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April 05 2006

She hates to always bring up Buffy, but...

Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy mentions our favorite slayer and her first undead love in a section on how to do couples right. Willow and Tara also get a quick shout out. Potential West Wing or other non-verse spoilers for those not up to date on the shows in question.

Then again, I wish more shows would learn from the series that managed to achieve the impossible and make coupledom work on the small screen. Buffy and Angel, for instance -- and I hate to always bring Buffy into this, but it's true -- managed to be even hotter once they got together. (Ditto for Willow and Tara.)

The best thing about Buffy and Angel is that they know their love is limited, and not only because he's a vampire. Remember, once she gives him happiness, usually sex, he goes all evil again. Despite this, they showed the bliss of forbidden love that's really deserved love. I guess with The West Wing's pairing of Donna and Josh, they did take too long to get around to it. But that's based on the idea, or cliche, that once a couple gets together, trying to maintain their relation is considered boring and a ratings killer. This probably comes from the soap opera, when after one couple are "together at last", steps are being made to break them up.
Buffy and Angel worked as a couple because there was still a lot of tension, especially post season 2.
People still think Angel's perfect moment of happiness was sex? And that every time he and Buffy would have sex they'd be perfectly happy?

Also - I disagree about the Josh & Donna thing. They weren't central to the series - certainly as sexual tension they weren't. (Unlike Buffy/Angel or, say, Ross/Rachel on "Friends".) The West Wing was a workplace drama and found it completely believable they would have waited that long... or, indeed, that Josh was that dense.

Buffy/Angel did work well both together and apart and together and apart... and eventually together (somewhere, in my dreams).
People still think Angel's perfect moment of happiness was sex?

That is still my interpretation of Angel's curse and how it relates to the Buffy/Angel relationship. This viewpoint is backed up by dozens of episodes that explicitly state that this is the case.
In particular, Buffy+Angel seemed to interpret it as sex, the various times they had to stop themselves.
But surely not _just_ sex ? He has to achieve 'true happiness' or 'perfect bliss' so I don't think a simple orgasm is what the gypsies had in mind (apart from anything else it raises the question of whether vampires have wet dreams because talk about an unfair way to lose your soul ;).

Not to mention that Angel has sex (without the _love_ and sense of connectedness he shares with Buffy) with Darla and doesn't lose his soul.
In terms of Buffy/Angel it was sex, with the orgasming and how much they loved each other etc. Though it's not as if any sex will set Angel off, as i think Awakening, Reprise (and a couple other AtS eps) have shown that Angel can have sex with non-Buffy people and still be Angel.

Regarding this article, i hate how so many shows go downhill once 2 people get together after so much tension and whatnot. I don't think it's the sexual tension that makes something good to watch, but good writing/acting/etc. A show can successfully move from sexual tension to coupleyness as long as they handle it well. I don't think the Monica/Chandler relationship is the best example, as there was no sexual tension between them and then they got together. They sexed and then there was the whole secret relationship thing, but they did manage to get married and be happy. I just hate that as soon as people get together they breakup, as viewers can't seem to tolerate some happiness.
Really, folks, which is more unusual--an orgasm, or a vampire to be truly loved and accepted by someone who knows what he is?
It's not the Angel and Buffy boinked, it's that she gave him herself; not just her virginity, but her heart.

So yes, ringworm and jam2, that's how it's interpreted. BUT, if you look all the way forward to Angel's vision of losing his soul in AtS4, his imaginary tryst with Cordelia also includes her accepting him, even though she alleges that as a higher being, she's seen everything Angelus did, but can love Angel anyways.

Not everything Joss' characters believe is true, even if there's never an explicit refutation of the idea that sex==soulless.

Of course, I may have crossed the geeky line where I'm now interpreting things into the Buffyverse that Joss and co. never intended to put in. But if so, I'm in grand company.
Honestly, for me, Whedon & Company did all of the major relationships right. I never had letdown (for any of the three 'verses) with any of the pairings--unlike, say, Maddie and David on "Moonlighting" and various and other sundry "will it suck when they get *together*" situations throughout the years.

Whedon & Co. *get* relationships--on all levels--which is one of the main themes of all three of his shows.

