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Xander and Angel's S3 dynamic and the impact of Consequences & Enemies

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  • Xander and Angel's S3 dynamic and the impact of Consequences & Enemies

    Xander and Angel have quite terse interactions in the earlier seasons as they are both interested in Buffy romantically. Xander's jealousy certainly helps to put barriers up between them early on and they are paired together with varying degrees of reluctance and antagonism at points like Prophecy Girl and School Hard. But I feel by S3 the focus is starting to move away from the romantic competition between them.

    It feels like a natural shift and progression but it is still tentative and obviously is in the context of their history. At the start of S3 Xander seems to hold a lot more resentment about Jenny and Buffy hiding Angel's return. But then in Consequences we have Angel save Xander from Faith and it feels like there is some thawing in Doppelgangland. However, Enemies sees Angel knock out Xander when acting unsouled.

    Do you think things were shifting between them significantly in S3 for the better and how much did the events of Consequences and Enemies help or impede their dynamic?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stoney View Post
    Xander and Angel have quite terse interactions in the earlier seasons as they are both interested in Buffy romantically. Xander's jealousy certainly helps to put barriers up between them early on and they are paired together with varying degrees of reluctance and antagonism at points like Prophecy Girl and School Hard. But I feel by S3 the focus is starting to move away from the romantic competition between them.

    It feels like a natural shift and progression but it is still tentative and obviously is in the context of their history. At the start of S3 Xander seems to hold a lot more resentment about Jenny and Buffy hiding Angel's return. But then in Consequences we have Angel save Xander from Faith and it feels like there is some thawing in Doppelgangland. However, Enemies sees Angel knock out Xander when acting unsouled.

    Do you think things were shifting between them significantly in S3 for the better and how much did the events of Consequences and Enemies help or impede their dynamic?
    I'm not sure that Xander ever really warmed up to Angel - look at how he immediately has Riley jump to the wrong conclusion about Angel and his soul in The Yoko Factor when it really wasn't his place to tell Riley about Buffy and Angel.

    RILEY: Still, the sooner Buffy gets back, the better I'll feel.
    XANDER: You and me both, big guy.
    RILEY: I take it you're not an Angel fan either?
    XANDER: Well, it's not like I hate the guy. Just, you know . . the guts part of him.

    RILEY: Can't blame you. But to be fair, it's not him you hate. It's the curse - right?
    XANDER: What did Buffy tell you?
    RILEY: On Angel? Everything. More than I wanted to know sometimes. She loved him. He turned evil. He, uh, killed people. She cured him. He left. Interesting little curse.
    XANDER: One moment's happiness.
    RILEY: What do you mean?
    XANDER: You know, it's his trigger. Angel's an okay guy if he's mopey and sad and brooding, but if you give him even one second of pure, real pleasure -
    RILEY: And that sets him off.
    XANDER: Only in the big ol "kill your friends" kind of way. And you know what makes Angel happiest? I'll give you a hint. It's not crème brûlée
    RILEY: Buffy. Sex - with Buffy.
    XANDER: She - kind of left that part out, huh?
    RILEY: Yeah, she did. That explains a lot of things that - I wish weren't explained.
    XANDER: Hey, man. That's all ancient history.
    RILEY: She went running to L.A. to bone up on her history.
    XANDER: No! I'm sure it's boneless. She just needs to make sure everything's okay. She's probably back already.
    RILEY: Maybe.
    XANDER: You'll feel a lot better when you see her.
    RILEY: I guess we'll see. (The Yoko Factor)
    I think in many ways, Angel was always a bit of a red flag to Xander in various ways - not only as Angelus, but as the mysterious - and extremely dangerous - vampire who takes up far too much of Buffy's time. Hence the lie about Willow's message in Becoming - like Giles, Xander doesn't really feel Angel is worth saving.

    I agree that Xander bore a grudging respect for Angel later in Season Three, but I don't think he was ever able to get over the death of Jenny Calendar. And he seems pretty angry after Angel drains Buffy in Graduation Day despite knowing that Angel was delirious.

    GILES: How is she?
    ANGEL: She's fine. She's asleep.
    OZ: Well, you seem all right, too.
    ANGEL: Yeah.
    XANDER: What happened?
    WILLOW: When we left her she was fine. Did Faith -
    ANGEL: Faith's out of the picture. Buffy put her into a coma.
    XANDER: And?
    ANGEL: Buffy cured me. Made me -
    GILES: You fed off her.
    ANGEL: Yes.
    GILES: How much?
    ANGEL: She's gonna be fine.
    WILLOW: She won't be a vampire?
    ANGEL: No. - She didn't feed off me.
    XANDER: Well, it's just good to know that when the chips are down and things look grim, you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass!
    GILES: You better go, Angel. We'll watch over her.
    ANGEL: I don't want to -
    GILES: The sun will be up soon.
    Angel hesitates, clearly reluctant to leave, then slowly walks away.
    XANDER: Gosh, I'm really going to miss him when he leaves town. (Graduation Day)
    Xander's lines don't exactly exude friendship.

