Illyria’s a hard character to write about, given the relatively short time we’ve had to get to know her. It’s tempting to try to chart some continuity between her and Fred and while I don’t deny that this might be there, it isn’t really how I understand the character. It’s equally tempting to simply slot her into Angel’s redemption paradigm; she’s a being who once did incalculable evil and, after some mystical intervention, doesn’t anymore. But Illyria’s crimes don’t seem to weigh on her in the slightest and there’s no design for vengeance or punishment in her fall; it’s simply a consequence of her existing in this place and time. Why then, does she fight for the good guys? There are multiple possible explanations (see Fred continuity) but, for me, Illyria speaks to the transformative (rather than moral) aspect of redemption; Illyria must become something other than what she was not because it’s “right” but because it’s the only way to live in this world. That’s certainly present in the rest of the characters’ quests for redemption but, for Illyria, it’s the only reason. Her motives aren’t moral, they’re a desperate search for agency. Continue reading
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