January 2004 posts

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Anyone know what the text is in the Buffy intro? -- Ames, 09:04:57 01/03/04 Sat

I've always wondered what the text is that flashes by briefly at the start of the Buffy intro in all seasons. I can see that there's a few frames of the text "who died" over the image of an eye, then some German? text upside down in an archaic font. There's only a few clear words, so I don't think there's enough to identify it without a hint.


[> Someone no doubt knows for sure -- CW, 12:09:36 01/03/04 Sat

For starters there are three texts.

The first is in badly typed German and upside down. It is a fragment of a larger page and the lines are also only fragments. recognizable phrases include:

an deinem Mann - to your husband
---einer Schwester -a/your/his sister

this page is repeatedly shown, including once both mirrored and upside down.

The second text simply reads "who died" in English.

The third text is also a page fragment in German in the type-font style called Fraktur which was popular in Germany until the end of the Nazi regime. (This font style is often a bit taxing to read.) There is a page number 666 (ooh scary!) and a title at the top which begins "Monday after..." the first line of the body is the most interesting and reads in part "..and make us gods, ..."

The second text is seen only once. The third is repeated a few times in the opening.

[> [> Isnt' it from a S1 episode? -- Giles, 18:10:29 01/03/04 Sat

Cant remember for certian, i will have to get out my dvd, but it is either from bufys dream thingie in WTTH or from I robot you Jane

[> [> [> Re: Isnt' it from a S1 episode? -- Ames, 10:01:11 01/04/04 Sun

Maybe it's from the book Vampyre. Anyone here buy the original copy from eBay?

[> Legends of Vishnu -- pellenaka, 11:34:19 01/04/04 Sun

Very briefly is the book Legends of Vishnu which Giles had in Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight.

This site has some of the beginning: http://www.mindmovie.de/credits/credits.htm

[> [> Re: Legends of Vishnu -- Ames, 08:55:39 01/05/04 Mon

Thanks, great reference. But what does a Christmas letter and a passage from the Bible have to do with Legends of Vishnu?

I'm always amazed at the high-quality BtVS research which can be found on the net. Keep it coming!

Spike as Gollum from Lord of the Rings -- undeadenglishpatient, 10:09:02 01/03/04 Sat

I can't help but notice the similarities between Spike and Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Is anyone else getting that vibe..........even after his grand sacrifice last season?

Spike like Gollum was tortured by the First with conversations with himself, like Gollum/Smeagol.

The scoobies called him Smelly - like Frodo and Sam called Gollum.

Spike was captured by the First, Gollum was captured and then released by Sauron.

Spike leads Buffy to the seal, Gollum leads Frodo and Sam to Cirith Ungol, and only seems to be changing his ways.

Buffy and friends betray Spike by keeping the enemy closer, leading him to sacrifice himself in the Hellmouth, Gollum gets betrayed by Frodo and Sam, but he also betray's them, eventually he bites off the finger of Frodo, gets the ring and then dances himself into the Cracks of Doom.

So, now, we have a Spike (Gollum)..........return in LA, at W&H to be Angel's arc nemesis (or what, I don't know). Now, what would happen if Gollum returned from the dead? We have already seen a Gollum like character in Life of the Party - the demon on a leash....and he bumps into Spike after he removes his leash and runs away.......before the big brawl goes down. Was this character a joke on Spike? Was this character prophelictic to what is really going on with Spike? Is Spike on a leash and connected to someone else? Does he have 'blue blood' - royal bloodline with a special power? Is he forever screwed, because he (like Gollum) was/is dependant on the power of the Ring? Has that power corrupted him beyond help? Gollum was once a hobbit, much like Frodo himself.......but, well we know how well that worked out for him, expecially since he was never able to gain any friends.

Just thought I would put the question out there for some Lord of the Ring experts.......what do you think?


[> Re: Spike as Gollum from Lord of the Rings -- Maura, 11:44:36 01/03/04 Sat

Great analysis of Spike/Gollum similarities. A lot of folks have commented that these two characters are analogous, but youÕve brought up a lot of specific points I havenÕt heard discussed before.

I agree that Spike (at least on _Buffy_ ) occupies the ÒGollumÓ position, to speak sort of archetypally. It seems to me that the key difference is that Spike is not screwed in the way Gollum is. Gollum is ultimately beyond help. Spike isnÕt. Spike, with help from others, manages to resurrect his good self and put it back in charge (at least most of the time).

Okay, hereÕs a weird thought, but IÕm going to say it anyway. It has often struck me (because this is how my mind works) that if one were to introduce post-war Frodo, as a viewer, to _Buffy_, then (if you could get over some cultural difference issues) he would really like the character of Spike precisely because Spike is like Gollum, but heÕs sort of a heroic Gollum, one who manages to triumph--mostly--over his evil self. And I think Frodo would find that compelling.

[> [> Really, really vague and general Return of the King spoiler above -- Maura, 11:46:10 01/03/04 Sat

[> [> [> If Spoilers have been around for 50 years, are they really spoilers? -- Majin Gojira, 13:42:29 01/03/04 Sat

[> [> More about: Spike as Gollum from Lord of the Rings -- undeadenglishpatient, 20:13:14 01/03/04 Sat


You see though, I'm really not sure it's over yet. Spike survived his Gollumness in Season 7 of BTVS (kinda), but now that he's on ATS, he may have to re-do it all over again........differently but the same for another hero - this time Angel.

There was a line in Just Rewards (I think) were Angel had said about Spike (paraphrasing) "Sometimes, people cannot be saved". Which, once again reminded me of Gollum. And also, his life seems to be spared yet again....and for what purpose?

Here is an interesting bit of text from Lord of The Rings about Gollum:

Gandalf: It's Gollum.
Frodo: Gollum?
Gandalf: He's been following us for three days.
Frodo: He escaped the dungeons of Barad-dzr?
Gandalf: Escaped. Or set loose.
Gandalf: Now the Ring has brought him here. He will never be rid of his need for it. He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. Smeagol's life is a sad story. Yes, Smeagol he was once called. Before the Ring found him. Before it drove him mad.
Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of the Ring.
Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all that come to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case you were also 'meant' to have it. And that is an encouraging thought. Eh - it's that way.

