about. In the orthodox Christianity espoused by Lewis, the soul is the principle of life. Remove a soul from a body and you don't get an evil person, you get a dead body. Whedon's 'soul' functions much more like a conscience.

And that's why the two vampires are so very different. Angel was cursed with a soul. The reason he staggers around brooding is that the rest of him is in absolute rebellion against what the soul tells him he has to do. He broods because he's not reformed all the way down. He knows his basic self is still evil. If the conscience goes on a holiday he goes out and does all the evil things that are in him all the time. (That's also why souled Angel is dark -- that unrepentent demonic keeps bleeding through and shaping his response to things).

Spike's demon tried to be good and when it failed it went to get the soul. He chose to have the conscience. He does not make a big show of feeling remorse, but if you pay attention he obviously does. For example, in Him he sees a bunch of angel figurines and he carefully turns them to face away from him -- he can't stand their accusing eyes. He's still got darkness in him. There's a demonic core for Spike as well. But his demon is onboard with the basic project of trying to be good, and that's why he's less divided. And that's why you get less of a show of all the brooding. He's not living with the same unrepentent interior evil that Angel is living with.
Why would anything different leave Buffy's body when she dies than what leaves anyone else's body when they die? The soul leaves after death, making way for the demon if the person got turned into a vampire. The soul must be more than a conscience, because Buffy described her experience when she was soul and nothing more thus: "I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't mean anything. Nothing had form. But I was still me, you know? And I was warm, and I was loved, and I was finished. Complete." I continue to stand by the C.S. Lewis quote.
For the CS Lewis model to be an issue, one has to first make a couple of what seem to me to be non-textual assumptions.

1) That "soul" is a term of art in the Buffyverse -- that it refers to one thing everytime it is referenced and it is always used, mythologically speaking, to mean the same thing. Intuitively it should be apparent how un-Joss that idea sounds. But when people are using Buffy's experience (and, incidentally, did she ever use the word soul anyway) as a basis to define Angel's or Spike's that is exactly the assumption that they are making. "Soul" may not even accurately describe what happens to Angel in the first place -- the translated ritual doesn't use the term. It's very plausible that "soul" is a term of convenience, and may not literally describe any of these things, let alone describe all of them in the same way. Which, incidentally leads to the assumption that...

2) Angel's "soul" is the self/essence/identity of the long dead Liam. Where are they ever textually explicit about that? We already know that the demon remembers the man's existence as though it's its own, and that's all that's necessary to give sentimentality to references like using "William" or "Liam" as names. But where is there some definite statement that the soul Angel carries belongs to that guy? To even assert it, you already have to be making the first assumption as to the nature of a soul in the Buffyverse or in this case. For instance, it's common to see the argument "well, whose soul is it if not Liam's?". See, though, that question is in and of itself making assumptions about what the soul is in terms of the vampires. One might want to say "well, you can't just make some anonymous soul out of nothing"... but why not? Where, anywhere, is soul so clearly and narrowly defined in the Buffyverse? If "soul" is, in the case of a vampire or demon, merely a convenient term to describe a human perspective on morality, why couldn't it just be made up?

Unless one is already making those assumptions -- adding their own mythology -- there is no need to address the question of Liam's soul or the comparison to Buffy. We again must look to the purpose of having given Angel and later Spike "souls" in the first place -- so that the audience would treat them as people and not as monsters. And we can get the idea from comments such as this that the phlebotinum they used to achieve that did not in their minds turn one character into two different characters.
Why would anything different leave Buffy's body when she dies than what leaves anyone else's body when they die?

