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Spoiler Crypt Interview with Erika Amato of Velvet Chain -- Rufus, 03:39:26 12/06/03 Sat

Erika Amato Interview

**Please feel free to repost this Interview to any groups, websites, mailing lists or message boards**

Order your copy of the brand new
Velvet Chain album, "Asteroid Belt" today!

You can place an order and / or take a test drive of the
tunes by visiting the VC website at:

PJzallday, Alberta, Canada - How did you get the BtVS gig? Were you approached? Or did you audition? What's your preference for playing gigs? Larger venues or small clubs? (Something in between perhaps?) Your bio says the band members are all fans of BtVS. Who's your favourite character? And your favourite villain? I love musical theatre (and have been known to burst into song myself). Is there a role that you'd especially love the opportunity to perform?

Erika Amato - Well, we got the BtVS gig purely because one of the show's production guys was already a fan of ours, having seen us play around town (LA, that is), and he happened to own our very first demo CD (called Groovy Side), so he gave Joss his copy and said, "I really like this band, why don't we use them on the show?" (All this unbeknownst to us.) We then got a call to come do this brand-new-show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and we went ahead and filmed the episode, but we weren't all that excited, because we really weren't sure how one could make a series from what we all thought was not the best movie. ;-) We filmed the episode in June of 1996, actually, and it didn't even air until the following March, (As a mid-season replacement), so we actually thought it probably wouldn't even get picked up. Boy, were we wrong!

As for gigs, we've never played what one would officially call a "large venue" - the largest theatre we've played seats about 1,000. But, if one is comparing a very small club that holds 150 to the larger theatres, I'd have to say that although I enjoy the intimacy of the tinier rooms, I feel a bit limited by how cramped those stages usually are, so I prefer the larger venues.

My favorite character is also my favorite villain - Spike. Although, I don't really consider him a villain. I liked him even when he was being super evil... So, maybe my favorite villain is the Mayor. I found him hilarious, in his evil way. And I also adore Giles. Not as a villain, obviously... OK, I'll shut up now.

Finally, your musical theatre question: Well, there are many roles I would love to do, but I guess I'd have to say I'd love to play Evita again. I got the opportunity to do it as a very young actress (I was only 17), but I would bring so much more world experience and maturity to the role, now.

John Mesh, Nebraska, USA - You performed the song "Strong" on an episode of Buffy the Vampire and appeared on the show. What was your reaction to being on the show and the soundtrack and do you watch the show?

Erika Amato - Quite honestly, as I mentioned before, being on the show didn't seem like a big deal to us at the time, because we shot our episode back in 1996, a good 6 months before it aired in '97, and we had no idea if the show would even get picked up, let alone become the huge success it did! However, we were very excited and thrilled to be chosen for the soundtrack album - especially once we found out we were going to be track #4 - right after Garbage, who I loved at the time. =) And yes, I watch(ed) the show, but not as regularly as I did the first few seasons. (Too busy! Don't get to watch much TV at all, actually...)

Carl, UK - If you have seen the show since your appearance, have any of the other guest bands/performers inspired or influenced your own work?

Erika Amato - I've seen the show a gazillion times since our appearance, but I can honestly say no other bands or artists on the show have inspired or influenced us in any way...although we did like Cibo Matto!

The Source, Illinois, USA - Who is your favourite Buffy character and why? When you performed on Buffy, did you get to hang out with any of the core cast members? If so what were they like?

Erika Amato - I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Spike. He's funny, he's a rebel, but he has that underlying "goodness" - even without a soul! Also, I used to love Billy Idol, so I bet that has something to do with it.

And yes, we had lunch with a bunch of the "core" cast members that day, although I didn't even know who was who at the time, and they were all very nice. Charisma and Nick in particular were very friendly and cool. We've actually had the opportunity to get to know a bunch of the cast and crew over the years, and they are all great people. (But if I had to pick a fave, it would probably be Seth...we hung out a good deal, and he was always just hilarious and cool.)

Nanc, USA - Do you think that your work with Joss / Mutant Enemy has had an impact on your career, and if so do you feel it was a positive or a negative thing? Thanks!

Erika Amato - Not to be simplistic about it, but the short answer would be a big YES, and very positive. The exposure we got by being on the show was invaluable...and people are still finding out about us from reruns, or seeing our episode at someone's house on DVD, or whatever. It's cool.

Spike Delusional, Texas, USA - Hi, Erika. I'm really looking forward to the new album. How would you describe the band's musical style on this album and in general? Thanks.

Erika Amato - Hmmmmmmmmmm...that one gets me every time. It's so hard to describe our stuff! Our style has always been very eclectic, sort of groovy/trip-hop/pop/rock/funk with a jazz flavor. That is still true of the new album, but with even more jazz and trip-hop than in the past. And less rock. In my opinion. And thanks for looking forward to the album! It's out now, you know! (wink, wink)

brdlvr2 - Fan reaction is key. What is the best response ever received from a fan?

Erika Amato - Tough! We've had so many great responses. We've had people send us gifts, write us fabulous letters, come from miles away - even across the country - to see us play... People send us lyrics, songs, etc. (We even used someone's lyrics once... In fact, her lyrics helped us create one of our favorite songs! And now she's a great friend to the band.) One fan - who is now also more of a friend to the band than just a fan - made a wire sculpture of the Diva Icon (our logo) for her senior art project in school, and then made us a duplicate which is in our living room. I'd be hard-pressed to pick a "best" response, though...we appreciate them all!

P. Hendriksz - Did you write new music for Btvs or did you use your standard material?

Erika Amato - We used an existing song that the producers - and Joss in particular - wanted to use.

Rufus - BC, Canada - I know you wrote a theme song for Angel the Series that ultimately wasn't used, do you think that would work as a song in an episode?

Erika Amato - Good question. It's really a main theme, not a song that evokes a particular emotion the way most songs that are used as underscoring are. However, I think it could work in a club atmosphere - the song playing at a hip bar or something. It's very groovy and funky. Or perhaps even a chase sequence... Hey! If any of the music placement folks over at Angel read this, maybe they'll consider that! hehe

The Bard, New Zealand - Erika, how much work goes into making a studio album? What sorts of things need to be done and by who? Who's idea was it for Velvet Chain to submit a theme song for "Angel"?

Erika Amato - Wow - a ton of work goes into making a studio album. You've got all the various band members and guest players who have to come in and lay down tracks over several weeks, the engineer who has to record it all (every instrument needs its own mics and amps and separate tracks and EQ and don't even get me started on drums) and then mix it (which is super hard and takes forever and would be too difficult to try to explain here), and the producer who is responsible for the overall sound of the album, and - in our case - also edits together all these wacky sounds we got in the studio to create a whole new sound. (Pro-tools is an awesome thing...Jeff uses it the way a painter uses his brushes!) Of course, there's the vocals, as well, and in our case every vocal on the album is mine. I sing all the main vocals first, and then the harmonies, etc. I come up with a lot of the vocal arrangements (meaning the harmonies and backup vocals) before I get into the studio, but sometimes I figure it out on the fly. Then we edit everything I've done and then work on balancing them and putting effect on them or not in the mixing process. After the album has been mixed (which basically means finding a place in the sonic landscape for every single sound on the album - which was a lot harder on this album, 'cause there are so many different instruments this time around), you have to get it mastered, which involves yet another human being - the mastering engineer. Mastering smooths out the sound, fixes any problems that may have been missed in the mixing process (like, if a certain instrument sounds like it's sticking out more than the others a bit, or a vocal sounds muddy), and basically makes the record sound like a real record, and not a demo. I guess that's it. Of course, none of that includes the actual composition of the songs, the rehearsing, etc. But you get the idea.

As for submitting a song for "Angel," we were contacted by Chris Beck, who used to do all the scoring for both shows, and he said he'd tried a bunch of stuff, and they just weren't liking anything, so they wanted us to submit something. We were told that it actually was a very close call between our theme and the one that DV and their composing collaborator came up with, but obviously, the mellower, cello-infused theme won out in the end. =)

Queen Gaia - Ontario, Canada - What was it like starring with Scott Bakula in the 2 part episode "Lee Harvey Oswald - Oct 5, 1957-Nov 22, 1963" of Quantum Leap?

Erika Amato - It was GREAT! He was the nicest man. Made me feel very welcome. And so did the other two actors in my scene - Dean Stockwell and Elya Baskin. It was a great set.

Evolutionary Rogue, Australia - Hey Erika! Velvet Chain's songs have been used in shows like MTV's "Road Rules" and HBO's "Sex and the City", as well as, obviously, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." How does it feel to have your songs featured in these shows?

Erika Amato - It feels awesome every time we hear our songs on TV or in a movie trailer or on a college radio station... I only hope it happens more and more!

Kacie - Now that you've done a significant number of stage plays as well as film work, which do you prefer -- plays or movies/TV? If people ask you "Hey -- what do you do?" are you more apt to tell them "I'm an actress," or "I'm a singer," (even though you probably just want to ask them how the rock they've been living under is working out)? What can we look forward to seeing you in once Madly in Love wraps? Thank you!

Erika Amato - Well, I prefer being on stage because I love the response you get from a live audience and the immediacy of the medium. However, I would rather make a living doing TV and film because, truthfully, it pays just so much more. It's very hard making a living in theatre... I do it because I love it, but I'd give it up if I got offered a regular role on a sitcom, you know? ;-)

When people ask me what I do, I usually say, "I'm an actress and musician." I've discovered that out here, no-one respects singers and very few people respect actors, but they at least give you the tiniest bit of cred if you're a MUSICIAN.

"Madly in Love" finally closed this past Sunday (which is part of the reason why I have some time to finish these questions!), and for the next month or so I am singing in various venues across Southern California and even out of state. (I have a gig in Nevada and one in Iowa.) I do everything from performing Christmas carols in Dickensian costume with a quartet to singing standards,'s a great time of year to get work as a singer, as I'm sure you can imagine. I am also auditioning for several plays coming up, and I'm "on the short list" as a replacement in the Las Vegas company of "Mamma Mia," so we'll see what happens!

Ragna - I know recently you finished a play in San Diego, and I was wondering about your love of acting. What type of roles do you go for, and do you prefer singing or non-singing roles? Also, how far would you travel to perform in a play?

Erika Amato - I go for any role that'll have me! hehehe No, seriously, I love to stretch, creatively, so I like all sorts of roles, but I tend to get cast as either one of two extremes - either the young, strong, bouncy type (Hodel in "Fiddler," Maria in "Sound of Music," Annie in "Annie Get Your Gun") or the older, sophisticated, upper-crust type (Luisa in "Nine," Yvonne in "Sunday in the Park," Wallis Simpson in the play I just did). I actually prefer non-singing roles, but there is so little opportunity for paid work in "straight plays" out here that I tend to go for the musicals, 'cause that's where the moolah is. And I would travel ANYWHERE to perform just about anything. I love to travel.

Alysoops, UK - What's your favourite non-musical past-time / hobby? Do you and the band hang out when you aren't making music or performing?

Erika Amato - Jeff and I hang out with Brian Reardon - our stunningly talented guitar player - fairly regularly, and our fabulous drummer Jeff Mince and awesome keyboardist Marc Antonio a bit less frequently. As for a non-musical hobby, I am a voracious reader, and I also love to camp, travel, swim, go to the beach, go boating, etc. Oh! And I'm currently taking tap dancing lessons, which is a blast.

Susi B, Washington, USA - Hi Erika! What inspiration do you use to write your songs? And can you give an example? (preferably from the new album) Thanks.

Erika Amato - Well, I write much fewer of the songs than Jeff does, but I do have one in particular on the new album, called "I Spy," that I wrote several years ago and was inspired by both a bass groove Jeff was messing around with and by the French film "La Femme Nikita." Usually, anything I write is inspired by a groove or drum loop or something I hear emanating from the studio in our guest room. I build on the foundation of whatever little snippet I've heard. I rarely hear a whole song in my head come out of thin air. =) I know that quite a few of the songs on "Asteroid Belt" were inspired by jam sessions in the studio. Jeff actually goes into great detail about the process in the liner notes of the album, so buy the CD, and you can read his answer for yourself! ;-)

Dene Jacobs, Texas, USA - If possible, can you pick a Velvet Chain song that you like the most? And why do you like it?

Erika Amato - Ugh! I like so many of them so much! But I can tell you my favorite song on the new album is called "Sea of Tranquility," and it's my favorite because it has an awesome groove, I love the weird, jazzy melody, and it was a blast to sing! (And I also wrote the vocal arrangement when the chorus hits, which is pretty cool...three part harmony, overlapping parts, etc.) If I had to pick a song from an earlier album, I have to admit I still love "Come To Me", because it's like three songs in one, and is very representative of what Velvet Chain is about. I love "Walk on Water" for the same reason.

eeyore, Boston, Massachusetts, USA - You are a woman of many talents! What do you love doing most? Singing? Acting? Speaking your many languages and just generally being a brain? (By the way, congrats on the new album *and* for beating Ben Stein! I love that show.)

Erika Amato - I love it all! LOL No really, I honestly can't decide. I love acting, and have so much fun doing it, but I couldn't LIVE without singing, and being a brain? Well, truthfully, I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to learning, and would learn a new language every year if I had the time. In fact, I really want to take Japanese at the local college (extension classes), but I just can't seem to fit it into my schedule! =(

Katriena Knights, Colorado, USA - Which do you find more fulfilling - acting or music?

Erika Amato - Fulfilling? Acting. More nuances. But if I had to choose one thing to do for the rest of my life, and I wouldn't be allowed to do the other anymore, I'd have to choose music. Because if I didn't have music, I'd die. Literally.

Michael, USA - I read somewhere that "Asteroid Belt" took 2 years to complete.What goes into to recording a Velvet Chain album? I've listened to song excerpts from the new album on your website and have to say I'm much impressed.

Erika Amato - Thank you so much! Please see the answers above (both to the studio recording question and the writing question)...that should cover it. ;-)

Susan M., Saskatchewan, Canada - Will the band be doing a tour upon the release of the new album? or in the foreseeable future? If yes..don't forget about us up here in Canada! Keep on Rocking'..!

Erika Amato - We would like to tour, but we need financial support from a label or promoter in order to do it. We've been approached by someone in the UK about possibly touring there next summer, so we'll see.

Jana - Thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to do this for us, Erika. Wishing you much success with the new album (Asteroid Belt). I'm looking so forward to receiving my copy.

Erika Amato - Thank YOU, Jana! It was a lot of fun, and I hope my answers were satisfactory and not too rambling... hehehe
* * * * * * * *

A little bit about Erika Amato (courtesy of Little Willow & theViva La Diva website at )

She acts.
She sings.
She has smarts.
In the simplest terms, she rocks.
Erika Amato was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. Her hometown is Mountainside, one of the smaller towns by Summit. An only child, she excelled in school and in the arts. She took gifted courses and college courses as well as piano lessons. She began singing and acting at a very young age and had already done a professional paid singing gig by age 11.
Extremely energetic and dramatic, Erika would sometimes burst into a song or routine during class, impatient with the slow, s-l-o-w scheme of things. She would get picked on by classmates but boy, could she hold her own in a fight. She found an outlet for her excessive energy in singing groups and plays, finishing her high school career by starring in their production of "Evita".
After high school, Erika attended Vassar College where she really came into her own. Her major was drama; her other specialities were languages such as French, Italian and Russian. She was in three different college a capella singing groups, plus an improv performance troupe and every extra-curricular play she could possibly have been in. For two summers, she was a singing waitress at The Show Place on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
After college, Erika picked up everything and moved all the way out to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. Within 6 months, she had landed a co-starring role as a Russian agent on the show, Quantum Leap. She was also a member of an L.A. theatre company and was in several plays, in addition to doing various local commercials, singing in cabarets, and even playing an opera-singing bikini contestant on a TV sitcom.
About a year after Erika had arrived in L.A., she met Jeff Stacy at a Halloween party and shortly thereafter, she started singing backup in Jeff's band "Heat Your Shack". When this band disintegrated a few months later, they formed a new band called Velvet Chain and the rest is history.
Erika loves being the singer for Velvet Chain. She also writes music for the band. She plays recorder and various percussion instruments while rocking out to the funky music as well.
Velvet Chain has performed all over the nation in all sorts of venues. Their appearance on a first season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called "Never Kill a Boy on a First Date" immediately garnered them new fans across the world. Their CD's are available exclusively online at, as well as other nifty VC items like shirts, keychains, and more. Their latest and most ambitious album to date, "Asteroid Belt," is finally done and available right now at their website!
* * * * * * * *

Don't Forget that Velvet Chain's new album, "Asteroid Belt" (as well as lots of other very cool VC merchandise) can be ordered online from the VC Store at:

Another View on Killing Dawn -- Snowspinner, 10:09:06 12/06/03 Sat

One question that should probably be asked in all of the debates on whether it would have been right to kill Dawn in Season 5 is whether or not Dawn qualifies as human.

From a Kantian perspective, could one argue that she violates the transcendental unity of apperception, and thus is not capable of experience. As such, she is not strictly speaking an autonomous being, and may be used as a means to an ends?


[> Re: Another View on Killing Dawn -- claudia6913, 21:22:18 12/06/03 Sat

But, then you have the whole the monks made her human thing going for her. And as such the Slayer is there for human protection. Be Dawn the key or not she was still flesh and blood. Had she been evil (and being a teenager doesn't count) then I think they would have just done away with her and sent her back to the monks or some other such stuff. Although I must say the whole *Poof* here's Dawn thing was disconcerting at the least. I was utterly confused when I saw her the first time.

[> [> Re: Another View on Killing Dawn -- Snowspinner, 00:58:23 12/07/03 Sun

Well, yes, she had a human body. But I think things devolve into rapid silliness if you put the posession of a human body in as the criterion for being an agent under moral law. Even if you avoid the obvious problem of dead people, and put in a proviso that the body be animate, you have all sorts of weird hypotheticals of electronically animated bodies.

To say nothing of cases like brain death, etc.

I mean, I think that, despite the appearance of humanity, Dawn violates some of the metaphysical conditions necessary to be a person as relevent to moral law.

[> [> [> Exactly what conditions does she violate? -- Finn Mac Cool, 08:57:16 12/07/03 Sun

It's readily apparent that she's a sentient being, has a moral compass (granted, not all humans have those, but it does help to clarify that she's not demonic in nature), and she quite clearly feels emotion. What more is necessary?

[> [> Re: Another View on Killing Dawn -- Ames, 11:31:01 12/07/03 Sun

Seeing Season 5 again now on DVD, I must say that I think Dawn got a bad rap for being obnoxious. Yes, she was at times, but consider:

She's 14 years old at the start, the exact age that teenage girls go through a crisis of low self-esteem.

Her mother and sister and their friends start acting all weird around her. Then she discovers that that she isn't real at all, she's some sort of unknown key thing that's been given the appearance of reality. None of her memories are real, and her family isn't really her family. They don't really love her, they fear her. Could there be anything more calculated to shake anyone's confidence, let alone a teenager?

Then, in rapid succession, her mother dies, and then her sister, leaving her alone in the world (except for well-meaning friends and absentee father). She can't help but feel guilty that she was responsible for her sister's death. And always fearful that the world will somehow discover that she's not real, or that some other god or demon will come along and want to use the key (not an idle fear in spite of Glory's demise - Dark Willow threatened to turn her back into an energy ball).

Even when Buffy came back, she was disconnected from Dawn, and didn't seem to care about her at all any more. Giles, the surrogate father figure, took off for England and abandoned them. Again not very confidence-inspiring.

And is S7, after her relationship with Buffy started to get back on track, the First Evil targetted Dawn and tried to drive a wedge between them. She came off ok for teenager who has the ancient source of all evil trying to mess with her mind. Spike didn't do so well.

[> [> [> Surrogate Father Figure? -- Claudia, 11:05:48 12/08/03 Mon

[Giles, the surrogate father figure, . . .]

Was Giles really Dawn's surrogate father figure? Aside from those few times he had babysitted Dawn, while Buffy was out patrolling during Joyce's illness, I never really saw him develop a close relationship with her.

[> Re: Another View on Killing Dawn -- DorainQ, 19:03:45 12/07/03 Sun

I am not as well versed in Emmanuel Kant's philosophy as I wish I was, so I would be forever grateful if you could give me a definition or explanation of apperception.

It SOUNDS to me like you're saying that since all of her memories up until Buffy finds her in her room are false, Dawn can't accurately make a cohesive experience or throughline of her own life, and therefore is less than human.

Keeping in mind that that is what I THINK you meant, I would say that the criterion for being called fully human is free will (or choice) and mortality. Since the monks made her human, Dawn the teenager can die (though the key energy itself might live on...does anyone know for sure?) and has excercised free will as well, so I would label her as human and so it would not be morally acceptable to forcibly use her as a means to an end.

Inconsistency, misunderstanding, or did I miss something? (Spoilers LMPTM & Destiny) -- drivebyeposter, 09:42:50 12/07/03 Sun

In Lies My Parents Told Me, I thought it was revealed that the First was able to use Spike because of his guilt at being such a monster that he would turn his own mother into a vamp.

Now in Destiny, Spike is blaming Angelus for turning him into a monster?

I thought he turned his mother into a vamp before he even met Angelus.

Is that an inconsistency, a misunderstanding on my part of what I saw, or did I miss something?



[> Re: Inconsistency, misunderstanding, or did I miss something? (Spoilers LMPTM & Destiny) -- Casino21, 10:06:15 12/07/03 Sun

I was wondering the same thing. I understand how Angel would see it that way, but for Spike to use that as ammunition on Angel seems a little off.

[> hmnn, good question -- one possibility -- Seven, 10:16:25 12/07/03 Sun

I see it more as a natural progression.

When William was vamped he was still William, but fueled with a new lease on (un)life. When he killed his mum, he realized it wasn't all fun and games. He realized that he could still feel pain. The new William though, was prepared to put it behind him. That is when he came across Angelus. This was his second lesson and most likely made him forget about his first. Since Angelus wasn't going to be dusted away, this became William's new focus and therefore the real reason William became Spike.

What happened though was that William never dealt with killing his mother. He very soon became Spike and left that lingering emotional problem with his old name. Essentially, he never dealt with it and that allowed the First Evil to use that to its advantage.

[> [> Are we sure of the timeline? -- shambleau, 16:00:44 12/08/03 Mon

How do we know that Spike met Angelus after he (re)killed his mother? Both events took place shortly, that is, within a couple of days, of Spike being bitten. How do we know which came first? Is there something in the two eps which establishes the timeline? To my mind, if Spike has just come from killing his mother, you can't see it. Where's the trauma from an act which dwarfs anything that's ever happened to him, including being vamped?

I think it works better in reverse.

[> Re: Inconsistency, misunderstanding, or did I miss something? (Spoilers LMPTM & Destiny) -- s'kat, 12:30:33 12/07/03 Sun

In Lies My Parents Told Me, I thought it was revealed that the First was able to use Spike because of his guilt at being such a monster that he would turn his own mother into a vamp.

You misread it. The FE was able to plant the trigger in Spike because he thought his mother didn't love him and he couldn't be loved. Spike knew he was a monster, he didn't need the first to tell him. He's killed and tortured numerous people in the last 100 years. No, what bugged Spike was what his "mother" said to him after he turned her.
It's not until he relives it in Lies that he realizes that what she said - was not evidence that she didn't love him, she did. A great deal.

Regarding the Angelus/Spike bit in Destiney.
In the show, not every vampire is really bad, oh they are bad - but not to the extent Angelus was (see Trick, Holden Webster, Harmony, Sunday, etc). Angelus was the "worste" vampire to exist. He outdid the Master. He was so bad, that the Beast went to a great deal of trouble to set up a meeting with his rival, before a bunch of witches exiled him. (See Angel S1 BTVS, Soulless Ats S4). Angelus got a kick out of teaching and molding new vamps. In Sonmabulist - we see in flashbacks how Angelus taught Penn to carve crosses on his victims bodies and go after his family. Penn may never have killed his family without Angelus egging him on. In Becoming I we see how Angelus created Drusilla. And in Destiny & Fool For Love, we see how Angelus worked to mold Spike. I think it's heavily implied that Angelus coaxed Spike into getting vengeance on those party-goers, assuming Spike did and showed him how to get his namesake. After all - in the description in the coach - William makes it clear Angelus did all the killing, william watched. Angelus got off on molding others to be like himself. He loved manipulating them and pulling out the most twisted part of their personality. As far back as S2 BTVS we see this tendency. That's why Holtz does what he does with Connor, Holtz is a believer in the punishment should fit the crime and the best way of punishing Angel is to do to Angel, what Angelus did, not just physically destroy someone, but psychologically do it - Holtz even tells that to Angel at different points and Angel acknowledges it to Holtz in Benediction. Holtz did exactly the same things to Connor that Angelus did to people like Spike, Penn, Drusilla and many others, including Holtz's own family.
So Spike's accusation - actually is a continuation of an on-going metaphor in the series. That was true. Angelus did attempt to mold and create a monster with Spike. The fact Spike let him and became his son - Spike bears responsibility for, just as Connor bears responsibility for what Holtz did to him = this is an issue that Angel is struggling with psychologically. With Spike, Angel finds himself in Holtz's shoes. And this is there to once again force Angel to face the things he did as Angelus. Angelus' worst crime was how he tried to make reflections of himself - which goes back to The Prodigal and Darla episodes - in how Liam/Angelus wanted to have his father's favor, unable to get it, he creates his own family and takes the father role - attempting to do what he subconsciously believed his father was doing- creating versions of himself. It's an interesting mind-duel that Spike and Angel are playing with each other, neither are exactly right, neither are exactly wrong - they are looking at each other through funhouse mirrors and not seeing either their true reflection or what the other really is, just what they believe is true.

[> [> Thank you. That makes sense. It would have kept bugging me. -- drivebyeposter, 19:50:17 12/07/03 Sun

[> [> Who Made Angelus a Monster? -- Claudia, 09:18:55 12/08/03 Mon

All of this has led me to wonder . . . who made Angel a monster? I agree that part of that ability to be a monster had already resided in Liam, himself. But who really helped bring it out? Darla? She was the one who sired him. But was she the one who also pushed the right buttons to help bring out that monster within him?

[> [> [> Re: Who Made Angelus a Monster? -- LittleBit, 11:28:36 12/08/03 Mon

It rather seemed as though Angelus needed very little teaching in order to become a monster.

From "The Prodigal"

Darla helps Angel to his feet: "Welcome to my world. It hurts, I know, but not for long. Birth is always painful."
Angel breathing hard: "I could feel them - above me - as I slept in the earth. - Their heartbeats - their blood - coursing - through their veins."
Darla smiles: "Yes."
Angel: "Was it a dream?"
Darla: "A dream for you. Soon - their nightmare."
Groundskeeper comes up holding a lantern.
Groundskeeper: "You there! (Sees the disturbed grave) What have you done? - Grave robbers!"
Angel slowly walks towards him, looks back at Darla who nods at him.
Darla: "You know what to do."
Angel turns back and morphs into vamp face.
Groundskeeper: "Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, give us this day our daily..." Screams as Angel bites him. After a moment Angel breaks off to look at Darla again, then finishes draining the guy and drops him. He takes a couple deep breaths then turns back to Darla in human face.
Darla: "It all makes sense now, doesn't it?"
Angel: "Perfect sense."
Darla: "You can do anything, have anyone in the village. Who will it be?"
Angel: "Any one? (Darla nods) I thought I'd take the village."

