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"The truest soul among us" - Can Buffyverse vampires be explained by "Dollhouse"?

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  • "The truest soul among us" - Can Buffyverse vampires be explained by "Dollhouse"?

    The title quote comes from the abandoned first pilot of "Dollhouse", where the head of the place, Adelle Dewitt, explains that the Actives are "the truest soul(s) among us" because of the way in which they are complete persons, not just people with a job.

    Some spoilers for "Dollhouse" 1.01 "Ghost" --
    Spoiler:
    in the pilot episode of "Dollhouse", the programmer, Topher, explains to Boyd exactly what his art is when he designs personalities for the Actives.

    You see someone running. The first thing you gotta ask is are they running to something or running from something. The answer is both. See these personalities come from scans of real people. Now I can create amalgams of those personalities from here or there but it's not a greatest hit - it's a whole person. Achievement balanced by fault. By a lack. Can't have one without the other. Everyone who excels is overcompensating. Running from something.
    In this context, the situation was that Echo was programmed as a hostage negotiator, and part of her personality was formed from a woman who had been kidnapped and abused by one of the kidnappers with whom she was negotiating. She was also nearsighted, and had asthma. But what Topher had done is take a different personalities from their files and weave parts of them together, good and bad, to form a completed whole, novel "person", who was not anyone of those people, but made up from the whole.


    Now, on another thread, one of the ongoing discussions is the nature of Angel (and Spike) as vampires with souls. Vampire in Rug responded with this point about why "Angel" and "Angelus" are not just separate beings.

    Originally posted by Vampire in Rug View Post
    When Angel went to Pylea, his human and demon qualities were seperated. We saw what the demon really looks and acts like when seperated from the host. It's a mindless, savage monster.

    I can't be bothered looking up the exact quote, but the reason Darla sired Liam was because she recognized an innate darkness in him. Liam always had the potential to be a cruel, sadistic bastard but his soul and reasonable upbrining would prevent him from becoming a monster unless he were sired. If Darla had left him alone, his potential for cruelty would have probably never been fulfilled, but it was still there. Siring him, removing his soul and empathy towards others created Angelus. The demon gave him enhanced strength, bloodlust, fangs and a vague, general desire to do evil but the subtleties and artistic ways of being cruel were with Liam all along.

    The Van-tal demon of Pylea would never kill somebody without feeding and place thier corpse in the bed of thier lover. That takes a kind of twisted intellegance. It's why vampires can be as different as people. All of them share the "connection" to evil that Holden Webster talked about, but how they express it has everything to do with who they were as a human.

    I understand what Wesley, Giles and Buffy were saying and I partially agree with them. A vampire is an unholy monster. Any "good" qualities from the host are gone. Morals, empathy, love, compassion. None of that is left, and in it's place is the desire to cause pain. So in a sense, if your friend is sired, anything you loved about that person is gone. When Xander met up with Jesse post-siring he was not looking at his friend.

    On the other hand, all the little personality quirks, the memories and desires are still there. So in a sense they are the same being, even though they aren't the same "person". How they express those little quirks and desires is what changes. Spike's romantic nature was a huge part of who he was, so naturally that would survive the siring. However he could not express his romantic feelings in a propper, human way until he got his soul back. Harmony is still shallow. She'll still sell out her friends, only now that she's a vamp, selling them out probably includes getting them killed. She still gets excited over shoe sales, only now she's likely to eat the person selling the shoes.
    These are great points. So, what can we discern by looking at vampires in the context of "Dollhouse"? Vampires are a lot like Actives. An Active has their original personality erased from them and replaced by others. A vampire is, according to Giles, a demon living in the body of a human host that isn't there anymore.

    But, perhaps, the result of siring someone isn't just the demon, but is in itself a hybrid of a demon and the host? We know that the demon remembers the life of the person it takes in, like it gets printed on it as it takes over. But the result can't *simply* be the demon, as we say in "Angel" Season 2 -- the unadulterated demon form of a vampire is nothing more than an animal, really, uncomplicated, violent. Vampire in Rug rightly notes that the demon in a vampire isn't going to come up with elaborate torture like Angelus performed on Jenny, on Drusilla, or like Spike claims in "Never Leave Me". So, rather than a vampire being the "Active" and a the human before it just gone, is the vampire an amalgam of personalities? The human and the demon in part but neither in whole?
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  • #2
    Yep, precisely how I've always seen it. Really good post by Vampire in Rug, and good points by you as well.

    I think there is plenty of proof in what we see in several episodes to prove Giles wrong (but then again, he was saying this to Xander because of Jesse, wasn't he? so it is clear why he said it). After all, the first thing Liam does on his way to become the infamous Angelus is turn against his family, the family where he never felt at home because of his tyrannical father. William, however, has no such feelings towards his mother because he experienced nothing but kindness from her.

