Angel: The Series

Season 1

I Will Remember You

Parting Gifts



I Will Remember You

The Metaphysics of "I Will Remember You"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 4 BtVS/season 3 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

Mohra Demons wear samurai-like battle dress and have a jewel embedded in their foreheads. They need vast quantities of salt for nutrition. According to the Book of Kelsor, their veins "run with the blood of eternity". Their blood makes them essentially immortal, because they can regenerate themselves if they are killed in conventional ways (e.g., getting stabbed). Mohra demons will continue to have this ability until they bring the apocalypse. The only thing that obliterates them once and for all is smashing the jewel.

Regenerating Angel: When Angel stabs the Mohra demon, its blood infects his hand. A bright glow travels up his body, transforming him from within. Essentially, the blood "burns out" the demon--irreversibly killing it--and regenerates Angel's living human physiology. There is no vampire, and no curse on his soul. Angel only becomes a vampire "again" when a temporal fold erases the day in which this event occurred, so that it essentially never happened. He remembers that 24 hours the way Anya remembers the bizarro-world--it is the memory of something that never happened. And, since the regeneration never happened, the curse was never reversed, and the happiness clause still holds. Side note: The Mohra demons were not completely defeated. Others still exist, with lots of that regenerating green blood in them.

Beseeching the Oracles: the Gateway for Lost Souls is the entrance way to "the netherworld of eternal watching", AKA the realm of The Oracles. While Angel and Doyle find it under the Post Office (in L.A., presumably), this is probably one of many Earthly portals to that realm. Earthly petitioners can approach the Oracles if their intentions are pure, and Doyle implies Angel has some further weight because he is a warrior, not "a lowly messenger" like Doyle.

Doyle places some ingredients in a crucible outside the gateway and says, "We beseech access to the knowing ones." Then he sets the contents on fire. This creates a passageway in the stone wall for Angel to step through.

Good and Evil in "I Will Remember You"

Mohra Demons are powerful assassins. Their purpose is to kill individual warriors on the side of Good (e.g., Angel and Buffy). They are dual examples of evil-as-corruption, because (1) they defend evil's ability to destroy, and (2) their ultimate goal is to bring about the "End of Days".

Angel's Calling: It is increasingly clear that when Angel was returned to Earth, it was an act of The Powers That Be (PTBs). The PTBs were not just giving him an opportunity to redeem himself. They want him to use his vampire powers to fight evil as a warrior of good. Angel can rid himself of his demon nature by finding another Mohra Demon, but he choses not to, because he needs the demon's strength to be an effective warrior.

The Oracles: In Greek mythology, "Oracles" are beings who act as intermediaries between mortals and the Gods. Their power has limits--they must interpret the Gods' messages, and they can be wrong. The Buffyverse PTBs don't live in our reality and must also be approached "through channels"--the Oracles. Though wise, the Oracles are also condescending, self-important, and sometimes turn those who seek their guidance into toads.

Once Angel gives them an offering, he is allowed to ask them the true reason for his mortality. The Oracles are a bit vague in their answer:

Angel: Although "released" from his duty, Angel still thinks like a Warrior--he still imagines that he will encounter minions of hell, and that he will have to kill them. He takes on the Mohra Demon again and is unable to fight it. He returns to the Oracles with the information the demon gave him. They tell him it's fairly certain there will be an apocalypse, and that the slayer will die. Angel asks them to turn him into a Warrior (i.e., vampire) again, so he can protect her. The Oracle does not say outright that Angel could save Buffy if he is changed back, but she is impressed by Angel's argument that they need him as a Warrior for Good. However, it is not within their power to transform him back into a souled vampire. The only way to grant his request is to fold back time, to undo the events that made him mortal. And then, the only way to change the course of events is if someone "remembers" how they can be changed.

If it was a test--the temptation of an immortal Warrior with the delights of being a mere mortal man--then I'd say Angel passed.

