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winterlive in ship_manifesto

Angel/Lindsey

Author: winterlive
Spoilers: Massive, massive, massive to the end of AtS.


Angel and Lindsey belong together like Catholics and guilt. Really. Exactly like that. When I first started watching these series, Angel/Lindsey was the first slash pairing I ever noticed. Those two just seemed to bait each other more, to get angrier faster, to focus on each other so intently that, even in my newbieness, I had to figure there was something going on behind the scenes. They’re compelling together, they make me care about them. I hope they’ll get along, and when they don’t, I’m not surprised, because I understand how they work together, and I could anticipate them fighting. It’s a ship, a pairing, and the part of it that makes the most compelling argument for it, at least in my mind, is that I think of it as a pairing first, and a slash pairing second. There's barely any sly winking to the gayness of them. When the last word on Lindsey’s lips as he dies is "Angel", it isn’t funny.

Angel. Everyone knows that Angel has enormous guilt issues. Catholic, ex-mass murderer, Drusilla - choose your reason. All that guilt causes trauma (it would in anyone) and in Angel’s case, it results in a massive schism in his psyche much akin to multiple personalities. It’s not because of the soul – which I believe is what gives Buffyverse characters the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, even if they don’t act on that knowledge. When Spike gets his soul, he never experiences a radical difference in personality. Souled or unsouled, Spike's just... SPIKE. Angel, however, wears Angelus like a pair of leather pants. The second that pesky soul slips away and the guilt is gone, he becomes Angelus. He can do all the nasty, nasty things he’s ever felt guilty for imagining – he actually has to. If he didn’t, if he had some restraint when he was soulless that wasn’t all about the evil, the division would be less clear, and he might have to admit that to think nasty things is as human as human gets, and that one needn’t feel so guilty about them to maintain one's humanity/soul/goodness. Angel, Lindsey and Darla are like different points on the guilt continuum here, which is why they’re all so interconnected in canon. It’s impossible to discuss this pairing without mentioning Darla, by the way, so I’ll mention her in this essay as well.

Darla tried to convince Angel to give up or ignore his soul many times. Forget about it. Do what the evil says to do and screw everything else. Especially guilt. This was Darla’s philosophy about how to deal with guilt – it’s not important. Ignore it. Guilt causes Angel a lot of pain so it's not surprising how he'd do almost anything to get rid of it. But with the soul-as-moral compass theory, Angel knows that ignoring his moral compass is wrong. He knows he needs to keep guilt around if he wants to be a good guy – guilt is what tells you you’ve done something wrong. Bad guys don’t feel guilt. So he’ll never succumb to Darla. She’s not a serious threat, even if she does offer some twisted version of love that might ease Angel’s painful and self-imposed loneliness. Angel won’t cave to her, because Angel’s problem is that he thinks that being a good guy means you have to keep all the guilt, that there’s nothing you can ignore. That puts a terrible strain on him that often results in brooding, but he won’t bend to ‘just ignore it, lover’.

What Angel needs is for someone to come at this from the other side. Someone who knows the difference between right and wrong, but ignores it in large part to do bad things. Not too bad, though. Whoever this is, they’ve got to still have enough caring in them to not do the terrible things – the things you don’t come back from – because between this person and Angel, they could solve a mutual problem. They could reach a middle ground. They could fix each other.

That’s Lindsey.

When Angel and Lindsey first meet in the very first episode of AtS, they’re supposed to be enemies. That’s the plan. Lindsey’s an evil lawyer protecting eviler clients, and Angel’s trying to kill the clients. Lindsey deals with Angel the way he’s been taught – smooth, slick lawyer who, along with his evil bosses and minions, rules LA. But Angel refuses to play by any of the rules – he interrupts board meetings and pushes perfectly orderly vampires out windows. He won’t talk to Lindsey, reads his card but doesn’t keep it, ignoring him just enough to insult him without speaking. Angel even pats Lindsey’s pocket as he puts the card back in it. Say what you like, lawyer-guy, but I’m doing what I want, and you can’t stop me. Nyah nyah nyah.

That first meeting is typical of them. Their interaction is always full of the unspoken – Lindsey threatening with a smile, Angel insulting without really looking like it. It’s childish and unnecessary, just like they both always are. They’re really alike in many ways – determined, even pigheaded. Childish when they’re angry or smug. They both brood. They’re both very artistic – Lindsey sings and Angel draws. Ultimately, they both have that dichotomy of the spirit – good vs. evil. When they’re together, they feel it more keenly because they’re so similar. They each like to pretend that the other is static and homogenous – Lindsey tries to see Angel as a guilt-ridden goody two shoes who isn’t capable of evil, and Angel tries to see Lindsey as a Black Hat he’d kill without a second thought, if only he didn’t have such useful information. The reason they get to each other so much, the reason they get under each other’s skin so well is that each of them knows that it’s not that simple. They know that a little bit of good/evil lurks in the other, and that makes them wary and afraid. And very, very attracted.

