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ghoststar
16-06-18, 02:16 AM
There's a lot of tension in the Buffyverse between the idea that the re-ensouled vampires are good (or at least not inherently evil), as believed by their friends, and the requirements of the desired narrative that they seek atonement for the sins they committed when they were inherently evil; (Ikeep the word "inherent" in mind, because it's going to show up a lot here). Unfortunately, nobody acknowledges that the two cannot both be true. If they were inherently evil beings when "they" committed their evil acts, then they cannot also be non-evil friends and allies who deserve protection from Slayers and insane vampire hunters, because no one can simply quit possessing a quality inherent to their nature. It would be a contradiction in terms.

The three possibilities of vampire nature are a) that they are not inherently evil to begin with; b) that they remain evil; and c) that the combination of a vampire and a human soul is someone else. While I would accept that a) is ambiguous when applied to vampires in general, I think we can reasonably discard it when applied to, say, Angelus, whose main focus in unlife was tormenting the innocent. The numerous instances of noble behavior by ensouled vampires renders b) absurd on its face. That leaves c): Soulless!Angel plus Liam does not equal either soulless!Angel or Liam, and soulless!Spike plus William does not equal either soulless!Spike or William. Although (for example) soulless!Angel did not die, he is now part of a compound entity with a personality of its own-- a personality which would not, in its right mind, do the bad things that soulless!Angel did. (It might do other bad things, under the right circumstances, but not the same ones.) Those things were not ensouled!Angel's choices (and, of course, soulless!Spike's behavior was not ensouled~Spike's).

It's understandable that the ensouled vampires, since they inherited the experiences of their soulless selves, feel a connection to "their" past acts. More baffling is the acceptance of other characters that the ensouled vampires are responsible for the choices of their soulless selves. Granted, it would take the aid of a powerful being to restore a vampire's soul, but that hardly makes it a calling from capital-G Good. The motivations of the Gypsy clan that cursed Angel were far from good, and it still worked. Willow is just a normal, flawed human, and she restores Angel's soul. Spike's ensoulment requires that he want it badly enough to endure several duels, not that prove he's destined to save the world.

Besides, even if some higher power granted their ensoulments, why would the ensouled vampires be required to work for them? They didn't (and, really, couldn't, since their compound selves only come into being once the ensoulment takes place) promise their labor in exchange for their souls. Once ensouled, Angel and Spike don't owe a debt to TPTB, or to whoever else was behind it. And not only can you not atone for crimes committed by someone else, how would fighting for TPTB constitute atonement for crimes committed against people who died decades ago and whose goals had nothing to do with the grand mission?

I always smell a rat when we hear about the ensouled vampires needing to atone for crimes that their current personalities would never commit, by doing things that have nothing to do with their victims. TPTB, the Slayer, etc., have a lot to gain from an atonement quest, and their hangers-on get to feel like they're part of a holy mission. I don't think that everybody who buys into the cult of atonement is lying: For example, post- S1, Buffy believes that she was Chosen to be a Slayer because of destiny, rather than because a metaphysical die showed her number. If she already believes in the basic concept of destiny,* it's unsurprising that she would credit that an ensouled vampire had whatever destiny someone claimed they did, which rather conveniently happens to involve making up for demonic wrongs by working for the great mass of humankind.

However, I do think that most of the characters are getting conned. Freshly-ensouled vampires, being new entities, are innocent by default, and even if they weren't, it's hard to see why they'd owe restitution to the PTB, the current Slayer (at least in Angel's case, since he didn't have any apparent contact with Slayers before being cursed), or the Watcher's Council, instead of to the descendants or pet causes of their victims. But they're also potentially useful, and the guilt of their memories makes them ripe for exploitation. Essentially, Whistler and the PTB cons them out of their services. For a good cause, most of the time, but still-- conning people into donating to a charity would still be a con, and I don't see any reason to apply different standards to the powers of the Buffyverse.



* Buffy has a tortured relationship with her destiny; nonetheless, the belief that she must fulfill, even as a contrast with her other desires, defines her character. Provided they were smarter than your average Initiative recruit, a small team of fighters should be able to have as much impact as the Slayer: Her abilities aren't that far beyond the human range. Yet she falls back on her identity as the Slayer repeatedly when explaining why she-- and only she-- has to face a given foe. The questions of why she believes so fervently in her destiny and whether or not she has a genuine moral obligation to fulfill it are worth asking, but beyond the scope of this post.

