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"Birthday" is the eleventh episode of the third season of Angel television show and the fifty-fifth episode in the series. Written by Mere Smith and directed by Michael Grossman, it was originally broadcast on January 14, 2002, on The WB network.


On her birthday, Cordelia's visions become so painful that they propel her into an astral state and a life-threatening coma. Visited by a demon guide, astral Cordy is mystically granted the opportunity to live her dream of a rich and famous actress if she is willing to give up her history with Angel and her visions.[1]


The Angel Investigations team holds a surprise birthday party for Cordelia, featuring a cake with an image of her as a superhero drawn in frosting. As the team brings out presents, Cordelia experiences a painful vision. Suddenly, she falls back into the weapons cabinet, shattering the glass. She lies on the floor, unconscious but with her eyes open. When she awakens, she sees the AI team surrounding her on the floor, attempting to wake her. As they carry her body to the 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 also walks right through her.

Fred discovers a vial of pills Cordelia has secretly been taking called Seltrax, a powerful migraine medication. Fred and Gunn go to Cordelia's apartment to search for clues on her condition, where they find that Phantom Dennis has prepared his own birthday party for Cordelia. At the Hyperion Hotel, Wesley reads up on astral projection, guessing that Cordelia might be on the astral plane and unable to communicate.

At Cordelia's apartment, Fred and Gunn cannot find any unusual medications. Fred assumes Dennis is covering up for Cordelia. When Gunn asks Dennis for help, explaining that Cordelia might die, Dennis moves a plastic box from under her bed that contains medications with prescriptions from a year ago.

At the Hyperion, an unconscious Cordelia lays in bed as Angel watches over her. He tells 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 nods off in his chair, and Cordelia's astral projection enters his body. Angel, now under Cordelia's control, stands, picks up a marker, and begins writing an address on the wall. Before the number is finished, a swirling black shape appears, and Cordelia is expelled from Angel's body. When Wesley enters the room, Angel tells him he dreamed that Cordelia was trying to tell him something. Wesley informs him that he has examined Cordelia's CAT scans and that she is dying. Angel departs, leaving Wesley to watch over Cordelia. Suddenly, Skip appears, greeting Cordelia's astral projection. She has many questions, but Skip insists on leaving the hotel before he can answer them. She urges him to notify her friends about her visions before they depart, but Skip responds that he is merely a guide, not a messenger. She takes his hand, and they vanish from the room in a flash of blue light.

In the office, Angel, Gunn, and Fred examine Cordelia's CAT scans. It appears that most of her brain is dead. A battered Lorne enters and requests that someone get him a drink. He has returned from his encounter with the Powers That Be; his clothing is ripped, and his left horn hangs from his forehead. 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. When she asks why they are there, he says the Powers assumed that was the environment she would feel most comfortable in. He adds that it is actually a construct of a mall, similar to the virtual reality setting of the film The Matrix. Skip plays a video of Doyle kissing Cordelia, the moment he gave her the visions. Skip insists that visions aren't meant for humans; they are an ancient, powerful force that only demons can withstand. Therefore, the Powers That Be never intended for Doyle to pass them on to Cordelia. Skip then introduces her 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 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 around the room.

At the mall, Skip reminds Cordelia of the night she met Angel at a Hollywood party. He says she would have become a rich and famous actress if she had spoken to a certain talent agent that evening instead of Angel. He adds that the Powers That Be could "write over history" so that she would have the life she was meant to live. If she refuses and returns to her body, she will be paralyzed and helpless until the next vision comes to her, and then she will die. Cordelia insists that Angel needs the information from her last vision, so Skip leads her to the chamber where Angel is arguing with the Conduit. Angel, unable to see Cordelia or Skip, insists that Cordelia is too "weak" to handle the visions and is only a "rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play superhero." Disappointed by his depiction of her, Cordelia asks to leave. As a result, she doesn't hear Angel admitting to the Conduit how much he doesn't want to lose her.

