|Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 5 BtVS/season 2 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.|
Vampires and their human predecessors
"God never did anything for me."
Virginia Colony, 1609: When the Master came to the New World (perhaps seeking the Hellmouth) he set his sites on a young woman he would come to call "Darla". HumanDarla was a prostitute who had some material wealth and a disdain for religion that probably grew out of religion's disdain for the life she lead.
I don't think Darla *loved* anyone, not even when she was originally human. She had been a prostitute, used to being used by men and shunned by *good* people. When she became a vampire she became the user. Using Angelus because, with her training, he could get her what she wanted - revenge on all the good and decent people (particularly missionaries). When Angelus was re-souled he became useless to her, and she dumped him - as men had used and dumped her in her former life (purplegrrl, 17-Nov-00 11:25).
The invitation to vampires: HumanDarla didn't ask for a priest. So who invited the cleric-masquerading Master into her home? According to the Master, humanDarla herself did. The Master had probably been stalking her for a while, and when she was on her death bed, he came up to her window and sang to her. She called out to him in her syphilis-induced delirium, asking for him to visit her. This does not imply she was asking to be vamped, however.
Vampire clans: The Order of Aurelius
Who is Darla?
Darla: "What did you bring back? Did you bring back that girl, whose name I can't remember? Or did you bring back something else? The other thing."
Lindsey: "Both. Neither,"
Lindsey is not privy to all the details of Wolfram and Hart's plan for Darla. And he probably doesn't know the details of the Raising ritual he helped invoke. But it's unclear that anyone knows the full answer to this question. More on Darla's identity crisis
Hell: Darla doesn't remember anything between the moment Angel dusted her and her return. Since the revivification of vampires is possible, it's also possible that vampire spirits have somewhere to go after the body is gone. But Darla questions this. "Could it be there is no hell?" she asks. "There is a hell," Angel tells her. "I've been to one." True enough, and so has Buffy. But it is likely they weren't in the same sort of place at all.
Perhaps the difference between Angel's and Darla's memories/non-memories of Hell are due to the fact that Angel went *bodily* to Hell, not just his soul (purplegrrl, 16-Nov-00 15:35).
Evil in "Darla"
Angelus and The Master: In 1997, The Master seemed to regard Angelus highly: "I miss him," "He was to have sat on my right hand come the day." In 1760, however, the young and disrespectful "stallion" wanted nothing to do with a heavy-establishment type like the Master. The Master gave him a beating, but allowed Angelus to leave undusted and let Darla go with him.
I think it can partly be explained by the Master not being in the same desperate situation as he was in Sunnydale -- where every moment of incompetance jeapordized his freedom. Allowing Angelus and Darla to depart caused him no inconvenience and proved to be the right choice -- as Darla eventually returned to him, more devoted than ever (Malandanza, 16-Nov-00 11:06).
By 1880, Angelus was much more conservative himself, chiding a young Spike for his impetuous behavior. He tried to teach Spike some lessons in vampire decorum, even though Spike wasn't ready to take them to heart.
Angelus rose in the Master's estimation when he lasted more than a century while causing such havoc and clever atrocities (LenS, Nov 14 21:50 2000).
...Or maybe during [the Master's] imprisonment in the Hellmouth, as he was poring over prophecies, he found out that Angel/Angelus was going to be be of great import (Cosmic Bob, Nov 15 13:09 2000).
Darla and the Master: Between 1900 and 1997, Darla returned to America and reunited with the Master (who was in Sunnydale continuously from 1937 to 1997). It's likely her disappointment with souled Angel was the impetus for this.
The explanation of why Darla said "You're living above ground like one of them" in Angel, even though she and Angelus had lived above ground after she left the master... When she went back to the Master, she returned to his ways (Lucille, Nov 15 8:00 2000).
Angel(us) and Drusilla: Angelus' indifference to Dru is consistent with what we know of him--a sadistic, unfeeling creature who became obsessed with women briefly (as he was with Drusilla, prior to vamping her) and then forgot them.
I liked the fact that Angelus had lost interest in Dru after her turning. She was merely a plaything he had wearied of. This did not stop him from stealing Dru away from a wheelchair-bound Spike -- but he did this not out of passion for Dru, but out of spite (Malandanza, 16-Nov-00 11:06).
