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AngelOn Wesley and Fred - Sansa-snark.tumblr.com Review
Monday 2 July 2012, by Webmaster
I watched Angel before I became too involved in fandom, and as I was watching I just assumed everyone would love Fred. That everyone would root for and ultimately understand Fred/Wesley’s relationship. What I found when I turned to the internet to see fandom’s reaction? So many people hated Fred, on the basis that she was weak. When questioned, the only arguments these people could come up with was that she was an anorexic “stick” who came in the way of Wesley/Lilah and Gunn/Wesley’s “bromance.” The way people view feminine characters who choose not to wield swords, female characters who don’t have superpowers, particularly within the Buffyverse, often sickens me. (If you want to read my Fred feels you can find them here, and if you don’t believe that there is hate/haven’t come across it, here are some examples)
Furthermore, Fred/Wesley has ALWAYS been berated as being one-sided and based purely on Wesley’s idealism. I’m here to tell you that this is a gross misconception. It’s a wonderfully whole journey, despite the fact that their official relationship only really held for little more than an episode. This is how one of the most ill-fated, misunderstood relationships in the history of television is my favourite pairing.
I’m not going to say Wesley never idealised Fred, because he DID. In the early stages of their relationship, after she begins to grow into normality, Wesley IS overcome with this urge to protect her. She’s beautiful and fragile and finally, he thinks, here’s someone who can depend on me. His whole life people have told him he’s not good enough - and after his failed experience as a watcher he thinks he’s hopeless. But Fred needs him, just as she needs all of Angel investigations, because she’s in a pretty screwed up place emotionally/mentally. (Guys, she has just spent 5 years of her life in a hell dimension fighting for her life on a daily basis. She doesn’t know how to return to normal life. She’s almost insane.)
Although this may sound initially strange, Billy is one of my favourite formative episodes for Fred and Wesley. Well, the final scene. Fred visits Wesley, and we see him shrouded in this blue filtered darkness, and Fred as a contrast wears yellow and stands in the light. She reaches to touch his face, she asks if HE’S okay. This girl is not only wanting security and protection, she’s capable of offering it herself. After Billy, Wesley thinks he’s failed someone again, but through Fred’s kindness and forgiveness and inherent goodness, he thinks they still have a chance, and he never stops clinging to that. Fred reminds him that he can still be a good person too, despite whatever dark paths he later takes.
Fred: ”It wasn’t something in you, Wesley. It was something that was done to you.”
Wes: “I don’t know what kind of man I am anymore.”
Fred: “Well, I do. - You’re a good man.”
DURING SEASON 4 their relationship changes. They see the bad in each other. Instead of turning from it, ignoring the dark and the hurt, they embrace it. It’s no longer about idealising, because Wesley can see Fred is a flawed individual who’d kill for revenge, just as he would. Both of them are inherently good people, they both yearn for the light, but they begin to embrace their darker urges together. Of course this isn’t exactly a GOOD thing, but in the context of their relationship it’s a shared experience that lets them grow as people and moves them out of this idealisation nonsense that fandom seems to associate with their entire arc together.
When Fred goes to get a weapon from the weapons cabinet in Supersymmetry to kill Seidel, Angel and Gunn corner her to stop her, and Gunn asks if she’d like a cup of cocoa. When she turns to Wesley, he says, “vengeance, sounds good” and immediately helps her. He doesn’t judge, he understands this is a choice of her own (I’m not condoning murder, just in the context of their relationship). Fresley is not what everyone makes it out to be at all.
Gunn idealises Fred almost as much as Wesley does. The difference is, she idealises him too and this makes it less obvious. Supersymmetry is just a perfect example for the whole Gunn/Fred/Wes storyline because it differentiates between their relationships.
Gunn doesn’t want Fred to kill anyone, and I mean in a weak surface analysis you could say YAY GUNN FOR BEING A MORAL COMPASS but then he kills Seidel himself.
Gunn: ”If you kill him, I’m gonna lose you.”
In that moment he proves it’s not because he thinks it’s wrong, it’s because he doesn’t want FRED to kill him. He takes that choice away from her because she’s perfect and he wants her to stay that way. Whether he ever consciously acknowledges this is debatable, but the point stands.
However, Fred is in the wrong too - I’m not going to negate her flaws. After Gunn kills Seidel she can’t look at him the same way and their relationship fades. Earlier in the episode, Fred says, “Charles doesn’t have it in him. It’s part of what I love about him.” Fred has always seen Gunn as “the muscle” - the protector figure. (We can’t blame her for wanting one though, after spending so long in a hell dimension with no one to protect her but herself. She proves herself capable of defending herself time and time again, but because she wants this security fandom hates on her for being a damsel in distress.)
It’s almost funny how both Gunn and Fred try to completely ignore the fact that they are flawed, that they are capable of these things. I did like the ship while it lasted, but I think that’s what ultimately made it crumble. They refused to accept themselves for themselves, and soon enough it became impossible to ignore and they drifted apart.
