The gang fight to save Fred.
Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Fred is infected with a parasitic entity by a strange sarcophagus mysteriously delivered to her lab. The prognosis isn't good as neither the illness or the disease appear anywhere in Wolfram and Hart's records. Angel and the gang set off to try to save her.
Investigating Lindsey's apartment, they discover a scared and distraught Eve. After threats, she tells them to research the Old Ones.
With that vital clue, Wesley discovers that Fred is being attacked by a demon called Illyria - which is using her as a way to be born into the world. The only way to stop it is to draw it back into the Deeper Well - a demon prison. Spike and Angel head off to the Cotswolds, where the Deeper Well's portal is.
Once there, they meet Drogyn, the keeper. He explains that only by dooming hundreds of thousands to an agonising death can they draw Illyria out of Fred. Spike and Angel must make the decision whether or not to do so by themselves.
Back in LA, Knox accidentally reveals to Gunn that he was behind Fred's infection - earning a bludgeoning. Meanwhile, Wesley reads to the desperately ill Fred at her home - until she finally dies in his arms.
Moments later, she rises again - as Illyria.
Quiz: - ten quick questions.
Hi Mom!: We meet Fred's parents again at the beginning of this episode, for the first time since season three episode Fredless. You'd have think they'd have popped in to visit their daughter a bit more often.
Gillbert and Gunn: Wesley surprises Gunn singing a spot of Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 operetta The Mikado. The song he's belting out is Three Little Maids From School Are We.
Ringmaster: Lorne compares himself to boxer Jake LaMotta after punching Eve. A former middleweight champion, LaMotta was the direct inspiration for the film Raging Bull, in which he was played by Robert DeNiro.
Princess Fred: The story that Wesley reads out to Fred is much-loved children's story A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It's the story of how little Sarah Crewe is mistreated at boarding school after falling on hard times, but is eventually rescued from poverty.
Ancient relics: The demon which possesses Fred is called Illyria. Whether it's coincidence or not remains to be seen, but it's also the name of an ancient tribe which lived where modern-day Albania is, from about 1000BC.
Like Willow and Tara before them, Fred and Wesley have recently (and conveniently) found true happiness – only to have it cruelly snatched away. It's a standard Whedon ploy, but seems over-sentimentalised and ill-judged this time. Much as I love Amy Acker and the character of Fred - apart from her appalling taste in miniskirts – she honestly couldn't die fast enough for me here.
Far better was Angel and Spike's trip to Englandshire - full of rolling hills, mad knights and bottomless pits – and Gunn realising the true cost of his memory upgrade.
I know some people rate this as the greatest Angel story ever, but compared to such classics as The Body, I found it oddly patchy for a Whedon scripted/directed story.