Exactly. There's really no getting around this point without substituting one's own ideas for what the text actually tells us. And if the quotes from "Afterlife" weren't convincing enough that the soul is the essence of a person, further proof can be found in "A hole in the world", written by Joss himself. Angel, Spike, Wes, and Gunn know that they can bring Fred back if they can locate her soul. Angel and Spike both reassure Wesley that finding the soul will work. They tell Wes that the thing taking over her body is just the tip of the theological. It's the soul that matters and to trust them because they are the experts. We can either believe Angel and Spike are speaking from the experience of getting their own souls back, or we can disregard what they're telling us in favor of something coming out of our own heads. I'm not sure why we'd want to do this as there's nothing in the episode that even hints towards the possibility that Angel and Spike don't know of what they speak. In fact the evidence pointing toward the soul being the essence of the person is also later confirmed when Gunn is begging the Wolfram & Hart Doctor to bring Fred back.

Doctor: There's nothing left to bring back. Miss Burkle's soul was consumed by the fires of resurrection. Everything she was is gone.

It doesn't make sense then for the soul to equal nothing more than a conscience. Illyria with a moral compass still wouldn't be Fred, anymore than Illyria with Fred's memories is Fred now. Fred being gone forever because her soul was destroyed was written by Joss, so again I ask why look within our own imagination for answers to this question?
Wounded dwarf, this -- "Why would anything different leave Buffy's body when she dies than what leaves anyone else's body when they die?" -- is exactly the first of the non-textual assumptions I was talking about. This is a perfect of example of a practice you yourself go on to condemn -- "substituting one's own ideas for what the text actually tells us."

The text tells us nothing on the subject of the actual, essential nature of what a soul is, in any context. Further, it is completely silent on whether or not "a soul" refers uniquely and specifically to a single all-purpose definition in the Buffyverse. That's a fact I consider pretty significant when talking about a show written by an avowed existentialist who would later go on to right things like "Objects in Space". And, by insisting -- through the Buffy example, or the Fred example, that "soul" means one thing to all interested parties (like Angel or Spike) and in every context, that's exactly what you are doing -- "substituting (your) own ideas for what the text actually tells us".

If I were to ask you for a biscuit, what would you give me? Would it be the same thing that Simon or sueworld would give me? Would Maggie give me the same thing as you, or as them?

If I expected the same thing from all of you, I'd have made a pretty serious "non-textual" assumption about my world -- that "biscuit" means the same thing to every party and in every context. The word "soul" is no more profound or grand in a writer-created mythology than "biscuit" is. Buffy's animus/essence/spirit/identity/"I" is not referred to by her as her soul when she explains the truth to Spike, so why assume not only that it's what she means, but also that what she is talking about is the exact thing that gypsies a couple hundred years earlier were talking about?

I wish we could get people to talk through this like they were doing a geometry proof or something, and where they are getting the rules upon which they draw their conclusions. But I assure you, rules like that "soul" has only one definition, usage, or context in the Buffyverse is one that the audience is bringing with them, because it is never laid down in the mythology itself.
So, this begs an interesting question: what is a soul? Where does it go when someone dies, if it can be brought back to Angel and Spike, but can be destroyed forever with Fred? This makes it sound like it is somehow a real thing (it can be destroyed)). This does sound like it is veering toward phlebotinum/Macguffin territory.
Dana, an easy, occam's razor answer to third of your questions (about the difference between Angel and Spike, and Fred) is that soul itself may mean different things in each context.

I maintain there's no text that demands that Dead Liam or Dead William has ever done anything but continue to be dead, and that what we see are the Angelus and Spike demons, respectively, both able to abstract and reflect by human standards and unable to do so. To even call what they get a "soul" is to assume a great deal; again, the Ritual of Restoration, that someone actually took the time to write for this mythology, doesn't mention a soul. It mentions a heart, and it mentions that "which separates man from animal". But, as Eve once coyly pointed out to Wes when he called her a young woman, why should we assume a soul is either of those things? That what they have is called a soul by those who put them there and those who interact with them may just be a metaphysical shorthand. But seeing as neither of them talk about the experience of gaining a soul as something that separates their own "I" from the "I" of the unsouled version, it stands to reason that they aren't talking about whatever Buffy was talking about, or whatever the Doctor in "Shells" was talking about, which was very obviously nothing *but* the "I".

Doctor: There's nothing left to bring back. Miss Burkle's soul was consumed by the fires of resurrection. Everything she was is gone.