What Angelus didn't yet know immediately upon rising was that death is quick while torment could last a lifetime, or more. Making his evil into an art form is where Darla's teaching came into it.

From "Dear Boy"

Darla: "So are we going to kill her during, or after?"
Angelus sits up, startling her: "Neither. We turn her into one of us. - Killing is so merciful at the end, isn't it? The pain has ended."
Darla: "But to make her one of us? She's a lunatic."
Angelus: "Eternal torment. (Grabs a hold of Darla's arms and rolls them so he is back on top with her under him on the floor) Am I learning?"

He rose as a monster. Darla showed him how to become legendary.

Just my opinion, of course.

[quotes from Buffy World]

[> [> [> [> Re: Who Made Angelus a Monster? -- s'kat, 18:20:01 12/08/03 Mon

I think to understand what or who made Angel a monster - you have to rexamine what his response to his own father was.

When someone decides to rebell, they can do it in one of two ways:

1. Be a complete slacker, live down to Daddy's expectations, we see this with Liam who tells his father in The Prodigal that he has become just as bad as his father wanted.

2. Become better than Daddy, or succeed him as more powerful and more legendary. This is what Angelus does with the Master, who becomes his surrogate father as we see in Darla. Angelus decides to respond to the Master's chiding, by becoming more vicious and more deprived than the Master is. Angelus in a way is competing with the Master for Darla's affections and to succeed, feels he has to out-do the Master.

(Spike takes a similar tact with Drusilla and Angelus, just as Connor sort of does with Cordelia and Angel.)

I think Penn's the third case - the son who doesn't rebell but attempts to obey, to achieve his father's approval by doing everything Dad taught him - precisely as taught. Penn follows the rules. He followed them as the Puritan. When he gets changed - he follows Angelus' rules. He tries for Dad's approval by doing what Dad wants, when he doesn't get it? When Dad ignores him? He attempts to kill Dad and Dad's family along with him.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Who Made Angelus a Monster? -- LittleBit, 21:12:49 12/08/03 Mon

I agree that Angel's response to his father is part of what makes him a monster. Liam/Angelus was a monster when he arose. I suspect that few vampires, upon arising, want to wipe out their entire village, including the family members that they had cared about.

Perhaps it's just a difference in perspective, but I saw Angelus' meeting with the Master not as one in which he sees the Master as a surrogate father to rebel against, but as one in which he refuses to acknowledge that the Master has any right to influence or critique him. The Master knocks him around the room and Angelus ignores him, walking out with Darla in the end. That isn't to say that Angelus' actions weren't a direct response to the Master's assumption that Angelus should be subservient, I certainly think they were. But I saw more of a refusal than a rebellion.

I think it was Darla that Angelus wanted to both please and surpass. She was the one who taught him how to make an art out of the kill. It was her approval he was looking for, and as he got it, he kept increasing his efforts until he was legendary as the worst ever.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Thoughts on AtS 5:4-7 ('Hellbound' - 'Lineage') -- KdS, 14:23:13 12/07/03 Sun

A mixed bag in this set, with one disappointing ep, two excellent ones, and one which was rather better than most responses had led me to expect.

To take the episodes in order, Hellbound was something of a disappointment. It's certainly one of the more disturbing ME eps, but like many of the more disturbing ME eps it has a certain lack of substance under the horror. In particular, there were a lot of time wasting stalk-and-build-suspense sequences of the type seen in many BtVS S1 episodes, which beyond the first viewing are simply boring. The episode also suffered from a lacklustre performance from the actor playing Pavayne, who never projected the air of authority that one would expect in the part and seemed to be trusting in the scary voice rather than trying to create a scary performance. The redemption of Spike continues, the important part being not his decision to save Fred over becoming corporeal, but his subsequent statement that he doesn't want to risk anyone being hurt for his recorporealisation. The episode certainly brought the effect of reading spoilers on a philosophy-centric board to my attention, as the Spike/Angel "We're both damned" scene was much earlier than the impression I got, and given much less weight. One nit-pick - the Manilow line was funny, but as Spike canonically never met Angel from the Boxer Rebellion to School Hard it's hard to see when he found out. Unless Angel is relaxing with Barry every evening after work, and Spike heard the distinctive strains... As in the case of Unleashed, the issue of the Fred nudity was overstated in some discussions IMHO. Certainly, though, if Masters was that concerned about his nudity in BtVS, he didn't take the chance to renegotiate his contract ;-)

Life of the Party was better than some of the very hostile reactions to it implied, but certainly not a vintage ep. My personal feeling was that it lost some momentum once the party actually began, but the early part of the ep was surprisingly effective in portraying Lorne's increasing stress and instability, and the new need to make nice with the demons. One wonders if Lorne is being used as a metaphorical "canary" (as in mining) for the stress on the other members. Sebacis and his flunkies were amusingly eccentric, and AD and AA's drunk acts were amusing, but the appearance of Lorne's Hulk-like avenging subconscious was a pop culture reference without a real relevance or punch-line. I don't have a problem with the lack of concern over Angel shagging Eve - this was obviously very far from anything that would bring "perfect happiness". Certainly, the vault of removed portions of employees' minds is a huge piece of Connor-related foreshadowing. A musical note - in the UK, "Don't Leave Me This Way" is known almost entirely by the version the militantly out Jimmy Somerville did with the Communards, so it seems something of an unambiguous confirmation of Lorne's sexuality. And the sight of a seventies US punk like Spike expressing admiration for dance music is absolute proof that something is seriously wrong. Best joke of the episode was the burning cows in a wicker Krishna, which shows that the evils' delight in blasphemy in the Jossverse is not confined to Christianity.

Numero Cinco is undoubtedly the finest episode of the season so far, for metaphor, atmosphere, performances - everything really. The parallels between Numero Cinco's situation and Angel's are very clear, and the five brothers arguably correspond to the five members of last year's regular cast, two of whom might as well be dead, and only one of whom truly remembers the past. I think it is clear now that the focus of the season is not simply the corruption of the cast by Wolfram & Hart. The Gunn/Angel scene near the beginning was, I believe, meant to show that our heroes are doing good - the problem is with Angel. (And the founding of the orphanage is definitely a potential Ruddigore reference, for those of you who read my Gilbert and Sullivan comments last time.) The only really significant pointer to corruption is Angel's new tendency to sadism and ultraviolence, and I think that can be explained by what I think will be one of the real focuses, guilt over what he did to Connor and his friends. I have to reserve particular praise for the incidental music, which achieved a subtle Latin flavour without taking it to ostentatious and patronising extremes. A small, irritating problem was an uncharacteristic lapse in translation - el Diablo Robotico does not mean The Devil's Robot, which should be el Robot del Diablo. (I do wonder if Angel's "Nobody remembers the good stuff" was a small rebuke to that faction of Spike fans who feel the need to minimise Angel's everyday good deeds in S1-3 to make their favourite look better.)

Second to Numero Cinco in merit comes Lineage, which could have been a lame anvilly statement of what had been effectively done by implication in previous seasons, but was lifted by subtle writing and excellent performances by Denisof and Dotrice. It would have been easy for Dotrice to play Roger simply as a monster, but the subtlety of his constant second-guessing and undercutting of Wes's achievements left room for the possibility that he really does see himself as keeping Wes up to snuff rather than bullying him. (It may be easier to get it if you're English.) The similarities in characterisation between this season and early S3 have been noticed, but the opening of this one makes it clear that S4 Dark!Wes has by no means been erased, given how much he blatantly enjoyed the gangster fencing. There's something of a parallel to S3's Billy, as once again Fred comes close to a romantic situation with Wesley but is brought up short by the revelation of how far out there he can get, both morally and emotionally. Some might see them as linked in their capacity for ruthlessness. However, I think the big difference is that Fred is aware of her own capacity for cold-blooded violence in self-defence and is ashamed by it, while Wes is far more positive about his ruthlessness in the cause of the greater good. The Wes/Angel scene at the end is full of potential for later, with Angel apparently accepting Wes's capacity to make the hard decisions. One wonders if Wes will end up making the same morally ambiguous decisions against Angel later this year, and if Angel might believe that he deserves it as punishment. A small Spike moment - Spike's awkward "How've you been" when Roger talks about the Vienna massacre shows that Spike still hasn't dealt with the biggest obstacle to considering him redeemed - his inability to produce any hint of contrition when faced with someone he has directly wronged. Some might suggest that an apology would be pointless and meaningless, but I personally believe that doesn't absolve one from the need to make the attempt. I don't see a person who has accepted his guilt and healthily decided to put it behind him, I see a person who treats repentance as something akin to a painful attack of diarrhoea. Once you recover, there's no need for it to make a difference to your future life.

The episodes seem to have become more episodic, but there's an interesting current of placing subtle hints to prepare for future eps, such as Spike's gradually growing interest in shanshu in Hellbound and Numero Cinco. Certainly, Angel's casual, accidental (?) reference to "the father shall kill the son" in Numero Cinco, and the allusion to Lilah's death in Lineage, suggest that S3-4 hasn't been forgotten. Sooner or later, we need an explicit statement of exactly what people remember, but I'm leaning more and more to the idea that it's a Ben/Glory situation, with the characters physically unable to remember but with nothing to replace it. Rahael suggested immediately on seeing the ep that the change in AtS S5 can be summed up by the fact of Roger being a robot, whereas in S2-4 he might well have been the real thing. Wes doesn't see the difference though, which is enough to keep this old-school AtS fan happy. Angel and Spike's incompetent attempts at parent-killing kinship with Wes were amusing and counter-productive. Counter-productive because if soulless vamps typically kill their parents what does that make Wes?

On the wider implications of Lineage: if anything the fake Roger said can be trusted we have an explanation for Roger's survival of BVS7 and the revival of the WC. It seems that Caleb and the FE didn't bother to go after the retired members, which is plausible given that that pair of villains hardly had a handful of brain cells to rub together between them. However, if the revived WC consists solely of the old boys, no way can its revival be a good thing. It is possible that the revived WC are behind the cyborgs as the attempted magical enslaving of Angel seems in tune with their philosophy, and it would be the least complicated explanation of the fake Roger's convincingness if its personality was some kind of direct recording from the real one. However, the sophisticated fusing of magic and technology in the cyborgs hardly seems consistent with WC ideology. I have a suspicion about the cyborgs' creator and guiding mind which I won't state directly as it is almost certainly too dark too be true, but here are some questions that may help you to it:

Who do we know has skills in both cybernetics and magic, and the rather unusual mindset and intellectual background that would lead to attempts to fuse the two?

Who do we know has files from the old WC that might include background on the Wyndam-Prices, father and son?

Who do we know has problems with respecting human integrity, dignity and free will that have never been properly dealt with?

Hopefully fairly soon we will have Destiny, or as I like to call it "Get Your Hands Off My Shanshu, Mother f***er!"

Thanks to aliera and TCH for the tapes and Rahael for the TV, biscuits, tea and intellectually stimulating company!


[> Thanks for writing up your thoughts! -- Rahael, 08:27:35 12/08/03 Mon

Very similar reactions here.

I felt a little disappointed by Hellbound, and this is probably the first time I haven't loved a SdK penned ep. It felt a little thin. Maybe I'm not all that comfortable with the new format of the show - episodic as opposed to arc.

However, things got cracking from them on. I was much amused by Life of the party. I loved the Arch Duke! I loved how his sour-faced entourage stood apart from the party-ers and how his little slave scampered away at the first opportunity. It was a fun ep, and as d'H has often commented, AtS really suits contact with the outside world.

This was also proved by the Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco which was outstanding. Moving, powerful, full of subtle metaphor. It made me have a duh! moment. I'm not the hugest fan of magic realism as a genre, but it totally suits AtS. I thought there was a sense of magic realism, but maybe that was me bringing my own connotations of the literature i read with me when I viewed the ep.

There were also some nice resonances of the last season. A family torn apart. The heart that no longer feels. A bargagin with the enemy. The demon which is connected to the power of the sun god. A charm with the sun carved on it, which numero cinco swallows (though this is a mislead).

My favourite of the season so far.

Lineage was v. good too. Now I'm actually getting a sense of suspense and tension re the season arc. Perhaps something really is afoot.

Plus, I'm really enjoying Spike as a character once more. As much as I enjoyed him in Season 4 of BtVS. I like Harmony too, and Eve. I'm not so hot on Spike/Fred, or Wesley/Fred. But nevermind.

The only problem so far is that there is no one character that i really really care about at the moment. Anything could happen to any of them, and it wouldn't particularly affect me.

This is the first time so far that I've felt any inclination to re-watch any of the eps so far.

Jeffrey Bell continues to cement my good opinion of him from the last season. Who wrote Lineage?

[> [> Drew Goddard penned 'Lineage' -- Tchaikovsky, 17:24:23 12/08/03 Mon

Interesting thoughts both of you. I wasn't too fond of Hellbound until I alighted on my doubt theme, from which point onwards I was motoring despite some of the episode's weakish points.

I shan't bang on about Life of the Party, except to say that it was the kind of episode I could imagine an uninitiated friend watching and dismissing the entire series as shallow, slightly crude postmodern comedy. Maybe I should enjoy it as moderately-well-done-shallow-slightly-crude-postmodern-comedy-with-characters-in-whom-I'm-invested, but that justification jsut has too many hyphens.

Agree entirely with both of you about Tale, a beautiful piece of film. Also must very much echo KdS' mention of the music, which I thought was extraordinarily singular, bringing a distinct, part of the series yet not ambience to the episode not seen since AYNOHYEB?

My qualm with 'Lineage' is as with cjl's, that they abandoned the thematic parallel they started with in favour of a weaker one which wasn't all that interesting. Indeed, partly in favour of a Wes/Fred/Knox triangle, which at this stage, with Knox as a cardboard cut-out, is not that interesting.


[> [> [> Got to agree with you -- Rahael, 18:41:24 12/08/03 Mon

about the triangle. I think Knox maybe the character I least like at this point. I keep feeling overly pressured to like him and find him cute.

Life of the Party isn't the ep you show to impress people, agreed. But I think it had a warmth and it was engaging. Oh, well I should just admit that my prediliction for funny little alien-type characters has gone up a notch since watching Babylon 5 S3!

I need now to go back and read all your reviews! Which is of course a pleasure in itself!

[> I'll take your bet ('Hellbound' - 'Lineage') -- Pony, 09:19:59 12/08/03 Mon

The Willow thought is a cool one and hadn't occurred to me before. I'm willing to bet against you though because it would be something I couldn't see being resolved without having her guest star for multiple episodes. Plus I don't think Dark!Willow is really that popular.

I do wonder though if Angel & Co. sent out "under new (non-evil) management" cards to friends and foes alike. In Lineage Angel wants to let the possible good guys know that he's on their side. What if no one sees it that way? It has been mentioned a couple times that Angel controls only the LA branch of W&H, if there are other branches still active around the world what is our gang's culpalbility? Are they considered collaborators? Of course aside from the ex-Sunnydale contingent we really don't have any reliable information as whether there is anyone out there on the good guys side.

[> [> Ah, but which Dark!Willow? -- KdS, 12:03:00 12/08/03 Mon

I see this more along the lines of genuinely-Dark!Willow of early S6, rather than lame-cop-out-Possessed!Willow of end-S6 through S7.

And judging by Life of the Party, the news of W&H's new orientation is pretty well-known in LA. I see the occult world as sufficiently globalised that the news would have spread, unless someone's deliberately spreading calumny (pure spec).

[> [> [> Me too -- Pony, 12:57:02 12/08/03 Mon

Which is why I think it would have to be a multi-episode arc to deal with Dark-but-not-veiny!Willow. Though what if she weren't dark at all? What if a large number of good guys seriously and sincerely believed that Angel had made a bad choice? And not bad in a sellout kind of way but a serious betrayal of everything he once stood for, big B Bad.

[> [> [> Hey! You just used the word 'calumny' -- Tchaikovsky, 17:26:14 12/08/03 Mon

You made my day. Lovely word. Thank you.


[> [> [> Re: Ah, but which Dark!Willow? -- phoenix, 04:37:58 12/09/03 Tue

I would be delighted if M.E. did finally choose to deal with properly Dark!Willow, minus the icredibly dissapointing S6 cop-out, during which they destroyed one of the most potentialy fascinating and outright disturbing character arcs they'd ever done. What a waste, it still makes me mad as hell, must return to my soothing mantra of, "it's only a TV show." It would be especially interesting after the events of Chosen, because I for one saw that whole ecstatic spell with the Scythe as anything but a get out of jail free card for Willow. In fact I'm busy writing a fic set in the two weeks directly after Chosen, about what happens when the Scoobies come back down to earth and realise what they have actually done.

However, I very much doubt that Willow, Dark or otherwise, has anything to do with the cyborgs, I can't really see ME taking the character down that road, though, as I live in Scotland and haven't seen Ats S5 yet, I can only go on what I've read on this board. Still, fingers crossed she shows up in LA for a few eps. because I need my Willow fix.

[> Re: Thoughts on AtS 5:4-7 *Speculation Spoilery** -- drew the delurker, 00:40:20 12/09/03 Tue

Definite Spoiler Speculation below this quote

However, if the revived WC consists solely of the old boys, no way can its revival be a good thing. It is possible that the revived WC are behind the cyborgs as the attempted magical enslaving of Angel seems in tune with their philosophy, and it would be the least complicated explanation of the fake Roger's convincingness if its personality was some kind of direct recording from the real one. However, the sophisticated fusing of magic and technology in the cyborgs hardly seems consistent with WC ideology. I have a suspicion about the cyborgs' creator and guiding mind which I won't state directly as it is almost certainly too dark too be true, but here are some questions that may help you to it:

It sounds like something that the Trio might have either planned for. Andrew has just shown up---he might have access to Warren's tech. The whole magic/science cyborg thing is rather star treky.

Penn and Spike - Angelus' students -- CarolB, 00:22:21 12/08/03 Mon

Our local UPN station here in L.A. shows Angel reruns on the weekends, and Sunday morning they showed "Somnambulist" from season one. This is an episode I haven't seen since season one first aired. Seeing it again, after all this time, got me thinking about the mentor/student relationship Angelus and Penn had, and the same relationship he had with Spike.

The episode never says why Angelus turned Penn, but during the flashback scene between them as they talk while standing over Penn's dead sister, (as well as some of the dialogue later in the episode), leads me to think that Angelus saw the same relationship that he'd had with his father when he was human Liam, in Penn. When talking to Angelus, Penn talks about his mortal father as not being someone who ever thought highly of him.

Angel: "First kill. Aptly done."

Penn smiles: "It's strange. She was my sister."

Angelus: "And yet you feel nothing."

Penn: "No, I feel hungry."

Angelus: "Ah, you do learn very quickly."

Penn: "My father would disagree."

Angelus: "Ah, then perhaps it's time you shared with him just what a fine student you've become."

Human Penn was Liam's perfect mirror, mostly wrt his father. So, Angelus vamps him, and turns vampPenn into his eternal perfect mirror. Penn became, from what's shown, the perfect student of Angelus. Totally adoption of the killing style he is first taught, to the point that he uses it for over two centuries.

What I always wondered was, why did Angelus abandon Penn? He didn't abandon Dru, nor did he try and abandon Spike from what we've seen. So, why did he leave Penn, who was a perfect copy of him when turned? Penn says he felt aprovial from Angelus, something he'd never felt from his mortal father:

Penn: "Well, you were right about one thing, Angelus. The last 200 years has been about me sticking it to my father. But I've come to realize something - it's you! (He jumps up and kicks Angel in the stomach) You made me! (Kicks him in the face, then double fists him a couple of times) You taught me! (Angel drops to the floor and Penn jumps on his back) You approved of me in ways my mortal father never did! You are my real father, Angelus."

Sounds familar, dosen't it? From "Destiny":

Spike (punches Angel) 'Cause every time you look at
me...(punches Angel) you see all the dirty little things I've
done,(punches Angel) all the lives I've taken...(punches
Angel) because of you! Drusilla sired me...(punches
Angel) but you... you made me a monster.

After seeing "Destiny," and his relationship with Spike/William, I think it's obvious that what simply happened was Angelus got bored with Penn. Penn was not only the perfect copy of himself at the time, but he was the perfect student as well. He adopted Angelus' killing style, but wasn't ever innovative, imaginative, just not as ruthless as Angelus was growing to be. Even Angel calls Penn on his lack of imagination:

Angel: "I'm sorry for what I did to you, Penn, for what I turned you into."

Penn: "First class killer? An Artist? A bold re-interpreter of the form?"

Angel: "Try cheesy hack. Look at you. You've been getting back at your father for over 200 years. It's pathetic and cliched. Probably got a killer shrine on your wall, huh? News clippings, magazine articles, maybe a few candles? Oh, you are so prosaic."

It seems that Angelus was looking for a mirror of himself as far back as the late 1700s. And he probably thought Penn fit the bill. But Penn was too predictable. He didn't have the imagination to ever reach the level of monster that Angelus himself later achieved.

Had already achieved when Dru brought vampWilliam home with her.

I've seen some wonder how, based on the moment we saw in "Fool For Love" is it that Spike and Angel ever had a student/mentor type relationship. How, as Spike said in "Destiny", Angel/us could have been the one to turn him into a monster, when they seemed to disagree a lot, especially about what a "real kill, a good kill" was.

It's Spike rebelliousness, I'd say, that kept Angelus interested in molding William into who be became -- Spike. The style of killing, (which was the main thing they fought about in that mine shaft in Yorkshire), was less important to Angelus than the potential for total ruthlessness he look for in his students.

Spike had drive, had imagination. He may not have been into the stalking/mind games that Angelus preferred to use on his victims, but, molded correctly, William had the potential for the same vicious dive for killing that Angelus had.

The only reason Angelus abandoned this student was because of the Gypsy curse that restored his soul. Not out of boredom with him, like with Penn.


[> Sorry. Spoilers for 'Somnambulist,' 'Fool For Love' and 'Destiny' above. (nim) -- CarolB, 01:10:41 12/08/03 Mon


[> Re: Penn and Spike - Angelus' students -- Claudia, 09:04:45 12/08/03 Mon

I wondered if anyone else had saw that episode and noticed the similiarity . . . and differences in Angel's relationships with both Penn and Spike.

You have a good argument on why Angel (I refuse to call him Angelus) had eventually abandoned Penn. But my question is . . . how long did he keep Penn by his side? And how many years would have passed before he and Darla would have abandoned Drusilla and Spike (although I suspect that the latter would not have really minded).

[> [> Re: Penn and Spike - Angelus' students -- CarolB, 13:52:52 12/08/03 Mon

You have a good argument on why Angel (I refuse to call him Angelus) had eventually abandoned Penn. But my question is . . . how long did he keep Penn by his side?

From what was said in the episode, Angelus and Penn went around together until sometime before the start of the 1800s. Penn says he watied for Angelus to show up for their meeting in Italy until the 19th century, but it never happened. Since Angel didn't get his soul back until 1989, that would meen that Penn could have been waiting around for almost 100 years. :)

I actually don't think Angelus would have abandoned Dru or Spike. As far back as season 2 of BtVS, it was clear how different his relationship to the two of them was, as apposed to his relationship with Penn. Even with a soul, Angel just wanted Dru to "take Spike and go". (Lie To Me) He didn't try to kill either of them at all. When he confronted Spike in "School Hard," he didn't try to fight Spike, just trick him.

[> [> [> Abandoning Penn -- Jaelvis, 16:04:32 12/08/03 Mon

Who to say that Angelus abandoned Penn? Maybe it was Penn who left Angelus and Darla? Maybe he had his own agenda for all we know.

[> [> [> [> Re: Abandoning Penn -- CarolB, 20:59:39 12/08/03 Mon

But Penn did say that he waited for Angelus. They were supposed to meet in Italy, and he waited for him until the 19th century, but Angelus never showed up.

It wasn't until they meet face to face again for the first time since then that Penn got some reason for why Angelus never showed.

[> [> [> [> Angel says why he didn't show -- Lunasea, 09:23:18 12/09/03 Tue

Penn: "We were to meet in Italy, remember?"
Angel: "I remember."
Penn smiling: "Well, I waited. (Kate crawls towards her radio) Hell, I waited until the 19th century. What happened?"
Angel: "Got held up in Romania."
Penn: "Romania. What's in Romania?"
Angel: "Gypsies."

I don't think there is any abandoning going on. The comment about the 19th century when Angel was cursed in 1898 is to show how devoted and pathetic Penn is to wait around that long. Penn goes out, away from Daddy to do some stuff and agrees to meet up later. No abandoning going on, except by Darla, who doesn't go to pick him up before cutting a bloody path across Europe to China.

The problem is that the writers forgot about Penn who was vamped 200 years ago, which would be prior to Spike who was vamped in 1880. So now we have to retcon a slashy joke.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Angel says why he didn't show -- Claudia, 12:00:04 12/09/03 Tue

[Penn smiling: "Well, I waited. (Kate crawls towards her radio) Hell, I waited until the 19th century. What happened?"]

If Penn and Angel were acquainted during the late 18th century, it's a good chance that he waited for Angel until 1800 or 1801. Probably just a few years.

[> It wasn't abandonment... -- Sofdog, 12:06:19 12/08/03 Mon

As I recall, Penn mentions that he was to meet Angelus in a certain city. It was something mentioned in Buffy canon, Paris or Budapest. He waited there for 150 years. Angel doesn't explain that he never made it because he got his soul back.

He didn't abandon Penn, really. Circumstances spiralled out of his control, more like.

[> [> Timeline -- CarolB, 13:37:04 12/08/03 Mon

They were suposed to meet in Italy. Penn says he wated until the 19th century, but Angelus never showed. Since Penn was turned towards the end of the 18th century, it seemed to me, by the start of the 19th, Angelus had already left Penn.

This works, because Angel/us didn't get his soul back until 1898 - which was the end of the 19th century. When Penn said he waited for him until the 19th century, I don't think he waited around for almost 100 years.

If he did, well, he had a big reason for wanting to stick it to Angel "his father", didn't he? :)

[> [> [> m.e. & timelines -- anom, 22:14:10 12/08/03 Mon

Joss Whedon is notoriously bad at math (he freely admits it), & timelines on the Mutant Enemy shows are often screwed up. In Prodigal, Angel does say he got held up in Romania. Penn asks "What's in Romania?" & Angel says, "A lot of Gypsies." That seems to imply that being cursed w/a soul was why he didn't meet Penn in Italy...even if that doesn't fit in w/the times we've been given for certain relevant events.

happy birthday to me ... -- lynx, 00:05:34 12/08/03 Mon

i got my firefly dvds!!! oh, and something to play them on. lol


[> Indeed, happy birthday. -- Celebaelin, 08:03:29 12/08/03 Mon

[> Happy birthday! -- Masq, 10:03:50 12/08/03 Mon

[> Very happy birthday lynx! Enjoy your gifts.:) -- Briar Rose, 14:30:52 12/08/03 Mon

[> happy birthday, lynx! have fun, & enjoy firefly! -- anom, 22:00:15 12/08/03 Mon

[> thank you all. off to watch more firefly. :) -- lynx, 03:25:44 12/09/03 Tue

ot but need help -- Fred, 07:26:21 12/08/03 Mon

I need ya'lls help again, if you can please give me 15 works of art containing one of the three greek virgin goddesses(Hestia Athena and Artemis) with the artists name, date of work and a description of the piece insted of a picture it would halp me out alot. I need this by noon central time thanks in advanced


[> Google it! -- Darby, 08:55:17 12/08/03 Mon

I went to Google's Image Search, clicked on advanced search, put your three goddesses in the box for ANY of the words (so it wouldn't just find images labelled for ALL three). It picked up about 10000 hits, so I expect working through the promising ones (several on the first page were obviously works of art) should get you 15.

