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Buffy the Vampire Slayer captivated audiences worldwide with its unique blend of supernatural drama, humour, and action-packed adventures. Among the show's intriguing characters, one figure that left a mark on fans was Angel, the enigmatic and brooding vampire with a soul.
As Buffy's first poignant and complicated love interest, Angel's story arc was exciting. Here we’re delving into the depths of Angel's character, exploring the key aspects of his persona, his tumultuous relationship with Buffy, and the impact he had on the series as a whole.
Join us as we unearth the dark secrets and heartfelt emotions behind the mysterious and alluring figure of Angel.
Angel’s Early Life
Born as a human named Liam in 1727, Galway Ireland, Angel's early life was marked by disillusionment with the women of his era, particularly those of noble descent, who he found unexciting and insipid. By his twenties, he had become a dissolute and hedonistic individual, drowning himself in alcohol and indulging in debauchery. Liam's aspirations to explore the world were overshadowed by his father's constant disappointment in him, leading to strained relations within the family. Nevertheless, he shared a bond with his younger sister, Kathy.
In 1753, at the age of 26, a pivotal moment unfolded after a night of revelry. A heated argument erupted between Liam and his father, who chastised him for his reckless ways. Fueled by anger and a desire for independence, Liam decided to leave home despite his father's warnings of a bleak future. In a pub that night, he caught the attention of a seemingly wealthy woman named Darla. Following her into a dark alley, Liam's destiny took a drastic turn as Darla, a vampire, offered him a chance at a new life and subsequently sired him into the immortal world of darkness.
Becoming A Vampire
After Liam's burial, an eerie transformation took place as he rose again during the night, reborn as a vampire. Darla, the one who had turned him, visited his grave, leading Liam to experience his first taste of blood when they were discovered by a groundskeeper, wrongly accused of grave robbing.
Liam embarked on a ruthless rampage, beginning with the massacre of his entire village. Tragically, even his little sister Kathy, who believed he had returned as an angel, fell victim to his bloodlust as he callously murdered her. Liam took on the name "Angelus," perhaps influenced by his sister's misguided perception of him.
Regarded as the one with an angelic face and yet a demon within, Angelus and Darla ventured through Wales and Northern England, leaving behind a trail of bloodshed before arriving in London in 1760. There, Angelus fearlessly mocked the powerful Master, displaying little interest in the Master's grand plans to unleash chaos upon the world.
Angelus' dark existence took a momentous turn when Darla orchestrated the kidnapping of the Kalderash people's beloved daughter in Borşa, Romania, presenting her as a cruel "birthday present" to him, an act she wished him to witness.
In a desperate bid to avenge the young girl's tragic death, the Kalderash invoked the Ritual of Restoration, a curse that forcefully bestowed Angelus with his long-lost human soul. Suddenly burdened with a conscience, he found himself plagued with remorse for the countless crimes and atrocities he had committed while devoid of a soul. Dishevelled and forlorn, he attempted to feed on a woman but was thwarted by his newfound conscience, rendering him unable to harm innocent lives.
As he journeyed to China during the Boxer Rebellion with Darla, he tried to reclaim his former life, but the weight of his restored soul compelled him to protect the innocent and punish evildoers instead. This divergence from his wicked nature led to conflict with Darla, who felt betrayed by his transformation and demanded he prove himself by feeding on an innocent baby. However, Angelus, with a heavy heart, refused the sinister request and escaped with the child, seeking refuge from his own darkness.
Embracing self-imposed isolation, he roamed the world, avoiding humans to control his temptation to feed on them. Ultimately, he arrived in the United States, finding his way to New York City through Ellis Island.
Getting To Sunnydale
Angel found himself entangled in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas on multiple occasions, crossing paths with the legendary Rat Pack and offering advice to none other than Sammy Davis, Jr. Additionally, he had the unique honour of attending Elvis and Priscilla's wedding reception in the vibrant city. Making his way to Los Angeles, Angel became part of the audience during the first taping of the iconic Carol Burnett Show!