And, now I'm babbling. As for the sex bit? Eh, if it were just sex Angel's soul wouldn't have been lost. I agree that both Buffy and Cordy gave him happiness that just happened to also work in the bedroom. Ahem.
Yes, not *just* sex...otherwise how to explain Nina...or the chippies (thank you, Cordy) who removed the anti-demon violence spell from Caritas?

And, when they had to remove his spell in Season 4, it's not just sex with Cordy...there's LOTS of stuff other than that that had to happen--rapprochment with Connor, and with Wes, with the whole gang, every last manjack of them a champion (Angel's virtue and humility shining through)...and he kills the bad guy (with the help of his loving son), saves the world, restores light and hope for everyone, and then and only then can making love with Cordy bring the perfect happiness required to have him lose his soul. As I say, lots of non-Cordy prep required for this to work.

But with Buffy, because of the (as some have said) Wagnerian nature of their love, one moment (well, maybe a few) of sexual ecstasy did the trick, as it were.

I've seen that whole segment from Awakening described as "Angel's wet dream", and such it was, the only way the mystic guy could produce a reasonable enough facsimile of the perfect happiness that was capable of removing the soul.

Meaning, to me, at least, that the Buffy/Angel connection is stronger than anything else could have ever possibly been for either of them. Well, Angel, at least, and I think Buffy, too.
What made the relationship so amazing, for me, was the passion. The fire, and the love. Not to mention how well Sarah and David portrayed each character, and how well they worked together. Something all other relationships lacked, imo.

but yeah sex isn't what set off the curse. True happiness was, like jclemens stated, "It's not the Angel and Buffy boinked, it's that she gave him herself; not just her virginity, but her heart." If having sex were all that caused Angel's loss of soul, then he would have lost his soul everytime he had sex. Which wasn't true. I think actually "getting there" or climaxing provide immense amounts of pleasure, but he had to be perfectly happy, and with Buffy he was. With Darla he was so upset with everything that was going on in his "life" he didn't reach true happiness. And as for Nina, he wasn't in love with her and thus not perfectly happy with the boinkage. Wow do I feel creepy :p.
Don't worry, the creepy feeling fades, we have a topical ointment for it.
People still think Angel's perfect moment of happiness was sex?


Or drugs i.e. the Angel episode 'Eternity'.
Sex and drugs and...well, I don't think Barry Manilow qualifies as rock 'n' roll, eh, Simon?

Jeez, now I'm getting the clammy creepiness...Barry Manilow evoking perfect happiness in anybody is scarier than anything Joss could dream up!
Is there an ointment for Barry Manilow ? Someone played Copacabana at the fourth year disco and i've had this strange rash ever since...
There certainly should be an ointment for Barry Manilow :)
I think there was also an element of Angel forgetting who he was - Giles said it nicely in third season, something along the lines of "Remember what happened last time you got complacent about your fate?" I maintain that Angel could have had sex again with Buffy with no danger, because the threat of losing his soul would always have been this little fear in the back of his mind ruining his chance for perfect happiness.
Yeah, I'd pretty much say that, when you go wrong that bad, you dont do that thing again. Last time Buffy and Angel had sex, he went soul-less. They could argue the logistics of the curse and TRY again if they really wanted to risk it, but I'm pretty sure no one would forgive them for it.
I always thought that B and A would be pretty safe if they did it again. They had the knowledge of what could happen, so wouldn't that cancel out the 'perfect bliss' moment if that was in the back of Angel's mind? I doubt he could achieve "perfect" happiness if that niggling thought was there.

Don't blame them for not wanting to risk it, though. :D
Very interesting analysis, Willowy. That really makes sense, that "perfect" bliss isn't a possibility. Just so long as it isn't such a huge buzzkill that it kills wanting to, er, get busy in the first place. ;-)
Yeah, I always thought that too, Willowy. Their first time together was unblemished and "pure" -- they had some issues, of course, but pre-Angelus B/A was almost all sugar. Post-Angelus, their relationship had a bittersweet feeling to it, of something hard-won and a little bit cracked. It was no longer all sweetness and light. So when Angel decides to leave her in "The Prom", I always gave him marks for doing not just b/c of the chastity edict, but b/c he wanted her to have someone she could walk in the sunshine with, and all that implies. It was a selfless act, and well, I was happy for Angel. It broke Buffy's heart, but even she knew he was right.
Donna and Josh are getting together now cuz the series is winding down and they're trying to tie up loose ends. It's like with X-Files. Chris Carter let them almost kiss in the movie, which to me was the death knell of the series. When the writers were forced to put Mulder & Scully on the backburner, they let them get together so they could do that live happily ever after crap. The series had long stopped being what it once was anyway so it didn't really matter. In season two, Buffy and Angel became Angelus and Slayer and that worked for season two. By the end of season seven it wasn't possible for them to get together because Buffy wasn't cookie dough and Angel wasn't.. well...