[> Re: ot but need help -- skpe, 08:59:25 12/08/03 Mon

you might do a gogle on Rubens and Titian(sp?) both did a number of works baised on greak mythology

100th episode spoiler - TVGuide -- Cheryl, 11:35:12 12/08/03 Mon

Just read about Lindsey on

I am *so* psyched for the next few episodes!


[> So, he's not the cat. -- skeeve, 13:20:26 12/08/03 Mon

[> Re: 100th episode spoiler - TVGuide -- David, 12:13:13 12/09/03 Tue

Hi I went to that site and couldn't find any spoiler, could someone point me in the right direction? Thanks

[> [> Re: 100th episode spoiler - TVGuide -- Cheryl, 19:43:41 12/09/03 Tue

I went to that site and couldn't find any spoiler, could someone point me in the right direction?

Well, there was really just one sentence that mentioned something that will happen in the 100th episode, so I figured better safe than sorry. :-)

'The' Vampire with a Soul: more than a shanshu (AtS spoilers S. 1 through 5.8) -- Masq, 12:50:15 12/08/03 Mon

Note: My goal is here is not to argue that either Angel or Spike is "The Vampire with a Soul" (VwaS), but simply to lay out everything that has been said about the VwaS in five seasons of the show. You draw your own conclusions.

Where it all started: In the first season episode Blind Date, Angel sneaks into the vault at Wolfram and Hart to steal some information on an assassination he wants to thwart. While he is there, he is mysteriously drawn to a scroll, the Prophecies of Aberjian, which he takes with him.

In the next episode (To Shanshu in L.A.), Wesley translates the scroll and uses portions of it to heal Angel's vision-girl Cordelia, who has been struck down by a demon. He also struggles with a "pivotal" passage related to the word "shanshu". He finally translates it thus:

The vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, will shanshu.

"...Become human. It's his reward.... [I]t won't happen tomorrow or the next day. He has to survive the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and some... uh, several--not that many--fiends that will be unleashed."

This passage sounds like it could just as easily describe Spike as it does Angel. But it also implies that the shanshu is about much more than saving the world once, or even twice. It is the final event in a long series of events, and hence a ways off for both vampires.

And this is only one passage in the prophecy, albeit an important one. Much of Wolfram and Hart's actions in season 2 of Angel are informed by another section of the prophecy:

Nathan: "The prophecies all agree that when the final battle is waged, [the Vampire with a Soul] plays a key role."
Lindsey: "Good for him."
Nathan: "Which side he's on is the gray area, and we're going to continue making it as gray as possible." --Blood Money

Wolfram and Hart are especially interested in a section of the prophecy which implies that there will be a final apocalypse, and that in that apocalypse, the role of the Vampire with a Soul is up for grabs: he may fight on the side of good, or he may fight on the side of evil. The prophecy is murky on this, and in season 2 Wolfram and Hart work overtime to make sure Angel will be on the side of evil. Not, of course, by making him lose his soul, (which would be in contradiction to the prophecy), but by bringing out his very human weaknesses--his anger, bitterness, and rage.

This ambiguity about the role of the Vampire with a Soul (good or evil?) in "the final battle" is later echoed in season 4 by Jasmine, one of the Powers that Be.

The Powers that Be took an interest in Angel from the moment he moved to Los Angeles and perhaps even before that (they are a candidate for the power that returned him from hell in Faith, Hope and Trick. Through Doyle, and later Cordelia, the Powers turned Angel into their personal Champion, sending him out on missions via the visions.

When demon blood turns Angel human in I Will Remember You (ep 1.8), it is implied that the Powers that Be will be responsible for the "real" shanshu. Or at least, this is what Doyle and the Oracles believe:

Doyle: "I thought the only way for you to be made mortal was if the Powers That Be stepped in."
Angel: "What, they could have done this? How come I keep getting the feeling that you're not telling me everything."
Doyle: "Because I'm not. We're both on a need to know basis here."

The Oracles are channels to the Powers that Be. Angel asks them why he is now human:

Angel: "What's happened to me?"
Female Oracle: "It's true then, brother."
Male Oracle: "He is no longer a warrior."
Angel: "It was the demon's blood. It wasn't the Powers That Be that did this?"
Male Oracle: "The Powers That Be? Did you save humanity? Avert the Apocalypse?"
Female Oracle: "You faced a Mohra demon. Life goes on."

Again, the shanshu is discussed as a reward bestowed by the Powers that Be.

In To Shanshu in LA, Lindsey tells Angel that the Scroll of Aberjian also talks about the connection between the Vampire with a Soul and the Powers that Be. It is prophesied in the scroll that at some point, the VwaS will have "all his connections severed"--he will be completely cut off from the Powers that Be. Lindsey thought it was happening then, with Cordelia lying at death's door and the Oracles slaughtered. But he was wrong.

We get to meet one of the Powers that Be personally with the arrival of Jasmine in season 4. Jasmine erases evil from the world--and human free will along with it--before Angel takes her power away in Peace Out. Wounded and no longer worshipped, Jasmine prepares to unleash hell on Earth in revenge. She reminds Angel of the prophecy, paying particular attention to the section Wolfram and Hart was interested in:

"Remember the prophecy, Angel? The one that says in the time of the apocalypse, you'd play a major part? How you never knew whether you'd be on the side of good or evil? Well, now you know. Thanks to you, this frail, little Power That Was has just enough strength in her to wipe out your whole species. And it's all on your hands."

But of course, Jasmine never got to carry out her threatened apocalypse, so her actions were obviously not the apocalypse of prophecy. And just because Jasmine's words imply that Angel is the vampire of prophecy (this is post Spike's re-ensoulment) does not mean that he is. Jasmine may have simply wanted to lay the blame for what she was about to do on Angel's shoulders and used a section of the prophecy he was familiar with (indeed, dogged by) to do it.

Noir Angel and post-noir Angel: Jasmine's actions hammer the final nail in the coffin of Angel's faith in the Powers that Be, and in the Prophecies of Aberjian. But this had been building up since season 2, when Wolfram and Hart were trying so hard to make souled Angel go dark, and almost succeeded. Angel had been trying throughout the first half of season 2 to live up to the shanshu prophecy and bring about his humanity (with a gusto that resembled Spike's in "Destiny").

In Reprise, he went to Wolfram and Hart to attack the Senior Partners directly, believing that he could bring about "the final battle" that was "his destiny". In this episode, he tells Lorne--the reader of destinies--that "getting to the Senior Partners, that's my destiny." Lorne replies: "Is it? Because I haven't actually featured a destiny with you in it lately. It's all kind of murky."

And indeed, Angel does not succeed in bringing down the Senior Partners. He goes home, his faith in prophecy and the Powers crushed into nihilism. He sleeps with Darla, fully believing, and not caring, that it will cost him his soul. But he doesn't lose his soul.

This does not return his full faith in the Powers, though. It simply turns his nihilism into a kind of existentialism:

Angel: "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it."
Kate: "And now you do?"
Angel: "Not all of it. All I want to do is help. I want to help because... I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world."

But that wasn't the end of the story for Angel and the Powers that Be. Cordelia, Angel's vision girl, still has faith in the Powers, and continues to give Angel his missions well into season 3. Angel is walking the existentialist/believer balance beam in this season. His real motives for getting up every morning and doing his job as "champion" come from a much more down-to-earth motive: love, specifically, the love he feels for his son and for Cordelia.

It was Angel's dark night with Darla that produced Connor. And in season 3, Angel had hope for living something resembling a "normal" life as a vampire through his love of Cordelia and Connor. But even as he was doing so, both of his loved ones became pawns in Jasmine's plan to enter and rule the Earthly plane. And so ultimately (in season 4), both of Angel's loved ones were ripped away from him by this Power that Be.

So it should not be any surprise that the Angel we meet in season 5 is bitter about love and prophecy both, and not as motivated to chase after the carrot of the shanshu as he once was. It has become a reflex action for him to "do the champion thing", but his heart is not in it.

Other mentions of the prophecy and the VwaS:

· In The House Always Wins (ep 4.3), a casino owner holds Lorne hostage, forcing him to read people's destinies. He then "steals" these destinies and sells them to the highest bidder.

The casino owner identifies Angel as "a vampire with a soul", who, among other things "is positioned to be a major player in the apocalypse." He promptly "steals" Angel's "destiny", and like the other victims of the casino owner, Angel becomes lethargic and unmotivated. There are a few things to note, though. (1) First, Angel still manages to fight on behalf of his friends before his "destiny" is returned to him. And (2) it isn't entirely clear how the casino owner discovered Angel's "destiny". Did he get it from Lorne, or did he discover Angel was a vampire with a soul (this is also post-Spike's resouling) and assume Angel was the vampire in the prophecy? And finally (3) it isn't clear what was actually being stolen from people and being sold to others. "Destinies" or something else?

· The Nyazian Prophecies of season 3, which speak of the events related to the arrival of Holtz, the birth of Connor, and the coming of Jasmine (and the defeat of Jasmine) do not seem to be part of the Vampire with a Soul prophecies. Nevertheless, Angel's skepticism about the prophecies and his simultaneous willingness to take action based on what the prophecies say sums up his season 3 balancing act/ambivalence.

· In season 3, there is an interesting reference to a new (not in the Scroll of Aberjian??) prophecy about "The Vampire with a Soul", and that comes in Forgiving (ep 3.17). The incorporeal demon Sahjhan had been trying to get Holtz to kill the pregnant Darla and then the infant Connor. When Holtz took Connor into Quortoth, Sahjhan decided that was close enough to what he wanted--getting Connor out of the way or killing him. His work "done", he reveals to Angel that the "Father will kill the Son" prophecy that had been tormenting Wesley was actually a fake prophecy he planted in an attempt to thwart the fate described in the true prophecy he had come across:

Sahjhan: "It's pretty freaky the first time you see your name in a true prophecy all carved in blood on an official scroll. 'The one sired by the vampire with a soul will grow to manhood and kill Sahjhan.' Me!"
Fred: "So you planted false prophecies, that Angel would kill his son, and Wesley believed them."
Sahjhan: "Thank god he had some spine. Holtz was useless. He wanted to raise your kid as his own! I'm living with a knife over my heart for eleven hundred years and he's into petty revenge! If he'd just killed the damn thing while it was still in its mother we could have avoided all this!"

Of course, we only have Sahjhan's word that this is a real prophecy (but otherwise we have no motive for him going to such bother to kill Connor). But if it is a real prophecy, and the "one sired" is Connor, that would make Angel the "The Vampire with a Soul" mentioned in the prophecy. However, it doesn't follow that the VwaS mentioned in this prophecy must be the same VwaS mentioned in the shanshu prophecy.

· Indeed, in Offspring (ep 3.7), Wesley suggests that Angel might not be the subject of the shanshu prophecy at all, that it might refer to his child, who at that point they thought could be born a vampire. Angel, who knows it is murky whether that the Vampire with a Soul mentioned in the shanshu prophecy will fight for good or evil, ties himself in a knot trying to figure out if his unborn child is good or evil, and whether it is "his destiny" to bring that child into the world, or to stop the child from being born.

While Angel struggles to decide what is right and what he should do and whether he has a choice if it is all pre-determined anyway, Fred stands up and says,

"Can I say something about destiny? Screw destiny! If this evil thing comes we'll fight it, and we'll keep fighting it until we whoop it. 'Cause destiny is just another word for inevitable and nothing's inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say 'your evitable!'"

And that's perhaps how we should feel about this whole shanshu thing. It may just be a red herring that Eve and her Lindsey-looking pal have put there to have Angel and company all looking in one direction while they do sneaky things in the other direction. Or that ME is using to make the viewers all look in one direction while ME brews something interesting in another direction.


[> Very timely! -- Pony, 15:26:52 12/08/03 Mon

The ASSB board is having a very civilized and well-written debate on the shanshu issue today. It's at:

Must dash, but that was an excellent analysis, Masq! Personally I think that the shanshu is a misdirect. I'm not a big fan of destiny (though I do like inevitability, go figure) so I'd be pretty happy to find out that the shanshu turns out to be false, or not what we've been led to believe. Of course the show has a tendency to make the false prophecies the ones that actually come true...

[> [> Re: Very timely! -- Masq, 15:32:10 12/08/03 Mon

Well, I'd post my essay over at ASSB as a way to contribute, but I'm paranoid of being spoiled by subject lines. Hopefully people will have interesting things to say about it over here. ?

[> Shanshu as Central Metaphor of AtS (no spoilers) -- cjl (bringing over his post from Angel's Soul Board), 16:10:08 12/08/03 Mon

When considering the thematic resonance of shanshu, and what it means to the players in ANGEL, you have to go back to the mother series, Buffy, and look at its central metaphor. For all seven seasons of Buffy, Joss Whedon explored the themes of Growing Up--from the end of childhood to the beginning of young adulthood.

At the start of BtVS, Buffy was in denial about her destiny as a Slayer. She wanted to start over after the disaster at Emery, wipe the slate clean in a new town, try out for the cheerleading squad, and be the good girl her mother always wanted her to be. By the end of the series, Buffy had not only accepted her destiny as the Slayer, she had completely redefined the rules of the game. She'd stopped following the arcane pronouncements of the Watchers Council, and in "Chosen," declared that the "one in every generation" limitation no longer applied. Leaving her childhood behind in the gaping hole of Sunnydale, Ca., she could look out to the road in front of her, a road filled with endless possibilities. Childhood was over, and her adult life beckoned. Whatever other problems I might have had with Season 7 in general, and "Chosen" in particular, this was an appropriate way for BtVS to end--perhaps the ONLY way it could have ended.

Could there have been a BUFFY Season 8? Perhaps. If SMG would have been up for it, Fox and UPN would have green lighted an eighth season in a nanosecond. But Joss had clearly reached the end of his metaphorical rope. For him, the first stage of her journey was over, and he had no desire to follow Buffy through her twenties and thirties. It's not that Joss didn't want to explore the dilemmas of young adulthood, it's just that he had a better vehicle for those explorations right at hand:


If BUFFY was the journey from childhood to young adulthood, ANGEL is adulthood looking back at youth. The central figure of ANGEL is--and always will be--the drunken, would-be lothario we saw in Becoming I. Darla's turning of Liam is the metaphorical equivalent of Liam's wasted potential, the horizon-less road as represented by the finale of BUFFY transformed into a dead end.

For a moment, let's remove the vampire metaphor and frame the discussion in real life terms. Liam meets Darla in the shadows of that tavern, and the two of them take off on a wild spree of drinking and debauchery. Maybe Darla encourages Liam to turn highwayman, robbing and perhaps even killing to fill up their purses, an 18th century version of Bonnie and Clyde. Finally, after 20 years or so on the run from the law, Liam stops and has a moment of clarity: what have I done with my life?

He doesn't "go straight" all at once, of course. He tries to stay with Darla and the band of thieves he himself organized, but his heart isn't in it anymore. At some point, he breaks away from the gang, enters a church outside of Dublin, and slips into a confessional booth. He confesses his sins to the priest, and asks for absolution from God. The priest is shocked, but willing to help him overcome his lifetime of sin. But Liam knows--in his gut-- that no matter how many good works he might do, God will pass harsh judgment on him for all he has done....

And so we have our hero--with Angelus as the metaphor for the horrible waste of a man's life, and Angel as the hope for absolution. For that is what the promise of shanshu is really all about: absolution. If it were merely the promise of humanity, Angel and Spike would have gone off and found the nearest, snarling Mohra demon (see IWRY) and gone on their living, breathing way. But both Angel and Spike want to be absolved of their sins, to be sure that some power higher than themselves has given the big thumbs up to their efforts of reform, and blessed them with absolution. Or, if not total absolution, a clean slate to live again as mortal beings, with final judgment held in reserve until the end of their new mortal lives.

Again, let's strip away the metaphor and go back to Highwayman Liam. He tries to do good works for the community, even comes back and takes over his father's business. There are times when it seems to the people of Galway that the brooding Liam has made peace with his former life; another time, he finds true love, and this gives him the strength and the determination to put down roots and build a family. But every once in awhile, Darla and his old gang come back to town to remind him that he's never going to escape the sins of the past. He cannot fully give himself to love, to joy. Even at home, he is in exile from the grace of God.

Angel and our alternate Liam are not alone in their struggles. From mid-life (or even earlier), many people look back at youth and wonder what they could have done, should have done. How many of us in blogger-land have had dreams of being a writer or an artist, and then compromised, settled, taken the road of least resistance? (Angel taking control of Wolfram and Hart is a magnified version of those everyday compromises.) How many of us have tortured ourselves over the fact that we're never going to fulfill those dreams, and we've wasted part of our lives in worthless pursuits? If only we could go back somehow, wipe the slate clean, and start over again with the courage to pursue our dreams, and fulfill our true destiny in the world. This is also the promise of shanshu.

But, as we all know, shanshu is an illusion. It's never going to happen. Our two vampires with a soul pursue the dream so passionately, but only because they so fear the reality: no higher power is going to grant Angel and Spike their unbeating hearts' desire. Joss Whedon believes too much in his metaphors (and how they apply to real life) to give his heroes the easy way out. I honestly believe Angel and Spike will struggle along for the remaining length of the series, dealing with each other, their history with Dru and Darla, and the legacy of their bad old days, with the promise of shanshu always agonizingly just out of reach.

An unhappy ending? No. Because they'll be surrounded by friends and loved ones who make their struggles worthwhile. Perhaps, like Camus' version of Sisyphus, Angel and Spike will one day find satisfaction rolling their rocks up the hill. Perhaps, on that day, they will achieve their shanshu by no longer desiring it.


A man of 60 now, Liam looks out of the window of his shop in Galway. He is a well-respected merchant, well-loved by the younger members of the community, but still treated with disdain by some of the old-timers, who cheered when they put him away in County Gaol, and muttered dark oaths when he returned. His grandchildren are playing in the street, and he yells at young William to get the bloody hell out of the mud and get over to school. The shadow of his younger years still hangs over him, and he knows there will be no peace until he is dead; but for the most part, he is satisfied with his life, his family and his friends. Absolution will come from God--or it won't. He smiles, and goes back to work.

[> [> Re: Shanshu as Central Metaphor of AtS (no spoilers) -- s'kat, 16:57:15 12/08/03 Mon

Very good post - cjl. I think this is the universal theme in Whedon's work. It also reminds me oddly enough of some other works, which may or may not be good analogies:

1. Les Miserables

At the beginning of the story of Les Miserables, John Val Jean is a theif who steals a loaf of bread. When he leaves prison, a kindly old Priest takes him in. Val Jean desperate steals a pair of candlesticks - (I can't remember if the priest catches him at it or if Val Jean returns shamed) at any rate the priest lets him keep the Candlesticks and with the candlesticks Val Jean is able to become weatlhy and Mayor of a town. But his past haunts him. The past of theiving and other things - it lays on his back like a cross heavy to bear.

2. Force of Evil - a 1954? film by Adam Polansky starring John Garfield. John Garfield plays a lawyer to a mob boss involved in the numbers racket. Garfield's older brother, named Leo, has heart trouble and is a banker running bets.
Garfield attempts to save his older, kinder, brother by
brining him in on the racket, making him more of a part of it, but instead dooms his brother and loses his brother's the end of the tale, Garfield's character realizes the only way out of the muck is to climb those stairs back to the surface, turn himself in, and fight people like himself. (This was Adam Polansky's last movie before he was black-listed.)

3. There are many other tales, I'm certain, since the themes of dealing with our past sins and growing up are universal ones. Off hand, I can think of the tale of Sherlock Holmes - a morphine addict who had such promise,
or the lonely private dicks in Philip Marlow's books. Or perhaps best of all - Humphrey Bogarts Nick in Casablanca..saddened and weary by life, but continuing to fight onwards.

Then of course there's the tale of poor Sisyphus, one I think I may be overidentifying with at the here's my somewhat snarky take (not meant to belittle your wonderful post in the list, just to add a little humor to the proceedings..):

1. Ohhh...that's not that big a rock, I can push that up that hill in no time. All Inspired and Excited about pushing rock up hill.
2. Actually much bigger rock than it looked, kinda heavy and is this hill ever going to come to a point?
3. Why am I even bothering? Is there a point?
4. Oops...lost contact with the rock...noooo! Come back rock!
5. Races after rock
6. Loses Rock. All Depressed because lost rock and now back where we started.
7. Someone comes along and convinces us to get a new rock and start pushing it up the hill again.

Meanwhile along comes Kid Bro (Spike)...

1. Sees rock, picks it up and somehow comes up with a bizarre contraption to shoot rock to top of the hill, which uhm excuse me is against the rules.
2. Races after rock, because he miscalculated the distance and ended up shooting rock to the next hill, so not only has he skipped the hill entirely, he's onto the next one. Wait! There's a second hill? You mean I have to push this damn thing up two hills? And how'd he get so far ahead? Ugh!
3. Now he's whining about pushing rock up second hill and telling me, me who has followed the rules and worked for years doing this, that I have it easy? Hmmm, how did kid bro develop that contraption again and maybe I can do one too except designed to hit kid bro in the head.
4. Whoa...the second hill exploded taking kid bro out with it. That sucks. Really. I'm not laughing here, honest. Feel bad. Really bad.
5. Damn. Kid bro popped up again. Right behind me no less. Can't the guy stay down long enough for me to make it to the top of the hill? No...has to pop up again distracting me like a bloody jack in the box...apparently the explosion caused a displacement in time/space continuity and he's been sent back as a ghost but can't get past the first hill until I do...Heh! Cool. He's dependent on my success.
6. Just lost rock, some light hits kid bro and turns him corporeal, he grabs rock and now it's a competition on who gets to push rock up to the top of hill first. As if this wasn't hard enough before he showed up. Hey, that's my rock! Get your own rock!! Doesn't have your name on it, does it? Besides - Finder's keeper's - says kid bro. (Ugh. And to think, I taught that sucker how to walk...This is the thanks I get??)
7. Kid bro loses rock. Hee Hee. Except now we're both back at the bottom of the hill. Kid bro decides to get drunk. While I wait for new inspiration.

Inspiration...or opportunity, as the case may be. ;-)

[> [> [> Didi and Gogo Redux: Spike and Angel and Beckett -- cjl, 18:45:27 12/08/03 Mon

Loved the Sisyphus analogy, Kat, and I'm struck by the parallels between Les Miz and my own scenario for the human Liam-gone-bad. (Incredibly, I've never seen Force of Evil; must rent immediately!) The redemption tale, the struggle of man to overcome his past sins, is truly a timeless theme. By no coincidence, I turned on the radio today, and heard the new Johnny Cash single--a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," sung as a duet with Clash frontman Joe Strummer. (Draw whatever conclusion you want from this particular alignment of dearly departed music icons...)

The teaming of two dissimilar yet inextricably linked travelers waiting for redemption always brings to mind the team of Vladimir and Estragon in "Waiting for Godot." Wandering through a blasted landscape, confronting the inexplicable and random workings of fate (through the characters of Lucky and Pozzo), anticipating a touch of divine grace--which never arrives. Spike and Angel have gone through so many changes over the course of their (un)lives, suffered through so many cruel twists of fate--and yet, just like Didi and Gogo, they've found little joys to take them through the days.

Spike and Angel are both trying to navigate a landscape unique to themselves. There are no roadmaps or signs, just the road trailing off into the grey horizon. Once our vamps learn to see through their own misconceptions of each other, they can support each other in their travels. Just as Buffy triumphed by giving up the burden of her special gift, perhaps Angel and Spike will reach a new level of understanding by realizing their burdens aren't unique, after all.

[> [> [> About Sherlock Holmes . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:12:03 12/08/03 Mon

He was actually addicted to cocaine, not morphine. Also, in reading the stories, I was sometimes unsure whether Doyle was for or against cocaine. Sometimes it seems like he's against given Watson's negative reaction to learning of it. At other times, it feels as though we're meant to take Holmes's side, since he explains his coke use in the same way that he always makes deductions to Watson, which we're accustomed to excepting as right.

[> [> [> [> Agree -- KdS, 02:54:35 12/09/03 Tue

Cocaine was not seen in the 19th century as anything like as dangerous as it is now - Freud used it in quite large quantities, and you could buy it over the counter.

I really don't see any hint of a redemption story in Conan Doyle, and I don't think he was even attempting to write any long term character development. Holmes mellows a little over the stories, but the stories are written out of chronological order and the mellowing happens in the order that they were written, so I can't see it as a conscious design. There have been later attempts to give Holmes a youthful trauma of some kind (see for example Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution) but they're pretty much fanfic.

[> [> [> [> [> Cocaine -- Gyrus, 14:57:08 12/09/03 Tue

Cocaine was not seen in the 19th century as anything like as dangerous as it is now - Freud used it in quite large quantities, and you could buy it over the counter.

As I understand it, patterns of cocaine use were quite different in the 19th century. Most people who used cocaine (including Freud) weren't snorting, freebasing, or shooting powder cocaine. Rather, they were chewing the coca leaves, boiling them and drinking the resulting infusion, or smoking them in cigarrette form. (The heat from smoking would break down most of the actual cocaine, which still had the chemical base attached, so there wouldn't be much of a "high" involved.) So it's not surprising that a lot of people in those days saw cocaine use as harmless -- in most of the forms it took back then, it was.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Not the way Holmes used it -- Finn Mac Cool, 15:16:23 12/09/03 Tue

He took it intravenously.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'm just sayin'... -- Gyrus, 16:16:44 12/09/03 Tue

...that a lot of people in Victorian England (to whom cocaine was relatively new) might not have understood the difference between doing IV cocaine and eating, drinking, or smoking coca leaves.

[> [> [> [> [> Sorry, I should have been clearer -- s'kat, 17:40:21 12/09/03 Tue

I wasn't referring to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes but
the movie The Seven Percent Solution staring Nicol Williamson, in the movie Sherlock is investigating Moriarity, but shooting up what appears to heroine or cocaine. It's a very noirish movie and actually in my humble opinion more interesting than Doyle's parlor mysteries.

It's not fanfiction btw. Fanfiction is fiction written by fans without copyright approval which cannot be legally
published b/c it does not have the permission of the owners.
Seven Percent Solution did have permission and made money.
It's a bit like - the movie versions of Lord of The Rings actually, Jackson does not exactly follow the books. Or perhaps a better example is the novelizations of BTVS and aTS which are also not "fanfiction" but novelizations.