Stoney
16-06-18, 04:47 AM
I agree with you it isn't a) or b) and that they are distinct but that the narrative has them feel a connection to who they were in great part because they have the memories. But I think they feel the connection a little more strongly than just that because they also have the demon still within them that enjoyed/chose to commit those acts too, they feel the drives for blood and violence still and battle those urges and because the unsouled version of them has continuity of character (they are tied somewhat by the same motivations). So it's all greatly about them feeling that connection as a meaningful one and there being that part still within them. It must be tough as hell seeing the most brutal horrible version of yourself and what you could do if you lost all morals/restraints and remembering liking it whilst you feel sick about what you remember doing too. But yes, as a blunt truth they are distinct versions that wouldn't have committed those same crimes, but they aren't completely separate either. To be honest I think that they are treated as distinct by the other characters and the narrative too in the main. Yes there is that sense of connection still, but there is also a clear belief of meaningful separation.

So do they need to redeem themselves? Not really, but I can still understand why they feel it and I can see that they would want to very actively be people that are making choices for the greater good when the demon is still within them. It also makes some sense that Angel very specifically, as he didn't seek his soul and with his upbringing, would have this greater focus on his past and the idea of redemption too (in contrast to how Spike tends to focus forward to what he can do rather than back). So really it is about why they feel the need for redemption. If they do or if they are made to. I suppose because they do still have that demon within them and the memories make them feel the connection and if you can feel the same drives within you, even if you'd never make the same choices personally, and you have those memories of committing the acts, that you'd feel very strongly about the choices that you're making now. That does make sense, even if they don't strictly speaking have reason to feel the guilt they do as they person they are now wouldn't have done it.

No they don't need to atone for what they did that they personally, as the being they now are, would never have done, but they are still connected. So I think that sense of a link to who they were, the strength of it, is something they understandably feel. So perhaps the issue is whether the choice to fight for the greater good is really expected of them because of what their past unsouled selves did. Are they really expected to redeem themselves or do they simply feel the connection and want to choose to do that and the other characters understand that drive? Obviously Angel was put on a path by Whistler. But wasn't it primarily a point about making something of his life, of himself? That he was brought back by the powers and has that sense of destiny that Buffy does has a feeling of expectation to it for sure. But it is all still left for him to choose his way. Really both vamps are just making as much an individual choice to fight and put themselves on the line for the greater good as any of the group do. They've seen the worst of themselves, they feel that link and fight some of those drives still, and so I think their choice to redeem themselves from that is in line with the show's overall message about being the best person you can be.

bespangled
16-06-18, 05:05 AM
You've said that an ensouled vampire is a compound entity. I agree. This mean that the demon is still part of the vampire. Ensouled Angel dream shared Penn stalking victims, enjoying their fear, marking them, and killing them. He was specific about those dream being enjoyable. He is still a demon, and he is clearly still Angelus. He can and does stalk, manipulate, charm and destroy people - he simply has different targets now. He doesn't torture and he doesn't feed - and he tries to figure out humans. The soul does not make the demon disappear - it simply gave Angel the option of redirecting its energies.

Once he was souled, Angelus spent an entire century either brooding and sullen, or partying with the biggest movie stars of the time. He tried to outrun the memories. Buffy was the only thing that got him motivated to lift a finger to help anyone. When he left her, he had a new idea of what he could do with his unlife. The idea of redemption came from the shanshu - and I hate that there is a prize at the end of the impossible journey.

I'm with Spike on this. Having a soul doesn't bring back to life any of the people that they tortured and killed. The past cannot be washed clean. They are both guilty because the demon who did this is still part of who they are.

BUFFY
It's not your fault. You're not the one doing this.

SPIKE
I already did it. It's already done.

You can't unmurder someone. You can't rid yourself of your past.

That's why Angel never tried to stake either Spike or Dru, and only staked Darla to save Buffy's life. The soul knew that they were feeding, and killing. But the demon knew that they were family, and the demon won out. Angel knows he turned Drusilla to make her torment eternal. If that's the case, then when his soul is restored he knows that dusting Dru would be a mercy. But he never even attempted that mercy. The demon's attachment was too strong for the compound entity to dust her.

Drusilla: My Angel!

Angel: Hello, Drusilla.

Drusilla: (slowly approaches) Do you remember the song mummy used to
sing me? Pretty.

Angel: I remember.

Drusilla: (senses) Yes, you do.

Angel: Drusilla, leave here. I'm offering you that chance. Take Spike
and get out.

Drusilla: Or you'll hurt me?

Angel looks down at the ground.

Drusilla: (senses) No. No, you can't. Not anymore.

Angel: If you don't leave it'll go badly. For all of us.

Drusilla: My dear boy's gone all away, hasn't he? To her.

Angel: Who?

Drusilla: The girl. The Slayer. Your heart stinks of her. (puts her hand on his chest) Poor
little thing. (cut to Buffy) She has no idea what's in store.

Angel: This can't go on, Drusilla. It's gotta end.

She tilts her head and reaches up for a kiss.