"If nothing we do matters, then the only thing that matters is what we do." That's a powerful statement. Think about it. I'm sure a much more learned man than me could give correlations to that phrase and philosophies and theologies delight. Buddhism. Judaism. Nietsche. Descartes. The list may be endless. For Angel, it was a cop out. He was long dead, and he just had too many souls inside him to have the decency to lie down and let the rest of reality go on without him.

I don't think Angel ever loved himself. I don't think he ever really existed anymore to himself. I mean he was real to his friends. Certaintly anyone who Angelus had killed. However, that night when Darla turned Liam into Angelus, he died to himself. How can any woman love a guy who isn't even there to himself.

Cookie dough? That was just Buffy's version of the Let's Just Be Friends speech. Every girl has one. The truth was she'd seen the light. She needed someone who was her equal. Angel, Spike, Xander, Riley, none of them were her equal. She shacked up with The Immortal, who was a real cookie. What's entertaining on television isn't a relationship that's healthy and enriching. All you see on television are dysfunctional relationships, because a relationship on TV without conflict would be a relationship on TV without ratings.
Just a little nitpick here, when Angel lost his soul in the illusion/dreamstate about making love to Cordy, he had his eyes closed and it was Buffy's name he uttered just before it happened. I always felt that he may have been with Cordy in the illusion but it was still Buffy he was thinking about at that pure moment - again.
ZachsMind, I couldn't disagree more.

It's easier to writer unresolved sexual tension. It's easier to keep characters apart. But a functioning relationship can work on television - it's just no as often the focus of a series.

The "cookie dough" speech is nothing like a "let's just be friends" speech at all. What she says is clearly about not wanting to be with Angel because she's not ready to be with anyone right then. In fact she infers that she and Angel could work together, but not at that moment. Not when she has more baking to do.

One reason I dislike the Immortal story is because it has very little to do with Buffy and everything to do with Spike and Angel. There's no way that episode is meant to imply The Immortal is the one she wants to settle down with for the rest of her life. It's quite possible he was just another shag - we all have our needs :-)

Josh & Donna are getting together because it's the end of The West Wing but also because it's the most appropriate time for the characters to be together. And also because it's never been central to the series' that we cheer for Josh/Donna. It's a loose thread that's being nicely wrapped up, but to have them together before then wouldn't have worked for the series itself.
Judging from the responses on that page, I must be the only one in the world who still like Gilmore Girls.
I'm with you Keith G. I took Cookie Dough to mean she wasn't ready yet as opposed to just wanting to be friends. The way she and Angel separated the night...didn't sound like "just friends" was what she was thinking.

As far as The Immortal goes: I'd like to see the first page of the new Buffy comic be full-sized. And I'd like to see Buffy cutting his head off.
I agree with ZachsMind that Angel never really loved himself, let's face it as a human he was a screw up, as a vampire he was a monster, as a vampire with a soul he spends his time regretting the other two phases of his life. Being in love with Buffy (or anyone for that matter) fulfills a normal life experience Angel never got to experience. How can a woman really love him when he isn't really "there" to himself? I guess because she loves him she makes him more "there"...now I'm confused, but people change all the time for relationships, they improve themselves, some inprovements last others don't and the person returns to their old ways.

