8

In some early episodes of Buffy, Giles insists that when someone becomes a vampire, the vampire has the 'host' body, memories and personality but it is not that person anymore. Then when Buffy wants to recover Angel's soul, both Xander and Giles act against it, reminding Buffy that he killed Jenny and tortured Giles.

This seems contradictory to me. I understand that psychologically, it is hard to trust Angel again. But Giles, at least, is a rational man. Why would he be against recovering Angel's soul?

  • In addition, let us remember that snatching a soul from its resting place is rude and non consentual. Does Liam -Angel's human soul- want to be trapped in a corpse with a demon? – user53564 Sep 26 '15 at 6:36
16

Rationality and emotion are often in conflict even in the most rational of people. Not only did Angel murder Jenny Calendar, he left her body for Giles to find in his own bedroom by faking a romantic tryst. No matter how rational you are, it's got to be almost impossible not to want the person who did that dead.

However, there is a more rational reason not to put the soul back. It could be removed again at some point in the future. Angelus is an exceptionally cruel, clever, violent and twisted vampire, and there is a good argument that taking the option which involves (almost) zero risk of his return (i.e. killing him) is to be preferred over saving him. After all, all it takes is a moment of true happiness. (At this point in canon, no-one has even heard of vampires returning from being staked.)

  • I was thinking that. I find it curious that the discussion was always about what he did and not the risk involved. Also I think it would be very insensitive to bring him back knowing that Angel will be haunted by his Angelus memories even more than before. – santiagozky May 29 '12 at 11:33
  • “At this point in canon, no-one has even heard of vampires returning from being staked.” — Dracula excepted. And I think there was an effort to bring The Master back via some ritual involving his bones in the first episode of season two. – Paul D. Waite Mar 12 '15 at 22:55
  • @PaulD.Waite I like to think that, given Dracula's ability to transform into a fog or mist, he's never actually been successfully staked--you start to stab him, and he reflexively turns to dust before you can get to his heart, but it looks like he was "dusted". No idea if that's correct, though. As for the Master, it might have been possible, but most dustings don't appear to leave bones. – KSmarts Mar 13 '15 at 16:51
  • @KSmarts: that certainly makes more sense than any other explanation, I like it. – Paul D. Waite Mar 13 '15 at 16:53
8

Just to expand on @Christi's answer (which is correct: they were not being entirely rational because they are human, and because Angelus is very dangerous vampire):

Giles and Xander had very different motivations to not want to return Angel's soul. (This is typical of Xander, especially early on: he only gets what he wants when it happens to correspond to what someone more knowledgable or "important" also wants.)

Both of their issues focused on Buffy's relationship with him. If Angel's soul were returned, presumably Buffy and Angel would attempt to reconcile, and potentially resume their relationship. One of the key points Whedon has written into this entire series is that Buffy's still a human teenage girl, and has all the normal faults, failings, etc. of a human girl. In particular, this entire Angel episode is a pretty clear metaphor for the manipulative ex-boyfriend who only "plays nice" until he takes her virginity, then dumps her. It is very common for a person (especially a teenager) to form an irrationally deep bond with the first person they slept with, and want to maintain that relationship in the face of countless signs warning them not to. In this case, Buffy has the additional benefit of a good explanation for Angel's change in behavior, and reason to believe (correctly) that his behavior would change back if his soul could be restored.

For Giles, he doesn't want to see this happen for two reasons. Of course, the primary motivation is his hatred for Angelus, and what Angelus did to himself and Jenny. Also, he's playing his usual role as surrogate father figure for Buffy, and is pissed at Angel for the emotional trauma she went through. Giles certainly doesn't want to see Angel "rewarded" by having his soul restored and having his previous, not-happy-but-at-least-satisfying life back. But beyond that, he's a Watcher, and never really liked the idea of his Slayer befriending, much less dating, a vampire. (He similarly never fully accepts the idea of Spike being a member of the team.) In his mind, Angel reverting to Angelus is really just the world righting itself -- he's acting how vampires should act. The response should then be for Buffy to act how Slayers should act, and stake him. If Angel's soul were restored, Giles would have to face the same internal conflict he's been facing all along, only now his knowledge of Angelus's cruelty is more than just academic, it's personal. Angel has "proven" to Giles that, at his core, he's still just a vampire, and vampires do not deserve pity, they deserve death.

For Xander, it's a lot simpler. He has shown a very blatant infatuation with Buffy. He frequently made snide remarks question if Angel could be trusted, long after the rest of the "gang" had accepted him. Now, what had previously looked like Xander just being petty and jealous of Angel's relationship to Buffy, has been vindicated. In his mind, he "saw this coming". The last thing Xander wants is things back to the status quo.

3

Giles wasn't against giving Angel's soul back. The conversation in the library about attempting the spell to restore Angel's soul took place before Giles was kidnapped and tortured by Angel, so that didn't play a part in anyone's reasoning. Giles was in favor of giving it a try. He even told Xander that it was Jenny Calendar's dying wish to redeem herself by restoring Angel's soul. It's what she was working on just before, and what led to her death.

Xander on the other hand, had at least two reason's for being against the plan to restore Angel. First was simple jealousy. He openly admits that he's never liked Angel, and he's always carried a torch for Buffy. Second, Angel is a dangerous enemy who has killed a lot of people, including their friend and teacher Jenny Calendar. Xander thinks that Angel doesn't deserve forgiveness for these acts.

The only person to really support Xander in the argument was Cordelia, but she was much less adamant. She also had two reasons. First, she was supporting her boyfriend (Xander). Second, the last time they'd seen Angel he directly attacked Cordelia in part of his plan to kill Buffy's friends.

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