[> [> [> Both Angel and Spike -- Rose, 13:05:49 01/04/04 Sun

If you really think about it, both Spike and Angel - in different ways - could be compared to Gollum. Neither is really a hero, and both share similarities to the LOTR character. The similarities between Spike and Gollum have already been pointed out, but what about Angel? I can think of one similarity. Both Angel and Gollum seemed to share a bi-polar personality. Granted, the two sides of Angel's nature do not conduct conversations with each other. But I've noticed - especially in many S4 episodes on how Angel refer to his unsouled self in the third person.

[> [> [> [> Re: Both Angel and Spike -- undeadenglishpatient, 21:09:47 01/04/04 Sun

I suppose any vampire could be Gollum in that way. When a human gets sired, they get the power. That power is then the beginning of their new life, a more powerful life (unlife) than they had before.

[> Re: Spike as Gollum from Lord of the Rings -- RJA, 15:58:47 01/03/04 Sat

Thats the second time in a few weeks that I've seen Spike and Gollum compared, although the first time was a lot more unfavourably, with the suggestion that Tolkein had the right ending for the character.

To be honest I dont know enough about LOTR other than from superficial readings, so I'm not really sure that the role of Gollum was meant to be, and exactly how easy it was to give in to the power of the ring. And on that matter rests how sympathetic a character Gollum is (because neither in the films or the book did I have a great deal of sympathy for him, nor Frodo for that matter, whereas Spike I have).

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by Buffy and the Scoobies betraying Spike though. It seems to me to really to take away anything interesting from Spike as a character and to massively reduce the importance of his actions by suggesting he was an unwitting dupe.

Because surely champions know what they're doing :-)

[> [> Re: Spike as Gollum from Lord of the Rings -- undeadenglishpatient, 20:30:17 01/03/04 Sat

LOL. I think the show has done quite a bit of fence balancing when it comes to Spike. While they want to keep him around (and his fans) they also like to keep him a bit dangerous and unpredictable. In Sleeper, the scoobies basically had a little pow-wow about Spike - the dialog danced around the: "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" (from the Godfather) in regards to Spike and his condition. It was Buffy's idea, and Xander in particular wasn't too fond of this idea - too dangerous. At the end of the day, the question is still there - Was Buffy close to Spike because she cared for him? OR Was Buffy close to Spike to keep the enemy closer? If it was number 1, then she was sympathetic, if number 2 - betrayal. Its all a matter of fence balancing.....no one can really know for sure.

I am a Spike fan, and do not believe the Gollum compairison is fair on ME's part, however the parellels are quite obvious even though it's not an exact one to one ratio. They couldn't very well do it 'exactly' - if they did, it would have been too much of someone else's story and a direct copy of LOTR.

I do however, think Gollum is alive and well now on ATS in the a new form: Spike back from the Hellmouth. He may very well end up in the same situation as he was on BTVS - as a guide to Angel in his quest. ME's stance is Angel is the true champion, that can only mean some type of set back (once again) for Spike by the end of the season. However, in order for Angel to achieve his quest, he will need Gollum/Spike's help. After all, Gollum is necessary.

[> [> [> True Champion? -- Rose, 13:09:58 01/04/04 Sun

"Angel is the true champion"

Are you sure about this? Are you saying this because he is the main character? And to be honest, I find the title "hero" and "champion" unacceptable. Is it really necessary to have a champion or hero? And is it really necessary for Angel, Spike or any other member of the AI gang be one?

[> [> [> [> Re: True Champion? -- Corwin of Amber, 17:43:36 01/04/04 Sun

I think you ripped that out of context. The entire quote from UDEP's post is:

ME's stance is Angel is the true champion, that can only mean some type of set back (once again) for Spike by the end of the season.

I personally have no reason to disagree with that statement. What's the use, in the context of the television show, of not having Angel be the "true champion", on his own show?

>And to be honest, I find the title "hero" and "champion" unacceptable.

Why do you find such a term "unnaceptable"? Thats a really curious term - do you reject all "heroes" and "champions", or do you just find it's use unacceptable in this case?

>And is it really necessary for Angel, Spike or any other member of the AI gang be one?

A large part of the overall story of Angel involves the Champion Arc. Is Angel a Champion, does he even want to be one? Doe it earn him redemption if he is one? Is it worth it, in the end?

If you don't like the term "champion" feel free to use any other, or invent a nonsense one, because it's really just a label for an archtype. And yes, it did sound a little silly in the context of the earlier noir-Angel period, but it does fit well with the more mythic stories in later seasons.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: True Champion? -- undeadenglishpatient, 21:07:03 01/04/04 Sun

Yes, that is what I meant......at the end of the day, ATS is Angel's show, and he will be the champion. I think that's pretty obvious.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: True Champion? -- Claudia, 10:45:07 01/05/04 Mon

The idea of Angel, Spike or anyone else being a "champion" is ridiculous. I find it odd that so many people feel it is necessary to find a fictional character, or even someone real, to idolize and put on a pedestal. This makes me wonder if people find it easier to idealize someone else (whether real or fictional) rather than deal with oneself.

To me, both Angel and Spike are characters - with both good and bad sides. I would be more impressed if they and the other main characters learn to begin the road to self-realization, instead of committing some "heroic" act so that others can regard them as "heroes" and "champions".

[> Gollum? -- Dlgood, 11:40:54 01/04/04 Sun

I must admit that I find the Gollum/Spike characterizations to be more apt for the S4-5 stretch of BtVS.

Any real analysis is a bit superficial if it depends on mapping Gollum to Spike rather than the reverse - as Gollum predates Spike by fifty years. Most notably - to the extent that Gollum has any love for Frodo or "good", it is dwarfed by his desire for the ring and his love of himself. To the extent that Gollum is a savior in RotK, it is largely because he is Evil and Self-interested - not because he has goodness. A clear comparison to Spike in S2-5 than to the Spike of S7 or AtS-5.

I think the better character to compare is Uriah Heep from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield a strong influence upon Tolkien's Smeagol/Gollum. But for that, I'd defer to someone who knew Dickens better than I.