As someone once pointed out, are you going to believe an evil doctor?
I'm certainly not! Until the Oracles or someone who definitely knows what they're talking about and has no reason to lie says otherwise, Fred is safe and whole and in heaven with Wesley as far as I'm concerned. The only people who told us Fred's soul was destroyed are the bad guys, and they would probably have said anything as long as it kept the good guys from interfering with Illyria's resurrection.
What about D'Hoffryn? Are we going to believe him?

In order to restore the lives of the victims, the fates require a sacrifice. The life and soul of a vengeance demon.

And then..Halfrek burst in flames.
Is a demon's soul the same as a human's soul?
What had Anya then? Demon soul or human soul?

I really have no idea, but the discussion is interesting.
person ---> person dead and completely gone with vamp demon in full control ---> ensouled vamp = demon still there but in absolutely no control over the vamp body, possibly somewhat dormant, and presumably the original human personality in full control, albeit with memories of what the demon did incorporated

Kris said this some time ago and despite reading through the whole thread, I've not seen anything to change my opinion from completely agreeing with the above quote. As others have mentioned, the fact that the demon takes aspects of personality from the human victim is really important. Angelus wasn't more evil than other vampires because the demon that took over Liam was particularly nasty, the evil was within Liam already and the demon took that (and obviously magnified it a great deal). That is something for Angel to genuinely feel guilt over. More than having to fight the demon within him, I think Angel has to fight aspects of the man within him. And that's what he failed to do in season 2 of Ats, but succeeds in most of the time.

I don't have an issue with the concept of Angel/Angelus being one person (otherwise I wouldn't enjoy watching Mitchell in Being Human), I just don't think that the text supports that reading. You have to work awfully hard to defend it and you need to ignore so much of what the characters are saying. I think you need to apply Occam's razor a bit more widely, KoC.

I've always liked Spike, but I've never connected to his journey in the same way that others do. The lack of change in personality when he got his soul back (and the messy twist over his reasoning for getting it back) was always a problem for me. Reading this thread has actually helped me to see there is a lot more humanity already in Spike the demon. It's perhaps not obvious because Spike was so different to William, but Spike did, to an extent, consciously create that personality for himself. I agree that Spike with a soul shouldn't get the credit for getting that soul back because that was Spike the demon, but Spike the demon gets huge credit because he's essentially committing suicide in a selfless act. If it hadn't been played for that twist, it could have been amazing. (And Spike with a soul does get some credit because it's his personality that informs the demon, of course.)

Anya was a human originally, so I imagine her soul is still a human soul, even though she was a vengeance demon. BtVS generally took the view that demons were evil and had no soul. Ats was rather different, so trying to combine the two and get a general rule on demons and souls is going to be tricky.

[ edited by NotaViking on 2010-08-31 20:51 ]
I think it becomes a messier coexistence of demon and human traits/impulses when demons regain their original human souls but retain demon form and abilities. I do like the idea of vampires representing a realization of evil that was already in the human and just not given full rein before. That makes sense to me given what we see of vampires on the show.

Vengeance demons seem even more complicated. It's a choice at the beginning, which despite the "whole sucking thing" of siring didn't seem to be true for most vampires on the show.
How is Spike different now, now that he has his soul back. From how he was just before he got it back?
NotaViking, yeah, there was no reason to assume Aud/Anyanka/Anya had lost her soul. D'Hoffryn offered her a job and presumably transformed her with magic (the Vengeance Demon powers go hand in hand with the demon-y face/skin, seemed like). I can't remember if it was ever said in the Buffyverse that all demons have no souls or were believed to have no souls by any of the characters (unless Riley's buddy Forest from Season 4 believed in souls and, believing the demons to be "just animals", assumed they had none). I think it was just vamps who were given that distinction. Regardless of whether a Buffyverse vamp itself has a soul (an evil soul? Wouldn't attempt to add that to the mythology, it just gets hokey when there're Inception-like levels of consciences in Angel and Spike), there is a vamp essence(or however you'd prefer to label it), something spiritually distinct in a souled vamp (but unseparable from the bumpy-headed, heartbeat-free vamp body, even if it is covered up/clouded over by the ensouled personality) that is pushed aside when a person's soul re-inhabits their vamped body, see textual evidence, not just implication: Buffy Season 2's "The Dark Age".

