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October 05 2010

(SPOILER) Georges Jeanty Slayalive Q/A for Buffy #36. Lots of info.

Ok, those who dislike Angel for what he did as Twilight will hate him, but what about those who hoped he will be back?
Great, great interview with Georges as usual. This is gearing up to be one heck of a season finale. I can not wait to see how this all plays out.

Not hating Angel AT ALL. Having him in the full time story again has been amazing. Angel always brings a lot of emotion to the table, not only for Buffy but for the fans as well. I am very very interested to see what he is going to have to do and to whom. Poor Angel.
Cool, i hope Angel suffers a lot.
I hope that the people who have written Angel off and are outright hating on a character whose entire philosophy in life is that no one is beyond redemption are aware of the irony.
Matt, some of the viewers/readers who've written Angel off might not care for Angel's philosopy (can't always buy into it myself in some cases, to be honest--it's not a black and white issue at all, IMO, buying into the everyone-can-be-redeemed/can-seek-redemption mantra, especially since the whole concept of redemption is so subjective and immaterial to begin with). So there's no irony for those folks. For some, he went too far and there's no coming back. It's either go-away-Angel, kill-time-for-Angel, or Joss-please-retcon-this/Allie-please-edit-the-heck-out-of-this-for-the-trades for many, I'd wager (or ambivalence).

Audience members with this mindset need not have even agreed with Angel (or any fictional characters' mission statement) to have enjoyed all five seasons of his TV series.

Haven't written him off, I'm pretty sure we still don't have the full picture. More interested in how IDW's run with the character will conclude, if it'll feel like a natural fit and lead-in to Buffy Season 8, and if there's not time in the remaining few issues to tackle Angel, how Season 9 will handle all this (but if an answer really needs to be forthcoming in the remainder of Season 8, because I can't keep saying "we don't have the full story/explanation yet" throughout Season 9).
"I'm not saying you need to fill in the blanks, but telling all that back story would have made it a hell of a lot longer to get to the current story."

That pretty much confirms a lot of peoples suspicions on things. I read that as a back door way of saying that, yeah, not a whole lot of it will ever make much sense.

I mean It's not like they banged this out in 6 issues, is it. They had bags of time to get this planned out properly.
Kris - certainly not saying that people have to agree with Angel, I just think it's funny that a character who is synonymous with redemption in the Whedonverse has led to so much polarization.

I'm in the same boat as you in that I feel the story's not over yet so we can't really judge without knowing all the details. We've only just got past the cold open of the episode, so to speak. You're right in that we've only got four issues left to clear the story up though... I'm not going to be impressed if we're told to wait for an "Angel: Road to Twilight" miniseries in late 2011 or something. Especially since I doubt we'll be seeing the Big T in IDW.
Jeanty's repeated emphasis on all the horrible things that are going to happen to Angel makes me think that his misery is a central plot point. But all I can think in that case is...hasn't the character been through enough?
I think in Season 8 Buffy is still dealing with the ramifications of Season 7. If she blames herself for anything it's empowering all these potentials, which also plays out in the end of Season 8.

Retcon time?

Plus, I love Jeanty and his classy answers to some poor quality questions.
And does it matter, since we already know he will have his own comic next season? Whoever is going to die, it is not Angel.
"He has his own comic" is the same reason most people thought Angel couldn't be Twilight, too =p
Angel didn't quite believe in redemption for all, though, did he? I'd say ask Lindsey about that, but Lindsey is kind of dead. And I think it's this sort of thing that leads to a lot of hard hearts about Angel. He's got a lot of fans who just don't see how dark the guy can be, or who will come in and try to morally justify the very dark things he does. It's wonderful to believe that Faith can come back from murder. It would have been horrible if the text (or fans) tried to pretend that she committed murder for good or at least understandable reasons and therefore had nothing to come back from. Until Angel is seen as having something to come back from, it's hard to be enthusiastic about his 'redemption'.

Interesting interview. I'm going to guess that Angel goes in for saving the world, possibly by doubling down on the Twilight deal: destroy this one and replace it with something else. He thus actually does fulfill the Shanshu prophecy. I think that's how it always was going to go with Angel. He decides he knows how to save things, but he's wrong and the result is catastrophic for everyone else.