Drusilla: Oh, no, my pet. This is just the beginning.

She pulls away without kissing and gives him an evil smile. She keeps
her head turned to him as she slowly walks away.

We know this isn't coincidence - Angel was watching for Dru to leave Spike and go hunt on her own. Angel knows she is killing children in Sunnydale, and he does nothing to stop her. This is the weakness of Liam that he spoke of in Amends and the strength of Angelus Souled Angel barely threatens Dru. He actually protects Spike from being staked multiple times. The demon has as much influence on this compound being as the soul does. Since the demon wasn't erased from existence, then the compound being has as much responsibility for all the death and horror as the demon alone.

vampmogs
16-06-18, 07:01 AM
The Shanshu didn't factor into Angel's atonement until a year after leaving Buffy. Angel spent his first year in LA fighting evil before they even came across the prophecy. He spent 3 months fighting evil before even meeting Doyle or learning of the Powers That Be.

I don't see a fundamental difference between Angel and Spike and how they think of atonement or their past crimes - at least not anymore. In Damages Spike comes around to Angel's way of thinking after his confrontation with Dana made him re-evaluate his outlook on his past/atonement.

bespangled
16-06-18, 09:39 AM
The Shanshu didn't factor into Angel's atonement until a year after leaving Buffy. Angel spent his first year in LA fighting evil before they even came across the prophecy. He spent 3 months fighting evil before even meeting Doyle or learning of the Powers That Be.

I don't see a fundamental difference between Angel and Spike and how they think of atonement or their past crimes - at least not anymore. In Damages Spike comes around to Angel's way of thinking after his confrontation with Dana made him re-evaluate his outlook on his past/atonement.

I see a lot of fundamental differences - but I don't think it makes one vampire better than the other. They are just very different beings at different stages of their development.

@ghoststar @stoney
As for no longer being responsible the best example I can see is suppose you family was murdered. Later on the killers get religion. Does the fact that they would no longer kill mean they are no longer responsible for the death of your family? Is it okay for them to stop feeling any responsibility?

What about the lawyers Angel locked in with Dru an Darla? I'm sure some of them had children, had spouses, parents, siblings. How can a souled vampire you believe will never kill again be trusted after this?

Stoney
16-06-18, 10:32 AM
I take your point about Dana vampmogs, but I still think Spike can tend to avoid looking back, or not focus on it, even if what he is going to do is informed by where he has come from more than he openly shows. In contrast Angel responds with guilt and a focus and reference on what he did unsouled and making amends for it. It's just in a way that Spike doesn't tend to. I think they have both been at very different stages, you could argue still are, but they are on their own journeys. Neither are 'better' they are just different personalities and although a lot of what they face is the same they have different coping mechanisms, different ways of looking at what they are doing and what they can do and ways that they think of it the same too.


@ghoststar @stoney
As for no longer being responsible the best example I can see is suppose you family was murdered. Later on the killers get religion. Does the fact that they would no longer kill mean they are no longer responsible for the death of your family? Is it okay for them to stop feeling any responsibility?

It isn't something that has a real world equivalent because of the supernatural circumstances of the soul and the fact that it inherently changes them and makes them distinctly different in a meaningful way. It would be like someone imagining committing a crime in anger they had no intention of doing but committing it while they were unconscious perhaps. It really doesn't transpose. But I don't see it as separating them completely either because as I said the demon remains within them that choose to do those things, they have the memories of doing it, enjoying it, and those same drives are still within them. But when they are souled the demon is restricted, or controlled perhaps, by the soul. The Archaeus arc in S10 showed even more clearly that the soul needs to be overridden for the demonic drives to take over beyond their deliberate choices. The soul doesn't remove those drives, or the option to act on them even when souled, but what it brings meaningfully changes their moral and emotional capacities which informs the choices they make. As I said, I don't think they, as they are when souled, should atone for crimes that they would never have committed, but I totally understand why they still feel very connected to those acts and why they want to, and why they would want to make very clear open choices about who they want to be after seeing/feeling/experiencing that version of themselves.


What about the lawyers Angel locked in with Dru an Darla? I'm sure some of them had children, had spouses, parents, siblings. How can a souled vampire you believe will never kill again be trusted after this?

The situation doesn't change from say the one Faith is in, or any other of the characters after they've done something wrong. And Angel has done a lot of very questionable things souled and Spike tortured that Dr in AtS 5 too. They are as capable of making bad/wrong decisions as humans are and should still be responsible for those choices and how they react to those situations afterwards matters. When Angel talked to Faith about the choice ahead of her in BtVS it was that element of capability to choose that differentiated the situation she was in from the killer he had been. They are always in that same situation when souled and able to appreciate the moral/emotional aspects of their decisions on a different level. How many chances people get and why/how/whether you keep trusting them is going to be individual and affected by the circumstances and responses to it.

vampmogs
16-06-18, 10:58 AM
The situation doesn't change from say the one Faith is in, or any other of the characters after they've done something wrong.

