that is so fuckin’ romantic
(1/6) fights and arguments – buffy/angel, the jossverse
Buffy: You should have told me what was going on.
Angel: I didn’t—I didn’t think it was your business.
Buffy: Not my business?!
Angel: I needed more time with Faith. I’m not sure…
Buffy: You needed—Do you have any idea what it was like for me to see you with her? That you went behind my back…
Angel: Buffy, this wasn’t about you! This was about saving somebody’s soul. That’s what I do here, and you’re not a part of it. That was your idea, remember? We stay away from each other.
Buffy: I came here because you were in danger.
Angel: I’m in danger every day. You came because of Faith. You were looking for vengeance.
Buffy: I have a right to it.
Angel: Not in my city.
(Buffy turns away for a moment, then turns back.)
Buffy: I have someone in my life now. That I love. It’s not what you and I had. It’s very new. You know what makes it new? I trust him. I know him.
Angel: That’s great. It’s nice—you moved on. I can’t. You found someone new. I’m not allowed to, remember? I see you again, it cuts me up inside. And the person I share that with is me! You don’t know me anymore. So don’t come down here with your great new life and expect me to do things your way. Go home.
Buffy: See? Faith wins again.
I’ve included an entire section on fights and disagreements because when done well, it’s actually one of my favorite components of a shippy storyline. Real life relationships are like that. Things aren’t rosy all the time, and when we have conflicts, they don’t always resolve themselves smoothly: sometimes they get messy and downright ugly. And some of my favorite TV ship moments have come from exploring such situations.
What I love about this scene between Buffy and Angel is that the writing completely gets who these two are as individuals, where they are at this point in time, and how they relate to each other. It captures much of the essence of their relationship, and it doesn’t hold back. The scene is incredibly GUTSY—it really goes there with all the issues festering beneath the surface, and what results is a painfully real fight that the audience can relate to on a visceral level.
I love how the fight manages to simultaneously convey just how well these two know each other (like Angel calling out Buffy on wanting vengeance, rather than being worried for his safety), while also immediately showing us the disconnect between them: they are in entirely different places, especially at the beginning of the conversation, when Buffy is focused on the personal harm she’s suffered at Faith’s hands, and Angel is focused on Faith as the kind of person he’s trying to help in his new life in LA. There’s such a strong sense of BOTH of them having sharp, distinct, self-centered (where I mean that term literally) points of view, their outlooks are no longer remotely in alignment (and they cannot fool themselves that they are), and that gets across the sense of their breakup with a finality that no amount of yelling or recriminations could. It’s fantastic.
One of the things that hurts Buffy most is how Angel wounds her without even trying, by reminding her of this fact—that he considers LA to be his city, not theirs or hers, that he thinks she no longer has the right to tell him what to do or how to do it, that their missions and aims are different, that they are not a unit anymore, and that Angel’s worldview no longer solely revolves around her, when she had relied on that notion for so long.
Buffy retaliates by very deliberately introducing Riley, saying, “I have someone in my life now.” And when that has no visible effect, she follows it up with, “That I love.” That’s 100% intentional and calculated, Buffy lashing out because of her own resentment about Faith—we’ve all been there with someone we love, where we want to hurt them because we love them and we know exactly how to twist the knife in the wound because we’ve been so close and know each other’s weaknesses (this becomes even more obvious when you realize that she never actually tells Riley to his face that she loves him, and one of Riley’s biggest issues in that relationship was that he felt that Buffy didn’t love him enough), but it strikes home with Angel all the same.
And at the end, there are no easy answers. There is no quick reconciliation, no smooth resolution…and I love that the show doesn’t force one. Buffy and Angel have been set on diverging paths, and the narrative has enough trust in the characters to let them continue on those paths while acknowledging the connection they had and still have with each other, acknowledging the reality of their relationship.
I also love the way this conversation is structured with respect to Faith. Angel fiercely defends Faith and her right to redemption—and he defends her against Buffy, who is very obviously jealous of Faith in a sexual/romantic sense—and yet the conversation is written and framed in such a way that this in no way can be construed as diminishing or devaluing Angel’s feelings for Buffy. I love that, I think it’s so rare, especially nowadays on TV—for a male character to be able to show absolute platonic loyalty to a female character, and even to take her side against his love interest, without the scenario being reduced to a cheap competition over the guy, to have it be a genuine issue of principle and the characters’ choices as individuals…it’s fantastic, and I love that Buffy/Angel is a ship that can support this kind of scenario.