I never got the feeling that the coookie dough speech was just a "let's be friends" speech - it seemed to hold more promise than that.
I took the cookie dough speech as a way to hammer home that unless things changed for the slayer and the slayer line, the mission coming first would forever keep the slayer a 'girl', unable to really feel the full depth of love. In the commentary Joss talked about getting Buffy from Angel to Spike without making her look like Slutty from Slutdonia. There was a bridge we were supposed to be crossing with the character. From the past to the future.(We may ship, but Joss uses ships as ways to get characters to change and grow) It's in Spike's arms that she figures out her plan.(Which happens to be the future of the line)
The cookie dough speech is not in dramatic terms the climax, the important moment that the story's resolution flows from. It might have been if Joss chose to have Buffy go off to fight and die as still the lonely Slayer. But he didn't, Buffy's story was one of transformation. When Spike brings down the Hellmouth, she gets to go out into the light and live there. TGIQ, was simply showing that both Angel and Spike were 'cookie dough' too. They had to face their issues and grow up too. Which is what we see happen. IMO, I don't see the Buffy who balked at 'ends justifies the means, at any cost', finding the Angel from season 5, anyone that she had anything in common with.
Then again, I wish more shows would learn from the series that managed to achieve the impossible and make coupledom work on the small screen. Buffy and Angel, for instance -- and I hate to always bring Buffy into this, but it's true -- managed to be even hotter once they got together.


Okay, Buffy and Angel have sex, he turns evil, starts killing people like crazy, threatens her family and friends, tries repeatedly to kill her, kills the woman Buffy's father figure loves, tortures Buffy's father figure for hours, tries to destroy the world and has to be killed by Buffy minutes after coming back to his self so that Buffy has to kill the Angel she loves rather than the one she hates, and this is Matheson's idea of a series that makes coupledom work? I'd hate to see her definition of a bad relationship.

Firefly Flanatic
when Angel lost his soul in the illusion/dreamstate about making love to Cordy, he had his eyes closed and it was Buffy's name he uttered just before it happened. I always felt that he may have been with Cordy in the illusion but it was still Buffy he was thinking about at that pure moment - again.


Firefly Flanatic the first time I saw that episode I interpreted it the same way. The second time I thought it was a tad more ambiguous - it looked like he was calling Buffy's name at the moment he lost his soul again, and it wasn't so much that he was fantasizing about Buffy while having an imaginary tryst with Cordelia, as he was reliving the first soul-losing. Since I'm a Bangel shipper I prefer to the first interpretation, but I do think there's room for the second.

While we're looking at times Angel had sex without losing his soul, let's not forget my favorite, with Eve during the Wolfram & Hart Halloween party. I thought the "Eve you stay here and have more sex" line was hysterical.

As for the famous "cookie dough" speech I continue to be bothered by the complete absence of reference in that exchange as to why Buffy and Angel broke up the first time (re: my first paragraph). I'm willing to accept that there are all kinds of reasons why they could be together without the soul clause kicking in, such as Willow tweaking the spell the second time through (we know she's a damn powerful witch, so she could be up to it but if so she forgot to mention it to Angel since he still has that whole awkward talk with Wesley about Nina the following year), but for Buffy and Angel to talk about having a future together, and for Angel to get pissy about having to wait for her to finish baking, as he does in AtS 5, without ever showing the slightest concern or allusion to that big vampiric elephant in the room is to me a violation of the whole first 3 Buffy seasons. It's the thing Joss promised he wouldn't do - it's Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower alive. Curse, was there a curse? I don't see a curse, do you see a curse? Must have been a bad dream.
The "cookie dough" speech is nothing like a "let's just be friends" speech at all. What she says is clearly about not wanting to be with Angel because she's not ready to be with anyone right then.


Believe me. I've heard my share of LJBFs. The cookie dough speech is a LJBF. "It's not you, it's me. I'm not ready." Bleargh.

I never got the feeling that the coookie dough speech was just a "let's be friends" speech - it seemed to hold more promise than that.


That's what LJBFs are supposed to do. A well done LJBF is sleight of hand. It's one last magic trick before she goes. It's the girl conveying goodbye while offering the boy an illusion of promise.

Buffy's NEVER going back to Angel, nor should she. They were terrible for each other. I wish her well with that Immortal guy, or someone else, anyone else.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2006-04-06 17:06 ]
ramses 2, using a 'ship to cross a bridge ? Don't think i've seen it done quite like that before ;).