[> [> Re: Gollum? -- Rufus, 17:53:28 01/04/04 Sun

someone who knew Dickens better than I.

Hey, and Hey!!!!! I'm not THAT old....you may want to ask OnM........;):):):):):):):):)

[> Weighing in with a short list -- MsGiles, 04:33:38 01/07/04 Wed

Not a shortlist ('Gollum and Spike both made it onto the Conflicted Second Banana of the Year shortlist for 2003'), but ..

Some thoughts on Gollum and Frodo. I thought, in time-honoured method, I'd start with a list:


Both are intially good (William and Smeagol), and are then turned bad (Spike by being vamped, Smeagol by exposure to the Ring). Both aquire new names to go with their new badness (Spike/Gollum)

The influence of the hero (Buffy/Frodo) counteracts the bad influence and causes internal conflict in both characters. They then spend much of the remaining story swinging between good and bad influences, providing lots of narrative tension

The mercy shown by heroes towards these flawed characters is essential to the resolution of the story. Buffy spares bad-but-besotted Spike over and over (to the bemusement of less Spike-friendly fans), and Frodo spares a dangerously Ring-influenced Gollum over and over (to the bemusement of the definitely not Gollum-friendly Sam)

Each character ends consumed by fire (well, and daylight in Spike's case, but there's a lot of fire too)
Each end resolves the fate of the world (saves it) where the hero can't do any more


In Spike's case, good wins, and he meets his end voluntarily, acknowledging Buffy's thanks, and awarded the Order of the Liz. They're both unequivocally good by then, and Buffy gets to live a normal life.

Gollum on the other hand goes bad at the last moment, as does Frodo. It's Frodo's earlier act of mercy towards Gollum that ensures the end of the Ring and the world's safety. The badness comes from the Ring however, and when that goes, Frodo is good. In one sense, though, Frodo is not saved. Though he remains good, his time with the Ring continues to haunt and hurt him, and he has to go with the Elves into the para-death of the far West, leaving Sam to enjoy the fruits of victory in the Shire.

And the of course there is the hunk factor. Gollum, though nearly naked throughout the films, will not I think be inspiring the same quantity of slash fic. At least, I sincerely hope not.


Did Joss have LoTR consciously in mind, when he wrote the end of S7? I have no knowledge of this. Do any of those more informed people out there know?.

If he did, then maybe his intention was to make the whole ending more upbeat, to rewrite Gollum's journey as a hero's assistant's journey, and to let the hero (Buffy) enjoy her final success (unlike Frodo). I think the end of LoTR is rather darker than the end of S7. Like much of LoTR, there's an abiding gloom or elegiac quality among all the heroics, a sense that the best is past, the elves are leaving, and the pains suffered by Frodo will never be completely healed. Is Gollum redeemed by his fall, even though he doesn't make a deliberate sacrifice? I get the feeling that it is more Frodo, and hobbit-kind, that is redeemed by it, by the mercy he showed. Although the Fourth Age will be the age of Men, in the story we follow, the hobbits rather than the men are the everypeople, the ones we identify with, while the men (Aragorn, the Riders, Gondor) are cast in a heroic mold. Smeagol is corrupted by the Ring, just as Men are (the prime cases of this being the Nazgul, Kings of Men corrupted utterly by the Nine subsidiary Rings, and Boromir), but both Bilbo and Frodo are able to resist long enough to bring the thing to an end.

Gollum is perhaps a way of showing that even the most unappealing entity may have a place in the scheme of things, and that it is unwise to play god, and to determine the fates of others before their place in the story is complete. Gollum is, in the end, a force for good - he gets the hobbits through Mordor, and destroys the Ring. He is not good himself, though, in the Ring succeeds in corrupting him before the end, thereby ensuring its own end. Maybe this is a result of Tolkien's age and his first WW experiences, but it gives a very wistful quality to the text. The whole scouring of the Shire sequence that ends the book (and which I think fails to work in the film) seems to be about the aftermath of war, the price paid even when victory if achieved. As well as a dig at all the developers round Birmingham who had built on the rural villages that Tolkien knew as a boy.

Come to that, though, maybe even Buffy does not end on a note of uncomplicated feelgoodness. There's a weariness to Buffy's smile, as she faces the prospect of a normal life. Much of everything and everyone she knows, including one or two things she was rather fond of, have vanished into a chasm. S6 and S7 had a gloom about them, the shadow of adulthood with its disappointments and complications falling over the bright optimism of etc etc.

"With rue my heart is laden
For golden hours I've had,
For many a rose-lipped maiden
and many a light-limbed lad.
By brooks too broad for leaping
The light-limbed lads are laid,
The maidens all are sleeping
In fields where roses fade"

(AE Housman)

[> [> Re: Weighing in with a short list -- undeadenglishpatient, 16:44:57 01/07/04 Wed

Thanks for that, that was what I was looking for and really could not put into words myself.

There is a parallel going on, without a distinct one on one relationship. Its there, under the surface.

While I don't know - from Joss's mouth - if its supposed to be this way, I do know he is a big Lord of the Rings fan. So, one never knows.

Another similarity between the two is the obsession, if you will, for something that is 'glowing'. Spike refered to Buffy as glowing or shiny, Gollum refers to the ring as glowing, shiny, precious.

Also, a completely shallow observation: while Gollum was unattractively half naked in the movies, Spike has also been shown more often than some peoples tastes, to be half clothed as well for quite a few episodes - either with Buffy or being tortured. Which is another similarity worth noting.

Thank you for your post, I really enjoyed it!

[> [> [> The other comparison -- Dlgood, 16:46:35 01/08/04 Thu

For me is actually not with Gollum/Vampire, but rather with Frodo & the Ring as compared to Buffy & Dawn in the Gift.

Frodo should have been able to sacrifice the ring to save Middle Earth. He wasn't. Instead, Gollum bites his finger off and tumbles into the fire. Though Frodo is still a hero, and though the world was saved, Frodo still lives out the rest of his days knowing that he was unable to do what was asked of him - to give up that which was most precious to him.

Buffy, should have been able to sacrifice Dawn in order to save the world. She wasn't, and indeed confirms that she will let the world end if she cannot save Dawn. Buffy is granted a "Gift" and allowed to die in Dawn's place. The world is saved, and Buffy is still a hero, but like Frodo, Buffy was unable to do what was asked of her - give up that which was most precious to her.