In New York, however, Angel's life took a hauntingly tragic turn when he became an unwitting witness to a violent robbery at a local doughnut shop. As the assailant fatally shot an employee and fled, Angel remained by the dying man's side. Struggling to resist the allure of the victim's still-warm blood, he ultimately succumbed to his vampiric instincts and fed on the lifeless body. Disgusted by his own weakness and feeling like an eternal outsider in the human world, Angel retreated into a self-imposed exile, living a life of homelessness in shadowy alleyways, sustaining himself on the meagre nourishment of rats.
It was during this solitary existence that Angel encountered Whistler, a half-demon who sought him out, recognizing his potential for redemption. Whistler persuaded Angel to embrace a new purpose - to fight against the evil that had once corrupted him and assist the newly activated Slayer, a young and formidable 15-year-old named Buffy Summers.
As he watched her struggle with the emotional burden of her calling and her parents' crumbling marriage, Angel felt an inexplicable bond with the young Slayer, ultimately falling deeply in love with her and vowing to support her in her fight against the forces of darkness.
After the Graduation battle at Sunnydale High, Angel was yet again determined to redeem himself after being Angelus and find a purpose in serving others, he sought solace in isolation. This didn’t last long as a serendipitous encounter brought him face to face with Doyle, a half-Brachen demon and fellow Irishman, gifted with visions from the Powers That Be, who had been designated as Angel's guide. Doyle recognised the dangers of withdrawing from human interaction and urged Angel not to lose sight of the very people he sought to protect. He warned that cutting himself off from humanity could lead him down a treacherous path of forgetting their worth and ultimately succumbing to his darkest instincts.
Fate intervened once again, bringing Cordelia Chase into Angel's life. Cordelia, a former classmate of Buffy's, had journeyed to Los Angeles in pursuit of wealth and fame. The trio found themselves drawn together, and with a shared sense of purpose, they established "Angel Investigations," a private detective agency dedicated to aiding those in need—especially the vulnerable and defenceless. United by a mission to "help the helpless," Angel, Doyle, and Cordelia became a formidable team.
Their altruistic endeavours did not go unnoticed, and their path soon intersected with the malevolent forces of the law firm Wolfram & Hart. As the agency's reputation grew, they attracted the attention of this sinister entity, setting the stage for a clash between good and evil, with Angel and his team standing as a beacon of hope against darkness and despair.
There is a recurring joke centred around Angel's seemingly consistent preference for small, blonde women as his love interests. Notably, Darla, Buffy, and Nina all fit this description, with the exception of Cordelia.
Angel's love life had always been characterised by a certain level of reticence, primarily because of his fear of forming deep emotional connections that could jeopardise his soul. This is what happened after he experienced a moment of “true happiness” with Buffy and was turned back to his evil self Angelus.
As time went on, Angel's perspective on relationships shifted, and he came to the realisation that meaningful connections did not necessarily have to lead to negative outcomes. Through his relationship with Nina, he learned that it was possible to experience intimacy and love while still maintaining his soul intact, allowing him to have what he referred to as "positive sex." This marked a significant step in Angel's journey, demonstrating his growth and acceptance of the complexities of love and life as a vampire with a conscience.
Following Buffy's tragic death, Angel sought solace and spiritual guidance in a Tibetan monastery located in Sri Lanka. The months he spent there were marked by deep mourning and a profound sense of guilt, believing that he had somehow betrayed Buffy by surviving while she was gone. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Cordelia, a loyal friend and confidante, provided much-needed reassurance, assuring Angel that his continued commitment to fighting evil was a testament to his love and respect for Buffy's memory.
Relationship With Cordelia
As time passed, Angel found himself experiencing a profound shift in his feelings toward Cordelia. What once had been a platonic affection evolved into a romantic love. However, before he could express his newfound emotions, an unexpected and shocking event unfolded - the return of Darla, who was pregnant. Darla's miraculous pregnancy was attributed to the single night they had spent together - a rarity for vampires, as they were believed to be incapable of such acts.
His Son Connor
As Darla's pregnancy progressed, the presence of the unborn child's soul began to influence her actions. Tragically, as a dead vampire, she couldn't carry the child to term, leading her to make the heart-wrenching decision to stake herself, leaving behind only a crying baby.
