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Discussion of 3.11 "Birthday" - Aired 1/14/2002 (WB-US)

GraceK

Grr Arrg
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I like to think that Skip created this AU and somehow left some sort of essence of the Cordy we know from AtS which is the only way this episode could make an ounce of sense.
It baffles me that these visions would do this Angel, like LOL just no. Like you said he was in a hell dimension for 100 years, came back and still knew who Buffy was. Not to mention some of the other theories that with the loss of Doyle he went psychotic, but he was able to just go fight a bunch of demons for a summer after Buffy's death? Idk what fantasy land these writers were in for this episode. Doyle was a great friend to Angel, but he literally was only around for 1/2 of the season. Angel knew Buffy for years and was deeply in love with her. So he can survive her death without a mental breakdown, but not Doyle's? Okay show that's seriously fanwanking at this point...
Agreed!! Not to mention we saw him after Doyle's death, he was upset but not incapacitated. Wesley showing up made a difference, that was the point. What I think is that Skip was trying to manipulate her. He wanted her to become part demon to make her transition into a higher being possible to make way for Jasmine. So he didn't actually want her to accept her new life. So he tapped into her narcissism. He knew Cordelia had to literally think that Angel depended on her to the point of going crazy so she would decide to make herself demon. He appealed to her hero complex. He did the same thing in the finale when he convinced her become a higher being cause it was her " reward" for being such an angelic woman.::snort::
 
BuffyBot22
BuffyBot22
I agree with this whole post!! Makes perfect sense

Mr Trick

Scooby
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Think either this or Waiting in the Wings was Cordy's last good episode. And Skip was good fun as always, the movie gags were great:p The way they go to the alternative universe with Cordy as a TV star was like what many of the great Buffy episodes do well. But I believed in the world building and level of detail. The guy playing Cordy's assistant always plays those sorts of parts;) But then I love the darker stuff too and the growth of Cordelia by the end of the episode.
 

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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Meh. I have some issues with this episode. I like the It's a wonderful life feel to it...the alternate universe is kind of fun. I seriously enjoyed the credits to Cordelia's sitcom...that's about it.

Now, I am probably biased here because of my extreme hatred of all things Cangel...but Ye gods did so much annoy me!! So, Cordelia, a human being, manages for 3 years to have the visions even though it's destroying her brain...but Angel literally goes in a catatonic like psychosis??? Please. He's still a demonic being, he shouldn't have been driven crazy. Angel managed to survive a hundred years in a hell dimension, a hundred years of guilt and despair...but visions and ...excuse me while I GAG...but the fact that Cordelia isn't in his life drives him crazy??? Hahahahahahaha . This is like wish fullfillment fan fiction. If Angel really were in that state, are we lead to believe that Buffy would just let him rot??? That she wouldn't there in a second to help him??? Riiight.

Also, operating on the assumption that this is a whole new reality for Cordelia , who has been a world famous actress for the past few years, I find it really hard to believe that she has this urge to seek out an innocent in reseda...and that she is simply dying to see Angel. This reality Cordelia hasn't seen him since Sunnydale High blew up and barely knows him. Why would she be so interested in seeing him and forcing Wesley to take her to him?? It's like we were supposed to believe that she is this natural radiant saint who just knows in her heart that she has destiny to fight evil with Angel. I'm sorry but that is the stupidest thing ever.

The only thing that would make any of this episode make any kind of sense is that it is a false reality created by Skip to trick her..that everything in this alternate reality is lifted directly out of her self centered mind. she THINKS the world would really be like this without her involvement . Lol. Anyway yeah it was irritating.
I’m just going to quote you again so this post can appear twice. Perfectly said and everything I feel about this episode. This is where the writers went off on this “Angel needs Cordy” tangent for purposes of selling that relationship. It’s absurd and not in keeping with Angel’s character.

If he can live without Buffy he can live without Cordy. If he can endure 100+ years in hell he can handle some visions. If he couldn’t handle them and was for some strange reason going mad, Wes/Gunn or even Buffy would find out and wouldn’t let him go crazy alone in LA. They would find a solution.

Just so many eye rolls.
 

EarthLogic

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I haven't really considered 'Birthday' since last watching it many moons ago - I never liked it much because of how thinly Cordy's 'demon-isation' was written (which demon did they infect her with? What exactly are her powers supposed to be? Doyle didn't seem to have any powers beyond being a little stronger when he was in demon form) but the recent discussions of it have made me realise how ludicrous its premise really is r.e Angel! I agree with what's been said here and in the the 'Unpopular Opinions' thread by @crazysoulless, if it took a century of torture in Hell to drive him feral, it is absurd to think Angel would go completely round the bend simply because he gets visions.
 

