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The reason why Angel left Sunnydale

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  • The reason why Angel left Sunnydale

    I have been thinking about why Angel left Sunnydale for L.A. at the end of season 3 (apart from the obvious reason that DB had signed a contract for a spin-off that took place in L.A.).

    As we all know Angel broke up with Buffy in The Prom and he mentions that he will leave Sunnydale during their breakup conversation in the sewers for the first time. This is what he says:

    Buffy: How am I supposed to stay away from you?

    Angel: I'm leaving. After the Ascension, after it's finished with the Mayor and Faith. If we survive, I'll go.

    Buffy: Where?

    Angel: I don't know.


    So, he basically says he will leave to make it easier for Buffy to get over him. We see shortly thereafter how Buffy reacts to bumping into him in the meat factory and Sunnydale is a small town (okay, with a dock, an airport, a university ...) where you are very likely to meet your ex by chance every other day.

    However, I don't think the reason Angel gives is completely honest.

    I was thinking if the reason why leaves Buffy and Sunnydale might actually be that he is afraid he could experience happiness if he stayed and not because he had sex with Buffy again but simply because he is around her, sees her, talks to her, and basks in her light, so to say. I don't think he is afraid of not being able to control himself when it comes to sex. If I remember correctly he doesn't have sex on AtS until five years later apart from IWRY (but that doesn't count because he was human and losing the soul wasn't an issue) and Darla (and that also doesn't count because the whole point of having sex with Darla was to lose his soul).

    So, what I think is that he can control his sexual desires well enough. Otherwise, I am sure he would not have allowed things to get as far as for Buffy to stay over at the mansion for the night.

    But what he fears is that being near Buffy, being in her circle, being around her, and being a part of her life might make him happy. Happy enough to lose his soul again. The one thing he has to make sure doesn't happen again and the only way he can do that is by not only breaking up with Buffy but by leaving Sunnydale altogether.

    That's why it makes sense that he doesn't even know where he will be going when he tells her he is leaving. It doesn't matter to him because the important thing is not where to go but to get away from her.

    What do you think?

    flow

  • #2
    I think there are several things happening.


    The first is that I think he was honest and that he really wanted to set Buffy free. They tried the 'being just friends' thing and it didn't really work. He knows there is a much bigger chance she feels free to move on and date normal humans if he is not around all the time.

    The second is that I think Angel always knew he would have to leave one day because he simply isn't relationship material. It's not just him being a vampire or even the curse, but his whole being. He is old, his soul is old. He seen and experienced things others don't understand. He has been in a war and seen many more of them, he has been lynched by a mob, he survived a famine as a kid and lived under colonial rule, he has been alone for a century, after Becoming you can add another 100 years of solitude in hell etc. He isn't just sulky, it's a miracle he still kind of functions as a person. That stuff is a huge wall between Buffy and him and his relationship with Buffy must have been a bit of a fantasy. A trip to escape reality. And while they truly loved the other, it was never a relation suited for a long-term relationship. And Angel must have known that. Unlike Buffy, he isn't a teenager who tries to live in the moment. He lives forever and already had a marriage-like relation for 150 years. Joyce gave the last push, but technically she just told him what he already knew for a long time.

    Third reason is about his own needs and desires. He doesn't mention it, but I've a hard time imagining him enjoying his life in Sunnydale all that much. Darla lured him by promising him the world, an offer the small town boy couldn't resist. We know he picked LA as the place he wanted to live, a big city full of artists. He once mentioned attending Elvis' wedding and all the wars he has seen, I think Angel wants to see history being made in front of his eyes. And Sunnydale must have reminded him of 18th century Galway, small and uninteresting (despite the demonic activity). Without the pink tinted glasses he wore in s1 and s2, it must be less attractive to be there. So being stuck in Sunnydale for several more years might not be the stuff of dreams for Angel. Add that he wanted to figure out some things for himself and you have a pretty strong motive to move.

    Comment


    • #3
      I really like the point Nina raises about Angel's desires to see the world. That very much is the lure that Darla succeeded in seducing him with. Like Dru captured William's attention by presenting herself as someone who saw his worth and wanted him. It's an important, driving desire in Angel. I think that ties back to his sense of whether he has made something of himself too and then we're touching on his daddy issues!

      I also think he does look on himself as a weak man, as he said in Amends, and thinks of himself as sinful in a way that probably can also be connected to his past upbringing. So, in connection to the idea of Angel's fear of losing his soul and finding happiness around Buffy, I do tend to think that he fears that he'll lose control rather than be happy just being around her. This is effectively something that we see play out in his despair leading to him sleeping with Darla, and wishing that he can not care about it all again. So, I don't think the fear is unfounded. If you couple all of that with his obvious concerns that it isn't a healthy relationship in a long term sense and that Buffy would be better off looking elsewhere, it is getting pretty complicated.

      There is also, I feel, a genuine desire to do good acts and try to find some sense of redemption. He needs to find his own way and he doesn't follow as well as he either leads or works independently. The difficulty he has integrating with the group is seen from the very start, he feels awkward and out of place. That is reflected in how many decades he spent alone and struggled to find a way to be around people. After the history of his time in Sunnydale too, it can't be made any easier being around everyone he's hurt and it is probably better for him to break away and have a fresh start too.

      There are basically a lot of considerations, conscious and not, that build into his choice, his need to leave. It's immensely layered I think and because he does love Buffy and she has in many ways enabled him to see ways he can help, a really difficult one to take.