[> [> Re: Weighing in with a short list -- Claudia, 11:05:57 01/08/04 Thu

Have you considered a similar list between Gollum and Angel?

[> [> [> Re: Weighing in with a short list -- undeadenglishpatient, 11:47:36 01/08/04 Thu

Not yet, but that would be interesting as well.

OT: Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4 -- dub ;o), 21:21:57 01/03/04 Sat

I've just realized that Amazon.com is pre-selling George R.R. Martin's 4th book in the series, A Feast for Crows, with an anticipated release date of April 27, 2004.

If you haven't read the first three books in this series yet, that gives you a few months to do so. For those of us who have, believe me, this is a very big deal. Seems like we've been waiting forever for this book, and it's much more worthy of the wait than the next in Robert Jordan's interminable Wheel of Time series (IMNSHO)! Ice&Fire is, hands down, the best fantasy series since Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry.



[> Re: OT: Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4 -- Ames, 09:59:44 01/04/04 Sun

Just to second that, it's one of the best fantasy series ever. But we're already at book 4, and we're still waiting to get to the core of the plot! I hope GRRM gets to it in this book, or I'll start to feel he's dragging it out.
(also vague non-spoilery comment on the last book: I still can't see how he justified what happened at the wedding - it was culturally way out of character)

The Minor Fall, The Major Life, The Chromatic Rejection of Tonality (Angel Odyssey 5.8) -- Tchaikovsky, 05:25:16 01/04/04 Sun

Happy 2004 everybody. And goodness, this is the anniversary posting of the Angel Odyssey, or the nearest I'm going to get to it, falling as it does four days after I wrote about 200 words on City Of.... Those were the days, I hear you cry. Meanwhile, Season One never really convinced me except for occasional flashes of Minear brilliance. Season Two blew me away. Season Three maintained the heady standard, and Season Four, the turgid supernatural soap opera, bludgeoned its way through sheer force of character into my heart. I finished the year feeling a little pensive about the power of Season Five, however. It had had the best standalone episode since Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been, in The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco, (proving that quality can mean quantity in titles: hence see mine above). But 'Lineage', which I enjoyed, did not deliver the palpable forward kick of so many seventh episodes in the Whedonverse, and I was left floundering in a puzzle as to whether the series was actually going anywhere, or just chewing the end of its executive biro wondering when it could clock off for the day.

Cue the greatest episode since at least Soulless...

5.8 - 'Destiny'

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, this is the best episode this Season, and I should quickly mention that I think the writing is consistently so superb in this episode that David Fury deserves a huge amount of credit. That Stephen DeKnight is a wonderful writer of course goes without saying.

I've been thinking a lot about brotherhood recently. It's partly come from peorsonal thoughts and partly from some marvellous external stimulus. This Christmas I went with my brother to see a Libertines concert in the Forum in London, a fantastic experience made all the richer by the shared company. On New Year's Day, I took my little half-brother, now nine, to see The Return of the King. I suspect it may have made him complacent about the brilliance of cinema, but rather that than indifferent. These people are, aside from glorious independent individuals, vessels in whom I can encapsulate my hopes for the future, my joys and anxieties, believing that the thread which fades over the horizon may tease itself out for fifty years. And that is an extraordinary, almost free gift. A good relationship with siblings is not a given, but it is something relatively easy to maintain when you are in constant contact with someone who has necessarily shared many formative experiences.

And yet there are powers, material objects, ideas, that can tear brothers apart. This is what makes Cain and Abel, used as source material for both Jeffrey Archer and John Steinbeck, a universal, fascinating story. And as I sat in the darkened theatre and the curtains drew back on The Return of the King, we were plunged, rather than into war or Isengard's fortresses or the forests of Fangorn, into an apparently idyllic rurality by the Anduin. Smeagol and Deagol, brothers and Hobbits, fishing quietly in all the greens and yellows of carelessness. In cinematic terms, this is extremely bad news when one knows that the result is the grey sallowness of Gollum, not so much butter spread too thinly over bread as butter spread over a whole loaf.

Smeagol's act of killing his brother in this paradise, this Eden-like quiet, had heavy echoes for me of Cain and Abel. In this story, it is on the surface level Smeagol's love for a material thing, seductive yet simple that makes him kill Deagol. As always, residing under the surface like the monster carp, is the theme of power, of possession of not the ring, but the person with the ring. We don't learn a lot about Smeagol and Deagol's relationship in either book or film, but we are left with the short hand of that very strong relationship corrupted, possibly the defining image of the ring's Evil, making seemingly irrelevant people commit an act that they otherwsie would never have dreamed of.

And so what of brothers. In the teaser of 'Destiny', we see the setting up of a brother's relationship between Angelus and William. William is the willing little brother, somewhat in awe of his mentor, and yet he is a brother nevertheless. Angelus allows him to believe that he is of the same generation; that he is another man who can share with him the confusing female wiles of Darla and Drusilla. There's a deformity in their brotherhood: the deformed grotesque of human brotherhood, the mockery - but for the moment there is the belief that some of the parallel qualities still exist, that of shared experience, of loyalty, even of consideration.

The music that plays over the flashback in London is really excellent: Rob Kral has delievered some of his best scoring this Season. Meanwhile, back in the present day, a plot twist that I had always assumed would be the denouement of some future episode is dealt casually to us before the opening credits. The flash of light, so unexpected, sudden and inexplicable, like a thunderbolt but without the bravado, makes Spike corporeal. And barely ater the audience have greapsed the enormity of the change, Spike is already indulging in the physical, mendacious pleasures of corporeality- drinking, making love and preparing for a little of the old ultra-violence. Careless throwaway lines are used magnificently in this episode, and Spike's sentiment that Angel's refreshemnt is 'bloody ambrosia' is a marvellous pun, made better by the lack of the italics where the characters stop a moment to acknowledge, or the underlining of a smirk. It is his mode of living, without which he would become a living skeleton.