Cordelia makes her choice, and Skip sends her into her alternate life as the two-time Emmy-winning star of a television show called Cordy!, created by Phlegmont and Mendoza. After filming a show, TV star Cordelia tries to recall something. After several guesses, she remembers the Hyperion Hotel and tells her personal assistant that she wants to go there. In this new reality, the Hyperion is an operational hotel. The desk clerk checks Cordelia into the luxury suite, but she insists on entering a standard room across the hall. As she enters, Cordelia sees glimpses of the same room from the previous reality. She tears the wallpaper away at a specific section of the wall and sees the address "171 Oak" written underneath, which came from her vision.

Cordelia goes to that address and knocks on the door. Cynthia York, a fan of hers, recognizes her and immediately invites her inside. However, she is puzzled as to why a famous TV star would show up at her house. Cynthia shows Cordelia a pentagram inside a magic circle; she is planning to perform a retrieval spell so that her father, who has recently left the family, will return. Suddenly, a demon appears in the magic circle and attacks the two women. Cordelia instructs Cynthia to run as she smashes a lamp over the demon's head. As a battle ensues, Wesley and Gunn, from this reality, burst in the door and kill the demon.

Cordelia and Wesley get reacquainted, and he introduces her to Gunn. Wesley has only one arm, having lost it in a fight with a Kungai demon two years earlier. She tells them the story of how she arrived at Cynthia's house. The three return to Angel's dwelling. Wesley reveals that Angel now has the visions and has become a recluse, only communicating with Gunn and Wesley to tell them what he has seen. Cordelia enters Angel's room, where she finds him babbling and incoherent. She tells Angel that "everything will be okay" and kisses him, a blue light flashing between their lips. Cordelia rises and sees that Wesley and Gunn are motionless, as if frozen in time. She tells Skip that having the visions is part of her purpose in life and demands them back. Skip tells Cordelia that the only way she can have the visions without dying is to become part demon. He warns her that the process is painful and dangerous, and she may never be able to live a normal human life again. Cordelia looks over her shoulder at Angel before instructing Skip to "demonize" her. Skip raises his hand to face her, saying it was an honor for him to be her guide. A bright light illuminates the room, and Cordelia throws her head back, screaming in pain.

Back at the hotel, Cordelia suddenly awakens in her original reality. Angel rushes to the bed and hugs her. She searches her body for horns and a tail but, to her relief, finds none. She scrambles out of bed and stretches, while Angel looks under the pillow before gradually following her. As she cheerfully tells the gang how good it feels to be "solid" again, she suddenly gets a vision, but now without any pain. As she calmly recites the details, her friends watch her puzzled — not because of the painless vision, but because she is now levitating above the ground.


  • In "The Prodigal," Cordelia suggests that the code for the AI security system should be her birthday; Angel tells her that he doesn't know the date, SO she replies, that after punching in 05-22 for "11 1/2 months," he will definitely remember her birthday. However, this episode is set on Cordelia's birthday, but is apparently in January instead of the previously established May 22 date.
  • Skip's explains that astral bodies take on idealized versions of themselves; in "You're Welcome," Wesley will tell Cordelia (who was astral projecting) that she looked "really hot" despite being in a coma for two years.
  • Skip's warns to Cordelia that, if she keeps the visions and stays human, she'll stay in the coma and her next vision will kill her. Similarly, in "You're Welcome," Cordelia will have a vision while in a coma and soon die.
  • Skip use scenes from the episode "City Of" to demonstrate when Cordelia first saw Angel in Los Angeles, as well as from "Hero" to talk about Doyle giving her the visions.
  • The Hyperion Hotel is still in business in the Cordy!verse; in the original timeline, it went out of business in the 50's then was taken by the Angel Investigations team ("Are You Now or Have You Ever Been").
  • The uprising of a demon in Reseda was predicted by Wesley in the episode "To Shanshu in L.A."
  • Wesley says he lost the arm in an encounter with a Kungai demon, the demon he was tracking when he first went to L.A. in "Parting Gifts."
  • In the Cordy!verse, Cordelia and Wesley talk about their kiss, which was the last time they saw each other, in "Graduation Day, Part Two."
  • In the Cordy!verse, Wesley warns Cordelia about how Angel changed since she last saw him, which also took place in "Graduation Day, Part Two."
  • Cordelia becomes part-demon. Her transformation, and the motivations behind it, play an important part in the events of season four.
  • Cordelia had a similar experience in the Buffy episode "The Wish": a dissatisfied and disillusioned Cordelia makes a pact to have history rewritten, resulting in a future which Cordelia initially appreciates, but soon regrets due to the tragedies that resulted from her decision, and the timeline is eventually returned to normal.
  • When Cordelia wakes up after being made part demon, she checks for horns and a tail, which is also what Buffy checked for in "Earshot" when she learned she would gain an aspect of a demon.
  • Cordelia feels no pain while she's having a vision after becoming part demon, which is apparently more efficient than Doyle's situation as the son of a Brachen demon with a human, as he suffered "blinding pain" ("City Of," "I Will Remember You") whenever he had a vision.