So, in season 1 of Angel, Angel keeps screwing up things that Lindsey’s working on until eventually Angel chops off Lindsey’s hand in the process of screwing things up. This is when the relationship turns around. In the next season, Lindsey screws up things that Angel’s working on. Angel has power now – W&H is focused on him, not the other way around. There’s much poking at each other (in a figurative sense, of course), there’s Lindsey trying to get something of Angel via Darla and failing and there’s Angel trying to get someone else to kill Lindsey for him, which definitely doesn’t work, because he too picks Darla. (She’s evil by now, and she knows it’ll cause more harm to leave Lindsey alive, to force Lindsey into contact with Angel, so she won’t get between them they way they keep trying to make her.) Finally, around the end of season 2, the boys team up to do the right thing. Lindsey’s gotta do something bad for W&H, and it’s so bad that even he won’t do it. But he can’t stop it alone, he needs help. Who does he go to? Angel.

Of course he goes to Angel. Lindsey’s trying to be good, and he knows that Angel’s the good half of him. He needs more than Angel’s fists to get through this one. But Angel doesn’t help him, at least not as much as Lindsey’d like. Angel won’t budge an inch from is idea of what good is. He won’t let Lindsey come to good in his own way, but insists that Lindsey conform to Angel’s rules. Well, Lindsey don’t play dat, sista. So, off he goes to find himself in his beat-up old truck – the one that Angel stole from him and broke – and we don’t see him for a long, long time.

When Lindsey comes back, he’s morally ambiguous. He’s played up as evil, but we all know better than to take that at face value. Turns out he’s really on the side of good, acting where Angel’s just reacting – going after the circle of the Black Thorn where Angel’s the complacent CEO of W&H – and he’s doing a better job of being the champion of humanity than Angel is. He’s unrepentantly good. He’s found his niche, he’s playing it to the nines, and he’s got the brass to pull it off. In fact, he seems like he’s totally without regret – he’s got the mission, and he’s full steam ahead.

But that's not good enough for Angel. You can't just have been an evil vampire lawyer, and then give up your evil to be a good guy without any penance. That doesn't work; it's not the way we do things. If that's what happens, if Lindsey doesn't feel as guilty as Angel thinks he should over his past misdeeds but is still, to all appearances, trying to be a good guy, then clearly he'll be evil no matter what he does, even if he's trying to do good now. It'll come out sooner or later. That’s the way Angel has to understand the world, it’s the way the dichotomy has to function. So he has Lindsey killed. It’s one of the saddest moments I’ve ever seen – a white hat’s evolution cut short by one of the white hats.

The trouble is? Angel’s kinda right. We don’t know what he did in the two years he was gone, but it seems pretty clear that Lindsey’s very much the same man he used to be. He’ll use who he needs to get the job done, and he doesn’t care if they might not want to participate. Lindsey wants to be a good guy, but he doesn't get it yet that the ends don't always justify the means. He needs a lot of practice at being a good team player, because he’s not the best at consideration for his fellow man. What he needs most, though? Validation. For someone to see what he's doing right and to be acknowledged for that, that that's important. The backwoods Okie in him, who made the grade and cares about thread count now, still insists that he be like Lilah, only in it for himself... but he fights it. That's what makes Lindsey a character worthy of such compassion, and that's why I love him. It would be so easy for him to just give in to the power of the dark side, but he fights it. Even when he's so close. Even when Angel, his much-begrudged exemplar of Team Good, refuses to help him. He fights. That’s why he deserves help. And that’s why it’s such a tragedy that Angel has him killed.

If Angel and Lindsey had ever gotten together, they could have helped each other so much. Angel’s massive guilt issues and Lindsey’s sociopathy could have been exposed in their interaction with each other, and worked on once it’d been uncovered. Yes, it would have been angsty. Yes, it would have been painful and difficult and it would have hurt them both. But it would have helped them.

There are so many reasons to ship Angel/Lindsey – incredible chemistry, rich character history. They’re even funny together. But, at the end of the show, Angel and Lindsey are my OTP because they’re so absolutely, perfectly suited to one another.

And also, they’re really, really pretty.