    In contrast, look at how fast Xander accepts Spike as one of the gang - he snipes, but doesn't feel threatened by Spike because of his chip. He seems to see Spike as a rather pathetic creature when chipped and stops seeing him as inhuman pretty quickly despite never forgetting what he is.

    SPIKE: Go out, get me some decent stuff - and I want more blood.
    XANDER: No! You’re not a guest.
    SPIKE: You want me to tear this place apart, you bloody poof?
    XANDER: That’s it! I am way past due with you. I hate to break it to you, oh impotent one, but you’re not the big bad anymore, you’re not even the kind of naughty. You’re nothing but a waste of space – my space! And as much as I always got a big laugh watching Buffy kick your shiny white bum, as much as I know I can give you a little bum-kicking myself right now, I’m here to tell you something You’re not even worth it. I’m out of here. (Doomed)
    Later, after seeing Spike try to kill himself, Xander cracks jokes. And yet, at the end of Doomed, Xander actually helps Spike when he's hit on the head by a falling beam - he and Willow pull Spike up and out of the Hellmouth despite their mutual antagonism. Not that Xander wouldn't have done the same for Angel - but I don't think there's the same level of wariness there because of the chip and the difference in personalities between Angel and Spike.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 26-06-21, 06:55 AM.

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    • #3
      It's a shame though as I do agree with you that Jenny's murder was a major incident in influencing Xander against Angel, but Angel saved Jenny's life in The Dark Ages when she would have died before. Of course, that doesn't mean Xander can't have an emotional response to her murder later, I mention it just to illustrate that there were always multiple occasions when Angel did positive things and saved them too that perhaps should have influenced Xander more along the way. You're right though, there were many later signs of continued antagonism towards him. Really that initial jealousy and antagonism/distrust set up a very difficult barrier to overcome, even bridge at points. But I suppose I feel it might have been possible or perhaps that it should have been possible.

      It's just the casual way Xander responds to Angel's initial confusion after seen vamp!Willow in Doppelgängland, "We're right there with you buddy" did have a bit of genuine relaxation to it I think. Maybe the save over Faith somewhat softened him briefly but either had no real impact overall. Possibly even, rather than helping, was also somewhat embarrassing? Xander has such a negative influence from his dad and pressure that certainly hits on toxic masculinity. He'd gone there in the belief that he could help and reach Faith, despite Buffy's suggestion Faith wouldn't take him seriously, and ended up needing saving and it was Angel that rescued him. When there are established awkward feelings between people feeling beholden or 'lessened' in the eyes of the other person can just make the situation worse.

      Thinking about it more, the beating and rage on Giles' death in the comics did make some sense as a final loss of control of all his anger and emotions towards Angel. I can't remember how they faced each other again later after that. So I suppose in terms of S3 and where they were then, really that moment in Consequences didn't impact Xander's underlying dislike and distrust enough, even if it might have temporarily.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Stoney View Post
        It's a shame though as I do agree with you that Jenny's murder was a major incident in influencing Xander against Angel, but Angel saved Jenny's life in The Dark Ages when she would have died before. Of course, that doesn't mean Xander can't have an emotional response to her murder later, I mention it just to illustrate that there were always multiple occasions when Angel did positive things and saved them too that perhaps should have influenced Xander more along the way. You're right though, there were many later signs of continued antagonism towards him. Really that initial jealousy and antagonism/distrust set up a very difficult barrier to overcome, even bridge at points. But I suppose I feel it might have been possible or perhaps that it should have been possible.
        LIke Giles, I think that Xander fears Buffy is far too forgiving of the vamps and foolishly puts her life (and theirs) in danger because of her soft spot for them. Although one could say that Xander is a hypocrite since he never really makes a true attempt on Harmony’s life - probably because he feels the same soft spot for her because he knew her as a human and can’t bring himself to kill her.

        I think Xander often tries to make amends with Angel, but finds it difficult because Angel is such a prickly character. I’d say that there’s a parallel here with Spike at the end of Season Five through the beginning of Season Six - when Xander realizes that the group has to create a united front, he offers friendship and even camaraderie to maintain social cohesion. Despite the fact that he’s seen very little of this kind of emotional support within his own family, I think that he’s hyper-aware of its importance from the books and movies he imbibes - not to mention any lingering after-effects of the Halloween spell that would give him the necessary military discipline to overlook personal differences.

