1st Anniversary Character Posting Party - Cordelia
Solitude1056 - August 23, 2001

PART ONE: Season one, episode one through Lover's Walk. Rufus warning: long. Oops.

In every adolescent rite of passage, we've got a series of stereotypes. The tomboyish but innocent protagonist. The goofy but endearing best friend who may or may not turn out to be "the one." The brainy nerd, the catty princess, the dim-witted athlete. Gee, anyone ever watch The Breakfast Club? Or Some Kind of Wonderful? or Pretty in Pink? We've got yer stereotypes right here, step right up.

Cordelia: Hi! I'm Cordelia. (offers her hand)

Buffy: (accepts it) I'm Buffy.

Cordelia: If you're looking for a textbook of your very own there's probably a few in the library.

Buffy: Oh, great, thanks. (they get up) Where would that be?

Cordelia: I'll show you, come on. (they start out of the classroom) So you're from Hemery, right? In L.A.?

Buffy: Uh, yeah.

Cordelia: Oh, I would *kill* to live in L.A. That close to that many shoes?

Buffy has to laugh as they go into the hall.

Cut to the two of them walking down another part of the hall.

Cordelia: Well, you'll be okay here. If you hang with me and mine, you'll be accepted in no time.

Shortly after this exchange, Buffy meets Willow, who's greeted by Cordelia in what has truly become a BtVS classic line:

Cordelia: Willow! Nice dress! Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears.

Cordelia is Joss' response to the corporate TV Law of Stereotypes: There Must Be At Least One Stereotype In Every Episode.

Cordelia was Joss' original unknown ensign. (For those of you unfamiliar with the original Star Trek, in every episode where a crew ventures into a strange world, the Captain would bark the names of several characters to join him, followed by, "and you, ensign." And with a death rate rivaling that of lemmings, those unknown ensigns were the ones who got it from that episode's bad guy.)

Nevertheless, Cordelia managed to survive, and not only because the actress had zip, but because the character quickly revealed a missing characterization on the show, despite her stereotype origins. Giles is Hesitant Guy, Xander is goofy, Angel is all angst and broodiness, Buffy's uncertain, and Willow... well, Willow's off in her own set of logical connections. Cordelia, however, gets right to the point., frequently without caring much for how it sounds to others. She makes a great foil for Buffy's introspection.

At the beginning of Season Two, Cordelia opens her mouth in When She Was Bad and we see someone who's been paying attention, even if her expression is still a bit on the straightforward side.

Cordelia: Buffy. (Buffy stops) You're really campaigning for bitch-of-the-year, aren't you?

Buffy: (turns to face her) As defending champion, you nervous?

Cordelia: I can hold my own. You know, we've never really been close, which is nice, 'cause I don't really like you that much, but... you have on occasion saved the world and stuff, so I'm gonna... do you a favor.

Buffy: And this great favor is...

Cordelia: I'm gonna give you some advice. Get over it.

Buffy: Excuse me?

Cordelia: Whatever is causing the Joan Collins 'tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. 'Cause pretty soon you're not even gonna have the loser friends you've got now.

Somehow, Cordelia keeps getting wrapped up in the Scooby Gang adventures. She's just the unlucky character to always be in the right place at the right time to "happen" to end up in bad situations. Unlike Willow and Xander who choose to be with Buffy, Cordelia keeps getting dragged back in, and Joss uses the nasty high school prom princess as comic relief even in the worst moments.

Cordelia: What an ordeal. And you know what the worst part is?

Jenny: What?

Cordelia: It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell you, none of that rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you can dry clean till judgment day, you are living with those stains.

Jenny: Yeah that's the worst part of being hung upside down by a vampire who wants to slit your throat: the stains.

Cordelia: I hear ya!

The bliss of Cordelia is that to keep up her snappy remarks without sounding like a total bitch, she's got to be relatively unaware. Instinctively unselfconscious when she speaks, to the point that the Scooby's sarcastic responses or eye rolling is either lost on her, or just goes over her head. Self-absorbed, materialistic, and obsessed with appearances, she's a cardboard character who just happens to have some witty lines. She's the one we get to laugh at, because she manages to remain oblivious while the world is crashing down around her ears.

