"A Hole in the World" is the fifteenth episode of the fifth season of Angel and the 103rd episode overall. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on February 25, 2004 on The WB network.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON — When Fred opens up an ancient sarcophagus that was anonymously sent to her, she is infected by a mysterious parasitic demon called Illyria. Angel and Spike learn that Illyria is an ancient demon who existed before recorded time, and they must race to return her to an ancient demon burial ground before she kills Fred and thousands of other innocent victims.
Years earlier, in Texas, Fred's parents are helping her pack for her move to Los Angeles to begin her graduate studies in physics at UCLA. As she packs her stuffed bunny Feigenbaum, Fred promises her worried parents that she will live a boring life.
In the present day, Fred takes out some demon eggs with a flamethrower. When one begins to hatch, Wesley shoots it with a shotgun. Soon all the demon eggs are gone, and Wesley and Fred enjoy the romantic feeling of the moment. Angel and Spike come around the corner arguing, due to Spike running Angel through with a sword in order to kill a demon bug on his back. Meanwhile, at Wolfram & Hart's science lab, Knox accepts the delivery of a sarcophagus.
The next day, Gunn gives Wesley his blessing to his relationship with Fred after some briefing teasing. In the same conversation, he informed Wesley that he tracked the address that Lindsey McDonald was operating from during his attempts to destroy Angel through a lease agreement with Mike Nichols. Angel and Spike get into another petty quarrel, and Angel decides to make use of Wolfram & Hart's resources to send Spike wherever he wants. Spike likes the idea of being a roving agent, and likes the idea of getting away from Angel a whole lot more.
In the science lab, Fred approaches the sarcophagus with curiosity, and as she leans over, a small window telescopes open and releases a puff of something, causing her to gasp and cough. She goes to get checked out by Wolfram & Hart doctors, and they say she is OK. She meets Wesley as she is returning to her office, and they get affectionate. Lorne passes them and tells them to "get a balcony." Lorne starts singing "You Are My Sunshine" to Fred, who picks up the song. He immediately turns and looks at Fred in horror, who suddenly starts coughing 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, she finds herself surrounded by everyone. Her friends assure her that she'll be okay, even though they don't know what's wrong with her. Fred says to Angel "Handsome man saves me," bringing up the first thing she said to Angel after he rescued her. Wesley comforts Fred after everyone else leaves, then rejoins the group in the lobby, where Angel admits some sort of parasite is slowly killing Fred. It is hardening her skin and cooking her internal organs — they will liquefy in less than a day. Wesley thinks something is hollowing Fred out, making room for itself. The gang wonder if the Senior Partners sent the sarcophagus; Gunn says he'll go to the White Room and see if he can talk to the conduit. Angel tells Gunn that if the Senior Partners aren't responsible to try and get them to help. Wesley goes into researching the sarcophagus while Angel, Spike and Lorne head to Lindsey's apartment knowing there's a good chance he's responsible.
In his office, Wesley is checking one of the source books when an employee comes in asking for something not related to Fred's condition. When Wesley tells him that it can wait, the man says that the entire firm can't be working on Fred's case. Wesley, claiming he understands, calmly takes out a gun and shoots the man's kneecap. As the man screams in agony, Wes asks his assistant to send to him anyone else who isn't working on Fred's condition. Gunn goes to the White Room and tries to summon the panther, who doesn't appear. He gets socked in the face and turns to see that he's being hit by himself (or at least the conduit in the form of Gunn). The conduit tells him that he's failing and the Senior Partners are tired of his "insolence." Gunn wants to make a deal and trade his life for Fred's. The conduit tells him that they 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. Frustrated by her lack of concern for Fred, Lorne punches her and demands that she sing for him so he can make sure she's not involved in what's happening. Eve sings a little of "L.A. Song" and Lorne determines that she's not involved, but tells her that "her future's not too bright." As the guys leave, Eve asks if they're going to tell the Senior Partners where she is. She says that there's no info on the sarcophagus in the firm's records, and the only things not in the firm's records are the most ancient demons. She says that Wesley's source books can bring forth any text and he needs to 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, "a great monarch and warrior of the demon age, left adrift in the Deeper Well," the burial ground for all the remaining Old Ones. Fred's skin is "hardening like a shell"; she is being hollowed out so that Illyria can use her to return to the world. The Deeper Well is in the Cotswolds in England, and Angel and Spike prepare to go speak with its guardian. In the plane, Angel tells Spike talk for a while on their return to England, and Spike suggests seeing a show on the West End after saving Fred, but doesn't recommend Les Misérables. The conversation takes a serious turn when Angel states that he can't lose Fred. Spike assures him they won't, as Angel sadly states: "I lost Cordy."
