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B/A as Subversive. Yeah, I said it.

Ohmigod am I done studying??? Can I do Spring Break now? Well, I have one more day, but I'm ready for it, which gave me time to finish this bit of meta-y goodness.

I had something "click" while I was reading through the transcript for Angel (as one does).

Most know I'm not a B/A shipper. Yet 2maggie2 has swayed me over to looking for and enjoying the subversive aspects of the ship ever since her post on Lie to Me. (Yes, that was oodles of time ago. Yes, I spend that much time thinking and mulling things over)

On my rewatch, I found that I could read the subversion, and I much enjoyed it more than the idea of B/A as a straight romance. So I guess that means I'm still not a B/A shipper as I don't enjoy it in a shippy sense. But in a Doylian, meta sense, I'm finding it interesting.

And yet Angel (the S1 episode, not the series) stuck out like a sore thumb to me because it seemed so sincere in its presentation of Epic Love. I couldn't wrangle it into my subversive reading.

Until now.

If this intrigues you at all, read on. This post is my grand meta on the subversion of B/A in canon. Basically, next time someone asks about my opinion on Bangel, I plan to throw a link to this entry at them. :)



We start with the makings of a grand epic love, of course. Angel the mysterious stranger. Buffy the destined warrior. What will happen??

Here's the thing about Angel: It sets up the subversion.

For something to be subverted, the trope has to be established first. In order to twist around cliches and standards, you have to set them up. That's what Angel does.

We start with the biggest subverted trope of all: Angel as Buffy's protector.

On the way home from the Bronze, Buffy is attacked by the Three. Angel comes to the rescue!

We learn later in Becoming 1 and then in Helpless that Angel was inspired to stop eating rats in order to take care of and protect Buffy.

"'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. (walks to her) And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own."
- Angel, Helpless


When he first saw Buffy, she was just getting news of her being chosen. Then he watched as she fought a vampire for the first time (and then he watched her cry while her parents were fighting). Angel's attraction to Buffy is rooted in a desire to protect her. From vampires. From the pain of the world.

A romantic sentiment, but not a very empowering one. That will be subverted later.

Let's get back to Angel, though, where Angel does, indeed, rescue Buffy. This is one of the few times in the series he will do so. Most of the time, he's the one who gets rescued by her. Remember this. We'll get back to it (Cause I surely ain't stopping this meta once I'm done talking about Angel. No, folks, you're in for the whole nine yards).

Angel goes back to Buffy's house because the Three are still running around. Surprise, surprise. His shirt comes off. And then he spends the night all chaste-like on the floor while Buffy takes the bed.

The next day, Buffy discovers he's a *gasp* vampire! Oh noes! Who could have predicted this completely unpredictable turn of events!

Sorry. I know my commentary isn't funny. Let's just keep going.

This reveal leaves Buffy conflicted. Why? Because somehow, she's already in love with the dude.

Xander: I-I know you have feelings for this guy, but it's not like you're in love with him, right?

Buffy looks away.

Xander: You're in love with a vampire?! What, are you outta your mind?!


Xander said it. Seven episodes into the show, and Buffy's in love with the guy she's traded maybe 50 words with.

Oh sure, it's believable given that Buffy's a teen and all. I'm not criticizing from a Watsonian viewpoint. It's just not a romance I could take seriously considering Buffy apparently falls for Angel so quickly based on so little information. What's she in love with by this point? She's in love with the mysterious guy who drops in to give her cryptic information from time to time.

Oh, this is just dying to have the hell subverted out of it.

This is contrasted in the actual episode with Darla. She's known Angel for, well, centuries. She created him.

Darla: Do you know what the saddest thing in the world is? [...] To love someone who used to love you.

Buffy: (looks at Angel) You guys were involved?

Darla: For several generations.


Angel/Darla is a contrast to Angel/Buffy. Angel/Darla is ancient. It's rooted in such intimate knowledge of each other. Darla knows just about everything that could be known about Angel. She knows his darkness, his weaknesses, his fears. Knowing all of that, she still loves him.

