So it's been established that when a human is 'turned' into a vampire, their soul departs and a demon moves in. So is the Angel we all know and love the demon, now saddled with a soul, or is he Liam returned?
3I don't know what's canon for the series, but I believe a person is a soul, and has a body - so it would make sense to me that the character would be Liam, but self-identifies as Angel because he has the demon's memories. The question of demon-with-a-conscience or soul-with-the-memories is pretty interesting, and not simple. Someone might find a better or more relevant answer in the text of the series, though.– MeghaJan 14, 2016 at 5:29
2It would take a while to look for canon examples to try to make this case, but my feeling is that while regaining his soul gave him back his conscience, his sense of empathy and ability to care for others in a not purely selfish way, some aspects of the demon's personality still remained present in his mind. You may find some articles on all things philosophical on buffy the vampire slayer site helpful, like the moral ambiguity and vampires articles.– HypnosiflJan 14, 2016 at 5:41
"Ford: "I'm in. I will become immortal. " Buffy: "Well, I've got a news flash for you, brain trust. That's not how it works. You die, and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it remembers your life, but it's not you."" - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie_to_Me_(Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer)– ValorumMar 18, 2016 at 17:07
1Darla: "What we were informs what we become [as vampires]" - buffy.wikia.com/wiki/The_Prodigal– ValorumMar 18, 2016 at 17:09
Depends on how you look at it.
As you said in your question, "it's been established that when a human is 'turned' into a vampire, their soul departs and a demon moves in." But they also physically become a vampire, which you might consider a demon.
There is a distinction drawn, however, between the vampire itself and the demonic spirit possessing its body. A vampire itself is a sort of hybrid between human and demon. I believe that's why vampires can change from appearing human to "vamp face", and why they retain the personality traits of their human self.
An illustrative example can be found at the end of Angel season 2. Angel and friends find themselves in a dimension where Angel doesn't suffer from the normal vampire weaknesses - but when the demon take over, he looks complete demonic and acts purely as the demon dictates. Here's an exchange from S2E21 "Through the Looking Glass" that explains it:
WESLEY: Angel's vampire self has been sublimated somehow by this dimension. ... Only his human side has surfaced since we've been here.
GUNN: You mean, being able to walk around in the sun? Seeing his reflection. Like that?
WESLEY: Yes. And now, for whatever reason, he's accessed his demon, but he can't find the balance he normally would in our world. His demon self has totally overcome his human side.
GUNN: So that's what the thing inside of him really looks like?
WESLEY: In its purest form.
So Angel is Liam - he has all of the memories and personality he had as a mortal, as well as his soul. But he is also still the demon - he is still physically a vampire, and still has a demonic spirit trying to influence his actions.
Maybe look at it like this:
- Angelus = Liam - soul + demon
- Angel = Angelus + soul (seems like demon saddled with a soul)
- Angel = Liam + demon (seems like Liam returned)
Make of that what you will.
I've recently been re-watching Angel, and when I re-watched the Pylea arc I noticed another bit of relevant dialogue you might consider adding. In "Through the Looking Glass", when Fred helps soothe the savage beast and he turns back into normal-looking Angel, he's distressed that Wesley and Gunn saw him in demon form, saying miserably that "they saw what I really am. I can't go back. Not now. I can never go back." Then in the next episode "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb", Angel is worried that if he tries to fight the Groosalug he'll turn back into the demon, Jan 29, 2016 at 7:19
(cont) and he says "Look, when I fired you guys the reason I...Darkness was coming out in me. I didn't want you near it. The thing that comes out here is ten times worse." This suggests that his dark actions earlier in the season, when he had fired Cordelia/Wesley/Gunn so he could fight a one-man crusade against Wolfram and Hart, and done some very dark things like (SPOILERS) locking the lawyers in the room with Darla and Drusilla, and later setting Darla and Drusilla on fire just to hurt them and walking away, that this probably had to do with his inner demon's influence on his personality. Jan 29, 2016 at 7:22
I think it depends on what you would consider "Liam" to be. Do you believe that a person's essence is a spiritual soul, or do you believe a person is the sum of their physical parts - making "Liam" a combination of genes, experiences, memories, environment, etc.
If it's the former, you could say that Liam never returned once turned. As I understand it, it was never established that Angel got "his" soul, just a "soul". Sometimes they say he got his soul, sometimes they say he got a soul. The specifics of having a soul and what a soul means are not very well-defined. At times it seems a soul is the ability to care about things that are not directly related to you - for example, vampires care deeply about the suffering of people they are invested in, but don't seem to care about strangers that are essentially food. I don't think there is an answer to this so we can't say for sure if "Liam" is in the soul Angel has.
However, if you believe in the latter theory, that Liam is a combination of genetics, environment, memories, etc., then Liam is always there. When he identifies as Angelus, he is Liam without a soul. When he is Angel, he is Liam with a soul. He still has all his memories, he is in the same body, more or less. How many changes must a person undergo and in what speed before they are not "them" anymore? That is an interesting philosophical debate all in itself.
Either way, the question of what you define as "Liam" will lead you to the answer of whether Angel is Liam and when.
2In the original season 1 episode "Angel" where we first learned he was a vampire with a soul, Angel said: "The elders conjured the perfect punishment for me. They restored my soul." To me, that phrasing "restored my soul" definitely makes it sound like Liam's original soul, not some new one they conjured up. Likewise, in "Becoming, Part 1" Willow said "Looks like Ms. Calendar was trying to replicate the original curse. To restore Angel's soul again." Mar 18, 2016 at 4:16
You are right about that. I think the way the soul is handled is pretty contradictory at times. In general, though, I give lower priority to anything in season 1. It was before the show knew what it was - just think about season 1 Darla!– lpytelApr 21, 2017 at 22:02