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June 26 2009

Cordelia, l'enfant terrible. An EW list of problem kids.

sorry, didnt know the routine. _i thought these posts were screened beforehand_.
oh well, the list is a funny read. never really, really, disliked cordelia, of course, but i still 25 years later remember hating nellie olsen.
Seriously defiicient in "The Wish." she's popped into the wishverse and so many things literally don't register; the wreaths of garlic, the empty hallways, the panic of the teacher when leaving etc. She's on autopilot like a character in an L. Sprague de Camp story.
elnajjo, have a look at our Howto, and Rules pages.
Hrm, I almost keep forgetting that by the end of Angel she started off as the same character on Buffy. Maybe it was in part since the carry over actors started looking their own age rather than where their characters hypothetically started off, but really there was some pretty drastic character growth/change on her part that I can't even pin down when exactly. (Yes, even before the mishegas with Connor.)
I'd say the main shift in character for Cordy happens in To Shanshu in LA. That's where she makes her vow to be different, and from season 2 on she's less shallow, etc. But throughout season one of Angel and even S3 of Buffy she shows more complex sides than just high school ditz.
Jobo, the scene in Season 3's Helpless episode, when Buffy has been manipulated by Giles for the Council's warped coming of age ritual, and Cordy busts in the library on Buffy and Giles, typically complaining about a school assignment and realizes something is amiss...she's totally concerned and willing to help Buffy, who is clearly not at Slayer strength, even if Cordy has no idea why.

I.e., she always had the good in her, I think.

I LOVE Cordy.
orangewaxlion, you start to see the beautiful development of Cordelia at the end of Season 1, Episode 1 of Angel. People, whom she didn't much care for, saved her life, gave it meaning, and the settings of a beautiful friendship took root.

The end, when she's "tidying" up the office, trying to run a "business" is beautiful- discovering that helping others gives her what she needs in life- meaning.

Or, others could argue it began with the kiss of Doyle. But I would say that the maturity of Cordelia started before the kiss, while they were still getting to know each other... which brings me back to "City of". :)
I loved Cordy on Buffy, and on Angel...until the end of season 3. She was her awesome self again in "You're Welcome," which made it all the more painful :(
Honestly, I kinda grew weary of Cordelia at the start of season three of Angel. Pretty much from the season premiere, she basically became, "Constantly level-headed, person who always has the right answer." I didn't like that version of her. Season 2 Cordy had just enough new and old Cordy--she still loved to be treated like a princess (see: Pylea) but was also a genuinely compassionate person. I dunno. She just bores me from season 3 on.
Thank you, Jobo. I completely agree. I adored Cordy on Buffy, and she was far and away my favorite character on Angel, but they took away all the things that made her Cordy and made her wonderful from S3 on. It breaks my heart.

I also think that they were trying to replicate the Angel/Buffy relationship with Angel/Cordy instead of realizing that the fact that they're such good friends and that she calls him on all of his issues makes for an equally interesting and more mature kind of relationship. Instead, they tried to do the star-crossed thing which just doesn't work for those two.

I wish she'd come back full time in S5, if only so we could have seen her interact with Spike. Those two would flirt and snark and roll their eyes muchly, methinks.
Ats S4 Cordy was at most not Cordy at all. I'm also not a big fan of what they did to her on Season 3.

But despite really liking her on Buffy, my favorite Cordy moment is actually from an Angel episode, from the ending of Sonambulist. The for me set the standard for her and Angel's rapport, which was pretty much ruined by the pseudo romance introduced in season 3. Loved how she said she'd totally stake him and all from that scene.

But fact must recognized how she transformed from just another valley girl to the super-heroine we saw in You're Welcome.
I'd say the main shift in character for Cordy happens in To Shanshu in LA. That's where she makes her vow to be different, and from season 2 on she's less shallow, etc. But throughout season one of Angel and even S3 of Buffy she shows more complex sides than just high school ditz.


I think Cordy already started showing she was more than just that at the end of S1 of Buffy.

I loved the character during her time on Buffy and during the first 3 seasons of Angel, though I was bothered a bit by her turn at To Shanshu, it felt a bit too forced for me and I thougt Charisma wasn't totally adept to play the new role, but it kind of grew on me and by S3 I was totally on board with the new Cordy.

And then ofcourse came the terribleness of S3. Not only was everything I liked about the character taken away, it was done with a very cheap and cliched amnesia storyline, had virtually no pay-off and no emotional impact. (Can you imagine the emotional impact of Cordy killing Lilah, Wes girlfriend, a new part of the gang if she had been herself? Such a waste.) I did like Cordy better at the very end of the season (Inside out onwards) but I strongly disliked her final appearance in You're Welcome. Again, for me it felt over the top, too forced, cheap and cliched (yeah, it are surprisingly strong feelings),

I wish she'd come back full time in S5, if only so we could have seen her interact with Spike. Those two would flirt and snark and roll their eyes muchly, methinks.