I agree. The fact that an ensouled vampire did something wrong should in no way mean that we should indiscriminately distrust all souled vampires anymore than Faith doing something wrong means that we should distrust all people. With a soul, Angel is still capable of doing immoral things, but so are humans.

I also agree that there's really no perfect real world equivalent for the soul issue. Comparing it to someone finding religion doesn't work for me. The soul isn't a lifestyle change or a dogma that someone started believing in, it imbues the vampire with a spark of humanity or a moral compass that was taken from them when sired. It not only allows them to feel remorse but it alters their perception of the world (what they find funny, what upsets them, what causes them to feel compassion, what doesn't etc). As I've said before, soulless Spike found pictures of starving people funny, ensouled Spike talked about the injustice of the world ignoring all the starving people in it. There's nothing in the series to suggest that soulless Spike's perception of starving people evolved before he got his soul. That compassion he feels was switched on when he had a soul put in him. It altered him on a fundamental level. Sure, not all humans with a soul feel compassion for starving people, but they have the capacity to. It was in Spike's nature pre-soul to find the pain of others amusing.

I agree that there's a limit to how responsible Angel or Spike can be for the crimes they committed whilst soulless. They didn't (knowingly) choose to become monsters and when they did their goodness was stripped from them and they were altered into evil creatures. Once that soul is returned to them it is clear that neither of them would choose to behave that way. I think, for the most part, the characters all see that too which is why they're able to stomach being in the same room as them after all the horrible things they've done. But I understand that with all the memories of the things they've done and with the demonic impulses innate in them to still feel pleasure at doing bad things (like Angel enjoying his dreams of him and Darla terrorising people) the need to seek atonement. I think it speaks highly of them that, soul or not, they recognise it was them that did so much evil and carnage in the world and now they want to try and make up for that by doing good and helping people.

TriBel
16-06-18, 12:11 PM
I avoid getting embroiled in this sort of conversation - partly because I don't remember plot so have problems pulling examples out of the show; partly because I don't fully understand the idea of "inherently evil" and partly because it's all devolved down to holding individuals (demon or human) to account.

"It is estimated that during the initial Spanish conquest of the Americas up to eight million indigenous people died marking the first large-scale act of genocide of the modern era".

"As detailed in American Philosophy: From Wounded Knee to the Present, "It is also apparent that the shared history of the hemisphere is one framed by the dual tragedies of genocide and slavery, both of which are part of the legacy of the European invasions of the past 500 years. Indigenous people north and south were displaced, died of disease, and were killed by Europeans through slavery, rape and war. In 1491, about 145 million people lived in the western hemisphere. By 1691, the population of indigenous Americans had declined by 90-95 percent, or by around 130 million people."

"Genocide and discrimination has a severely negative impact on the indigenous peoples. The number of Australian Aborigines declined by 84% after British colonization.[114] The Maori population of New Zealand suffered a 57% drop from its highest point.[115] In Canada, the indigenous first nations population of British Columbia decreased by 75%".

Between 1824 and 1908 White settlers and Native Mounted Police in Queensland, according to Raymond Evans, killed more than 10,000 Aborigines, who were regarded as vermin and sometimes even hunted for sport...Of an estimated population in 1788 of over half a million, fewer than 50,000 Australian Aborigines survived by 1900.

Given the number of people purposefully or inadvertently killed in the name of capitalism, territorial expansion, and nation by apparently ensouled people, I'm inclined to take my chances with the demons. :cutecry:

GhostStar:
Buffy has a tortured relationship with her destiny; nonetheless, the belief that she must fulfill, even as a contrast with her other desires, defines her character. Provided they were smarter than your average Initiative recruit, a small team of fighters should be able to have as much impact as the Slayer: Her abilities aren't that far beyond the human range. Yet she falls back on her identity as the Slayer repeatedly when explaining why she-- and only she-- has to face a given foe. The questions of why she believes so fervently in her destiny and whether or not she has a genuine moral obligation to fulfill it are worth asking, but beyond the scope of this post.

Can I throw "manifest destiny" (in what ever form it takes) into the mix please?

ghoststar
16-06-18, 05:34 PM
You've said that an ensouled vampire is a compound entity. I agree. This mean that the demon is still part of the vampire. Ensouled Angel dream shared Penn stalking victims, enjoying their fear, marking them, and killing them. He was specific about those dream being enjoyable. He is still a demon, and he is clearly still Angelus. He can and does stalk, manipulate, charm and destroy people - he simply has different targets now. He doesn't torture and he doesn't feed - and he tries to figure out humans. The soul does not make the demon disappear - it simply gave Angel the option of redirecting its energies.


