Written by Kristina
In the course of Angel's long unlife, he has had many relationships with many different women; Darla, Buffy, and now Cordelia. Of these three relationships that have been presented, the Angel and Cordy relationship has bothered me the most. Just the idea of Cordy and Angel together, as a couple, makes me want to throw up, or at least throw things at my television set. A lot of people have asked me why this relationship bothers me, and I don't have a simple answer for that. It all begins with Cordy and Angel's first meeting on Buffy the Vampire Slayer .
"Ooo! Hello, salty goodness!" Cordy, "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
From the first moment Cordy saw Angel, she knew she had to have him. Angel, for his part, ignored her and focused on Buffy instead. It wasn't until Angel and Cordy both ended up in Los Angeles that they became close. Angel saved Cordy from a vampiric talent agent and she began to work for him.
Their relationship was much more than just a working friendship. Over the course of Angel's first year in LA, they (along with Wesley) became a family. They depended on each other for support and backup. When Cordy was in the hospital with never-ending visions ("To Shanshu in LA"), Angel declared he was her family. He even enlisted Gunn to guard his "family" while hunting down Vocah, a demon summoned by Wolfram and Hart to separate Angel from his connections to the Powers That Be (from here on known as TPTB). After Cordy's ordeal, she took Angel and Wesley into her apartment, and took care of them.
When Angel fired her, Wesley, and Gunn during the show's second season, she inarguably took it the worst - she still received visions that were meant for Angel, but she couldn't tell him about them. She wasn't the same girl that she had been in Sunnydale - she rarely went out, and the visions began taking their toll on her. She felt like she had been betrayed by the only 'real' family she had ever known; her parents were too busy being snooty to really care about her. When Angel came back, she was the last person to finally forgive him for his descent into darkness.
After Cordy mysteriously disappeared into a portal that led to Lorne's home dimension of Pylea, Angel knew he had to get her back. While in Pylea, Cordy had a chance to pass her visions on to Groo - the warrior prophesized in Pylea to carry these visions - but Cordy couldn't. She couldn't abandon Angel or her family. As much as she loved Groo, she had a purpose in LA, and she refused to abandon it idly for her own happiness.
Angel and Cordy returned with their friends to LA, never expecting to find Willow in their lobby. She had come to give Angel horrible news; during an apocalyptic battle with a hell god, Glory, Buffy had sacrificed her life to close the portal that threatened to allow all of the demon dimensions to the merge with our own dimension. Shocked by the news of Buffy's passing, Angel went on a spiritual retreat. After his return, it was Cordy who kept trying to talk to him. She knew something was up with him - he was feeling guilt over not being around to save Buffy. Putting aside any differences she had with the Sunnydale slayer, Cordy told Angel that by continuing on, and not dying or stopping the fight, he was honoring her.
The familial relationship between Cordy and Angel continued to strengthen until the introduction of subtext. All of a sudden, Angel and Cordy were seeing each other with alien eyes. This change did not go unnoticed; while Cordy and Angel were sparring together, Fred remarked that they were both heroes with a similar fate, and how romantic it was. Angel vehemently denied this "kye-rumption" to both Fred and Lorne, but the suggestion was there.
Little hints were given as to a possible Angel/Cordy relationship, such as James, a vampire from Angel's past, mistaking Cordy as the woman whom Angel loved. During Angel's dark period, when Angel had fired Cordy, Gunn, and Wesley, he had gone to Darla, his sire, and they had a one night stand. Angel and Darla had both walked away from this one night stand, thinking that there would be no consequences; however, Darla became pregnant, and nothing she could do would stop her pregnancy. After Darla staked herself to allow her son to be born, Cordy became a surrogate mother to Connor.
Quaint, happy familial images of Cordy and Angel falling asleep with Connor between them were presented. Accepted at face value as reinforcing the familial relationship between Cordy and Angel, I had no problem with these scenes; however, my gag reflex kicked in during "Waiting in the Wings"; the Cordy/Angel subtext was thrown out the window, and we were delivered with an episode that had Angel and Cordy trying to have sex as passionate lovers. We were offered fantastic lines from Cordy such as "I'm only alive when you are inside me" and "I want you to undress me." Although they had been possessed by the spirits of a ballerina and her lover, their passion for each other was unfounded. At the beginning of this episode, Lorne and Angel began talking about Cordy. Lorne had noticed that Angel was romantically interested in Cordy, and Angel finally came around to admitting this to Lorne. After the ballet, Angel was ready to admit his feelings for Cordy, but Groo arrived in the nick of time. He had left Pylea to come to his Princess. I rejoiced, as I saw a Cordy and Groo relationship as something much more interesting, and less averse, than a Cordy and Angel relationship.
My joy was short-lived. Groo realized that Cordy was not giving her full attention to him; she cared very much for Angel, and these feelings distracted her from appreciating Groo for who he was. The real kicker occurred at the end of the third season after Groo had left; Cordy and Angel were going to meet to discuss their true feelings for each other. Thank TPTB that Connor and Skip interfered on this plan. Connor met Angel instead of Cordy, and he used a taser on Angel to subdue him before sending him to the bottom of the ocean. Skip came to tell Cordy that her time on this plane was over; she was a higher being after becoming partially demon to keep her visions, and it was time for her to move onto a higher dimension. As Angel descended to the depths of the ocean, Cordy ascended to the higher plane Skip spoke of. I am sure that if Angel and Cordy's meeting hadn't been foiled, much kissing would have ensued, revealing how they felt about each other. That would have resulted in me throwing things at my television.
