blackfrancine: (AtS: Wes is a BAMF)
[personal profile] blackfrancine
Hi, you guys! First, let me start off by saying thank you again for all the sweet birthday messages. It sounds corny, maybe, but they really did make my day so much better. I appreciate all of y’all so much, and every now and then, I sort of stand in awe of the fact that I’ve met so many wonderful people through LJ. It just… seems so funny to me. Because I’ve floundered in different groups of friends for so many years—I almost had given up ever finding people I clicked with—like, really clicked with. So, it’s almost comical that the thing that led me here was a TV show and a killer bout of depression. And from that inauspicious combination, I found some of the greatest people and have had some of the most fun and fruitful conversations I’ve had in, well… maybe ever. Anyway. Y’all mean a lot to me, so thank you.

Now, let me bore you with what I did with my birthday: I took the day off work and watched the end of AtS season 3 and the beginning of AtS season 4. Don’t worry—I also went out for drinks the night before, went to lunch with my mom, and dinner and the bookstore with the bf. But the bulk of my day was spent watching AtS. And I have some brief (and some not-so-brief) thoughts.

Here’s the thing: I had to do a marathon of AtS instead of alternating 1 ep of AtS with 1 ep of BtVS because at some point in season 3, I just couldn’t anymore. AtS was so grating and dull, and BtVS was SO GOOD. So, obviously the answer was to just watch BtVS (about which I’m pretty sure I had some productive Willow thoughts, but I can’t really remember them now). So to catch up, I had to power through AtS. And ya know? As soon as Connor arrives, that show gets better. And that’s coincidentally right when Wesley and Lilah start to bone! So between Weslah and Connor, that last little mini arc is actually entertaining. So, good on ya, AtS. But, I decided to just strike while the iron was hot, and keep watching AtS as far as I could through S4, lest I become bored again (and I think that may have just happened). But, the beginning of S4 is fairly decent. I actually like Fred this time through. Sure, she’s annoying when she gets all “Aw, shucks, I’m so helpless and damaged”—but the rest of the time, she’s great.

But, I have some very specific feelings: 1) I’m sorry—but Joss Whedon is a better writer than anyone else who ever wrote for AtS. Like, hands down. Spin the Bottle is easily—EASILY—the best episode so far, if not of the entire series (I’ve never actually watched S5 all the way through, so I will accept I might be wrong about this). It’s actually almost like getting cold water thrown on you—how great the difference is in the writing of StB and pretty much everything that came before it. I’m just saying. Whedon uses humor to such wonderful effect. It’s truly brilliant. And he just—gah. He has such a keen sense of irony. He uses it SO delicately (like Wesley being goofy and funny during his Dark!Wesley period and the little dance of meaning during Angel and Connor’s fight and Angel’s brooding teen self). And Lorne’s breeches of the 4th wall? Hilarious. Direct, nonsensical, and hilarious. That is post modernism, my darlings. And it’s lovely.

But I think there was something else I wanted to talk about, and it centered around Cordelia. So, I’m just gonna blurt my feelings out about her during S3 and 4, and maybe I’ll get to what I was thinking of:

First, okay. So, I just watched “Apocalypse Nowish,” and I have to say that there are lots of things I find … uncomfortable—beyond the sexy times. Okay. Mainly, there’s this little issue—and it goes WAY earlier than S4: Cordelia’s age. Look I get it, Charisma Carpenter is an actress who’s older than the character she’s playing. And CC is otherworldly beautiful, for the record. But she doesn’t come anywhere close to looking like a 21 year old. And that’s how old she is in S3, people: 21. Do you know how I behaved when I was 21? Not like Cordelia, I’ll tell you that right now. She behaves like a 30-something. Or… heh. A 40-something. That whole motherly “let it go” toxic enema she gives Connor? Not age appropriate. The freaking CLOTHES she wears during season 3—not age appropriate. The whole chasing after Angel so that he can SEE how supportive she’s being (LOOK AT ME WHILE I SUPPORT YOU THROUGH YOUR LIFE TRAGEDY, DAMMIT)? Not age appropriate. Well, the wanting attention for being supportive is, I guess. But, it’s just the way that she supports Angel (and the way she comforts Groo)—it just is not the way a 20-year-old behaves. I’m sorry, but it isn’t.

