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Buffy and Angel's compatibility

 
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jamlin
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:01 pm    Post subject: Buffy and Angel's compatibility Reply with quote

As I'm going through my series rewatch, I'm consulting a couple of sites that have episode reviews. This is an excerpt from a review of the episode "Angel":
Quote:
We can see that while Buffy's trying to balance slaying, school, and romance, Angel's juggling his demonic nature, desire for amends, and becoming romantically invested in someone for likely the very first time in his soul-having existence. Right now the thing both Buffy and Angel have in common is their mutual attraction and newfound investment in each other. As their relationship evolves, it'll end up in a much more aware and mature place in which Buffy comes to understand and help Angel through some of his core struggles. Of course the moment Angel finally starts understand who he is and begins to believe in his own potential, it becomes strikingly obvious that he no longer belongs in Buffy's world, which goes to show that these two were never compatible, as people, in the first place – romance blinded them. – Source


It's a very shallow reading of the B/A relationship so there are some things to pick out here. For starters, it seems contradictory to point out how both Buffy and Angel have these double lives of sorts and then say that what they have in common is their "mutual attraction and newfound investment in each other." What really brings the two together, in my view, is their mutual feelings of not fitting in and loneliness/isolation; Buffy comments on Angel's attraction during the very first episode, but she doesn't really show much interest/soften to him until Angel drops the facade in "The Harvest" after Buffy realises he doesn't know what it's like to have a friend.

While I agree that Angel had to go off on his own in order to grow, the part of the quote that really sticks out to me, though, is saying they were never compatible as people. When? How? We see several moments of mundanity during their relationship where they're just talking about what's going in their lives (usually Buffy's, but understandably so since it is her show) and doing other boring couple things.

What are your guys' thoughts? Why do you think non-shippers perceive B/A in such a shallow way?
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dcai0830
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At first I agree with the reviewer, both Buffy and Angel are juggling various things. And that is a compenent of their understanding each other. But mostly -

Quote:
What really brings the two together, in my view, is their mutual feelings of not fitting in and loneliness/isolation


Exactly as you say here. Joss has said as much himself. Both of them, especially in s1 and early s2, are unique, one of a kind, alone in the world. The conversation with Darla in 1x07 is quite telling in this way. She says to him "you aren't one of them" and he says "I'm not exactly one of you either." Buffy isn't a regular girl, she wants to do normal things and date but she has this duty and calling and it makes her different. This is what draws them together, why they feel they can share things with each other, why Buffy says that Angel is the one freaky thing in her freaky world that makes sense.

And by the way, this sense of isolation, of being always alone to make the final decision, of having the weight of the world on you. That isn't something that goes away after Angel moves away. It's something they continue to share. Buffy may not be the only Slayer but she is still the one who leads. Angel may not be the only vampire with a soul but he is still the only of the two who is a true hero and champion in this battle. The other guy is just the side kick.

Quote:
Of course the moment Angel finally starts understand who he is and begins to believe in his own potential, it becomes strikingly obvious that he no longer belongs in Buffy's world, which goes to show that these two were never compatible, as people, in the first place – romance blinded them.


This is the part of the review that really loses me. Angel does not decide that he doesn't belong in Buffy's world. What Angel does in LA and what Buffy does in Sunnydale are very similar. They fight the bad guys. In different ways, of course, but he doesn't leave because he realizes their worlds are so strikingly different. I think he leaves because he WANTS to believe their worlds are strikingly different. He wants to believe that Buffy can get that normal life she still clings to in season 3.

But in truth, her world becomes less and less about normalcy. She won't ever exist in a world outside of demons and darkness. I still think that she owed it to herself to try as much as he owed it to her to give it a chance.

And maybe Angel didn't know it at the time he left but he also had to learn about finding himself and a purpose outside of Buffy which is a healthy thing - something he seems to understand by season 3.

But if the season 3 post Amends bangel dynamic teaches me anything is that the two of them work very well as partners in their job. They listen to each other, fight well together, trust each other, respect each other, they don't boss each other around etc. This is on top of the fact that they talk about life together often, about going to college, and plans for the future, and Angel's fears and weaknesses, etc. Buffy and Angel are open with each other.

And in their time apart, IMO, they become even more compatible because they share many similar life experiences.

What I think is interesting is that some fans of Spike/Buffy relationship talk about how open and honest they are with each other where as Angel and Buffy never talked. Comics aside (because everyone is uber well adjusted over there), Spike spends most of s6 convincing Buffy she loves him, she spends that season having sex with him and telling him she doesn't love him, when she is finally honest about wanting to break up with him he doesn't believe her and he tries to sexually assault her based on what appears to be a major misunderstanding on what she "wanted." Then in s7 they dance around the whole season about how they feel about each other mostly consisting of weird confused facial expressions. When Spike finally gives her the Touched speech she mostly listens and asks for his company. She finally calls him out telling him that she is done with mixed signals and they finally seem to come to an understanding that they have feelings for each other. THIS IS LITERALLY THE SECOND TO LAST EPISODE OF THE SERIES.

Angel comes into town in the finale, she hasn't seen him in over a year and instantly she kisses with no hesitation him and opens up to him about how she feels she isn't ready for a relationship and she is still growing. She tells Angel more about her feelings for Spike than she tells Spike when she says that he is in her heart.

Same in Forever - she hasn't seen Angel in over a year and yet she takes comfort in him and opens up to him about not only her fears on what's next but also her feelings of being needy and worried about him being there.