We are left with the three plot-strands of the episode, opposing, intertwining, cancelling and, for once, all showing some thematic and character resonance simultaneously while having a gigantic, blood-curdling (if that's the phrase) fight. Plot The First: The cup of Perpetual Torment. Plot The Second: The unrestrained anger of the workers with the psychotic eyes. Plot The Third: The flashback with Drusilla. The wickerwork of the basket is as intricate as anything in ages, and I found it totally exhilirating. I treat them in reverse order.

3) The nineteenth century story hinges on a betrayal of the teaser's set-up. While William believed Angelus was a brother in arms, he was not expecting limbs to be those of his sire, Drusilla. In between, the two of them comes gestures of anarchy, of possession. Angelus, freed from the religious tyranny where Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, In earth as it is in Heaven pleads God's dominion over all things, like a careless father with a heavy rod, sees vampirism to an extent as hedonism. There is no belonging, no desiring, merely the fulfillment of pleasure. He remembers his former self, this Liam, so clearly however, that he insists on calling William Willy. Playing with the sexual connotations of the name of course, (and heightening the betrayal in the process), but how much does the Londoner's latter two syllables still rile the heart of the most fearsome vampire in Europe? This is why he denies the Liam in William, fearing it, still denying its power over him 127 years after Darla explained that his Father had not lost merely because he was dead.

Spike believes that Drusilla is his destiny. There is still, despite the siring, the poet within him. Of course, it would reside within him for centuries, until creating this Season's most memorable line to date: 'It's in the poetry'. Yet this destiny is merely a whore with whom Angelus can play. A creature who he created with the explicit intention of corrupting innoncence, forestalling sanctity and devotion, imbuing merely meaninglessness into a girl whose intuitive narrative ruled her. When Spike sees that his destiny has been torn away from him, he is angry and confused, but he also takes time to learn a little from Angelus' explanation, to become more like what he is due to Angelus' advice. And this is to become crucial later. Of course, this tearing away by Angel of Spike's destiny is foreshadowed gently as the opposite of what will happen in the present day, that now Spike will drink from the cup of Angel's future, and quench his destiny. This is the minor fall, and it seems at one stage to come to pass.

2) Away from this compelling relationship storyline, we have a sub-plot which is unusual in its subtlely. Gunn and Eve are paralleled, particularly interestingly in the scene where Gunn, responding to Eve's pleas of ignorance claims that he 'is just a mild-mannered attorney'. The implicit rejection of this sobriquet hints at two things: both his tenure back on the street in his youth, a fact that was slowly being forgotten amidst the corporation in Season Five, and that he believes he himself has a dedtiny within the company: to explain the conduit. And yet, for now, the conduit, the white room, the cat, is disappeared, and the anarchy of Angelus ensues. Now no-one trusts anyone: or understands their motives. The joke about the man obsessed with toner hints at what we later see in the stories of Harmony and Gunn. There extraordinary anger is abnormal, but what they are actually saying has personal truth to them, like Wesley in Billy. Harmony doesn't want to be treated like a possession by Spike, (a sly back-reference to Drusilla's own freewheelin' attitude one hundred years earlier, but also a reaffirmation of her character's belief), while Gunn is genuinely suspicious of Eve, both as a threat of Evil and as a competitor to himself. It is Gunn's over-arching ambition, his worry about how his colleagues may be more powerful than him, that is the underlying danger that the anger expresses. He dismisses Fred, conferring that unreal innocence on her when he offers to explain what a 'nooner' is, but feels much more threatened by Eve.

In this episode, we see a facet of Eve played by Sarah Thompson that Lilah could not have been used for, and the episode is strengthened because of it. In response to Gunn's anger she seems wounded, and a little disorientated if not altogether lost. We start to feel a little bit of empathy with her, a belief that her false confidence is precisely that, feigned for the gang by whom she is intimidated. But then in one of the 'Gah!'-iest moments since The Trial, we see the twist at the end where it turns out that she has been causing the chaos, and doing so with, who would have guessed, Lindsey. This coupled with Angel and Spike's history in this episode powerfully denies any affirmation that the writers are rejecting the past. They have portioned off plot-lines, but the backstory is still utterly crucial.

-Before we leave the subject of Eve, I should file my one objection, which is that if she says 'kids' any more, I'm going to throttle something. Three times in one scene is at least twice too often.

-Lorne plays a cursory role in this episode, but of course his head's hurting again, just as at the beginning of Season Four. A sure sign of brewing danger.

1) Another fascinating cursory note to this episode is the casually tossed in reference: 'We're closing Pandora's box'. The dangerous attributes that fly away into the ether are all Angelus' trickery, artistry and sheer calculated anger. But just before the end of the episode, Pandora's box is indeed closed, with Hope still left inside, when the Cup turns out to be an elaborate Eve-organised hoax.

Before this, we have the prolonged fight scene between Spike and Angel, which, due to the snatches and longer sections of dialogue propel it into on eof the greatest mixed action sequences in the show's history. At one stage, it looks like the end of the story is to be about the re-affirmation of Angel's power. After all, it is his own show, and to be beaten in a fight by the supporting character just seems wrong. And yet this outcome, 'the major lift' we might call it, is also rejected. And so what are we left with? Two compelling characters in parallel, at loggerheads, learning form each other, raging at each other, winning each other's respect and derision. And it's magnificent writing and direction. Just a few of the synapses my brain triggered are touched on below:

'This town ain't big enough for the both of you'. The comment by Eve sets up a very Western style of fight scene for later on. The two fear-instilling characters, almost too big for the screen at times, almost too big for one show named Angel, battle.

The absent brother. The long period of exposition tailed by Spike's leaving strongly resembled Edmund leaving in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; he learns what he needs to know and then leaves to embrace his destiny in a way that the others in the family could not have counted on. It also enables me in apparent seriousness to suggest that Eve is Mrs Beaver. OK, let's move on...

'It explains a lot'. Harmony's ironic retort to Spike's explanation about his mother, and the way in which he has turned Drusilla and Buffy into kinds of mothers for himself. Harmony is not so stupid as to not notice this, but it is not Spike's parents that are the important players in this episode. Or at least, only parents in terms of sires.