Moral Ambiguity in "I Will Remember You"

Doyle knows more about Angel than he's telling--e.g. , that Angel should not be able to transform from demon to human unless the PTBs intervene. Doyle's inside information may be on a "need to know basis" for a very good reason, but Angel can't help but find something sinister in being kept in the dark about his purpose on Earth, especially by a friend. He learns that he and Doyle are not just a couple of Irish demons making a living kicking bad-guy butt in L.A., but a key Warrior for the side of Good (Angel) and the angelic messenger sent to guide him towards his duty (Doyle).

The Oracles also provide a larger picture of Buffy and Angel--each a chosen Warrior for Good. They should be lovers fighting side-by-side, but the happiness clause of Angel's curse prevents this. Nevertheless, their love benefits the larger cause--they are more powerful together (as warriors) than they are alone. And Doyle's words about Angel only becoming human through the PTBs implies that in the end, they might reward him with the gift of mortality that will allow Buffy and Angel to be together without any strings.

Recently humanized macho-man Angel heads out to fight the Mohra demon, leaving "the girl" home in bed. Of course, he ends up getting his ass kicked, but the little woman arrives in the nick of time to bail him out. This is another example of Angel's over-protectiveness of Buffy. He also tends to make important decisions that effect Buffy's life without consulting her--e.g., breaking up with her in The Prom, not revealing his presence in Sunnydale to her in Pangs, and deciding to reverse his mortality. He's treating the slayer who has saved the world more than once like she is still a child. Emotional or not, she isn't a child anymore.

How was MortalAngel different from his souled demon self?

I think that the person that was with Buffy for that 24 hour period of time was [Liam], different from Angel in that he didn't have the underlying desire to kill, didn't have the underlying guilt for the terrible things that he as an entity had done as Angelus. This was a person who knew what had happened in the past with his body, but he didn't feel the underlying guilt for what had happened. It was another person. He was unburdened enough to feel the joy of ice cream, the joy of sex ('stina, Jan 21 11:32 2000).

Angel may have been the same person in IWRY as he was before being vamped, but his psyche ...would have been markedly different. The ...personality is modified by experiences and memories, ...the personality would not be the same carefree drunken lot we saw in the Becoming flashback (Leather Jacket, Jan 21 12:57 2000).

Is Cordelia jealous of Buffy? While this claim of Doyle's is intriguing, it's probably false. What would Cordelia be jealous of, exactly? She's never been particularly good friends with Buffy. She's shown no interest in Angel since the episode "Halloween". She's often made comments to the effect that Buffy's interest in fighting and killing is unnatural. She's also made comments to the effect that Buffy is selfish and whiney. Cordelia is nothing if not honest about how she feels.

Ethical Quandaries in "I Will Remember You"

Should Angel have chosen to remain human?


Buffy: "...immortality?"
Angel: "
Exactly. I'm dying to get rid of that." --Earshot

The pro side isn't hard to figure out--if you're an immortal demon with a conscience, tortured by your past deeds and unable to experience true happiness because of a pesky curse on your soul, becoming mortal is a good thing! Daylight, food, sex, love, and a complete respite from any responsibility to save humanity.

Doyle, who knows one or two things about the PTBs and their purpose for Angel, doesn't see anything significant in Angel's new mortality. His argument is, this is what you've always wanted, go out and enjoy it!


[T]he main reason Angel (as a mortal) couldn't be with Buffy is ...because he wasn't a vampire with strength anymore.... He changed back because he realized that he couldn't fight the forces of darkness as well as he could as a vamp. And if he wasn't able to fight on her side that would eventually lead to a quicker death on her part. ..."How can we be together if the cost is your life?" Angel realizes that Buffy has a better chance of survival with him fighting on her side rather than with him not fighting at all (horizon, Jan 19 20:56 2000).