Souled Angel's reaction to Dru came from his guilt over turning her into a vampire in the first place. And Darla and Spike or not, Drusilla no doubt did the snake-in-the-woodshed with Angelus more than once in the forty years they spent together. If he did deny her at any point, as we saw him do, it was because that's the only way a sadist can really torment a masochist.
Even Angel(us') relationship with Darla was one of obsession rather than love. The only difference was that Darla was a mother to him, as much, if not more, than a lover. He needed her. Angelus never needed Drusilla, nor the gypsy girl, nor Buffy, nor any of the other women he was obsessed with, unless you count his obsessed need to control them.
He not only killed his mom, he did it TWICE! And had sex with the second one! For hundreds of years! And Darla is Mother as Lust as Death which just doesn't get any more archetypal and twisted (Anya G., 10:36 am Nov 15, 2000).
That's a big fucking romance is what that is. A hundred-and-fifty years of being with somebody, that's what I call having a history. But at no time was I trying to play this as being Angel's true love. It's more like the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe; this troubled, old married couple with secrets. ...here`s a guy who's been around for a couple of hundred years before he ever met Buffy and certainly he was shaped in some way (BtVS/AtS writer Tim Minear, 11/13/00).
Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Darla"
|According to Lindsey, Wolfram and Hart's plan is to make Angel "dark". But Lindsey isn't entirely in the loop. He's surprised when Darla begins to show signs of "post traumatic stress," while Holland isn't. And Lindsey doesn't realize until later that the struggle between himself, Darla, and the guard was staged. He tries to help Darla escape from Wolfram and Hart, and Holland takes him off the project. When Holland tells him the project is "terminated", Lindsey enlists Angel's help to save Darla. But this is all part of Wolfram and Hart's plan:|
...Lindsey's been played for a patsy all along. I never understood why [Holland] had forgiven Lindsey for betraying the Firm. Answer: he hadn't. He simply used the tendency to the Firm's advantage (B.H. Perry, 10:40 pm Nov 14, 2000)
Angel is willing to help Darla cope with the weight of her soul, but Darla asks to be re-sired. It's a less painful path, to be sure. As a vampire, she'd be stronger, less prone to disease, and free of conscience. It's also more familiar to her. When Angel refuses, Darla leaves.
Angel isn't simply atoning for deeds done while his soul was absent. For decades, he struggled with what having a soul meant. At first, he tried to act like a soulless vampire, but the shoe didn't quite fit anymore. He fed on humans to prove himself to Darla in 1900 China, but only killed people whose deaths he could justify to himself (evil-doers). And he mostly fed on rats. When he actually tried to save missionaries and rescued their infant child from Darla, he proved to her he wasn't a regular vampire anymore, much less her Angelus. But he wasn't a human being, either. It took him nearly a century to find his place in the world.
Side note: Darla's oufits in the China scenes were not kimonos. So either Angel saw Darla again between 1900 and 1997, or Angel ignorantly assumed the Chinese clothing she was wearing were Japanese kimonos.
Unanswered question: In 1997, Angel told Buffy "I haven't fed on a living human being since [the day my soul was restored]." We've now seen two events that contradict this. Angel therefore lied to Buffy. He had the vampire slayer who loved him pointing a cross-bow at his chest. Better to have her think his soul prevented him from ever killing humans, even it didn't stop him in the beginning when he was still struggling with his personal and moral identity.
The good of Gunn
Ethical Quandaries in "Darla"
What motivated the gypsy curse?
After the gypsies restored Angel's soul, Darla tried to coerce the gypsy-girl's father into undoing the curse. When he refused, she told Spike and Dru to kill every man, woman and child in the camp. This mass slaughter was later added to the list of Angelus' sins against the Romany by the descendents of those who survived.
...this explains why the curse they tagged Angelus with was lost to the mists of time within a century. Jenny and her uncle are from a related clan not present at the gypsy slaughter, but the curse itself was torched along with the caravans (J. Callan, 1:58 pm Nov 15, 2000).