I don't think that "the demon wasn't erased from existence" is quite the same as "the demon-person still exists." A lichen is made of both a fungus and an alga, but to say that it is a fungus and an alga would not exactly describe the lichen. It functions as something new. Likewise, souled!Angel is made from a human and a demon, but "human and a demon" does not describe him. He has conflicting urges, not two individuals inside; it takes powerful magic to separate his human and demon souls. If he has a human soul, and there are not two individuals, then the entity known as Angelus does not "live" anymore, and cannot have ongoing responsibility for anything. Continuity of experience =/= continuity of nature.

This is, in fact, one of the things I find interesting about Spike's quest at the end of season 6. Essentially, the Spike we know throws himself on a pyre and hopes the smoke is a more acceptable offering than he is. It's one of those extreme choices that would only be believable from a few characters in fiction.

- - - Updated - - -


I avoid getting embroiled in this sort of conversation - partly because I don't remember plot so have problems pulling examples out of the show; partly because I don't fully understand the idea of "inherently evil" and partly because it's all devolved down to holding individuals (demon or human) to account.

"It is estimated that during the initial Spanish conquest of the Americas up to eight million indigenous people died marking the first large-scale act of genocide of the modern era".

"As detailed in American Philosophy: From Wounded Knee to the Present, "It is also apparent that the shared history of the hemisphere is one framed by the dual tragedies of genocide and slavery, both of which are part of the legacy of the European invasions of the past 500 years. Indigenous people north and south were displaced, died of disease, and were killed by Europeans through slavery, rape and war. In 1491, about 145 million people lived in the western hemisphere. By 1691, the population of indigenous Americans had declined by 90-95 percent, or by around 130 million people."

"Genocide and discrimination has a severely negative impact on the indigenous peoples. The number of Australian Aborigines declined by 84% after British colonization.[114] The Maori population of New Zealand suffered a 57% drop from its highest point.[115] In Canada, the indigenous first nations population of British Columbia decreased by 75%".

Between 1824 and 1908 White settlers and Native Mounted Police in Queensland, according to Raymond Evans, killed more than 10,000 Aborigines, who were regarded as vermin and sometimes even hunted for sport...Of an estimated population in 1788 of over half a million, fewer than 50,000 Australian Aborigines survived by 1900.

Given the number of people purposefully or inadvertently killed in the name of capitalism, territorial expansion, and nation by apparently ensouled people, I'm inclined to take my chances with the demons. :cutecry:

GhostStar:

Can I throw "manifest destiny" (in what ever form it takes) into the mix please?

Well, as I said, I think canon is ambiguous on whether all vampires that lack human souls are inherently (meaning, it's fundamental to their nature) evil. I think that some are. Maybe the demon soul "mutates" from generation to generation. Maybe it's malleable enough to take an imprint from the human brain. Maybe they're just diverse people who are a notch higher on the food chain, and humans zero in on the nasty ones. We have vampires who are capable of compassion, at least in limited contexts, and others who can't seem to focus on anything except creating as much misery as possible.

I agree that it's a mistake to assume that humanity equals goodness, but it would also be a mistake to assume that the specific souls returned to Angel and Spike can't make them better, particularly if their outside influences (friends, overall culture, etc.) encourage them to make better decisions. The instinct to be a part of humanity means following the examples of some humans; depending on which examples they follow, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. A vampire who was an associate of, say, Kim Jong Un might wind up being more dangerous after regaining their soul, if it meant they now identified more strongly with the humans they knew.

And, yes, humans as a species are hella nasty. From slaughtering one another en masse to enslaving any other species that we could handle to being well on our way to destroying the planet, we've ticked off pretty much every box in the "Evil Beings" column. The biggest difference would probably be that the vampires don't mostly seem to care if what they do is evil or not, whereas humans feel the urge come up with (inadequate) justifications for their misdeeds. Not that those justifications help much directly, but sometimes, when we realize that we can't justify our acts, we do change them.

Sometimes. Occasionally. A few of us.

a thing of evil
16-06-18, 08:14 PM
Do Angel and Spike fight evil to atone? Or do they do it because it's fun? Deep down, beneath the beneath etc? They're ensouled, big champions, heroes and whatnot, not trying to take that away from them but also, they're demons. And demons, in general, like to fight, no?

HardlyThere
16-06-18, 10:23 PM
Do Angel and Spike fight evil to atone? Or do they do it because it's fun? Deep down, beneath the beneath etc? They're ensouled, big champions, heroes and whatnot, not trying to take that away from them but also, they're demons. And demons, in general, like to fight, no?