Compare to Buffy/Angel where Buffy knows that Angel wears leather jackets and loves him.

This is not to bash B/A. Again, I think the subversion is brilliant. What Angel is doing is setting the stage.

Angel, being at the stage post-soul that he is, prefers the girl who is naive and innocent. Who doesn't know his myriad of past sins. Who doesn't know him. So he stakes the fuck out of Darla in favor of Buffy.

Sounds good, but this will come back to bite Buffy in S2.

Because, here's the thing, you see these romances all the time in the media. You're probably as sick of them as I am. One person sees another, falls in love with them, must have them, etc etc. Hell, look at Dr. Horrible. Penny was an object of desire despite Billy not knowing a damn thing about her. He just saw her every week at the laundromat, and yet he decides that she's the girl for him!

We take it for granted that this is the way it is.

B/A shows the dark side of this trope, though. The idea that falling in love with a persona, the one Angel was projecting to Buffy in S1, will just end up falling to pieces. I'm not just talking about S2 here, either. By the end of this meta, I hope to cover B/A in its entirety (excluding the comics as I haven't read them, don't care to, so can't comment).

For now, what we have is the foundation for the later twists to the idealized romantic trope.

Buffy is in love with Angel. However, at the end of the episode, they decide that his being a vampire is a obstacle that can't be overcome and that they should stay apart. This won't last long, though, because romance plays out in emotions, not in thoughts.

For now, though, this holds out until the end of the first season. S2 will be where Buffy and Angel begin to act on their mutual attraction despite their conviction not to.

In S2's Reptile Boy, much is made of Buffy's youth:

Angel: I knew this was gonna happen.

Buffy: What? What do you think is happening?

Angel: You're sixteen years old. I'm two hundred and forty-one.

Buffy: I've done the math.

Angel: You don't know what you're doing, you don't know what you want...

Buffy: Oh. No, I, I think I do. I want out of this conversation. (starts to walk past him)

Angel: (bumps into her) Listen, if we date you and I both know one thing's gonna lead to another.

Buffy: One thing already has led to another. You think it's a little late to be reading me a warning label?

Angel: I'm just tryin' to protect you. This could get outta control.

Buffy: Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?


Hey, Buffy's been watching the same romance movies I have! But she buys into them. Love is supposed to be dangerous and unrestrained with no boundaries. She's sixteen. She's loving with everything's she's got right now. And while that sounds good and exciting on paper, it usually doesn't end up too well. It'll explode in your face, as it does by mid-season. Or it'll fizzle out, as it did in S3.

Let's stick with Reptile Boy for a bit, though.

Buffy is frustrated with Angel's treatment of her.

Buffy: Angel barely says two words to me.

Xander: Don't you hate that?

Buffy: And when he does, he treats me like I'm a child.

Xander: That bastard!

Buffy: You know, at least Tom can carry on a conversation.


Tom is the older college guy who asks her to the frat party. He ostensibly treats her as an adult, which is what she's wanting. What she thinks she's ready for. However, once at the party, her drink is drugged and she's chained up in the basement to be a sacrifice for a giant snake. In other words, the Tom thing goes kerplooey.

Much like the Angel thing will later. In Surprise, Buffy takes another turn at adulthood by having sex. However, the sex will cause Angel to lose his soul and become Angelus. Then he'll terrorize her for the rest of the season. It's a potent parallel that nicely foreshadows this turn of events. Especially when Buffy first awakens in the basement and meets Callie, the other kidnapped girl.

Callie: Look, one of them's different than the others. (looks at Tom) Nicer. [...] He's the one to watch out for.


A good description of Tom. Also a good description of Angel. Angel's different from the other vampires. He's nicer. However, because of that, he's the one you have to watch for. Because with other vamps, you at least know straight up that they're gonna try to kill you. Angel, though, will give you reason to trust in him, much like Tom did. However, once you give him that trust, it'll blow up in your face.

It's also noteworthy to go back to the Angel-as-protector trope that Angel started. In this episode, Angel gets a Hero Moment upon piecing everything together and figuring out that Buffy's in danger. He vamps out and growls in manly fashion about Buffy being in there. Then he runs off to save her...