What I was discussing was noir and redemptive themes in different films and stories I found. I apologize for not being clearer and specifically stating the story that made me think of Holmes.

[> [> Has the metaphor changed over the years? -- Pony, 10:02:02 12/09/03 Tue

It seemed that when it was first introduced shanshu represented the promise of reconnection. The emphasis was on the humanity that lay at the end of it. Now it seems more about the judgement - who will be found worthy of the reward.

[> [> [> No, I don't think the metaphor has changed (spoilers up to 'Destiny'). -- cjl, 11:10:29 12/09/03 Tue

The theme of redemption and absolution has always been there; it's just a matter of emphasis from season to season.

In S1, Joss and DG were interesting in showing how Angel had to reconnect with humanity in order to reconnect with the humanity within himself. But, as I said before, if shanshu was only about regaining humanity in a physical sense, Angel never would have turned back the clock in IWRY, and he and Buffy would be eating cookie dough ice cream until they both exploded.

It's important to note that in IWRY, the PTB have absolutely nothing to do with Angel's transformation, and that's another big reason why Angel doesn't lunge for his premature happy ending (the sap). Shanshu is about finding redemption for the sins of the past, balancing the scales; even before we ever heard the actual prophecy, Angel felt he had not received the blessings of the gods, and he was nowhere close to making up for all the evil he had done.

In S5, with Spike as a possible candidate for the blessing, there is an emphasis on judgment, and which vampire is worthy. But, as made blindingly clear by the last moments of episode eight, the competition is a misdirect, set up by Lindsay and Eve to distract Angel and Spike from the larger issues. (Please don't ask me what those issues are--I have no clue.) I think the true path to redemption--or to some form of reconciliation with the past--for Angel and Spike is within themselves and with each other and their friends.

[> [> [> [> I see Shanshu a bit differently (spoiler Destiny) -- Lunasea, 17:33:19 12/09/03 Tue

There is a surprise, I'm sure. IWRY has to be taken in context with Bachelor Party. In Bachelor Party, we see the Angel/Buffy story replayed without having to see Buffy, though she does form bookends for the episode. Doyle's marriage with Harry breaks up because of his feelings about being a demon, the same reason Angel leaves Buffy. Both Harry and Buffy accepted Doyle and Angel for what they were. The problem was with the guy.

So let's get rid of the problem. Angel is made human in IWRY. Angel still has problems. "And I'm not sure what I am now." It isn't about atonement, but figuring out who he is. As much as Angel hates being a demon, he has a better idea of who he is as demon (even if it is a wrong image, it is still an image). It isn't about the blessings of the gods. They released him from his fealty. It isn't about being done with the amends making. It is about who he is and how he sees himself.

At the end of "Destiny" he is in the same position again. Even if he doesn't believe in the prophecy as he tells Spike, he believes he is a champion. TCTpNC puts that in doubt and Destiny puts it further in doubt. "What if it does? What if it means that... I'm not the one?"

It isn't about a reward, but figuring out who he is. Shashu has been a big part of this image. When he find out who he really is, finds his humanity, then he will Shanshu. "To Shanshu in LA" is about two blind seer kids whose power will increase as they mature. That power allows them to see into the heart of things. I can't think of a better symbol for Angel's journey. As he learns to see into the heart of things, his power will increase. He will do what he has to and he will Shanshu. He will be ready to. He still isn't quite there. The show is about getting him there.

Spike doesn't fit anything in "Blind Date" or "To Shanshu in LA." I will be severly disappointed if they take the prophecy out of its original context and rob it of its rich symbolism. Even if it is a misdirect, the misdirects still fit the theme of the season. We have heard too much about Shanshu for it not to fit with the theme. Who am I? Why am I here? These are the central questions the show asks.

[> [> [> [> [> Angel's redemption, IWRY and 'In the Dark' (spoilers up to 'Destiny') -- cjl, 23:02:07 12/09/03 Tue

I like what you've got here, Diana, and I don't necessarily disagree. In fact, if Joss had quit ANGEL some time in Season 3 to work on Firefly and left Greenwalt running the show, I'm pretty sure something like what you just described would be the ending of the series. Greenwalt had far more invested in the concept of the Powers that Be and believes in the power of ultimate redemption; Joss, our favorite angry liberal atheist, doesn't believe in validation from higher powers.

This was the entire point of the Jasmine arc, which precipitated Angel's psychological/existential crisis at the start of Season 5: Angel no longer trusted his place in the world and the prophecies. He protected both in "Destiny" because (at the moment) he thought that if Spike took his place as the vampire of prophecy, all hope for redemption would be gone. Since the competition set up by the tag team of Lindsey, Eve, and Sirk was a fake, it seems to me that both vamps were looking for redemption in the wrong place.

Why is Angel so heavily invested in the shanshu prophecy and the role of Champion? Is it "about who he is and how he sees himself"? Of course--but with that statement, you have to acknowledge how large the role of guilt and regret and the desire to make amends plays in Angel's psychological make-up. Returning to Angel Season 1, let's jump back a few episodes from "I Will Remember You" and examine "In the Dark." This ep had intriguing thematic similarities to both IWRY and "Destiny," as Spike and Angel came to blows over a mystical artifact of immense, un-life altering power. In the teaser, Spike perched on a rooftop and performed the dialogue for the audience while Angel rescued a standard DiD (damsel in distress) in the alley below. This was vintage Spike, funny and obnoxious, mocking his sire's repentance and comparing souled Angel to a big flaming poof. Spike was (and to a certain extent, still is) fists and fangs, taking what you can, when you can, never considering the consequences.

Angel, on the other hand, ALWAYS considers the consequences. After beating off Spike and Marcus and claiming the Gem of Amara, Angel destroyed it--to Doyle's complete disbelief. Doyle's reaction indicated to me that the PTB had no problems with Angel wielding the gem, and sunning himself on one of California's many bikini-infested beaches.

So why isn't Angel the world's only suntanned vampire?

You might say that Angel didn't want the Gem of Amara to be a constant target of power-hungry vamps around the world. Buffy got it from Spike, Marcus got it from Angel, Angel got it from Marcus--the pretty bauble was passed around rather easily, and Angel wanted to make sure it didn't fall into the wrong hands. BUT THAT'S NOT THE REASON HE GAVE DOYLE. At the end of the episode, watching the sun go down for the first time in two hundred years, he confessed he was uncomfortable with the idea of wandering around in the daylight, enjoying the same privileges as the ordinary people of Los Angeles. Doyle made the very valid and sensible point that Angel could do even MORE good as a champion against evil who was practically invincible. But Angel was clearly afraid he would lose focus, and no longer care about helping the people crying out in the darkness. He had to remain "in the dark" because he did not feel he was worthy to step out into the light. (At least, not yet.)

"In the Dark" set up IWRY perfectly. Angel's reaction to his newfound humanity tracked with his reaction to the Gem of Amara. He couldn't handle it--not because he was more comfortable with his self-image as a demon, but because he felt his mission as a Champion wasn't finished. When Angel consulted the oracles about his "change of status," the Oracles said two important things: 1) Angel was released from his fealty to the PTB (duly noted); and 2) Angel's transformation was NOT part of the Great Plan. The PTB were telling Angel, "We weren't exactly finished with you, but hey, if you wanna go, we're not gonna stop you."

This is where some viewers, TCH among them, rip their hair out in frustration. They can't understand why Angel didn't say "Okey Dokey," grab the Buffster and come back next episode as Liam the Demon Fighter. If you look at shanshu purely as a quest for humanity (both physical and metaphorical), Angel's decision made no sense. How could he possibly pass up what, for the first three seasons of Buffy, was his heart's desire?

[Warning: controversial assertion ahead...]

But Buffy wasn't his heart's desire. She REPRESENTED his heart's desire. As we saw in "Becoming," Buffy was the way for Angel to climb out of the gutter and start fresh. He saw Buffy's mission, and her courage in pursuing that mission, as the path to atonement. In IWRY, he was given the choice between the symbol of his quest and the quest itself, and he chose the latter. This is only way his decision had any psychological validity. (Please don't think I'm minimizing the complex, passionate relationship between Buffy and Angel, and the very real love between the two. I'm not. In fact, Angel's rejection of humanity and the possibility of a life with Buffy shows you how powerful his desire for redemption/absolution is.) Just as in "In the Dark," he did not feel worthy to step out into the light.

At least, not yet.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Great posts, cjl! -- Pony, 08:35:54 12/10/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Angel's redemption, IWRY and 'In the Dark' (spoilers up to 'Destiny') -- Lunasea, 08:36:09 12/10/03 Wed

"In The Dark" is probably the episode where the alcoholic metaphor is most obvious. He doesn't trust himself. That is probably the defining trait of the series until Pylea, where he is able to come back from the pure form of the demon. I don't know how much is he doesn't feel worthy. I get more he doesn't trust himself vibes.

Joss is kind of busy getting the Serenity off the ground again. He isn't even writing episode 100. I like his shows because they aren't pure atheist. He may not believe, but there is still a longing to believe evident. If it was just the angry atheist existentialist agenda, I don't think the shows would be that interesting. They are an exploration, not an answer. Someone blocked out the sun for Angel. Someone let Angel into Kate's apartment. Someone chose Buffy.

I wrote about destiny last week. One can be found here. Joss may not give Angel some divine stamp of approval, but just as Buffy was his exploration of being extraordinary, Angel asks why we are extraordinary. As there is no answer to this question, the show ping-pongs between between no grand plan and destiny. I don't see the show settling on an answer because there is no answer and that is tied to other questions.

I didn't get the same vibes from "Destiny" that others did, namely he wanted to beat Spike to get the reward. A reward hasn't been part of it since "Judgment." Instead I felt that Angel quietly accepted his fate. If it has to be him, he will take up the cross. He doesn't want the cross, which is why his heart isn't in it any more. Even though he doesn't want that fate, that he has a fate lets him know who he is.

I don't think he really disbelieved the Scroll of Aberjian. He just believed it shouldn't be interpreted in a positive light. He's going to hell. Even if he turns human, he's still going to hell. Do we know what deal he made with Lilah? Is there some eternal contract that can't be burned for him now? Being human won't change this.

Since "Reprise/Epiphany" Angel hasn't believed in a grand plan. He's just trying to help people. When that turns on him in "Tomorrow," he modifies his stance to being an example to show the world what it can be. Now he is questioning the point of it all. He doesn't feel like he is making a difference. Cordy is in a coma and he lost his son. Even though he has made a huge difference in the world, it isn't personal for him. It has lost meaning for him. Shanshu is a way for it to have personal meaning.

If he isn't the one, then what is his place in the world? Guilt, regret and desire play a huge role in Angel, but it isn't about his past as Angelus any more. He knows the man is stronger than the demon, so that issue isn't in play any more. The play now comes from what he said as Angelus in "Orpheus." "Always so concerned with the human condition. It's no big mystery, man. They suffer, they die. That's what they're there for." Deep down inside, that is what Angel believes. He can't change that the world suffers. It suffers now because of what he did in "Peace Out." He did it "for the boy" and he has lost the boy. What is the point? Everything he does turns to ashes.

How do you stay motivated when that happens? How do you resist corruption? If you are damned if you do and damned if you don't, what do you do? That is where I see Angel now.

Liam the demon fighter? We saw how effective he was. Almost got himself killed. I asked David Boreanaz if he would like to play a human Angel trying to find his place in the world without his superpowers. He really liked the idea. I hope the show doesn't end with Shanshu, but we get to see this struggle. Liam would have to find ANOTHER way to make a difference. Maybe he could work with kids and teach them to draw in order to keep them off the streets or deal with emotional trauma associated with demons.

I don't think Buffy was about atonement. She was something he identified with and wanted to protect. She saw the world she was about to be thrown into, just like he had, and he wanted to protect the heart that that could damage. There is another story before Angel sees Buffy that we still need to see. The other slayer he saw. Why didn't he help her and what happened to her.

I think it is Nikki. That is why he is NYC. The donut store is in the 1970's and so is she. The donut shop could be right after it. She may have come off tougher than Buffy, so Angel wasn't as drawn to her as he was Buffy. Because Angel didn't help her, Spike killed her and Robin was orphaned. This scenario really fits with Angel's story.

When Angel thinks he could hurt the heart he wants to protect, he's out of there. First after "Angel," then again in "The Prom." Another story that would be interesting is if he found out about "FFL" and the Slayer's death wish. If he had stayed human, it wouldn't have kicked in. He was important to her heart and protected it in ways that didn't just protect her life. The Oracles didn't tell him about this.

But Angel didn't understand this. To accept being a demon, he started to see himself as a champion/amends maker. When he lost his powers, he lost this image. Then he was nothing. He gave Buffy normalcy. Something NO ONE ever did. He didn't see how that was enough. He had to be able to fight demons on top of this. He had to be something besides her boyfriend. He had to be someone. In order to overcome his image of being evil, he developed an image of what it meant to be someone. That became paramount. Fighting was the way to be someone. He was no good to the PTBs as a human. He was no good to Buffy as a human.

He was wrong, which is why I think Shanshu is still important. It isn't a divine stamp of approval. It is Angel's acceptance of his own humanity and living without his powers, something Buffy didn't have to do. One of them needs to do this for the story. Who am I? Not your powers. You are your heart, your humanity and as a human you still retain that.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Angel and the Virtuous Struggle -- cjl, 09:37:16 12/10/03 Wed

A few more points...

"To overcome his image of being evil he developed an image of what it meant to be someone. That became paramount." I think that's the heart of IWRY and the character of Angel in AtS Season 1. The burden of his sins weighed so heavily on his shoulders, that opting out of the Champion business and settling into a normal life with Buffy was simply unthinkable.

In some ways, I think Angel's saw his task at the start of AtS as something similar to the labors of Hercules. (From the Perseus project:)

"The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children.

"When he awakened from his 'temporary insanity,' Hercules was shocked and upset by what he'd done. He prayed to the god Apollo for guidance, and the god's oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment for the murders.

"As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform twelve Labors, feats so difficult that they seemed impossible. Fortunately, Hercules had the help of Hermes and Athena, sympathetic deities who showed up when he really needed help. By the end of these Labors, Hercules was, without a doubt, Greece's greatest hero.

"His struggles made Hercules the perfect embodiment of an idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering which would lead to fame and, in Hercules' case, immortality."

I think Angel was the poster boy for the virtuous struggle in Season 1. How much he still actually believes in this paradigm is up for debate, and you make some excellent points in how Angel's POV has shifted over the years. However, I don't think Angel's need to believe in the heroic struggle is ever going to fade away completely. Even though he may not trust in it, it's the only thing that gives him hope. And if you don't have hope, you're just spinning your wheels, waiting for the hammer to come down.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Oh nice... -- KdS, 13:11:24 12/10/03 Wed

I think it is Nikki. That is why he is NYC. The donut store is in the 1970's and so is she. The donut shop could be right after it. She may have come off tougher than Buffy, so Angel wasn't as drawn to her as he was Buffy. Because Angel didn't help her, Spike killed her and Robin was orphaned. This scenario really fits with Angel's story.

Oh yes. It might just be that Whistler hadn't given him the pep-talk yet, but maybe it was that she didn't have that virginal vibe that Buffy did when he first saw her, didn't have the air of innocence that could get through his cynicism. Big potential here...

(And maybe if Spike were involved it would be a chance to clear up the steaming mess from Lies)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Really like this idea.. -- jane, 18:26:52 12/10/03 Wed

It makes a lot of sense, and gives a nice connection between the two series. Very interesting thread.

[> Great thoughts and Shanshu summation -- RJA, 16:51:40 12/08/03 Mon

Although I have an issue with one thing you say - mainly because its been something troubling me all this season.

You say that But of course, Jasmine never got to carry out her threatened apocalypse, so her actions were obviously not the apocalypse of prophecy.

And I query this because I hadnt thought that the apocalypse had to be carried out in order for this particular part of the prophecy to be fulfilled. If Angel is to play a pivotal part on one side, then surely all that is necessary is for it to begin, rather than be carried to completion.

I would also say that out of all the apocalypsi/ses/whatever we have seen on Buffy or Angel, this comes closest to the true defintion, the idea of the Second Coming, in which sinners repent and the Saved will see the rapture. Certainly, this seems a close model for what happens with Jasmine - she is essentially creating heaven on earth, the ultimate point of the apocalypse. And she is also robbing humanity of what makes them human. Literally, the end of the world as we know it.

So I'm convinced that Jasmine was right, Angel knows which side he was on, although whats unclear is whether his side was for good or evil. Wolfram and Hart sure have their own opinion now.

Then again, I was always unclear how far this prophecy related to the Shanshu, although your post has shed light on that aspect. I just still believe that the apocalypse that was referred to is the one Jasmine was trying to bring about.

Although I might be alone there, given that the show has referenced it since.

Anyway, great thoughts, a fascinating post.

Very much agree with your last points though, and the referencing of Fred's mini-rant. I think that the idea of destiny is holding Angel to ransome in many ways, and he has to look it in the face and tell it its evitable.

[> [> Re: Great thoughts and Shanshu summation -- Masq, 17:29:07 12/08/03 Mon

And I query this because I hadnt thought that the apocalypse had to be carried out in order for this particular part of the prophecy to be fulfilled. If Angel is to play a pivotal part on one side, then surely all that is necessary is for it to begin, rather than be carried to completion.

You do have a point. If Angel is on the side of good, he helps prevent the apocalypse that would have otherwise happened. Hence, it can still be the apocalypse of prophecy.

However, it is actually Connor who kills Jasmine and in doing so, prevents her apocalyptic vengeance.

And the murkiness of "Did Angel do the right thing in deposing Jasmine" that arose from the moral murkiness that was Jasmine herself, fits the bill of why the shanshu prophecy was murky on this subject.

Of course, if this was the final battle, and Angel did his prophetic duty, why isn't he out shopping for sun-tan lotion and ham sandwiches?

[> [> [> Re: Great thoughts and Shanshu summation -- RJA, 17:37:51 12/08/03 Mon

You're right that Connor kills Jasmine and stops that particular piece of vengeance, although I think the brainwashing of humanity was in itself part of an apocalypse, and that part was stopped by Angel.

Although I do think the show will most likely string the final battle out until the very end.

Good point about the final battle issue (although I still think he should chck very carefully as to how the final battle ties into the prophecy).

I would love it though if the show didnt have him vamp out for a long time, and then have it turn out he'd been human for the last year or so, but hadnt noticed. I guess the whole side effects of being a human would probably be obvious though.

However, it would explain the hair.

[> [> [> [> Re: Great thoughts and Shanshu summation -- Masq, 17:55:18 12/08/03 Mon

You're right that Connor kills Jasmine and stops that particular piece of vengeance, although I think the brainwashing of humanity was in itself part of an apocalypse, and that part was stopped by Angel.

Also, I think the wording of the prophecy is that Angel plays "a major role" in the final apocalypse, not that he himself bodily prevents it. If Jasmine's reign was the final apocalypse, Angel both deposes her from power and is responsible for bringing Connor, who kills her, into the world, so....

would love it though if the show didnt have him vamp out for a long time, and then have it turn out he'd been human for the last year or so, but hadnt noticed. I guess the whole side effects of being a human would probably be obvious though.

Alas, he did vamp out in "Destiny", when he and Spike were trying to determine who had the bigger wrinklies around there.

[> [> Does the prophecy actually say 'apocalypse'? -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:20:04 12/08/03 Mon

The way I heard it was that Angel was destined to save the world or destroy it. This doesn't necessarily require a "purification of humanity" type apocalypse (the Tro Clon did, but it is different from the Aberjian one, even though they concern some of the same players).

[> [> [> Re: Does the prophecy actually say 'apocalypse'? -- Masq, 21:34:42 12/08/03 Mon

We don't have much of the actual English translation of the prophecy, much less the original language text. But almost every character who has spoken about the prophecy uses some variation on the word 'apocolypse'--Wesley, the Oracles, Jasmine, the casino owner, the Wolfram and Hart lawyers, etc. See my original post for examples.

I also argue in my original post above that there is no good reason to think that the Nyazian prophecies--which concern Connor, Holtz and the Tro-clon--are part of the "The Vampire with a Soul" prophecies. You can make a case that they if fact are part of it, as RJA does, but the only textual (show) evidence for that is Jasmine's words.

[> [> [> From s1 Angel 'To Shan shu in LA' -- Rufus, 05:54:51 12/09/03 Tue

Wesley is researching while Angel is reading a book and Cordy is reading the paper.

Wesley: "Shanshu. - Shanshu. - Or maybe it's shushan."
Cordy: "Are you still trying to figure out that word? What's taking so long?"
Wesley: "Gee, I don't know, Cordelia. The prophecies of Aberjian were only written over the last 4000 years, in a dozen different languages, some of which aren't even human! Why don't we just get a phalangoid demon in here, suck the brain out of my skull. Maybe that would speed things up."
Cordy: "He sure gets testy when he's translating."
Wesley: "This word is pivotal to what it prophesies about the vampire with a soul."
Cordy: "Well, hurry up and figure out what it says about Angel, because - I wanna know what it says about me. If there is torrid romance in my future - massive wealth? If I have to I'll settle for enviable fame."
Wesley: "This is an ancient sacred text, not a magic eight ball."
Cordy: "Nobody gets my humor."

Wesley after a beat: "I know what it means."
Cordy: "A very wealthy man with just - no life at all?"
Wesley: "No. The word in the scroll."
He goes into Angel's office and the others follow.
Cordy: "That shoe shine thing?"
Wesley: "Shanshu."
Angel sits down and resumes reading his book.
Wesley: "If it isn't Aegean but instead descends from the ancient Majar's then it's root is proto-hugaric. In which case it would mean..."
Cordy: "What?"
Wesley at his book: "Death."
Cordy: "But you said it was all about the vampire with the soul. (Wesley looks at her then they both look at Angel, who is reading his book as if he hadn't even heard Wesley) Angel is going to die?"
Angel glances up: "Oh. Anything else?"
Cordy: "He certainly took that well. - Is this that opportune time to talk about my raise?"
Wesley: "It's probably years off - ah, after the coming battles."
Cordy: "My raise?"
Wesley: "Apocalyptic prophecies aren't exactly a science. And-and I could be way off the mark, so - no reason to be concerned."

Lindsey holds up the scroll: "I see that what happened here tonight was foretold - that doesn't bode well for you. - I see that you are either the one with the power - or you're powerless."
I threw that one in cause you may want to think about it for later.

Wesley looking at his books: "Ah - oops. - I may have made a tiny mistake. (Angel sets the cup of blood down and gets up) The word Shanshu that I said meant you were going to die? Actually I think it means that you are going to live."
Cordy: "Okay, as tiny mistakes go - that's not one!"
Wesley: "Shanshu has roots in so many different languages. The most ancient source is the Proto-Bantu and they consider life and death the same thing, part of a cycle, only a thing that's not alive never dies. It's- it's saying - that you get to live until you die. - It's saying - it's saying you become human."
Cordy: "That's the prophecy?"
Wesley: "Ah, the vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, will Shanshu. Become human. - It's his reward."
Cordy: "Wow. Angel a human."
Angel: "That'll be nice."
Cordy: "Wait. What's that thing about him having to fulfill his destiny first?"
Wesley: "Well, it's saying that it won't happen tomorrow or the next day. He has to survive the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and some - uh, several, - not that many - fiends that will be unleashed."
Angel: "So don't break out the champagne just yet."
Cordy: "Yeah, break out the champagne, Pinocchio. This is a big deal!"
Angel: "I guess it is."
Cordy: "Typical. I hook up with the only person in history who ever came to LA to get older."

Now you just have to factor in what that Sirk fellow added and consider that most of what he said was bullsh*t, or not...;)

[> [> Re: Great thoughts and Shanshu summation -- Rose, 10:42:51 12/10/03 Wed

Somting I havent seen mentioned yet, as far a sides being grey for the Vwas who would shanshu. For a significant part of buffy season 7 spike was not a garenteed white hat since the first was stuck in his head. The First even mentioned it wasen't his time yet. As if the First expected to have him as an ally in the final fight , and until lies it was a real possibility.
Also what happened with the First had it not been averted seemed pretty apocolyptic to me.

But I am tempted to believe that origionaly the shanshu was ment for Angel.It was never mentioned on buffy.
I wonder if it isn't actually predetermined which vampire will recive it. If not then Angel needs to be carful be fore he scores a forfit by helping the otherside.

[> Escaping destiny -- Gyrus, 14:37:58 12/09/03 Tue

Sahjhan: "Thank god he had some spine. Holtz was useless. He wanted to raise your kid as his own! I'm living with a knife over my heart for eleven hundred years and he's into petty revenge! If he'd just killed the damn thing while it was still in its mother we could have avoided all this!"

Sahjahn appears to believe that prophesied events can be averted. But does he know this from long experience, or is he just in denial? I can't recall a single prophecy from either BTVS or ANGEL that was not fulfilled in some way (save for those that are still pending, like the one Sahjahn mentions). Can anyone think of an example from either show of a prophesied event that was successfully prevented?

[> [> Re: Escaping destiny -- Masq, 14:45:37 12/09/03 Tue

Here is my list of prophecies from both shows. Other than the pending ones, all have occured, or have started and then been thwarted after they begin (e.g., Jasmine's apocalypse, the rise of the demon Barvain in A New Man).

[> [> [> almost -- skeeve, 10:12:39 12/10/03 Wed

It'd take issue with the prophecy about the Annoying One.
Buffy did know him.
Not only that, she knew him before he led her into hell.

I'm aware that there is an interpretation of the prophecy that was fulfilled, but that interpretation is broad to the point of unfalsifiability.

[> Question: Does anyone want to really see Angel shanshu? -- Pony, 09:28:19 12/10/03 Wed

To me shanshu is a resolution, not simply of the series but of the character of Angel himself. Higher up in this thread cjl writes: you have to acknowledge how large the role of guilt and regret and the desire to make amends plays in Angel's psychological make-up. I completely agree, it has been the defining characteristic of this Angel from the very beginning of BtVS. To have the question of redemption and atonement effectively settled, as shanshu seems to imply, would be the end of the story - the story of AtS and the story of Angel. To follow him past that point might be workable but it would lack this central driving narrative. It would be like Spike getting the girl, or Buffy coming of age - and hey, that happened and her story ended. Plus I think Angel would almost immediately find something to feel guilty about because that's how he is, and that's my point.

Admittedly the idea of shanshu hits some of my buttons. I'm not comfortable with the ideas of rewards and destiny. While I appreciate the occasional moments of grace from the universe, like the snowfall in Amends, shanshu seems to involve an external judgement and that implies a Judge. In a 'verse that has always been very anti-authority I can't imagine how the opinion of a higher authority could be presented as a good thing. That's just me though, and I have seen some excellent arguments in the pro-shanshu camp. In any case I don't expect it's something we're going to see anytime soon.

[> [> I'm not comfortable with it either -- Masq, 10:34:52 12/10/03 Wed

I remember as a kid thinking that religion was this way. If I believe in God/Christ because I'm afraid of going to Hell and want to get into Heaven, isn't that a little self-serving? Isn't that believing for the wrong reasons?