It is easy for later generations to see the curse as "simple justice" if they believed Angelus was guilty of killing off most of the Romany. He did not, however, and Darla argues:
"That is no justice. Whatever pain he caused to your daughter was momentary, over in an instant. Or an hour. But what you've done to him will force him to suffer for the rest of eternity!"
Now it is possible to argue that regardless of whether he killed one gypsy or a whole clan, Angelus "had it coming"--he was a vicious killer for 150 years, and deserved to be punished. And Darla's argument assumed vampire values that the Romany elder would never be swayed by. The elder responds that
"He must suffer, as all of his victims have suffered."
The point remains, however, that future generations of the Romany saw the cursing of Angelus as revenge for the gypsy deaths, rather than punishment for the other people Angelus killed over the years. And that's not a minor point. If they were really out to punish Angelus for being an evil vampire, why not punish other vampires as well? They had a beef with him taking one of their own.
The Shroud of Rahmon
The Metaphysics of "The Shroud of Rahmon"
When the demon Rahmon was defeated, a priest driven mad by the demon wove a burial cloth to prevent its resurrection. The shroud was dyed with the blood of seven virgin women sacrificed on the first full moon and placed over the demon in a casket made of consecrated wood edged with gold and lined with lead. By some unexplained means, the shroud absorbed Rahmon's power. In 1803, the Shroud was removed by the people of El Encanto. It drove them insane. From there it was locked in a New Mexico tomb.
Vampire physiology: The thieves need a vampire to turn off the alarm in the Natural History Museum vault because it contains a thermal sensor and vampires have no body heat.
Insanity: The Shroud has its first effects on Angel and the others when they enter the vault. An indistinct whispering begins, Angel's eyes turn yellow briefly, and Gunn comments on a "weird" feeling the Shroud gives him. Then Angel begins his vampy remarks (e.g., scared victims tasting "salty") and Gunn aims his anti-vampires anger at Angel.
...I suspected that Angel was losing and regaining control, but I couldn't tell when he was actually being influenced by the shroud and when he was faking it to throw off the demons (M.G. Lipscomb, 8:55 pm Nov 22, 2000).
Their fight causes them to drop the casket. The glass cracks and a purple mist seeps out. At this point, Gunn attacks Angel with a stake, Bob-the-security-guard gets goofy about being tied up, the Spiny-headed demon takes Bob's head off, and the not-too-pretty M. James Menlo gets paranoid about fingerprints. Wesley comes upon them and tries to warn Angel about the Shroud's influence, but he, Cordy, and Kate have been affected as well. Cordelia gives into a little self-absorption and shop-lifting, Wesley becomes forgetful and distracted, and Kate fires her gun at shadows.
Destroying the Shroud: The group takes the casket back to the garage where they fight over the Shroud. Angel takes the shroud outside, douses it with Bob's bottle of whiskey, and sets it ablaze. An explosion throws him back and flames engulf the Shroud.
Evil in "The Shroud of Rahmon"
As a "drive-you-mad" kind of demon, Rahmon and his shrouded remains are an example of evil-as-chaos.
The thieves: James, whiskey-swilling Bob-the-corrupt-museum-security guard, and Spiny are all after The Shroud. Bob and James are interested in the two million they'll get on the black market. James wants the gold-sealed casket as well. Spiny insists "his people" should have it, although he's not clear why. None of them seemed to be aware before hand what powers the Shroud actually had. Garden-variety greed.
Good and Moral Ambiguity in "The Shroud of Rahmon"
Gunn and Angel don't need an evil shroud to get pissy with each other. Each is used to "being the boss" of his respective demon-hunting band. So when Angel tries to take over a favor Gunn is doing for his cousin, fearing that Gunn will get hurt by jumping in "guns-a-blazing", Gunn is offended. He isn't going to simply do whatever Angel says.
They meet up in the garage where the thieves are planning the heist. Angel is impersonating the "psycho vampire" Jay-Don and Gunn is impersonating his cousin Lester. James tells everyone that the heist is happening that night and threatens to kill anyone who leaves before it's over. Angel, who wants to get the Shroud before the bad guys do, realizes he must go through with the crime. Angel tries to get Gunn out of danger several times (once by hitting him). In response, hot-headed Gunn makes an anti-vampire slur and hits Angel back.