...only, by the time he gets there, Buffy's already saved herself. Angel has little to do.

Subversion. Buffy's the motherfucking Slayer.

Willow: Have you heard from Angel? When he got so mad about you being in danger, and changed into a (makes a face) grr, it was the most amazing thing I ever saw. I mean, how many guys can...


Willow often acts as something of a cheerleader for Buffy's romances. She also affirms the trope by telling Buffy about how Angel went into protector-mode and how that's so very romantic.

I'm not going to go over Lie to Me in too great detail. Instead, I'll link you to 2maggie2's meta, which I linked above, as she does a fantastic job of breaking that episode down.

In summary, though, Lie to Me puts a subversive spin on the whole relationship in S2. Buffy states explicitly that, while she loves Angel, she's not sure if she can trust him. And by the end of the episode, it's not clear if she should. And I know it's oft-quoted, but it deserves it...

Buffy: Lie to me.

Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we
always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.


The end has Buffy asking for the fantasy. Asking for the "truth" where she can be in a world where she can trust the guy she loves. Where she can have a great big epic love with an older and mysterious vampire she knows nearly nothing about and not have it fall apart. While she faces up to the fact that it's a lie in this episode, by Surprise, things have progressed so far in the relationship that a near-death experience pushes Buffy past her good judgment.

Let me stop a bit and touch on Bad Eggs, though, because there's an interesting line that ties in with the subversive reading.

Buffy and Angel are smooching/talking in the cemetery about the future (prompted by the recent egg assignment at school).

Angel: You really don't care what happens a year from now? Five years from now?

Buffy: Angel, when I look into the future, a-a... all I see is you! All I want is you.


It's another of those seemingly-romantic lines (after all, love is supposed to be all-consuming and whatnot), but, folks, it's actually kinda tragic that a sixteen year old girl can't see a damned thing in her future except a man.

But Buffy has a reason. While she's, obviously, a sixteen year old, she's also the Slayer and she has an expiration date. She knows she's not going to have much of a future, so she'll ignore it and focus on the present. Angel, being an immortal vampire and inextricably part of her world, is the constant for her. Not just Angel, himself, as a romantic partner, but Angel and what he represents: danger, death, broken trust. When she looks into the future, all she sees is Angel...what is Angel in the future? Angel is the guy who kills Jenny Calendar and nearly takes the world to hell. That is all Buffy has in her future.

It's a bleak statement wrapped up in a romantic bow. But, as there often is with B/A, there's an underlying hint that things are not as they seem. That the doomed relationship the two have cannot hold.

Then Surprise happens. It's hard not to see the subversion there. Sex is often seen as THE big romantic plunge. The true expression of love. And that act turns Angel into a monster.

While Angel becomes a monster in the very literal sense, it also plays on a metaphorical level, making a commentary, again, about those romances that start out as they did in Angel. Where Buffy fell in love with a guy based on little information, then tried to ignore the information she did receive later, then deals with the consequences of that relationship.

Sidebar that I fully fully hate the "punishment for having sex" implications inherent in the Surprise/Innocence episodes. That's a post for another day, though.

I can't help but make connections to the real world where I have friends that go all head over heels for a guy they don't know very well (and that usually gives me icky vibes). Then they may find out he has a questionable history, but they decide to overlook it cause, hey, he's good now. Then, inevitably, everything ends in tears and possibly restraining orders.

B/A acts as a fantastic parallel to those relationships and to the standard romantic trope that underlies those relationships. It shows the reality of that type of romance, even though it dresses it up in vampires and souls.

Angel's stalkerish tendencies are another example of tropes being subverted within canon. In When She Was Bad, we get our first glimpse of Angel sneaking into Buffy's room and watching her while she sleeps. This is presented as romantic in the show. Indeed, it's a romantic idea. However, Passion also gives us a scene of Angel(us) sneaking into Buffy's room and watching her while she sleeps, except that it presents it with that jagged twist to reveal the creepiness of the act. That creepiness is there, even when souled-up Angel did it in When She Was Bad. However, our (and Buffy's) romantic fantasies rationalized it as "sweet" or something to that effect.