But - I realized in my rant I didn't answer your question. In terms of why non-shippers perceive B/A in such a shallow way I think a big part of this is because when B/A were in a relationship the show was very much focused on Buffy's point of view only. It gave us brief but never expansive moments to really touch upon Angel's side of the equation. Angel's role was to operate as the love interest and his character was not given the same time and attention that Spike is given in the later seasons. Spike talks to various characters about his feelings for Buffy in the later seasons. So with Angel (especially if you never see his show) you don't get that same perspective. You have to go and look for those clues. To me, those clues are evident in the early seasons. And then even more so, in AtS s1 and 2 you see how much Buffy was such a big part of Angel's life and how it shaped him. And further, in btvs season 3, the focus is not solely on Buffy/Angel's relationship as much as Buffy and Faith's dynamic.

So much of s6 and 7 are about Buffy and Spike's dynamic. Spike in s6 is the dark side of Buffy (so the Faith) and the "love" (I use that term incredibly loosely) interest. In s7, a large part of the focus is Spike's redemption and Buffy constantly being at odds with everyone over Spike's redemption. So the focal points of the stories are less about Buffy and ALL of her relationships or ALL of her experiences and more ultra focused on her and Spike.

I think this adds to the perception of the shallowness of the B/A dynamic. Because there was not as much of an ultra focus on the relationship itself. But for the reasons stated above, I think B/A's bond was deep and meaningful. And Buffy tells us so in Selfless. Smile
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taaroko
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In terms of why non-shippers perceive B/A in such a shallow way I think a big part of this is because when B/A were in a relationship the show was very much focused on Buffy's point of view only. It gave us brief but never expansive moments to really touch upon Angel's side of the equation. Angel's role was to operate as the love interest and his character was not given the same time and attention that Spike is given in the later seasons. Spike talks to various characters about his feelings for Buffy in the later seasons. So with Angel (especially if you never see his show) you don't get that same perspective.


I'm not sure this is precisely why. Off the top of my head, I can think of one scene each Angel has with Giles, Xander, Willow, and Oz in which the conversation significantly revolves around Buffy/Angel. Faith too. But Angel definitely has comparatively few scenes with the other characters that *aren't* about him and Buffy than Spike does, which makes sense given that Spike didn't start out as a love interest. We get Angel's perspective on Buffy lots of times, but we don't get a lot of the rest of Angel until he's on his show. All of which only made him seem even more compatible with Buffy than he already did.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but I've been lurking and not posting on so many BR threads lately that I thought I should actually pop in for a change. Hi guys! Please carry on.
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dcai0830
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't really know where I'm going with this, but I've been lurking and not posting on so many BR threads lately that I thought I should actually pop in for a change. Hi guys! Please carry on.


I'm glad you de-lurked! Smile I always love to get your perspective.
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jamlin
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dcai0830 wrote:
This is the part of the review that really loses me. Angel does not decide that he doesn't belong in Buffy's world. What Angel does in LA and what Buffy does in Sunnydale are very similar. They fight the bad guys. In different ways, of course, but he doesn't leave because he realizes their worlds are so strikingly different. I think he leaves because he WANTS to believe their worlds are strikingly different. He wants to believe that Buffy can get that normal life she still clings to in season 3.

Nothing to add here, I just like this analysis!

Quote:
What I think is interesting is that some fans of Spike/Buffy relationship talk about how open and honest they are with each other where as Angel and Buffy never talked. Comics aside (because everyone is uber well adjusted over there), Spike spends most of s6 convincing Buffy she loves him, she spends that season having sex with him and telling him she doesn't love him, when she is finally honest about wanting to break up with him he doesn't believe her and he tries to sexually assault her based on what appears to be a major misunderstanding on what she "wanted."

I couldn't agree more; I cannot wrap my head around the 'Spike understands Buffy like no one else; Buffy is the only person she can talk to during season 6; etc.' sentiments. In season 5, Buffy makes her dislike of Spike abundantly clear – for much of the season, she doesn't even like him and there's a case to be made that she still doesn't like him by the end of season 5. The only reason she really confides in him in season 6 is because she doesn't care about him nor his opinion, so she can speak a little more openly; there's nothing romantic about it, she just doesn't want to hurt her friends/actual loved ones.

Quote:
She tells Angel more about her feelings for Spike than she tells Spike when she says that he is in her heart.

Haha great point!

Quote:
I think a big part of this is because when B/A were in a relationship the show was very much focused on Buffy's point of view only. It gave us brief but never expansive moments to really touch upon Angel's side of the equation. Angel's role was to operate as the love interest and his character was not given the same time and attention that Spike is given in the later seasons. Spike talks to various characters about his feelings for Buffy in the later seasons. So with Angel (especially if you never see his show) you don't get that same perspective. You have to go and look for those clues. To me, those clues are evident in the early seasons. And then even more so, in AtS s1 and 2 you see how much Buffy was such a big part of Angel's life and how it shaped him. And further, in btvs season 3, the focus is not solely on Buffy/Angel's relationship as much as Buffy and Faith's dynamic.

So much of s6 and 7 are about Buffy and Spike's dynamic. Spike in s6 is the dark side of Buffy (so the Faith) and the "love" (I use that term incredibly loosely) interest. In s7, a large part of the focus is Spike's redemption and Buffy constantly being at odds with everyone over Spike's redemption. So the focal points of the stories are less about Buffy and ALL of her relationships or ALL of her experiences and more ultra focused on her and Spike.

Perhaps! It's just interesting because when it comes to the Buffy/Spike dynamic, it's almost entirely from Spike's perspective and we get so little from Buffy; when we do, it's always to bring her character down or isolate her from her friends. He really doesn't do much for the development and progression of Buffy's character. I think the Buffy/Angel relationship is just often dismissed as 'first loves' and 'high school', which is a shame because to analyse there and we almost always get the perspective of our titular character. People often forget that they didn't break up because they fell out of love or for any other typical reason.
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