I personally think ’the trial’ should be in the top five at least. How the hell did ’smile time’ get so high up. Dont get me wrong it is a very funny episode, but thats all it is. Wheras episodes like ’the trial’ and even blood money showed Angel true potential.
I just don’t get why YW is so thought so highly of? I mean, I liked it, thought it was one of the better eps of S5 and all that, but the second-best episode of all-time? No way. As great as it was to see Cordelia back, YW was the height of the non-sensical Lindsey subplot (one of the only parts of the season not done well, IMO), and the ending with the big thingamajig in the basement was way too corny James Bond-ish for my tastes...
And I’m a big fan of "Cautionary Tale," so seeing it down that low is disappointing. Below "Harm’s Way?" Ugh.
IWRY is lower for a very good reason. Buffy’s character simply isn’t as important to the series as Cordy’s was (no matter what that bitter, arrogant, vindictive prick Joss Whedon would want us to believe). Cordy’s reappearance was important for showing just how much spark the show was lacking without her. Regardless of her portrayal from last season, Cordy always was the leading lady and IMO, the main reason Angel didn’t go the way of ’Highlander: the Raven’. YW was the show that finally showed what complete idiots those Cordy & C/A bashers (particularily those worthless assholes, the Ducks) were. IWRY was just a sappy (though I will admit, nicely done) portrayal of a little girls fantasy relationship, but your welcome showed the epitomy of a real, down to earth relationship between Angel and Cordy.
P.S. The final scene where they kissed followed by Angel answering the phone to find out that she’s dead, was the ONLY scene in the history of the Whedonverse that ever made me actually cry, no other dearth or tragic scene ever got to me the way that scene did.
And on a personal note, I think that it was poetic justice that right after Cordy’s character was officially killed off that the WB called and said "We’re pulling the plug".
Calling Joss Whedon "vindictive" regarding Cordelia is weird considering he was still the executive producer of the episode you love so much about Cordy(Don’t get me wrong, it was also my favorite episode for many reasons). While I completely agree with you however about Cordy’s role in the series, the show was still good without her. I thought it was perfect how you can really trace Angel’s actions to Cordy’s apperance in YW.
The fact that episode #’s are all over the place on the rankings show how consistently good the show really was (No one really thought any particular part of the series was bad for an extended period of time)
But the reason I refer to him as vindictive isn’t because of what happened during Charisma’s initial run, it was what occurred after the fourth season.
The 100th episode was originally intended, for Joss anyway, to guest star SMG. He tried many times to get her to appear for that episode. And even after being rejected constantly by the Scooby Doo prima donna and eventually giving up, he still had no intention of contacting Charisma to make any appearances.
In fact, it was David Fury who suggested that Charisma come back to begin with, stating that she was the better choice all along (won’t argue there), not to mention that it was he who wrote and directed the entire episode.
I’m positive that if Fury didn’t get involved, Joss would have just had Cordelia die offscreen or maybe not have even dealt with the situation at all. And if she did come back, her character wouldn’t have been treated with anywhere near the amount of respect that Fury treated her with.
YW made angel look like a man for the first time in a long time. Cordy, in the end, was much better for Angel (both character and series) than Buffy ever was. Compare Angel in YW to "The girl in question" and you’ll see. Angel was pathetic in the latter of the two.