'Right, so what's in it for me?' Spike, succoured as always by celebrity, (cf 'Restless') puzzles through the advantages of being the famous vampire. It is not fully made clear to us whether his motivation is in the end a rejection of Angelus' influence in his life, a simple malicious scuppering of Angel's ambition, a genuine belief in the good that he can do, or something else. Spike appears to act out of self-interest, but what's going on behind the facade? Do we sense the reluctant Hero, the supposed cad, once again hiding valiant intentions behind selifshness. Or otherwise...?

The desire for a soul. Spike has done something that Angelus never sought, in asking for a soul. He has saved the world, and painted the stripes on his leopard instead of them being enchanted gypsies handcuffs: [re-read this sentence: does this make any sense? How many mixed metaphors are permissible? Oh well] He also believes that Angelus 'made him a monster', an epilogue on his thanks to Buffy in the Gift with him a monster treated as a man. This shifting of the blame is interesting. How much can we blame the tormentor, the master vampire who can brush Darla's absence aside by bedding Drusilla, for making out of the impressionable William the Spike of the Boxer Rebellion? And how much, despite having no soul to orientate him, is it entirely his own actions which have led him to this point? Free will and determinism strikes again, with Spike's explanation seeming a little too much like an excuse for his atrocities for my taste.

And so finally, Spike takes the Cup, and it's a fake. We don't get the minor fall for Angel, but neither the major life. We get the chromatic rejection of tonality. It's not about who is destined to do something, it's about what they can do. Spike claims that Angel has chosen Evil already at Wolfram and Hart. And despite Angel's confusion and lack of focus, that is still over-simplistic: he is trying to do good from within, with extra resources. It should not be about his destiny.

Finally, he still puzzles through how Spike beat him, how William stepped out of the shadow of his grandsire's former name to overpower him. Spike wanted the destiny more. The question is, why should Angel seek destiny at all? Is it up to him to become human? Is he doing good merely because it's the right thing to do, and how do conviction and doubt and brotherhood fit into all this. At the end of the episode, Cain and Abel, Smeagol and Deagol, me and my nine year old brother have fought, and both are still alive. Now we have to work out how we fit in to family, in to work, and into the world. And that's called life.



[> Re: The Minor Fall, The Major Life, The Chromatic Rejection of Tonality (Angel Odyssey 5.8) -- CW, 06:50:11 01/04/04 Sun

I'm not sure I can agree with you about Destiny being the best episode this year. It seemed to me it was dominated by an overly long fist fight, which we knew was bound to happen from the first action Spike tried to make on reappearing. As soon as Spike materialized, they were 'destined' to fight. Is what happened between Spike and Angel in the late 19th century so surprising? Hardly. We knew from what happened with his mother that Spike, the vampire, was created with a good deal of William's idealism. We knew Dru created him largely as a plaything. If Dru and Angel had been humans, we might still be upset if not surprised by their callous behavior. But, since they are vampires we can only empathize with the pathetic Spike who still didn't quite get what being a vampire was all about.

The fact that Angel lost isn't terribly surprising either. If he wins, the story line is over isn't it? As long as there is the chance of a rematch then Angel is still in the running. If you say that Spike has always been closer to being human than Angel/Angelus, then I think you've learned something about why Spike defeated Angel this time rather than just saying, as Angel did, "He wanted it more." Angel wallowing in his own depression over it doesn't really answer the question "Why?" And I don't think he can 'win' until what he is fighting for means more to him.

Personally, I wasn't fooled by Eve's 'Who? Sweet little me act?' It's interesting that since ep one this year people have been griping about Eve rather than accepting her as part of the W&H scenery. Even though she isn't strictly working for W&H, Eve certainly has the right spirit for the job. That she turned out to be working for the superambitious Lyndsay is more funny than anything else.

Destiny is a good episode (they've all been reasonably, good this year), but it's not what I'd call a great one.

[> [> Well, fair enough -- Tchaikovsky, 02:00:41 01/05/04 Mon

I'm always a sucker for plot-lines which involve a trick on the audience, because I always get too involved to figure them out until they spring upon me.

I think what made it the best episode for me was not the plot of the episode, (which is indeed fairly predictable and not utterly shocking, particularly if you know the Eve thing from the start), but the manner of the execution of the plot-line. The dialogue, the way that the small lines big up the bigger themes, the way the main three plot-lines interact.



[> Just lovely! Hope to comment more later -- Pony, 06:55:13 01/04/04 Sun

[> Interesting - a ramble on storytelling, brothers, quests (Spoilers Amadeus, RotK, Destiny...) -- s'kat, 10:09:35 01/04/04 Sun

This is not so much a direct response to your interesting post, tch as a ramble on things your post triggered in my brain. Somewhat loosely structured I'm afraid and filled with mistakes. ;-)

**Spoilers for the films League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Bend it Like Beckham, Amadeus, Return of The King, and the ATS episode Destiny below! Also a bit on the television miniseries DreamKeeper which was on Sunday Dec 28th and Monday the 29th.**

Over the holidays, I watched a couple of interesting flicks that dealt with rivalry, siblings and friends. The better ones were the old film AMADEUS by Peter Schaffer and the new film Return of The King by Peter Jackson. Bend it Like Beckham - the little British import was another one. (The final one was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - which I heartily do *not* recommend. Bad movie - I'm not completely sure about this, but I think in trying to turn it into a starring vehicle for himself, Connery lost Alan Moore's intent in telling the story. Instead of a story about a bunch of self-centered schmeils being heroic (a la Firefly)-it turned into a tale of a father and son, everyone else taking a back seat to it, which would have been fine - if Connery built the characters up a bit more and didn't rely on cliche. Oh Well. Read the Alan Moore Comic instead. Trust me.) I also watched a documentary about Rod Serling. I mention Serling because his writing on Twilight Zone - a fantasy/sci-fi anthology series that delves into the murkiness of human nature reminds me a great deal of Mutant Enemy's writing. Through complex, murky characters - Serling explores the darker side of the human psyche. So does ME. At any rate the Serling documentary along with a mini-series on Native American legends (DreamKeeper - surprisingly good by the way), got me thinking, we focus so much on the characters sometimes or rather I do, that I overlook the writer's purpose for telling the story. Or for that matter why we continue to tell each other stories. Sometimes variations on the same one, over and over and over again. Dreamkeeper - is the story of a storyteller, a native american storyteller who passes the torch to his reluctant grandson, yep - it's a coming of age/father-son tale wrapped inside a quest. During the mini-series, the audience is treated to numerous legends from at least ten different American Indian Tribes - Lakota, Cherokee, Pawnee, Crow, BlackFeet, Kiowa, Chicota, and each tale deals with issues of redemption, second-chance, family relationships, and wholeness.