Jeanty sure comes across as an affable fellow, doesn't he? I agree that he handled some of those questions with remarkable charity.
Maggie's mention of Angel's execution of Lindsey made me realize, with a start:

In "Reunion," Angel, at a low point, locks a dozen or so Wolfram & Hart lawyers in a room to be killed by Darla and Drusilla.

Two make it out alive: Lindsey and Lilah.

Jasmine, the creature who is going to be birthed as an indirect result of Angel & Darla's coupling, kills Lilah.

In "Not Fade Away," with only one left, Angel finishes the job.
Fang Gang v's WR&H...too bad Angel can't wipe them all out.

Yes, Goingtowork...Angel HAS suffered enough and then some but then so has Buffy. You could wonder if she isn't also cursed.
Maggie, you surely can't be unclear on what makes Angel *seek* redemption - his crushing, broodypants guilt over all the awful things Angelus did. But to say that Angel believes in redemption as a teleological end seriously misses the point.

The central message of the Season 2 arc is that redemption isn't accomplished by balancing a cosmic sheet. In fact, looking for redemption as something to attain isn't the point at all. Instead, what matters is what we do from now forward, and how our actions affect the people will continue to live in the world. This, coupled with the growing realization among the show's characters that it makes zero sense to blame Angel for Angelus' actions, leads to a paradigm shift in the way the characters think about morality, something like a shift from medieval ideas about honor and the importance of symbolic acts to modern conceptions of ethics centered on outcomes and the people affected. Thus, Lindsay is executed not because he's somehow beyond saving because he's crossed some arbitrary red line of Bad Acts, but because time and time again he's proven that he isn't committed to changing his ways. He'll do good when it suits him, but ever since Holland Manners promoted him after the incident with the blind woman Lindsay has been either evil or wholly egocentric. Either way, he's going to harm innocent people, and had to be stopped.

Thus, when a lot of Angel fans are enthusiastic about the character's "redemption" in S8, they're not thinking in the "make up for bad things" type sense. They're thinking that they want Angel taken out of the bizarre, OOC behavior that we've been saying, and returned to the flawed, but ultimately quite heroic, character that developed on Buffy and blossomed on Angel. It's not about him needing to be the guy that saves the world to make up for being Bad Evil Twilight, but rather to explain actions that make very little sense given the rest of his history, and then return him to the person he used to be.
I was responding to someone who posited that Angel is all about the redemption and chiding fans for not granting him room for the same. My reply is that Angel foreclosed the possibility of redemption for Lindsey, and is therefore not all about leaving room for others to find redemption.

I think arguing that the point of season 2 is that we should all be consequentialists is a radical misreading of the text. (Consequentialism = focus on outcomes). If what we do doesn't matter (i.e. if we can't control the outcomes), then all that matters is what we do (i.e. behaving honorably). That's how I understood Angel's epiphany. You've drawn the exact opposite conclusion.

But maybe you're right because Angel is a flat out consequentialist by season 5. He's completely forgotten what he learned in season 2. Where conversation between us must breakdown, though, is that you are a full-on consequentialist, arguing that it's *good* that Lindsey was executed -- and I find that to be flat morally repugnant. I don't mean to be rude. But I really don't want to live in a world where it's good to preemptively shoot people on the grounds of what they might do down the road. It's hard to put in words how catastrophic I think it would be if society at large adopted your moral code. It's not worth sacrificing every moral principle (thou shalt not kill) on the altar of trying to make the world perfect. You end up with a world not worth living in.

I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph. There are some fans who think what Angel's been up to in season 8 is just ducky. I find that bizarre. But then you seem to be saying that he's off and you want him returned to what he was. If by that you mean that the real Angel wouldn't be doing these things, then I'd like to see him get redeemed, too. What I don't want is for him to be validated for his actions in season 8 pretty much the way you want to validate his crime of executing Lindsey.

ETA: Also for what it's worth, I reject the Angel/Angelus distinction. Angel seeks redemption because *he* was a huge mass murderer. I esteem him most highly when he acknowledges that Angelus is him, and less highly when he tries to pretend Angelus is not him.