Cordelia: Well, evil just compounds evil, doesn't it? First I'm sentenced to a computer tutorial on Saturday, now I have to read some computer book... There are books on computers? Isn't the point of computers to replace books?

Giles: (cuts her off) Cordelia, I'm a little busy right now. (points out the detective)

Cordelia: Oh! Great! (steps up to Det. Winslow) Can you help me with a ticket? It's totally bogus. It was a one-way street. I was going one way.

Giles: (raised voice) Cordelia!

Cordelia: What?! Why does everyone always yell my name? I'm not deaf! And I can take a hint. (unsure) What's the hint?

Giles: To come back later.

Cordelia: Yeah, when you've visited decaf land. (leaves)

We're in with the Scoobies, and know the real deal, so Cordelia's insistence on being ignorant is seen as part of her self-absorption. This is Joss' way of holding up the stereotype that wrecks havoc in most adolescent lives, and revealing it as being something less aware than the freaks and outsiders, and thus not nearly as frightening as the real issues, in this case vampires, demons, and various other big bads.

Regardless, Cordelia continues to pop up at the right place and the right time, and while the other Scoobies develop and grow, she remains the unintended comic relief. Joss' answer to making her less static is to do the unexpected. Cordelia and Xander discover their mutual attraction.

To this day, I'm not entirely certain of the reason. In some ways, it seemed like a minor deus ex machina, because these two characters demonstrated nothing that particularly might inspire the other to be attracted to them.

Cordelia: 'I aspire to help my fellow man.' (marks her test) Check. As long as he's not smelly, dirty or something gross.

Xander: Cordelia Chase, always ready to give a helping hand to the rich and the pretty.

Cordelia: Which, lucky me, excludes you. Twice.

In a moment of fear for their lives, the two - whose nasty repartees have formed the majority of the laughs during the second season - suddenly flip into passionate mode.

Cordelia: I can't believe that I'm stuck spending what will probably be my last few moments on Earth here with you!

Xander: I *hope* these are my last few moments! Three more seconds with you, and I'm gonna... (steps closer)

Cordelia: (steps closer) I'm gonna what? Coward!

Xander: Moron!

Cordelia: I hate you!

Xander: I hate you!

They look at each other for another second before grabbing each other and engaging in a mad, passionate kiss. It goes on for several seconds before they suddenly release each other and look at each other in surprise.

Xander: We *so* need to get outta here.

Cordelia: (nods) Mm-hm!

Later in the same episode (What's My Line, part two), they try to reconcile what had happened with their insistence that they can't stand each other.

Xander: Right, I hired a Latvian bug man to kill Buffy so I could kiss you. I hate to burst your bubble, but you don't inspire me to spring for a dinner over at Bucky's Fondue Hut.

Cordelia: Fine! Whatever. (starts to leave, but steps back, closer) You know, the point is: don't try it again!

Xander: I didn't try it! (calms a bit) Forget about the bugs, okay? The memory of your lips on mine makes my blood run cold.

Cordelia: (steps closer) If you dare breathe a word of this...

Xander: Like I want anyone to know!

Cordelia: Then it's erased!

Xander: Never happened!

Cordelia: Good!

Xander: Good!

Cordelia: *Good*!

They stare into each other's eyes for a moment, and then grab each other in another mad, passionate kiss. This time they don't break off.

Don't think, though, that just because Cordelia and Xander are perpetuating a broom closet romance means Cordelia's lost any of her zip.

Cordelia: Xander, I know you take pride in being the voice of the common wuss, but the truth is, certain people are entitled to special privileges. They're called winners. That's the way the world works.

Xander: And what about that nutty 'all men are created equal' thing?

Cordelia: Propaganda spouted out by the ugly and less deserving.

But in Go Fish, when Xander joins the swim team 'undercover,' (prompting the almost-as-famous Buffyism, "Not under much"), there's a moment when Cordelia believes the fish in the swimming pool is actually Xander, already changed by the drugs used by the episode's bad guy, the devious swim team coach. It's this ancient plot device of 'mistaken identity' that allows us to see, for perhaps the first time, a glimpse into Cordelia's real thoughts about her interaction with Xander.