Actually, I don't think Buffy balked, I think she was balked (if that's not a phrase it is now ;) by the others and right up until the intervention in 'Empty Places' (and possibly afterwards) she would have understood Angel's moral pragmatism in S5 completely (even though the BtVS ethos was much more about principles and ideals than Ats - as befits a show about growing up as opposed to one about being a grown up already). This was a different Buffy from the noble sacrificer of 'The Gift'. This Buffy was willing to let friends, even her sister, die if the mission required it and so though she probably wouldn't have agreed with Angel's plan (I think she'd have thought it was a bit 'guy-ish' with its glorious last stand against insurmountable odds - very light brigade i'm sure ;), she would certainly have understood it, maybe even admired it.

Note that i'm not sure about it myself. I get the means/ends choice he made, i'm just not sure how heroic that makes him. Means/ends is about compromise and accepting and working with the world as it is now (i.e. what any functioning adult has to do to get by). Heroes, to me, aren't meant to do that, they're meant to change things for the better without compromising themselves.

barboo, was thinking along similar lines myself. As soon as they get together their world turns to about a hundred different kinds of shit really quickly. After Angel comes back they're never really properly together, it's more of the tension schtick. As you say, if that's a relationship that works I can only assume the article's author has had some absolute bunny-boiling hum-dingers ;).

I also (with Keith G) see the cookie dough as being simply that she didn't feel ready to enter into an ongoing adult relationship (The Immortal was so just a warm body at the right time). You can't freely offer yourself to someone if you don't know what you're giving them. Better to wait until you're 'baked' first and I think it held the promise that when she is, if Angel's the one she chooses, maybe they could hook up again.

I reckon if was just a 'let's be friends' speech, she'd just give it to him straight (it's not like she doesn't have every reason not to go out with him). She'd feel she owes him that much. Besides, what's he gonna do, brood more ?
Don't have much to add just now, but loving reading the back and forth :) Using a ship to cross a bridge, indeed :D
"Believe me. I've heard my share of LJBFs. The cookie dough speech is a LJBF. "It's not you, it's me. I'm not ready." Bleargh.

That's what LJBFs are supposed to do. A well done LJBF is sleight of hand. It's one last magic trick before she goes. It's the girl conveying goodbye while offering the boy an illusion of promise.

Buffy's NEVER going back to Angel, nor should she. They were terrible for each other. I wish her well with that Immortal guy, or someone else, anyone else.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2006-04-06 17:06 ]
ZachsMind | April 06, 16:48 CET"


Ah yes, the "women never say what they actually mean but I know what lies they are really telling" view. Actually some women actually mean what they say when they say it. In the cookie dough speech, Buffy is revealing something to Angel she has come to understand about herself (and it was a long time coming, in my opinion.) Sometimes it is not all about the guy and the guy should actually listen and take her at her word. I rather appreciated that that was what Angel seemed to do.

I once pointed out to my brother and one of our friends how insulting it was that men were so often distainful of the idea of being friends with a woman. "If sex isn't in the equation what good are women anyway?" could be seen as the underlying attitude. The friend insisted that it was distain for the LJBF speech that I was hearing. He asserted that I was the only women he had met who actually did want to be friends and was not using it to say, goodbye. Between the two views, it all makes a pretty picture of some women actually wanting to be friends while others don't and men either automatically not believing the ones that do or not caring because sex isn't in the offing. And we wonder why it is so hard for men and women to communicate...

As far as Angel and the curse, I thought they made it very clear both that it was not sex itself that did it, (What about the one where he was given a happy pill -- lame as I thought that idea was?) and that people have a tendency to simplify explanations of complicated matters to such a huge degree that it stops having any relation to the actual explanation.

Lastly I'm surprised that the author chose B/A as an example of a couple that was hotter after they "got together." They were constantly being pulled apart. They were only really "together" the night Angel lost his soul. The rest of the time they were trying to keep their hands off each other.
Saje, I just can't believe that Buffy at any point would have accepted killing Drogyn. She might have appeared ready to sacrifice everything for mission in season 7, but I think we were handed this heavyhandedly because we needed to see that the Slayer and all the ways that defined 'good' slayer needed changing. The council, the training, even the origins were tainted. All of it kept the Slayer from utilizing her greatest strength. By the end of Chosen, Buffy's instincts....those very instincts that we, Giles and the scoobies we're afraid were wrong, turned out to be what saved the line. Love, Give, forgive. The end of BTVS has Buffy back solidly as hero and champion. The spell changes the line completely, the strength is shared and since the mission doesn't have to come first the Slayer can realize love fully.(And that's why we have the enflamed hands and ILY...the slayer is whole and balanced)