And this is in the garage, before they even get near the shroud. Angel and Gunn certainly know how to help blow a vault, too--what's up with that?
But Angel also breaks up a fight between Gunn and Bob, keeps the security guard Earl from being killed, and rather recklessly pushes Wesley out of the line of fire. And to Gunn's credit, he trusts Angel enough to relinquish the Shroud so Angel can destroy it.
Kate has moved her focus from Angel to murder suspect Darla. But she still has her eye on Angel, in case he crosses the thin line from being above the law to breaking the law. Kate has heard a few things about Angel and Darla's past, and she knows he has mixed feelings about his sire. Darla could very well be the trigger that makes him take that one small step. Then two cops doing surveillance on a suspected bank robber show Kate pictures of Angel being greeted by this man. Kate heads to the Museum of Natural History. She thinks she has him nailed. And Angel, under the influence of the shroud, taunts her cruelly about her father's death and then sinks his fangs into her.
In a flash-back from Kate's point of view, we discover that Angel used his vampire bite to get between Kate and the criminal Menlo's gun. After taking a nip from her neck, he whispers, "Stay down or they'll kill you." Then he lets go of her. She drops to the floor and plays dead. Kate obviously takes Angel's word that he was working undercover to destroy the shroud, because she does not attempt to arrest or kill him as the last surviving suspect. Later, we see Kate standing in front of her office window, fingering her neck wound and contemplating the shade of gray that is Angel.
When Angel thinks back on the bite, though, he remembers the blood-sucking part of it.
The good, moral ambiguity, and feminism(?) of Cordelia
Good in and the Metaphysics of "The Trial"
Realm of the Trials: In a desperate attempt to prevent Darla from dying of syphilis, Angel "takes the plunge" into a waterless swimming pool on the advice of the Caritas Host. The pool is a portal to a place not unlike the realm of the Oracles. It looks like the interior of a medieval castle and is occupied by a staid English valet. The Valet's job is to provide three "trials" to visitors seeking second chances at life for themselves or others. Angel's leap unwittingly puts Darla's life on the line--either he completes the trials and she is cured, or he doesn't and she dies instantly.
I think this Jeeves guy is related to the PTB. He seems to have a lot in common with the [Oracles]...living in a seperate reality, reached by a portal...not having much emotion (Phronk, 29-Nov-00 20:58)
The Trials: Angel must
It's all for naught, however, because when the Valet puts his hands on Darla's head to save her, he discovers that Darla has already been given a second life by supernatural means.
Angel gets his due: what the Trials paid for
Vampires and telepathy: Darla demands to see what's happening to Angel during his trials, and the Valet touches Darla's forehead. There is a short flash of light, and Darla begins experiencing events from Angel's point of view. Apparently the Valet has been endowed with enough magic power to override that pesky inability to read a vampire's mind.
The invitation to vampires
Good and Evil in "The Trial"
Darla is deeply moved by the lengths Angel goes to to save her life--she felt it for herself--and his willingness to die for her. So much so, that by the time Angel realizes that vamping is the only option left, Darla refuses it. She feels loved, possibly for the first time in all her years. She argues that her "second chance" was probably the chance to die the way she was supposed to the first time. At that moment, Wolfram & Hart black ops specialists break into Darla's hotel room and taser and tape the already wounded Angel. He is then forced to watch helplessly as his own spawn, Drusilla, turns Darla back into a vampire.
VampDarla is her own great-grandmummy now. But what about the human soul she had before Drusilla vamped her? That's gone.
Moral Ambiguity in "The Trial"
"In this place, the journey is all,"
The Valet is unmoved by Angel's struggle, a fact that offends Darla. But it goes against his purpose to steer Angel in any particular direction; his job is to provide an arena where the fighter makes his own choices within the limitations set by the challenges. What's important is to discover the lengths Angel will go to for a friend. The only unfair thing about the trial was that Angel did not know that he was putting Darla's life in the balance when he "took the plunge". As a warrior, he was capable of the rest of it, as he proved.
Ethical Quandaries in "The Trial"
What to do about Darla?