You know, now's a good time to segue into S3, actually.

I was reading through the transcript to Anne recently (as one does).

Buffy: Stay with me.

Angel: Forever. That's the whole point. I'll never leave.


That's not what I wanna discuss, but hold that thought.

Buffy: It's nice. It's nice and, uh, permanent. (smiles weakly)

Rickie: (looking at Lily) Yeah, forever. (puts his arm around Lily) I mean, that's the whole point.


Phrase repetition is always a good sign that a parallel is being drawn. This time between Lily/Rickie and Buffy/Angel.

What happens later in the episode? Well, Rickie ends up in a hell dimension and dies. Much like Angel at the end of S2. But this goes farther than just that.

Lily: Did you find Rickie? I thought of--well, he likes to go to this movie house, you can get in around the back--

Buffy: (interrupting) Lily...I think he's dead.

Lily: (very sad and lost) But...he takes care of me.


We're getting back now to that Angel-as-protector idea that was established early on. Lily's reaction mirrors Buffy's own at the loss of Angel. While Angel actually rarely protected Buffy, she felt as if he did. Go back to Willow's statement in Reptile Boy. Buffy finds that romantic. Let's skip back to Passion briefly.

Buffy: It's so weird... Every time something like this happens, my first instinct is still to run to Angel.


We saw her do so in What's My Line? and Surprise. In S2, she'd seen Angel as a protector. Not just in the fight-y, physical sense, but also in the emotional sense. She probably cried more in front of Angel than she did in front of all the other characters combined.

And yet, by S3 in Helpless, Buffy goes to face Kralik by herself at the end of the episode. Calling Angel doesn't seem to occur to her, even though he'd just told her earlier in the episode that he wanted to protect and care for her heart. The events of S2 steel her emotionally, but it also grants her an independence.

At the end of Anne, Lily takes Buffy's middle name and becomes her own person without any help (as we see in AtS, she does quite well). Buffy's journey will mirror hers. In S3, Buffy will take back her own identity, but she'll be more reliant on herself rather than on Angel. The end of S3 will see her graduation in many senses. From school, from the Council, and from Angel, who hovers as a paternalistic remnant of an emotionally dependent love affair.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I kinda wanna talk about Beauty and the Beasts now.

Three couples are at the center of this episode: Willow/Oz, Pete/Debbie, and Buffy/Angel. In each, the guy is literally a monster (or can become a monster). When Buffy goes to see Mr. Platt, the counselor, her description of the events of S2 lead him to assume that Buffy had been in an abusive relationship. The episode carries this and uses it in parallel to Pete/Debbie. Buffy's reaction as given to Mr. Platt is even in line with a person who has an abusive ex showing up.

Buffy: There's something going on. (her voice shakes) I mean, th-this whole entire story is probably gonna convince you that I'm loony-bin material, but... (shrugs) there's nobody else that I can talk to. (inhales nervously) Not Willow and... not Giles. Nobody. (starts to pace again) If they, if they found out, they'd freak on me or they'd do something, and... (stops and faces him) I need help. I just, I need to talk to someone. (takes a few breaths) I'm so scared. (sheds a tear) It's this guy. (steps up to the desk) H-h-he...


She's scared. This scene is cut with the scene of Pete beating Debbie, making the metaphor fairly explicit. Hell, take this conversation between Debbie, Willow, and Buffy. How much do Debbie's answers sound like she could be describing Angel?

Debbie: It... it's not his fault. I mean, he's not himself when he gets like this.

Buffy: You mean Pete.

Debbie: (upset) It's me. I make him crazy. He-he just does what he does because he loves me too much.


Much like Angel became Angelus because he loved Buffy so much, he had a bit of perfect happiness when he had sex with her. This makes Buffy shoulder the burden of responsibility for the rest of S2.

Buffy: Look at yourself. Why are you protecting him? Anybody who really loved you couldn't do this to you.

Debbie: Would they take him someplace?

Buffy: Probably.