Meta links

http://tension.restless-slayer.com/guide.php – Angel/Lindsey canon interaction

http://www.atpobtvs.com/lmoram2.html#lm – Synopsis of the good/evil dichotomy in Lindsey

Fic Links

http://www.livejournal.com/users/winterlive/51432.html - links to Angel/Lindsey fiction

Comments

So he has Lindsey killed. It's one of the saddest moments I've ever seen – a white hat's evolution cut short by one of the white hats.

[stands and applauds]

Thank you for this. Yours is the first good explanation of Lindsey's death that I've heard. It doesn't make it right, but it makes it more understandable.

And also, they're really, really pretty.

Well, I didn't want to be the one to say it, but...

They're PRETTY, man! They really, really are. :)

And thanks. Angel's always struck me as a seriously 'grey area' character, and when he has Lindsey killed, it seems like... well, like a huge mistake. Huge. It was, at least to me, more tragic than Wesley's death, because Lindsey wasn't suffering so badly, didn't need release from it all as much as Wesley did. Just the opposite, actually. Remember when Lindsey was in suburban hell, and when he came back, he (or someone, I don't remember) told Angel you'd only suffer as much as you thought you deserved? Lindsey doesn't think he deserves to suffer much. Can you picture Angel in that room? Oh. My. God.

Anyhoo, double thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. :)
the part of it that makes the most compelling argument for it, at least in my mind, is that I think of it as a pairing first, and a slash pairing second.
Great point.
Thank you. :) It occured to me as I watched that scene (omg, sob sob cry tragic hurty ow!) that they'd never do that with, say, Spike. The idea's silly. But with Lindsey it makes sense, because Lindsey loved Angel. Like Ethan and Giles.
Oh, yeah, the Ethan/Giles dynamic is very similar; there's something Giles and Angel see in Ethan/Lindsey that just reminds them too much of what they hate in themselves.
Exactly. But it's something they NEED, something they're denying about themselves that's still TRUE, no matter how much they try to distance themselves. And their other halves KNOW that.
Just reread your wonderful essay (and loved it just as much as the first time I read it) but noticed this set of comments that I either didn't see, or they weren't here the first time I commented.

YES! The Angel/Lindsey relationship has exactly the same dynamics as Giles/Ethan! I don't know why I didn't see that before, especially as these are two of my favorite pairings. Ethan connects with a side of Giles that no one else generally gets a chance to see, and Giles thinks he hates Ethan for it, but no matter how hard he tries to repress it, it's there. And you were spot on in your analysis when you said: if he [Angel] had some restraint when he was soulless that wasn’t all about the evil, the division would be less clear, and he might have to admit that to think nasty things is as human as human gets, and that one needn’t feel so guilty about them to maintain one's humanity/soul/goodness. . . .What Angel needs is for someone to come at this from the other side. Someone who knows the difference between right and wrong, but ignores it in large part to do bad things. Not too bad, though. Whoever this is, they’ve got to still have enough caring in them to not do the terrible things – the things you don’t come back from – because between this person and Angel, they could solve a mutual problem. They could reach a middle ground. They could fix each other.

And that is definitely something Angel needs, as much as Lindsey needs validation for attempting to do good.

*cries*
I hate tragic loves. They always end up hurting the innocent slashers.
*absolutely, positively, unquestionably loves your icon*
Beautiful essay, thanks :)
Thanks very much. :)
I think of it as a pairing first, and a slash pairing second. There are barely any sly winking to the gayness of them. When the last word on Lindsey’s lips as he dies is "Angel", it isn’t funny.

Good point, and an interesting distinction. Excellent essay!

Thank you

Thank you for your thoughtful, intelligent and amazing essay. It so nails everything where Lindsey and Angel is concerned and it is really a great way to look at the very tragic and heartbreaking death of a character that was so beloved that when he returned after a 2 1/2 year absence the entire viewing audience went "HELL YEAH!".
Still crying months later.
Thank you for the lovely feedback! It's such a rich pairing that I know I missed some things, but it's nice to know I got the important stuff. I do love these two, and hey, feelin the love, here as well. ;)
I think of it as a pairing first, and a slash pairing second. There's barely any sly winking to the gayness of them. When the last word on Lindsey’s lips as he dies is "Angel", it isn’t funny
This is interesting, and I've been turning this over and over in my mind, but I'm still not sure I follow. How are you defining slash here so that it's aligned with slyness and jokes while "[canon?] pairing" is - what? More serious? Or to be viewed more seriously?

Interesting review of the pair; nice to see them brought up to date to s5.
Let me clarify. Most times I've seen a slash pairing acknowledged within the confines of canon, it's been intended as funny - Angel and Spike fighting over cavemen vs. astronauts, or Spike and Xander's 'nummy treat' exchange. That is to say, when the writers of the show acknowledge it somehow.

