"All that remains of the Old Ones are vestiges, certain magiks, certain creatures..." - Giles
"...and Vampires" - Buffy - 'Welcome to the Hellmouth'
"...waiting for the animals to die out and the Old Ones to return" - Giles - 'The Harvest'
Today I watched 'A Hole in the World' for a second time and, coincidently, followed up by watching WttH and 'The Harvest'. Contrary to his recent statements, did Joss suspect the end was near? If he took Buffy back to her beginnings in the final season of Buffy, is it possible that he is returning Angel to his own - the very beginning, before humankind controlled the earth. Why take us back to the Old Ones? Granted, Joss could have just thought it cool to deal with a part of the Buffy/Angel mythology barely touched upon. Or could it be part of some grand plan? Is Ilyria's return and intent to return earth to it's Hellish state Angel's final challenge before he can Shanshu? Or could Angel himself be responsible? We witnessed Gunn's devestation in learning his culpability in Fred's demise. What if Angel were to learn that the destruction of Jasmine or mindwipe created the circumstances to allow for Ilyria's return? After all, if not the deal with W&H, Fred would not have come to work there and met Knox who chose her to be the recepticle for Ilyria.
Contemplating the enormous significance of the return of the Old Ones, I was a bit disappointed that when Angel and Spike were at the Deeper Well they weren't able to address it's significance to them more. After all, they were, essentially, surrounded by those from which they were born. Though confronted by their origins, they are doing their damdest to protect humanity from them. Yet, as they strive strive to save this world at large, a hole exists in their own little worlds. Truth is, they'll never quite fit in either.
While I didn't find this to be one of Joss' best efforts, it definitely had his imprint on it. Cavemen vs astronauts! Angel/Spike banter! A Spike that was happily reminiscent of the Spike I came to love on BtVS. :) And while I would have liked to have seen the Fresly? Spred? relationship play out more on screen, I think Joss did a decent job of selling it. AA and AD both gave heartbreaking performances.
But, I still feel that Fred's death bed scenes could have been truncated. It dawned on me that every other chracter death on Buffy or Angel had been relatively brief. Jenny, Tara, Joyce, Cordy and Anya were gone instantly. Spike and Buffy's deaths lasted mere moments. Not to say that Fred's death wasn't gutwrenching (I credit AD's reactions as much as anything for that), but it just seemed melodramatic.
Speaking of melodrama, what about Lorne's remark to Fred and Wes "Get a balcony you two." The doomed lovers Romeo and Juliet anyone?
Poor Wes, how much more can this guy take? While, at first, I thought Wes pulling out the gun and shooting the guy in the knee seemed a rather abrupt and bizarre action, I believe Joss was going out of his way to show just how on edge Wes is. My guess is with Fred gone - and he finds out who is responsible - he'll spiral out fo control.
Considering the Fred is the last female regular on the series, I'm going out on a limb and saying she's only mostly dead. Her body is still intact. And if I had to guess where her essence - her soul - is, I'd say it's out in the ether somewhere where William's and Liam's were kept safe all those years. It's just a matter of kicking Ilyria out and putting Fred back in.
Now, I have some questions about Gunn and Lindsey and how they fit into all this. Gunn is told he is "failing" the Senior Partners and they can no longer tolerate his "insolence". Hmm. I don't think I'm saying anything new when I say that it was the Senior Partners intent to take down Angel - corrupt him - by giving him the reigns of W&H. Gunn, somehow, was to be part of this plan. How he fits into it, I'm not sure, but he obviously didn't do as they expected him to.
I'm confused why it was assumed that Lindsey was a part of all this. Wes even asks Gunn if he knows where he is, not where he *was*. Angel saw Limdsey get taken away by the Senior Partners. No one apparently has any intel to lead them to believe he's back. It's hard to imagine how he can get out of his current predicament on his own. Again, I have to believe Joss is telling us something about what is to come. Why bring him up and why have Angel still be concerned about what he's up to if we won't be seeing him again?
And Eve is still in the picture. I actually felt sorry for her, trapped in that apartment, apparently the runes (sp) protecting her from the wrath of the Senior Partners (though, Lorne sees a very bleak future for her regardless). She seemed sincere in wishing Fred no harm. It seems that all she wanted is what her boyfriend wanted (I'll save the spiel on how that ideolgy sets women back about a hundred years or so :p). Was it just me, or with her hair mussed, dressed in a baggy old short, and with little makeup, she actually looked attractive?
On the surface this was a Fred-centric episode. Yet, it was in the little details that we see how much this is also about the others, most importantly, Angel. It was fun seeing the repartee between Angel and Spike. It was also interesting that while they seemed to be getting along - in thier own unique way - Angel announces "This isn't working out". Part of me wonders if Angel is trying to protect Spike from the possible corruptive influence of W&H. Yet, it is Angel that contemplates, however briefly, sacrificing tens of thousand to save one life, Fred's. Spike, on the other hand, doesn't seem to even contemplate there is a choice. Then again, he both watched Buffy sacrifice her life for the greater good and he, himself, did it two years later. While Angel may know rationally what the right choice is, he still seems to let his heart get in the way. Waht does this mean for the champion? I'm not sure.
And one other intriguing observance about Angel and Spike.....after Wes gives Fred a kiss on the forehead good-bye, the camera cuts to Angel and Spike.
Angel: "Wes and Fred?"
Spike: "You didn't know?"
Angel: "I didn't know"
In this brief exchange, Joss reinforces that Spike is still the observer, aware of all that is going on around him. With Angel, we realize he is still isolated - unaware of what is going on even with those closest to him.
And some really brief thoughts....
Funniest moment: the sword through the chest bit.
Saddest moment: Fred desperate to find her beloved bunny, yet not being able to recall what it is that means so much to her
Coolest moment: Angel and Spike fighting together
Slashiest moment: Far too many for my taste :p
Thank You! moment: The Fred/Gunn relationship bring acknowledged