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Recap / Angel S 03 E 11 Birthday

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The Fang Gang holds a surprise birthday party for Cordelia, featuring a cake with an image of Wonder Woman drawn in frosting. Cordelia has a vision and crashes into the weapons cabinet. When she wakes up, she appears to be a ghost. She watches the AI team pick up her body and place it on a couch. She tries to speak to them, but they can't hear her. When Lorne comes downstairs, he not only fails to see or hear Cordelia, but walks right through her.

Angel discovers a vial of pills. Cordelia has been taking Seltrax, a powerful migraine medication, without telling her colleagues. The AI team splits up into squads Fred and Gunn go to Cordelia's apartment to search for clues to her condition, where they find that Phantom Dennis has prepared his own birthday party for Cordelia.

At the Hotel, Wesley reads up on Astral Projection. He guesses that Cordelia might be on the astral plane and unable to communicate.

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At Cordelia's apartment, Fred and Gunn cannot find any medications. Fred guesses that Phantom Dennis is covering up for Cordelia. When Gunn asks Dennis for help, and explains that Cordelia might die, Dennis moves a plastic box from under Cordelia's bed. It contains medicines with prescription dates of a year before.

At the Hotel, Angel tells the sleeping Cordelia that he is angry at her for keeping secrets from him when he might've been able to help. Lorne enters, places his fingers on Cordelia's temples, and tries to sense her presence. He says Cordelia is not in her body. Angel pressures Lorne to use his connections with the Powers That Be to help Cordelia.

After Lorne leaves, Angel remains to watch Cordelia sleep. When he nods off in his chair, Cordelia's ghost enters Angel's body. Angel's body, now under the control of Cordelia's ghost, rises, picks up a marker, and begins writing an address on a lampshade. Before the number is finished, a swirling black shape appears and Cordelia is expelled from Angel's body.

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Wesley enters. Angel says he dreamed that Cordelia was trying to tell him something. Wesley says he has examined Cordelia's CAT scans, and she is dying. Angel leaves, while Wesley takes his place watching Cordelia's body. Skip, the demon who once guarded Billy, appears and addresses Cordelia's ghost. Cordelia has many questions. Skip insists on leaving the hotel before answering.

In the office, Angel, Gunn and Fred examine Cordelia's CAT scans. It appears that most of her brain is dead. Lorne enters, fresh from his consultation with the Powers That Be. He is bound by a spell and unable to speak of what he learned, but he manages to write something on a slip of paper that will enable Angel to find the conduit to the Powers That Be. Angel takes the paper and leaves.

Cordelia and Skip appear in a deserted shopping mall. Skip tells her it is actually a construct of a mall, similar to the virtual reality setting of the film "The Matrix." He explains that the Powers That Be never intended for her to receive visions, which are an "ancient, powerful force" that only demons can withstand. Her introduces Cordelia to Tammy, an English girl from the 17th century who had the visions for about a year until one of them blew out the back of her skull.

Angel falls, we do not see from where, into a circular chamber with a fire pit at the center. He hears voices telling him his mission is futile and his death is certain. When he asks to see the Conduit, the voices say they are it. Angel demands that the Powers take back the visions they gave to Cordelia. The invisible beings throw him about the room.

At the mall, Skip reminds Cordelia of the night when she met Angel at a Hollywood party. Skip says that if she had not talked to Angel that night, but to a certain talent agent instead, she would have become a famous and wealthy actress. He adds that the Powers that Be could "write over history" so that she would have the life she was meant to have. If she refuses this, and returns to her body, she will be paralyzed and helpless until the next vision comes to her, and then she will die.

When Cordelia objects that Angel needs the information from her last vision, Skip leads her to the chamber where Angel is disputing with the Conduit. Angel, unable to see Cordelia or Skip, argues that Cordelia is "weak" and only a "rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play superhero." Cordelia asks to leave.

Back at the Mall, Cordelia makes her choice and Skip sends her into her alternate life as two-time Emmy-winning star of a television show called Cordy!, created by Phlegmont and Mendoza.

After a filming, TV star Cordelia tries to remember something. After several guesses, she remembers the Hyperion Hotel and tells her personal assistant that she wants to go there.