The Metaphysics of "Hero"

Demons hybrids or mixed-bloods are demons clans that have human genes in their gene pool from intermating with humans (e.g., Brachen demons and Lister demons). Some can pass as human by changing their appearance, like Doyle, some can't. Vampires are not mixed-bloods in the genetic sense. Genetically, they are 100% human. Their hybrid nature is in virtue of the demon physiology which alters the human body after death.

Pure demons: The Scourge are an army of "pure-blood" demons, the kind that normally reside in the demon dimensions. In Graduation, pt. 1, Anya explains that all the demons that walk the Earth are tainted--human hybrids. Pure bloods, she says, are different. For one thing, they are a lot bigger. If this is so, then why did the so-called "pure" Scourge demons appear so human-like?

One possible explanation is that pure untainted demons like the Scourge wouldn't be able to exist in our reality at all without some Earthly taint-age. Perhaps the Scourge had to take on a form that allowed them to exist here that gives them a human-like appearance even though they don't have human genes like the half-breeds they are chasing down. The way the Scourge look (and perhaps the Mayor-demon), wouldn't be the way they'd appear in the demon dimensions nor in our reality once they managed to wipe out human kind and the environment we maintain for our livelihoods.

Prophecy: The Lister demons have a prophecy that in the last days of the 20th century, the Promised One would save them from the Scourge. In November 1999, they tried to escape L.A., but were swindled out of their money. Hiding in fear, Doyle and Angel found them through one of Doyle's visions. They assumed that Angel was the Promised One, but if anyone qualifies, it was Doyle.

The Beacon has a function similar to the zapping power of the Judge. Its beam can disintegrate creatures with humanity in them. Unlike the Judge, however, it is attracted to the human qualities of the body, not the spirit. The Judge could not burn creatures like Angelus with vamped human bodies and demon spirits, but the Beacon kills any creature with human "blood" (i.e., human genes). And while the Judge had his own internal demonic power for zapping, the Beacon seems to run on electricity and computer control. It can be aimed at a single person, or detonated, killing everything human within a quarter mile radius.

Good, Evil, and Moral Ambiguity in "Hero"

The Scourge's Nazi-esque mission is demon purity, to rid the world of "inferior, mongrel" mixed-breeds--inferior because they are part human. This includes vampires, as Giles notes in WtWTA--demons look down on vampires as monstrous abominations. The Scourge's ultimate aim is a bigger battle, to rid the world of humanity altogether. This makes them classic apocalyptic baddies.

The heroism of Doyle (*sob*), Angel, and Cordelia

The moral ambiguity of Joss

Yes Doyle is dead. We killed him. Sorry about that (joss, Nov 30 20:18 1999).

Parting Gifts

The Metaphysics of "Parting Gifts"

The Kungai are demons of Asian origin with Tak horns that are capable of consuming an opponents' life force.

Empaths: Demon Barney explains this best: "I feel your feelings when you feel them." This is not the ability to simply know, e.g., that "Cordelia is feeling sad". This is the ability to feel  Cordelia's sadness.

Psychic visions: Cordelia assumes she was "blessed" with the ability to see people in danger when Doyle kissed her on the deck of the ship in Hero, and this is in fact what happened. The blue-colored light between their lips when they kissed was the passing of the gift. Did Doyle pass on the gift on purpose, or was it an accident? This is not clear. However, it is later established that the the Powers that Be (PTBs) did not choose Cordelia to carry the visions at that time. Regardless, Cordelia has joined the ranks of the non-Zeppo evil fighters.

Supernatural talents: Both humans and demons in the Buffyverse have been blessed with certain supernatural gifts. Some are given to individuals--e.g., psychic visions and dreams, empathy, etc. Others are traits of a particular demon species (e.g., telepathy), or a particular calling (e.g., Slayer strength). Stealing such powers from their owners should require supernatural transference, but Barney has been collecting them by stealing body parts associated with the powers, as if they were interchangeable components from Radio Shack. Since he makes money doing this, the severed eyeballs, hands, and horns must have some value to them, perhaps acting as talismans.