Fair play to the idea that Angel's soul may not have been his original/Liam-shaped soul though (if not, something new created by the spell? Despite Jenny's claim that she would return Angel's soul, those who've mentioned the on-screen translations of the Latin gypsy curse are right, no mention of the subject's soul, original or otherwise). In Volume 2 of Dark Horse's ongoing Angel comics way back when, in the 4-issues of that (which turned into a mini-series when the Angel license was let go), Joss Whedon and his co-writer seemed to be on the verge of exploring that. A villain asks Angel, "How do you know the soul that was returned...was really your own?", but we never got a resolution to that, due to there being no follow-up arc. And the canon of that book is dubious/unlikely--but fair enough, it's something Joss was interested in exploring, at one point...or it was something he approved the co-writer to explore.

I still believe that Angel/Angelus being two distinct entities (with Angel possibly being Liam-with-memories/shared-experience-of-what-Angelus-did) is easily supported by the series and that some of the arguments for the one-and-the-same-person option are unnecessarily complicating the mythos that was presented in the scripts. Regardless of who's right in terms of creator-intent (unless Joss would answer this question with, "You all are/however each viewer interpreted it is fine"), see my previous post re: Angel's actions and feelings making perfect sense and having sensible validity even if he isn't morally responsible for all that Angelus did. Ben & Glory.

Folks are free to believe what they like about Illyria/Fred. Sure, that evil doctor could've been lying (what incentive, though ? Fanwank away) about Fred's soul being burned up in the process of Illyria's resurrection/takeover of Fred's body. But why do some viewers want to deny or undo this ? It's one of the (if not arguably the most) perfectly constructed tragedies in the Buffyverse specifically because there's no safety net of heaven/afterlife, reincarnation, or resurrection to save Fred or bring her back to the people that cared about her. It makes the fragments of her memory which Illyria holds all the more precious. If she still exists in some form and is self-aware, that aspect of Illyria is less meaningful (useful for Illyria's character arc, exploring humanity and all that, but not meaningful in the overall sense of loss in the Buffyverse/for Angel Investigations). That kind of death, a total and permanent one, may be hard to accept, but here's the thing. I don't believe in souls IRL, but they exist in the Buffyverse and they were of key importance to a number of arcs, so it's all fun food for thought. If I can accept souls as real and valid within my fiction, folks who're attatched to the Fred-is-still-around theory due to a real life belief in souls or simply not liking that she was destroyed should concede to Joss' clear intentions and allow themselves to feel the unique impact of that character's loss (unless you absolutely hated Fred, heh, but even then you can probably at least sympathize with the grief of those around her).

Edited to add: Even though it was one of the things I wanted to talk about, I forgot when posting this initially, so major word to everything Dwarf says below about the consistency of the portrayal of a soul in the Buffyverse (or enough of a consistency, at least, to make it unnecessary to needlessly start speculating on how the writers were maybe bending the meaning and use of a soul in all those cases to suit the story. What I saw was the writers[and yeah, I know someone's gonna jump out here and say that the key phrase here is "what I / you saw"], building off the foundation of what was set up about souls in Buffy Season 1 and 2, not circumventing it).

[ edited by Kris on 2010-08-31 23:16 ]
Taaroko, I'm not convinced Fred's soul was completely destroyed either, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make by quoting the Doctor. The Doctor says that because Fred's soul was destroyed, everything that was Fred is gone. Evil Doctor or not, that statement goes along with what both Angel and Spike have said earlier about the soul being what matters in getting Fred back.