Cordelia: (very upset) It's me, Cordelia? I know you can't answer me, but... God, this is all my fault. You joined the swim team to impress me. You were so courageous. And you looked really hot in those Speedo's. (chuckles) And I want you to know that I still care about you, no matter what you look like. And... and we can still date. Or, or not. I mean... I understand if you wanna see other fish. (crouches by the edge) I'll do everything I can to make your quality of life better. Whether that means little bath toys or whatever.

The other quick moment is when Xander discovers that his pictures are in Cordelia's locker. Keeping her flippant edge, she tells him that she put the pictures up because she looks cute in them. But the inclusion of mentioning their summertime activities indicates that their relationship has progressed to a definite comfort level. Through all this, though, Cordelia doesn't deviate too far from her stereotypical basis, though. We still get to laugh at her insistence on remaining ignorant and self-absorbed during a crisis, and her surprise when Xander gets aggravated at her lack of tact. The audience is still removed from Cordelia, and still set up to consider her essentially a bitchy character with a sharp wit.

When Buffy and Cordelia compete for Homecoming Queen, Buffy and Faith are being targeted with another rendition of the Great Hunt (some 30's movie, I think. Old plotline: hunting humans, blah blah). Once again, Cordelia's lucky enough to be in the right place and time to be swept up in the Scooby gang role. While trapped in a small cabin with Buffy, Cordelia turns maudlin.

Cordelia: (sobbing) I'm never gonna be crowned Homecoming Queen. I'm never gonna graduate from high school. I'm never gonna know if it's real between me and Xander, or if it's just... (sobs) some temporary insanity that made me think... (sobs) I loved him. (sobs) And now I'm never gonna get the chance to tell him.

Buffy: Yes, you are. We are gonna get out of here, and we are gonna head back to the library, where Giles and the rest of the weapons live. Then I'm gonna take out the rest of these guys just in time for you to congratulate me on my *sweeping* victory as Homecoming Queen.

Cordelia: I know what you're up to. You think if you get me mad enough, I won't be so scared. And, hey! It's working! Where's a damn weapon?

At the end of this episode, Cordelia gets one of the best examples of her ability to use her willful ignorance of reality to convince an opponent. That's how Cordelia works, after all: if you say it long enough and loud enough, through sheer force of will, it must be true - or, at least, it's a lot harder for someone else to disagree. Just steamroller them.

The vampire Lyle is under the impression that Cordelia is Faith, and Buffy's just been knocked unconscious, while his wife was dusted. It's down to Cordelia and Lyle, and the only thing she's got to defend herself with is her wits.

Lyle: I'm gonna kill both you Slayers for this! You hear me?

Cordelia: I hear you, you redneck moron. You got a dress that goes with that hat?

Lyle: (furious) I'm gonna...

Cordelia: Rip out my innards, play with my eyeballs, boil my brain and eat it for brunch? Listen up, needle-brain. Buffy and I have taken out four of your cronies, not to mention your girlfriend.

Lyle: WIFE!

Cordelia: Whatever. The point is, I haven't even broken a sweat. See, in the end, Buffy's just the runner-up. *I'm* the Queen. You get me mad, (gets in his face and glares at him) what do you think I'm gonna do to you?

Lyle is taken aback by that, and considers his next move. Cordelia raises her eyebrows at him impatiently. Lyle thinks better of taking her on and gives her a quick nod.

Lyle: Later.

Then we get to Lover's Walk. When Oz and Cordelia burst in to rescue Willow and Xander, to find them kissing, Oz is stunned - but Cordelia turns and runs. At the time, I expected her to have something fierce to say, to be her usual tactless blunt self. But she can't, because then she'd be admitting that she's seeing and dealing with something that she can't deal with.

All the times she's faced down apocalypses, retaining her self-centric worldview by sheer will power, and she flees at the sight of her boyfriend kissing someone else. As she dashes up the stairs, the steps collapse and Cordelia falls. The last shot is of Cordelia, directly overhead... impaled by rebar. Xander dashes to her, desperate. Oz goes for help while Willow watches from above. Cordelia appears to pass out or die, we're not sure which, and Xander's distraught.