Debbie: (shakes her head, sobbing) I could never do that to him. (Willow sighs) I'm his everything.

Buffy: (disgusted) Great. So what, you two live out your Grimm fairy tale? Two people are dead.

Debbie just shakes her head and says nothing.

Buffy: Who's gonna be next?


And again with the parallels. Debbie is afraid that they would take Pete away. Back when Buffy was talking to Mr. Platt, she was afraid to tell Willow or Giles because "they'd freak on [her] or they'd do something". Specifically, she's afraid that they'd try to kill Angel. Buffy's protecting Angel by keeping her silence, just like Debbie's protecting Pete.

Buffy's last line is also quite appropriate for the B/A ship. Pete ends up killing Debbie before the end of the episode, something Angel later fears will happen to Buffy (His nightmares about Buffy burning up at their wedding, and the Amends shared nightmares where Angel turns and kills her during sex). But the most telling part is actually from the final part of the episode.

Buffy: The only thing was, after a while, he didn't need the potion to turn into a bad guy. He did it just fine on his own.

Cordelia: So it was like a real killing. He wasn't under the influence of anything?

Buffy: Just himself.


The parallels between Oz, Pete, and Angel had all three able to "turn into" monsters. Oz is just an ordinary guy most of the time, but he has to potential to turn into an animal during the full moon. Pete and Angel are assumed to be the same. Pete "only" turns into a monster when he drinks some potion, and Angel only turns into a monster when he hits a moment of perfect happiness. However, this parallel is twisted when it's revealed that Pete didn't need the potion. He was a monster all on his own. Much like there's always a bit of Angelus in Angel.

Let's redirect focus here, though.

Remember back to the very, very beginning of this entry? How in Angel, Buffy had fallen in love with the mysterious persona that Angel presented. Well, that front of Angel's is falling away by mid-S3. After Amends, he's doing a lot of brooding and pondering and trying to figure out how to be his own man (this all to build up to his own show, of course). As this happens, we start to see the inevitable distancing that happens as Angel starts to become more true to himself. Buffy is perfectly happy with him, still loves him. But I can't help but notice how increasingly uncomfortable Angel seems to be in the relationship.

In Helpless he gets her a book of classic love poems (what an uber-romantic...completely non-Buffy gift). In The Prom, he comes across one of Buffy's spirals that she had left at his place. It has "Angel & Buffy 4ever!" written on it. This is just before Joyce stops by to have a talk with him about Buffy. I can't help but think of the Angel from AtS coming across that spiral and just realizing how very young Buffy still is. It's awkward. However, much maturity Buffy has gained through being a Slayer, she's still immature in her romantic notions. And there's a noticeable distance between Buffy's interests and lifestyle and Angel's. Buffy is trying to live in the world. The modern world. With proms and dancing and slang and risque movies. Angel's world is completely different, as we see when he gets his own show. I think a good chunk of his leaving was for himself rather than for her. He needed his own space to figure out who he was. Buffy inspired him to be someone, but he had to be on his own to figure out who that someone was.

For Buffy's part, her break with Angel allows to her become self-sufficient in a way she wasn't before. Even as late as Earshot, she was seeing him as a protector.

Angel: Hey, I won't let anything happen to you if I can help it. No matter what, I'll always be with you. Hey, I'll love you even if you're covered with slime.

Buffy: I liked everything until that part.


This, again, from the guy who actually very rarely protects her. However, his role as her protector plays into the romantic ideal that the both of them are playing to.

Once he leaves, though, it doesn't take long for Buffy to come to the conclusion that she doesn't need protection. In Something Blue, when Spike tells Buffy he may not be able to protect her because of his chip, she balks.

Spike: They're strong, and I can't fight. If they get in, I don't know if I can protect you.

Buffy: You think you have to protect me?


Her relationship with Riley breaks apart because she doesn't need him to protect her (and he can't deal with that).