Holland informs Darla that she is dying of the same disease that almost killed her in her first human life--syphilis. It's too late to help her with modern medicine. She has only a few months to live. Darla decides to do what she was going to do anyway--find someone to revamp her. Angel stakes the goofy young vampire she chooses before he gets the chance to act. Lindsey is doubtful a cure exists. He thinks re-vamping Darla is the only option as well.
Angel argues that becoming undead is not "giving Darla back her life", and it certainly won't save the Darla he and Lindsey have come to know in the past few months. Instead, they will have a predatory vampire who might just as soon snack on Lindsey as make love to him. Angel knows now that the previous MortalDarla was a prostitute who probably never had an opportunity for happiness. He wants to give her a real "second chance" at life, and he is willing to die to make it happen.
The Valet argues that this may not be an even trade. The world is a better place with the warrior of good Angel in it. He can save many people. A world with Darla would be worse, because even though Darla is experiencing the inklings of redemption, she is at a vulnerable stage. It is likely she would stumble in a world without Angel.
... if Angel *had* died to give Darla the rest of a normal human lifetime... the world *would* be a worse place, and someone really committed to saving souls (and, particularly, to paying for his past misdeeds) doesn't have the right to make that sacrifice (7:03 am). ...[Darla's] as worthy of being saved as anyone ("forgiveness isn't something you earn," after all), it's a question -- for me -- of what Angel's responsibility is. Is he responsible to himself, in which case he did exactly right, or is he responsible to the Powers? (Emily S. 9:31 am Nov 29, 2000).
If Angel places his crusade above the individual lives of the people he is helping, he can become detached from the very people who purportedly cares about. Kate warned what happens to innocent people caught in the crossfire between him and W&H. Angel doesn't want to go down that path (B. Press, 7:34 am Nov 29, 2000).
Free will and becoming a vampire: Angel implies that for him, and, he believes, Darla as well, becoming a vampire wasn't voluntary. "You think that you can resist, but then it's too late." When a human is vamped, they are weakened and near death, then forced against a vampiric flow of blood with a vampire's strength. Some victims may not even know the consequences of tasting it, although it is safe to assume Darla did, even if she could do nothing about it.
The birth of VampDarla, Mark II: No special preparations are required for vamp childe-birth. Most vampires rise from graves because they spend some as yet unstated number of hours (days?) as a corpse first and are buried. But others just get up from wherever their human predecessor fell dead. Drusilla takes the re-birth of her grandmummy very seriously, burying her in a shroud and soil in a plant nursery under the stars.
When VampDarla comes to, she sits up and inhales. A vampire does not need oxygen; this is simply a reflex left over from her human life. However, a new-born vampire can be very disoriented before they grow accustomed to their new state. Angelus did not display the disorientation in The Prodigal Angel reported in SAR because most of it was experienced before he climbed out of the ground. VampDarla, on the other hand, is thrust from moment one into a chaotic family feud and only recovers her full memory and personality after her first feeding.
Disorientation also makes Darla initially hostile to Drusilla. Upon rising, the demon has little to inform them except recent memory. VampDarla's memories are of not wanting to be vamped. Once the blood lust takes over and VampDarla feeds, the demon is able to come into its own. This includes picking and choosing which memories will be central to the demon's identity and which will not.
Who is vampDarla? The murk thickens
Precognition: Drusilla has a premonition that Angel is on his way to Wolfram and Hart after he unsuccessfully tries to stake Darla. She also senses "daddy" upstairs at Holland's house. Yet she does not predict Angel's choice to leave his enemies, their dates, and the hired help in the clutches of Darla and Drusilla; she believed he would try to save them.
The invitation to vampires: Holland tells Angel that he's not invited to the wine-tasting at his home. But it's quite likely that Dru left Catherine Manners alive near the open front door for Angel to find. Holland's wife pleads for Angel's help, an implied invitation. Dru may be hoping to lure Angelus out to play with this act, or she may simply want to torment Angel, or she may want a chance at some quality patricide. Who knows with Dru?
Evil in "Reunion"
Wolfram and Hart's plan for Angel: dust, dark, or distracted?
