PDA

View Full Version : Was Angel(us) really an abusive sire?



ghoststar
07-05-18, 05:34 PM
The majority of people seeking to address Angel’s relationships with other members of the Fanged Four, pre-1898, seems to fall into the camp of “Angel must have horribly abused his descendants, even after they were turned.” It’d be a stretch to say that this interpretation was outright wrong: Given that canon on the Fanged Four is often vague and sometimes contradictory, a wide variety of headcanons is plausible.

However, I don’t find Angel as a chronic abuser of his descendants, post-siring, to be the best-supported headcanon. I should add the caveat that Drusilla, at least, experiences some effects of her pre-siring torture for decades after the event, and, in that sense, she is still arguably being tortured (although, looking at Dru’s behavior, I think that his phrase “eternal torment” was an overstatement, since she seems more unstable than consistently miserable While she has her share of bad moments, she seems to have a lot of good ones as well, especially when she and Spike are operating independently of Angel). Further, vampires have a heightened degree of tolerance for violence in general, so I think that “abuse” has to be defined as something that either the vampire on its receiving end or most vampires in general would find disturbing, rather than something that most of us would. For example, if Spike is energized rather than distraught by the threatened staking in “Fool for Love,” and both Darla and Drusilla (a bona fide seer) expect it to stop short of actual danger, then it does not make sense to compare the situation to a human child shivering in genuine fear of a violent, unpredictable adult.

With that in mind, I don’t think that Angel was particularly a brutal sire by “normal” vampire standards. Consider:

Drusilla is an acknowledged exception, and no one cites horrors committed against her after her siring as examples of Angel’s sins. According to Angel himself (”Lie to Me”), Drusilla was "the worst” of his crimes. If he is telling the truth, then, by definition, that he did not do anything else as bad. Additionally, both he (in the same scene) and Drusilla, in “What’s My Line, Part 2,” limit their condemnations to acts performed before her turning, as well as to the forced siring itself. There’s no litany of transgressions he committed against her as a vampire. If we take Angel as canon, then Drusilla’s big post-siring complaint about him was that he didn’t pay her enough violent attention: “You won’t hurt me even a little bit” (”Darla”). We also know that Darla didn’t expect him to want a childe who had been tortured to insanity, as she considered it a good reason not to make Dru immortal (”Dear Boy”).

Angel expects Spike to trust him. Angel’s gambit in “School Hard” involves pretending to be his soulless self to gain Spike’s trust. Since Spike sees through the ruse, we cannot know for certain if Spike would have trusted what he believed to be Angelus; however, for Angel to expect Spike to do so, unless their relationship had been reasonably solid, would require Angel to be stupider than he generally appears. At minimum, Angel does not believe that he did anything, while soulless, that would have incurred Spike’s lasting hatred.

Spike is initially happy to see the de-cursed Angel. Spike (and I do mean Spike, not James Marsters) is not an especially good actor. He pulls off the unsubtle trickery of simply not standing up around Angel and Dru late in season 2, but that doesn’t require hiding his emotional state. Indeed, once Angel has given him new reasons to dislike him, he makes little effort to hide his resentment. Since Angel starts insulting him and wooing away Drusilla within a matter of hours “Innocence,” this comes out fairly quickly, but it isn’t Spike’s first reaction. In the first scene between soulless!Angel and Spike, Spike is smiling, laughing, and anticipating the benefits of his newly-strengthened team.

Drusilla wants Angelus back. Looking at BtVS’s second season, we might say that Drusilla is simply too insane to make this kind of choice, but that doesn’t apply when we take into account S5′s “Crush” and AtS’s second season. She’s able to make lucid plans both with and against W&H, to know the difference between talking to herself and talking to someone else, and to come up with a decent scheme to get rid of Buffy. I’m not saying that Drusilla thinks perfectly clearly with regard to Angel. If anything, she treats him kind of like a dour churchgoer treats God: Declaring love for its own sake while also ranting about the desperate need for Him. I do think her constant emotional need for him is a reflection of her time as a helpless refugee and captive-- she always sees him as the one thing mean enough to take care of whatever else she comes up against. But she has had a century away from Angel to recover from her old fear, and she doesn’t mention either expecting any specific future harm from him (as opposed to a general sense that he’ll involve her in evil business), so I don’t think she anticipates that he will do anything to her that’s worse than she can enjoy.