Evil in "Parting Gifts"

Barney strikes one initially as a pragmatic shyster--the type of guy who'd sell his own grandmother for a quick buck. But Barney is worse than your usual baddie. Empaths shouldn't be capable of true evil. The ability to read emotions means being front-and-center to a victim's fear, horror, and hatred. To sense such things and still be able to treat humans and fellow demons as mere chattel requires:

This is one scary guy.

Moral Ambiguity in "Parting Gifts"

Cordelia: There's poetic justice to the shallow Cordy of old becoming Angel's connection to the PTBs. But don't expect her to accept her new responsibility happily. Especially since those mind-numbing, head-cracking visions are vague and don't come with a dossier.

Wesley: Fired by the Council for his inability to keep charge of the slayers, the bumbling ex-Watcher has gone rogue himself, driving a motorcycle, wearing leather, and carrying a bag of weapons worthy of Buffy. But Wesley is no slayer. Or not much of one. One gets the impression he's been trying to imitate a certain rogue demon hunter who dresses in black and is the very essence of cool. But there is only room for one of those here, and he isn't it. On the other hand, with Wesley taking over Angel's book-man duties, our broody leather-boy will have more time for butt-kicking.

Yes, he still is slightly bumbling, but he also realizes that he doesn't have all the answers now. He admitted and was ashamed of his mistaken identity of demons and this is a great advancement for him (Lovely Poet, Dec 16 15:56 1999).

He wants so much to be a hero, but always just misses. He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of desire, but somehow manages miss one crucial element in whatever event is unfolding. I think there's a lot of potential to the whole character (Suzanne, Jan 19 2000).


The Metaphysics of "Somnambulist"

Somnambulist: A sleep-walker, someone who performs motor functions more typical of the waking state while in their sleep.

Vampires and their sires: Angel speaks of having a "connection" with those he has sired, a psychic bond which allows him to sense their presence when they are nearby. But both Penn and grand-offspring Spike seemed surprised the first time they run into "Angelus" again. This implies that the connection doesn't work the other way around, i.e., the vamp offspring can't sense their sire. Drusilla sensed Angel losing his soul (Innocence), but Drusilla has psychic powers other vamps do not. What makes the sire/sired connection interesting in the present case is that Penn's presence gives Angel dreams in which he experiences Penn's kills from Penn's point of view. This can't be psychic in the mind-reading sense, however, since a vampire's mind casts no reflection.

The psychic connection of Darla and Angel

Vampires, speed, and strength: Penn seems to have speed we've seen no other vampire display. He moves so quickly in the police briefing room he's a blur. Is this unique to Penn, or do other vamps have this skill?

Vampires and wood: How does Kate manage to skewer two vamps on a dull-edged piece of wood?

She is a cop that has had to go through rigorous police training so I'm sure that she is strong enough to shove a huge post through vamps (Jen15, Jan 19 10:33 2000).

More on strength and staking

Good and Evil in "Somnambulist"

Penn ("The Pope")

What fun it must have been for Angelus to take a Puritan and turn him into the ultimate evil. What is it about Angelus and his fascination for those "pure at heart?" (Haven, Jan 18 21:25 2000).

Two things characterize Penn's kills:

  1. they are meant to "mock God". Penn, a former Puritan (a Protestant sect of the 17th century known for its strict, anti-hedonistic standards of behavior), enjoys corrupting the values of his human predecessor in his acts of vampirism.
  2. they emulate kills he made with his sire. This shows either a lack of imagination as a killer or a desire to relive his kills with Angelus.

He is certainly happy to see his sire, until he finds out that Angel is good. Then he must mock that former authority figure as well, as he once did his human father--by bringing about the death of someone Angel cares about.

When Kate comes face to face with the reality of vampires, she hits the books to find out more.

