William’s Review – 3.05 “Fredless”

The Good

This was great and the exact kind of episode I needed after last week. Something that made me laugh and made me feel. I loved the humor in this episode. There are dozens of moments that jump out at me from Fred’s remark about the sewers being bleak and oppressive and homey. To the opening scene with Cordelia and Wes acting out as Buffy and Angel. Angel’s “you think I’m fat?” Or his giddiness to getting patched up by Cordelia and her “you are such a dork.” All of these little moments just made this episode so much fun to watch. I love when this show can genuinely make me laugh and smile and it helped draw me into the episode.
I thought for the most part Mr. And Mrs. Burkle worked. Them being concerned parents that deeply care for their daughter is a breath of fresh air for a Whedonverse show. I’m glad that in Rewatch you can see the natural progression of them becoming more and more fed up with getting the run around. They are determined to get there daughter back and that comes across. They also work well in the Fred breakdown scene (see favorite moment). Having them embrace there daughter no matter what has happened to her was a touching moment.
I like Lorne not taking crap from Angel Investigation. He isn’t interested in playing into their farce about monster movies. He’s probably just frustrated and acting out accordingly, but I read a little more into it as a show of Lorne not hiding who or what he is. Why should he have to play along especially in his own home? It was just nice to see Lorne not put up with shenanigans. And honestly I really do enjoy seeing him on screen.
Okay this was Fred’s episode through and through. She is very self aware in the episode. Both at the beginning with her recognizing her scatterbrained babble. “Oh look pretty crystals” and then later when she breaks down in from of her parents. Especially with the later scene which added so much texture to her character. And honestly it makes her fractured mental state all the more heartbreaking and a lot less quirky. I also love her owning the fact that she just built another cave when she talks to Angel. Again a sad moment and great self awareness from Fred and it honestly felt like an earned goodbye. It was also important in the episode that we see Fred come into her own in the group. I’m glad she was able save the day and give justification to herself that Angel Investigations is where she belongs.This episode was able to make me get wrapped up in Fred’s character and go with her emotionally. The fear, the heartbreak, and the quiet way she gets to put the past behind her. The last shot is just amazing with her painting over the crazy drawings and moving forward with her life.
The Bad
I did notice Roger Burkle’s line about people that wear eye liner in Texas not lasting very long. It is problematic, but ultimately with the context around the scene I let it slide. It’s in reply to Wes saying they’re from the “country” and Roger taking that very negatively. A father being dragged around, lied to, and then he presumes insulted. So he spits some venom back. Not saying that the line didn’t raise my eyebrow after last weeks debacle, but the rest of the episode helped overshadow one questionable line.
Fred’s parents are straight up Texan caricatures YEEHA! Being from Texas I get the stereotypes that TV shows like to play up, it just made them feel very one note. Ultimately who they are and where they are from didn’t matter as much as what they represented.
The misdirection felt pretty forced at some points. The only one that I had issue with was Lorne’s reading for Fred. It was deliberately worded in just that way just so we could hard sell the parents are bad.
The Unknown
The bugs were a necessary evil for the episode. We do need to show Fred being useful to the group. It was the weakest part of the story and didn’t feel the most organic, but I didn’t think it was necessarily bad. I’m unsure what they could have done to incorporate this element of the story better, maybe something better than literally having the bug drop from thin air. I did like that these bugs felt powerful and like a real threat and liked the whole gang getting in on the fight. And honestly I thought the make up effects worked pretty well.
The tension between Lorne and Gunn was actually really nice. I’m glad they kept some amount of consequence from That Old Gang of Mine. But I’m unsure what the episode is suppose to be sharing about Lorne’s character. The episode even goes out of the way to ask why is the club still trashed. Why is this character like this? Is he a little broken after the event? The advice he gives doesn’t sound like typical Lorne advice. It was interesting seeing this different side of Lorne and I just hope it ends up going some where.
Favorite Moment 
Fred breaking down in front of her parents was such an import scene for her character. The self-acknowledgement from her to understand who she was and what she has been reduced to was actually pretty powerful. I actually got choked up with her saying “if you see what they made of me.” It was so heartbreaking followed by loving parents embracing their child. I like that it’s in front of the gang as everyone gets to understand why Fred acts so quirky.
Bottom Line
This was a great episode in getting me invested in our new inclusion to the gang. It solidified her reason for being there and gave so much context to why Fred is the way she is. A little lackluster with the bug storyline and some over the top stereotypes from Fred’s parents. It wasn’t bad per say, just kept this from being spectacular.
73 out of 100

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