DeepBlueJoy
07-05-18, 07:04 PM
Dru wants Angelus back the way an abused child wants its parent back even though that parent isn't good for them or good to them. Broken people don't love wisely. Every abused spouse who takes back his/her abuser repeatedly proves this. And I believe a great deal of Stockholm Syndrome obtains where Dru is concerned. And being that she IS a demon after being turned, her demon is not rational. We don't know how she was treated after being vamped, but we see Angelus being capable of some very awful stuff to his progeny. I don't think we have any proof of good acts on his part because of Dru wanting him.

Now, Spike trusting Angel is less equivocal. But... you don't have to like or truly trust someone to see them as a fellow traveler/partner in crime. And Spike views him as a parental figure to some degree, so he's inclined to fall in line, at least initially. Spike would prefer cursed Angelus simply b/c Angel, the ensouled version wants to KILL all vampires. So Angelus, whether or not he adores him is better to have around than Angel.

And what we do see of Angelus? He's pretty mean to other demons. He's pretty darn awful to Spike, lording Spike's disability and his re-involvement with Dru over Spike. He abandons Darla when they end up in trouble, never giving thought to if she might die, something that actually horrifies the other two vampires they were traveling with Elizabeth and her lover James. Remember, they were evil!!

And of course, this is a big thing that cannot be ignored: he cruelly hunts and destroys Drusilla over the course of months, maybe years (it takes a while to go from a girl with family, to a novice nun almost ready to take her vows). He is sadism writ large. That behavior is reflected in his stalking of Buffy and friends, his treatment of Holtz' family, his nailing puppies to doors...

Even Angel is capable of some pretty ugly things. Suborning murder of lawyers. Abandoning his own crew and nearly getting them killed. Attempting to murder his former best friend after said best friend has just recovered from nearly having his throat ripped out. Wolfram and Hart.

My basic point is, we don't always have a lot of proof he's uniformly bad to other demons, but there's no evidence that he IS NOT and there IS evidence that he often is.

flow
07-05-18, 07:31 PM
I have only ever seen this topic being adressed in FanFiction and apart from bangel fanfic, there are indeed a thousand fanfics around, in which Angelus brutally tortures, rapes and abuses Drusilla and Spike and sometimes even Darla or sometimes Darla also abuses Spike and Drusilla.

There is nothing in canon, that indicates, something like that ever happened.

Yes, Angelus is an evil soulless vampire. Yes, he stalked Drusilla, while she was human and drove her into insanity. Yes, he makes love to Drusilla without caring, that Spike`s feelings might get hurt. But we never see Drusilla or Spike or Darla being afraid of him.

We never see any hints of physical abuse or psychological manipulation.

We see Angel and Spike enjoying themselves together in flashbacks. For example, the ride in the carriage after they crashed the wedding party. They are supporting each other when they are tied up together in the Immortal`s room of pain.

Drusilla is absolutely happy, when angel returns to her family and in later years, she actively tries to bring the family back together again. Spike only gets pissed off by Angel`s return, when Angel starts to sleep with Drusilla. He doen`t want to share her. But abuse? Honestly? I don`t see it.

flow

DeepBlueJoy
07-05-18, 08:10 PM
Agreed. The EVIDENCE OF rape and abuse within his group is pure fanon. I believe he and Spike clearly have rivalry as seen in destiny and antipathy in other situations, we are not given canon evidence of rape and abuse -- just ruthless self preservation (as seen by Elizabeth and James) and a generalized capacity for deep cruelty.

ghoststar
07-05-18, 11:01 PM
Dru wants Angelus back the way an abused child wants its parent back even though that parent isn't good for them or good to them. Broken people don't love wisely. Every abused spouse who takes back his/her abuser repeatedly proves this. And I believe a great deal of Stockholm Syndrome obtains where Dru is concerned. And being that she IS a demon after being turned, her demon is not rational. We don't know how she was treated after being vamped, but we see Angelus being capable of some very awful stuff to his progeny. I don't think we have any proof of good acts on his part because of Dru wanting him.

