This is a pretty divisive question that I try to stay out of. I try not to bring it up on my own, or join in discussions on it, but I’ll definitely answer if asked.
I have always been a Bangel fan. They are the classic, beautiful romance, star-crossed lovers pairing. It’s definitely over dramatic at times, and Sarah and David kiss loudly, but I do enjoy them as a couple.
Spuffy has one major problem that I can never get over. They make each other feel like garbage. More specifically, Buffy is depressed in season 6. One of the only people that really understands that is Spike. And what does he do with that information? He makes her feel worse. He says things like she’s a monster, and she belongs in the darkness with him, etc. That bothers me so much. I know that is Spike pre-soul, but that’s when they were together, so that’s what I’ve seen of the couple. I am not a fan of pairings where they make each other feel worse by being together. I also don’t like that Spike’s character grew into someone that was completely centered around Buffy. His character could not exist without her. That’s why I enjoy him on Angel. He could actually be his own person, and chose to do good because it’s right, and not because someone wanted him to.
Let me preface by saying I don’t want this post to come off sounding like I’m a raged Buffy stan. I’m not. In retrospect, the entire Buffyverse is a bit overrated, Whedon is the best example of a #ffffffauxminist I can think of, and if you really want to talk about a show with constant consent issues, look no further. This also isn’t about shipping. Because again, looking back as an adult, a centuries old vampire romancing a teenager is more than a little creepy.
Yeah, this is nothing like the fuckery anyone watched last night. This isn’t his sacrifice. It’s not meant to be an act of heroism. Angel dying isn’t his redemption arc. He actually has a redemption arc. This moment is about Buffy being selfless enough to kill him in order to save the world even though she’d rather be in her room studying. It’s not cleaning up his mistakes. It’s stopping the big bad of the season in Angelus. Angel actually has no idea what’s going on and only returns because he’s cursed once again with his soul. He doesn’t have a change of heart because he finally figured out what type of a ~man he wanted to be. This isn’t actually about him.
Buffy loses everything in this episode. She loses her fellow slayer. She’s expelled from her school. She’s kicked out of her home. The relationships among her friends are rocky at best. She allies with her initial nemesis of the season. And it all culminates with her having to kill the man she’s in love with. It’s harrowing. And most importantly, it’s about her.
The Angelus arc is the game changer of the series. It’s what took Buffy the Vampire Slayer from being a quirky high school show about low budget monsters and made it an acclaimed cult classic. The ramifications of this arc within the narrative stay. What happens in this arc affects everything in Buffy and Angel’s individual journeys from here on out and into their respective series. Her killing him isn’t an abrupt 180 to her trying to rescue him from hell. All of the heinous acts he commits aren’t swept under the rug because he died as Angel.
Buffy has to repair every one of her relationships after this. She runs away for months after this, and when she returns things are obviously different. She’s different. And when Angel returns she’s not ready to pop half of her heart into his chest with little forethought. She lies. Trust is broken and tested. Angel doesn’t transition back into the group smoothly. The Buffy/Angel romance goes through ups and downs before they get back together. The remainder of Season Three is about them realizing they can’t be together and him moving away. The narrative acknowledges the toxicity of their relationship, the inevitability of their breakup, and they end it. The characters love each other, but it still ends because it’s not about ships. It’s about character. And it matters.
Angelus was around for longer than two episodes. Buffy was tormented by him for longer than two episodes. The first half of Season Two foreshadows that this arc is going to happen steadily. It doesn’t happen abruptly and get explained away with some overused amnesia trope. And it starts from a very different place.
It’s not this:
Angelus returning was an accident more than anything. Buffy is sympathetic in it, not selfish. BtVS started out as something that used monsters as metaphors for real life issues teens deal with. The Angelus arc was meant to be the classic horror trope about the dangers of having sex and how you must be punished afterwards. Only it’s subverted, and instead it becomes this:
It’s about Buffy becoming (lol) ready to do what must be done as a Slayer. It doesn’t happen within a scene of looking at a dreamcatcher. It takes a while. It takes “Passion,” an episode typically regarded as being one of the best in the series. It takes Angelus killing one of her friends in cold blood, and not as a lazy means to an end to cast yet another curse that will soon be forgotten about. He does it to send a message to Buffy. Whedon does it to send a message to the audience. Jenny Calendar isn’t forgotten about. It’s not in vain. Giles never recovers from this in relation to Angel. Giles’s relationship with Buffy alters after this. Drusilla tortures Giles using Jenny’s death. Angel is tormented with Jenny’s death the following year. We knew her, and ultimately it’s what pushes Buffy forward.
It’s how we get here:
At the end of the day that moment is what the Angelus arc was actually about. Which coincidentally is exactly what the Dark Swan arc wasn’t about.
Hey Zal are there couples in any shows that you watched that were supposed to have that Stelena/Bangel type feel but you feel just fell flat?
I think Bonenzo was supposed to and they fell really flat.
Leyton too but I didn’t think they had the chemistry.
I get the feeling that Lana and Clarke did but I don’t remember Smallville that well and full disclosure I don’t know if I just side-eye Lana and Clarke because I was Team Chloe, I should probably rewatch.
GAH! You brought back so many old nostalgia Bangel feels, ZAL! And yeah, I always understood why they weren't together. They're just a doomed couple and I appreciated the realism of "Love doesn't conquer all." The beauty of Bangel isn't a happy ending, but their tragedy. And how no matter much they've been through separately and changed and been with other people, they still love each other through all these years because their bond is just that one-in-million and that like really touches me.
Angel coming back from hell and having spent 100 years there (hell time, only a few months our time) and being all feral but then running in and helping Buffy and then first thing he says if her name and he breaks down and hugs her legs and I CAN’T STOP FEELING BECAUSE I REWATCHED THIS ONE WHILE EATING DINNER HELP MY FEELS
*PS: neither of these are my gifs. I retrieved them from google. All credit goes to the original gif makers*