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Feature: Angel

“The road to redemption is a rocky path.”
So Faith tells Angel from her prison cell in Judgment. In one line, the entire raison d’être for Angel’s existence is summed up

It’s a key element in epic storytelling, the quest for atonement for past unworthy deeds remains a beguiling one for any audience. Because, like the man said, “We’ve all got something to atone for.”

In Angel, the central character has more to pay for than most. A killer without compassion (“The meanest Vampire in all the land,” according to Doyle), Angelus spent over a century perpetrating acts of mayhem and ultraviolence. And he did it because he enjoyed it. It’s the realization of this (via a gypsy curse, admittedly) that allowed Angel to understand what he had to put right. This theme is repeated over and over throughout Angel. All the regular characters – and many others who briefly interact with the world of Angel Investigations – have their own dark places and a need to shine light upon them. Like alcoholics giving up the drink (a metaphor that Angel, at one stage, intended to take literally) it’s the realization within themselves that they need to change which triggers the redemption process.

For Cordelia, in Rm W/a Vu, a new home – albeit, haunted – offers a fresh beginning. It’s when she comes to terms with her own past that she receives a reward. Accepting the gift of vision from Doyle and The Powers That Be completes the process. By To Shanshu in LA, Cordy has come to realize, through being exposed to everyone’s pain and suffering, that she and her friends have the chance to change the world. However, the visions subsequently begin to take their toll. As Wesley tells Angel in Epiphany, they have changed Cordelia radically. But they are a part of what she has become and she passes up the chance to be rid of them in There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb. Her decision not to have sex with the Groosalugg and lose the visions is a mirror image to Angel’s inability to experience perfect happiness through copulation. They don’t because, if they did, the world would be a worse place because of it. Many roads are subsequently traveled before we get to You’re Welcome and Cordelia’s final act of atonement – giving Angel foreknowledge of the war to come.

Doyle discovers, in Hero, that “You never know your strength until you’re tested.” In The Bachelor Party, he had confessed to Angel that his marriage failed because he – rather than his wife, Harriet – could not accept his demon heritage. He finally confronts his darkest secret – the betrayal of his kin. And makes the ultimate sacrifice to the cause.

by Keith Topping

Get the full feature and many more on Angel in
Xposé Special #26

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Angel © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Xposé Special #26
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