- "In the beginning, before the time of man, great beings walked the earth. Untold power emanated from all quarters — the seeds of what would come to be known as good and evil. But the shadows stretched and became darkness, and the malevolent among us grew stronger. The Earth became a demon realm. Those of us who had the will to resist left this place, but we remained ever-watchful."
The Powers That Be (sometimes shortened to "the Powers" or "the PTB") was a term that referred to the first beings to exist in this dimension after the schism that created them and the Old Ones. After leaving this dimension, these beings watched over mankind and guided the forces of good.
The Powers That Be were extremely powerful beings. Jasmine, a fallen Power, claimed that she was "forged in the inferno of creation". Jasmine was incredibly powerful despite having lost a portion of her powers after stepping down as a Power That Be. Despite their might, they were forced to leave Earth and watch from afar instead, due to the growing power of the Old Ones.
Having left Earth, The Powers That Be had the tendency to recruit significant people in the grand design to be their "champion." For example, in 1996, possibly knowing that Angel, the vampire with a soul, would eventually play a crucial part in the apocalypse, the Powers sent him a guide in the form of the benevolent demon, Whistler to set him on the path of active redemption. Later on, the Powers gave the gift of seeing visions to a half-demon named Doyle who was sent to be Angel's guide in helping the helpless.
Due to the destruction of the Seed of Wonder, everything supernatural was cut off from the Earth. Because of this, it was unclear how the Powers would be able to influence this world. Whistler, who appeared to be connected with the Powers was unable to make contact with them, which he blames Angel for. It is still unclear how the formation of a new Seed of Wonder will affect this.
Methods of Communication
Though Angel never made contact with the Powers themselves, with the exception of Jasmine, he did communicate with them in a number of ways.
- The Visions. The visions were first given to Doyle, then passed to Cordelia Chase and finally made their way to Angel. The visions tended to have double meanings, with a micro-purpose and macro-purpose to each vision. For instance, a vision told Doyle that "we have a common enemy." On a micro scale, the Powers mean the Scourge. On the macro scale, they mean the Senior Partners or evil itself. While helping people, the visions tended to make Angel meet the right people who were useful to plans and prophecies later. Angel's other ally, Whistler, was, much like Doyle, a half-demon granted the gift of precognition by the Powers, but it is unknown to what extent these visions resembled those of Doyle.
- The Oracles. Angel visited the Oracles on four occasions (once to find if he really was human, once to turn back time after becoming human, once after the death of Doyle, and once after their murder by Vocah). The Oracles, a pair of Greek-god-like entities, one male and one female, gave Angel prophecy-like advice. They were murdered by Vocah, but the female Oracle was able to manifest in spiritual form to speak to Angel one last time.
- Lorne. Through Lorne, Angel and the gang found their destiny by singing. Though he was not an actual servant of the Powers, Lorne's link to the Powers was strong enough for him to differentiate between actual visions from the Powers as opposed to visions from Wolfram & Hart. Lorne's knowledge also allowed Angel to speak to the Powers through the Trials and the Conduit.
- The Trials. Through the Trials, Angel asked the Powers to give Darla a second chance. The Trials were referred to as the Powers later by Angel and Wes when speaking about their inaction.
- The Conduit. Cordelia had a vision which knocked her into a coma and while unconscious, was visited by Skip who revealed that humans were not strong enough to bear the visions. After learning the deadly effects of the visions, Angel sought to communicate with the Powers That Be, which he accomplished via The Conduit (which shouldn't be confused with Wolfram & Hart's Conduit of the White Room). Angel entered an empty cave with a bonfire in the middle and spoke with an entity or entities which sounded like the disembodied voices of a man and a woman speaking almost in synchronicity.
- Ghosts. The Powers sent ghosts to speak to people. The Powers sent a vision of Darla to Connor to convince him not to kill an innocent girl. He did not listen and Jasmine was born. The Powers granted Cordelia a favor before dying and sent a corporeal astral projection of Cordelia to Angel, where she helped reorient him and passed the visions to him.
Opinions about the Powers
The Powers that Be were also referred to by Fred as "The Powers that Screw You" and by Gunn as "The Powers that Sit on Their Be-hinds", due to their apparent inaction during many times of crisis that Angel Investigations faced. Angel and Jasmine also complained about their lack of interest in important events. Doyle, Cordelia, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, and Lorne appeared much more concerned with doing their will.
The Fall of Los Angeles
After the defeat of Jasmine, Angel and his team seem to have given up on the Powers and their wishes until Cordelia wakes from her coma thanks to an incredibly powerful vision from the Powers. Cordelia claimed that the Powers "owed her one."
Angel stated that after a kiss good-bye with Cordelia shortly before her death, he received one final vision from The Powers concerning the Circle of the Black Thorn, the leading enforcers of the Senior Partners' will on Earth. The vision gave Angel the information he needed to take the Black Thorns down.
After her death, Cordelia has become a genuine Higher Being in the service of the Powers, though she does not have the power to go up against the Senior Partners or to help Angel and the others, who are trapped in Hell/Los Angeles.
Behind the Scenes
- Some fans believe that the Powers are responsible for bringing Angel back from Hell in "Faith, Hope & Trick", even though the First Evil takes credit for this. Some also believe that the Powers That Be are the force that caused a miraculous snowstorm in 1999 on Christmas morning, in Sunnydale, California, preventing Angel from committing suicide by sunlight, in "Amends".
- The Powers send roughly 30 visions over the course of the series.