When I first watched the series, after her part in S4, I was quite happy to see the character gone. But after rewatching the whole series a couple of times (well, except S4, never touched that again) I think a You're Welcome like reset could have worked and the series would have been better with a bit more Cordy (though please not in the way to perfect way of You're Welcome.)

And I'm part of the tiny minority that thinks Angel/Cordy as starcrossed lovers worked better than Buffy/Angel.
I liked Angel/Cordy, quite a lot actually, which I know isn't a popular opinion! And Cordy was also my favourite Angel character, so I was crushed by what they did to her in S4 and her absence in S5 (still not sure about all the behind the scenes rumour stuff).

As for when Cordelia changed, it's as hard to pin down as any other Whedon character as it was more of a gradual evolution than defining moment. I would say that 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' was probably the episode that removes her 'obliviousness', she may seem tactless a lot of the time but 'tact is just not saying true stuff', she's a truthtelling character. Not sure that she was ever 'hateful' though some of her comments in S3 Buffy were perhaps a little too on the nose.

[ edited by Leaf on 2009-06-26 15:09 ]
I've watched most of S1 of Angel now and was very impressed by the episode where Cordelia's self-identification as a bitch saved her life in the fight against the ghost. That scene was pretty great.
I've watched most of S1 of Angel now and was very impressed by the episode where Cordelia's self-identification as a bitch saved her life in the fight against the ghost. That scene was pretty great.

Ah, the mighty Espenson-magic. Also one of my favorites, i.e. one of the very few moments in S1 that I truly liked.
And I'm part of the tiny minority that thinks Angel/Cordy as starcrossed lovers worked better than Buffy/Angel.


You're not alone, the Groosalugg. To me, their friendship built a stronger foundation than what he & Buffy had.

Question, what's the website that did an in-depth analysis on the character development of everyone on Angel? I love the insight that guy provides as he tracks everyone's journey... but his input on Cordelia & Wesley is terrific. I'd like to link in the comments for others to see if possible.
Lirazel; Yes, Spike and Cordy interacting, that would ahve been priceless, at least for a season. Not that Mercedes didn't also deserve to get into the opening credits at some point.

Too bad she's not still working with one of the two main gnags; the S-3 super-powers, like levitation, pesticidal rays, and emotional healign powers, would be useful.

As for roamnce, I'll go further; if she and David ever work together in anything not Joss-related, it shouldn't be as roamntic aprtners. Charisma and Nicky or Danny, David and Sarah or Julie, but nto each other.

Plus she and Faith were the only female characters8 who weren't in the SLippers-Around-the-HOuse or Fuzzy-Socks-Around-the-House clubs, which I liked :-). *by cotnrast tot he real-life actresses

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-06-26 17:52 ]
Was it this one, korkster? I've had it in my favourites list for ages, after it was mentioned here (probably), but I've not actually got around to reading it yet.
I have to object to the comments in the original article. Cordelia was actually one of the more clued-in kids in Sunnydale, when you think about it: in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" when she figures out someone's targeting her, she makes a beeline for Buffy. In the same episode we get the best explanation of her behavior, too: "It beats being alone all by yourself."

Her helpful attitude probably began when she rescued Willow, Xander, and Ms. Calendar in "Prophecy Girl," and grew from there. My favorite bit -- it might have been the aforementioned scene in "Helpless" -- is when someone asks her to drive her home, and without a second thought she says "Of course."
Great Cordy bit in "Some Assembly Required" where she actually thanks Xander for saving her life and comments on how brave he is, while he's totally oblivious to her. Another inkling that she had "layers."
That is ABSOLUTELY it, NotaViking! Thanks for linking it! I had it on my favorites too, but my laptop died. :(

It really is a terrifically thorough read. I highly recommend it. I haven't read the episodes, but I did dive into the characters. Here:

Cordelia: The Sunnydale Years

Cordelia: The LA Years

And, just because it's my other fave read, Wesley

Tough to read in all of one day, but breaking it up into chunks helps mucho. Enjoy! :)

Was it this one, korkster? I've had it in my favourites list for ages, after it was mentioned here (probably), but I've not actually got around to reading it yet.

NotaViking | June 26, 17:57 CET
I'm actually really happy with what they did with Cordelia in seasons one to three of Angel. I think she was one of everyone's favourite characters during her time on Buffy, and Out of Mind, Out of Sight was really the first time that we had some insight that she was more of a well rounded and interesting character than first thought. I think it was pretty obvious that someone who could be so bitchy, vain and superficial was deeply insecure and unhappy with her life deep down. I imagine with Cordelia that many of her later character traits and often criticised "character reversal" are evident from very early on in Buffy, and that over her time being in contact with the heroes she encounters, she begins to shed the parts of her personality that act as a defence mechanism and the real smart, warm and witty woman underneath is revealed. I don't think it was a perfect transition by any means, but on the whole I found it satisfying.