In "Darla", Holland told Lindsey that they know Darla won't be able to turn Angel into Angelus. He says they want Angel to "save her soul". Is this a euphemism for Angel vamping her? Perhaps they brought Darla back as a human with a terminal disease in hopes that Angel would be forced into turning her to "save" her, thus setting him down the path of darkness. Holland implies as much:
VampDarla: "You brought me back as human, a dying one at that, let me wallow with a soul, then sent me crawling back to Angel, begging him to restore me."
Holland: "Which he should have done right away. But I miscalculated. I thought he cared more than he did."
If that were the case, Wolfram and Hart should have waited a while longer before doing it themselves. Angel was desperate enough to vamp Darla by the end of The Trial. But we should know by now not to take anything a Wolfram and Hart lawyer says at face value, especially when he's trying to save his own neck.
And by disabling Angel without dusting him, Wolfram and Hart prove that their plan does not include killing him. The plan in fact seems to be back where it started--Angel is run to distraction keeping Drusilla and Darla from going on a killing spree. But distracting hero-Angel isn't a very pragmatic plan. It's a full time job; you might as well kill him. More on Wolfram and Hart's plan
Arrogance and Pride: When a disoriented VampDarla escapes Wolfram and Hart with Drusilla in tow, Holland tells his security people to let them go. He later suggests that his vampire "colleagues" go on a massacre with "the full weight and support of Wolfram and Hart." When Angel tries to bully the vampires' where-abouts out of Lindsey, Holland taunts Angel about all the lives that hang in the balance.
"You set things in motion" Angel replies angrily, "play your little games up here in your glass and chrome tower, and people die."
"And yet I just can't seem to care," Holland scoffs.
You can see why Angel might want to thrust his enemies thick into the horror of their crimes.
Holland assumes quite smugly that Angel will dance to the tune they're fiddling rather than allow a human death he can prevent. He also believes Angel will find it difficult to dust two vampires he has a personal connection to. All is well in his world. He reports to his people at the wine-tasting party that the senior partners are pleased with the work their division's been doing. He has taken no precautions against Darla and Drusilla at all. He doesn't warn his wife about inviting them in. He never cared that Darla resented the way they used her--bringing her back to life, allowing her syphilis to progress, dangling her in front of Angel time and again. And he treats Drusilla like a child. So all Holland's bargaining and blubbering isn't going to help them. The Special Projects Division needs a champion. But that isn't what they get.
"Daddy..." Drusilla coos. Is she right?
Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "Reunion"
Lindsey is an attractive and successful lawyer. He could have anyone he desires. But what he wants is VampDarla. And maybe Drusilla as well. When Holland chides him about "healthy attachments", Lindsey has Dru hiding in the shadows of his office. Both times Darla buries her nose in his neck, all Lindsey does is smile calmly. He worries that Angel will kill his girls. He seems quite pleased when Angel traps him in the cellar with them instead. Perhaps he wants to lose that pesky soul that's been tying down his success at Wolfram and Hart. Maybe he just doesn't mind dying, if it's from a VampDarla suck-job. What a way to go.
Kate shows trust in Angel when she releases him after an arrest for breaking and entering Wolfram and Hart and sends him after vampDarla and Drusilla. This is a big step for someone who is in principle against citizens taking the law into their own hands. But Kate acknowledges that she needs help in tracking down the vampires, and knows that Angel's intimate knowledge of them will help. Unfortunately, Angel crosses the line Kate has feared he would. He aids and abets Darla and Drusilla's massacre of the lawyers, and that puts him at clear odds with the law.
Did Angel go too far in allowing Darla and Drusilla's massacre?
Cordelia, Gunn, and Wesley are stunned at Angel's actions. Angel defends himself by arguing that Wolfram and Hart brought what happened on themselves. His friends reply that even if this is true, it doesn't justify allowing it. Humans died; Angel aided and abetted it; and he did so, it seems, out of his own hatred of them--a hatred based on the fact that Wolfram and Hart aid and abet human death every day. Angel assures his friends that he will stop Darla and Drusilla, but his friends wonder when exactly that will happen.
He should have waited outside for Dru and Darla after they feasted on the lawyers. Darla and Dru will kill again. And Angel just walked away. Perhaps he should have burned the house down (Beth, 24-Dec-00 15:26).