Likewise, if Angel (or Spike) fight the Good fight for the reward at the end of the tunnel, aren't they fighting for the wrong (self-serving) reasons? Shouldn't they fight because it is the right thing to do, because they don't want people to suffer?

I rather liked it when Angel stopped believing in the shanshu and fought for other reasons (helping people, love, whatever). Then, if the prophecy was true, becoming human would be a surprise, something he didn't believe in and wasn't expecting.

Besides, who can live day to day with prophecy and destiny dogging your every decision, your every action? Talk about your cup of perpetual torment!

[> [> [> Re: I'm not comfortable with it either -- LittleBit, 11:55:23 12/10/03 Wed

Intriguing concept...does one do good in hope of a reward for doing that good, does one do good to avoid the punishment of not doing so, or does one do good because one finds that to be the right thing to do? In Angel's case I've seen him as not believing in the promise of the Shanshu but not quite disbelieving it either. So that when Spike arrived this season, having been a key player in averting the Sunndydale apocalypse as Angel had been in averting the one in Los Angeles, he went back to the prophecy to see what exactly did it say. Even though in his Epiphany he realized that all he could do was help others day-to-day, it seems as though hidden deep beneath it all was that hope, the hope that the Shanshu prophecy held. Just as we may or may not believe/know that heaven and/or hell exist, there's maybe just that little tiny hope that doing good things because you think it's the right thing to do would end up with the reward of heaven, should it exist.

Now imagine that for some reason, heaven is held as the endpoint of your struggle because of something unique about yourself. Something that defines you, and doesn't apply to anyone else. And then suddenly you learn that you are not unique, that there is someone else, someone who not only has the same quality, but who has also done things similar to what you do. This is where I see Angel right now. He's not doing what he does because of the possible reward, but that tiny hope has always been there, however much he says he disbelieves it. He disbelieves because he doesn't quite dare hope that actively. And now, that tiny hope is in jeopardy. He doesn't expect to get the reward of Shanshu but neither does he want to lose the possibility.

[> [> [> [> Good summation -- Masq, 12:11:59 12/10/03 Wed

There's some good insights there into his current situation, and some possible good quotage for my site....

As for your comments, I think I'd be mightly pissed off if I did good things because I thought they were the right thing to do and not for the reward, and then was sent to hell anyway.

[> [> [> [> [> Me too... unless I can get on the Party Level ;-) -- LittleBit [down there with the Heretics], 13:18:23 12/10/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> Limbo's fun -- Masq, 13:36:01 12/10/03 Wed

With the virtuous non-believers, philosophers, and unbaptized children. Look me up, that's where I'll be. ; )

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> So *that's* how that party game became popular. -- Arethusa, 18:34:53 12/10/03 Wed

Devil: Okay, folks. My two demon friends are going to hold up this pole and whoever can dance underneath it can go to heaven. We'll keep lowering the pole to make the game more interesting.

Kant: What'll we call this game?

Everybody in Purgatory, shouting: LIMBO!

[> [> [> [> [> Gasp! -- Pony, 07:58:20 12/11/03 Thu

I think I'd be mightly pissed off if I did good things because I thought they were the right thing to do and not for the reward, and then was sent to hell anyway.

Masq! Are you arguing Spike's position?


Cordy's decision in 'Birthday' -- Lunasea, 16:05:12 12/08/03 Mon

The WB showed "Birthday" again last night. I'm not big on Cordy-centric episodes or Cordy in general, except when she was on BtVS. The episode took on new light after "Get It Done." The consequences of her decision to become part demon actually fit the mythology of the show rather well. Jasmine completely flowed from that action.

In "Get It Done," Buffy is given the same option. She knows "It isn't enough" and when she is offered more demon essence in order to fight and live, she turns it down. She won't give up more of her humanity. Cordy does it in a heart beat. Yes, she was manipulated by Skip, but even so, she had no problem giving up some of her humanity so she could continue to fight the good fight. On a show about finding your humanity, this isn't a good thing.

Buffy told the Shadowmen there had to be another way where she retained her humanity. She found it and empowered others. Cordy is faced with the choice of Angel having the visions or she dies. She accepts that Angel shouldn't carry the visions. She can't accept her own death, though. Darla did. She had the choice of being vamped or dying. Angel was even seriously considering vamping her at the end of "The Trials." She realized this would hurt him and couldn't let him do that. She didn't want to be a demon any more and when she rose she was upset. She found her humanity, even before Connor's soul influenced her.

Cordy did have to take the visions so Angel wouldn't have them. That was important. That was her purpose. She was right. What was wrong is that she couldn't let that go. She had an exaggerated sense of her own importance. Angel needed a messenger to have the visions. She doesn't have to be that messenger. "For every door that closes, one opens." Angel had Fred and Wesley and Gunn and Connor to connect him to his humanity. Cordy wasn't necessary for that either.

Buffy didn't choose to be chosen. Angel didn't choose to be cursed. They made the best of what they were given. Cordy didn't choose to have the visions. She did choose to become a demon, to give up some of her humanity. When we never saw side-effects to this, it should have been a big flag that something was up. She couldn't deal with what she was given, so she made a bad decision to try and get more, just like Willow. That always has consequences in the Buffyverse.

On another note we could also look at the memory wipe from "Birthday" where Cordy sort of remembers things and when she kisses Angel and takes the visions back she gets back her memory and compare this with the memory wipe done in "Home." I don't think I've seen that discussed yet. It mainly gets compared with IWRY and what happened with Dawn S5. I think "Birthday" may be a better comparision than IWRY.


[> I'm a little puzzled -- Rahael, 18:35:58 12/08/03 Mon

Buffy didn't choose to be chosen. Angel didn't choose to be cursed. They made the best of what they were given. Cordy didn't choose to have the visions. She did choose to become a demon, to give up some of her humanity.

If the message is that passive acceptance of life is the way to being a good person, why was the final ep of BtVS S7 all about 'choosing' to be strong? Perhaps there are passive ways of choosing.

I loved S4, but there is no way that I will ever accept that 'Birthday' was hubris on Cordy's part. It was retconned to be so for the sake of later storyline. If that was Cordy being proudful, being hubristic? she was also being intensely human at the same time.

And Cordy with her faults was one of the most amazingly human characters on the show. Her arc on AtS S1-3 says more about heroism, and finding one's humanity than most others. If there was one thing wrong with S4, it's that it made a travesty of a great character, a real heroine, a rounded human being.

[> [> Re: I'm a little puzzled -- Finn Mac Cool, 20:58:16 12/08/03 Mon

Perhaps choosing to be part demon wasn't hubristic, but I do find how she went about coping with her visions to be a little less than heroic. She never told anyone how bad they were getting or the measures she was taking to handle them because she was afraid they'd find some way to take the visions away and give them to someone else. Being an important part of Angel's mission led her to take unnecessary risks with her own life. I won't call this self sacrafice in the traditional sense on Cordelia's part. The fact that Doyle passed the visions on to Cordy should indicate the she could pass on the visions to someone they wouldn't damage the cerebrum of. She didn't hide her pain so that Angel could still have a vision guide; she did it so that she would be that vision guide.

[> [> [> Re: I'm a little puzzled -- celticross, 22:44:11 12/08/03 Mon

Warning: Thread hijack ahead!

It interests me that the general fan opinion seems to be that Doyle kissed Cordy with the intention of passing on the visions. I always interpreted their kiss in "Hero" as Doyle taking his one last chance to express his feelings, and the PTB used the occasion to transfer the visions.

[> [> [> [> Personally, never thought it was a conscious attempt -- Finn Mac Cool, 23:14:25 12/08/03 Mon

And, even if it was, it's something Doyle would have wanted to do anyway.

[> [> [> [> Parting Gifts -- Lunasea, 07:48:46 12/09/03 Tue

The empath in "Parting Gifts" makes it sound like Doyle did it on purpose. (a nice touch in "Birthday" is that Wesley loses his arm to a Kungai demon, what he was tracking in "Parting Gifts")

Barney: "And you're friend left you with that little inheritance?"
Cordy: "I'm never going to forgive him for doing this to me."
Barney: "What? Choosing you? Trusting you with an enormous responsibility? Believing that you where the only one worthy of such a rare and important gift?"
Cordy: "Did I mention the drooling?"
Barney: "I get the impression that Doyle didn't have much by way of possessions?"
Cordy: "No. No he didn't."
Barney: "Seems like he gave you the most valuable thing he had."

It is a nice way to look at the transfer, but the problem is Barney is EVIL. Trusting what he says is like trusting what Skip said about the transfer in the first place. Just because a character says something, it doesn't mean it is true. The only ones I accept that way are The Oracles and the Good Conduit from "Birthday," the voices for the PTBs as well as The Spirit Guides, The Big Hamburger and Dinza, since they have no real side and aren't evil.

[> [> [> What Skip said -- Lunasea, 07:37:08 12/09/03 Tue

"Inside Out" casts everything that Skip ever said into doubt, but there are things I wonder if they do form the basis of the Buffyverse. One thing Skip said made me really think. "Inside every living thing there is a connection to the Powers That Be. Call it instinct, intuition. Deep down we all know our purpose in this world."

This idea is crucial to what happens in "Birthday." The question is: would an angry atheist existentialist believe this and base his universe on this? Feminine intuition is very important on Buffy. Does this intuition extend to knowing our purpose in the world? In order for that to be, we would have to have a definite purpose in the world. Destiny, something we have been talking about on the boards lately.

In order for Cordy to believe that vision girl is her purpose, she has to have an actual purpose. Do any of us? Is there a grand plan? What does Lorne read? The Powers that Be don't really seem to care who is Angel's messenger. When one door closes another opens.

The whole episode is based on Hubris. "He needs me." No he doesn't. He doesn't want his friend to suffer any more and wants them to take the visions from her. It isn't her death that she fears the most, as the conduit tells Angel. "I'm more afraid of her dying than she is. - What is that?" She is afraid of not being important any more, really important. She doesn't want to be a rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play superhero. She wants to be a superhero. When she realizes Angel doesn't see her this way, she agrees to Skip's offer of stardom.

Cordy believes that she has a purpose in the world and that purpose is important. Because she can't let that go, she makes a very bad decision. When Doyle died, the PTB provided Angel with another messenger. I don't believe that they were not complicit in the transfer of visions. I'm sure Doyle kissed someone since getting the visions. The PTBs still had to send the visions to Cordy.

Not disagreeing with what you said. Just adding to it.

[> [> Re: I'm a little puzzled -- shambleau, 22:22:02 12/08/03 Mon

I agree with Finn Mac Cool about Cordy's actions being about wanting it to be about her being the guide, not someone else. It meant she was important with a capital I. It's unlikely that someone who had QUEEN C as a license plate in high school had completely outgrown the hubris that implies, anvilly lessons from another dimension about the emptiness of it all notwithstanding. As Giles said, we are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed. Which is why Cordelia was shown a vision of herself as the new Mary Tyler Moore. Skip and Jasmine knew what would resonate with Cordelia and how saintly she would feel for eventually turning it down. Just a step from there to offering her actual membership in the heavenly choir. They knew Cordy would snap at that bait without even thinking about whether she was worthy or not. Of course she was!

And while I loved Cordy's development through S2, her path to Saint Cordelia in S3 is where I see the betrayal of her character beginning. The Cordy of S2 could be warm and snarky, shallow and perceptive, while the Cordy of S3 is she of the oh-so-earnest talks with Angel about how good he is deep down and the burgeoning love-with-zero-chemistry. Ugh.

[> [> [> To add to what you said -- Lunasea, 08:03:27 12/09/03 Tue

From the minute Skip starts talking to her, he is laying it on thick:

Skip: "Kidding. (Offers her his hand) I'm Skip. (Cordy just looks at him) You're Cordelia Chase, right? (Cordy nods slightly) Sorry it took me so long, I... (Indicates her body) Is this you? Most people go astral, their spiritual shapes tend to be an idealized version of themselves. You know, straighten the nose, lose the gray, sort of a self-esteem kind of thing. You're pretty confident, aren't you?"

She is taken to a mall because, "We just figured you'd be more comfortable here." The Conduit is showing how the PTBs don't really care about their messengers "Her path is chosen. We will not interfere," but Skip is saying that they are the ones that have sent him. She is "meant to be an incredibly famous and wealthy actress. And the Powers That Be can make that happen."

Season 3 got stupid because Greenwalt wanted to make someone worthy of Angel. His mistake was to try to do that with Cordy. He actually had David Boreanaz in interviews saying that Buffy was a crush and since she wasn't around his eye would wander. He completely forgot about the curse and I'm glad that they didn't get to the point where some stupid plot device would have taken care of it so he and Cordy could com-shuck.

I liked Cordy and I liked seeing her evolve past the bitch that couldn't forgive Xander so he was left alone and in the snow in "Amends." Why did they have to take her all the way? Because she was the lead female? Not good story telling to me.

[> [> [> [> Re: To add to what you said -- alcibiades, 12:38:17 12/09/03 Tue

Season 3 got stupid because Greenwalt wanted to make someone worthy of Angel. His mistake was to try to do that with Cordy. He actually had David Boreanaz in interviews saying that Buffy was a crush and since she wasn't around his eye would wander. He completely forgot about the curse and I'm glad that they didn't get to the point where some stupid plot device would have taken care of it so he and Cordy could com-shuck.

Well okay - I don't actually think the stars always know what is planned in advance -- cause the things that SMG said in early season 6 indicate that she thought she and JM were getting all cuddly and romantic together instead of the destructive pull thing.

But give it the worst and say that Angel and Cordy had gotten together. Surely no one believes it would have been hugs and puppies? They would have just found an alternate method of using it to pull apart Angel and destroy him from inside.

Season 3 Angel parallels season 6 Buffy when Willow was supposed to be wrecking the Scoobies from inside instead of the lackluster imitation of that they gave us with the stupid magical crack.

So, that is what would have happened with Cordy in any case even if she and Angel thought they were in lurve for like a minute. She still would have been used as the internal threat to destroy the group and Angel himself from inside.

Ange'ls fate is to spin round and round and never escape, and never to be able to save his family -- he wouldn't have escaped it even if he and Cordy were in love. It would have just been used as another way to implode the situation and end Angel back where he was anyway.

[> [> Think Pylea...cause it is all so clear -- alcibiades, 23:53:06 12/08/03 Mon

I loved S4, but there is no way that I will ever accept that 'Birthday' was hubris on Cordy's part. It was retconned to be so for the sake of later storyline. If that was Cordy being proudful, being hubristic? she was also being intensely human at the same time.

Can't agree at all.

First of all, the episode that proceeds Birthday in this regard is is There is no place like Platz Glurb (or whatever) in which Cordy finds out there is a whole new world on the cusp of a huge upheaval and change and all alone, and she is supposed to relinquish the visions to Groo in order to help an entire world -- and she says no. Groo explains it to her patiently, his demon blood will allow him to deal with the visions as she can't, but no, she is not interested in actually helping a whole new world that doesn't involve her passion story at the center helping Angel. And ME has made this plain to us -- at the time she brushes this complication away she is actually a princess, however false and hollow a one. And she loves being a princess, she refers to it often -- she doesn't want to go back to the reality where she is not a princess.

Now if that isn't classic hubris, what is? It was her heroic duty to pass on the visions, but she didn't because she felt they ennobled her. And that is what made her vulnerable to Skip, with the visions worsening and becoming unbearable and exploitable by W&H immediately after this. She needed a cureall. So ultimately, she allows herself to be seduced by some random demon who magicked up an enticing enough illusion.

And even after Groo comes to them -- her abnegation of responsibility leading to his in leaving Pylea where he no longer has a fate -- she arranges some kind of potion to keep her visions safe from him. And all the while she is in denial that what a lot of this is about is her falling in love with Angel. She is failing to do the heroic thing because of her need for "redemptive" self-expression and because she has elevated Angel's cause to be the only important one.

So she wrongfully holds onto the visions to help Angel and in true ME fashion this results in her ultimately ending up doing the thing that will help him least. So she is the one who is the lynchpin that brings Jasmine -- and the death of Jasmine leads to the death/exile/banishment of Connor.

In the end, Cordy is choosing her own empowerment -- over the good of whole other universes and that is never a good in the MEverse.

Of course, it is human. Hubris always is.

But as T.H. White says, In tragedy, innocence is not enough.

I don't think anything about season 2-4 is a retcon. I think it is pretty damn brilliant.

I watched about 3 minutes of the Vision Thing tonight and the thing that struck me was that the "key" -- the symbol that ME used to send Angel to meet Skip for the first time was a spinning top. A spinning top.

A widening Gyre anyone? A Center that Cannot Hold? It is precisely that image.

And The Vision Thing -- where Skip and Angel meet to Angel's advantage -- is the same episode where we first find out that Darla is pregnant. So that Skip is introduced in the same episode as Connor, for all intents and purposes.

So, no retcon there, it was brilliant planning. Not every detail, but the main plot points were just that -- plot points, around which they built their arcs.

[> [> [> Re: Think Pylea...cause it is all so clear -- Casino21, 00:58:40 12/09/03 Tue

I see where you are getting at but that interpretation of Cordy's actions hardly seems fair. I think she felt that her keeping the visions was about helping her world. After "To Shanshu In L.A." she realized the full scope of the pain and suffering in her world and was determined to help them (even after Angel left them). She had no assurance that Angel or her world for that matter would receive another "opened door". And as for Skip's offer, she couldn't help it. After figuring out her stardom was just re-written reality, she only had two options. Not wanting to die seems pretty human to me. And being part demon? What could be the harm in that? Doyle was one. He was alright. Okay, so it was a big gamble but she didn't lose her humanity, she gained demon physiology for the sake of and because of her own humanity.

In the end Cordy is choosing her own empowerment -- for the good of the universe she cares for and loves. Cordelia was the heart of AI. Please don't condemn her character to too stupid to see past her own reflection, hubris, if you will. Cordelia's better than that.

[> [> [> [> Yes, and her choice was part demon, tv star or head blown off -- Rahael, 01:44:14 12/09/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> Darla's choice was to be vamped or to die of syphilis -- Lunasea, 08:22:15 12/09/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> Darla knew what it was like to be a vampire: Cordy didn't -- DorianQ, 13:40:35 12/10/03 Wed

Darla could make a very informed choice about both of her choices; she was dying when she was sired and she also remembered what it was like to die and be a vampire. Cordy was never told what kind demon she would be and her conscious motivation to become a demon was to help people. Darla knew that if she would become a vampire she would only hurt people. Both made their decision to help people and regardless of her underlying motivation, I can't really fault Cordelia for the choice she made.

[> [> [> [> Oops ignore my earlier comment -- Rahael, 03:24:06 12/09/03 Tue

You said what I added already.

Anyway, I agree. Glad there are still people who like Cordy. I have missed her the last couple of seasons.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Indictment of Cordy? -- punkinpuss, 17:34:08 12/09/03 Tue

Glad there are still people who like Cordy.

I'm curious why you think these criticisms of Cordy suggest that people don't like her. I didn't get that impression from any of the posts I've read so far. If anything, I'd say that these complexities made Cordy more interesting and more sympathetic, not less so. As Alcibiades and S'kat's posts make pretty clear, the structure of the story arcs supports the hubris interpretation.

Hubris as a story element simply does not work unless we see how the character unwittingly brings about his/her own downfall and feel for them in the process.

I like Cordy and I don't see how that conflicts with seeing her for her weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

She couldn't have known with any certainty that becoming part-demon wouldn't bring about some unexpected side effects and consequences, but she should have questioned it. Similarly, she couldn't know for sure that Skip's options were the only options open to her, but she didn't really question that either.

Buffy, in Get It Done, turns away the demonic power boost the shamans tried to force on her, but she doesn't know that that was the right thing to do either. She questions her own decision and eventually, it leads her to finding another way. She does that "think outside the box" thing, but that's not what makes Buffy a hero. That's what makes her Buffy.

The visions were not what made Cordy special, but that's what she feared. Hell, this is the girl who could scare away a vamp with some bitchy talking! And when Dennis' ghost mom almost had her down, she showed her she could be just as big a bitch. Cordy was a formidable woman in her own right, but she was vulnerable and TPTB (via Skip) took advantage of her weaknesses.

That does not make Cordy bad or stupid or weak. They got to her precisely because of her desire to do good and be special. It wouldn't have worked if she hadn't cared about both those things.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I actually have no beef with the hubris thing -- Rahael, 18:07:44 12/09/03 Tue

In tomorrow, that's precisely what it was. I quibble about applying it to Birthday. It is applicable because of what the writers set up later - hence my use of the word ret con - of course the ret con is plausible and believable (another example: Dark Willow) because the writers can make it match with previous themes.

But I do not believe that when they originally wrote Birthday, that they intended that the demonic part of her would lead to Jasmine hitching a lift and bringing about an apocalypse. They went back to Birthday and used that as a hook.

It's not that much of a problem that Cordy doesn't have a huge fan base - I don't have the problem others have with character dislike or disconnection. I didn't think that anyone would mind my imputing that they didn't have much symapthy for Cordy! But of course, I wouldn't want to make unfair assumptions, so you are very right to correct me.

[> [> [> [> Re: Think Pylea...cause it is all so clear -- alcibiades, 09:17:04 12/09/03 Tue

In the end Cordy is choosing her own empowerment -- for the good of the universe she cares for and loves. Cordelia was the heart of AI. Please don't condemn her character to too stupid to see past her own reflection, hubris, if you will. Cordelia's better than that.

First of all, who said anything about Cordy being stupid? She does suffer from hubris, though, it is a defining quality. None of the classical heroes who suffer from hubris are stupid. If they were, we and the gods would scarcely be so interested in their stories.

And Skip plays to that side of Cordy repeatedly. In Birthday and also in 3.22. It was obvious to me as soon as I saw Tomorrow that it was hubris. What had Cordy done at that point, more than Angel or Buffy, say, or Doyle, to believe she deserved to be translated to a heavenly realm? Buffy who had come as far as Cordy and done far more only got to heaven through painful struggle and death. Doyle as well. But Cordy is willing to be seduced by her specialness. Her ascension is so uneasy and to me, at least, felt entirely unearned at that point.

Never trust a demon bearing spiritual gifts unless you have a damn good reason to. I think the right choice for Cordelia was to choose death the first time through which would have imploded the illusion Skip was offering, like Angel in The Trial. He offered her a maze to work through, she got dazzled half way through. He played to her strength by making it into a weakness, seducing her through it. But the problem was accepting the perimeters in the first place.

She might have realized something was up when every choice led her back to the one that Skip wanted her to take, which was becoming part demon. Well, she didn't and as Lunasea comments above and below, choosing the demonic in order to empower yourself is not the right choice -- Buffy had gained that wisdom by the time Get it Done rolled around. And look at the stark choice she faced there -- to empower herself by becoming more demonically charged or -- straight out -- to face being the last Slayer who failed when the world is overrun by unconquerable vampires. That is a starker choice to be responsible for than what Cordy faced.

The MEverse is a very harsh reality in which these kind of personal faults are punished severely. Angel can't escape his fate, so far at least, he may at the very end. But right now, all the good that he does sends him spinning endlessly around, unable to pass go, everything futile -- much like Sisyphus, and also like Prometheus. He keeps on killing his family, over and over. The choice to kill Connor in Home surely has not advanced him.

That is why the spinning top that sets this whole arc up is so brilliant as a choice -- because all he is doing is spinning around and getting nowhere so far, no matter how much good he does.

Angel is not stupid. But he is being punished for his time as Angelus however, and there is a steep price in pain to pay for what he wants -- which is to move beyond his fate, to exceed his own spiritual limitations. And the fact that he wants it, in a way, is what is hindering his moving beyond, because the universe isn't a reward system. I'm guessing he is going to have to give up wanting a reward before he gets one. And even so, he is going to have to pay in even huger quotients of pain.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Think Pylea...cause it is all so clear -- skeeve, 09:42:41 12/09/03 Tue

from alcibiades:
"Her ascension is so uneasy and to me, at least, felt entirely unearned at that point."

To become a "higher being" was to me an obvious bad choice.
The most obvious clue was the now or never part of the sales pitch.
That is a red flag coming from any salesman.
It's something Queen C would have known.
Also Skip talked about transcending love as though it were a good thing.
There was little, if any, detail about what Cordelia would be able to do as a "higher being".

On Cordelia's birthday, choosing death might have been a bad idea.
Skip might not have been bluffing.
Demanding an interview with the PTB would have been a better choice.
She'd been getting individual attention frm them for some time.
Once more wouldn't have hurt them any and might have (dis)established Skip's credentials.

[> [> [> Depends on how one 'saves' a world -- Rahael, 03:21:32 12/09/03 Tue

Groo and the 'cursed one' were supposed to, together, bring about the restoration of the monarchy. Groo did that without any visions (he also got dethroned pretty soon after - so perhaps the visions might have helped him hold on to power and keep the republic at bay. I guess I don't think that overthrowing monarchies inevitably leads to catastrophes for other worlds).

As to whether it was indeed her heroic duty to com-shuk with Groo and give away what Doyle gave her, I guess interpretations will vary.

I know that I wouldn't have taken AtS very seriously if they'd depicted that as a 'heroic duty'.

[> [> [> Lot's of interesting things here -- s'kat, 10:47:22 12/09/03 Tue

Cordelia has always been portrayed as "the self-involved
cheerleader" - Joss Whedon's words, btw, not mine. From the very beginning - her catch phrase is "it's all about me".
That facet has stayed pretty much consistent throughout the series. Now, that's not to say Cordy is irredeemable or a horrible person. She's similar to a lot of high school girls from rich families who feel a sense of entitlement.
In a recent discussion with a friend of mine, she commented
how her daughter came home from college and stated: "I deserve a porche." Note, not I want a porche or need one. I'm entitled. Cordy's the same way - in Cordy's head she is a "princess", she was "raised" as a princess. There are the lesser beings put on earth to worship her, and those who are her equals. It's not completely her fault she sees the world through these eyes, her father partly does it to her.
In fact it's not until her father loses everything and is exposed as a complete fraud, that Cordelia begins to grow up a little, but to expect the "princess" complex to go away just like that? Not after 17 years of indoctrination.
Add to this the fact that Cordy, like most young people, wants to feel special. So it's not just "entitlement" but a desire to be and feel special that motivates her. Something she pretty much states to Angel in "That Vision Thing", which I just re-watched and taped last night. Heck "That Vision Thing" sets up the whole Cordelia arc perfectly. In the episode, Lorne attempts to help Cordy by reading the visions, Cordy resists at first for two reasons, which she conveys to Angel - 1) She doesn't want more noise and 2) (which she reluctantly admits is the real reason) She's afraid of Lorne taking her power, without it she's afraid she won't be necessary to Angel, she's not special. Angel attempts to tell her that it's not her powers that make her special to him, it's Cordelia who is important to him. What's wonderful about this bit is how it comments on Angel and his journey, Angel remember in IWRY - gave up humanity partly because he was afraid of not being special any more.
The Oracles tell him that by becoming human - he's no longer a champion, no longer "special". Now, we sort of dismiss this comment...saying wait, Angel did it for the good of humanity, for the good of Buffy. But the episodes that follow IWRY, including the metaphors, don't support that thesis - Buffy dies and is brought back and saves the world again with no help from Angel, he could have stayed human...heck maybe if he had none of S5 BTVS would have happened? Also, he gets sidetracked by Darla, if he'd become human, it's unlikely the Darla tract would have happened. I bring up IWRY b/c it's very similar to There's No Place Like Grbltz in the choice provided to the hero.
In fact, in the whole Pylea arc - Angel and Cordelia are constantly braced against each other. In Over The Rainbow - (I think, it might be Through The Looking Glass) we have Angel spending a lot of time looking at his reflection and commenting on how great he looks and worrying over his hair, just as Cordy comments about being gross then is all a glow about being goregous. Also we have Fred - Cordy meets Fred first btw. Fred saves Cordy, and gets captured.
When Cordy becomes princess? She convienently forgets Fred - the subject of the vision that brought her there to begin with. But Angel? When Angel finds Fred, he is also given a choice - should he save her or continue being the hero of the Deathlok Clan? Have Numfar dance for him? Or once again be exiled? Angel saves Fred and forsakes "the champion" status the Deathlok Clan gives him. Cordelia in contrast never really forsakes her "princess" status and continues to miss it.