Clem didn't seem like much a fighter. Or Merl or Lorne. Not all vamps seem to be fighters, either. Dru and Darla don't get into fights. Nor Harmony. They do if they have to, of course.

I think they try to help for the same reason the Scoobies do. They are good people who have the capacity to help. This doesn't preclude any of them having a dark side or vindictive streak in them. Both souled Angel and Spike can be dicks, but they are deep down trying to do the right thing. They both like to fight, but that's not their motivation, I don't think. Just a way to get your jollies while working.

bespangled
17-06-18, 06:47 AM
It isn't something that has a real world equivalent because of the supernatural circumstances of the soul and the fact that it inherently changes them and makes them distinctly different in a meaningful way. It would be like someone imagining committing a crime in anger they had no intention of doing but committing it while they were unconscious perhaps. It really doesn't transpose. But I don't see it as separating them completely either because as I said the demon remains within them that choose to do those things, they have the memories of doing it, enjoying it, and those same drives are still within them. But when they are souled the demon is restricted, or controlled perhaps, by the soul. The Archaeus arc in S10 showed even more clearly that the soul needs to be overridden for the demonic drives to take over beyond their deliberate choices. The soul doesn't remove those drives, or the option to act on them even when souled, but what it brings meaningfully changes their moral and emotional capacities which informs the choices they make. As I said, I don't think they, as they are when souled, should atone for crimes that they would never have committed, but I totally understand why they still feel very connected to those acts and why they want to, and why they would want to make very clear open choices about who they want to be after seeing/feeling/experiencing that version of themselves.


No, there are real world equivalents or these characters would not be relatable in any way. They are metaphors for specific types of humans. In the case of Angel, he is a mass murderer who has found God - quite literally in this metaphor. The idea posed in the OP is that since being ensouled the vampire is no longer responsible for the things they did in the past. I disagree. I would also say that it's not a,b, and/or c with a sample of 2. Darla, when she was sharing Connor's soul, wanted to eat small children. I'm thinking vampires are innately evil, but souled vampires have more options.

In the episode Amends we see the First appearing as a modernly dressed victim that Angel had killed only months before.
Businessman: The thing I remember most was thinking how artful it was. In the dark, they looked just like they were sleeping. It wasn't until I bent down and kissed them good night that I felt how cold they were. You grabbed me, and I thought, (faces Angel) who would go to so much trouble to arrange them like that?

If this were your family, would the fact that Angel wouldn't kill your family again when his soul is restored mean anything to you? If Angel is not responsible do we count this as a natural occurrence - struck by lightning which has no responsibility? By deciding that the murder of this family is negligible, we decide that evil actions are negotiable. Angel is right to hold himself responsible because the demon is an active part of his inner being still capable of affecting his actions.

The perfect example is Angel's choice in Redefinition to murder lawyers - to lock them into a fallout shelter and allow Dru and Darla to kill them. This is clearly a decision where Angelus overruled Liam. It was Angelus W&H was trying to empower, and they succeeded. Had Dru and Darla been random vampires there is no way Liam would have been overpowered or would have backed away. These people had children, siblings, parents - they may have worked for W&H, but not everyone who worked there was evil enough to deserve an ugly death. Angelus - or the urges one would call demonic in a vampire that doesn't have a soul - is pretty much in charge here.

Angelus is not housebroken, and he never was. The soul is as much a leash as the chip was for Spike. The only difference is that a soul comes with a new set of perceptions and free will. It can be argued in fact that Angel - who allowed at least two mass murders on his watch is actually more culpable than Angelus. Vampires without souls have fewer options and less free will, IMO.



The situation doesn't change from say the one Faith is in, or any other of the characters after they've done something wrong. And Angel has done a lot of very questionable things souled and Spike tortured that Dr in AtS 5 too. They are as capable of making bad/wrong decisions as humans are and should still be responsible for those choices and how they react to those situations afterwards matters. When Angel talked to Faith about the choice ahead of her in BtVS it was that element of capability to choose that differentiated the situation she was in from the killer he had been. They are always in that same situation when souled and able to appreciate the moral/emotional aspects of their decisions on a different level. How many chances people get and why/how/whether you keep trusting them is going to be individual and affected by the circumstances and responses to it.

No, Faith killed 3 people - one by accident. That broke her. Angel killed at least 15 people in that room, and didn't blink an eye. It never bothered him - he never even tried to find the families let alone make reparation. That demon is part of him. He is still inherently evil. That's what makes the thin line he walks interesting. Angel can be as dangerous as Angelus at times.