In this reality, the Hyperion is a working hotel. The desk clerk checks Cordelia into the luxury suite, but she insists on entering a standard room nearby. Alternating with the room, Cordelia sees glimpses of the same room in the other reality. She tears the wallpaper away at a certain spot, where she sees the address "171 Oak," which comes from her vision.

Cordelia goes to that address and knocks on the door. The resident, Cynthia York, is a fan of hers who recognizes her and immediately admits her, though she is puzzled as to why a famous TV star would show up at her door.

Cynthia shows Cordelia a pentagram inside a magic circle. She is planning to perform a retrieval spell so that her father, who has left the family, will return. Suddenly a demon appears in the magic circle and attacks the two women. As Cynthia flees and Cordelia fights back, Wesley and Gunn appear at the door and kill the demon.

Cordelia and Wesley get reacquainted, and Wesley introduces her to Gunn. Wesley has only one arm, having lost one in a fight with a Kungai demon two years earlier. She tells the story of how she came to the house.

The three return to Angel's dwelling. Wesley explains that Angel now has the visions, and has become a recluse who communicates with Gunn and Wesley only to tell them what he has seen in his visions. Cordelia enters Angel's room where she finds him babbling and incoherent. She assumes that "everything will be OK" and kisses him. A spark appears between their lips. Cordelia rises and sees that Wesley and Gunn are motionless.

Cordelia addresses Skip, who is present but invisible to Wesley and Gunn. Cordelia tells Skip that having the visions is part of her mission, and demands them back. Skip tells Cordelia that the only way she can have the visions without dying is to become part demon. Despite Skip's warnings that the process is painful and dangerous, Cordelia insists on it. Skip does as she asks.

At the Hyperion Hotel, in the original reality, Cordelia wakes up. After checking for horns and a tail, and finding none, she suddenly gets a vision but now without any pain. As she calmly recites the details, her friends watch her puzzled and not because of the painless vision but because she is now levitating above the ground.