Mylie

Scooby
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I haven't really considered 'Birthday' since last watching it many moons ago - I never liked it much because of how thinly Cordy's 'demon-isation' was written (which demon did they infect her with? What exactly are her powers supposed to be? Doyle didn't seem to have any powers beyond being a little stronger when he was in demon form) but the recent discussions of it have made me realise how ludicrous its premise really is r.e Angel! I agree with what's been said here and in the the 'Unpopular Opinions' thread by @crazysoulless, if it took a century of torture in Hell to drive him feral, it is absurd to think Angel would go completely round the bend simply because he gets visions.
I'm thinking that Cordy was shown this vision of him so she'd want to be demonized and that it's not really representative of reality. We did learn in season 4 that this was all part of some big plan in which Skip had a role to play. It makes total sense that he'd want to manipulate Cordy into wanting to take back those visions and it definitely worked. I think that this particular vision speaks more about Cordy's character than Angel's.

So I don't consider this episode relevant when it comes to Angel's character. It's all about Cordy, how she feels and how she sees herself, Angel and her relationship with him.
 
Mrs Gordo
Mrs Gordo
I like this interpretation.
EarthLogic
EarthLogic
Yeah, me too. Though it does make me wonder whether this was actually planned by the writers or not.
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Agree 100%!

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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So much of Season 3 requires head canon for me. Add this episode to the list.

Let’s assume for a second that this isn’t Skip manipulating Cordy with a vision and is actually the alternate timeline (although I’m content with the idea and actually prefer the head canon that it is a vision for Cordy). This is incredibly regressive to Angel’s character. We just learned in Season 1 that he has the ability to carry on in his mission without Buffy in his life, sacrificing being human and a life with her for the sake of her life AND the sake of helping people. We now know that Angel will stand up to Buffy to do what he feels is right (Faith arc). In Season 2 we see him go through his depression and pull himself out of it on his OWN. Having his own Epiphany coming to his own conclusions regarding the work that he does. Amazing character growth for Angel. As Giles says:

“Only a person with tremendous will and character could survive that and retain any semblance of self.”

That is what we know about Angel. And then you have Birthday and YW which undercuts that very statement for the sake of abruptly elevating a relationship.

I wonder how viewers would feel if Buffy was similarly shown as “needing” for example Spike or Xander and shown to be a groveling mess of a person without them in an alternate universe. Would the audience have been ok with that? And if not, then why is it ok for Angel?
 

Grace

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Let’s assume for a second that this isn’t Skip manipulating Cordy with a vision and is actually the alternate timeline (although I’m content with the idea and actually prefer the head canon that it is a vision for Cordy).
I'm also content with the head canon, but just for a thought experiment... Could Vocah have played a role? If he had powered up Angel's visions but Wes never found the cure, could that have been responsible for Angel's decline into madness? Maybe Angel as a demon could survive that in a way that Cordelia could not have. So he could have been getting visions all the time, not just sporadically. That would mean that not having Cordelia did make Angel crazy, because he could save her but there wasn't anyone who could save him. That doesn't solve the Scoobies problem, but maybe something about the alternate timeline changed for them, too.
 

Mrs Gordo

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I'm also content with the head canon, but just for a thought experiment... Could Vocah have played a role? If he had powered up Angel's visions but Wes never found the cure, could that have been responsible for Angel's decline into madness? Maybe Angel as a demon could survive that in a way that Cordelia could not have. So he could have been getting visions all the time, not just sporadically. That would mean that not having Cordelia did make Angel crazy, because he could save her but there wasn't anyone who could save him. That doesn't solve the Scoobies problem, but maybe something about the alternate timeline changed for them, too.
Interesting theory!
 

PaulParmar1

Spuffy Forever
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Sineya
This is one of the best episodes of the season easily. I just adore Cordelia & Charisma's acting shines through.
I love watching Cordy's snarky comments while no one else can see her haha.
When Lorne said "Cordy not in there" and Cordy said I'm right here almost in tears my heart broke
I love the Cangel. It really shows Angel and Cordelia's bond.
The Powers That Be are the most interesting this episode.
Cordelia as an actress was so much fun!
One of my fav episodes of the series.
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
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Yeah totally agree with @Mylie on this one. The episode is more about Cordy than it is about Angel. It actually reminds me a lot of the Cordy Buffy episodes "The Wish". Angel's concern is more today with how he values human life anyway in general and that he has built up a bond with Cordy over the past few years. Don't see this one as much of a Cangel episode. I still love it by the way:)
 
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