Chase, Cordelia

Chase, Cordelia

(pop culture)

Cordelia Chase is a companion of Buffy Summers and later of the vampire Angel on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series and then its spinoff Angel. A character created by Joss Whedon, she initially appeared in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with the plot featuring her initially in the eleventh episode, “Out of Mind, Out of Sight,” when she is running in the Sunnydale High School May Queen contest. By this time she has been introduced as the beautiful daughter of well-to-do parents and the head of a group of the most popular girls on campus, informally called the Cordettes. Needless to say, she represents the glamorous high-status females who have no trouble attracting multiple dating partners.

Cordelia was initially interested in recruiting the attractive Buffy into her clique of cool people, but began to avoid her after seeing her association with “losers” such as Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris. Buffy, attacking Cordelia with a stake (while searching for a vampire behind the local teen hangout spot, the Bronze) did little to cement an initial positive relationship.

Cordelia’s relationship to Buffy changed when she and the Cordettes find themselves under attack from an invisible entity. She came to Buffy and asked for help. Buffy was able to track the problem to Marcie Ross, who had been treated as if she were invisible during her high school years and as a result became literally invisible. Buffy’s stopping Marcie begins a new relationship with Cordelia, which is really reoriented when a short time later she sees Buffy kill the vampire known as the Master. Cordelia is now fully aware of the supernatural realities invading the high school from the Hellmouth below.

During the second season, Cordelia hangs out increasingly with Buffy and her vampire/demon-fighting group. About halfway through the season, she finds herself arguing vehemently with Xander, whom she has previously held in contempt, only to end the argument in his arms kissing him passionately. Though seeming to have little in common, they begin dating. Publicly dating Xander further changes her, leads to a split with the Cordettes, and revises her opinion of uncool boys. She dates Xander into season three, but eventually breaks up with him. Shortly thereafter her status is deflated when tax problems cause her family to lose everything. Though they are no longer dating, Xander quietly pays for a dress so Cordelia can attend the senior prom.

Cordelia helps Buffy fight the mayor at the graduation ceremony, but then leaves for Los Angeles where she hopes to have a career in acting. She works at Angel Investigations, Angel’s private detective agency, while awaiting a break that would never come. Actually, she is the one who convinces Angel, Buffy’s former vampire boyfriend, to found the agency as a vehicle for his efforts to do good. When Angel’s associate Doyle dies, he passes to Cordelia his ability to have visions of people in need of Angel’s help. Though painful when they occur, she comes to see the visions as her reason to be alive. After a particularly painful vision on her twenty-first birthday, she accepts an offer to become a half-demon, which allows her to have the visions without pain and deterioration of her brain.

Her new status allows Cordelia to be deceived, and after three months she is fed half-truths about Angel that lead to their alienation. She also takes up with Conner, Angel’s alienated son and becomes possessed by the entity Jasmine, during which time she has sex with Connor and becomes pregnant. Connor and Cordelia finally perform a ritual to force Jasmine out, but as a result Cordelia falls into a coma.

Cordelia awoke to find Angel in charge of the Los Angeles office of Wolfram & Hart, the legal firm that both represented and controlled the dark forces against which Buffy, Angel, and their cohorts fought. She believed Angel had made a bad decision, but finally informed him that her return was only temporary and she kissed him goodbye. Angel then received word that Cordelia had died in the hospital. After her final death, Cordelia would reappear in spirit form on several occasions, once in the final episode of the Angel series, and later in the Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books.

Noting the significant transformation of the Cordelia Chase character, film and literature scholar Jes Battis observed that Cordelia began as a “self-centered, acerbic, and popularity-obsessed teenager” but ends as an elevated being, whose last favor to Angel is to remind him that he is quite capable of doing his work without “the nefarious resources of Wolfram and Hart.” She reminded those around Angel that they were family, and she pushes them beyond their alleged limitations.

Cordelia Chase was portrayed by Charisma Carpenter (1970–). She had appeared in several television series prior to becoming part of the Buffy cast and has continued her television and movie career since Angel concluded, including several episodes of CSI.

Sources:

Battis, Jes. Blood Relations: Chosen Families In Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Jeffersonville, NC: McFarland & Company, 2005. 190 pp.
Holder, Nancy, with Jeff Mariotte and Maryelizabeth Hart. Angel: The Casefiles. Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 2002. 505 pp.
———. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide. Volume 2. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. 472 pp.

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