In the next shot, we get a misleading view of a funeral in the background, as Willow and Buffy discuss the fact that Cordelia's not dead. Badly injured, and badly heartbroken. Given that Oz is equally upset at Willow, Cordelia's response seems reasonable. Xander attempts to visit her anyway, and she sends him away. In and of itself, this would be what we'd think to get from the Ice Queen, except that the next few silent shots of her - crying as Xander leaves, then in a retrospective of each character, looking forlorn and detached, she's hardly brushing herself off and ready to move on.

In other words, Cordelia remained a stereotypical character until her injury permitted the writers a chance to get inside Cordelia's head and show what was going on in there. In the next episode, The Wish, she's beginning the process of moving on by shutting out what she once felt.

A photograph of Xander, Willow, Buffy and Cordelia - as a large pair of scissors come into frame and cuts each one out, separating them. In the background, we can hear Xander's voice on an answering machine.

Xander (0.C.): Hey. It's Xander. If you get this, call me.

Now we move up to see that it's Cordelia who is doing the slice and dice job while she ignores the phone machine. Her eyes are red from crying and she looks just about as bad as an incredibly beautiful person can look.

Xander (O.C.): (new message) Hi. Xander... I, uh, well, I'm in if you feel like talking. Bye.

Now we widen and see that she's wearing sweats and a sports top - and a large white bandage that spans one side of her torso, covering the injury she sustained in episode 8. We also see that her room is a total mess. Littered with clothes and diet soda cans and junk food wrappers...She slices the heads off Buffy and Willow.

Xander (O.C.): (new message) Hi, Cordelia.... Uh....

Now Cordy takes the Xander portion and lights it on fire with a match. She drops it into an ashtray - watches the fumes rising - her expression betraying the chilling mix of hurt and fury that is unmistakably the look of a woman scorned.

Hey, that stereotype has feelings.

Go on to part two, if you wanna. I'm sure there's a way to do a link but I'm rather brainfried at the moment, so not much help from me.

PART TWO: The Wish to Pylea (well, sort of) Rufus warning: still long.

Over the next few episodes, we see a reversion to the original Cordelia, complete with zip and wit, but now she's considerably nastier.

Xander: Hey, Cordy, hear about Will gettin' into Oxnard?

Willow: Oxford.

Xander: And MIT and Yale and every other college on the face of the planet? As in your face I rub it...

Cordelia: Oh, whoopie. Oxford. Four years in Tea Bag central sounds like a thrill. MIT is a clearasil ad with housing, and Yale's a dumping ground for people that didn't get into Harvard.

Willow: I got into Harvard.

Xander: Any clue what college you'll be attending? So we can start calculating minimum safe distance...

Cordelia: None of your business. Certainly nowhere near you losers.

Buffy: Remember to breathe between insults, guys.

Cordelia: I'm sorry, Buffy. This conversation is reserved for people who actually HAVE a future.

Since the character is kept in the background, it's hard to keep perspective how heartbroken she may have been. Our only signals are The Wish and the continued interest in cutting Xander down as small, and as often, as possible. We don't see a lot of Mopey Cordelia after those few shots prior to The Wish. Until The Zeppo, she repeatedly scores on Xander. Once he finds his own center, however, she's at a loss, and what little last power she had is completely negated. The stereotype of the nasty high school reigning princess has been revealed as bluster. She's just simple comic relief.

The two of them finally get closure, and Cordelia is shown a bit more sympathetically not because of her own actions, but because of Xander's response. During an earlier conversation in Choices, Cordelia reveals to Xander that in fact, she got into a number of excellent colleges (no surprise, considering her SAT scores were almost as high as Willow's, which Cordelia excused by saying she's got a lot of experience in covering these things). However, the two again miss no opportunity to jab each other. Until, that is, Xander returns to the same shop and discovers Cordelia there again, in The Prom.

Xander: You work here?

A beat as Cordelia realizes she's caught. Wavers between shame and misplaced rage. Guess which one she settles on?

Cordelia: Yes! Yes, I'm working here.

