On Angel

True Shanshu

Redemption Through Compassion, and the Journey of Cordelia Chase
By Laura Anne Gilman

In many ways, Angel was never about Angel. The vampire with a soul provided the action, but it was those he interacted with who mattered: the people he helped–and those who traveled with Angel on his road to redemption.

So, we have a show that, at least on one level, isn’t about the redemption of the titular character but instead those who, at first glance, might appear to be secondary. Welcome to Joss Whedonland, where nothing is ever as it seems. Both the redemptive successes (Wes, Darla) and the failures (Lindsey) were notable, but none more so than Cordelia Chase, the poor-little-formerly-rich-girl who had come to Los Angeles not only in search of a career but to escape the hell of Sunnydale–and who, in the very first episode, found herself instead smack in the middle (again!) of the fight against evil.

So let’s take a look at Cordelia Chase, lately of Sunnydale High School and the Hellmouth.


In the first episode, “City Of” (A1-1), we see Cordelia as an extension of who she was during her run on Buffy: not quite a victim, not quite a “Scooby.” She makes an error in judgment in getting “trapped” by a vampire posing as a casting agent, but puts the clues together and tries to escape on her own. Her inability to do so, and subsequent rescue by Angel, isn’t presented as a failure on her part, but merely one person needing another’s help to get by. This is consistent with the presentation of victims  …

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