KingofCretins, You seem to be suggesting that maybe Joss decided to write the soul as meaning different things for different characters, and I guess I'd ask you where are you finding the text to support this idea, because I don't believe there is any. You may not accept the idea of soul equaling essence of a person but there is text to support the idea in both "Afterlife" and "A hole in the world". There's also Willow's soul/essence statement from "The Bargaining" PT1...

XANDER: We saw her body, Will. We buried it.

WILLOW: Her body, yeah. But her soul ... her essence ... I mean, that could be somewhere else. She could be trapped, in-in some sort of hell dimension like Angel was. (tearfully) Suffering eternal torment, just because she saved us, and I'm not gonna let ... I'm not gonna leave her there. It's Buffy.

So now we must come up with reasons to ignore the words of four characters,and that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The writers are being fairly consistent in what they tell us about soul/essence. The writers took great pains to ensure that we viewed Angel/Angelus as separate entities....they even went so far as to let us witness Angelus re-living Angel's good deeds, and explaining that it made Angelus feel like he was trapped in hell during those times. Angelus even acknowledges Angel's presence in the body by using the word "we". The writers show us Angel and Angelus fighting each other ....and in "The Dark Age" they show Angel standing motionless as we see the demon inside of him fighting Eghyon. The evidence pointing to Angel and Angelus being separate entities overwhelms any evidence to the contrary imo.

The word "soul" is no more profound or grand in a writer-created mythology than "biscuit" is.

And yet the Buffyverse tells us time after time exactly how important having a soul is.
Dana, he presumably wouldn't again try to do to Buffy what he did in "Seeing Red" (or something with the equivalent level of awfulness, or worse) ? Dunno. Real people do shit like that without the excuse of being a messed up, obsessive, rejection-hating vamp(besides real life, see also: Warren, the human lawyers of Wolfram & Hart, and every other human villain in the two series), so I'm not sure what becoming ensouled accomplished in that respect. I do love that vamp-Spike essentially committed suicide though and I assumed that while watching the show when it aired. Even if the writers didn't play it that way, yeah, what's left behind is a souled Spike with all the memories of what he did without a soul, including loving Buffy. The vamp that took over human William had only that self-pitying, unlucky in love/infatuation personality to work with when it started out and, pretty much post-killing-his-mother, began constructing the badass persona that much-later-ensouled-Spike continued to utilize, like a crutch, for the strength it provided, 'cause he wasn't gonna go back to being a bad poetry-spewing momma's boy after all he'd experienced and all the growing he'd done as a vamp. Even with all the horrible things soul-free Spike he'd done, there were some positive traits the vamp had learned and ensouled-Spike benefited from. Assertiveness, resourcefulness, any good things Spike did while chipped, etc. Season 7 Spike sucked, for the most part, IMO, so it can probably be turned back on me in this case that I'm seeing what I want to see (intention-wise, for souled Spike) in order to make that character arc as-executed less shoddy to me.

Anyway, I'm not in the mood to get into it any further at the moment and dinner is calling.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-08-31 23:27 ]
No worries, I knew that was what you meant, wounded dwarf. I just tend to get panicky whenever the subject of Fred ceasing to exist comes up, so I didn't really make it clear up there that I agree with how the Doctor defined Fred's soul; I just refuse to take his word for it that it was destroyed.
I think it is interesting to listen to the various characters' voices re: their identity. Illyria never equates her self with Fred (the shell) even though she may have her memories and may be able to 'morph' into her as the occasion requires. Spike never separates his identity into unsouled and souled beings (i.e., no Spikelus vs Spike) - he is the same being just with some different views on things/capacity for broader empathy. Angel is trickier in that he seems to be singular or dual somewhat as the situation demands. In the end, my belief (based on text but surely it is simply my belief) is that Angel knows that he was an innocent, a monster, and a champion 'once upon a time' all as the same entity. So, I'm not sure that the having of a soul (or not) per se dictates the way the characters appreciate their own continuity of being in time or some other feature (pre-'morbid' personality or other).
Wounded dwarf, I am not ignoring anything any of the characters has said. What I am doing is choosing not to assume, absent any evidence, that when any character utters the word "soul" in any context, that they all must be speaking of the exact same thing.