Why do you suppose so many people have told a variation of the Cain and Able tale? Or the story of Adam and Eve? Or the redemption myth of Jesus - which appears in Egyptian mythology with the tale of Osiris, as well as other tales.
In more contemporary times - we see the redemption myths in noir film - specifically classics such as Casablanca and Force of Evil. The Lord of The Rings is a combination of redemption mythos, Cain and Able, and eye for an eye. Yet at it's heart is a story of becoming whole, emerging from the darkness - some characters succeed (Frodo (barely and only through the assistance of Sam), Sam, Gandalf, Faramir, Aragorn) and some characters fail tragically (Gollum (who may have already been far too gone to be saved - he is a bit like Angel - actually, a split personality, part demon, part man, but unlike Angel - the demon side has twisted him, he has as Angel warned Lilah in Sleep Tight, worn the game face or Gollum side far too long and can't shake it off), The Steward, Solomon). So was the Twilight Zone -
it also dealt with redemption and second chances. Serling liked two types of characters - the ones who were worthy of a second-chance or redemption and those who weren't. Mutant Enemy's Angel The Series, while very different from LoR and Twilight Zone - deals with similar characters and themes just in a slightly different way.

What's wonderful about ME's larger than life characters: Spike and Angel is they are so murky, so prickily, so ambiguous. They both want to be redeemed, yet neither is sure such a thing is possible. Both want to blame someone else for the monster they became, Angel blames his father, the demon inside him, circumstance - Spike blames Angelus, circumstance, and possibly the man he once was. Both want an easy answer - the cup of perpetual torment, the shanshue, going out in a blaze of glory - provided by a higher being who will guide them. And both, are so distracted by their envy for what they think the other has, they fail to see their own potential in the midst of it. This reminds me a little of the story Peter Schaffer tells in Amadeus - about a man who has the gift to appreciate and understand great music as well as the influence to further the careers of great musicians, even mentor them - yet is sooo distracted and caught up in his envy of those musicians gifts that he seeks to destroy the musicians instead. As a result he never realizes his own potential. Likewise - Angel is distracted by Spike, by his envy of what Spike has accomplished and he hasn't, forgetting all the things he has done, which are not better nor worse than Spike's accomplishments, just different. Spike similarily is distracted by Angel, by his envy of what he perceives Angel has and is doing, placing far too much emphasis on the contest and less on what he can accomplish by Angel's side.

It is no accident, I think, that Stephen Deknight and David Fury also wrote the episode Awakenings - the twin to Destiney. Both episodes deal with false quests. Quests that echo Indiana Jones quests or legendary quests. Also quests that involve two members of the same family. The first - in Awakenings is a dream, where Angel sets off on a quest with Connor, Wes and Cordelia to find a sword that will kill the Beast and bring back the sun - the end result of said quest is Angel in reality loses his soul, he achieves that moment of pure happiness - and out pops the soul. The second quest-in Destiny, is where Angel and Spike compete for the cup of perpetual torment - the end result of this quest is less certain or momentuous. They think it will result in one becoming human - one becoming chosen. Yet it is a fraud. And makes both feel like foolish school boys, stumbling back to home base, somewhat embarrassed, they tail between their legs. Both quests are fake. Both Angel believes in.
And Both do not end the way Angel expects. Quests...in so many stories we have quests, and every quest has competing parties. Bend it Like Beckham - a small film about soccer players (football if in Britian) - is about two girls on a quest to get a soccer scholarship and play in US. They start as friends, end up briefly as rivals - when they get involved with the same guy, make a truce and finally renew their friendship when both get the scholarship. LoR is about a quest to destroy a ring of power - throughout the journey, people fight the protagonist over the ring, the protagonist fights himself over the ring. The quest ends when the parties choose each other over the ring. (Yes, it's far more convoluted than that - I'm simplifying things.) The book - DA Vinici Code - a bestseller in the States - is about a quest for the Holy Grail (which uhm is not what you think it is...)in that, parties fight over the information, in the end when the protagonist finds it, she realizes the quest was not about obtaining the Grail, so much as finding herself -and her family. It's a quest for wholeness, completeness. Angel and his team, including Spike, are also on a quest of sorts...but not for what they think, for what, oddly enough lies beneath their very noses. The funny thing about these false quests - is what the people are searching for, they already have. It's been with them all along. It's a bit like Dorothy's epiphany in Wizard of Oz, another story about a quest - what's important was here on my small farm all along. But she has to go far away from it to find it, because sometimes it's the "process" of seeking the answer that is important, not so much the finding of it.

I'm wondering if that may be what Deknight and Fury are trying to convey through their ironic and somewhat amusing retellings of quests. Spike and Angel learn more about themselves and each other in their battle than they would learn if they just ran in the church and drank the cup, regardless of what it contained. But what do we learn?
I think - you say it very well above:

"At the end of the episode, Cain and Abel, Smeagol and Deagol, me and my nine year old brother have fought, and both are still alive. Now we have to work out how we fit in to family, in to work, and into the world. And that's called life."

Somewhere along the line we have to stop competing with our brother long enough to work with him, to love him, and to live. To appreciate our brother for who he is, outside of who we are. Spike says something very interesting to Angel, which I think may be important to remember - "You don't know me at all - I'm not a reflection of you." (Not exact, more a paraphrasing). Until we see our brothers as individuals with problems, desires, needs, outside of us - we can't really appreciate them or forgive them or realize their potential or ours.

Hope that made a lick of sense, tch. It's been a while since I've done a post on a board and I feel a tad rusty.
(Also methinks I have a tendency to throw everything in my head into my analysis, whether it belongs there or not...LOL!)


