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Holtz was a great villain because he was like Angelus

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  • Holtz was a great villain because he was like Angelus

    Thinking about Holtz…

    In many ways, he was a great foil to Angel - especially as yet another legacy of his monstrous past that eternally haunts him.

    Firstly, as a Van Helsing knock-off, Holtz is an Ur-version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He may not have mystical powers, but he manages to dust over 300 vampires in his lifetime. He appears to be a product of the Enlightenment rather than the Middle Ages, merging intellect and scientific deliberation with religious fervor. He is filled with religious self-righteousness that is akin to Buffy’s moral high-mindedness. And he is tormented in the same manner that Angelus tries to torment Buffy - by striking at his family and friends.

    But killing his family isn’t the only way in which Angelus destroys Holtz. The ways in which Angelus and Darla slowly corrupt Holtz through his desire for revenge until he becomes as bloodthirsty and torture-loving as themselves is brilliant. We see Holtz at his worst when he is thoroughly enjoying his torture of Angelus under the guise of theological and scientific inquiry:

    HOLTZ: I don't want anything. My family is gone. I don't trust you to give me Darla, although I *will* find her, you know that. My only desire here - is to discover if a thing such as yourself can be made to pay for its sins.
    Holtz digs a hook in Angelus off screen as Angelus groans in pain
    HOLTZ: You're a demon. It is your nature to maim and kill. But you were also once a man. If we beat and burn the demon out of your living flesh, will there be anything left?
    He digs the claw in again and Angelus groans in pain
    HOLTZ: Anything at all? I doubt it. But I'm willing to spend the next fortnight of my life finding out. In either event - you have no soul, you can not be saved.
    A flaming arrow streaks across the room and buries itself in one of the monks. Darla stands in the tunnel flanked by vampires.
    DARLA: Sorry it took me so long darling. Kill them.
    Darla fires her flaming bolt, hitting Holtz in the shoulder. The vampires streak past her and attack the monks. Several vampires get staked by the monks during the fight, but that doesn't slow the rest of them down. The Monsignor confronts Darla with a cross held in front of him.
    MONSIGNOR: "Vai' all inferno, demonio lordo! (Go to hell foul demon!)
    DARLA: "No, grazie, padre.
    Darla knocks him against the wall. A horse and carriage driven by a blanket shrouded vampire appears. Darla unchains Angelus as two other vampires catch him under the arms and drop him onto the back of the cart. Holtz tries to get up, but Darla knocks him across the chin and joins a groaning Angelus on the cart.
    ANGELUS: Darlin'?
    DARLA: What?
    ANGELUS: Shouldn't we be killing Holtz?
    DARLA: I know, but it's just so much fun ruining his life. He's like family now. (Offspring )
    Nothing could be more devastating to the once righteous and intellectual Holtz. Darla is right. There’s no need to kill Holtz - he’s already half mad and his eagerness for vengeful pleasures like torture have made him part of Angelus and Darla’s ‘family’. After this defeat, Holtz becomes a hermit for the rest of his life, giving up pursuit.

    But interestingly, when given a second chance to kill Angelus, Holtz decides instead to play the long game in a plan worthy of the scheming Angelus himself. LIke Angelus who raises Drusilla and Spike and Penn to be monsters, Holtz raises Connor in a Hell dimension, warping his mind around a single vengeful pursuit. (In that sense, it’s very much like Great Expectations in which Miss Havisham raises her ward Estella to wreak revenge on all men as a punishment for being jilted at her wedding - which ends up being connected to the battle between the two convicts at the beginning of the novel - Whedon was a huge fan of Dickens)

    I think it’s very clever how the show gives us both Angelus and Holtz as two sides of the same coin. I especially love how Holtz readjusts his methods of vengeance to inflict maximum pain on the now souled Angel, destroying Connor’s innocent life in the process. It’s so Angelus-like that even the old soulless vamp would applaud the Cruelty of Holtz’s plan.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 16-07-21, 03:23 PM.

  • #2
    I very much agree. Holtz is a terrific character and brings in a really interesting element to Angel's story where he's facing himself and his past in a very different way. Not only because his past is pursuing him, haunting him by even literally travelling through the years, but also as the damage he did to someone is revisited on him. Even though Holtz can understand that Angel souled is not the same person who killed his family, he still wants to act out his plan as he's consumed by the want for vengeance. The corruption of Connor as collateral damage really underlines how focused he is on his own goals.

    In Lullaby Angel tries to talk to Holtz about the potential damage he'll do to himself by carrying on. The assertion they couldn't take his soul really underlines the elements of what it gives to Angel and how it enables his choices to be better than the side of himself that Holtz is reflecting. His belief Holtz was a good and righteous man who is now being used highlights the damage that has been done to him. Although I think we can also question the violence that was always in Holtz in his pursuit of vampires, the desire to step beyond justice and work for vengeance is considered as being something past the person he used to be.

    But the corruption of him in this way we see in Benediction is deep. The acknowledgement they were both different when they knew each other in the past is true, but that continuity is there for them both as well. Holtz did get another opportunity to build a life that went beyond his desire for vengeance. As Angel had changed Holtz could have walked away and just had the balance of having taken Connor. But it isn't enough for him. As he talks to Angel about Connor we can view such lines as, 'Or maybe vengeance is what I do now. Give back what I took" and "You can give him what I can't - his purpose" take on additional meaning when we look at them with hindsight in knowing the plan he has to set Angel up and tear Connor further from him. As you say, the degree to which Holtz wants to tear Angel to pieces is very reminiscent of Angel's unsouled penchant for picking people to pieces with tortuous mind games.


    • #3
      he was Angelus' Ginger Rogers. He did the kinds of things Angelus did - with a soul and mere human strength.

      He is an object lesson in the utter corrosive power of vengeance. Given his religious beleifs, he will "know himself" to have given up any chance of heaven, righteousness or being right with his God.

      Not only does he live a hateful and vengeful life, he destroys Angel's (innocent) child; he also has a deal wirh a demon (forbidden) to be able to be alive centuries later - which also likely used magic (forbidden by scripture).

      He turns his back on everything he stood for in order to exact revenge. He renounces his god and his decency.
      Last edited by DeepBlueJoy; 17-07-21, 08:03 PM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by DeepBlueJoy View Post
        he was Angelus' Ginger Rogers. He did the kinds of things Angelus did - with a soul and mere human strength.
        Yes, I agree! Holtz could do everything Angel could do - and he did it backwards and forwards in time in 18th century heels!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tiny Tabby View Post

          Yes, I agree! Holtz could do everything Angel could do - and he did it backwards and forwards in time in 18th century heels!
          now i am imagining Holtz in a low cut frock and heels and a nice parasol. Oh my!