She’s smart, driven, strong, ambitious. She was trapped in a hell dimension for 5 years until her Angel rescued her. But he couldn’t rescue her from the path Joss Whedon had laid out for her. She was a woman, so she had to die. But not just die, she had to die in a horrible way to make place for a demon that would become the great Illyria. What the fuck are you saying??
Fred Burkle, the above mentioned woman is a character in Angel. A TV show that ran between 1999-2004. It was created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt and a spin-off of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a highly successful teenage fantasy drama series that recently stole my heart and made me weirdly obsessed with vampires. kinda too old for that shit. Angel is her ex-boyfriend, a vampire with a soul(!). Yeah, they make a point about that. Maybe I’ll write on that later. That one lends itself to heated philosophical debates. Buffy was hailed for its feminist themes. The blonde girl finally saves herself. She’s not some handmaiden waiting for her a royal prince to sweep her off her feet & lift her on his white horse. She’s a vampire slayer waiting to be swept off her feet by a demon, the same species she’s trying to wipe out. Kinda sounds more interesting, right? The good old ‘we all wanna date the enemy-trope’. But apparently, relationships between species don’t work. Or something. Or it just was a lame excuse to get Angel off the ground but eventually both went their own ways. Still grieving.
Seeing as Buffy is thé feminist show, Angel had to be in some way too, right? While it’s true that it features Strong Women, it’s also true that the showrunners might have gotten a little too carried away with the whole female thing. This is what their boardroom could have looked like:
So, what is a woman?? What makes a woman a woman? How can we utilize women to the max, make people see that they’re women?
– Well, women can give birth to babies
Women can give birth to babies? You mean demon spawns?
– Not really what I meant… I guess to some people.. they can be called that?
Demon spans straight from hell that need a human vessel to be born into this world in order to destruct it??
– Man I still don’t think you’re quite understanding my point.. Let me-
WHAT IF THE MOTHER BECOMES EVIL TOO AND THEN DIES! can we fit in another prophecy???
So, that is a problem of this show. It features three amazing women: Cordelia, Darla & Fred. Two of them are killed due to childbirth. I can forgive Darla’s death. She was never a main character anyway. But Cordelia? She was the star of the show and they made her pregnancy evil for nothing. Well, we know the reason. The actress who played Cordelia was pregnant in real life. So naturally they had to fire her. At least that’s what I heard. And that kinda sucks. But she’d had mystical pregnancies before that. She once had a demon one-night-stand too who impregnated her and she was ready for childbirth the next day (seriously? where do i sign up for a 1-day pregnancy?). None of those actually came to term. But the trend is kinda worrying. Surely they could’ve thought of better arcs for these resilient power women. And then they assassinate poor Winifred. Her body was to become the shell of Illyria. Which brings me to the point of this post. Because I looove Illyria.
I should be mad at how it was handled. I need to see all movies and series through a feminist lens. But can I just take off these lenses today? And maybe see them through glasses that don’t completely give me 20/20 vision but at least don’t have me tripping over my own feet? They killed off smart, witty, driven, beautiful Winifred Burkle to make place for an ancient mummy demon. So not cool. and I’m mad. But I’m also not. Because Illyria is awesome. So can we just forget how badly it was handled that all power women were killed off & the show ended without any female humans that saved the day & praise Queen Illyria? (or king? we are unsure of its gender but in the body of Fred ‘it’ is a woman).
I am naming my firstborn child Illyria. Such a beautiful name.
Illyria is an Old One. An ancient demon who used to rule the world. Predestined to come back to take over the world again with her army. But what if was once your castle is now a mere ruin and your army is gone and the world you enter is not the world you left? What if populations do not bow before you anymore as they cry out your name in fear?
You go on. What was once your world can be yours again. Just not in the same way.
I lived seven lives at once. I was power and the ecstasy of death. I was god to a god. – Illyria
Illyria – a mighty demon stripped of its powers trying to make its way through the human world. She has to feel human emotions and deal with human desires. She finds out that everything has changed but the unsatisfiable destructive hunger for power. The disease of the nation is the same, it is just the cure that changes. Back in her time, the stairs to the tower that held the power were steep but not clouded by the fog of human complication. We learn that power is still central even to heroes who spend their life dismantling the same system that holds the power. Even through dismantling a system of power, we want it to become us. Humans just did a better job of hiding their tyrannic power than the Old Ones. but Illyria sees through it all. She’s confused in a world where power is seemingly not simply for the taking. You pull one string and a puppet falls. You pull all the strings and the puppets become yours to control.
There’s so much behind the surface of Illyria’s confusion & aggression. She’s alienated from everything she was yet she’s not alienated from herself. The world around her trembles all right, just no longer for her. But how does she reconcile that with the megalomaniac thoughts that dominate her mind and speech? She’s a peculiar figure that no one seems to understand. Aren’t we all constantly trying to piece the puzzles together in our crazy mind? It’s crazy how Amy Acker pulled off her 7-episode run. I wish I’d seen more of Illyria. She’s as badass as it gets even when the odds are stacked against her. And in a twisted way, I relate to her. Maybe more than I did to Winifred. I’m not that smart, ambitious woman. I’m the weird blue-haired demon. At leas that’s what I’ve always felt like. Not the hero, but the anti-hero. Illyria could use my body as a shell and nothing would change. Except maybe my hair color. But I’ve tried purple. Blue could be my next move.
She has the key to the world in that blue head of hers.
If you wanna win a war, you must serve no master but your ambition.