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On TV Today's Date:

A Hole In The World
original air-date: 02-25-04

There are two types of people in the world: Those who love The English Patient, and those who think it is overrated drivel with zero romantic chemistry between the two leads. But as Elaine Benes once learned firsthand, having that latter minority opinion can lead to trouble.

Likewise, to suggest that the Wes-Fred relationship is anything less than resplendent is to risk the wrath of many fans. Then again, what's another nasty e-mail?

So here goes (hopefully the fans are as forgiving as the fictionalized J. Peterman).

The Wes-Fred relationship just doesn't deliver. Wes pining or seething for Fred in the past was interesting. Fred with Gunn was fun despite the occasional hypersaccharine exchange. And Wes with Lilah? Delightfully naughty.

But Wes actually with Fred? Yawn. Sure, the "please-read-to-me-cause-I'm-turning-into-an-Old-One-now" scenes are touching (and Alexis Denisof should consider narrating books on tape). But the sexual chemistry is lacking. Sometimes putting two good things together just doesn't work.

Like Fred and a flamethrower. Both are useful for dispatching baddies in certain situations. But they just don't go well together. (A lot of people love pasta, and a lot of people love dessert. But every hear of a chocolate linguini sundae?)

That combination is one of three problems with the opening of this episode, which fortunately gets much better quickly. The other two problems: A completely unnecessary flashback (and while we're on the subject, why not just start with the lab scene?) and a really hokey effect of a shish kabobbed Angel. Perhaps it really is supposed to be a prop sword because once upon a season a sword through the body was actually somewhat debilitating even to a vamp.

Despite the rocky start and a few other bumps (special jets? Give us a break!), this episode delivers a lot of enjoyment. Really, any episode that manages to make Knox a more interesting character deserves kudos.

Here's a quick summary that balances the need for re-cap with the need to protect the spoiler free: Angel and Spike must rush to save Fred after she inhales a deadly powder (this summary also doubles as an audition for a future post-Angel job as a TV listings writer).

There are some, well, just really cool scenes, not to mention an amusing ongoing argument involving cavemen and astronauts. The first cool scene involves Gunn visiting The White Room. If the director skimped on the Angel skewer for this, it was worth it. The power line background is wonderful (to look at and to consider metaphorically), and the Gunn vs. Gunn interaction is very entertaining. What happens exactly is still open for speculation. There is one line that
suggests that W&H is definitely not evil in the traditional sense of the word. Later on, fans do
learn this week that at least one of Gunn's recent decisions has already resulted in suffering.

Another special scene involves Wes disciplining a Wolfram & Hart employee who questions the dedication of all resources to Fred's case. Wes' action may seem rash or unbelievable to some at first. But when you really think about the other steps he's taken (bucket anyone?), it seems plausible.

Next up is Eve hiding out in Lindsey's Senior Partner proofed bachelor pad. Here Lorne really shines. Once again many fans will lament the writers leaving Lorne out of so much earlier this season. On the plus side, there may still be interesting twists with Lindsey and/or Eve on the way.

Finally, there is a surreal scene at the Deeper Well, sort of a U-Store-It for very old nasty entities. Somehow James Marsters once again demonstrates yet even more range with Spike. The scene also continues the excellent job the writers have been doing lately to set-up Angel and Spike as reluctant partners who realize they're the only two who really understand each other.

Episodes of Angel often stand out when the writers deliver a lot of short scenes that feature characters in different combinations. Those scenes are particularly interesting when the audience gets to see match-ups they don't see much or have never witnessed at all. For example, fans here get to Lorne with Eve, Gunn with Knox, and even Gunn with The Conduit.

So what's up for next week? Well, now that Fred's condition has worsened, will the rest of the Fang Gang also be "feeling blue?"

Chris Crotty

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