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Deep In: The Angelus Factor By Tania
Much has been made on both Angel: The Series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer about Angelís feelings regarding his evil alter ego Angelus. It is only recently, however, that viewers have been given a glimpse of Angelusí experiences while buried deep within Angel. This essayís purpose is to give the writer of modern-day Angelus a platform of knowledge to better build characterization around.
Angelus has been locked within Angelís souled body on and briefly off for more than a century. Beginning in 1898, when Angel was first cursed with a soul, Angelus was forced to watch Angelís life unfold before him, painfully aware of Angelís actions and emotions in every instance. The evil manifestation of Cordelia in the Angel episode "Salvage" described Angelusí life in Angelís head like this:
...Youíre the voice in there, arenít you? Just beneath the surface, buried under all that goodness. Fully conscience, fully aware, but trapped. Unable to move or speak, but powerless to act on your desires. So thirsty, so helpless. It must be agony.
In fact, the Big Badís description of Angelusí suffering is apparently so accurate that when it threatens to put him "back in your box...so deep inside Angel youíll never claw your way out again," it is enough to persuade the usually arrogant vampire to submit and call the voice "Master". This statement is all the more effective after Angelusí earlier conversation with the Beast, in which he told him he would not take orders from a lackey, toady, flunky, or lick-spittle. From the moment Angelís soul left his body Angelus takes charge. He merely has to walk into a bar and minions flock to him by reputation alone. It is clear that the only force strong enough to persuade Angelus to follow rather than lead is the fear of being forced back inside of Angelís subconscious.
It would be presumptuous to assume that Angel is affected by Angelusí presence and never the other way around. Angelusí viciousness is legendary throughout the Buffyverse mythology, culminating in killing teachers and nailing puppies to doors, what is not clear from early episodes was if his human side was as cruel as his demon. Angelus himself gave some possibly telling commentary to Faith the Vampire Slayer at the end of the "Salvage" episode when he told her that people like them "try to bury the pain, but you canít get the hole deep enough, you know thereís only one way to make the pain stop. Hurt something else." Whether the pain of Barry Manilow concerts and saving puppies was enough to make the Angelus that reappeared in season two of Buffy and season four of Angel more cruel than previous versions of his evil self remains to be seen, but is a great door for the fanfiction writer to pass through.
Angelus went much further into the torment of being trapped within Angel in the "Orpheus" episode. He described the torment of Angelís close proximity to humans in the following exchange:
Angelus: "Do you know what thatís like? Every time he gets close I feel it. Wanting to tear their flesh apart. The hunger. Itís like a blade in my gut."
Faith: "Only, itís not your gut, princess. Angelís the one that belongs on the outside."
Angelus: "You think itís that cut and dry do you? That if Angel gets his soul back..."
Faith: "When he gets his soul back."
Angelus: "Youíll just hang up your spurs and ride off into the sunset. And when you put the monster back in his cage...But Iím always here, Faithy. Deep in."
After watching Angel feed on the body of a murdered donut shop employee, Angelus makes the comment that his Hell is not private. Soul or no soul, he is deep in Angel. His overwhelming point is that no matter how much good Angel does the demon is still within him, whispering in his ear and bending him to his will. Angel later reiterates this point himself, telling Faith that he is not perfect, that "even with a soul Iíve done things I wished a thousand times I could take back." Presumably he is speaking of locking Wolfram & Hart lawyers in a cellar with Darla and Drusilla, as well as torturing Linwood, suffocating Wesley, etc. He goes on to say that his time of redemption "is never up."
Whether a writer subscribes to the idea that Angelus was driven mad by his
captivity or made stronger by his experience, one thing remains clear, even
when shackled to metal bars Angelus does not feel that he is in a cage unless
he is within Angelís body. It is a revelation for the viewers of Buffy
and Angel to be let inside Angelusí mentality, something that was disappointedly
lacking when Angelus first appeared on Buffy. It is my hope that fiction featuring
the latest incarnation of our favorite evil vampire will take into account the
years of suffering that may or may not have affected his psyche.