Organizations and titles[]



Rituals and spells[]

  • Retrieval spell (Only mentioned)

Death count[]

  • Unidentified demon, killed by Wesley and Gunn (in another reality).

Behind the scenes[]


  • The theme song to Cordy! was written and sung by Marti Noxon and David Greenwalt.[2] Noxon, who sang as well in "Once More, with Feeling," also makes a cameo as Cordelia's friend in its opening credits.
  • The Cordy! series was filmed on the redressed set of Dharma & Greg (1997).
  • This episode marks the halfway point of the series.


  • "Birthday" had an audience of 2.5 million households upon its original airing.[3]

Deleted scenes[]

  • The Angel Season Four on DVD set includes a scene in which Cordelia acts for Cordy!. Her character shows the dress she's going to wear at a Buyer's Ball to showcase her fashion brand, but three suitors appear at her door at the same time.

Pop culture references[]

  • Cordelia mentions the actor Jude Law as her birthday wish.
  • Cordelia's bathroom cabinet includes products of the brands Solaray, Eucerin, and Bioré.
  • Skip describes the mall being a construct like in the film The Matrix (1999), mentioning having loved the character Trinity.
  • Cordelia's sitcom introduces her as a winner of two Emmy Awards.
  • Cynthia mentions having spilled Diet Coke soft drink on her book.
  • Skip relates her list of "noble and heroic" with the film Gladiator (2000), also mentioning its actor Russell Crowe.


  • When Wesley is bent over after having stabbed the demon, his left arm is visible beneath his shirt, bent behind his back.


International titles[]

  • Czech: "Narozeniny" (Birthday)
  • Finnish: "Paljon onnea, Cordy" (Congratulations, Cordy)
  • French: "Anniversaire" (Birthday)
  • German: "Die Qual der Wahl" (The Agony of Choice)
  • Hungarian: "Születésnap" (Birthday)
  • Italian: "Buon compleanno Cordelia" (Happy Birthday Cordelia)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Aniversário" (Birthday)
  • Russian: "День рождения" (Birthday)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Feliz Cumpleaños Cordelia" (Happy Birthday Cordelia)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Cumpleaños" (Birthday)
  • Turkish: "Doğum Günü" (Birthday)



Angel: "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Dirty people. Not touching the baby."
Cordelia: "But pig-drinking bloodsuckers are okay? I meant that in a nice way."
Cordelia: "What a cruel dilemma! Presents, or sweet little baby-face... Oh. Take the baby!"
Angel: "You're choosing birthday gifts over my kid?"
Cordelia: "Take the baby! Take the baby!"
Cordelia: "You're... You're Death? You've come to take me."
Skip: "Ha ha ha! Just kidding. I'm Skip. You're Cordelia Chase, right? Sorry it took me so long, I... This you? Most people go astral, their spiritual shapes tend to be an idealized version of themselves you know, straighten the nose, lose the gray, sort of a self-esteem kind of thing. You're pretty confident, aren't you?"
Gunn: "Hey, is it true that you and Wes were... You know, that you had a little..."
Cordelia: "Humiliating kiss where he drooled all over my chin? Yeah, but I've worked really hard to repress it."
Wesley: "Right. Well, as much as I love this forced death march down memory lane..."
Gunn: "What is it with you Sunnydale folks and repression? I mean, you three are the most denying-est folks I ever met."
Cordelia: "So, demonize me already."
Skip: "It was an honor being your guide, Cordelia Chase."


  1. "angel: Birthday." TheWB.com. Archived from the original on April 26, 2004.
  2. Nikki Stafford, Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel. ECW Press (2004).
  3. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's Third Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.