[> [> Tchaikovsky and Skat- Wonderful New Year posts -- Ann, 18:40:46 01/05/04 Mon

"to find a sword that will kill the Beast and bring back the sun"
Exactly, but trade the word "sun" for "son" and I think we will have a winner. Angel needs to kill the beast within, and I don't mean Angelus. When he does this, he will be preparted to bring back his son Connor. I think you captured his true quest brilliantly. I think the loss of the sun to the Beast was a forehadowing of his most real loss of Connor. I can only hope that the killing of the Beast is a foreshadowing of Connor's return to him in person and in soul. (I am unspoiled in this regard). I don't think Angel will ever be whole again, with or without Angelus, without Connor. I also think Spike is the person to help him with this quest. This "brother's" grail, search and find, can only be done together.

I think that Tchaikovsky's post was a beautiful start to the New Year. Imagine if Angel and Spike in their souled forms could find what you describe. The beauty of the bond. The beauty of the future perhaps as a family of sorts, the father and the son. Spike. The Uncle. Okay it falls apart here but you see what I mean. No subtext intended. They could find true meaning and truly drink from the cup. It is not out of their grasp.

[> That reminds me... -- Rob, 11:10:55 01/04/04 Sun

TCH, have you read The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford? I did a review of it in a recent entry on my LJ, and I think you would enjoy it immensely. It's part memoir, part literary analysis, and part child psychology book, as the author retraces his childhood reading experiences from the ages of six to eighteen, and attempts to examine how reading influenced his life and how his life influenced his reading choices. The name of the first chapter, which I'm sure you would appreciate, is "Confessions of a Fiction Eater." I only thought of recommending this book to you now because there is a rather extensive, very interesting analysis of The Chronicles of Narnia, in (I believe) the third chapter, one that touches on a great deal of the issues you and I discussed in the Narnia subthread of the The Screwtape Letters Book Melee, including my particular discomfort with The Last Battle and some of the more overtly religious sections of the book (his main beefs are mostly with the final book, and with the Aslan-ripping-off-Eustace's-dragon-skin section of Dawn Treader). I think you'd probably find the reading experience quite enriching, also as it speaks particularly well to people who have been avid readers from a very young age, as I'm sure you were, and I know I was!


[> [> Thank you- noting -- Tchaikovsky, 02:02:25 01/05/04 Mon

I'm now only 160 pages away from finally finishing the Proust, (or, in other words, 3287 pages through!) and have therefore built a considerable backlogue. Some Kundera, the Garcia Martquez autobiography, and a cricket autobiography. But I shall aim to read it at some point in the future.


[> [> [> Re: Thank you- noting -- Rob, 08:18:05 01/05/04 Mon

or, in other words, 3287 pages through!

Wow...Absolutely stunned here! I haven't ever read as many pages of a literary work, either book or series, in a row before like that. Right now, I have a considerable backlog myself. I'm in the middle of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and re-reading The Hobbit, after which I plan on going on to re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I decided this all in the last few days, but I have a pile of at least 20 books that I've accumulated over the past year that I haven't read yet. I buy them much faster than I can read them.


[> Re: The Minor Fall, The Major Life, The Chromatic Rejection of Tonality (Angel Odyssey 5.8) -- Arethusa, 20:19:24 01/04/04 Sun

A creature who he created with the explicit intention of corrupting innoncence, forestalling sanctity and devotion, imbuing merely meaninglessness into a girl whose intuitive narrative ruled her.

I wonder if one of the reasons Angelus "killed" Dru is because she could see what he really was. Everything he hid deep inside-the monster behind a handsome mask and weak bad sheep behind the monster-could be seen and perhaps exposed by her special insight. After her mind was shattered, Angelus said he loved it when she became overtaken by her visions, but maybe he felt differently when he was vulnerable to them.

And how much, despite having no soul to orientate him, is it entirely his own actions which have led him to this point? Free will and determinism strikes again, with Spike's explanation seeming a little too much like an excuse for his atrocities for my taste.

Spike seldom has one reason or one motive for doing anything. Maybe he wanted to both twist a knife in Angel's well-developed sense of guilt and excuse his past atrocities, although we have seen souled Spike refuse to apologize or deny responsibility for his actions as a vampire several times.

How do the dead puzzle out how to live? Like everyone else? Spike said, "Life is just this-it's living." Now matter how different we are, how alienated we feel, the only way to feel alive is to live. To just do, think, feel. It truly is Spike's destiny to be human, because he never stopped acting like one. Just as it's Angel's destiny to be human, because life keeps intruding on his brooding despite himself. One embraces life, one retreats from it, but both both crave bonds of affection, even from each other, despite themselves. The unexamined life and the unlived life-two ways of rejecting the mess and pain of being human. But they are both learning, slowly and painfully, to accept who and what they are: fellow human beings.

[> [> Very nice! -- Pony, 08:01:05 01/06/04 Tue

I especially liked: "The unexamined life and the unlived life - two ways of rejecting the mess and pain of being human."

Nothing much to add except that I am doing my little impatience dance while waiting for new episodes. When? When?

[> [> [> Thanks, Pony. -- Arethusa, 08:48:53 01/06/04 Tue

I'm counting the days too.

[> Yes, it should be 'Lift' -- Tchaikovsky, 06:49:54 01/05/04 Mon

Who cares?

shadowkat's post is much more worth reading than this one, which merely gives a link to the old website, where 96 episodes are reviewed.


[> [> Indeed it should -- Vickie, 09:41:49 01/05/04 Mon

and thanks for making a great song run through my head each time I visit the site.

[> Re: The Minor Fall, The Major Life, The Chromatic Rejection of Tonality (Angel Odyssey 5.8) -- Rob, 09:32:55 01/07/04 Wed

Smeagol and Deagol, brothers and Hobbits,

Actually, having read the chapter yesterday, I have to tell you that Smeagol and Deagol were friends, not brothers. Your analysis, of course, still works, because they are brother-type figures (like Spike and Angel) and the parallel with their names backs up the comparison to brothers further, as does the allusion to the Cain and Abel story in Genesis. Hate to be all nitpicky, and the last thing I wanted to do is unravel any of your essay, which I greatly enjoyed and agree with on all points, but just thought I should point out that minor detail.


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