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October 5, 2019 marks twenty years since the first episode of Joss Whedon's Angel, a spinoff from his acclaimed Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which David Boreanaz played the eponymous vampire cursed with a human soul. Buffy and Angel were both formative for millennials like me, who came of age on their quippy, ****-kicking version of girl power. For a long time, Whedon himself was lauded as a feminist ally and icon. But after two decades, Angel's feminist legacy doesn't hold up to a rewatch. Though the spinoff featured several nuanced, compelling female characters, too many of them met the same predictable end, sacrificed for male characters' emotional arcs.
Darla (Julie Benz) was Angel's partner in the century-long killing spree that came before his reformation; she was also his vampiric sire, the woman who literally turned him into a monster. Their relationship is the axis of the show's second season. Darla, brought back to life as human and then reborn as a vampire, tries to pull Angel back into evil. He tries to save her, then to destroy her; somewhere in there they have sex. Darla becomes pregnant, which is supposed to be impossible for vampires. Just as improbably, she finds herself feeling love for her future child, which she credits to the influence of its human soul growing inside her. Finally, afraid she won't be able to love the baby once it's born, Darla stakes herself in labor, dissolving to ashes and leaving her infant son Connor (played as an adult by Vincent Kartheiser) lying on the pavement.
Julie - Benz - Exit - Character - Profound
Julie Benz said in 2013 that she found the exit of her character profound, a final selfless deed by someone whose character had primarily been defined by self-preservation. Unfortunately, Darla was only the first of three Angel characters to die in childbirth. With...
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