Tropes

  • Alternate Reality Episode: The so-called Skipverse/Cordyverse.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Cordelia is no longer a talentless, out-of-work actress, but the star of her own hit sitcom Cordy! The Hyperion Hotel also gets a face lift in this story: rather than an abandoned wreck, it's glamorous and still in use.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Wesley's counterpart in the Skipverse is missing an arm, likely from the same demon who appeared in "Parting Gifts" (but without Angel to help him in this timeline). His fencing skills are still formidable, though.
    Wesley: Ah, Kungai demon. Couple of years ago.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Angel gives Cordelia his baby to coo over when the rest of the gang arrive with her presents. Cordy ponders which is more important... then tells Angel to take the baby. It looks like another joke about Cordelia's vanity when she repeats her words more urgently — Angel grabs Connor as Cordelia has a vision that causes her to thrash about violently.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Cordelia is given the opportunity to wish she had never reunited with Angel and gotten the visions which were killing her. She finds herself in a world where Angel is insane, Wesley is missing an arm, and Fred was nowhere to be found.
  • Birthday Episode: Like Buffy, Cordy has problems with the supernatural during it.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Cordelia spends her birthday comatose and in an out-of-body experience.
  • Body Surf: Cordelia waits till Angel falls asleep, then jumps into his body so she can use it to write the information about her vision on the wall. Skip's arrival throws her out of his body before she can complete the message.
  • Brick Joke: In Season One's "To Shanshu In L.A." Wesley read a prophecy that a demon known as the Beast of Amalfie is due to arise in Reseda in 2003. Cordelia drives to Reseda and discovers the cause of the demon's summoning — a teenage girl accidentally pouring diet soda on a black magic tome while trying to cast a spell to make her Disappeared Dad return home.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Superstar!Cordelia has the nagging feeling she's forgotten something important. Her Hypercompetent Sidekick Nev is on the case.
    Cordy: "I want something. Hypo-something. Hypothermia?"
    Nev: (to phone) "Josh, lets get a large tub of ice water to Miss Chase's dressing room, pronto."
    Cordy: (to herself) "No, that's not it."
    Nev: "Canceling ice water."
    Cordy: "Hyper... hyperbaric?"
    Nev: "Josh, make it an oxygen tent."
    Cordy: "No, that's not it either."
    Nev: "Canceling tent."
    Cordy: "Hyperion! That's it!"
  • Continuity Nod
    • Skip was the affable demon guarding Billy in "That Vision Thing". He was brought back by popular fan demand.
    • Wesley mentions losing his arm to a Kungai demon, presumably the one he was pursuing in "Parting Gifts".
    • Cordelia kids Wesley about their awful kiss in BTVS "Graduation Day".
    • Clips are shown from "Hero" (Doyle passes on the visions to Cordelia) and "City Of" (Cordelia meets Angel in LA).
    • The same actor who played the bellhop at the 1950's Hyperion in "Are You Know Or Have You Ever Been" is reused.
    • Cordelia asks Skip if the Powers intend to turn back time for her. He says they don't go in for that "much" — referring to "I Will Remember You", when the Powers agreed to turn back time 24 hours for Angel.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Angel appears to be going to make an Anguished Declaration of Love to the unconscious Cordy, only to start railing at her for not telling him the visions were slowly killing her.
  • Covered in Gunge: For once we see the aftermath — lots of cleaning.
  • Cuteness Proximity: As per usual for Connor.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Cordy is literally in the limelight!
  • Dom Com: Cordy, a Friends-style sitcom starring Cordelia Chase. We get to see the Title Sequence, but a clip of the show had to be cut for time, and because the producers felt it wasn't funny enough. It can be watched as a Deleted Scene on the DVD. Tropes seen in Cordy include: Absolute Cleavage (Cordy wears a plunging neckline dress), Happy Dance, Not What It Looks Like, Studio Audience and Recycled Set (from Dharma & Greg).
  • Dramatic Shattering: While having her vision Cordelia stumbles into the glass-fronted weapons cabinet and breaks it.
  • Dynamic Entry: Subverted when Skip enters with the usual flashing lights and Dramatic Wind, only to say casually, "Hey, how's it going?"
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Cordelia is reluctant to leave her old life because she thinks Angel needs her. Skip takes her to where Angry!Angel is shouting at the Conduit, just in time to hear him denounce her as a rich girl playing at superhero who's too weak for the job. Cordelia asks to leave and takes the alternate reality, missing out on the rest of the conversation.
    Angel: "You're killing her. She's unconscious, and she's alone. Who knows if she's in pain?"
    Voices: "It is angry. It is afraid."
    Angel: (beat) "I'm more afraid of her dying than she is. What is that?"
  • Exact Words
    Fred: "Lorne! What happened?"
    Lorne: "I can't really talk about it."
    Gunn: "Then how the hell are we supposed to find them so we can kick their asses?"
    Lorne: "Ah, no. I mean I can't talk about it. They cast a spell."
  • Foreshadowing
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Skip delivers his exposition to Cordelia in a "reality construct" that looks like The Mall, where he assumes she'll be comfortable.
  • For Want of a Nail: Cordelia experiences an alternate reality in which she met a talent agent instead of Angel at the party in "City Of". She's now the famous star of a popular sit-com, whereas Angel has gone insane from the visions, Wesley has lost an arm, Gunn has an ugly scar across his face and Fred was never rescued from Pylea, while the Fang Gang are barely scraping by without Cordy's Money Fetish skills.
