On Angel

Victim Triumphant

By Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The commercials advertising Angel’s first season named Angel a hero. But do you believe everything commercials tell you? Angel’s certainly the man in charge. He headed Angel Investigations, and then had his own branch of a law firm, not to mention the most lines, the most scenes and the best close-ups. He’s likeable enough to be a hero and apparently has a worthwhile goal—preventing the destruction of the world. He also faces seemingly overwhelming odds as a goal-directed hero must.

But as heroic as Angel may appear on a weekly basis, he does not fit the profile of a goal-directed hero because he’s no hero. The goal he pursues in each episode—whether saving a child or a half-breed demon, the city of Los Angeles or the whole world—is not his own.

Note that it took the appearance of Doyle and his pipeline to the Powers That Be before Angel started doing significantly more than taking out a few vamps at some L.A. bars. A hero has to act. And Angel doesn’t act—he never has. He reacts..

He doesn’t scheme, plot and orchestrate events to achieve his personal goal. He doesn’t even stumble across trouble in classically heroic, single-minded pursuit of his own goals. He doesn’t go looking for trouble. Trouble finds him, whether in the form of gypsy curses or regular missives from the Powers That Be. The Powers assign him goals and he achieves them, hoping for the ultimate reward: redemption and restored humanity

A classic action hero plot (and Angel has been  …

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