Spike, post-soul, gets harrassed by the First--hard to tell if that began before he returned to Sunnydale or after, but a lot of his craziness can be attributed to a serious mindfuck at a vulnerable time. Then he starts to recover, gets all mopey and reticent; when the chip zaps him erratically it's removed. Then we learn that the First is *still* fucking with him and has implanted a musical trigger that is making him fugue out and kill people. The real cure for this only comes when they stick a beetle in his head to chew loose the trigger. When they do, he is reSpikified, puts his trophy coat back on, beats the crap out of Robin Wood, and resumes his swagger. Then he dies.
So, speculatively, how is Spike different than Angel, or is he? And what's going to happen with him?
(By the way, I'm assuming Angel spoilers up to 5.3 will crop up in comments, but I don't want to know anything beyond that. *Really, really* don't. Anyone who has spoilers for next week or later may not want to weigh in, actually; from my past experience, spoiler knowledge tends to shape people's comments even when they try to avoid it.)
I ask because I've been playing around with the idea of what would happen if, at some point well after Spike gets his soul back, he were to lose it again. Would he revert in a big, bad way like Angel to Angelus, or is his personality more integrated? He went to *get* the soul, so isn't it possible we'd see very little obvious change? Not right away, I mean; my speculation is that for Spike, the loss might not immediately sweep the rug out from under him. Ties of loyalty and love, a heroic self-image, pride, even the weight of habit--all these things might keep him on the straight and narrow for a little while if the circumstances were right. He *would* backslide, especially without the chip to impose restraints; it might take a day, it might take a month, but I think he'd succumb to temptation eventually (at least in the most likely scenario, and despite my redemptionista leanings). But I like the idea that he could hold it together by sheer, ferocious will long enough for friends and comrades to stick the soul back in.
But Angel, I think, represses his demon so hard that when his soul goes, he cuts loose; he's like a jack-in-the-box springing free. We've seen him beige, of course. But I think his personality is different enough from Spike's on some level that, even when beige, he is far, far from reaching Angelus's black depths, the demon's passion for violence and sadism.
That doesn't make Spike better than Angel (though it might make Spike better than Angelus, in the sense that "better" means less ruthless). Again, I think it's just that he may be less repressed, with a more integrated default personality. But it's an interesting, possible difference.