Xander: Uh, why?

Cordelia: I'm trying to buy a dress.

Xander: Don't you already have all the dresses?

Cordelia: I have nothing! Okay? No dresses, no cell phone, no car -- everything got taken away because DADDY made a little mistake on his taxes for the last twelve years! Satisfied? Are you a happy Xander now? I'm broke. I can't go to any of the colleges that accepted me and I can't stay home because we no longer have one.

He really doesn't know how to respond. He tries to put as much sympathetic gravity as he can into:

Xander: Um... wow.

Cordelia: Yeah, neato. You can run along and tell all your friends how Cordy finally got hers, how she has to work part time just to get a lousy prom dress on layaway. How she has to wear a name tag. (revealing hers under her cardigan) Yeah, I'm a name tag person! Don't leave that out; the story just wouldn't have the same punch!

What makes us sympathetic to the high and mighty falling is not that we, as viewers, have been manipulated to empathize with Cordelia. She's still fundamentally the stereotype, with a few moments here and there of complexity. It's Xander's response, and his gentle manner way of dealing with the situation, that make the viewers take a second look. Given Cordelia's treatment of him so far (and his repeated acknowledgement that he feels he deserves this on some level), his reaction was a surprising sign of his maturity.

Later in that episode, the group reviews a tape of the attack on the dress shop. Wesley's a little jealous of the news that Cordelia and Xander had been there together.

Wesley: What were you doing with Xander?

Cordy stammers - not wanting to say why.

Cordelia: What? Um. I was...

Xander: (jumping in) Burning a hole in daddy's wallet as usual. I just bumped into her on my tuxedo hunt.

The night of the prom, Cordelia discovers that her dress, which was still on layaway, had been paid for... by Xander. Xander wasn't going to tell, and never did tell, anyone about her shame. For all that she's a superficial, egocentric character, Xander respects the pain she's experiencing. The audience's empathy with Xander is the reason it's willing to think twice about Cordelia.

After graduation, Cordelia disappears. When she reappears, in Los Angeles, at a party. She's dressed beautifully, and is doing her best to blend in. It's the return of the classic foil, Cordelia the Sharp Wit without tact.

Angel spots her talking to two guys in business suits: "Cordelia?"

Cordelia turns and sees him: "Oh, my god. Angel?"

Angel: "Nice to see a familiar face."

Cordelia: "I didn't know you were in LA. Are you *living* here?"

Angel: "Yeah. You?"

Cordelia: "Malibu. A small condo on the beach. It's not a private beach, but I'm young so I forbear."

Angel: "You're acting?"

Cordelia: "Can you believe it? I mean I just started it to make some quick cash, and then boom, it was like my life! - So are you still (holds up her hands like claws and makes a face) - grrr?"

Angel: "Yeah, there's not actually - a cure for that."

Cordelia: "Right. But you're not evil, I mean your not here to bite people?"

Angel: "No, I'm here with a friend."

Cordelia: "Oh, good. Well, it was nice seeing you, but I've got to get mingly. I really should be talking to people that are somebody." (walks away)

As far as the audience, and Angel, can tell, Cordelia is back on top. This time, however, Joss doesn't give us two seasons before we see a different side. Not more than two scenes later, we see Cordelia after the party.

Cut to Cordelia's apartment. It's really poor. There are plaster patches on dirty yellow walls. She is hanging up her dress in a bare closet.

Answering machine: "You have one new message."

Agent on the machine. "Cordy, Joe at the Agency. No Luck, again. We're having trouble booking auditions. The networks say they've seen enough of you. So, you know, no need to call. We'll let you know if the situation changes. Bye."

Cordelia takes out some of the star shaped sandwiches that she stashed away at the party with a sigh.

Answering machine: "You have no more messages."

Once again, Cordelia is in the right place at the right time, and the episode's bad guy wants to meet her. Unsuspecting, Cordelia goes for dinner at his fabulous LA mansion, right as Angel is zeroing in on the location. Cordelia may force herself to keep up appearances, but she's never been stupid. After being coaxed into talking about the difficulties she's having getting work, she realizes what's going on. As usual, her perceptivity is right on, but what she thinks, she says.