It's brought up again in Heartthrob, where she states how much she misses Pylea, meanwhile Fred won't leave her room b/c of being a prisoner there. Then in That Vision Thing, she's torn, part of her wants the powers removed and part wants to keep them - she can't give up being special.

Consider the choices provided to her in Birthday? Rahael points out "part demon", "head explode", "tv star" but fails to note what all these have in common. What is similar about each choice? They all make Cordy special. Note the one choice she isn't given is the one Groo offers more than once - to just have the powers removed. That choice would be the only one which doesn't make Cordelia special.

Going back to BTVS where Cordelia's character started. Cordy in some ways has been used as a type of foil for the Buffy character. Buffy, who yearns to be normal, not special meets Queen Bitch Cordy, who yearns to be special not normal. In Puppet Show - Cordy sings the song "The Greatest Love of All is For Yourself" - the same song she sings in Slouching Toward Bethlehem. In Out of Sight, Out of Mind - Cordy states how it's all about her and she's entitled to May Queen, when Buffy tries to sympathsize with her, all Cordy can hear is herself. While Cordy is shown to grow and evolve through the seasons, the desire to be special and treated like a princess never really leaves. In Room With A View - Cordy fights the ghost by stating she "deserves" this great apt. A regular studio space isn't good enough for Cordy. And part of the reason she wants it, is so she can brag.

Cordy's desire to be special, her sense of entitlement, echo Lilah, Angel, and Darla in different ways. Lilah, remember, is Cordelia with better shoes - (see Billy, where Cordy confronts Lilah and basically states this). Cordelia realizes that Lilah is her evil doppleganger, just as Lindsey is Angel's. Which is why I knew the moment Cordy killed Lilah, Cordy was doomed. Cordy takes Lilah's place after that episode, Lilah is no longer necessary. In Darla, we also see these traits - a sense of "entitlement, superiority" and "hubris" - Darla considers herself Queen Bee, it's not until she literally falls for her child, that she is humbled, but even then - she doesn't care really for anything outside of Darla - the child is part of her, it's not separate. Cordelia's protection of and love for Jasmine is an interesting comment and twist on Darla's passion for Connor. It's also a wonderful way of flipping the Good Mother/Femme Fatal roles in Noir fiction.

I think if people look back through all the seasons BTVS and ATS and really examine certain aspects of Cordelia's arc, they'll see that it all makes perfect sense. Cordy's fatal flaws, in true noir fashion, got the better of her.
These flaws are of course universal ones - hubris, vanity - otherwise there'd be no point in commenting on them.
Cordy from episode 1 BTVS - wanted to be special, to be the princess - it's why she almost ends up a sacrifice for the Master's entry into the world in Harvest. Heck, it's why she gets eaten by Xander and Willow in The Wish. Cordy gets in the "most" trouble when she allows herself to be seduced by her own vanity and hubris. It's Cordelia's fatal flaw.

What makes Cordelia such an interesting character, is that these flaws are just a part of her makeup. Cordy is by no means a one-dimensional character. A fact that I give ME a great deal of credit for, since it must have been tempting to make her one. Along with all that hubris and vanity, we also have a person who desires to help, she's tough, she's not a quitter. And she desperately wants to be better. The tragedy of Season 3 and Season 4 is seeing her fall victim to her lesser qualities. Leaving us with a disturbing question - "can we overcome our tragic flaws, those cracks in our emotional makeup that cause us to self-destruct?"
Again and again, it's Cordy's pride, her vanity, her belief in entitlement and desire to be special - that does her in.
The difference between Doyle and Cordelia and the visions is Doyle saw the visions as a punishment or a cross to bear, he didn't view them as something that made him special or heroic, Cordelia in contrast sees the visions as making her a champion, making her special - hence her questions to Angel in That Vision Thing - "why am I being punished - they wouldn't do this, I'm a champion". I wonder what would have happened if Cordelia had let Groo have the visions? Or if she had turned down Skip's offer? Or even gave them to Groo after Birthday? Or for that matter turned
down the offer in Tomorrow? I feel for Cordelia...but by the same token? I think her arc was inevitable and actually makes a lot of sense in retro-spect. I don't see a retcon.
But then I don't see a retcon on any of the characters, which is actually pretty remarkable considering this is TV and it's very difficult to remain consistent in TV, what with all the crew/writer/producer changes.

Hope the above made sense, I wrote it in the posting box not in word, and got disconnected three times. So it may seem a bit on the rambling side.


[> [> [> [> Re: Lot's of interesting things here -- jane, 19:38:22 12/09/03 Tue

I have to agree with you here, S'Kat. I always liked Cordy, in spite of (or perhaps because of,) her flaws. Even when she was at her most Queen C-ness, there was something vulnerable about her to me. Having her self esteem dependent on her image as Queen C,or champion, leaves her wide open to Skip's manipulation. I don't think she spent a lot of time in meditation about consequences, precisely because it would mean really examining who she is at her core. The fear of being ordinary leads her to the need to believe that what Skip says is true; she is Chosen.

[> [> [> [> another way to look at cordy's sense of entitlement -- anom, 23:22:18 12/09/03 Tue

"Cordy's the same way - in Cordy's head she is a 'princess', she was 'raised' as a princess. There are the lesser beings put on earth to worship her, and those who are her equals. It's not completely her fault she sees the world through these eyes, her father partly does it to her.
In fact it's not until her father loses everything and is exposed as a complete fraud, that Cordelia begins to grow up a little, but to expect the 'princess' complex to go away just like that? Not after 17 years of indoctrination."

But this may be exactly why Cordelia hangs onto being "vision girl" so desperately. She had that specialness once...& lost it. So is it hubris? Or fear that she isn't special for herself but only for her gift? Her need to feel special may be based on losing what she used to take for granted she was entitled to. After all, when her family was rich, she didn't really need to do anything to make her special.

"In Room With A View - Cordy fights the ghost by stating she 'deserves' this great apt. A regular studio space isn't good enough for Cordy. And part of the reason she wants it, is so she can brag."

But another part is that "It's rent-controlled!" Pretty pragmatic for someone who felt humiliated by having to (no!!) work for a living in the episodes leading up to The Prom. And in LA, she's still ashamed to have her friends from her former life know the conditions she was living in before RwaV. We saw her filling her purse w/the star sandwiches from the party in City of..., & we know she was living in much-reduced circumstances. By her standards, she may feel she'd paid her dues & did deserve better. Hell, if you found a great apt. for a more-than-reasonable rent, wouldn't you (that's a general "you") go to great lengths to get that lease, even if affordable studio apts. were available? I didn't get the impression Cordelia wouldn't have taken a studio if she hadn't found the haunted apt.

"Cordy from episode 1 BTVS - wanted to be special, to be the princess - it's why she almost ends up a sacrifice for the Master's entry into the world in Harvest."

Just a q. here: Maybe I'm not remembering specifically enough--how does Cordelia's need to be special lead to her being the next on Luke's menu? I thought he just picked her out of the crowd & said she was young & good-looking.

[> [> [> [> [> Nice sub-thread Sk and Anom -- Rahael, 07:41:26 12/10/03 Wed

btw the reference to Room with a view seems deliciously apposite. Cordy is told to kill herself. She realises that she really is a bitch and decides to keep living. One of her finest hours.

If she chooses not to die because some old ghost is haunting her, she certainly shouldn't have to so she can clear out of the way for the Buffy/Angel ship!

[> [> Re: I'm a little puzzled -- Lunasea, 07:13:47 12/09/03 Tue

If the message is that passive acceptance of life is the way to being a good person

I said nothing of the sort. I said and you even quoted it "They made the best of what they were given." There is nothing passive about that. Both Angel and Buffy were constantly training and developing those gifts. That were constantly using those gifts to contribute to the world. There is nothing passive about either. Their acceptance required action. It even required Buffy's death, twice. Not a passive death, but an active one. In the first, she had to go to the Master. In the second, she physically lept to her death. Nothing passive about either.

When Cordy's role required her death, she wouldn't accept it. Doyle did (Hero). Angel did (The Trials). Darla did eventually (The Trials and again in Lullaby). Cordy would rather give up some of her humanity, something Buffy refused to do in "Get It Done." She had no idea what the side-effects would be. She looked for horns and a tail (similar to Buffy in Earshot), but one of the side-effects of Angel's demon is bloodlust.

The demon is incredibly symbolic in the Buffyverse. It is something that should be dealt with, not incorporated or embraced. I know there are audience members who disagree with this, but I see nothing in the show that supports that the Buffyverse thinks that way. To lose more of her humanity is horrifying to Buffy. I said that "Get It Done" has colored my interpretation of "Birthday." Being vamped is never considered a good thing. If Wesley and Gunn really want to fight evil, why not have Angel vamp them and Willow curse them? Then there is what happens to Willow in "Villains."

Since we live in a non-mystical universe, I was trying to figure out something comperable to what Cordy did. She took steroids. In "Go Fish" the steroids turned the swim team into fish demons. In the realverse, athletes take performance enhancing drugs, including steroids, to give them an edge against the competition, an unnatural edge.

This cannot be compared to what happens with the Scythe spell in "Chosen," which unlocks the potential in girls. They have to have that potential first. None of them were raped and infused with the essence of demon. The spell was run off of the Scythe, which killed the last demon, the demon that made the vampires. The Scythe slayed their fear, their own demons and this made them all stronger. The strength actually came from them.

We choose to be strong, but we are strong with what we are given. We can work out and become stronger, but to give up our humanity is a line we shouldn't cross. We slay demons, we shouldn't become one.

[> [> [> Heroism and Death -- Rahael, 09:43:37 12/09/03 Tue

I guess it depends upon one's world view. I do not like the idea that death confers heroism. I do not like martyrdom. (Hence my distress when it is foisted upon unwilling people).

I don't particularly like the ep 'Hero'. The reason why Buffy's death in the Gift is so moving is because she does it so Dawn doesn't have to have a 'heroic' death conferred upon her. And because the death in the Gift is in many ways a metaphorical, emotional death, not a literal one.

Cordy had my complete respect for not wanting her head blown off.

This does not mean that Darla should choose to be vamped rather than die of a disease. I would be all in favour of diseases being cured by medicine, and not for artificial life that is fed on the life of other, on the unwilling deaths of others.

I don't like Get it Done either, precisely for the reasons quoted as a positive contrast to Cordy's decision.

[> [> [> [> Re: Heroism and Death -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:01:20 12/09/03 Tue

Martyrdom is heroic because most people do not want to die, more so than anything else, in fact. To quote the movie "The Grey Zone", "How can you know what you'd really do to stay alive, until you're asked? I know now that the answer for most of us is: anything." Doing good acts is always appreciated, but how much one sacrafices to do good says a great deal about their character. To give up your life in order to help others, when the most natural thing to do is fight, betray, or hurt anyone in order to stay alive, speaks volumes about someone's inner drive to help other people.

[> [> [> [> [> Martyrs don't always die for others -- Lunasea, 10:48:46 12/09/03 Tue

Doing good acts is always appreciated, but how much one sacrafices to do good says a great deal about their character.

Most martyrs died to protect their beliefs. That belief could be to help others and that is often a part of it, but The Communion of Saints is full of people that died because they would not renounce God. Are these people not as great or heroic as those that died protecting/helping others? What about those that die for liberty? Not the liberty of others, but just the concept of liberty itself? "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?"

"You never know your strength until you're tested." That strength could be in our own beliefs. How much good did Darla do when she was willing to die in "The Trial"? She spared Angel from having to vamp her, but the real motivation was in accepting the death she was meant to have without losing her humanity. She realized how precious humanity was and she wasn't going to give it up.

[> [> [> [> [> I know all about it Finn -- Rahael, 11:26:53 12/09/03 Tue

There is something amazing about being willing to do it. But there is a tremendous cost to be paid when life is ultimately devalued and death for others glorified.

I've lived in a place where martyrdom was glorified on every poster on the street walls. It corroded the entire community.

I don't really want to go into it - I know my stances on things like forgiveness and martyrdom are controversial. I do not seek to impose my stances on others, simply explain why I still like Cordelia, and why others' reasons for explaining their dislike do not work to persuade me.

PS: One deleterious effect of even the most noblest of martyrdoms, the most disinterested and unselfish, is that those who are left behind afterwards, will forever have to justify staying alive. There is a nobility and a strength to choosing to live on to. That is why the Gift is such a fine episode. It's all about blood, the symbol of life, the symbol of death. About what it is to be human, all too human, making difficult, terrible choices everyday. Why the hardest choice for different characters might not be easily prescribed, but heavily dependent on context.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Not actually arguing with this. All things in moderation. -- Finn Mac Cool, 15:32:32 12/09/03 Tue

Once on a TV show, a husband and wife were on a plane. There was a false alarm saying they were hitting turbulance. The husband's oxygen bag came down but the wife's didn't. He starts sucking madly on his before realizing there is no need for it. Afterwards, the episode seems to criticize him for not giving his oxygen mask to his wife when he thought there was danger. This I do disagree with. His life is no less important than hers; why is it wrong for him to value his own life first above that of one other person?

I'm not saying martyrdom is always good. However, everytime somebody gives up something they value to help someone else, that is technically martyrdom. Without martyrs, civilization would collapse. As long as it's kept in moderation, I don't see the problem.

As for martyrs putting responsibility on the living, I think that's all a matter of perspective. Every Memorial Day I'm told I should pay my respects to people who died in wars, but, personally, I've never really felt the compulsion to do so. I don't know why; my guilt gene seems to work differently than a lot of people's.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Tomorrow versus Birthday -- Rahael, 16:51:00 12/09/03 Tue

Self sacrifice, courage, taking principled stands, putting ohters first - I agree completely. I'm just averse to blanket statements about how the good death should be embraced, and those who don't are just plain weak and selfish and whatnot. Instinctively putting your life at risk for someone else? I admire it tremendously. Demanding that someone die for a cause? That's exactly the mindset that made Cordy believe the Powers wanted her to go off to some higher human plane and 'save ohter universes'.

In birthday, her love and pity for Angel made her say "Demonise me already". In Tomorrow, she rejected love, and the earth, and asceneded, choosing a kind of self depriving sainthood. Angel fell to the bottom of the ocean, forgotten. That's where Cordy went badly wrong.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Absolutely -- KdS, 01:07:38 12/10/03 Wed

And as I see it, to suggest that choosing a pointless death which does not achieve anything positive is a positive submission to one's destiny flies in the face of everything ME have ever argued in other seasons. I can't see that Cordy's choosing to become part demon in Birthday is a bad thing because AtS3 was the high point of AtS's flirtation with the idea of demons as a metaphor for morally neutral cultural minorities. Buffy was warned off in Get It Done as much by the Shadowmen's attitude and behaviour as by the mere fact of there being a demon. Moreover Cordelia, unlike Buffy, had dealt with Doyle, Lorne, the Buddhist guy from the S2 opener, and many other characters who showed that full or half-demon status wasn't necessarily a sign of evil. (By contrast, vampires in AtS have never been shown as anything but evil, so there's no comparison with Darla.)

The key point where Cordelia's arc shifts from heroism to hubris is Skip's "This transcends love" in Tomorrow, which if she'd been paying attention to what had been going on for the last six years would have been an instant warning.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Absolutely -- Lunasea, 07:30:21 12/10/03 Wed

(By contrast, vampires in AtS have never been shown as anything but evil, so there's no comparison with Darla.)

From "The Trial"
"Maybe it would be different. - We don't know. - Maybe, uh... because, you know, I have a soul - if-if I did bite you..."

Choosing death may not achieve anything "positive," but neither does it cause anything negative. When the choice is between negative and pointless, pointless becomes positive.

She isn't moving to another country. Skip warns her that the consequences could be numerous and unpredictable and she may not be able to live a normal human life. What if those consequences were horrific? It is easy to support what happened when nothing horrible (other than Jasmine) resulted from it. She took a gamble with something I don't think should be gambled with. You can't get ready for the fight by becoming less human. Otherwise, vamp and curse the rest of AI so they can fight better. Why not have three vampires with a soul, four, five? They won't be evil. They'd have souls.

Being a demon didn't necessarily equate to evil, but that is a risk she took. She could have become part of the problem, which she did. I don't think it is a risk she should have taken and if the only other option is death, she should have accepted that. She changed her very physiology. She had the natural order of things altered. Who knows how this could have affected her? Jasmine completely flows naturally from this.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Well put, as always -- Rahael, 07:43:42 12/10/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Heroism and Death -- Lunasea, 10:33:53 12/09/03 Tue

I'm not talking about my worldview. I am talking about how to interpret Cordy's decision from the perspective of the Buffyverse. What have we seen on other episodes that would say this is a good or bad decision? "Get It Done" casts "Birthday" in a different light, though that light was there, just dimmer. The episodes you don't like still happened and still make up the Buffyverse. They cannot just be dismissed any more than I can dismiss what RRK writes (though she isn't writing any more, so Fury's Spike is the one that crossed over)

I do not like martyrdom. (Hence my distress when it is foisted upon unwilling people).

You cannot be an unwilling martyr. It goes against its very definition: One who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles. It is the ultimate act of holding to your beliefs. It may be a physical death, but renouncing those principles in word or deed is a spiritual death. Death does not necessarily equal hero, but as the Prayer of St. Francis says, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." Being willing to die for our beliefs or someone else shows how strongly we believe something.

Death does not equal redemption in the Buffyverse. It does make a strong statement about what ends someone is willing to go to though for their beliefs, which is what being a hero is about. The Doyle that turned his back on other half-breeds is now willing to die to save them. Angel is willing to end his existence in order for human Darla to get a chance. Darla is willing to die a natural death because she now understands what it means to care about someone/be human and she can't let Angel vamp her. Darla is also willing to end her existence in order for her human child to have a chance. Buffy loved Dawn so much that she dies so that she can have a chance. It is a real death, complete with tombstone.

In some ways, many of us are martyrs that die for our beliefs. I have given up a lot to stay home and raise my children. I get a lot because of that, but I give up/kill that which isn't compatible with what I consider to be important. In dying, I have been reborn. It is those that give up important things in order to have things that aren't important that are the walking dead (represented by the vampires).

[> [> Hmmm... -- s'kat, 11:34:32 12/09/03 Tue

Birthday is a complex and interesting episode. It starts with Cordy as a famous actress - not a struggling actress, which is in reality what she would have become had she not met Angel, actually no, she would have been killed had she not met Angel. In Birthday - she's given three choices - each one provides Cordy with some sense of specialness:

1. Part-Demon - this is a sacrifice, makes her different from everyone else, and a empowered being. Also the irony is that Cordy sneered at demons way back in S1 ATS, now she sees them as possibly special.

2. Dying - if Cordy dies, she dies heroically, a sort of martyr's death. Like what was happening to her in That Vision Thing. She tells Angel in that episode that she is torn - she wants to let go of the visions because they are hurting her, yet at the same time wants to keep them because they make her feel special. (This is in some ways similar to Buffy's dilemma in Helpless - where she wants to be powerful as the slayer, yet by the same token wants to still be a girl..) It also goes back to the Pylea arc, where she considers giving them up, but feels without them she can't help Angel. (A fact we know is untrue - since Cordy helped Angel quite a bit before Doyle gave her the visions, but Cordy doesn't believe this - no matter what Angel tells her. This is important - b/c Cordy's speech to Angel in That Vision Thing echoes Willow's speech to Buffy in Wrecked, both women tell the hero the same thing: I want to feel special, without my powers, I'm just a girl who can't do anything. This is completely untrue - the hero tries to tell them. But they don't see it. Cordelia doesn't like herself very much apparently - in Cordy's eyes, she's nothing without the visions, just as Willow in her own eyes, is nothing without the magic. And in both cases - this inability to see themselves as powerful, wonderful people separate from the power their weild is what inevitably corrupts them. This factor is underlined in both women's stories numerous times from BTVS S1- ATS S4, note in the episodes before Buffy's return in S3, how Cordy and Willow are part of the patrol to vamps team. When Buffy reappears they lose that. And in Homecoming - note how important it is for Cordy to win and "why" she resents Buffy entering the contest. )

3. Being famous situation comedy actress. Note it's not a struggling actress, a supporting player, or a soap opera actress - it's the lead in a popular situation comedy that holds her name. This is her dream and she "heroically" turns it down. But really, didn't she already do this? Back in Belonging S2, she realizes how belittling acting is for her. She wants more than that. Also, the fact Skip shows her this vision, should be her first indication that it's a con. But Cordy's own flaws get in the way - her desire to be important, special. To be the good actress. (We know from episodes in S1 ATS through S2 ATS that Cordy couldn't act her way out of a box and in that scene from City of?
She was at the party at the bequest of a Vampire Talent Agent, who seduced young girls in order to eat them. (Another comment on the movie/tv industry). If she hadn't met Angel, Cordy would have been eaten. I'm not saying she's stupid here, I'm saying Skip caught her unawares, she's been suffering for months, and she's already had at least one opportunity to get rid of the visions - and she turned it down, also she knows the visions don't always come from the powers, someone has manipulated them in the past, but Cordy...made the choice to hold on to them and once you make that choice, you don't want to face the fact you might have screwed up. So it's completely understandable why she falls for Skip's line. If I were Cordy? I would have.

So what is the point? What does this say about empowerment?
Why make Cordy and Willow turn so dark?
Because it's not "external" powers that make us powerful.
What made Cordy and Willow wonderful people and powerful people was never their supernatural powers. IT was "who" they are inside. The reason Angel hires Cordelia and keeps her around is *not* the visions, it's because she's the one person he trusts to kick his ass in line. She cuts to the crap. She sees him for who and what he is and trusts him enough to tell him what she thinks. We need people like that in our lives, we treasure them. Willow was the same way for Buffy. Buffy knew she could trust Will to call her on her crap, slap her upside the head, or even to confide in. Willow was Buffy's touch-stone. The powers Willow and Cordy felt they needed to help Buffy and Angel, eventually hurt the heros, what the heros truly valued was something else. Willow sort of realizes it in S7 when she acts with Buffy to share the power, becoming less special. Cordelia never gets it and that is the true tragedy of Cordy's arc - she never sees her own power, she never realizes what her gifts really are...instead she falls for Skip's line that without her power, the visions, Angel is doomed and she wouldn't be in his life. It's incredibly sad when you think about it, but also inevitable...

[> [> [> what corrupts -- skeeve, 15:14:43 12/09/03 Tue

'Twasn't Willow's belief that magic was all that made her special that corrupted Willow.
It might even have slowed down the process.
('Twas a stupid belief anyway. At one time she knew her computer skills were special and useful.)
Corruption for Willow was her lack of respect for others.
E.g., making a roomful of people go away for a while to facilitate searching for Dawn was not a good thing.
Willow showed that lack before learning magic.
Her forays into other peoples files just weren't quite as consequential as erasing memories.

[> [> [> [> True...True... -- DorianQ, 14:44:10 12/10/03 Wed

[> [> [> Re: Hmmm...and more hmmm... -- fresne, 18:36:50 12/10/03 Wed

"This is important - b/c Cordy's speech to Angel in That Vision Thing echoes Willow's speech to Buffy in Wrecked, both women tell the hero the same thing: I want to feel special, without my powers, I'm just a girl who can't do anything. This is completely untrue - the hero tries to tell them. But they don't see it... And in both cases - this inability to see themselves as powerful, wonderful people separate from the power they wield is what inevitably corrupts them."

"The reason Angel hires Cordelia and keeps her around is *not* the visions, it's because she's the one person he trusts to kick his ass in line. She cuts to the crap. She sees him for who and what he is and trusts him enough to tell him what she thinks. We need people like that in our lives, we treasure them."

Very nice and it's discussions like this that help me cogitate what itched at the time and thus I'll repeat what you said, only different.

In S3, the more characters referred to Cordelia as a Champion with a capital Queen C, with reference to her rightness for Angel, the more it bothered me. It felt as if the more Cordelia focused on her powers, visions, divine glow wormness, etc. the less Bitch goddess she became, but beyond a certain meh' (this is a technical term, don't try it at home) my unease was incoagulate.

In the process of trying to become special, Cordelia gave up her birthright of words that cut and bleed and true. The words we don't want, but need in order to see truly. Sound versus sight. Visions that hurt and save and special. Conduit to powers that stars to molehills remote. Being a crux. A fulcrum. A part of something better, bigger. This vast pageantry of a story. Helping to guide that hero, that Champion, in whatever role it is he has in that great Apocalypse. With visions, loosing sight of your own puny beautiful power. Breath. Words. Before the stars dreamed themselves, darkness on the deep, there was the word. And words divided the world and named things, but by then Beauty lay sleeping. Aurora in reverse, her child already come forth to shine.

How horribly wonderful that the crux of choice in Birthday derived both from compassion and selfishness. She had heard the sorrows of the world. Had been cracked open and weeping and heard the despair. Genuinely wanting to help. Feels herself inadequate to the task. Wants to be more. More armor. More power. To be more to meet the task.

All tangled with a desire to be special. I'm not quite sure how to articulate this, but there can be a selfishness to martyrdom. To abnegation, denial, suffering. It can be seductive. That insistence that you be the one to suffer, carry the burden, be silent. Ultimately, Cordelia's act to isolate herself from her community, to not involve them in her burden, is the same choice that Wesley later makes. To dissimilar and similar and fragmenting effect.

Whether or not she made the right choice in Birthday, the choices that let to Birthday led to her choosing something more important than love, which led to disconnection. Choosing visions led to her having only vision. To being unheard. Choosing to be a conduit for sight, led to being a conduit for consumption.

And in so doing, Cordelia gave up not her humanness (a choice that was neither here nor there), but her reliance on her internal truth. That power is staring down a vampire when all you have is a crumpled gown. That beauty is when words and thoughts are in complete alignment and tact isn't all that. That she is a bitch Goddess, but since she uses her powers for good and not evil, that's okay.

