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March 29, 2004
To Shanshu On TV
by Daniel Erenberg

The scrolls of the Shanshu prophecy were introduced in the final two episodes of season one of Angel. They stated that a vampire with a soul, after going through many hardships, including a time of darkness (the sun going out in season four perhaps?) would finally be able to escape his inner demon and become human. This gave Angel an easy out. The show could end in a neat little bow with Angel a human and everything right with the world. However, in the final episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s sixth season, “Grave”, the character of Spike, also a vamp, got his own soul back. Which, needless to say, complicated things for Angel, the original vampire with a soul. Two vamps with souls: one of ‘em is gonna be human, probably before the series is out. But which one truly deserves it?

Angel has been around far longer than Spike. We’re talking a full century here. He’s also been repenting for his evil ways for another century more than Spike. And, not only that, but Angel has to deal with his soul being tentative at best. One moment of true happiness (or a shrouded shaman apparently) can take Angel’s soul away like that (writer snaps his fingers), turning him back into Angelus. But let’s go back to Angelus. Turned by Darla in the eighteenth century, he spent the next 150 some-odd years cutting a bloody swath through Europe. In the late nineteenth century, he got his soul back via the Kalderash gypsy tribe after killing one of their prized females. After this, Angel appears to have migrated to America. He lived a quiet life alone, occasionally running into trouble. He was forced to go to war in the forties (“Why We Fight”), he was hanged in a hotel in 1952 (“Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been”), he spent some time in Vegas in the sixties (“The House Always Wins”), and he killed a human being in a diner in the seventies (“Orpheus”). It wasn’t until 1996, when he met Whistler, an agent of the Powers That Be, that he tried to do some good with his “life” (Buffy: “Becoming Part One”). His first act of good was warning Buffy Summers, the Slayer, of the impending Harvest (Buffy: “The Harvest”), a time when a vampire called The Master could rise. Buffy prevented the Harvest handily. Angel helped Buffy and her friends for the next year until he and the Slayer had a little bedroom bam-bam (Buffy: “Surprise”), and he lost his soul (Buffy: “Innocence”). Soulless, he killed another Kalderash gypsy, this time the girlfriend of the Slayer’s Watcher (Buffy: “Passion”), and numerous others until he got his soul back via a young witch named Willow Rosenberg and the Slayer sent him to Hell through the demon Acathla’s portal (Buffy: “Becoming Part Two”). Angel spent an unmentioned amount of years, presumably an extremely long time due to the difference in Hell-Time and Pacific Standard Time, of unspeakable torment, soul intact, and somehow made his way back to the mortal plane where he helped Buffy stop an Ascension (Buffy: “Graduation Day Part Two”), and then moved to Los Angeles (for the Slayer’s own good mind you!) where he started a detective agency (“City Of”), and spent the next five years helping people, even shedding his sould for a time (see season four) to help—survey says!—save the world. It is unquestionable in my mind that Angel deserves the riches of the Shanshu prophecy.

But then there’s Spike. William the Bloody earned his original nickname by being a “bloody awful” poet. He earned his next nickname after being turned into a Vampire by Drusilla, for torturing people with railroad spikes. Spike was arguably just as evil as Angelus was before him. He spent the next century with Drusilla, even killing two Slayers, one in China during the Boxer Rebellion, and one on a New York subway in 1977 (Buffy: “Fool For Love”). He had his eyes set on a third twenty years later, but found it quite hard offing this one. His experiences trying to kill her had dire consequences, including the loss of his lady-love Drusilla. However, the real turning point for Spike was when the Initiative, a government conspiracy to control demonic activity, gave him a chip that disallowed him from harming humans (Buffy: “The Initiative”). After this, he fell in love with the Slayer (just as Angel had before) and helped her save the world. Twice (in Buffy: “The Gift” and Buffy: “Chosen”). But, in this period he occasionally went through some weak times, such as exploiting Buffy’s depression for sex (notably in Buffy: “Dead Things”), and, later on, attempting to rape her (Buffy: “Seeing Red”). But then he got his soul back of his own volition, certainly an honorable act. Currently, he’s in Los Angeles helping Angel and hiding from any sort of confrontation with Buffy, who thinks he’s dead. Not quite as honorable.

I, myself, think that they’re both perfectly worthy. However, I must say that I’m partial to Angel receiving the riches of the Shanshu prophecy, simply for the sheer amount of time he’s suffered. After all, could there be a Hell without a Hope?

