Written by Kristina
Gambler. Drinker. On the surface, Francis Allan Doyle seemed to be a very simple person. But if you dig deeper, he's not quite as simple as he seemed at first, nor quite as human. You see, Doyle's father was a Brachen demon while Doyle's mother was human. When Doyle was born, and appeared to be perfectly human, his mom decided informing him of his father's heritage was unnecessary. And so, Doyle grew up a human. He studied to become a teacher, and he volunteered at a local soup kitchen, where he met his wife, Harriet. They were both madly in love with each other. However, Doyle's life completely changed when he turned twenty-one, and his demon heritage made itself known. Doyle couldn't accept his demon nature, and Harriet left him, but not because he was a demon - because of him. Doyle entered the world of gambling, drinking, and denying what he really was. Until one day, Lucas, another Brachen demon, visited him, asking for help. Doyle denied him this help, and Lucas' clan died a horrible death - which Doyle saw courtesy of his mind-numbing visions, freshly granted by The Powers That Be. It was these visions that led Doyle to find Angel in LA, and the rest, they say, is history.
Was Doyle nothing more than a pawn of The Powers That Be? Like Angel, Doyle was trying to atone for his past. But it was his past that led him to Angel. Would Doyle still have received the visions had he helped Lucas' clan escape the Scourge?
In the Angel-verse, we have been led to believe that The Powers That Be have a plan, and can account for many variables (excluding of course, love, as we learned in "Birthday"). This implies that in their plan, they know the outcome of the future, or at least, they know several possibilities that can stem from different actions. If this were the case, they would have known that Doyle, fresh from learning of his demon heritage, would not help the Brachen demons, and would thus feel guilty about not helping them after their murders. It would seem then, that they allowed the slaughter of this clan in order to slap Doyle with the visions to atone for his apathy, and aid Angel in atoning for his sins. In fact, there was even a prophecy about Doyle, in his position as "the promised one" to the Lister demon clan. The more I think about it, The Powers That Be almost sanctioned the death of the Brachen demon clan in order to save the Lister clan. As a human, this seems morally ambiguous. How can you justify the murder of one group of demons (or people for that matter) in order to save another? Following this train of thought, this means The Powers That Be allowed Angelus and Darla to cause havoc for over a hundred years in Europe to give Angel something to atone for. The implications from this line of thinking are quite clear. Human lives are nothing more than pawns to be sacrificed for some greater fight, on some higher dimension. Of course, this begs the questions: if The Powers That Be are one side of this cosmic chess match, who are they playing against?
There are two options - the first option sees The Powers That Be matched against The Powers That Aren't, the perfect foil. Much like rogue, traitorous Faith was the foil to Buffy, The Powers That Aren't are in control of the darker, evil demon element in our dimension. This sets up a good guy - bad guy scenario, with Angel on the side of the "white hats" and the senior partners of Wolfram and Hart as the "black hats." This chess game will see the eventually checkmating of one side's King, and an ultimate winner and loser. I find this option much more palatable than the second option I will be discussing next, because it follows what we have been taught as children - to quote Giles from "Lie to Me":
"The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."
The lines between the two are firmly drawn in the sand, if you will, and white is easily distinguishable from black.
The second option is that The Powers That Be are matched against themselves, in the ultimate comedy/tragedy. It implies that they have nothing better to do than to mess around with our mortal "coil", much like the gods and goddesses of Roman and Greek mythology. When they tire of seeing something, such as Doyle fighting alongside Angel, they allow for a turn of events that see to Doyle's death. In this interpretation, the following quotation from William Shakespeare's "As You Like It" rings very true.
"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players."
We are the players to entertain The Powers That Be in their (somewhat) mundane existence. This is why, for me, this option is much less palatable. Everything we are seeing in the Angel-verse is a big joke. No meaning, no reason, it just happens to entertain some higher powers that remain hidden, and work through Oracles and Conduits. There is no good or evil here - only greyness. The lines have all been blurred, and in fact, they do not exist anymore. All that exists is the will of The Powers That Be.
With revelations that have been revealed in episodes such as "Parting Gifts" and "Tomorrow", the first option seems much more likely to me.
Angel: Can not be undone, you keep saying that. But I need Doyle. You can fold time, you've done it before. Bring him back.
Woman: To what end? To nullify his noble death? To leave his atonement unfulfilled?
The Oracles led us to believe, hopefully truthfully, that Doyle had in fact atoned for what he had done in his past by dying to save the Lister demons. In this light, it is possible to assume that The Powers cannot see the future, they can only react to events that have happened - much like Buffy and always being on the defensive. The Powers couldn't see Doyle refusing to help the Brachen clan, but when he refused and they were massacred, the Powers That Be gave him the visions, both as a gift (allowing him to atone for his mistakes) and a curse (mind-numbing migraines anyone?). As well, in "Tomorrow", Skip tells Cordy that "the battle that we're all a part of is fought on many planes and dimensions." This implies that the Powers That Be do have a foe they are fighting against in a war. Now, instead of being the "black hats", Wolfram and Hart seem to be "almost black hats." They are willing to leave Angel alone (except for Lilah) and wait to see which side Angel joins in the final battle between the Powers That Be and The Powers That Aren't. True "black hats" would eliminate him forever, to prevent him from aiding the "white hats" anymore.
I, of course, could be way off base. I don't pretend to understand the inner workings of Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt's brains. Instead, I'm only commenting on the way I see things. I would much rather believe in stalwart good guys, and easily identifiable bad guys, then the second theory I presented. But I have this nagging feeling that there is a good possibility that there just might be some truth to it. To answer "Would Doyle still have received the visions had he helped Lucas' clan escape the Scourge?" - I believe the answer is yes. Having something to be guilty over, though, acted as a fire underneath Doyle's bottom to motivate him to find Angel. If I am off base, I would appreciate feedback from you, the reader. Let me know how much of a "thundering loony" I am (please).