For the most part, the second half of S3 is played straight with little subversion (Edit: Except when it doesn't. One commenter says some brilliant stuff.) However, the romance between them naturally follows the subverted events that occurred previously. And here's the part that appeals to me (cause you guys should know I don't do those big epic love stories) is that by ending things in S3 (and then sealing the deal in S4), B/A undercuts its very foundation as set in Angel. It's the epic love affair that...isn't so epic. Or forever. In fact, it was kinda traumatic for both parties. Huh. Funny how those things work out.

All this means that I kinda like B/A on the meta level, actually. Even though actually watching the soppy lovey kissfest of Surprise makes me roll my eyes.

I'm done now.


Comments

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words_by_ash
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
Angel's world is completely different, as we see when he gets his own show. I think a good chunk of his leaving was for himself rather than for her. He needed his own space to figure out who he was. Buffy inspired him to be someone, but he had to be on his own to figure out who that someone was.

As a BA fan, I do feel that this was necessary. People in love often grow apart. It doesn't mean you don't love each other, it just means that you have different lives to lead.

Interesting meta.

I wouldn't say that BA isn't epic (because that's just not in me to say!) but I do feel as if that touch of realism dimmed them a bit. Reality has a way of doing that though.

PS:Thanks for not bashing BA!
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
As a BA fan, I do feel that this was necessary. People in love often grow apart. It doesn't mean you don't love each other, it just means that you have different lives to lead.

Most definitely. I dunno. I just got that sense while rewatching S3 that Angel was itching to get out of there and do his own thing. It doesn't mean he doesn't love her. It just means that he had to work on himself for a bit. When he met Buffy, he was still very much recovering from post-soul trauma and angst. Buffy gave him the push to realize his full potential. He had to go to LA to actually do so. I think it was the best thing for both of them.

PS:Thanks for not bashing BA!

You know, I've spent so long trying to "get" B/A, I don't think I could bash it. My opinions of it may not be overly positive but that's more a reflection of my opinion of romances in general than anything B/A-specific.
concinnity
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
I <3 this so much. Oooh, meta. *sighs*
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
:)
ever_neutral
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
*claps rapturously*

Genius meta. I want to frame it.

And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own.

... Oh, dear God. I mean, really. OH DEAR GOD.

Also, "When you click me, I want to die" < WIN.
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
Also, "When you click me, I want to die" < WIN.

Despite my newfound appreciation for B/A, I gotta say that line is still ridiculously over-the-top and nonsensical. Buffy, what the fuck does that MEAN, hon????

It's the line I love to hate.
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me_llamo_nic
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
...only, by the time he gets there, Buffy's already saved herself. Angel has little to do.

"I love it when the man shows up to save the day and finds out the woman has already saved it for him."
-Joss in the commentary to Dollhouse's 'Man on the Street' when Paul comes home to rescue Mellie/November.-

but, folks, it's actually kinda tragic that a sixteen year old girl can't see a damned thing in her future except a man.

It is! Oh my God, it is! And it happens so damn often and it pisses me off to no end.

Her relationship with Riley breaks apart because she doesn't need him to protect her (and he can't deal with that).

*bites tongue* ... *bites tongue* ... *bites tongue*

Permission to derail?
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
It is! Oh my God, it is! And it happens so damn often and it pisses me off to no end.

It's also sadly realistic. I knew so, so many girls in high school that had their entire future wrapped up with some guy (that would inevitably not be around once they graduated). It makes me sigh.

*sigh*

Permission to derail?

Have at it, but be warned that I have my spanking icon on stand-by. ;)
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2maggie2
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
Yay!! Great meta. And so glad you can see all that delicious subversion.

Here's one that leapt out at me while reading your meta:

"'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. (walks to her) And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own."
- Angel, Helpless


He wants to *warm* Buffy's heart with his own. Just like he wants to protect the protector, etc. etc.

I also really like your call on Angel reason for splitting up with Buffy.

gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
He wants to *warm* Buffy's heart with his own. Just like he wants to protect the protector, etc. etc.

Yep. There's a lovely irony in the room-temp vamp wanting to warm her heart. Never mind the fact that Angel managed to do the exact opposite. After Angel left, Buffy was more hesitant about romance and more reluctant to express her feelings.
stormwreath
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
I like the idea of Angel having to go to his own show to really find himself as a person... 'cause then I think that the same applies to Faith. And Spike. And Cordelia. And Wesley. And Anne. in fact, AtS was pretty much the space that a whole host of 'Buffy' characters needed to go to to find themselves...