I don't think that "the demon wasn't erased from existence" is quite the same as "the demon-person still exists." A lichen is made of both a fungus and an alga, but to say that it is a fungus and an alga would not exactly describe the lichen. It functions as something new. Likewise, souled!Angel is made from a human and a demon, but "human and a demon" does not describe him. He has conflicting urges, not two individuals inside; it takes powerful magic to separate his human and demon souls. If he has a human soul, and there are not two individuals, then the entity known as Angelus does not "live" anymore, and cannot have ongoing responsibility for anything. Continuity of experience =/= continuity of nature.

Thanks for the interesting facts about lichen and algae. I remember this from my teaching days. Yeah - he has conflicting urges - which are shown as separate entities in Orpheus. At least in Angel's mind this is his reality. Since lichen aren't self aware and Angel is, I'm going with him on this


This is, in fact, one of the things I find interesting about Spike's quest at the end of season 6. Essentially, the Spike we know throws himself on a pyre and hopes the smoke is a more acceptable offering than he is. It's one of those extreme choices that would only be believable from a few characters in fiction.

Yeah - he's a good argument for nature over nurture. William the Romantic Poet - the Byronic drama queen. He has to make the grand gesture - he has to pump it up higher and bigger. He makes the biggest sacrifice because he's willing to gamble. He's willing to cease to exist if he can't find the answer to his turmoil. He ends up doing both in a way.



And, yes, humans as a species are hella nasty. From slaughtering one another en masse to enslaving any other species that we could handle to being well on our way to destroying the planet, we've ticked off pretty much every box in the "Evil Beings" column. The biggest difference would probably be that the vampires don't mostly seem to care if what they do is evil or not, whereas humans feel the urge come up with (inadequate) justifications for their misdeeds. Not that those justifications help much directly, but sometimes, when we realize that we can't justify our acts, we do change them.

I think that, in a nutshell, is our two souled vamps!


Do Angel and Spike fight evil to atone? Or do they do it because it's fun? Deep down, beneath the beneath etc? They're ensouled, big champions, heroes and whatnot, not trying to take that away from them but also, they're demons. And demons, in general, like to fight, no?

Vampires seem to, at least. We know Spike does - kinda obvious in season 5 when he thinks he has a destiny.

Stoney
17-06-18, 10:41 AM
No, there are real world equivalents or these characters would not be relatable in any way. They are metaphors for specific types of humans. In the case of Angel, he is a mass murderer who has found God - quite literally in this metaphor. The idea posed in the OP is that since being ensouled the vampire is no longer responsible for the things they did in the past. I disagree. I would also say that it's not a,b, and/or c with a sample of 2. Darla, when she was sharing Connor's soul, wanted to eat small children. I'm thinking vampires are innately evil, but souled vampires have more options.

I agree that they can be used metaphorically but that doesn't mean that all aspects are directly transposable. The difference of the soul is more distinct in verse than someone just getting a changing perspective. There is a conscience that is added as a suddenly gained switch. They didn't have it and now they do and it significantly changes who they are. So it is an inclusion that alters them and the absence of it before allowed for actions/choices that the ensouled 'them' wouldn't have chosen to do. That they could choose to do the same things and can choose to do other bad things doesn't mean that they are the exact same person just with more options. How they look at things, how they feel about things changes. There is a meaningful and significant change by adding the soul. The only real world equivalent to that would perhaps be someone who is severely mentally impaired and disconnected, is psychotic, and then took a miracle instantly affecting drug that suppresses all their darker out of control behaviours and stabilises them maybe. The soul changing them in a meaningful way doesn't prevent Angel metaphorically being a mass murderer that has found God, it is just representative and something that can be considered, understood, compared. It doesn't have to relate perfectly on every level and how the soul is used in verse isn't like they just came to understand and look on things differently. It is that there was a literal physical limitation of capability before that is suddenly changed by an addition.

This doesn't remove the connection to their pasts, the ongoing one of the demon/memories/motivations that link them to the darker/unsouled version of them. I'll say again, I do understand their feeling of connection and why they want to redeem themselves and dedicate themselves to fighting for the greater good, but at the same time I also understand how they are meaningfully separate from the people they were when they did those things too. I don't think they are responsible for the literal things they did in the past because who they are now they would never have done them and who they are now they couldn't have been without the addition of something that was physically taken from them. It isn't like they had the capacities to see/understand the choice differently when unsouled. They totally lacked that ability without something being returned to them that they couldn't just 'turn back on' themselves by choice. This is why Spike fails to walk the line and be what Buffy needs despite desperately wanting to and believing he could. But I understand why the links and connections to who they were are very strong and literal - their memories, their actions, their demon and their motivations (albeit warped by the demon). But nothing can change that they wouldn't have taken those choices ensouled. Just because they would be physically able to do those things if they chose still doesn't mean the fact that they weren't in the position to choose not to the same way who they are now can, that isn't irrelevant or insignificant.