    Personally, I think the demon acts as a kind of catalyst, apart from providing the powers of course: it brings forth what lay hidden within the personality of the one it infects, it unearths his/her darker side, so to say. The rage, pain and humiliation, and the desire to get back at his father were part of Liam already, but through his encounter with Darla the demon turned them loose and brougth them forth; with all the inhibitions fallen away Liam did what he might well have fantasised about but would never have done as a human. The same holds true for William, we may presume; I have no doubt that one fellow at the party got a railroad spike driven through his head since he "asked for it" -something William might have pictured and gotten brief, yet shuddering satisfaction from the gory image, but the demon brought this side forth and he went and actually did it.
    Sin is what I feast upon
    I'm forging my crematorium
    Your tomb is waiting here for you
    Welcome to my ritual

    -Judas Priest, Death

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    • #3
      Yeah, the siring thing should be only some kind of dark fellings freeing.
      All the vamps we saw remained with most of they personalities when humans: Dru was mad, Darla a seducer, and Spike was the most equal . He only changed, after his deceptions with his mother and catching Angelus and Drusilla together.
      Sorry, I don't speak English.

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      • #4
        Intersting commparison - I was just thinking about the "undead" nature of the actives when mulling over the FBI guy's comment about it being tantamount to murder, flushing out the personality of a living person and having someone else walking around in that body.

        Vampires have more continuity of personality than Actives, on the one level - more shared knowledge with their human self/the former tennant of the body. But perhaps less continuity of identity than with Actives (where the self can return, as in the case of Echo's flashbacks to her non-constructed self).

        There's definitely a lot of overlap between vampire identity and Active identity though. Hmmm, lots of food for thought


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        • #5
          Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
          The title quote comes from the abandoned first pilot of "Dollhouse", where the head of the place, Adelle Dewitt, explains that the Actives are "the truest soul(s) among us" because of the way in which they are complete persons, not just people with a job.

          Some spoilers for "Dollhouse" 1.01 "Ghost" --
          Spoiler:
          in the pilot episode of "Dollhouse", the programmer, Topher, explains to Boyd exactly what his art is when he designs personalities for the Actives.



          In this context, the situation was that Echo was programmed as a hostage negotiator, and part of her personality was formed from a woman who had been kidnapped and abused by one of the kidnappers with whom she was negotiating. She was also nearsighted, and had asthma. But what Topher had done is take a different personalities from their files and weave parts of them together, good and bad, to form a completed whole, novel "person", who was not anyone of those people, but made up from the whole.


          Now, on another thread, one of the ongoing discussions is the nature of Angel (and Spike) as vampires with souls. Vampire in Rug responded with this point about why "Angel" and "Angelus" are not just separate beings.



          These are great points. So, what can we discern by looking at vampires in the context of "Dollhouse"? Vampires are a lot like Actives. An Active has their original personality erased from them and replaced by others. A vampire is, according to Giles, a demon living in the body of a human host that isn't there anymore.

          But, perhaps, the result of siring someone isn't just the demon, but is in itself a hybrid of a demon and the host? We know that the demon remembers the life of the person it takes in, like it gets printed on it as it takes over. But the result can't *simply* be the demon, as we say in "Angel" Season 2 -- the unadulterated demon form of a vampire is nothing more than an animal, really, uncomplicated, violent. Vampire in Rug rightly notes that the demon in a vampire isn't going to come up with elaborate torture like Angelus performed on Jenny, on Drusilla, or like Spike claims in "Never Leave Me". So, rather than a vampire being the "Active" and a the human before it just gone, is the vampire an amalgam of personalities? The human and the demon in part but neither in whole?

          Excellent post by Vampire in Rugs and some good notes from you King! Personally I don't agree that Vampires are like 'actives' simply because of the fact that there is nothing to link the active in their purest form in Caroline's case her Echo persona and the 'active' personalities she is given. For instance I see nothing of Echo in Miss. Penn or the biker girl. A vampire is on the other hand is in most ways essentially similar to their human host in some instances they have the same emotional capacity such as Spike's ability to love because of William, or Angelus inability due to the lack of general love and affection Liam received from his father.

          In terms of Vampires and how much affect the person who once inhabited that body has on their personality, I'm going to say that they do have a great effect. As Vampire in Rugs mentioned from what we saw during the Pylea arc the Van-Tal, which is the vampire in its most primitive soul has no personality and no drive beyond that of the kill. So, in my opinion when the person dies their soul, their essence the thing which makes them the person that they are is gone, but traces of the ?shell' to quote Illyria is still in place. The body still holds the memories of that person and from those memories the thoughts and feelings of that person, but the person's actual essence is gone. The newly born Van-Tal demon which I like to imagine is pretty emotionless and passive beyond its need for the hunt uses these remnants to create a pretty corrupt imitation of the person who originally existed in that's vampire shell. I hope that makes sense and if doesn't feel free to ask me questions .