  • Freudian Slip: The bellhop at the Hyperion who offers to take the famous Ms Chase up to his room...her room.
  • Future Badass: In this case an Alternate Reality Badass: One-armed, unshaven sword-wielding Wesley.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In this reality, Doyle passed his visions on to Angel himself before his Heroic Sacrifice, and Angel retreated into himself in his grief, with the power of the visions not helping matters. Eventually, Angel slipped up to the point where he would have visions of his victims as Angelus, with his only contact with Gunn and Wesley being to inform them of his latest vision and send them out to fix it, with the visions also causing violent episodes that prompted Gunn and Wesley to install chains in his room. When Cordelia comes to see him, Angel is babbling and barely coherent and beats his head on the wall of his room. The worst part of it all is that, according to Wesley, that example of madness is "him on a good day."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Cordelia makes a deal with Skip to make her part-demon so she can survive the visions.
  • Hidden Depths: Superstar!Cordelia has kindness, patience, and acting ability — implying that these traits are innate rather than from the empathy she's gained from experiencing the visions and helping the helpless over the past three years.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Cordelia's birthday is celebrated by her falling into a coma.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cordelia saying "You can't scare me!" then jumping in fright as Wesley suddenly enters the room.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Skip is impressed when Cordelia accepts the unpredictable and terrible consequences of becoming part demon.
    "It was an honor being your guide, Cordelia Chase."
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Cordy learns what her life would be like if she hadn't re-encountered Angel.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Lorne staggers in after being beaten up, moaning for a Sea Breeze.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Implied — if the Kungai wasn't the de-horned one from "Parting Gifts", then Wesley may have been forced to amputate his own arm after it had been pierced by the horn, to avoid getting his life force drained.
  • Near-Death Experience: Cordelia
  • Layman's Terms
    Wes: "Fred studied Cordy's latest CAT scans. The news isn't good. The tests show widespread neuro-electrical deterioration."
    Ghost!Cordy: (scoffing) "That's just a fancy way of saying..."
    Angel: "She's dying."
    Ghost!Cordy: (beat) "I think I like the fancy way better."
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: Cordelia has a choice of the fame and fortune she's always craved since she was the Alpha Bitch of Sunnydale High, or being an unsung and likely short-lived heroine.
  • Loophole Abuse: While going to find out how to contact the Conduit, Lorne gets roughed up and has a spell placed on him so he can't reveal what he found out. He slips Angel a piece of paper. "They didn't say I couldn't write it."
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: While searching Cordy's apartment Fred snarks at Gunn for checking out her underwear drawer, but not looking under the bed where the pills turn out to be stashed.
  • The Movie Buff: Skip loves The Matrix. Gladiator, not so much.
  • Myself My Avatar: Skip notices that the astral-projected Cordy isn't any different from the real Cordy lying unconscious on the bed, and that most people pretty themselves up a bit. When you're Cordelia of course, you don't need to.
  • Nipple and Dimed: When Cordelia wakes up from her vision and has a good stretch. Guess it wasn't just the floating the gang were gaping at.
  • No Sympathy: Lorne gets worked over while seeking information for Angel.
    Angel: "Did you get the information?"
    Lorne: "Oh, why yes, Angel. My horn should grow back in a couple of days."
  • Power at a Price
    Skip: "The only way you get to keep the visions is by becoming...part demon. (Cordy looks down) The process isn't easy. It'll make your vision pain feel like a stroll through Candyland. And even after the pain subsides the effects of the transition will be numerous and unpredictable. You may never be able to lead a human life again."
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Skip is after all a Matrix fan.
  • Reveal Shot:
  • Saying Too Much: Fred is getting on Gunn for searching Cordy's underwear drawer. Gunn says that's where women hide things. Fred replies that she wouldn't know as she lived in a cave for the past five years and can we not talk about my underwear?
  • Shout-Out: The intro to Cordy! is very similar to the intro to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • Show Within a Show: Cordy!, Cordelia's alternate-reality sitcom.
  • Sleight of Tongue: Cordelia kisses Angel, causing the visions to pass over to her.
  • Sunnydale Syndrome: Lampshaded by Gunn.
    Gunn: "Hey, what is it with you Sunnydale folks and repression? I mean, you three are the most denying-it folks I've ever met."
  • Superhero: Cordelia's birthday cake has a decoration of her wielding a crossbow-pistol in The Cape, tights, and Combat Stilettos of Wonder Woman.
  • Spirit Advisor: Skip acts as a 'guide' for Cordelia.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lampshaded by Superstar!Cordelia re: Wesley.
    Cordy: "So, you - like - kill things now? 'Cause last time I saw you, you just kind of fainted in front of them."
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Conduit referring to Angel as "it", and in the third person.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Not that simple, according to Skip.
  • Your Head Asplode: According to Skip, the next time Cordelia experiences a vision it will blow the back of her head open. Literally.

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