exactly that

Wednesday Whedon Moment

The Redemption of Cordelia.

Cordelia Chase.

Pampered, spoiled school girl, or body jacked Higher Being, is one of my favorite characters in all of the Whedonverse.  

Throughout the eight years that we watched her progress in story arc after story arc she went from shallow and self centered to using her last moments in a self sacrificing gesture to set her friend back on track.  Despite herself she grew as a person and deepened in character, doing a complete turn around, in her own way and on her own time.

Or did she?

Was Cordelia really someone who learned from her life the value of people…*heh-hem* friends over things and money, who was able to check her motives and prioritize her desires?  Did she do this out of selflessness and an actual desire to do the right thing and better the world?

Did Cordelia actually begin to follow a path of world saving as a matter or self preservation?  Did she learn to use her powers for good to help or b/c it kept her closer to safety?

Did she really do anything selflessly?  Was she actually rewarded for that selflessness, or was that a manipulation of her ingrained selfishness?

You’re always around when all this weird stuff is happening, and I know you’re very strong, and you’ve got all those weapons. I was kind of hoping you were in a gang.

It didn’t take Cordy long to realize that she needed protection.  Something weird was going on in Sunnydale, and as much as she disliked Buffy and her loser friends, she recognized that she needed them.  She held her nose and when no one was looking she sat by their side and did what she could to keep herself out of harm’s way.

What do you think I am, superficial? I mean you are half demon, that is so far down on the list. Way under short and poor. Is there anything else I should know?

When Cordelia’s parents hit financial trouble and she headed off to LA she didn’t stay out of danger for long, both human and otherwise.  She once again found herself working w/ Angel for protection from being lonely, poor, and vampire fodder.

But she did begin to see things differently.  When Cordy fell for Doyle, her life changed.  It was almost as if she started to see past the exterior…a little.  She began to make a family w/ Doyle and Angel.

And then Doyle was ripped from her life just as this all changed.

Then find a loophole, Skip. I know my purpose in this world, and it includes the visions. And if the Powers That Be aren’t complete dumb-asses, they know it too

Suddenly Cordelia realized that those tingly feelings she had for those in her life were love, and she became fiercely loyal to Angel.  When Doyle passed his visions on to her Cordelia was reluctant at first, but then even when they were threatening her life, she found a way to keep them in order to help Angel in his mission.  Even more, though, it gave her purpose, for what might have been the first time in her life.  We could argue that Cordelia found selflessness in her mission at Angel’s side, but we could also argue that there was always a benefit to her decision to be a part of that mission.

So demonize me already.

And while every choice that Cordelia made was arguably ambiguous, it was obvious that just when she found a way to be happy w/ what she had and who she was that someone or something higher had a different plan.  When Cordelia had decided that she was ready to be on board w/ her role in saving the world.  She did, however, want one thing for herself.

Happiness w/ Angel.

And now that she was part Daemon it seemed possible.  It seemed OK.

God, I am so bored.

She was chosen by the Powers That Be (PtB) to become a Higher Being, supposedly b/c of the self sacrifice she had made in choosing a life as a half daemon, but as we find out, Cordelia really wasn’t holier than thou, but rather chosen as a sacred vessel for a selfish deity that would make Cordy’s high school persona look demure.

Then the horrible disaster that was Season 4 happened, and even my love of Gina Torres couldn’t make up for the disaster that unfolded before my eyes, and I couldn’t change DVDs fast enough (and I honestly felt terrible for the people who had to watch this over weeks rather than hours).  The daemon possession of Cordelia pissed me off to no end and I almost wrote the show off for good.  It looked as though we had said good bye to her in a horrible way, and as if it didn’t do her justice.

You’ll win this in the end. I, uh… just wish I could be there to see it. 

But then in the 100th episode, we get the closure we need.  Cordelia comes back, and it finally seems as if she is finally rewarded for real for the actual good choices that she makes, and even for the things that happened outside of her control.  As she put it, the PtB owed her one for the shenanigans that were Season 4 (but don’t they really owe ALL of us for Season 4?), and seeing Angel floundering from her coma, she wanted to use her favor to get him back on track.