Now, Spike trusting Angel is less equivocal. But... you don't have to like or truly trust someone to see them as a fellow traveler/partner in crime. And Spike views him as a parental figure to some degree, so he's inclined to fall in line, at least initially. Spike would prefer cursed Angelus simply b/c Angel, the ensouled version wants to KILL all vampires. So Angelus, whether or not he adores him is better to have around than Angel.

And what we do see of Angelus? He's pretty mean to other demons. He's pretty darn awful to Spike, lording Spike's disability and his re-involvement with Dru over Spike. He abandons Darla when they end up in trouble, never giving thought to if she might die, something that actually horrifies the other two vampires they were traveling with Elizabeth and her lover James. Remember, they were evil!!

And of course, this is a big thing that cannot be ignored: he cruelly hunts and destroys Drusilla over the course of months, maybe years (it takes a while to go from a girl with family, to a novice nun almost ready to take her vows). He is sadism writ large. That behavior is reflected in his stalking of Buffy and friends, his treatment of Holtz' family, his nailing puppies to doors...

Even Angel is capable of some pretty ugly things. Suborning murder of lawyers. Abandoning his own crew and nearly getting them killed. Attempting to murder his former best friend after said best friend has just recovered from nearly having his throat ripped out. Wolfram and Hart.

My basic point is, we don't always have a lot of proof he's uniformly bad to other demons, but there's no evidence that he IS NOT and there IS evidence that he often is.

IMO, the ways in which he's awful to Spike and the speed with which Spike gets fed up with it actually support the idea that horrific abuse against Spike was not the norm. As you note, he sleeps with Spike's girlfriend and he makes fun of Spike's disabilities. Don't get me wrong, this is all bad, and I wish Spike had gotten in a couple more licks with that poker, but it's also... kind of mundane. Angel isn't, IDK, locking him up in the Anointed One's cage and making him beg for stale rat blood. And Spike quickly decides that the situation is so intolerable that he allies with the Slayer rather than endure any more of it. Sure, he dislikes the Acathla plan, but that's probably a side issue for Spike, considering how he was willing to go along with the Judge plan earlier in the season.

bespangled
14-05-18, 03:00 AM
Well, it's kinda hard to say but I would assume that by human standards Angelus was abusive as all hell. We know what he did to Dru when she was human, and that he turned her because he wanted her to suffer eternally. He created her in such a way that she craves pain, and wants him to hurt her, and I have no doubt that Angelus enjoys hurting her. Dru is the gift that keeps giving.

In human terms that is extraordinarily abusive. When he talked to Buffy he said that what he did to Dru is the worst thing he did - I assume that's because he kept her alive in some form for the sake of his own vanity, and because he enjoyed torture. This isn't to say that he didn't care for her deeply - it's just what demons do. Demons love to inflict pain - both physical and psychological. In order to keep his status in the family, Angelus had to be feared and respected. Angel told Gunn that Spike had won the fight for the first time, which means there were others, and we know how brutal that fight was when they were evenly matched. I assume the victor took the spoils - which was whatever Angelus wanted. I'm sure that included sex - willing or not - and we know that Spike loved the way Buffy made it hurt.

Here's the thing. These childer have to survive in the demon world. A vampire who didn't know how to kill and how to escape - how to torture and how to endure torture - was not gonna last long. As a sire you want to create boys and girls who will strike fear in other demons, and for good reason. A spot of rape and torture can do wonders in this area. Keep in mind that as demons they will heal quickly, and have far greater endurance. That alone would insure that demon games are more abusive than that of humans other than psychopaths The important thing is to use just enough torture to bend the childe, but not to break them. Penn was an early experiment gone wrong - a boring sycophant. Spike was an undying challenge which was what made him worth keeping around.

Part of the responsibility of a sire is to teach the childer their proper role

ANGEL Well, you're new... and a little dim. So let me explain to you how things are now. There's no belonging or deserving anymore. You can take what you want, have what you want... but nothing is yours. Translation - I am bigger and stronger, and I will take anything I want from you and you can't stop me. I have all the power and you have none. You can give in, or you can fight me.