[ edited by Maggie on 2010-10-05 15:51 ]
I want to add that there's another dark aspect to Angel's ordering Lindsey's execution. Angel had Lindsey chained up and could have said, "Look, Lindsey, I'm going to keep you locked up because I don't trust you." He could even have said, "Listen Lindsey, I'm going to kill you as part of my scorch the Earth, take down W&H policy." I don't mean I'd agree with the second (the first seems reasonable). But what Angel did was explicitly make a deal with Lindsey to work together, with the mutual understanding that they might fight after the big battle. He went back on that deal. It's not just that he killed Lindsey. He used him, for his fighting skills, by lying to him and manipulating him.
"It would have been horrible if the text (or fans) tried to pretend that she committed murder for good or at least understandable reasons and therefore had nothing to come back from."

Heck with Faith. What about Willow? Faith has been redeemed, but has Willow, really? Is the slate wiped clean for what she did?
I think there's a mistaken bit in your second paragraph in that you're confusing first order, or normative, ethical principles (the consequentialism versus alternatives debate) with the metaethical, or status of ethics, questions. The famous "if nothing we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do" line has no bearing on the first sort of question. In that respect, my use of the word "outcomes" was mistaken, as you're correct to suggest that the word is usually associated with consequentialist theorizing. The contrast I was going for between medieval and modern ethics is that the latter is concerned with bizarre and arbitrary theological beliefs and codes of honor, while the latter is concerned with orienting ethics around human beings. The good, for modern ethics, isn't determined by whether it's the behavior that God would reward us for. Rather, the good is determined by reference to different standards of what's good for people, which is what I meant by outcomes in my last paragraph.

This interpretation seems quite clearly, at least to me, most faithful with the contrast between Angel's old view (what matters is a "big win") and his new view (what matters is what we do for others). Angel is saying here that the *reason* we have to be ethical is that we care for others, not because the PTB (a clear stand-in for God) will reward us. Note that this says nothing about what the content of doing good is.

I don't think your interpretation - that Angel *was* a consequentialist and the revelation is about his shift to another first-order view - is plausible for a host of reasons. I'll settle, due to time constraints, for just saying one: consequentialism is famously not a doctrine about getting to one perfect ending. Rather, it's about what the best possible choice in any given circumstance is given the available alternatives. No consequentialist has ever said "there's a big win," nor is that concept anywhere in consequentialist theorizing. Just no parallel here for a host of reasons.

As for your critique of consequentialism, I'm not sure this is the place to do this (mods, please help here). But briefly, there's quite a logical fallacy going on here, which is to say that because consequentialist reasoning suggests Angel did the right thing in Season 5, therefore consequentialism empowers EVERYONE in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE to make their own judgment about whether or not to execute people they think are dangerous. Consequentialists tend to actually, if you read the literature, be big fans of people obeying the law, as a breakdown in the legal structure that caused people to kill each other all the time is bad from a consequentialist standpoint. Thus, consequentialism tells people (except in really exceptional circumstances) that they ought to let the law do its job - for precisely the reasons you identify. Further, would you really want to live in a world where we *didn't* ever kill people for what they were going to do? Say, killing Nazi soldiers in battle to prevent them from conquering Europe? Shooting terrorists before they detonate suicide vests? Would you really go whole-hog and say that the only response to evil is to let it happen? If not, then surely there's a bit of the Lindsay-killer in you too.

I don't get the resistance between separating Angel and Angelus. The textual evidence again strikes me as overwhelming - not only do numerous characters refer to them as entirely different entities, but we see that a spell - not just a personality shift, but an actual supernatural act - is required to change one into the other. As if that weren't enough, they are depicted as literally fighting each other for control over the same body in S4. What else could be fighting but two different persons? If you say "two aspects of the same personality," then why is magic required to bring one out or take one away?

Finally, you're exactly right about what I meant in the last paragraph - apologies for the confusing language. I do think Angel has been acting totally OOC by doing some of the things he's done (and dressing the way he has, and talking the way he has, and...). I want them to explain why, and to fix it. Now that you mention it, I have said in another post that one way to do that would be to say that Angel was right all along - in other words, that what he did as Twilight was the best of a series of bad alternatives. I still rather like that resolution, but the text is making it more and more implausible (and it doesn't solve the problem of why he talked like a Bond villain for most of the season). Instead, then, I'd prefer SOMETHING (like maybe a more clear explanation of how Twilight affects his and Buffy's mind) that would explain what's been up, and then an issue or two when Angel acts like Angel.