I would agree that vampires are innately evil, unsouled. When they choose to comply or ally themselves it is because it suits them to do so. They aren't reliable and they are driven by urges for violence and blood. The verse consistently supports that the group should always be wary of unsouled vampires and not trust them fully and most importantly, for me, Spike and Angel agree and they see a line between themselves and unsouled vampires. As the only ones that have experienced both states, their takes are important. And they both do feel connected. They do feel that it was 'them' that did those things and I understand that. But they also speak about themselves as distinct and separate too and being souled as being a different state of being. Something that is more literal with the inclusion of a soul as used in verse than a transposable real life equivalent. The strength of connection, the character continuity can't be and shouldn't be ignored imo, but neither should the fact that they are inherently changed and distinct too. That it is complex makes it fascinating.


By deciding that the murder of this family is negligible, we decide that evil actions are negotiable. Angel is right to hold himself responsible because the demon is an active part of his inner being still capable of affecting his actions.

I agree that the demon is part of him still and I've said that all along as to why I totally understand why they feel the connection they do and behave in response to their pasts the way that they do. But it isn't dismissing the deaths of those people to also acknowledge that the person Angel had been is meaningfully changed in a literal way too. The demon still contributes to who they are but the soul dominates it. They can choose to give in to their darker urges and ignore their conscience the same as anyone else when souled and those darker drives as there is a literal demon inclusion in them are no doubt tougher/stronger than most people face, but they are still distinct from who they were too.


The perfect example is Angel's choice in Redefinition to murder lawyers - to lock them into a fallout shelter and allow Dru and Darla to kill them. This is clearly a decision where Angelus overruled Liam. It was Angelus W&H was trying to empower, and they succeeded. Had Dru and Darla been random vampires there is no way Liam would have been overpowered or would have backed away. These people had children, siblings, parents - they may have worked for W&H, but not everyone who worked there was evil enough to deserve an ugly death. Angelus - or the urges one would call demonic in a vampire that doesn't have a soul - is pretty much in charge here.

Angelus is not housebroken, and he never was. The soul is as much a leash as the chip was for Spike. The only difference is that a soul comes with a new set of perceptions and free will. It can be argued in fact that Angel - who allowed at least two mass murders on his watch is actually more culpable than Angelus. Vampires without souls have fewer options and less free will, IMO.

I don't agree that 'Angelus' overruled 'Liam'. I don't think that he is split like that. I'm sure that he thinks of things in terms of separate sides of himself, and it makes sense that he would process it and cope with the differing influences in him by looking at it like this internally, but these different factors within him are just part of the whole being that he is. He is a complete amalgamation of the contributions within him and at some points he has let the darker side of him win in influencing his decisions. But Angel is in charge of that choice because Angel is a complete being.

I do think, and have argued elsewhere, that you can certainly question the choice to do bad things made by a human who has full moral and emotional capacities to choose (as Angel put it to Faith) is 'worse' than an unsouled vampire committing the same acts without that capacity for understanding and a deeper layering of choice to it. So I agree that vampires without souls have fewer options and the choices Angel makes which are wrong when he is souled are in some ways darker for it. There is an awful lot that we agree on mixed up in all this and where we don't it seems to be points around the mythology.


No, Faith killed 3 people - one by accident. That broke her. Angel killed at least 15 people in that room, and didn't blink an eye. It never bothered him - he never even tried to find the families let alone make reparation. That demon is part of him. He is still inherently evil. That's what makes the thin line he walks interesting. Angel can be as dangerous as Angelus at times.

This I think is where we separate on the mythology, in how we see the addition of the soul. At the moment that Angel shut that door, no he didn't blink. Faith took the choice to kill deliberately too and was capable of being callous and carefree about it for a time as well. I believe Spike and Angel have a darker side in them that is even more readily able to take these acts and feel comfortable with them, there is that demonic addition still and it does have an influence on who they are, it is important in understanding them. But they are as able to choose to not take that choice once souled as Faith was, but not when they are unsouled. Of course Angel can be as dangerous souled as he is unsouled, but he can choose to not succumb to those desires/urges when souled in a way he just can't when unsouled. It doesn't mean he will though. I agree that the choices he makes and the different urges within him that contrast, how he struggles with it all is what makes him interesting. And yes, the demonic side is evil and part of who he is, but I don't think when souled the vampires are still inherently evil. The soul for me makes them different. There is still the connection and the demon etc and it is a very important part of who they are, but they are also inherently changed and the most significant part of that is that they aren't inherently evil any longer as that side doesn't dominate them or restrict them any more.

I honestly think we've hit our agree to disagree point as we both seem very comfortable and firm in our readings of how this works for the ensouled vamps and those interpretations just differ. :)