Cordelia: "Oh, god. I'm sorry! I'm getting all weepy in front of you. I probably look really scary. (gets up and looks around the room) I finally get invited to a nice place - with no mirrors, - and lots of curtains... hey, you're a vampire!"

Russell: "What? No, I'm not."

Cordelia: "Are too!"

Russell: "I don't know what you're talking about."

Cordelia: "Hey, I'm from Sunnydale. We had our own Hellmouth! I think I know a vampire when I'm - alone with him... - in his fortress-like home. And you know, I think I'm just feeling a little light headed from hunger. I'm just wacky. And kidding! Ha, ha."

By the end of the episode, Cordelia's used her right-place-right-time skills to inveigle a job with Angel. Despite her best attempts otherwise, Doyle isn't fooled - anymore than Angel - about how difficult life's been recently for Cordelia. Doyle's encouragement makes Angel keep Cordelia as an employee.

After almost 3 years on BtVS, it's not until Cordelia moves to AtS that she develops any complexity beyond the cardboard emotions she'd been given previously. When Doyle helps her find an apartment that's unfortunately haunted, Angel tries to convince her that it's not worth it.

Angel goes to stand beside Cordy: "You know, this really is just a place to live."

Cordy: "No, It's more. It's beautiful, - and if it goes away it's like.."

Angel: "Like what?"

Cordy quietly: "Like I'm still getting punished."

Angel: "Punished. (Cordy nods) For what?"

Cordy: "I don't know. For what I was? For everything I said in High School just because I could get away with it? - And then it all ended, and I had to pay. - Oh, but this apartment - I could be me again. Punishment over - welcome back to your life! Like, like I couldn't be that awful if I get to have a place like that? - It's just like you!"

Angel nods: "Working for redemption."

Cordy frowns confused: "I - I meant because you used to have that mansion."

What, you were expecting Cordelia to lose that obliviousness? Not this girl. She's still got plenty of her old Self, despite her best attempts to grow out of it. Now, though, we get to see Cordelia's side of things more often than once every six episodes. Getting to see that means being able to empathize more easily. After a date when Cordelia realizes that despite good looks and a lot of money, she's bored stiff, she's dropped off at the office and attacked by a demon come to visit Doyle. Her date flees immediately without looking backwards. Doyle, however, takes a stand, rescuing Cordelia.

Doyle looks at Cordy as they slowly get up: "Are you okay?"

Cordy with a frown: "I'm fine. That was.. You're so - brave."

Doyle: "You think you could say that again without so much shock in your voice? You're stepping on my moment of manliness here."

Cordy still frowning: "I'm sorry. I'm just.."

Doyle: "Surprised?"

Cordy: "Grateful."

Cordelia's still her zippy self, but she's paying more attention now. She discusses the incident with Angel.

Cordy: "And the whole night I was bored silly. All I could think about was: if this wimp ever saw a monster, he'd probably throw a shoe at it and run like a weasel. Turns out the shoe part was giving him to much credit."

Angel: "There aren't very many people that wouldn't run. It's just human nature."

Cordy: "Yeah, - but all of a sudden rich and handsome isn't enough for me. Now I expect a guy to be all brave and interesting. And it's your fault! Both of you."

Angel: "Well, maybe not. Maybe you're changing. That could be a good thing."

Cordy: "Disastrous. - And as if I wasn't confused enough, then Doyle comes along and rescues me like some - badly dressed superhero. (Sighs) He was really beat up - but you know the first thing he asked? Are you okay? I mean, that's like - substance, right?"

Angel: "Yeah, well, there is definitely more to Doyle then meets the eye."

Cordy: "So, I've got to kill myself. I swore when I went that road with Xander Harris, I'd rather be dead then date a fixer-upper again. (sighs) Still, maybe you're right. Maybe Doyle does have - hidden depths. I mean, really, really hidden, - but depths. And I'm gonna have to buy him a moccachino to thank him for saving my life, don't you think?"

When she finds out, several episodes later, that Doyle is part-demon, she's aggravated in the usual Cordelia mode, but then surprises us all with her conclusion.

