A Hole in the World
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|"A Hole in the World"|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Original air date||February 25, 2004|
"A Hole in the World" is episode 15 of season 5 in the television show Angel. Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on February 25, 2004 on the WB television network. In this episode, Fred is infected by the spirit of Illyria, an ancient demon who existed before recorded time. The entire crew searches for a cure, but give up hope when Spike and Angel discover that the only way to save Fred's life would kill thousands of people. Wesley comforts Fred as she dies and witnesses the emergence of Illyria.
In a flashback to Texas, Fred's parents are helping her pack for her move to Los Angeles. As she packs her stuffed bunny Feigenbaum, Fred promises her worried parents that she will live a boring life. In the present day, at Wolfram & Hart's science lab, Knox accepts the delivery of a sarcophagus. When Fred touches the lid, a puff of dusty air is released, making her cough. Later, she meets Wesley downstairs and they kiss, thrilled to finally be dating. Lorne starts singing "You Are My Sunshine" to Fred, who picks up the song. Lorne immediately realizes that something is wrong. Fred suddenly coughs up blood and collapses. Lorne catches her and she starts convulsing as Wesley yells for medical assistance.
When Fred regains consciousness in the medical wing, her friends assure her that she'll be okay, even though they don't know what's wrong with her. "Handsome man saves me," Fred says to Angel, bringing up an oft-repeated line from "Through the Looking Glass". Angel believes some sort of parasite is slowly killing Fred and they wonder if the Senior Partners sent the sarcophagus. Wesley orders all Wolfram & Hart staff to do research on the sarcophagus and when a staff member protests, Wesley shoots the man in the kneecap and threatens to do the same to anyone else who protests. Gunn goes to the White Room where he meets the conduit in the form of himself. The conduit tells Gunn that the Senior Partners are tired of his "insolence." Gunn wants to make a deal for Fred's life and offers to give up his own but the conduit tells him that the Senior Partners already own Gunn's life.
Angel, Spike, and Lorne go to Lindsey's apartment, where they encounter Eve. She claims not to know anything about what's happening to Fred and says that she hasn't heard from Lindsey. Eve sings a little of "L.A. Song" and Lorne determines that she's not involved, though "her future's not too bright." Eve explains that there's no info on the sarcophagus in the firm's records because it is one of the Old Ones. She suggests they look through the oldest scrolls for information on the Deeper Well. In Wesley's office, he tells the group that the demon in question is called Illyria and it is hollowing Fred out like a shell so that it may return to the world. Angel and Spike travel to England where the Deeper Well is being guarded.
Wesley finds Fred in science lab, stumbling around and trying to work on her own case. Weakening, she asks Wesley to take her home. In her apartment, Fred asks for Feigenbaum, but cries when she can't remember who he is. Wesley reads A Little Princess to comfort her as she deteriorates. Angel and Spike arrive in the Cotswolds, where they are ambushed by a bunch of armored demons. Spike and Angel finish off the demons and are met by Drogyn, the keeper of the Deeper Well, whom Angel knows. As they head into the Deeper Well, Angel explains to Spike that Drogyn cannot lie.
Knox suggests to Gunn that they freeze Fred in the cryogenics lab but his tests fail. Gunn catches his slip of the tongue and Knox admits he is one of Illyria's acolytes. He tells Gunn that everything was set in motion millions of years ago and it can't be stopped. He also reveals that Gunn contributed by unknowingly signing for the sarcophagus. Angry, Gunn knocks him out.
Drogyn leads Angel and Spike into the Deeper Well, explaining that Illyria's sarcophagus disappeared a month before as it was predestined to do but the demon's essence can be drawn back by a champion. However, if Illyria leaves Fred now, it will kill every person between L.A. and the Deeper Well. Angel realizes that he can't allow that many people to die, even to save Fred. In her apartment, Fred lapses in and out of coherence. She asks Wesley if he loved her and he tells her that he's always loved her, even before he knew her. She asks him to tell her parents that she wasn't scared before she dies.
As Wesley weeps and holds Fred's body in his arms, she begins to convulse, throwing them both to the floor. Fred rises from the floor as Ilyria, her hair and eyes now a frozen blue. She looks over Fred's hand and remarks, "This will do."
Sarah Thompson sings "LA Song", which was written by series co-creator David Greenwalt and Christian Kane for Lindsey McDonald to perform on-stage in the Angel episode "Dead End". Thompson, who grew up doing musical theater, had begged Joss Whedon to allow her character to sing.
Joss Whedon admits he became emotional during the scene in which Fred dies: "I cried man tears when I wrote it, and when I filmed it and when I edited it...it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever filmed." Amy Acker agrees, saying, "We kept crying while we were just reading the script; saying, 'We're not going to have any tears left!' Of course that didn't really hold true..." The final death scene was challenging for Alexis Denisof as well, who says, "There's a sort of tightening that happens with each scene where you feel it just getting worse and worse and I remember when we were shooting it that that was what kept choking me up. The situation of losing Fred was becoming more and more real and closer."
The scene where Gunn is fighting himself in the White Room was done by filming J. August Richards twice in two shots, as he switched between good and evil Gunn. Richards says of the experience, "It was one of the most fun things I've ever done on the show."
After filming the scene where Fred dies, Whedon, Acker, and Denisof "went out for drinks and ended up just sitting around quietly, exhausted from the day's events". Whedon would later use this moment as inspiration for the post-credits scene in The Avengers in which the Avengers silently eat in a shawarma restaurant after the film's climactic battle.
"I thought it'd be really funny to kill Amy," Joss Whedon explains. He and the other writers decided to kill the character of Fred so that Amy Acker could "play somebody new, somebody who's regal and scary and different than anything she's gotten to do on the show. The best way to do that of course is to kill her and have her become somebody else." The character Drogyn - who is established as someone who cannot lie - was introduced so that when he says Fred cannot be saved, the audience believes it, explains Whedon.
Reception and reviews
- Grimshaw, Sue, Return of the Spirit Boy: an Exclusive Spotlight on Christian Kane, archived from the original on 2007-12-13
- O'Hare, Kate (December 31, 2003). "'Angel's' Sarah Thompson Just Wants to Sing". Retrieved 2007-12-20.[dead link]
- Bratton, Kristy, ANGEL Season Five DVD Collection REVIEW, archived from the original on 2007-10-20, retrieved 2007-10-24
- Stafford, Nikki (2004), Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel, ECW Press, pp. 93–94, ISBN 1-55022-654-1
- Top Angel episodes, BBC, 18 January 2005, retrieved 2007-10-16
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