I think the start of her association with the Scooby Gang was her first glimpse at something more substantial and fulfilling- real, loyal friends who care for and protect each other. And remember that even on Buffy it was established that Cordelia was intelligent- although occasionally ditzy or socially inept despite her popularity (due to her rudeness and complete lack of tact), I think the idea of being friends with witty, smart people who were interested in more than superficial things appealed to her. Her relationship with Xander was probably her first real, emotional relationship that wasn't based on her partner's social status or ownership of a car. I think the Cordy who fell for Xander, despite not expecting or wanting to, is very believable as the same Cordelia who later falls in love with Angel. Certain events solidified their relationship, such as her first firm public support for Xander and rejection of the Cordettes in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered started to show that social status and popularity meant less to Cordelia than we first thought- though her later attempts to become a famous actress in LA prove that it takes a while for her to jettison this idea completely.

I think discovering Xander cheated on her with Willow did hurt her very deeply, especially as he was probably the first man she might have loved, and of course we saw her put her defences again and reject anything associated with Xander, even poor Buffy who had nothing to do with it. But by the end of her time on Buffy we saw her become more mature, forgiving Xander and deeply humbled by her fall from grace.

I think the writers on season one of Angel deliberately tried to write Cordelia as similarly as possible to her first season on Buffy so they could finally address the shallow side we saw so often when the character first appeared in Sunnydale, and with the events of the first season and her relationship with Doyle, To Shansu in LA seemed to me to be merely a natural progression of where the character was headed- by not being one of the elite, she was forced to look outside herself and see the suffering of others for perhaps the first time. Easy to ignore when you're a spoilt brat living off Daddy's credit card, but much harder when you're helping people for a living and then literally forced to experience their fears and pain.

Season two continued to develop upon this and I think it was entirely believable that Cordy continued to try to help people with Wes and Gunn when Angel abandoned them. Although she initially enjoyed her experience in Pylea, I think it again emphasised that there were oppressed people that needed her help. In season three I definitely can understand that some people felt Cordelia became too nice and maternal. I felt on a few occasions it perhaps went too far. But on the whole I didn't find it ridiculous- think of all the experiences she had been on with Angel, Wes and Gunn by that point, and it only seems natural that she became Angel's confidante through Buffy's second death and the Connor saga as he had helped her so many times. As for her being annoyingly practical and acting as the moral compass of Angel Investigations which a lot of people take issue with, I think it can be attributed to her no-nonsense attitude and decisive nature which was in place from the very beginning, telling the truth when people didn't want to hear it, and driving her car through the wall of Sunnydale high to escape from vampires. Anyone who thinks she became too nice and lost her bite clearly needs to rewatch the magnificant verbal sparring between Cordy and Lilah in Billy- she cares about a lot more than just her appearance, but she still cares about shoes.

Her becoming part demon and gaining more powers wasn't wholely unexpected although I do think they perhaps become too multi-functional and were used towards the end of season three as a handy deus ex machina, which is probably why she returned in season four without them. I think a lot of people see the Angel/Cordelia relationship as forced, but I felt it was much more believable than Angel/Buffy. It was a case of friendship which developed into romance, from two people who, for three years, supported each other, fought together and fought with each other as only friends can. Connor's birth I think only brought them closer together as Cordelia became his adoptive mother.

Her relationship with Groo provided an interesting contrast- he was the guy she should have loved. He was handsome, heroic, and had a good heart, but was essentially a fairytale hero from a faraway kingdom with no real experience of "our" world or the pain that comes with living in it. Angel, a complex man with so many parts of his psyche, good and evil, who makes mistakes but fights for what he believes in, seems like exactly the kind of flawed person a realist like Cordelia would fall for.

Season four was obviously controversial, but I for one am extremely glad that the writers decided to explain Cordy's behaviour due to her being possessed by Jasmine, because the point is that Cordelia would never have slept with Connor or summoned The Beast or killed Lilah of her own free will, unless perhaps under extreme duress. I just feel that the writers gave up at some stage, and I know they have said they couldn't see any direction to take the character in, but I think the coma plot was a lazy way of solving this problem.

You're Welcome was a beautiful and necessary goodbye to one of the most beloved Buffyverse characters. There was no way Cordelia's story couldn't be wrapped up more satisfyingly by the end of Angel rather than remaining in plot limbo. Since they decided not to keep her as a main character, I think dealing with it in one episode was really the only way to do it and I don't think they could have done it any better than they did, unless the option of bringing her back for the rest of the season had been on the table.

I honestly think Cordelia would have fitted in well in season five. Yes, I think of all of the characters she would have been the hardest to convince to join Wolfram and Hart, but I think it could have been done and it would have been interesting to see if she could have kept her moral compass working in that environment, particularly as the others began to fall apart. I'd imagine that her relationship with Angel couldn't just have resumed from where they tried to start at the end of season three, but it would have been interesting to see if they could get to that point again. And of course she would have interacted brilliantly with Spike and Harmony.

I definitely think there were a few missteps, but on the whole I found Cordelia's journey satisfying and I don't think the writers ever totally betrayed what the character was about because she never lost her spark or bite which were her defining characteristics, even when becoming a romantic or maternal character.
I thought Cordelia's maturation into a powerful, self-assured and confident woman (Goddess?) was completely appropriate for her personality.

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