Now that Angelus and Co. have assumed control of Wolfram & Hart on Angel, we suggest they use their new seat of power to solve the show's biggest mystery: What the heck happened to Charisma Carpenter and her alter ego Cordelia? Carpenter — a former Buffy cast member who, like David Boreanaz, has been with the show since its inception — went off to have a baby last season and hasn't been heard from since. (Cordy remains in a coma on the show.) Making matters more murky, a new Angel cast list makes no mention of the actress. The WB and 20th Century Fox have been cagey about the omission, and numerous attempts to make contact with Carpenter's agent have proven unsuccessful. So, what's a journalist to do? Go straight to the big boss himself, Joss Whedon.

TV Guide Online: Why was Charisma's name removed from next season's cast list?
Joss Whedon:
Mainly because we felt like we had taken that story — just like Buffy for seven years — about as far as it could go. The Angel/Cordelia [love story] had gone pretty much as far as we wanted to take it. Their romance was definitely not a popular move on our part, and I think with most fans. It just seemed like it was time because we were revamping the show, and then paring it down... it just seemed like a good time for certain people to move on. Not completely, obviously. I'm hoping that we'll get Charisma to do some episodes as Cordelia sometime during the year. She's a new mother, so, like Sarah [Michelle Gellar], I'm waiting to hear what her schedule is like. But it just seemed creatively like... I once said that I finally got to tell the story of Buffy that I tried to tell in the movie, and I did it with Cordelia. Which was the story of someone who was completely ditzy and self-involved becoming kind of heroic. But the way the series was different from the movie was that I didn't know where you go from there. So, I felt like we spent seven years playing that very arc, and it had played. Like Buffy itself, it's time to look at something new.

TVGO: Isn't that a disservice to fans who invested all those years in the character and her redemption? It seems an odd thing to do to the show's leading lady.
Whedon:
That's a fluctuating concept, the leading lady thing. And it is a little odd. Some choices are ultimately kind of controversial about who stays and who goes and who we focus on. But obviously, we had to have her out of a bunch of episodes toward the end of the year because she was having a baby... so what we had [leading] up to it wasn't a dynamic I wanted to play out that much. The fact is, this is not the end — unless Charisma herself says, "You know what? I don't feel like doing any recurring episodes." But when you have an increasingly large ensemble week-by-week, and you come in in your [fifth] year kind of having to revamp the show and trim the budget and also think creatively, "How am I going to service all of these people?," sometimes the people who have been around the longest, you've done the most with them.

TVGO: Some are speculating that she was a casualty of James Marsters's cross over as Spike next season. Like, there wasn't enough money in the budget to pay for them both, so she got the boot.
Whedon:
That's a hell of a thing to lay on James. It was a creative decision that we made before Spike came over to the show, and like I said, I don't intend to leave Cordelia in a coma for the rest of the Buffyverse. But the creative decision to have the character step down happened long before negotiations with James [started]. It should not be laid at his feet.

TVGO: Were things left on good terms with Charisma?
Whedon:
Yeah, but that's also stuff between us and not stuff that I would talk about in an interview.