Wesley heads to the medical wing and is surprised that Fred isn't there. She's in the science lab, stumbling around and trying to work on her own case, since she doesn't want to have to be rescued, but she weakens and 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 from his magical book to comfort her, as she flinches from the light coming from the window. Angel and Spike arrive in the Cotswolds, where they are ambushed by a bunch of armored demons. They pull a stunt they once pulled in St. Petersburg, holding a thin piece of wire between them and decapitating the 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 hates being asked questions because he cannot lie.
Knox suggests to Gunn that they freeze Fred in the cryogenics lab until they figure out how to stop what's killing her, but his tests show that freezing won't slow the progression of what is happening to her. Upset at his failure, he tells Gunn, "I don't just care about Fred, I practically worship it." Gunn catches his slip of the tongue and accuses Knox of causing what's happening to Fred. Knox admits he is one of Illyria's acolytes. "I chose Fred because I love her, because she's worthy." he says. "You think I'd have my god hatched out of some schmuck?" He tells Gunn that everything was set in motion millions of years ago and it can't be stopped; Angel won't save Fred. "I don't mean that Angel's gonna fail to save her, I mean he's gonna let her die." Knox tells Gunn he helped the sarcophagus get there: he signed for it the previous week in exchange for getting his legal knowledge made permanent. 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 they bring the sarcophagus back to the Well, Illyria will leave Fred and enter and kill every person between L.A. and the Deeper Well; tens of thousands of people would die in agony. Angel realizes that he can't allow that many people to die, even to save Fred. Spike looks through the Deeper Well, which goes all the way through the center of the Earth, and says "There's a hole in the world. Feels like we ought to have known." Angel is left completely devastated, knowing that now there is nothing that can save Fred.
In her apartment, Fred asks Wesley if he would have loved her; 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. As she weakens, she says "Please, Wesley, why can't I stay?" She goes still and as Wesley hugs her, her eyes turn blue. Fred convulses and sends Wesley hurling across the room in one direction, while she tumbles in the other direction. Then she stands up — now taken over by Illyria — and looks at Fred's body, declaring: "This will do."
- In the beginning of this episode, Fred talks to her parents (before she leaves for LA) about being in the physics program at UCLA. However, in "Supersymmetry", Fred notes that she was "gonna be a history major [until she] took Professor Seidel's physics class" meaning she wasn't initially in the physics program at the school as she had not yet decided on being a physics major.
- While in the hospital, Fred says "handsome man saves me" referring to her first meeting with Angel in "Through the Looking Glass".
- Lorne's prophecy that Eve's future is "not too bright" comes to fruition in "Not Fade Away".
- While in the airplane with Spike on the way to England, Angel says that although he hasn't flown in an airplane before, he has flown in a helicopter, an allusion to the helicopter he used to beat the Wolfram & Hart SpecOps team in "Conviction". Angel has also hung on to the outside of a flying helicopter in "Sanctuary". In "Surprise", Angel told Buffy he couldn't fly because of the risk of sunlight.
- Eve sings a snippet of "L.A. Song", the song Lindsey performed on his guitar at Caritas in "Dead End".
- Fred refers to Wesley as "bookman" in this episode; in "Passion", Willow refers to another Watcher, Giles, as a "bookman".
- Gunn tells Wesley he will kill him "like a chicken" if he ever hurts Fred. Kennedy also tells Buffy she might "kill her like a chicken" if she put her "moves" on Willow in Time of Your Life, Part One.
- In parallel to his argument with Angel about cavemen and astronauts, Spike would became the leader of a spaceship (Stranger Things), which crew eventually move to live in a cave (A Dark Place, Part Five.
- The mention of Fred's internals liquefying is akin to how Mayor Richard Wilkins commented in "Graduation Day, Part One" how he felt his organs were shifting from within himself as his Ascension into the Old One Olvikan neared its completion.
- Fred is the third core member of Angel Investigations to die, after Doyle in "Hero" and Cordelia in "You're Welcome". Wesley later dies in "Not Fade Away". This leaves Angel Investigations as a purely male outfit until Illyria joins in the last few episodes.
- Fred will return to life after Illyria's sacrifice and the new magic is established, sharing her body and memories with the Old One (United, Part One).
- Bethany (Only mentioned)
- Big Cat
- Roger Burkle (Only in flashbacks)
- Trish Burkle (Only in flashbacks)
- Winifred Burkle
- Cordelia Chase (Only mentioned)
- Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan
- Charles Gunn
- Lindsey McDonald
- Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
- Unidentified lawyer (A Hole in the World)
Organizations and titles
- Angel Investigations
- Child of the Senior Partners
- Conduit to the Senior Partners
- Senior Partners
- Wolfram & Hart
- Cotswolds, England
- Dallas, USA (Only in flashbacks)
- Burkle residence (Only in flashbacks)
- Los Angeles, USA
- Pylea (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objects
- Dreadhost's Compendium of Immortal Leeches
- Enochian protection runes
- Illyria's sarcophagus
- Three demon warriors, killed by Angel and Spike.