And herein lies my issue—Cordelia is mommified. No, not mummified—mommy-fied. She’s turned into a mommy against her will. She cares for Connor—pretty much as much as Fred does. But nowhere near as often as Lorne does. So… why is she mommified? And sure, I’m sure there are plenty of moments of dialogue I could point to that helped lead me to this feeling of losing Cordelia to some weird pod-mom. But instead, I’m gonna focus on the truly trivial: her appearance. So, from what I gather, Charisma Carpeneter did that short blond atrocity to her own hair? It wasn’t the show’s stylists? Well, fine. But it merges nicely with all the shapeless, I-don’t-give-a-fuck outfits she’s left schlumping around in until the end of S3. Which—this is partly why it seems so funny to suddenly have her with no memory, but wearing clothes that Cordy would actually wear in S4. They’re cute, and form-fitting and she talks about knowing all the shoe stores at the Beverly Center. But, Cordelia from S3 hadn’t been to the Beverly Center in a while. Cordelia is more like herself WITHOUT her memory than she is with it. There’s a scene with Connor in Supersymmetry, when she’s talking about how empty she feels—and that seems like Cordelia at her best—emotionally vulnerable and honest—but fiery and a little snobby. I mean, that’s who she is. She got backed into this den-mother role, and clung to it because she was NEEDED. That need substituted for choice and meaning. It felt the same as meaning—but it’s not.

And look—the same exact thing happens to Fred in Cordy’s absence: She’s turned into the mommy. Look at how Angel and Gunn look at her in Ground State and talk about how proud they are of her for “stepping up” and filling Cordy’s shoes. Like she’s some little girl taking over the household chores and tending to the little ones after her mother died. But Fred! Fred realizes it’s insane. She shouldn’t have to keep her damn chin up for them. She shouldn’t have to hold everyone together. She shouldn’t have to do the planning and pay the bills and be some stupid spiritual center of the group. Why does it fall to her? She has enough sense of self to push back against it—Cordy just accepts it—lets the role of spiritual center of the group wash over her and drown out all of what used to make her a person—but those characteristics are still there! We know they are, because she lets them show when she has no memory (and I don’t mean StB, here, I mean before that). And that’s just SO tragic. Because… she didn’t change. Not really. No more than anyone does from the time they’re 17 to the time they’re 22. She’s the same—she just pretending to be someone else. She’s pretending to be a mommy.

And that is why I can never accept Cordelia as MY hero. I love her, and I hurt for her because I think she attempts to find meaning in a meaningless role. In a role that was created for her by someone else—a role as a helpmeet, as a guide, as a keep-your-chin-up girl. She’s (like Willow) a sidekick in her own story. I just. My heart breaks for her, because her soul was devoured because she submitted to that role. And she tried—she tried to reconcile it with her desire for attention for ~specialness~, and that’s really when it went south. When she tried to validate that little part of herself that she was denying—when she tried to allow part of her inner bitchy teenager some sort of ownership of her identity—she was punished. Smacked down for her hubris. Told by the universe that she can’t be both a perfect, saintly champion and a woman who cares about herself first.

Meh. I don’t know if that ramble will make sense to anyone but me. But, oh well.

And here’s a sidebar for ya: I actually almost feel a little Angel/Cordelia shippiness in StB—at the end. When she tells him that they WERE in love, and walks away. That is a beautiful moment. And more evidence of how Joss Whedon’s writing is superior to everyone else’s. Because, in general, C/A so does not do it for me. Especially not in season 3—but in 4, I get it a little bit. Nowhere more so than in that scene. But you know who REALLY works for me as a ship (aside from the obvious answer of Wes and Lilah)? Gwen and Angel. Now, there’s bonafide chemistry. I mean, come on. That is set up to have chemistry—she can’t touch anyone or they die; he’s made alive by her touch. They snark and are adversarial but humane to each other. She’s an innocent driven to live outside of society; he’s a murderer forced inside society. It’s perfect. So, why? If you want me to like the character Angel, show, you should have given me more Angel/Gwen. It had the potential of turning me around on the dude altogether. But… alas.

Um. What else? Oh! Lilah cutting of Jerky McBossypants’s head? Glorious. I love that. Because—ugh. Poor Lilah. I love to see what a scrapper she is—I especially love it when we see her mask drop—the moments of fear slip through (because then you understand how hard she’s fighting all the damn time). But she’s such a survivor. And that guy deserved decapitation.

Anyway. I’m to the part where the Beast appeared—and I’m already bored with him. So, maybe I’ll watch some BtVS?
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July 2011

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