I don't know what to think of this episode. Things that are less bothersome to me this time around include the whole side trip to Connor/Cordelia, and I think that's in part because of the way canon and fandom can riff off each other--having recently been dipping into The Swimming Hole
and MarySueverse stuff
, and kita0610
, and witling
*are* dangerous crackwhores, it turns out), the canon sideline of C/C now has this poignant and endearing whitetrash vibe for me.
The A-plot, with Fred's professor, still resolves itself in an emotionally confusing way and fucks with my head. Fred goes wild when she learns that her professor sent her to Pylea and sent many other students through portals, and she intends to kill him, taking the view that he's a serial killer. (Nice. And of course true.) I like that Fred is righteously vengeful. Go, Fred. That she goes to Wes and uses him for her own ends pisses me off. On the other hand, he's willing to be used. Also, it's not clear what kind of overtures she made to him over the summer, which he apparently rejected. I'm dubious that she made a persuasive appeal, though, so all in all, I have to say: yes, Fred, you are a bitch. You and Gunn kicked Wes when he was down and took Angel's side and WTF was *up* with that?
But anyway. Angel and Gunn make try to make a case to Fred that vengeance will steal your soul, eat away at you. Do they entirely believe this? Or do they want to believe this will happen to Fred, because it validates their view of her as this gentle, essentially good-natured girl, which in turn validates their manliness?
I believe that *Gunn* believes his gesture--killing the professor after telling Fred not to--is entirely for Fred's sake. To me, she's demonstrating very clearly that she's not some pure little girl who needs to be kept on a pedestal--she's human, and can make her own choices, no matter how extreme. But it's not reasonable to expect Gunn to let her, because she *is* so emotional, and it's human instinct to keep people we care about from behaving rashly in case they do an about-face and regret it horribly later. Still, Gunn steals Fred's thunder by killing the prof, and he's going to make himself ostentatiously miserable and put her in the position of having to feel guilty rather than responsible.
This parallels "Dead Things" for me, and I can also see Spike doing the exact same thing for Buffy that Gunn does for Fred. I think he'd make it a more romantic gesture ("Look at me, saving you, my love!" would be the subtext, no matter how matter of factly he went about it), but he's a vampire, so that's par for the course. But it wouldn't be just romantic, but also kind of logical. Without a soul, he could be her sin-eater; he'd have no remorse, so it makes sense that he'd try to protect her, out of love and a desire to save her from the agonizing guilt of murder.
And so I've brought another episode irrelevantly back to Spike. Yay!