Also, your writing style here kind of reminds me of Willow's conversational style. Just saying. :-)
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
in fact, AtS was pretty much the space that a whole host of 'Buffy' characters needed to go to to find themselves...

I think because it ties in so well to AtS' overall theme. BtVS was about "the gang". The Core Four and their loved ones. Every character developed in relation to that group dynamic. AtS allowed for more individual development as the cast was ever-shifting and less insular. BtVS even makes a commentary on this in Beneath You with Nancy being completely boggled and freaked out by the group history.

Also, your writing style here kind of reminds me of Willow's conversational style. Just saying. :-)

Well, there is a reason my icons are all-Willow, all the time. That sounds like a porno channel. Kinky. :)
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deird1
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
You give good meta.

*fangirls*
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's what they all say. ;)
(Deleted comment)
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad it helped settle some things for you. I've spent a long, long time trying to work this dang ship out, so I'm happy that I've come to some sort of interpretation that works for me. :)
angearia
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
A+, baby. A-frickin-PLUS. I particularly loved the parallels you pointed out in Anne and Beauty and the Beasts.

Edited at 2010-03-12 01:49 am (UTC)
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
Hee. I was reading the Anne transcript and noticed the "forever" line and I started flailing. Metaphorical parallels get me all worked up. :)
penny_lane_42
Mar. 12th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
I kind of want to marry this post and have its babies. That is how much I love it.

Like, you knew I fangirled you, right? But this...this just takes it to a whole new level.

Because I had a hard time seeing the subversion, and I hate when this trope is played straight. It makes me stabby! And I wanted to at least appreciate it on a meta level, because I thought that Joss really did have to be saying something deeper, but I could never figure out what it was.

NOW I KNOW.

Gah! I'm just giddy!
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Credit 2maggie2. She got the ball rolling. :)

I was very much scoff-y towards B/A being subversive cause I had dismissed it as a badly written straight up (and cloyingly traditional) romance. 2maggie2 poked a hole in that, so I watched with a more careful eye on my rewatch, let my thoughts simmer for a while, then came up with this.

It really does give you a much greater appreciation for the whole B/A thing, doesn't it?

Edited at 2010-03-12 02:21 am (UTC)
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lynnenne
Mar. 12th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
but, folks, it's actually kinda tragic that a sixteen year old girl can't see a damned thing in her future except a man.

This. One of the things I loved about the way BtVS ended was that they didn't have her riding off into the sunset with a guy. Just about every media production out there tries to sell us on the idea that "no woman can ever be complete unless she has a man OMG!!!" The idea that a woman's sense of self-worth lies in owning her own power is one of my favorite things about the series.
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
Yes! So very, very much. And that thought isn't just prevalent in the media, it's common in real, day-to-day life where girls and young women feel incomplete somehow if they don't have a man. Where even wonderfully intelligent and capable young women will expect (and look forward to) meeting a man who can support her.

Attitudes are shifting, and you're starting to see more women breaking out of that pattern. But having a TV show acknowledge that idea and then go against it is just FANTASTIC.

I love Buffy so much.
owenthurman
Mar. 12th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
Hmm. Well, there are some fascinating thinky thoughts there. And I agree well enough about the whole concept of A/B as a naïve youthful hope relationship that doesn't pan out when two people really have to make it work together.

Even in Prophecy Girl Xander has to be the one that understands Angel and his role better than Buffy does. Of course, Xander gets Buffy's ability to defy prophecies, too. And I love that the show is entirely honest with us that Xander is not somehow the better boyfriend just because he understands her better and wants her. Our show is not shy about making all the potential relationships wrong in their own way.

It's kind of a nice story about first love. And I loved the peaks and trauma, especially in Becoming and Passion. Becoming 2 is the very best and deepest episode of the whole series, even above OMWF and Restless and FFL. (Not just for Buffy/Angel but for the Willow and Oz and Xander and Spuffin, too.)