In the case of Lindsey/Angel, or alternatively, Ethan/Giles, it comes off a lot more seriously (a lot more of the time) within the context of the show. Sometimes it's presented jokingly, but sometimes it isn't, just like any other relationship. Not saying any other slash pairing doesn't have its moments of canon seriousness, just that these tend toward it more than others.

Because they're presented this way by Mutant Enemy, I forget when I'm watching the show that A/L is an m/m pair, and just see them as being in a relationship. I think it's the mark of a well-written slash paring, myself.

And just so I'm crystal clear - I've seen almost all concievable slash pairings throughout the Jossverse treated with truly amazing sincerity by the talented authors we have in this fandom. When I talk in the essay about seriousness of slash pairings on the show, I'm only talking about what's within canon.

Thanks for the question, definitely. Wouldn't want that point unclear, given that I'm a slash author myself. :)
Excellent essay, sweetie.

A friend and I spent an hour or three *eek* discussing the Angel/Lindsey relationship after reading your essay. Very good stuff there!
Thanks so much, sweetness. Glad you approve. :)
Wow, this was so well written! I need to let it sink in a bit and then I might have more comments. :)

And also, they’re really, really pretty.

::loves you:: :)
Aw, shucks. :) Thanks, sweetiepie. You're a peach, and I love you too. And hey, more comments always welcome!
You really did bring up some excellent points here that had me nodding enthusiastically; very insightful. I loved this in particular:

if Lindsey doesn't feel as guilty as Angel thinks he should over his past misdeeds but is still, to all appearances, trying to be a good guy, then clearly he'll be evil no matter what he does, even if he's trying to do good now.

Such a perfect, tragic explanation for why he does what he does.
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)
Wonderful stuff. I felt that loss too, every time their interaction spoiled.

Angel sees himself in Lindsey too clearly to cut him a break. It would be like going easy on himself -- something he doesn't dare come close to. He's able to help Faith because she doesn't remind him so inexorably of himself. By having Lindsey killed, Angel is saying that someone should have killed *him*, and he finds some sad comfort in embracing that belief.

The interaction makes me think of Giles and Willow. I think Giles saw himself too vividly in Willow, S6, to be tactful. Calling names is a bad way to get through to someone who's been a target most of her life, but he spoke to her as if speaking to his feckless younger self. Whether that would have been helpful to Ripper I don't know, but it drove Willow deeper into denial and wrapping herself in power so that no one could criticize her again.
Someone should have killed *him*

Oh. Ouch. Too true.

Yeah, I see a lot of Giles/Ethan in their relationship as well, as I mentioned above. Similar thing t here, with Giles seeing something in Ethan he didn't want to acknowledge in himself, and Ethan pushing him to see it, to face it, the way Linds always did with Angel. So hard to face, but it makes for such intense interaction between the characters. Great to watch.
Lindsey's not dead. He's ... um ... just resting. Yeah, that's it. He's resting. And then he'll come back to help Angel and company win the day against the dragon and the hordes of hell. The Beginning.

(Is unrepentant happy-ending-girl romantic. Lives on barge in Egypt.)
Right there with ya, baby. Room on the barge for two, right? Resurrections happen all the time. *nod*
::passes you iced beverage of your choice::
"It's not me you wanna screw, Lindsey."

Truer words were never spoken. And you got it in one when you talk about the show taking them seriously as a pairing. Spot on. Thanks for this.

Oh, you might be interested in hearing David's comment about the L/A ship. "Lindsey was totally my bitch."- at the Chicago con. I love that man. :}
Heard that comment. My love for David increased exponentially. ;) As did my love for Darla, come to think of it, when she said the screwing thing. *laughs*

You're very welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. They're my OTP, man.
I love this...:> It's perfect, and true, and all that jazz. Now, if only more L/A fics reflected this...:>
It would be a good, good thing. *nods*
I loved your essay. Angel and Lindsey are my OTP, too. They are perfect together. They sooo love each other, and it drives them crazy! Now I'm getting all sad. *sniff*
*snifs with you* OTP, baby. That's the stuff.

