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From TV Zone issue 166


Deep Thought - A Family Do

By Gareth Wigmore - Transcribed by Katriena Spoiler Crypt

Thursday 28 August 2003, by Webmaster

(This article discusses babies and children on SF genre shows in general, but I’ve excerpted the bits relevant to BtVS and AtS.)

...Having the hero or heroine’s father or mother turn up for an episode or two is more the norm than constructing an entire series around it as in "Alias," but a more common device of the same sort is to suddenly give the hero a child to look after. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" played with this very nicely with its shock introduction of Buffy’s littler sister Dawn in Season Five, with everyone acting as though she’d been there all along. But a more obvious use of the evice was in Season Three of "Angel," when, from nowhere, the vampire with a soul suddenly had a baby son to look after.

The trouble with babies, though, is that they’re not really very interesting once the birth is over and done with. All that you can then do with them is wait for them to grow up... (deleted bit about Soap Operas).

Sci-Fi doesn’t have to wait, though. So Angel’s son, Connor, is a little bit boring lying there crying in his cot, but it’s simplicity itself to throw him through a portal—wham!—and have him coming back a few weeks later all grown up. Why? Oh, Time moves differently where he’s been, so he can be 16 or so and a mean practitioner of all those funky martial arts that are obligatory in TV fight scenes these days.


Looking back on Season Four of "Angel" in the context of its final scenes, it seems obvious that it was really all about family and Connor’s desperate struggle to belong. Connor has issues with his dad. He doesn’t like him being a vampire; he was raised in a hell dimension by Angel’s worst enemy and came back to Earth to kill him, having been brought up to hate him and his kind. But all alone in LA, Connor gradually begins to come to some sort of accommodation with Angel Inc. In fact, we thought that he might have found something of a surrogate family in them. But his relationship with them was always fragile, and made worse when he slept with Cordelia. His dad was in love with her, so that drove something of a wedge between them... (A side point: was Cordelia possessed when she slept with Connor? It showed appalling judgment if she wasn’t.)

All Connor wanted was a family. He thought he could have one with Cordelia when she announced her pregnancy, but that was yet another supernatural baby and his illusion of trying to find any normality was eventually shattered, although not before he’d done some terrible things to try to ensure it, such as assisting in the slaughter of a perfectly innocent girl. Then he tried to let Jasmine’s mind-controlled new world be his family, but that didn’t work, either. It was only in the last few episodes of Season Four that we quite realized how desperate for normality and a family he was becoming. Like Sydney Bristow, Connor had really been a pawn in the struggle between his parents—in his case, his two fathers, natural father Angel and surrogate father Holtz.

The final scenes of Season Four of "Angel" were, then, really very moving, as we saw what Angel had done for his son using the resources now put at his fingertips by Wolfram & Hart. Somehow, he had changed Connor’s place in history and deposited him as the son in a perfectly ordinary family, with no knowledge of vampires or fighting or death. Like what happened with Dawn in reverse, it was suggested that everyone but the vampire himself has had their memories of Connor’s existence removed. The father has anonymously sacrificed a place in the life of the son he genuinely loves for that son’s happiness. It’s probably just about the most heroic and Champion-like thing that Angel’s ever done, and it was realized very well, without being cloyingly sentimental. It’s a shame, then, that rumour has it that Connor is set to reappear in one episode of "Angel" next year. It would have been rather nice had the producers been content to leave Connor’s story at that, rather than plunging him back into the world his father made sure he could leave behind.


SIDEBAR: Family Stories Waiting to Happen...

ANGEL Wesley’s pater

It’s surprising, really, that Mr. Wyndam-Price (sic) senior hasn’t turned up in LA yet. He’s been mentioned on several occasions, and Wesley’s even spoken to him on the phone. From the one-sided conversation we hear, it sounds like his son is a great disappointment to him—that he’s never forgiven him for being thrown out of the Watchers’ Council and that he thinks he’s a failure. In line with the way "Angel" works, a visit from Wesley’s father would not be a happy redemptive affair in which the two were reconciled. Instead, it would be a bitter series of arguments culminating in an initially cowed Wesley making up for years of childhood bullying by standing up to his old man and sending him packing back to England.