Those occult books may be rare, but they exist (in the Jossiverse). Once Kate read up on the killings, saw the headlines calling the guy a "Vampire Killer" and confessed that there were two little holes on the side of his neck, she had to, as a good detective, investigate all possible leads. That means finding out everything you possibly can about vampires (Leather Jacket, Jan 19 11:38 2000).

This research helps her bring her suspect to justice. But how does she learn so much about Angelus? First, Angelus is a well-known vampire. Even the lame Gorch brothers recognized Angel on sight. Second, L.A. is a major city near the Hellmouth. Chances are, the occult bookstore Kate visited ("Ancient Eye") had something about Penn, a long-time regular in LA, and this might have mentioned Penn's notorious sire.

I love that she's smart enough to do her own research and not give in to Angel's pleas until she has enough info to give him back some of her trust at the end there. That's how a rational human being should act in her situation. Cool. She's tough and vulnerable all at once. She kicks @ss! (MeeB, Jan 19 09:51 2000).


Cordy knows what Angelus is like. She's seen it. And she is a realist who will "kill Angel dead" if he reverts. But she also knows a lot about not judging someone on past mistakes and personality problems. ...Cordelia can be ...a blunt, occasionally shallow, and sometimes unthinking (but *not* stupid) human being, but a human being nonetheless. She's had her life turned topsy turvey in the last year. And Angel has provided her with a lifeline. And he's shared in the loss of a special person. That creates a bond (MeeB, Jan 19 08:41 2000).

Moral Ambiguity in "Somnambulist"

Angel and his demon: When Angel experiences Penn's kills as dreams, he gets pleasure from them. He could experience this in his waking hours, if he allowed himself, but he struggles against the demon's influence on a daily basis. When we're asleep, however, our subconscious desires emerge more freely (as Freud would put it, the Id is not reigned in by the Superego). To his credit, waking Angel is cranky about his dreams, and confesses his pleasure to his friends.

I've always been convinced that Angel is more than just a soul. He's the demon with the soul, else he wouldn't be seeking redemption for things that the demon part of himself did. ...(Jan 19 13:06 2000) ...not even Angel knows how much of him is demon and how much is person. ...He knows that he enjoyed the dreams about killing, and he knows that if he were to give in to the temptation of going for someone's neck he'd love every second of it, and then feel extraordinarily guilty for his enjoyment later on ('stina, Jan 19 09:49).

Kate has reached a point in her relationship with Angel where she is willing to extend the private investigator professional courtesies, like running a license plate for him (information that the police department normally doesn't give to civilians). Then Kate finds out Angel is a vampire--the same sort of creature the "serial killer" Penn is.

...she's thinking, cool guy, he's kind of cute. He's into helping people. and then WHAM! find out he's a bloodsucking creature of the night. Do a little research, and find out that basically vampires are evil. Now, this directly contradicts with what she knows of said vampire... So, hello ambivalent Kate (S.A. Johnson, May 4, 2000, 11:55 am).

[and] she finds out that this particular vamp has a really long and nasty, sadistic history. If I found out that the cute guy I had my eye on had murdered and tortured a few thousand people, I'd be a little put off myself. Even if he said, "But I'm all different now...!" (C. Georges, May 4, 2000, 12:01 pm).

We have no evidence that Kate read anything about the curse that restored Angel's soul. So what is she supposed to conclude? It is reasonable to assume, given what she knows, that if Penn is capable of these inhuman acts, Angel must be, too. At the least, Kate can no longer assume Angel is completely benevolent.

Then she is taken hostage. While Angel fights Penn to save her, Penn taunts Angel for weakly siding with humans. When Kate's moment comes, she decides to spare Angel. She rams a piece of wood through Angel's stomach and up into Penn's heart.

This is a turning point for Kate. For years, she embodied the kind of cop the police department held up as an ideal. She was a rational thinker who solved crimes with "good old fashioned police work"--crime scene evidence, confessions, and her own expertise in the psychology of serial killers, stalkers, and murderers.

