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The growth of Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn in Angel

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  • The growth of Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn in Angel

    Briefly looking at some of the episodes in Angel Season Two, I noticed that there's a huge jump in terms of characterizations of Angel's team after he quits to chase after Darla.

    I was thinking about how the characters grew stronger in Angel's absence - which makes perfect sense to me because he was a dominating force when running the agency. Once left to their own devices, they interestingly take on aspects of Angel to fill the void. Cordelia becomes less self-centered, Wesley more assertive and Gunn more trusting. I've always loved their song at Caritas together.

    When Angel returns, he's surprised to see that they've already begun to change from the team he once knew - which is all to the better. In fact, it's the opposite trajectory of Lindsay and Kate, who both seem rather despairing of life.

    I think it's interesting that Angel has to humble himself before his old crew - who in many ways is a new crew. So much of Angel Season Two is about this kind of opening up of discovery by characters who find hidden depths (or depravity) they didn't really know existed. It's uncomfortable and strange to flip the premise of the show on its head and make Angel the antagonist of the group who pushes them away and then comes back with head in hand after his disastrous tryst with Darla.
    However, I've always thought that even though Angel feels uneasy about his place in the new hierarchy that he's secretly proud of their growth. What do you think?

  • #2
    I'd agree Angel is somewhat surprised by them and that it works alongside how he negatively surprised himself for that to be the positive change he sees in comparison. And although I do think that he's genuine when he talks of going to work for them, it was never going to work out that way long term because he is very authoritative and follows his gut so often. A more traditional watcher/slayer dynamic for example was never going to work and really they just needed to gain trust as a group again after the split. But him no longer being the boss was a better premise to regroup than him just taking charge again, so it was needed, even if, as you say, Angel was obviously uneasy initially.

    I do think the way the group managed and reformed means there is a flatter hierarchy in some ways too. Possibly just through a little more respect and appreciation for them as independently capable, having seen them do it. But I think Angel still ultimately felt that the buck stopped with him. Although, having said that, he possibly felt less responsible for the others maybe even less accountable to them after they both operated separately. All of which may have paved into his choice at the end of S4 and possible honest belief they could make their own choices, even though I do think they just followed him.