"A Hole in the World"
Episode # 103
Original Air Date: February 25, 2004
Review by: Anne
At Wolfram & Hart, a mysterious sarcophagus arrives, addressed to Fred. Alone in the lab, she becomes transfixed by the jewels in its lid and she reaches out to touch one. Suddenly a small panel opens and Fred is blasted with a burst of air. Later, as Fred walks in the hallway with Lorne, Wesley joins them. Fred tells him that she breathed some mummy dust, but she has just come from the medical department, where they said she is fine. Wes talks about plans for the evening, and Lorne starts to walk away, singing "You Are My Sunshine." Looking at Wes, Fred continues the song. Lorne immediately turns around in horror, and Fred coughs up blood and falls, convulsing. She wakes in a room in the medical department. Gunn, Wesley, Angel, Spike, Lorne, and Knox are there, concerned. They admit they haven't found out what is wrong, and Fred realizes that it's bad. The guys leave to search for answers; seeing Wesley kiss Fred's forehead, Angel admits that he didn't know they were together. Gunn goes to the White Room to see the conduit, who is currently appearing in the form of Gunn. The conduit says that Gunn is failing, but Gunn tries in vain to bargain and trade his own life for Fred's. Exploring the chance that Lindsey could be behind Fred's illness, Angel, Spike, and Lorne find Eve hiding at her old apartment. Lorne threatens her into singing, but when she does, he says that she isn't responsible. Eve theorizes that what they're looking for pre-dates their records, and she tells them to find the "deeper well." From this, Wesley discovers that Fred is being hollowed out to resurrect a demon called Illyria that was murdered long ago. Angel and Spike leave for England to find the place where Illyria was entombed. Wes finds Fred weakly walking in the lab, trying to help, until she collapses. She asks him to take her home, where her condition continues to worsen. Later in the lab, Gunn notices that Knox refers to Fred as "it." Knox finally admits that he is one of the few who still worships Illyria, and he chose Fred to bring Illyria back because she was worthy. He also reveals that the sarcophagus was held up in customs - until Gunn got it past them as part of his deal with the doctor. Taken aback, Gunn knocks Knox out. In England, Angel and Spike find the keeper of the deeper well, but he explains that if he withdraws Illyria out of Fred, it will infect everyone it passes on the way there. The keeper says that he'll prepare the spell: the choice is Angel's. Back in Fred's room, she dies in Wesley's arms. Devastated, he holds her, not noticing that her eyes suddenly turn blue. Her body convulses, jerking her away from Wes. When she stands, her hair has also turned blue. Seeming very alert, she looks at her hand and declares, "This will do."
I'll say one thing about this show: they don't take the traditional route of placing characters in jeopardy only to save them just in the nick of time. I'll say another thing: in this case, I wish they had taken a more traditional route. (Sniffle.) Fred has always been one of my favorite characters, and even though I knew what would happen, I was still crying at the episode's end, both times that I watched.
After the fact, the gang's determination to save her seems tragic, knowing that the force driving them was their strong feelings for her. Lorne's violence and the memory he shared with Eve revealed how much Fred meant to him. Spike no doubt wanted to help Fred after all she'd done to try to end his ghost state. The possibility of failing to save Fred apparently reminded Angel that in his eyes, he had lost Cordy. Gunn even offered to trade his own life for Fred's; how particularly painful it must have been for him to learn that he was actually responsible.
Wesley had the toughest job - sitting by her side and helplessly watching her slip away. When she asked if he would have loved her, she summed up the heartbreak of what was happening: the loss of the potential to be very happy. The song that she briefly sang was so true: he'll never know how much she loves him. As she died in that dark room it was as if the only light (or "sunshine") in his life was being taken away.
Before my eyes start watering again, I'm moving on to the one big problem I had with their logic: if the spell would pull Illyria out of Fred and save her, why would it not pull her/it out of everyone else and save them? I can accept that Illyria would be powerful after being freed and would resist being captured, but even without Illyria, at that point Fred was already in bad shape.
I also thought the scene showing Knox reacting to the delivery of the sarcophagus was rather pointless, because Knox knew it was coming. The deliverymen didn't care, so he didn't need to try to redirect them to the Ancient Relics department; the sole purpose of that scene must have been to deceive the viewers. Apart from that, his actions remained very much in character. He played his part and pretended to be helping the gang. Even when he admitted what was happening, he didn't seem evil, just extremely devoted to his cause. He didn't see his actions as betrayal or murder; in his eyes, he was giving Fred a precious gift.
In any event, she's gone. Or as Cordelia might say, "Another soldier down." In typical Joss fashion, the instant the loss started to sink in, the mood changed. It's tough to keep crying after Illyria stands and we come face to face with the gang's powerful new problem.
* The things-falling-into-place-to-make-it-happen plot reminded me of what happened with Cordy and Jasmine.
* Knox must be a leader in the cult since he was able to choose the one who would house Illyria.
* The conduit told Gunn that he is failing - I guess it is his turn to be evil.
* As ever, Angel remains clueless to the couples around him.