Don’t make it hard, Angel. I’m just on a different road… and this is my off-ramp. The Powers That Be owed me one, and I didn’t waste it. I got my guy back on track.

So it would seem that even though Cordelia started out shallow and self absorbed, and even though her road, while paved w/ even the best of intentions, sometimes veered along the way, she received her redemption in the end, using her last favor owed her in a truly selfless way.  Her dying wish, quite literally.

This all made Cordelia one of my favorite characters in all of the Whedonverse.  She is an extremely flawed and obviously to be improved upon woman who comes to her own success in her own way, despite some really fucked up shit that was thrown in her way.  She is also kind of my idea of a tragic hero, sealed by the fact that she dies w/o the one thing that she seems to have wanted more than anything else.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

Also, it is worth noting, to me, that I possibly cried harder during the 100th episode than I did during “There’s a Hole in the World”.

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Comments on: "Wednesday Whedon Moment" (5)

  1. Amazing post, as always dear.

    BTW, got my copy of Dr. Horrible on dvd. Hilarious…

  2. Interesting question. The question of selfless vs. selfish makes me think about the episode in which Skip showed Cordy what her life would had been like if she had never met Angel in “City of…” along with an offer to turn back time and let her make a different choice.

    In that episode Cordy was shown how she became a famous actress and was rich. Life was good and it looked like she was happy…until she met Wesley and Gunn who told her that Angel had inherited the visions (and I also wonder if a kiss is the ONLY way to pass them on…). Did she take the visions on anyway because someone else was suffering or because it was specifically Angel that was suffering? Would she have made a different choice if it were Lorne or some random demon that took on the visions?

    Early in the alternate reality she seemed to be happy even though Angel wasn’t in her life. Maybe she had not realized her feelings for him yet? Maybe she had thought that she would run into him at some other point? (Both of these questions apply to the present Cordy who was watching the alternate reality Cordy.)

    And then from another angle Skip was in league with the that being that infested Cordy’s body. Did they conclude that Cordy had feelings for Angel and therefore constructed that reality with the intent of showing him in pain as a result of her choice to not take on Doyle’s visions in order to get her to continue with them? In other words did they think she was selfish at that point and therefore convinced her to stay by threatening what she wanted most?

  3. That was all part and parcel to getting her to agree to be made part daemon, methinks. I think they did manipulate her, being privy to a panorama of events and knowing that she would develop feeling for him, and played upon, or possibly even planted the seeds for that.

    I don’t know that it was the suffering, but that it had driven Angel mad, and that he was rendered useless otherwise, and unable to do as much good as he could normally. Of the three, Angel was the most able to endure the most abuse.

    But those are merely my two theories, which work well along side yours, Danny.

    Cordelia is a complex topic that I love to discuss.

  4. I don’t know that it was the suffering, but that it had driven Angel mad,…
    Sorry I should have said what I meant. I am calling his severely (in relation to what we the viewers know Angel to be) altered mental state suffering.

    And I have to admit that I have literally come up with all of this since reading your thoughts on Cordy in this post. Until now I just wrote her off as a prissy princess that turned into a decent person in the end. Now I have even more motivation to pick up the rest of the seasons of Angel and then get all of Buffy. Time to go back and study them more closely.

  5. I’ve always like Cordelia and I thought they did good groundwork in Buffy by showing bits and pieces of the person she would become. Cordelia saw suffering in Sunnydale and it changed her life forever. When she moved to L.A. I think she realized how deeply it affected her and how important it was to her to do good. That’s why she wans’t happy until working for Angel and why she became so dedicated. She still had rough edges but I liked that about her she didn’t become self righteous she just did what needed to be done. I actually liked the demon possession bit and I liked season 4 up until the last two episodes. But I felt that Conner was what Season 4 was about more than anything and since Charisma Chase was pregnant it all just worked together.

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