The text has never given me a reason to infer that, and certainly has given no rule in the mythology to declare that.

I have no unifying theory of what the word "soul" means in a mythology that I did not create. To assert one would be to add to the text, or in some cases, directly contradict it. On the other hand, though, the text does provide many reasons to think that different people must mean different things when they say soul, for the obvious reason that a soul has different properties in some contexts than others.

Textually, when we talk about Buffy's "soul" or "essence", or Fred's "soul" or "essence", we're talking about something completely discrete, portable -- that person's sense of identity is always where the "soul" is and never where it is not.

Quite the opposite, however, is Angel -- whose sense of continuous identity is never textually shown to stop walking around in his billowy coat, whether he has a soul. He talks about what *he* did when he tortured Drusilla, what *he* felt when he watched Giselle. It is completely unambiguous, and it's so overwhelming recurring, and the less than 5% or so of references that don't conform so easily explained as metaphorical, that I don't see how it can be disputed.

So Buffy's "I" can leave her body, and Angel's "I" does not. So that right there tells us that the word "soul" has now meant at least two contradicting things.

But wait, there's more --

-- Anya, as a vengeance demon, has a "soul" of some sort per the words of D'Hoffryn, yet she sees it as something remarkably different (such that it nearly awes her) from whatever Spike is carrying and, in general terms, different from what she and others have as humans.

-- Kathy, in "Living Conditions", is meant to be stealing Buffy's "soul", but Buffy's identity/essence/self doesn't actually go anywhere, her personality merely changes. Of course, Kathy could be stealing a "soul" from Buffy that would mean the same thing it means to Angel, since his "I" never leaves when he loses it.

So just in a few paragraphs, we have at least three and possibly four mutually exclusive definitions of a "soul" in the Buffyverse, three different things its meant to people using the term.

What textual evidence goes the other way, to support the idea that there is a Big TOE that explains the universal rules of all souls in the Buffyverse?

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-09-01 02:02 ]
I was re-reading this thread and the discussion about whether the author has any say in the story got me thinking about these lyrics from Heart, Broken.

Double post! I wish there was a option to delete our posts.

[ edited by eddy on 2010-09-01 02:43 ]

And now for something completely different.
"It's one of the (if not arguably the most) perfectly constructed tragedies in the Buffyverse specifically because there's no safety net of heaven/afterlife, reincarnation, or resurrection to save Fred or bring her back to the people that cared about her."

And then there is Tara. Who presumably had a soul, could not be brought back, and who the First could not even take the shape of her body (I mean, really, would Cassie hurt Willow more than actually dealing with an evil Tara?)

Spike is another matter. I don't see much difference in him pre and post soul. He already had done significant good prior, and though he completely misread the SR AR, he also almost immediately realized he had done wrong. After soul, he did kill a few people, was mentally deranged for a bit, and went out a hero, to be sure, only to be back a bit later anyway.
Quite the opposite, however, is Angel -- whose sense of continuous identity is never textually shown to stop walking around in his billowy coat, whether he has a soul. He talks about what *he* did when he tortured Drusilla, what *he* felt when he watched Giselle. It is completely unambiguous, and it's so overwhelming recurring, and the less than 5% or so of references that don't conform so easily explained as metaphorical, that I don't see how it can be disputed.

It's because that's how he feels, not because that's what actually happened. He feels responsible, even though, intellectually, he knows it wasn't him. But the fact that it's his personality that made Angelus is a big factor for me. However, there isn't a single time in BtVS or Ats where they're discussing the Angel/Angelus split and Angel says, "No, no, there's no split, it was all just me." If the show was trying to say that, don't you think they would have actually, you know, said it? As opposed to explaining the opposite scenario many times.

The shows have to blur the issue a little because if we were constantly reminded that Angel shouldn't technically feel responsible for what Angelus did, his attempts at redemption would carry less weight. We're left to understand that he doesn't actually deserve all of the blame, but he feels that he does.

