Recap: Angel S 05 E 15 A Hole In The World
In Wolfram & Hart's science lab, Knox oversees the delivery of a sarcophagus; when Fred touches one of the crystals that cover the lid, a puff of dusty air is released, making her cough. As Fred meets Wesley downstairs, she coughs up blood and collapses. After she regains consciousness in the medical wing, her friends assure her that they have everything under control — even though they don't know what's wrong with her.
In a group meeting, Angel admits some sort of parasite is slowly killing Fred. Angel, Spike, and Lorne go to Lindsey's apartment, where they encounter Eve, who says she knows nothing about what's happening to Fred and hasn't heard from Lindsey. Eve sings a little of "L.A. Song" to Lorne, who determines she's not involved. As the guys leave, Eve says Wolfram & Hart have no records on the sarcophagus — and the firm wouldn't have records on the world's most ancient demons, known as the Old Ones.
When the group returns to Wolfram & Hart, Wesley discloses the identity of the demon possessing Fred: Illyria, "a great monarch and warrior of the demon age" who ended up buried in the Deeper Well, the burial ground for the remaining Old Ones. Illyria wants to "hollow out" Fred in order use her to return to the world. Angel and Spike go to the Deeper Well to speak with its keeper, Drogyn; as the duo heads into the Well, Angel tells Spike to avoid asking Drogyn questions, as Drogyn cannot lie.
As Gunn tries to find a way to save Fred — and discover who allowed the sarcophagus inside Wolfram & Hart in the first place — Knox suggests freezing Fred in the cryogenics lab until they can figure out how to stop what's killing her. When his tests don't work out, Knox tells Gunn, "I don't just care about Fred — I practically worship it." Gunn catches the slip of the tongue and accuses Knox of causing what's happening to Fred. Knox admits to his role as an acolyte of Illyria and says he did everything he could to get the sarcophagus to Wolfram & Hart — then tells Gunn how the sarcophagus finally arrived: Gunn signed a customs order to allow the sarcophagus into the country in exchange for a boost to his enhanced mental abilities, which had begun to deteriorate since he joined up with Wolfram & Hart.
As Angel and Spike explore the Deeper Well, Drogyn says Illyria's essence can be drawn out of Fred by returning the sarcophagus to the Well — but in doing so, Illyria's essence will leave Fred and kill every person between Los Angeles and the Deeper Well
. Angel and Spike realize they can't sacrifice a single life, much less thousands, to save Fred. Illyria has won.
In her apartment, Fred asks Wesley if he would have loved her; he admits to always loving her, even before he knew her. She asks him to tell her parents that she felt no fear in her final moments, and as Wesley begins to weep, Fred's eyes turn blue. Her body twitches — and sends Wesley across the room — before her skin and hair turn blue. Illyria has taken over Fred for good, and after her rebirth, she says only one thing:
"This will do."
Tropes used in this episode include:
- After-Action Healing Drama
- Always Save the Girl: Angel nearly makes this choice when he learns that the only way to save Fred is to let hundreds of thousands of people die in her place. He initially spits out an angry "to hell with the world" and storms off to perform the ritual as the scene cuts away. When it returns, though, he's still standing at the threshold, unable to actually go through with it, and he finally, sadly turns away.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The handful of cultists who still worship Illyria.
- Ancient Keeper: Drogyn the Battlebrand, guardian of the Deeper Well
- Ancient Tomb: The Deeper Well
- Anywhere but Their Lips / Rule of Three: Wesley twice kisses Fred on the forehead — as Fred is infected with a lethal pathogen, it's only sensible to avoid swopping body fluids. As Fred is dying in his arms however, Wesley kisses her fully on the mouth because he no longer cares what happens to him.
- Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Why the Conduit is no longer a kitty.
- Artifact of Death: Illyria's sarcophagus
- Bad Boss / Good Is Not Nice: See Make an Example of Them.
- The Bad Guy Wins
- Bad Liars: Team Angel keep up a cheerful facade in front of Fred when she wakes up in the medical ward, but she easily deduces that they're lying.