Thanks for the FB - makes a girl's day, it does.
Wow! Wonderful essay. And the Angel/Lindsey chemistry was palpable from the very beginning. Some of your analyses, such as:

But that's not good enough for Angel. You can't just have been an evil vampire lawyer, and then give up your evil to be a good guy without any penance. That doesn't work; it's not the way we do things. If that's what happens, if Lindsey doesn't feel as guilty as Angel thinks he should over his past misdeeds but is still, to all appearances, trying to be a good guy, then clearly he'll be evil no matter what he does, even if he's trying to do good now. It'll come out sooner or later. That’s the way Angel has to understand the world, it’s the way the dichotomy has to function.

and: Lindsey wants to be a good guy, but he doesn't get it yet that the ends don't always justify the means. He needs a lot of practice at being a good team player, because he’s not the best at consideration for his fellow man. What he needs most, though? Validation. For someone to see what he's doing right and to be acknowledged for that, that that's important.

apply equally well to Spike. Replace the name "Lindsey" with "Spike", and you've nicely summed up Angel and Spike's relationship as well.

Love your essay! I had a lot of trouble writing a Splindsey fic for a ficathon because all the time I was trying to hook up Spike and Lindsey, I kept thinking, "But it's really Angel that Lindsey wants!" So, I finally decided to go with those feelings, and, once again, Spike was developing a relationship with someone who was still obsessed with Angel (can we say "Dru", "Buffy" and "Lindsey"?) Once I figured out what the hang-up was, I finished the fic with no trouble--but I wish you had written your essay a month ago! It would have saved me a lot of trouble! *g*
*laughs* Talk to spren, she's the root of all this evil. :) Thanks very much.

Actually, as I was writing it, I couldn't help but think of Spike. You're right, their situations are very similar, but there's one really pivotal difference between the two that I noticed.

Spike and Angel are what they call in psychology 'deeply enmeshed'. In their worlds, they belong to each other, are part of each other. They have history, know and understand things about each other that nobody else ever will, and as a result, they're unable to see each other as seperate people.

And that's why it'd be much, MUCH harder for Spike to ever really help Angel, and vice versa, why they can't find a happily ever after. Un-meshing, I think, is beyond hard.
Brilliant.

Not much else to say, really. Your examples were excellent, your insight was spot on (IMHO)and nothing is truer than how massively sad it is that the end of this pairing was brought about by exactly what made them so damn perfect for each other. *sigh*

Would you let me archive this on Legal ease?
Absolutely, go right ahead. Thanks very much! I'm very glad you liked it, and I'm gleeful that you think it's accurate.

Aside: I want to lick your icon ALL OVER OMG.
Angel and Lindsey belong together like Catholics and guilt.

OMGYES.

Darla knew exactly what was going on with "It's not me you want to screw." Eve knew, with "It's still all about Angel with you, isn't it?"

When Linds said that no, it was all about her, he was joining that little barge in Egypt too.

Also, best explanation of why Angel could never forgive Lindsey, when he could forgive others. It is because he could never forgive himself, and Lindsey is too like himself.

But I wouldn't necessarily say that A/L is more serious than other slash pairings. There is immense amusement, it's just more bitter, generally.

I love that Joss validates the slashers. "I want you, Lindsey."
*nods with all your points* Yep, yep, yep. I fully agree. Thanks for reading!
Hi Winter, finally getting around to reading all the ship manifestos I missed while I was sick and just wanted to say I loved your Angel/Lindsey essay.

I'd also like to link to it from Deep In (a new Angel resource site) if you wouldn't mind. I know some people don't like having their LJ's linked all over so if you'd rather I could archive it at the site itself, I just really enjoyed your responses to comments too and think that adds to the whole essay.
Thanks so much! You're more than welcome to link to it, and I'm glad you liked it. :)
Fricking Angel, y'know?

Save a few schoolkids? Evil. Kill that guy in the tube so desperate to die? Evil. Totally one-up you in the fight against evil? Bang bang, you're EVIL, Lindsey, how many times do I have to tell you? You're wearing the wrong fuckin hat!

Remember in Blind Date, when Angel's babbling on about how Lindsey hasn't changed? Lame. Cause no, Linds hasn't changed. He's still interested in himself, still swearing he's the one gonna get to steppin'. He just draws his line waaaaaay farther away from the shiny happys than Angel does, and with Angel it's all or nothing. With Lindsey? Shades of really, really dark gray.

Big undead basketcase, morally-in-the-red Okie lawyer. Made for each other. So perfect for each other. Yeah.

Thanks for the FB. Makes my day. :)

Wicked.

This is so totally true. Can I archive this at my Lindsey/Angel archive? Please?
No problem. Thanks! :)
great essay. I just wanted to say than for me, even more tragic than Angel having Lindsey killed when he was just becoming a white hat was the fact that he got Lorne to do the dirty work for him. awful because no one should have put Lorne in that position. but Lindsey's shock and *pain* that Angel himself wasn't doing it...made me bawl. it was like such a slap in the face to Lindsey that after everything, it wasn't Angel. *god*...<goes and comforts self>
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