Though, if I was turned into a vampire and aspects of my personality resulted in that vampire being one of the most evil and destructive vampires ever, I would feel extremely guilty. I would feel that it was my fault, even though I didn't carry out those actions.

Re souls: When talking about one idea, the human soul, you have to assume that the show is using the term to mean the same thing unless there is a really good reason to think otherwise. If you applied your reasoning to every idea in the show, you'd be left with a complete mess. And you have to take into account that the show had different writers and writers are not perfect. What happens in a one-off episode does not carry the same weight as a major arc plot point. Small inconsistencies are not a reason to throw everything out the window.
Okay, here is a problem: Angel was different from other vamps because he had a soul. But Angel and Angelus are different. Who is Angel? Liam is dead; where did Angel come from? Liam is not Angel, right? How does that work? Given all the other vamps we ever meet are evil, are sort of who they were before they died, but are inhabited by demons?
There is of course Gray Angel in Angel season 2. He's a completely different kettle of fish.
Angel is Liam, but with the memories of Angelus and obviously a vampire now not a human. For all vampires, the demon takes on aspects of personality from their human victim.

Gray Angel is just like Dark Willow, still the same person, just really pissed off. ;)
But Liam's dead. Why isn't Liam Liam? Why is he Angel, who is textually made to be different from Liam?
Yeah, I've always loved how it makes perfect sense that the real Liam would take and use a variant of the demon's name as his own, but is apparently completely ridiculous that the demon, once ensouled, would keep and use a variant of its OWN name.

NotaViking, I'm keeping it textual. "I cried at 'Giselle'" is the text. "The demon who has controlled my body in the past cried at 'Giselle'" and I have incorporated his emotional responses into my imagined personal history" is not text.
But Liam's dead. Why isn't Liam Liam? Why is he Angel, who is textually made to be different from Liam?

After 100 years of living as a vampire with a soul and with 150 years worth of memories of evil vampire deeds, would you be the same person as you are now?

In the Buffyverse, when you die, your soul goes somewhere else and in some cases it can be brought back.

With Angel being a vampire, I can easily buy that he didn't feel entitled to or comfortable with his human name. It also reflects the guilt he feels - he doesn't try to completely divorce himself from Angelus because he does feel responsible. But the real reason is that they did want to have a vampire called Liam. You really have to just go along with that sort of thing.

Again, KoC, you're making demands of the text that it would never try to live up to. The show isn't going to explain what it means by the word "soul" ever time it uses it and it's not going to constantly remind you of the Angel/Angelus position. We have to bring what we've been told previously and apply to what we're seeing in any episode.

I really do think that the show is perfectly clear that Angel gets his soul back and Spike gets his soul restored. Any time we get a explanation it's that one. The fact that the characters don't always refer to it that way, is down to how the show needs the characters to feel to make the show work.
No... I'm the only one making *no* demands on the text, and attributing nothing to the text other than the text itself. That the conditions of what "soul" mean are mutually exclusive depending on who we're talking about are self-evident. The only way you can start making "demands" on the text is to, when confronted with that, to start trying to come up with a unifying Theory of Everything that makes one set of rules for everything called a "soul" when the story itself doesn't actually require that you do so.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-09-01 19:37 ]
I'm not trying to invent rules, I'm trying to take them directly from the show.

I'm not sure that we're going to get anywhere if we keep going. I've read everything in this thread and haven't change my opinion at all and I'm guessing you're the same. I'm genuinely surprised at your take on Angel. It hadn't ever occurred to me that someone would interpret it that way. Are you surprised that I (and I'd suggest quite a few others) don't see it your way? Are you actually arguing that it's the correct interpretation and the one that Joss intended or are you just saying that it's your personal interpretation and the text allows it? Or something else? I'm not trying to put words into your mouth, just trying to understand.
NotaViking said:
"After 100 years of living as a vampire with a soul and with 150 years worth of memories of evil vampire deeds, would you be the same person as you are now?"