[> [> [> [> Excellent points -- Rahael, 18:42:37 12/10/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Hmmm...and more hmmm... -- s'kat, 19:05:24 12/10/03 Wed

I'd agree with this assessment - I think that's what seduced her the desire to do more good and the inability to do it. The arc really starts, not in That Vision Thing, but in To Shanshu in LA when the Vocah demon increases her visions to the extent she sees all the pain and suffering in the world. I don't blame her for wanting to find a way to end it. It's not, in a way, that different than what happens to Willow in Grave - Willow gets overwhelmed with the pain of the world and wants to end it.

Both of these reactions are in a way a foil or a means of teaching the heros - Angel, and Buffy - who wonder what do you do when you can't help?

Another thing is also going on here and it goes back to City of - where Doyle tells Angel he mustn't cut himself off from humanity - he must stay involved, b/c when he isolates himself, cuts himself off - he will either put himself above and act in judgement over those he wishes to protect or believe them unworthy entirely. The involvement is key - and it is the mistake that Wes and Cordelia both make in Season 3. And it may in some ways be the mistake Angel is in danger of falling into now - it's very much in line with what happens in the movie the Fisher King, where the protagonist separates himself from the world and gets caught in his own self-reflective loop. I think that is what happened to first Wes, then Cordelia - both of whom were hiding pain and other things from the others. Wes - the pain of his father's rejection, Fred's rejection, and the prophecy that Angel would kill his son - which was too much on top of the other two. Cordy - her love for Angel, her pain from the visions which were killing her, and Skip's deal. Their secrets isolated them further - and it is a way of metaphorically discussing Angel - whose secrets and past and who he is separates him. Especially now with the mindwipe.

[> [> [> [> [> Thanks for this -- Lunasea, 20:34:30 12/10/03 Wed

I was trying to figure out how Cordy's arc fit Angel's for season 2. I was going to ask if you had any ideas regarding this yesterday. When we dissect Angel, we get Wes as mind and masculine consciousness. It was fitting for Wesley to be kicked out of the group as Angel's grief makes him irrational. We get Fred as his battered heart and anima. We get Gunn as his commitment to the mission. We get Lorne as his ability to read others. It is fitting for Fred and Gunn to have a relationship season 3 and to lose it season 4.

Then there is Cordy. Season 1 & 2 she was heart and anima. She lost this role to Fred season 3. Season 4, as Jasmine she becomes the anti-soul. Not a demon soul or evil, but a negation of the moral compass. But what is Cordy really season 3? Femme fatale, girl friday and all the noir terms are interesting, but psychologically speaking, what is Cordy season 3? I think she is his shadow self. I would be glad if you would share your thoughts on this.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you - see my post above. -- s'kat, 10:00:23 12/11/03 Thu

[> [> No more defending Cordy -- Rahael, 11:55:08 12/09/03 Tue

Back to lurking again ;)

Now consensus can truly reign!

[> [> [> Re: No more defending Cordy -- punkinpuss, 13:23:33 12/09/03 Tue

Oh, don't be silly! (Says she who lurks in forum lands) ;-)

Consensus is no fun.

[> [> [> [> Quite right! -- Rahael, 17:10:53 12/09/03 Tue

I like the push and pull of illuminating discussion. I like emerging with a slightly different perspective or new ways of explaining why I think something.

Lurking can get to be a habit - you should break it yourself!

[> [> [> Ahh, but *I* miss your thoughts on the show, Rah! -- Masq, 14:40:48 12/09/03 Tue

When do you get to see Destiny?

[> [> [> No consensus here! -- matching mole, 15:15:33 12/09/03 Tue

Your original post in this thread is dead on target in my humble opinion, Rah. The Cordelia of S1-3 was magnificent (at least through 'Birthday') and what happened in S4 was extremely disappointing.

[> [> [> [> Mole! -- Rahael, 16:40:51 12/09/03 Tue

Well it was worth it just to get you to delurk. Hope you are well!

Agreed - after Birthday, Cordy's writing became very lacklustre. And by 'Tomorrow', she's taken decisive steps to letting Jasmine hitch a lift inside. In fact I can remember posting right after Tommorrow aired, saying "what the hell did Cordy just do?" Oh well. There are always the DVDs.

[> [> [> [> [> I like KdS and Yab's theory on Cordy -- Masq, 16:49:53 12/09/03 Tue

That by "The Price", Cordelia was somewhat fanatical in her faith in the PTBs and her role as Angel's seer. She took Skip at his word, and was hence used by Jasmine.

This makes her choice sympathetic, but still the wrong choice (if she had had a bit less hubris, she might have questioned Skip more, or decided not to ascend). It gets Cordelia off the hook for season 4, while giving her *some* culpability in letting it happen.

KdS explains it better.

[> [> [> [> [> it's worth seeing you delurk too, rahael--do it more often, both of you, ok? -- anom, 22:26:58 12/09/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks Anom! -- Rahael, 09:13:32 12/10/03 Wed

Lots of things happening. But very good things I think. My attention is all caught up in this documentary film that is being made which has pretty much consumed most of my fire and enthusiasm that was formerly directed Buffy-ward.

But hope I can run into you soonish anyway. Mundane things like work and settling into new house have stopped me dropping by chat so much, but it should all settle now.

[> [> [> If it helps, I agreed with you on Cordy's 'Birthday' decision -- Finn Mac Cool, 15:40:10 12/09/03 Tue

The alternate future Skip offered clearly wasn't too desirable, and she should certainly try to avoid dying. That leaves becoming part demon. Since demons can sometimes be good on "Angel", this isn't such a bad option. For Buffy, becoming part demon meant being infused with an evil spirit; for Cordelia it didn't. Yes, it eventually led to the birth of Jasmine, but Cordy had no way of knowing that. I do think Cordy was wrong not to tell Angel and the others about how bad her headaches were getting or the measures she was taking to deal with them. However, while I don't agree with the decision, it was in character, and I can understand her motivations (unlike Season 4 Cordy).

[> Re: Cordy's decision in 'Birthday' -- skeeve, 15:46:21 12/09/03 Tue

Buffy wasn't offered more demon essence.
The Shadowmen tried to force it on her.
Buffy didn't know that it would work.

From her point of view, Cordelia had a choice.
Demonization wasn't forced on her.
She was pretty sure it would work.

The Potentials in Sunnydale might have chosen to become Slayers, but it's fairly clear that none of the other new Slayers did.
I don't know what Willow did with the scythe, but if becoming a Slayer means demonization, then Willow demonized a lot of people against their wills.

In the Buffyverse, there appears to be demons that are inherently evil (Cordy tries to kill them) and demons that are basically ugly humans (Lorne, Doyle, Clem).
This one was rather surprised that Cordelia had to check for horns and a tail.
Surely she would have already discussed with Skip what kind of a demon she would partly become and how it would affect her.

[> [> Re: Cordy's decision in 'Birthday' -- Buffyholix, 16:24:44 12/09/03 Tue

Do we know if Cordy is still part demon? did she cease to be part demon once jasmine was born or can she still levitate and shoot bright lights out of her mouth?

[> [> [> Re: Cordy's decision in 'Birthday' -- skeeve, 09:14:05 12/10/03 Wed

I'd expect so.
Jasmine really had no reason to change that.

BTW Cordelia's friends have had a major failure of imagination.
There are at least two mystical cure-alls available, neither of which has been tried:
Mohra blood and Slayer blood.

"It's always gotta be blood" -- Spike

[> After further thought -- KdS, 02:41:55 12/10/03 Wed

It seems to me that there are two separate arguments here, which I may have confused in my earlier responses. Lunasea's suggestion that Cordy should have just died in Birthday seems to me to be entirely incompatible with the usual value of life and death in ME shows. All the examples that Lunasea quotes involves people who died to save others - to suggest that pointless death out of some abstract moral principle and submission to destiny is seen by ME as enobling strikes me as incompatible with the whole thrust of most other episodes. (The case of Darla can be contrasted with that of Cordelia by the fact that vampires in AtS have always been unambiguously portrayed as evil. Moreover, Darla's impending death was the result of a natural disorder, while Cordelia's was due to an occult cause which might reasonably have had an occult cure.)

By contrast, we have what I interpret as Shadowkat's and Alcibiades's opnion, that Cordelia should have told Skip to get stuffed and tried to find a way of having her lethal powers removed. This makes a certain amount of sense in the concept of S4, but I don't see Cordelia as blameworthy for not considering this possibility, for the simple reason that in the context of AtS1-3 she had no justifiable reason to believe that becoming partially demonic would be a bad thing. Moreover, given the increasingly intense portrayal of demons in S1-3 as an ethnic minority, to suddenly come out against miscegenation in the context of hindsight would have had troubling subtext. (This is, of course, another difficulty created by AtS sometimes portraying demons as a metaphor for ethnic minorities and sometimes portraying them as pure evil.)

[> [> Re: After further thought -- Lunasea, 07:11:38 12/10/03 Wed

Death in inevitable. It is the one thing that people cannot look in the face and say "you're evitable." It is a part of life, shanshu, the moral coil. Skip tells her, "And even after the pain subsides the effects of the transition will be numerous and unpredictable. You may never be able to lead a human life again." A human life is what Angel is working toward. I don't see how risking it can be seen to be a good thing when it doesn't help anyone.

And that was the thing that Cordy couldn't admit to herself. She wasn't necessary. Everything was about how Angel needed her. From what Skip showed her, he did need her to take the visions from Doyle so he wouldn't. She served that function. Then again, what a crock. If he has this mega destiny that everyone still believes in, do you really think what we saw in Cordy's AU would happen? She was so razzle-dazzled by her own importance in his life that she didn't question how utterly ridiculous everything she saw was.

There is a precedent about accepting death. In "Lie to Me," Billy Ford is willing to do anything to stay alive. When Joyce dies, Tara has some beautiful words to talk about messing with death. Even though the cause of the deterioration is mystical and there is a precedence for mystical v non-mystical death set up in "Villains," what was killing Cordy was the deterioration of her brain. How that translates to blowing off the back of your skull, I have no idea.

Skip isn't the only one that Cordy saw talk about what was happening. Who did she think Angel was talking to? "Its pleas are pointless. Her path is chosen. We will not interfere." But this big guy next to her would interfere? She couldn't accept the path that she chose. Since when is that a good thing in the Buffyverse?

She became a demon to get more power. Not a good thing in the Buffyverse. It wasn't just about avoiding death. It was about her purpose, like she had a specific purpose. She needed more power for that purpose.

Having the visions removed wasn't an option. Even without the visions, she was still in a coma. It wasn't a mystical coma. Her brain was mostly dead. Lots of cold spots. She knew this. She couldn't just resume her life if she was normal. She chose her path and she chose to keep it a secret from her friends, back when they could have helped her. She got a get out of jail free card. That always has consequences in the Buffyverse.

Given the choice between dying and risking her humanity, I say she should have accepted the death that resulted from the path she chose. It wasn't pointless. She had helped Angel for two years. If death was the natural result of that, then she had to accept that.

That is why Jasmine could manipulate her. It wasn't just her need to be important. She had no respect for the natural order of things. As a higher being, she wasn't supposed to affect anything in our dimension. The last thing we see Higher Being Cordy say is "Oh. That's just great. I mean, what's the point of being an all-seeing powerful whachamawhoosit if I'm not allowed to intervene? My friends are gonna die. I mean, what am I supposed to-Angel. (shot of Angel playing slots) God, look what they've done to you. If I could just get you into that room, maybe- Think, bubblehead. How do I-" (The House Always Wins)

There is a difference between saying something is evitable and working within the natural order and saying that you can/should do anything and going beyond it deliberately. Risking your humanity, which is paramount on both shows, better have a damn good reason behind it. Hers didn't. On the surface it looks heroic, especially since her demonness had no negative side effects, but looking at it again, she crossed a line that shouldn't be crossed.

Buffy knows you don't get ready for the fight by becoming less human. Too bad Cordy couldn't figure that out. Buffy accepted the First beating her rather than accept more power. By doing that she accepted death for herself and everyone. I have said that "Get It Done" changed my interpretation of "Birthday." Even if you don't like the episode, it can't be just dismissed.

[> [> [> Re: After further thought -- alcibiades, 09:26:18 12/10/03 Wed

Buffy knows you don't get ready for the fight by becoming less human. Too bad Cordy couldn't figure that out. Buffy accepted the First beating her rather than accept more power. By doing that she accepted death for herself and everyone. I have said that "Get It Done" changed my interpretation of "Birthday." Even if you don't like the episode, it can't be just dismissed.

I agree with the overall point you are making, but to be fair to Cordy, at that point in the story she doesn't have the same level of experience that Buffy does -- having returned from heaven/ death and facing a year where psychologically and metaphorically speaking, her demonic qualities rose to the fore, and then a bit of time where she did "the Slayer is the law" bit, both of which I see as psychological ill-health on her part.

Buffy had an internal compass about the demonic at that point based on personal experience that I think that Cordy was missing.

But I do think that overall, Cordy is very unaware of her self and her own motivations -- and for that, as a story character, she can be faulted.

I don't entirely think that KdeS' point about the mixed message that ATS was presenting about demons works. First of all, besides Lorne and we have seen he is an exception to the rule in Pylea, did they do that in season 2, or was that only in Season 1 that demons equated to demonized ethnic minorities?

Second of all, although, IIRC, Cordy doesn't know it, the audience has already been tipped to the fact that Skip had a revenge motive if the story moved that way, because Angel bested him in That Vision Thing. And why did Angel interfere? Because W&H got to him, manipulated him, through Cordy. It shows us right up front that the visions are manipulable, not always trustworthy and Angel will take extraordinary measures to protect her in these situations in ways that put his mission at risk.

So, Skip knows that it quite possible to manipulate Angel through Cordy. And he's got a motive to act against him.

But most of the audience at the time forgot that because they were sure that the episode highlighted the fact that attitudes to the demonic were more positive on ATS than on BTVS.

But when did Skip ever get trustworthy? He's a guarding a guy who is so evil he is a living denizen of hell. Why shouldn't the audience have been suspicious when he rather than another showed up again, bearing gifts. The continuity was vital, which makes me quite sure it was not a retcon, but flowed through the story arc naturally.

[> [> [> [> I'm not judging Cordy -- Lunasea, 10:01:37 12/10/03 Wed

I don't particularly like the character (but that has to do with the acting more than anything) or the storyline for her, but I'm not going to say "bad character" to anyone. They do what they are written to do. I'm not going to say that she would have made another choice. Dead Cordy wouldn't have fit the story at this point and since when do the characters make good decisions this early in the season?

My only point is that when Cordy decided to become part demon, we should have said "this can't end well" and the show went that way. I think there is a lot of symbolism both with what happened to Cordy and the First Slayer that carries over to the promise of Shanshu. Demons represent the internal issues we have. Cordy voluntarily took on more issues. The First Slayer had them forced on to her. It ended up destroying both of them. We can look at how those issues tried to get to Buffy. She wouldn't accept them through head. She shut out what she was taught, society and the Patriarchy. Then they tried to rape her and she resisted.

Cordy says, sure I'll take on more issues to help Angel, not thinking that taking on more issues will be a bigger burden for Angel. He wants to help his friend. What she does, the issues she takes on which lead to Jasmine, end up hurting Angel more than Cordy's death would have. When we do something for someone else, we might not helping them. We have to look at the possible consequences, not just the desired end.

Maybe I just see this because of something I am going through myself now. The arc just seemed to flow naturally from Cordy willing to become a demon. It was interesting that they took her the route of Jasmine rather than some other demonic consequence. Some consequence to her humanity had to result. The mythology demands it.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I'm not judging Cordy -- alcibiades, 10:27:32 12/10/03 Wed

Your argument is clear, that is not what I was addressing. In fact I wasn't arguing at all, I was just adding nuance -- by pointing out in return that Buffy and Cordy were not at commensurate points in their own internal developments in Get It Done and Birthday, respectively. And of course though they both started out as superficial HS twits, the major difference between the personalities of Buffy and Cordy is this:

Buffy has a destiny thrust on her and after that yearns not for more destiny but for normalcy. She spends a lot of time adjusting to her role but never really gets over her desire to be just a normal girl and not the Slayer who walks alone. As late as Touched, she tells Spike, "I don't want to be the One."

Cordy, OTOH, has "her specialness," her status, her untouchability wrested from her due to external circumstances beyond her control and longs to get it back. So when she has some version of it back, a version of it that changes her profoundly and makes her into a better person, she is not voluntarily going to give it up. But is going to fight to retain it at any cost. Perhaps she has also picked up this attitude towards specialness and destiny from Angel, who seems to believe that his destiny and champion status confer something special on him as well. It is very obvious, frex, in Awakening, which replayed last nignt on TNT.

But it seems pretty clear to me right now that that represents a lot of complacency on Angel's part and that he has to get past it and accept a lack of destiny before he can actually acquire anything.

The situation with Cordy in Season 3 and Birthday, in its way, is an awful lot like Gunn in Season 5 -- who doesn't appear to have learned from Cordy that accepting extra supernatural gifts don't end well. He isn't choosing to become demonic, of course, but it is an artificial enhancement through evil scientists put deep into his core that may very likely seduce him.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Very good point re:Gunn -- Lunasea, 12:34:58 12/10/03 Wed

What happens with Cordy in "Birthday" is a good comparison to what happens with Gunn in "Conviction." Another is Willow absorbing the black magick books.

I see a different difference between Cordy and Buffy, which is why I never bought St. Cordy. Buffy isn't mean. When we see her in "Becoming" she is superficial and all, but we don't see her putting anyone down. That was Cordy's central trait season 1. When Buffy is mean, it means that something is seriously wrong, like when she can't deal with her death in WSWB or her soul is being sucked in "Living Conditions." Buffy, because of Joyce, is genuinely a nice person. Cordy, not-so-nice. I was glad when Fred (another genuinely nice person) started to represent Angel's battered heart and not Queen C.

I would compare "Birthday" to "Prophecy Girl." In PG, Buffy's status as Chosen cannot protect her. It is the reason she is going to die. Being Slayer insulated her from the danger she faced in some way because she could beat it. Now she sees that she is indeed expendable. She knows the drill. She dies and another will be chosen to take her place. She ran away at first, but she faced her death. She was willing to and did in fact die. Not so with Cordy.

Buffy's status as messenger cannot protect her from what is happening. It is the reason she is going to die. Being messenger allowed her to feel special because she had a link to the PTBs. No one else did like she did, not even Lorne. Being vision girl even saved her in "Parting Gifts." Now she sees that she is indeed expendable. When Doyle died, another door was opened, so she knows the drill. She dies and another will come to take her place. She ran away at first, but she doesn't face her death. She becomes part demon instead.

Both these episodes are crucial to the characters development and shows how the two differ.

Angel does have to get over his desire to fulfill his destiny. That is the season pattern. Angel wants something. This pushes it away from him. He gets over the desire. Then that desires is met in some unexpected way. He gets to the root of the desire, not just the object of it, but what is behind the object of it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> IMHO, massive misinterpretation of 'Prophecy Girl' -- KdS, 13:23:20 12/10/03 Wed

I would compare "Birthday" to "Prophecy Girl." In PG, Buffy's status as Chosen cannot protect her. It is the reason she is going to die. Being Slayer insulated her from the danger she faced in some way because she could beat it. Now she sees that she is indeed expendable. She knows the drill. She dies and another will be chosen to take her place. She ran away at first, but she faced her death. She was willing to and did in fact die. Not so with Cordy.

If Buffy had conformed to her destiny, she would have died, the Master would have risen, and the world would have ended. The only reason why she and the world survive in PG is because she defied her destiny by having friends. Friends who would follow her into danger and knew CPR.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, and no... -- LittleBit, 13:32:55 12/10/03 Wed

Buffy had refused the definition of her role that required her to act alone and unknown. Because of that, Xander was there to force Angel to show him where the Master was, and thus to revive her.

However, Buffy's decision to accept her fate and do what she believed she had to do (go to the Master, even though the prophecy said he would kill her) was not based on having friends to help her. In fact, she not only didn't expect anyone to be there to help her, she took steps to prevent it, by asking Willow to stay home (which she didn't) and knocking Giles out so he couldn't try to take her place.

So based on that, Buffy had no more reason to think she could beat the prophecy than Cordelia had to think that not accepting the demon would lead to other alternatives allowing her to live as a human with the visions.

Of course, this is only my opinion.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Earshot and Cordy -- alcibiades, 13:45:51 12/10/03 Wed

And Cordy knew about Buffy's experiences in PG and in Earshot, where Buffy also, involuntarily, gained a nonvisible aspect of the demon that at first empowered her in a way she enjoyed and then reduced her to near madness in short order.

Cordy was taking an equal risk at gaining such a trait.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Yes, and no... -- Lunasea, 18:15:47 12/10/03 Wed

Buffy had refused the definition of her role that required her to act alone and unknown.

Not really. She didn't tell Xander that she was Slayer. He overheard it while he was in the library and she was yelling at Giles. When Willow was in danger and she asked him where she went, he basically called her crazy. After being attacked by vampires, he no longer thought she was crazy. Being new to town, she needed the Scoobies help to get around. Slaying was still supposed to be her gig. They were just intel.

Billy Ford also knew about her identity. Buffy tried to remain secret. She just wasn't very good at it. She got the "Class Protector" award before Graduation Day.

What she violated was the idea that the Slayer shouldn't have a life. By having a life, it made it impossible to hide that she was Slayer. She still tried to act alone when it came to Slaying. Her friends wouldn't let her. She wanted to face Adam alone. Willow told her how utterly stupid this was and a nice fight ensued. Buffy was always ready to go charging alone. It was the Scoobies who prevented this, with or without her consent. Turning them into an army in "Bring on the Night" is a step toward how Willow and she change the world.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> How so? -- Lunasea, 17:59:57 12/10/03 Wed

If Buffy had conformed to her destiny, she would have died, the Master would have risen, and the world would have ended.

Giles says "But it's very plain! Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die."

Buffy does face the Master, per her destiny and the prophecies. She does die, the Master does rise and the Hellmouth does open. Her hope was that when she faces the Master, she would take him with her. All she knows of the Prophecy is that she will face the Master and she will die. She accepted that part.

The only reason why she and the world survive in PG is because she defied her destiny by having friends.

She didn't defy her destiny. Xander and Angel added an addendum. She didn't tell them to follow her. If anything, she was always telling them that she alone could do stuff and they needed to stay out of the way and safe. THEY are the ones that went along in defiance of HER and the idea that the Slayer is alone. The prophecy came true though.

Buffy lived her destiny. She was the last guardian of the Hellmouth.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I'm not judging Cordy -- sdev, 12:55:39 12/10/03 Wed

I think there is a lot of symbolism both with what happened to Cordy and the First Slayer that carries over to the promise of Shanshu. Demons represent the internal issues we have. Cordy voluntarily took on more issues. The First Slayer had them forced on to her. It ended up destroying both of them. We can look at how those issues tried to get to Buffy. She wouldn't accept them through head. She shut out what she was taught, society and the Patriarchy. Then they tried to rape her and she resisted.

Demons must represent more than internal issues one is meant to overcome and that which is wrong to take on more. They also represent the good that resides even within the bad. Sometimes in the right person, Buffy and Angel, they represent power which can be used for good. The Slayer line may have been started by a demon rape-like infusion but the results culminated in Buffy. Are we to see this as all negative? As a Slayer Buffy herself had some of this demon essence. Even the end of Chosen showed the Potentials given this demon sourced power. Willow's spell simply opened it up for distribution.

I am not disagreeing that Cordelia was motivated by hubris. In fact the Buffyverse contains the concept in the idea of the Chosen One and the Champion that the key is not the power but who is able to wield it to do good and to survive the process. Whatever the source, whether it be magic (Dark Willow) or demonic, power is dangerous and only a real hero can handle it. Faith's arc confirms that as well.

What made Cordelia think she was such a person? In the end she was wrong and the power corrupted her. I worry for that same reason about the Potentials. Their potential status does not mean they ever would have been selected thus their ability to handle the power is still questionable in my mind. I guess we will never know unless a new series is made.

Get it Done is about balance. Even within a hero such as Buffy it is critical to balance the scales between the power and the humanity lest the power be corrupted. Buffy had the humility and purity of motive to turn down the additional power. Cordelia did not.

[> [> [> [> I would take the whole Pylea sequence as strengthening that metaphor -- KdS, 13:26:15 12/10/03 Wed

Because while the rulers of Pylea are all evil and such, the behaviour of the demon-in-the-street is portrayed throughout in terms closer to unthinking human racial bigotry of the antebellum South style than mystical evil. If the demons-as-different-race thing didn't dominate the Pylea arc, why does it end with human-demon reconciliation in Pylea, or at least the hope of it, rather than demon genocide?

[> [> [> Re: After further thought -- skeeve, 09:41:15 12/10/03 Wed

The logic here seems to suggest that we should do without antibiotics, pacemakers, and artificial hips.
I don't see how accepting a demon hip is anymore outside "the natural order" than accepting a stainless steel one.

It's clear that Cordelia's coma was mystically induced.
'Twas the visions that were damaging her brain.
What wasn't clear was why she was dying instead of dead.
Someone was keeping her alive.

Buffy and Cordelia were presented with rather different questions from rather different questioners.
That the answers were different doesn't imply that either answer was wrong.

Would someone explain why going outside the natural order is a bad thing?

[> [> [> [> Re: After further thought -- LittleBit, 13:14:27 12/10/03 Wed

I think BtVS s4's Adam give us a pretty good example. Indeed he was an example of the 'demon' hip instead of a stainless steel one. The combination of human, technology and demon that created the demon/cyborg did indeed go outside of the natural order of things, and in this case it was a supposedly well-controlled departure. It didn't turn out well.

Going outside the natural order is not necessarily a bad thing, but that's not the same as it being a good, or even a desirable, thing.

Not necessarily an 'explanation' but just something to think about. And what definition of "natural order" are you working from?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: After further thought -- skeeve, 09:27:10 12/11/03 Thu

The problem with Adam wasn't the demon, it was the stainless steel.
There was a flaw in his programming, i.e. in the stainless steel part of his mind.
It's not clear that Adam would have been much better without said flaw,
but the problem would still have been in the stainless steel part of his mind.

I don't have a terribly useful definition of "natural order".
If something is outside the natural order, one needn't worry about whether one ought to do it,
one can't.

[> [> [> [> [> [> All things counter, original, spare and strange...... -- Rahael, 10:14:56 12/11/03 Thu

This is a real theme in BtVS, I think, and there are many layers. First of all, there is indeed a whole thing going on about "Nature" = good, "Not-Nature" = bad. So, in S4, Willow and Tara's 'natural' magic, with roses and so on is seen as better Walsh's attempt to mix demons and technology. And, at the end of the Season, Buffy meets Adam's mechanical threats with natural strength - i.e doves for bullets etc.

BUT. We all know what happened with Willow and magic later on. We all know what happened as a result of Buffy taking on more strength (tsk tsk, Buffy, you should have just died when you met Adam, why disrupt the natural order of things and wake the First Slayer?) - the First Slayer returns, enraged.

Nature is also seen as dark. The First Slayer is explicitly connected with the unspeaking natural world (the spirit guide, who was an animal, the desert, the gourd). Willow talks about the earth having teeth in S7.

