"I think he has redeemed himself, between the work he did in the TV series and After the Fall. The question is whether he believes it or he's just paying lip service to the notion. Either way, he's in a position of not quite knowing where to go next, so this story is about Angel (and most of the characters) in a state of flux, searching for their way."
Angel's story is about fighting for redemption. If Armstrong is writing Angel as fully redeemed, then frankly the story is over for me. This viewpoint is counter to the mission statement of AtS and NFA - the fight goes on forever.
|Orpheus (selected dialogue):|
Faith, wake up!
(wakes) I've rolled the bones. You for me.
(walks away from the fight with Angelus to talk to Faith) I used to think that. That there'd be a point when I'd paid my dues.
(knocks out Angel from behind) Anybody notice a battle with your alter-ego going on here?
Faith, listen to me. You saw me drink. It doesn't get much lower than that. And I thought I could make up for it by disappearing.
I did my time.
Our time is never up, Faith. We pay for everything.
I know. I know.
Get up! You have to get up now. Faith, you have to fight. I need you to fight. Do you understand what I'm saying?
Angel's need to "make up for it" is his driving motivation. And I don't see how we go from so much darkness in Season 5 (murdered Drogyn, backstabbed Lindsey - both very morally grey acts) to him suddenly having made up for it and redeemed himself? Huh?
The problem here is that Armstrong is saying Angel views himself as redeemed as being necessary for him to help others just for the sake of helping others. Angel can still feel guilt for all he's done and still have his primary motivation be his desire to help people - it's called complex reality. This is different from Angel Season 2 and 4. It's frankly only sensible that a souled being would feel guilt for past straight-up evil actions. Angel giving up on making that his primary motivation doesn't mean it should negate his responsibility for what he's done. Angel with a soul has murdered human beings - that should haunt him. The fact that he says he's redeemed when he just condemned all of LA to pyschological torture (many remember being murdered, drank by vampires, perhaps raped)...the fact that he thinks he's redeemed? No. He still has a lot to feel guilty about. Yeah he saved the day. But he saved the day through ending a situation he created along with W&H. He doesn't get to come out of this with a clean slate.
Oversimplification of complex psychological and moral issues is my first and foremost complaint about the ANGEL series currently. The central theme of Angel's journey was his constant struggle and how he has a moral darkness within himself that can lead him down a dangerous path. It's a theme that is shouted to the rooftops in NFA both internally and externally - the fight lives on. Forever. The struggle is manifest in Angel's character - a vampire *cursed* with a soul who can never know pure happiness or else become a monster. Yet even with this soul Angel has done horribly questionable actions. Doing right doesn't redeem him fully, it just means he's on the right path. And where does Angel get the arrogance to proclaim himself redeemed? That is another thing I find counter to his character. Arrogance over humility. Arrogance is more suited to the morally grey Angel or straight-up evil Angelus. A humble Angel makes statements in Epiphany about "the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."
The beauty of Angel's character was that he struggled with this inner darkness. This darkness led to Angel locking the lawyers in the cellar, nearly smothering Wes to death in Forgiving, doing a dark magic ritual that nearly killed Fred The Price, rejecting Connor (who desperately needed a father's guidance, the lack of which allowed him to be manipulated by Jasmine) because he was jealous that Connor slept with Cordy (who wasn't even really Cordy). His darkness is always at war with his inner light. This is what makes him extraordinary. That in the end, when it truly counts - the light wins. It speaks to the state of this world of a hope of light triumphing over evil in the end. If Angel can triumph over his inner darkness even if he can't truly defeat it, then we too can triumph over the darkness in this world. The call to arms is to keep on fighting. The fight goes on. As in real life, so it is within ANGEL the series, so it is within Angel himself.
Take away that metaphor and you're reading a story that's lost it's power, it's thematic and emotional relevance to the reality of the world. Whitewashed. Oversimplified.
And more specifically regarding Angel being redeemed after ending Hell-A, I maintain that Angel is partially responsible for Hell-A. To say that Angel isn't responsible for LA being sent to hell is to deny that his actions brought about this effect. Playing Devil's Advocate here with another potential scenario: W&H would have gone on turning their wheels to bring forth Armageddon and likely Buffy/a slayer/a champion alongside other warriors would have fought to stop it in the ultimate battle. Angel sped up the timetable and this resulted in innocent bystanders of the battle being sent to hell when the "CAPITAL A" Apocalypse would have been fought and likely won by warriors and ultimately depending on which side Angel resided on as the prophecy states (if you want to completely take away the metaphor that the fight is forever, neverending, and read W&H's threat as literal). As Buffy says in Season 7, casualties of war sounds so casual. And the war Angel fought with W&H had many casualties in Hell-A that the "not a reset" didn't erase because they have memories of their horrific experiences there. So After the Fall gave Angel more to feel guilty about if he were actually owning his responsibility for his part in bringing forth Hell-A. When you pull a tiger's tail, are you surprised that they wake up from sleep to go on a enraged killing rampage? Cause and effect.
It's similar to Joss asking FOX to tell them ahead of time if ANGEL season 5 would be renewed. They told him no. Fury later said that if Joss had waited until after sweeps, it probably would have been a yes because ANGEL season 5 had been made under budget and had built a bigger audience. If Angel had waited (if Joss had waited) the Apocalypse potentially could have been fought by warriors of the good side without nearly 11 million people (population of LA) being sent to hell to experience death, rape, torture and all forms of terror. No. Angel wasn't completely in the right.