Friday, 13 February 2009

You Monster! Why Joss Whedon Kills.... Kill #8

He Killed Off Cordelia Chase!

Who Was She?

When Whedon created a spin-off of his most famous show, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, he transferred a few characters over there in order to make sure that his fans would follow the new show. Angel thusly featured both the eponymous vampire and the sarcastic cheerleader Cordelia in the main roles. As he went on, he later added several other Buffy characters into the mix in order to intermingle continuity and raise the profile of both shows. Cordelia turned up in Los Angeles as an aspiring actress who quickly realises that almost nobody ever makes it big in the city. Lost, she is saved by Angel from a vampire attack and promptly joins him in the fight against the forces of darkness. Although she prefers it when she’s paid to do so.

Cordelia was probably the most fun character, because she was rude to everyone equally, regardless of their capability to kill her. There was a cool thing they had where every few episodes she would be downtrodden and sad because of how bad her life got, only for her to then spring forth and have a great time where everything went right for her. On last count this happened roughly 628 times. Eventually, however, the show decided to try something new, so she went mental and slept with Angel’s son and killed off the best character on the show, Lilah. It was an unsettling time.

How Did She Die?

Once she’d gone mad and started doing strange things (killing people, talking to herself, Connor) she then gave birth to a full-grown woman called Jasmine, who enslaved the World. And then she fell into a coma and didn’t wake up for the rest of the fourth season. She returned in the final season, in the episode “You’re Welcome”, and helped Angel regain his sense of purpose. Together the duo saved the world from a threat, and she passed on to him a vision of the future – so he could change it, and make it positive.

And with that, she vanished, and it was revealed that she’d been dead all along, having died in hospital before the episode had started. It was very emotional, and anyone who didn’t cry was dead inside.


Why Did She Die?

Charisma Carpenter was sacked, and reprised her role one last time to give closure to the character before she vanished forever. It was none of the few times we’ve been able to see the backstage workings of any of Whedon’s shows, and it paints the man in a good light. Let me rephrase – it puts him in a good light, if you appreciate a sense of honesty. He fired Charisma Carpenter not because of any scandal that involved her (and the LOST writers may wish to learn from this) but because he simply could not think of any way to use her character anymore.

That takes quite some guys, considering that Cordelia appeared in the first three seasons of Buffy, and then four solid seasons of Angel. That’s quite the resume there, and yet Joss’ reason was true. Most recently Cordelia had gone through her little character arc of the shows and come out as a well-rounded character. Joss has no time for well-rounded characters, so he had her go through all that pregnancy madness, get possessed, and sleep with Angel’s son. It was madness. So whilst it’s nice to see that Joss can tell when a character has gotten worn out and should be taken off the show roster, it’s also a little sad that he refuses to have well-rounded characters stick around. Once characters get happy, they must die. It is something which we will discuss further next month – have you been paying attention to the chronology? If so, then you’ll have realised by now just how traumatic next month is going to be.

Joss, You Monster! Rating:
7. It was properly upsetting, but the death itself was handled very well.

1 comment:

  1. Oh jesus, next month is Fred, isn't it?

    Cordelia's send-off was actually pretty well-handled, all things considered. Given that they had completely written the character into a hole over two terrible seasons, they brought her back for one last glimpse at the Cordy we knew and loved, and then put her away again. It was a nice episode, in a season (5) where the show was actually finding its legs again. And then it was cancelled.

    But regarding her sacking- was it amicable, or was there bad blood there? Because recently I'm hearing there was some sort of issue behind her leaving the show, maybe having to do with her having a baby.