(this article is dedicated to suraya rose, who always wanted me to write it)

Oh, and also watch Tim Minear's new show Wonderfalls. The time slot has changed to Thursdays at 9. I've watched the first three episodes and have enjoyed each one more than the last.

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone except for the mind-numbing loneliness he feels on occasion. If you’re a beautiful woman that’s fallen in love with Daniel, or you just want to talk Buffy with him, you can contact Daniel at
Latest Comments

someone made a really good point. Angel already knows how to become human. Blood of a mora demon mixed with his blood. he doesn't need the shanshu, neither does spike. their fighting over it, etc. is a red herring.

If either of them really wanted to become human, they would do it. Angel was human once already and threw it away. His reasons for doing so haven't changed, so him wanting the shanshu at all seems ludicrous. As for Spike, he really seems to like killing things. With the shanshu he wouldn't be able to kill things like he could before. He's got the superpowers, and a soul without a curse. He's got the better deal. As for sunlight, I don't remember him ever being too broken up over that, and he's ventured out during the day many times. (Has anyone else noticed, he seems to be more flame retardant than most vamps? takes him a bit longer to smoke or burst into flames?) And then there is the growing old and feeble and dying part, oh yeah, I'm sure he just can't wait for that thrill. yeah shanshu is a red herring. pointless and stupid.

Posted by: zoe on August 6, 2004 06:10 AM

In response to the person who said spike just got his soul to get into buffy's pants, therefore the act wasn't valid. Spike got his soul so he would be seen for what he was. It was largely for Buffy...but here is an important point to consider. People even with souls do some heinous things, Spike, even without a soul in many instances acted very human.

All the way back in Season 3, Spike was having hot chocolate with Joyce discussing his love life, without the slightest intention of harming her.

From Season 5 on, Spike began to make changes. A lot of his actions have been bravado. He's killed two slayers (and before buffy those were the only two he fought.) why couldn't he kill buffy. Dru wants him to kill buffy, he's not really going out of his way without someone telling him to. He's smart and he seems to be doing what the other vampires expect of him. But it's clear on many ocassions that he has feelings, and is very human.

Buffy isn't the only human he cares about. He cares deeply for both dawn and joyce and seems very fond of willow and tara. at times he has joked with giles and xander. But they won't let him in their world. They won't accept him. Buffy IS the primary motivation here, what pushes him over the edge to go get the soul, but the soul isn't what makes him good, it's his choices before that that does that. But no one will accept it.

If anything he gets the soul because he doesn't feel he's good enough without it. He believes what everyone tells him about himself, mainly Buffy. Which causes one to wonder, soul or no soul, who are the real monsters of the piece?

Posted by: zoe on August 6, 2004 05:52 AM

i was trying to copy/paste part of madeline's post : "how can such a fluffy poet be such an evil vamp. i'm just saying." that was what i was ROFLMAO at. lol.

Posted by: zoe on August 6, 2004 05:45 AM


In "The Crush" where spike was going to stake dru, that was a big big deal. It's been inferred many times on the show that staking your really really bad. It's turning your back on and denouncing what you are. Buffy didn't get that. Not that it was ok for him to threaten buffy like that...but then again he wasn't asking her to love him, just to admit that maybe someday there might be a tiny chance...he wasn't asking for much, and in the end, it was all just bravado (the threatening buffy part), because in the end he let her go when dru threatened her and pulled dru off her.

Posted by: zoe on August 6, 2004 05:44 AM

response to sophie about buffy/angel. They can't be together, won't work even if he's human. He's not meant to be human. People should get over it. he can't sleep with her as a vampire because he'll lose his soul. If buffy were to have a relationship with a vampire the only one she could have one with is Spike.

Besides that fact, Angel was puppy love, high school love. not adult love. Angel always talked down to her and made decisions for her. Aside from the sexual encounter he treated her more as his child than his equal.

Spike always accepted her for what she was both good and bad, never expecting her to be something different for him. He forgave her for every way she wronged him, focusing only on the pain he caused her.

I can see Angel with Cordy, they work well together, I never saw Angel with Buffy, it was never an equal relationship. Also he's so broody all the time...who wants to spend their life with THAT??? Although he did get funnier on AtS (which I loved btw), I just don't think they work as a couple at all.

Posted by: zoe on August 6, 2004 05:40 AM
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