      Comment


      • #4
        Nina
        He is old, his soul is old. He seen and experienced things others don't understand. He has been in a war and seen many more of them, he has been lynched by a mob, he survived a famine as a kid and lived under colonial rule, he has been alone for a century, after Becoming you can add another 100 years of solitude in hell etc.
        That's an interesting point that I haven't considered before. It's true that what he has experienced - suffered - through in his 250 or 350 years of existence must weigh upon him heavily. And no matter how much he loves Buffy and she loves him it's not as if love could simply take that burden away.

        Third reason is about his own needs and desires. He doesn't mention it, but I've a hard time imagining him enjoying his life in Sunnydale all that much.
        It's true that he really didn't have much to do in Sunnydale except for patrolling with Buffy. I guess Sunnydale was too small to start a detective agency like he later did in l.A. It's also true -like Stoney said - that he also has difficulties integrating with Buffy's friends. The only person with whom he had most in common - Giles - understandably never got over Jenny's death. Xander never liked him that much. I don't remember him interacting with Oz at all and I am not sure how he got along with Willow after the goldfish incident but she definitely wasn't someone he could have confided in.

        After he went to L.A. he builds up his own circle and finds people whom he trusts and regards as friends. Cordy, Wesley, Gunn, Lorne, and Fred are an important part of his life in L.A. and he didn't have something similar in Sunnydale.

        flow



        Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by flow View Post
        I have been thinking about why Angel left Sunnydale for L.A. at the end of season 3 (apart from the obvious reason that DB had signed a contract for a spin-off that took place in L.A.).

        As we all know Angel broke up with Buffy in The Prom and he mentions that he will leave Sunnydale during their breakup conversation in the sewers for the first time. This is what he says:

        Buffy: How am I supposed to stay away from you?

        Angel: I'm leaving. After the Ascension, after it's finished with the Mayor and Faith. If we survive, I'll go.

        Buffy: Where?

        Angel: I don't know.


        So, he basically says he will leave to make it easier for Buffy to get over him. We see shortly thereafter how Buffy reacts to bumping into him in the meat factory and Sunnydale is a small town (okay, with a dock, an airport, a university ...) where you are very likely to meet your ex by chance every other day.

        However, I don't think the reason Angel gives is completely honest.

        I was thinking if the reason why leaves Buffy and Sunnydale might actually be that he is afraid he could experience happiness if he stayed and not because he had sex with Buffy again but simply because he is around her, sees her, talks to her, and basks in her light, so to say. I don't think he is afraid of not being able to control himself when it comes to sex. If I remember correctly he doesn't have sex on AtS until five years later apart from IWRY (but that doesn't count because he was human and losing the soul wasn't an issue) and Darla (and that also doesn't count because the whole point of having sex with Darla was to lose his soul).

        So, what I think is that he can control his sexual desires well enough. Otherwise, I am sure he would not have allowed things to get as far as for Buffy to stay over at the mansion for the night.

        But what he fears is that being near Buffy, being in her circle, being around her, and being a part of her life might make him happy. Happy enough to lose his soul again. The one thing he has to make sure doesn't happen again and the only way he can do that is by not only breaking up with Buffy but by leaving Sunnydale altogether.

        That's why it makes sense that he doesn't even know where he will be going when he tells her he is leaving. It doesn't matter to him because the important thing is not where to go but to get away from her.

        What do you think?

        flow
        Angel himself says he left her as its easier and to give her a normal life
        https://youtu.be/cl05OVtiFWg

        Comment


        • #6
          Angel left so Buffy could have a chance at a normal life. Plus what the Mayor said only confirmed how Angel felt about how wrong his relationship with Buffy is.
          Mayor Richard Wilkins : Yeah, and that's just *one* of the things you're gonna have to deal with. You're immortal. She's not. It's not easy. I married my Edna Mae in aught three, and I was with her right until the end. Not a pretty picture... Wrinkled and senile and cursing me for my youth. Wasn't our happiest time... And let's forget the fact that any moment of true happiness will turn you evil.

          [scoffs]

          I mean, come-come on, what kind of a life can you offer her? I don't see a lot of Sunday picnics in the offing. I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun. She's a blossoming young girl and you wanna keep her from the life she should have till it's passed her by. And, by God, I think that's a little selfish... Is that what you came back from Hell for? Is that your greater purpose?
          Angel: You deserve more. You deserve something outside of demons and darkness. You should be with someone who can take you into the light. Someone who can make love to you.
          Buffy: I don't care about that.
          Angel: You will. And children.
          I think that Angel fears that if Buffy stays with him that she'll someday come to hate him in the same way that the Mayor's wife came to hate him for never aging/being immortal. Angel can't give Buffy a normal life. And 18 year-old Buffy might not care about a normal relationship, old lady Buffy might.
          Last edited by Lostsoul666; 25-02-21, 01:26 PM.
          My deviantart: http://vampfox.deviantart.com/

          Comment


          • #7
            I think we are meant to take all of the reasons laid out in the text at face value and that he really did leave for Buffy's sake. Personally I would've found it more interesting if it had been something he had done for himself as well, as it would've made the character more layered and made more sense overall, because his logic has a lot of flaws in it : Buffy is the slayer, she is never going to have a normal life anyway and she is likely going to die young, so she might as well date whoever she wants to date. I find the reasoning kind of patronizing as well, and in my book it's silly to refuse to pursue a relationship because there are above average odds of it ending up badly : why not date first and if somewhere down the line it's not working out anymore, then split. At least you won't spend the rest of your life wondering how it might have turned out.
            What a challenge, honesty
            What a struggle to learn to speak
            Who would've thought that pretending was easier

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