A Hole in the World

A Hole in the World

Infobox Television episode
Title = A Hole in the World
Series = Angel

Caption = {Caption|}
Season = 5
Episode = 15
Airdate = 25 February, 2004
Production = 5ADH15
Writer = Joss Whedon
Director = Joss Whedon
Guests = Sarah Thompson
Jonathan M. Woodward
Jennifer Griffin
(Trish Burkle)
Gary Grubbs
(Roger Burkle)
Alec Newman
Episode list = List of "Angel" episodes
Prev = Smile Time
Next = Shells

"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 25 February, 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.


Flashback to Texas, as 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 one of the crystals that cover the lid, a puff of dusty air is released, making her cough. Later, when she meets Wesley downstairs, they get lovey-dovey until Lorne tells them to “get a balcony.” Lorne starts singing “You Are My Sunshine” to Fred, who picks up the song. Lorne, whose aura-reading abilities are much stronger when he hears a person sing, immediately realizes that something is wrong. Fred 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, 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". Everyone leaves and Wesley comforts Fred before rejoining the group in the lobby, where Angel admits some sort of parasite is slowly killing Fred. 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. Meanwhile, as he looks through one of his source books, an anonymous staff member comes to Wesley for an unrelated report. Wesley tells the man it can wait and when the man protests the entire firm can't be working on Fred's case, Wesley calmly gets a gun out of his drawer and shoots the man directly in the kneecap. As the man screams in agony, Wesley tells his secretary to send anyone else who isn't working on Fred's case straight to him. 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 give his life for Fred’s. The conduit tells him that he already has 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, though "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 thing not in the firm’s records is 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,” which is 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 prepares to go speak with its guardian. In the plane, Angel and Spike make small talk, and discuss going to a West End show. Angel then tells Spike he can't lose Fred. When Spike tells him they won't, Angel replies "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 relents and asks Westley 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 Saint Petersburg, holding out a piece of wire 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 don’t work. 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 unknowingly signed for it. 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, as 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. 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.” 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?” and then dies in Wesley's arms. As he begins to weep, her eyes turn blue. Fred twitches and sends Wesley across the room, where he watches her skin and hair turn blue. She stands up - now taken over by Illyria - and says, “This will do.”


While writing the episode, Joss Whedon thought about using the character of Rupert Giles in the Deeper Well scene, but it would have been too expensive to fly in Anthony Stewart Head to guest star.Citation |first=Kristy |last=Bratton |accessdate=2007-10-24 |title=ANGEL Season Five DVD Collection REVIEW |url=http://www.cityofangel.com/behindTheScenes/bts5/S5dvdReview1.html ]

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". [Citation |url=http://www.cityofangel.com/behindTheScenes/bts4/chrisSpot2.html |title=Return of the Spirit Boy: an Exclusive Spotlight on Christian Kane |first=Sue |last=Grimshaw ] Thompson, who grew up doing musical theater, had begged Joss Whedon to allow her character to sing. [Citation |url=http://tv.zap2it.com/tveditorial/tve_main/1,1002,271|85439|1|,00.html |title='Angel's' Sarah Thompson Just Wants to Sing |first= Kate |last=O'Hare |date=December 31, 2003 |accessdate=2007-12-20 ]

Main cast

*David Boreanaz as Angel
*James Marsters as Spike
*J. August Richards as Charles Gunn
*Amy Acker as Winifred Burkle/Illyria
*Andy Hallett as Lorne
*Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

Guest stars

*Sarah Thompson as Eve
*Jonathan M. Woodward as Knox
*Jennifer Griffin as Trish Burkle
*Gary Grubbs as Roger Burkle
*Alec Newman as Drogyn


*John Duff as Delivery Man
*Jeremy Glazer as Lawyer

Production details

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."


"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 then 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.


While in the hospital Fred says, "a handsome man saves me" referring to her first meeting with Angel in "Through the Looking Glass".

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 uses to beat the Wolfram & Hart SpecOps team to a school in the season premiere, "Conviction,"and when he saved Buffy and Faith from a military Watcher's Council helicopter that was shooting at them in "Sanctuary."

Arc significance

Continuing Joss Whedon's trend of never letting a happy couple stay happy very long, this episode marks the end of the romance between Fred and Wesley that began at the end of the last episode.

Fred is the second core member of the Angel Investigations team to die this season, the first was Cordelia in "You're Welcome" and Wesley later dies in the series Finale "Not Fade Away". Fred's death also causes Gunn to seek amends by trapping himself in a hell dimension later on in the season.

Cultural references

*A Little Princess: Wesley reads this book to Fred.
*The Nightmare Before Christmas: 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" from this movie.


Music Score by Robert J. Kral
*Texan twang score is heard during the opening scene, which is a flashback to Fred's past in Texas.
*Jimmie Davis - "You Are My Sunshine" Lorne and Fred sing some of the song.
*Eve - "LA Song" - Eve sings a few lines of the song previously sung by Lindsey McDonald.
*The Mikado - "Three Little Maids From School" Gunn cheerily sings this Gilbert and Sullivan song; when Wes enters the room, he pretends that he's singing rap music.

Reception and reviews

This episode was rated as one of the series' top five episodes in a poll done by "Angel Magazine". [Citation |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/news/cult/2005/01/18/16581.shtml |title=Top Angel episodes |date=18 January 2005 |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2007-10-16 ]

Alexis Denisof thought Fred's death caused Wesley to go into a slow nervous breakdown. "The way I looked at it," he explains, "Wesley was a guy who fought all his life for the possibility that the world was worth saving. And in Fred, he discovered "why" the world was worth saving." After Fred died, Denisof believed that Wesley would have felt "very alone."Citation |title=Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel
first= Nikki |last=Stafford |publisher=ECW Press |date=2004 |isbn=1550226541 |pages=93-94


* Italian title: "Un buco nel mondo" ("A Hole In The World")


External links


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