I can't bear the thought of an Angel/Cordy relationship that is not family oriented. In my opinion, they are exactly the wrong people for each other. Here's why:
They have a history together.
Angel and Cordy have a history that involves Sunnydale, and pretty much the general ignoring of each other. Cordy wasn't even on Angelus' radar when he was running amok in Sunnydale. To me, this signified that Cordy meant so little to Angel that Angelus didn't care about her. She didn't make Angel, or Angelus, feel human, nor did she have a meaningful relationship with him. Going after her would have brought Angelus some joy, but he wasn't around for random fun. He was out for pain and torture. Similarly, Angel neglected to take notice of Cordy. Cordy was interested in Angel, but he never saw her. While at the Bronze waiting for Buffy in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date," Angel paid little attention to Cordy's advances; he was there for Buffy. Cordy wanted Angel even more when she realized she couldn't have him - she even told Buffy that when it came to dating she was "the slayer." Additionally, when she first laid eyes on Angel, she told her friends that when she was through with him, he was going to need CPR. Their only encounters with each other were through Buffy.
They were close like family.
Why is it that two extremely close adults must have romantic relations on television shows? I know platonic relationships between close adults exist; I have seen them before. In the Buffyverse, it seems that relationships which begin as close and familial always revert to a romantic relationship/triangle of some kind. For example, Willow and Xander had been friends since kindergarten, yet when they were both dating other people, they realized they had feelings for each other, which led to kissing and being discovered by their significant others. I was intrigued by the friendship between Cordy and Angel; that is the type of friendship that I wish I could have with someone. Cordy and Angel knew they could count on each other, even though their trust was shaky for a bit; for example, when Angel fired Cordy in order to sever his connections with the human world in season two of Angel. Angel was always around to catch Cordy when she fell, so to speak, or was in trouble, and meanwhile, Cordy provided Angel with a link to humanity. When Angel didn't want anything, such as a donut ("To Shanshu in LA"), Cordy would tell him that he had to want something. He needed to stay connected to the human world. She made clear her disapproval of his one night stand with Darla. For the most part, Cordy and Angel were up-front with each other.
"Okay, um, Cordelia, that was, uh, you know, I think that you're acting out of grief and you're confusing our friendship with something more." ~ Angel, "Parting Gifts"
Together, they came through the loss of Doyle. Doyle was a half-human, half-Brachen demon who originally was Angel's link to TPTB. Doyle developed a romantic interest in Cordy. She tried to deny that she had feelings for him as well, but in the end, she realized that Doyle had hidden depths. When a group of demon-human hybrids were threatened by a group of elite demons who were purging the world of human blood, Doyle sacrificed his life. Before his death, however, he kissed Cordy and passed his visions on to her. Both Cordy and Angel were shaken by this loss; Angel had lost the first friend he had in LA and Cordy had lost a valuable friend and potential significant other.
It was Cordy's friendship that kept Angel from getting the visions and going mad, like we saw in the alternate universe presented in the Angel episode "Birthday." In "Birthday," Cordy was knocked into a deep coma by her latest vision. While her friends worried about whether or not she would wake up, her guide, Skip, gave her a choice: she could keep the visions and die, or she could give them up. She chose to give them up, and lived her life as a big television star who had never met Angel (in LA). Since Cordy was not around to accept Doyle's visions when he died, Angel received them instead. The loss of Doyle, the torment of the visions, and the guilt Angel still carried from his days as Angelus drove him mad. He would have visions and send Wesley and Gunn out to save people, but sometimes, he would send them out to save people he had killed hundreds of years ago. When Cordy visited this insane Angel, she realized that her destiny lay with him. After kissing Angel, Skip reappeared to Cordy. She told him she knew that there must be a loophole about her getting to keep her visions, and Skip partially demonized her.
Angel came to Los Angeles after a tumultuous relationship with Buffy. Cordy came to Los Angeles after a tumultuous relationship with almost every eligible guy in Sunnydale. Her departure came on the heels of the downfall of her family's fortune as well. They were both escaping from somewhere to start over again. This is exactly one of the reasons why they shouldn't have gotten together. Not many people would want to get together with someone who would only serve to remind them of the past they were trying to escape. It is common knowledge that rebound relationships are doomed to fail.
I don't watch Angel for romantic fluff -- I watch it because it is dark, broody, serious and well written. If I wanted fluff, I'd read 'shipper fiction (wait - I do that already. D'oh!)
Now that I look back on what I have written, I realize my opinion can boil down to two concise thoughts about a relationship between Cordy and Angel. These thoughts lack explanation and back-story, but they make a long story much shorter. What I mean is this:
Cordy and Angel friends - Yay!
Cordy and Angel romantic partners - Ugh!
Special thanks to M'lyn of Spike's Keepers & Guardians (http://www.allslaynoplay.net/spike/splash.html) for beta reading this piece and for all of her suggestions.