Exactly. Liam lived as a regular dude for 20-some years. Then he's dead and gone, then he basically "wakes up" and, as he's groaning on the ground after Angelus has been ensouled and the gypsy man is standing over him gloating, his brain processes. Processes the 150 years' worth of things Angelus did, through his eyes, with his body, as if Liam himself had done them, except without Liam wanting to have done them (well, maybe not all of 'em--I'm sure some of the indulgence was fascinating/exciting/arousing even to his drunk womanizing ass), without him having been an active participant in the choosing of them. But it doesn't matter, he's got a front row seat and he can't look away. Of course he identifies more with his role as Angelus, he'd lived that life seven times longer than what he lived as a human. Ensouled Angel even tries to get back together with Darla (after she rejected him when she somehow sniffed out/sensed/sussed out that he'd gained a soul), like a security blanket or some kind of crazy Stockholm syndrome for immortals, because she and her guidance were all Angelus had known for 150 years (and since Angelus felt that way, thus does Liam. Who Liam was, influenced who the vampire Angelus became, and the experiences and feelings of Angelus greatly informed who Liam/Angel became once he was back in control).

Or we can theorize on whether the soul returned to that body was really his own (and if not, whose ? And why wouldn't it have been Liam's ? Was it someone else's soul, or can souls be created out of nothing in the Buffyverse/when birth isn't involved ?), but not receive any answers. Unless Joss gets into it at some point. I choose to go with the simplest answer that the shows presented us with.

Darla didn't even remember her original human name. Sure, she was a couple hundred years older than Angel, give or take a few decades, but is it a stretch to assume the same thing might've happened to Angel (if there's anything within Angel the Series where he remembered or mentioned his name to anyone, apologies, I don't recall any. If he thought his name was Liam in "Spin the Bottle", doesn't count as concrete proof that he always completely remembered who he'd been, because his memory was jogged and personality regressed by magic in that ep). So maybe he rejected or simply had no use for the name "Liam", or maybe it was forgotten and all he had was Angelus, which he cut up into Angel.

The Angel Season 1 episode "Eternity", with the happy pills bringing out Angelus, might require heaps of fanwank to force it to work with everything else established in the franchise (though I'd swear that, back in 2000 when it aired, the folks at the small Buffy message board I hung out at had explained it away in a satisfactory fashion). For the purposes of this discussion at least, can we ignore it for now ?

Still no one's challenged me on my claim that it does nothing to take away from Angel's redemptive arc if we assume he and Angelus are separate beings (even if it changes the tone of it, somewhat). Am I to assume that all of you are open to that belief, even if it's not your personal interpretation ? I'm not being smug, I just wanna know if I scored a solid debate team point.

Oh and also, souls were consistently portrayed in the Buffyverse. The way Fred's is used in "A Hole in the World" and "Shells", the way Buffy's presence in heaven is discussed (not destoryed by an ancient demon/Old One like Fred's, just released or torn from her body due to her body dying)...none of it contradicts or interferes with how Angel's was set up. Granted, the glowy-soul-in-a-bottle in that Angel Season 4 string of eps surrounding "Orpheus" was a little hokey, but that was the only time I was a little iffy on how far the franchise had gone in its exploration/use of souls. I can buy it though--if snagged magically and contained within a special leak-free jar, maybe the soul would give off some light, whatever (it's fantasy/supernatural storytelling, it works). Maybe there's a wisp of physical substance to them, maybe they're not entirely metaphysical/ghosty.
Angel has a photographic memory, so I don't think he would forget his human origins the way Darla did. Not without putting a few more centuries under his belt, anyway. And his parents and sister were some of Angelus's first victims. He'll never forget that, so he'll never forget them, and that will probably keep "Liam" in his memory by association. As far as we know, Darla had no such ties to her human life to keep her from forgetting it. Also, as she was pretty much on her deathbed from syphilis, she easily could have had neurosyphilis as well, and memory loss is part of that package. The damage could have already been done by the time the Master sired her.
Good points, all. Forgot about Angel's photographic memory.

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