So clearly, nature is not only powerful, and 'good', but you don't mess with her, because she bites back. She can owe you pain. She has teeth. She is the earth that takes you in when you die. She is death and growth.

However, I think the more interesting theme concerning nature, and one that is very resonant for me, (and perhaps the thing that drew me to BtVS) was the theme of the disconnected, the person who doesn't belong. Buffy breaks the natural order of things, not only in S6 when the consequences are underlined as terrible, but also in S1. She has died twice. I don't know what is more unnatural than that.

She is someone who has a secret life. She has superhuman strength. She can do things ordinary human beings can't. She walks the boundary between death and life. Night and Day. Time and again, we are shown in Sunnydale that what 'looks' normal isn't. In the very first episode, the camera pans down, to see what really lies beneath, and it is the Master.

Who defines what 'normal' is? Who defines what 'normality' is? Is Dawn 'normal'? Is Buffy 'normal'? Is Anya 'normal'? I could go on. I would suggest that a significant theme of the show looks at what it is to feel disconnected and excluded from 'normality'. And i don't mean in the sense that the 'ordinary' is to be despised or is unheroic. It is just that something can appear normal from one perspective, and from another, quite strange. Jonathan assumes Buffy is just like everyone else in 'Earshot'. But she isn't. And her 'demonic power' is a metaphor for her feeling of estrangement and disconnection. In one sense, in the final scene Jonathan is really another part of her, that she is communicating with.

When she worries about horns and a tail, she really is expressing a long standing concern - what later is expressed as 'if death is my gift, I must be a horror. If I kill monsters, I must be a monster'.

Skeeve, thanks for the excellent points you've brought up in this thread, and for inspiring one of my first moment of enthusiastic thoughtfulness about BtVS since early S7 aired!

I'd end with one of my favourite poems, one that made my heart stand still when I really *understood* what it was trying to say.

GLORY be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

The abnormal and the strange and the counter can be beautiful. It can be 'natural'. It is the beauty of a young woman who rises from death and tries, and tries to understand who she is and what she must do with this pain. Those who remain in the shadows might still love and hope and strive for compassion.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Since I am the one that started talking about the natural order... -- Lunasea, 13:02:29 12/11/03 Thu

I might as well take up a bit more bandwidth. I don't see Buffy going against the natural order. I see her restoring it. The Patriarchy disrupted the natural order. Joss story is about how this disruption causes alienation. To heal that, he heals the natural order.

In "Primeval" I see her not disrupting the natural order of separate people, but returning us to a more natural state in where we are one. The Spirit of the First Slayer has been damaged by the Patriarchy that raped her and as its representative she doesn't like this restoration, even if it temporary, because it shows the way back to the natural order.

Buffy isn't the one that breaks the natural order of life and death. First Xander does it through CPR, which can be considered natural. Then Willow does it through magick, which is outside the natural order and has consequences. Buffy accepts the natural order of death. She accepts her death both times, not expecting to come back.

Buffy's strength is the norm. It is our potential, something the Patriarchy robbed us of and then just bestowed on one girl using the heart of a demon. Buffy comes back from her first death stronger. It isn't her Slayer powers or the heart of the demon that gives her this additional strength. It isn't the heart of the demon that empower the Potentials. It is the instrument that slays the last demon.

We feel disconnected because society has disconnected us. The more we stay true to who we are, the less we fit in society. In order to heal this, Willow and Buffy changed the world. They restored the natural order.

That is one aspect. The other is the story is about being extraordinary. It is about growing up and becoming men and women. It is about becoming more powerful. There are acceptable ways to become more powerful--Buffy trains, Willow studies, Tara's magick works WITH nature, and there are unacceptable ways--tons of them throughout the series. Joss sends a message by which ways he finds acceptable and which ways he doesn't.

Both Buffy and Angel are strong, but their power has an evil source. Angel's soul is even the result of a curse. Neither asked for these unnatural things. They aren't the ones going against the natural order. The shadowmen did. Darla did and the gypsies did. The heroes make the best of what was done to them. Bad things happen. It is up to us what we do with that.

Jonathan also got more power, but he took it. Willow did the same. She went from working with nature and asking the gods for things, to manipulating nature and demanding things. Cordy had the visions thrust on her, but she demanded to be made a demon. Gunn is going to be in for trouble.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks for this -- sdev, 16:31:32 12/11/03 Thu

Jonathan assumes Buffy is just like everyone else in 'Earshot'. But she isn't. And her 'demonic power' is a metaphor for her feeling of estrangement and disconnection.

Said better than I ever could. And might I add--

It is Buffy she mourns for.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes! and also, thank you :) -- Rahael, 17:08:14 12/11/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Why ask who? -- skeeve, 09:20:22 12/12/03 Fri

Who is normal? is less important than
Why do you want to know?

Thanks. It's nice to know one is inspiring when one is merely trying to make sense.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why ask who? -- Rahael, 12:39:00 12/12/03 Fri

Me: Who defines what 'normal' is? Who defines what 'normality' is? Is Dawn 'normal'? Is Buffy 'normal'? Is Anya 'normal'? I could go on.

Skeeve: Who is normal? is less important than
Why do you want to know?

I think the two questions are connected. Those who are interested in setting up those definitions have power, or gain power from doing so. Who belongs, who doesn't. Where the boundaries lie.

[> Joss v. Greenwalt on Cordy's exit (or: boy, is this post a lit match in an oil pool) -- cjl, 14:44:44 12/10/03 Wed

OK. This is probably a taboo topic, and Masq can quickly delete this post if it's too hot for public consumption. But I'm curious...

The question: Was Cordelia's exit at the end of "Tomorrow" supposed to be the end of Charisma's run on Angel?

According to a dependable second-hand source, Charisma and ME were parting ways, for whatever reasons, at the end of Season 3, NOT Season 4. David Greenwalt had intended for CC's ascension to the higher plane to be the official goodbye to the character. Once DG left, however, Joss had the inspiration to turn Season 4 into the Year of Evil Cordelia, and brought back CC for one last go-round.

If this is true, then all of Cordelia's decisions, from "Birthday" on through "Tomorrow" were ABSOLUTELY CORRECT (objectively speaking), and produced a happy ending. (Kind of puts a new spin on this whole discussion, doesn't it?) I trust my source--but to be honest, I find it hard to believe that DG wasn't in the Season 4 plan while he was scripting "Tomorrow."


Confirmation? Denial? Anybody got the scoop?

(I am SO getting deleted.)

[> [> Re: Joss v. Greenwalt on Cordy's exit (or: boy, is this post a lit match in an oil pool) -- DorianQ, 15:32:08 12/10/03 Wed

I think that that is the best point in this whole discussion; that oftentimes, even the best laid plans can go awry. Other examples that I can think of: Oz leaving a season early, forcing a new romantic intrest for Willow to be found and forcing Dark Willow back a season so the Willow/Tara thing could develop; Angel becoming so popular that he was brought back for another season to set up his own show, which argueably ruined any chance to bring in another romantic interest for Buffy or Angel (note the initial negative reactions to Riley and romantic Cordelia and Spike); and the success of BtvS itself, which made the show go on for two extra seasons that Joss hadn't initially planned for.

All of this shows IMHO how the storylines themselves are influenced by outside factors and that it isn't really the writers fault for seeing this possibility. I have heard other thoughts that I am less sure about their authenticity that are even more influencial to AtS and BtvS.

By the way, if the show was only supposed to last for five seasons and Willow was going to be the villian for season five, does that mean that Willow was supposed to be the final villian of the series? Just a thought.

[> [> Sigh of relief -- Rahael, 16:10:38 12/10/03 Wed

Last season taught me that I'm easily influenced by other's arguments and interpretations, often at the cost of my own personally meaningful and resonant takes on the show. At least this gives me some way of living in my happy state of denial ;)

Though I do not believe that the end a character meets necessarily tells us about the way they lived their life (more of a real world overspill there - in a narrative sense, ends and journeys maybe more significant), I have always felt that ME decided to overlay another story, decided later down that road on Cordy. Both stories make character sense. But I found one more inspirational than other.

[> [> Cordy's story DID end in 'Tomorrow' -- Nino, 20:43:37 12/10/03 Wed

Ever since I found out that Cordy was evil/possesed in season 4, I have felt that it is unfair to think of Evil!Cordy and Cordelia as the same character (although I loved the Evil!Cordy storyline). This isn't like Dark Willow. Cordy was possessed. IMHO we have not truly seen Cordelia since "Tomorrow" (unless you count her 1 liner from above at the end of "Deep Down"). With this in mind, it might be fair to assume that your theory is semi-correct in that, "Tomorrow" was supposed to be the end of the line for Cordy...but not Charisma. If Joss keeps his promise to bring Cordy back to wrap up her storyline, then that episode, shall do just that. But that doesn't change the fact that the gap between "Tomorrow" and well, today (current eps) has been Cordy-less. (IE, when we watch the season 4 reruns or DVDs, will we still think of Charisma's character in the early episodes as Cordelia? I tend to doubt it, seeing as how we know that it wasn't Cordy behind the wheel when she was acting all wacky, screwing kids and killing lawyers. If we do, that seems unfair.)

Moreover, you imply that had Skip been telling the truth, and Cordy really was chosen, then she made the right decision in "Tomorrow." I fail to see how this is fair to Cordelia...if Skip was convincing (and he was...who thought he was evil in "Birthday" or "Tomorrow"? that's what i thought) then the rightness or wrongness of Cordy's decision should not be based on whether or not he was the real deal.

If her hubris (vanity, needing to feel special, etc) caused her to make the decisions she made in "Birthday" and "Tomorrow" then the decisions should be considered WRONG regardless of the outcome.

If she accpeted Skip's words because she was being selfless and wanted to do the right thing, then she should be considered a champion, regardless of the outcome.

It is not the outcome that is important, but rather Cordy's decision itself, since we can assume she had no reason to doubt Skip.

[> [> [> Re: Cordy's story DID end in 'Tomorrow' -- skeeve, 09:45:42 12/12/03 Fri

Cordelia did have a line or two in The House Always Wins.

That said, she made an unwise choice in Tomorrow.
She shouldn't have trusted Skip. I sure didn't.
He was much too much the fast-talking salesman.

[> [> Rumors, hearsay and actual interviews...what we can conjecture from it all -- s'kat, 21:57:19 12/10/03 Wed

Over the past year and a half, I've gathered a lot of information on Television writing, producing, and on how ME operated. Some of this information was taken from interviews with writers, producers, showrunners, and actors - some gathered from inside sources or fans who happened to be friends with crew members on the set of ATS.
(How much of the later is rumor/gossip and how much is true? I don't know, the bits I'm repeating are the one's that I've seen supported by enough different/unrelated sources that I believe they are accurate and trust-worthy.)
Please note - that I actually have changed my mind recently about the character of Cordelia and the talent of the actress who plays her. CC is a good actress. She made a lackluster effort like See Jane Date watchable. Also she gave Cordelia, which could have ended up being a two-dimensional role - depth and life. Re-watching the episodes on TNT has given me a new appreciation for the character and how the character was written - she's one of the most complex female heroines on TV. Kudos to ME for that.

Okay....the down and dirty:

According to interviews in SFX,and other related publications during the summer of 2002 and during S3 ATS, David Greenwalt for the most part ran ATS. ATS was Greenwalt and Minear's baby, with Greenwalt being the one in charge of the arc. Joss ran BTVS with Marti. Greenwalt ran ATS with Minear. Greenwalt's plan according to SFX was to put Cordelia and Angel together. That had always been his plan.

Joss may have thrown some ideas Greenwalt's way and helped on the arcs but the idea for the show and the mythology was largely created by Greenwalt. If you check producer/writer credits for the episodes of ATS up through S3 - you'll see Greenwalt's name on most everything. And if you check BTVS?
You'll see that Greenwalt didn't write or produce one episode after S3. ATS was largely his baby.

There's lots of rumors online about the bad blood between ME and DG/CC. How much of that is just gossip and how much is true? I have no idea. I do know that there was a bit of a falling out amongst the principals at the end of S3. So much of one, that people feared for Angel's future. This was when DG quit as showrunner and took off to helm Miracles. Rumor has it, supported by a few interviews here and there (don't ask me to cite them, I can't bloody remember)that the reason DG quit was Tim Minear - his right hand man - left to help Joss do Firefly. DG threatened to quit if Minear left. Minear did. DG quit. They had to find a new show-runner. (See interviews and press commentary in Summer of 2002) (Oh CC has stated in interviews that she got worried when DG quit, b/c DG was the one who fought for her character and her throughout the series, CC and DG apparently were tight. She did not feel as comfortable with the other writers and resisted where they were going. She also stated in interviews that she wasn't happy with the A/C ship - which is interesting since that was largely DG's baby.) At any rate - the new show-runner was David Simmkins. Which caused another falling out. The reasons were sketchy. But Simkins did state in a couple of interviews at the time that he felt they may be going a tad too dark with a certain popular character. In fact he told Whedon, that there's no turning back from that. We can't do that. It will piss people off. The character can't be brought back. Whedon nixed his concerns, stating it would be good for the character. So frustrated...Simkins left. Simkins didn't mention who this character was. I assumed at the time it was Angel or possibly Wes. Turns out? It was Cordelia.

In the Succubus Club Interview with David Fury and Tim Minear - it is heavily suggested that the plan was to turn Cordelia completely evil. (Rumor has it that she was supposed to be even worse than Willow). But Charisma got pregnant. And there was no way they could have Angel fight the big bad pregnant lady and keep it believable. So they changed the plot. The original idea according to this interview and another one I read somewhere...was to have Connor kill Cordelia and then Angel do the mindwipe. When Cordelia became pregnant - they changed it so that the plan became - Jasmine, and they hoped Cordy would come out of the coma to kill Jasmine. But CC's pregnancy got in the way - so they had to have Connor do it. CC's pregnancy probably saved her character.

So what happened? Well - I think the original plan, Greenwalt's was to have Cordelia ascend in Tommorrow and become a higher being. A plan, according to Minear and Fury at Succubus Club, did not agree with anyone else. It bugged them - they felt that the story didn't support a "saint Cordy" ending. All the other writers apparently had difficulty with this. CC had been making noises - according to the rumor mill - about making movies, doing sitcoms, having more time to do other things (can't say I blame her - seven years on a tv series that films 12 hour days is a long time, especially when you're 32 years of age and looking to start a family). Actually the noises CC was making was partly the inspiration for Birthday.

Meanwhile we have the showrunner, David Greenwalt, getting antsy and wanting to go somewhere else. And the new showrunner, Simkins? Doesn't work. So in steps new guy Bell. Minear and Whedon are a bit uneasy leaving the whole shooting match to Bell - so they pull David Fury off of Buffy and draw up a real tight plot arc. Whedon also spends more time than usual on the ATS site. (In interviews with JM and other BTVS cast members - we learn that Whedon spent most of his time on the Angel set towards the end of S3 Angel and S4 ATS, and less and less time on BTVS.) When Ats takes off and the critics respond more favorably to its episodes than the other two shows Whedon's working on - Whedon and Minear back off of ATS leaving it in Bell's hands and refocus their attention on BTVS and Firefly.

So what happened, as far as I can gather from all of this, is Whedon/Minear/Fury/Bell took what Greenwalt/Minear/Whedon had developed and twisted it around a bit to fit the demands of the situation they were in and the story they wanted to tell. This happens all the time in TV. If you don't believe me? Just tune in to West Wing some day then watch the reruns on Bravo. What happened on West Wing makes what was going on on ATS seem like nothing. Aaron Sorkin the show-runner on West Wing and his co-producer got fired. Rob Lowe quit. Five of the prinicpals threatened to walk out if they didn't get raises. Does it affect the story? Of course. Same thing on BTVS - Seth Green wanted out in S4, he had a huge story-arc planned, but he took off to make films. Lindsey Crouse also took off, killing the huge Buffy/Riley/Walsh/Adam story before it took off. These things happen. The best that a writer can do to salvage it, is try to build on the story he/she has and go from there.

That said? I wouldn't count on Cordy's tale ending the way it did in Home. Rumor has it - that ME may still end it the way DG did in Tomorrow. The jury is out for now.

Not sure if that adds fuel to the fire or not.


[> [> [> All good stuff, but one question... -- Nino, 23:30:40 12/10/03 Wed

(In the Succubus Club Interview with David Fury and Tim Minear - it is heavily suggested that the plan was to turn Cordelia completely evil. (Rumor has it that she was supposed to be even worse than Willow). But Charisma got pregnant. And there was no way they could have Angel fight the big bad pregnant lady and keep it believable. So they changed the plot. The original idea according to this interview and another one I read somewhere...was to have Connor kill Cordelia and then Angel do the mindwipe. When Cordelia became pregnant - they changed it so that the plan became - Jasmine, and they hoped Cordy would come out of the coma to kill Jasmine. But CC's pregnancy got in the way - so they had to have Connor do it. CC's pregnancy probably saved her character.)

This paragraph confused the hell out of i just dumb, or can it be clarified? The rest of your stuff sounds good, and I can say I read a lot of the same stuff as you...the stuff about Simkins leaving is new to me...but everything a lot more perspective.

[> [> [> [> Re: All good stuff, but one question... -- s'kat, 10:12:09 12/11/03 Thu

(In the Succubus Club Interview with David Fury and Tim Minear - it is heavily suggested that the plan was to turn Cordelia completely evil. (Rumor has it that she was supposed to be even worse than Willow). But Charisma got pregnant. And there was no way they could have Angel fight the big bad pregnant lady and keep it believable. So they changed the plot. The original idea according to this interview and another one I read somewhere...was to have Connor kill Cordelia and then Angel do the mindwipe. When Cordelia became pregnant - they changed it so that the plan became - Jasmine, and they hoped Cordy would come out of the coma to kill Jasmine. But CC's pregnancy got in the way - so they had to have Connor do it. CC's pregnancy probably saved her character.)

This paragraph confused the hell out of i just dumb, or can it be clarified?

I can try - maybe by separating it out?

1. The Orginal Plan: Whedon and company came up with a story arc after Tomorrow in which Cordelia would come back as evil. Basically imagine the characters Jasmine and Cordelia being one character. In the original plan - Cordy would be far darker and far worse than DarkWillow. Connor would be the one to kill her. Angel mindwipes Connor. End of story.

But real life interferred and Charisma Carpenter got pregnant. The writers were faced with a very real dilemma.
Do we stick with the arc and pretend CC isn't pregnant?
Will that work? Can we make it be the baby turning her evil?
Can we have Angel fight the big bad pregnant lady?

2. Plan II - Whedon decided to have Cordy have a child. Jasmine. Cordy would be the one who would kill Jasmine at the end. Not sure what the rest of the plan was.

But real life interferred again - Charisma's pregnancy made it impossible for her to do much more than lie flat and sleep. So the writers had to come up with an alternative.

3. Enter Plan III - which is what we saw on the screen.

In short, Charisma's pregnancy saved her character. Very ironic. Probably a first in the annuals of television.

Where'd I get this? Assorted sources, one being the Succubus Club, others interviews with cast, crew, a few inside sources.

Hope that clarifies a little.

[> [> [> [> [> it did -- Nino, 15:13:10 12/11/03 Thu

But in plan one, would Evil Cordy have really been Cordy, or still a possesed version? Unless it is the former, how did her pregnancy save her character? Do you feel this just because the level of darkness would have been too much for a full season, even if it wasn't really Cordy, but a possesed Cordy?

Thanks for clarifying, it made much more sense the second time around. I guess I just don't see how the other two options would have been better/worse for Cordy's character, if the essential outline was the same...a possesed Cordy, being evil.

BTW...did you LIKE the Evil!Cordy storyline? I mean, as far as plot development, it kept us on out toes and IMHO it was all worth it for the scene when the Fang Gang catches Cordy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: it did -- s'kat, 18:11:03 12/11/03 Thu

But in plan one, would Evil Cordy have really been Cordy, or still a possesed version? Unless it is the former, how did her pregnancy save her character? Do you feel this just because the level of darkness would have been too much for a full season, even if it wasn't really Cordy, but a possesed Cordy?

I honestly don't know. Personally it doesn't make sense to me that it's not a partially possessed Cordelia. Just as I felt that the power possessed Willow towards the end of S6.

I think some of what alcibades states make sense and when we compare it to Willow's story line and to a degree to Faith and Buffy's - I think pride may have caused the characters to take on more than they can chew. Buffy makes the mistake in Season 7 - until the SG literally kicks her out of her own house, she's gotten a bit too wrapped up in her own hubris. Same thing happens to Cordelia. But that by no means makes her evil - if it did, we all would be evil, b/c to be honest I don't know anyone who doesn't occassionally get wrapped up in the own pride. It's not called one of the seven deadly sins or a tragic flaw for nothing. I know it's one of mine. Pride. Gets in my way every time. So know, I don't think Cordy was "ever" truly evil - I think she ended up losing herself in the power a bit, remember this is someone who did not understand how much power she was getting, she thought being demonized simply meant being able to have visions without her head exploding. Also she didn't know how to communicate what was going on to the others - Angel has never been big on sharing, Wes was doing his own thing, Gunn and Fred were concentrating on each other -and Cordy had been hiding her pain regarding the visions from them for a while - so it's not surprising the power got the better of her.

No, I think...what they may have been considering was something similar to willow and magic as crack. I'm personally glad CC got pregnant and we got Jasmine.
To be honest? I prefer Plan II or Plan III to plan I. I'm not sure the show would have survived Plan I, especially if they made it like Willow's or worse. Simkins was probably right about that.

BTW...did you LIKE the Evil!Cordy storyline? I mean, as far as plot development, it kept us on out toes and IMHO it was all worth it for the scene when the Fang Gang catches Cordy.

Mixed feelings about it. I liked parts of it. Parts of it seemed off to me. I could have done without the sex scene between Cordy/connor. It squicked me a bit. But I loved Inside Out and Players. I also loved Long Day's Journey through Orpheus and the whole Jasmine arc... Season 4 rocked in my humble opinion, so I let the bits that bugged me go. I also know that Cordy's arc isn't completely over yet. So that helps.

[> [> [> Re: Rumors, hearsay and actual interviews...what we can conjecture from it all -- Lunasea, 10:18:10 12/11/03 Thu

The original point of this thread was to re-evaluate "Birthday" in context of the rest of the Buffyverse. Going from just the perspective of Greenwalt, I can see it being a glorious sacrifice that she made for the good of Angel. I can easily see him creating St. Cordelia to be a match for what he wanted to be HIS champion. I can also see this causing me to want to vomit.

He wants his female protagonist to be a match for his hero, but there is a problem. His female protagonist is Cordy. She's mean. I don't care if she saw the world's pain. She's still mean. I think the best they could have done with her is what they did with Spike. Angel can learn to trust her and she can be his dearest friend. She has too much history being mean to be an actual match for our hero. There is a line in Halloween that pretty much should have killed Angel/Cordy. If Greenwalt wanted to have someone with Angel that was on HIS show, he should have created a new character.

Her arc seemed forced. Fresne put it best. She lost everything that made her Cordy. That is because everything that made her Cordy made her unsuitable for Angel as a romantic interest. She sucked as his anima because she didn't have his heart. "Oh Angel, I saw everyone's pain. We have to help them," Uh-huh I said nodding my head. Sure Cordy would say that. She didn't seem to mind causing pain before and all of the sudden she grew a heart? Spike's development was much better because they did it using traits he actually had.

I won't accept a rewritten Cordy. ME can screw with the timeline, but when they go from BtVS to AtS, the characters are the same. It is the same Wesley. It is the same Angel. It is the same Spike. It is the same Harmony. What happened to Cordy? She got bodyjacked well before Jasmine.

I have more to say about Cordy as shadow, but I see you started a new thread for that, so I'll add it up there. I don't think Greenwalt had a clue what Cordy was. When he wanted to bring her over to Angel it was because she was big smile girl and contrasted with Angel's brooding. That wasn't her function on BtVS. Her character should have stayed consistent with this function for the mythology of the Buffyverse. That's enough ranting. I don't think she is bad. Just drawn that way and I mean poorly drawn.

I'm not a big fan of revisionist history, but "Birthday" taken from that perspective is less vomitrocious.

[> [> [> [> Re: Rumors, hearsay and actual interviews...what we can conjecture from it all -- alcibiades, 11:27:08 12/11/03 Thu

She sucked as his anima because she didn't have his heart. "Oh Angel, I saw everyone's pain. We have to help them," Uh-huh I said nodding my head. Sure Cordy would say that. She didn't seem to mind causing pain before and all of the sudden she grew a heart?

Well yeah because that is the way that kind of unlimited exposure to pain works on the human heart. It changes anyone -- unless they are sociopathic -- irrevocably. Your heart widens way up, but then because no one can sustain the moment, you are changed but the same afterwards. Boundaries are transcended. But it is a struggle to keep on measuring up. So afterwards we see Cordy sometimes the same as her old self and sometimes different. Makes perfect sense to me.

I had no problem with that at all.

But the thing about the rest of this is -- hey, Greenwalt might have wanted to play it that way, and Birthday is either all him or partially Joss or Minear inflected, but the rest of it we never got. There is no way that Tomorrow -- with Cordy's Ascension -- was written from the Greenwalt arc, because there she mirrors Angel. She was on a rising arc in season 3, and rises to heaven and comes back down evil, he was on a descending arc for most of season 3 and descends and comes back more patient and recommitted to his mission.

So the Greenwalt story was never told and can't be analyzed. As I said above, even if Cordy and Angel had gotten together, it wouldn't have been hugs and puppies. And before she rose like that she may well would have fallen first. In any case, she wouldn't have gotten the end she got in Tomorrow without a whole lot more meriting of it than she manifested.

Sure she transcended her spiritual limitations because of a mystically induced pain scourging bug. But she wouldn't have gotten the white lights at the end unless she did something more intense than provide Connor with a spiritual colonic.

Since that story was never told it is impossible to analyze.

Meanwhile, from the point of view of the story they did tell, there is consistency in the character. And the consistency they picked out to build upon is Cordy's hubris.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Rumors, hearsay and actual interviews...what we can conjecture from it all -- s'kat, 13:25:55 12/11/03 Thu

I'd agree - we really have no idea what tale Greenwalt intended, he left. Also the difficulty of analyzing authorial intent on a television series is there is *not* one author we can point to - it's such a collaborative process. A collaborative process that is continuously interferred with by outside factors such as actors real lives (in this case CC's pregnancy), actors availability (Julie Benze, Elizabeth Roem, Christian Kane and Juliet Landau became unavailable towards the end of S2, we were supposed to have more biege Angel and Darla, but they couldn't get any of their guest stars, except for Andy Hallet who played the Host. So we have 4 more episodes and no Ck, Jb, Jl, and Er...what to do? Pylea.), writer availability, networks and oh those pesky advertisers.
Do advertisers have an effect? Yep. They had to drop the Double MEat Palace b/c of complaints. They were forced to cut certain scenes. There's also time allotments. All of this does affect what we see on screen.

So I think what we got with Cordelia was actually pretty amazing, considering the factors they were working with.
I also think it made the series more interesting.

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