Wesley takes some of the blame on himself and Cordelia. They've watched Angel's obsession with Darla send him into one tail-spin after another for months, yet even after the close call with the crazy-making evil death shroud got them worrying about Angel's dark side, they were still bickering over who would confront the boss. The next opportunity to intervene came when Angel's charge on Wolfram and Hart was interrupted by Cordelia's vision. Angel stepped through the mission with the suicidal kid with impatient sloppiness. His friends wondered then if his determination to stop Dru and Darla was part of his obsession rather than a general desire to do good.
By the time Angel's friends get down to a real intervention, Angel is no longer responsive. Cordelia tells Angel he needs to take a serious look at his methods of late before he falls into darkness. Angel's only answer is to fire them all.
Angel is unknowingly playing right into Wolfram &Hart's plan. Despite the fact that Holland, et al. may or may not be around to see their plan into fruition, they set it up perfectly. Their plan was not to kill Angel or turn him into Angelus, but to make him stop fighting as a Warrior for Good. ...This way Angel is destroyed from the inside out - he destroys himself, either figuratively or literally (Purplegrrl, 20-Dec-00 15:01).
Angel knows that to defeat W &H he is going to have to get dark and dirty. The reason he fired his employees is to protect them (both physically and morally). He can't have them in the way as he does what he has to do. W & H has no idea what they have unleashed. They have sowed the wind, now they will reap the whirlwind! This whole situation reminds me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a pacifist but when faced with Adolph Hitler, and presented with the opportunity to stop him, Bonhoeffer was willing to forfeit his own soul to protect others against the great evil of Hitler. Angel is willing to give up his chance of being human, his chance at redemption, to save the world from the evil of Wolfram and Hart. No greater sacrifice could anyone make (Anonymous, 21-Dec-00 23:17).
The Metaphysics of "Redefinition"
Precognition: Drusilla can sense Angel in the demon fight club and knows he is thinking of the bond he developed with humanDarla. Later, Drusilla senses her own impending fate when she gets a vision of a "pretty fire... and pain..." outside the auto repair shop where Angel and his gasoline trail awaits them.
...how Darla and Dru got into W&H without the vamp detectors going off. ...the vampire Lindsey sees in the hallway ("What are you looking at?") was there to establish that there were already vampires in the building, so that the detector wouldn't be an "issue" (Episode writer Meredith "-mere-" Smith, Jan 17 12:10 2001).
Evil in "Redefinition"
Darla and Drusilla left Lindsey and Lilah alive so that they could use the lawyers' money and connections to carry out their own plans. According to Darla, they want to foment mass destruction on Los Angeles, and they seek out some demon and monster minions to do the more dangerous devastation. But is Darla only out to "have some fun"? Drusilla taunts her with the memories she carries of Angel from the past few months.
"Why is everyone trying to make this about Angel?" Darla exclaims. The (un)lady doth protest too much, however. Lindsey expected Darla to kill Angel. But she doesn't. Instead, she intends to rain destruction on the city. Is this her colossal attempt to get revenge on the demon-fighter who made her feel like a human being. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened in the Buffyverse.
...she will be the victim of the love she never got in her first life (15:57) ...When she came back a human, she was still bitter and resentful, then, Angel reached her and made her feel valued for the first time in any life. I have to wonder if killing scores of people can erase her heart? (18:04) ...Darla's own long ago words have come back to haunt her, "the same love will infect your heart, even if it no longer beats. Simple death won't change that." Darla the man using prostitute won't be defeated by an STD ...she won't be defeated by a stake, she will be defeated by the love she felt as a warm human for so short a time. She will die from the heartbeat she can't forget (Rufus, 19-Jan-01 15:57).
Lilah and Lindsey: Darla, Lilah and Lindsey are all convinced that one surviving member of the Special Projects Division--either Lindsey or Lilah--will be accused of conspiring with the vampires in the wine-cellar massacre, while the other will take VP Holland Manners' place. This puts Lilah and Lindsey at each other's throats. Lilah does whatever she can to prolong her survival. She sucks up to whomever's got the power--whether it's a Wolfram and Hart investigator or VampDarla--and tries to frame her rival Lindsey by pretending that she wants them to join forces against the firm.
