I've been thinking about Buffy and Angel, from the beginning of BTVS until now, in both shows. I've thought about the characters, the story lines, the dialogue and about the actors, the writers, the networks.
And it made me think again about the phrase, "Trust the tale, not the teller."
Joss created a love story which, regardless of what some may want to believe, including said creator and his minions, formed the foundation of not only BTVS, but AtS as well. Yes, it was supposed to be all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but how far would that storyline alone have gone without the depth and uniqueness of the eternal love that was portrayed between Buffy and Angel? It was the connection and the attraction between the two that fired the imaginations of fanfic writers and others who created multitudes of websites dedicated to not just Buffy or just Angel, but Buffy and Angel…as one entity. Two halves of a whole.
I've been told on other boards, no, it's not Buffy and Angel, it's all about Buffy or just about Angel (on AtS). I have to disagree because of all the obstacles and sacrifices she had to face, especially as the Slayer, none were more compelling and explosive than the plots that were woven around Buffy and Angel/Angelus. Try imagining the passion and pathos of the first three seasons of BTVS without Angel in them…and what do you get? I'll tell you…the last three seasons of BTVS and the last season and a half of AtS. With regurgitated plot lines and falling ratings on both shows.
From the very first episode of BTVS Buffy and Angel were. No, it may not have been the original intention, but when Joss saw the reaction to the chemistry between SMG and DB, he ran with it…and Buffy and Angel's love for each other became (like it or not, believe it or not for some fans) a basic premise of the show. Buffy had Angel in her life from the moment she became the Slayer on; he was a part of her as much as being a Slayer was. And Angel had no life before he saw Buffy, she became his life, his reason for existing.
The telling of the tale had begun with the teller working to keep up with it.
I get the impression, especially in season two that the story was almost writing itself. The power of the love between Buffy and Angel (and Angelus' parallel hate) was what gave the episodes the passion and depth that make them so memorable…and irreplaceable. The angst in season three did nothing but add fuel to the fire that ignited when they were onscreen together.
But what made it so powerful in addition to that sizzling spark that the actors lit? There are many things.
The time-old epic of star-crossed love, the intuitive knowledge that you have found that one person in all the universe who completes you. The profundity of a love soul deep, that time, space and dimensions cannot destroy it.
The amazing force of opposites, light and dark, large and small, soft and harsh, young and old, life and death. Joss used visual imagery time and again to show the stark differences between the large, dark, brooding vampire of the night in juxtaposition to the small, vibrant light of day embodied in the slayer. The unlife of centuries in contrast to the brief, flicker of years lived by the Chosen One.
But the opposites were only equaled by what they alone held in common. They were alone in their own places making them vulnerable, but allowing them to have the empathy to see that in each other. The mutual fear of the darkness that they knew lurked inside them. The feelings of isolation of being unique, apart from humans in everyday life. Of physical and mental strength …strength for others, not themselves. The need to be loved as who they were, not what they were, the basic truth of knowing they had to do what was right, regardless the personal cost.
But most of all? That each loves the other more than life itself and is willing to give all they have for the other, including their life. And their unconditional love for each other, one willing to forgive the other no matter what transpires, even when they can't forgive themselves.
And after season three, when Angel had to go off on his own, the story still rang true, he fought for his redemption and, hopefully, his reward of being reunited with the only one who had ever given meaning to his life.
So, now that the networks have divided the shows and the writers are taking 'new directions', does that mean the tale has changed? No, even though they're trying desperately to do just that…it can't. It already is and it can't be undone.
They can give both Angel and Buffy other people to try to escape into, but they'll never be able to replace with anyone else something that is already complete.
How can the writers make anyone believe that there could be anyone else for either of them when Buffy told Angel she would 'always' be his girl, Angel told her, 'even death can't part us'. That forever is the whole point.
They can't. It removes the veracity of both characters. It destroys a very basic part of who each of them is.
How would it be possible for Cordelia to make a more heart wrenching sacrifice than Buffy did when she sent Angel to Hell to save the world? Or when she forced him to drink her life's blood to save him?
How could Spike show his love any more profoundly than Angel did by coming back from Hell with Buffy's name the only thing he knew or giving up his only chance to be human for her life?
They can't. Even though they continue to try, they have no way to succeed.
Each show has a huge hole in it and the writers have been trying to fill it, but they never will…it's like pouring water into sand. No matter what they do only the same 'sand' will ever fill the void that's been created.
Some will argue that the shows have never been better. Then why hasn't BTVS added, instead of lost viewers? Why is AtS being moved to a time slot that looks destined to cause it's demise? Sure there's an audience for both shows, but not enough to keep them afloat.
And if the shows are so much better as some say, then why make such drastic changes in the characters? Why take away the attributes that made Angel who he was and replace them with new ones that make him unrecognizable? And why after THREE years are so many fans still begging ME to please let Buffy and Angel come back together again?
The shows are sinking as surely as Angel's iron casket deep-sixing to the ocean floor…metaphorical on so many levels. Though, conversely, BA has almost nothing to do the sinking, unless it's shown it's all come about from Angel being in denial and wouldn't that defeat exactly what it is they're trying so hard to achieve?
The only thing that will never sink is the BA ship because we know that with the eternal love of true soul mates the tale will never be over, even after the teller is long gone.
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