Cordy: "You're alive!"

Doyle: "And you're not happy?"

Cordy: "We were worried."

Doyle: "Oh. Well, it's all going to be okay. (Cordy slaps him) What was that for?"

Cordy: "Why didn't you tell me that you were half demon? I thought we agreed that secrets are bad!"

Doyle: "I wanted to tell you. I was afraid. I thought if I did, you'd reject me."

Cordy: "I've rejected you way before now! So, you're half demon. Big Whoop! I can't believe you'd think I'd care about that. I mean, I work for a vampire! Hello?"

Doyle: "It's true. I just..."

Cordy: "What do you think I am, superficial? - So you're half demon. That's so far down the list, way under 'short' and 'poor'! - Is there anything else I should know?"

Doyle: "The half demons thing is pretty much my big secret."

Cordy: "Good. That's out. It's done. - Would you ask me out to dinner already?"

Doyle: "Yeah? (Cordy smiles at him) Cordelia. Would you like..."

Unfortunately for our heroine, it's not to be. Angel arrives at that moment, the refugees are trapped, the bomb's about to go off. It's touch-and-go, but in this case, it's kiss-and-go. At the last minute, Doyle knocks Angel off the landing, kisses Cordelia passionately, and leaps to his death, saving everyone else in the process. Cordelia is stunned, and it's in Doyle's death - like in Xander's respectful silence - that we get to see a new part of Cordelia. Her growth has repeatedly been in the wake of someone else's actions.

Cordelia is examining the coffee cup sitting by the coffee maker one by one.

Angel: "What are you looking for?"

Cordy: "Nothing. - Doyle's special coffee mug."

Angel: "Doyle didn't have a special mug."

Cordy: "Don't you think he should have? (Goes to sit down) I don't know, I guess I thought it would make me feel better if I could hold something tangible that he left behind. Some evidence he was here? But there is nothing. Almost like - like he never..."

Doyle's kiss transfers his visions to Cordelia. Alternately, the visions may have come from the Glitter Twins afterwards, when Angel requests to have someone new who can be his connection to the PTB, as Cordelia nicknames them. She's none too happy about the splitting migraines, but quickly realizes that she's irreplaceable now that she has them

Cordelia: You can't fire me, I'm vision girl!

She's still just as tactless as ever. She's now Angel's foil, and then Wesley's, once he appears. Her ability to be in the right place and the right time has developed into being the right place and the right time, herself. She has gone from being the stereotype in the background, Buffy's opposite and could-have-been, to being the heart of Angel's path.

When Vocah attacks her, so Angel will be divided from his contact with the PTBs, Wesley manages to reverse the spell. As the nurses rush to get the doctors, Cordelia - now most frequently referred to as Cordy, by the way - wakes up.

Cordy looks at Angel: "I saw them all. There is so much pain. - We have to help them."

Angel: "We will. (Strokes her cheek) We will."

Cut to a shot of Angel's hand gripping hers tightly.

It's not long after this, as all three are grouped around Cordelia's kitchen table in the aftermath of Angel's apartment and office being destroyed, that Cordelia surprises Wesley and Angel.

Wesley: "I'm sorry, I don't know what they raised in that box. - I'll keep looking."

Cordy: "You've been looking for two days. You need to relax and charge the brain cells. (Hands him the plate with the sandwich) Here. Eat."

Wesley accepts it and looks over at Angel.

Cordy hands Angel the cup with the blood: "You too. (Angel looks up at her) Don't be embarrassed. We're family."

Angel accepts the cup. Cordy notices Wesley staring at her.

Cordy: "What?"

Wesley: "It's just I... - I'm not used to..."

Angel: "He's not used to the new you."

Cordy: "I know what's out there now. We have a lot of evil to fight, a lot of people to help. - I just hope skin and bones here can figure out what those lawyers raised sometime before the prophecy kicks in and you croak. ...That was the old me, wasn't it?"

Angel: "I like them both."

Cordelia's instinctive ability to nail the issue without flinching still serves her well, but it's tempered by her ability do the one thing she couldn't do before. She can put herself in another person's shoes without worrying about appearances. Whereas before - like when reaching out to Buffy during When She Was Bad - Cordelia would deliver her advice with a slicing wit covering her intuition, now she's able to include an awareness of how the other person may be taking the news.

