5.14 Smile Time
5.15 A Hole in the World
For my lengthy analyses of these episodes, follow along in Once Bitten.
While last week's episodes were stellar, THIS is the week I've been waiting for. Because after "Why We Fight," we're treated to the single funniest Angel episode of all time, followed by the single saddest. Only a Joss Whedon show could take you on such highs and such lows. First we get "Smile Time," an episode that didn't just elicit laughter from me, but full-bodied guffaws. I mean, the PUPPET is brooding, for goodness sakes. HILARIOUS. Oh, how I love that little puppet man. And Spike's response? Sends me into giggle fits every time I see it.
And then... the laughter is over. For Wesley has FINALLY been united with his true love, only to have her ripped from him in the most horrible way.
"There's a hole in the world. Feels like we ought to have known."
I remember interviewing Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, separately, and both talked about how difficult those final scenes of Fred were to film. Apparently they begged Joss to do the episode, and he wasn't originally slated to, but he eventually got things switched around, and then pushed both Alexis and Amy to the ends of what they could handle, making them do the scene over and over again until it was so utterly painful to watch. And of course, that's when Joss is happily finished. Could anyone but Joss have written this scene?:
Will you kiss me?
Wesley kisses Fred on the lips tenderly and passionately.
(pulls back, looks down)
Would you have loved me?
I've loved you since I've known you. No, that's not—I think maybe even before.
(leans her forehead against his)
I'm so sorry.
No, no, no.
(chokes on her coughs, crying)
I need you to talk to my parents. They have to know I wasn't scared, that it was quick. That I wasn't scared.
(grabs her, looks into her eyes)
You have to fight. You don't have to talk, just concentrate on fighting. Just hold on.
(holding onto Wes's shoulders, looks into his eyes, quivering)
I'm not scared. I'm not scared. I'm not scared.
(her grip softens, she can't hold herself up)
Please, Wesley, why can't I stay?
(she goes still as Wes holds her in his arms)
(looks at her limp body in his arms)
I will never forget the first time I saw this episode. When Wesley first takes Fred back to her place and she asks him to read to her, I quickly looked at my husband and said that if I came down to my final moments and could have any book read to me, it would be Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess.
And then... that's exactly what he's reading to her a few moments later. I've never had a moment of television feel like it was speaking directly -- and only -- to me, like that one did. I began crying right there, and didn't stop until long after the episode had ended.
Goodbye, Fred. And for anyone who thinks losing Fred is the deepest pain Wesley could ever feel, keep watching.