Fred and Wesley see a lot of each other - the good and the bad. Wesley sees the unstable Fred following Pylea and he sees how she grows as a person, returning to normality but becoming extraordinary. Fred sees Wesley’s decline into darkness but never truly believes he wishes to belong there, and he doesn’t. It’s a relationship that is ultimately about understanding.
Because Angel is not a show about good vs evil. It’s not black and white, it’s shades of grey. Perhaps ironically, it’s Lilah who makes Wesley aware of this. She is an important figure in his life:
Wesley: “There is a line, Lilah, black and white, good and evil.” Lilah: “Funny thing about black and white. You mix it together and you get grey. And it doesn’t matter how much white you try and put back in, you’re never gonna get anything but grey.”
Lilah’s the one who opens Wesley up to the darkness. She really did love him, and he could have loved her, perhaps, had he wished to belong there. The thing about Wesley, though, is that he constantly strives to help others, people trust that he’ll always make the right choices, to do the right thing. When he makes one monumental mistake with Connor - he can’t let it go. Everyone turns their back on him, except Fred.
She’s disappointed. In one scene in Double or Nothing she goes to visit him in the hospital and tells him she’s sorry, but his actions were wrong. Despite this, she is the ONLY member of Angel Investigations to consciously want him to come back. She’s the only one who mentions him, who doesn’t want to accept that he’s gone.
Fred: I’m just saying maybe it’s time to… Look, he doesn’t have to forgive Wesley.
Gunn: Glad you think so, ‘cuz not happenin’.
Fred: No. Right. He shouldn’t. But… isn’t there some way to, I don’t know… come back from this?
She acknowledges that Wesley made the wrong choice, but she’s not willing to give up on him like everyone else. Just as Wesley, who is bitter that everyone abandoned him (“I got my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me”) is not willing to give up on her. The Price:
Wesley: I wish I could help you. Gunn: Wes— Wesley: Sorry you wasted your time— Gunn: It’s Fred!
Wesley stops, stricken.
Wesley: I’ll help because it’s Fred. But just so we understand each other… Don’t ever come here again.
After seeing the darker side to each other, they’re not turned off. In fact, it brings them even closer (see: the kiss in Soulless). And this is because they can accept that. They can accept that light creates shade, that although both of them are ultimately champions for good, good sometimes comes at the cost of evil.
Through accepting and understanding each other’s faults, Fred and Wesley move past that and start towards a healthy, happy relationship. I know there are a lot of issues with season 5 in terms of Fred’s character development (which kind of… disappears?) but it’s still a wonderfully fluffy season for the first half.
We see them almost starting anew, it’s delightfully awkward and adorable and basically one big romantic comedy - until we get to episodes like Lineage:
Fred: Part of you knew. Even if you can’t admit it to yourself, part of you knew it wasn’t him.
Wesley: No. I was sure it was him. You were there. I killed my father.
Fred: He was threatening your friends.
Wesley: He was threatening you. He pointed a gun at you, Fred… so I shot him.
I always laugh when I hear people say Wesley “never truly loved Fred”. He thought he killed his own father, the father who he had tried his whole life to please, because he pointed a gun at Fred. I don’t know about you but I don’t shoot my relatives lightly, no matter how badly they treat me. The sheer intensity of their relationship is revealed in that moment, and it’s incredibly powerful.
A Hole in the World is something I’d rather not talk about, but of course it’s inevitable.
Wesley: I’ve loved you since I’ve known you… maybe even before
It’s just such a powerful statement. It’s like… in the whole world he’s found the one person he was predestined to be with. If any other two characters randomly got together one episode and one died the next, the effect would never be as powerful as it is with these two. Angel didn’t even realise it had happened. “Fred and Wesley?” he asks, “I didn’t know.” And yet he says it with such a matter-of-fact tone, almost like, of course. How could it not have happened.
Fred: I walk with heroes. Think about that.
Wesley: (crying, trying to hold himself together) You are one.
Fred: Superhero. And this is my power: to not let them take me. Not me.
Fred: That’s right. (laces her fingers through his) He’s with me.
That’s right. Because they’re on the same page. They understand each other so totally and are being ripped apart right after they were at their happiest. “He’s with me” - Wesley has always been with her. Just as she’s always been with him, even when they never knew. She did believe in him, even after she told him to “never come back” to Angel investigations after he took Connor. She never stopped trusting him, never stopped urging the others to let him back in. And Wesley was with Fred when she was at death’s door in The Price, but she never knew Wesley was the one to save her.
And Wesley did understand Fred. He did appreciate her. He knew she was a hero, even when she didn’t. He appreciated her as a flawed, brave human being and equal.
After her death he was never the same. I’d go so far to say that after Illyria took over, Wesley was just as much of a shell as Fred was. We never saw that light in him again. Wesley didn’t die in Not Fade Away, he was gone long before then.
Knox: She had a warmth that took you in and held you until everything cold and distant melted away. She was the most beautiful, perfect woman I ever met. And that’s why I chose her. She was the only one that was worthy.
Wesley: You didn’t feel her die. She was shaking with pain and terrified and so brave. And she was better than anyone I’ve known… and she’s gone.