beginning | blinding torment | boils | lies | making me bitter | evil compounds evil | blah blah bity blah
Angel 5.15: A Hole in the World
So turns out, not only is it evil and a punishable offense to have sex in the Buffyverse (now more correctly, at least for a few weeks longer, referred to as the Angelverse I suppose), it is also inherently offensive to be a woman. It is bad, wrong and incredibly stupid of you and you will be punished with death. Just ask Cordy. Or Lilah. Or Fred. Oh, wait, you can’t. They’re dead.
That’s right, this episode we witness the long-overdue death of Winifred Burkle, set to the over-the-top melodramatic stylings of Mr. Joss Whedon. Not that it came as a total surprise, and I’m not just saying this because I’m an uncontrollable spoiler whore, but because any Angelverse watcher worth their salt knows that anytime anyone finds happiness, especially if said happiness is over-played, out-of-the-blue, just generally doesn’t fit in with the theme of gloom and doom and/or involves getting it on with Wesley Wyndham Price (a sure portent of doom) that the strings of impending doom and eternal sadness will soon be making an appearance. You don’t have to be a Fred Burkle to figure it out, yo. That's all I'm sayin'.
A mysterious sarcophagus arrives for Fred on the night shift and no one knows why or who ordered it or where it came from. It’s all very mysterious, and the very intelligent Fred allows herself to be distracted by the shiny jewel on top of the sarcophagus and gets a mouthful of demon spore for her trouble. Everyone acts all concerned because they all really, really love Fred, like really love her, more than they love chunky peanut butter, they love her so much, you know, I mean really love her so very, very much they will do anything for her--the lion will lie down with the lamb, the pacifist will become a violent goon and sinners will repent. Or at least feel really, really bad. Because Fred? Is their sunshine.
The entire company is put on “save Fred from becoming a mummy” duty. Everyone acts uncharacteristically because they love Fred so very, very much. Wesley shoots someone in the leg who doesn’t want to work on the Save Fred campaign (just take out the Variety ad, son. And don’t argue.), Lorne punches Eve in the face because she doesn’t know what’s going on when they show up to question her, Gunn smashes Knox in the head with a fire extinguisher and Angel and Spike set aside their caveman versus astronaut argument to band together because “Not this girl. Not this day.”
I mentioned the melodrama, yes?
The spurned Knoxy is also on the case, only he’s not because he’s evil. We knew it was coming, it’s apparently in Jonathon’s contract that he be a)evil and b)killed, so it really comes as no surprise. Oh, they try to make it a surprise, they try to make you think “hey, this Knox guy? He’s kind of cool. He got dumped for Wesley of all people and he just, like, handled it really well. I mean, look at everything he’s doing trying to save Fred, coming up with ideas and doing experiments just because he likes her so much. He’s just as confused as everybody, the poor boy.” But then, as we all knew she would, the misdirection fairy rears her ugly head and next thing we know he's gone all worshipper-of-a-long-gone-demon on our asses.
As he tells Gunn in a forced-feeling confessional, because it was just decided yesterday that he was evil, he worships this old, old demon Ilyria and thought that Fred was so darn special that she was good enough for his demon-god to hatch out of. That, my friends, is love. It would have been funnier if he had done it out of misguided hate (I’d be pretty damn upset if I got dumped for Wesley, I might consider infecting someone with the essence of long-forgotten demon just to make my point, but that’s me), but this actually works really well to, you know, keep in theme with every fucked up relationship on this show ever. Relationships aren’t love, people, they’re pain. Pain and agony and stalking and using you against your will to incubate a millions of years old demon. A long forgotten demon that somehow arranged for her sarcophagus to teleport back to her old kingdom millions of years after she was interred so an acolyte she was just sure she would have could go about their business of restoring her. Which, really, was pretty forward-thinking of Ilyria, considering the old ones were supposedly driven from the Earth long before humans had organizational skills or pdas or stone tablets to carve important information like “how to restore me in 10 easy steps”. Unfortunately, even though she managed to predict the coming multi-tasking skills of humans and their inherent flaw that they will follow anything that is cool or cutting edge, she didn’t predict that the continents might drift so she was a bit off in her calculations and teleported somewhere else, forcing Knox and his unnamed cronies into tricking Gunn to pull some strings to get it through customs and really, how great and powerful is this demon if it doesn’t take into account continental driftage? Or get itself through customs? And what kind of demon takes the time to plot their latitude and longitude for their eventual reawakening hundreds of millions of years down the road? Who thinks like that? Honestly?