- Berserk Button: Don't tell Wesley that you're not working on Fred's case. Or ask Drogyn any questions.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Fred starts off this way, but that quickly changes.
Fred: Oh, isn't it terrible? At a time like this, I'm worried about how crappy I look.
Wesley: (looks into her eyes) You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
Fred: (smiles) Do you always like splotchy girls?
Wesley: It's my curse.
- Because She Was Nice To Me: Lorne explaining why he's going to cheerfully murder Eve if she turns out to be responsible for Fred's death.
"Winifred Burkle once told me after a sinful amount of Chinese food, and in lieu of absolutely nothing, "I think a lot of people would choose to be green. Your shade, if they had the choice."
- Beware the Nice Ones: Everyone's stunned when Lorne punches Eve.
Lorne: If I hear one note — one quarter note — that tells me you had any involvement, these two won't even have time to kill you.
- Big Damn Kiss: Fred and Wes share a kiss before a flaming backdrop of burning bug thingies.
- Blatant Lies: Played for Laughs with Spike's excuses as to why Angel has a sword through his back. Played for tearjerker effect when Fred asks Wes to tell her parents she died quickly and unafraid.
- Blood from the Mouth / Blood-Splattered Innocents: Fred coughs blood into Wesley's face before collapsing.
- Book Ends
- Brick Joke: Everyone agrees with Spike that astronauts don't stand a chance against cavemen.
- Bridal Carry: Wes carrying Fred into her bedroom. Fred quips that she's finally managed to get him there — ironically, it appears they never even had a chance to make love before Fred's death.
- Well, at least not in her room. I'm sure Wes's would've sufficed. And they seemed in no hurry to stop the Big Damn Kiss last episode...
- Cannot Tell a Lie: According to Joss Whedon, he did this to make sure the audience would believe Drogyn when he told Angel that he couldn't save Fred.
- Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: This episode serves as the Trope Namer. Wesley walks in on Spike and Angel nose-to-nose and yelling at each other, after they've spent forty minutes shouting at each other about who would win in a fight between cavemen and astronauts — a scene supposedly based on the time Joss Whedon walked into the writers room and saw "CAVEMEN VS ASTRONAUTS - WEAPONS TBD" on the wall.
] Do the astronauts have weapons?
Angel and Spike: NO.
- Continuity Nod: Wesley asks if Gunn's okay with him dating Fred, and Gunn says, "Last year you wouldn't have asked me that question. The man becomes civilized!"
- When Fred asks, "I'm a mummy, aren't I?", Spike replies, "I've fought plenty of mummies, and none of them were as pretty as you." After a beat, he amends that: "—Well, almost none." This could be a possible reference to the Buffy S2 episode "Inca Mummy Girl". However, Spike did not appear in that episode.
- Eve sings a snippet of "L.A. Song", the song Lindsey strummed on his guitar at Caritas in "Dead End".
- Lorne says that Eve reads clean. Angel says, "You've been wrong before," referencing the time a traitorous W&H employee slipped through Lorne's mind reading in "Hellbound", as well as the time Lorne failed to detect that Angel's soul had not been restored in Angelus.
- "I lived in a cave for five years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle!" refers to Fred's introduction as an escaped slave, hiding in a cave in the demon dimension of Pylea.
- While en route to England, Angel anxiously mentions that he's never flown in an airplane before — though he has rode in a helicopter. This alludes to the helicopter he used to thwart Wolfram & Hart's Spec Ops team in the season premiere ("Conviction"). Angel has also hung onto the outside of an airborne helicopter ("Sanctuary").
- The Great Old Ones who ruled Earth before humanity were first mentioned in the premiere episode of Buffy.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: One egg starts to open up behind Fred without her spotting it. It explodes when Wesley fires his shotgun at it.
- Cruel and Unusual Death
- Damsel in Distress
- Death by Flashback: The episode opens with a flashback of Fred leaving for LA.
- Description Cut: Fred says she always likes a new speciman. Cut to the sarcophagus being wheeled through the double doors into Fred's lab.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight
- Dies Wide Open: Played straight, then for horror as Fred's cornea harden and her pupils turn blue.
