randomling: Claudia Donovan (Warehouse 13) (claudia stares)
[personal profile] randomling
So, yes, I'm twelve years late commenting on this.

I started watching Angel several years ago when I had a Lovefilm subscription. I'm now subscribing to them again, and have discovered that the show's on Lovefilm Instant, which means they are available for streaming online. I'm still on my first run through the show and have just watched 3x02.

It's an interesting show, but I'm getting less and less comfortable with it. Particularly with the show's treatment of Cordelia. In Buffy, she was a Queen Bitch who slowly developed a heart of, if not gold, then at least something that wasn't ice. Even while I didn't like her much as a character, she was a tough and believable one, and though she was often in peril in high school, I don't remember her being denied agency too much. She was always up for picking up a weapon and fighting, for stating her opinion, for being involved and standing up for herself.

As Angel goes on, she seems to be turning more and more into a professional victim, and I do not like it.

I'm mostly talking about the whole "Cordy disappears into a demon dimension" storyline, but also about the visions, and how they are treated in the show.

In the 4-parter that ends season 2, Cordelia is accidentally sucked through a portal into a demon dimension, where she is given object lesson after object lesson in how nothing she does matters. First she is kidnapped and enslaved. Then she meets the girl from her vision and, bizarrely, doesn't recognise her (this is never even mentioned in-universe as a thing, when we are later getting to know Fred neither of them mentions their prior meeting, and Cordy has shown strong memory of the contents of significant visions in the past, and in plot-relevant ways. The not-recognising strikes me as weird because it's one material contribution Cordy could have made to say "oh hey, the girl from my visions is around here somewhere"; but no, they had to shoehorn in an Angel Rescues Fred theme).

After that, she has a vision. This leads to her being surrounded by a violent mob, arrested, tortured, and finally shanghaied into being a princess. Of course, being royalty in this dimension means being raped and murdered, and it's quickly shown that even her royal decrees and commands mean nothing. (She pardons Lorne, shortly after which his head is presented to her on a platter as a means to teaching her a lesson.)

She's stopped from escaping by the priests who are keeping her captive, and it's a grand rescue attempt by the other (male) protagonists which finally frees her. To the show's minor credit, Cordy does play a small but decisive role in defeating the priests at the end, and helps with the installation of a new leader to improve things in the demon dimension. But of course the new leader is male, and it feels like this isn't enough to make up for what are basically three episodes of victimising Cordy and putting her in a position where nothing she does can make the slightest bit of difference.

Then there is 3x02 itself, which is simply depressing. Cordy has literally no part to play in this episode except be the whimpering victim who it is Angel's job to save. Her increasingly painful and debilitating visions suddenly start to have physical effects, and beyond basic information from the visions themselves, she has no part to play whatever in the resolution of the plot. The visions themselves turn out to be blackmail material. The contents describe a Wolfram and Hart plot to get someone out of a magical prison. It's Lorne, not Cordy, who provides the information that the visions themselves are fake.

In sum, I'm watching this show, and my inner feminist is raging.

February 2017

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