But Lindsey knows all too well what the voice of betrayal sounds like, and doesn't fall for it. Lilah and Lindsey are likely to remain thorns in each other's sides for a while, because the Senior Partners give both of them Holland's job. The Wolfram and Hart investigator says it's because the two lawyers' competition with each other keeps them both on their toes. But perhaps the senior partners need a couple of pawns. Darla calls Lilah and Lindsey "naive", and doubts they know what Wolfram and Hart's true plan for Angel is.
Good and Moral Ambiguity in "Redefinition"
We are the Champions: After Angel fires them, Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn each wind up at Caritas, at a loss about what to do next. After drinking, singing, and fighting the urge to regurgitate, they wait for the Host to tell them their destinies. Before he can do so, the PTB's give Cordelia a vision of a demon preying on a young woman. The gang jumps into action. While Cordelia pulls the victim away, Wesley distracts the demon by attacking it with a two-by-four. When the demon tackles him, Gunn pushes it to the ground and impales its head with a broken chair leg. After their success, the three decide to run the agency themselves, with or without Angel.
"That wasn't Angel. It wasn't Angelus, either. Who was that?" --Darla
The metaphysical answer to this question is relatively simple, for once. The chilling cigarette-smoking man in the auto repair shop is souled Angel. Determining his moral identity is a little more perplexing, however. As Gunn puts it, Angel has gone "commando". He's transformed his basement into a training area, he's no longer taking calls from vision-girl, and his behavior is getting increasingly violent. But he's isn't evil evil. Yet. He's decided he can't fight Wolfram and Hart as the person he's become over the past four years.
Wolfram and Hart dangled some of his biggest regrets in his face and the human part of Angel, desperate for redemption, responded. He tried to save human Darla's soul. He tried to fight Darla and Drusilla. But Wolfram and Hart knew what they were doing when they sicced these two babes on him. He feels connected to his sire and his offspring despite what they are. He still has the feelings that human Darla engendered in him. He can't get close enough to kill them without the warm fuzzies returning. Keeping his distance doesn't work, either, as he himself predicted--Darla breaks open a fire hydrant with a sledgehammer and the vampires douse the flames feeding on their clothes and flesh.
Angel's humanity dogs him at every step. So he's disconnecting himself from it. But isn't this Wolfram and Hart's goal? Probably. Angel is gambling that he can get in the state he needs to be in to destroy their plans without going as far as they want him to go. To do this, though, he must, as Wesley says, "walk away from his duty". But he hasn't turned his back on the "war" that Wolfram and Hart is waging.
Angel has moved away from his mission, which, of course, involves caring about the people he saves [or doesn't save, i.e. the wine cellar massacre]. and fittingly, i think his withdrawal from humanity makes him less human -- more of a death machine.... same thing goes for all those soldiers that committed atrocities like My Lai -- they become less human because they have to, because doing the things they "need" to do is far too painful to experience as a human being. so they disconnect, disassociate, and i definitely agree that Angel is disconnecting at this point (-mere-, Jan 17 14:17 2001).
Merle the stooly
Ethical Quandaries in "Redefinition"
Is Angel's "redefinition" the right tactic to take in the war against Wolfram and Hart?
"The ends justify the means" ...is purely survival tactics. Not a tactic employed in everyday life, but under the extreme condition of war that Angel is in, it is critical! ...And at this stage the one thing Angel CAN NOT afford is to be distracted. Especially with all the esoteric morality stuff ...It is so easy to analyze morality at a distance. To discuss all its nuisances. ...Angel doesn't have that luxury (Nancy, 19-Jan-01 21:53).
Angel cannot fight W&H with their tactics. ...TPTB have charged him to protect innocent souls.... If he chooses to fight evil with more evil HE WILL LOSE. This is not some esoteric thought problem and morality is not something Angel can afford to toss aside just because it becomes an annoyance. In order to win at all he must win without committing evil. This is crucial to the mission he was charged with and the prophecies surrounding him. This is a war being fought on the spiritual as well as the physical plane and there is more at stake than how high a body count angel can rack up against W&H. 'The luxury of morality'? Angel cannot afford the luxury of embracing the war completely and running on animal/survival instincts (Rendyl, 20-Jan-01 15:52).