During Untouched, she volunteers to spend time with Bethany while Angel tries to find out more about the guys who'd attacked Bethany. Without any knowledge of the previous night's event, when Bethany tried to seduce Angel (and failed), she still nails the issue.

Cordy: "Don't bone my boss."

Bethany: "What?"

Cordy: "Angel. He's strictly a no-bone."

Bethany: "I wasn't... (Cordy raises her eyebrows at her) Cordelia, I don't wanna sleep with Angel."

Cordy: "The thing about Angel, he's old-fashioned - old fashioned - like the age of chivalry. He sees you as, pretty much, the damsel in distress. I think it's a little more complicated than that."

Bethany: "W-why are you... I never..."

Cordy: "I think you're kind of dangerous. I'm not being mean. I like you. I do. But - you come on all helpless and... I mean, people that have thought that you were helpless before - have died."

Bethany: "Those men in the alley - that was the only... They were gonna hurt me."

Cordy: "You could have floated them away - or-or spun them until they puked. I don't know. You squashed them."

Bethany: "You don't know how scary it was."

Cordy sits down beside her: "Yes, I do. I had a vision of you. That's how Angel found you. I felt everything. And those guys are better off squashed, I truly think, but - somewhere in that moment of panic a decision got made and I don't want something like that to happen to my friends - or, and I can't stress this enough, me. No matter what, sex complicates the equation - even more than you think."

For the duration of season two, though, Cordelia is delegated to the back of the crew with Wesley and Gunn, as Angel goes off on his own search. When Angel returns, he recognizes immediately that to win the good wishes of the others, he must first and foremost make his peace with Cordelia. It's not just that she's been worried about money while without the regular salary from Angel, it's also that she considered herself an integral part of his team, and he fired her. 'Vision girl' had replaced her previous self-identity of 'high school princess,' and when he fired her, he left that identity in serious doubt.

Without Angel, her visions fall on ears that aren't always as well-equipped to handle her visions. When Angel returns, she's dubious - in some ways, his rejection of her smacks of the same damage she received from Xander. This time, though, she didn't wish a horrible fate on him; she was able to pull herself together and appear as if she were unperturbed, to the point of appearing to hold a grudge.

Most of the time, the only way to see inside Cordelia is through her reaction or prompting from someone else. She volunteers her attitude and snappy remarks, but the only time I can recall her volunteering her feelings without being prodded was shortly after Doyle's death. She pushed Angel to talk about it, but as quickly dropped the subject when the topic change presented itself. Cordelia isn't one to just up and tell someone how she feels - though she speaks frankly of how she sees someone else or an issue. When it involves her, she's not always able to articulate it freely without someone patient enough to ask her. Therefore, when Harmony asks, Cordelia takes the chance, and speaks.

Harmony: "We were powerful, rich, popular."

Cordy: "None of that's changed for me - apart from the powerful, rich and popular. - But I tell you one thing: I am happier now than I was then."

Harmony: "Get out."

Cordy: "It's hard to explain. I'm telling you. It's like - I don't know. I had these air pockets inside of me, and the work I'm doing, uh, we're doing, it's-it's like the pockets keep getting filled and I'm becoming me and.. (Harmony laughs) me has had way too much to drink and me shut up.

I'm going to skip the Pylea arc, which seemed a big excuse to use old Fox sets from Star Trek, just to give back story on the Host and introduce a new character. There's got to be something better to do with Cordelia's character other than make her look like a reject from a renaissance fair. It took Joss almost three seasons to cast off her origins as a stereotype, and let her grow into a complex character that's intuitive, sensitive, yet still sharp and unafraid to speak her mind. She's also able to hold her own alongside the guys, and gleefully wields a nasty ax when given the chance, even if she's still not at Angel's level. (For instance, she had a nasty left hook at Harmony during the final fight scene in Disharmony.)

Here's hoping that Joss won't shove her to the background for another season before he gives her something to do other than occasionally provide some comic relief.

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