The next time we see them together is in an underground mine where Spike is everything that Angelus doesn't like - slovenly, rude, loud, unafraid, and always challenging his authority. Spike won't be ruled - he is deliberately goading Angelus into a battle of wills right from the start. If Dru is the worst thing that Angelus did, then turning a gentle poet into a lower class thug was the worst thing to come out of his turning Dru. Spike enjoys goading Angel as much as Angel enjoys slapping him down. The trick is that Angelus can never actually win - he can't break Spike.

That makes Spike an asset in key ways. The family dynamic is all about power - but it's also about closing ranks if there is a credible threat to any of them. Darla has the Master to return to any time she wants. Angelus burned that bridge. Dru is unreliable. Spike loves a good fight - that is one thing that bonds Angelus and Spike together. Whatever torture games they might play with each other, when there is a challenge or a threat they come together and watch each others backs. They trust each other completely, and cover for each others weaknesses - fighting together as a pair.

We know that Spike still wrote poetry, and that that the great Angelus read and enjoyed Spike's poetry. We know they took off on their own at times. That Spike bragged about his sire. We know that Angelus taught Spike when to close ranks, to follow without question. So there was a real relationship outside of the power games.

Angel got a soul and abandoned them, and Darla went back to the Master. For an entire century Spike honed his craft, becoming the biggest bad ass possible. He took punishment, and came back laughing because nothing was worse than Angelus. Angelus taught him to be a monster, and I doubt it had anything to do with verbal lessons. Torture appears to have bored Spike, but enduring pain and never giving in remained central to his character to the very end. I strongly doubt William had that sort of endurance. From what we see of other vampires it doesn't come with the demon. It came from having Angelus as a sire.

Spike in the sub had no problem with Angel - he was fine with letting him take over. It's clear that he admired Angelus and expected the other vamps to know his sire and to fear him. In School Hard he is genuinely hurt, pissed off and feels betrayed by Angel's attempt to fool him. Then when Angelus returned he was happy to see him, and have him join with them. The problem was that he expected respect from Angel, wile Angel saw a weakened Spike unable to fight back for the first time, and he did what he promised. He demonstrated to Spike that nothing was his, that Angel could still take everything he wanted. He took great joy in destroying everything Spike had built up in 100 years.

Dru dumped Spike - I assume in part because Spike made a deal with the slayer to attack the family since he said she told him he wasn't demon enough for her. Spike got drunk and returned to Sunnydale to punish Angel. Angel responds by putting himself between Buffy and a stake - literally at one point.

Spike gets and loses the ring of Amara - he goes after Angel. He announces his presence with a 4x4, lead Angel on a wild goose chase until Angel shows up in the appointed place and at the appointed time. That part of the plan worked beautifully. Hell, the woman Spike was holding was a prop - he hadn't even bite her. He wanted to makes sure Angel followed him instead of staying to help her. He hired an expert to torture Angel.

Angel isn't outraged, shocked or even furiously angry at Spike. What does Angel do - he critiques Spike's reasoning. I love that!

Angel: “You’re an idiot, Spike.”
Spike: “You think? Because I’m not the one chained to the ceiling with hot pokers in my side,”
Angel: “You hired a vampire. What do you think he is going to do with the rings when he finds it, huh? Hand it over to you?”

Angel really is a ponce and Spike really is an idiot. Spike really can't see the big picture - Angel misses key details. They can both be willfully blind, and they can both see what the other is missing. They can push each others buttons because they installed those particular buttons.They know each other so well that within hours of arriving Spike had sussed out more about the situation the Wes, Fred, or Gunn had figured out.

SPIKE
I'm not the prat here. I know you, Angel. What do you think you're doing? Made some devil's bargain to take over this company. Thought you'd use it to fight the evil of the world from inside the belly of the beast. Trouble is you're too busy fighting to see you and yours are getting digested.

So - yes on torture - both physical and psychological. Yes on patching up the victim because if you need to move quickly, they have to be able to move. Yes on family, partners, frenemies with benefits, rivals. It's a demon thing - and after a century it's a Spike and Angel thing..

I've been thinking about this question since you posted it. Thank you! I had to figure out some stuff but what it comes down to is vampires aren't humans. I don't know that the concept of abuse would really even be part of the vampire's emotional lexicon. Torture is a way to even the score - rape is a way to dominate. But that doesn't make them enemies - it just makes them stronger and smarter.