- Digging to China: As Spike stands on the bridge, peering into the depths of the Well, he surmises on the possibility of "a bloke somewhere in New Zealand" staring right back down at him.
- Double Meaning Title: The hole is both the Deeper Well, and the hole left in their lives by Fred's death.
- Double Vision / Evil Twin: The Conduit takes on Gunn's shape.
- Dramatic Irony: Fred's parents, Roger and Trish, have apprehensions about their daughter leaving for the big city. Fred reassures her dad by mentioning LA's nickname: The City of Angels. Roger replies: "If you meet one angel there, I'll eat the dogs."
- Dramatic Thunder: Drogyn making his appearance.
- Dying Declaration of Love / Last Kiss
- The Easy Way or the Hard Way
Angel: Look, Eve, this happens quickly or very, very slowly.
- Environmental Symbolism: The directors intentionally shot the scene where Fred collapses on the staircase from a direct angle to give the characters the appearance of getting "entangled" in the railings.
- The static shot of Angel's jet hovering, not zooming, in the air — combined with the above-mentioned shot — communicate the futility of the heroes' attempts to save Fred.
- Eldritch Location: The Deeper Well
- Everyone Can See It: Wes asks if Gunn already knows about his relationship with Fred. Gunn says it's already on every Blackberry in the building. "No secrets in the House of Pain."
- This marks the second time that Angel finds himself unaware of Fred's romantic life (the first was when Fred and Gunn broke up in "Double or Nothing").
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Fred's hair turns blue once Illyria takes over her body.
- Face Death with Dignity: Fred tries her best to do so, but there's no doubt she dies a terrifying and painful death.
- Famous Last Words: "Please, Wesley, why can't I stay?"
- Final Speech: In her last moments of death, Fred begins to see Wolfram & Hart for what it really is. This echoes Cordelia's warning to Angel in the episode "You're Welcome".
"Why did we go there? Why did we think we could beat it? It's evil, Wesley. It's bigger than anything."
- Foreshadowing: The gang wonder if the Senior Partners sent the sarcophagus; Gunn says he'll talk to the Conduit. Gunn goes to the White Room and tries to summon the panther, who doesn't appear. Instead, he gets socked in the face and turns to see himself (The Conduit in the form of Gunn). Although Gunn doesn't realize it yet, The Conduit has shown him the true 'culprit' behind Illyria's escape.
- Lorne's prophecy about Eve's future — "not too bright" — comes to fruition in "Not Fade Away".
- Fire-Forged Friends: After half a season of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, Spike and Angel finally bond over their shared desire to save Fred. Subtly shown when Drogyn says he needs a champion for the spell and Angel replies, "You got two of those right here." He no longer views Spike as The Rival for the position of champion.
- Gate Guardian: We meet Drogyn, the keeper of the Deeper Well, a prison for ancient dead demons. He guards the entrance to the Deeper Well, hidden in a tree in the Cotswolds.
- Geeky Turn-On
Fred: [The insects] reproduce by vomiting up crystals that attract and mutate the microbes around them to form eggs.
Wesley: Are you trying to turn me on?
- Genius Bonus: Fred named her stuffed rabbit after American physicist Mitchell Feigenbaum — hence, the "Master of Chaos."
- Get a Room!: Wesley joins Fred above the lobby stairs and the two get lovey-dovey. Lorne sheeshes at the lovebirds and squeezes past them to go downstairs, along with a quip: "Get a balcony."
- Gilligan Cut: The Cold Open flashes back to Texas sometime in the '90s to show Fred packing up and moving to L.A., against the wishes of her parents. Fred promises them she'll live a boring life — cut to the present day where Fred is screaming while incinerating wall-hugging demon eggs in a sewer with a backpack flamethrower.
- Great Big Book of Everything
Wesley may not know it, but his source books can conjure up anything, not just our own stock. Tell him to look for The Texts That Are Forgotten
— the oldest scrolls.
- Gut Punch
- Hallucinations: Fred backs off in fear from something imaginary (The Grim Reaper?). She points at Wesley saying she can't leave now as they're together.
- Hey, It's That Guy! : Muad'dib turns out be guarding the Deeper Wells.
