In the twentieth episode of the fifth season of Angel, Angel and Spike are sent to Rome on a vital mission only to be sidetracked by their inability to stay focused. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
God, what an incredible episode of this show. THIS WAS SO GOOD. I mean, I feel like I’m no closer to figuring out what’s going on in terms of this season’s endgame (WHICH SCARES ME), but this episode needed to happen.
I’d like to split this up based on the two major storylines.
Angel and Spike
ARE CHILDREN. I do enjoy their bickering and their constant desire to one-up one another. It’s entertaining, and I think it’s fascinating when characters who perceive themselves as these super powerful, masculine heroes are then deconstructed and torn down by the story itself. I mean, I like Angel and Spike, but I also recognize that both characters have done terrible things and make petty, jealous exes who can’t deal with the fact that a woman can have agency and make her own choices. To me, that’s what “The Girl in Question” is really about. Not only are Spike and Angel unable to move on, but they still have possessive attitudes towards Buffy.
This is also expanded on during a flashback with Darla and Drusilla (!!!!!!) that shows that even then, they couldn’t deal with the women in their life pursuing desires and needs that were independent of them. Granted, whomever this Immortal figure is, he has thwarted Angel and Spike countless times throughout history, but I got the sense that perhaps he was a joke, almost like he was something the two made up just to blame their problems on. Granted, it seems like he could be real, but wouldn’t it be great if it was a prank? Like, we never meet the Immortal (or see Buffy for that matter), and everyone has nothing but good things to say about him, yet there’s never any definitive proof that he exists. Regardless whether he’s real or not, the writers have made him the foil for these two men who can’t deal with their own insecurities.
And by gods, those insecurities get these two in so much trouble. Multiple times during this mission, Spike and Angel are so distracted by the knowledge that Buffy fell for someone who isn’t them that they nearly botch the efforts to retrieve the head of an important demon mobster. First, they leave it at the bar when they go to confront Buffy, then the get sidetracked trying to track it down, then they nearly get blown up, and even then, another group of people have to get it back to Los Angeles anyway. And for the record, bless Ilona. She clearly is a better CEO than Angel, and I love that she sweeps the floor with Angel and Spike. She’s initially portrayed as a very kind and generous person, and while I still think she’s that, it’s also clear to me that she’s having fun at the expense of these two fools. How could you not??? They’re so convinced that Buffy is under a spell because how dare she fall for someone who has lived for centuries and has a dark past!!!!!!! DO YOU NOT SEE THE IRONY??? Of course they don’t. That’s how foolish they are!
It takes Andrew (bless his heart!) to finally knock some sense into them. Well, not literally, but after numerous interactions with Angel and Spike, Andrew finally has to spell it out: Buffy has moved on. Their behavior is pathetic. And Angel and Spike aren’t going to find love or happiness or even a continued friendship with Buffy if they basically stalk her. It’s unfortunate that it took them so long to realize this, but there it is! Y’all are adults, and you’re acting like immature teenagers. Unsurprising, though, is the final scene, where it’s heavily implied that neither dude learned his lesson. Sigh. You both are so predictable.
I still do feel weird about Illyria being stripped of most of her powers, and her first scene in “The Girl in Question” is sad to me. Illyria already couldn’t find her place in the world, and now she’s not even that sure of her own identity. So how does this episode address that? BY HAVING FRED’S PARENTS SHOW UP. The second they come out of that elevator, my stomach dropped. There was no way Wes could get out of this. How do you even begin to explain that someone’s daughter was killed by an ancient god, her soul was destroyed, and now the god lives in her body? Thankfully, it seemed that Wesley wasn’t going to lie to the Burkles. He had to tell the truth.
And then Fred walks into the room. The Fred. It’s impossible, I thought. That can’t be Fred. But it sounded like her. It looked like her. It had her thoughts, and her parents believed it was her. As it turns out, not all of Illyria’s powers were taken from her, and she can modify her “shell” to be whatever she wants. Unable to stand Wesley’s grief any longer, she refuses to deal with the Burkles’ grief as well. So she becomes Fred.
Bless you, Amy Acker. Watching her switch instantly between both characters is as unnerving as it is heartbreaking. I miss Fred so much, and seeing that representation to her is painful. I cannot even imagine what that must be like for Wesley. Like him, I know it isn’t really Fred. I couldn’t accept it for a moment because I know it’s just an elaborate act of Illyria. It’s why Wesley orders Illyria not to do it ever again. I mean, look, she basically saved Wesley the heartbreak of having to inform the Burkles that their daughter is dead, but she’s also hurting him. He can’t even bear to look at her!
So I wonder if this is the last time we’ll see Illyria’s Fred. She wants to explore the identity of Fred through this mechanism, and perhaps it’s because she recognizes that it’s the only way for her to find a place in this world. What is she going to do? My guess? We’ll see Fred again.
Ugh, only two episodes left? For real? This is not enough, y’all. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.
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