In her eyes, vampires are just another kind of murderer. But bringing them to justice must, by necessity, be carried out in the shadows. As the sole member of the criminal justice system present, Kate takes on that responsibility. And for the moment, she treats Angel as a citizen whose culpability in Penn's actions long ago passed the statute of limitations.

Diligence or paranoia? When Wesley was in Sunnydale, he researched Angelus thoroughly. Probably diligence. He then uses this knowledge to cast suspicion on Angel when murders resembling Angelus' 18th-century modus operandi start up in Los Angeles. Probably paranoia.


The Metaphysics of "Expecting"

The Hacksaw Beast is an "inner earth" demon. Since "the demon dimensions" are not part of the Earthly plane, this species of demon resides deep below the ground in our Earthly dimension. Hacksaw Beasts are large, with horns protruding from their heads. They are also "procrea-parasitic" demons--creatures who can only procreate by laying their spawn in a human woman. Why? Either the females in the species are back in the demon dimension, or fertile and unable to carry the unborn to term, or sterile. Or perhaps there are no females in their species (the Kwaini have no males in theirs). 

Hacksaw Beasts can't be killed by fire or decapitation, so Angel throws a canister of liquid nitrogen (a freezing agent) at it and Wesley shoots the canister, freezing the demon. An un-possessed Cordy steps in and sends a heavy pulley on a rope swinging at the demon, demolishing it.

Demon motherhood: Cordelia wakes up from her date 8 1/2 months pregnant and the seven babies she's carrying aren't human. The Hacksaw Beast uses human men as carriers for his demon seed. Angel hypothesizes that the men are "imbued with the demons' life force" which creates the embryos inside the women. Once the embryos are implanted, they require a constant psychic connection to their father to remain alive (the psychic umbilical cord). The Hacksaw Beast father uses this cord to slowly take over the mother's minds as well. First, the women are traumatized and hate the demon spawn inside them. Later, we see Cordelia rationalize that the children may not be evil because she's known good demons. Finally, when she sees the Hacksaw Beast in an etching, she falls under the thrall of the embryos, who speak to her telepathically.

Are the babies half human or fully demon? Unknown. The Hacksaw Beast may require human genes to produce children, or he may pass on the complete material needed to produce a child and need the women as incubators. At one point, Cordelia refers to herself as a "partner in creation". However, surrogate mothers (pregnant women unrelated to the child they carry) can also make this claim this since they are responsible for the child's material development in the womb.

Ritual of birthing: Few human women survive the process of procrea-parasitic childbirth and those that do wish they hadn't (the pain? The harm to their bodies? The demon offspring produced?). The women meet in a waste collection plant dressed in white robes, then enter the sewer water and stand in a circle waiting for the father to arrive. They would have birthed the babies into the sewer water. Cordy and her friends survive because the demon father is frozen before labor can begin. This cuts off the "psychic umbilical cord" and they disintegrate in the mothers' wombs, causing some pain, but not killing them.

Ghosts: Phantom Dennis seems to have some snuggly feelings towards his living roommate, Cordelia. He shows off a bit to scare her date, then comforts her when her date leaves "a little something" behind.

The invitation to vampires

Good and Evil in "Expecting"

Dealing with the devil: The Hacksaw Beast is a particularly nasty example of evil-as-order, imposing his will on the unwilling. The more interesting Bads in this episode are the "surrogate fathers". LA is the city that makes everyone feel insecure, except those willing to do favors for demons in exchange for sex, wealth, and success. They are examples of a multitude of human evils--deception, sociopathy, and greed.

Angel cooks for Cordelia and Wesley in Parting Gifts and tells a bartender that his concern for Cordelia is because he is "family". His attitude at her bed side and later on the bad-guy chase is that of a big brother.

There is a family structure growing between the trio. Cordy and Wes are the siblings and Angel is the father figure for both of them. More so for Wesley (Lamech, Mar 1 19:56 2000).

The good of Wesley

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This page last modified 12/09/03

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