ATS ended quite differently. In my opinion, the bed scene with Nina wasn't about 'romance', be it Angel remembering Buffy or moving on with Nina, it was about Angel realizing that he had to take off the champion mask in order for him to move forward and do what he felt he had to do. Angel acted heroically, but he wasn't a champion any longer. When he stood in the alley, fighting the dragon, he had entered a new phase for himself. IMO, Angel's curse and Buffy had become a self imposed punishment, a way to keep himself from getting on with his 'life'. Buffy had stopped being the best thing for him, the thing that had turned him around and had become the almost iconic symbol of how removed he actually was from his humanity. Think about it, Curse, Champion, Love that Cannot Be, all of it kept him from just finding out who Angel was. When he tells Nina he's no champion, it's painful, but it's like ripping off a band-aide to let air help in the healing. From then on, we get Angel moving forward to break out of the game the Powers and Partners had trapped him in. But, I'm not sure that we were supposed to feel comfortable with Angel at the end of ATS. And I'm not sure we were supposed to feel that Buffy would have basked watching him.
Ramses 2, I think she might but possibly for selfish reasons. If Angel hadn't killed Drogyn when he was faced with the choice then he would almost certainly have been killed straight away and I don't think Buffy would've liked that. She may have allowed that the pragmatic course was to kill a man who was already as good as dead in order to save Angel's life (and allow him to go on and make a significant dent in the Senior Partner's plans).

However, I think she would've been pretty angry about the train of events he set in motion that lead to Drogyn's death in the first place as he was playing with an innocent life (no matter how well he thought Drogyn could look after himself).

For myself, I think that the more purely heroic option would've been to fight (and probably die) in order to try to save Drogyn. Sure, it wouldn't have accomplished as much as the choice he made (no destruction of the Black Thorn), certainly wouldn't have the same cachet attached (dying alone in a dungeon as opposed to the previously mentioned glorious last stand) and it would have denied us the excellent Not Fade Away but it wouldn't have compromised Angel as a hero.

Of course, the way it ended was dark and ambiguous and quite adult and, therefore, about the best ending AtS could ask for so I also appreciate it for what it was (and in a way, compromising but holding on to enough of yourself to not lose sight of the mission is also heroic and much more difficult). I think Joss was basically saying that a) the fight is what matters, not the reward and b) uncompromising ideals are for kids, in the adult world none of us makes it out without getting a little dirty in the process.

(I agree though that 'General Buffy' of Season 7 was portrayed as the wrong way to deal with power and it's only at the end of 'Empty Places' that we see the true, heroic Buffy again - and she gets the suitably heroic Chosen theme back at about the same time. Also agree about the Nina scene, that was about Angel not kidding himself any longer about who he was and especially where he might be heading - the whole Shanshu 'becoming a real boy' thing for example)
Thank you, newcj, well said. The idea that the "cookie dough" speech is a lie that Buffy has concocted is antithetical to one of the main themes of the series and the finale - the maturation of girl to womanhood. As this thread attests to, so many TV series are about on again, off again relationships. The unresolved sexual tension is so much a part of some series' backbone, that it makes me admire Whedon and "Buffy" even more for challenging this dynamic.

The series is not about Buffy figuring out which guy is the one she wants to spend the rest of her life with. She's 21 years old in Chosen (22?) and the fact she's matured enough to figure out she's not ready to settle down for the rest of her life is admirable - and realistic. The cookie-dough analogy is the perfect antidote to the Angel or Spike question - the answer right now is neither.

I spent much of the series (both series) being a Buffy/Angel shipper - which is why "The Girl In Question" irks me so much. But, honestly, that episode isn't about Buffy at all. "Chosen" is, though, and it doesn't betray the character or the thematic strength of the series by making her disingenuous - it gives her a strong reason to chose being single over some assumption that she needs to settle down or make a choice. The cookie-dough analogy is one of the great scenes of the entire seven-year run.

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