        It's just the casual way Xander responds to Angel's initial confusion after seen vamp!Willow in Doppelgängland, "We're right there with you buddy" did have a bit of genuine relaxation to it I think. Maybe the save over Faith somewhat softened him briefly but either had no real impact overall. Possibly even, rather than helping, was also somewhat embarrassing? Xander has such a negative influence from his dad and pressure that certainly hits on toxic masculinity. He'd gone there in the belief that he could help and reach Faith, despite Buffy's suggestion Faith wouldn't take him seriously, and ended up needing saving and it was Angel that rescued him. When there are established awkward feelings between people feeling beholden or 'lessened' in the eyes of the other person can just make the situation worse.
        I think there was a softening regarding Angel after Xander realized how wrong he had been in Consequences. But I think all of that was sadly wiped away by what happened in Graduation Day - the realization that Angel had almost inadvertently killed Buffy again. Xander never worries about Spike on that account, so it’s not as big a deal.

        I like how you’ve brought in the feelings that Xander has regarding his dad and the possible parallels with Angel as another antagonistic father figure - although Angel isn’t as old as Giles in human years, he’s still more of an older brother/father archetype who as Angelus brings down Hell on the Sunnydale crew that’s reminiscent of the Elder Harris. Especially in the way that Angelus makes snide cracks and enjoys tormenting others.

        In many ways, the love that Angelus feels for Buffy (and I think it is there) that is undermined through cruelty is similar to the ways in which parents torment their children despite loving them. It would be easier for Xander if he felt his parents didn’t love him at all, but they obviously love him enough to partially pay for the wedding and keep up appearances - and yet they engage in casual cruelty that resembles Angelus (without all the stalking and the killing, of course.). In comparison, the banter between Xander and Spike is far more tepid - not because Spike is necessarily less cruel, but because there’s no real parallel since Spike is impotent. A denatured father, one might say - the opposite of the extremely dangerous and unstable Angel who can turn into a monster at a second’s notice. As an abused child, that would affect Xander far more than Spike’s sniping and whining - which is probably much closer to what his mother does.

        I’m not trying to gender Angel and Spike - only trying to say that I get a sense of real menace and implied violence from Xander’s father in the Restless dream that isn’t present when he talks about his mother.

        Thinking about it more, the beating and rage on Giles' death in the comics did make some sense as a final loss of control of all his anger and emotions towards Angel. I can't remember how they faced each other again later after that. So I suppose in terms of S3 and where they were then, really that moment in Consequences didn't impact Xander's underlying dislike and distrust enough, even if it might have temporarily.
        I think that Xander proffering friendship there is probably akin to Xander’s buddying up with Spike in late Season Five/early Season Six. Xander’s somewhat appreciative of the effort that both vamps are taking to protect and save the Scoobies and tries to be civil - but like his parents, the vamps continuously disappoint him.

        Of course, there’s also an anger that they seem to get away with so much from his perspective, which leads to Xander taking away Buffy’s agency by spilling the beans on her love life in The Yoko Factor - which is WRONG - and he realizes that he’s wrong the second the words leave his mouth and he sees that Riley is visibly upset. But then again, that’s the world that Xander has been forced to live in since childhood - a world of casual cruelty and betrayal.

        I think you’re right that there’s a displacement going on there that is fascinating - and utterly understandable. I’d probably be the same way - fairly leery that the vamps might suddenly turn on me at a moment’s notice - but I’d try to be friendly at the same time due to a sense of necessary group cohesion and fairness. They’re pulling their weight, so you might as well compliment them on a job well done.
        Last edited by American Aurora; 26-06-21, 01:29 PM.

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        • #5
          I don't really think that Xander's relationship with Angel really changed in Season 3. I think that Xander pretty much hates Angel just as much if not more(due to Angelus)in Season 3.

          ​​​​​​The Season 1 finale Prophecy Girl pretty much sums up how Xander feels about Angel.
          Originally posted by Prophecy Girl

          Xander: How can I say this clearly? He holds up a cross. Angel growls. Xander advances toward him, and he backs off until he falls onto the couch.
          Xander: I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire. (lowers the cross) But Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right.
          I think that Xander doesn't really see the difference between a vampire with a soul like Angel and the vampires that Buffy slays on a nightly bases.
          My deviantart: http://vampfox.deviantart.com/

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lostsoul666 View Post
            I don't really think that Xander's relationship with Angel really changed in Season 3. I think that Xander pretty much hates Angel just as much if not more(due to Angelus)in Season 3.

            ​​​​​​The Season 1 finale Prophecy Girl pretty much sums up how Xander feels about Angel.

            I think that Xander doesn't really see the difference between a vampire with a soul like Angel and the vampires that Buffy slays on a nightly bases.
            Oh, I think he sees the difference - I just think he doesn’t want to believe it.

            I agree with you that Prophecy Girl sums up Xander’s feelings about Angel. I think due to his own life experiences, Xander is very experienced at people putting on a false front. He must have seen many a family member do that in the past. And his natural cynicism because of that makes him wary about a murderous vampire only held back by a pesky soul.

