.
 Angel's Secrets

Angel the Series Episode Guide

"Birthday"

Episode # 55
Original Air Date: January 14, 2002
Review by: Anne

Episode Summary

At the Hyperion, the gang surprises Cordy with a birthday cake and presents, but she surprises them with a powerful vision that knocks her out. When she gets up, she is in a different plane where the others can't see or hear her; they only see her unconscious body. They soon learn that she's been taking powerful medication to ease the pain from the visions; they also find Cat scans that reveal Cordelia's brain is deteriorating: she is dying. On the other plane, a dark shadow appears which turns out to be Skip (from the episode Billy). He tells Cordy that she was never meant to have the visions and he offers her the chance to be what she was supposed to be - a very famous actress. Cordelia wants to go back to her old life so that she can tell Angel to help the girl from the vision. She tells Skip that Angel needs her. Skip takes her to a place where, unseen, she observes Angel ordering the Powers to take the visions away from Cordy because she's weak. Cordy tells Skip to take her out of there. Skip asks if she's sure; she says she is. In the next instant, she finds herself on the set of her very successful comedy show, "Cordy." As her personal assistant recaps what she has to do, Cordy says that she has the nagging feeling she should be somewhere. Slowly putting the pieces together, she joins Wesley and Gunn to help save the girl from her vision. They take Cordy to see Angel, who "is not the man she knew." After Doyle died, Angel got the visions and they've all but driven him crazy. Cordy sees Angel who is rambling and cowering in corner. A sympathetic Cordy tells him everything will be okay - she leans forward and kisses him. Cordy talks to Skip who is now in the room. She remembers everything and wants to go back. He tells her that she would have to be a demon to handle the visions and she tells him, "Demonize me." She wakes up screaming in Angel's bed. She gets out of bed, calmly telling the others about the vision that she is having. As she urges the others to hurry, they can only stare: she is floating several feet above the floor.

Episode Review

I wondered in a previous review how long the visions have been bad for Cordy; this episode answered that question. They also explained why Angel didn't want to take the unconscious Cordy to the hospital. However, I'm not satisfied with their statement that the Powers That Be know all except love, but I appreciate the attempted explanation of how the all-knowing Powers could make a mistake.

I'll also give them credit for trying to differentiate between turning back time and writing over time. If they had turned back time, Cordy wouldn't have been able to peel back the wallpaper to find the address she'd written because she never would have written it. (In that case, she most likely would never have been to the Hyperion.) Someone could argue though that "writing over" time had the same effect because some things - Connor, for example - apparently didn't happen.

One part of the ep that didn't work for me was the scenes with Fred and Gunn at Cordelia's. I think those were primarily included to add to the Fred-Gunn romance storyline and to give Dennis the Ghost some air time.

I also wasn't impressed with Skip's role as the astral plane guide. Part of the time he tried to be witty and fun, like Lorne. But when Cordelia mentioned Angel or her old life, Skip's mood switched to angry and menacing. Plus he seemed to be trying to trick/threaten Cordelia into accepting the life that he said she was supposed to have.

It was notable, to me anyway, that Angel handed the baby off to someone else so he could try to revive Cordy, and I didn't see him hold the baby again. The way he was by her side, holding her hand reminded me of his last scene with Darla. Perhaps that was one reason he was so desperate to help Cordelia; he wanted to save her because he couldn't save Darla.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

* The mall is a logical place for Skip to explain things to Cordy; it is an emotionally neutral place that is full of choices.

* Why didn't Cordy try to "possess" her own body?

* Despite what Cordy said, Wes did not faint in front of the last demon he faced. In the previous episode he fried a couple of demons with a flame-thrower without even flinching.

* Did Angel's crazy rambling - in the alternate reality - remind anyone else of Rain Man?

Angel Episode List

This episode guide is part of Angel's Secrets, a rusted-crush.com production. The views expressed here are solely those of the reviewer. No infringement of any kind is intended. This not-for-profit fan website is a display of admiration and expression, and we gratefully acknowledge the sources that have helped make this site possible. The Frequently Asked Questions page contains more site information, including the terms of use for posting our original content elsewhere.