The Search For Redemption Doesn't Exist!

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Title: The Search For Redemption Doesn't Exist!
Creator: SCWLC
Date(s): early 2000s?
Medium: online
Fandom: Angel the Series
External Links: Redemption, Archived version
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The Search For Redemption Doesn't Exist! is a satirical essay by SCWLC.

It is one of many essays at Octaves, a Buffy and Angel website.

"SCWLC examines whether redemption is even possible for Angel."


We all know that Angel is searching for redemption for the crimes he committed as “The Scourge of Europe.” After all, he spent 127 years raping, looting, killing, and generally sacking his way around the continent. In theory, when he reaches the point of having made up for his sins, he will shanshu, become human. This is what has been implied on the show, and on the surface it seems to be fairly reasonable. I contend, however, that Angel is not fighting for redemption. He believes that he is, and it is unlikely that he, or anyone else among his friends, will be dissuaded of the notion. This does not mean that the PTB actually intend that he seek redemption.

What then, does this ‘shanshu prophecy’ indicate? The hint is in the prophecy itself. If you will recall in season 1 of BtVS the Master said, “Prophecies are tricky things.” We have seen how true this is with the prophecy from the Codex, Buffy’s nightmares in “Surprise”, and even Cordelia’s visions. Clearly wording is everything in these, and frequently such things only become clear after the fact. What Wesley says at the end of TSILA is specifically that, “...the vampire with a soul, once he fulfils his destiny, will Shanshu. Become human. - It's his reward." The word I hinge this on is ‘reward’. One is not rewarded for correcting one’s mistakes. You are rewarded for going beyond the call of duty, for doing something more than necessary. If Angel is merely cleaning up after himself he doesn’t need a reward.

There are those who will suggest that perhaps the reward is a carrot to keep Angel fighting for that redemption. A way to inspire him. A bribe, like parents who tell a recalcitrant six-year-old that he can have a candy bar if he cleans his room. There are two reasons that disprove the payment or bribe theory. The first is that, as shown in both "Judgment" and TSILA, that payment is a long way off. What little hope it gives is counteracted by the very fact that it is uncertain whether Angel will survive to shanshu, if there will even be a world he wants to inhabit when he does. No one can predict the exact nature of the future, and Angel is, (to cadge a phrase from Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” series) “one of the fulcrums on which the universe turns.” His decisions affect far more people than most. This very uncertainty of even receiving a reward for his sacrifices indicates something more than just immediate necessity.