Overwhelmed with an unexpected surge of paternal love, Angel embraced his newfound role as a father and named the child Connor, honouring his Irish heritage. The arrival of Connor marked a turning point in Angel's life, as he navigated the complexities of parenthood while continuing to fight the darkness that threatened to consume the world.
Casting David Boreanaz
David Boreanaz played the iconic character of Angel throughout the Buffyverse, appearing in a total of 168 episodes. Interestingly, the role of Angel was initially intended to be a one-time appearance, but fate intervened when David Boreanaz was discovered, leading to his significant and long-lasting contribution to the series. Notably, Nathan Fillion, who would later go on to portray Caleb in Season 7 of Buffy, originally auditioned for the role of Angel.
Angel's prominence in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel, is unparalleled, making him a central figure in the Buffyverse. He holds the record for the most appearances, spanning across both series. Additionally, he is the sole character to feature in the first and last episodes of both Buffy and Angel, underlining his enduring significance in the overarching narrative. Alongside Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander, he is one of only five characters to be present in both the opening and closing episodes of Buffy. Similarly, alongside Lindsey, he is one of only two characters to appear in both the first and last episodes of Angel. He stands alongside Spike as one of the two characters to be present in the gripping series finales of both Buffy and Angel, further solidifying his indispensable role in the enthralling storylines of the Buffyverse.
As the leader of Wolfram & Hart, Angel's journey took him through various experiences and challenges, each revealing a diverse range of skills and abilities he possessed. On Cordelia's final day, she passed her visions to Angel, allowing him to experience the burdensome gift temporarily, as he believed it was a one-time occurrence, not a permanent ability.
Angel also had some knowledge of sorcery, capable of performing spells, exorcisms, and glamours. Although he preferred to rely on experts in the field when available, he demonstrated his proficiency when the need arose.
Immunity to certain powers and influences was among Angel's unique attributes. The Judge's incinerating touch could not harm his soulless state as he lacked humanity to be burned out. In his soulless state, Angel exhibited considerable skill in manipulating others' emotions, using psychological tactics to attack the Scooby Gang and Angel Investigations. His most notable example was driving Drusilla to insanity, showcasing his expertise in manipulation and torture.
Angel proved to be a capable leader, possessing strong leadership skills, tactical acumen, and a talent for intimidation. Even in weakened conditions, he commanded authority and respect, as seen when he confronted Connor after his escape.
Beyond his prowess in combat and leadership, Angel showcased various other talents. He had an eye for art, displaying skillful drawings using charcoal and China ink. His multilingual abilities encompassed several languages, and he even attempted to learn the language of certain demon species. Angel had a photographic memory, which served him well in many situations. His knowledge of modern technology was limited, often struggling with cell phones and computer terminology.
Angel's versatile abilities extended beyond fighting and the supernatural, as he demonstrated expertise in changing diapers and impressing others with his acting and improvisational skills. He surprised Cordelia with his remarkable cooking talents despite his liquid diet.
Angel’s advanced age also granted him extensive knowledge in demonology and history, rivalling that of scholars like Giles and Wesley.
Angel As A Vampire
As an immortal being, he could heal rapidly from injuries, and his physical attributes surpassed those of regular humans, granting him remarkable strength, speed, and enhanced senses. He had a keen sense of smell, enabling him to track individuals by their scent alone. However, like all vampires, he was susceptible to holy items and sunlight, which could cause harm or incapacitate him. Angel could be killed by decapitation or a stake through the heart, and he needed to consume mammal blood regularly to sustain his vitality. Additionally, he couldn't enter a living human's residence without an invitation, a common vampire limitation.
Due to his advanced age and rich history, Angel's powers exceeded those of younger vampires. He could move with astonishing speed, appearing to teleport over short distances, and displayed tremendous strength, capable of lifting heavy objects and surviving otherwise lethal events, like falls from great heights or exposure to sunlight and holy items, without severe injury. Angel's exceptional pain tolerance allowed him to endure prolonged periods of torture without succumbing.