- Hope Spot: Drogyn says only a true champion can perform the necessary ritual to vanquish Illyria; Angel and Spike qualify. Drogyn then hits them with another condition: if the champions bring the sarcophagus back to the well, however, it will draw Illyria's essence from Fred — and through every single person it passes as it returns to the Well. Thousands — hundreds of thousands — of people will die in agony in order to save Fred. Drogyn leaves a devastated Angel and Spike to think it over.
- How Many Fingers?: Spike gets annoyed about how he can't ask Drogyn any questions, even rhetorical ones, and starts ranting: "What's your favorite color? What's your favorite song? Who's the goalkeeper for Manchester United and how many fingers am I holding up?!"
- If I Can't Have You: Gunn assumes this is why Knox infected Fred. Knox insists that he did it because she was the only one "worthy" of being his god's host.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Fred dies in this episode. This makes her the third core member of Angel Investigations to die (after Doyle in "Hero", who sacrificed himself to save Angel, and Cordelia in "You're Welcome").
- Immortal Life Is Cheap: On seeing a bug jump onto Angel's back, Spike kills it by driving a sword through Angel's chest and out his back. Angel spends the teaser walking around with the sword in him, complaining that Spike did it intentionally.
- Is There a Doctor in the House?: After Fred collapses Wes gasps, "Someone get medical..." then shouts, "SOMEONE GET MEDICAL NOW!"
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Mummies can be a lot more trouble than you'd think. And you're seeing Wesley now." Fred stammers, and Knox says he didn't want to make her uncomfortable, he just wanted to clear the air. He says, "I love working with you, and that's plenty." Fred coos at Knox's sweetness.
- Gunn (who played this trope straight with Wesley) thinks that Knox did this as petty revenge on Fred; Knox replies that he did it to honor her by having Fred host a god.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Gunn adds that it's fine with him, adding, "Our thing's long done, and I know how you feel about her." Wesley thanks him sincerely, and Gunn adds, "You ever hurt her, and I'm gonna kill you like a chicken." Wesley agrees to these terms.
- Dramatic Irony: Unfortunately it's Gunn who does something to hurt her; in fact he's already done it.
- Insectoid Aliens
- Ironic Nursery Tune: As they pass each other on the stairs, Fred reminds Lorne to meet her for lunch. Lorne calls from over his shoulder that he'll "just look for where the sun shines" and begins to sing, "You Are My Sunshine". When Fred picks up the song, Lorne immediately whips around and reads her future — just a moment before Fred starts coughing up blood and convulsing.
- It's Personal
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique / OOC Is Serious Business: Lorne — a pacifist up to this point — delivers not only his first punch, but first death threat to Eve. Lorne could make good on his threat and kill her in an instant (which we know from the look at his homeland), but he opts not to, instead suggesting she'll soon die anyway.
- Loss of Identity: In Fred's bedroom, Fred suddenly panics and says they needs to find Feigenbaum. When Wesley asks about him, Fred breaks down and realizes that she can no longer remember.
- Love Before First Sight: Back in Fred's room, Fred asks Wesley to kiss her. They do that for a while. When they're done, Fred asks, "Would you have loved me?" Wesley chokes up as he says that he's loved her since he's known her. And then adds "No...I think maybe even before."
- Make an Example of Them: Wesley makes it clear to his staff that Fred has become their priority when a toadie enters Wesley's office requesting a file. Wesley tells him it can wait, but when he complains, Wes calmly pulls out a gun from the drawer and shoots him in the kneecap.
Wesley: [on speaker-phone] Jennifer, please send anyone else not working Miss Burkle's case to me.
- Meaningful Echo: When Fred first met Angel in Pylea she said, "Handsome man... saved me from the monsters." In this episode, Fred says her last lines to Angel, "Handsome man saves me," as Angel leaves her in the hospital room. And as she dies with all her modern technological knowledge helpless against an ancient evil, Fred gasps "Cavemen win. Of course cavemen win..."
- Messy Hair: Eve, as opposed to her usual immaculate appearance.
- Mirror Match: DoppelGunn.
