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I guess I just like liking things

Today’s guest writer is Meags, who has written a bunch of stuff for zwolanerd already and is super awesome!


BtVS-spikeOn Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there are two main love interests that woo Buffy at various points throughout the series. (I’ll discuss Riley later.) First is Angel, the brooding, dark, and handsome vampire, cursed with a soul by gypsies at the turn of the century. Second is Spike, the neutered vampire turned champion and saver of the world. Angel and Buffy’s relationship includes many sweeping romantic gestures, where they are viewed as star-crossed lovers and meant to be together for all time. Spike and Buffy, meanwhile, have a violent yet passionate affair. Just based on description alone, Angel seems to be the clear winner here. Yet, I propose that Spike is actually a better choice for Buffy, especially after he regains his soul.

Pre-vampire, Angel was a drunk.

Vampire lore on Buffy isn’t completely watertight, but the general idea is that when a human is turned, they retain all of their memories and most of their personality, yet the human part of them is taken over by a demon. They completely lose their morality, conscience, and any sense of “goodness”. The question of good and evil in Buffy is a large one, and I’ll let much more educated people tackle it. But the personality of the former humana is present in its demon form, and from that you can make a lot of assumptions about the differences between Spike and Angel. Angel, or Liam, was a drunkard, who caroused with women and was a huge disappointment to his family.  His inability to keep it together is how he found himself in a dark alley with Darla in the first place.

William the Bloody, or Spike, was a romantic poet. He was turned after he had been spurned by the woman that he loved. He hoped to return his mother to health. He was interested in maintaining meaningful relationships with important women in his life, rather than using them for momentary pleasure.

When soulless, Angel is the bigger threat.

Spike, as a soulless, unhindered demon is nothing to scoff at. He killed two slayers and caused plenty of destruction. However, despite the hunger for human blood, he doesn’t seem to be up for the type of mayhem that Angelus is interested in creating. Not only does he collude with Buffy in order to prevent Angelus from having the Earth sucked into a hell dimension, he also claims that while Druscilla turned him, it was Angelus that made him into a monster. And this is before he has the chip implanted from the Initiative that prevents him from causing any harm to humans. Even after he realizes that the chip no longer works to protect Buffy from his punches, he still does not choose to kill her.

Angelus is absolutely terrifying as a soulless demon. His acts of evil take on a personal quality, where he wants to completely devastate the object of his lust for evil. He stalks Buffy, going into her room at night to leave drawings of her and her mother, leaving her roses, and feeding her sense of paranoia instead of just attacking her while she sleeps and finishing it. His modus operandi is to terrorize his victim and drive them mad before finally killing or turning them.

Angel loves the mission, Spike just loves Buffy.

Even as he first sees her, Angel is enamored with Buffy, and as their relationship progresses, he seems both drawn to her and repelled. Before he knows that a moment of true happiness will reverse the curse, he is still hesitant to pursue the relationship. This seems gallant, but it is actually much more of a patriarchal role. Angel has decided that he knows better, and makes the decisions regarding their relationship. He both chooses to leave Sunnydale despite her pleas for him to stay, and to reverse and undo time in order to lose his humanity and return to being a vampire after a run-in with a particular healing demon. Early on, when Buffy expresses her feelings to him, he tells her that he is too old for her, and they won’t have a fairy tale romance. He does not explain his reasons and wait for a response – he dictates the status of their relationship. He frequently issues commands to her, claiming that he is looking for her safety.

Spike, on the contrary, sees himself as an equal in strength and mind to Buffy. Because he has more feelings for her than she for him, the balance of power in their relationship is clearly in her favor. However, Spike, while fighting alongside the Scoobies beginning in the fifth season, is clear in his true motivations. Despite Buffy’s continual rejection of him, even after they consummate their passion, Spike stays close by.

Angel’s soul is a curse, but Spike sought out his soul.

And finally, the question of how each vampire was ensouled really answers the question in my mind. After an attempted rape, Spike is completely disgusted with himself and his evil nature. He simplistically thinks that the only way to win Buffy back is to “give her what she deserves,” which in a twist during the last moments of the finale of season 6 means that he regains his soul. This has ramifications that Spike doesn’t expect, including the crushing guilt of all the horror he has inflicted, but he chooses this path. Perhaps this is why Angel is more focused on the mission; it is the only way in which he has discovered to control the guilt that he feels. However, instead of working alongside Buffy in the mission against evil, he needs to distance himself from her, regardless of how she feels. Spike lets Buffy make the decision if she will accept him as ensouled and pursue a relationship with him.

Aside from the very important rule that vampires don’t ever make truly ideal mates paired with humans, Buffy’s unique situation makes relationships with human males complicated and difficult. She constantly has to navigate the darkness of her slayerness with her needs as a human female. This is why her relationship with Riley did not work, as they were unable to navigate the darkness of a slayer to Riley’s normalcy, after he was no longer juiced up on enhancement drugs. Perhaps that is why most slayers in Buffyverse lore don’t see past their early twenties; the crushing loneliness invites an early demise.

From the depictions of both Angel and Spike throughout the series, it seems to me that on paper, Angel seems like the better choice, but in actuality, that honor goes to Spike.

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