          Originally posted by jj.bsb View Post
          Yeah, the siring thing should be only some kind of dark fellings freeing.
          All the vamps we saw remained with most of they personalities when humans: Dru was mad, Darla a seducer, and Spike was the most equal . He only changed, after his deceptions with his mother and catching Angelus and Drusilla together.
          Yeah its true that the vampires we have seen so far have tended to be like the person whose soul used to inhabit that body, but as I stated earlier on. I don't believe that they are the same person only the lack of soul has made them loss their inhibitions. Personally I just believe that they have used the 'shells' memories of its orignal host to create a personaity for the Van-Tal. The Van-Tal might know of Drusillas madness and drew from it, it might have known Darla was a seducer and Spike loved his mother and as of such assumes that it should act this way also, but it never actually experienced these feelings. For me its kind of like how Fred is completely dead and not coming back and its only Illyria in there, but her feelings towards humanity Wesley in particular are still affected by the shell she is in memories of its orignal host in this case the host is Fred.
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          • #6
            Van-Tals and Turok-Han are pure demons unlike the hybrids like we see in most vampires and demons. However, if you give Illyria or Olvikan the memories of a human being, they stop being a pure demon. When the Mayor turned into Olvikan, he still had all of Richard Wilkins' memories and was still grieving over Faith. A pure demon wouldn't have had a reaction like he did over Buffy holding Faith's knife. Likewise, betrayal in Illyria's time was a neutral term; as unjudged a word as water or breeze. A pure demon without corruption by humans would have no such feelings or hint of feelings such as grief, love or feeling betrayed.

            We also know from the Master that demons and vampires do have demon souls. "Soulless" simply means lacking a human soul.

            As I see it: The human dies. The human soul, damned for giving into feeding from the demon, is sent up into the nothingness of the ether. The newborn demon is created. The newborn demon, having no personality of its own other than a pure demon's primal need to feed, takes over the human's brain with all of its memories. The human memories give the blank pure demon the ability to feel human emotions which they then corrupt. Pure demons on their own are not good or evil and have no concept of those terms. However, a vampire demon must have blood to survive and human blood is what they desire. For the demon, it goes no further than that. However, in a human's view of morality which the demon inherits, that is considered evil. This is when the vampire truly becomes evil; when the human mind decides that in order to feed on blood, it must be evil. All of the human's weaknesses, strengths and desires all become amplified from the human host. The demon, itself, is like a parasite. But the demon only has to work with what the human host's mind provides them. If the human was insane, the demon can't escape becoming insane as well.

            Thus, if you put the human back into their old shell, shared by the vampire who has set up shop and added to their memories, the person inherits all of the demon's memories as if they were their own and, being that your memories define who you are, those memories then make the human live those memories and they redefine themselves. There are two beings in there: the human soul and the demon soul. The human must feed the parasite and feel the needs and desires of the parasite in order to survive. The parasite, at that point, is the only thing keeping the altered, dead shell of the human host alive.

            Illyria has become much like a vampire parasite, itself, except that Illyria has no feeding desires on humans. Illyria is no longer Illyria because of all of Fred's corrupting memories that have made it like a hybrid human-demon vampire. Illyria now has all the morality, desires and feelings that Fred felt. However, if Fred's soul was somehow available to be stuffed back in, you would get something very much like Angel (Liam)/Angelus and William/Spike. You would have two beings sharing one mind.

            What makes vampires more difficult is that the parasite has its own desire to feed and has already built a twisted morality and borrowed feelings based on the human host's that a pure demon does not intrinsically have. There is a lot shared between Liam/Angelus, the whore/Darla and William/Spike. What they once were informs all that they become.

            "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
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            • #7
              The demon soul concept, however, is not quite clear - in "Living Conditions" Buffy's room mate tries to take her soul from her because she fears being otherwise recognised by her lack of a soul. Terminology is not exact here, since vampires are referred to as both being soulless and having a kind of "evil soul" - though the Master also claims that the fear of crosses is a question of perception, which is proven wrong by the rest of canon, so it might be his flawed terminology (or he means to make it sound better ).
              What I definitely "believe in" is a kind of demon essence that replaces what would be the soul in a human (and which acts as the catalyst in my theory).

              Things might get complicated now, however, when we bring in animals. Do they have souls? And if so, how about demons? Are they "soulless" due to being originally creatures of evil? This certainly holds true for the undiluted ones, but the many current ones - are they soulless because they are their descendants, and therefore unlike animals?
              Any thoughts on this question?
              Sin is what I feast upon
              I'm forging my crematorium
              Your tomb is waiting here for you
              Welcome to my ritual

              -Judas Priest, Death

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