But End Of Days and Chosen obviously and suddenly changed the narrative of the B/A relationship retroactively five years after the event. Angel tries to get her to say she still wants him and that they'll get together, though he is the one who left. Maybe he was just struck with Spike jealousy. But Buffy tells him that she still thinks about the future they will have together.

And she kisses Angel in the middle of trying to reëngage with her actual romantic interest. She implies that regardless of her involvement with anyone else, Angel is the real story her heart tells even many years later. Joss's and my theory is demon prince possession. But Spike takes it all very literally.
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC)
Becoming 2 is the very best and deepest episode of the whole series, even above OMWF and Restless and FFL.

Blasphemy! Restless pwnz all!

But End Of Days and Chosen obviously and suddenly changed the narrative of the B/A relationship retroactively five years after the event.

I wouldn't say as such. Putting aside that it's obvious fan-service for the final BtVS episode, it's Buffy being confronted with her first love, being presented with the option of getting back together with him, then turning him down to spend the night in Spike's arms. I don't see where she implies at all that Angel is the real story her heart tells. I'd say Spike wins out on that one. (Except for the part where he died at the end, but he came back as a penguin so it's all okay)
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pocochina
Mar. 12th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Ooooh, I like (probably unsurprisingly).

The protection issue from the early seasons in particular is a big one, because both characters take something that could be really good and healthy and turn it into an imperative. Because it's not wrong to want to protect the people you love when they're in danger - you want to help, and that's okay. For Buffy, Angel means the only person she's met since she was called that could offer her some ability to relax, when for a year letting her guard down for a second meant she would definitely die. And she doesn't have to protect him like she has to protect everyone else she loves, and if he does die, hey, it's not like he hasn't lived. But she's sixteen, so she casts him as Her Hero, and Angel wants to tell himself that's what he is, so they get caught up in it.

Angel really seems to love this because he doesn't have to take emotional responsibility for anything he does. He says he's leaving to protect her, but as you point out, he's leaving because it's what he has to do. And, like Buffy enjoying some level of security his super-strength provides, that's fine, it's that he shoves the blame onto her. Same thing in IWRY - he doesn't want to give up his vampire powers and new mission to be human and love her, and that's fine, it's that he has to justify it with her supposed weakness that's domineering and ugly.

I keep comparing this dynamic to S7 B/S, who take it as a given that they'll protect each other and utilize each others' strength, without ever thinking or pretending that it's their only motivation. It's a neat way the show gives us Buffy's growth (as well as Spike's, since when we first meet him he has a similar overeager-and-unnecessary manly protector thing going on with Drusilla).

Angel, being at the stage post-soul that he is, prefers the girl who is naive and innocent.

In context of Angel's virgin-whore binary thinking here, Darla kind of rounds out the story for me. At this point we don't know just how literal those archetypes are, but in a few years we'll find out that his relationship with the whore was rich and compelling, if still dysfunctional. But it's why the B/A dynamic is so fucked up - in order for the story to follow the trope, the Virgin has to win out over the Whore with her virtue, and then fin ("in my future, all I see is you"). Those stories end there because this dynamic is untenable, and B/A draws that out.
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
But she's sixteen, so she casts him as Her Hero, and Angel wants to tell himself that's what he is, so they get caught up in it.

Yep. It totally feeds into the Hero Complex that Angel develops later on in his own show.

But it's why the B/A dynamic is so fucked up - in order for the story to follow the trope, the Virgin has to win out over the Whore with her virtue, and then fin ("in my future, all I see is you"). Those stories end there because this dynamic is untenable, and B/A draws that out.

Very astute and YES. Most of the Grand Romances that B/A is playing off of end early on. B/A takes them and plays them out to their natural conclusion.
elisi
Mar. 12th, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
*profound love*

*puts in memories*
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
:)
shapinglight
Mar. 12th, 2010 09:33 am (UTC)
Great meta.

sorry for the less than great comment
gabrielleabelle
Mar. 12th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
All comments are awesome. :)
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