The act of catharsis has two sides. One involves emotional empathy, the other is acknowledging a tragic figure or at least projecting the source of one’s tragedies onto a character. This blog will dive into my three favorite Buffy villains and what kind of catharsis they provided me with.
Angelus is the evil version of Angel, the demon he used to be before gypsies cursed him with his soul. I am one of those Buffy fans who thinks that Angel and Angelus are two sides of the same coin, but that’s a fan theory that not everyone agrees with so for the sake of convenience, I’m only going to refer to the times when Angel was Angelus.
Outside of Buffy, I was still facing my own personal demon that took the form of a friend’s betrayal. To quote a Taylor Swift song, I still have scars on my back and even though I have forgiven this friend, trying to re-establish the connection is still a very bad idea.
I saw a lot of my friend in Angelus. He was a calculating, methodical villain who always thought out ways to torture his victims before killing them. Yes, he and his band of vampires was considered The Whirlwind because of all the destruction and mayhem they created, but Angelus was always precise. Angelus was also narcissistic, an evil genius, and willing to take things to the extreme.
When I watched Season 2 of Buffy, I projected the pain I felt about my betrayal onto Angelus. Even though Buffy cried when she sent Angel to Hell, I couldn’t help but pump my fist in the air when it happened. I haven’t watched Season 4 of Angel, when Angelus is said to return, but I still consider Angelus to be my favorite male villain of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
But my favorite villain overall?
On paper, Glory does not make a lot of sense. She is a hell goddess who needs brains to feed and is after one thing and one thing only: The Key. A fan of Buffy asked “Why didn’t they make Glory human instead of altering reality so that they key would be Buffy’s sister?” My personal headcanon is that the monks only had the power in relation to the Key and not Glory herself.
But Glory was hilarious, chaotic, and fun to hate. Even though she had her stupid moments, when she proved herself as a serious threat to the team, I was legitimately afraid of her. I was scared that she would kill Spike and hated when she made Tara insane. She appeared in Buffy’s home with no trouble at all and was often in proximity of the Scooby Gang without them even realizing it.
Glory was basically the opposite of what I faced. My friend hated characters and people they deemed as “stupid.” Glory wasn’t the smartest of the Buffy villains, but I have a soft spot for villains who underestimate their opponents as long as they’re entertaining to watch and had fully developed personalities. Although like Angelus, she was a total narcissist and self-absorbed. But she owned up to the fact that she was a chaotic evil.
The most interesting villain, however, was one that I found myself identifying with in a very strange way.
Drusilla, to me, represents what I could’ve been if I stayed with my friend and went down a darker path. She is the definition of a tragic figure because no matter how hard you try, there’s no way that Drusilla could be redeemed without either altering her character to the point of her becoming unrecognizable, brushing aside her insanity, or letting her die a tragic death. Even if Drusilla gained her soul or became human, she would still suffer from the consequences of her actions and have to deal with that while still being insane. Drusilla and Spike were adorable together, to the point that I hated that he was sleeping with Harmony in Seasons 4 and 5. The problem, as Drusilla said, is that while vampires are capable of love, they do not always love wisely.
From this point on, I’m gonna go into my personal Drusilla headcanons so you’re free to agree or disagree with me on this. When Drusilla broke things off with Spike (as shown in flashback in Fool For Love), I had a feeling that she saw what Spike was going to become and decided on letting him go because she couldn’t follow where he was going.
I hated how she was treated in Angel. Darla took Drusilla for granted. She was happy to have her around, don’t get me wrong, but she completely forgot that Dru could get visions of the future and the two of them almost burned to death because of it. Part of me wishes sometimes that she could’ve worked things out with Spike. But if you backed me up in an alley, put a gun to my head, and asked me who Spike was better off with, I would say “Buffy” in a heartbeat. Again, Drusilla was destined to be a tragic figure…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In a show riddled with moral ambiguity, Drusilla reminds people of the consequences. She is a consequence of the evil actions of others and can only be saved through some kind of extreme measure.
Tomorrow, I lighten things up by talking about one of my favorite singers and how I emotionally connected with her.