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            • #7
              I think pre-Innocence Xander often forced himself to dislike Angel. In Reptile Boy he can't help but be a little impressed by Angel ("Now that is the guy you want to party with") and I have a hard time believing that Xander didn't at least enjoy the bickering and chemistry he had with Angel when they worked alongside each other in Prophecy Girl, Schoolhard and Lie to Me. If it was fun for us am I meant to believe it wasn't a little amusing for them too? And in What's My Line II he literally has to catch himself from instinctively leaping to Angel's defence ("Hey Angel's our friend! ... Except I don't like him") which leads me to believe that Xander regarded Angel as a friend, or at the very least 'one of them', even if he hated to admit it. I think he's unwilling to admit this partially because he doesn't trust nor want to trust/like a vampire out of stubborn principle and also because he's pissed and jealous about Buffy/Angel. I don't think this means he's still not sincere in wanting Angel out of the way in Surprise but I don't think deep down he has any reason to hate Angel personality-wise if it wasn't for him being a vampire/his love rival.

              Once Angel loses his soul, terrorises them and kills Jenny he absolutely hates him. I suspect he even hates him so much because he was grudgingly starting to get used to the guy being around and then Angel confirmed every bad thought he'd ever had about him/vampires. And in early S3 Xander hates him so much that not only does he want him dead (Revelations) but he can't even think straight not to be a kind of considerate friend to Buffy (trivialising her pain in Dead Man's Party - "I'm sorry your honey was a demon. But most girls don't jump the Greyhound over boy troubles"). But after Xander truly makes a mess of things in Revelations and Angel proves him wrong but not only fetching the glove for them but also saving Willow's life, I think he starts to lose steam in repeatedly trying to fight against Angel's inevitable presence in his/Buffy's life. And I think the turning point for him is in Amends when a defeated and saddened Buffy tells him "enough" over the constant jibes at Angel and Xander realises that he's making Buffy upset by constantly snarking about him. He changes his tune in that episode ("I know I haven't always been the bestest friend to you when it comes to the whole Angel thing") and his attitude towards Angel softens mid-season as you say. He's desperate to get away from Lysette in The Zeppo but he calls Angel "buddy" and then in a couple of episodes time he'll call Angel "pal" in Dopplegangland when Angel is confused by two Willow's. In fact, the combination of Angel just having saved his life in Consequences and being so visibly upset over Willow's apparent "death" probably scored points with Xander.

              Unfortunately where I think things start to go south again is after Angel knocks him out in Enemies. Xander is bitter about that ("I feel so much better knowing he broke my face in a good way. It's a good bruise") even if he's reassured that Angel was doing it as part of an act (I do think he was getting Xander out of harms way but also probably enjoyed it too). And then after Angel feeds from Buffy in Graduation Day II he's done ("It's good to know when the chips are down and things look grim you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass. Boy I'm going to miss him when he leaves town").

              I do remember being a little taken aback by Xander telling Riley he "hates Angel's guts." I'm guessing it's a combination of how things ended when Angel left town and Xander also being quite supportive of Buffy/Riley so probably looking back on Angel even more harshly.

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              • #8
                Great point about the effect of Angel having fed on Buffy at the end of the season. It does feel like it was an emotional rollercoaster for Xander in his responses to Angel and I do think he did somewhat see him as a team member, but just couldn't let go of the issues he had from the start. Even if there were positive elements that did thaw his attitude at points the events that happened which disrupted that had a stronger overall influence.

                I would be interested to read the later comic seasons again and see how they handled the ongoing relationship with Xander and Angel after the events of S8 too. It's a really interesting dynamic across the tv show and beyond.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                  in Amends when a defeated and saddened Buffy tells him "enough" over the constant jibes at Angel and Xander realises that he's making Buffy upset by constantly snarking about him. He changes his tune in that episode ("I know I haven't always been the bestest friend to you when it comes to the whole Angel thing")
                  I don't think that Xander's feelings towards Angel really change in Amends. It always felt to me like Xander was helping Angel more for Buffy's sake than for Angel's.



                  in The Zeppo but he calls Angel "buddy"
                  I saw that more as Xander showing off to the girl he was with. Angel's a very good looking man, and Xander probably feels that it makes him look better to the girl he's with if he appears to be friends with a guy like Angel. It just seems to me more like Xander just tolerates Angel being around most of the time.

                  And then after Angel feeds from Buffy in Graduation Day II he's done ("It's good to know when the chips are down and things look grim you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass. Boy I'm going to miss him when he leaves town").
                  This one always bothered me since Xander clearly has no idea what happened between Buffy and Angel. He's clearly making a judgement about something when he wasn't there.



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