UPDATE:

@ William: I think this is part and parcel of Angel's generally consequentialist approach at this point. Use Lindsay to kill someone who needs killing, and then kill Lindsay himself before he can do any more damage. I don't think he really could have feasibly trapped Lindsay, as all of the fighters capable of taking him were elsewhere. Since Lorne was the only one available, the only options were kill Lindsay with a weapon like a gun that takes away his fighting advantage, or let him go. Letting him go means he'll almost certainly try to kill Angel again, and likely harm someone else in the process. He had to die (which is not to say I'm happy about someone having to be killed, but sometimes the least bad option is the best one).

[ edited by goingtowork on 2010-10-05 16:44 ]
Angel's story in season 9 is probably the one I am most excited about. Haven't felt that way about the character for a long time.

Completely agree that Angel/Angelus are the same person. And that's what makes him the brilliant, epic character that he is. Angel is evil, but he is also a champion. He knows what he is and continues to strive for goodness. He is an unrelenting fighter. Not just against the demons and W&H's of the world, but also the darkness he sees within himself. The concept of having a "soul" and whether or not that pardons ones actions is completely bogus in the Buffyverse.

"It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy, it's the man."
I just have never gotten why he was so different with and without the soul. Spike was never that different when he got his.
William wasn't evil. He was a tortured poet. He didn't have that evilness "in" him like Liam did. That's the difference I believe. If we had seen more of Liam's past (instead of Angelus), I think we would have seen the duality of his persona, the potential for both good and cruelty in the boy.
GilesQueen - yeah, I was always a little confused by that too.

As far as the Angel/Angelus thing, I took a completely different take on it after watching Dexter. Dexter talks about his "dark passenger" in almost the same way as Angel refers to Angelus, except that, in most cases, Angel identifies himself as the monster and his soul (possibly conscience?) as a separate entity, while Dexter talks about the dark passenger as though it is the separate entity that he has chosen to control.

I think that Angel has all the potential to be as evil as Angelus is, and Angelus is part of Angel all the time, but having his soul allows him to CHOOSE not to be evil - and the fact that he has this option is what makes him different from Angelus.
I find myself baffled by fans pov that Angel and Angelus are the same person as I never saw the story unfold that way. Heck, nobody thinks they are the same person in the story...

In season 2, a demon jumps from Jenny into Angel and Angelus rips him to shreds, inside of Angel. There are many instances of the story showing us they aren't the same. This aspect of Angel's character is something that I find fascinating about him as he is so very unique as a vampire. Some people think the curse is silly but I think it was brilliant. Angel, the cursed souled vampire.
Goingtowork: I wasn't really responding to you specifically, because I think we're operating in different moral frameworks. That said, I disagree with you on one major point. You compare killing Lindsey to killing Nazis bent on taking over Europe. But if a Nazi is a captured POW, then he shouldn't be killed because he is not a threat. That's roughly what Lindsey was as of "Power Play"; he was entirely in Angel's custody. To follow your analogy, then an Allied captain would go and tell a Nazi captain, "Look, we're going to ask you to help us kill some other Nazis, and I won't harm you while you're working for me; once it's entirely over you and I will settle into a new situation." In the same conversation, the Captain announces that he is the biggest mass murderer the Nazi soldier has ever met. Then right after the Nazi soldier has outlived his usefulness he goes back on the deal and has the man killed. The reason Lindsey was an active threat is because Angel took him out of custody in order to make him one. You can still argue that ultimately it's okay for Angel to do what he did because it leads to a desired outcome, but it's not at all the same as killing an enemy soldier. It's killing a sometime-enemy, current mercenary employee.
but even though Lindsey was in custody, I would argue that the text showed numerous times that he would eventually find a way out, and a way to fuck things up royally for Angel. I kind of think Angel (if he's acting completely in his own self interest/that of his loved ones) was going to have to execute Lindsay either way. Sure, it seems cowardly that he used him and then had someone else kill him, but Angel knew who he was facing and had to use whoever or whatever he could.

*edit: can believe i misspelled lindsey's name

[ edited by Cazador on 2010-10-06 04:26 ]
Going to Work: I'll leave the rest because it's all too complicated to sort here. We are talking at cross-purposes, and I still think you're basically misreading the text, just as you think I am. But I flat reject that it was morally OK for Angel to order Lindsey's execution. Full stop. Cold blooded murder is not OK, even if the guy is a jerk. You think it's fine, and I don't know how we can have a good conversation given that chasm. Though I am happy that we have a legal code that would slam Angel's a** in jail for murder one, rather than one that reflects your moral sensibilities.