Angel was a highly skilled and versatile fighter, proficient in various forms of martial arts such as Karate, Hapkido, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Wushu, Boxing, Wrestling, and Tai Chi. He often fought unarmed, utilising circular attacks, spinning kicks, and backhands to great effect. Additionally, he was proficient with a wide range of weapons, favouring broadswords and sometimes axes. Angel's combat abilities were further augmented during his soulless phases when he fought with unyielding aggression and no remorse.
Angel's distinct appearance and style of dress were iconic and reflective of his brooding and mysterious personality. He often donned full-length, black wool dusters, light brown trench coats, or shorter leather jackets, pairing them with black trousers and dress shoes. His dress shirts varied in colour, but they typically leaned towards gem tones and darker shades. Initially, he favoured untucked white button-down shirts with black dress jackets and a black leather bomber jacket, the latter of which he gifted to Buffy.
During his soulless phase in 1998, Angel's style somewhat changed, notably with the introduction of black leather pants that he frequently wore during this period. His shirts consisted of silk button shirts in black and red, along with paisley button shirts. Despite the changes, his full-length black wool duster remained a constant feature of his outfit. On his back, he sported a tattoo of a griffin with the letter A in the tail.
Angel's physical appearance was regarded as strikingly attractive, earning him the nickname "one with the angelic face." Despite an initial unfavourable impression from Buffy, she still found him "gorgeous" and complimented his penetrating eyes. Cordelia, Faith, Fred, Kendra Young, and Anya Jenkins were among those who praised his physical appearance. Even some men acknowledged his allure, with Xander acknowledging him as a "buff" and "very attractive man" upon their first meeting.
Spike would tease Angel about his hair, humorously claiming he used "Nancy boy hair gel." Doyle also attempted to taunt him about his forehead, referring to it as "overhanging," while Spike playfully referred to him as "Captain Forehead."
Angelus, Liam, Angel - who?
Throughout his long life, Angel had gone by various names, including "Liam" as a human and "Angelus" as a vampire. However, after adopting the name "Angel" circa 1943, he chose not to revert to his birth name of Liam, except during the period when he suffered from amnesia. While the name "Angelus" was brought up occasionally in reference to his evil past or to compare his present self with his history, he was never called "Angelus" again, except by those who were unaware of his name change or who had known him before his transformation into Angel.
In 2003, when all reference to the Beast was erased from Earth, Angel was also affected, but his soulless past was not, as this identity technically ceased to exist when the spell was cast. However, after his soul was removed for a second time, the Angel Investigations team exceptionally referred to him as the historical "Angelus" because he retained memories of what no longer existed in the world. They declared that "Angel was gone." Conversely, during the time he lost his soul in 1997, he kept his most recent name, reaffirming his identity as "Angel."
Angel's character was not without flaws, and one aspect that occasionally surfaced was his tendency towards jealousy and possessiveness, which he was aware of but rarely admitted. He made little effort to conceal this side of himself, particularly when it came to Buffy's other romantic relationships, notably with Riley and Spike, which often triggered his bouts of insecurity.
Despite his brooding nature, Angel had a softer side and enjoyed aspects of pop culture. He found pleasure in Barry Manilow's music and was a fan of ice hockey. His fondness for old detective novels inspired him to establish Angel Investigations initially.
During his darker phases, Angel turned to smoking as a coping mechanism, evident during his soulless state in 1998, his ensouled depression pre-Buffy, and his dark period in Los Angeles in late 2000. His darker past as Angelus revealed a twisted artistic inclination, creating "masterpieces" through intense physical and emotional torture, exemplified in his relationship with Drusilla. He once described evil as an art, finding pleasure in the destruction of human beings.
Angel's presence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was transformative, leaving an enduring legacy on the show and its fans. From his initial brooding allure to the revelations of his cursed existence, Angel's character underwent tremendous growth, ultimately transcending his vampire origins to become a champion of good. His profound and often turbulent relationship with Buffy Summers added layers of emotional depth to the series, captivating audiences and setting a standard for complex love stories in the realm of supernatural fiction.
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