- Winifred Burkle, possessed by Illyria.
Behind the scenes
- Joss Whedon originally intended for Rupert Giles to appear, as he needed a character who would be instantly believed by both the characters and the audience when he said that there was no way to save Fred, but it would have been too expensive to fly in Anthony Stewart Head to guest star. As a result, the character of Drogyn was created and, to ensure that he was believed by the audience, it is stated by Angel that it is impossible for him to lie.
- 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."
- Sarah Thompson sings "L.A. 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.
- "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.
- "Spike and Angel... they were hanging out for years and years and years. They were all kinds of deviant. Are people thinking they never...? Come on, people! They're opened-minded guys!" Joss Whedon says on the DVD commentaries to this episode, when Spike so readily holds Angel's hand as they meet demons in battle.
- The DVD commentaries also has Joss reveal that the "astronauts versus cavemen" discussion that reoccurs throughout the episode is based on something written on the idea board in the writer's room.
- This is the final episode in the Buffyverse to be written and directed solely by creator Joss Whedon.
Pop culture references
- Wesley reads the book A Little Princess to Fred.
- When Angel and Spike are standing at the entrance to the Deeper Well, Spike says it's "Either that, or the entrance to Christmas Land", referencing the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Gunn sings the song "Three Little Maids From School Are We" from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, which is also a reminder that, when he received his legal knowledge, he also received complete knowledge of all Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
- When Knox is looking for a way to cryonically freeze Fred, Gunn says to Knox "You got me all up in this Walt Disney mojo." He's referring to the well-known urban legend that Walt Disney's body was cryonically frozen.
- Fred's stuffed toy rabbit Feigenbaum is named after Mitchell Jay Feigenbaum, a mathematical physicist and pioneer in the studies of chaos theory. This references Fred's affinity for physics.
- Lorne mentions the song "Rhythm of the Night" sung by Debarge; this is the second mention of the singer in the Buffyverse, the first being in Welcome to the Hellmouth.
- Spike references Casablanca, paraphrasing Louis Renault's [Claude Rains] line "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
- J. August Richards — "Three Little Maids from School Are We"
- Sarah Thompson — "L.A. Song"
- Douglas Romayne — "One Day To Live"
- Robert J. Kral — original score
- Czech: "Démon starší než sám čas" (A Demon Older than Time Itself)
- Finnish: "Maailmassa on reikä" (There's a Hole in the World)
- French: "Un Trou dans le Monde" (A Hole in the World)
- German: "Illyria"
- Hungarian: "A szarkofág" (The Sarcophagus)
- Italian: "Un Buco nel Mondo" (A Hole in the World)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Um Buraco no Mundo" (A Hole in the World)
- Russian: "Дыра в мире" (Hole in the World)
- Spanish (Latin America): "Un Orificio en el Mundo" (A Hole in the World)
- Spanish (Spain): "Un Hueco en el Mundo" (A Hole in the World)
- Joss Whedon, Amy Acker, and Alexis Denisof provided the DVD commentaries for this episode.
- The episode script was published in the illustrated "Scriptbook: A Hole in the World".
- The episode was adapted into the comic book miniseries "A Hole in the World", alongside episode "Shells".
- Joss Whedon has cited A Little Princess, the novel Wesley reads to Fred by her deathbed, as one of his inspirations for the creation of Buffy.
Behind the scenes
|Angel - "You just like stabbing me."|
|Spike - "I'm shocked, shocked that you'd say that! I much prefer hitting you with blunt instruments."|
|Angel - "Look, I can't do this anymore."|
|Spike - "Admitting defeat, are you?"|
|Angel - "You and me. This isn't working out."|
|Spike - "Are you saying we should start annoying other people?"|
|Spike - "This goes all the way through... To the other side. So I figure, there's a bloke, somewhere around... New Zealand, standing on a bridge like this one, looking back down at us. All the way down. There's a hole in the world. Feels like we ought to have known."|
|Fred - "I walk with heroes. Think about that."|
|Wesley - "You are one."|
|Fred - "Superhero. And this is my power. To not let them take me."|
|Fred - "I'm not scared. I'm not scared. I'm not scared. Please, Wesley. Why can't I stay?"|
- ↑ "Episode". TheWB.com. Archived from the original August 6, 2004.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 ANGEL Season Five DVD Collection REVIEW
- ↑ Nikki Stafford, "Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel". ECW Press, November 2004.
- ↑ Sue Grimshaw, "Return of the Spirit Boy: an Exclusive Spotlight on Christian Kane". CityofAngel.com, March 20, 2004. Archived from the original February 6, 2012.
- ↑ Kate O'Hare, "'Angel's' Sarah Thompson Just Wants to Sing". Zap2it, December 31, 2003. Archived from the original November 22, 2008.
- ↑ Eric Goldman, "Whedon, Gellar and More at the Buffy Reunion". IGN, March 24, 2008.