Angel and Spike hop on the super fast W&H jet and fly on off to jolly old England. Seems that, for once, Eve was useful and told them to have Wesley ask his magical books for books that basically existed before books did and from there they find out about some tree or a mystical lake or well or whatever it is that houses the demons because some mysterious person/force/thing-pulled-out-of-the-writer’s-ass put them there in sarcophagi and it doesn’t really matter because the answer we get for how the sarcophagi escaped in the first place is stupid (it just teleported away) and this whole thing is just a showcase about how their love of Fred allows Angel and Spike to forget their petty differences and work together again as a team to beat the badness (no, I’m not referring to the script. I am referring to the demon. Pay attention). Because they love Fred. Fred’s the best person ever. She rocks their world. Their mutual hatred means nothing. Because of Fred.
While Angel and Spike frolic in the woods, killing Orcs and doing that thing where they reference some other time and place that they used some battle technique so we remember that they’ve known each other a long time and it’s just craziness these two needy, co-dependent ex-evil vampires can’t get along, Wesley takes Fred to her apartment, where he uses his magical books to conjure up a kid’s story I didn’t recognize and reads to her while saying soothing things like “I loved you before I knew you” and shit like that. It’s all very touching and lots of tears are shed but really, I’ve got nothing invested in this relationship. Wesley’s loved her for years, true, but his love was more like creepy stalker love than virtuous put-upon-nice-guy love, so it was really more disturbing than heart tugging. And since Fred never noticed him until 3 episodes ago, and they didn’t really get it on until the last episode, I’m not really feeling it. I know, I know, it’s Fred. She’s the best. But if I am supposed to feel agony over this, the kind of agony they want me to feel and not the kind I feel when people say things like “let’s go save the day”, then I need something to have existed for longer than a week. That’s all I’m saying.
But Fred is totally the best, isn’t she?
Angel and Spike beat the troglodytes and a cryptic man whose name I just don’t recall but who looks like he wandered off of the LotR set, steps out from the tree and is all “hey, Angel. What’s up, dude?” and Angel’s all “woah, man. I didn’t know you guarded this place. That is so gnarly.” And Spike’s all “What—“ and the LotR dude’s all “no questions or I will give you a heinous beating, cool?” To sum up: Angel somehow knows the guy, we don’t learn how, he doesn’t like questions, even though Angel seems to be able to ask them without having his life threatened, because he can’t lie. So, basically, Angel only knows this man so he can tell us he can’t lie, thereby removing any interesting aspect from the moral dilemma that comes henceforth. The moral dilemma being that they can save Fred if they cast a spell to bring the sarcophagus home, but the mystical demon would go airborne and infect anyone in its path, dooming hundreds of thousands of millions of people to agonizing deaths. But on the plus side, Fred would be fine. And we like Fred. A lot. So what to do? Well, since we know he can’t lie, we know this for a fact, there is no sense of “crap. What if” here. Where as if we didn’t know whether or not he was lying, Angel and Spike would have to gamble on whether or not he was telling the truth. Do they risk that he’s lying and save Fred because maybe everything will be all right, and it is Fred after all, or do they take the risk of believing him and condemn Fred to death when it's possible leather boy is full of shit?
But we know he can’t lie, because Angel says so, so there’s really no agonizing other than the agony of knowing they're powerless to save the bestest person ever because there’s no way they can make the deal. If they couldn’t let Jasmine eat a few people a day to make the entire world a better place, they certainly can’t condemn tons of people to death just to make their insane world brighter. So they pout in silence and stare down the abyss at all the sarcophagi—I may have forgotten to mention this. See, the magic tree is not so much a tree or a well but more like Oscar’s garbage can. When you walk in it’s huge and while there is no pet elephant that I can see, there’s a whole lot of trash hanging about. And by trash, I mean sarcophagus after sarcophagus, all piled on top of each other reaching as far as the eye can see, reaching, in fact, all the way to the other side of the world. And I call this trash because we’ve been told that pure demons are mighty big (anyone else remember Xander needing a bigger boat? Or Anya freaking out because they’ve never seen a real demon?) and these sarcophagi? Look pretty damn small. So unless I misunderstood and these weren’t the real pure demons from millions of years ago that were driven from the earth, and I’m even willing to make concessions that by “driven from the earth” they meant “shoved into sarcophagi in a hole that goes all the way through the earth”: bah. And that’s all I think I’m going to say on that.
So Fred sadly and tenderly dies in Wesley’s arms, flies off the bed and rises with funky contacts, blue hair and, well. She’s Fred. With blue hair. But not. Because Fred? She is dead. Because the cave man always wins.