Gunn: Look, I know there's someone in here, and it ain't just me. I'm not goin' anywere 'til yaŚ
Well, whaddaya know? It is just me.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Knox says Los Angeles marks the site of Illyria's former kingdom; her sarcophagus should have teleported back to the city, but the continents drifted. He says he and the other acolytes tried to get the sarcophagus into Wolfram & Hart, but then it got stuck in Customs — at which point, Knox whips out a piece of paper and shows it to Gunn.
Knox: But you took care of that.
- The Nicknamer / Buffy Speak: Fred dubs Wes "Book Man".
- No, Except Yes: Angel says that Spike just likes stabbing him.
Spike: I'm shocked — shocked —- that you'd say that. I much prefer hitting you with blunt instruments.
- No Sympathy: Angel has a sword through his chest, impaling a bug on his back. He tells Fred not to worry when she walks up looking concerned.
Fred: No, I just want the bug. It's in pretty good shape, and I'd like to take it back to the lab.
- Noodle Incident: Fred and Knox are in the lab, talking about the sarcophagus. Knox says that there wasn't an invoice, so he thought she "went crazy on eBay." Fred retorts, "After that commemorative plate incident, I'm living clean."
Spike: St. Petersburg?
Angel: I thought you'd forgotten.
- Not Me This Time: Spike suspects the shipment is another magical mail-bomb from Lindsey.
- Oh, Crap: Lorne turns to stare at Fred in horror as she sings a few bars of "You Are My Sunshine", causing her to reveal her destiny. Subverted with Knox who just gives a mild "Oops" on revealing his secret, as he knows there's nothing Team Angel can do to stop events.
- Off with His Head! / Razor Floss: Spike and Angel, with a lovely side of Ho Yay. They hold hands, the orcs rush toward them, and Spike and Angel suddenly stretch out a length of wire between them, decapitating the first row of demons.
- Oh My Gods!: "Well, I'll be damned all over again."
- Orbital Shot: The camera swings around Team Angel as they discuss what action they're going to take to save Fred. It gives a good sense of the churning emotions in what's basically an exposition scene.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Wesley holds Fred as she dies and begs her to hold on. When she dies, he is so distraught that all he can choke out is a repeated "Please."
- Prayer Is a Last Resort: Lorne says, "If nobody thinks it's too ridiculous, I'm going to pray."
- Pun: Lorne offers to tag along, too, "in case anybody feels like singing."
- Punched Across the Room
- Race Against the Clock: Gunn asks Angel what he heard back from Fred's doctor from the doctor, and everyone is shocked to learn when he tells them that a parasitic agent is working its way through Fred's internal organs and that they will liquefy within a day.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Angel tells Spike that he should leave, and explains his theory: "Lindsey brought you back as a spirit bound to this place so you'd become invested in it. He only made you corporeal again once you'd gotten used to it, attached to it." He just wants Spike to go away so he can have the Amulet of Assitude all to himself, and offers to use Wolfram & Hart's resources to transfer Spike anywhere he'd like, all expenses paid: "You fight the good fight, but in style. And if possible, in Outer Mongolia."
- Sadistic Choice: Angel has to choose between saving Fred, but killing thousands of innocents, or letting his friend die horribly.
- Saying Too Much: Back in the lab at Wolfram & Hart, Knox admits defeat as the freezing technique doesn't work and he begins to admit his feelings for Fred which Gunn understands perfectly, but Knox then says "I don't just care about Fred, I practically worship it." Gunn catches this slip of the tongue. Knox backpedals for a minute, then smiles darkly. "Oops."
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Deeper Well is practically the Canned Evil aisle.
- Sexy Shirt Switch: Not played for fanservice; Eve is lying in Lindsey's bed wearing one of his shirts, a sign that Even Evil Has Loved Ones when she pathetically asks Team Angel if they've heard what happened to him.
- Shout-Out: Joss took inspiration from an Emmylou Harris song entitled "Deeper Well", which appears on her album Wrecking Ball.
- Wesley reads A Little Princess to Fred as she lies dying. According to Joss, he chose this passage because it's his all-time favorite book.
