There really isn't any explanation given for why the spell went wrong, especially in that exact way. Period. They were throwing something (imho) very funny at us, that they hoped would gloss over/fuzzy tiger us past the fact that there wasn't any real reason for it to happen. Or if there was, they didn't *show* it well enough to make it obvious. And the injoke about Liam's lack of an accent was shot to hell by giving Fred the crackerspeech from that same hell. Or possibly a different one. Also, Lorne? Hi. Don't know if you noticed us in the audience; the lights were kind of bright, but WE WERE HERE LAST WEEK. Thanks.
But may I fanwank a bit? I promise I'll clean up after.
Maybe the spell was *forced* to go wrong -- because in her heart, Cordy didn't *want* to remember. Ms. Gung-Ho must know who I am right now who cares if I'm a moussaka, was a far cry from Ms. I Vant To Be Alone at the end of the episode, but some part of her surely had that memory clutched tight inside. She didn't want to *know* about the apocalypse-- whatever rough beast is slouching towards LA this week. Or, er, next week. The thing that made Lorne want to run and puke? Maybe a little denial is understandable here.
Cordy presumably still has her unknown glowly floaty Higher Power "thank god she didn't figure out enough about them to use them for evil" powers -- so maybe she affected the spell herself, unconsciously. Taking herself -- and everybody else -- back to when *she* felt safest. High school. Sophmore year -- she asks if it's a sophmore initiation prank. So, beginning of sophmore year. Before she met Buffy. When she was Queen of the School, Daddy was rich and momma was good lookin'. When there were no vampires, love spells, ghoulies, ghosties, long-leggedy beasties or apocalyses (apocolypsi?) that went bump in the night.
In that context, "Hello Salty Goodness" isn't a retread at all -- because for her, it's the first time she's ever said it. Since she said it about Angel the first time she really saw him, makes sense she'd say it again if the same emotional circumstances were recreated.
And if that was a safe time for her, wouldn't it be a safe time for her friends? Actually, it *was* a pretty safe age for Fred, Wesley, and Angel. They weren't deliriously happy, and Wes wasn't unknowing of the supernatural, but he was still (falsely) confident of his ability to deal with it, and pretty much untested. Protected. Fred was, we know, cherished by her freakishly loving parents, whom Cordy has met. Liam was chafing under his father's rules, but still pretty much ok. And the less fratboy Liam works for me, because at 15-17, he's still trying to be what his father wants of him. His whole "They want a vampire, they don't want to believe me, so fine, I'll *give* them a vampire" transition seems so reflective of his Prodigal days, that I'm willing to buy that this is the age where Liam was just about to make that decision about the drinking and the whoring that his father seemed to expect of him anyway.
Ok, Gunn, not so much with the safe, but Cordy isn't all that great, even now, at picturing people having a non-protected childhood. If nothing else, she would have projected Gunn back to a time when he was sure what the Mission was, he knew who to trust and not trust, and he still had Alonna, who was part of what kept him safe and sane and fighting. (Granted, he didn't *mention* his sister, which was annoying, but I'm willing to accept that the first thing teen!Gunn thinks when he wakes up in a swanky old hotel that's obviously out of his neighborhood, isn't 'Is Alonna ok?' No reason to think she's in any more danger than she usually is.)
That still leaves the question of why Lorne was unaffected. This gets into serious wanking territory, here: if we're saying Cordy and the Glowy Powers Of Unexplaned Mischeif were responsible/partially responsible -- she at least knew he *hated* his childhood with a passion. And her own personal experience with the place where he grew up would lead her to believe he found her own world much safer. Anybody would.
I don't really buy that last wankiest of wanks -- I tend to go for the easier though still badly explained "He's a demon from another dimension - Angel is basically humanoid and so was affected, but Lorne has vastly different physiology, so the spell didn't affect him (much)."
Anyway. Homoerotic subtext! Head Boy! How hilarious is "Gee, I wonder how you got that title?" Wesley was *so* Percy Weasley.
Which of course makes me want to see a Percy story with him grown up and unshaven and all bitter and dominant.
Mmm. Going to bed now.