Angel/Angelus distinction has been exhaustively argued. There are oceans of text you can't account for either, most notably Angel's reference to his past in the first person. His vampirism is a metaphor for alcoholism, and with the soul he's on the wagon and without the soul he's off the wagon. We're sort of different people when we have these competing desires. That's totally human. The problem with Angel's strategy of identifying with his better half is that he fails to take responsibility for his darker impulses, and that's why he never can master his darker impulses. Ergo, murders and mindwipes and so forth. That's why he's the vampire who could go either way. Anyway, that's my framework for handling the points you made. He's divided against himself, but it's still himself. The objection to clinging to the division is it means he never can overcome the division.
Cazador: Just curious, what are those times where the text showed that Lindsey would be able to escape from Angel's clutches?
I would *love* to dive into this discussion, but I think the thread is off-topic-ish by now. Darn it!

Again, glad I opted out a year or so ago.

*giggle-giggle* Georges used "seed" and "thrust" in the same sentence. *giggle-giggle*
WilliamTheB: You know what? You're right. I haven't watched Season 5 in a while, but now I remember when they took Lindsay out of the suburbahell demension, it definitely did not seem like he would escape.

I guess what I mean now is that, Angel made the decision to free him to use him, and Lindsay has proven himself as untrustworthy and with a big vengeance erection for the dark crusader that is Angel, so Angel had to protect his flank.... so to say? I've messed up my point enough I'm just trying to interject some logic.... me and my moral relativism don't really have a comment on the ethics of it all.
Well,now, here is the thing, for the consequentialism v. Kantianism argument. While most of us are generally consequentialist ("Should I watch TV tonight or should I do my homework- let me weight the outcomes and decide which course of action to take"), when we apply this to thorny questions of ethics, the main problem of consequentialism is that it is possible to argue both sides of an answer. Using a consequentialist argument, you could reasonably argue that Angel should have killed Lindsay- and offer reasons why- or you could reasonably argue he should not- and offer reasons why. But which set of reasons are primary? So I think you guys are arguing at loggerheads as a result. You can only resolve this by appeal to some other form of ethics underpinning, whether Kantianism or rights ethics or virtue ethics or casuistry or whatever. But on its face, there is no possible resolution using a purely consequentialist approach.
Very interesting discussion. And a lot of good points being made. If I wasn't busy doing my Herald thing, I'd be all up in this thread. As it is, though, I only have time at the moment to leave a comment in passing.

It's correctly spelled this way: Lindsey.

:)
As an antinomian, seeing Lindsey die didn't bother me, or Warren, or Rack :-).
Cazador: Ha, no prob. The plotting regarding Lindsey in season five is a mess anyway.

My take is more or less: either Lindsey is too dangerous to be released, OR he is safe enough to be used by Angel in the fight. I don't buy that he can somehow be both, and Angel can get away from it in the ethical right. That said, I understand why Angel did it. Or I think I do. Anyway, as Dana5140 said, we might not all come to an agreement on the subject, but it's nice for us all to state our positions clearly!
By choosing to killing Lindsey (or any other person/being, evil or otherwise) Angel becomes exactly what it is he is trying to defeat. It makes him no better than his enemies. That is the conundrum of Angel's character - that is what makes him interesting. That is why he will never be a 'straight-up' hero.
We actually saw this question raised politically, with that Christine O'Donnell lady- she was asked if she would have killed Hitler if she had the chance (Godwin's Law!), and she tried to offer a non-consequentialist answer, in her case religious based- she said God would provide her an answer but she would not kill Hitler. Truth is, I would have.

More realistically, I use this issue to ask my ethics students if they would publish research drawn from the concentration camp atrocities. Using a consequentialist argument, you can argue either side of that answer. Which one is right? Publish, or not publish? Kill Lindsey or not kill Lindsey?
...and like Ben/Glory in Buffy, Angel didn't kill Lindsey. Lorne killed Lindsey. (You can argue instrument vs. orders) I found it more fascinating that Lorne DID that. No question.

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