Derek’s Review – 3.05 “Fredless”
I really enjoyed this episode. Angel has really done something fantastic with the Fred, especially with their spotty track record on supporting characters. Angel has always struggled to keep their supporting characters in focus but not the case with Fred. Each episode since her introduction they’ve done little things with her, so everything that happens her has maximum effect and is completely earned.
It also goes a long way in grounding Fred to a more realistic. I’ve never had much of problem with the eccentric nature of her character but this gave it so much more context. Fred showed self-awareness here that doesn’t contradict her behavior in previous episodes but only adds to it. Fred knows she’s not normal and that her experience in Pylea changed her. Fred’s always been a tragic character but adding her awareness to her condition adds a whole another level.
While there are some terrifically moments in this episode, the emotions hit me hard. Fred’s parents while stereotypes do feel like real parents. Their love for their daughter feels so genuine and there is such an immediate sense of history there.
The demon story feels clearly tagged on to the proceedings. Fred needs to be given something to solve and there needs to be something to fight. While I’d prefer an episode that was nothing but Fred coming to grips with her mental state that’s not the type of show that Angel has become. I don’t have a problem with the existence of the demon bugs, I just wish it was better incorporated.
I typically don’t like misdirection but this did manage to work on both levels. You can read the Burkle’s as nefarious and you can read them as caring parents tired of being pulled around. The one scene it doesn’t work is Lorne’s conversation with Fred. Lorne desperately tries to keep Fred from reconciling with her family and there’s a way to see that as him transferring his own family issues. There’s something going on with Lorne and he’s much less “Host-y” than he was before but I need to see more to make a proper judgement on what happens here.
Fred’s breakdown hits me a visceral way. The line about her parents not being there at night and she was all alone gets me everytime I watch it. It’s just an economical and heartbreaking way to tell use how Fred became the person she is and why she acts the way that she does.
If it weren’t for the sloppiness of the bug story, this could easily be one of the best episodes of Angel. It’s still an excellent episode but it doesn’t quite reach the upper echelon of episodes.
85 out of 100