- Spike and Angel walk through the foggy darkness where the Deeper Well is supposed to be. Spike is grumbling that they can't find the entrance, but Angel points out a large tree with a suspiciously arch-shaped trunk. Spike agrees that it's either the entrance to the Well, "or Christmasland." Angel blinks.
Spike: Do you ever have ANY fun?
- So Happy Together: At least Tara and Willow had an entire episode together with lots of sex. Fred starts coughing blood at the end of Act One, and it's implied she and Wes never did get round to having sex.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Given what's happened before; "A Place Called Home" by Kim Richey.
- Soul Jar: The sarcophagus. It's gem-encrusted too.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: It's a Whedon show. It's hardly unexpected that when the Official Couple finally get together one of them will have their soul consumed and become possessed by an ancient demon.
- Survival Mantra: Fred babbles "I'm not scared!" over and over as she dies.
- Sword over Head: Knox happily suggests that Gunn should spend his time figuring out how he wants to explain this to his friends. Gunn interrupts Knox by clanging him in the head with a metal container. Gunn stands over an unconscious Knox, raises the container up again, and then looks around the lab before dealing Knox another nasty blow.
- Take That: Lorne leans over into Eve's face and tells her to sing for him. He adds that if he detects that Eve was involved with Fred's sickness, "these two won't even have time to kill you." After a moment, he adds, "Oh, and anything by Diane Warren will also result in your death. —Well, except 'Rhythm of the Night.'"
- Angel toys with the idea of finally seeing Les Mis while in England. "Trust me," Spike warns, "halfway through the first act you'll be drinking humans again."
Joss Whedon: I'm usually not that snarky. I don't like to diss things. But Les Mis went down.
- Take Me Instead: Gunn offers the Conduit to the Senior Partners his life in exchange for Fred. The Conduit just laughs, saying he already has Gunn's life. Gunn finds out what he means later; it was his signature that freed the sarcophagus from Customs so it could be delivered to Fred, a deal Gunn made in exchange for maintaining his brain upgrade.
- Talk to the Fist: The Conduit to Gunn, Lorne to Eve.
- Team Spirit: Although Spike can leave, it seems as though he's become attached to Team Angel.
- Tearjerker: Fred's death.
- This Is the Part Where...
- Too Happy to Live: A textbook example with Wesley and Fred, who get to spend approximately ten minutes of one episode as a happy couple after seasons of Will They or Won't They? before Fred is slowly and painfully killed so her body can host Illyria.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore
Fred: Read to me.
Wesley: (looks over at his source book) The Dreadhost's Compendium of Immortal Leeches?
- Unwanted Rescue: In the demon nest, Angel and Spike are bickering again; this time because Spike put his sword through Angel's torso in order to impale a bug which is still hanging from the blade.
- Weakened by the Light: Fred quivers on the bed as she deteriorates and she whispers to Wesley that the light is hurting her eyes, and yet she's too scared to turn them off.
- WHAM Episode
- When I Was Your Age: Fred's parents fret over their daughter leaving Texas for seedy L.A. Fred sarcastically suggests remaining home forever, living in her old room with her husband and tiny babies sleeping in the dresser drawers. Roger Burkle doesn't see a downside to that plan.
Roger: I slept in a drawer 'til I was three. Didn't stunt me none. [storms out]
- Will Not Be A Victim: Fred explicitly says as much.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Flying makes Angel and Spike nervous, which is ironic given vampires are often portrayed as having flying powers outside the Buffyverse.
- You Are My Sunshine: Lorne sings this moments before Fred collapses. That's called 'asking for it.'
- What Could Have Been: The original idea for the episode saw Angel and Spike fly out to England to see Giles, as Joss needed someone whom Angel considered credible to give the bad news. The limited budget prevented them from flying in Anthony Stewart Head for a cameo, though.
- Joss had planned for Fred to return in season 6, fighting Illyria for control of her body. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled, and so Fred remains dead and even, as we learn in the next episode, deprived of an afterlife, which comes off as quite pointlessly cruel if you don't know the behind the scenes story.
- You Talk Too Much: Drogyn re Spike.
- You Can't Fight Fate: All the events are predestined to occur.